Posts Tagged ‘motorcycle touring’

Up Shift – Hydrogen Motorcycle Engines and Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki

The big 4 motorcycle manufacturers have joined forces to push the development of hydrogen engines. Their agreement has some specifics built into it so it may not just be “signaling”.  Each manufacture has specific responsibilities in this effort, for example:

           Honda will lead the research and development of the hydrogen engines.

           Suzuki will work on performance & reliability of hydrogen powered motors.

           Yamaha is to study how to establish hydrogen refueling systems.

           Kawasaki is working on the fuel supply issue.

Also, the way I read some of the different articles on this effort, Toyota is cooperating in this project.

My Take – This is nothing but good news.  These companies are responsible for many of the things we take for granted every day.  With their combined efforts we may get true, real green energy in my lifetime.


Up Shift – Motorcycle Insurance… Which company is best?

What are the best motorcycle insurance companies and what makes them the best?  I recently had an article sent to me that laid out the who and why of the top 5 motorcycle insurers.

This article not only laid out the top 5 companies but also pointed out the pro’s and con’s of each along with the methodology of how they reach their conclusions. I underlined that last bit because, often, that is never included.

Who made the list …. In alphabetical order.   




           State Farm


You can read the article and see who finished in the top spot for yourself.

The study/list was conducted by

My Take: We all have to buy insurance and just like taxes it is a necessary evil. I really like that put this list together ALONG with how they ranked ordered the companies.

Turns out that I am using one of the top 5 to cover my motorcycles and I had to agree with their findings on that company!

Ride on, Ride Safe

Front Royal sets at the northern end of Skyline Drive one of the premier motorcycling destinations on the east coast.  Thousands of motorcyclists pass through Front Royal on their way to Skyline Drive or to parts unknow as they leave the Drive.  At most they spend a night in town before heading on their way.

However, riders should spend a day or two riding in the Front Royal area. There are more than a few great riding roads and routes that will appeal to every motorcycle rider. Adventure bikers, you can check out the availability of roads in the Geroge Washington National Forest as some become open to motorcycles, there is even a Jeep “Trail of Honor” that will put your skills to the test.

Fort Valley was first surveyed by George Washington in 1748. Washington would later make plans for Fort Valley to be his winter retreat, had the revolutionary army been defeated, as it has a lot of natural defensive features.

Between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, the valley was a major source of pig iron for the new nation. During the Civil War the mountains surrounding the valley served as observation post for the Confederate Army, overlooking multiple local battles.

Canyon Carving and Valley Riding

One of the best kept motorcycle riding roads is Fort Valley Road.  A ride that is part canyon carving and chill’n valley riding.  The ride will take about 2-3 hours, depending on how often you stop to take pictures or visit some of the local attractions along the way.

Once you turn onto Fort Valley Road it just a few minutes before you are whipping your motorcycle through a tight canyon.  Rock wall cliffs on one side and a sharp drop into creek on the other will keep you attention very tightly focused.  After a while, that canyon passage will open into a farming valley.

You will ride for miles through a mix of green and amber fields intermixed with forest treescapes. This is part of the ride that will have you setting back and admiring the views of the steep mountains to your left and right and the family farms you motorcycling though. 

But before long you are at the southern end of the valley where you will encounter an unmarked section of the road.  This part of Fort Valley Road is a steep climb out of the valley through twists and tight hairpin curves. As soon as you crest the top of the mountain you will begin a just as steep drop to the bottom of the mountain.  The views of the Shenandoah Valley as you descend can be quite awesome.

Once at the bottom you will leave Fort Valley Road and make your way back to Front Royal via US 340.  You will find that when you get back you just might want to do this loop a second time.

Local Highlights along the ride:

Front Royal Visitors Center

George Washington National Forest

Fort Valley Museum (open irregularly)

Skyline Caverns

The route:

From the Front Royal Visitors Center

Right on Main Street

Right on Royal Street = US 55 and 340

Left on Quadrant Road = US 55 (as you cross the bridge)

Left on Strasburg Road = US 55

Left on Fort Valley Road = VA 678

Straight on Fort Valley Road / Camp Roosevelt Road = VA 675

Left on North Egypt Bend Road = VA 684

Right on Bixlers Ferry Road = VA 675

Left on North Broad Street = US 340

Right on Main Street Front Royal

May is motorcycle safety awareness month…here is an idea to help spread awareness to the children.

