Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Importance of Motorcycle Gear

The Importance of Motorcycle Gear

Looking cool on a motorcycle is one thing.  Being cool is quite another.

Joanna Benz only wears full motorcycle gear when riding
Story by Jim Foreman and Irv Seaver BMW

One look at this title probably has most “All-The-Gear-All-The-Time” or ATGATT zealots aroused at least as much as when ‘enjoying the stories’ (ahem) in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.

This is not about ATGATT or repeating the mantra on social media posts like a brain-dead zombie. Instead, this is a discussion on why good quality motorcycle gear matters and why you should make a point to own some and use it.

The 2013 GEAR study made some startling conclusions including this one.  “A substantial proportion of motorcycle designed gloves (25.7%), jackets (29.7%) and pants (28.1%) were assessed to have failed due to material damage in the crash.”

This means that cheap, decorative, and poor quality moto gear is a waste of money.  As the old proverb goes, “Buy quality, and you buy it once.  Buy cheap and buy it several times.”  In other words, you get what you pay for.  Spend some money on quality gear.  It’s better to have one set of high-quality riding gear than a closet full of poor fitting, cheaply made kit that wouldn’t protect you in the most minor of incidents.

“Nothing turns me on more than a rider in a helmet and race suit.” –Laura Ruddy

Laura Ruddy
Fortunately, one can find bargains when premium clothing lines go on closeout to make way for newer styles.  Stick with top brands like Held, Dainese, BMW Motorrad, REV'IT, and Alpine Stars and you’ll be good.

If money is super tight, there are several local and online retailers selling pre-owned motorcycle gear.  It’s usually in excellent shape and can offer many years of service to the new owner.  The same premium brands mentioned above are often available.

Yes, it’s known that many of you that are reading this get it already.  If so, please share this story with someone who needs a nudge in the right direction.  If someone shared this with you, consider that person a true friend who thinks you’re smart and deserving of the best!

Let’s get past the obvious first. If you think riding in a t-shirt, sneakers, shorts, and maybe a helmet is all the motorcycle gear you need, this may be a long and painful journey for you.  At least you’ll meet lots of women… Mostly nurses, in hospitals.


Helmets


Starting from the top of your body down, a helmet is probably the most critical piece of safety gear you can wear.  It’s so crucial that many US States require helmet usage.  If one is trying to argue that they are better off in a motorcycle collision without a helmet, walk away.  They are completely full of it and probably also think they own Brooklyn Bridge.

Study after study concludes that helmet use offers the single most significant reduction in fatalities among motorcyclists.

What kind of helmet though?  In truth, a full-face helmet does the most to protect your brain and face in a collision.  They also are the quietest and keep bugs, rocks, rain, windshield washer fluid, cigarette butts, and other nasties off of your face while riding.  Whether it’s a solid full face or a modular helmet, these work the best in protecting the pilot and passenger.

Full-face helmets range in price from $79.00 at Cycle Gear to over $1000.  A surprising number of riders think the $79 helmet is perfectly fine.  It would be a wonder if they made any correlation as to what the helmet is protecting.

Yes friends, everything you are; your entire existence takes place in your brain and spinal cord.  Don’t you think it’s worth spending a little money to protect it with a high-quality properly fitted helmet?

This is all we are.  From the Bodies Exhibit
Yes, fitment is critical.  If it isn’t properly fitted, its effectiveness dwindles substantially.  Most people buy helmets that are too big for their head.  If it fits perfectly in the store, it will be too big in a couple of weeks.  It should fit snug, without pressure points.  Your cheeks may be pushed together like fish lips, but once it is broken in, it will fit perfectly and protect your head correctly.

The top makers of street helmets are Schuberth, Shoei, and Arai.  Time and time again, these brands have made helmets that offer comfort, quiet, airflow, and protection that is consistently proven effective.  That doesn’t mean brands like HJC, Shark, Nolan, AGV, and others aren’t good.  They are.  The key is that the helmet you choose fits your head in both size and shape properly and provides the comfort, airflow, aerodynamics, and quiet you want.

More importantly, it’s critical that you replace your helmet when it becomes too old.  For most brands, it’s 5 years from the date of manufacture.  Schuberth states you must discontinue use 8 years after the date of manufacture.  Every DOT helmet is required to have a Date of Manufacture label in the helmet.  Do you know yours?

Even if the helmet is never worn but kept in a cool, dark place, the EPS Liner (Styrofoam part that protects your head) degrades over time.  Like those cheap convenience store ice chests, it begins to harden and become brittle after some years.  With that, its protective capability quickly diminishes, too.

If your helmet is over 5 or 8 years old, it’s time to retire it and get a new one.

If your head has impacted the ground, however minimally, while wearing the helmet, you must retire it.  You may have just tipped over, in a parking spot, but if you hit your head, you must replace it regardless of whether or not it looks like it took damage.  Have you ever pushed your finger into one of those Styrofoam ice chests?  What happens?  Does it stay compressed or does it pop back out to normal?  That’s why they must be replaced.  The helmet did its job and protected your head.

Several helmet companies offer a significant discount if your helmet needs to be replaced after an impact.

If you buy a quality helmet, you will not have wasted your money on a stack of cheap helmets that may have looked super cool but doesn’t fit right, rattles, shakes your head, or suffocates you inside.

