Welcome to the SoloMotoParts.com Blog! We'll be writing about different motorcycling segments as well as sharing tips on motorcycle riding and safety. You'll also find content on your favorite motorcycle parts & accessory brands. We encourage you to interact with us by sharing our content on social media and commenting on the posts with what you think!

GP Inspired Sportbike Exhausts You Can Buy Today

GP Inspired Sportbikes Exhausts You Can Buy

When it comes to motorcycle enhancements and buying aftermarket motorcycle parts, the exhaust is one of the number one upgrades riders choose to install on their bikes. The king, if you will. In particular, when riders are looking to improve performance, power and additional aesthetic appeal, I think it's the way to go - especially if you're not a fan of that oh-so-hated sewing machine sounding stock exhaust.

But hey! Not to worry, there's plenty of exhaust options available. Of the many slip-on and full exhaust systems sold by an online motorcycle parts store, the GP style, which derives its name and appeal from top-level Moto GP racing, is quite a popular option. The sportbike GP style exhaust is generally characterized by short, low mounted mufflers and huge sound.

Many are constructed of raw or bare metal and sometimes put together with exposed welds for that one-off look. GP style exhausts leave behind the traditional long muffler in favor of an artfully constructed stubby metal muffler that...roars. They're truly head turners - mostly because they're generally crazy loud!

These next four brands are popular for their GP-style motorcycle exhausts:

M4 GP Exhausts

M4 GP Exhaust
M4 Black Satin GP Slip-on Exhaust

Texas-based M4 specializes in performance exhaust systems, taking great care to fine-tune their wares for optimum performance gains. They have a variety of full systems and slip-on exhausts, of which their GP-styled options are well-known for granting a decent amount of power and providing window shattering sound.

The M4 gp slip-on systems are a great option for those looking to balance price, ease-of-installation, sound output and performance increases. They're well known for a matte black gp canister but offer a wide array of standard style exhaust systems that can often be seen on podium topping M4 supported race teams.

Ever wonder where the name M4 comes from? We did an interview with Kyle Martin about that topic!

Competition Werkes GP Exhausts

Competition Werkes GP Exhaust
Competition Werkes GP Style Full Exhaust

Competition Werkes bills themselves as the "premier manufacturer of sport bike accessories," and their GP-style exhausts most assuredly fit this label. Their slip-ons are simple to install, usually requiring just a bolt to clamp on. They help riders save on weight, don't compromise ground clearance, improve sound and grant a nice boost-to-engine performance to boot.

They are most notably known for their 'bare metal' style Competition Werkes GP exhaust system and use shotgun style canister outlets that replicate the real race look better than most. Mostly available in slip-on formats, they do provide the occasional full system. We definitely dig these artfully constructed boutique Competition Werkes exhausts.

Hotbodies Racing GP Exhausts

Hotbodies MGP Exhaust
Hotbodies MGP slip-on Exhaust

Hotbodies Racing's newest addition is a line of motorcycle exhausts. Hotbodies MGP Exhausts are made "proudly in Italy," these exhausts feature a light and aerodynamic styling that simultaneously reduces bike weight and drag while providing improved sound and upping horsepower.

Available in a slashcut megaphone or shorty shotgun style stainless steel or carbon fiber wrapped cans, Hotbodies MGP slip-on exhausts are available for most major Japanese sportbike brands as well as Ducati and BMW.  While you won't see the biggest gains in horsepower or torque, the MGP exhaust line will add a great aftermarket exhaust note and an even better aesthetic appeal to your bike. Their easy to handle entry price will make you smile, too!

Akrapovic GP Exhausts

Akrapovic GP Exhausts
Akrapovic GP Style Slip-on Exhaust

This world famous Slovenian brand has supplied racing teams around the globe with top quality exhaust systems and they have a reputation for high-end design. Within the Akrapovic exhaust range, they do have a range of GP-inspired exhausts, intended for use by demanding riders who want the best and are willing to pay for it.

Though specifics on their exhausts vary, the overall trend with Akrapovic is that they are precision crafted from high-quality materials like titanium and carbon fiber while offering increased power and torque, while reducing the overall weight of a bike. Not to mention that signature Akrapovic sound come with every exhaust system! Read more about Akrapovic's full product line up.

Slip-on Exhaust or Full System?

Now that you've decided on the style and possibly the brand of GP exhaust you want, there's a whole other big decision to be made: Should you install a slip-on exhaust or a full system exhaust on your motorcycle? Well...Generally speaking, a slip-on is cheaper and requires less support accessories (like a fuel controller) but it won't give you nearly as much usable power as a full exhaust system will.

