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.


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.


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.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

8 Tips to Being a Great Ride Leader

A group ride should have a flow, a rhythm to it.

Words and photos by Jim Foreman
Additional thoughts by Shanghai HOG Ride Captain Jim Rice.

Taking a group of friends or riders out for a day trip or a multi-day ride is a serious responsibility. A good leader makes the difference between everyone having a great experience or not.
Several important characteristics separate a good ride leader from a poor one.
Please keep in mind that this is not about group ride etiquette or hand signals but rather how to be a good group ride leader.

1. Don’t ride in too big of a group. Break it up.

We’ve all seen it. Seemingly hundreds of noisy V-Twins going down the freeway in group formation on a Saturday or Sunday. All but the most lifestyle-centric rider typically finds this style of riding distasteful. When taking a group of riders out to your favorite roads or trails, keep the group small and manageable.
Consider no more than 6-8 riders in a group. It’s far easier to manage a smaller group and ensure everyone has a great time. 

2. Ride to your least experienced rider’s capability, not your own.

Most people willing to lead a group are good riders. Often, ride leaders are highly skilled riders. Regardless of your abilities, you must quickly and accurately evaluate each rider’s ability and riding. If you push a less-experienced rider too much, you will guarantee yourself a crash or worse. If some riders want to go fast and others feel better proceeding more deliberately, break up the group and agree to meet up at certain spots, along the way.
Make sure you express that each rider must take responsibility for their riding and actions. They must also be able to communicate any criticisms without reprisal or fear of rejection.
Remember that a ride leader’s responsibility is to lead a fun and safe ride for the entire group. It’s not to show off how amazing and awesome a rider you are in a selfish and ego-centric way.

Agustin Ceron Guedea's Hi-Viz Jacket and Helmet make him very noticeable.

3. Ask a rider with a bright helmet or unique lighting to serve as the tail or sweep rider.

This is key. Make sure you constantly check for the sweep or tail rider and that everyone is keeping up at a safe pace. If they are not, it’s important to slow down the tempo of the ride so that everyone can safely enjoy the ride.  Communicators are helpful but are not critical to a group ride’s success.

4. Arrange a stop at a next gas station if the group becomes separated.

Invariably, the group may become split, temporarily. Traffic lights, merging cars, and mechanical or operator issues may cause the group to split. As a ride leader, if you notice this, slow down the group in the lead to see if the remaining group can safely catch up. Invariably the people at the end of the group will be riding faster then the people in the front, so keep the speed down.  If, after a while you don't see the remainder of the group, stop at the first gas station or intersection and wait. Make sure everyone knows that if the group becomes separated that this is what will happen and they won't be left behind.

5. Take regular breaks every 60-75 minutes. 

Make sure everyone is doing good at breaks.
You may be an Iron Butt Association member, but the rest of the group may not be able to sit on their bike for long periods without stretching. This is especially true of sportbikes. Take regular breaks. Make sure everyone is drinking water, having a good time and not showing tell-tale signs of exhaustion or dehydration.

6. Know the roads you plan on taking. Don’t rely on a GPS or map solely.

When you lead a ride, it’s important to know the roads and conditions before leading the group there. Don’t rely on GSP or maps as they will not indicate if a road is closed, under construction, in disrepair, or has any services for a long stretch.
If you haven’t been on the road, make sure you find out, first-hand from someone who has recently been on that road what to expect. Make sure you know the elevation, road conditions, and expected weather before proceeding.

7. Listen to the other riders about what they want to see and do.

A good ride leader will ask pertinent questions of the riders in the group. Some questions that should be asked is how fast do you feel comfortable traveling? What’s the range on a full tank of gas? How do you feel about (insert the conditions one may expect). Some examples one should be asking about include rain, switchbacks, steep elevations, dirt, and temperature.

8. Keep it simple. Don’t push the group too hard or try to do too much.

Don’t try to do too much on a group ride. It’s better to leave the group wanting more rides in the future than to have them not want to ride with you again. Don’t make the ride about you, but rather about achieving a goal or purpose together.
Make sure to take photos at breaks and if a group member wants to ride up ahead to take riding-action photos, make sure they can.

keeping the ride uncomplicated will simplify every aspect of the ride.  Trying to control every aspect will create unnecessary stress and strain on you, and the group. Avoid complicated hand signals, overly technical roads or dependence on electronic rider aids. Technology is useful but not necessary.
Lastly, have fun. That’s what a group ride is supposed to be all about.

