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National Cycle VStream Tall Touring Windscreen Review

I’ve found the stock windscreens on motorcycles just aren’t very good at their job. I’m 6′ 2″ tall and the screens on every motorcycle I’ve owned or ridden over the past 20 years seem to be setup for riders much shorter than me. They excel at creating a flow of rough air that hits somewhere between my neck and forehead. Even the Concours 14’s adjustable windscreen hasn’t been able to solve this problem. Now that I’ve had my Connie for 6 years, and have no plans to buy a new bike in the future, I thought I’d spend a little money to see if I could finally fix this issue.

After much research I landed on the VStream® Tall Touring Windscreen. My goal was to find a screen that would provide a clean-ish flow of air over the top of my head, make sure there was sufficient airflow during the summer to keep me cool, and provide decent protection in cooler temperatures. Weather protection in the rain was also at the top of my list. In short, I wanted a do-it-all windscreen for all seasons and riding conditions.  Its been 2 years since I purchased the VStream®, so I’ve given it a fair long term test.

VStream-stock

VStream® Tall Turing Windscreen left, stock windscreen right.

The Positive:

This windscreen is tall, that’s not just a marketing term in the title. At slightly over 2 ft. it’s practically a sail compared to the stock screen. In the highest position on the Connie, I can just see over the top (on straight roads). Coupled with the generous fairing on the Concours it creates a pocket of protection that the stock screen cannot even hope to compete with. When it’s raining, as long as I don’t stop, everything behind the screen (head, chest, shoulders, lap) stay bone dry.  I’ve ridden in some pretty decent storms over the last few years and been thankful for this level of protection.

Being almost as wide as it is tall (height: 24.10 in, width: 21 in.) I was concerned about the tall screen blocking too much air to keep me cool in the summer. This was not the case. The unique “V” shape of the screen creates a relatively clean flow of air over my helmet while allowing a stream of air to slip around the screen. Setting the height of the windscreen on the Connie at the 2nd pre-set position sends this stream of air right along and under my arms. The combination of the airflow over my head and along my sides also pulls air from my back. This is ideal for mesh jackets and those with underarm and back vents.

VS_VortexThe Nation Cycle website for the VStream® Windscreen explains this better:

“The typical airflow pattern of the wake from most windscreens is called a van Karman vortex. At speeds of 50-90 mph, the air swirls off the windscreen in an approximate 90-degree segment of rotation, hits the bottom of the rider’s neck on the way up, and curves off the shoulder at approximately 45 degrees.

We gave the VStream® its name for the shape it takes at the upper edge. The patented “V” shape is so quiet because it pushes this vortex out and away from the side of the rider’s head. The rider’s helmet then resides in still air, and the passenger’s environment is greatly improved as well.”

I can personally attest that these claims are accurate and true. With the adjustable screen on the Connie I can direct where the stream of air created by the “V” shape hits me and in essence control how cool or warm I want to be.  Great for summer riding but also very useful when the mercury starts to drop.

Installation was easy. The screen attached to the existing mounts on the Connie with no additional hardware needed. I had my old screen off and the new one installed in about 15 min., 10 of which was spent searching for my allen socket set.

The Negative: 

As I stated before this screen is tall. At highway speeds it flexes quite a lot. This does concern me regarding its longevity. My hope is that the polycarbonate material is strong enough to not crack where I feel it’s week spot is, the mounting screw holes. According to Nation Cycle, “All VStream® Windscreens are made from thick, durable polycarbonate with National Cycle’s exclusive Quantum® hardcoating or FMR hardcoating.” In two years of commuting and long highway trips I have seen no issues, but it’s still a concern for me.

The flexing can also disrupt the otherwise clean air flow produced by the screen. At highway speeds, in traffic, the disruption of air caused by other vehicles coupled with the flexing of the shield can create some buffeting and noise. No more than the stock shield, but it does defeat the special design of the screen. This is not an issue when riding back roads or at lower speeds at all.

Conclusion:

The VStream® Tall Touring Windscreen has all the features I was looking for when I started my search. It provides good weather protection, clean airflow, and good control of that airflow to keep me cool in the summer and warm in the spring and fall. I’m very happy with my purchase.

