Sunday, June 30, 2013

Motorcycle gear, choosing the right gear for you

Motorcycle gear what to buy? In nearly 25 years of street riding, with lots of thought, research this is what I have come up with.

Well first off choose what you know you will be wearing, whatever the case you want something visible, in the Hurt Report, the most comprehensive study ever made on motorcycle accidents we know that bright colors save lives, so try and avoid anything dark.
Not only that but Black, the most popular color is also hot as hell, something to think about especially if you live in the south. That little bit extra of heat absorbtion does make a noticeable difference and I have had people comment as such who converted to lighter colors.
I know first hand bright colors work, with a lock of gear locally I bought a Harley Leather Motorcycle jacket when I purchased my first street bike, back then I didnt know better, and honestly the market didnt either.
I would wear that jacket for 13 years, have many close calls, and rely in my skills to get me out of bad situations.
Purely on accident I would later with my first sportbike purchase a red jacket to match the color of the bike, I started to notice that I had less close calls, people did tend to see me.
Arguably the most important piece of gear is your helmet, I cannot for the life of me understand why people gear up and then ride around without a helmet, you dont look cool, you look silly IMO.
Anyhow when choosing a helmet first do your research online, is an excellent source to see how your helmet rates in the event of a crash.
Dot is the absolute minimum you should accept with any helmet rating, I personally dislike snell but it is what is required as the base of all race tracks, ECE and BSI euro standards are also accepted now as well.
Next you want fit, you should wear each helmet for about ten minutes in the store to see how it feels, and also if you can tolerate whatever type of lining is inside the helmet. My first Street Helmet was a Nolan, and while it was an excellent durable helmet, it also had a fabric which made my head itch, so I was unable to wear it as often as I liked, if your head is itching or you are otherwise uncomfortable, you are at that point not paying attention and are in possible danger.
There are two types of fits, one is the street fit, in which you cannot fit your pinky between your forehead and the helmet, next is the race fit, which is snug and pushes your cheek up, this is optimal but understandable why people do not like it.
Also consider that most helmets are made for the standard egg shaped head, Shoe And Arai are expensive but both offer many different inside shapes to fit a variety of heads, they almost always will be lighter as well, something to think about.
Next is venting, the more venting, usually the louder a helmet is, not always but that is the general saying.
Consider you do not have to spend several hundred dollars on a helmet, you do not get more base protection, what you do get is painted graphics as well as more comfy lining, chin snaps to keep your chin strap from slapping around, usually they are more acceptable for sun glass/eye glasses and have padding in the chin piece should your face impact.
Also consider that over 40 percent of accidents include facial impacts, so avoid open face helmets if possible, but they certainly are better than nothing, you can if you tend to feel sophisticated at slow speeds, opt for modular helmets which face flips up completely.

With any Jacket you should have something which is comfy, but somewhat snug, depending on if it has a liner or not, you may want to choose something which can allow for a sweater underneath.
You should look for something which has venting, usually in zipper form, and something with elbow, shoulder and back protection, preferably in the form of "CE"
Textile is my personal preference for regular riding, it offers excellent abrasion resistance and better water resistant capability, it is also lighter and a bit cooler.
If you go with leather you should if living in the south especially look for perforated leather, dont worry, it will not come apart, racers wear perforated leather suits and do just fine, keep in mind while it is probably not so noticeable, leather does offer a bit of impact resistance in and of itself and is the best for abrasion resistance although some tracks have approved Kevlar suits.
You can in hotter climates also opt for mesh jackets which offer hands down the best venting, many also come with liners for cooler riding & dont worry, they should offer adequate protection in the event of a street slide, and keep in mind most accidents happen under 35 mph, even if you are cruising down the highway and something happens odds aer that 65mph crash really was around 35 by the time you slowed down and actually hit the ground.
Next for pants there are great options, if you are riding to work you can in colder times wear textile pull overs, or there are also excellent options of pants with Kevlar and leather lining. I have a pair of Cortech "Jean" pants which also have adjustable knee padding and have light perforated leather lining, very comfy and I like to wear them when I go out.
Chaps were used by cowboys for several reasons, first protection against brush, second, protection against rope burns as the rope often would be laid over their legs while pulling a steer around.
The lack of ass protection makes these nearly useless in the motorcycle world, in the event of a crash more than likely you will end up sliding on your ass, and yes, butt cheeks have been torn off.
Gloves are also of course Important, think, how many times as a kid when you wrecked your peddle bike, your knees and hands got the brunt of it didnt they?
Any leather glove is ok, your basic fencing gloves offer excellent abrasion resistance but poor comfort, riding specific gloves will be very comfortable and come as vented or not. My personal preference in this regard are kangaroo palms, Kangaroo skin is half the thickness of cowhide with the same abrasion resistance, they feel like a second skin, pardon the pun.
Gauntlet offer wrist protection as well but are something of a pain in the ass to take off and on, they also have the best padding in key areas of your palm should you go down, they can be a pain to take off and on if you do a lot of stop and go riding.
Last but not least are Boots, something like 60 percent of all motorcycle injuries are ankle injuries, you do not have to have motorcycle specific boots, but they help, anything which comes up well over your ankle is optimal to help with protection from your ankle bending. However keep in mind that laces can catch on your pegs and I have wrecked because of hiking boots, how you ask?? well I was in mud, turning my motorcycle around when I lost traction, I went to put my foot out and my hiker hooked on my rear sets, I fell over, wow was I humiliated. This is something that would not, or should not happen with motorcycle specific boots.
There are racing boots which offer all kinds of wazoo protection and padding in all the right areas, not overly necessary, but if its important to you, get em.
There are rain resistant boots, summer perforated boots and some with optional slide vents which I personally love On my Sidis.
Hope that helps, any questions please feel free to ask.