Armored Jacket


Mildred: “Hey, Johnny, what are you rebelling against?” Johnny: “What've you got?” -The Wild One

One can’t imagine a motorcycle rider without some type of jacket.  A jacket is so much more than a fashion statement, for most people.

A jacket serves to keep riders cool in the summer, warm in the winter, dry(ish) in the rain, and unscathed in a get-off.  Add to that the benefit of being free of bugs, insect stings, gravel, and errant cigarette butts.

Up until the early 90’s all one really had commonly available was a thick leather or denim jacket to accomplish this.  Now there are adventure, touring, racing, spirited-riding, commuting, bike show, cruising, cold-weather, warm-weather, electric, and even air-conditioned jackets.

Wait!  Wait! Some of you are thinking, is he crazy?  Wearing a jacket in the hot summer?  Yes!  Furthermore, the type of summer jacket one wears depends on if they are in a humid environment or a dry heat.

BMW Motorrad Boulder Jacket
If one is riding in a dry heat, a solid textile jacket with zipper vents like the BMW Motorrad Boulder Jacket works best.  Open the zippers enough to get the air circulating around your body and enable its natural cooling.   If too much air is passing through, one will dehydrate quite quickly as the body works overtime to produce a cooling sweat.  Remember, a body never evolved to travel at 65+ miles an hour.  It’s up to us to help our body do its job to keep our temperatures regulated.

Let’s say you’re in Virginia in July.  It’s humid!  A large-mesh textile jacket works quite well in those environments.

Either way, be sure to drink lots of water and stay hydrated.

Jackets do much more than regulating our temperature and keep us dry in the rain.  Most motorcycle jackets include CE rated armor in the elbows, shoulders, and often the back.

CE rated armor is explained quite well in this article by Motorcyclist Magazine.

On a get-off, a rider’s shoulder followed by the elbow is most likely to hit the ground hard.  Good armor is the difference between a little soreness and a hospital stay.

According to a March 2006 research study on motorcycle protective clothing, “Use of protective jackets and trousers, in particular, make riders significantly less likely to be admitted to hospital following a crash. Although (Protective Motorcycle Gear) often cannot prevent major injuries in high impact crashes; it can reduce torn ligaments, broken bones and gravel rash following minor crashes.”

Gloves


This one should be quite obvious.  The first time one gets hit with a bit of gravel or impacted by a suicidal bug usually drives home the point that gloves are quite necessary.

This is one of those areas where using a leather (Cowhide, Deer, Goat, Kangaroo) or other natural abrasion-resistant material seems to work best.




The best gloves have familiar labels.  Look for Held, BMW Motorrad, Dainese, and Alpine Stars.

Indeed, any glove is better than no glove, but imagine if the glove you’re wearing will protect the heel of your palm and fingers when sliding down asphalt or being pelted by hail, bugs, or gravel.

Additionally, a gauntlet style glove goes a long way to reducing wrist injuries versus hand only protection.

Pants


Now we come to pants.  According to the previously mentioned study, Legs are 74% likely to have an injury in a motorcycle crash.  The points with the highest severity are the knees and hips.

Bull-It SP 120 SR6 - Ladies Ocean Straight with Covec®
For many riders, the belief in the myth that legs aren’t as important as the rest of the body is foolhardy.  Clearly, these riders haven’t demolished their patella (knee cap) from an impact with the street.  Our legs make up nearly 50% of the skin coverage on our bodies. Naturally, our legs also give us mobility.  Since though there are no vital organs in our legs, it’s often given secondary priority for protection by motorcyclists.

Like with elbows and shoulders, modern rip-resistant fabrics like Kevlar®, Covec®, nylon and other incredibly strong synthetic fabrics go a long way to protecting our legs from abrasion.  Add CE rated armor to distribute any impact over a wider area and prevent serious injury to your knees and hips.

You don’t have to look like a spaceman to have protective pants.  Companies like Bull-It Jeans, Drayko, Dainese, and BMW Motorrad offer stylish, all-day comfortable jeans that disguise the protective features of the pants while still flattering your figure and fashion choices.

Sadly, denim jeans such as Levi’s, AE, Wrangler, or Diesel jeans don’t hold up in an abrasion.  Typical fashion denim jeans look great but are not designed, built, or intended to withstand abrasion. They last less than a second leaving you vulnerable, bare-skinned, and without critical knee protection.  Several companies, including Icon, make over-pant knee and shin guards that can offer significant added protection for a passenger or rider.

There’s no excuse not to wear protective pants.

Boots


Only second to one’s head, feet are the most common injury in motorcycle collisions.

Dainese Torque D1 Out Boots
According to the real-world GEAR study from 2013:  The risk of any foot or ankle injuries in a motorcycle collision was reduced 45% by wearing motorcycle specific boots and (a surprising) 53% by non-motorcycle boots when compared to shoes or joggers.

The conclusion was that any good fitting boots such as hiking, or work boots provide a risk reduction similar to motorcycle boots.

To their credit, motorcycle specific boots usually don’t have laces that can catch on levers or foot pegs when moving your feet to the ground, at a stop.  They also can offer significant protection
against sprains and abrasion.
“A rider wearing full motorcycle gear is practically invisible to me.” Trooper Worthington (Colorado State Patrol Motorcycle Trooper)

Summary

Nikki Riordan and Lyndsey Livingston always ride in full gear

The 2013 motorcycle apparel GEAR Study conclusively found the following to be true.
Motorcyclists wearing protective clothing fitted with body armor were significantly less likely to sustain injuries to the protected areas compared to those wearing non-motorcycle clothing.