National Cycle offers the VStream® series windscreens in Sport, Sport Touring, and Tall Touring sizes to fit most motorcycles. Check out their entire catalog at NationalCycle.com. You can purchase VStream® windscreens from most online motorcycle stores. I bought mine from Revzilla for $179, not cheep but well worth the price.

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Posted by on August 31, 2017 in Gear Reviews

 

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BikeBandit.com Review

Winter projects are a way for me to spend time doing maintenance and other adjustments to my bike that I don’t get to during the riding season. One of those items is always a complete service: Oil, oil filter, air filter, check the tires, spark plugs, brakes, etc. I opt to do this during the off-season because on my Concours anything other than an oil and oil filter change requires removing a good amount of the plastic panels and other bits to get to the engine. I don’t usually have one full day to work on the bike, so it stays in a state of half dress until I can complete the work. That’s why this is a winter project. I hate missing a good day of riding because I don’t have time to put my side panels back on.

One of the pieces I have to remove to get to the air filter is the windshield (I know, right). The Concours windshield is held on with small hex screws. Now, I’m going to admit this but I’m not proud of it, I have a cheap hex socket set. What this means is that smaller screws and bolts that I remove more frequently get damaged. Over time the hex heads get stripped and I have to get new screws. Simple solution would be to buy a better socket set, but that’s hard to justify when the screws are about a buck each.

Yet another reason I work on my bike in the winter. I stripped the head of one of my windshield bolts recently and was unable to get the windshield off, thus not being able to get to the air filter, or the engine, and so I couldn’t complete my service work. I called my local Kawasaki dealer and they would only sell me a whole windshield kit that included all the bolts, mounts, and a new windshield. This was over a $300 and not really what I was looking for. So, off to the internet!

I remembered a friend telling me that BikeBandit.com sold OEM parts and that I should check them out. Off to the site I went. I was pretty impressed with the site. After navigating to the OEM section I entered the make, model, and year of my bike and they had everything I needed. Their OEM section let me navigate to the specific area of the bike I was looking for to find the exact part number from a zoomable online parts diagram. This means I got to pick and order the exact thing I needed to fix my windshield. I found the screw, completed my ordered, and it was in my mailbox shortly afterwards. It saved me time and money and I’m glad I looked them up.

BikeBandit.com has motorcycle tires, accessories, and even riding gear.  They have aftermarket honda motorcycle parts, Kawasaki parts, and just about anything you need for you specific model of motorcycle whether you have a Suzuki, Yamaha, or BMW. Their low price guarantee will match any price if you find a part for lower than they have it. This is especially useful for motorcycle tires. I go through a set of tires every year and they are not cheap for the Connie. It’s to know that I can get the absolute lowest price around on BikeBandit.

I’m hoping to restore a Kawasaki 1981 440 LTD soon. You can bet I’ll be spending a lot of time on BikeBandit once that project gets rolling, but that’s a story for another time.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2017 in Gear Reviews, Motorcycling

 

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SENA LAUNCHES WORLD’S FIRST INTELLIGENT NOISE-CONTROL (INC™) HELMET AT 2015 AIMEXPO

Smart-Helmet_Color-Options22

October, 15, 2015

 Sena Technologies, Inc., a Bluetooth innovator in the motorcycle and outdoor actives market, debuted today the world’s first Intelligent Noise-Control (INC™) helmet EXCLUSIVELY to the media, dealers and trade members at the 2015 American International Motorcycle Expo (AIMExpo) in Orlando.

AIMExpo has grown substantially since its inception in 2013, establishing itself as one of the fastest growing trade shows in the U.S. and the largest powersports trade show in North America. Likewise, Sena has shown impressive growth and innovation throughout the past three years, solidifying its position as the global leader in Motorcycle Bluetooth technology.

“We’re thrilled to have Sena unveil its latest innovation here at AIMExpo,” said Cinnamon Kernes, AIMExpo Show Director. “They have been an exhibitor and partner since our launch. Choosing AIMExpo as the place to debut their new helmet and taking advantage of the media and dealer presence exemplifies exactly how the AIMExpo platform was intended to be utilized.”

