Product Spotlight: Rockstar Motocross Pants

Posted by moto_admin on May 13, 2014
Apparel & Accessories / No Comments

I finally got to ride my dirt bike this past weekend! I was so excited after suffering through a long and very cold winter. Not only did we have one of the harshest winters here in Colorado, but I also suffered a broken ankle in January which left me on the couch for several weeks. The combination of these two factors took a toll on my body; it showed immediately when I arrived at my local riding spot – I pulled my old motocross pants out of the gear bag, and they no longer fit me around the waist! I plan to get in better shape, but in the meantime I found some MSR Rockstar Motocross Pants that I’d like to buy.

MSR Rockstar OTB Pant

MSR Rockstar Over the Boot Pants

MSR Rockstar Motocross Pant Styles

I have always preferred the over-the-boot (OTB) style of pant for motocross riding, and I was drawn to the Rockstar pants for having a variation with that ability; and also because the portion of the pant that covers the boot is removable and zips off without having to remove your boots. With the ends zipping off like that, the rider can wear shorts around camp when not riding. This would be a welcome relief on some of our hot desert rides that I like to do about once a year. The OTB version also offers cargo pockets, which is nice on trail rides for carrying car keys, cell phone and my wallet. I never know when these items may be needed.

If you don’t care for the black and white OTB pants, MSR offers Rockstars in two styles that tuck into the boot, as well. These are offered in a red/black color scheme along with the aforementioned white/black color scheme. I prefer the tuck-in style of boots when riding a track or at my farm. In a confined area or on my private property I don’t need the cargo pockets; which allows for me to wear the sleeker tuck-in boots. No matter which style or color is your favorite, all three are attractive and durable.

MSR Rockstar Pants

MSR Rockstar Tuck-In Pants

Other MSR Rockstar Pant Features

Rockstars offer a ratchet style waist closure which makes the waist adjustable. They are made from abrasion-resistant ballistic fabric. To me that just says durability; these pants should withstand anything my mountain trails can throw at me. One other important feature in the MSR Rockstar pants is a burn-resistant leather inner knee. Over the years, I have had many pants melt against hot exhaust pipes. I think the Rockstar pants may be the end of melted pants for me.

Conclusion

While I’d like to fit into my old pants again one day, after over ten years of wearing them, new pants may be in the cards for me. The more I read about the MSR Rockstars, the more I think these may be the pant for me. Especially the over-the-boot version with the zip off legs and cargo pockets. I would be able to cool off during breaks and carry essential items on the trail with me. The MSR Rockstar pants will be in my gear bag soon.

James Parker

Tags: , , , , , ,

Motorcycle ABS Facts

Posted by moto_admin on May 02, 2014
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments

Your motorcycle tires maintain contact with the road in one of two ways. Under normal riding conditions, they have rolling friction with the road as they turn; a turning wheel is stable, as it can maintain direction. During a slide, your tires only maintain kinetic friction with the road. A sliding tire is directionally unstable, since it can move sideways. A sliding back tire usually occurs when the wheel is locked due to braking. In such a situation, the wheel sweeps sideways and sometimes even passes the front wheel, resulting in a crash.

The Perils of Locking the Rear Wheel

If your motorcycle does not have ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), slamming the rear brake suddenly while staying off the front brake will result in locked rear wheel. When you are traveling even at a conservative speed, a locked rear wheel can make the back end of your bike slide to the right or left, unsettling your balance.

The only way you can avoid ending up on the ground is letting the brakes go a little, so that the rear wheel regains its rolling friction and stops sliding. Some newer bikes have ABS, which does not allow the wheels to lock up. This system makes use of safe braking principles, which improves control over the vehicle and lessens the stopping distance.

ABS Doesn’t Replace Good Driving

Since ABS is now available on most motorbikes, people think they can just slam the rear and front brakes and the system will handle the braking aspect effectively. Even though it is true that ABS will prevent the brakes from locking the wheels, slamming the brakes will actually increase your braking distance.

Slamming the brakes will slow the transfer of weight to the front wheel, and the front brake will not perform effectively until the weight distribution is equal.

Usually there are two main functions of an ABS system: limiting deceleration, and controlling the reaction of the front brakes to the locking of the rear wheel. When the ABS detects a locked rear wheel, it starts to loosen the front brake. This can be particularly unsettling when you are going down a slope. The bottom line is that you need to practice safe braking even when your motorcycle has ABS.

Tags: , , ,

The Correct Use of the Motorcycle Throttle

Posted by moto_admin on April 23, 2014
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments

Many motorcycle riders don’t pay much attention to the throttle, viewing it as just a control for increasing speed during a race. Opening up the throttle while zipping down the track seems pretty straightforward, but there is much more to it than that.

Don’t Waste Your Energy

While riding on a hot day, energy should be conserved; but most riders are seen wasting their energy by tightly gripping the throttle at every gear change. Riders may have to shift gears as much as twenty times or more in a single lap, so this method can be exhausting. But does this gripping and wrenching on the throttle make your bike go any faster? Well, the answer is no; a gentle twist of the wrist with minimal movement of your shoulders is all you really need to use the throttle effectively.

Effective Throttling During Gear Shifts

In up shifts, you only need to put a little pressure on the gear lever; back the throttle only by a few millimeters, and you will easily slide into the next gear. This requires a little bit of practice, but shifting will be smoother with less strain on the clutch and gearbox. Once you have mastered this technique, you can save almost a second per lap, without investing in costly quick shifters.

While changing to a down gear, use the throttle to minimize strain on the transmission – this technique, called blipping, can take a bit of practice to master. The idea is to rev-match your downshifting. You want to make sure that you do not exceed the speed limit of the gear you are about to downshift to, or you’ll damage your bike. Let off the acceleration so that your bike slows down; but while reducing speed, you know that your RPMs drop. Blipping the throttle means that you are opening it up just long enough to bump the RPMs back up to the level appropriate to your speed; and then it’s safe to gradually release the clutch. This will give you a much smoother down shift, and save wear and tear on your engine.

After mastering this, the next stage would be to try blipping while braking. This will be much more difficult, since you will be applying the front brakes while you blip. A good way to start is to practice while your bike is stationery. This may feel clumsy at first, but once you get the hang of it, your gear change will be fluid and smooth.

Proper Throttle Use

Lastly, you need to master the throttle while cornering. First, close the throttle when you are transferring weight to the front suspension. Next, apply the brake; then downshift and turn into your corner. At the track, the opening and closing of the throttle will also depend on how quickly you are approaching the apex or whether you are about to miss it.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Tips for Pro Motorcycle Road Racing

Posted by moto_admin on April 16, 2014
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments

There is not one single method of riding a motorcycle, since there are many ways of achieving the same objective. There are many diverse opinions and lots of “expert” advice floating around. Some techniques seem contradictory to what you know, and yet they work, which makes matters more puzzling.

It is important to learn about the different techniques, analyze them, and then test them for yourself. If a particular technique seems to work for you, make it your own. You could even better it with experience. Here are some tips to consider if you want to become a better racer or even a first time racer!

Improve Your Stance

You might have heard about crouching and keeping your limbs in to improve aerodynamics. However, many riders ignore this tip and do not bend at the waste enough. If you want to test how much you are bending, tie a shoelace from your jacket zipper to the ignition key. After the ride, see how much you have unzipped your jacket. Many riders would have opened their zipper almost to their waist. Lowering your chest to the fuel tank not only improves aerodynamics but also gives you a lower center of gravity with an extra bite to the front tire.

However, you should also consider your height – short riders may prefer riding more upright. Even if you are of average height, consider whether a crouching stance is going to cramp your movements with the handlebars. Many experts feel that you should first focus on riding the bike comfortably, and then think about an aerodynamic body position.

Give and Take While Cornering

Cornering is actually the main challenge in any race, and doing it properly will give you a distinct advantage. The best technique is with give and take. This means you need to give up a little speed while you are cornering and get it back as you straighten out. Rushing at corners will not only increase the chances of toppling over, but it can also ruin your exit drive.

Shift Up When You Miss a Gear

There will be many instances during the race when you will be missing a gearshift or messing up a downshift. Most riders downshift again, thinking that will correct the situation; however, this could make matters worse. The right thing to do would be to shift up when you have missed a shift. It is always better to sacrifice speed rather than have a rear tire hopping around madly.

Consider a Wider Range of Suspension Adjustments

The suspension of your bike is a major influence on how fast you can ride. If you want to gain an edge, you need to explore the range of adjustments that can be made to your chassis and suspensions. What feels right to you might be quite uncomfortable for another rider (your body size and build could be completely different―no one is the same); therefore, you should try out various settings to see what suits you the best.

Tags: , ,

How to Choose a Sport Bike

Posted by moto_admin on April 08, 2014
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments

Sports bikes are one of the most fun toys an adult can have, but with the variety available today, it is becoming more difficult to choose the right one. If you are shopping for a sports bike, here are a few points to consider, for making the right choice.

Your Riding Style

First, consider what type of riding you like to do. If you are less interested, for instance, in a bike equipped for racing than one that just plain looks cool; that is perfectly fine, but since different sport bikes are better suited for particular riding styles, you should take this into consideration.

Bike Power

The type of riding you do will determine how fast you need to go in a straight line, and how much handling you require. If you are a novice to bike riding, it is perhaps best to start with a smaller bike, and move on to a larger bike when you have gained enough experience. A smaller sport bike will have lesser power and is much easier to handle compared to more powerful models.

Your Body Size & Strength

Next thing to consider is the bike size and weight you need to support your body. This will depend on your height and strength. The best way to test size is to straddle the bike and see if both your feet can comfortably touch flat to the ground. When you are riding a bike, there will be times when you have to touch the ground with your feet to keep balance, like when you are waiting at a stop light. To find out if you can manage the weight of the bike, stand straddling the seat, grip the handlebars, tip the motorcycle to each side, and bring it back to an upright position.

If you were comfortable doing this, then the next test would be to tip and lower the bike completely to the ground and lift it back up again. It is very important to choose a bike suited to your strength, as you should be able to handle it comfortably when it is in motion, and any problems in doing that can put you in a lot of danger.

The Right Bike for You

If you are considering buying a second hand sports bike, watch out for modified bikes. The modifications would have been made for the owner’s requirements and preferences, which may not be well-suited for you, especially if you are a beginner. As you gain experience, you can always customize the bike to add more power after evaluating your limitations. Secondly, if you are going to sell the bike after you have mastered it, a basic model is much easier to unload.

It’s easy to fall for the look of a sports bike, and end up with one that isn’t suitable for your height and strength. Take your time testing different sport bike models to see how they feel when you actually ride them. If you can get away with it, riding in different road and weather conditions will provide you with an even better idea.

Tags: , , , ,

Handling Wet Roads on Your Motorcycle at High Speeds

Posted by moto_admin on March 31, 2014
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments

Riding your motorcycle in wet weather is already challenging, but the risk multiplies when you need to go faster. On a wet track or road, it’s important to focus on maintaining a smooth ride by doing things in a more gradual manner than usual – such as opening the throttle and braking. These considerations will reduce chance of losing control of the front wheel or of spinning the rear.

Finding the Best Grip

It is also crucial to know the best riding position on a wet road. The roughest spots are along the middle of the road, where there is less wear from the cars – this is where you will get the best grip. The outer edges of the road will be shiny and smooth, which make them extremely slippery. When approaching corners, it is best to build the pressure in the front tire by braking in a straight line. Leaving the corner is trickier, since there will be a slight spin no matter what precautions you take. The best approach is to feed the throttle as you are returning to an upright position.

Tire Pressure Matters

Often riders will experiment with dropping their tire pressure by two to five psi in wet weather. However, in most instances this will cause the handling to be compromised, even if their seems to be better traction. Some experts also believe that a drop in tire pressure prevents the tire from clearing the water effectively. You will probably experience better handling if the tire pressure is kept normal. Most modern tires are just fine for road riding in wet conditions, but for racing, you might want to consider rain tires.

Lower the Gear

Braking while going fast must be gradual, especially when riding on wet roads. The main danger will be during the first moments when the front suspension lowers with the extra weight. Hence, it would be wise to keep only one finger on the front brake, which will prevent you from pulling too hard and locking the front wheel. Before braking, it is also important to lower the gear, since it helps in transferring the weight to the front more gently. Once the weight has transferred to the front wheel, you can put more pressure on the brake to slow the speed further.

Tags: , , , , ,

Replacing Fork Seals on Your Motorcycle, Part 2

Posted by moto_admin on March 24, 2014
Maintenance & Modifications / No Comments

Continued, from Part 1

After the messy process of forcing the seal out, it is time to inspect and clean the components. For removing the contaminated oil in the assembly, you can place the parts in a tank with some solvent. Make sure you remove all the rubber parts, though, since the solvent will melt rubber.

Possible Replacement

For the new seal to work efficiently, it is important to remove rust spots, scratches and pitting that you might see in the area occupied by the old seal. For smoothing scratches and rough edges, use a honing stone with oil, or an emery cloth soaked in oil. If there is heavy wear or severe pitting, you will need to replace the leg.

While you are at it, you should make sure the leg is straight. Hold a metal ruler so that its narrow edge is parallel with the area of the fork that is held by the clamp mount. If you see light along the ruler’s length, it means the leg is not straight and it will have to be replaced. You also need to check the two bushings – the upper guide bushing and one at the inner tube’s bottom.

The bushing in the inner tube has a Teflon coating and it should be replaced if you can see the brass underneath. The upper side bushing that has come out with the old seal will have the Teflon coating on the inside, and it should be replaced if it is worn.

Reassembling the Fork

Now, to reassemble the fork, consult your service manual for a break down of all the parts. The installation will be in reverse order of the procedure you just finished. Install and tighten the damper rod, and then slide the upper guide bushing over the leg of the fork and into the recess that fits into the outer leg.

A seal driver is recommended for reinstalling the clip, but it is an expensive tool, and you could jerry rig anouther tool to fit the purpose. Just make sure the tool you are using does not get jammed in the bushing housing. You could use a screwdriver and hammer on the tool to drive the bushing in gently. Next, oil the lips of new seal and slide it over the fork leg until it is driven in the same way. While installing the clip, make sure it has seated correctly around the leg along the grooves. Finally, install the dust seal.

Correct Alignment

In the factory manual you will find the recommended weight of oil needed to fill in the fork leg. However, you can increase the oil weight slightly if your bike’s front was under damped or under sprung from the beginning. The manual will also recommend the oil level; this is the distance from the top of the oil to the top of the fork leg, when the fork is compressed fully without the spring. Now extend the fork to install the spring, spacers, and fork cap. OK, here we go, now you can install the fork leg, and make sure the forks are in proper alignment.

Tags: , , ,

Replacing Fork Seals on Your Motorcycle, Part 1

Posted by moto_admin on March 21, 2014
Maintenance & Modifications / No Comments

When you see oil on the legs of the stanchion tubes, it is time to replace the fork seals on your motorcycle. Leaky fork seals pose a safety risk, and this issue should not be ignored. Do not ignore this problem just because you noticed the oil stopped leaking after awhile. This only means that the oil has either run out or the oil inside has absorbed a lot of dirt and become a thick sludge. Follow the procedure below for removing a leaking seal.

Lifting the Bike

First, loosen the two bolts of the upper triple tree, which are clamped onto the fork legs. After that, give the fork caps about half a turn to loosen them. If your forks are pressurized, then you need to remove the air first and then loosen the caps. Next, the front axle and caliper bolts of the brake will have to be loosened. You want to make sure you prop up and secure the front end of your bike off the ground before continuting. An easy way to do this would be to put your bike on its center stand, and place a jack under the engine. However, the most secure way would be to use a dedicated lift.

Remain Organized

Once the front end is securely off the ground, you can remove the front wheel, front fender, speedometer cable, and the brake calipers. You might also have to remove air caps, handlebars, and/or the hose clamps of your brakes, depending on your bike’s model. The bolts of the triple clamp that secure the fork leg will have to be loosened, so that you can pull out the fork with a downward twisting motion. It is best to work with one fork at a time, so that your parts do not get mixed up.

Pop the Cap

Now take the fork and place it vertically in a vice with lead or brass inserts, so that the top of the fork sticks about six inches above the vice. Make sure to remove the caps slowly, as the pressure of the spring inside the leg will pop the cap with force. You can hold your hand over the cap when you are turning it with a wrench. After the caps are off, take out the spring and drain all the oil into a container. The fork might have to be stroked a couple of times to remove the oil fully.

Could be Messy

Next, for separating the two halves of the fork, you will have to find the bolt at the end of the outer tube, which is connected to the damper rod. The rod and bolt will want to turn together, so you will have to secure the rod by inserting a tool that fits the top of the rod. Once the damper rod comes free, you will have to pry out the spring clip underneath the dust seal. The next step is quite messy, where you have to pore oil into the fork assembly and pressurize it, to force out the seal.

Continue to part 2.

Passing Tips for Road Riding

Posted by moto_admin on March 14, 2014
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments

Most riders feel that passing on a motorcycle is simply a matter of opening up the throttle and zooming past the vehicle in front. But depending on horsepower alone while passing can be quite dangerous. Most bike accidents occur while passing, especially when riders try to blunder through depending on speed alone. With better technique, not only will you be able to pass more safely in a variety of situations, but you will be able to do it with much less acceleration.

To develop a better passing technique it’s important to focus on:

  • Trying to get a better view
  • Having the correct speed at run-up
  • Deciding to go ahead or break off

Attaining the Best View

Many riders make the mistake of riding too close to the vehicle in front, thinking that it would be the fastest way to get around it. However, when you are too close to the vehicle in front, your view is obstructed – especially if the vehicle in front is tall. Keeping your distance will allow you to clearly see oncoming traffic, especially when you are behind a tall truck. The next step is to ride to the far left or right of the road. Try both positions to see which one works best in your situation.

Run Up Speed

While taking the run-up, you will be opening up your throttle and building speed. Deciding on a speed will depend on the situation and speed of oncoming traffic. If you have a bike will a lower cc, you might have to downshift in order to accelerate faster. You want to minimize the amount of time you spend in the lane of oncoming traffic while passing. Once you have accelerated, keep your speed constant; as the noise of acceleration might invoke a panic response from the driver of the vehicle you are passing.

Deciding to Abort or Continue

After the run-up is the time to make the crucial decision of continuing or aborting the overtake. If during the run-up you notice new oncoming traffic at increased speeds, you simply let go of the throttle and abort. If there is no change, you can continue at the same speed of your run-up and go past the vehicle in front. Hesitating in making a decision at this point can be dangerous.

If you are not sure, it is always better to abort the attempt to pass, rather than risk a confrontation with oncoming traffic. While making the decision, glance at the indicators of the vehicle in front of you, and see whether the driver is trying to turn to the left or right. Drivers who are looking for a street sign or parking spot can be quite unpredictable, so you need to be extra careful (particularly if they are slowing down).

Tags: , , , , ,

Block Passing During a Track Race

Posted by moto_admin on March 11, 2014
Racing / No Comments

There is not much point in racing if you cannot overtake someone. When you are on the road, passing will depend on how you accelerate; but on the track, it also has to do with how you brake. Overtaking on the track can seem scary, especially when you watch the riders almost brushing each other while passing. But in a race you will usually know who the other four or five riders near you are, as well as their tactics and their weaknesses. This makes it easier to ride so close in a race, and give you an idea of where you want to be.

Block Passing

When trying to pass on the outside, you would naturally be slowed down by being forced off line, as the rider in front of you will be closer to the racing line. Instead, with block passing, you accelerate as you go into the turn; but before the peak of the curve, you move your bike to the inside of the guy in front – then quickly pivot, so that your bike ends up in front of the other rider. Placing your bike in front of the rider forces him to slow down. Check out the video to see this technique in action.

You will have applied your brakes to slow at the corner, which provides you a chance to shift to a lower gear. The other rider will be braking to avoid you in his path, and you have slowed him down at a higher gear. This means he will be driving at lower revs, while you zoom away.

The block pass technique means overtaking with the other rider in very close proximity. Keep in mind that if you have gone to the wrong line, you will have to go wide as you exit the curve to stop the rider you just passed from overtaking you. Amongst racers, block passing is considered a dire maneuver, and it is usually reserved for the last laps. Just keep in mind that this type of passing can ride yourself and the other rider right off the track.

Consider Your Options

It is still possible to pass on the outside of the other rider, but it will take longer and requires some skill. Even if you manage rounding the outside, you will be off line of the other rider, and he can pass you easily at the exit. Another technique is slipstreaming, where you maintain your position just behind the rider in front, and build your speed. At the opportune moment, you pull out and overtake him before the corner.

It is always best to not to rely on the same technique over and over. Keep a few of these overtaking maneuvers in your back pocket and pull them out when they are most appropriate.

Tags: , , , , ,

Fast Road Riding on a 1,000 cc Motorcycle

Posted by moto_admin on March 04, 2014
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments
fast rider

photo via Chandrachoodan Gopalakrishnan, Flickr

If you are considering purchasing a 1,000 cc bike, keep in mind that they have tremendous torque, so acceleration is brisk. A smoother power delivery at lower rpm is generally safer, but you need to be careful in controlling the throttle in high gears, as a delay in acceleration can prove dangerous.

Know Your Power & Torque

Usually, riders like to open up the throttle and expect the rev of the engine to catch up with the acceleration. This may work fine with high gears at lower rpm, but it can be dangerous with the power of a 1,000 cc bike; especially when you are riding on slippery or wet roads. For instance, when you are cornering in high gear, and you have opened the throttle fifty percent at about 4,000 rpm, the back might break away. When you are trying to close the throttle, the engine will still be spinning and you could lose control. Especially with 1,000 cc bikes, the pickup of engine revs is very quick, so you need to shut down the throttle fast.

Having a smooth control over the throttle is essential when you are cornering at high speeds in low gears. Just like with braking, gradually applying the throttle will provide you with better results; as the weight will transfer smoothly on your suspension, giving you plenty of time to take evasive action if you sense trouble ahead. A sudden burst of the throttle may cause you to crash your bike.

When you are accelerating hard, it is best to keep your motorcycle in the most upright position possible. This type of position will keep the maximum amount tire surface in contact on the road. This will keep you safer in damp and wet road conditions.

Brakes and Tire Pressure

Your braking should be just as smooth, especially when you are trying to brake after accelerating hard. To be safe in such a situation, it is best the weight is transferred to the front tire. However, if you brake hard before the front has time to settle, you could lock the front wheel. If the front end of your bike is lighter, then you need to lean your body weight forward while accelerating. If you can’t get the hang of how the front end of your bike behaves, then you might have to make your rear suspension a little stiffer.

Lastly, an important factor influencing your ride will be your tire pressure. The pressure recommended by the tire manufacturer can be a good starting point, but there are many parameters to consider – riding style, pillion rider, and weight of the rider(s). You need to experiment to find the optimum tire pressure by lowering the psi by only a couple of points at a time. Lowering pressure will improve grip and increase the temperature. However, when your reduce tire pressure in wet conditions, the groove meant for displacing water can become folded, reducing stability.

Tags: , , ,

Get to Know Your Motorcycle’s Engine & Transmission

Posted by moto_admin on February 25, 2014
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments
motorcycle engine

photo via Dan Iggers, Flickr

The engine of a motorcycle works quite similarly to a car engine. The components include the head and cylinder block, pistons, and valve train. A spark from the spark plug ignites a mixture of air and fuel to create a small explosion that drives the pistons in the cylinder block.

The air and fuel mixture is allowed into the combustion chamber by the opening and closing of valves. The pistons move upward and downwards, and this is transformed into a rotary motion by the crankshaft. This rotational force is transmitted to the rear wheel by the transmission system and that is how your motorcycle moves forward.

The Size of the Engine

The functioning and power of a motorcycle engine will differ based on its combustion chamber capacity, and the number of cylinders it possesses. The power output of an engine is directly related to the combustion chamber size, which can range from 50 cc to 1500 cc. The lower capacity engine will offer greater fuel economy but lower top speeds.

For instance, mopeds that have 50 cc engines will have a top speed of about 35 mph, but will be able to provide a fuel economy of up to 100 mpg. Most modern motorcycles in the 100 to 200 cc range offer the best combination of top speed and fuel economy.

motorcycle cylinders

Cylinders
photo via Jack Snell, Flickr

Firing on all Cylinders

The functioning of the engine and the smoothness of the ride will mainly depend on the number of cylinders and the way they are placed. There can be up to six cylinders in a motorcycle engine. Older engines typically had two cylinders with pistons placed at a 45 degree angle, in parallel or opposite to each other. Most modern engines have four cylinders, which produce much more RPMs, and are much smoother compared to the twin cylinder engines. The placement of these cylinders can be in a row or in a V-shape configuration, with each side having two cylinders.

Motorcycle Transmissions

The transmission system in your bike enables you to control the power that is being delivered to the rear wheel from the engine. The components of the transmission system include the drive system, clutch and gear set. Most motorcycles have a chain drive system, but some bikes may have shaft or belt systems. In the chain drive, there is a chain connecting the sprockets of the output shaft and the rear wheel.

The clutch enables engaging and disengaging of the engine’s crankshaft power to the transmission. This means you can stop your bike without turning off the engine. The clutch is comprised of a series of plates with springs that connect the transmission and crankshaft, when they are pressed together. While shifting gears, the clutch is first used to disconnect the crankshaft from the transmission, and after the gear is engaged the clutch again restores the connection.

The gear set enables the rider to control the transmission, which means he can come to a complete stop and resume driving without stopping the engine. Engaging gears is accomplished by shifting a lever that moves forks in the transmission. Regular bikes will have four or six gears, whereas small bikes can have a minimum of two gears.

Tags: , , , ,

How to Maneuver Your Motorcycle When Approaching a Curve

Posted by moto_admin on February 21, 2014
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments
dangerous curve sign

Photo via Adam Lynch, Flickr

Taking a curve on your motorcycle requires skill, and judging a corner is always not possible until you have entered it. Here are some techniques to maneuver your bike safely around a curve.

Whoa, That Curve Tightened Fast!

A challenge you may encounter one day is being surprised by a corner where the radius decreases dramatically. This corner might seem like any other corner in the beginning, but gets tight very fast. Some roads might have warning signs for these types of corners, but where there is none, it can be a nasty surprise. Corners with a shrinking radius are particularly treacherous, because you notice the danger perhaps at a time when it is too late to react.

How to Recognize a Tight Curve

One way of reducing risks is to recognize such corners in advance. Keep your attention on the point down the road where the outer and inner sides of the road seem to meet. As you are approaching this point, if the distance seems to get bigger, then everything is fine; as the corner will be widening up. However, if this point looms closer, it means the corner is getting tighter, and you should decrease your speed or try leaning in more.

If you realize you are going too fast for the approaching turn, then you could use these evasive techniques:

  • Trying to lean in by putting weight on the inside handle will be quite daunting, especially if you are going at a high speed. An easier way would be to push with your outside knee, to make your bike lean in.
  • Gently apply the rear brake. This will not only reduce your speed but also turn your rear wheel a little, which is what you need. However, if you panic and hit the rear brake hard, you will lose your balance.
rounding a curve

photo via Jeffrey Kontur, Flickr

Negotiating Complex Turns

When there is a slope in the road, the curve can become challenging. With a positive camber (the outside of the road is higher than the inside), you will have to hold your bike almost at a right angle to the road during the curve. This means you will drive almost upright, and hardly need to lean in. This can be unsettling, as you are used to leaning in while taking a curve. However, leaning in too much on a positive camber will cause a loss of balance and your bike can topple.

On the other hand, a road with a negative camber (the inside of the road is higher than the outside), you need to lean in more than usual to compensate for the higher angle. Apart from the tightness of the curve, you should keep a lookout for slopes. If there is a positive or negative camber in the curve, you will have to adjust the angle of your bike accordingly.

Tags: , , ,

Preparing Your Motorcycle for a Track Race

Posted by moto_admin on February 18, 2014
Racing / No Comments
track race

photo via Todd Horner, Flickr

Whether you are an experienced race rider or a novice, you will have to make certain modifications to your motorcycle before participating in a track race. Certain changes are mandatory, while others will improve your chance of winning.

Fix all Leaks

Fluid dripping onto the track is extremely dangerous, especially when everyone is riding at high speeds. Therefore, motorcycles with any leaks are usually disqualified. While preparing your bike, make sure there are no signs of leakage from your radiator, brakes, forks or gears.

Change Fluids

When you are checking for leaks, you should also flush and change the engine oil and other fluids in your bike. The fork oil is especially important and most professional racers change this oil daily for the best performance. Even though you may not change the engine oil as frequently, the oil in your forks degrades very quickly from the springs repeatedly scraping against the fork tubes and creating a buildup of grey silt.

Before flushing and filling your coolant system, you should know if the track prohibits the use of antifreeze, as it is very slippery and leaked antifreeze can be dangerous for riders. You might have to flush and fill with water if antifreeze is not allowed.

Inspect Brake Pads and Replace if Necessary

Track racing creates more wear on your brake pads than ordinary riding, so before the race you should inspect your brake pads to ensure there is sufficient padding left. If there is less than 70% of the padding left, you should replace them before hitting the track.

Consider Your Tires

Certain tracks have a stringent policy of allowing only racing tires, while others allow regular street tires. You should investigate this, but it is always better to have a set of racing tires when you plan to race frequently. The condition of your tires is very important not only for your safety, but also for the safety of your competitors.

For a race, you cannot apply the same standards for tire wear that you use in road riding. More than 25% wear of tires is not considered safe for racing. Finally, keep a close watch on your tire pressure. Having the wrong pressure will not only jeopardize your ride, but will also increase wear on your motorcycle tires. Consider the ambient temperature on race day before selecting your tire pressure.

Full Professional Maintenance

Even if you normally perform bike maintenance yourself, it would be good to take your machine to a professional for a once-over before the race. Your suspension and chain tension will have to be set correctly for track riding for the best performance.

Removing Lights and Mirrors

One of the final steps, is to remove windshields, mirrors and all lights from your bike. Some tracks might allow these, but if you do not dismantle the headlight and tail lights, they will at least have to be taped.

Tags: , , ,

Advanced Motorcycle Education – Beyond the Parking Lot

Posted by moto_admin on February 07, 2014
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments
motorcycle on the road

photo via Will Palmer, Flickr

A beginner motorcycle class might provide a marvelous foundation, but to ride your motorcycle outside the safety of a parking lot, you will need more advanced skills. Riding a two-wheeled vehicle can become quite tricky as road and traffic conditions vary. Just because you have passed your test and kept your examiner happy does not mean you are riding as well as you could be. Here are few tips in real world motorcycle riding that will help you get to the next level.

The Best Place to Ride – Center Lane or Hugging the Lines?

During your initial training, most instructors rigidly instruct you to keep about a meter distance between the center line and your left side. However, as you progress, your positioning need not be so rigid. While driving on the road you need to consider two important factors: your ability to acquire a clear line of vision to approaching hazards, and your visibility to other drivers.

Flexibility is key when it comes to increasing your ability to see and be seen. For instance, driving on the outside of your lane when maneuvering a curve to the left will make you and your bike more visible to oncoming traffic; while edging toward the center lane can extend your view over the crest when driving on a curve to the right.

Just always be mindful of oncoming traffic from the opposite direction. When you are experimenting with this, have a clear picture about what is behind and around you, and then make gradual changes in your driving position. Sudden swerves and movement across your lane could give other drivers an incorrect impression of what you are trying to achieve. Startling another driver with a sudden change in driving position could cause them to brake or swerve, in order to avoid a perceived danger.

Pass With Caution

Passing is usually frowned upon in the beginner’s class, but an experienced rider should be able to pass a slow vehicle without worry. This doesn’t mean you should try to fly past every vehicle that you come across, though, as most motorcycle accidents occur when a biker is trying to overtake a car that is turning to the right. Before passing, consider the following tips:

  • Remember that ignoring the legal speed limit can have legal ramifications.
  • If there is another vehicle in front of the car you are planning to pass, keep in mind that the car in front of you might be planning to overtake the vehicle in front it and could suddenly veer into the left lane.
  • Avoid passing on curves and near intersections.
  • It is illegal to pass on the shoulder.
  • Do not pass a vehicle that is turning. Wait in your lane until the car has turned. According to most traffic laws in the country, you will be partly at fault for the accident if you were trying to pass a vehicle as it is turning right, even if the driver did not have their signal light on.

Tags: , , , ,

The Art of Maintaining Motorcycle Brakes

Posted by moto_admin on February 03, 2014
Maintenance & Modifications / No Comments
disc brakes

Disc Brakes
Photo via Marcus Peaston, Flickr

People are often focused on how fast a motorcycle can go, but how it brakes is equally important. For the sake of safety, it is vital to make sure your brakes are functioning well. Make sure to check them periodically and replace them when signs of wear appear.

Types of Motorcycle Brakes

The brakes on different bike models will vary, but there are two main types of brakes, disc and drum brakes. Most modern bikes have disc brakes, which are easier to handle and maintain. You can easily spot this type of brake, as there will be a metal disc with many holes on your wheel. However, if you have an older motorcycle, you might not find any holes in the disc, as earlier ones were made solid.

Drum Brakes

Drum Brakes
Photo via Richard Klein, Flickr

Disc brakes are operated by pistons that are inside the calipers. When you apply the brakes, the pistons drive the calipers to press the brake pads against the disc. Some models of bikes have disc brakes on the front and rear wheels, whereas other models have these brakes only on the front wheel, and the rear wheel is equipped with drum brakes.Drum brakes tend to be more problematic, even though they have been around for a long time. To spot this type of brake, you will see a drum shaped object mounted on the wheel. This brake works by pressing the brake shoes against the drum, which creates the required friction to slow the bike. It is sometimes not easy to spot this type of brake, since it could be built within your bike’s rim or built internally. However, disc brakes are easy to recognize, and if you do not see the disc, you can assume you have drum brakes.

Brake Maintenance

You cannot afford to have brakes that give up on you suddenly. I don’t need to tell you that failing brakes can mean a death sentence; so checking your brakes periodically for wear is incredibly important. Checking your brakes is a relatively easy task, and you only have to eye the thickness of the brake pads. The metal backing the pad is what actually slows down your bike, but if you wait until the padding has worn considerably, you are likely to damage the brake discs. Change your brake pads at the first signs of wear, and you can avoid costlier replacements of your discs.

Most experts believe that brake pads should be changed once they have lost 1/8 of an inch off their thickness. Some brake pads have indicators to mark the thickness, so you can tell when they have to be replaced. However, brake pads can wear unevenly, and you should change all of them even if only one pad has reached the indicator.

Don’t Forget the Brake Fluid

Another important piece of maintenance to remember is to replace the brake fluid at least once in twelve months, irrespective of how much you ride. Brake fluid will darken and degrade with time, causing you to lose brake pressure. You may not notice this problem when you start your bike, since the problem becomes worse once the bike has heated up. Replacing the brake fluid and checking your brake pads are two maintenance procedures you should not ignore.

Tags: , , , , ,

Get to Know Your Motorcycle’s Braking System

Posted by moto_admin on January 27, 2014
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments
parked motorcycle

photo via Aaron Barker, Flickr

Braking on your motorcycle, at different speeds and in different situations, is an acquired skill. Even experienced riders are prone to making errors in this area, and know the serious outcome of a small error in judgment. Knowing how to use your brakes in different situations is one of the most important riding skills to learn.

Real Wheel Lifting 

Your motorcycle’s suspension and springs will greatly influence your braking. These components influence the contact of your tires with the road, and therefore the grip. When applying brakes, you will experience your bike diving forward as the weight is shifted to the front wheel. If you were travelling at a fast speed before you applied the brakes, there is a possibility of your rear wheel lifting off the ground. This mainly happens when your bike has a weak front suspension and springs. If this is the case,  you will not be able to brake very hard without losing control when the springs have reached the bottom.

The stiffness of the springs will vary between bikes. Therefore, it’s important to practice your braking skills on every model of bike you own or ride regularly. Only BMW motorcycles have an anti-dive system, which will prevent the springs from having any negative influence in braking, but most other bikes will dive during braking.

Braking at Lower Speeds

The best way to stop your bike in the shortest possible distance would be to start with the rear brake – just don’t slam on them too hard. When you start with the rear brake, your bike’s weight will start shifting from the rear wheel to the front, which will cause the springs to contract. This decreases the chances of your rear wheel lifting, and it will have a stabilizing effect on your bike.

At lower speeds, after starting with the back brakes, you need to follow up by applying the front brakes a little later. Since you have applied the back brakes, you now have the ability to apply the front brakes harder without losing control of your bike. Again, go easy when you start applying the front brakes.

Braking at Higher Speeds

If you are travelling at high speed, you can apply the front brakes earlier and harder. When you are riding fast, simply sitting upright will help to decelerate your motorcycle considerably, with the wind’s resistance against your body.

This wind resistance will also slow down the transfer of weight to the front tire. While you should still start braking with the rear brake and then apply the front brakes, when you start applying the front brakes, you should to let go of the rear brakes, since there will not be any weight on the real wheel. If you apply the rear brakes when there is no weight on the back wheel, your bike will become uncontrollable, since the rear wheel will start moving sideways.

In conclusion, the most important things to consider while braking are:

  • The speed at which you are travelling
  • The shift of weight from the rear wheel to the front wheel
  • The condition of your front suspension and springs

Tags: , , ,

Take a Long Distance Motorcycle Ride

Posted by moto_admin on January 15, 2014
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments
motorcycle trip

photo via Adam Franco, Flickr

Going on a long tour on your motorcycle can be an exhiliarating adventure. Here are some tips for making long hours in the saddle more comfortable and convenient.

Was Your Motorcycle Designed for Long Trips?

While there is a specific category of bikes called touring motorcycles, this does not necessarily mean that other bikes are not suitable for long rides. Touring bikes are made heavy to compensate for the weight of a passenger and luggage, and have some other features that can make a ride over long distances more comfortable.

But the power of the engine will also determine if your bike is appropriate for distance traveling. Even though any bike having an engine of 100 cc or more is fit for long distances, having more power is always helpful. You will have a much more comfortable ride on a 1,000 cc bike compared to 250 cc, and so on.

The Saddle

The saddle or seat of your bike plays a crucial role in making your ride comfortable over long distances. Contrary to popular belief, you need a firm seat to be the most comfortable on a motorcycle. When the saddle is very soft and you sink into the seat, it is more difficult to shift your posture. For this reason, the ideal saddle would be flat, broad, long and firm. The length of the saddle also matters, because with a long seat you can move forward or backward to relieve pressure on your knees and legs.

How Many Miles to Travel in a Day

This will depend on many factors. Plan your route before starting your journey, plotting out your stops for overnight stays. Covering less than 400 miles per day would be ideal, but give yourself plenty of time for rest stops and sightseeing along the way.