Harley Davidson, why I want to make a boat anchor out of one.

First off consider I have some damn good friends who ride harleys, and I know many other good people who own them as well, so take what I have written as my personal thoughts on why the brand makes me feel as I do.

I think like everyone I remember watching easy rider, the vision of freedom that movie portrayed was pretty cool, but I also remember thinking "are they drug dealers? where do they get their money? Maybe if they were not such jerks, they would have less problems with the police.

Other movies have dragged up the same convoluted picture to me, the sense of freedom that it was trying to portray, merely in my mind portrayed some strung out druggies rebelling against "the Man".

My thoughts were re affirmed by a cousin who owned a Hotel in West Yellowstone, as a child I remember him turning away harley riders saying "They are nothing but trouble, they trash the rooms and do not want to pay their bills" not looking good, so at this point my fascination for the brand and those associated with it dwindled.

In high school I would work with an old biker, a true Harley man, he had two, one he worked on while he rode the other, I didnt get it, sounded like a pain in the ass, maybe if he had a dependable bike he would not have needed to wear duct taped boots, but it was obviously not his priority so whatever, it was his life.

In 1990 I wanted a street bike, It became a toss up between a 69 Triumph, thoughts of Fonzie danced in my head but it was a chopper, bad ass, kick start, well losing some appeal as I had grown up with Dirt bikes, and with the Cylinder relief valve out on my yami 360 enduro, I had suffered from the classic "launch" from the kickback as well as a heel swelled up to unnatural balloon to the point I had to soak my foot to get my boot off once. The leaky engine revered in the triumph did not sound like much fun, with only two contact points to the ground via your tires, the last thing I wanted was oil dripping possibly making my rear tire slip at a critical moment.
SO upon much decision I would end up with a Virago 750 v twin kick ass bitch.
I rode that bike all summer, all winter, and all summer again, and all the while I would put up with the "is it a Harley"
"NO it most certainly is not, I actually get to where I am going :P." yes that was a standard reply.
Regardless two wheels is two wheels and I always respected others who chose the same route, apparently that did not carry over to the "true" Harley riders, where I would suffer the Usual "Rice grinder" & "get a real bike" comments at ever turn with them.
So I settled it with a drag race here and there, having nearly half the CCs I was supposedly at a huge disadvantage, but the Harley never came close, not by a long shot, the last thing they would see of course would be my middle finger as I tore away.
To be fair Harley did make a bike line that was fast, and could be built into scary fast drag machine, those were the Sportster line.
Those bikes were actually made to compete with the Japanese market, they were a fast ride and could be built into a fast scary machine, maybe that is why they hated em, I dono, it seemed they picked and chose who was in their ranks based on bikes, silly.