When you are in Southern California, be sure to visit Irv Seaver BMW Motorcycles in Orange County.  In addition to sponsoring these stories, Irv Seaver BMW has the best selection of new and pre-owned BMW motorcycles in the region.  Award-winning Service, fully stocked Parts, a well-stocked Apparel and Accessories department are the envy of other dealers nationwide.  Irv Seaver BMW is known for offering the most aggressive pricing on new BMW Motorcycles and will make sure you get the motorcycle you want at a price you'll love.  Come in today to see why we're the best.
©2016 Jim Foreman  All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 26, 2016

8 Cheap Motorcycle Performance Improvements

8 Cheap Motorcycle Performance Improvements

You don't have to spend thousands on Carbon Fiber and titanium to get performance improvement.

Story by Jim Foreman

After every motorcycle purchase, invariably, the next thought that comes into one's mind is how to improve its performance.

Many companies and outfits will gladly take hundreds and even thousands of your hard earned dollars with promises and visions of becoming like Valentino Rossi.

Many motorcycle owners feel they MUST eek out every last bit of power from their bike, no matter the cost.  Common moto upgrades include carbon fiber body panels, titanium or carbon fiber exhaust, and installing an EFI reprogrammer like the DynoJet Power Commander.
Spending thousands of dollars on incremental upgrades is great if you have large amounts of disposable income.

Whether you are a new or experienced motorcycle owner, here are some inexpensive ways to significantly boost the performance of your two-wheeler.


1) Fuel

The fuel you choose has a significant impact on your bike’s performance. 

Try to find a source of non-Ethanol added fuel.   Ethanol is not very good for your motorcycle.  Ethanol decreases your fuel economy, gums up your engine and causes it to run hotter.

A useful smartphone App to help in this quest is Pure Gas.  It will direct you to the closest fuel station that serves up non-Ethanol added fuel.

If you don’t have a nearby source of real or pure gas, buy premium from a busy name-brand Top-Tier station.  Shell, Unocal, Texaco, Chevron, Sinclair, Costco, Phillips 66, and other top-tier stations are your best bet.

Only higher end cars require premium and those drivers prefer name brand fuel.  The danger of an off-brand or rural outlet is that the fuel sitting in the tanks becomes stale and contaminated.  They only re-order more fuel when they are running low.  Fresh deliveries may happen once every couple months in some cases.  If the station is busy, the fuel will be replenished more frequently and not have a chance to grow stale.

If you are in a rural area and need to fuel up, it may be better to use regular unleaded or go inside and ask when was the last time they re-stocked on premium. 

Using premium from a top-tier station only costs pennies more, per gallon.  Since we have relatively small tanks, this is only a negligible cost increase.

Non-Ethanol is usually more expensive than Ethanol added fuel.  It’s worth it, and you will likely feel a performance boost, and certainly a fuel economy bump.

2) Fuel and Engine Treatments

Walk into any auto parts store and you will see several shelves dedicated to fuel treatments.  BMW Dealers stock the BMW Fuel System Treatment, and it is a great product.  Sta-Bil also has many moto-healing properties. 

In my experience, the single best all-around fuel and engine treatment is Seafoam.

Whether you recently purchased a pre-owned bike or feel your motorcycle is not running at 100 percent, follow these simple instructions to restore your baby to full health.

Drop 1/3 of a can of Seafoam into your tank before you fill up.  Within a few miles, you will probably notice your engine running smoother and happier. 
Repeat this two more times until you empty the can of Seafoam.

Regularly using Seafoam is your best option to improve performance and remove the harming effects of age and Ethanol on your engine and fuel system. Seafoam eliminates water and moisture in your fuel and strips the power robbing buildup in your fuel system, injectors, and valves.
For motorcycles, only use 1/3 of a can per fill up.  For cars, it’s safe to dump a whole can at a time.

Seafoam is also very useful if you store your motorcycle for the winter season.  Pour a third of a can into your tank during your last ride so it has a chance to go through your entire fuel system.  Then park and cover your bike.  Then charge the battery every couple of weeks.