Specifically, when body armor was fitted, there was a 23% lower risk of injury associated with motorcycle jackets, 45% for motorcycle gloves, 39% for motorcycle pants for leg injuries, and 57% by wearing motorcycle, sturdy work boots, or hiking boots.

This doesn’t mean you are protected by a shield of invincibility, but instead, you significantly increase your chances of being unhurt and uninjured in a motorcycle collision by wearing high-quality, proper-fitting motorcycle gear and equipment.

Fortunately getting high-quality gear has never been easier than it is now.  Visit your favorite retailer to try on and buy quality gear.  Ask about specials and closeouts and please, don’t buy gear just because it’s cheap or has cool colors.

When you’re in Southern California, or need a trusted source for the highest quality protective equipment and apparel, visit Irv Seaver Motorcycles in Orange County, California to try on and buy or order top-tier apparel from trusted brands including Schuberth, Held, Shoei, Arai, Drayko Jeans, Bull-It Jeans, and the incredible highly rated gear from BMW Motorrad.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Monkey on a Motorcycle

A weeklong motorcycle adventure with a 16-year-old and her dad.

High-Fiving each other after a series of great curves and bends

Story and Photos by Kendal Foreman and Jim Foreman

It was our second day traveling.  We had just finished a hearty breakfast in Silverton,  Colorado and were traveling north on what my dad explained was the “Million-Dollar Highway.”

After a series of impressive turns and a downhill zig-zag along the canyon wall, my Dad turns into an overlook.  Checking with Dad that it’s OK to dismount I started taking in the view of the canyon and the river below.  There was a faint rumbling sound that could be heard in the distance.

Walking toward a steel bridge, it finally caught me in wonder.  In front of my eyes was a real plume of water cascading down about 100 feet into a pool at the bottom.  All of a sudden, it became apparent why my dad stopped here.  It took several minutes of staring and amazement before joining my Dad further along the overlook. 

Right then, the motorcycle adventure became alive and vibrant in my mind.

Only two years ago, on Father’s Day, was my first motorcycle ride.  Though Dad had asked me occasionally if I’d like to ride with him, I always refused.  A big part of that was due to the warning and concern my mom expressed.  She was not comfortable with me riding on the bike.  Secondarily, there may have been some fear there, too.  My Father only said, “One day, when you’re ready.”

First time riding a motorcycle - Father's Day 2015
 That day did finally arrive.  Like before, Dad asked if I’d like to join him on a ride.  The difference was that I decided to say, “Yes!”  With a pleasant look of surprise, Dad fitted a helmet, jacket, gloves and knee armor for my jeans and we went on a short but exciting ride.  At the end of the ride, The only thing I could remember was asking when we could do this again.  We were both excited.

Of course, Dad sent photos of me in my motorcycle gear with the bike to my mom to let her know.  Later, that exploded into an ugly but short-lived situation between my Mom and Dad.  Dad took it all in stride and told me how proud he was of me and that we could do it again, as soon as I wanted.

Several days after my first ride, the anger from Mom disappeared, and I even got dropped off several times on the motorcycle with nothing but a smile and a wave to Dad as he said, “Have a great time!”
Since that first ride, I’ve traveled up Pacific Coast Highway and through Baja California from Los Cabos to Orange County, CA. 

Being 16, I find that any average day can easily begin to overshadow the adventurous spirit. The foundation of curiosity discovered outdoors is lessened more and more as the routine of life solidifies. Exploration and wonder are sacrificed for an undetermined obligation or countless hours mindlessly spent on the computer. 

A couple of weeks ago, my Dad asked if I’d be interested in joining him at the Top O’ the Rockies Rally in Colorado. 

I was tentative to the idea.  It sounded fun, but I was used to lounging at home during the few remaining weeks of summer vacation.  I finally agreed and began to pack and prepare the day before we left.  One thing my Dad has taught me is to pack light.  It was a surprise that I had some extra room in my bag for some luxuries like drawing paper and some art supplies.

We began early Wednesday morning by loading my Dad’s new BMW S 1000 XR.  It was the first time I was going to be riding on this bike.  My previous journeys were on the BMW K 1200 RS. 
Packed and loaded we began our two-wheeled adventure from Tucson, Arizona.  Riding across the Mojave and Sonoran deserts on the freeway are not fun.  We trucked the bike to Tucson from Orange County, CA.

Along the way, the journey began to show off its stellar portfolio. There are stair-like slopes configured, as if by design, and patches of trees and greenery placed as if to appeal to a particular aesthetic.   There are landscapes that appear impossible to exist, only a few hundred miles away.

Salt River Canyon
Nearing 150 miles in, the road enticed us through layered rock canyons that appeared flattened by a massive rolling pin. The clouds overhead filled the sky like scales to a fish.  In those times, the imagination is let off its leash and encouraged to stretch its legs. Suddenly it’s as if the sky is a theater stage and the clouds and mountains are the performers and props.

Long stretches of road are perfect for achieving a state of Zen.  Zen to me is the admiration and appreciation formed from being present in one’s place and time. It’s appreciation for the mountains, the clouds, the lingering cattle, and grazing horses. It’s the soul of everything we ignore or glaze over in daily life that is suddenly given weight and importance. 