While a GPS device may keep you from getting lost, they also tend to take the shortest route, which may not be the most scenic. The whole point of motorcycle touring is to enjoy the journey, and explore beautiful areas. Try to plan your journey on a map instead; outlining the route you think you would most enjoy. Try to strike a balance between getting to your destination and just enjoying the ride. You can always carry the GPS as a backup.

Tags: , , , ,

Motorcycle Saddlebags: A Buying Guide

Posted by moto_admin on January 06, 2014
Apparel & Accessories / No Comments
saddlebags

photo via NeuralVibrance, Flickr

Motorcycles do not offer much space for carrying cargo, which is why so many people install saddlebags to stow things like tools, snacks, a first aid kit, important documents and other essentials. There are various models and sizes of saddlebags available, which can be fitted conveniently to your bike.

Most saddlebags are designed to fit on either side of the passenger seat, at the rear wheel; and some can be mounted on the sissy bar or luggage rack, as well. Saddlebags may look similar, but each model can be very different.

Shape and Size of Saddlebag

The most important thing to consider while purchasing a saddlebag is its dimensions. The bag should be at least two inches away from the exhaust to avoid any damage to the bag. Such damage is not covered under the manufacturer warranty, so be sure your bags fit properly.

Carefully consider the sizing information of the saddlebag and then compare it to dimensions of the area where you will be mounting the bag.

Type of Motorcycle

The type of motorcycle you ride will certainly influence your selection of a saddlebag. If you have a standard model or a cruiser, it is important to install saddlebag supports (or guards) for two reasons. Firstly, there will be spring or coiled shock absorbers at the rear that can damage the saddlebag; and secondly, there is a greater chance of the saddlebag being pulled under the wheel in a cruiser or standard bike.

For sports and off-road type of bikes, the position of the exhaust is unsuitable for directly installing saddlebags. For such bikes, you would have to install a luggage rack to provide a convenient platform to mount the saddlebag. Most of these racks are quite tough and are able to withstand off road riding conditions. They will also blend well into the design of your bike and won’t look out of place.

If your bike has an under tail exhaust or higher mount, then even a saddlebag support will not protect the bag. Your only option here is to purchase a saddlebag with heat shields.

Saddlebag Material

Saddlebags are made from nylon, leather, synthetic leather, PVC and plastic. Except for saddlebags made from nylon, all others have a hard shell. Nylon is quite durable, but synthetic leather is the most popular material for saddlebags, as it is weather resistant and very easy to maintain.

Mounting Saddlebags

There are usually two mounting options for saddlebags. One is the flexible, throw-over option; and the other is the hard bolt. Throw-over models can also be easily carried as backpacks, and are suitable when you do not want to leave your things on the bike while parked. Hard bolt mounts provide more secure attachments and are ideal for long journeys.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Maintaining Your Motorcycle Chain

Posted by moto_admin on December 24, 2013
Maintenance & Modifications / No Comments
Motorcycle Chain

photo via SzePei Neoh, Flickr

Maintaining the chain of your motorcycle is an important part of bike maintenance. In fact, the chain is the main component that transfers the engine’s power to the back wheel. If you neglect to maintain this crucial part, you can seriously cripple your bike and in the worst case, it can break and turn into a dangerous projectile. It is recommended to inspect your motorcycle chain every 500 miles of riding, or about twice every thirty days.

Materials and tools for motorcycle chain inspection and maintenance:

  • Wrenches of the correct size
  • A chain cleaner and lubricant that will not damage the O-ring
  • An old toothbrush
  • Cotter pin
  • Tape measure
  • Rags

Check the Chain Tension

While inspecting the chain, you should check its tension. Put your bike on its main stand, and pull the chain at the midpoint between the rear and front sprockets. The chain should move about an inch up and down. However, when your bike is on the center stand, the wheel might be off the ground causing the swing arm to drop. This will affect the tension in the chain, so compensate accordingly. Motorcycle chains will not be uniformly pliable and there can be stiff spots. Therefore, you need to check all the chain sections by turning the rear wheel.

If the chain moves up and down more or less than an inch, you will need to tighten or loosen it accordingly. Different bikes have different mechanisms for adjusting chain tension. However, these mechanisms will move the wheel and rear axle backward or forward for setting the tension. Modern bikes have hexagonal shaped nuts for moving the axle, while older bikes might have an eccentric cam that has to be adjusted to position the rear axle.

Look For Chain Wear

Inspect your bike’s chain to see if the teeth of the rear and front sprockets are meshing properly in the chain. If you find excess wear on the teeth, then the seating is probably off. When you see wear in wave shape, you might need to replace your sprockets.

If the tension of your bike’s chain does not require any adjustments, you should still clean and lubricate the chain. You will need to first clean the chain with a good cleaning solvent to get rid of the dirt and grime. Make sure you are using a cleaning agent that will not harm the rubber components or the O-ring in your chain.

The approved solvents are usually available in a spray can, which can be conveniently sprayed onto the chain and sprockets. If you are using an approved cleaner, you can use an old toothbrush or any small brush with soft bristles to apply the cleaner onto the chain. After brushing, use rags to wipe off any excess grime and solvent, and make sure the surface is dry. Now apply any recommended lubricant liberally to all chain links and sprocket teeth.

Tags: , , ,

How to Brake Effectively on a Motorcycle

Posted by moto_admin on December 18, 2013
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments
braking

photo via phyxiusone, Flickr

Motorcycles, being two wheeled vehicles, are not very steady; so learning how to brake without skidding is paramount. You should be able to brake effectively and safely under varying speeds and driving conditions. Here are some important tips for braking on your bike.

When to Use the Front vs Rear Motorcycle Brake

One of the most common questions is whether you should use rear, front, or both brakes simultaneously. Many experts are of the opinion that it is wiser to engage the front brake in most conditions. While braking, the weight transfer will be from the rear wheel to the front, and the load will be more on the front wheel. In such a case, if you lock the back wheel, there are more chances of it sliding due to the reduced weight.

This can vary, though, by the type of bike you are riding. For instance, with choppers and cruisers, the rear wheel carries more weight, since the riding saddle is built more towards the rear. Have you not ever seen OCC? In such bikes, it would better to engage the rear brakes when you are cruising. Similarly, while riding dirt bikes, you would apply the rear brake on loose terrain. With sport bikes, the wheelbase is shorter and the fork is more vertical, so front breaking is safer.

How Hard Should You Brake?

Another important aspect to consider is how hard you should brake. When you suddenly brake very hard at a high speed, you are bound to lose control of your bike. It all depends on your speed and your braking capabilities. It is best to first practice braking on an empty street. Your goal is to figure out what level of hard braking makes your motorcycle tires slip. This is not that difficult to ascertain. You can test this while driving down a street and stopping at a red light, too; just make sure there is no one right behind you if you are going to stop faster than normal.

Practice a few rounds by applying only the front brake; then do the same using only the rear brake. Lastly, test a combination of both. This will give you an idea about how hard you can brake in a situation where you need to bring your bike to an immediate stop.

The Risks of Breaking & Turning Simultaneously

Finally, you also need to factor in the angle of your bike while braking. Maximum traction is available when your tires are at a 90 degrees angle to the road – meaning upright; not leaning or turning. You will need to do most of your braking before changing direction in order to avoid skidding. While turning you should apply the brake only very slightly, as increased angle is least tolerant to brake input.

Be aware of the road conditions while braking, as well, since certain surfaces offer very little traction. If you apply front brakes on lose terrain you are more likely to lose control of your bike, as there is a higher chance of sliding. Wet and oily surfaces can be quite challenging and you would need to drag on your rear brakes slowly to stop safely.

Tags: , , , ,

Tips for Riding Fast on a Motorcycle

Posted by moto_admin on December 10, 2013
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments
highway riding

photo via Craig Howell, Flickr

Motorcycles have become lighter and much faster than they used to be; and when you are riding a powerful vehicle, it is always tempting to ride fast – especially if it handles well. Do you have the necessary skills for riding a motorcycle at high speeds? Skim these tips to make sure.

Power & Speed

Your bike can propel you very fast between corners, especially when you are riding a 1000 cc sports bike, but there is a limit to how quickly you are able to react. Always drive slower in areas with uncontrolled interesections. Give yourself time during the learning process to become familiar with how your bike handles before pushing any speed limits.

And remember that even very familiar roads can give you nasty surprises when you are going fast. The point is not to become complacent just because you are familiar with the road; always be prepared for the worst. Most mishaps happen while taking the corner or immediately after taking the corner, so watch out for the other guy.

How much experience do you have?

Apart from the basic skills, the only major difference between a novice and an experienced fast rider is poise. As you gather experience, and become comfortable at higher speeds, you will develop poise. In this phase, your braking and acceleration will be less choppy, and you will be able to react with a cool head – which will make all the difference.

The next skill required for fast riding is reading the road. You need to scan the road far ahead, rather limiting your vision to what is quite near. Try to scan for trees, hedgerows, and telegraph poles, since they will follow the road line. If you see many when you are approaching the bend, the curve is going to be more severe. If the path winds a lot, you could keep a look out for other traffic through the hedges and tees. The list of clues can be quite endless, and you will learn by experience.

Knowing Your Bike and Keeping a Step Ahead

Another major challenge while riding at fast speeds is abruptly changing course in order to avoid a collision. Here, you need to sort out your gear, speed and position and act accordingly. The best method is to drive in a position where you have the maximum view at all times. Hence, if a left bend were coming up, you would want to move to the far right to get maximum vision coverage, and so on.

As for the gear and rev, keep a high gear and lower rpm to keep your bike steady and for maintaining terrific control. If you are aware of a hazard coming up, it would be wise to slow down and cut the revs by half.

Tags: , ,

Proper Break-In Procedure for Your Motorcycle

Posted by moto_admin on December 04, 2013
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments
motorcycle

photo via gullevek, Flickr

When you purchase a new motorcycle, the break-in procedure is quite important, as the future performance and condition of your engine depend on it. The internal components of a new engine have to be properly worn in. The components that are influenced by a proper break-in procedure include piston rings, cylinder bore and the valves of your motorcycle engine. These components need proper wearing-in since their interacting surfaces need to mate properly. This will ensure a fantastic performance and a longer life for the engine.

Motorcycle Piston Rings and Cylinder Bore

In a new engine, the piston rings are not precisely paired with the cylinder bore, and the cylinder bore is quite rough initially. This roughness of the cylinder bore must be properly smoothened for creating a proper seal between the piston rings and the bore. Additionally, the piston rings have to be worn correctly to mate with the bore.

When the wearing in process takes place correctly, it will create the optimum seal, which keeps the combustion gases mixing with the engine oil. However, without a proper break-in, the walls of the cylinder bore will glaze over, resulting in less lubrication between the rings and the bore. This causes the engine to overheat, resulting in premature wear and decreased performance. The only way this problem can be fixed later is by taking the engine apart, re-honing the cylinder bore, and installing new piston rings.

Motorcycle Engine Valves

When the valves of your motorcycle engine are not correctly worn in, they will not sit correctly against the cylinder head of the combustion chamber. This will result in compression loss and improper combustion of the fuel. This causes power loss and decreased efficiency of the engine. As time passes, the engine will become increasingly unreliable and its life span will shorten dramatically.

As you can see, the break-in procedure is extremely important for your bike. If this is not done correctly, your bike will suffer in performance and the life of your engine will be shortened. Apart from loss of power, you will also experience decreased fuel efficiency, increased consumption of oil, and other mechanical issues.

How to Break In a Motorcycle

Now we come to the big question of what is the correct break-in procedure for a motorcycle. The answer is to follow the recommendations that are given in your owner’s manual. This is the best and safest method for breaking in your bike. Each model will have a different break-in procedure, soyou need to follow the recommendations for the first specific amount of miles that will be given in the manual. Some of the common recommendations are:

  • Never throttle fully
  • Avoid going at high speeds during the break-in period and do not go over three quarters of the maximum speed of your bike
  • Avoid riding at the same speed, even the recommended speed, over a long period time
  • Avoid sudden braking, frequent starts, and sudden accelerations
  • After the break-in period is over, you should increase your riding speed gradually.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

A Guide to Selecting the Right Material for Your Motorcycle Jacket

Posted by moto_admin on November 27, 2013
Apparel & Accessories / No Comments
motorcycle jacket

photo via Wolfgang Lonien, Flickr

A motorcycle rider is not shielded from the elements or from falls or crashes without adequate protective gear. Apart from the helmet, the next most important item of protective gear is the motorcycle jacket. Selecting the right motorcycle jacket will depend on a number of factors.

The first thing you might want to consider is the material of the jacket. Motorcycle jackets are available in leather, denim and synthetic textile.

Leather

Leather jackets are ideal for cold climates and offer outstanding protection in falls and crashes, since they are highly resistant to abrasions. They also have a sleek look that many bikers prefer, and leather is highly durable. The leather motorcycle jacket is typically 1.1 mm or more in thickness and protects the rider from winds, as well.

While shopping for a motorcycle jacket, avoid fashion leather jackets, which will be quite thin. A leather motorcycle jacket will usually be available with removeable layers of soft body armor, for sport riders who need more protection. Leather does not show dirt as easily as other materials, and is available in various styles and fashions.

Initially a leather jacket will feel restrictive and heavy, but it will stretch and take to the natural contours of your body over time, which makes it very comfortable to wear. The disadvantage of leather is that it is not suitable for warmer climates.

Denim

Denim is an excellent material for motorcycle jacket if you are living in a warm place. The material breathes well, which will keep you cool. In addition, denim is a hardy and durable material which will not rip easily, so it can protect you from cuts and scratches in a fall. Denim is not as thick as leather, though, and it will not provide sufficient protection from impact. If you are living in a cold place and you like denim, then you could select one with an inner warm lining.

Synthetic Textile

Synthetic textile motorcycle jackets are available for both warm and cold climates. The jacket is usually made from polyester and nylon, making it quite lightweight. A summer jacket will have a mesh fabric for maximum airflow to keep the rider cool. A winter jacket will come lined with material to keep the rider warm and comfortable, despite the cold. Some jackets have a convenient zip out lining, which can be removed in warm riding conditions. Most synthetic jackets are waterproof and can be worn in pouring rain.

The textile motorcycle jacket is quite versatile and offers features that suit all riding conditions, which makes it an excellent jacket for touring. These jackets are available in wide range of colors and styles, but they do lack that rugged look which only leather can provide.

Tags: , , ,

Tips for Maintaining Your New Motorcycle

Posted by moto_admin on November 22, 2013
Maintenance & Modifications / No Comments
parked motorcycle

photo via Bryan Costin, Flickr

Riding a motorcycle is a unique experience, and all riders expect peak performance from their bikes. Getting consistent performance and extending the life of your motorbike are possible with proper and timely maintenance. Here are a few tips that will help you keep your bike in peak condition.

Follow the Manual

The manufacturer of your bike knows much more about the vehicle than anybody else. Therefore, it is wise to follow everything that is written in the manual, as it is prepared by highly qualified factory engineers from the company. The manual will recommend service procedures, a maintenance schedule to be followed, the engine oil that should be used and so on. If you are DIY type of person and like to do detailed maintenance and repairs on your own, then get a service manual for your bike. This is a more detailed manual that is meant for a mechanic, and it will provide details about every part and procedure.

Follow the Break-In Procedure

The initial few hundred miles on a new bike are critical, and it is very important to drive the bike according to the provided guidelines during this break-in period. Each motorcycle comes with its own set of recommendations. Some need to be driven “gently”; while others have a complex set of rules, involving limits to speed and RPMs. Certain manufacturers also insist on a specific type of engine oil during the break-in period. These guidelines and recommendations for the break-in period will be given in your manual.

Keep to the Recommended Maintenance Schedule

Maintenance procedures have to be done at regular intervals to keep your bike performing optimally. However, make sure to factor in riding conditions, climate and riding frequency; as you may have to do some procedures more frequently than the recommended schedule. For instance, if you ride regularly in dry weather under very dusty conditions, you might have to change the air filter and oil more often.

No matter your bike model, these maintenance tasks are universal:

  • Before each ride, check tire pressure, brake functionality, and whether all the lights and indicators are working properly.
  • Every month check tension of the chain and lubricate the recommended moving parts.
  • A filter and oil change is usually recommended every three months, but it will also depend on the distance you have covered and your typical riding conditions. While changing the filter, also inspect the spark plugs, brake pads condition, and the level of your brake fluid.

Buying the Right Parts and Oil

Your new motorcycle did not come cheap, and you would not want to ruin it by installing cheap parts and using inferior quality oil. Whenever you need to replace filters, oils, fluids, or any other parts, always buy the best quality and those recommended in the manual. Usually, your motorcycle brake fluid is not interchangeable. You can, however, obtain a better aftermarket air filter than what was installed by the manufacturer. A quality air filter provides better airflow and it can be cleaned. Avoid buying secondhand parts, even if the cost of new parts is much higher.

Tags: , , ,

Riding A Motorcycle in Snowy and Icy Conditions

Posted by moto_admin on November 18, 2013
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments
motorcycle in snow

photo via Daniel Veazey, Flickr

Riding a motorcycle in a normal climate is an engaging task on its own; but when it snows, it becomes very challenging. The best advice is to avoid riding your bike in snow if you have some other means of transportation. However, there may still be times when you have to get on your bike and brave the icy conditions.

Dress Appropriately

The first thing to consider is what you are going to wear to keep yourself warm. Remember, you will be in the open and there will be a constant chilly draft when you ride, even when there is no breeze. In such conditions it is best to wear battery heated jacket and gloves, a full-face helmet, leather pants, and boots with inner wool lining. It would be better to install a high windscreen on your bike, but it is not essential when wearing all the right gear.

Suitable Preparation

Before venturing on your ride, check the weather and road conditions on your route. Listen to the local weather channel on the radio, visit your local road conditions website and inquire from your colleagues or friends who may have recently driven on that route. If it sounds too hazardous, make other travel plans.

Safety is Paramount

Make sure you have sufficient tread left you your motorcycle tires before attempting travel on snow and ice. Consider lowering your tire pressure to get a better grip on the road. Before starting, visually inspect the road as far as you can see, and then get on your bike. Lower your motorcycle from the center stand slowly, as the tires can slide out from under you.

Use Sound Too

Whatever may be the emergency, you cannot ride fast on a motorbike in the snow. You will have to keep to the minimum speed, and mainly use the clutch rather than the accelerator. Switch on your headlight even if visibility seems okay. Hardly anyone will expect anyone riding a motorcycle in the snow, so presume you are not visible to other drivers; and you could honk at regular intervals to make your presence known.

Keep a respectable distance from the vehicle in front, since you will not be able to brake easily and your bike will come to a complete stop only after some time. This is another reason to drive slowly, as your bike’s momentum cannot be easily arrested when you are riding on the snow.

Physics & Motion

Your riding stance should be upright, rather than crouched; however, you should hug your thighs to the gas tank for better steering control. Taking a turn will be quite tricky, since you cannot lean into the curve because you are riding at a slow speed and the tires will slip from under you. Avoid a tight turn, and take a wider arc. Slow down even more at turns, and you can put your foot on the ground on the inside of the curve for extra balance.

Tags: , , ,

Top 5 Most Outrageous Motorcycle Helmets

Posted by moto_admin on November 12, 2013
Apparel & Accessories / 1 Comment

Of all the outrageous things that bikers can wear, they can really raise the shock value of their attire with a crazy motorcycle helmet. Here are the top 5 head turners trending on Pinterest:

1. A Spiked and Sparkling Sample

Deryck Todd helmet

Deryck Todd’s Highway to Hellmet ($2,995) is a sure stunner with jewels, semi-precious stones, some mean-looking spikes, and a rugged chain that will frame your face. You would sure turn a lot of heads with this headgear.

2. Star Wars Meets Road Races

Darth Vader Helmet

This Ralph McQuarrie Darth Vader motorcycle helmet ($898.99) will surely please die hard fans. It’s a limited edition fiberglass, leather-lined helmet that apparently pre-sold out all 250 pieces online.

3. Hell Raising!

skull helmet

Bikers are commonly known for sporting images of menacing-looking skulls on their jackets, bikes and tattoos. So, it is only natural that Rider’s DNA has come up with helmets that mirror that obsession. This ghost rider inspired skull helmet ($199) is airbrushed to look frighteningly real – and the mouth opens, too, so it looks like the skull is regurgitating your face.

4. One Cracking Piece of a Helmet

walnut helmet

It looks as if the designers of this helmet had a message for some reckless bikers, but it was actually created by Igor Mitin, a designer at Good.kz marketing agency. They can take any design you like and slap it onto a helmet. This is just one example.

5. Adapted for Earthlings

predator 3 helmet

You can look like you just stepped out of the sci-fi movie “Predator” with this helmet. This model, the Dredator 3 ($780), is an upgrade to the previous Predator 2 helmet. 3 superbright LEDs keep you visible, and the helmet can be customized with graphics and spearheaded dreadlocks.

Wearing a motorcycle helmet doesn’t have to be “uncool.” With all of the crazy ways you can customize a helmet these days, you can wear one that really fits your personality. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) states that wearing helmets reduces the chances of fatalities in motorcycle accidents by about 40 percent. But keep in mind that this is only true if your helmet is DOT-approved.

The DOT has come up with a list of specifications for helmet manufacturers. DOT-approved helmets are manufactured according to these stringent guidelines, and thus provide maximum safety to you when riding. Most novelty helmets fall short of these specifications, though, so do your homework before purchasing.

Tags: , , ,

The Role of the Braking Systems in Motorcycle Performance

Posted by moto_admin on November 04, 2013
Maintenance & Modifications / No Comments

Bike BrakingIn order to optimize  motorcycle performance, most people fully focus on the exhaust system and remapping the fuel injection. Even though the gasoline system is important for improving the performance of your bike, you should not forget the braking system and related parts. Brakes can cancel out speed more easily than the engine’s ability to increase it. Therefore, it is important to optimally maintain the brake system of your bike to get the maximum performance.

Aftermarket Brake Discs and Brake Pads

You might want to consider upgrading to aftermarket components, since that can improve steering and acceleration, on top of increased stopping power. For instance, certain aftermarket brake discs are much lighter and are able to improve acceleration. Secondly, aftermarket discs now have a much better grip, compared to OE models.

Another important component is your brake pads. Most riders push their brake pads to the absolute limits before replacing them. This may not be the most prudent idea, since your bike’s performance decreases with the wearing of the brake pads. You should replace these pads far before you notice the signs of extreme wear. In fact, it is best to replace the pads when at least 2mm of the pad material is remaining.

Brake pads are now available in overwhelming variety, and you can find pads with optimal stopping power for the conditions you usually ride. Most OE replacement pads are of outstanding quality, since manufacturers are developing better compounds for the padding material. You would be looking for pads whose stopping power is consistent at varying speeds. Secondly, brake pads with special compounds meant for racing may not be suitable for street riding.

Two Kinds

Before selecting, read the features and specifications; as certain racing brake pads require heat build-up to function optimally. Most manufacturers give a marvelous description of the compounds and the type of riding they are suitable for. Keep in mind the type of riding you do, and select accordingly. If your original brake pads were sintered or molded, you will have to select only the sintered variety when choosing new ones.

Rethink Your Brake Lines

If you want to improve the stopping power of your bike dramatically, you can think about installing brake lines in braided stainless steel. Stainless steel lines will not stretch at all when you squeeze the brake lever, and hence deliver a quicker and firmer stopping power. Secondly, these lines have a metal sheath with a protective plastic coating on the outside, which prevents cracking due to sun exposure and age.

The interior line is made of Teflon, which makes it less brittle compared to the usual rubber line. You should not have a problem finding the right size of stainless steel braided brake lines for your bike, as many manufacturers make pre-measured kits for various bike models. Certain manufacturers also sell adjustable kits where you need to cut the lines to the required length and attach them to the given fittings.

Review your braking system in detail, and then make the necessary changes for better stopping power, and for improving acceleration and steering.

Tags: , , , ,

Selecting the Right Tires for Your Motorcycle

Posted by moto_admin on October 30, 2013
Motorcycle Tires / No Comments

Motrobike TiresTires are critical components of your motorcycle that influence your ride and safety. While selecting new tires you need to consider various factors, like the style of your bike, and the riding conditions you are likely to encounter a majority of the time. There may be quite a bit of difference between the front and rear tires for your bike, as their functions vary. The rear tire bears the majority of the weight and is also primarily used in acceleration. The front tire, on the other hand, is designed to accomplish right and left turns and for braking. As for the size and speed rating of the tires, the owner’s manual will have the specifications recommended for your bike.

What is the Purpose of Your Motorcycle Tires?

While selecting the tire it is necessary to consider whether you will be riding your bike for racing, off-road or general touring. If you usually ride on the highways, then a fantastic and quality all-weather tire with impressive mileage should be ideal. Such tires provide awesome stability and you will be exerting less energy in handling your bike. These tires usually have lesser ply layers, with a combination of composite mesh and synthetic rubber; which provides a much more comfortable ride, with outstanding load bearing capacity.

If you regularly use your bike for off-roading, then select radial tires with tread patterns that provide more contact with the road surface. These tires will provide excellent grip on the surface in both dry and wet conditions. If you are going to use your bike for both the trail and road, then you might want to consider dual sport tires, which will provide traction on trails, but are also legally acceptable for use on the road. Off-road tires are usually made from harder rubber or nylon compounds for providing better durability and resistance to wear, for rough riding conditions.

For racing, you need to consider tires that provide traction at extreme angles while leaning at a turn, and tiers that are built for faster acceleration. On the racetrack, you will be cornering at very tight angles, and there will be constant wear on the sides.

Tire Mileage vs. Traction

While considering the construction of the tire, you will have to decide whether you want more mileage or better traction out of your tires. If you are looking for durability and better mileage, then choose tires made from a harder rubber compound. If you are regularly riding in wet conditions and want better traction, select softer rubber tires. These tires grip the road much better, but they will not last quite as long as the hard rubber tires.

Choosing Between Motorcycle Tire Models

Once you have narrowed down the type of tire you are looking for, you are still confronted with many choices; since there are many manufacturers and many similar models within the same manufacturer. Here you will need to consider the warranty and technology used in making the tires. The latest tire models are usually produced with new technology, providing better performance and quality.

Tags: , , , ,

How to Select Motorcycle Gloves

Posted by moto_admin on October 16, 2013
Apparel & Accessories / No Comments

GlovesGloves provide a fantastic amount of protection to your hands when you are riding a motorcycle. However, many people do not put much thought into selecting motorcycle gloves and simply go by the appearance; but when it makes the difference of your fingers not being scraped to the bone if you happen to be in an accident, that not always the best determining factor. Here are the different types of gloves available in the market today, and their advantages and disadvantages.

Leather Gloves

Leather gloves have been around for many years and are quite common to be worn by on-road motorcyclists. Apart from providing outstanding protection, leather is a material that does not hinder hand movements for handling motorcycle controls. However, you need to consider the thickness of the leather. Certain leather gloves are thick, meant for the colder months, while some are quite thin for warmer weather. Compared to textile gloves, leather gloves are much more durable and provide much better protection from wind; but leather gloves are not recommended for wet weather, since they can become quite uncomfortable when they are wet.

Fingerless Gloves

Fingerless gloves are designed so your fingers are exposed. These types of gloves are suitable for people who ride cruisers. Most cruisers have many controls and buttons, which are inaccessible with regular leather gloves. Fingerless gloves make it possible to handle even the smallest button on your bike. The only disadvantage of fingerless gloves is that they do not provide much protection in cold weather and your fingers will be chilled. They also will not protect your fingers if you are ever involved in a wreck!

Textile Gloves

Textile gloves were not so popular at the start, but now they are made of advanced materials like ballistic nylon or Kevlar, and are giving a stiff competition to leather gloves. Every year the design of textile gloves keep improving and the main advantage of these gloves is that it allows protective material to be sewn into the glove. It is possible to include metal plates, hard plastic, and carbon fiber in the textile gloves, which provide much better protection.

Secondly, textile is much more breathable than leather, which makes it ideal for warmer weather. Textile gloves are available in many designs and colors, which make them look unique. If you are riding in wet conditions, make sure you opt for textile gloves with a layer of water resistant material.

Off-Road Gloves

Off-road gloves are available in leather as well as textile. The main difference in off-road gloves is the strategic padding in specific areas of the hand that are more at risk during impact. Certain models will have a combination of leather and textile materials, and most feature mesh designs that offer better ventilation, since off-road riding makes your hands sweatier.

Right Fit

Apart from the material and design, you need to make sure your gloves fit you snugly. If your pair is too big, you will be clumsy at managing the controls. On the other hand, if your gloves are too tight, they can restrict your hand movements and cut off your blood circulation, resulting in a tingling sensation in your hands. You should take the necessary time to find the right size, since the right fitting gloves will not only be comfortable, they will also allow you to have better control of your bike.

Tags: , , , , ,

Some of the Best Motorcycle Helmets on the Market

Posted by moto_admin on October 10, 2013
Apparel & Accessories / No Comments

Arai XC Open Face Helmet

There is nothing more important than a helmet when you are riding a motorcycle, since you can prevent serious injuries to your head. Motorcycle helmets have improved tremendously and modern technology has made them highly effective. Here are some of the best models available in the market today.

Arai XC

If you are looking for a fantastic open face helmet, then the Arai XC is worth considering. The shell is made from a fiberglass composite, which makes the helmet light and strong. This is a comfortable helmet with excellent ventilation.

nexx carbon xr1rNexx Carbon XR1R

The Carbon XR1R is a full-face helmet weighing only 1.2 kg, as it is fully made from carbon fiber. This helmet has won a few awards and if you were looking for best value for your money, this would be the ideal choice. The helmet has a sophisticated Air Dynamic System, comprising of four outlets and two inlets air vents for sufficient airflow inside. The anti-noise cheek pads add to the comfort level, and the inner lining is washable.

nolan n86Nolan N86

The Nolan N86 is a high quality helmet made in Italy. If you were looking for the best aerodynamic design in helmets this would fit the bill. It has rounded shape with a rear spoiler that provides better stability at high speeds. The shell is made of polycarbonate and the visor offers UV400 protection. Air vents are provided on the chin, which can be closed whenever required. If you keep these vents closed, your exhaled air will exit from the rear vents, which helps to keep your face cool. The inside liner is washable and comes with an anti-bacterial treatment.

Shoei neotecShoei Modular Neotac

If you were looking for a combination of a full-face and flip-up helmet, then Shoei Modular Neotac would be ideal. It is very easy to flip up even while wearing gloves, as the release button is quite big. Due to its unique modular design with tapered chin bar and slim size, it also performs well as a full-face helmet. The built-in sun shield is quite effective, and you can activate the 3D inner shield for blocking 99% of UV rays. The visor is scratch resistant, and has anti-fog, distortion-free qualities.

reevu msx1Reevu MSX1

Would you like rear view in your helmet? Well, the MSX1 helmet provides just that. The rear view system in the helmet enables you to see the traffic behind you, just as you would see from a centrally mounted rear view mirror in a car. The vision system incorporates a moveable and adjustable optic device on the helmet’s rear, which sends signals to a screen placed on the upper visor inside. Apart from this innovative feature, Reevu MSX1 is also quite lightweight, safe, and comfortable. Considering the rear view device, the helmet is reasonably priced, and is worth considering if you want a marvelous rear view.

shark_race_r_proShark Race-R Pro

As the name suggests, the Race-R Pro is ideally suited for racing. The shell is made from carbon aramid fiber, which makes it light and extremely tough. For racers who demand precision, stability, excellent aerodynamics, and comfort, the Shark would be suitable choice.

Tags: , ,

Harley Davidson / Miller high Life ‘Epic Ride’ winners interview

Posted by moto_admin on September 30, 2013
Recreation / No Comments

You know the scenario – you enter a competition, don’t win and wonder whether the winners announced even exist. Tony Farrell and Laurel Leamon, of Topeka, Kansas, thought the same until they recently got notification of their success in the Harley Davidson / Miller high Life ‘Epic Ride’ event.

As luck would have it, they happen to be good friends of our e-commerce manager here at Motorcycle Maniac Store,  so he sat down with them to get the skinny on the day Windell Middlebrooks (you’ve all see the Miller delivery truck ads) paid a call.

Give us some info about yourselves – What do you ride and how long have you been riding?

Laurel on Buell Blast

Photo Credit: Tony Farrell/Laurel Leamon.

Late last fall, we put some thought into something new we’d like to learn and do together for 2013. After some discussion, we learned that we’d both always wanted to ride motorcycles. So we signed up for Rider’s Edge classes from our local Harley dealership, and took the classes in mid-March.

In the photo at right, Laurel had just completed one of the range exercises. The bikes we used were Buell Blasts.

While awaiting the class, Laurel fell in love with a 2006 Softail Standard. We “de-customized it” a bit, and brought it home as soon as we had our motorcycle endorsements on our driver licenses.

Two photos which follow are from our very first time riding the bike. Laurel and I snapped these with our mobile phones.

Tony on softail Laurel on softail
Photo Credit: Tony Farrell/Laurel Leamon.

What was the Harley-Davidson/Miller High Life competition, & what did you have to do?

The Harley-Davidson/Miller High Life event was not a competition at all. The “Epic Surprise” all came from a simple activity I saw on the Harley-Davidson website – they invited visitors to tell them about their “epic ride.” So, I simply wrote a paragraph describing how our “epic ride” isn’t a single ride – it’s the whole journey of learning how to ride, having fun, and meeting new people along the way.

Here’s the story I submitted: http://110.harley-davidson.com/epic-rides/story/122

How did you discover you had won?

I’d submitted the entry back in May or June, I think. In very early July, I received an email from the manager for e-marketing for North America  telling me that he loved the story. He also told me about how they’re doing a cobranding initiative with Miller High Life – Miller was started just up the street from Harley-Davidson in the same year H-D started — so both are celebrating their 110th anniversaries this year. He told me that he shared the story with Miller and they loved it as well – and asked for my permission to be visited by “someone from Harley-Davidson and someone from Miller High Life” to receive a case of beer.

Admission time, did they really just turn up out of the blue or were you given advanced warning?

So, the contact from Harley-Davidson and I exchanged intermittent texts and we agreed upon a date and time to meet. Again, we were expecting one person from Harley-Davidson Motor Company and one person from MillerCoors. The impression we had was that they were basically doing a regional tour on bikes. Considering we were going to meet at 4:00 PM on a Tuesday, we figured they were just going to a hotel after meeting with us, so we invited them to stay for dinner – thought we’d treat them to some Kansas beef and so forth.

Laurel and I were just finishing up peeling and cutting up peaches for a cobbler for dessert that evening when Laurel detected a very heavy rumbling. We were expecting two bikes – nothing that loud. She thought it might have been a plane!

Miller 'epic ride' truck

Photo credit: Lily Opgaard

We see from the news reports that the local HOG chapter provided an escort for the Miller truck. That must have been a bit of a loud surprise for your normally quiet Topeka neighborhood?

It was, and it was perfect – we were wiping our hands of the peaches and approaching the front windows of our home when we saw a mini-van race up and park across the street. People scrambled out and pointed cameras down the street – that’s when we noticed SEVERAL bikes paused at the intersection. A moment later, a parade of sorts – the good people from the local Harley Owners Group came rumbling by, followed by a GIANT Miller High Life beer truck. It was absolutely perfect – the super giant truck and loads of bikes all crowding our quiet street.

Laurel’s initial reaction was beautiful: “We have nowhere NEAR enough food for everybody.”

Tony with Windell

Photo credit: Tony Farrell. It’s a shameless selfie with Windell Middlebrooks! COME ON!

So tell us, did you actually get what looks like cases and cases of Miller High Life or were you handed a voucher or something? We can only imagine you having to keep your ride outside as there would be no space left in the garage…well for a short time anyway, until you have managed to ‘make some space.’

The topic of the beer has been the most popular by far – I’ve even received mail from people and organizations concerned about the health of my soul!

Miller was not legally able to actually give us the beer the drivers unloaded onto the lawn. When the media bit was done, it was all loaded back up onto the truck, and the truck drove off. It was a terrific show!

Karen Davidson of Harley Davidson

Photo credit: Brian Flad

Instead, we were awarded a standard gift card loaded with the monetary equivalent of “a year of beer” – if you can imagine 30 days per month and 30 cans per case, we’re talking about the money to purchase twelve cases of cans.

MillerCoors and Harley-Davidson flew Windell Middlebrooks (“The Miller High Life Delivery Guy”) and Karen Davidson (pictured at right) in from Los Angeles to be with us that day, plus the Miller production crew was there from Chicago.  They spent the morning shooting footage at Topeka Harley-Davidson, executed the surprise that afternoon, and spent time with us that evening at a local pub. The companies invested, and the surprise was worth, far, far more than the value of their thoughtful gift card. It’s a day we’ll never forget!

You were given a pair of beautiful looking Harley-Davidson jackets.  Are they hanging on a wall somewhere as mementoes or do you ride in them as they were intended?

The weather here lately has been very, very hot. The jackets are made for cooler weather. I’ve ridden in my jacket twice, on cooler mornings. I plan on doing much more of that!

By the way, it’s fair to note that that day was extremely hot and humid – but I put that heavy coat on for the cameras, of course…well, for a little while, anyway.

Harley jackets Tony taking off Harley Jacket

Photo credit: Ann Marie Bush/The Capital-Journal, and © Topeka Capital-Journal

Has this support and recognition of your ‘epic ride’ story inspired you to plan any road trips for the future, maybe head off down to Sturgis next year?

The entire time, we’ve taken a very slow and careful approach to riding. After class – which is taught on very different motorcycles – we started riding neighborhood streets with very little traffic to become comfortable with operation of the bike, and gradually progressed to riding busier and busier streets. And everybody I spoke to about it congratulated us on taking it slow and doing it right. We recently tried our hand at riding “two up”, meaning riding with a passenger. It’s very different than just riding alone – like starting over again, in a way.

For this year, though, in the interest of showing some level of commitment to the local HOG chapter, I made it my goal to ride 1,000 miles this year – it is the lowest level of recognition in the HOG Mileage Program. I’m happy to report we’ve reached that goal by the close of August.

For my part, I think I’d like to advance to the point where we each have bikes so we can do things together aboard separate motorcycles. Our local HOG Chapter does distance rides all the time – we haven’t joined any of them yet, but we’re looking forward to the time when we feel comfortable enough to cover those distances at speed.

Road trips? Sturgis? I think those are wonderful opportunities for us to pursue in the future.

In our future.

Together.

We want to give a big thanks to Tony and Laurel for sitting down with us for this interview and if you wish to see the whole Epic Ride event, then just click on the video below.

Disclaimer: We reached out to the Local Topeka HOG chapter involved to see if they wished to provide any further information, or images, but we never got a response.

Tags: , , , , , ,

How to Adjust the Suspension of Your Motorcycle for a Better Ride

Posted by moto_admin on September 23, 2013
Maintenance & Modifications / No Comments

suspensionSuspension technology has improved dramatically in the past few years; the average rider has much more control over the suspension, which used to only be available to race riders a few years ago. However, this control can only work in your favor if you know how to make the right adjustments. Once you have the suspension set right on your bike, you can enjoy more comfortable, faster and safer ride with better handling.