3) Tires and Tire Pressure

Whenever you get new tires, one instantly feels more control and confidence with their motorcycle.

Don’t wait until you see the steel cord to replace your tires.  As a motorcycle tire wears, the compound becomes harder and less able to grip the road.  Unless you only do canyon carving on the weekends or ride off-road, one should only consider Dual-Compound tires.  Current Dual-Compound tire technology is so good it makes every sense to use them.  Control and confidence make for an efficient and stable platform.

Dual-Compound tires are harder in the center, where you do most of your straight-line travel.  The sides are much softer making them grip in the corners the same way sport tires do.  Sport tires typically only last 3,000 miles.

Some great options to consider for your next tire purchase include:

Michelin Pilot Road 4, Pilot Power 3,

Dunlop Sport Max Q3

Metzler Roadtec Z8 Interact

Continental ContiRoadAttack 2 EVO,  ContiSportAttack 3,  TKC 70

Bridgestone BT016 Pro,  BT021, and BT023

Pirelli Diablo Rosso III

Keep your tire pressure at factory specs.  The smart engineers at BMW or your particular brand know a lot more about your bike than most people.  It’s worth listening to them.  The exceptions are when riding on poorly surfaced roads, old roads, or aggressively riding in the canyons.  Under those conditions, it’s best to drop the PSI about 10-15% from the factory recommendations.  Lowering the tire pressure gives you a greater contact patch and more tire grip on less perfect road surfaces.

4) Chain and Sprockets

While many motorcycles feature a shaft or belt drive, a significant number still feature the chain and sprockets.

Making small changes when replacing your front sprocket can produce some pleasing effects.  If you want more low and mid range power, replace the front sprocket with one that has one or possible two fewer teeth from the factory size.  You will lose some top end speed, but you will get to your desired speed much quicker. 

If you desire lower RPMs at higher speeds, consider a front sprocket with one or two more teeth than factory.  Check your clearances at the front sprocket so see if going bigger will work.

Be small with the changes.  The differences will be subtle but noticeable.  Unless you wish to dedicate a bike to stunting, the rear should be left alone.

One should lubricate and check the tension of their chain every 300-500 miles.

5) Airbox Filter

Engines need to breathe.  Just like your car, home air-conditioning unit, or vacuum cleaner.  If your filter is clogged, less air moves through causing the system to struggle to get air.

Changing the air filter on most motorcycles is quite easy.  It usually involves removing your tank.  Check your owners manual to learn how where and how to replace your air filter.  YouTube videos can be a great help.

Even if the air filter doesn’t look too dirty, replace it.  When you do, if you can, use your vacuum or a wet cloth to clean out any debris in the airbox. 

Some filters don’t need to be replaced, but rather recharged such as K&N Filters.

Follow your users manual to change out your air filter.  Usually replace or recharge it, every other oil change.  More if you live in a dusty region.

6) Drop Some Weight 

Many motorcycle owners will spend thousands of dollars to reduce the weight of their bike a few ounces or pounds.  Carbon fiber and titanium exhausts are not cheap.  The sad truth is that many motorcyclists, this author included, are carrying a few (or more than a few) extra pounds.

Losing the extra weight will bring numerous advantages to your riding starting with the obvious.  You and your bike weigh less without changing anything else.  Less weight equals more power to move you forward.  Additionally, being lighter makes it easier to brake and shift your weight in corners without getting fatigued. Less weight also saves stress on your back and knees.

Coincidentally, dropping a few sizes will make you much more attractive and amorous to your partner.  If one is currently single, expect to attract and entertain a broader scope of quality people with a slimmer figure.

Rocky Miller of StreetMasters offering Dale some advice

7)Training and Practice

The single best upgrade one can do to their motorcycle sits between the handlebars and the seat.

Good training doesn’t have to be expensive.  Simply having some qualified feedback about your riding can mean a world of difference.  One doesn’t need Keith Code or Jason Pridmore personally teaching you to gain outstanding benefits.  Even an intermediate riders course offered by MSF or CMSP trainers can produce significantly positive results.

Consider training sources such as StreetMasters, PRTA, California Superbike School, Star Motorcycle School, RawHyde, BMW Off-Road Riders Academy, or your local track day organizer.  They all offer riding instruction that will make a world of difference in your riding performance.