The Sena Helmet will be equipped with innovative smart technology with a premium comfort, ergonomics and finish. The ultra light-weight and durable carbon fiber material provides a high quality and comfortable experience, with ground breaking Intelligent Noise-Control (INC™) technology to actively control the loud and damaging noises associated with riding. “We are ecstatic to yet again be pushing innovation with the world’s first true quiet helmet, with our focus as always on creating the safest and best riding experience possible for our customers. It only seemed logical that we unveil this game-changing device at AIMExpo, a place where the entire motorcycle industry has gathered to see the latest innovations to hit the market,” says Sena CEO, Tae Kim. With all of the key features such as optional Bluetooth 4.1 Communication module, ultra light carbon fiber material, Plug & Play (PNP) installation feature for the INC™ and the patented Sena Bluetooth Technology, users can enjoy their ride like never before.

Additional new products being showcased at AIMExpo include the 10S, 10R, 10U, Wristband, Handlebar Remote Controls, and Prism Tube.

AIMExpo opens its doors to the general public this Saturday, October 17 (9 a.m. – 7 p.m.) and Sunday, October 19 (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.) where enthusiasts will have the opportunity to see all-new products from more than 500 unique exhibitors and demo a wide variety of two- and four-wheel, on- and off-road models at AIMExpo Outdoors!Tickets are available online at AIMExpoUSA.com or on-site at the Orange County Convention Center.

About Sena Technologies Inc.
Sena Technologies, Inc. is the global leader in Bluetooth Innovation for the motorsports, action sports and outdoor sports lifestyles – enabling real-time communication and optimal performance in the thick of the action. Since its first and flagship product, the SMH10 Bluetooth intercom/headset for Motorcycle helmets, the most cutting-edge technological designs have allowed riders across powersports and motocross to change the way they communicate while charging tracks and courses worldwide. With cyclists, action sports and outdoor sports enthusiasts taking advantage of its impressive communications and onboard technologies – coupled with its sheer innovation in creating new perspectives with Bluetooth audio action camera technology – Sena is enhancing the lives of speed demons and action-seekers for the better. Sena currently offers its products worldwide through its global network of distributors, retailers and OEM partners.

For more information on Sena Technologies Inc. and its products, please visit www.Sena.com or contact (951) 719-1040 or marketing@sena.com.

Facebook: facebook.com/senabluetooth
Twitter: @senabluetooth
Instagram: @senabluetooth

#RideConnected

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2015 in Gear Reviews, Motorcycling

 

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BILT Apollo Modular Motorcycle Helmet – First Look

Riding_Modified“Apollo Modular Helmet, didn’t you write that you picked up the BILT Explorer Adventure helmet?” Yes, I did get the Explorer helmet as part of the package deal with the BILT Explorer Adventure Waterproof jacket but when I went to my local Cycle Gear store to exchange my too large BILT Explorer Adventure pants I also traded in the Explorer helmet for the Apollo. The Explorer was just too off-road for me and I felt that the Apollo fit me and my riding better. I’m happy to say that I made the right choice.

The features of the Apollo read like most modular helmets these days. Single pushbutton chin bar release, internal sun shield, optically clear face shield, double d-ring chin strap with snap stay, chin and top vents, rear exhaust vent, removable lining, polycarbonate shell and a nice bag to store it in. I chose the HI-VIZ color with black accents.

From my first ride this helmet fit me, my head and my riding style. The chin bar mechanism is smooth but takes a firm hand to open and latch closed. This is doubly true for the face shield, it’s a bit stiff and takes some effort to raise and lower. There are plenty of detentes in the face shield, the first opens the shield just enough to keep fogging down to a minimum. The chin vents also move enough air, once in motion, that I can feel it on my chin and it clears out any fogging. Two top vents also flow decent air that I can feel while in motion, which is more than I can say for most helmets I’ve owned. I’ve ridden this year in tempts ranging from 30 to 85 degrees and it’s been as comfortable as most helmets and more so then some I’ve worn.