It's possible to think of a slip-on as just an exhaust for looks and sound (with some added power benefit). Certain slip-on exhausts that remove the exhaust box/cat actually will produce a good amount of power so this decision will vary from bike owner to bike owner. Full exhausts are generally best for the pure performance junkies, track riders and racers. I mean, how much power do you really need on the street? We've put together a nifty slip-on vs full system guide that will go into more details on this topic.

Do you need Power Commander?

Dynojet Power Commander VA full exhaust generally requires the purchase of an additional fuel controller, like Dynojet Power Commanders, that comes with an additional investment. Slip-on exhausts are a different story but you'll get more performance out of your bike with a fuel controller installed. Note that it's not an absolute requirement for slip-on exhausts.

So you got a Power Commander, now what? You'll also likely need smog block off plates in addition to an exhaust for the fuel controller to work properly. Remember that adding a fuel controller or or other supporting mods isn't just about meeting requirements...its about the tune. The tune can be done through various loaded maps, an auto tune attachment or through an expert dynotune center.

A properly tuned Power Commander will ensure smooth power delivery and curb symptoms such as backfiring or overheating. You'll have more usable power and a better riding experience if your motorcycle is properly tuned - and this matters when using a full or a slip-on exhaust - so don't get a full system and then realize you're out of money to do what's necessary to get the full benefits. Plan accordingly. We go into more details about what a power commander is and what it does in our guide.

So, why not get a full exhaust? I suppose the answer to that one is: money.

And add a High Flow Air Filter, Maybe

K&N High Flow Motorcycle Air Filter
It's no secret that leading motorcycle filter companies like K&N produce a wide variety of aftermarket high flow air filters that are designed to flow more air (and, theoretically, more horsepower) as well as being washable and re-usable. Unfortunately, more air in can sometimes throw off the delicate stock ecu ranges (especially when paired with an aftermarket exhaust) and then you're going to be overheating and spitting fire (and backfiring, popping) and all sorts of other squid-ly noises. Eh.

Air filters can be an important part of an overall power mod strategy when properly supported with a fuel controller to make sure to get an upgrade plan together before executing! Also, be careful not to buy 'race spec' filters and then run them on the street - that's a no no.

Browse, Research, Ask then Buy

Aside from the obvious online store option (and reaching out their customer service team), you can also shop for an aftermarket gp exhaust system by watching videos on YouTube or by visiting a bike night or by going on a ride and seeing what people have on their bikes already. It'll most likely give you some great ideas for your own motorcycle! In short: get out and ride, do some research online and then pull the trigger on that new GP exhaust!

By Daniel Relich
Published Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Aftermarket Sportbike Levers Guide

But, they're just levers...right? At first glance, the uninitiated might assume that motorcycle levers are nothing more than a stylish cosmetic piece for a bike. Tried-and-true sportbike riders, however, recognize that like most aftermarket motorcycle parts, a good lever provides a range of benefits as well. Both on the road or in the unfortunate event of a crash, having a quality lever for a bike is an investment that pays off in more ways than one.

True, the plain-Jane stock levers might get the job done but they often don't offer the features available on a nice set of cnc-machined brake and clutch levers.

Safety in Features

Riding confidently often translates into riding safely. Levers, just like suspension, clip-ons and footpegs and rearsets are how the rider controls the motorcycle and, as such, these parts of the bike necessitate customization in order for the rider to be comfortable and confident in the bike's feel. Having levers that are too far, short, long, wide for your grip will pose a problem.

Most stock levers don't have a wide enough range of adjustments  or features available for riders to properly dial in their hand controls. This is why its important to set up your bike to ride the way you need it to. Aftermarket levers play a pivotal role in customizing your bike for comfort, safety and looks.

Materials, Customization & Personalization

Sportbike Levers
Many aftermarket sportbike levers are made from stronger materials than their stock counterparts, so they provide an advantage in safety right off the bat. CNC-Machined aluminum is the popular process for aftermarket levers, allowing the manufacturer to develop the shape, features and textures of the lever.

Utilizing aluminum allows the levers to be beautifully anodized in many different colors as well as powder coated. Usually, you can pick and choose the colored lever components to come up with a truly custom look for your own motorcycle.

Shorty or Standard Length

With stock levers, it's common for riders who only use a few fingers on the brake or clutch to get their gloves caught on the back of longer levers (since they usually rest the fingers they aren't using behind the lever). Riders who choose shorter, aftermarket levers won't run into this issue, as they have plenty of clearance for their fingers but some riders opt to keep standard length levers to lessen the need to 're-learn' the controls.