To make the long trip more enjoyable, my Dad outfitted my helmet with a Sena Bluetooth system.  This enabled us to talk to each other and for me to listen to my music off of my iPhone.  With a percussive tap to my knee armor, a sway of my shoulders, and a slight bounce to my helmet, the party was just getting started.

Often, I’d reach out my arms to catch a breeze in my arm vents, which then turns into a game I make for myself. One notion that you learn is how the angle of your fingers affects the way your hand lifts or dives while in motion. Motorcycle riders must make exceptional pilots.

Upon first entering Colorado from New Mexico, the wind greeted the arrival with a purple sundown and a wonderful smell of rain with trees.   A light drizzle began to fall.  I noticed Dad take a more deliberate and cautious pace as we traveled the last 20 miles in rainy darkness.  Dad pulled behind a car and seemed to let it lead the way.  He later explained that was because the car has better lighting and if any deer or other animals come onto the roadway, he’d have the additional reaction of the car driver ahead to react safely.

Our first night in Colorado, we spent in Durango. Our older little hotel smelled a bit musty. As we unpacked, there was a faint drift of marijuana in the air.  In school, I had heard stories about the pot appetite here.

Dinner at Durango Brewing Co.
We found Durango Brewing Company was still open after 9 pm, so we enjoyed a great light dinner.

The next morning we hustled to make Paonia, CO by noon so Dad could prepare for his 1 pm presentation about, “Riding in Europe Without Going Broke.”

We left Durango to gorgeous blue skies and wonderful weather as we continued north on the 550. 

Forests galore and beautiful mountains followed. It is proven by this passenger that one can receive a natural high just by being surrounded with enough shades of the color green.

Understandably, Colorado means 'colored' in Spanish.  That's why the welcome signs at the state line say "Welcome to Colorful Colorado."

A rush of exhilaration slapped a massive smile on my face. Endorphins must hang in the air! I inhaled a walloping mass of the breeze, knowing it’s among the freshest I’ll probably ever experience. The sweet smell will forever linger in in my mind and tease the senses.

We arrived in Silverton, a mining town that was able to preserve the rustic buildings from a time long passed. Here, this minor (not miner) had her first experience sitting at a bar, albeit with a cup of cocoa and not whiskey or tequila. Rest assured that no one cared.  It was evident there wasn’t the space to sit elsewhere.  It felt pretty good, too.

Fed and refreshed, we mounted the XR and continued north.  A quick stop at the previously mentioned waterfall brought us within minutes of Ouray, CO. 

Ouray is a charming town known for its hot springs.  It’s unlike anything I’ve seen, so far.  I hope to return and maybe spend a couple of days there.

Arrival into Paonia, CO and the Top O' the Rockies Rally
We arrived in Paonia, CO and the Top O’ the Rockies Rally at 11:30 am.  Each year, the Rally is put on by the BMW Motorcycle Club of Colorado.  Dad got right to work preparing for the presentation.  I helped in any way I could.  His presentation was exciting and made me think of my visit to London and Paris. 

Afterward, many people came up to me and said, “Hello Monkey!”  This surprised me because that’s my Dad’s nickname for me.  I guess online, he also refers to me as ‘The Monkey’ and that’s how people seemed to know me.  It’s happened before.  I am surprised by the number of good friends, all over the world, my Dad seems to have.

Paonia, Colorado is a small town with few people.  It’s very tranquil and green. The hills have a coat sewn with the brightest of grass, and the mountains hold you in what seems like cupped hands. The view surrounding me is pleasing to the eye and fuel for this daydreamer.
Motorcycling in Mexico Presentation

The following day, my Dad presented his popular ‘Motorcycling in Mexico’ presentation.  It was a full-house as nearly every seat was filled in the building.  Many people recognized me from the pictures Dad used during the presentation and asked me my thoughts of traveling on a motorcycle.

That day, Dad noticed that the rear tire had worn dangerously low to the cords.  He spent a few hours sourcing a replacement in this rural part of Colorado.  Finding one about an hour away, he made arrangements to get it replaced. 

Dad being gone gave me an opportunity to set out, on my own and explore the surrounding farm at the Airbnb we were staying.  The kind lady who owned the home also took me into the dainty Downtown area of Paonia. 

After strolling around and enjoying the afternoon on my own, Dad called me to say he was back and could pick me up.  It was wonderful to just wander around and enjoy the nuances of this little town.
Sadly, the end of the rally was upon us.  We packed our gear and got ready to head back home.

For the ride back we took a different way along the Blue Mesa and down to Gunnison.  Then we headed west to Naturita and then over to Utah.  It’s interesting to me how the scenery and terrain change quite dramatically across the state lines. 

We stayed the night in Utah to continue to Monument Valley and cross into Arizona the following day.

As we approached Monument Valley, a light rain began to fall.  It was no big deal, and only my knees seemed to get wet.  I wish we didn’t have such a long distance to cover that day.  I would have loved to spend a whole day among these giants.

Canyon de Chelly
We continued south through the Navajo Nation, stopping by Canyon de Chelly.  It was remarkable for the picturesque formations and bright green grass at the floor.  I wandered down to get a better look into this natural wonder.

From Canyon de Chelly, we made a mad dash home.  We hit rain for about 80 miles, but it was light and kept the temperatures cool. 