Free Sag

The first thing you need to do is set the correct sag, since the suspension mechanism needs room to travel up and down to work optimally. If there is too little sag, then the suspension will not be able to prevent the occasional thump, as it needs to extend beyond the set sag. When there is too much sag, you will experience a lot of up and down movement when riding on rough terrain. The sag is categorized into static and free sag. Static sag is the length your bike will compress under your weight, whereas free sag is the length your bike will settle without the weight of the rider.

Determining Static Sag

For measuring static sag, you will need couple of friends to help you. First, put the bike on the stand and measure the suspension without mounting. Now to measure the static sag, lift the front wheel off the ground slightly by lifting on the grips. Measure the distance from the triple clamp to the stanchion wiper. If your bike has a non-traditional fork, then measure from the axle clamp’s top to the wiper. Name this measurement S1.

Team Work

Ask one friend to hold the bike from the rear while you mount the bike. Tell your other friend to push the fork down and let it rise gradually until it stops. Name this measurement S2. Now lift the front end and then let is settle down, and name this measurement S3. To determine the static sag you will need to subtract the sum of S2 and S3 from S1 and divide that by two.

Proper Settings

The equation would be S1 – (S2 + S3) / 2. According to the experts, the optimum sag for street riding should be between 30 and 35mm. For track events, a stiffer sag between 25 to 30 mm is preferred. The same process should be done for the rear wheel as well. Remember to measure in a straight line from the axle, and select a solid point on the bodywork.

Finishing Steps

The next step is to set the damping by number of click or turns. Insert the adjuster and start unscrewing to the required number of clicks or turns. Rebound damping can be tested by standing your bike straight and pressing firmly on the triple clamp. The suspension should not rebound beyond the starting point. If it goes beyond, turn the adjuster inward, by making single clicks. Again test by pressing on the triple clamp, and it should take about a second for the bike to rise back up. For testing the rear damping, press on the center of the rear seat.

Tags: , , , ,

Riding Your Motorcycle in Strong Winds

Posted by moto_admin on September 17, 2013
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments

Driving in Windy ConditionsEven on a calm day, riding a motorcycle usually feels like a riding in a wind tunnel. When the winds start to pick up, you feel the effect much more; and the ride can become dangerous if you are not prepared. The usual danger is the wobble caused by the winds, which can throw you off balance or send you into a skid. Another danger is that small stones and grit can pelt you in the face; or if it is raining, the drops can really sting.

Balancing and Compensation

It is always wise to consider wind to be the stronger element, even when you have a heavy bike and your own personal build is sturdy. At high speeds, wind will behave much like water, and will try to push you around. When there is a steady cross current of wind, it is relatively easy to lean into the wind and stay on course. However, steering and keeping on course becomes much more difficult when you hit a turbulent patch. In such a situation, you can only keep correcting your balance by placing pressure on the handlebars and foot pegs.

Some people feel that with a windscreen they can reduce the effect of the wind turbulence. However, this offers only a limited amount of protection, and from front winds only. In fact, installing a windscreen can be quite dangerous, since it can act as a sail when the winds hit from the sides.

Drive Safely

Wind wobble is a part of motorcycle riding and if you do not like the challenge, then you should opt for a car. It is also important that you do not over-react when your bike starts wobbling because of a gust. You simply relax and keep adjusting your center. Do not unnecessarily tighten your grip, since that will make your body stiff and your motions will not be fluid enough to keep making swift adjustments. This is not the time to be speeding.

The most challenging part is when you are buffeted with side winds. This will usually happen when you are crossing a bridge or when a heavy vehicle like a truck passes you by. In such a situation, the safest thing to do is to go slow, as already mentioned. This will give you a more stable feeling and the threat of injury is far less, even if you are toppled while going at a slower speed.

Control Your Bike

Another important tip is to take a crouching stance with your body lowered nearer to the fuel tank. This will lower your profile and reduces the tipping advantage of the wind. In order to maintain a vertical tension, grip the bike with your feet and knees by pushing inwards. Above all, it is very important to stay calm and not make any jerking or sudden movements that might upset your balance further. Mother Nature does pose challenges, but with proper movements and thinking, she can be held at bay as you reach your destination.

No Loose Clothing

A closed helmet with a visor also helps a lot in windy rides. It will protect your face from flying grit, small stones and insects. It is also better to wear a scarf to prevent the bugs from entering your clothing. Just make sure you tuck the scarf inside your jacket and do not leave the ends flapping in the wind or at the mercy of Mother Nature. You also do not want your scarf grabbing hold of a passing pole or an adjacent moving vehicle.

Tags: , , ,

Modifications to Improve Motorcycle Performance

Posted by moto_admin on September 13, 2013
Maintenance & Modifications / No Comments

Motorcycle ModificationsMost sports bike models have excellent features in their stock form; however, you can improve the performance of your bike further still with some modifications. If you have an older model, you could improve the performance of your bike manifold with modifications; especially by modifying your existing exhaust system, carburetor and fuel injection system. Here we discuss these three main components of your bike and the modifications that are possible to improve overall performance.

Exhaust System

Previously, there used to be major differences between the stock fitted exhaust system and after-market modifications. However, the gap has reduced considerably, since aftermarket manufacturers have become more conscious of noise levels. Presently, you have two options for aftermarket modifications for your exhaust: slip-ons and full system. Slip-ons have two categories, one is a canister that has to be bolted on to the S-bend, and the other is replacing from the middle of your exhaust. With slip-ons, the power gain is minimal, but it is the more economical option. Secondly, with slip-ons you do not have to remove the original valves for exhaust control.

Installing the full system modification is quite easy, even though you will be completely replacing the stock exhaust system. New full system exhaust modifications with titanium headers will provide considerable savings in weight. Certain other headers provide different crossovers and tapers, which will improve torque at the mid and low-level ranges, and improve high-end power. Apart from being costlier, the only disadvantage for a full system modification is the need for removing the valves that usually provide better power in the low-end range.

Carburetor

A bike with proper carburetion can provide excellent performance. Even if you have installed a better exhaust pipe, you might not notice much difference without properly jetted carburetion to ensure enhanced power delivery. Secondly, you can side step the exhaust system modifications in a relatively new bike with modern stock fitted exhaust, if you tweak jet settings or try different needle settings for the carburetor. Once you have the jets and needles set optimally, you can distinctly feel your bike running smoother and generating more horsepower.

With most stock exhausts, the midrange is usually a bit meager, which makes the acceleration quite limp. You can improve the acceleration considerably simply by tweaking the needles to a higher point. Therefore, before you think of spending any money on modifications pertaining to your exhaust system, have your carburetion checked and consider purchasing a jet kit.

Fuel Injection Modules

Remapping the fuel injection in your bike with aftermarket modules could boost performance considerably. You can now purchase modules with different injections maps that are suitable for stock, as well as modified motorcycles. These injection modules come with button controls for altering the fuel deliver curves in high, middle and low rpm ranges. These modules have advanced software for controlling fuel flow and it is possible to upload specific maps that are optimal for your bike. Many workshops now offer dyno testing, which will figure out the exact map suited for your type of bike.

Tags: , , , , ,

How to Ride Your Motorcycle on Unpaved Surfaces

Posted by moto_admin on September 06, 2013
Riding Tips & Education / 2 Comments

Dirt BikeWhen you are fed up with riding your motorcycle on city roads, then it is time to head off-road and experience the thrill of riding on rough terrain. There are certain points to consider when you move from paved roads to trails. First, make sure your bike is in peak condition, and then you need to do some adjustments to it (and yourself) to make it fit for the dirt track or an off-road and remote trail.

Upgrade Your Tires

Start with installing some on/off-road motorcycle tires. A few suggestions for you:

For less frequent off-roaders, these tires are made for greater street use:

Duro Dual Sport HF903 & HF904
(60% on road)Duro HF904
Pirelli MT 90 Scorpion A/T Enduro
(70% on road)Duro HF904
Shinko E705
(80% on road)

If you plan to spend more time off-road than on, these tires are a better option:

Continental Conti Twinduro TKC80 (60% off-road)
Duro Dual Sport HF903 & HF904 (60% off-road)Duro HF904 Dunlop D606
(90% off-road)Dunlop D606

For equal time on- and off-road, these motorcycle tires perform well on both:

Heidenau K60 Scout Dual Sport
K60 Scout
Avon AM24 Gripster

Next, decrease the tire pressure you use on road before you go off-road with your motorcycle tires. You might have to reduce it by about 20 pounds, depending on the terrain.

Reduce the Bulkiness of Your Bike

Get rid of most of the accessories and saddlebags that you are not going to require for the ride. These things simply increase the weight of your bike, and due to the increased vibrations when riding on rough tracks, they also tend to come loose. You might also want to remove any mirrors and windscreens, since they are likely to be damaged. They can also become hazards for yourself and your bike when you are riding near rocks, trees and bushes.

Protect Yourself

There is much more of chance of you falling off your bike when you are off-roading; therefore, you need special riding gear. Wear protective padding for elbows, chest, shoulders and knees; and make sure your boots are taller for protecting your shins. Use gloves that are flexible and light, as you will need wider range of hand movements for controlling your bike, while riding off road. Go for off-road helmets with a sunshade and do not forget to wear goggles.

Bumps and Falls

Before starting the ride, loosen and limber up your body. When you are stiff, your risk is higher in terms of chances of falling and being injured. When you loosen up, your body is able to cope with shifting suddenly, and you can take the bumps and sudden movements without much discomfort. Secondly, when you are limber, you will be able to roll with a fall and your body will be exposed to the least amount of injuries.

Use Your Body

While riding on dirt roads, there are much higher chances of losing balance, so it is important to lower your center of gravity. Surprisingly, this is done by standing on the footrests or raising your body off the seat. Stand by resting your weight on the balls of your feet, and hug the fuel tank lightly with your thighs. Extend your elbows out a little, since that will give you more flexibility when the ride becomes bumpy. Your knees will act like shock absorbers, preventing falls.

Braking is also a completely different ballgame when you are riding in the dirt. On paved roads, you will usually make more use of the front brakes to come to a stop quickly. However, on dirt tracks, this can be disastrous. Here you need to focus more on your rear brakes to reduce speed and come to a stop.

Turning is also quite tricky, and you literally have to do the opposite of what you do on a paved road. Do not try to hang off the bike towards the inside of the turn as you do in racing. Instead, shift your weight more on the outside of the turn, by resting your foot more firmly on the outside peg.

Tags: , , ,

Texting and driving kills motorcyclists

Posted by moto_admin on September 05, 2013
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments

moto-accident

Tags: , , , ,

Important DIY Motorcycle Maintenance

Posted by moto_admin on August 30, 2013
Maintenance & Modifications / No Comments

If you want peak performance from your motorcycle, you need to conduct a few regular maintenance tasks. These tasks are simple and can be done even by people with minimum mechanical knowledge. You only require a few quality tools and maybe a workshop manual with photos to guide you through the steps. Here are important DIY maintenance procedures that can improve your motorcycle’s performance considerably.

Motorcycle Tire Pressure

motorcycle tireMotorcycle tire pressure influences handling of your bike, fuel efficiency, and the wear on your tires. Checking tire pressure is one of the simplest tasks, but is generally ignored by most people. The correct pressure will be mentioned in the owner’s manual of your bike. If you have overinflated your tires, you will experience a jerky and bumpy ride. The tires will have less grip on the road, making handling and braking difficult. Underinflated tires, on the other hand, will result in a sluggish ride, increased fuel consumption and excess wear on your tires. Shop for and purchase a decent pressure gauge and check the pressure regularly, especially in cold temperatures.

Adjusting Motorcycle Chain Tension

Are you experiencing rough gearshifts and poor rear suspension? These issues are usually caused when the chain tension is not correct. For checking and correcting the chain tension, you will need the help of the workshop manual. The manual will provide torque settings for various bolts to obtain the correct chain tension. This task may not seem easy at first, but you will soon get the hang of it. You will need a torque wrench for this task, and make sure you make someone sit on the bike while setting the tension, since the chain tightens with weight on board. After setting the chain tension, apply a good amount of lubrication to the chain. Remember, incorrect chain tension will wear out your gearbox fast, and reduces the drive chain’s life.

Changing  Motorcycle Engine Oil and Filter

You can cause considerable damage to your bike’s engine by ignoring this part of regular maintenance. The engine oil deteriorates with time and rough riding, and needs to be changed. The frequency of oil change will depend on the amount of miles you rode since the last change, and whether you have been riding on rough terrain or in extreme weather conditions. Always select the engine oil that is recommended by the bike’s manufacturer, or seek out and find an expert. The changing procedure is not difficult once you know which bolt has to be opened to drain the old oil, and the location of the oil filter for adding the new oil. Check the oil filter for excess dirt deposits and change the paper or the whole filter whenever required.

Oiling and Greasing You Motorcycle Cable

This is a bit of messy task, but has to be done to keep your bike in peak condition. Once you oil the cable of your bike, you will immediately experience your ride becoming more responsive. If the cable has any slack, adjust it to the correct tension. The workshop manual will show you the points where regular greasing is required. Do not spray any grease on the disc brakes of your bike.

Tags: , , ,

Anatomy of a safe biker

Posted by moto_admin on August 28, 2013
Apparel & Accessories / No Comments

Anatomy-of-a-safe-rider

Tags: , , ,

Riding Your Motorcycle in Winter and in the Snow

Posted by moto_admin on August 23, 2013
Riding Tips & Education / 1 Comment

off roading in the snowThe cold months can be quite challenging for a motorcycle rider, especially when it is snowing. However, it is possible to ride in such extreme weather safely and comfortably, provided you dress properly and keep to certain safe driving practices. Here are some important points you may want to consider before you set out on your bike in frigid conditions.

Blood Movement

When temperatures start dropping, your body has a particular of dealing with the cold. Your vital organs and brain are more susceptible to the cold, so it makes sense to provide the most protection to these body areas. While riding, if your feet and hands start to feel cold, even when you have worn warm coverings, then it means your body is directing its heat resources to vital organs. Hence, if you protect your head and torso well from the cold, your feet and hands will stay warm, even if you have covered them with only a few layers of warm clothing.

This means you need proper gear to keep your head and torso warm. For warming the head, a full-face helmet would be ideal, since it has a thick layer of insulation to absorb impact, and the shell provides a windproof covering. You can then improve on it by wearing a bandana or scarf to block the gaps where the wind leaks into the helmet. However, make sure you do not stop all fresh air from entering, since that could lower your oxygen supply and make you feel dizzy.

Wind Protection

For protecting your torso, a leather jacket or windcheater with polyester fiber insulation would be ideal. If the temperature is below freezing, then wear a sweater or two under the jacket. While riding, the biggest chilling factor will be the wind hitting your upper body. Hence, apart from a jacket with a thermal liner, consider fitting a wider windshield that extends much below the headlight.

Plenty of Hand Warmth

However, if you want to experience toasty warm comfort in freezing temperatures, there is nothing better than electric clothing. If you have not yet ventured into this type of clothing, start with an electric vest and experience the difference. Most riders have found that electric clothing is the best option when the temperature has gone even below twenty degrees. As for protecting your hands and feet, consider waterproof gloves and boots that have an insulating material on the inside. If you ride frequently, then you might want to consider covers that can be attached to your bike’s handlebars. These are excellent to keep your hands warm, since these pods enclose the grip area fully, and you can slip your hands out quite easily as well.

Battling the Fog

Another problem most bikers face in cold weather is the face shield fogging up, which reduces visibility. When it is intensely cold this fog can also turn to frost causing more problems. The best option would be to select a fog shield that is well suited for daytime riding. You can also find a number of anti-fog solutions that might work well on your regular shield.

Tags: , , ,

Joey gets a Honda CRF80F Off-Road Bike

Posted by moto_admin on August 21, 2013
Recreation / No Comments

As my son Joey keeps growing (it seems he gets taller every day), he continues to outgrow his motorcycles. This summer, we have begun the transition from his old Honda CRF70F to his new Honda CRF80F. The biggest obstacle in this changeover has been the new (to him) concept of a clutch. After just four days of riding, Joey made a somewhat smooth transition to his Dunlop tire-equipped Honda CRF80F.

The New Motorcycle

After deciding to start looking for Joey’s next motorcycle, my wife Jennifer and I started to look on Craigslist for a CRF80F. We decided that this would be an easy transition to a
bigger bike from the four-speed, clutch free, Honda CRF70F. We figured this bike would feel much the same, only being a bit larger and having a clutch and a different shifting pattern. Sticking with Honda, to me, was a no-brainer. After trying other brands, I have discovered that I am now loyal to Honda. So the short search began, and after looking online, we found the new bike about one-hundred miles from home.

One Saturday, following my son’s Rocky Mountain Enduro Circuit (RMEC) race near Bennett, Colorado, we made the trek on into Denver to meet with the gentleman selling the bike. After giving the machine the once-over, and test riding it in a cul-de-sac, we made the purchase. The 2005 bike was in mint condition, the plastic looked new, the motor was extremely clean and the Dunlop motorcycle tires still had the hair on them. It really was an easy decision to pull the trigger on this deal. So after about twenty minutes, we were on our way home with the new motorcycle.

honda crf80f

The First Ride

Jennifer and I decided that the best place to let Joey do his first tire roosts would be at the Parker Family Farm. So the day after buying the new machine, we were at the farm with both the 70 and the new CRF80F. The grassy pasture, mini-endurocross track and ATV trails we have cut into the earth make for a great place to test out a new off-road bike. The lush grass makes for a softer landing during a crash than the rocky mountain or rough desert terrain that my family has been known to ride in the past; this leads to fewer scrapes and contusions.

Before we would let Joey ride his new motorcycle, we had him take a warm-up ride on his old Maxxis tire-clad Honda CRF70F. We figured it would be best not to start him off cold on the new bike. We felt the clutchless 70 would give him the feel of handling a motorcycle and get his mind in the game before he attempted using a clutch for the first time. So after about thirty minutes of cruising around the grassy pasture, standing on his seat and riding with his feet in the air, we decided it was time to try the CRF80F.

honda crf80f-2When we called Joey over to the trailer to switch motorcycles, we talked about how the clutch works and what could happen if it is not properly operated. We talked about if the clutch is popped abruptly, it may throw him off the back of the motorcycle. We discussed how if he stopped, he must apply the clutch otherwise the machine would stall the motor. Then our conversation turned to how when shifting gears, the clutch needs to be applied so as not to ruin the transmission. After the classroom portion of our lesson, it was time for the hands on session of the day – the actual ride.

We decided the best way to show the boy how to operate his new ride was for me to be a passenger on the back of the bike so that he could see how this type of motorcycle works. I operated the clutch and throttle just as I would on my Honda CRF450X. After twice demonstrating stopping, starting and shifting gears over a 100 yard distance, Joey told me I was no longer needed and he could do this.

So, after being kicked off of his motorcycle, I watched as Joey flawlessly operated his new Honda CRF80F along with its clutch. He first rode back and forth through the pasture, practicing his shifting, stopping and starting. He rode so many times across the field that he wore a single-track into the grass with the like-new Dunlop tires. When that became boring, it was time to head across the creek to the endurocross track we have been building over the past year. He made the rock, whoops, woodpile and tire sections look as though they were not even there. It amazed my wife and I how easily Joey made the transition to his new Honda CRF80F.

Mountain Riding on the Honda CRF80F

A couple of weeks ago, it came about that I would have five days off in a row from work. Although those first three days my wife Jennifer had to work, it was decided that Joey and I would make a trek up to the mountains along Deadman Road in Larimer County, Colorado, to one of our favorite camping and riding spots. After arriving to a remote camping spot on the afternoon of the first day, Joey and I decided to take a spin on our bikes and do some exploring. Although we brought the new 80 on the trip, my son and I decided that the older 70 may be better for him to ride in the mountains. We thought he had his hands full in just dealing with the rocky terrain, steep climbs and water crossings. For the first two days we stuck to that plan until the 70 developed some mechanical problems. On the third day, we decided that the 80 needed to step into the game.

On the morning of the third day, while I was cleaning up our breakfast, Joey rode around our camp to re-acquaint himself with the operation of the CRF80F. As I did my chores I kept an eye and an ear on his progress. He seemed to be operating the machine to my satisfaction. So I decided after I geared up with all my protective riding apparel and motorcycle helmet, that it would be time for this father/son duo to hit the trails. I on my new Honda CRF450X, and my son Joey on his new Honda CRF80F – both equipped with Dunlop tires.

We had a blast! I usually followed Joey so that if anything happened I would be right there to help him out. I could not believe how well he rode that motorcycle; it seemed natural to him to be on that bike and on those trails. He would go through water crossings with ease, over boulders like they were not there, and dodge trees as though they never posed a challenge. There were times when I lost sight of my boy; I was not concerned, as I knew he was right in front of me from the bubbles I could see in the water crossings. My concerns for whether Joey could ride his new bike on the mountain trails were nullified by his performance on this day. The rest of our time on this trip Joey rode his 80 and left 70 parked behind the camper.

Conclusion

The concerns of these worried parents never really materialized during Joey’s transition to his new Honda with a clutch. In hindsight, after seeing how our son rode his new bike in our grassy pasture with so much success, we probably should not have been so concerned with how he would perform on the bike when we got to the mountains. Joey has been riding motorcycles in the mountains since he was four, and the Colorado mountains really do not intimidate the boy; moving to a new bike with a different setup did not scare him either. Anyway, now Joey knows how to operate a real motorcycle with all the possible control levers. After seeing how fast he can ride, I know that it will not be long before my son will be leaving his old man in the dust. I remember when he was four he told me if needed, he would give me pointers on how to ride. I think the time when he can actually teach me something about riding a dirt bike may not be far away, if that time is not already here.

James Parker

Tips for Riding Your Motorcycle in Wet Weather

Posted by moto_admin on August 19, 2013
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments

Riding in the rain on your motorcycle can be quite challenging, but many people like doing it simply because it poses that challenge. For some it could be a fearful prospect, and they may avoid going out in wet weather altogether; but there is always a possibility of a surprise rain shower. Well, you need not let rain scare you, and these tips will help you to ride safely in the rain.

State of Mind

When you become tense, everything changes – including your body position, reflexes and body movements. Under tension, you might sit up too straight or crouch lower on the seat; and you might grip the handlebars too tightly. Your body movements under stress will also become sudden, and you might react unnecessarily to presumed threats.

Therefore, it is very important to have a relaxed state of mind to keep your body supple and your reflexes sharp. Take your normal riding stance on your bike, and keep your shoulders and hands loose. When you are relaxed, you will automatically react in the required manner when there is a sudden twitch, or when you feel you are losing control of your bike.

Handling Turns

Turning on wet roads is a daunting task, but becoming stressed or irritated is not going to help. The point is to handle the turn smoothly without being too slow or fast. If you are trying to maneuver a curve with a closed throttle and sitting upright, you are asking for trouble. You will have to lean your body to a certain extent into the curve, even though your mind is screaming to keep upright from the fear of slipping.

Applying too much force at the curve or turning too quickly can send you sliding across the road. However, do not hold back on leaning on the tire to provide more traction; and maintain a constant speed by throwing the throttle in neutral. As you take the curve in the road, you could provide slightly more throttle to let the extra momentum help your bike pull through the turn.

Applying Brakes

The best way to brake on any surface, whether it is wet or dry, is to squeeze progressively and not to grab suddenly. The shock of sudden force breaks traction, especially on a wet surface. It is possible to brake quite hard on a wet surface by progressively putting more force on the brakes. It is important to understand that progressive does not mean slow. It simply means not sudden, and it is possible to squeeze the brake progressively at a fast
rate.

The initial squeeze on the braking lever is crucial, and if you grab suddenly, your motorcycle tires will lock before the weight is transferred forward, where it generates grip. It is also much better to use more of the rear brakes than the front; however, you will need to feel the point where there is going to be a rear brake skid, and that comes with practice.

Certainly you should ride slower when it is raining and when riding on a wet surface.

Tags: , , ,

Tips for Riding Your Motorcycle in Traffic

Posted by moto_admin on August 12, 2013
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments

motorcycle in trafficRiding in traffic can be quite daunting – especially congested roads that force you to dodge vehicles when you are just yearning to zip through the mayhem on your motorcycle. When you are riding in traffic, you have to process multiple things at once and make split second decisions; otherwise you could end up being in an accident. Here are a few tips that can make riding your motorcycle in traffic much safer.

Anticipating Moves

Riding your motorcycle in traffic becomes the most dangerous when drivers in other vehicles change lanes without any type of warning to anyone around them. When people in cars see the road being clear of other cars, they use this information to make their driving decisions without considering the presence of someone on a motorcycle. So when you are riding you have to anticipate the moves of other drivers like you have never done before.

The best way is to keep an eye out for head movements (if you are able to see their head based on your angle, daylight and window tint). Most drivers will turn their head in the direction they are planning to turn before changing lanes, even if they do not check their rearview mirror.

Notice the Road Surface

When you are scanning the road for traffic, also glance on the road surface. If you spot anything shiny, it could be something slippery like spilt fuel, antifreeze or oil. If possible, try to avoid running your motorcycle tires over these substances. You also want to avoid any road debris such as sand or gravel. These driving impediments can be your worst friend on the road when riding on a motorcycle.

One superb aspect about riding a motorcycle, as you probably already know, is that you can often move around obstacles like this while remaining in the same lane – since a motorcycle’s width, even with a rider, is only about 2.5 to 3 feet.

Keeping to the Side of a Vehicle

It is always best to ride on either the left or right side of the vehicle in front of you. This type of riding is particularly effective when the car in front suddenly slows down or brakes. When you are on the side, you have an escape route and so will not ram into the vehicle if it stops suddenly. You are also safe from the vehicle behind you, who may not be able to stop in time.

Routine Scanning

You always need to be looking ahead and ensuring you have good ground in front of you. You should be panning for blind spots, erratic drivers, types of road surfaces, flow of traffic, intersection movement, red lights and so on. Also, do not ignore your instrument panel, either. Know your speed and how much fuel you have left, for example.

Stick with a Lower Gear

This is certainly the case when you are riding in traffic, because you will have the chance to harness more power if you need to. When in lower gear, your motorcycle can scoot forward quickly if you must. Also, your engine will be louder which may increase the probability that other drivers are cognizant of your presence. You do not want to be a ghost while riding a motorcycle near other drivers.

Tags: , ,

Important Tips for Motorcycle Maintenance

Posted by moto_admin on August 08, 2013
Maintenance & Modifications / No Comments

broke down motorcycleIf you are looking for peak output, better gas mileage and minimal repairs on your motorcycle, then you should seriously consider doing some basic maintenance procedures on a regular basis. Here are some important ones:

Checking Your Tires

This is the most basic and important maintenance procedure, but it is surprising how many people forget to check their motorcycle tires. First, see whether you have fitted the right tires for your motorcycle. Consult your bike’s manual if you are not sure of the specifications, and then check the marking on the side of your tires. Next check the condition of your tire treads, to see if it provides enough traction for your riding conditions.

If treads are excessively worn out, it is best to change the tires; otherwise, there will be higher risk of wiping out on your bike. Lastly, the most important part of tire maintenance is to check your tire pressure before going for a ride, and set the pressure to what is recommended in the manual. When your tires are underinflated, you will be burning more gas, the resultant mileage will be poor, and you will experience sluggish steering. Too much pressure and you will have a bouncy ride and there are chances of losing your balance.

Maintaining the Air Filter

The air filter protects the engine of your motorcycle from grit, dust and other abrasive substances. If you do not check your air filter regularly, you could be riding with a clogged filter, which will make it harder for your engine to draw in the air required for fuel combustion. Apart from the increased strain on your engine, a clogged air filter can also affect the fuel/air mixture, resulting in lower power output and mileage. Simply take out the air filter and use compressed air to dislodge the accumulated dirt.

Maintenance procedures might differ depending on the type of air filter you are using. Some use a pleated paper, which needs to be replaced. Air filters are relatively cheap and you could be saving a lot on other repairs by replacing them at regular intervals.

motorcycle chainMaintaining the Chain and Sprockets

The chain and sprockets are another set of vital parts of your motorcycle that can directly affect your ride. The idea is to keep these parts properly lubricated and clean. Use the recommended chain lube, and regularly clean the chain and sprockets with kerosene, especially after riding on rough terrain. The accumulated grime and grit on the chain will diminish the power transfer from the shaft to your rear wheel, and the result is miserable power output and decreased mileage. Also, check for broken sprocket teeth and rust on the chain.

Replacing the Engine Oil

Modern engine oils provide excellent horsepower and improve the life of your engine. However, these engine oils degrade with time and need to be replaced with a fresh refill. Your manual will suggest an oil change after certain miles, but the oil degradation can take place faster in certain riding conditions and hence, it is better to change it a little in advance. But also you may not have to change your oil that often at all.

From the oil to the dental industry, you may not have to do things as often as the industry says. Having your teeth cleaned every 6 months may not be necessary for many people and changing your oil every 3,000 miles for example, could be just a waste of oil. Many people wait to the change the oil at the 6,000 mile mark without any engine trouble at all.

Tags: , , , ,

The History of the Erzberg Rodeo (Red Bull Hare Scramble), Part 2

Posted by moto_admin on August 05, 2013
Racing / No Comments

Now that you know a little history about the Erzberg Rodeo (from part 1), let’s talk a little about what it takes to conquer this race and remember some of the riders who have participated over the years.

The Erzberg Rodeo – What it takes to race

A Zen State of Mind

For a race that is so challenging, mastery can only be attained through strength of mind and body. The words “no guts, no glory” are fitting to describe what the Erzberg Rodeo demands of you and offers to you. The terrain to be scaled in this race is breathtaking, but highly deceptive. These 4 hours will be the most dangerous, as well as the most exhilarating of your life.

In order to beat this terrain, a Zen state of mind is a must. Too many riders have lost their cool when faced with the obstacles that the race throws at you. Exhaustion will set in and increase the chances of losing your cool demeanor, causing you to succumb to making a regrettable mistake. It is needless to say that there are no second chances and the smallest of mistakes can cost you your place in the scramble and an eventual crushing defeat in the race to the top.

Completing the Race Fully

The steep slopes are difficult to the highest degree and only a person who can retain his presence of mind in the face of an extreme adrenaline rush will be able to make the most of the Erzberg Rodeo. The 20 odd checkpoints need to be reached before you can be considered a final contender. In the heat of the moment, popular & excited riders have missed these checkpoints, costing them a win. If you miss a checkpoint, it doesn’t matter if you reached the end and rode well – it would be all for naught. The winner will be the biker who finished the race by reaching all checkpoints in the least amount of time.

Getting a Head Start

Bikers say that the Iron Road Prologue is a critical part of the race. Even though it doesn’t even come close to preparing you for the sheer madness that is the scramble, doing well at the Prologue means that you win one of the first 100 or 200 slots. This puts you in an enviable position and you can possibly have a head start that you would be wise to take advantage of.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practicing riding on the big hills is another prudent way to begin preparation for the Red Bull Hare Scramble. These extreme hills are hundreds of feet in height and it is often difficult to gauge what the points of difficulty will be if you have not practiced enough with this type of ascending and descending riding. Steep mountains on one side and an infinitely deep valley on the other are challenging for anyone and the scramble is not the place to lose control. Controlling your nerves is half the battle.

Strength & Stamina

Most bikers assume that dirt biking is only about racing and bike riding skills. While these skills are pivotal, when it comes to terrain like the Iron Giant, strength plays a very big role in mastering the race. Strength training and cardio work is necessary to increase the stamina needed to compliment your arsenal if you wish to compete and master the Red Bull Hare Scramble.

Memorable Races & Racing Stars

Alfie Cox

Alfie Cox via Dakar.com

In 1995, rider Alfie Cox from the Republic of South Africa became the first ever winner of the Erzberg Rodeo. He rode his beloved KTM all the way to the summit of the mountain to prove himself victorious over the other 120 or so participants. The number of participants doubled the next year and has only increased exponentially since then.

German born professional rider Chris Pfeiffer, also known simply as CP, made a name for himself through motor bike stunt riding. He is one of the legendary Erzberg Rodeo riders and has won the Red Bull Hare Scramble four times! He claimed the rock trophy in 1996, 1997, 2000 and 2004. He nearly reached his fifth win in the 1998 race, when he came in at the 2nd spot. Pfeiffer is amongst the most well known professional riders in the world and he has much to thank the Erzberg Rodeo for. He is best known for his impeccable riding skills that are on display every single time he races in the Rodeo as well as other enduro races.

The year 2003 was critical for the Erzberg Rodeo because it brought plenty of new blood into the enduro scene. While Cyril Despres (KTM) won the race for the second time in a row, the inclusion of freestyle MXers from all over the world makes this race a famous one. No one who has seen the DVD or been lucky enough to witness the race firsthand can ever forget how extreme freestyle MXers such as Andy Bell, Ronnie Renner and Kenny “Cowboy” Bartram changed the face of the Erzberg Rodeo.

In 2004, Chris Pfeiffer was a strong favorite to win the race, which he did, but the man who took home the accolades was second place Iron Road Prologue winner Travis Pastrana. Pastrana has many accolades to his name but he is best known for being the double back flip and Kiss of Death legend. Not only did he display exceptional bike riding skills in the race but he also kept the masses enthralled with his stunts through the race and outside of it.

Tadeusz "Taddy" Blazusiak

Tadeusz “Taddy” Blazusiak via RedBull.com

If there is one racer whose name would be synonymous with the integrity and honor of being an Erzberg Rodeo winner, it would have to be Tadeusz “Taddy” Blazusiak. The Polish rider has been addicted to riding since he was 5 years old and his love for the sport shows itself every single time he places himself on a bike. In 2007, Taddy first burst into the limelight for winning the toughest one-day enduro race ever in a calm and winning fashion. He appeared on the scene riding a bike that he had borrowed from a friend and there has simply been no looking back for him since then.

Taddy favors his KTM bikes and shows how to get the maximum performance out of them, even while riding through the crazy terrain that comprises the Iron Mountain. He has gone down in history as the only man to have won the Erzberg Rodeo five consecutive times!

graham jarvis

Graham Jarvis via Offroad Viking

In the 2011 Erzberg Rodeo, he triumphed over the Iron Mountain and beat more than 1,800 contenders on his to the pinnacle. Husaberg’s star racer Graham Jarvis was actually the first one to cross the finish line but lost his place in the pole positions through a mere technicality. He missed one of the checkpoints and so even though he arrived at the checkered flag before Taddy, he won nothing. The error cost him much, but he came back and took the trophy in 2013. This is how the Erzberg Rodeo is, though! The simplest of errors can have the worst repercussions as Jarvis found out the hard way, much to his own chagrin in 2011.

And there you have it – a (not so) brief history of the Erzberg Rodeo for anyone who wanted to know more about the event. We hope you enjoyed this series!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Farewell to my Honda XR650R (the Big Red Pig)

Posted by moto_admin on July 30, 2013
Recreation / No Comments

My Honda XR650RIt has been a busy summer for the Parker Family. My son Joey has been racing, although my race and work schedules have clashed so I have not been able to enter any races myself since March. Mike, one of my riding buddies, and I did manage to do a one-day trail ride to the 717 trail system near Woodland Park, Colorado. But the biggest event of the summer has been the fact that I sold my beloved XR650R, the “Big Red Pig” (or BRP). The 650 has been a great motorcycle for me over the past ten years and now it is time for someone else to enjoy the Pig as much as I did.

Finding my Big Red Pig

In the summer of 2003, my wife Jennifer and I had made our first trip to Taylor Park and decided that it was time to upgrade our motorcycles. I had been riding a 1989 Honda XR600R, the predecessor to the Big Red Pig. After upgrading Jennifer’s motorcycle to a Suzuki 250, it was time to start looking for something better for me.

Pole Hill Pictures 032One day in early 2004 while in Denver, Colorado for work I stopped into the now out-of-business Excel Motorsports. My intent was to possibly purchase a new pair of Scott Goggles. Then, as I was walking through the showroom towards the parts department, I spotted what appeared to be two brand new Honda XR650Rs. Upon closer inspection, I had found that one was a 2004 model and the other was a 2002. When the salesman approached me, he informed me that the 2002, equipped with Dunlop tires, was a leftover over from two years ago. Also, it came with a much lower price tag over the 2004. It was at this point that the gears started turning in my head that maybe I could pull off a deal here and upgrade to the 2002 Honda XR650R. I went home armed with this information, figuring Jennifer and I could talk about it and make a decision.

I don’t recall the conversation lasting very long; the only thing I really remember is that my wife told me I don’t treat myself to new things very often. She wanted me to go ahead and purchase the bike; it would be a machine that will last a long time. By the time that next weekend rolled around, Jennifer and I had made the eighty mile trip into Denver and pulled the trigger. For the first time in my life, I had a brand new motorcycle in my garage. I felt like with the Pig, I could take on any trail or track that the Colorado Mountains could throw my way.

JamesRough Start

Although I live at an elevation of about 4300′, the dealer I purchased the 650 from thought it would be best to jet the carburetor for an elevation of about 9000′. Well, since it was February and the mountain trails were closed for the season, a ride up to 9000′ would not be in the cards for several months. When I tried to ride the bike at our usual local riding spots, the coolant would overheat and the motor would not start when it got hot. The main jet was too narrow and would not let enough fuel into the carburetor. The motor running lean would cause it to overheat and the coolant to boil. The fix was to take it back to the stock jetting; I never had any more trouble with it after that, no matter what elevation I was riding.

When the jetting problems were solved, it was decided that we would take a spring break trip out to the Grand Junction, Colorado desert. For the past few years, this had been one of my favorite spots to ride, and now I had this brand new bike which was born and bred for desert riding. This was to be an epic ride! …And it was for at least the first twenty minutes. After tooling around an MX track and making my way back toward one of my favorite trail heads in the desert, I was riding along at a blistering clip of around 10 MPH. I was looking for the exact trail I wanted when a grabbed a handful of front brake to hit that trail. Remember, this was my first brand new motorcycle (meaning this is my first bike on which everything worked properly) – I was not used to brakes taking hold that well. Squeezing the front brake lever in the fashion I used to on the old bike sent me tumbling over the handlebars and careening down into a 20 foot deep ravine. Immediately I could feel pain – and not pain in just one spot…it was total body pain. When I gathered myself together, I was bleeding in several spots and my knee hurt badly. I was able to get to my bike, start it and ride the two or three miles back to the trailer. When I got off the motorcycle at the trailer, I heard and felt a pop in my knee. Turns out the popping was my PCL shearing into two pieces; the resulting tear did not require surgery, but I did have to endure two months of therapy and recovery. It would be summertime before I would get to ride my brand new Big Red Pig again.