Riders with larger hands, though, might feel that their current lever isn't comfortable enough. In these cases, standard length levers will offer better grip and a smoother feel when riders operate the bike. It's even possible to use a staggered combination with a short brake and long clutch (for example) or vice versa.

Micro-Adjustments for Lever Reach

In addition to providing greater safety and comfort, aftermarket levers often allow for a wider and more precise adjustment range for the lever reach. The lever reach is the distance from the grip to the lever. This reach should be comfortable and effective for both the brake and clutch levers.

This adjustment for reach lets riders set them up in the position that is most convenient for their riding style, improving their abilities on the road or track in turn. Most aftermarket levers offer 8-10 different positions that can be set on-the-fly. On-the-fly adjustments can compensate for brake lever fade due to excessive heat during aggressive braking.

Folding or Non-Folding

Some levers (like Pazzo Levers) even have the ability to pivot during impacts, lessening the chance that they will break. This is an important feature for the survivability of the lever during a tip over or crash - as it's not easy to ride with broken levers! This choice is popular for track day enthusiasts and racers alike. They also look wicked!

What Motorcycle Lever Brands Stand Out?

Pazzo Levers
Pazzo Racing Levers
There are plenty to pick from, but Pazzo Levers (designed and manufactured in Canada) are well-known by riders for their looks and quality. These levers are easy to install (most can complete the process in about five minutes) and made from strong aluminum that is both lightweight and resistant to physical force.

Their adjustable nature allows riders to position the levers away from the handlebar grips at one of six preset distances, and the varied color options (which include UV-protected IFX Candy varieties) cover something for everyone. Any riders needing to replace the stock levers on their motorcycles should give them a look before checking out anything else.

Aside from Pazzo, there are any leading manufacturers of sportbike aftermarket hand control levers including CRG and Vortex. Many of these brands are available from major online motorcycle parts stores and installation is straightforward.

Installation Notes

While the installation of aftermarket motorcycle brake and clutch levers - for most bike models - can be had by simply removing your stock levers and replacing them with new levers, hand controls can be a very sensitive part of the motorcycle so if you're not sure about how to go about it, we definitely recommend seeking a qualified mechanic to install your levers for you.

For more customization options, check out Rizoma Grips and Supersprox Sprockets review next!

By Daniel Relich
Published Tuesday, July 11, 2017

How To: Preparing to Ride Motorcycles In The Rain

Riding your motorcycle in the rain may not be avoidable for many people. However, staying prepared with the below tips can ensure you have a more safe and pleasant ride through the rain. If there is a chance you may be riding through bad weather, you should always be prepared with the right gear. Check out our webstore to find the appropriate gear to help you stay prepared for wet weather.

Beware of slippery surfaces
The simplest way to prevent your motorcycle from sliding is to keep an eye out for painted lines, manhole covers, and steel plates on the roadway.

When braking in wet conditions, apply the brakes with ease to prevent locking your wheels up.

When preparing to accelerate, beware of the surface you are currently on. Accelerating quickly on a wet surface can be disastrous.

Clear visor
Make sure your helmet visor is treated with antifog and your windscreen is properly cleaned before riding in the rain

Check your tires for wear and make sure they are properly inflated to ensure you have enough traction prior to riding in less than ideal conditions.

Rain puddles
Going too fast over a puddle can cause your bike to Hydroplane. Make sure you are aware of any puddles you may ride through.

Slow down
Good handling in the rain starts with an appropriate speed prior to corner entry. Watching your speed is one of the most important ways to improve your safety when riding in the rain.

Wear weather proof gear ? Rainsuit
In order to keep focus on the road, ensuring you are comfortable enough to ride through inclement weather is crucial. Consider a waterproof rain suit for the times you may ride through the rain.

Water proof boots
Your feet play a vital role in operating your motorcycle?s gearbox and rear brake. Make sure your feet are protected from the weather to reduce distraction and discomfort in the wet weather.

Water proof gloves
Keeping your hands dry and warm is important for having your hands prepared to react quickly. Weather proof gloves can help reduce rider distraction and improve comfort for your hands.
By Daniel Relich
Published Wednesday, June 28, 2017

How Does a Speedohealer Work?

While scrolling through forums and browsing for new motorcycle parts, newer riders might come across mention of a device called a SpeedoHealer - made by the company Healtech Electronics.

Savvy riders might already have an inkling of what we're talking about - allow a speedometer or odometer to display more accurate and complete information, convert KPH to MPH, etc. - but how does it work and why do I need it?