After 525 miles, we finally made it home.  In total, we traveled 1625 miles during these six days.  I was glad to be back, but a part of me missed being on the road. 

The following day, I had time to reflect on this amazing trip and came up with some truths and observations.

The world wants you to see it. It’s enticing to think that everything sits just for me, waiting to for discovery. It’s beautiful that nature is never the same from day to day.

To think, one could be locked up in their room only reading about experiences like this. This time, I got to live it.

Travel is a surefire way to uncover what you truly desire for yourself. It has done wonders to improve self-esteem and bring me out of the little world I’ve created for myself.

It cannot be stressed more that the world is incredibly vast, exciting, beautiful, and worthy of your time.

I may be the happiest kid in the world because of these chances for adventure presented to me.

This story is sponsored by Irv Seaver Motorcycles in Orange County, California.  When you're in the area please visit this legendary dealership.  Irv Seaver Motorcycles is Orange County's BMW Motorcycle Dealer offering world class service, New and Pre-Owned Motorcycles, Parts, Accessories, and Apparel.

©2017 Jim and Kendal Foreman All Rights Reserved


San Luis Obispo on my journey up Pacific Coast Highway
An interesting natural wall on our journey home
At the Closing ceremony at the Top O' the Rockies Rally
With my Dad at Loreto, BCS
In the Route 66 town of Holbrook and the Wigwam Motel.
A short nap and then we continued
In front of Michael Jackson's former Neverland Ranch
Loreto Centro
 
Utah was very beautiful

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

6 Tips For Savvy Solo Riders


6 Tips For Savvy Solo Riders

Story and photos by Jim Foreman

For many riders, the thought of riding all day or over multiple days alone is frightening.  An insurmountable litany of ‘what if’ and ‘how do I’ thoughts begin to overwhelm one’s psyche to the point of paralysis.
Of course, there are also many riders who will read the paragraph above and scoff with a chuckle. 
Riding in groups or with friends does have its rewards and this should not, in any way, be misconstrued to suggest not riding in groups.  Rather, see this as an opportunity to consider a much more dynamic and freestyle form of traveling.
Either way, take a few moments to consider these real-world tips and see if any of them make your style of riding more enjoyable and rewarding.

1. Turn off or put away the GPS and buy some paper maps

GPS systems have their place.  They can be particularly useful in navigating an unfamiliar city or determining how far it is to the nearest hotel or gas station.  Sadly, what they have become for most people is an adventure chastity belt that inhibits all of the pleasure of owning a motorcycle and negates it to a purely functional object.  It’s just like a personal chastity belt.
When you take orders from Mary or John on the GPS, you miss out on opportunities to take more interesting back roads or sidetracks.  The psychology of a GPS user is strictly as a follower, doing as their told. That mentality goes against everything a motorcyclist stands for.
Consider one aspect; The Arrival Time.  Because a rider has an artificial time set as a goal, one is far less likely to venture onto a side road to see where it leads or explore a state or county park that is along the path.  This act alone of obediently conforming to the GPS’s will is the antagonist of freedom and motorcycling. 
Each morning, plot out directions from a paper map for the next 2-4 hours of riding.  Then at lunch ask locals for things to see and do in the area.  Reviewing a paper map on your table will bring about good wishes, interesting advice, and friends to make along the way.  Butler Maps makes maps specifically for motorcyclists.  They are easy to use and highlight incredible motorcycle roads.
By turning off the GPS, you’ll also be seeing more scenery, potential hazards, and be better able to spot those special people eager to hand out personalized, high-performance awards with a subsequent court date.
Turn off the GPS, Turn on the adventure!
A hotel found at the last minute.

2. Avoid making hotel reservations

Chasing down hotel reservations cause people to do foolish things.  Unless it’s a holiday weekend or there is a special event in the area, forgo the reservations.  That way, if you find a place or person that is interesting to you, you do not have to prematurely curtail the visit.
Apps like Booking.com make last minute accommodations easy and affordable.  A side benefit of traveling solo is that it’s much easier to find one available room than two, three or four. 
Chasing down pre-made reservations also leads to one taking risks such as riding at night on unfamiliar roads or riding while tired or affected by drink.  Countless stories of tragedy, including Harry Devert’s ordeal, all stemmed from a desire to chase down a distant pre-planned hotel reservation.
Don’t be afraid to stay at a small non-chain hotel or motel.  Even if that means backtracking a little.  If you’re uncertain of its suitability, ask to see a room before you book it.  It can be fun.  Often, it’s tremendous fun.  Clean up after your ride and visit a nice restaurant or bar.  It’ll be obvious you’re a visitor.  If you have a positive and friendly demeanor, you’ll be part of the town in no time.

3. Don’t overthink the trip 

Place a change of clothes somewhere on your bike in case you have to stay somewhere overnight and just go.  You’re not traveling on the moon.  There are markets for toiletries, if needed, restaurants, and accommodations throughout most of the civilized world.
Americans, Canadians, Brits, and Australians seem the most obsessed with planning every detail of a trip before departure.  Don’t!  Unless you’re a robot and opposed to anything spontaneous, let your travels guide you and determine how and where you go.   
It doesn’t have to be a round-the-world endeavor.  Even just one overnight can provide unique opportunities to discover interesting places and people, close to home if you let it.
Motorcycles don’t lend themselves well to Obsessive-Compulsive personalities.