Good Times

After the first few months of getting the kinks worked out of the XR650R, I was off and running with some good times over the past ten years. The pig and I had been on countless trail rides in all types of terrain. It didn’t matter if it was desert, mountain, off-road park or MX track. The BRP never failed me; it gave me many, many memories which will last for a lifetime.

Of all the trail riding trips that I went on with the 2002 Honda, my fondest memory is of my epic 40th birthday ride on August 7, 2011. After a year of attending several 40th birthday parties for friends, I wanted to do something different. Jennifer, my son Joey and I all decided to meet a large group of friends in Taylor Park, Colorado, which included my good friends Mike and Dave.

American Flag MountainMy birthday ride included just Mike, Dave and I. We took the very tight, winding Lily Pond Single-Track Trail through the trees, over rocks and across a river. It is a challenging and fun trail that led us to the Italian Creek Trail, from where we traveled west to what would be the climax of the entire trip – the summit of American Flag Mountain! This was a tough climb to the top; the trail is steep and consists of loose shale, making it difficult to gain good traction. I was able to coax the Pig to the top and I will never forget this awesome memory.

On a 2010 trip to Pagosa Springs, I was made to feel like a rock star. On this trip, I navigated this rocky area with large boulders on the Pig while the rest of my family rode quads; and as we were stopped for a short break, a group of ATV riders pulled in to talk to us. A gentleman in this group of riders marveled at the fact that I was aboard a motorcycle and not a four-wheeler. He made me feel that I had some good dirt biking skills (this probably boosted my ego more than it should have). Another instance on this same trip was when we were in a local restaurant; the waitress got wind of my motorcycle exploits on the Pagosa trails and seemed to be quite impressed that I would even attempt such a feat. After leaving the area and telling friends of my experience, I was nicknamed Rock Slayer – a combination of being a rock star in Pagosa Springs and from riding all those rocky trails in the mountains of Colorado.

James racing a hare scrambleThe final memory that comes to mind as I write this is my relatively new venture into hare scramble racing. When my son Joey started racing, he asked me to take on the endeavor with him; so I did. I entered the Big Red Pig in two races in the last year of owning the bike. I was not fast nor near the top of the final standings in either race. However, I did manage to finish both races, which was my goal when I left the starting line of both. Dirt bike and non-dirt bike riding friends alike were impressed that I was able to ride continuously during these two hour races and finish the events. Honestly, I was quite proud of what I had accomplished, as well.

Conclusion

My old Big Red Pig was an awesome motorcycle; I had it set up just the way I wanted. The setup always included Maxxis Desert IT tires. Those tires just seemed to have the traction I needed no matter where I happened to be riding. One thing that Jennifer and I always chuckled at was the fact that no one else ever asked to ride the bike. Nor did anyone take me up on the offer to ride the bike when the courtesy was extended. I think that my brother Brad, who also rode XR600Rs was the only other person to ride the bike any distance while I owned it. I always simply thought its size was just too unfathomable for
others.

The XR has found a very good new home in the Black Hills of South Dakota. After the ride my buddy Mike and I took to Woodland Park, Colorado on my new CRF450X, I decided that I didn’t need both bikes. The BRP would have just sat in the garage and rotted away. I placed an ad on Craigslist and the person most interested in it lived about five hours away in South Dakota. After many emails, it was decided we would meet halfway and make the deal. Just like that, the BRP found a new home in the Black Hills and is now creating memories for a rider who will appreciate him as much as I did. So long my Pig, so long.

James Parker

Tags: , , ,

The History of the Erzberg Rodeo (Red Bull Hare Scramble), Part 1

Posted by moto_admin on July 15, 2013
Racing / No Comments
erzberg rodeo

Photo from RedBull.com (click for more)

Every year the Steirische Erzberg iron ore mine in Erzberg, Austria hosts one of the biggest dirt bike racing events in the world. The mountain is better known as “The Iron Mountain” and more than 1,500 riders participate to win the ultimate dirt bike race. The penultimate victory comes by conquering the mountain in what is known as the “toughest one-day enduro in the world” and gaining the sobriquet of the next “King of the Mountain.”

This legendary race goes by many names, such as the Enduro at Erzberg, the Erzberg Rodeo, and the Red Bull Hare Scramble. The 35 km course is scattered with 20 required checkpoints and bikers have only 4 hours to complete the race. 1,500 amateur and professional bikers made their way to the foot of The Iron Giant this year, with only 500 making it past the preliminaries and only 14 actually reaching the finish line. Is it any wonder that the Erzberg Rodeo is the single toughest one-day race in the entire world? Perhaps the toughest this world has ever seen.

Origin of the Race

Until the year 1995, the only exciting thing about the little mining town located in the Styrian Mountain was that it holds the richest deposits of iron ore found anywhere in the world. Meanwhile, enduro racing was suffering from a lack of patronage and mainstream exposure. The Erzberg Rodeo served both these needs in one go. In any off-road event, the venue holds almost all the cards. If the venue is not right, any created interest will die a quick death. From the very first people who took to The Iron Giant with their dirt bikes, it was unanimously proclaimed that they had stumbled upon a perfect location for off-road events and perhaps even an ultimate dirt bike race. Well, it turned out to fulfill their wishes and then some.

The race originated from a single thought, which was the need to create the world’s toughest Enduro competition ever. When asked about the idea behind the Erzberg Rodeo (this was in 2011), head organizer Karl Katoch said, “We wanted to bring all the world’s best offroad riders from all disciplines and present them with an unsolvable task.” The bikers in the enduro scene were already craving the ultimate bike race and with the Erzberg Rodeo, this they achieved.

The popularity of the event has grown at an exponential rate. In 1995, the first race was held with a mere 120 hardcore dirt racers. Within the span of one year, there were more than 250 bikers lined up for the event. 2011 saw the largest number of amateur and professional bikers make their way to the Styrian Mountain for the race and the numbers were calculated to be around 1,800! Of course, like this year, only about 500 of those bikers cleared the preliminaries to reach the actual Red Bull Hare Scramble fight to the summit. These odds only make the race more exciting!


Iron Road Prologue footage

Iron Road Prologue

The preliminaries are spread over two days; the purpose being to cut out the weaker fish so that the strongest can compete in the final event on the third day, known as the Red Bull Hare Scramble, which is explained in some detail below.

When it comes to the Iron Road Prologue, pretty much anything that looks like a motorcycle is allowed. The rules are kept to a bare minimum, giving riders the chance to make the race their own. The prologue allows quads, sidecars, motocross bikes, trail bikes, Harleys, Buells, other street bikes, scooters and pretty much every other kind of motorcycle to take on the preliminary round. When it comes to the Red Bull Hare Scramble, though, only the Iron Road Prologue motorbike can be used. Over the years, many accomplished riders have been unable to finish this challenging race simply because they chose the wrong bike.

Once the Iron Road Prologue is cleared, the fun has just begun for the courageous 500 who have gotten this far.

The Men Behind the Race

The organizers of the event pay little attention to the pain and discomfort of the bikers because every single person who arrives at the venue only wants to make it to the very top – the Iron Mountain requires iron bikers! This attitude has been sacrosanct ever since the very first Erzberg Rodeo back in 1995.

Rules, regulations and red tape did not deter the men who started an event that has now achieved a colossal standing in the world of dirt bike racing and offroad events. Although others were involved in the conception of the event, it is Karl Katoch who can be credited with aiding the evolution of the Erzberg Rodeo to the pedestal on which it now sits. As founder of the reputed motorsport association, the ASKO (MSA), he envisioned and created the “Iron Road Prologue.” This preliminary race helped weed out the chaff from the grain. While every rider who enrolled started out the race with the Iron Road Prologue, only the first 500 bikers who reached the chosen checkpoint are allowed to participate in the Red Bull Hare Scramble. This is quite literally a scramble to the very top of the mountain. Globally acknowledged as the “toughest challenge in enduro,” the scramble plucks out bikers by the droves until only a handful are ever able to see the checkered flag.


See for yourself in this crazy 2013 footage.
At 2:09 a guy literally falls into a cleft in the mountain.

Acknowledged as the Best One-Day Enduro Race Ever

The Erzberg Enduro Rodeo is the best simply because it is the toughest dirt bike race ever, due to the terrain that the bikers need to trump over. The Erzberg Rodeo is not a race held in a park with straight roads and little kiddie turns. It is not a ride for the faint-hearted!

Over hundreds of years of mining, the Iron Mountain has become a treacherous mountain face housing the largest iron ore open pit mine in Central Europe. The scarred mountain face shows off snaking routes that look like steps from an aerial vantage point (you can see this in the photo at the top of the page).

Challenges of the Red Bull Hare Scramble

The Red Bull Hare Scramble is the ultimate 4 hour ride to the heavens (and you travel through hell to get there). Since you cannot manipulate the mountain face, you have to rely on your instincts and knowledge to give you the edge over the rest of the participants.

karls diner boulder wasteland

Karls Diner is a boulder wasteland (also from Redbull.com)

During the race, dirt bikers have to conquer the intimidating terrain and the endless obstacles that it presents. Innumerable motorcycles have failed their riders by falling prey to the hard-edged and jagged rock outcroppings that seem to have only one agenda: to prevent anyone from passing. The toughest portions to clear are the uphill terrain sections which are unbelievably steep and almost vertical. Add to this to boulder-riddled wastelands and you have a recipe for extreme excitement and inevitable disaster.

Many foot pegs have simply been shorn off by the terrain, spokes and rims have been bent out of shape and beyond recognition, and radiators have had holes punched into them; often leaving disappointed riders standing woefully next to their overheated, broken and battered bikes (and many of the riders end up in as bad of shape as their machines). Some parts of the ride up are so treacherous, that around the shingles there are people who help tote the bikes up over vertical surfaces that would be insurmountable by regular dirt biking feats.

dragging their bikes uphillThese endless and impossibly steep slopes are complimented by equally insurmountable downhill passages that seem to be begging for blood. Deserts dot the journey and there are many times when it feels like there is simply no end in sight. The perfidious gravel separates the men from the boys and the wooded areas are equally impenetrable.

The organizers display their sense of humor when they title these sections “Fairytale Forest,” “Rolling Stones,” “Karl’s Diner,” and “Bathtub.” These innocuous names give way to the crazy course that is every dirt biker’s favorite dream and ultimate nightmare.

The final stretch of the race is an almost completely vertical ride that takes the very best bikers up to the summit – sitting at about 1,466m above sea level. Riders start at intervals of mere 20 seconds and they only have two opportunities to make it to the top. It is needless to say that only the crème de la crème make it to the summit. The sacred finish line is like a Holy Grail for victory seekers and not everyone gets to partake in the final ascent to victory and respect.

The Winner

This year, Graham Jarvis took home the title of “King of the Mountain” and the much coveted trophy, which is fittingly created out of a piece of rock that is taken from the Iron Mountain. It was not his first time crossing the finish line before the other riders; however, accidentally missed checkpoints cost him the win in previous years.

A Race for the Ages

Over the last 20ish years, many smaller events have been added to the main scramble. The effect has been an addition to the fame and popularity of the event in Erzberg. From the very first race back in 1995, every single race has been a milestone achieved.

Andreas Werth and Karl Katoch are still amazed at the popularity of the race they created and the magnificence of this mountain they found. Despite some winners conquering this race, this race is not for everyone and most riders do not even complete the race. Danger is always lurking and even if you leave Austria unscathed, your bike might not. If you want to attempt to tame the Rodeo, you have more courage than most people.

Stay tuned for part 2.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Parker Off-Roading Updates – Endurocross, CORCs Racing & More

Posted by moto_admin on May 07, 2013
Racing / No Comments

Today’s blog is dedicated tying up some loose ends from previous posts, like how the Parker Endurocross track is coming, an update on our trailer situation, and our near-future plans for racing and riding.

DIY Backyard Endurocross TrackThe Parker Endurocross Track

Work on our personal endurocross track continues; it has slowly taken shape over the past six or seven months. It was hard to find time during our bitterly cold Colorado winter (which seems to be continuing into May) to get out and build more obstacles; but I was able to find some time here and there to escape to the farm to build a whoops section, a rock garden, a wood pile, a small tire section, a log obstacle and a telephone pole obstacle.

Now this is by no means a track befitting the Endurocross circuit; it has been built with both kids and adults in mind. There are some challenges on the course, but it is mellow enough that Joey’s kid-size Maxxis tires on his Honda 70 can navigate the obstacles. Although it is easy enough for a kid, on the first day I rode my new Honda CRF450X (The X), I found the track offered me some challenges on the new steed. Since the track is situated on a small piece of useless ground, it makes for some very tight turns at very slow speeds. It is a challenge to get my Dunlop tires around the course while riding the X; I think that the small track will help improve my riding skills that much more.

My off-road bikes, nose to noseNew OHV Trailer

In an earlier post, following the purchase of Jennifer’s Polaris Sportsman 500 ATV, I mentioned that it did not fit on the trailer along with my dirt bike. At the time, I had not come up with a solution for this conundrum. Well, the problem was solved with the purchase of a newer trailer. The old trailer had a bed size of 5’x10′ which made it too small for the Polaris’ wide Carlisle tires to fit beside either of my two dirt bikes. The new trailer has a bed of 6’x14′, which is plenty of room to carry both our quads and two dirt bikes. If we only want to take one four-wheeler, then there will be plenty of space to carry all our riding gear, including my brand new MSR Velocity helmet.

This trailer should last the Parker Race team for many years. It is long enough for two full size motorcycles back to back – I tested it out with the rear tire of the X touching the rear tire of the Big Red Pig. When traveling with one of my large bikes and Joey’s mini-bike, there is some extra space, so when he gets bigger there will be room to carry his full-size bike. I know that in the years to come, this John Deere green trailer will be transporting our machines to many races.

Riding at a Hare ScrambleSummer 2013

As of this date, we have no riding plans set in stone. However, we have ideas of what we want to do during the warmer months. We wish to continue racing in the Colorado Off-Road Championship Series this summer; unfortunately, we missed the April race because I had to work that weekend. I have scheduled off the weekend of the May race, though, so we are tentatively planning on making it to the event at RAM Off-Road Park east of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Joey’s mini race is scheduled for 1:00 pm that Saturday and my Senior C race is schedule for 11:00 am Sunday. We will take our camper and make a weekend of the event. I am looking forward to getting this race under my belt.

The June event will be held in Idaho Springs, Colorado; this is significant because Idaho Springs is located in the mountains. I thrive in the mountains, so my friends are all encouraging me to be at this race. Guys who smoke me on the plains at our local riding spots have a hard time keeping up with me in the mountains. Here’s to hoping the Parker Race Team makes it to the CORCS June event in Idaho Springs!

Conclusion

Well, that should wrap up everything that was left open-ended over the last few months. The EX track at the Parker Farm continues to slowly take shape; our new trailer is far better suited to our needs, fitting all the vehicles we would need for a long riding or off-road racing weekend; and our racing schedule for this summer is coming together.

We plan to fit in as many trail rides as possible this summer, with friends old and new. We would like to return to Red Feather Lakes, Colorado and some other rides. We are always up for new places to go, so if anyone has any suggestions, let us know!

James Parker

Tags: , , , ,

Buying a used Honda CRF 450X

Posted by moto_admin on April 09, 2013
Racing / No Comments

Honda CRF 450XUpon the thirty year anniversary of purchasing my first dirt bike, I celebrated by purchasing a new (to me) Honda CRF 450X. This really wasn’t planned; it just happened to work out that I made the purchase of my new bike while my family was off from school for spring break week. And it was spring break 1983 when I purchased my first motorcycle, a 1979 Yamaha MX 100 complete with a set of Cheng Shin tires. While the coincidence is pretty cool, I am simply excited about having the bike I have been coveting for quite some time.

The Purchase

After weeks of negotiating with a dealer, the bike that I thought I was going to buy did not come to fruition. I am not going to name names, but the dealer simply did not follow through with his advertised deal and land trade that we had been working toward for many weeks. When this deal fell through, I started searching Craigslist to find my dream bike — a Honda CRF 450X with stock Dunlop tires. It seems that maybe the deal fell through for a reason and that I found the bike I was meant to have.

After about a week of emailing back and forth and enduring a spring Colorado blizzard, I was finally able to meet the seller of my future motorcycle. This Honda was manufactured in 2005, but to look at the machine one would never guess it is nearly eight years old. The hair is still on the tires, the red plastic still shines and it obviously has very few hours. The previous owner claims to have put less than twenty-five hours on the bike. By all appearances, I fully believe this claim.

This is no ordinary stock motorcycle; it has many aftermarket additions:

To start with, it has Acerbis bark busters to protect my knuckles from taking a beating from the trees along the epic Colorado trails I frequent. acerbis bark busters
The Acerbis’ are attached to Renthal Fatbars, which should provide for less hand cramp or arm pump. Renthal Fatbar
While still at the handlebar area, I should mention the Endurance computer. This device will provide me with bike location, motor information and timing while I race in the occasional enduro or hare scramble. endurance computer
At the rear end of the Honda is a Dubach Racing pipe; it’s a little on the noisy side, but will provide me with some uncorked power.

In addition to these add-ons the new motorcycle also has wider foot pegs and some other aftermarket parts riding on some like-new Dunlops.

The 2 Honda'sRoommates

The first question most people ask is whether I still have the Big Red Pig (Honda XR650R). The answer to that is yes; the pig now has his little brother as a roommate. For the time-being, I am going to keep my XR650R; it is such an unusual motorcycle because of its sheer size and power. It is a novelty; it is not a mainstream motorcycle. It takes a special kind of rider to ride the 650 because of its unique nuances. It is the only motorcycle I have ever owned that other riders do not ask to ride. Most other riders are afraid of the big machine; I never really understood this because I think it is a great piece of equipment. For now, the pig will remain in my fleet; the initial plan is that the 650 will be the trail bike while the 450X will be the race bike.

Conclusion

Over the last thirty years I have owned some pretty cool motorcycles. I think as I write this, that I now have two of the most awesome bikes I have ever possessed sitting in the garage. The Big Red Pig was the king of the desert – a unique bike that is not the ideal machine for most dirt bike riders. It found a niche for itself and I fit will into that niche. The 450X is a great machine, given many additions by the previous owner, that make it a very unique bike. Most of all, it has so few hours that it looks as though it just came off the showroom floor.

In case anyone is wondering, the new bike will simply be known as “X.”

James Parker

Colorado Off-Road Championship Series Opener 2013 – Part 2

Posted by moto_admin on March 25, 2013
Racing / No Comments

The reason my family chose to race in the Colorado Off-Road Championship Series this season is because it is only one race per month from April until October. Also, Colorado Springs is about two hours away from our home, so it is easy for us to get to and it gives us a nice weekend getaway in the camper. With both my son and I racing, we can take the camper down on Saturday for the Mini 2 race, spend the night and run the adult race on Sunday and come home that night.

A shaky beginning

On Saturday morning my son Joey and my wife Jennifer were packed up and ready to go racing. I wasn’t; I had to work on Saturday and my motorcycle was in pieces on the floor of the garage. As I went off to work, Joey and Jennifer headed south and west to Aztec on the east edge of Colorado Springs. The plan was that Jen and Joey would pack a suitcase on the off chance that I would be able to the bike put together so that I could race. If that did happen, I would join them in a motel Saturday night in Colorado Springs. We did not take the camper to this March race because the nights still get too cold here to de-winterize the plumbing.

CORCS 2013 starting line at Aztec RacewayAs Saturday wore on, it wasn’t looking likely that I would make it; but then my brother Brad appeared in the lumberyard where I work. He inquired about my race plans and told me he had just finished rebuilding the carburetor for my motorcycle. When I told Brad that I wasn’t going to go since he still had the carb and the bike was in pieces, he said he had nothing else to do so he would go to my garage, put the carb on and put the bike back together for me. Voila! I had a bike to race the next day. I think Brad’s motive may have been that if I got to go racing, I could also see his son Cody, who goes to college in Colorado Springs.

Parker Racing at Aztec Family Raceway

CORCS 2013 hare scramble raceAlthough I would get to race on Sunday, I still did not get to be there for Joey’s race on Saturday. I had to rely on text messages from Jennifer and her parents (Mike and Julie) for updates during his thirty minute run. After surviving one crash, Joey and his Maxxis tire-clad Honda CRF 70F finished in seventh place out of ten racers. We were all so proud of him; I passed on the information to Brad, Mark and Mike (other riding buddies), and they could not have been happier or more proud of my son. 7th place may not sound that great, but keep in mind this was only his third race.

CORCS March 2013 kids raceThe Senior C race was not as good to me as the Mini 2 race was to Joey. After getting the bike ready to go, I got my riding gear out and found a problem. When I pulled my helmet out of my bag, I found that the visor had broken. So I fixed it the best I could, with the only solution I could come up with in a pinch. – Masking tape. It was all I had and it made it through the race. That helmet is several years old; looks like I may be in the market for an MSR Assault helmet in the near future.

So after the helmet crisis was averted, I lined up at the starting line with 116 other racers. I was a little intimidated that my first race in CORCS had the largest turnout in series history. Oh well, I just had to deal with it. After the green flag dropped for my row (the 3rd row on the 3 rd minute), we raced around corners, over whoops, up hills, down hills, through a sand wash and back to the motocross track (where I encountered my first problem). The trail squeezed down to nearly a single track because of a washout. I didn’t get far enough over, had to take the washout and I face-planted into a pile of sand. Following the crash, the motorcycle stalled; my bike takes about ten minutes to re-start following a crash and stall. By the time the time I was able to get the machine re-started, the racers I was running with when I crashed had come around again. So I was a lap down and I had not even completed one lap.

The next several laps were uneventful; I had sections of the track where I seemed to be holding my own, but the motocross sections were not treating me so well – I simply could not get air over the tabletop and double jumps. The further into the race I went the better I was feeling about my ability. Then toward the end of the course, a section of the course I had been navigating just fine most of the day reared its ugly head and bit me. I missed a corner, laid the bike over and once again stalled the bike. The stalled motor was the least of my problem. The rear tire was locked up tight; it seemed that a rock had become wedged between the front sprocket and the chain. My first thought was to loosen the rear axle and slide the rear Maxxis tire and wheel forward enough to put enough slack in the chain to dislodge the rock. Then it dawned on me to try starting the motor and putting the transmission in gear and gently easing on the throttle enough to free the stone from the sprocket. That idea worked like a charm; as luck would have it, I got the bike running on the last lap. I had the wherewithal to get on the bike, go around to the finish and take the checkered flag. Although I had a rough day racing, I did actually finish the race. My wife Jennifer, my nephew Cody and my son Joey all said that they were proud of how I kept trying, didn’t give up and finished the race. Those comments meant a lot to me.

Report from the A/B Race

We arrived at the raceway about halfway through the A/B race. This is the race for the pro and expert racers. We were able to watch Cody Schafer take the win with Shane Descenzo taking second and Dalton Dietz rounding out the podium. Joey, Jen and I stood near the finish line to witness the A/B riders clear the 60′ tabletop and triple jumps with ease. I can’t say I am jealous that I don’t have the ability to fly over these jumps; I really don’t want to…crashing off one of these jumps really hurts. I have to go to work on Monday to support my family.

In the quad race, Aaron Daake was the winner, followed by Tom Smith and Clint Raymond. Since this race was immediately prior to the race in which I was entered, I really did not have time to watch. I saw the start and took in much of the first lap with all sorts of quads vying for the lead. Included in the race were sport ATVs as well as utility quads. To me, that just highlights how this series is open to any type of dirt bike or four-wheeler and riders with any type of skill. It seemed to me that the ATV tires in this race were able to get a lot more traction on the sandy track than the motorcycle tires. Anyway, as the quads were wrapping up their race, I was on the bike heading to the starting line.

Conclusion

What a whirlwind St. Paddy’s Day weekend for the Parker Family debut in the CORCS series. The A/B race showed that the CORCS series is home to many talented riders! For our family, Joey had some good results in the Mini 2 race, and while I had some difficulty in my race, I did finish. We learned more about the format of the series, and on top of that, got to spend some time in the wonderful destination city that is Colorado Springs. In the end, it will be a great season travelling to the Colorado Springs area for CORCS. All the races are in that vicinity with the exception of one race which will be in the mountains. I should do well there; I thrive in the mountains.

James Parker

Tags: , , ,

Colorado Off-Road Championship Series Opener 2013 – Part 1

Posted by moto_admin on March 22, 2013
Racing / No Comments

The Colorado Off-Road Championship Series (CORCS) began on St. Patrick’s Day weekend with a record number of racers at Aztec Family Raceway. This series has most of its races in the Colorado Springs vicinity, making it an attractive series to travel to, with all the things for a visiting family to do at the foot of Pike’s Peak. For the Parker Race team, it was a semi-successful weekend; my son Joey did well, but I, on the other hand, did not fare as well. The A/B motorcycle and quad races saw some extremely talented riders showing off those riding skills. All in all it was a good weekend getaway in a place my family likes to visit and we got some racing in as well.

The Garden of Gods Balancing Rock, by Captain Kimo, FlickrVisiting Colorado Springs, Colorado

What a place to spend a weekend! Which, by the way, is not enough time to see all the famous sites of this city. It is hard to tell which landmark this city most identifies itself with. Nestled at the foot of Pike’s Peak, (one can either drive or ride a train to the top) Colorado Springs is home to the U. S. Air Force Academy. Also in the defense-rich town is the home of NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), which is housed inside of Cheyenne Mountain. Cheyenne Mountain is easy to spot with all its antennas and radar dishes adorning the top. Peterson Air Force Base and Fort Carson Army Base are also located in the Springs.

Seven Falls Colorado Springs Colorado by Brokentaco, FlickerFor my wife and me, our favorite spot in the Springs is Seven Falls. This is quite a magical spot with seven smaller falls that make one large fall coming down into the city. Another natural and magical wonder is the Garden of the Gods; this is an area full of naturally formed rock sculptures that will leave you in awe of nature’s forces. I know I am forgetting some of the natural sights around the city because there are just too many to name.

After a day of seeing all the military sights and natural wonders of the area, a family could relax by taking in a minor league baseball game featuring the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (the AAA affiliate of the Colorado Rockies) – it’s just an hour or so down the road from the big show.

Jen and I have talked that during one of the race weekends this season, we would like to take some time and ride the Cog Railway to the top of Pike’s Peak. A family visiting Colorado Springs could easily spend a week here and still not see all the sites. I have merely listed a few of the most popular attractions. The news of last summer’s devastating Waldo Canyon Fire should not scare away visitors. This city is strong and will come back from the disaster; in fact to visit the city, you may not even notice what had happened here only ten months ago.

About the Colorado Off-Road Championship Series

CORCS race by ramoffroadpark.comThe CORCS series is an off-road racing series that offers motorcycle and quad race classes to all skill levels of riders. The series is a hare scramble, or grand prix style of racing, with races lasting up to two hours for the adults on Sunday. The Mini or kid’s series consists of a shorter track on Saturday afternoon with four classes for the young ones and a women’s beginner class. These races are thirty minutes in length.

On Sunday the big bike classes run throughout the day. Generally, the A/B motorcycle race kicks off the day with a two hour race, followed by all classes of quads; the day is then rounded out by the C motorcycle race. This series does a really neat thing that I have not seen in other off-road series I have participated in. Prior to all races, a parade lap occurs before each class’ race is run. This gives all the racers an opportunity to see the track, the obstacles and mentally prepare for the actual race.

At the 2013 season opener, a record number of racers were entered. The C class alone had 117 racers, which included 26 racers in my class (the Senior C class). There were 72 entrants in the A/B motorcycle race and the quad race consisted of 32 four-wheelers vying for a place on the podium. CORCS organizers have called this their biggest day ever.

Results

Next week I will speak more about how my family did at the race in part two of this post. But for now, feel free to check out the race results of the weekend by visiting the MotoTally website here.

James Parker

Tags: , , ,

Colorado Off-Road Championship Series 2013 Begins

Posted by moto_admin on March 14, 2013
Racing / 1 Comment

Wow! The winter passed by quickly. Here it is the middle of March and the spring/summer/fall Colorado Off-Road Championship Series (CORCS) hare scramble is already beginning. The opening races will be coming up this weekend, March 16 and 17, at Aztec Raceway just east of Colorado Springs. So it was only natural that this past Sunday was spent working on my Honda XR650R and Joey’s Honda CRF 70. My Big Red Pig took more extensive maintenance, while Joeys’ Piglet needed more of the normal pre-race adjustments.

Honda XR650RThe Big Red Pig #777

Somehow, the XR650R developed a fuel leak out the overflow tube coming from the carburetor. My Sunday task was to remove the seat, gas tank and radiator fins so that my brother Brad, a master mechanic, could come over to remove the carburetor and rebuild it. I will attempt most repairs and adjustments on the bike myself, but carburetors scare me because of all the small parts involved. Small parts are not my specialty so I asked for help with this project. I purchased a Moose Racing rebuild kit, made sure the service manual had the correct information, and turned it over to Brad to rebuild. Once the part was removed from the motor, Brad cracked open the carb and found a couple of problems, including a stuck float. He decided that the best course of action would be for him to take it home and spend his Sunday afternoon doing the rebuild in his own surroundings. Nonetheless, it looks like it will be done in time for me to race next Sunday in Colorado Springs.

Thank goodness daylight savings time began this weekend; it looks as though I will need to spend some evenings this week reassembling the motorcycle. Once the machine is put back together, I will then do my normal maintenance. This includes looking over my Maxxis tires, checking the drive chain tension and all other cables and linkages. The extra daylight in the evenings should allow for me to take a trip to either our farm or the Bijou to test out the new repairs and maintenance that will be done.

One important part of this week’s tweaking will be to put my race number on my motorcycle. My wife Jennifer volunteered to make my number placard which will adhere to my number plates during the races. Jennifer and I decided I should carry the number 777 this season. This number is a symbol of our relationship. Jennifer’s birthday is on March 7; my birthday is on August 7. We chose (by coincidence) to have our wedding on June 7, 2000. Hence the number 777 represents our two birthdays and our anniversary date. Hopefully, the triple 7s will bring some good luck to me and the Big Red Pig this season.

Honda CRF 70The Piglet #121

The work required on the Honda CRF 70 was much less extensive. With the help of the Piglet’s pilot, Joey, the biggest project was to change the oil. This is a rather simple project, as just involves removing the drain plug, letting the old oil drain out, cleaning the filter screen and putting the new oil in the crankcase. This only took about ten minutes to finish; I completed it while my brother Brad was removing the carb from my motorcycle.

The next thing I did was to check the drive chain tension; the slack in the chain is usually around 1 ¼”. This varies from motorcycle to motorcycle, so check the manufacturer’s specifications. After the chain was taken care of, I checked his Maxxis motorcycle tires for the proper pressure, which also needs to be according to the manufacturer’s specs. After this, I checked all the cables, levers and other linkages. Once this was done, I felt the Piglet was ready to go to the races. It is now sitting in the garage, ready to be loaded into the pickup headed to Colorado Springs on Saturday.

Conclusion

I have been so busy this winter adjusting to a new job, that it seems the CORCS season has snuck up on me. I am grateful that I keep relatively good upkeep on the two bikes, so I didn’t feel overwhelmed by what I had to do to get the machines ready this past weekend. Joey and I got these tasks done and worked on his Cub Scout Pinewood Derby car which races just four days after the CORCS hare scramble. It seems that with as well as everything came together on Sunday, we should be more than prepared for the races on March 16 and 17.

James Parker

Tags: , , ,

Colorado Off-Road Championship Series, Parker Style

Posted by moto_admin on February 22, 2013
Racing / No Comments

This is the year Team Parker is going racing. After a couple of races in the autumn of 2012, we have decided we are going to take on more races in the New Year. Both my son Joey and I will be racing our Maxxis tire-equipped Hondas this spring, summer and fall in the hare scramble-style Colorado Off-Road Championship Series (CORCS). While Joey and I are racing, my wife Jennifer will be there to run the pits and provide support and snacks.

Joey racing a hare scrambleRacing in the Mini Class for Joey

Joey will be in the Mini 2 class aboard his Honda CRF 70 carrying the digits 121 on his number plate. The Mini 2 class is for 50cc two strokes and/or 70-110cc four strokes with riders ranging in age from 7-10 years old. Since the CRF is a four stroke and Joey is nine years old, he and his 70cc motorcycle will fit perfectly into the Mini 2 class. I do think that he will be outclassed this season; he is fairly inexperienced in racing with only two hare scrambles under his belt. The other thing going against him is that he is on a stock 70cc bike in a class that has larger, modified motorcycles. I am sure that there will be other kids in this class with just as minimal experience, but there will also be kiddos who had been racing since the age of 3, starting in the PW50 class.

Nonetheless, we are out to have some fun and spend time together as a family. The three of us have talked about this subject in depth; we know that we are the underdogs when it comes to racing. We are not there to be competitive this year, we are there to gain experience in racing. Our plan is not to turn Joey into the next great star of motocross; we want to let him try something fun that he is very much interested in doing. He’s has tried soccer and baseball; it seems that ball sports are not his craft. In the two races he has entered, he is more focused and ambitious. We decided it was time to strap on the old motorcycle helmet and let Joey go to the races.

James racing a hare scrambleSenior Class Racing for Me

At the seasoned age of 41 (I will turn 42 during the season), I am eligible for the Senior C class. The “C” part of the title indicates that this is the class for those of us who are less experienced in racing. I am going to do four or five races this year in the CORCs series. My new Maxxis tires will finally be mounted on the number 777 Big Red Pig (Honda XR650R). Stayed tuned, though – the bike may be changing!

Although I have been riding dirt bikes for thirty years, my race experience is limited to a motocross race back in the very early 90s and a hare scramble this past November. I am an eighteen year veteran of our local volunteer fire department, which has taken up much of my spare time since 1995. Because of the fire department, my motorcycle tires were limited to a trail ride here and there. As my fire fighting career winds down (I will be retiring in less than two years), I would like to replace volunteering with racing. I’m not doing this to get any kind of adrenaline rush, because I am by no means an adrenaline junkie. Racing is what my family has become interested in, so it’s becoming a bonding experience.

Most of the CORCs events are two day events – the kid’s races are held on Saturday and the adult races are held on Sunday. The series promoters encourage racing families to camp at the race site. Our fifth wheel, which is equipped with a generator, is well set up to spend our weekends at the races. We do not have a toy hauler, so we pull a second trailer behind the camper with my bike, Joey’s bike and probably at least one of our four-wheelers for Jennifer to tool around the pits or track. We have spent many years accumulating all of these wheeled devices in preparation for our bonding time.

Jennifer Mans the Pits on a Quad

My wife Jennifer will not be racing; she has a much more important role on Team Parker. She will be running our pits. Jen will be gassing up bikes; mostly Joey’s, it is unlikely with its large fuel tank that the Big Red Pig will need any fuel stops. She will also be there for keeping our bodies fueled up with food and drink. She is so good at that; there is always something in the camper kitchen to keep us satiated.

Jennifer likes to take a lot of pictures while Joey and I are racing or riding. We likely will take the Kawasaki quad rather than the Polaris since the Kawi is equipped with the Moose Diplomat ATV Storage trunk. That way Jennifer will be able to carry around extra jackets, drinks or cameras in the trunk.  Having a ride at the races will be much better for Jen; at past races she has had to navigate the race courses on foot.

Conclusion

It is going to be a great spring, summer and fall for Team Parker. We are not going to make to every race on the schedule, but we know we won’t be in contention for the series points lead. We simply want to go, try something new and have a good time. Most of all, we will be doing this as a family; to Jennifer and I family time is the most important thing in our lives.

James Parker

Tags: , ,

No winter blues with life on the road in Texas

Posted by moto_admin on February 13, 2013
Life on the Road / No Comments

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.” ~ Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

Riding in the snowA sense of guilt arises when we are roaming around so freely in this southern Texas desert as I watch the northern snow storms glare at me from the opening page of the Internet. We did get a couple of days of snow, however; and it was a big “happening” here – a huge event! So of course, all geared up, we had to go ride around. We are fortunate to be riding a Ural Gear-Up right now for those back country roads; with 2-wheel drive and reverse it is the go-anywhere sidecar. It was a blast. As quickly as it happened, though, the snow melted away, leaving behind much mud on our unpaved roads. Even more of a blast!

worn out knobby tiresYet I must say, two wheel drive or not, we would not have gone forward with slick tires. I am vigilant in checking those knobbies that seem to last and last, and then suddenly just when I think I have a few more calendar days left, they vanish. That is the nature of tires. They have a bad habit of wearing away quickly in those last days.

This is our winter “base camp,” so spare motorcycle tires are kept in a shipping container; but while heading in other directions (mainly north come April), spares are just strapped on. Tubes are stored in the trunk of the sidecar, and brand new tires can be quickly changed on the road with the help of what I call a “real compressor” with a start-up battery pack, some tires irons and some talc powder for the tubes. Water and soap are also always handy. You never know when a cactus thorn is going to decide to end your ride around here. We also have dried out dead creosote with points as sharp as a needle, and even more knife-edged rocks that I try to keep my eyes on but are hard to avoid.

There isn’t much of anything around here, in particular no motorcycle shops within 300 to 400 miles; so having backups and having plan B and C all figured out is of most importance. Traffic is scarce, some roads are lucky if one vehicle a week passes by. Those are the ones we ride. The SPOT and SAT phone are always our lifelines, with batteries always fully charged with the portable solar system we have; but tires are of even more importance. Texas desertLet’s face it; we could not go too far relying solely on the rims.

So yes, I must say – and this is not to create any envy from my northerner friends – there are no winter blues here; even when we get the once yearly 4 to 6 inches of snow around this time. Follow such a day with temperatures in the mid 70’s, and there you have an incredible playground stage. Our carry ons are not and cannot be limited to spare tires and tubes. A first aid kit, water (we generally carry easily 3 gallons), extra fuel (an extra 2.5 to 5 gallons), food that will last without refrigeration (such as hard cheeses, tortillas, dried fruit and nuts), a small tent is always strapped on with a couple of “space blankets,” maps, and a backup GPS. I have learned a lot over the past years.

Spirit, happy as alwaysSpirit has gear, as well – food and a couple of coats, as pit bulls do not have much hair. But he is always happy, with a smile even when riding through that snow. I don’t quite know what he felt. I think he was a bit perplexed, but enjoyed running around and did not seem to complain about the cold. No winter blues for him either, as the miles pass by this nose of his, which must be taking in smells of unimaginable volume and numbers. How would our situation be if this scenario was the case for months at a time? I don’t have an answer for that, as now we are here and enjoying our ability to move on with Mother Nature’s weather as well as we can. Till next time,

Ara and Spirit, www.theoasisofmysoul.com

Tags: , , , , , ,

Valentine’s Day Motorcycle Gift Ideas

Posted by moto_admin on February 07, 2013
Recreation / No Comments

Another chance to buy a loved one a gift is coming up soon with Valentine’s Day. This week we’d like to spotlight a few gifts for a loved one who may be a motorcycle maniac. Whether shopping for a man or a woman, there are motorcycle themed gifts for most everyone.