Once you get some quality training, practice what you’ve learned in a parking lot.  Practice
emergency braking and then evading without putting your feet down.  Practice quick obstacle evasion. 

Come to an emergency stop, then immediately accelerate in a safe direction to avoid being hit from behind.  You don’t put your feet down for this.  It’s a little tricky to brake hard, downshift, and then turn and accelerate.  With practice, it can be mastered and will present a whole new set of options in a potential panic situation.

Learning how to manipulate your motorcycle at slow speeds will also help you increase confidence for faster speeds.

8) Be Smooth

When you watch professional racers on the track, one instantly notices how smooth they are.

If you are struggling with certain corners or situations, the answer isn’t to go faster.  Instead, slow it down and do it smoother.

Make your throttle, clutch, and braking smooth.  There is a poignant saying that may have originated with Col. Jeff Cooper but is used extensively in U.S. Navy S.E.A.L. training.  It goes “Slow is Smooth.  Smooth is Fast!”   In every case witnessed, this has borne out to be true.

Practice being smooth and you will become much faster than you previously thought possible. 
Stay loose on the handlebars.  When you tighten up, your control input is muted and less effective.  If you feel yourself being tense, flap your arms like a chicken to loosen them up and stay nimble. 


Whether it’s faster lap times, a speedier pace, or simply more confidence and options when things go sideways, there are numerous ways to upgrade your motorcycling performance without spending a lot of money.

While others spend thousands trying to make their bike faster through performance tuning and upgrades, you will be looking fitter, riding faster and displaying more confidence on a more responsive motorcycle.  Isn’t that what truly matters?

Irv Seaver Motorcycles

Whether you live in Southern California or are visiting the area, do make Irv Seaver BMW one of your destinations.  Irv Seaver BMW carries the full line of new BMW Motorcycles at very aggressive prices.  You will also find a large and discount priced selection of Pre-Owned Motorcycles from all brands. 

Irv Seaver BMW also has the largest stocking parts department in SoCal as well as moto apparel and accessories.

World Class Service is consistently available at Irv Seaver BMW.  Consistently ranked in the top 5% in the nation, Irv Seaver BMW will make sure your bike is well cared for and maintained.

©2016 Jim Foreman  All Rights Reserved

Monday, June 27, 2016

More Riding Secrets From The Experts

More Riding Secrets From The Experts

Story by Jim Foreman

One thing that has proven evident beyond one's wildest imagination is that Motorcyclists are always looking for ways to be better, and more proficient riders.  The previous story, Five Riding Secrets From The Experts, set records for the number of views it received, from all over the world.  While it is humbling for me, the greatest satisfaction is that there are better riders out there because of this effort.

Initially, this topic was only going to be a single story.   As the excellent responses kept coming in from such notable people, it became apparent that there were too many for one post. 

Again, each expert was asked to submit five riding secrets to share with others.  The phenomenal respondents for this outing include Bert Quechenberger.  Bert was Los Angeles Police Department's Senior Motorcycle Instructor.  He has recently retired from the LAPD but not from teaching.  

Shawn Thomas is a name known to many.  He's a colorful former instructor at RawHyde Off-Road and currently part of the duo, Adventure Brothers, with his real brother, Lance.  
Walt Fulton is a racer and the program director of StreetMasters Motorcycle Workshops.  
Chris 'Teach' McNeil is a professional stunt performer.  Officially sponsored by BMW Motorcycles, Teach, as he is known, performs gravity-defying stunts on the BMW S 1000 RR, The S 1000 XR, and an F 800 GS.  
Mellisa Holbrook Pierson is an author and motorcyclist.  Her insights into motorcycling are both unique and profound.  Riders and non-riders alike respond very positively to her books.  She remains an inspiration to female riders everywhere.

These riders cover a broad range of disciplines.  Each one has unique experiences and perspectives. A huge debt of gratitude is owed for the time and effort taken in each of these responses. 

Bert Quechenberger

Bert 'Q', as he is known, has trained more motorcycle officers than nearly any other single person.  Unless a motor officer in the Los Angeles region is less than two years old, Bert and his team probably trained them.  Most police departments, in the area and around the country, send their motor officer candidates to LAPD for their training.  In his 30+ years riding career, Bert has trained over 8,000 motor cops including trainers from England, Spain, France, and Germany.  Bert and his work partner, Sunti Singhanate co-own Police Riding Technique Academy, which is open to police officers and civilians, alike.  Bert has logged well over one million (1,000,000) miles, covering 50 years, accident-free.

