Since I started 1st Gear I knew my motorcycling trips would become a challenge, especially a California Motorcycle Trip. Getting away was proving to be difficult. It is best to plan ahead so you can prepare for such trips but this trip was special. It was not planned and everything came together as if it was planned twelve months in advance. Some things are just meant to be, this was one of them.
Although often drawing the same aficionados looking for the same adrenaline rush, there are differences between riding performance cars and riding performance motorcycles. But this won’t be a traditional comparison between exotic sports cars and thrilling sport bikes, because there are plenty of those out there on the internet. Cars versus Motorcycles, this is more of a comparison based on the expression, “Four wheels move the body; two wheels move the soul.”
Exclusive vs. Inclusive
So what are the differences? For starters, the entry fee into the exotic sport car club is usually six figures and higher. Basically, it’s a small club. Depending on where you live, it might be difficult to find others who drive these cars, limiting the experience and providing few opportunities for social interaction based on a mutual appreciation and hobby.
However, if you’re lucky enough to have a motorcycle license, then you can get into the same high-performance club for a fraction of the cost. A 10-year-old Lamborghini Gallardo will cost your over $100,000. A gently used BMW S1000RR comes in at $11,000. With the smaller cost to enter the high-performance realm, you’ll find a much larger group of great people who share your passion for riding.
Comfort vs. Intensity
A performance sports car will offer you an amazing experience in great comfort. You’ll be surrounded by the finest technology and safety features. You’ll be quite comfortable in the supporting, padded seats. All you have to do is just open the car door, get in, and go. A sports bike, on the other hand, will offer you an amazing experience but you will have very little comfort in the process. You’ll be sitting on the finest technology but your safety is at far greater risk. You cannot just hop on and go. You’ll have to get geared up for the ride (I hope!) before you set off down the road. You are completely exposed to the elements and now you have lean angles to work with. Every surface you ride on, you’ll feel. Every corner becomes an intense dream you don’t want to wake up from.
There’s just no comparison
We go through life looking for unique and fulfilling experiences, and motorcycling can easily deliver that. The separation from the mundane and focus required to ride will give you the break you need from the stressors of life. But there is a trade-off and it is your safety. You’ll find far more people telling you about the dangers of motorcycling than the joys of it. While the stories you’ll hear are probably true, they still represent a small minority of incidents and experiences. Some of the biggest accident stats associated with motorcycle riding can be eliminated by wearing full safety gear, exercising caution in all intersections, avoiding drugs or alcohol, keeping the speed within your skill set, and taking a motorcycle safety course. If you can manage these, your motorcycling experience will last a long, long time.
And last (but not least) is the motorcycling community. Part of the soul of the sport of motorcycling is the people involved. They will take care of you, and people you ride with will become lifelong friends. Embrace it and you’ll never be alone.
Four wheels move the body; two wheels move the soul. Anyone who has ridden a bike knows it’s true.
Learn to ride at 1st Gear Motorcycle School or if you already ride check out my ride reports on this website.
Insuring your motorcycle before you get on the road is not only a good idea—it is the law. This is not a step to skip and most people know that, but it is a step that too often gets rushed, without adequate thought being put into the decision. It is very easy to waste hundreds of dollars on coverage you don’t need, just as it is easy to be underinsured if you’re on a budget. This is particularly true when motorcyclists forget to insure themselves or take out bodily injury coverage. Taking the time to figure out the proper amount of coverage for your motorcycle, as well as for yourself, is well worth it in the long run.
Insuring your Motorcycle
When buying insurance for your motorcycle, you should first consider exactly how much you want to insure it for. The exact amount it is worth? Just what is necessary? If your motorcycle is worth $10,000 (or more), most likely you’ll want full coverage to protect your investment and to avoid missing even one day of riding! But it’s more complicated than that. Motorcycles can break easily with something as simple as a tip over. We then need parts to replace it and get it back on the road. If you are relying on insurance to immediately replace the parts and pay the bill, don’t expect it. It can take months for
claims to go through, and even then, depending on the circumstances, they might not be approved in the amount you need. Put simply: You will likely be the one to pay for new parts and get them put on quickly if you don’t want to miss a day of riding.
Step back from your motorcycle for a moment. You’ll want to put yourself and your family in the picture, as well. You are not replaceable but your motorcycle is. Your first priority should be protecting yourself. It is very easy to get full coverage for your motorcycle then ride off without getting adequate coverage for yourself, and this step is often overlooked. Your greatest asset is your ability to be there for your family and generate income. The insured value of your motorcycle is a very small amount in comparison.
Individual disability insurance covers you if you are unable to work. Quite often, your group benefits plan at the company you work for may have you covered. Go over the details of this policy and see how adequate it is. If it is not adequate, look into getting your own policy. This is where a Financial Advisor or an Insurance Advisor comes in handy. Their advice is free and they get paid only if you decide to sign up for an insurance policy. $100 spent insuring yourself is better than money spent on insuring your motorcycle. Keep the big picture in mind!
The Cost of Motorcycle Repairs
Most motorcycles can be fixed for a lot less than you would think. With a little bit of searching, you’ll find well-priced replacement parts. EBay is great for finding the parts you need. Motorcycle-specific forums will point you in the right direction. There are also OEM online websites that are just like ordering it from the dealer but at less cost. Since most damage on a motorcycle is likely to be cosmetic, you’ll be able to replace the parts on your own with simple tools. If you can do this, you will not be faced with higher insurance rates next year.
Edited by Tonya T.