As we all know, all the safety gear we wear and all the safety tech on our motorcycles are just not enough at times. Awareness of motorcycles by drivers of cars and trucks is as important as everything we do.

To help improve the awareness in others (and therefore ourselves) we need to start teaching children to watch for motorcycles. That is why the idea of teaching kids to count motorcycles instead of “punch bugs” is so important. If they are watching for motorcycles as kids they will have an easier time seeing them when they start to drive. Thus our safety as motorcyclist is improved. The payoff is in the future but let’s invest now.

Make a game that has a small reward when they spot “X” number of motorcycles. Ask your non-riding friends to do this with their children. Mention it at events and gatherings, just get the word out. You know when a 6-year-old yells “motorcycle” that their parent is going to see it to!!


Be aware that this motorcycle recall list is for the United States for the last 30 days, there is no way I could cover the entire world. But in the world of global manufacturing, if a motorcycle is being recalled in one country there is a good chance it is under recall in others.

Also, this should not be considered a definitive list, check for yourself if you have any questions.

If you are US based use the NHTSA website Enter your VIN number to see if your motorcycle is affected by the recall.

If you are based outside the USA, use the appropriate website to locate recalls that may impact you.


NHTSA Campaign Number: 23V293000

Manufacturer Indian Motorcycle Company


Summary Indian Motorcycle Company (Indian) is recalling certain 2022 Indian Chief Bobber, Indian Chief Dark Horse, and Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse motorcycles. These motorcycles may be missing a belt guard reflector. As such, these motorcycles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 108, “Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment.”

Remedy Dealers will install a belt guard reflector, as necessary, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a schedule for recall notification. Owners may contact Indian customer service at 1-877-204-3697. Indian’s number for this recall is I-23-05.


NHTSA Campaign Number: 23V261000

Manufacturer Honda (American Honda Motor Co.)


Summary Honda (American Honda Motor Co.) is recalling certain 2023 Rebel 300 (CMX300) motorcycles. The right engine crank house cover was incorrectly painted, allowing the press-fit plug to fall out.

Remedy Dealers will replace the right crank case cover, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed June 5, 2023. Owners may contact Honda customer service at 1-800-784-1870. Honda’s number for this recall is KP2.


NHTSA Campaign Number: 23V257000

Manufacturer Buell Motorcycles


Summary Buell Motorcycles (Buell) is recalling certain 2021-2022 1190 RX and SX motorcycles. The index spring may be installed improperly.

Remedy Dealers will install the index spring in the correct position, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed in April 2023. Owners may contact Buell customer service at 1-616-719-5917.


NHTSA Campaign Number: 23V250000

Manufacturer Ducati North America

Components STRUCTURE

Summary Ducati North America (Ducati) is recalling certain 2023 Diavel V4 motorcycles. The right and/or left side passenger foot pegs may break while mounting or riding the motorcycle.

Remedy Dealers will inspect and if necessary, replace the right and/or left side passenger foot pegs, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed May 3, 2023. Owners may contact Ducati customer service at 1-888-391-5446. Ducati’s number for this recall is SRV-RCL-23-002.


Ride On Ride Safe

As we are in Motorcycle Helmet Safety Month, I thought we should revisit the proper fitment of your helmet.

Unfortunately, not every helmet will fit every head. Each helmet will have a sizing guide to help you ensure your head is safe and snug inside.

Sizing your Skull

When you measure your head, wrap the tape measure starting about ½ inch above your eyebrow. Next, loop it around your head, at the largest point keeping it above your ears. 

Two recommendations with the tape measure, get a friend to help you you’re your buddy can make sure the tape measure is in the right spot.  Also, measure your skull three times then calculate the average to get a closer measure of your head.

If your melon falls between two sizes of your motorcycle helmet of choice go with the smaller size.

Shape of your skull

This one is a bit harder.  Most motorcycle helmet makers really, truly do not consider the shape of our braincases.

While all human heads are, for the most part, oval, some are more round while others can be more elongated. The shape of your skull impacts how your helmet will fit.

You will have to try on a properly sized helmet to see if it fits your individual dome!

Trying the Helmet On

Does your new candidate helmet feel a little tight?  If so, that is good! Feeling a little tight or a touch uncomfortable is ok but, it should not be inducing any pain to the back of your gourd, your temples, or your forehead. Any hotspots or truly uncomfortable pressure points will be a guarantee of a miserable ride.

If it is feeling tight but not duly uncomfortable (the padding should adapt over time) now, try turning the motorcycle helmet right and left then tilting it forward and back.  If the helmet moves over your skin freely it is too big, try a smaller size.

