Are automatic (shift-less clutch-less) motorcycles the way of the future? Newer sporty/motorcycle/scooter crossover bikes like the Aprilia Mana and Honda DN-01 bring the convenience of automatic scooters and the performance (not to mention the looks) of motorcycles together. But here’s the question: would you ditch your shifter for an automatic if it could offer comparable performance (as these bikes claim)?
It has become more important than ever for the general public to realize that motorcyclists are not just Hell’s Angels Biker types, or Nazi Helmet wearing sportbike guys…with loud pipes and even louder personalities. There are many of those (perhaps a few too many). But motorcyclists come in all shapes and sizes and all walks of life. Not only that, for some reason people on motorcycles are usually friendly and helpful (bikers usually help out other bikers) and the kind of people you’d generally want in your neighborhood… This is so contrary to what people think (from television and movies) bikers are like that it’s going to take a lot of work to break the stereotypes.
I think it’s more important than ever because both the environment and gas prices make motorcycles a great alternative to automobiles… If you’re too far to bicycle, and don’t need to carry large amounts of gear, a motorcycle can get you anywhere a car can get you, faster, safely (once you learn to manage your risks), and with more fun. But the key to having more motorcycles on the road and more motorcycle friendly cities is changing the public perception. So here’s your chance! Wednesday July 16 is the annual “Ride to Work Day.” I don’t know anything more about these guys than what’s on the web site here. But the weather should be great here in NY tomorrow… Cheers!
I (like a lot of people my age) grew up with a slight bias against Japanese cars and bikes, but when I grew up I put my childish ways behind me and saw the light… A nice shiny Honda headlight.
Most of you have already seen this – but just in case you missed it…here’s a hint: this bike gets 168 miles per gallon…and can run on used vegetable oil rather than that pretentious 10W40 stuff…
Today is a heavy traffic day. And it’s hot… And there are a lot more trucks than usual. And did I mention the temperature? But every time I think it’s too hot to wear a jacket or too difficult riding a sportbike I think of this guy… See video.
There’s another guy, Nick Sanders, who’s going around the world (for the 7th time!) on a motorcycle, and I think he’s doing it on a R1. But Sjaak (“shock”) Lucassen was probably the first to try and make a trip like this on a sportbike…and he wears full leathers…in the jungle…on an R1. Now I think he’s crazy, but this has got to be the epitome of motorcycling. The sense of freedom. The sense that you can, quite literally, go anywhere.
Yogi Berra put it well when he said “Ninety percent of baseball is all mental (the other half is physical)!” You can apply this to motorcycling… The difference between a safe fast ride and a slow dangerous one is not just a matter of skill, but of mindset…
I linked the MCN video here – you don’t have to watch it if you’re not into this sort of thing – but what’s interesting is on the laps where the rider was able to go faster, he actually felt like he was going slower. And along with that he felt more relaxed and less on edge, but he was actually going faster! Now this doesn’t mean if you relax you will automatically go faster around a track – but what it does point out the mindset of effective motorcycling… Motorcycling is like poetry in motion. It forces you to be relaxed (tension in the arms works against you on a motorcycle), to think ahead, and be fluid (stop and go and sudden throttle movements don’t help you on a motorcycle).
So relax. Don’t rush into turns or poorly planned positions in traffic. Think ahead. Be aware of your surroundings. Feeling rushed just works against you. Instead focus on effective throttle control (rolling on smoothly whenever you crack the throttle open), body position(s), braking (smoothly yet quickly) and your position in the traffic around you. A good ride won’t feel fast – it’ll feel relaxed and fluid.
[Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and Orlando Bloom in their leather jacket glory…]
Okay so here’s the truth about leather motorcycle jackets… And this is directed mainly at the men – women already have a good handle on this… Hey buddy, I know you THINK you look really cool in your motorcycle jacket – or you think you WOULD look cool walking around in that jacket – but you’d actually look like a dork (or an a**hole or scumbag, or like you’re going through a midlife crisis). There I said it. Even rock stars and movie stars look like that way – it’s just that they (sometimes) have enough cool to overcome it. Leather jackets don’t t actually make you look cool – I know you think it does, which is why your friends have asked me to tell you. It’s kind of sad. So thanks for understanding.
Now with that out of the way we can talk about motorcycle jackets. They’re for safety, not glamour. So you might want to spend the money on the parts of the jacket that are really worth it…
Usually, the lighter and more comfortable something is, the less abrasion resistance it has… So mesh jackets (generally) have the least abrasion resistance, thicker textiles a little more, and leather even more depending on the thickness. But the best protection won’t be any good if it’s too hot and uncomfortable to wear… And safety gear isn’t very safe if it gives you heat exhaustion sitting in traffic.
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They’re a little far from the city, but of interest to us nonetheless… Most of you have seen this already on Gawker or biker blogs: Tricia Helfer and Katee Sackoff (Number Six, and Starbuck) are avid bikers. But since I’m such a big BSG fan…allow me to repost… You can watch the full interview from LATimes…