Tag Archives: Motorcyclist
I had knee surgery recently to repair two tears in the meniscus in my left knee. The injury was not motorcycle related but it means I’ll be off the bike for a while. So, what to do while I can’t ride? Well, I took advantage of the down time to get through a few projects I’ve wanted to do.
The first was to get my bike ready for the spring riding season, even though I can’t ride it for several weeks. I changed the oil, oil filter, air filter, rear tire, and gave it good once over. I tightened all the nuts and bolts and lubricated everything. All pretty straight forward except for changing the Air Filter. I have to hand it to the folks at Kawasaki, 12 bolts, 3 plastic rivets, 3 body pieces, and several connectors to unplug just to get to the air filter. Total time to do everything except the air filter was a few hours. The air filter was another solid hour. It kept me busy at least and even though I couldn’t ride my bike I still got to play with it.
Up to this point I’ve been a little shy about doing the service work on my Concours. It’s a very complicated machine and not like anything I’ve worked on before. Being able to take the time to work through the service knowing that I wasn’t riding took a lot of the pressure off. If I didn’t finish the work I wasn’t missing anything and could get back to it when I had more time. Of course it turned out it was easier than I thought and once I got into it everything was very much the same just in different places. I didn’t take on changing the spark plugs, that’s a task for another long weekend. Something about having to remove the gas tank … not sure I’m ready for that yet.
Next I organized my gear by building custom shelves, a rack, hanging cabinets, and generally putting things in their place. It’s so nice have all my gear in one place. There’s also a practical reason for organizing and hanging up my gear. We moved to a new house last summer and I had a similar setup in my old house. Having a place to hang sweaty or wet clothes is great for letting them air out and dry. They tend to last longer when they have good airflow. It also helps them smell better next time I use them. The other reason is for convenience. Like most people, I don’t like to search for something. If it’s not in reach when I need it I’ll find an alternate solution. Having my riding gear all in one place means when I get ready to ride everything I need to grab is right there. I’ll have options instead of only using the jacket I can find, and I will use the gear that’s appropriate to the ride I’m going on.
I realized as I was putting my bike back together and organizing my gear that they had a similar purpose. Having my gear all together makes it easier to know what I have and what condition it’s in. Organizing my tools and other bike related cleaning and maintenance materials also helps me know what I have, how much I have, and where it’s at. Working on my bike regularly helps me understand it. The more parts I look at, and work on the more familiar I am with my machine and how it works. The more familiar I am the more apt I am to know if somethings wrong and I might even have an idea of how to fix it. My gear collection grows as I understand what different conditions require in terms of protection and comfort. The more comfortable I am the longer I can ride and longer my riding season is. My tool collection grows as I work and maintain my bike. The right tool for the job is always the best tool to use. So too does my understanding of my bike grow as I ride it and work on it. The more I know the better I can care for my bike and extend my riding.
This train of thought brought me back to my knee surgery. I’ve tried for several years to “get in shape”. I know intuitively that it’s important. Looking down the barrel at 40 my body isn’t going to bounce back on its own. So, while I work on my bike getting it into shape for the summer I concluded I need to do the same to me. Just like a bike that’s out of tune, it might run for a while but eventually it’s going to need some work to get it going again. The amount of work really depends on how well it is maintained. My body is very much the same. I’ve missed a few regular service intervals at this point. So, as I get my bike in order I’ll also be working on getting me in better shape this summer too. Let’s see if I can tune this body up before it’s too late and I get put out in the shed with a tarp over me.
Bruce Brown’s 1971 classic documentary, On Any Sunday, exposed legions of folks to the wonderful world of motorcycling. Now, Bruce’s son, Dana Brown, a filmmaker who made Step into Liquid and Dust to Glory, is creating a modern take on the original, capturing on film those who ride motorcycles today and what the sport means to them.
The beautifully shot movie, scheduled for release this fall, features Travis Pastrana, Marc Marquez, Robbie Maddison, James Stewart, Carlin Dunne, Dani Pedrosa, and others. If this new version of On Any Sundayhas half the impact of the 1971 original, it will be a huge success. Enjoy the trailer!