If it seems to fit well, try to keep it on for at least 10-15 minutes. Does it still feel good? When you take it off are there any hotspots or rub marks?  If not you may have a winner. If you are having comfort issues the helmet just might be the wrong shape for your head.

Try to Pull the Helmet Off

Last step, if everything else seems to be working as it should, reach over your head and grasp the bottom/back of the helmet.  Try pulling it up and over your head.  If it comes off, try a different size.

Final thoughts

While these are my recommendations, please do your own research on proper fitment.  There are as many fitment recommendations as makers of motorcycle helmets.

Use these suggestions as a way to get started with getting a good fit.  Never trust just one website, look at as many sources of information to make sure you fully understand.

Also, you can use these fitment techniques as a starting point to determine if your current motorcycle helmet is still good to go.  Can you pull your current helmet over and off your head?  Might be a good time to replace your primary safety device.

Ride On, Ride Safe

Example of bad fitment!

Down Shift – Cardio Packtalk is now subscription based.

Cardio, one of the leaders in motorcycle helmet to helmet and helmet to device communications has made a MAJOR change to how their product works.

The Bluetooth communications and intercom maker now has “Packtalk Custom” to allow you to “customize” the way you connect. The device itself sells for about $250US.

So, what do you get out of the box?  The ability to connect to nothing.  You must subscribe to the Silver Package to connect to your phone OR navigation system, NOT BOTH.

Subscribing to the silver package for $3 dollars per month gets you:

  • Music sharing
  • Three audio profiles
  • Speed dial

Subscribing to the gold package for $5 dollars a month allows you to “expand your capabilities with Bluetooth intercom and a 2nd device”.  The full gold package gives you:

  • Universal Bluetooth Intercom (to allow you to connect to other brands of intercom)
  • Bluetooth bridge
  • Second channel connection (allows you to connect an additional device – without it, you can only have your mobile phone OR sat-nav OR bike’s dash).
  • Music sharing
  • Three audio profiles
  • Speed dial

Subscribing to the Platinum package for $7 dollars a month enables:

  • Voice commands
  • Eco mode (up to 20% longer operation)
  • Universal Bluetooth Intercom
  • Bluetooth bridge
  • Second channel connection
  • Music sharing
  • Three audio profiles
  • Speed dial

My Take – WOW, why would I pay $250 dollars for something that I cannot use out of the box?  I will not be purchasing this device that is for sure.  IN FACT, I THINK THIS IS STUPID!

While I am sure that there are people who will do this, I would hope the vast majority of people will go to other brands.  We should not have to pay additional fees to be able to use the product we just bought. As is, you will need to pay $5 a month just to use what I consider basic features.

Ride two up…. an extra $7 per month to be able to talk with your passenger and do the normal stuff like phone and nav.

This subscription thing is a trend I have been seeing in other areas including cars and trucks and I hope that people are smart enough to not buy into this or otherwise it might spread. 

I can easily imagine a day where if you wanted 5th gear you would have to pay a fee.


Up Shift – International Female Ride Day 2023

The 17th International Female Ride Day falls on May the 6th this year.

For 16 years the IFRD has “shined a spotlight on women riders and females in the motorsports arena!”

Nearly 20% of riders are women and that number has been growing over the years and I do not expect that growth to end anytime soon. Coming out of the pandemic more people and especially women are feeling empowered to do the things that they really want.

The goals of the event are:

  • Highlight the number of women who ride.
  • Encourage other women to take up the activity.
  • Raise awareness about women’s equality in motorsports.
  • Celebrate women’s advancement in motorsports and powersports.
  • Ride for accelerated gender parity.

My Take: Anything that gets folks out and riding is a great thing!  That this team has been encouraging women to mount up and ride is just awesome.  I hope that we can grow the number of women riding from 20% to 30% in the next few years.

Ride on, Ride Safe

The Moment Collector is an anthology of short stories from motorcyclists traveling the world. The collector of these stories is Sam Manicom, himself a world traveler on two wheels.

Sam collected twenty tales from intrepid motorcycling travelers. As with all anthologies some stories are more engrossing than others, some writers are better than others. Yet overall, I enjoyed the book greatly.

I was familiar with a few of the authors, Tim Notier for example, but most were new to me. Mr. Manicom provided each writer’s social media information with their stories. A subtle but impactful touch that allowed me to see more about each of them.