PRACTICAL GIFTS

Camelbak Classic Hydration Pack

For the off road rider or racer, the Camelbak Classic Hydration Pack would be a great gift idea. The trail rider can carry much needed drinking water during the heat of the ride. This lightweight pack also has storage apace for the racer to carry some essential tools or first aid supplies. Since this is a Camelbak product, one can be assured of the quality.

Scorpion Women’s EXO-400 Spring Helmet

Womens Scorpion Exo-400 Spring HelmetIf the special lady in your life is in need of a full-face street helmet, check out the Scorpion Women’s EXO-400. This helmet, with its attractive graphics, would give any lady biker a great look as she is tooling down the road. The Scorpion has been comfort tested and is equipped with an EPS-lined chin bar for additional protection. There is a breath deflector on this lid for fog-free performance; this should be considered a safety feature. Fogged up visors can be a cause for many an accident.

LOOKING FOR SOMETHING OUT OF THE ORDINARY?

motorcycle tire tread ringEtsy.com is a great website for finding one-of-a-kind, often handmade gifts for holidays.

Personalized Tire Tread Ring
This is a man’s ring that can be customized to look like your honey’s favorite motorcycle tire tread.

This would be a great gift for the man in your life who is loyal to a particular tire model. This is a unique, handmade gift that can include the name of his bike, as well.

motorcycle gear bookendsMotorcycle Gear Bookends
For the motorcycle rider who is also a book reader, these stylish pieces would be an attractive addition to a bookshelf in a home library or office.

These heavy duty bookends are welded out of actual motorcycle transmission gears – very cool!

Paracord Motorcycle Bracelet
motorcycle chain braceletThis unique, inexpensive gift displays an actual link from a motorcycle chain, mounted with parachute chord.

This type of bracelet is really popular right now, and giving one as a gift shows how cutting-edge you are.

Conclusion

There many gift ideas out there for the motorcyclists; some are protective and many are novelty. These are just a few ideas to lead you down the right path to the perfect gift for the motorcycle rider.

James Parker

Tags: , , , ,

Get to know your own backyard – travel the United States

Posted by moto_admin on January 03, 2013
Life on the Road / No Comments

Having left (what many call) a home behind years ago, while living on the road full time and writing about it, the motorcycle community has found ways to reach out to me through the many wonders of social media. All is well, fine, entertaining; I may even say exciting – with people sharing their travel photos and videos with me (mostly of foreign lands). I was born in Europe, with grandparents living in Egypt, an uncle in Uganda and an aunt in Africa. I hitch-hiked those countries in my youth during more peaceful times and am left with some fond memories of lovely places. Today, though, the world is boiling and I’ve found I live in the most beautiful country in the world — beautiful in more ways than one.

The road to The Windows in Big Bend National Park, Texas

Many have asked me, “So what are you going to do when you are done seeing it all?” Done? That will never happen. We move on slow. We take in every aspect of every space we are in while that tent of ours is pitched for a week or two.

We take time when going through or nearby villages to get to know the locals. They are the ones that turn us on to those magical sights no one knows about. They are the ones bringing on some of the sunshine that goes along with us everywhere we go (besides Mother Nature).

Enjoy quality over quantity. I see too many cars zooming through those magical spaces at warp speeds, stopping abruptly, lowering one window, a couple of photos; and then they are gone as fast as they show up. We could appreciate our own land as one of greatness if only we took the time. While today’s “fashion” is to travel the world (a fine concept if one has the money for it), it personally amazes me that so many of my acquaintances have never seen their own country. Right here, right now. So vast and rich, laid out with so much free camping, or if that’s not their cup of tea, RV parks, lodges…infinite possibilities.

My living room in the desert

We have clean drinking water, a language common to us all, road signs we understand, motorcycle and off-road vehicles of all brands, repair centers all the way down to our own particular preferences of oil and tires. (As a joke I also add ATM machines!)

The geological aspects of the United States are mind boggling:

  • 3 million acres of Big Bend, Texas, with it’s unpaved roads.

  • Southern Utah with Valley of the Gods, Mokey Dugway and Muley Point with Monument Valley nearby.

Spirit is bored

  • Toroweap, being the raw aspect of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, where less than 1,000 visitors a year show up.

The road to Mt Lemon, Arizona

  • Not to mention Estes Park, Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, the “Road to the Sun” through Glacier Park, the Northern Coasts of California, Oregon, Washington, our Alaska, the wonders of the Historical East and on and on.

A beautiful Sunset a couple days ago.

So many destinations, a lifetime will not be enough to cover. This land is so filled with wealth. The desire to go to foreign lands is always tempting, but not just yet…not today or tomorrow. Enjoy your trails, your back roads, your local neighbors, and even those “holes in the wall” where the white trucks are parked in front because they have the best food around. All is present. Get to know your own “backyard.”

Ara and Spirit

Tags: , , , , , ,

My First Hare Scramble at the Valley Dirt Riders Series (Berthoud, CO)

Posted by moto_admin on December 12, 2012
Racing / No Comments

Valley Dirt Riders Series in Berthoud, ColoradoI can now add hare scramble racer to my list of accomplishments. Last month my friend Mark and I entered a race in Berthoud, Colorado at the Valley Dirt Riders MX track. Not only did I race, but Joey entered the 65cc race, too. We made it a family event with Jennifer helping in the pits and providing snacks. It was a great day for the Parker family; we are looking forward to many more race days.

Senior C Class

When a racer reaches the age of forty, he is considered a senior racer. The senior class is given its own class, which is then broken down into three sub-categories-A, B and C. “A” riders are the best riders, “B” are intermediate racers and “C” guys are the novice racers. Since I have limited racing experience, I entered the Senior C class. Mark, a regular on a local motocross circuit, also entered the Senior C class, since this was his first hare scramble. Upon picking our class, paying the entry fee and signing the required forms, the race officials placed a transponder on the underside of our helmet visors. Once the registration process was complete, it was time to unload the bikes, double check our motorcycle tires and get geared up.

Since neither Mark nor I had ever ridden in a hare scramble, we were not sure what to expect for the start of this two hour-long off-road race. We did know that the race would commence in the starting area of the motocross track, and that the first part of the race would be one lap around the MX track before hitting the off-road portion. After attending the riders’ meeting (about fifteen minutes prior to the start of the race), we found out that the different classes would begin the first lap in six waves made up of all the different classes ranging from pro to women and 85cc. The waves would launch about a minute apart, with the Senior C class in the fourth wave.

The next issue Mark and I were questioning was gas; I was positive that the Big Red Pig (my motorcycle) would make the two hours on one tank of gas. After all, the pig was designed with desert riding in mind and has a large gas tank in order travel or race over long distances. Mark, aboard his new KTM 450, was unsure of the fuel range for his new steed. Since Mark did not bring his family along for the day, I offered him my “pit crew” (namely Joey and Jennifer); after a few chuckles, Mark decided to take the chance on his fuel range and forgo the pit crew. We both finished with fuel left in each of our tanks; so for the next race, we decided fuel stops would be unnecessary.

Hare Scramble Senior C Class Starting LineWe now knew the location of the start and which wave we were to begin our quest on, but we did not learn about how to start until we arrived at the line. We were allowed to choose where in the wave to start. I chose to go to the end of the line which would put me on the inside of the first corner. A fellow racer, whom I had never met, filled me in on what would be happening in a matter of moments. He told me that I could have my motor running, but would not be allowed to be on my motorcycle. A racer is required to be standing next to his bike, motor running and looking behind him toward the center of the start area at the flag man. When the green flag waves, riders hop on their bikes and begin the two hour race.

Cheering on Dad at the Valley Dirt Riders SeriesI looked at this as a quest, rather than a race. I had two goals in this event: 1) not crash and two 2) to finish. Throughout the race, I just kept my lines and plugged along. I was passed by many other racers — in fact, Mark lapped me nearly halfway through the race. However, I kept reminding myself of the kid’s story of “The Tortoise and the Hare” (fitting since this was a hare scramble). I knew if I just kept it going, I would end up in good shape. As the event progressed, attrition began to take hold. Other, faster riders began to quit, run out of gas or have mechanical problems. I never stopped except to pull to the side for a few seconds to fix the feeder tube on my Camelbak. I knew that although some riders were dropping out I would still not be a top finisher, but I did know that I would accomplish my goal of finishing and not crashing.

When the race was over, the results showed that in the overall I was 121st out of 146 racers; in the Senior C class I was 11 out of 12 riders. Mark finished in sixth place in the Senior C category; both of us were happy with our finish and both of us were very sore. As I crossed the finish line, although I was one of the slower racers, I felt a sense of accomplishment in the fact that I achieved my goals for this event. I was also impressed that the Big Red Pig and its Maxxis tires made it around the seven mile course seven times.

Hare Scramble 65 CC Starting LineJoey’s 65 CC Race

Shortly after the end of my bike race, Joey’s mini race began. I had just enough time to get out of my protective gear before checking over the Piglet’s Maxxis tires, chain and other parts. Once I gave it the go ahead and Jennifer made sure Joey’s motorcycle helmet was securely buckled, we took the bike to the start line near our pit area. We were not sure why this was called the 65 cc race because Joey’s 70cc Honda seemed to be the smallest bike in the race. Nonetheless, he gave it his best effort; he looked good on the bike and had a ton of fun. My son ended up finishing eighth out of nine in the thirty minute race. Although part of his lap included the supercross track to which he aired his concern, he soldiered through and rode the SX track just fine. I was proud of him for doing so well in a race where his bike was simply outclassed.

My Pit Crew

Jennifer is a great support system for both of her racers. She was there for both Joey and I to make sure that all of our riding apparel was ready to race. My wife was also willing to be standing by with a gas can in case Mark, Joey or I ran low on gasoline. Not only was she great support for the motorcycles, Jennifer also made sure to pack plenty of food so that we could refuel our bodies after the race. She had a sandwich ready for me when I pulled off the track after two plus hours, and reminded me that I must get plenty of fluids back into my system. Without Jennifer, this day would not have been possible.

Conclusion

In the days following this hare scramble, we have looked back on the race fondly. As a family, we have decided that racing is something we want to be more active in. The Valley Dirt Riders Series in Berthoud, Colorado is a winter series. It ends in April, with one event taking place each month until then. We may not do every race in the series, but we will get our motorcycle tires out to the ones we can, weather permitting. Come spring and summer, we would like to become involved in the Rocky Mountain Enduro Circuit and the Colorado Off-Road Championship Series. These events are held on terrain that is more off-road than the motocross type terrain of Berthoud. For now, Berthoud suits me just fine and has given me a new sense of accomplishment as a motorcycle rider.

James Parker

Tags: , , , , , ,

2005 Kawasaki Vulcan Classic VN1500 Tire Change and New Brake Install

Posted by moto_admin on December 07, 2012
Motorcycle Tires / No Comments

I bought a 2005 Kawasaki Vulcan Classic VN1500 on Craigslist about five years ago. When I got the bike, it was bone stock; since then I have added custom Cobra exhaust, Power Commander FI2000 fuel injection, hard side bags and trunk, windshield, tank girdle with pouch, ignition relocation, and today I’d like to walk you through my most recent upgrage: new Continental Conti Milestone tires and brakes.

[imagebrowser id=2]

 

Tags: , , , ,

Christmas Gift Ideas for Motorcyclists

Posted by moto_admin on December 04, 2012
Apparel & Accessories / No Comments

Once again it is the Christmas shopping season and many folks are looking for gift ideas. Many a motorcyclist would love to receive motorcycle accessories or apparel this holiday season. Here is a selection of gift ideas for your favorite rider.

Techie Gifts

The last couple of years, helmet-mounted video cameras have become popular with trail riders, as well as racers. Cameras like the GoPro Hero3 Black Edition Helmet Cam enable the rider to relive a race, trail or epic highway ride; and to share it with others. This particular edition of the GoPro has a waterproof housing, which would allow for a trail rider or road biker to take on any number of water crossings or weather conditions without worry of flooding out the camera. The Hero3 Black Edition has the ability to record professional-quality video, audio and still photos, and comes with assorted mounting hardware to attach it to your gear, body, helmet, vehicle and more. This gift can be used for many different recreational activities besides motorcycle riding; it is very popular with surfers and SCUBA divers, too.

GoPro Hero3 Black Edition
A Garmin zumo 350LM global positioning unit would be a great gift idea for a cruiser motorcycle rider. This GPS device is designed specifically for motorcyclists, and allows the rider to navigate a trip without having to stop and look at a bulky map. The zumo line of products can be operated while wearing motorcycle gloves and are Bluetooth compatible, so directions are transmitted to your helmet. Garmin made sure the device can stand up to harsh riding conditions and gas vapors, as well.

Motorcycle Helmets and Accessories

A new lid is an excellent gift idea for any motorcyclist whether the rider prefers off-road or street bikes. Motorcycle helmets should be replaced from time to time, so it is possible that your favorite rider is in need of a new helmet. There are many brands on the market, from off-road to street motorcycle riders.

MSR Velocity HelmetFor the off-road rider, a popular mid-range helmet to look at is the MSR Velocity. Its attractive graphics, lightweight feel, ventilation and structural integrity make this a highly sought-after model. Other popular brands of off-road helmets to check out are AFX, Arai, Answer and Bell.

If the rider you are shopping for is a street biker, some helmet brands to check out would be Nolan, Shoei, or Sparx. For the best protection in a crash, a full-face helmet is the way to go. However, some cruiser motorcycle riders prefer to wear an open-face helmet to still have the feeling of the wind in one’s face. No matter your helmet choice, just make sure it meets DOT safety criteria for safety.

If your rider already has a newer helmet, check out helmet accessories like communication devices manufactured by Nolan. These devices will allow for helmet-to-helmet communication, telephone calls or access to music. This would be a great gift idea for the long-distance traveler so he can cruise down the highway listening to some of his favorite tunes.

Conclusion

Hopefully these motorcycle Christmas gift ideas are helpful to you, as the holiday is swiftly approaching! Instead of relying on old stand-by gifts, why not pick up something extra special this year? Helmet cameras and communication devices are gifts that keep on giving, and will be used for many years to come. Helmets and motorcycle apparel are practical gifts, and give your rider a little extra protection while on the road or trail.

James Parker

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Technology, Tools and Gear required for Life on the Road

Posted by moto_admin on November 29, 2012
Life on the Road / No Comments

I am living what many consider a dream life. I have been on the road full time now for just over six years, riding my motorcycle just about every day, and living in a tent 99% of the time.

Camping Setup

While there are many others at this very moment circling the globe for specific periods of time, I don’t know of others that have made the decision to just be homeless by choice. In RV’s, yes, but not on a motorcycle for an indefinite time frame. My own reason was a deep tragedy of life, a bad card dealt which left me fighting the moments after; until the day arrived when I was unable to handle “normal” life after having lost it all. What else did I have to loose?

My pit bull, SpiritHitting the Road

We embraced the road with a BMW GS, 1100cc 1996, fixed up with an Ural sidecar; no destination, no calendar or clock ticking, and there we went…and here we are still (sometimes a bit shocked at that fact). “Old Faithful” is still with us. I say “we” and “us,” because I am not travelling alone; I ride a motorcycle with a sidecar so that my faithful companion can always riding with me. A rescued Pit Bull I named “Spirit” who should be close to 8-years-old now, since he was around a year old at the time I found him. I, myself, will be turning sixty-five in a few months.

I say this about being surprised to still be on the road because every day is such a new day; and as this road and the many experiences have so totally changed me mentally, I feel as though we have just begun. I think it is a bit too late now to turn around, because sometimes (not too often) we will stop at friend’s home and within a couple of days the walls start suffocating me. I feel the same about urban environments filled with noise and light pollution, including traffic, fumes and all.

Our main goal is to be off-road. And to be prepared for it, as we are often miles away from another soul, meaning “help” is not present if something went wrong.

Big Bend sunset

How We Get By

Many have asked, including my dear mother, “So what do you do all day?…” My reply is that of writing, photography, riding, playing with Spirit, much reading (handy to have a couple hundred books in a smart phone and the ability to write with it, synching it all to a laptop that I only use with real power at a library from time to time).

Away from it all, modern technology helps us a lot, as we are indeed at the mercy of the weather day in and day out. A smart phone with weather/radar apps is a must. We also carry a SAT phone and a SPOT tracker with a live web share page on our website, so our location is easy to find (when we want to be found, that is).

I cook all our meals (I was a chef in my past life), we camp for free on BLM land or in National Forests and follow the weather; meaning south in the winter, such as now, and north in the summer. Spring and fall find us everywhere in between.

filterThe gear we use is of the best. It must be for full-time, part-time, weekending, and even day-ride use. Spare parts are part of our readiness for anything, including a compressor, air gauge, patches, tire plugs, a rebuilt kit for the stove, clutch and throttle cables. I even carry a spare air and fuel filter and all the tools needed for completion of exchanges. One cannot be and should not be “out there” and suddenly be confronted with the downfalls of a broken stove, leaky tent, slashed tire, you name it.

Another thing that I have learned the hard way is that when fueling, not to talk to anyone, but to just concentrate on the task. It gives me a chance to do a quick visual on the bike, as all my nuts and bolts have matching paint marks. It is only after the fuel cap is locked, everything in order and hooked up that I will give attention to others that want to say “hello” or have question. I only deviated from this routine one time, and the result was that I forgot to hook up my phone, left it resting on a pannier, which then flew away and got run over by a truck. It happened in Browning,Montana. It was not a good day, as you really do not want to stop in Browning anyway!

The same goes for when breaking camp. Everything has to go back into the same space it came in. My bags are waterproof and I go as far as documenting everything we have in a little black book per bag. I cross reference each of the items into each bag as I pack them…it’s just too easy to forget something. It takes concentration and when done, with riding gear on, helmet in hand (Spirit’s goggles and helmet also on), I will sit for about ten minutes looking around making sure nothing has been left behind, check the nuts and bolts, think about the road ahead; and only then we are truly ready to move on. It has paid off many times.

Old Faithful and Spirit, ready to ride

The Good Life

Old Faithful blew her engine finally at 281,000 miles (no complaints!) and now runs with an RT engine which has only 30,000 miles. We also acquired a “2012 Ural Gear-Up,” the #1 of a Special Edition called “Terra Explorer.” I named her “Crusty.” With the optional 2-wheel-drive and reverse, it has opened up the ability for trails we could not ride before. No more apprehensions.

Being “off-road” takes us to the most beautiful parts of this country. It is a beautiful space and stage if only one looks for it and searches the many desolate backdrops that would take anyone’s breath away. I hope to be back here on the Motorcycle Maniac blog about once a month hitting on different subjects each time, with the hope of helping others with their own vacations and travel plans; foremost how to be safe and truly enjoy their time.

The camping aspect of travel always requires a Plan B and C…sometimes E! I will speak more in-depth on this in future posts. But for now, my advice is to get good camping gear, good riding gear, and good motorcycle tires. It will cost a bit more initially, but in the long run it’s a very inexpensive insurance of your well-being while you are out there.

Please feel free to ask questions; I will be more than happy to provide more details as to what has worked and what has not. It is all about sharing!

Stay well, stay safe.
Ara and Spirit

Tags: , , , , , ,

Fall 2012 Motorcycle Events – Baja 1000, Endurocross and close-to-home

Posted by moto_admin on November 13, 2012
Racing, Recreation / No Comments

It seems as the summer riding season comes to an end, there is a potpourri of events going on in the dirt bike world these days. The Baja 1000 will take place later this week and the Endurocross season comes to an end Saturday night in Las Vegas. These two events signal an end to the summer riding season and has me thinking about winter maintenance projects. Also on the personal front, the Parker endurocross track continues to take shape.

Baja point-to-point race mapBaja 1000!

The Baja 1000 begins on the well-known Baja California Peninsula in Mexico this Wednesday, November 14, and goes until Saturday, November 17. This year’s edition will be a point-to-point race beginning in Ensenada, Mexico, with the finish line being at the southern tip of La Paz, Mexico. This epic race is not always a point-to-point race; some years a one-thousand mile lap is set up with the start and finish both being in the city of Ensenada. Not only do the racers’ motorcycle tires make a pathway along the peninsula, but buggies, trophy trucks, VW Bugs and ATVs also race the extreme off-road course.

The JCR Honda team has dominated the race for the past ten-plus years; however, I expect KTM and Kawasaki to make a strong push in the 45th running of the event. Two of the favorite motorcycle racers in this year’s edition will be Colten Udall and Kurt Caselli. Now remember, these guys will not be navigating the course solo; this race is mostly a team event. When one motorcycle rider reaches a certain point in the course, he then hands off the bike to another rider. Some teams will have two, three or four riders in the event. That doesn’t mean it will be easy for any one rider to get the bike to
the finish. This is a cross country race on an uncontrolled track; there will be many hazards over which each rider will have navigate their motorcycle tires. The best way to keep track of this event is on one of the various racing web sites or on Facebook.

Endurocross

As evidenced in my last post, I am a huge Endurocross fan. This weekend, Saturday November 17, the 2012 season will come to an end at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. Taddy Blazusiak has a commanding lead in the season’s points standings. The only drama here will be between Cody Webb and Taylor Robert as they duke it out for second place. The event, sponsored by Kenda Tires, will be a great show; my wife and I attended the Vegas race a few years ago. It was an excellent event and left us with some great memories.

As I have stated many times, EX is such an exciting race. It is so much more of a test of a rider’s talent than motocross. EX will test a rider’s off-road skills on such obstacles as water crossings, logs, rocks and trees. The course at the race in Denver this year reminded me of many of the trails my buddies and I have been on in places like Forest Road 319 and Taylor Park.

New Parker Farm Endurocross Track ObstacleThe Parker Farm Track Update

Construction on the Parker Farm Track has been slow since I have been busy at work and not had many days off this fall. However, we have managed to build an additional obstacle; it consists of a log which fell off a tree in a storm early last summer. We built some dirt up around the log so that we can get some air under the tires when coming off the top.

Last weekend, Joey christened the track by surviving the first crash in the it’s history. He was getting a little too cocky at the end of the riding day and landed his motorcycle on its front Maxxis tire. Needless to say, he flipped over the handlebars and had his little Honda land on top of him. Thank goodness he was wearing his motorcycle helmet and all his protective riding apparel. The boy, aside from some road rash, came away largely uninjured. He did play his injury to his advantage that night; but the next day he apparently had forgotten about being hurt and asked if we could go back to ride some
more. Unfortunately, scheduling did not allow for a return to the Parker Farm Track that weekend.

Conclusion

It has been a great year of dirt biking, both personally and nationally. The Baja 1000 to me marks the end of the summer riding season. At this point, it is time to start thinking about winter maintenance and repair. As the Kenda Endurocross season comes to an end; we see a great battle for second place at the last round in Las Vegas. Taylor Robert and Cody Webb should provide some entertaining racing at the Orleans on Saturday night. The Parker Farm track slowly continues to take shape. Hopefully, with some mild weather this winter we can continue to build track obstacles. Here is to a great 2012 and looking forward to an exciting and fun 2013. Stayed tuned next year, there may be some more racing thrown into the mix.

James Parker

Tags: , , ,

Homemade Endurocross Track and National Pro Race Sponsored by Kenda Tires

Posted by moto_admin on October 22, 2012
Racing / No Comments

Over the past couple of weeks, I have had endurocross fever. Having some time off from work, I decided to begin construction of an endurocross track on an unused piece of ground at our family farm. In addition, the National Endurocross event, partially sponsored by Kenda Tires, made its annual stop in nearby Denver, Colorado. Over a period of about eight days, track construction began (where I gained some inspiration for our own private track) and I was able to see some awesome racing.

The Parker Endurocross Track

As I was in the midst of a career change and had a few days between jobs, I had nothing else on my mind except building a track. At the Parker Farm, we have a piece of ground that has never been used for anything; it cannot be grazed or farmed. This is the perfect piece of ground to build our own track.

Without even digging any kind of hole, we already had the start of a motorcycle trail. For as long as I can remember there have been two telephone poles lying on this lot; the railroad left them there when it removed the telephone lines that ran along the tracks that pass through our farm. Another existing feature is a creek bottom that can be incorporated into the EX course. Many of the other materials needed for track obstacles, such as rocks and fire wood, are already in one place or another on the farm. It will simply take some time to gather these items up and place them along the course.

My first step was to cut a small crossing on the creek bottom to gain access for our tractor to the barren piece of ground. We have an ancient Ford tractor with a blade and a front end loader. It is definitely not the skid loader that would have been the ideal piece of construction equipment; but the old Ford would be just fine for what we wanted to accomplish.

The next step was to use our ATV to beat down the grass to create a trail to place our endurocross obstacles. Once again, the four-wheeler became an invaluable tool for one of my random projects. After plotting out a course and running the large ATV tires over it in both directions for about an hour, a trail began to form. Once the trail appeared, it was time to begin placing the obstacles. The first thing I did, at my son Joey’s request, was to build a “sweet jump!” Ever since his first race, he has wanted to practice his jumps; he loves to get some air with his Maxxis motorcycle tires. I found some tilled-up dirt and, using the front end loader with the Ford, filled the bucket three times and eventually had a sweet hill built up. Just past the jump is the wood pile – I predicted Joey would love these two obstacles. With perfect timing, Joey and his mother Jennifer arrived at the farm right at that moment, and Joey got to do his inaugural run on the Parker Endurocross track. After riding the circuit for about an hour, he gave it rave reviews, but he does prefer to ride it counter-clockwise instead of clockwise. Also, as always, our crazy kid had some tips for me as to how I can improve the track through better construction practices. We are all looking forward to having a track of our own to run our Maxxis tires and practice our EX skills.

Endurocross Denver

On October 6, my family attended the Endurocross event in Denver. Such famous riders as Mike Brown and Geoff Aaron were scheduled to be participating in this AMA national event. Both of these gentlemen were present and had good showings in the main event; however, once again it was Taddy Blazuiak who ran away with the victory in the main event. He won by quite a wide margin – from the start it was apparent that Blazuiak would be the eventual winner.

Endurocross trackOne racer who caught my eye was Taylor Robert aboard his Monster Energy Kawasaki. Robert was the Endurocross Junior Champion in 2011; this is his first season in the tip EX class. The desert racer from Scottsdale, Arizona finished second in Denver, and after this race is second in points for the series. Robert caught my attention by getting enough air to jump over the boulder section that was situated directly in front of our seats. He was simply riding head and shoulders above the other riders in his heat race. I had thought that he may be able to challenge Blazuiak in the main event, but Blazuiak was just too fast for Robert to keep pace. He did finish well ahead of the third place rider, Mike Brown and his KTM, though.

Endurocross obstacle inspirationAll in all it was an awesome evening of racing at the National Western Complex in Denver. The EX show is always an opportunity to see some great racing at an awesome venue. EX is my favorite form of racing as a spectator because this is the type of terrain we ride here in Colorado. We ride over boulders, rocks, wood and streams here in the CentennialState. My riding buddy Mike and I were talking while at the race and decided that some of the obstacles on the track may actually be easier than some of those we encounter out on the trails. For instance, the water crossing on the track is straight and the riders know how deep it is. I would also assume it has either sand or dirt below the water. While doing many of our water crossings in the mountains, we may not know the depth, there are usually rocks on the riverbed, and at times we may have to make a turn in the middle in order to hit the next section of trail. We are getting to the point that we would really like to take a crack at the EX track; we may form a race team to enter the event in upcoming years.

Conclusion

As you can see, I have been Endurocross-obsessed lately. After attending this year’s EX race in Denver, I came away with even more crazy thoughts for improving our own track. The inspiration I gained from viewing the pro track layout led me to believe that our own course will probably always be a work in progress. I will keep our readers up-to-date on any additions to our track in the future.

James Parker

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Joey’s First Motorcycle Race, Rocky Mountain Enduro Circuit

Posted by moto_admin on September 19, 2012
Racing / No Comments

Not long ago, I posted about my son Joey’s first single-track ride while on our vacation in Taylor Park, Colorado. A couple of weekends ago, the boy experienced another first – my little guy is now an off-road racer! With the help of Jud and Tina Barlow and the Rocky Mountain Enduro Circuit (junior series), nine-year-old Joey became an enduro racer. Although the weekend turned out to be awesome, it did not start off that way because of mechanical problems. But my brother Brad, like always, saved the day. Here is the story of race weekend!

Race Prep

After getting home from work on Friday night, it was time to get Joey’s Honda CRF 70 (Piglet) off the trailer and prepped for the race. It still had not been cleaned up from the previous weekend’s trail ride on Forest Road 319 in Larimer County, Colorado. Since Joey had decided to go through a mud puddle deeper than his motorcycle is tall, we had an extremely muddy bike to clean. So the first thing we did was to break out the power washer to peel the coat of mud from the red plastic (we had to wash it twice).

Next, we took the little Honda into the garage to check the pressure on its Maxxis motorcycle tires (which I aired up to about 10 psi), the oil level, chain tension and other assorted linkages. All seemed to be checking out fine. The only adjustment I needed to make was to tighten the drive chain; it was a little loose. All seemed to be going just fine until I was spinning the rear wheel when I heard a nasty growling noise. Upon closer look, I found the wheel to be loose; it was wobbly. These symptoms point directly toward a bad wheel bearing; it was ten o’clock at night. Jennifer and I decided to get some rest and deal with it in the morning.

When we woke up Saturday morning, I was hoping I had misdiagnosed the wheel bearing problem, but no such luck. It’s not that this is a tough fix, the problem is getting parts. We live in a rural, agricultural town which has no motorcycle dealer or parts supplier. My first idea was that I thought I remembered my brother Brad having a Honda 70 in his motorcycle inventory. I tracked him down and asked if that was true and it was not. The bike I was thinking of is a Honda XR 100, and the wheels don’t match. Now what? As always, Brad (a master mechanic) came through! He said, “Meet me back at your garage and we will figure it out.” Ten minutes later, we were in my garage with the wheel bearing lying on the floor. Jennifer and I grabbed it, headed over our local Carquest parts store where the folks who own the store seem to always come up with a solution. As always, they came through! The owner measured the bearing, disappeared into the back room and reappeared with a replacement.  Ten minutes later we were putting the bearing in the hub and mounting the wheel to the motorcycle. Voila! The bike is fixed, loaded in the back of the pickup truck and we are on our one hour drive to the race site near Bennett, Colorado.

Let’s Go Racing

The race we attended in Bennett was sanctioned by the junior series of the Rocky Mountain Enduro Circuit. Jud and Tina Barlow are the folks who run the races; I cannot say enough about how hard Jud and Tina work on this series. When meeting the couple, it is readily apparent how much they care about the kids who race. The main goal is to make sure the kids have a good time and a positive experience. From what Jennifer and I observed on this day, these goals are met.

Although, we are not RMEC members Joey was allowed to enter the race with just a simple $25 entry fee to see if he likes racing. I cannot say how much we appreciated this gesture; next season, we will be members since Joey seems to have caught the racing bug. Upon signing in, we found out that Joey would race in the 50 senior class; this meant he would be in the first race of the day. After registering for the race and being assigned a number (the #2 on his number plate was not taken so he could be 2), we headed back to the truck to unload, check the motorcycle tires, get Joey dressed in his protective apparel and motorcycle helmet.  

This series does a really cool thing with the kids before each class races; they take the field on a guided lap around the 2.8 mile course. This is called a sight lap and kids are not allowed to pass the adult leader. What happens if the leader is passed? He cries. No one wants to make the leader cry. Once the sight lap has been completed, it is time to line up at the start line for the race.

Each kid can pick where he would like to be on the starting line; Joey ended up at the left end of the line. There was not much thought put into his position on the line. I think it was simply where he ended up after his return from the sight lap. Prior to dropping the green flag, Jud points at each racer and waits for an affirmative head nod. When he has gone through the field and received a head nod from all, it is time to race. Right away, Jennifer and I found something about racing that we had forgotten to tell the boy – when the green flag is waved, it is time to twist the throttle and start racing. Most all the other racers were to the first corner by the time we had gotten Joey’s attention to tell him to start racing. Once we did, he was off and running!

The spectator rules are fairly laid back in the RMEC, Jr. series. While Jennifer stayed near the start/finish line to make sure Joey went through the checkpoint after each lap, I made my way around the course to see where I could spot old #2 while he went through the thirty minute race. Basically, I ended up walking the course backwards so that I would not miss cheering for him on any one lap. As I was walking around the track, I visited with other race parents; I told most that this was our first race and we were excited to be there. Each one welcomed me; a couple of the dads commented to me at how this is a great kid’s series. Both stated how it is laid back it is and how great the people of the series are.

As the field got deeper into the race, the racers got spread out around the track. Of course, being his first race, Joey was at the back of the pack; but he found another boy who was in his second race on a very similar bike to race against. That boy’s name was Hunter and his family happened to be pitting right next to us. The two boys were racing to stay out of last place; they went back and forth throughout the five laps they completed during the thirty minutes. Joey ended up crashing at one point and I believe Hunter laid it over once as well. In the end, Hunter got the best of Joey and edged him out for ninth place. When Joey came to the finish, Jud was there to greet him along with the rest of the crowd. As our son was coming in, Jud announced that this was Joey’s first race and let’s all give him a big cheer. The crowd did cheer for my son and it made him feel really good about himself.

Back in the pits, Joey went over to Hunter introduced himself and congratulated him on the race. With the fist bump that followed, it seemed the two racers had become friends over their battle for ninth place. After a little bonding time, our family and Hunter’s family went to accept the participant plaques each racer received after finishing the race. Joey was so proud (and so were Jennifer and I) of what he accomplished during this race. He finally got to race, he did well and he finished.

Conclusion

It got off to a rocky start, but thanks to my brother Brad and our local Carquest auto parts store coming to the rescue, it ended up being a great day. A special thanks to Jud Barlow and his wife Tina for allowing us to bring Joey in for a “trial run” at racing. It turned out that he loved running this race; as we were pulling out of the event, Joey was asking when he could race again. We told him that he would be racing again soon; whenever Jennifer and I see that a race is coming up, we will ask him if he wants to participate. The race was good for Joey; our family is looking forward to racing in the future. Also, I think our perseverance to get the bike into good running condition showed Joey to never give up in the face of adversity.

James Parker

Tags: , , , , ,

Impromptu Memorial Day Motorcycle Ride on Forest Road 319 (Larimer County, CO)

Posted by moto_admin on September 05, 2012
Recreation / No Comments

Labor Day has now come and gone and the Parkers celebrated the unofficial end of the summer by going to a new (to us) riding area with my old friend Jason and his family. We also made some new friends when we met Jason’s friends, the Dwight family. Joey and I got in some awesome trail riding on our dirt bikes while everyone in the group got in either some riding or down time in over the holiday. It was a great weekend for riding weather and a great test for our Maxxis motorcycle tires.

Short Notice

On Wednesday afternoon, prior to the Labor Day Weekend, we had no plans to go anywhere for the holiday weekend. My wife Jennifer and I had talked about trying to get away for at least one day of the long weekend, but we simply could not make a decision on a destination. We figured no matter where we went we would fight crowds and traffic; maybe just staying home would be the best plan. As I was exiting my garage late Wednesday afternoon, Jason came rolling into the driveway to find out what our plans were for the weekend. He then informed me of his plans to camp and ride and asked if we wanted to come along. As any good husband would respond, I said I would have to talk to Jennifer and would let him know.

It would be a couple of hours before mine and Jennifer’s paths would cross; when we did have a chance to talk her response was a resounding yes. I called Jason to tell him we were in and the ball was set in motion for a dirt bike weekend near Red Feather Lakes, Colorado. The first thing I would need to do was get into the garage and begin the pre-trip checks on my Honda XR650R (The Big Red Pig), Joey’s Honda CRF 70 (The Piglet) and Jennifer’s four wheeler. I really hadn’t had much of a chance to thoroughly examine the machines after our Taylor Park trip in July so I was hoping that all the tires, chains, cables and linkages were in good working order. I really wouldn’t have a chance to do any repairs or maintenance prior to our early Saturday morning departure.

After examining a machine, I would then load it onto the trailer in preparation for the upcoming three and a half hour drive to our final destination along Forest Road 319 in Larimer County, Colorado. I began with my Big Red Pig since it needs to be loaded on the trailer first. I found that both of my Maxxis tires were reading a PSI of about three pounds. That is way too low for this particular bike, so I aired the tubes up to about ten pounds PSI; this is my preference for the type of terrain I was expecting. Since we live at an elevation of about 4300′ and we were traveling to an elevation of over 9000′, I checked the pressures again once we arrived at camp. Usually with elevation changes that extreme, the tire pressures will change while travelling.

When I checked Joey’s Piglet, I found the same problem. Everything checked out except for the tire pressure. Same situation and same, simple solution air them up and re-check the motorcycle tires when we arrive at camp. All was all good with the four wheeler – no problems there! After about an hour of pre trip checks, and loading, the trailer was ready to go on our trip.

Red Feather Lakes, COForest Road 319

We followed Jason and his family for a little more than three hours through prairies, cities, canyons, over mountains, and past the northern edges of this summer’s devastating High Park Fire. Finally we arrived at our destination on Forest Road 319, about sixteen miles above Red Feather Lakes, Colorado. Those last sixteen miles are a steep, winding, rough, gravel road that take about forty-five minutes to climb; and since we were camping, we had our fifth wheel camper and motorcycle trailer in tow as well. We don’t make good time when we travel these unimproved mountain roads. The Dwight Family was already there and had a dispersed camp spot picked out for all of us. When we arrived in the OHV area, it was very crowded; it was a holiday weekend so that was to be expected. We edged our way off the road into camp, proceeded to set up camp and unload our vehicles. We were set for some fun for the weekend.

Forest Road 319After re-checking all the motorcycle tire pressures, Joey and I decided to take a father/son dirt bike ride. This one was just us two boys; we were going to go explore some new territory. We left camp headed in southerly direction along FR 319 until we came to FR 318. 318 is an ATV trail, but as the signpost at the trailhead stated, it’s suitable for all types of OHVs, including horses and hikers. Remember as responsible dirt bikers, we must share the trails. But I digress; Joey and I worked our way along 318 and very time we came to a fork we went left, at least until the final fork where we went right. Were we ever glad we went right at the last fork! The trail narrowed and passed through a lush, green forest with a tacky trail. It was so gorgeous! This trail ended about four miles from where we started at camp, and since it was the end of a travel day, Joey and I decided to turn around, head for camp and take my wife Jennifer back to that same spot the next day.

Motorcycle RideConclusion

The next day turned into an eventful day in itself, which I will save for a future post. As we travelled back home from this holiday, we lamented on how much fun we all had, and were grateful to Jason for inviting us on this trip. We made some great memories with some old friends and also made new friends with whom we will be able to share some epic riding in the future. Also, we were able to don our motorcycle helmets and other motorcycle apparel so that we could get our motorcycle tires on some great, new (to us) terrain. FR 319 is on our list for a return trip.