I would have my first race with one about eight years after buying my Virago, he would pull up next to me proclaiming how fast his bike was and how nice, brand new he would say.
"I am not interested, those are a fast bike and should beat me, you aught to break it in properly first though" I would tell him
But he persisted, the light turned green and I chewed him up, I even gave him the chance going from a rolling start, but to no avail, it needed to be broke in obviously, and I told him as much "come back when those rings have seated"
He would at the three hundred mile mark I would see him out yet again, and from a rolling start we would have at it, again, to no avail "probably not seated still" I would tell him, and off he went, obviously frustrated.
Finally the last and final straw he woul see me riding with my x and pull up "its broke in now lets go"
"well that is not fair I have an extra 140lbs on the back"
He looked at me with a cocked smile "Scared?"
And there it went, I dropped the clutch and with the extra weight we rode a wheelie, side by side, going thru the gears, his teeth gritting as he caught buts, glancing over to see me smiling giving him the bird with my left"
He would turn off and I never saw that bike again.
Now a bike is not just about speed, I realize that, but it seemed to be the only way I could shut up the nay sayers, so that is what it was, but it is to note that Harley at one time was a name commonly associated with racing, and no motorcycle brand has ever dominated Dirt track racing as Harley has, it has unfortunately done everything it could to distance itself from the "racing image" and everything for the bad ass Image.
I did at one time want to buy a Harley, as a businessman I wanted one for the investment, and I will admit they are a nice looking ride and the iconic sound a draw. I had the chance to buy a close friends I guess it was a 84 FXRS ? with the motor built to the nuts and everything chrom, now Bill was a damn good guy, and road that bike to cali and back a couple of times trouble free. I would take it for a ride and going down the highway I couldnt see thru the vibrating rear view mirrors, now the motor had oodles of stump pulling torque, but if I wanted a tractor I would have been looking for a massey-Fergeson. All in all I hated it, I pulled up and Bill could see the look of disgust on my face "well"? he would ask timidly, "nice bike Bill" I would reply.
"Dont lie to me Craig, I can see the look on your face"
"To be honest" I would reply, "My 750 over there would eat this thing any day of the week, and it rides a hell of a lot better"
that would be that, he was a good man and it certainly was not my intention of discrediting him, or what he owns, but he asked for honesty, and I gave it.
Irritating me further would be the bogus "made in America" drivel they constantly repeat, nothing could be further from the truth, in the early nineties, the most American made bike was actually the Honda shadow, with only the shaft being made and imported from Japan, Harley rides on that minimum requirement of 60 percent made in America to carry that banner, they also are one of several "American" companies lobbying to have that standard lowered, how absolutely repugnant and deceitful.
Next would be the Betrayal of Mr Eric Buell by the Harley logo when they tossed him to the curb, not once, but twice, the second time nearly destroying him altogether, for someone who was so loyal, who could have easily designed his own engine yet chose to use the Sportster engine for his innovative motorcycle designs, just more bad taste.
Then we have the nonsense put forth by the Harley crowd of "Textile jackets will melt" false they are actually quit good with modern blends and nothing like the same jacket you will buy for winter or casual wear use, then we haev the "Helmets will break your neck" nonsense, obviously, that is why Racers wear them, have multiple wrecks, and keep going.
That along with the "you are not a true biker" bs I have heard for two decades while riding the street simply because someone does not own a "Harley" and "the Harley" of their standards has honestly been a great "grating of nails on a chalkboard" for me.
At any given time there is a saying that "there are 12 KLR 650s circling the world" would those not be true bikers? Would not anyone who rides rain, snow nor shine be a true biker? The blatent contempt for other riders not only by old school harley riders, but by the company as a whole, was enough for me.
Someday if I am ever rich, or to old to ride again, I will buy a Harley and use it for a boat anchor, I would love to see the look on peoples faces when I pull that ride straight out of the abyss, the seaweed covering it will pretty much give it my exacting opinion.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Can the Mundane world exist for an adventurer?

I have always struggled with the classic Mundane life, so the question I struggle with daily is, can it exist for the adventurer?
I guess it all depends on what kind of adventure one is into, I was complaining the other day how I had accomplished nothing since my fathers death, and a good friend Chad stated "that is not true, you have since began Mountain Biking and Snowshoeing."
That is certainly true, and both are a form of adventure and defiantly entertaining for those without the International lust.
Once a person experiences something great they can never return to the same, I struggle to think of what internal demons Teddy Roosevelt must have Struggled with after his Exploration of the Amazon and Africa. He must have sat longingly looking out of office windows dreaming of the next campaign, never again to come.
I know that for me the first time I stood in a Cathedral in Europe where the Black Knight lay, I knew my life was forever changed, when I spent weeks on a train sleeping in awkward positions, hearing the constant chirp of the steel wheels hitting rails as they were bolted together those sounds would always be in my head, and every bump I hit when I drive my car to work brings back those memories.
One of the oddest things has stuck in my mind for 17 long years now, it is the sound of a man with hot coffee in his back pack, and his voice which I can only equate to sounding something like the male version of Fran Drescher and his loud voice yelling the same word over and over again in my sleep muddled mind "Cafe, Cafe" always pops into my mind when I drink Coffee.
I sit each day and look out the window, each Motorbike loaded with bags that travels by brings to me the longing of adventure that comes with it, the hum of the tires and the wind tugging at my jacket just races thru my mind.
I have put off riding South America for the past three years, I was nearly ready twice, the first time in 2010 I quit honestly simply caved, my mind confused and lost from my father leaving this world I was unsure, with the economy in the toilet I held onto any dime I could get, but it was to much, and I made more plans, with my Mom being who would watch my dear Pets and home.
With her Passing as well my Trip was again put on hold while I struggled to deal with the Immense responsibility of someone passing in America yet again.
I then had yet another opportunity but settled for a job with the intent of working internationally for the company, but the realization that adventure is not the same as working nags at me, pulls at my sleeve.
All I know is at some point I would like a family, but until I get at least one last big trip under my belt I am not sure how realistic that dream is.
There is so much to see and do on this planet form e I know that at least for now, Local Adventure only further wets my lips.
I think every day of Swimming with the worlds largest shark, how my heart beat so, and I long again for that feeling, no desk, no amount of work can compensate for a dream coming true.
It has to be done.
I leave you with a quote from the one of the Greatest Men who ever Lived, Teddy Roosevelt.
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievemt and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."