I am also impressed with how smooth the airflow over the helmet is. The Apollo is not a quiet helmet. There’s a good deal of wind noise but with the face shield down and the chin curtain it’s less than you’d expect. I’ve noticed a high-pitched whistle at times that seems like it’s coming from the shield where it meets to helmet. I only hear it when turning a hard corner so it’s not constant. I barely notice it with my ear plugs in. Overall wind noise is not loud enough that it will be a drain on a long ride.

Weight seems reasonable. It’s not carbon fiber but it is lighter than my Nolan n103. I choose the XL over the large, which is my normal size in Nolan and HJC, as it fit better. Even with the XL however I don’t have room for my helmet liner, but that’s not a great loss. I have a beard and so am particularly susceptible to my chin and neck hair getting pulled by the chin strap if it’s not padded well. No such issues with the Apollo. Both sides of the chin strap are well padded. When pulled together through the D-ring the padding comes together and stops the strap from chafing my neck.

I was able to attach my Sena SMH10 to the Apollo. The internal sun visor and shape of the helmet made this a little tricky but it works well. The Sena mounts a littler farther forward on the helmet then I would like, though.  The mic tucks into a little pocket in chin bar and stays out of the way when riding which s a plus. I don’t use the internal speakers as I opted for the base plate that lets me use ear buds. I can’t comment on speaker installation in the Apollo though it looks like it would not be hard. The liner is removable (and washable).

I’ve been on several rides now with the Apollo helmet and am very satisfied with it. It feels and looks solid and well built. For the price I believe this is one of the better helmet choices out there, especially for a new rider looking for extra protection without the extra price. It’s certainly a lot nicer than the $100 Fullmer full face that was my first helmet.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2013 in BILT Gear Review, Gear Reviews

 

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BILT Explorer Waterproof Adventure Jacket – First Look

Riding_Modified

Motorcycle gear is expensive. There’s no way around it, usually. I cannot begin to count the number of gear reviews that have excited me about a particular piece of kit and then brought back to reality when I see the price. In all of this reading I’ve yet to see a review of some of the less expensive gear out there. Even when I went to research Cycle Gears house brand BILT I was only able to find message board reviews. So I thought I’d take the plunge, buy the gear and see for myself if it’s inexpensive or just cheap. I’ll start with the BILT Explorer Waterproof Adventure Jacket (formerly the BILT Explorer H2O Waterproof Adventure Jacket).

Construction

The Adventure jacket is 3/4 length and made of a 600 denier PRO-FLEX™ outer shell with 1200 denier ENDURA-BRADE™ shoulder and elbow panels. It’s lined with a non-removable DRY+™ 100% waterproof lining, a removable quilted liner and removable CE approved armor at the shoulders and elbows. The 600 and 1200 denier material is highly flexible and light weight making the jacket comfortable with no break-in time at all. In fact it feels light enough that I really appreciate the 1200 denier fabric added to the shoulder and elbow areas. I cannot tell because of the inner liner, but it seems that the 1200 denier patches are sown inline with the 600 denier fabric of the jacket and not sown as an added layer over the shoulder and elbow. This was a little disappointing because I expected these areas to have a layer of 600 and then 1200 denier fabric for added abrasion resistance, but that is not the case.  My attempts to find out what the PRO-FLEX™ or ENDURA-BRADE™ materials are actually made of has turned up little information. They are not Cordura or ballistic but are a lighter nylon or poly fabric similar to a duffel bag or backpack. This will be nice in the summer as it’s lighter fabric weight but I’m not certain of their abrasion resistance because I can’t find the exact base material used.

Out of the box, the construction is decent but there were a number of loose or hanging threads that I needed to trim. The seams are double stitched, which is good, but I noticed a few missteps here and there where the seams didn’t get put together with the greatest of care. This is particularly noticeable around the hook-and-loop patches, zipper folds and at the ends of the roll-up front vents. For the most part these areas show some pretty sloppy sewing and I fear that I’ll be repairing them before the jacket’s end of life. The important thing is that where I would be likely to contact the road the seams are in good shape. There’s a noticeable lack of finishing the product off well which I suspected might be the case for this price point. The thread used on the seams is regular cotton thread and not nylon or another stronger material. So while I expect that in a get off the jacket material and armor will hold up well, the seams are pretty likely to fall apart fast.   