May 12, 2014 By
It’s a little intimidating at first. I didn’t know what to expect having met online or getting hooked up by a friend. Sure, I’ve looked at a few pictures and profiles and everything looks good, but there’s still some doubt. Is it going to work out this time? Is it going to turn out like last time where everything was great at first but then really kind of fell apart at the end? Or is this the one? Meeting a riding group for the first time is a lot like going on a blind date, even with a friend along for support. There are a lot of unknowns and different personalities involved. The best thing is to just dive in and see where it goes.
To ease into riding with a new group I generally look for a short ride that involves a lunch or dinner stop. This makes it seem even more like dating but the meal actually serves the same purpose in both situations. I don’t generally get a chance to have more than a 5 min conversation at riding breaks so a lunch or dinner is a great way to get a feel for the group. I can meet and talk with several members usually for over an hour in a relax setting. Some more formal riding groups have meet-and-greet nights, bike washes, BBQ nights, etc. These are perfect for meeting other group members and getting to know the structure and personalities of a group before going on a ride. Sometimes I know right off the bat after meeting a group if it’s going to work or not even before I go on a ride with them.
After meeting some of the members and getting a feel for their riding styles, if I’m still interested I’ll meet up with them for a longer day ride. Short rides are good for getting to know the members of a group. Day long rides are good for getting to know the riding dynamic of a group. How often does the group stop for breaks? How fast or slow do they ride? Are they sticklers for staying in formation and together as a group? Are they OK with letting faster riders meet the more casual riders at the next stop? My comfort level on a ride is as important to me as the people I ride with. If the group and my riding rhythms are not compatible then I’m not going to enjoy the ride and I’m not going to want to come back. There’s always some level of adjustment and compromise when getting to know a new group. In general I know my patterns and if the group isn’t within a tolerable range of what’s acceptable to me, I know I’ll just be frustrated. My time is important to me and I don’t want to spend a glorious weekend riding frustrated and feeling less relaxed then when I left. That kind of defeats the purpose.
A riding group can mean many things to many people. Some are formal groups or clubs with strict rules, membership dues, patches, and officers. Some are just a group of friends who get together every few weeks to ride. I belong to and have belonged to both kinds. Unlike dating, I can belong to as many riding groups as I want. This gives me options for attending more types of rides. I don’t have to go on every ride for every group either. It also means when I host a ride there’s a larger pool of riders to pull from, so I’m sure to at least get a few people to show up. Personally, I prefer groups that lean toward the informal . Some structure is fine, but too much makes me feel obligated to the group in a way that is counter to why I ride with a group in the first place. My main goal in riding with a group is to enjoy the friends and social aspect as much as the riding. Not that clubs and riding associations don’t have a good time, I just like to keep my riding a little more casual.
Of course groups change over time as people join and leave, just as my riding style has changed. So, if a group doesn’t work out I can always go back to a group I haven’t ridden with in a while. Things might have changed in that group or my riding habits might have changed making us both more compatible than before. I try not to burn any bridges when I leave a group. I never know if they are going to post a ride that looks interesting or I want to ride with them again. Also, the ridding community in my area isn’t incredibly large. It’s surprising how many people know each other.
Riding with a group is about carving up great roads together and at the end of the day getting to hang out with some pretty fun people. It enhances the ride and should not detract from it. So, get out there. There’s plenty of fish in the sea … I mean riding groups to choose from. Go find one, and have a great ride.
There’s 3 items of interest: new category of motorcycle- autocycles, the wearing of masks for warmth is legal now, and the blame for on-coming left-hand turn accidents.
2014 Virginia General Assembly Wrap Up
March 13, 2014
The regular session of the Virginia General Assembly has concluded. We can of course expect a special session so that the two chambers can continue to fight over the budget and the impasse over Medicaid expansion. However, as that is a topic not specific to motorcycles or motorcyclists, I will not wade into those waters.
Motorcyclists had a pretty good year in 2014. The Virginia Coalition of Motorcyclists (VCOM) had three main issues going into this session, two of which have become law which will go into effect as of July 1st, 2014. If this were baseball we would be batting .667 and would qualify for the hall of fame. Yes Mr. O’Reilly that is called spin.