4. Break Free from routine

Don’t go to the same places each time.  Specifically, target a region or destination you’ve never been.  Set out generally in a direction and after a few hours, look at a map or ask someone for directions.
The intention is to force oneself to go a different way without knowing the exact route ahead of time.  Let go of any fears and follow your whimsy to great delight.
By allowing time for the unexpected,  interesting and fun opportunities will begin to present themselves.
Personal True Story: While wandering about on a dealer's demo bike a curious and playful situation unfolded.  I noticed a fit lady, later introduced as Christine, taking selfies at a vista point for a profile picture.  Sensing opportunity to enjoy the afternoon, I pulled the bike in close to her and centerstanded it.  I took off my helmet, smiled at her and offered to take her photo for her.  Within moments, Christine asked if she could take photos with my R 1200 RT.  I willingly obliged.  A crowd began to form as we took all sorts of shots and poses.  We both kept in touch and I shared the photos with her the following day.  When the story was told to the dealership upon my return, they couldn't believe it.  They still think this was a planned happening, but it was truly a right place, right time scenario.

5. Don’t be afraid or too proud to accept help

An interesting phenomenon happens when one is traveling solo by motorcycle.  You are much more approachable by others.  People will often come up to you and comment on your bike, relate their own riding stories, and often offer encouragement.  Warmly embrace this.  It’s a great opportunity to make friends, encourage others to take up or retake motorcycling, as a sport.
If you’re comfortable with it, let someone sit on your bike and take a photo on it.  Don’t be surprised if that same person is one who stops and offers help, further down the road.
Likewise, if you’re in trouble, such as running out of gas or have a flat, be gracious and willing to accept help from others.  Someone stopping may simply offer a bottle of water.  Others may offer to give you a ride, get gas, or a tire patch kit for you.  Bruce Springsteen recently found out how other motorcyclists with help fellow riders.
A vast majority of people are good people who will stop and help another person in need.  Most travelers put that number well above 90%. 
If someone does offer to help, make sure you get their number so if other arrangements are made you can contact them.  Also, sending a small token of appreciation by email or text such a cool photo of your journey or coffee gift card can go a long way to paying it back or forward for the next person in need. 
Even if you have called for roadside assistance, it may be much faster than the 1-3 hour response time for someone to get you gas or give you a ride into town.   It’s much easier to cancel a roadside assistance call than to burn a helpful person who went out of their way to help you.
Just remember to stop and check on others by the side of the road, in case they need help. 

6. Most importantly, remember why you bought a motorcycle

Don’t make the motorcycle conform to a pre-bike dull lifestyle.  Let it be a constant source of adventure, freedom, and excitement. 
Lose yourself in the trip, however long or short.   Disable the auto-pilot, in your brain, which often accounts for one’s typical week.




Whether you are new to motorcycling or have been riding for a long time, please visit Irv Seaver BMW in Orange County, California.  There you’ll find the full line of new BMW Motorcycles alongside a vast selection of pre-owned motorcycles from all brands.  Parts, Apparel, and the best service available in the country are at your pleasure.  
No performance awards from this crew.
A random stop inspired these grads to begin posing for the camera.
Lowell, AZ right next to Bisbee, AZ.  One never knows where one will end up.
Mission San Xavier del Bac

Sunday, January 15, 2017

6 Useful and Affordable Motorcycle Upgrades

Stock is just the start...

ALT Rider's interpretation of a BMW S 1000 XR

Story by Jim Foreman

Buying a new or pre-owned motorcycle is an exciting endeavor. It’s easy to fill one’s mind with all the places you will travel to and all the adventures ahead. It doesn’t take long from the point of purchasing the bike to come to the realization that you will want to upgrade it and add a few features.

Aftermarket add-ons can quickly drain your wallet and bank account faster than a blackjack table in Las Vegas. A wise motorcyclist will prioritize additions that increase safety, visibility, and convenience over those that look cool and are more of a novelty.

When browsing the selection of items one can add to one’s motorcycle, it’s easy to break out laughing. Chrome plated gimbal mounted drink holders, light-up air valve covers, and laser projection systems are only some of whimsical items one can install.

Items included in this list are proven to be useful for safety, protection, and convenience.


Horn

Perhaps the best and most useful upgrade is to the bike's horn. Let’s face it, the anemic ‘meep-meep’ of nearly all bike horns is pathetic and does little to keep 4-wheelers from merging into you.

There are several effective and affordable options available to you. The added benefit is that they won’t ring out the tune ‘La Cucaracha’ or ‘Dixie’ when you tap the horn button.

Several compact air-horns are very effective at sounding like a freight train and keeping drivers in their lane. They are also helpful in moving animals from the roadway and gleefully riding in a tunnel.

The Denali Sound Bomb is a top choice among motorcyclists. The Sound Bomb brings forth a cacophony of over 120 DB to alert a wayward driver. Its dual tone resonates as a call of danger to the recipient.

Similar products include the Screaming Banshee, Wolo Airhorn, and the Stebel Air Horn. All of these horns do require a wiring harness that includes a relay to drive more power to the horn’s air compressor.

The Stebel Airhorn sounds great. Be aware that many users have reported a rather short lifespan despite carefully following mounting instructions. Any of the other offerings seem to last much longer.

Installation of these horns can be quite tricky, and if there’s any uncertainty, please take the horn, wiring kit and your bike to your dealer or competent mechanic to install.