James Parker

Tags: , , ,

Poor motorcycle maintenance can lead to more than a broken bike

Posted by moto_admin on August 21, 2012
Maintenance & Modifications / No Comments

The following incident happened about ten years ago, and is about how poor motorcycle maintenance led to a broken finger. I only have myself to blame for not properly checking over my bike and its Dunlop tires prior to the trip. My family now laughs about the incident, but at the time it took several months to heal after not taking care to properly maintain my old Honda XR600R.

Day One

This happened sometime in 2002 in the desert to the north of Grand Junction, Colorado. This was before I owned the Big Red Pig (the Honda XR650R); I was on its predecessor, my old 1989 Honda XR600R. Apparently, I did not properly inspect the motorcycle for any problems or adjustments prior to our departure for the desert. After about ten miles of riding the hills, valleys and sand washes of the Grand Valley OHV area, the drive chain broke. Luckily my father-in-law, Mike, was along on this ride; he knew that we had made a loop and were only a couple of miles from my pickup. We took the bike down off of a hill to a flat spot and Mike rode his motorcycle back to my get my truck to pick up me and my bike with. My old Honda and I had been rescued with no injuries, and we just had to go into town to get a new chain and install it.

After a trip to the local motorcycle parts store, we returned to Mike and Julie’s (my mother-in-law) house to install the new chain. As I recall, it was a quick and easy repair – we threaded the new chain over and around the front and rear sprocket within a couple of minutes. The next step was to install the master link to bind the links as one; that went off without a hitch. Once the chain was in place, we adjusted the tension at the rear axle. I checked the marks on one side while Mike checked the marks on the other side. Voila! The chain and been replaced, the motorcycle was repaired and ready for the next day of some epic desert riding.

Day Two

After going to our normal parking spot at the desert and setting up our day camp we headed out for a day of trail riding. My first problem of the day occurred within a half mile of leaving the pickup truck. As I descended the first hill, I realized I had no rear brakes. This was an older bike with drum brakes, and I had forgotten to adjust the tension rod from the brake pedal back to the drum. No problem, I used my Leatherman Tool to adjust it right there on the trail. Hoping this was our only small kink for the day, we set off for what we hoped would be a good day of riding.

We ventured out in the general direction of where the chain had fractured the prior day. This time, we were going further back to a more remote area into some tall hills and deep ravines. Suddenly, the motor revved and the bike stopped moving. It was the same feeling I had had the day before when the chain broke. How could this happen? This was a brand new chain, it shouldn’t break! Upon closer investigation, I found the master link had broken. It too, was brand new, so why would it break? Remember how I had said I lined up the axle on one side and Mike had lined up the axle on the other side? Well, we had it on different marks; the wheel was not mounted straight, which put a bind on the chain. This bind caused the weakest point (the master link) to break. That was the day I learned to always carry an extra master link in my fender pack. Unfortunately, our only choice on this day was for Mike to tow me back to the truck with his motorcycle; the truck would not have been able to make it out to our location.

We were in some very rough terrain, with many hills to climb and descend. We had gotten to the point where Mike was towing me up the hills and along the flats; when we would get to a downhill, I would unhook and coast down into the ravine. We came to a long winding trail along the top of a ridge where he would have to pull me. We seemed to be flying along the top of the hill when suddenly my body was skidding along the hard-packed trail on its right side with the motorcycle on top. I think I had tried to go right when Mike had gone left; fortunately for him, the tow strap had become disconnected, so Mike coasted safely to a stop. Later, he commented on how suddenly it seemed he was effortlessly towing me along the trail. I seemed to not be hurt, except for the pinkie on my right hand that was very sore and crooked. It was fortunate that I was wearing a motorcycle helmet – it was well scratched after being dragged along the desert floor, but my head was fine. This injury would not have kept me from riding, but I was tired of being towed, so an alternate way of getting me and the bike out of the desert had to be discovered. We managed to get the motorcycle down to a parking area; however, it was not the parking area where we were parked.

Since we had to drive through the City of Grand Junction to get from one parking area to another and the truck belonged to my company, it was decided that I would ride Mike’s bike back to get the truck and drive to the new parking area to get my motorcycle. It took me about twenty minutes to get back to the truck; since the broken finger was my right pinkie, it affected my riding very little. When I got the truck, I was able to load Mike’s bike and head back through town to the other parking area. We loaded up my bike and we once again made a trip to the local motorcycle parts store to purchase two master links – one for the chain and one to carry in the tool bag on the rear fender.

Conclusion

After all of my chain trouble, I recall that the third day of riding went off without a hitch. I don’t believe that Mike was there on day three, as he was playing in a golf tournament, but my wife Jennifer and her mother Julie came out to the desert. I think I put about eighty miles on my bike that day. Luckily, I came away from the weekend with a sore right pinkie and a very sore rear end from all those miles.

The moral to this story is to make sure to do pre-trip maintenance; make sure that all cables, chains, linkages and levers are in working order. See that your motorcycle tires are in good condition and inflated to the proper level. Most of all, as in this case, make sure to carry an extra master link so as not to end up with a broken pinkie (or something worse).

James Parker

Tags: , , , ,

Motocross racers get practice in their hometown sand pit…the Bijou??

Posted by moto_admin on August 20, 2012
Racing / No Comments

I am 99% positive that the track these guys are talking about practicing at is the Bijou, where my own family rides.

Tags: , , , ,

The Best Types of Off-Road Motorcycle Terrain

Posted by moto_admin on August 07, 2012
Recreation / No Comments

I was asked a question recently that I don’t recall ever being asked — what is my favorite type of riding terrain? I really have never thought it much, I guess…I just like to ride whatever is in front of me. I typically ride in desert, mountains and sand; and of these, there is one I like less than the other two, but I will take it on anyway, because it’s the shortest drive!

Desert

I started riding desert terrain in 2001 after having been away from riding dirt bikes for about ten years. The reason I started riding the desert around Grand Junction, Colorado is because that is where my in-laws live. On our visits to see my wife’s parents, we would take our motorcycles along and go riding with the folks. I spent many hours scooting along the trails with my new knobby motorcycle tires, getting myself reacquainted with the nuances of riding off-road motorcycles. This is the place where I really caught off-road riding bug again, after being away from it for many years; and decided I wanted to make it a lifelong hobby. I think that I like to keep going back to the desert because it’s nostalgic for me.

My motorcycle is a Honda XR650R, and was built with desert riding in mind. It just runs so well when I’m riding up and down the hills, through the ravines and across the sand washes. The Big Red Pig makes itself at home when I start it up and point its tires down a long, dry and hard-packed straight away. I look back fondly at many hours of riding at the base of the Book Cliffs of Colorado. I will probably always go back to the Grand JunctionDesert from time to time because it will always be an awesome place to ride.

Mountains

Since we live in an arid area of Colorado that gets hot in the summer, my family likes to go to the mountains a couple of times a year to escape the heat. When we go up to about 9,000′ to set up camp, the daily high temperature may only be about seventy-eight degrees. This beats the heck out of the one-hundred degree heat we have been experiencing at our house this summer.

It is not just because of the weather that I like taking my Dunlop tires to the mountain trails, though. I also really like the challenge of the terrain. The mountains offer a totally different experience over what the desert offers — lush greenery, rocky trails, tight trees. I like to imagine that I am an enduro racer trying to negotiate the course in record time while on my way to a world championship.

I have some very fond memories of riding on mountain trails. The day I turned forty, a couple of good friends (Mike and Dave) and I took the Lily Pond single-track trail to Italian Creek which led us to the summit of American Flag Mountain, elevation 12,713′. This is a memory I will cherish the rest of my life. There have been times since when I may have been having a bad day that I think back to this day and it makes me smile. I intend to go back to this spot in the future; soon my son will be old enough and have the skill to ride his motorcycle to the mountain peak. I am looking forward to sharing one of my favorite spots on the planet with him.

Sand

While sand has never been one of my favorite types of terrain, this is the primary type at my local riding spot, The Bijou. Since this is the closest place to ride, I have to spend many hours every year riding in sand. I actually like it now more than I did ten years ago. After some tips from my father-in-law (Mike) on how to negotiate sand, I can now navigate my motorcycle tires through most any sand wash. The trick is to sit back on the seat as far as possible and let the front tire steer itself. This may sound crazy but it works; I actually have great control over the motorcycle. I think in the past, I was over-riding the bike and working myself too hard. Now I let the bike do the work and I don’t get as tired.

During the summer months, my family and I go on more road trips; the Bijou is more of a winter time riding spot for me. Because of the high daytime temperatures (I don’t like to ride in extreme heat) I don’t spend much time during the summer months in the sand wash. A second reason I avoid going there in the summer is rattlesnakes. A couple of summers ago on two consecutive trips to the Bijou, I spotted rattlesnakes. The second time, while there with my good friend Mike, we saw one about one hundred yards from where my trailer was parked. As I made my way through the sand, across the creek, through the ravines and to the top of the hill all I could picture in my mind was that large serpent sunning himself on the wooden deck of my trailer. That was enough for me to decide that the Bijou is best visited during the cooler months when the rattlesnakes are sleeping.

Conclusion

As I have tried to describe in this post, I have three major types of terrain that I ride. I really don’t have a favorite; I just like to be in the moment wherever I am at the time. The desert of Western Colorado is a great place to ride because that was the foundation of my return to riding dirt bikes. The mountains are a great summertime getaway for my family. We always look back fondly on our past trips to the rocky, forested trails. Our local spot, the Bijou, is great because it is close to home; after some practice, I have become a good sand rider and I now know how to negotiate the loose surface. This is my least favorite terrain because of the extreme summertime heat and the fierce rattlesnakes, but the Bijou is a great wintertime ride.

In the end, the terrain doesn’t really matter to me; I can usually make the best of a situation and negotiate just about any type of trail. The important thing to me is that I am riding my dirt bike and putting miles on those knobby tires.

James Parker

My Son’s First Single Track Ride on His Motorcycle

Posted by moto_admin on July 26, 2012
Recreation / No Comments

My son is a single-track motorcycle rider! The first day of our 2012 Taylor Park, Colorado trip, eight-year-old Joey and I put our motorcycle tires on a three mile section of rocky track named the Taylor River Trail. This marked Joey’s first single track ride! As a dirt biking dad, I could not have been more proud. Single-track is what separates the dirt bikers from the quad riders. This marks a rider as a skilled dirt motorcyclist – it means that he has arrived and can handle more advance terrain. As Jennifer and I were talking at the end of the day, we decided that in a couple of years I will have a single-track partner in our son. Though as I am getting older, I know that it won’t be long before he will be, in his words, “smoking Dad.” It’ll be ok…I’ll be ready for it.

Single-Track Defined

A single-track trail is one that is mere inches wide, meant for motorcycles only. It is not wide enough for quad or side-by-side tires. These narrow pathways can weave through delicate ecosystems which may need to be protected from overuse. Quads can just be too harsh on this local environment, so the trail is made narrow to restrict traffic through the area. Another reason for a trail being so narrow is that it may be in a tightly wooded area. One such trail that comes to my mind at Taylor Park is the Lilly Pond single track trail. This is one I rode last year, and it wound through the trees and over rocks, boulders and logs. Near the end of the ride, there is a treacherous water crossing that will tire you out if you are not already exhausted. After completing a single track trail, I feel a sense of accomplishment that does not come to me after a jeep or ATV trail.

Beware when on a single track trail, as it may also be used by hikers or mountain bikers. Remember as good stewards of the OHV community, we share the trails.

The Day of the Ride

The day started out with Jennifer and I trying to find places where Joey could get his new Maxxis tires out on the terrain to get used to the rocks, hills and logs that differ from the obstacles he normally rides. We camped at Dinner Station Campground, about four miles north of Taylor Reservoir on Forest Road 748. We went out the campground entrance and took an immediate right and headed south along the end of the campground until the trail wound itself along TaylorRiver. We came to the beginning of the single-track where we turned around because I didn’t think the boy was ready for that rugged of terrain. After doubling back to the campground entrance and going past the north end of the campground about a mile and half until we came to Forest Road 748, we turned around and came back to our campground entrance. I decided that Joey was doing an excellent job negotiating the rocks, puddles and other terrain on
these two easier trails, so we decided to go east across 748 to some unmarked trails that would offer my son some new challenges. After a couple of miles of winding through trees and finding a few closed trails, I decided it was time for a new challenge. It was time to take a crack at some single track.

The Single-Track Challenge

We headed back to the entrance to Dinner Station Campground so we could get back to the trail head of the narrow trail we skipped earlier. While winding our way along the ATV trail just past the campground, we had a small mishap. I was leading, looked back and Joey was not there. I kept myself calm while I
back-tracked to see what had happened. Joey was near a small rock field with his little Honda motorcycle lying on its side. He appeared to be uninjured as he stood over his bike. My thought was that now he will not be in the proper mental state to do our much anticipated single-track ride. How ever was I wrong! He had simply lost control and laid it over; he was doing just fine and wanted to press on with our trip. I credit his motorcycle helmet and other protective riding apparel to him being uninjured and ready for the new challenge.

So we arrived at the point where it turns into a motorcycle trail only. We stopped and I asked Joey once more if he really wanted to do this. With an affirmative answer, we twisted our throttles and allowed our Maxxis tires to get some traction on the rocky pathway.

It started out smooth with just a few whoops; then we went through some bushes and came out in a boulder field. I was afraid that this would be too much for the tiny motorcycle tires on Joey’s bike. I stopped to ask Joey once more if he wanted to keep going or turn around. I got a resounding “keep going” from the boy, so we put the two Honda bikes into gear and kept going over rocks, around corners and through some puddles. We came to a small timber bridge that I have ridden over many times over the years, and there were timbers in the middle that had broken, so the bridge had a hole in the middle of it. Now understand, this bridge is about a foot above the creek and about eighteen inches wide. It is mainly there to protect the stream from damage. It didn’t cause much of a delay, though, as we were able to ride our bikes up onto the bridge and just lift them over the hole. Once across the creek, there were many more rocks to traverse and we had a few minor problems, but nothing we two Parker boys couldn’t handle. Once we got to the end, at the cattle guard near the trail head for Pie Plant Mill Road, we found my wife waiting for us on her four-wheeler.

I was one proud papa that day; I told Joey many times that he is now officially a single tracker and he got much praise for conquering his first single-track trail. At one point in the day, he mentioned to me how he was proud of himself for riding the trail. He is quite the young man; keep in mind he is still only eight years old and doing this terrain on a Honda CRF 70F. This bike is not really designed for this type of riding.

Conclusion

This day was a proud moment for this dirt bike dad and I will cherish for the rest of my life. Our family is not into sports, we camp and off-road instead. This is what we do to spend time together; this is our release. It means a lot to me to know that my son is into dirt bikes as much as I am. This is something we will be able to share for many years to come.

Although this trail is called the Taylor River Trail, Joey and I renamed the single-track “The Pig Boy’s Trail” in honor of our matching father-son bikes. Here’s to looking at many more years of father-son bonding time on our dirt bikes.

James Parker

Tags: , , ,

Pole Hill Dirt Bike Ride

Posted by moto_admin on July 11, 2012
Recreation / No Comments

This past Sunday turned out to be a surprise dirt bike ride! On Friday night there were absolutely no plans to ride over the weekend, but with the invitations pouring in Saturday morning, it was determined that we would go to Pole Hill, near Estes Park, Colorado. First, though, there was some motorcycle maintenance that needed to be done. After all, we recently purchased some new Maxxis tires for Joey’s Red Piglet and my Honda XR650R had some overheating issues during the last ride that needed to be addressed. It was all good though, I had all Saturday afternoon to take care of these problems.

Maintenance

Going into the weekend, my plan was to start preparing the motorcycles for our upcoming Taylor Park trip in two weeks. Plans changed quickly, though, Saturday morning when my good friend Jason called to see if my family would like to go riding with his family on Sunday. My initial response was that I needed to work on the Big Red Pig, because of the issues it had a few weeks ago at Rampart Range. The engine got too hot and ended up boiling all the coolant out of the overflow tank, so I had to make sure that there was no coolant in the oil. But after checking a sample of oil, I found it looked normal, so I was able to simply top off the overflow tank, do the normal pre-trip checks and load the pig onto the trailer.

My next maintenance issue was to put a new Maxxis tire on the rear wheel of Joey’s Red Piglet. My friend Mark graciously offered to “help” put the new rubber on the bike. I accepted his offer and before I knew it, Mark had the wheel off the motorcycle and was prying the old tire and tube off the rim. He actually did the entire job with very little assistance from me, and the only thing I really accomplished was to pinch the new tube while trying to mount the new Maxxis to the rim. We just put the old tube back on with the new tire and I applied a patch to the pinched tube. I will put it in the travelling tire repair kit as a spare.

Should We Stay or Should We Go?

The month of June 2012 ended up being a month of record-setting heat and drought in Colorado. Everyone has heard about the devastating wild fires over the
last couple of months. I, in fact, ended up fighting some of these blazes. The weekend following the Independence Day Holiday turned out to be the exact opposite, but for a bit there, not necessarily in a good way. It was a cool, rainy weekend; and, in fact, many of the burn areas experienced flooding Friday night and Saturday. We had carefully selected the Pole Hill OHV area just outside of Estes Park, Colorado, because it is not close to any of the fire areas; but the region around Pole Hill was under a flash flood warning on Sunday and there was a mudslide in the area on Saturday night. It was not until the last minute that we made the final decision to go to Pole Hill anyway.

We Have Arrived

Upon our arrival at the top of Pole Hill Road off of US Highway 36, we found an extremely small staging area. We arrived, pulling our motorcycle trailer behind our pickup truck, and were not able to park in the parking area. We ended up having to park alongside Pole Hill Road just outside of the staging area. That all worked out just fine, as we were parked about 50 yards from Jason and his family. Our friend Kyler arrived shortly after we did with his quad racer and parked about 100 yards down the hill from our trailer. We were all close enough that we could help one another out with the loading and unloading of any one of our machines.

We’re Off to Ride

After a short ride up a steep, rocky hill just past the trailhead, Joey decided that he would rather stay at the staging area and play with some of Jason’s kids. So the riding group was just myself with Jason and his son Jaxon on our motorcycles, and Kyler and Jennifer on their quads. This area contains about nine miles of riding trails – there are no single track trails here. They are entirely jeep roads, so a dirt bike rider has many options when choosing lines over the boulders that must be traversed. There are some steep climbs, many of which are lined with rocks the size of cars. The first time we went around the circuit of trails, it took us about two hours because we stopped many times to take in the views and decide which trail to travel. It was a nice
ride and everyone had fun.

I would not recommend Pole Hill for younger kids. The boulders were simply too big for the tires on Joey’s Honda CRF70R. He became frustrated very quickly; that is why I decided to just let him play with the kids back at the truck. So as it turned out, we really didn’t need to rush to get the new Maxxis tire on his little bike.

Conclusion

What a relief this weekend turned out to be; not only did we get a break from oppressive heat and drought, we got to ride. The past month or so has been very stressful for me with my day job being in its busy season and fighting fires every day. This was a great break from everyday life for me; for a few hours I forgot about work and fires.

We found a new riding area – a nice little mountain riding spot only two hours from home. Many of our mountain areas are a three plus hour drive for our family. Jennifer and I had a conversation on the way home about how this would be a great place to test the motorcycles prior to a trip to Taylor Park. This is just what this day was, a Taylor test.

Some tuning will need to be done in the next two weeks; a lot of cleaning is ahead of us, too, to avoid cross-contamination at the new riding area. Oh well, we have two weeks to get ready. I guess I know what I will be doing this upcoming weekend.

James Parker

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Mid-Week Dirt Bike Ride (Rampart Range)

Posted by moto_admin on June 27, 2012
Recreation / No Comments

Last week we made it to Rampart Range in Colorado for a mid-week dirt bike ride. I took the Big Red Pig, Joey was there with his piglet and Jennifer rode her four-wheeler. Our good friend Dave joined us and brought some new friends along (both named Steve). We took two family rides and a “guys only” ride during the day; everyone had a good time and no one got hurt. I would call the day a success.

We got to go Camping!

Since Rampart is only about a two-and-a-half hour drive from our house, and the sun doesn’t set until around 9pm, we had time to leave home after work and spend the night next to the motorcycle trails. So, we hooked the truck up to the fifth wheel camper with the motorcycle trailer behind that. For us to take the whole family and all of our machines on an overnight trip, our vehicles total a length of 65′! I know it is somewhat ridiculous, but this is what we enjoy doing as a family and we have fun being together.

So we left home after work Tuesday, made the drive to the south side of the Denver area and made our way up into the foothills until we came to Rampart Range Road. Once on Rampart Range Road, we traveled south 3.1 miles to an undeveloped camp spot. Since there are no fees to stay in these undeveloped spots, this is an ideal situation for frugal families like mine.

Once camp was set up, we started talking about how we would like to have more than just one night in this beautiful spot. I had to be at work on Thursday morning, but we decided that if we could get up extra early and leave the campsite by 5am, I could still make it to work on time. Bingo! We suddenly have a two-night and one-day mid-week getaway–what a nice change of plans!

Motorcycle Riding Day

We were able to sleep in on ride day, because Dave and the Steves were to arrive around 8:30 am on Wednesday. We had plenty of time to unload the bikes, check out our gear, and make sure the motorcycle tires were ready for the trails. When everything checked out fine, we were ready to go riding.

On our first route down a trail, we came to a fork in the road about a quarter of a mile into it. The Dave, Steve and Steve trio wanted to take the more difficult trail, while Jennifer and Joey decided they wanted to take the easier of the two trails. I decided to go with my family while the guys went off on their own. Joey found the hills, turns and canyons of this trail to be somewhat difficult. The worn down knobbies of his rear motorcycle tire were not gripping the loose shale of the terrain. I decided that when we got home, it would be time to shop for a new rear tire for his bike. After about an hour-and-a-half of riding this tough motorcycle trail, we headed back to camp for a break.

Once the entire group reconvened at camp for some lunch, it was decided that the first ride of the afternoon would be a guys-only ride. We headed south out of camp along Rampart Range Road on a trail called the Powerline. We took that until we came to trail number 673, which to me is one of the most scenic trails I have ever ridden. It starts out in a westerly direction and drops down into a valley by means of many switchbacks on a narrow shelf on the side of the mountain. I fell quite a ways behind the group, as I slowed way down to take in the view; I was seeing all the greenery of this early summer day with a view of another mountain range off in the distance. We threaded our way down to the floor of the valley until we came to a water crossing, which was insignificant since this has been an extremely dry year. Once the water crossing was behind us, it was time to start climbing up out of the valley.

While ascending, we encountered a problem. On a narrow side hill trail, another dirt bike going the opposite direction came around a blind corner and nearly collided with Dave, who was in the lead. That forced the rest of us to stop on the steep uphill climb, and since the Big Red Pig does not have electric start, I was afraid if I shut it off, I would not be able to kick start the bike. I was riding cleanup (the last rider in the foursome), watching the other three riders struggle to get their knobby tires to regain traction, when the coolant in my motor began to boil. The temperatures were in the nineties that day, so it was necessary to get the bike rolling to get some air flowing over the motor. When traffic cleared and the other three were re-grouping, I sped past them so that I could cool the motor down. About a mile down the road, I found a nice flat spot where I could park and wait for the other guys in the group. Once we had taken a break and re-hydrated ourselves, we continued down trail 673 which would loop us back to Rampart Range Road. Once back to the road, we headed back to camp because one Steve needed to head home.

After saying our farewells to Steve, the remaining members of our group went back down to the south along the Powerline trail. This was a much better ride for Joey; the terrain was not as hilly and he seemed to get much better traction this time. It was a good ride and made the day well worth it for all. Joey would like to have kept riding down the trail, but Jennifer and I decided to end the day on a positive note and turn back before he got too tired.

Conclusion

Upon our arrival back at camp, we all sat under the awning of our camper with a refreshing drink. This gave us time to talk about the day and how much fun we all had. It was a good time because not only did I get to ride with Dave for the first time since Taylor Park last summer, but it gave my family a great opportunity to have a quick impromptu camping trip.

I realized that I have some work to do before going to Taylor Park in July. Before our departure, I would like to flush and fill the coolant on the Big Red Pig since I had the boiling problem. I am also planning to put new motorcycle tires on my bike and a new rear Maxxis tire on Joey’s piglet. I think these new tires will make a tremendous difference with gaining traction on looser terrain. The new knobbies should be able to dig into soil better than the worn out tread on our current motorcycle tires.

All in all, it was a good day, and I kept thinking about a quote from Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” I have gotten to an age where I have come to the realization that there is more to life than work. I need to take more days off like this, where I stop to take a look around. I don’t want to miss life.

James Parker

Tags: , , , ,

Rampart Range Motorcycle Ride

Posted by moto_admin on June 12, 2012
Recreation / No Comments

If I can get through the next day or so with no big issues at work, it looks as though a group of my riding buddies and I will get to do a Wednesday ride at the renowned Rampart Range OHV area south of Denver. Rampart Range is a popular and historical spot, located in the Pike National Forest, which is close enough to Denver or Colorado Springs for most dirt bikers to get in a mid-week ride. Also, I spent part of my Sunday preparing the Big Red Pig and Joey’s Piglet for the trip. In addition, it looks as though we will be able to slip away Tuesday night and have a quick camping trip along with the ride.

photo by Glenn Harper, Flickr

Rampart Range Road

Area History

The Rampart trail system is centered on Rampart Range Road. The road connects to the Denver area on the north near Sedalia, Colorado and on the south just west of Colorado Springs. The road itself is somewhat historical; it was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. The original intent was merely as a public works project to access the Pike National Forest.

photo by Beverly Vealach, FlickrThe first motorcycle riders, in the days before ATVs, began to use the trails in the early seventies. Now since I originated in the early seventies, I have a vague knowledge of the dirt bike technology of the time. Most bikes were merely street bikes with knobby tires; they were equipped with steel gas tanks and dual rear shocks. During this era of the Rampart, the area hosted a race called the Bear Track Enduro. The event was hosted by Harry’s Roamers motorcycle club, the oldest Colorado club chartered by the American Motorcyclist Association. The event drew nearly two-hundred riders aboard BSAs, Hodakas and Husqvarna motorcycles. I would have loved to have been there to witness these motorcycles during the early years of dirt bikes.

A legend that has nothing to do with motorcycles, but I find interesting, is that there may be gold buried in the hills. As the legend goes, a group of train robbers pilfered gold from the Denver and Rio Grande railroad close to the nearby town of Deckers. As a group of law men closed in on the thieves, the bad guys buried the treasure near a rock formation called Devil’s Head. Once buried, the spot was marked on a nearby tree. As luck would have it, a forest fire came through the area and the marked tree was destroyed. So it is believed that the buried treasure may still be in Rampart.

So historically, this is a rich area. Whether it is motorcycle history or history of the old west, interesting stories have originated in the Rampart Range OHV area.

The Committee

The Rampart OHV area has a unique feature which I am not aware of at any other riding area. That is the Rampart Range Motorcycle Management Committee (RRMMC). This is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization who works with the forest service to protect and preserve the trails. They are there to look out for the rider’s interest and help keep trails open. They were established in 1972 and are chartered by the American Motorcyclist Association. The group’s origin can be traced back to the 1940s when locals began to ride the trails on street motorcycles like Harley-Davidsons in order to track game. When lighter motorcycles began to come on the market in the 1960s, the trails became more popular. This led to the locals deciding to form a group to make a plan to preserve the trails. Hence, the RRMMC was formed in 1972.

A Popular Place to Be

As mentioned earlier, Rampart can be easily accessed from either the Denver or Colorado Springs Metro areas. Because of this fact, it is a very popular place to ride on the weekends, and I have been witness to very crowded conditions on the forested trails on Saturday and Sunday. During the week, though, a dirt biker may have the place to himself. Most of the visitors to the trails are local riders due to its easy accessibility.

There are five established campgrounds in Rampart and dispersed camping is allowed at no charge. Our plan is to head up after work on Tuesday and be there early Wednesday when the rest of our riding party arrives. We have not yet decided between a campground or just pulling off into a dispersed spot. That decision will probably be made once we arrive. Since it is Tuesday night, we don’t anticipate having any problems finding a spot to park our truck, fifth wheel and motorcycle trailer. A late Friday arrival without reservations would not be advised, though, as camping spots would be scarce for a weekend stay.

Preparation

Since we are going on somewhat of an extended day-long ride, I decided to spend some time with my motorcycle and Joey’s new Honda on Sunday afternoon. I checked out the motorcycle tires for proper inflation, all were nearly perfect; no adjustment was needed. I checked the oil levels on both and the coolant level on the Big Red Pig (Joey’s is air-cooled, so it doesn’t have coolant).

Jennifer is going along and no longer has a motorcycle, so I gave her four wheeler a quick once over to make sure everything is in good working order. It should be interesting to see how she does on the ATV at Rampart. This will be the first time we have been to the area since purchasing the quad. The last time we were there, she struggled to navigate the narrow forested trails on her motorcycle. My opinion is that she will do just fine on the ATV; she has had very few struggles with the new vehicle.

Conclusion

I am so looking forward to this little mid-week adventure on Wednesday. It will be a nice family getaway and a nice get-together with some friends. We will take in some of the history of the RampartRange area while we are putting our motorcycle tires on some well-renowned trails between Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado. In a couple of weeks, I’ll tell you all about our trip!

James Parker

Source: rampartrange.org

Tags: ,

Don’t Let Altitude Sickness Ruin Your Off-Roading Fun

Posted by moto_admin on May 29, 2012
Uncategorized / 2 Comments

A planned dirt bike ride in Woodland Park, Colorado over Memorial Day Weekend ended before it started, after not heeding my own advice. I did not come prepared and suffered from a case of altitude sickness. As a result, the bikes did not even come off the trailer over the three-day weekend. Don’t be like me – prepare for a high altitude ride to avoid becoming ill.

Poor Preparation

We live at an elevation of about 4,300′; the day we left for WoodlandPark, I made an early morning business trip to Nebraska to an elevation of about 3,300′. By the time the day ended, after we had set up camp in the WoodlandPark area, we were at an altitude of just over 8,000′. It was a day of travelling from appointment to appointment without taking time to properly eat or hydrate myself.

In my rush to get through the day so that we could go have some fun, I had a handful of cereal and a lemon-lime soda for breakfast as I was driving to Nebraska. Lunch was two fast food bean burritos and a cola on my drive back to Colorado.

Wow, looking back, none of this was smart at all. When a person is headed for higher elevations, they should be drinking lots of water and eating healthy. I really wish that Friday morning I would have taken the extra five minutes to pack something better. I was simply in too much of a hurry; I just wanted to get through the day so that I could start having fun as soon as possible.

Dirt Bike Riding Day

Well, after arriving late Friday evening in WoodlandPark, I was rewarded with a long night of nausea, headaches and fatigue. By the time my buddy Jason and his son Jaxon arrived in camp on Saturday morning, I was in no condition to take the Big Red Pig out. My Maxxis tires would remain on the trailer instead of whooping it up on the OHV trails of Woodland Park, Colorado. So, while the guys were out on the motorcycles having fun, I was on the couch in the camper trying to recover from my mistake. When they came back with stories about how awesome the riding was, all I could speak about with any authority was the color of the ceiling of our camper. Next time, I will better prepare myself for an elevation change this dramatic so that I, too, can have bench racing stories around the campfire.

Symptoms

Remember, altitude sickness is a real medical condition; mine was a mild case, but the illness can be life-threatening. If you begin to experience symptoms, postpone your ascent, if possible. Most people get into trouble when they are increasing in elevation faster than 1,000 feet per day. The air is thinner above 8,000 feet, and it can be hard to get enough oxygen. Symptoms that you may be experiencing altitude sickness include:

  • Mild to throbbing headache
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Fatigue (even without altitude sickness, it is common for people traveling to the mountains to have less stamina and become winded more easily)
  • Dizziness
  • Sleeplessness
  • Feeling “weak in the knees”

These are your warning signs to stop. The best way to reverse the symptoms is to head back down to lower elevation. But if you can tolerate them, it will do you no lasting harm to stop where you are to let your body adjust. The adjustment period is different for everyone, so be prepared to stay put for awhile.

Prevention is Key

There are things you can do to keep the worst symptoms of altitude sickness at bay.

  • Drink plenty of water before and during your trip the mountains.
  • Don’t drive the entire distance in one day.
  • Make an effort to take deeper breaths than you are used to during the drive (to take in as much oxygen as possible).
  • Take it easy for a day or so after arriving, so your body can adjust to the tremendous elevation change.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Eat a lot of carbs, like breads, pasta and potatoes; but keep meals small.
  • Sleep at a lower altitude than where your activities take place.

Don’t be like me over this past Memorial Day Weekend and miss out on an epic off-road motorcycle riding weekend.

James Parker

They aren’t called “The Rockies” for nothing

Posted by moto_admin on May 15, 2012
Recreation, Trails and Trips / No Comments

Summer is nearly upon us, and it is time to start thinking about heading into the mountains for some epic trail riding. We do live in Colorado, but we live on the Eastern Plains, which is a desert-like climate. This is why I have frequently written about riding in the sand at our local spot, the Bijou, and in Grand Junction. Riding in the mountains offers a totally different terrain experience. Instead of sand or soft dirt, we run our motorcycle tires over all sizes of rocks, trees and water crossings.

Rock and Roll

The Colorado Mountains are notorious for rocks. A few years ago, Jennifer, Joey, Grandma Julie and I were riding in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Joey and Grandma were on a two person four-wheeler, Jennifer was on a quad and I was on the Big Red Pig. I remember being the only motorcycle on the trails, and when we encountered other riders we would stop to talk to them. More than one ATV rider marveled in disbelief that I was riding this rocky terrain on a motorcycle. I thought it was a typical Rocky Mountain ride, though, and I played on the beach ball-sized rocks all afternoon. To me, riding on a sea of rocks is normal – I think it is fun! That weekend in Pagosa, I felt like a rock star (no pun intended); when I came home and relayed the story of the locals marveling at me riding a motorcycle to my buddy Mike, he nicknamed me “Rock Slayer.” He said that every time I come back from the mountains I have a story about the rocky trails. So I suppose the nickname makes sense.

A couple of my Nebraska cousins have ridden street bikes, dirt bikes and raced motocross for many years, and they have a story about a friend of theirs who tried riding in the mountains and ended up having to replace most of the plastic on the bike because it had been torn up by the rocks.

I have never had to replace any plastic on the pig yet, but I have been known to come back from a mountain ride with many loose bolts on a bike. Checking for loose and missing fasteners is just a part of my post-riding maintenance routine. I carry a metric bolt kit in the truck tool box on our extended riding trips, also, in case I discover missing bolts during the trip.

Your motorcycle tires are a big factor in how well you manage a rocky trail; my choice for years has been Maxxis Maxxcross Desert IT tires. I have found that this tire compound works well on all the terrains I ride on – from the mountain rocks, to the desert terrain of the Grand Junction Desert, to the sand of the Bijou. It is also a good idea to bring extra tubes on the trip; I think every time I have been to Taylor Park, someone in our camp has had to replace a tube.

Spring Meltdown

Water is not the only problem in late spring and early summer; last year after an extremely harsh winter, there were many trails with downed trees and branches. Even when we went to Taylor in August, we encountered a lot of downed timber. I remember Mike, Dave and I having some fun dumping our clutches and hopping our Maxxis and Dunlop tires over these obstacles. Mike, who was less experienced in the mountains, asked to follow me so that he could learn my technique of tree hopping. It is one of those things that I just do with a motorcycle and cannot really explain how I do it. For me, it just seems to come naturally.

This past winter has been an unusually dry winter, which means that the mountain trail riding season may begin early this year. Cottonwood Pass, the gateway to Taylor Park, closes in the winter and has already opened for this summer – that is nearly a month earlier than last year. In normal years, the riding season will only last from July to the middle of September. This is because spring runoff can take until July to finish; some of the areas of the Colorado Mountains can have 120″ of snow or more in a winter. Obviously, this takes awhile to dissipate, as that is a lot of water to channel through the high mountain streams and rivers. This makes for very dangerous fast-moving and deep water crossings, so parks remain closed until the danger is past.

Conclusion

My favorite time of year for riding is nearly upon us! I like summer best, because I get to go to the Colorado Mountains for some world-class riding. We usually wait until July for these trips to avoid the deep water crossings and fallen trees. If you have never been to the Rocky Mountains be prepared for rocks! Regularly inspect for missing bolts, make a good choice in ATV or motorcycle tires, and bring extra tubes along. Most of all, try out Colorado’s epic trails and have a good time. And please, I beg you, leave our forests as you found them. We want to keep them for the next generation to ride.

James Parker

Tags: , , ,

Customer Q&A

Posted by moto_admin on May 04, 2012
Motorcycle Tires / No Comments

Q: How does the Shinko SR777 WWW 170/70-16 compare to the stock Dunlop motorcycle tires that came on my ’06 Deluxe, as far as size and wear ability?
A: As a rule, “economical” brands like Shinko, Kenda, Duro, etc., do not perform at the same level as a premium tire (you get what you pay for). That being said, most premium manufacturers have OEM replacements that are similar in quality to the economy brands. The handling & mileage will be poorer than on their premium tires (Metzeler ME880, Avon Cobra, Dunlop Elite 3, Pirelli Night Dragon, Bridgestone Exedra Max, etc).

Q: Additionally, what would be the widest tire I could put on the stock rim – 16″ spoke – with no modifications?
A: You must measure for clearance for oversize tires. You can usually go one size wider than stock on most bikes, but it depends on the bike. As an example, I do work for a guy who has a matching pair of pearl white HD Fatboys that he bought new, with the same options on both bikes. He wanted to put wider tires on them. We carefully measured one bike, went and purchased a pair of motorcycle tires for both, and got a big surprise. The clearance between the drive belt and the tire was 1/4″ smaller on the bike we did not measure, so we had to buy one size narrower for it. So the moral of this story is: Always Measure, NEVER Assume.

OHV Vehicle Registration: Clearing Up the Confusion

Posted by moto_admin on April 24, 2012
Riding Tips & Education / No Comments

Before putting those motorcycle tires on the trails this summer, make sure to have proper registration for your dirt bike. Here in Colorado, there has been a lot of confusion going on as to how an off-road motorcycle should be registered. This will hopefully clarify the law that should be followed. Following OHV laws to the letter will help keep our public trails open for all to use.

The Personal Story
While at Taylor Park last year, a forest ranger came into our camp to inspect our motorcycles and four-wheelers for registration and spark arrestors. My family’s machines were compliant on both; however, a couple of the others who were with us were given warnings for not having OHV stickers. The rule used to be that either an OHV sticker or a license plate would allow a person to don a motorcycle helmet and attack the trails; these folks still believed that having a Colorado license plate was enough. The ranger told us that in order to be on forest service trails, the law states that a motorcycle or ATV must have an OHV sticker and registration issued by the Colorado State Parks Service.