Bert 'Q' 1989
When I went to LAPD Motor School in 1988, I had 21 years of accident free riding under my belt, with many many miles, on just as many motorcycles.  To say I entered the motor school program with a bit of salt on my shoulders, was an understatement.  I remember thinking to myself, what could they teach me?

Well, it only took about 5 minutes of practical application exercises, for me to realize, I really didn't know how to properly ride a motorcycle.

From that point forward, I practiced exactly the way I was instructed.

I'm now going on my 49th year of accident free riding, with well over a million miles ridden. 25 of my 30 years on the job was spent throwing a leg over a police motor.

Eventually, I became the lead riding instructor for all those years, continuing the instruction for officers while still on the job, and civilians through PRTA.

I use my personal experience mentioned above, coupled with my experience of training non law enforcement riders for almost two decades to form my opinion of what riders need most to succeed.

There are so many things that we could discuss regarding safe riding, I'll begin with the points that I believe are fundamental.

1: Participate in training from professional instructors.  Current or former Law enforcement riding instructors usually make excellent riding instructors.

2:  Plan your calendar where you get professional training multiple times a year.

3: Focus on numerous braking drills.  Pushing the envelope in a pristine training environment essential for every rider. 

4: The skills required to ride a motorcycle are perishable.  Depending on how often you ride, should be a gauge for your practice between revisiting professional training.  LAPD Motor Cops ride a lot of miles annually.  They participate in 2 days (10 hours each day) of in service training.  Riding mazes, braking drills.  It's something any rider should think about.

5:  A rider must be on top of his or her riding, physically & mentally.  Think about what you're going to do before it happens.  Plan escape routes while riding.  Trying to decide what to do as one is rapidly approaching a solid object at speed is tough.  Have a game plan before you roll.

Shawn Thomas

Shawn is a riot-in-progress.  Known for his infectious and sometimes whimsical personality, Shawn earns respect throughout the ADV (Adventure Riding) community.  Mastering off-road riding with big bikes takes skill.  As a former lead instructor at RawHyde, Shawn has worked with hundreds of riders to teach them proper off-road technique and motorcycle operation.  Currently, Shawn and his brother Lance, are the Adventure Brothers.  They go around the country offering instruction, seminars, tours and great times, all around.  Follow Shawn and Lance on Facebook.

Shawn and Lance Thomas - The Adventure Brothers
Adventure Riding is an endeavor without equal. With minimal training a rider can jump from road to dirt and back again, encountering just about any twisty, vista, basin and landmark in existence. Doing it right means having the right equipment, the right skills, and a proper mindset. With these in mind, and by practicing the right techniques, little is beyond reach.

Here are a few tips to consider when choosing off-road riding, courtesy of the Adventure Brothers:

1. Dirt is not Asphalt. This may seem an obvious declaration, but in application it is not. Anyone who has ridden an Adventure Bike on the street will tell you how impressive it is. They are agile, powerful, and comfortable. They can easily tackle curves, city streets, and interstates, making the rider feel like their skills have increased simply with purchase of the machine. But when the bike touches dirt, everything changes. Suddenly the machine feels heavy and unstable, and turning is a nightmare. This is not the bike's fault; it's yours. You are riding it like a street bike, using those on-asphalt techniques you are so accustomed to. This will not do, as street techniques count on an abundance of traction, which you no longer have. Best to shift into an off-road stance, and the techniques that go with it, on the double.

2. Stand up. One of the most stabilizing effects you can have on the machine is standing up. When you stand, your point of influence shifts from the seat to the pegs. Because your feet know far more about balance than your derriere, your ability to feel and react to movement of the machine is greatly enhanced. It will feel weird at first, but trust us: you will come to love it.

3. Adjust your controls. Your machine is set to accommodate a sitting rider. Handlebars, levers, and foot controls all take in to account your street riding stance. Most adventure bikes offer a multitude of simple adjustments that will allow you to adjust for a standing position. Handlebars can be raised, foot controls can be tweaked, and different foot pegs and bar risers can be installed to make you more comfortable on your machine. Get the adjustments right, and most riders will see no need in changing them when they return to asphalt.