This year Virginia will get a new classification of motor vehicle called an autocycle. Both HB 122 and its Senate companion SB 383 have been signed by the Governor. Under this new law, an autocycle is defined as a three-wheeled motor vehicle that has a steering wheel, seating that does not require the operator to straddle or sit astride, and is manufactured to comply with federal safety requirements for motorcycles. The code also specifies that unless otherwise provided, an autocycle shall not be deemed to be a motorcycle. The reason for this legislation was the rise in popularity of three-wheeled cars such as the T-Rex and Elio which until now have been considered motorcycles due to having three wheels. The manufacturers of these vehicles do not want them to be considered automobiles because they would then have to meet the federal safety standards for automobiles. We motorcyclists do not want them to be motorcycles because they will unfairly distort our crash statistics. VCOM worked with Tanom, a company in Virginia which manufactures such vehicles, and with several state governmental agencies to create this new classification. This new classification satisfies all parties. Autocycles only have to meet the federal safety requirements for motorcycles so the manufactures are happy. Likewise, when these three wheeled cars are involved in a crash which results in an injury or fatality, they will not be considered motorcycle injuries or fatalities. I do not mean to sound indifferent about any injury or fatality, but the reality is that much of the laws that we see restricting motorcyclists are driven by crash data. If the government is going to use such data to pass laws aimed at us, we should demand that the data at least be accurate.
If you would like to read the full bill as enacted you may do so at the following link:
The second bill to be signed by the Governor is HB 542 which concerns wearing masks in public. It is a felony to wear a mask in public in the Commonwealth of Virginia except under certain circumstances. This has historically been problematic for motorcyclists in Virginia who utilize cold weather gear, or who use a bandana to protect themselves from dust or sun. Many were being pulled over and told to remove the protective coverings. The code section now makes it clear that it is only a crime in Virginia to wear a mask in public with the intent to conceal one’s identity. Covering one’s face for the purpose of staying warm or to protect one’s self from the elements will no longer put a motorcyclist at risk of facing prosecution.
If you would like to read the full bill as enacted you may do so at the following link:
Unfortunately, our third issue, which would have made it reckless driving to kill another motorist while committing a right of way violation, was defeated by the House Courts of Justice Committee. Despite support from motorcyclists across Virginia, the Committee defeated the measure on a 9-13 vote. Those who opposed the measure did so due to the fact that the bill made a traffic infraction a criminal offense without any change in the intent of the offender. We argued that the court would still have the power to find the offender guilty of a simple infraction if the evidence supported such a finding. We further explained that the main purposes of the bill was to force those who kill others on Virginia highways to come to court to answer for the charges, and to give courts more power to deal with such offenders appropriately. Despite our best efforts the measure failed. At least for now.
VCOM will continue to monitor issues affecting motorcyclists in the Commonwealth. If you have any concerns about such an issue please feel free to contact me. Additionally, if you wish to support VCOM you may join and become a supporter at vcomonline.org
McGrath & Danielson
Tom McGrath’s Motorcycle Law Group
Our mailing address is:
2606-2608 West Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23220
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Smoke Chasing Grand Tour 2013 (SCGT13) is proud to be a sanctioned AMA National Grand Tour and a featured Team Strange Airheads™ GT once again.
Smoke Chasing is a self-paced BBQ/”Smoke” nationwide Grand Tour that combines your love of motorcycling and great food.
This GT can be completed in any state or states at the discretion of the rider and the GT concept is simple. A rider simply documents 20 or more visits to BBQ and Smoke restaurants, streets and cities taking photos featuring their motorcycle cycle, GT Flag and signs.
SCGT13 is a perfect complement to your day trips, weekend rides, team rides, club rider events, and can easily be part of your long distance adventures and rallies. SCGT13 is open to all makes and models of motorcycle and all types of riders.
Registration opens on February 15th and riders can register through June 30th. The GT runs from March 1st to November 30th 2013.
Your $27 entry fee includes a “rally flag” to document your ride. All finishers will receive a certificate and a chance to win prizes.
Visit www.smokechasing.com for more information.