Jennifer’s dad Mike was one of the people who received a warning; he was still using the Colorado motorcycle license plate he purchased ten years ago – back then a license plate was cheaper than an OHV sticker. Guys like Mike have ridden for years thinking they were perfectly legal to run their motorcycle tires on the public trails. So when we went to Grand Junction to pre-run the desert, Mike bought his first OHV sticker for his Honda XR600R so that he was compliant.

Why Both?
Why do the state and federal foresters say there must also be an OHV tag in order to be on public trails? The answer is funding. When a person pays for a license plate, those dollars go toward building and maintaining public highways only. No dollars go toward public OHV trail maintenance from the license plate fee. The purchase of an OHV sticker and registration remedies this, as a portion of those dollars goes toward trail construction and maintenance. So I do understand this point of view. In essence, purchasing only a license plate means that you are not paying your share of the trail maintenance.

Understand in our personal story, the ranger did not issue citations to the guys without the appropriate stickers. He simply explained the issue and advised them of the laws. After the explanation and some research, I think those in our group have accepted this as the truth and complied with the law.

Conclusion
After many years of thinking the law was one way, some in our regular riding group have found that they have been unknowingly breaking a law. There was no malicious intent here; it was simply a case of misinterpreting existing registration regulations. We are all good law abiding citizens; we all make sure to wear all the appropriate motorcycle apparel and motorcycle helmets. We are all very much interested in doing what is right and abide by the law so that trails will remain open for all of us to use for years to come. So in the end, when riding on public trails in Colorado, make sure to have registration, a Colorado State OHV tag, a US Forest Service-approved spark arrestor and comply with noise regulations.

James Parker

Pre-Running the Desert for a Motorcycle Race

Posted by moto_admin on April 10, 2012
Racing, Trails and Trips / No Comments

A couple weeks ago it was spring break for my second grader, Joey, and wife Jennifer who works at a school. That week happened to coincide with the Snakebite Enduro, presented by the Bookcliff Rattlers Motorcycle Club in Grand Junction, CO. Since Jen’s family lives there, we decided to travel the three hundred plus miles to the desert to see the race. The original plan was for me to race that weekend, but that didn’t work out. However, I did get in some pre-running, lots of trail riding and made many memories.

Trail Riding
Jen, Joey and I arrived at Jennifer’s parents’ house on Wednesday night; Joey was none too excited to see his Grandma Julie and Grandpa Mike. They are off-roaders as well – Mike has a dirt bike and Julie has a four-wheeler. Julie suffered a spiral fracture of her femur a couple of years ago on her dirt bike, so she has evolved into a quad rider. Grandma Julie is always willing to go out and take on the desert; it makes me smile to see her out on the ATV after suffering such a major injury on her motorcycle. Since we arrived late on Wednesday, though, my family did not go out to the desert to ride in the dark. It wouldn’t be until Saturday our group would invade the “dobes” of the Grand Valley.

Quite a group of us decided to get together that weekend and we were all arriving at different times. As people would arrive to the Junction area, we would convene in the desert to scope out the terrain. On Thursday afternoon the first of the racing posse arrived: my good friend Mark and his family. I waited to put my motorcycle tires on desert until he and I met out at the OHV area at 3 pm. We knew the desert enduro was to start at the old motocross track, so that’s where we went first and, following a hunch, I led Mark toward “Skinny Ridge” thinking that is where the race course was likely to lead. We spent a couple of hours chasing one another through gullies, up and down hills, and across ridges. The terrain ranged from a concrete-like motocross track to very soft sand in the washes and gullies. I have stated in past posts that this is one of my favorite places to ride; this two hour trail ride reinforced how much I like to ride the Grand Valley OHV area.

On Friday, my life-long friend Jason (who has been with Mike and me at the Bijou and Taylor Park) arrived with his young son Jaxon around 10 am for a weekend of riding and racing. They had left home around 5 am and the first order of business was to visit a local motorcycle dealer to get Mike’s new motorcycle the proper OHV tag required for entry into the race. Jason and Jaxon shopped for new protective riding apparel while there, as they are just getting back into riding after many years. They wanted to make sure that they had good boots, pants and padding to take on the desert.

Pre-Running
That afternoon, we all converged on the OHV area; we had four motorcycles, two mini-bikes and Jennifer on her ATV. We once again decided to start at the MX track; the two young boys, Jaxon and Joey, took a few laps around the track. They were eating it up! I’m sure in their minds; they were emulating the supercross stars they see on TV. I rode behind Joey and beamed with pride while watching my boy have so much fun on his motorcycle. After a few laps on the track, Jennifer wanted to go back to the truck to meet Joey’s great-grandparents, who would be arriving shortly to watch him ride his motorcycle. At this point, I was still considering participating in the weekend’s race, so Mike, Mark, Jason, Jaxon and I decided to do a little pre-running for it.

We decided to point our tires in the same direction that Mark and I went the day prior, and noticed the course markers were out. Hot dog! We were on the race course for the next day! This was approximately a seven mile loop covering much of the same terrain that Mark and I had done the day before. I was amazed at how we had randomly picked out the exact terrain that turned out to be the trail for the race. We decided to follow the race markers, but about a mile in, it turned out to be too tough for Jaxon, so he and Jason veered off on other trails to head back to the trucks. About halfway through the course, I was ascending a hill on the Big Red Pig when I downshifted, hit neutral, and laid the bike over. Every time my motorcycle gets laid on its side, it takes awhile to restart.

It was fifteen minutes before the motor would fire. That gave me a lot of time to think; I decided that since I was still fighting a sinus infection and conditions were dry and dusty that I would not race the next day. I figured I could make myself useful by helping the other guys in the pits. After finishing out the riding day, we loaded up all the bikes and went to Jennifer’s parents’ house to formulate a plan for race day.

Race Day
On Saturday, the last of the party arrived: my brother Brad. He, Mark and Mike decided that they would do the two hour team race. Jason and I were responsible for gas and giving the motorcycle and all the tires a once over prior to the race. The racers entered the “C” class team race with a team name of FMFD; the trio would end up placing 17th out of 21 teams. Some of the team’s lap times were very competitive, but on laps where problems were encountered, lap times were slow. No worries, though, the idea of the day was just to have a good time and get a taste of desert enduro racing.

Following the race, which ended at noon many of us, some of the group decided to move to a different part of the desert to do more trail riding, including Grandma Julie and Grandpa Mike. On the first loop we took, I chose to ride the ATV since I had not spent much time on it on this trip. The others in the group were Joey, Jaxon, Jason, Grandpa Mike and my buddy Mike. We rode about ten miles on this loop just checking out the terrain and enjoying the eighty degree weather.

The next loop was mostly my buddy Mike and I; we took a sand wash and rode it as hard as we could to try to make ourselves better and faster. Once we tired of the wash, we rode up onto some hills across some ridges just taking in as much of the terrain as we could in the time we had left. This would be our last day in Junction, as we had to go home on Sunday. Upon our arrival back at the truck, the best part of my weekend happened.

Joey had spent much of the afternoon practicing how to shift gears on his “Piglet.” When Mike and I returned from our ride, Joey asked me to show him where we had gone. I asked if he was ready for some harder riding and he said he was. So off we went! Joey and I went across dry creeks, over whoops, up hills and down hills. We even rode the tops of some of the many narrow ridges that are found in the Grand Valley OHV area. This is the ride that I have been waiting to take with Joey since he started riding motorcycles four years ago. He could definitely hold his own – I didn’t have to get off to help him. He just followed along like any of my other riding buddies; I was so proud of my son after that ride. It was definitely the highlight of my four days of desert riding in Grand Junction, Colorado!

Conclusion
What an awesome weekend! I wish that every off-road trip my family takes were this successful. No one got hurt and no machines broke down. I was really close to entering a race, but there will be other days for that when I am feeling better. We all got to create some great memories with some very good friends. My dear son and I got some quality bonding time on a sport that we both love. I think the dad and son ride at the end of the weekend meant just as much to him as it did to this old man. I just can’t wait for the next trip; I hope we have as much fun then as we did on this weekend. Here’s to many more trips where we can make memories with our friends and family.

James Parker

Tags: ,

Government Requirements for a Motorcycle Desert Race

Posted by moto_admin on March 27, 2012
Uncategorized / No Comments

As I was spending this past weekend preparing for a desert motorcycle race this weekend on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property near Grand Junction, Colorado; I was reminded of some of the government regulations that must be followed in order to enter this event. Those requirements include possession of a current Colorado OHV tag, a spark arrestor and compliance with noise restrictions. All of our machines follow these requirements; however, I want to use this post to explain all three requirements. Following these regulations is as important as having air in your motorcycle tires.

OHV Tags

In Colorado, any off-road vehicle being operated on public OHV trails must carry a sticker and a registration card. This permit is issued by the Colorado State Parks and costs $25.25 for one year. All issued tags in Colorado expire on March 31 of any given year. We usually get our renewal notices during the first part of March and renew online right away, because we usually have a ride planned around the end of March/beginning of April. This year we renewed and our stickers and cards arrived about ten days later. We have met the first BLM requirement in order to enter the race.

For riders entering the race from outside of Colorado, a non-resident permit is available; but, unfortunately, the permit fee is still $25.25. On the upside, the permit is still valid for one year, expiring on March 31 of next year, just like the resident permit.

Spark Arrestor
Colorado state law requires that OHVs have a spark arrestor installed in the exhaust system. This is generally just a simple screen that prevents sparks from exiting the tail pipe. These sparks can potentially ignite wild land fires. The last thing a desert motorcycle race needs is to be the responsible party in igniting a forest fire. That would be a public relations nightmare for groups like the Blue Ribbon Coalition, who are fighting for our rights to use public trails every day.

While at Taylor Park last year, a forest ranger came into camp and checked all machines for spark arrestors. Fortunately, our vehicles were all prepared and we passed the check because we all had one installed. If you are not sure if your machine has a spark arrestor, take a piece of wire and push it down the tail pipe. If the wire stops within 2-3 inches, then you probably have the screen.

If you are not confident by this test, then simply pull a few bolts out of the pipe and pull the screen out. While it is out, you may as well take a wire brush to it and clean out the excess carbon.

Noise Restrictions
Ninety-six decibels is generally the accepted noise level for motorcycles at races and organized trail rides. This should be attainable with most stock mufflers on dirt bikes, but if the stock pipe does not meet the noise restriction, then an after-market pipe may be an option. Also, a silencer needs to be re-packed from time to time – a re-pack kit can be purchased from most motorcycle parts dealers.

A noisy motorcycle is another quick way to alienate ourselves from those who want to close trails to dirt bikes and ATVs. Make sure that when out on a trail ride or a race, to meet the 96 decibels level so that these folks don’t have cause to force us off the trails.

Conclusion
I can’t wait to get my motorcycle tires out on the desert course in Grand Junction, Colorado. I have made sure to meet all the government regulations required in order to enter the event hosted by the Bookcliff Rattlers Motorcycle Club. I have my OHV registration stickers on my motorcycle, I have my spark arrestor in the tail pipe and the Big Red Pig is one of the quietest motorcycles around. There is no reason why the BLM or other groups can deny me access to the trails.

James Parker

Tags:

Desert Motorcycle Race

Posted by moto_admin on March 06, 2012
Racing / Comments Off on Desert Motorcycle Race

Race day is rapidly approaching and a few of my regular riding buddies and I have targeted a team race in the desert near Grand Junction, Colorado, as our first desert enduro race. We are in the process of deciding whose motorcycle to use for the race. We have just a few short weeks to get prepared for the event with a pre-run in the desert terrain, as it will be held March 31-April 1. Once some of our Cub Scout duties are out of the way, it will be time to start preparing for that weekend.

Which Motorcycle?

The race rules indicate that one bike must run the entire race and each member of the team must ride at least one of the 7-to-9 mile laps – team members will switch off as driver at the conclusion of each lap. The discussion has begun as to which bike we should use for the race.All of the bikes in our group are so different that this will be a difficult decision. Right now the probable racers for the team are my brother Brad, the infamous Mike, Mark who actively races motocross, Jason who has recently started to ride with us, and myself.

My brother Brad has a Yamaha WR 450, which is a nice trail bike with enduro roots. It has a wide ratio transmission and the motor would offer the power to carry any one of the five of us across the Grand Valley OHV area with little effort. My first inclination is that this may be the first choice of bike for our team. It would be a good trail bike for our first cross country race.

This past weekend, Mike sold his Kawasaki KX 250; yes, the same bike that followed me around Taylor Park last summer like a swarm of bees.As of this post, he does not have a replacement; although there are some candidates for his replacement scoot.Even though Mike will probably have a new motorcycle before the end of March, I think we will lean toward using someone else’s machine for the race, rather than powering around the desert on a new motorcycle.

My brother Mark regularly races in a Colorado motocross circuit; he rides a Honda CRF 450R.This is Honda’s MX bike; it has a narrowly geared transmission and a more hyper motor than what my brother and I are used to riding.Mike was probably able to adapt fairly easily, though, since he had been riding the two-stroke 250 MX bike.I think Mark’s bike would be a little tough for me to adapt to for this race, mostly because of the narrow gears on the transmission.

Jason is the newest member of the group; he rides a Honda CRF 450X.It is similar to Mark’s bike, but it is the off road version.The motors are similar; however, the transmission has a wider gear ratio designed for trail riding.This would be a very similar pick to the Yamaha, and they would be rated in the same class in most races.

Not very many people ask to ride my motorcycle; I have had experienced riders get on it and decide they never want to try it again.I’m not sure if it is the size of the 650 cc motor, the tall seat height or the nickname (The Big Red Pig); but it just seems to intimidate other riders.It does have the most horsepower of any strictly dirt motorcycle; however, I doubt if the power is any different than the WR 450.In the initial race discussions, my bike has not been mentioned that much as the race bike.I don’t have a problem with entering it in the race, but I’m just not sure if any of the other guys really want to ride my Honda XR 650R.

I have a feeling that this decision will be made after some pre-running has been done in the last couple of days prior to the March 31 race.If we can all get some seat time on each other’s motorcycles; then we can decide which would be the best motorcycle for the team race and whether the motorcycle tires are right for the terrain.

Pre-Running the Desert

Race weekend happens to fall on the final weekend of spring break for our local school district.This is important, as Joey is in elementary school and Jennifer works for our school district, so they will be able to come along on the pre-run.I will take a couple of vacation days that week so that we can go out on Wednesday or Thursday.The plan is to take the ATV, my motorcycle and both of Joey’s motorcycles.The reason for going over early is to get some time on similar terrain as the race course.None of this group has ridden this OHV area in quite some time, so it would be a wise idea to get some riding hours in prior to the race.

Jennifer’s parents live in Grand Junction, so Joey will get to see his grandparents and Jennifer will get to visit her family.Their residence is just a couple of miles from the staging area of the race.The staging area is in a spot where I have spent many hours zipping up and down the dusty trails.Since my in-laws house is so close to the race, we will probably use their house as our staging area for the pre-run.

In conversations with Mark, he says he will probably take his family over around Thursday as well.I’m not sure of what Mike’s plans are; he has said he will definitely be there for the race.He and I had been talking all winter about going over for a pre-run weekend, but we just never had coinciding free weekends.As for my brother, I don’t know what his plans are for that week.He really has not committed to racing, but he usually makes his decisions at the last minute.Jason is extremely excited about this event, but needs to get some things lined up with his business prior to fully committing to the weekend.Either way, it looks as though a good portion of our team will be there for a couple of days of pre-running.

I plan on taking all of our motorcycles and the ATV for the pre-running.This will give Jennifer the chance to ride the four-wheeler in her “home” OHV area; also it will give Joey a chance to tear up the desert on one of the two motorcycles he owns.Jennifer’s parents have an ATV, so they could bring it out to the desert while we pre-run and putt around with Jen and Joey.

Conclusion

I am excited for the race weekend to come; after all these years of riding dirt bikes and now ATVs, I am going to try a race.I don’t expect our team to come in first or even second; I just want to go out, see what we can do and have fun with some of my buddies.It should be an interesting weekend for all of us.Some of the guys will be riding the desert for the first time; for others of us it will be the first time there in a long time.For me it will be my first timed race experience since my lackluster attempt at motocross, well over twenty years ago.

James Parker

Tags: , , , ,

Maniac-Themed Pinewood Derby Car

Posted by moto_admin on February 27, 2012
Racing / Comments Off on Maniac-Themed Pinewood Derby Car

Jennifer is the Den Leader, and I am Assistant Den Leader for our son, Joey’s Cub Scout troop. Each family had to build a pinewood derby car to race in March, so I chose the Maniac theme for our car design. We’ll be racing it the next two Saturdays!

James Parker

Great customer service

Posted by moto_admin on February 13, 2012
Testimonials / Comments Off on Great customer service

Here is a pic of my 1966 Honda Dream 305 that has been waiting for some time for the correct size tires to become available. Now, thanks to MotorcycleTires.com, baby has new shoes!

The tires shown are worn out, and the new ones will be mounted using the same Porta Walls.

Thanks for the great service and prices!

Bruce Leedy
Princeton, WV

Tags: , ,

Enduro Racing In Arizona

Posted by moto_admin on January 31, 2012
Racing / Comments Off on Enduro Racing In Arizona

This past weekend I happened to be in Arizona; coincidentally this was the weekend that the Rocky Mountain Enduro Circuit (RMEC) and the Arizona Motorcycle Riders Association (AMRA) hold their Dual Duel in the Desert near Wickenburg, Arizona. This race was sanctioned by the two bodies; RMEC is based in Colorado, while AMRA is obviously based in Arizona. This is the first race of the season for the Coloradoans, who came down to beat the winter cold. For the folks from Arizona, it is a mid-season race. I spent my Saturday out at the race course on Arizona state land just taking in the sights and sounds of the day. This was a motorcycle-only event; there were no four wheelers.

Big Bikes

I arrived just after 9 am; just in time for the big bikes to start. This included most of the adult classes. The classes are A, B and C and depend on skill level. The race would begin with four racers leaving at the top of every minute. They would do a series of five tests that ranged in length from 8-14 miles. After the racers began to take the first course, I walked down to the first check point about five hundred yards from the starting point. Although I only had to walk five hundred yards, the racers had to ride ten miles of trails to get to that point. I was amazed that the first racers had traversed the course in less than twenty minutes. After watching these riders come in for a few minutes, I decided to walk the race course to get a better look at the race.

Being at an off-road event is much more laid back than being at a Supercross or motocross event. Spectators are allowed to walk around the course; since my family is thinking of becoming involved in some of these events, I took advantage of the situation. I began to cut through the middle of the course to watch how racers took different sections of the track. It also allowed me a chance to take many photos.

When the C riders began to come towards the checkpoint, I realized that I could probably hold my own against those guys. The C class is for riders with the least amount of racing experience; it is not the fastest in the race. These riders are out to just have some fun; C class is the desert equivalent to my riding buddy Mark who races motocross. He always tells me that he does not expect to win; he is just out to have some fun and enjoy being at the race. I really think that I could enter the C class and cruise around the course with these fellow enthusiasts.

As racers began to come back into the pits at the end of the race, I noticed one gentleman who came in with a flat motorcycle tire. I overheard him tell his wife that he would have to go find a replacement tube so he could race the next day. Evidently, he did not come prepared; he must not have brought an extra tube along to the event. I only hope he came prepared with his tire tools so that he could at change the tube on his own. This is why I carry spare tubes when we ride, so I dont have to go beg, borrow or steal a replacement motorcycle tube.

Kids Race

Following the big bikes, while the promoters were registering the kids for the mini race, I took the opportunity to eat some lunch and take a short nap in the rental car. Following the break, the kids races began about a quarter of mile down the road from where the adults started. There were two races being run simultaneously; I was more interested in the mini race with 50-65 cc bikes, since that is what Joey would run.

These kids were all so excited to get out on the course to show their stuff. I am sure that many of them had been there all morning watching and waiting patiently as dad, or in some cases, mom raced on the big bike course. While on my course walk in the morning, I talked to a young man who was to race in the kids race that afternoon. He told me that he was excited for the race to start and said how much fun he has racing. I told him about Joey and how we are thinking of letting him race. He told me that if Joey was anything like him, Joey would love to race.

As I said, there were two races being held simultaneously for the younger generation. The second track was called the maxi track. The race that I watched had early teenagers putting on quite the show. They were serious about running the course; this race was as intense as the adults earlier in the day. The kids put on a competitive show for those who were there to witness it. Many of the maxi kids will be ready to move up to adult classes anytime.

Well, after watching the kids race for about thirty minutes, it was time for me to hit the road, as I had to get back to Phoenix to catch a flight. The only regret I had for the day was that I did not have time to stick around for the womens race, to be run on the maxi course later that afternoon. That would have been something special to watch; that only reinforces the point I like to make about OHVs being a family recreational activity.

I am not sure if Joey is ready for racing this year, but I do think that it wont be long before he is ready to take on the other kids in his class. When I got home, I talked to him about how he needs to be able to have more bike control. He still needs to learn how to shift gears better, to brake better and overall he needs to have more control. With some work, he can get there.

Conclusion

I think that this is the type of racing I would like to spend more time around. Although I have not been around enduros much, I felt like I was at home. I could see our family taking the camper, ATV and motorcycles out to these courses in Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Wyoming and Nebraska to spend the weekend as a family. This is a great bonding experience; as I walked around the pits, I observed many families. They were there for the weekend; camps had been pitched. All seemed to be having a good time and all were enjoying each others company. The Parker family could very much get into racing dirt bikes or even ATVs. I am looking forward to getting more involved in the sport in the future.

James Parker

Tags: , , , , , ,

Off-Road Bucket List

Posted by moto_admin on January 24, 2012
Trails and Trips / Comments Off on Off-Road Bucket List

I have been riding off road for nearly thirty years, and while I do live in Colorado – a state where there are many world-class riding areas, there are off-road adventures outside of my state that I am interested in. I have compiled a bucket list of places I’d like to take my family that I’ve read about in magazines. Some of these include the Hatfield-McCoy trail system in West Virginia, Baja, Mexico and Costa Rica; I will quickly go over what I have learned about these locations and why they would make excellent family outings.

Hatfield-McCoy Trail System, West Virginia

The Hatfield-McCoy Trail system is made up of six different systems covering over 500 miles. These trails are called Rockhouse, Buffalo Mountain, Bearwallow, Indian Ridge, Little Coal and Pinnacle Creek. According to the Trails Heaven web site, no matter which of the six areas a group chooses, there is something for every skill level. They are characterized as forested, mountainous trails; the pictures show very lush, green scenery with loamy soil. There are shots depicting dirt bikers ascending rocky hills; others show four-wheelers muddying up their ATV tires through a green forest. Either way, it all looks inviting to me! I like riding the ATV or dirt bike on a forested trail. During a harsh winter, I will daydream about being on my Big Red Pig, zipping through the forest and pretending to be a GNCC racer. Other days I dream about taking a lazy family ride with the family.

If taking the family to West Virginia for an ATV trip, there are lodging options aplenty. Folks can camp, stay in a motel or a bed and breakfast; there is a place to stay no matter what the groups preference. For my family and I, we would want to take our fifth wheel to the region, set up camp for a week or so, and take in all the sites and as many of the trails as possible. The issue for us is that this is about a twenty-four hour drive from our home; we would have about four hard days of driving round trip on this adventure. Someday maybe we will find the time to take on the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System.

Baja-California, Mexico

I first learned about the ambiance of the Baja in the movie Dust to Glory; the movie chronicled The Baja 1000. It told the stories of racers like Johnny Campbell and Robby Gordon. Most of these racers were simply infatuated with racing the Baja. It is the mystique of riding in this foreign land that has me wanting to someday make the trek to our neighbors to the south; I want to see if I can handle some of the situations that these famous riders tackle every race.

Mikes Sky Ranch to the south and east of Ensenada, Mexico, has become somewhat of a Mecca for off road vehicles. According to the ranchs website, a two wheel drive vehicle may have a tough time getting to the resort. Most folks arrive via four wheel drive, ATV or on their motorcycle tires. On multiple day tours, this is an overnight stop for guided groups. There is a swimming pool, hotel and plenty of space for a rider to rejuvenate himself and be ready for the next days ride. I would like to be able to take a Baja tour and stay the night at Mikes Big Sky Ranch. I will have to keep riding, get in better shape and save my money. Maybe when my son Joey is older, he and I can take this grand adventure together; it would surely give us a lifetime memory.

I would like to do this adventure on a dirt bike since that is what I have grown up riding. By the time Joey is old enough for this trip, I may have switched full-time to a four-wheeler. Joey has also mentioned how he would like to have a four wheeler. So, we may be doing this trip ATV style. It does’t matter to me, I just want to spend some time with my son and off road in a place I have always dreamed of touring.

Costa Rica

Probably the biggest goal on my list is to one day travel to Costa Rica to take in an entirely new culture and tour the Central American country on a dirt bike. We have looked into doing this in about three years; our target date to go to Costa Rica is 2015. 2015 is the year I will be retiring as a volunteer firefighter after twenty years of service. It is going to be a celebration of my time in the fire service as well as looking forward to a future of not being called away at a seconds notice. Jennifer and I have passports that will expire that year, so we will not have to renew those prior to our departure; we will have to get one for Joey before the trip.

I have been in contact with the guys at Costa Rica Unbound in the Jaco, Costa Rica area on the Pacific Coast of the country for a quote for a tour; they have strongly suggested that I bring a group along to ride with. Thus far, I have not been able to convince anyone from my regular group to commit to going along. So, anyone who is interested, let me know! I am hoping that Joey will be skilled enough to tag along on the tour by that time. Included in the tour is a guide, meals and dirt bike rental. You do need to bring your own motorcycle helmet, gloves, boots and other protective riding apparel on the trip. That would be okay with me since I am a little picky about my motorcycle helmet and boots.

Along with the group tour at Costa Rica Unbound, the accommodations would be at Marea Brava Resort. This is a beach resort which would also offer surfing, zip-lines and other adventures. This would definitely be an adventure of a lifetime; Joey, Jennifer and I would remember this for the rest of our lives.

Conclusion

These are probably my top three wishlist destinations for riding. I do have others that would be more attainable for the family, like Southern California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona for some desert riding. I have seen stories of some great woods riding in the French-Canadian province of Quebec. That one would require some long driving, though, as it’s not as close as Utah or Arizona. My life will not be incomplete if these trips don’t happen, but they would give my family and I lasting memories forever.

James Parker

Tags: , , , ,

2012 OHV Calendar Planning: To Race, Or Not To Race?

Posted by moto_admin on January 18, 2012
Racing / Comments Off on 2012 OHV Calendar Planning: To Race, Or Not To Race?

The holidays are now over and we are looking at a new year; that means it is time to start to make our riding plans for 2012. In the past week or so, I have been talking to some riding friends to see what their plans are for the coming year. Some are going racing while others are just planning some recreational riding. Personally, I intend on simply riding more, since another obligation is starting to lighten up for me. Whether it is racing or trail riding, I will be out having fun with family and friends.

ATV

Kyler is the most serious quad rider with whom I regularly ride. He likes racing and has not slowed down in the winter months. This winter he has been running a winter hare scramble series on his four-wheeler with the Valley Dirt Riders Series in Berthoud, Colorado. In fact, I had invited him to ride this past Saturday at the Bijou, but he declined since he was preparing his quad for a race the next day.

Hare scramble is not the only form of racing Kyler is going to participate in this year. On January 28, he will be attending an Arenacross race in Denver at the National Western complex. This football field sized track will be a change from the vast desert-like hare scramble courses he has become accustomed to over the past year or so. It will be interesting to see how he fares in this type of race.

Once the warmer months are upon us, Kyler will be racing the Colorado Off-Road Championship Series (CORCS). This is a hare scramble type of race; so it is simple – the fastest rider in each class wins the class, and there is an overall race winner. Kyler has led his class in series points in the past; Im sure he will be at or near the top of his class in 2012.

The event Kyler is most excited about is the Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) event he is going to enter. This is The Mammoth in Park City, Kentucky on April 28 and 29. Since he decided to do this, he has hardly stopped talking about it. Not only is Kyler excited about it, I am excited for him. For many years I have watched these races on television and thought how much fun those trails would be to ride. He is not only going to get to run his ATV tires through these trails, but he is going to get to race against some of the best ATV riders from all over the country. This should turn out to be something he will remember for the rest of his life.

Motocross

My friend Mark will be racing in the Rocky Mountain Motocross Association circuit again this year. He will be piloting his Honda CRF 450R as he navigates the senior class; the senior class means he is on the north end of forty, just like me. Mark tells me that he likes to participate in the races not to win, but to just go out and have some fun. He has established quite the camaraderie with the other fellows in his class. He says that for the most part, these guys are just out to have fun and be outside. Mark doesnt make every race on the schedule and has no sponsors. He goes out to test himself against the other racers; also, he likes to just to be outside on Sunday afternoon.

The RMXA is somewhat of a local race circuit here in Colorado; the most that Mark will have to travel for a race will be about 150 miles one way. He usually leaves early in the morning for the track and comes back home late in the evening. He really enjoys what he does and looks forward to spring coming so that he can go racing.

Enduro

Mike, who was at Taylor Park, is looking at running an enduro in the desert near Grand Junction in late March. Originally, we thought this would be a hare scramble; however, we very recently received information that it will be an enduro. The difference being that an enduro has check points and special tests that need to be completed. The person with the fewest points wins the race. As mentioned earlier, in a hare scramble, the fastest rider is the winner.

The Grand Junction race is the event that Mike has been trying to talk me into entering. I am still considering it, since I am eligible for the senior class. The thing to remember about the senior class is that those gentlemen may be the best and fastest riders. These guys have many years of experience on motorcycles. Most did not start riding yesterday; they may have thirty plus years of riding under their belts. I keep thinking I may enjoy writing about racing more than participating. Mike keeps telling me it would be better to race; it would make a better story. I will decide in the next month or so what I want to do.

If this enduro or other Rocky Mountain Enduro Circuit events dont work out for Mike and me, we may look at doing the same series (CORCs) as Kyler. There are motorcycle classes offered in that series; in fact this may be the series that we put my son Joey in later this year after he has had more time aboard his new Honda motorcycle. Joey keeps asking about racing; a hare scramble may be the way for him to go since he is all about going fast.

Trail Riding

Taylor Park is on the list for this coming summer. Dave, Mike and I who were all at Taylor last summer have already been kicking around some dates. For Dave, he says there will be absolutely no racing for him; he is happy just zipping up and down the trails for recreation. It looks like this year our Taylor trip will be in July, rather than August. The reason for the earlier date is that some others who go to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally would join us in Taylor Park if the dates did not coincide. My old friend Jason, who joined us at the Bijou last week, is one of those folks. He goes to Sturgis every year on his Harley Davidson, but he would also like to go to Taylor a few weeks earlier with us to ride his Honda CRF450X.

Conclusion

It looks like my friends have some fun in store for 2012! It seems like this is going to be an eventful OHV year for my circle of riding buddies. Whether we are racing or just out trail riding, we will enjoy ourselves. With as much wear and tear is ahead of all the machines, winter maintenance will be important to ensure that we have trouble-free trips – especially a thorough check of the ATV and motorcycle tires. Im already getting tired just thinking about it; but it will be fun!

Tags: , , , , , ,

A Winter Time OHV Ride!

Posted by moto_admin on January 11, 2012
Recreation / Comments Off on A Winter Time OHV Ride!

What a surprising weekend this turned out to be! The weather forecast for our area when the weekend began was for snow and cold temperatures. Fortunately for us, the weather forecasters were wrong; turns out Sunday afternoon was bright, sunny and close to fifty degrees. When my buddy Kyler texted me Sunday morning to see if I wanted to go to the Bijou at about one oclock to ride, I jumped all over it. I sent out another text to see who else wanted to go, and four other people showed up besides Kyler and me. In the group were myself, my brother Brad, buddy Mark, buddy Jason and his son Jaxon – all on dirt bikes; Kyler was the lone ATV rider. A good time was had by all on this surprisingly mild January day.

Loading Up

After a quick trip to the gas station to fill one of my five gallon gas cans with 91 octane fuel for the Big Red Pig, I went to the motorcycle garage to arouse the bike from its winters nap. I turned on the fuel valve, opened the choke and gave the kick starter a few tries. It did not start, as it has been pretty cold in that garage for the past couple of months. In order to help it warm up, I decided to simply set it in the sun for a few minutes while I did some other chores. After about ten minutes of lounging in the driveway, soaking up the bright sunny January day, it started right up! Now that I knew the pig was going to run, it was time to get loaded.

While the bike was idling, I put my gear bag with my motorcycle helmet, boots and other protective riding apparel into the back of the pickup truck. I also loaded the aforementioned gas can, a few tools and a lawn chair. This day, I was traveling light, since the Bijou is only about four miles from home. I didnt take the usual extra tubes, air compressor and tire irons to the Bijou; if I have problems, I would usually just head home to make necessary repairs. However, as it turned out later, I would have the need for my tire tools.

The Ride

I was the first to arrive at the riding spot; I wanted to be there a little early since because I wear knee braces, it takes me a little longer to dress for the ride. By the time the others began to arrive, I was dressed and had the Big Red Pig unloaded. While the other guys were getting ready, I got the motor started. Then Jason came to me and asked if I had my air compressor because Jaxon had a flat front motorcycle tire. I told him I did not have the compressor along; however, I did have some CO2 cartridges in my pack that we could use to pressurize the low tire. That seemed do the trick, and it made it through the afternoon.

We never went on one large group ride; we paired off and went for short rides instead. The Bijou is a smaller, private riding area; most of the area can be seen from the parking zone. So what everyone would do is make a loop through the sand, over the whoops, up the hills and down the ravines. Then we would all convene back at camp to talk about the trail conditions and how much fun we were having. I remember the comment that I made most often was how happy I was to be out in the warm winter sun. After the first couple of loops, guys started to leave for one reason or another; Kyler and I were the last ones to leave just before sundown. We were the two that brought everyone together on this day, so it was only fitting that we be the last ones to leave.

The Bijou is a somewhat sandy riding spot; it has some nice loamy dirt on the hills and in the ravines. The conditions on this day were excellent, since there was still moisture leftover in the ground from some pre-Christmas snow. The moisture provided for excellent grip in the corners – I really never felt the rear tire sliding. The only problem with grip that I had was on one very sandy trail; at times during the year this trail is actually a river. My motorcycle tires were just not right for the sand; they are made for intermediate to rocky terrain. I just did not have any control on this particular trail; I am not complaining, but the bike is just not set up for the sand.

Conclusion

What a great day! I know I can speak for myself and possibly the others who were there on this day; we all had a good time. Most would think that January in Colorado would not be a good time or place to ride OHVS; however, we live in a part of Colorado which does not get as much snow as the mountains. Days like this are not at all unusual; every winter we can usually get in a few weekend days of riding. Though we do still have many winter days in front of us, it is nice to sneak in some riding here and there over the long winter months. This day gave us a little taste of whats to come in the warmer months. We may only be a couple of months away from loading up the camper and the motorcycle trailer to hit the mountain or desert trails for some epic riding. I cant wait!

James Parker

Tags: , , , ,

Television coverage is good for OHV sports

Posted by moto_admin on January 04, 2012
Racing / Comments Off on Television coverage is good for OHV sports

Instead of the normal New Year’s Eve celebration, my family and I have a tradition of watching Red Bull No Limits.This year two men jumped their vehicles over 300 feet of water at Embarcadero Marina Park in San Diego Bay at midnight (EST) to mark the New Year – Robbie Maddison on a motorcycle, and Levi LaVallee on a snowmobile.To some this may seem like just a promotional sideshow; however, I see this as a way to popularize the sport of offroading.It can only help our cause to have our sport featured positively in the mainstream.

Snowmobiles

Although I am a Colorado native, I have never been on a snowmobile.Racing down snow-covered trails in the cold has never appealed to me.However, I have great respect for those who do partake in the sport. These are our wintertime brethren; these folks are using many of the same ATV trails we ride on with our dirt bikes and four-wheelers in the summer time.They have to fight the same fight we do in order to keep the forest service trails open.Without snowmobilers, our fight would be even more difficult.

In my last post, I discussed the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition.Snowmobilers are a large part of the COHVCO; they back the coalition as much as the ATV, dirt bike and Jeep groups. This time of year, it is the snowmobilers who are cruising up and down my favorite trails at Taylor Park. Right now, they are up at ten-thousand feet making lifetime memories, much like my family did last August.Snowmobilers want to keep those trails open as much as my ATV and dirt bike riding buddies; they want to pass the hobby onto upcoming generations in the same way as us dirt bikers.

Levi LaVallee brought sleds to the mainstream on New Year’s Eve, with national television coverage on the hour-long special.To highlight snowmobiles even more, he jumped a record 412 feet!He actually flew further than any dirt bike has ever flown – in the tandem jump with Robbie Maddison on his dirt bike, LaVallee was still in the air when Maddison was rolling down the landing ramp on his motorcycle tires.It was simply astounding to watch the sled, which weighs the equivalent of two refrigerators, fly as far as many home run baseballs.I can foresee the No Limits show getting more people interested in snowmobiles in 2012.

 
 

 

Motorcycles

Freestyle motocross has been around for many years; it is becoming more and more a mainstream sport.Pioneers like Travis Pastrana, Cary Hart and Mike Metzger brought us such tricks as the Backflip, the Lazy Boy and the Heart Attack.These gentlemen brought the sport to the general public, as folks wanted to see these sweet tricks.Some people, I think, just tune in to see the potential carnage if the riders fail (kind of how some people only watch hockey for the fights).Although these guys sometimes suffer some serious injuries, most tricks are pulled off successfully in dramatic fashion.

With Maddison performing his daring tricks on national television on New Year’s Eve, he is bringing dirt bikes to the mainstream, the same way LaVallee is with his snowmobile. In doing these stunts during these New Year’s Eve shows, non-dirt bikers see it and become interested in the sport. Many may end up purchasing bikes of their own and delve into the sport. This night Maddison jumped his dirt bike 378 feet over the San Diego Bay. Three years ago on New Year’s Eve he jumped his motorcycle to the top of the Arc de Triomphe at the Paris hotel in Las Vegas.

The more times an FMX rider does such a feat in the national spotlight, the more offroaders will gain positive public relations, which will help our riding population grow. This gives us a stronger voice with our elected officials; it makes the politicians see that this is a community to be reckoned with – we cannot be ignored. When we have the government officials’ attention, it will make it harder to close our trails. I am passing on my lifelong hobby of dirt biking to my son Joey; I would like to see him pass it on to his children. I will do what I have to do to keep these trails open for future generations.

Conclusion

Not only does a program like No Limits bring offroad to the mainstream, I think it also helps to portray the sport as a family activity.In the warmup to the actual jump, the program highlighted how Maddison and LaVallee are family men.Maddison had his wife, young son and his parents in attendance and they were very much in support of his feats.LaVallee had his fiance and his parents at the jump and they greeted him as he landed the record-setting jump.