4. Slow Down. People like to ride fast on the dirt. This has the benefit of making the machine feel more surefooted, as the high rate of wheel-spin stabilizes the bike. When the times comes to slow down or turn, speed becomes a hazard. Learn to ride as slow as possible, at no more than a walking pace. This will force you to feather the controls and develop acute balance, both of which are essential in Adventure Riding

5. Front Brake is King. You may have been told that using the front binder is a death sentence on dirt. Not true. The front brake gives you the best stopping power you've got, both on road and off. You just have to be easy it. A hark jerk of the brake lever is survivable on asphalt, but will cause the front end to wash on the dirt. Learn to feather the brake. Ease it in and feel the dive of the front end. If you lock it up, no problem; just release and reapply.

Truly there is a lot more to know about the art of Adventure Riding. But these tips--along with practice, practice, practice--will help you on your way!

Walt Fulton

Walt Fulton Is a three-time Daytona winner and features in the movie "On Any Sunday."  His career spans five decades and has still never had a street collision.  Fulton is the Director or training for StreetMasters Precision Cornering Workshops.  For over 30 years, Walt leads the Crash Investigation and Reconstruction team for Kawasaki in their legal division.  Walt and the StreetMasters team are hosting training classes at the MOA Rally.  Follow StreetMasters on Facebook. -Jim

Walt Fulton (L) and Fred Rau (R)
1. RESPONSIBILITY: It’s not a coincidence that RESPONSIBILITY heads up my Five Secrets from the Experts for Motorcyclists. Growing up, my parents taught me a lot about responsibility and the consequences associated with ignoring it. Responsibility is like the laws of physics – ignore them and you’ll pay the price. We now live in a “me first” world and responsibility has been relegated to the backseat, but the penalties are still there. In my opinion, accepting responsibility is more important than using the correct technique. In the real world we all have a responsibility to ourselves, family, friends and coworkers to arrive safely at our destination. There are a lot of people out there that are counting on us to be around tomorrow and the next day so don’t let them down. Keep in mind your speed and surroundings and ride accordingly so you will arrive at your destination.

2. DON’T BE IN A BIG HURRY: Statistics indicate that speed is often a causal factor of crashes. This is an extremely important factor directly related to how you operate your motorcycle. Keep in mind that every time you double your speed you quadruple your kinetic energy. Simply stated this means that at 30 mph you should be able to stop in 30 feet (1 G) and at 60 mph that distance is increased by a factor of 4, or 120 feet. At 120 mph (which is not legal anywhere except the track) your stopping distance is increased to almost 500 feet. All of these distances are based on a rider that has excellent control of the brakes, good tires and on a good roadway surface and don’t include perception and reaction time. Your best bet is to not be the fastest vehicle on the highway. I like to ride with approximately 80% of the roadway users. Keep in mind that there is always someone faster than you; don’t get caught up with trying to be the fastest.

3. VISUAL CONTROL: Somewhere between 80% to 90% or more of the decisions we make on the road are based on what we see. This points out that if we fail to see a developing situation it’s unlikely that we‘ll be able to react to it and therefore we may very well be a part of it. Head and eyes up and continue to scan 360 degrees around our path of travel at all times. As riders we are responsible for what’s behind us, beside us and in front of us.

4. SITUATIONAL AWARENESS: Road and traffic conditions constantly change and we must too to avoid conflicts. As riders we can’t afford to live in the present. Where we are now quickly becomes the past in less time than it takes to blink an eye and thus irrelevant. It’s important that we get the “big picture” by aggressively looking as far ahead as practical and be able to predict the flow of traffic. Any rider that experiences multiple dramas on a ride should reevaluate why this is happening. Look ahead, plan ahead and ride ahead.

5. LANE SHARING: Currently, California is the only state that allows lane sharing and this offers motorcyclists an advantage during high traffic hours and from my personal observation makes riding in heavy traffic safer . . . provided it is done properly. Remember the first Tip, Responsibility? Lane sharing is one of those activities that requires a double dose of Responsibility. Lane sharing means that you are using someone else’s lane, so be a good neighbor and extend them the same courtesy that you expect. If you’re someone that kicks doors, knocks off mirrors, opens the throttle until the engine is bouncing off the rev limiter, honks your horn and speed between traffic like you’re racing on the Isle of Man then you are totally irresponsible. You can bet that you have made an impression on the driver you’re just assaulted – a very negative one.