I decided to do some digging to reveal a few of this device's inner mysteries and why they're so important. Here's what I found:

How a SpeedoHealer Functions

Believe it or not, a factory bike speedometer can be somewhat inaccurate (in some cases, reading high up to 10 percent). Bikes that have been geared down to improve acceleration might show an even greater error. A Healtech SpeedoHealer is a calibrator that hooks up to a bike and, when properly programmed, will correct for this slight error, enabling a more realistic display of speed.

Why is this important? If the speedometer on a bike is off, then the odometer will rack up more miles than what you've actually put on the bike, which could, potentially, put it in the upper mileage range more quickly and harm resale value. With a SpeedoHealer, this reading stays precise and won't exceed the true mileage of the bike.

In addition, using a SpeedoHealer will help keep readings accurate even after performing changes on a bike. It helps with optimizing performance and allows riders to stay confident that they're operating within the correct speed limit while cruising down the open road. Changing the gear ratio of your motorcycle's sprockets will throw off your speedometer reading - which sucks - and is the #1 reason riders buy this device!

Installing A SpeedoHealer

SpeedoHealers have a plug-and-play design, so installing one is a fairly simple process that most riders can accomplish in under twenty minutes. After plugging the SpeedoHealer into the speed sensor, it's just a matter of following the instructions included with the device to calculate speedometer error and calibrate the unit to compensate.

Generally speaking, riders will use a GPS to get a true reading of their speed, which they will compare to their bike's (incorrectly) indicated speed. Using a correction chart provided with the SpeedoHealer, they can then enter the appropriate programming values and experience more accurate readouts from their speedometer.

Finding A SpeedoHealer

As with many aftermarket motorcycle parts, there are, for lack of a better term, knock-offs on the market that aren't quite up to par. The best method for getting the highest quality SpeedoHealer is consulting a trusted online motorcycle parts store. There, riders can ensure they're getting an authentic product that will do the job as intended.

Healtech also makes a wide array of awesome motorcycle electronic accessories like gear indicators and quickshifters that make motorcycling safer and more enjoyable!

By Daniel Relich
Published Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Supersprox Stealth Sprockets Review

One of the most visible motorcycle parts that riders replace either out of necessity or by way of upgrades is the motorcycle sprocket. It's such a simple piece of equipment, but having the right sprockets can make a big difference in how a bike feels when taking it out on the road or trail, especially when modifying the gear ratios.

For sport and performance riders, in particular, this is one area where aftermarket motorcycle parts most often win the day. Often, the search for performance by way of weight savings have unintended negative side effects - namely that aluminum sprockets wear out way too fast. Supersprox has an answer for this, and it's a beautiful one.

What's So Important About Sprockets?

If achieving better acceleration and power generation are the goal, a sprocket change is a surefire way of helping achieve that goal. The sprockets on a bike influence something known as the gearing ratio; that is, the ratio between the number of teeth between the front and rear bike sprockets. This ratio influences the conversion of revs from the engine into actual wheel speed when riding.

There are plenty of charts and references to look at in achieving the right balance, but the point is that the OEM gear ratio is often not ideal, and heading to the motorcycle parts store to score some new sprockets is the best way to configure the ratio so it's closer to optimized.

Even if you're not keen on changing gear ratios, often riders will go for a lighter setup or sprockets with customizable colors to accent their motorcycle. Remember, if you're modifying your gear ratios, then you're going to want to install a Speedohealer in order to fix the speedometer error that will likely result.

What About Supersprox Sprockets?

For their part, Supersprox USA has an expansive and reliable line of sprockets marketed specifically to street racers, rally racers, enduro-cyclers and motocross guys. Their lineup includes a rather unique offering, the Supersprox Stealth Sprockets. These sprockets are finely tuned for superior performance and increased longevity.

Whereas many sprockets are completely aluminum or steel, the Stealth Sprockets use a combination of an aluminum center and steel teeth. This allows them to produce sprockets lighter (and cheaper) than many competitors and last a lot longer without totally giving up the sought after weight savings of aluminum sprockets.

Additionally, their sprockets come in various color options (gold, red, black) and are well-regarded for their superior performance and high levels of durability. You'll be able to express yourself in more ways than one!

Supersprox Durability and Chain Kits

There's a long list of notable riders who endorse the Supersprox brand across many performance-oriented motorcycle events, and the company is confident enough to offer a lifetime guarantee on its drive kits. I mean, 60+ world championships can't be wrong.

To save on the confusion of chain lengths or matching the correct chain, the Supersprox "lifetime" chain & sprocket kits come with the front and rear sprockets needed for particular setups, along with a chain to link everything together - making finding the right plug and play kit an exceedingly simple prospect.