If space is severely limited, an alternative, which still offers a vast improvement over a stock horn, is the PIAA Sports Horn. The PIAA horns do not require a relay and wiring harness. They are also not as loud as the previously listed horns. The PIAA Sports Horn replaces the stock squeaker utilizing the existing wiring. The PIAA Sports Horn is deeper and sounds more like a car or truck rather than a go-kart.

All of these horns, including possible wiring, range in price from $39 to $179. No matter which option you choose, it will be vastly superior to the stock offering.

Lights


Like the horn, most bikes come a with a standard H4 or H7 Halogen automotive headlamp. More and more higher-end bikes come with LED or HID headlights but for now, count on having the regular bulbs.

Since the regular halogen bulbs do burn out and need to replacing fairly regularly, it is usually easy to swap a bulb, by yourself.

The low-beam bulb is the one that gets you noticed while riding during the daytime. It is responsible for a majority of your night-time riding light.

There are three options to help keep you visible during the day and to see more at night.

The first and the most simple option is to go to your dealer or auto parts store and pick up a high-intensity halogen bulb. Look at your owners manual or check online to see what kind of bulb your bike takes. These are typically inexpensive and often come in pairs since cars have two headlights. They are much brighter but do have a tendency to burn out more quickly, so it’s wise to pack the original or spare bulb somewhere safe, on your bike. These are a cinch to install and require no additional installation or wiring. Use gloves when installing any headlamp bulb to avoid getting natural oils on the glass surface.

The results are immediate and noticeable by the rider and traffic.

While you are at the auto parts store, you may also want to purchase a red LED brake light bulb or bulbs, depending on your bike, to serve as your brake light. LED brake lights will significantly increase a driver’s visibility of you, from behind. It’s also a simple three-minute installation job.

Again, look to your Owners Manual to know the correct bulb to purchase. Turn signals are more of a pain to replace with a LED bulb. Unless you add in-line voltage resistance, your bike will think it’s a dead bulb and flash quickly when active. Unless you are determined to install them, leave the turn signals alone.

A second option is to replace your halogen lighting with HID or LED Lights. A few years back, it was popular to replace one’s halogen bulb with a HID bulb. It required a bit of work and clever installation to accommodate the power ballast. Often it created more problems than it solved and most people’s results were mixed, at best. Focusing the beam was troublesome and blinding oncoming drivers became a serious issue.

Today, LED headlight replacements are now 'en vogue.' LED lamp replacements come in many shapes and forms. They are solid state and very rugged making them excellent for a motorcycle.

Unfortunately, they also require a power ballast and a means of cooling as they get quite hot. Every bike is different so installation may be simple or be a curse-laden task.

If you have the room, a LED light can dramatically improve your visibility, more than any halogen bulb can. If there is uncertainty about installing a LED low-beam bulb, consult your dealer or mechanic.

Clearwater Erica on a water-cooled BMW R 1200 GS
The third option is adding additional auxiliary lighting to your motorcycle.

Auxiliary lighting has always been quite popular for touring and adventure bikes. They add some much-desired illumination to dark roadways. This is especially true when riding back roads or dirt roads at night. More and more, commuters and general riders are adding auxiliary lights for added daytime visibility and evening commuting. It’s important to know the laws in your state regarding additional lighting. A single pair of lights is legal in all states. Adding more than one pair is where it gets sticky.

There are two trains of thought on which type or brand of auxiliary lighting to purchase and install. One side says, ‘Get a premium brand like Clearwater Lights or Rigid Lighting for your bike.’ This reasoning ensures the cleanest, brightest, and most durable lighting options.

The alternative argument is to get a tier two or second-rate brand of lighting such as 6K LED that costs significantly less. They may not be as precise or have the lumens output of the premium brands, but you can buy them and spares for a fraction of the cost of the premium ones. The reasoning follows that if your bike’s lighting is broken or damaged in a minor impact, tip-over, or a get-off, you’re not looking at many hundreds of dollars to replace the light.

It only takes a good piece of gravel or a miscalculated obstacle such as a fence or pole to destroy or break off your auxiliary lighting.

Added lighting requires special wiring, switches, and likely, an additional fuse block to keep them fed with enough power. They need some intermediate to advanced skills to install correctly. Consult your dealer or mechanic before buying a set.

Engine and Frame Protection


Let’s face it, given the current state of oppressive gravity laws, the likelihood of your motorcycle falling to one side or the other is rather high. Adventure and American V-Twin riders have known this nearly as long as motorcycles have existed.

A good set of frame or engine guards can mean the difference between riding home happy and riding home worried about how much certain damage will cost.

The cost of engine/frame protection varies as much as the bikes they’re intended for. The offerings, brands, and pricing are truly too numerous to mention in any one article. Prices range from around one hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Needless to say, look for quality products sold by reputable vendors made specifically for your motorcycle.

Rizoma B-Pro Engine/Fairing Guards
If you’re on a sportbike, standard, or touring bike consider frame sliders. They mount to the frame or engine and protrude a few inches beyond the fairings to absorb any impact or scrapes when the motorbike decides to take a nap.

Rizoma, Woodcraft, R & G Racing, SW Motech, Puig, and Yoshimura are some of the most popular premium offerings. Avoid cheap sliders or engine guards.  They rarely hold up in a crash and often cause as much damage as they are intended to prevent.  Most protectors don't require any alterations to your fairing and install quickly and easily.