Here are some guidelines that I usually follow: 1) Travel no more than 10 mph faster than traffic. 2) It’s better to pass two cars that are side by side. 3) If you’re passing traffic and a space to one side or the other opens up move into that space and away from the cars you are passing. 4) Don’t push the envelope and be very selective on who and where you pass. 5) At 35 to 40 mph it’s probably time to get back in the lane.

Chris 'Teach' McNeil

Champion Freestyle Motorcycle Stunter and Performer Chris 'Teach' McNeil has spent over ten years competing and performing all over the world.  Chris earns his nickname 'Teach' during the week because he teaches Latin in his home state of Maine.  Officially, BMW Motorrad's only official stunt performer, you can catch Chris at one of his many shows throughout the United States.  McNeil also competes professionally with the XDL National Championship Circuit.  Chris is also an incredibly great guy who always takes the time to talk with people at every outing. Follow Teach on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  See some of Teach's awesome videos on his YouTube Channel.

1. Practice Practice Practice. Practice evasive maneuvers. Practice specific skills, particularly low speed control skills. Practice braking Do it all in a controlled environment so that when you are faced with a situation requiring your skills, it is second nature and not something you have to think about. If you're left thinking about it, then it is probably too late.

2. Ride everything you can get your hands on. Riding different disciplines and even different models, brands, and styles will increase your skills, making you a safer rider in the end.

3. Getting comfortable with your bike starts with the controls. So it's important to set the up according to your body and preference. Don't automatically assume that the dealer or factory's setup or the prior owner's setup is going to ergonomically fit you. This will help the bike feel more natural to you and allow you to focus on what's truly important. Riding, of course.

4. I almost didn't mention it because for me it goes without saying, but wearing the proper gear is paramount to surviving life as a motorcyclist. Most importantly is a helmet, you get what you pay for. Remember what it's protecting. Being comfortable while protected from simple things like bugs or excessive noise will go a long way towards decreasing your distractions and improving your ride.

5. I talked about practice earlier but more specifically, learn how to use your clutch and rear brake. Most useful in slow speed situations, this skill will do wonders for your bike control at higher speeds, too. More importantly, your confidence in your ability to handle your motorcycle will skyrocket. Confidence is a big part of motorcycling. You want to feel good and look good when you pull into a bike night or meetup with friends. This is important in both your gear and how you ride. It's best with no squid tentacles dangling on the ground!

Melissa Holbrook Pierson

Melissa HolbrookPierson is a motorcyclist and notable author of several highly acclaimed books. Among most popular are ‘The Perfect Vehicle’ and ‘The Man Who Would Stop At Nothing.’ Both are phenomenal reading that gives a unique perspective to the sport. 'The Man Who Would Stop At Nothing' is also available as an Audio Book.

1. Never rush departure. Stop and look at your bike: What do I need to check? What do I need to bring? What buckle might I have forgotten to fasten?

2. Practice some physical calisthenics when it's safe to do so. Turn your body all the way to look behind you on the right; ditto the left. Experience the fact that you're not cast in stone.

3. Get rid of anyone who's following too close behind. They're a danger. If they're in such a hurry, help them get there quicker by letting them go ahead.

4. Unless you're relying on it, turn off the GPS. Screen fixation is just as dangerous as object fixation.

5. Think: "Graceful." Keep this in the forefront of the mind, and make it your style.


When you are in Southern California, Please visit Irv Seaver BMW. Located in Orange County, CA, Irv Seaver Motorcycles is one of the largest and best motorcycle dealers in the nation.  Since 1911, Irv Seaver Motorcycles has sold dreams and happiness to Southern Californians.  Irv Seaver BMW continues to host events, sponsor trips and provide guests with an outstanding two-wheeled experience. Irv Seaver offers top rated Service as well as Parts, and Apparel.  Irv Seaver BMW is located 10 minutes east of Disneyland on Katella Avenue in the City of Orange.

©2016 Jim Foreman All Rights Reserved.