As always, one of the best ways to source high-quality sprockets (or any aftermarket gear for that matter) is making use of an online motorcycle parts store. They often carry the widest selection of individual parts (even from guys like Supersprox) and know how to keep prices well within the limits of reasonable. Our store has plenty!

Continue reading about the best motorcycle exhausts!

By Daniel Relich
Published Friday, May 12, 2017

Power Commander FC vs. Power Commander V

Despite their appearances, motorcycles aren't just fun modes of transportation and many enthusiasts want to bring their bike to the next level. They're finely tuned machines, and optimizing their inner workings is the key to the increased performance that many riders crave. Like the widely popular car tuning culture, motorcycles have a tuning niche all their own.

Motorcycle performance to an aftermarket exhaust system is like second nature. It just goes together - a match made in heaven. In the cases of full exhaust systems and slip-on exhausts that remove the catalytic converter, there may be such a large shift in exhaust flow that the stock ecu cannot properly manage. Although backfires and overheating are obvious symptoms of a improperly tuned bike, there are many more issues that lurk below the surface.

Many riders aim for peak horsepower and torque whereas power delivery and a smooth power curve is what delivers the overall fun factor (and faster lap times) and can easily be considered just as important. This is where a proper tune with a Dynojet Power Commander can come into play.

Finding that perfect balance by adjusting the motorcycle's air-fuel ratio is the way to go to attain the power and ride-ability we should all be seeking. One of the main ways of manipulating this is by way of one of the most crucial of all motorcycle parts -- the aftermarket fuel controller.

Air-Fuel Ratios & Fuel Controllers

As the name suggests, this is the ratio of air to fuel in the engine. When the ratio is too low (less than enough fuel to be considered ideal), this is known as "running lean." There are several disadvantages to this, including reduced power output, poor throttle response and excessive heat from the engine. It stands to reason, then, that riders of all stripes would want to keep their air-fuel ratio as precise as possible to avoid problems.

Distance and touring riders certainly don't want their engines running hot and burning their legs, and performance riders will take every opportunity available to squeeze more power from their engines. This is where the fuel controllers can help. These devices use on-board computers to control fuel injection (getting fuel directly to the engine) and can save different settings as "maps" that riders can switch between.

Two Options: Power Commander Fuel Controller and the Power Commander V

Two prominent controllers that many motorcycle parts stores offer are the Power Commander Fuel Controller (PCFC) and the Power Commander V (PCV). Both fuel controllers are great at getting the job done, but there are a few differences that might influence which choice is best for you.

The PCFC is what could be considered a "no frills" option for consumers who just want reliable and basic functionality of a fuel controller. Its capabilities are still broad enough to allow for the use of various pre-programmed maps and for users to load 10 of their own personal maps that they can change on the fly. The drawback is that it doesn't work in conjunction with many of Dynojet's more popular accessories like the quickshifter, somewhat limiting its performance.

For those that want to go all out with accessories like the quickshifter or want an even higher level of tune-ability (and have the time to familiarize themselves with the device's finer points), the Power Commander V might present a superior option. This controller also allows for gear inputs and analog inputs so that users can map adjustments based on multiple factors. In short, the PCV is geared towards high performance riders and racers.

I hope we've given you enough information regarding the fuel controller options from Dynojet so you can make a good decision when installing an aftermarket full system (or better yet, an Akrapovic exhaust!). Continue reading about the Akrapovic.

Not sure where to look? The spot to go for these devices and many other aftermarket parts is an online motorcycle parts store. There, riders are more apt to find the widest selections and best prices available.

By Daniel Relich
Published Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Seat Concepts Seat Kits Can Save You Money

Of all the components on a motorcycle, the seat is the one that has the greatest influence on the comfort level of the rider. Some seats are a better fit for smaller riders; others are better for larger builds. The materials they are made from will influence the feel of the seat while riding. Every ride is different so trying to conform your stock seat to your specific... shape... is not going to be the best route.

Of course, every motorcycle comes with a seat pre-installed, but through the magic of aftermarket motorcycle parts, it's a (relatively) simple matter for any rider to swap in something new. There are a few details to consider before rushing off to the online motorcycle parts store and snatching up whatever's available.

We love Seat Concepts seats because they're made in the USA and come with a wide variety of options for mostly off-road/mx and ADV motorcycles although their list of road bike fitments is growing. There's 2 key types of products available from Seat Concepts that'll help you get precisely what you need without having to spend more money than you have to.