BILT ADV Waterproof Jacket FrontBILT ADV Waterproof Jacket Back

Fit/Adjustments

The Adventure jacket fit better than I expected. I’m 6′ 2″ and 210 and I bought the XL. It fits everywhere as good gear should. There are adjusters on the arms to help pull the elbow armor into place and hold it there. Adjusters at the waist help snug up the middle. The neck closure is lined with a soft neoprene-like material and closes with some room left over if needed but tight if wanted. Down the front of the jacket there is a full length zipper enclosed by a rain gutter that secures via both hook-and-loop and snaps, which I really liked for reasons that I’ll get into later. The zipper was easy to pull the first time. With the quilted liner in place the fit is a little snug, but it keeps the liner close to the body and I suspect will keep me toasty.

Sleeve length is perfect for my reach to handle bars (sitting test only). The hook-and-loop closures on the end of the sleeves, and the end of the sleeves themselves, could do with a bit more refinement in design. While the closure allows me to wear a glove either over or under the sleeve end, there’s a lot of excess fabric. This fabric causes a loose seal around a glove worn under the sleeve which may let in cold air. It also bunches up fabric under a gauntlet that may prove uncomfortable over a long day. Both of these I will need to test in riding conditions to see how they affect my riding comfort.

BILT ADV Waterproof Jacket Lower AdjBILT ADV Waterproof Jacket Lower Adj OpenBILT ADV Waterproof Jacket Side Adj

BILT ADV Waterproof Jacket Slv OpenBILT ADV Waterproof Jacket Slv Closed

Amenities/Comfort

For cold weather comfort the Adventure jacket comes with a removable quilted liner. This is a pretty standard liner similar those found in my other riding gear. It has two inner pockets and is easy to remove and packs small. When the days start to warm up the Adventure jacket has six vents. There are two arm vents and two rear vents with snap pulls to hold them open. On the both sides of front of the jacket are roll up covers that expose shoulder to torso vents that should pass a lot of air over the rider. I will note that all these vents open to the inner waterproof liner and not directly to the rider. This is similar to another riding jacket that I have and isn’t horrible for cooling me down but does need air flow for it to work. I imagine sitting still will be hot, but then that’s the case even with my mesh jacket.

In regards to venting a summer heat I was actually really impressed with one particular aspect of the front zipper  closure. I mentioned before that this closure secures via snaps and hook and loop. The snaps sit right in the middle of the main closure and allow me to open the main zipper about halfway down. With the hook and loop closure at the neck having the hooks on the pull tab and the main zipper closure having the loop on the right side of the storm flap I can secure the neck pull tab to the storm flap so that it’s not flapping in the wind. This will offer direct venting to me and should help on the hottest day. Whether this was intentional or not, I’ll call it a feature and enjoy the breeze.

BILT ADV Waterproof Jacket  back ventBILT ADV Waterproof Jacket FrontVentBILT ADV Waterproof Jacket  Front Vent 2BILT ADV Waterproof Jacket  Open FrontBILT ADV Waterproof Jacket  Arm Vent

Pockets there are a plenty. In the removable quilted liner there are two pockets, one on each side. With the liner removed the base jacket has one internal pocket in the lining on the left side. There are two napoleon pockets along the main zipper near the neck, one inside and one outside the main zipper but both lined with waterproof material. At the waist are two large cargo pockets with flaps that close both with snaps and hook and loop and are lined with waterproof material. On the side of the cargo pockets are zipper closed hand warmer pockets lined with the same material found around the collar. On the back is a large snap closed waterproof pocket the width of the back and from the waist to the bottom of the coat. There’s even a pouch for a hydro pack that sits between the vent zippers. That’s 11 pockets before I even put the pants on. I’m sure to lose something.