Having the correct motorcycle tire PSI for your motorcycle is very important. Not having the correct tire PSI affects the suspension, the feel of the ride, the longevity of the tire, and your safety. It is one of those tasks that gets overlooked or skipped due to laziness. I won’t blame you though! For most people having the correct tire PSI means going to a gas station. Finding the air compressor, finding 50 cents to use it, over filling the tire, bleeding out air, and then getting on with your ride. Let’s take the annoyance out of it. Let’s make it easy. If you make it easy you will do it.
Before we begin please remember that you should fill your tires with air when they are cold. Air expands as the tire heats up and you will get an incorrect reading. The best time to put air into your tires is before your ride. If your one of those people that are always late, then schedule it into your phone the night before.
Introducing the bicycle pump. Is there any reason not to use it for a motorcycle tire? I dare you to try it.
Here is the first reason I love using a bicycle pump. It clips to the valve! Begone to trying to hold it at the right angle for the air to flow into the tire. Clip it and move on.
Here is the second reason why I love my bicycle pump. It has a easy to read PSI gauge right on it! No need to find your lost fancy schmancy digital PSI gauge. Looks like I am a little low. I would like 36 PSI in my rear tire. Do you know what the correct PSI you should have in your tire? Consult your motorcycle manual and/or check the swing arm on the motorcycle. It should have a required PSI.
Note that the PSI gauge goes up to 160 PSI. It will never be a good idea to see if you can get it there. I think the same person that put that high number there is also the same person that puts the 280km/h speedometer reading on economy cars.
Here is how the whole setup looks. Now begins the “work” to pump the air into the tire. This is where the skeptics come in and shout from the roof tops that it will take forever! If the tire was completely flat… Yes it would take several pumps for me to fill the tire to 36 PSI. Since we don’t ride around on flat tires, it took me 14 pumps to get the tire up to 36PSI.
There we go! 36PSI. Even in full gear on a hot day I doubt you will break a sweat using a bicycle pump to keep your motorcycle tires the perfect PSI. There is no excuse for you to not have the correct tire PSI anymore.
If you are interested in the specific bicycle tire pump I am using it is available at Canadian Tire for $17.99.
Am I too short to ride? I hear this question several times throughout the year and the answer is always the same… No! Your stature does not limit your ability to ride. While it does limit the motorcycles you’ll be comfortable on, there are still plenty bikes to choose from. Motorcycles come in all different sizes and a lot of them are great for the shorter-than-average human.
The larger challenge lies in your confidence to ride. When learning to ride, the feeling of not being able to touch the ground and concern over the weight of motorcycle need to be overcome. Learning the proper skillset will mitigate these challenges. For example, when a rider comes to stop with the wheel turned, the weight of the motorcycle will fall towards the lean. This can be too much weight to hold up. If the wheels are kept straight while coming to a stop, the weight distribution will much more even. An even weight distribution will make it easier to keep the motorcycle upright comfortably.
Another issue many shorter riders face is managing the bike on uneven terrain. When stopping on uneven terrain (such as pulling off on the side of the road or while in parking lots), always be aware of the surfaces around you and avoid stopping in places that could cause the bike to lean too heavily to one side.
Lowering the bike
There are two ways to lower the seat height of the motorcycle: changing the suspension and customizing the seat.
Changing the suspension—Changing the suspension will lower the motorcycles up to a few inches. This might be enough to make the bike comfortable for you. However, keep in mind that changing the suspension does change the handling of the motorcycle somewhat. Also, you’ll want to remove the feelers on the foot pegs. The risk of these grinding the road is greater if the suspension has been lowered.
Customizing the seat—An easier option is customizing the seat of your motorcycle by changing the way it is designed and removing some of the padding. This will give you a little help reaching the ground. There are specific seats made for this or you can use a custom seat designer such as Slims Signature Seats.
Gear to increase height
An essential part of motorcycle riding is safety gear, so if you are worried about being shorter and maintaining control of the bike when at a stop or in parking lots, consider buying bigger-soled motorcycle boots that add an inch or two of height. Companies that make gear realize that with more motorcycle riders on the roads every day, there are great opportunities to bring new products to the table that appeal to certain riding groups. Be sure to check out some of the big online motorcycle gear stores and your local dealer. Rest assured—you will not be the only one looking for more height with motorcycle boots.
The top bikes for shorter riders
Since the best motorcycles to learn on are typically smaller, these bikes are often great choices as long-term bikes for shorter riders. The Honda Rebel 250 and the Honda CBR125R are not only great to learn on—they’re also great bikes if you’re a vertically challenged rider. The seat height on these motorcycles is 27.6 and 31.0 inches, respectively. With the Honda Rebel having one of the lowest seat heights available, it is rare to find someone it doesn’t fit. If your feet are firmly on the ground with most dining room and office chairs, you’ll be just fine on the Honda Rebel 250.
However, if you’re like most riders, you’ll eventually want to upgrade from your first motorcycle. Below is a list of motorcycles that will fit most people between the height of 4’11 and 5’4. If you’re curious about the seat height of a different motorcycle than those listed, go to http://cycle-ergo.com/
We’ll see you out on the road!
Motorcycles with the lowest seat height
Harley Davidson Sportster 883 low – 26.3 inches
Honda Rebel 250 – 27.6 inches
Harley Davidson Street 500/700 – 27.7 inches
Kawasaki Ninja 250R – 28.1 inches
Suzuki GS500F – 30.3 inches
Kawasaki Ninja 300R – 30.9 inches
Ducati Monster 696 – 30.9 inches
Honda CBR 250R – 30.5 inches
Yamaha FZ6 – 30.9 inches
Honda CBR 125R – 31.0 inches
Triumph T100 – 31.3 inches
Yamaha FZ07 – 31.6 inches
Edited by Tonya T.