Motorcycle Seat Components: The Basics

The first thing to keep in mind are the three basic parts that make up almost all seats -- the base/pan, the foam and the cover. The base is where it all begins, the place where the seat attaches to the motorcycle itself. Plastic bases save on costs, but for something sturdy, fiberglass and steel are the superior options but weight and cost generally prohibit their use.

The foam is the most important factor in a seat's comfort level. Higher-quality and higher density foams provide a greater level of rider support. This is where the magic happens for most aftermarket seats as foams (or sometimes gels) are developed with specific rider intent in mind and can come with increases or decreases in height for areas of the seat in order to fix issues, increase control or adjust for specific riders (like tall seats and low seats).

The cover is the piece that envelopes the entire seat. Stock seats are typically constructed from mid-grade vinyl, which has a tendency to warp and bulge over time and they're pretty vanilla in the way they look. Though leather is a choice option for some, higher-grade vinyl will provide greater durability and can be treated and adapted with various gripper patterns, etc.

Seat Concepts Complete Seat Changes vs. Seat Kits

The complete seat change is one option that's very popular from Seat Concepts. The installation process is easier, as the adjustment is made by removing all seat components then sliding new ones into place (no stock modifications necessary). A simple swap. Though useful for distance and touring riders, or for those not inclined to modify their stock seat, this option is best but more expensive we're not re-using any components.

Thankfully, riders aren't obligated to swap out the whole seat. Many off-road/dual-sport/enduro riders find that their current base is suitable, but they want less aggravating foam padding or an altered look to suit their riding terrain/style. In these cases, less expensive Seat concepts seat kits are the preferred option, as a new foam and cover can be molded to fit the stock base/pan (perhaps with some minor alterations). A "build-a-seat", if you will. This option allows for a lower initial cost but requires modifying your stock seat.

Seat Concepts is hugely popular for their seat kits. Although other manufacturers offer covers or seat components separately from a complete seat, we feel Seat Concepts delivers the widest array of options and fitments at very good price points.

No matter the course you choose, browsing online motorcycle part stores to get an idea of the variety and prices of different seat options is an important next step, as online outlets provide a more comprehensive view of the brand choices than a trip to any one shop would allow.

Seat kits can actually save you a bit of money as they don't include the full seat. Continue reading more about Seat Concepts Seat Kits.

Have a favorite? Let us know.
By Daniel Relich
Published Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Motorcycle Helmet Laws and Safety (USA)

Ride Free, Ride Safe: Helmet Laws and Safety

I love riding a motorcycle. Love it. The sense of freedom is unmatched by any other form of transportation. Riding with the wind in my hair is amazing. However, most states impose safety regulations that limit how much freedom we have on our bikes.

Where Can I Ride Helmet-Free?

There are only two states that have no helmet laws: Illinois and Iowa. These states do regulate helmet manufacturers, but there are no fines or other punishments for anyone riding without a helmet. In fact, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that helmet laws were unconstitutional. Iowa also once had a helmet law, but it was repealed in 1986.

It's also legal to ride without a helmet in Florida and Michigan, within certain restrictions. In those states, helmetless riders must be over the age of 21. However, both require that helmetless riders carry insurance. Florida requires health coverage of no less than $10,000, and Michigan requires coverage of at least $20,000. In New Hampshire, those over 18 can legally ride without a helmet.

Partial Freedom

There are 27 states that are partially free and 19 that have no allowances for helmetless riders. You can check your state's requirements using this handy map, provided by a Pennsylvania law firm. If you are unsure about your local helmet laws, be sure to contact your state's Department of Transportation or whatever state agency regulates motor vehicle laws.

Shopping Helmets at an Online Motorcycle Parts Store

Whether the state requires a helmet or not, safety is important, and we all need to operate our bikes within the bounds of the law. Thus, when I point my browser to an online motorcycle parts store, there are certain things I'm looking for. First, I want a helmet that looks good. You've got to look good, right? Then, I check out the style. I prefer full-face helmets. I think they're attractive and add to my aerodynamics.

Since I know my size, I'm confident that the helmet will fit, but I'm also interested in safety. After all, if I have to wear a helmet, I want to make sure that it will do what it's supposed to. There's no room for excess baggage on my bike.

When my new helmet arrives in the mail, I'm sure to check a few things:

*Size: Even though I'm confident my helmet will fit, before I get on my bike, I make sure the helmet is snug and not at all loose on my head.
* Fit: My helmet should ride just above my eyebrows. I check this in the mirror, and I ask my wife to take a look, too.
*Strap: I need confidence in my chin strap. I make sure it's comfortable and under my chin. I tighten the strap and ensure that my helmet doesn't wobble at all.
DOT Certification: The U.S. Department of Transportation certifies helmets to. Make sure your helmet has a DOT sticker on the rear exterior. This ensures that your helmet meets the US Government's minimum safety standards. Without this certification, your helmet may not be legal.