BILT ADV Waterproof Jacket  Front PocketBILT ADV Waterproof Jacket  Front Pocket OpenBILT ADV Waterproof Jacket  Front Pocket side

BILT ADV Waterproof Jacket  Back PocketBILT ADV Waterproof Jacket  Back Pocket Open

I decided to buy the tan or Sand color for the Adventure jacket and not the all black for better contrast to my bike (which is black) and more conspicuity. There are also reflective panels along the front of the shoulders, above the elbow patches on the side, and at the back of the neck and midway down the back of the jacket. I’ve taken a few pictures with a flash and can say that the reflective spots are placed to offer a good view to motorists in low light and dark riding conditions. Since this is a waterproof coat I find good placement of the reflective spots a big plus.

BILT ADV Waterproof Jacket  ReflectiveBILT ADV Waterproof Jacket  ReflectiveBILT ADV Waterproof Jacket  ReflectiveBILT ADV Waterproof Jacket  Reflective

Shoulders and elbows are equipped with removable CE certified armor pads. I took a shoulder and elbow pad out to inspect and I was pleasantly surprised that it was marked as CE (of that I had little doubt) and that it was pretty substantial (here I was more surprised). I have several riding jackets and pants that all have CE rated armor, however not all CE rated armor is the same. I’ve seen some pretty flimsy CE armor up to hard molded plastic CE armor. Basically as long as it meets the European Community (CE) standard for impact distribution it is certified as CE armor. I’m relieved that armor was not a place BILT cut corners like some other more expensive brands I own have done here.  

Conclusions

At this point I’m generally happy about my purchase. It fits right, feels good, looks good, and is put together moderately well. I think that there are more pros than cons when it comes to the gear so far. I think it will serve me well, but not for a long duration. It has real potential to not show wear and tear rather quickly. I also think this is a one-and-done piece of gear should I get into a crash in it. I believe it will protect me as much as the next jacket, but it will not survive to ride another day as some higher end kit might. The real test will be riding with it over the summer and seeing how it handles cold and hot weather and regular daily use. I’ll let you know how it fares later this summer/fall in my long-term test results.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2013 in BILT Gear Review, Gear Reviews

 

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BILT Gear Review

Cycle Gear LogoI cannot count the number of hours I’ve spent leafing through the Aerostitch catalog or browsing the RevZilla website lusting after this or that piece of gear. There are so many gear manufactures in the market these days that we as riders are truly spoiled for choice. It’s been my experience that most of the gear I see online is pretty pricey. Generally it can cost $1000 – $2000 to purchase an entire riding kit (jackets, pants, gloves, helmet, and boots) and that’s for moderately priced gear, you can spend significantly more. So where can a rider go to get quality gear at a more reasonable price? I’ve been taking a hard look at CycleGear’s house brand BILT for a few months trying to determine if the gear they offer is just low priced or cheap. My search online found, like most things online, deeply divided opinions regarding this question

Well I’ve decided to give BILT a try. I’m neither a new rider nor a poor rider but I am tired of shelling out thousands of dollars on gear and am hopeful that the BILT will be a viable alternative. I purchased the following BILT items that arrived today:

Explorer H2O Waterproof Adventure Jacket
Explorer H2O Waterproof Adventure Pants
Explorer Adventure Helmet
Explorer Urban Rider Adventure Gloves
Explorer H2O Waterproof Adventure Boots

The jacket, pants, helmet and gloves where a promotion package that cost $499.99, and the boots where $79.99. Shipping was free and after taxes the whole kit came to $503. Not bad for a full set of riding gear. I plan to use the gear all summer and write up my thoughts on each item. Look for an initial impression coming soon and then a long term review as I use it this year. I hope that this experiment turns out to be a positive experience because finding a reasonable source for gear would be a benefit to all of us riders.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2013 in BILT Gear Review, Gear Reviews

 

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Google Glass for Motorcycles

Google GlassGoogle Glass for Motorcycles Are these forthcoming “digital glasses” the ultimate navigation and heads-up display for motorcycle riders or just another threat to traffic safety?.

The possibilities are pretty amazing for this technology. I personally love the hands free abilities that this would provide both drivers and motorcyclists. My mind is racing with the opportunities and applications. But there is the potential here for more distractions from other motorists. Read the article linked above. Let me know what you think. Is this the next leap in our interactions with technology or is this the next big distraction. I’m hoping for the best.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in Gear Reviews

 

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