On adventure bikes, a safety cage serves as bike and engine protection and doubles as mounting points for accessories like auxiliary lighting. Touratech, Wunderlich, Alt Rider and SW Motech make popular models.

Big V-Twin cruisers are typically outfitted with large protruding crash bars that often double as footrests for those long interstate journeys. Quality brands include Lindby, Kuryakyn, and offerings from your motorcycle's manufacturer.


Throttle Assist System


Though still rare, more and more motorbikes include factory installed Active Cruise Control that works the same way it does in your car. If you are one of the fortunate who has this feature, you know just how useful it can be. On long rides, one needs to give the throttle hand a stretch break.

For the vast majority of riders, active cruise control is only a fond wish. There are many passive throttle locks or devices designed to hold your throttle open. The first generation of these devices would use friction or a gear lock to hold the throttle open. They are dangerous and not recommended.

These contraptions are easy to use during regular non-stressed riding. When an emergency situation appears, it is nearly impossible for a rider to disengage these devices. In a panic situation, several things happen to a rider. Instantly, tunnel vision and the loss of fine motor skills prevents single finger manipulation or multi-step actions. Big whole hand, whole body, whole foot actions are what's left.

It's part of our fight or flight instinct and is critical to be acknowledged and understood. Skills needed to disable a lock mechanism are not available to you until the emergency passes. Only gross motor or big hand actions are controllable in imminent danger.

Active electronically controlled systems are disengaged by using the brake, clutch or rolling off the throttle and not manipulating a small switch. Most passive devices require fine motor skills or several steps to engage and disengage. Many accidents occur when the bike’s throttle is locked open and is unable to be undone simply or quickly. Evidence in the form of the rear wheel running, despite having already crashed confirms this. If you have one of these types of throttle locks, strongly consider removing it.

Several years ago, Billy, an Orange County, CA motorcyclist recognized these serious shortcomings of the existing throttle locking devices. Being of an engineering mind, he designed the Go Cruise system.

When correctly installed, it holds your throttle open allowing you to stretch, signal or just play airplane in the wind for a short time. It also can help relieve strain on your hands when doing a long grind on the highway. They don’t ‘lock’ but rather 'hold' the throttle open, so it’s easy to override the action and roll off the throttle when needs arise.

If you don’t have one, pick one up and see how straightforward and practical it is. Beware of imposters, though. Stick with the ‘Go Cruise!’ brand.

Tool Kit


Not too long ago, all new motorcycles came with a toolkit that could be used to do nearly everything one could need to, on a bike. These days, what passes for a tool set by manufacturers is a bad joke. A 4-in-1 screwdriver is not a toolkit.

Order or pick up a quality tool kit today. Be the hero who gets a bike working again. Even if you have limited motorcycle repair skills, someone else might and having some tools is the first step to getting back on the road.

Brands to look for include Oxford, Cruz Tools, and Bikemaster.

They aren’t expensive but are worth their weight in gold when you end up needing it.

Tank Bag/Tail Bag/Stash Spot


Whether you are a commuter, weekend rider, multi-day rider or adventurer, you can benefit from having a compact tank bag, tail bag, or stash box that is more useful than under your seat.

A smaller more discreet bag can carry a bottle of water, tire patch kit, first aid kit, and is a good place to stash car or house keys, garage door remotes, maps and other handy items.

Finding a good tank bag can be quite a challenge. You can look to see what your motorcycle manufacturer makes, specifically for your bike.

Recommended quality tank bag manufacturers include SW Motech, Nelson Rigg, Givi, Cortech, Wolfman, and Held.

Easy attachment and removal and a semi-rigid form that doesn't impede steering are the most important aspects to the usefulness of a tank bag.

SW Motech owns Bags Unlimited. They feature bags that mount to a special ring that fits over your gas cap. These mounting rings are easy to purchase and install. The added benefit is that this tank bag moves onto any bike with a similar tank shape and a proper ring mounted. These tank bags are between $150 and $350 with some including 12v charging ports.

Quality tail bags are little easier to find. They are much easier to mount and tend to hold more stuff without messing with the center of gravity. Look to SW Motech, Dainese, Nelson Rigg, and National Cycle for some clean, sturdy and immensely useful tail bag options. Prices are typically between $100 and $200.

Adventure riders tend to have some great options here, too. Touratech and ADVenture Designs make a lockable toolkit that fits behind the luggage rack. Additionally, one of several tool tubes can be mounted to store tools, fuel, water or other useful items.

These lock boxes or tool tubes range in price from $100-$300.



Most of these items including PIAA, Clearwater Lights, Denali Sound Bomb, Rizoma, Nelson Rigg, Held, Cruz Tools, Go Cruise!, Touratech, and more are available and in-stock at Irv Seaver BMW in Orange County, California. Call or come in to see what useful, and inexpensive additions are available for your motorcycle.

Irv Seaver BMW is Orange County’s premier BMW Motorcycle dealer and one of the top dealers in the nation, consistently. Besides new BMW Motorcycles, Irv Seaver has a large selection of quality pre-owned, aggressively priced motorcycles from BMW and other top brands.
Visit IrvSeaverBMW.com or visit to see what’s available and ready to ride away with you.
©2017 Jim Foreman All Rights Reserved.