SNELL Certified Helmets

The Snell Foundation has been testing helmets since 1957. It's an independent organization that looks for one thing: performance. I trust that philosophy. Snell has upgraded its testing equipment and methods over the years, and I truly believe the people who work there are dedicated to the safety of riders. The Snell website lists a few important guidelines for choosing a helmet, the chief one being whether or not the helmet carries a Snell sticker of approval.

Helmets are an integral part of the motorcycle riding experience so choose wisely! An experienced online retailer is your best bet when shopping. Now sure how to fit a new helmet? Read our guide to finding the right size helmet. Further reading about how to convince your significant other to let you buy a motorcycle is highly recommended!


Recommended Reading
Dant, Alastair and Fairfield, Hannah. "Fewer Helmets, More Deaths." New York Times, 2014.
By Daniel Relich
Published Thursday, April 20, 2017

How Does Motorcycle Suspension Work?

Motorcycle suspension is the foundation of performance, yet it's the most misunderstood and often an overlooked upgrade. Even if you have a high-end motorcycle or sport bike, there is likely room for improvement in the suspension department. Trust us: The best you know is only what you've experience so far! This sentiment applies to many things in life.

While we tend to see more exhaust first-purchases when riders are buying motorcycle parts online, those that are looking to go faster and ride more confidently should absolutely think about getting their suspension dialed in through tuning and using the correct spring rates, etc. - at least as a baseline.

Suspension on my bike has always had a bit of voodoo behind it and, for this reason, I would shy away from making this major leap in performance when I should have been running towards it.

Investing in an aftermarket suspension setup will improve almost every part of your ride or race. For example:
* Better overall handling
* Improved control and traction
* Enhanced safety
* Reduce rear end chatter/skipping (more power to the ground)

With so many benefits, suspension is hard to ignore when considering upgrades for your bike whether you're taking a spirited ride through the canyons, hitting the occasional track day or just on-ramp warrior-ing it. I'm going to try and give you an overview about how motorcycle suspension in particular works so we can shed a little light on this subject and, hopefully, make it a little less scary.

Motorcycle Suspension Basics

Forget everything you know about automobile suspension. The rider/bike weight ratio is much larger, requiring research and time to adjust sag, compression and rebound settings. Rear suspension is comprised of a damper and a spring -- aka the shock absorber. Suspension enhancements and personalization can improve handling and control when hitting a bump in the road or track.

Suspension Sag and Springs

Loaded sag refers to the amount of suspension travel used when a bike settles with the rider on board. Adjusting the sag to match your weight helps your suspension work at optimum levels. Before you begin, write down the original settings so you can go back to them if you go too far. If you're dealing with a pre-owned bike, refer to the owners manual to revert to the original settings.

If you buy aftermarket tools or parts to help with sag adjustment, an instruction guide will be provided. Also, refer to the owners manual. It's definitely a two-person job. Or you can take it into a shop.

Compression Damping and Shock Rebound

Compression damping helps keep the wheel on the ground when going over a bump. Shock rebound returns the wheel to the ground as smoothly as possible. Many aftermarket suspension kits come with instruction manuals and customer service.

Ride Height

If the ride height is incorrect, it can affect the stability and safety of the rider. Aftermarket spring shocks offer preload adjustment features to set the right height.

Front Forks

Aftermarket front-fork suspension kits can alleviate a harsh ride due to weak springs, worn parts or binding.

Bearings and Tires

Bearings and tires are also suspension items. Be sure to check all wheel bearings, swing arm bearings and steering head bearings. If you're not certain how to do it, a reputable shop can help you.
Tire stability involves more than a pressure check. Too much compression or insufficient compression can negatively impact tire stability and traction when taking corners or pulling out. If tire stability continues to be an issue, go back to your shock compression settings. If you don't have proper control, the settings are wrong.

Final Thoughts

Don't be afraid to dive into your first suspension evaluation. Once you improve the handling of your bike through suspension adjustments, you'll feel the difference, and you'll be ready to dive into even more suspension troubleshooting.

We carry many different brands of aftermarket motorcycle suspension components on our motorcycle parts website like springs and gold valves from Race-Tech Suspension as well as world renowned, direct bolt-on replacement shocks, kits and forks by Ohlins Suspension. There's also suspension for your controls.