As noted above, it is difficult for any collection of stories, or moments, to have every tale a hit. I am giving this book a 4-Star review because it is an anthology and not all the stories were great.

However…. It should be part of your motorcycle book library!

Ride On, Ride Safe

Other books of Sam Manicom I have reviewed: Tortillas and Totems

Full disclosure Sam authored a guest post on this blog, and I paid for this book and was not paid for the review.

Down Shift – National Motorcycle Museum is closing.

Sadly, the National Motorcycle Museum will close its doors in September. The museum in Anamosa, Iowa, was opened 22 years ago by the owners of J&P Cycle John and Jill Parham. John passed away in 2017.

Their notification stated, “We have struggled for several years to cover wages and utilities partly due to low visitations.”

The museum states that it will auction its collections to pay outstanding bills. This auction will include both motorcycles and memorabilia that the Parham’s collected over their many years in the motorcycle industry.

My Take Just another sad note reflecting both the results of the pandemic and the state of the motorcycle industry in America.  Also, I am not sure that Anamosa, Iowa is a destination for a lot of folks. I would not be surprised if more “niche” museums closed their doors in the near future.


Up Shift – Moto Guzzi Experience

Moto Guzzi motorcycles are sponsoring 3 events around the USA.  The first up is in Bozeman, MT (June 28th-July3rd 2023).  The second is in the Smoky Mountains starting in Knoxville, TN (August 30th-September 4th). The third Moto Guzzi Experience runs October 18th – 23rd in the Ozark Mountains around Bentonville AK.

All these events include tour leaders and support vehicles, and you can rent a Moto Guzzi if you do not want to ride yours to the event. Base costs? $2,500 if you rent a motorcycle, $1,500 if you bring your own and passengers cost $1,000. That cost includes hotels, full board (minus alcohol), the tour leader and support vehicle.

Folks who attend the event will get a discount on a new V100 Mandello or a V85TT afterwards.  Discounts of up to $1,250 on a new bike is never a bad thing.

My Take: I am assuming these events are going to be similar to what the Harley Owners Group does with their annual rallies If that is the case it should be a lot of fun. In fact, we were at one of the HOG rallies last year in the Smokey Mountains. If you attend of these Moto Guzzi events let me know I would like to hear how it turned out.


Ride on, Ride Safe

2022 was an OK year for motorcycle memes. The internet though up a lot of recycled, older memes and a bunch of really dumb motorcycle themed memes. Yet, I found 12 decent and/or funny memes and narrowed that down to best 9 motorcycle memes for 2022.

Why nine? Because everyone does 10 and 11 is too much work!

I reviewed an earlier version of the Bilt Iron Workers Kevlar motorcycle pants way back in 2013. The older version received a 4-star rating, but these pants have been improved over the years.

The new Iron Workers Kevlar pants are available in several colors, I purchased the khaki version.  They were more brown than khaki but acceptable.  I read that the sizing was running a little small, so I bought one size up from my normal and it worked out well, a good fit.

They look more like casual office pants than any of the other motorcycling pants I currently own.  With the knee pads removed it would be even more difficult to discern they are motorcycle-based clothing.

Speaking of knee pads, the Bilt Iron Workers Kevlar pants have an external zipper that allows for “easier” access.  I placed “easier” in quotes as it can still be a bit of a struggle to get them in and out, but it is much better than turning the pants inside out to access the armor pockets. This is a plus over many other pants I own.

While the Bilt pants come with armor for the knee they do not come with hip armor, luckily, I have several extra pairs.  Unlike the knee armor the hip armor is not as easy to insert or remove.  The pocket openings face the outside pant leg, and it can be a bit of a struggle to put the armor in place.  Once the hip armor is installed, they are comfortable and snug. This is about the same as other pants I own.

After riding in these pants for a few thousand miles, I have to say I like them quite a bit. While heavy they are not too hot in the heat, and they have some decent wind breaker qualities that help in the cool weather.

The cargo pockets are secured with heavy-duty Velcro and, wow, it is some really heavy-duty Velcro. It can be a bit of an effort to pull the pocket open.  You will not need to worry about the cargo pockets coming open during your ride!  The regular pockets are just regular pockets. This is a plus over other pants I own.

The only downside and it does not impact my rating is the hip armor pockets, they could be better with a pocket opening facing the inside of the pant with a Velcro closure. Some people might complain of the limited use of the Kevlar lining but there is a price point consideration. 

For their price these are very good motorcycling pants.