Learn more about the ups and downs of motorcycle suspension.

By Daniel Relich
Published Thursday, April 13, 2017

Ohlins Steering Damper Kits

So you want to go fast, young moto-jedi? There's a whole hell of a lot of riding skills to master but, on top of that, your equipment needs to align with your riding style and your bike has to be dialed-in. A few shiny new parts won't hurt things, either.

Given a choice, I'd rather have a smooth ride than a wobbly one so I can ride confidently (and quickly). Most riders would undoubtedly answer the same, but for some reason, many don't know that one of the secrets to having their bike react the way they'd like is hidden within the parts they can by for their motorcycle. Specifically, the steering damper serves the express purpose of countering uncontrolled movements (wobble) while riding. Oh, and they're also often called steering stabilizers.

I know, I know, another article about how you can ride your motorcycle faster buy spending more money on aftermarket parts but hear me out! Many riders jump straight for the exhaust and other visual upgrades when the secret-sauce to being at the head of the pack (for us performance junkies) is usually in the less flashy upgrades. I'm talking about going straight to upgrading your motorcycle's suspension in order to go fast. Steering dampers fall under that very same category and are really a must-have for those hitting the track or riding aggressively on the weekends.

What Makes Steering Dampers Great For Sport Bikes?

Sport bikes are tuned for precision and performance. They maximize factors like acceleration, speed and braking ability. It's what they live for and also why we are so attracted to them. They embody beautiful lines, danger and require a high level of skill to properly manage. In many cases, they also have shorter wheel bases and a tendency to be more difficult to control. For these kinds of bikes, dampers are going to get you the stability and riding confidence riders are looking for.

If your bike feels loose and sloppy, you aren't going to be quick and you're most likely to push the limits of the bike in a not-so-safe-manner. That's not good for anyone.

The stabilizer/damper attaches to the motorcycle and works by reducing the amount of shock transferred to the motorcycle bars (and arms). This lessens an effect known as oscillation, making the bike easier to control. It reduces lateral (horizontal) movements, much in the same way that the suspension on your bike corrects for vertical movements.

This equates to less energy expended trying to hold the bike steady, and less fatigue as a result. Additionally, the likelihood losing control of the bike while performing tricky maneuvers, such as a tight turn or a wheelie, is greatly reduced.

What About Ohlins Steering Dampers?

Sometimes, bikes will come with steering dampers. Many riders that want a higher-quality ride, however, will turn to various motorcycle parts stores for high-end aftermarket motorcycle parts for exacting specifications. Ohlins is one such brand, a company with a deep history in world-championship racing that you can trace back to the 1970s. Ohlins produces a rather well-regarded piston-style damper that sport bike enthusiasts have come to trust and love.

If you haven't been living under a rock for the past-forever, Ohlins is a name synonymous with incredible suspension performance and racing pedigree and...you should take notice. They're pricey additions but well worth the entry price if your goal is to take your riding to a new level and discover increase feel and feedback. Ohlins shocks are generally the best selling item from their catalog.

Rotary Style or Piston Style?

In contrast to rotary-style dampers like a Scotts steering stabilizer, piston-style dampers from Ohlins can mount in the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) location on most bikes, where they install with ease. There's no need to worry about them much afterward once they are dialed-in. Rotary-styles are almost always top-mount devices, which makes taking the tank off more difficult -- something track bike owners may frequently be doing during competition.

Some feel that piston-style dampers are more difficult to adjust on the fly and might sustain more damage during an impact, but, with some practice, adjusting settings becomes nearly as easy as it would be with a rotary device. It's really a matter of choice.

Best Place To Buy a Damper

There's a host of options when it comes to motorcycle suspension in general. When shopping online, a reputable online motorcycle parts & accessories store is your best bet but we always urge riders to hit up motorcycle events, ask riding buddies and search/chat on online forums in order to find the best combination for their particular bike. You can also shop for Ohlins steering dampers on our website.


Let's lightly cover installation as it's a big part of motorcycle tuning culture whether you're a DIY magician or prefer to take your bike down to the street to a trusted shop. More often than not, steering dampers and stabilizers are bolt-on parts that aren't terribly difficult to install. However, certain models may require drilling mount points. Seek a qualified mechanic to be safe if you're not comfortable working on your bike or have an installation party with your buddies - you'd be surprised how many are down to wrench in a garage and talk shop!

Continue reading about the benefits of upgrading motorcycle suspension to see if you can benefit from an Ohlins Shock.

By Daniel Relich
Published Tuesday, April 11, 2017