What I have gathered from watching this program and from previous years’ shows, is that these guys are putting offroad in the mainstream in a positive way.They are setting records every time they throw a leg over the seat, they have portrayed offroad in a positive light and they are showing that they are good family men. This promotes goodwill among riders of ATVs, dirt bikes, snow mobiles and Jeeps. They are helping in the cause of keeping our riding trails open; so please keep supporting these daredevils for this reason. The groups who are fighting everyday to keep our public riding areas open need our support.

James Parker

Tags: , , , , , ,

OHV Educational Groups

Posted by moto_admin on December 29, 2011
Riding Tips & Education / Comments Off on OHV Educational Groups

The end of 2011 is here already; Christmas has now come and gone. When you begin planning your offroad trips for 2012, take a moment to remember those who help protect the places we like to ride our vehicles. These groups include the Blue Ribbon Coalition and National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, on the national scene. Many states also have localized groups, as well. For instance, Colorado has its Stay the Trails Program and the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition. Due to the recession, these groups, which rely on donations to survive, are in need of funding. Since it is time to start planning for the 2012 season, consider a donation and/or volunteering time to one of these groups.

Blue Ribbon Coalition

In 1987, Clark Collins, Founder and the first Executive Director of the Blue Ribbon Coalition, was told by the Governor of Idaho at that time that recreationists were not politically significant. He was also informed that the wilderness was more important than motorized access to public lands. Collins idea was to gather recreationists to educate them as to how public lands were not being preserved for the public, but from the public. In other words, land officials wanted to keep our ATV tires and motorcycle tires off of public lands. This set the coalition on its course to promote national advocacy to protect off highway trail preservation.

Motorized vehicles are not the only groups that the BRC works to protect. They also work to help promote the sharing of trails with groups like hikers, horseback riders and cross-country skiers. The philosophy here is for all outdoor trail users to share the outdoors and preserve them for the future use of all users. Basically, this is a group who wishes to promote, educate and preserve responsible usage of public lands by all outdoor groups.

If you belong to one of the outdoor groups that uses these trails, it would behoove you to donate time or money to this cause. The folks at the Blue Ribbon Coalition are working hard to protect our recreational activities; sending a little help their way would be a good way to start the 2012 offroad season. More information can be found at sharetrails.org.

National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council

The NOHVCC is an organization that works to promote and provide information to individuals, groups and organizations in order to provide a positive future for the OHV community. This group values the fact that off roading provides quality family and social time. It provides for a physical, healthy outdoor activity. The organization promotes a responsible lifestyle on OHV trails; promotes the appreciation of natural and cultural resources. To me, an OHV is a release from the stress of daily life.

NOHVCC mainly targets its audience through state and local clubs; in Colorado, we have the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council. COHVCO then helps to stabilize local clubs such as the Northern Colorado Trail Riders Association or the Bookcliff Rattlers Motorcycle Club in Grand Junction. These clubs will then work to promote responsible trail use locally, through organized rides and trail maintenance days.

What can you do to help?

Join one of the local clubs or donate money or time. We have donated money to these groups and have been members of COHVCO for nearly ten years. Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to help with trail maintenance. However, in the next couple of years my volunteer service in an unrelated organization will end and my family and I plan to help with trail maintenance projects in Colorado. For now, we will simply be sending some money their way.

Whether it is time or money, make sure to remember NOHVCC for a charitable organization when making donations in 2012. These folks are working to educate elected officials and the general public about our sport. They have a strong presence in legislative bodies; they are one of our voices when it comes time to fight trail closures. To find more information on NOHVCC, visit nohvcc.org.

Conclusion

These are just a couple of the groups working to maintain our off road trail systems. There are other groups that support the use of forest service trails. One in particular here in Colorado is the Stay the Trails program, which educates riders and the public to proper trail etiquette. Research the organizations in your area. If these programs do not receive our support, eventually we will have nowhere to ride. Get involved now before it is too late; these groups need our help in 2012!

James Parker

Tags: , , , , ,

Farewell to Some Old Motorcycles

Posted by moto_admin on December 20, 2011
Recreation / Comments Off on Farewell to Some Old Motorcycles

The end of an era has arrived! I have sold, among other things, my first motorcycle. The Yamaha MX 100 has been in my possession since March of 1983. Also gone are two of Jennifers motorcycles and a long time hauler. The urge hit us last week to simplify our lives and we decided to downsize our recreational inventory. Not to worry, though, we still have four motorcycles and one ATV sitting in our garage. There is no way that we would entirely abandon our offroad summertime fun.

Yamaha MX 100

This is the motorcycle that got me started back in the sixth grade. As my mother tells it, my brother and I begged and begged for my parents to let us purchase a couple of used motorcycles that we found at our local Yamaha dealer. I dont recall how long this begging went on, but eventually, my parents broke down and let us purchase the two bikes. My brother got a DT 125 while I got the MX 100; these were the bikes that we cut our offroad teeth on and gave us the bike bug for life.

I rode this bike hard for about the next four years until I got my first motocross bike. This was the motorcycle that I learned my basic riding skills on; I also learned maintenance routines, like changing motorcycle tires and tubes on this machine. I spent many hours zipping around our family farm or on vacant lots near our house. Back in those days, many of the kids who lived around us had motorcycles or three wheelers (these were the days prior to quads). After school there would be a group of kids racing around an oval track that had been sent up on a string of vacant lots. I remember making connections in this way with kids that I would probably otherwise would not have had any association; those days after school gave me many memories I still cherish.

Jennifers 175 Enduro

Along with my MX 100, we sold Jennifers Yamaha DT 175 Enduro; this was the bike we bought for Jennifer not quite ten years ago so that she could try her hand at riding motorcycles. This bike served her well for the first few years; it was a tame enough bike that she could learn some basic riding skills. This was also a small street legal machine that gave me something to run around town on doing different errands.

My fondest memory of Jennifer on this bike was while our two Labrador Retrievers, Harley and Cassidy, were still living. Harley was the big bull yellow lab male; he liked to dig a hole in the dirt under the pickup and take a nap while we went riding. Cassidy, our petite little black lab female, loved to chase Jennifer as she rode the trails. Whether Jen was just tooling around the farm or zipping around the trails of the desert of Grand Junction, Colorado, Cass was sure to follow. One time at the farm, Cassidy did so much chasing, that she wore the pads off of her paws. We had to put ointment on the pads and tape baby socks to her feet for about a week until the damage was healed. That poor little dog must have been hurting; but it made me giggle when she would try to walk in those socks.

Jennifers Suzuki DRZ 250

Once we became a little more serious about our riding and began to take trips into the high Colorado Mountains, we purchased a DRZ 250 for Jennifer from my riding buddy Dave. This bike gave her the additional power which she needed at the higher elevations. Now we were climbing steeper, rockier terrain. The 175 Enduro just wouldnt cut the mustard in a place like Taylor Park; in fact, on our first trip to Taylor, Jen spent the week on the 250 giving it a test ride. She liked it so much, we ended up purchasing it a few months later. After purchasing the four-wheeler this year, she decided that four wheels were more her style and she no longer had a use for the motorcycles.

A Hauler is Sold

We have had a Tahoe and two pickups sitting around our place for the past several years with only two licensed drivers in the household. We decided about a week ago to sell our old Dodge pickup because it was just sitting in the garage taking up room. This was the truck I would usually take to some of our local rides at the Bijou or out at our farm. The vehicle had a lower profile bed, which made it easy to load motorcycles into the back. It doesnt sit as high as our ton pickup, which we have to keep because it pulls our 5th wheel. Now when going on a local ride, we will either be using the trailer or rolling the machines up into the bed of the taller pickup.

The old Dodge served us well over the years, with several trips over the Rocky Mountains to places like Grand Junction and Taylor Park. It did well in the time in we owned it and gave us some reliable service, but it proved to be a bit unnecessary.

Conclusion

All this downsizing in our garage gave me somewhat of a liberating feeling. I have a philosophy that if it does not get used within a year, then we probably dont need it. These three motorcycles had not been used at all this past season. In the case of the 175 and 100, those two had not been ridden in several years. The 250, which did not go on any of our trips in 2011, has been replaced with the Kawasaki Prairie 400 ATV purchased earlier this year. The old Dodge pickup was simply just one too many vehicles sitting around; it was the one we needed the least, so it was time to let go. Dont worry, though, there are still plenty of offroad machines sitting in our garage.

James Parker

Tags: , , ,

Wintertime ATV and Motorcycle Updates

Posted by moto_admin on December 13, 2011
Maintenance & Modifications / Comments Off on Wintertime ATV and Motorcycle Updates

Well now that we are in the dead of winter, the off season ATV and motorcycle maintenance has begun. First order of business is to take care of the Piglet (Joeys new Honda), next I will start to fiddle with the quad, and lastly I will do the maintenance on my Big Red Pig. Here in Colorado, it has already turned bitterly cold. I have resigned myself to the fact that the majority of our riding is done until spring. We will probably have a day or two when we will go to our local riding spot (the Bijou) or to our farm; but our multiple-day trips have ended for a few months.

The Piglet

I have already started with Joeys new bike; since we bought it used, it did have a couple of issues. After the first ride, it developed a fuel leak from the overflow on the carburetor. I took the carb apart and adjusted the float, which solved that problem. Also, the last time we had it out for a ride, it would not idle. I am thinking after this carb work, it should idle better; hopefully we will be able to take it to our farm or out to the Bijou to see if this work helped.

Joey doesnt know this, but for Christmas he is getting new grips; the grips that came on the bike are tattered. After Christmas, he will get a lesson on how to install new grips. Along with that, we also got him a handlebar pad for the crossbar. He wanted the pad because I have one on the Big Red Pig; he wants his motorcycle to look just like mine. The pad will make him and I look like a father and son race team!

The front tire that came with the little motorcycle is new; the rear tire is an older one. I think I will put a new Dunlop motorcycle tire and tube on the back. That should give him the necessary traction to tackle most any race course he may encounter next year.

The maintenance to be done on the Piglet is nothing major. Just the typical stuff I save until this time of year, for when I need a good reason to go tinker in the garage.

The ATV

Since we bought our first four-wheeler this year, I have not had much of a chance to explore the motor all that much. I want to take some time this winter to take it apart to see how it works; I dont think there are really any issues to be taken care of, though. I will probably put a new set of grips on it as well, I think Jennifer would appreciate some new rubber on the handlebars.

It doesnt look like this year’s budget will allow for the snow plow and tire chains I want to add. The purchase of the quad itself and of Joeys Piglet used up the extra fun money. However, with a snow plow, I may be able to use the four-wheeler to earn extra money removing snow from sidewalks at some point.

The Big Red Pig

Since the budget was used up this year with the addition of two new machines, I may not be able to purchase new tubes and tires this winter for my bike. It looks as though I may have to pick up some side jobs in order to have the new Maxxis tires I want for the next riding season. Since I am thinking of doing a little racing next season, a new set of tires would be great, but if it doesn’t happen, the current tires would be okay for another year.

I will do regular maintenance on the bike this winter, but the motor has been running strong and the suspension still feels good. I dont think that I will need to do anything major to the machine before the next riding season begins.

Conclusion

This is the time of the year when I can take my time to go through the machines properly and do regular maintenance. It is also a good time to go through the machines to see how they work. I learn many things when I take time to experiment with the machines during the winter. This helps me to know what is going on with them when we encounter problems on the trail.

Taking time to work on the machines in the winter also ensures that we will have a better chance of a trouble-free ride when we get out on the trails during the offroading season. Once the maintenance is over, it will be time to start thinking of when and where we will go next season. Whether we are off to the races or simply going trail riding, I cant wait; it cant come soon enough for me!

James Parker

Tags: , ,

Holiday Gift Guide for an ATV or Dirt Bike Rider

Posted by moto_admin on December 06, 2011
Recreation / Comments Off on Holiday Gift Guide for an ATV or Dirt Bike Rider

As I was working on my holiday shopping list this past weekend, I thought of many items that any dirt bike or ATV rider would like to receive. For those of you who are not hardcore riders, but have a rider to shop for, these may be some helpful hints.

Casual Wear

T-shirts are always a popular item for an offroader. These are an inexpensive item and can be worn to show off his favorite hobby. They may advertise a favorite supplier or manufacturer, or may simply be a novelty shirt with a witty catch-phrase. I like to have these t-shirts for our longer trips; when I am wearing a dirt bike-themed shirt, I know that I am no longer at work and I am on my own time.

A good item to go hand in hand with a t-shirt is a baseball cap; this is a popular way to show off one’s favorite manufacturer or sponsor at the races.Personally, I have a Honda cap I like to wear whenever we attend a race.It lets everyone know that I am loyal to the brand. And, speaking as a bald guy, a hat is something I can always use to protect the dome; I can never have too many baseball caps.

Motorcycle Gloves

On some of our longer, multiple-day riding trips we encounter at least one day of riding in the rain.For this reason, I like to keep several pairs of motorcycle gloves in my bag. No one likes to wear wet gloves, so, for many an offroader, a good gift idea is a pair of riding gloves.

Helmets and Goggles

I like to replace my motorcycle helmet about every five years, whether it has been damaged or not. The only problem with purchasing a helmet for myself is that I am a little picky about the lid on top of my head. I usually do extensive research before a helmet purchase so that I find the one that I can wear for five years. Purchasing someone a helmet as a gift may not be the best idea, because it is something that has to be tried on first. If your loved one already has one in mind, though, it may be the ideal gift.

I usually have multiple pairs of goggles in my gear bag, too – the only thing that I look for in a goggle is that it goes over my glasses. I have worn glasses since sixth grade, and without them I cannot see more than about a foot in front of me; so OTG goggles are a must for me.Goggles are an item of which I will keep extras on hand just in the case of one of those rainy riding days.

Tubes and Rim Strips

As mentioned in many of my posts this year, I have had my share of tire problems.For the motorcycles, I keep extra motorcycle tubes on hand as a punctured tube can occur at any time. The day my nephew Cody had a flat tire, those extra tubes sure came in handy.I looked through my collection and found a tube that fit the bike perfectly, my riding buddy Mike showed Cody how to change a tube and thirty minutes later he was riding again.

Rim strips are always a good item to have on hand, as well. These are large rubber bands that encircle the entire rim to protect the tube from being punctured by the spokes. When I had to replace the tube for Cody, I did not have an extra rim strip.So I made due with duct tape; duct tape works in a pinch, but rim strips are preferred.

Oil and Filters

Oil and oil filters are probably the parts I use the most for our machines.If you know what your offroader needs in order to properly change the oil, then these items would come in very handy in the upcoming year.

Grips

I have been known over the years to give handlebar grips as gifts; for the most part, grips have a universal fit. Sooner or later, all dirt bikes or four wheelers will need grips; this is another part that I have kept on hand. It is an item that at the time a rider needs it, it may not be easy to go purchase a new set.

Tie Down Straps

On any given trip, I may use up to fourteen or fifteen different tie-down straps in order secure our load on the trailer.For any offroader who hauls his quads or motorcycles any distance, tie down straps would be an excellent gift. I use a combination of ratchet straps and regular motorcycle tie-down straps; I could never have too many.

Conclusion

These are just a few ideas for gifts for your favorite offroader; just remember that riding an ATV or dirt bike is an expensive hobby. Purchasing extra parts and accessories as a holiday gift will help the rider finance this hobby. I know I am always open to the idea of getting help in the form of gifts.

James Parker

Tags: , , , ,

Thanksgiving Offroading Mishaps

Posted by moto_admin on November 29, 2011
Recreation / Comments Off on Thanksgiving Offroading Mishaps

We did make it to the Grand Junction, Colorado area to ride over the Thanksgiving weekend; however, things did not go as smoothly as planned. As Jennifer says, “Not every trip is going to come off flawless.”

Wednesday

Because of family commitments and the shorter days of winter, we were unable to fit in as much riding time as I had hoped. Originally, I wanted to get a couple of hours of riding in upon our arrival Wednesday afternoon, after making the three hundred plus mile trip. But because of the shorter days, we only had about an hour of daylight left upon our 4 o’clock arrival that afternoon. So Wednesday was out for riding.

Thanksgiving Day

The next morning was Thanksgiving Day and the plan was to visit Jens grandfather in the hospital first thing in the morning (no worries there, the World War II veteran is doing well and is recovering from heart surgery), go riding around midday and then have dinner later in the day. Grandpa has spent many hours offroading out in the desert area where we were headed and he offered a few pointers and told us to have fun. We assured him we would return later that day with Thanksgiving dinner.

So off to the desert we went! This area is just on the north end of Grand Junction surrounding the Grand Junction Regional Airport. We like to return to the same spot when we go out there to ride because it is a somewhat secluded area out of the way of other ATVs and dirt bikes. After Jennifer, Joey and I found our spot, we began to unload our riding apparel and machines, having about a two hour window for riding. As I was unloading the first bike (Joeys Piglet), I heard Joey exclaim, “My pants are too small!” I told him that he would just need to make due for the day and maybe he would get new ones for Christmas. My thought was that that would be our one flaw for the day and it was going to be a good day.

Once I had the dirt bikes and ATV unloaded, I did my pre-ride checks and began to start the motors. This is where the day really took a downward turn; I push the electric start button on the ATV and nothing happens. The battery is dead; it was fine just a couple of days before when I checked it at home. There are two simple solutions: I could use the SUV to jump start it or use the rip cord to start it by hand. I decide on the latter, and after setting the choke and pulling the chord a couple of times; the motor came to life. Okay, we still had about an hour and a half to ride at that pointall was good.

Next I went to start the Piglet. I turned on the gas and fuel began to leak out from the overflow on the carburetor. Okay, Joey could still ride it in this condition…he would lose fuel while riding, but he could still have some fun and I can figure it out later. I went ahead and started the motor to see what would happen; it started right up, but I couldn’t get it to idle. I had to restart it several times and kept thinking that if it ran awhile it would warm up enough that it would idle. It just never hit that point, so as a temporary field fix, I turned up the idle screw. After Joey rode for awhile, though, it began idling way too fast, so I ended up turning the idle down again after it had warmed up. Luckily Joey was content to just ride around the area where we were parked; he was not so adventurous on this day.

Finally I got to my bike (the Big Red Pig), and it had no issues. The problem now was that we were running out of time. We only had about forty-five minutes of ride time until we had to start packing up in order to make it back in time for Thanksgiving dinner and to fix a plate for Jens grandfather to take to the hospital. I decided to take a short ride of about twelve miles toward the north. This is the area I picture being a part of the hare scramble that may be held here in the spring. I spent this short time working on some techniques I learned from a video I watched the night before; picking lines in the trail for a possible future race. I was not going all out on this ride; I just did not feel the strength that I normally do when I ride the desert. Probably because of all the mechanical problems upon our arrival.

We had previous plans for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so this was the only chance we had to get our ATV and motorcycle tires out on the desert terrain. It was not the desert offroading weekend I had originally hoped for, but we all got a small taste of the Grand Junction desert.

Absent Buddies

I was bummed at the outset of the trip when I found out my buddy Mike was not going to make the trip; nor was my brother Brad or his son Cody. I had been looking forward to some good, hard riding with the guys on some of my favorite terrain. Oh well, there will be other times to hook up with those guys for some epic riding.

Conclusion

In the end, we made it in time for Thanksgiving dinner with just minutes to spare and made it back to the hospital in time to deliver Jens Grandfather his Thanksgiving dinner. He asked how the ride was and we just told him we had fun and the desert was in good condition.

Most importantly, Grandpa got to spend some time with his only great-grandchild, Joey; making paper airplanes and racing them across the hospital room. For about an hour that evening, that room was a dangerous place to be as paper airplanes were flying everywhere. Those moments shared between Joey and his great-grandpa put the day into perspective – there are more important things in life than riding my dirt bike and ATV.

James Parker

Tags: , , ,

Our ATV and Motorcycle Year in Review

Posted by moto_admin on November 16, 2011
Recreation / Comments Off on Our ATV and Motorcycle Year in Review

We are now well into fall and I thought I would take this time to review what has happened in my family’s year in offroading. I have fulfilled a longtime dream of becoming a writer about my experiences, my family has become first-time owners of a four-wheeler, and my son Joey has graduated onto his next motorcycle. This has been the best offroad year of my life.

A Dirt Bike Dream Come True

One night last February I was randomly doing internet searches of work-from-home jobs to see if I could find something to offset the cost of an ATV. All of a sudden, an ad for an ATV blogger popped up! At first, I could not believe what I was reading; this is something that I have dreamed about doing since I was in high school. Back then, I always had a motorcycle magazine with me to read at any spare moment that I could find. About the time I was a senior, I began to enjoy writing essays and reports; I remember thinking I would like to become a magazine writer.

Well, after college, I went in a different direction with both my career and my hobbies. As a broke college graduate, I sold my motorcycle after making an attempt at motocross racing, in order to pay other living expenses. I also stopped reading offroad magazines and was away from the hobby for nearly ten years; during that time I had abandoned my dream of becoming a writer and focused on my careers in construction and fire fighting.

Now, about ten years after I resumed my offroading hobby, I have reclaimed the dream of being an ATV or dirt bike writer. Thanks to the advent of blogging, the internet and modern technology, I have a weekly forum to write about personal ATV and dirt bike experiences. It is not a big-time magazine experience, but it fulfills the dream for me. Also, because of the blog, my son Joey tells his teacher that his dad is a “famous” motorcycle rider; so at parent teacher conferences I have to explain that I am not famous, just a blogger.

ATV Owner

After so many years of riding dirt bikes, we purchased an ATV this year. This was a purchase made due to the fact that my wife Jennifer has a back condition that makes it harder to ride a motorcycle; also, she feels much more comfortable on the ATV. Her back does not take as much of a pounding on the four-wheeler and she is not as stiff and sore after a day of quad riding as she was on her motorcycle. This past summer when we were at Taylor Park, Colorado, Jennifer rode trails that she would not have attempted on our five previous trips to the area. She was able to take some absolutely gorgeous pictures from the ATV that have been used in many of the posts to this blog this year. Without the quad, those pictures may have never been taken; both of us would have been too busy maneuvering the trails on our motorcycles.

I have learned many things about ATVs this year, and the many different ATV accessories that are out there. I have written a bit about the many options for accessories, including snow plows, winches and tire chains that could help with work at the farm or moving snow in town this winter. The accessory we added this year was a back rest for the rear storage rack.We put this on so that Jennifer can sit back, stretch and relax while on a water break on the trail; not for carrying a passenger. These containers also offer ample storage space for jackets, shoes, tools or even food for a longer ride with the motorcycles and other ATVs.

I learned that the optimal ATV tire pressure is around four psi; after experimentation and friendly advice from my friend Dave, this is the number I ended up using.We have had the quad on the rocky mountain trails as well as in desert conditions.4 psi has worked well in both of these terrains; it has given Jennifer a smooth ride in the desert areas and has absorbed the shock of maneuvering over basketball-sized rocks on the trails of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

The ATV was a wise purchase for my family; it helped Jennifer find new experiences she could not have had aboard her motorcycle. With the addition of the rear storage container, the quad has become somewhat of a supply wagon for the motorcycles out on the trail. It also has the potential of becoming a workhorse for us at the farm or moving snow at our house in town this winter. My neighbor Tony has mentioned that I should put a snow plow on the quad this winter; he had to shovel the sidewalks of our corner lot last Christmas while we were in California on vacation. I don’t think he enjoyed it all that much; especially since as a reward I sent him some nice pictures of the California beaches while he was cleaning our sidewalks.

Joey’s New Motorcycle

One day, while on my sales route, I stopped to eat my lunch in the parking lot of Fay Myers Motorcycle World in Denver, and I ended up purchasing Joey’s new motorcycle while I was there. I was going to just “check out” a couple different sizes of motorcycles, but I found a deal that was just too good to pass up – it even came with freshly-mounted Dunlop motorcycle tires! I came home with the bike and surprised Joey with it that night when I sent him on a mission to the garage.He was so excited we didn�t think we would get him to sleep that night.

Joey has had a couple of ride days on the new motorcycle since the purchase; his mother and I marvel at how he can control a motorcycle. We think that we have introduced him to a lifelong hobby. Hopefully the boy can pass dirt biking and four-wheeling fun onto his own family some day.

Conclusion

What a year it has been! I have been able to fulfill a longtime dream, we became ATV owners, and Joey got his new motorcycle. This is more than a hobby for myself, this is a family hobby. We have enjoyed many hours offroading as a family over the years. With the additions and improvements made this year, we should have many more family hours to look forward to in the future.

James Parker

Tags: ,

Family Day at an Offroad Park

Posted by moto_admin on November 09, 2011
Recreation / Comments Off on Family Day at an Offroad Park

Well, the adventure continues! After some riding the weekend before at our farm, Joey got a second chance to ride his new motorcycle (nicknamed “the Piglet). This time we went with some friends to a private offroad park about an hour and a half from our house. Joey got to experience a ten mile desert course, a taste of some rock crawling, climbed some hills and was even able to get some air. It was quite a memorable experience for all of us, and the day gave us a chance to reconnect with an old friend.

Tire Problems

After paying our entry fee and finding a place to park, we unloaded the machines. First thing we noticed was that my Big Red Pig had a flat front tire. I then realized that my handy, portable air compressor was not with me, because it was on loan to my friend Mike. Not to worry, though, I always carry CO2 cartridges in my tool bag on the bike. I got it out, aired up the tire and the day was saved. I was a little embarrassed that I was not as prepared as I ought to be; however, I did have a back-up system. So, I guess I did the right thing in making sure to have that secondary air filling system.

The Desert Course

Once the motorcycle tire situation was resolved, we were off on the first ride of the day. We decided to take the ten mile desert track. Those who were along were our friend Jason, his son Jack, Joey on the Piglet, me on the Big Red Pig and Jennifer on the four-wheeler. Since I had spent the most time on this particular track, I was chosen to be the leader initially. Joey, who is a second grader, and Jack, a sixth grader, loved this ride. They took the corners just as they should, hit a few of the smaller jumps and took turns leading each other around.

At one point, Joey was leading the entire group; I was following him and finding that I was actually going pretty fast in order to keep up. I looked behind and his mother was quite a ways back in distance on the ATV. We even found a dry creek bed that I had not ridden on previous trips to the park; it was a lot of fun for all of us to cruise through the loamy soil and rail around the berms. The end of this dry creek led us to the end of the lap and back to the trucks. After doing that first lap of ten miles it was lunch time, so we went back, had some lunch and listened to the two boys talk about who was having more fun. From what I saw it was pretty much a tie.

Rock Crawling

After lunch, we began to wander around the park to see what else it had to offer. We went back toward the dry creek and found another channel to follow. That channel led us to the rock crawling area; and yes, we couldnt resist giving it a try. This area is constructed out of used concrete culverts, and although I wanted to try a couple of the culverts on my motorcycle, with the two boys following me, I picked a nice easy line to follow up the hill. I did stop to survey the scene and decided that this would be a good place to practice if a person wanted to try his hand at endurocross. On my next visit, I do want to try climbing some of the culverts; I think that I could do it.

Joey Mountain

After we left the rocks, we came to a hill which Joey called Simply awesome.” This hill was about a story and a half on the side going up, but on the other side it was about a three story drop down at about a forty-five degree angle. Well, when we came to it, Joey was in the lead; he went straight to it, motored up and cruised right down that three story drop! When I got to the apex of the hill and dropped over to the other side, I couldnt believe that my eight-year-old had just done this hill! At the bottom, I couldnt catch up to him because he was tearing back around to do it again. We stayed here for quite some time while Joey rode up and down about ten times. This hill was the best part of Joeys day; we nicknamed it Joey Mountain.

The Sweet Jump

After the awesome hill, we took a short water break and started following the dry creek once again. Then we found what Jack termed as a sweet jump. The two boys rode this table top jump over and over, perfecting their jumps. The first time Joey hit this one, he had the throttle pegged; as a worried dad, it seemed to me that his motorcycle tires were at least five feet in the air. I dont know how high he actually got, but it seemed too high to this old dad. I talked to him about slowing down some; Joey did listen to my advice and his air time got shorter on the following jumps. I think for Jack, this was the best part of his day; I talked to Jason the next day and he said Jack couldnt stop talking about the sweet jump.”

Conclusion

What an awesome way to spend a warm, autumn day! Jason and I have known each other since Kindergarten and were roommates for a semester in college. Like what happens many times with childhood friends, we lost touch for many years. After getting reacquainted, we realized that we were both into offroading and decided we had to go riding together for a day. I think that this is just the beginning of a renewal of our friendship. We have already talked about other trips we should make in the future. Jason and his family had wanted to go to Taylor Park with us this past summer, but he had a previous commitment and could not make it. We are already kicking around dates for next summer for a Taylor trip, so hopefully Jason, Jack and the rest of their family can make it. My point here is that without dirt bikes, a childhood friendship may have been lost forever; now because of motorcycles and ATVs, Joey and Jack could become lifelong friends. It just amazes me at how offroading can bond friends and family together.

James Parker

Tags: , , , ,

First Ride on the New Motorcycle

Posted by moto_admin on November 01, 2011
Recreation / Comments Off on First Ride on the New Motorcycle

Well, after a couple of weekends with jam-packed schedules, Joey finally got the chance to ride his new motorcycle. That Saturday was a very exciting day at our house!

The Big Helper

When we got up on Saturday morning, I informed Joey of the days plan: we had chores to do and I had to finish a side job that I had taken. If everything got done, we could go riding later in the afternoon. Well, we had quite the helper all day long! I and my nephew, who had been helping me with some of these side jobs this summer, went off to do our work. Jennifer needed to go to the grocery store, so Joey went with her and they got the shopping done in record time. When they got home, Joey carried the groceries into the house and then cleaned his room. So when I got home, it was time to ride!

Lets Get the Machines Loaded!

All three of us then went to the garage and got the trailer out to begin loading; I decided in order to help Joey the best, we would just take his motorcycle and the ATV. The four-wheeler is an easier way to follow Joey around with his new motorcycle, because if he crashes or breaks down, it is easier to park and get off to help him. So we got out the four-wheeler, checked the fluids and ATV tires and loaded it onto the trailer. Next, we got the new Honda CRF 70 out of the garage and gave it a once over. I checked the Dunlop motorcycle tires and the oil level. The motor is air-cooled, so there is no coolant to check. Then I started it and made sure the front and rear brakes were in working order, along with the throttle. When everything checked out, we loaded it up onto the trailer and were off to the farm.

Lets Ride!

Upon our arrival at the farm, Jennifer helped Joey get out his riding apparel – he has a motorcycle helmet, boots, gloves, pants, jersey and chest protector. He now also has a pair of knee pads, too, which he did not wear on the old Yamaha PW50. We decided that with the bigger motorcycle, he should wear these now. By the time Joey was dressed, I had the new Honda and the Kawasaki ATV unloaded, gassed up and ready to go. I had Joey sit on the motorcycle as I laid out some rules for the new machine. I told him to stay in the grassy field, practice starting, stopping, turning and controlling the bike. He did an excellent job with this task; he looked so natural from the beginning that we let him just play around and get to know the bike. Pretty soon, I felt comfortable enough to just let Joey ride, so I went to take care of some farm chores. Jennifer got on the quad and followed him around for an hour or so, just playing on the roads, hills and trails of the Parker Farm.

Conclusion

All in all it was an awesome day; we got our work done and a very excited young man got a chance to test his new ride. Jennifer and I commented on how natural the kid looks on a motorcycle; I am beginning to wonder if Joey should be teaching me how to ride. When he rides, he shifts his weight on the bike in the right direction; he leans to the left or the right when he turns. He leans forward when he needs to get weight off the rear tire; he leans back when he wants to get more traction. I have to remind myself that he is eight years old now; which means he has been riding a motorcycle for half of his life already! I think the boy has quite a future in motorcycles; he just seems to be a natural. The only thing that I would like to see from him now is that HE start checking his motorcycle tire pressures and doing the general maintenance on his bike himself. That will come in good time!

James Parker

Tags: , , ,

Taylor Park [Video]

Posted by moto_admin on October 24, 2011
Trails and Trips / Comments Off on Taylor Park [Video]

Found a video that gives a great tour of the Taylor Park, CO area. Since we’ve talked about it a lot in previous posts, we thought our readers might enjoy:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

(borrowed from Scott’s ATV Trail Pics)

Tags: , ,

It All Rests On The Tires – guest post by Ara Gureghian

Posted by moto_admin on October 21, 2011
Life on the Road, Motorcycle Tires / Comments Off on It All Rests On The Tires – guest post by Ara Gureghian

Motorcycling has taken me up to my 63rd year now! Daring youth, fast bikes, track days, faster bikes, much touring and camping while criss-crossing the country. In years past it was the Middle East, Africa and Europe (as my birthplace was France); that was a past life, since I have now been in the U.S. a bit over 30 years. Today, my buddy Spirit and I have been on the road full time camping for the past 5 years – with a hack, “Old Faithful” I call her, barely broken in with 257,000 miles on her odometer.

In a few days, it will be 5 years from the time I decided to leave it all behind, after losing my son and only child, to find some therapy outside of doctors prescriptions with chemical properties. It has been quite a journey so far, climbing the mental and physical steps one at a time; up one, back two, up three more. There is truly nothing like putting a helmet on (both of us!) and feeling the wind on our faces while enjoying the freedom of the surrounding space in an “uncaged” way. Mother Nature is of a generous…nature. I can attribute my longevity to luck, much serious riding education, and a wise path – maybe never reaching 100% of my inner ability or exceeding my desires; yet respecting the blind curve that was always, and remains to be, a big one.

What I truly rest our riding success on, though, is the constant attention I pay to my motorcycle tires; including their pressure, cold or hot. A daily visual inspection, gauge in hand, is time wisely spend. I always have a 12V compressor along. We ride alone 99% of the time, and when with others, I can feel their impatience start in the morning. “Go” I say, “go.” My time spent here checking my tires is much more pleasant than time I could be spending in a building adorned with a large red cross. Yes, an engine has to run, brakes have to work, bearings have to roll, fresh oil is often needed; but it all rests on the tires.

There isn’t much that compares to the feeling of rolling on new tires, deep threads and good rubber; and I take care choosing the correct pressure, depending on the terrain. It is not a false sense of security – it is real, very real. Tires have a funny lifespan, however. Once not long ago, a good friend of ours was riding from Ohio to Colorado to camp with us for a few days, when I received a call from him. Brent was looking for a new rear motorcycle tire on a Saturday morning while only 250 miles from us! He thought his tire would make the 2500 mile round-trip. A seasoned rider himself, he had yet to learn that the ending of a tire’s life approaches much faster over the final miles than one might think. I think he learned this time. Maybe?

My rule is, if I think my tires are going to last another 1000 miles, they will in actuality only last 500, if lucky. Riding with the cords showing is someone else’s thrill, never mine. He spent a small fortune that day at the mercy of an independent dealer instead of having it ordered ahead of time and delivered to the comfort of his home. I myself lean a bit the other way, staying ahead of the curve with the ability of the sidecar to carry a couple spares for when I know that “moment of insecurity” is approaching.

Riding goes on, and our path is simple – stay south in the winter and north in the summer. My GS is a dual sport and I enjoy the offroad capabilities, as the most beautiful spaces of this vast country we live in are not reachable on paved roads. While the sidecar has slowed me down, and photography and writing about our experiences have taken over; there is no regret – my buddy Spirit is with me! And…I don’t fall anymore!

Ara and Spirit
www.theoasisofmysoul.com – Our Journal
www.beemerchef.smugmug.com – Our Photo Galleries

Tags: ,

Hare Scramble

Posted by moto_admin on October 18, 2011
Racing / Comments Off on Hare Scramble

I am going to try a hare scramble race next spring! My riding buddy Mike, famous from the Taylor Park posts, has talked me into entering this race. However, there is a precursor: I need to get into better shape. And it’s not just my body that needs improvement; so does the Big Red Pig. I plan to get Joey into better shape as well, since he will be participating in the kid’s race in the hare scramble. It has given me a goal to get my body and my motorcycle in better shape over the winter; and has given Joey an incentive for eating healthier. As for Mike, he says he would like to get a new bike – and he already has one picked out.

What is a Hare Scramble?

A hare scramble is a fast-paced race; it is a sprint from start to finish with the first one to cross the line being the winner. Unlike an Enduro, a hare scramble has no technical tests or time keeping skills involved. The object of the race is simply to see who the fastest rider is. The race we are entering is in the desert surrounding the Grand Junction, Colorado area. The length of each lap could be up to forty miles long depending on how it is laid out.I will be entering the senior class, for those of us over the age of forty; Joey will be in the peewee class and will ride either his new Honda 70 or maybe his old Yamaha 50. I will make that decision later in the winter when I see how he is handling the new motorcycle. I am thinking that Mike will be in an open class competing against guys in their twenties.


Personal Fitness

The first thing I want to do for myself is to lose at least thirty pounds this winter; I have started this by eating better meals, like salads and fruit. Also, I am trying to fit in two or three trips to the gym each week. So far my regimen has involved swimming laps.Swimming gives me a total body workout; in just forty-five minutes I can work my body so hard that I can barely walk when I get out of the pool. Later in the winter, after I have dropped a few pounds, I will begin to lift weights in order to gain some muscle in my legs, arms and chest. I hope that this will help me to avoid arm pump and give me the strength and endurance to make it through the two to three hour race.

Another good form of training is bicycling; I like to ride my mountain bike around town, out at the farm and at different campgrounds that we visit. The mountain bike is a lot like riding the motorcycle and trains my body to move with the bike while working my legs and giving me a cardio workout. A simple twenty minute bike ride gives me a sense of accomplishment and the feeling that I am treating my body right.

Since telling Joey of the plan for the two of us to race and telling him that I am trying to eat better, I have heard him tell others that he cannot eat candy because he is trying to get in shape to race his motorcycle. He has taken to drinking lots of milk, eating high protein foods and fruits. He doesn’t need to lose weight, as he is as skinny as a rail. He needs to gain some muscle and body strength so that he will have the endurance to get through the race.

Mike is in his twenties, works hard for a living and is in excellent physical condition. He says that his work gives him enough physical conditioning to get through the race. I wish that I could say that; I am forty and have many aches and pains!

Pre-Running

Sometime this fall or winter, a trip to the Grand Junction area will be made for some pre-running. There was a time when we spent a lot of time riding in this area; however, over the last few years we have not made as many trips to the Grand Junction desert, so I am not as familiar with the terrain as I once was. Mike has never ridden in the desert around Junction and Joey still had training wheels on his 50 the last time he rode there.

We do not know where the course will be set up, so we will be blindly picking out areas to ride and getting an idea of what the race might be like. I am thinking of taking the ATV on these pre-run trips, too, because with it I can move slower and stop to study the terrain. The quad will allow me to see better lines for the dirt bike that I wouldn’t see as easily moving at the faster pace I tend to hit on the bike.

Prepping the Race Bikes

This winter, my maintenance routine will have to take on an even more detailed regiment. Racing the hare scramble will be a first in my nearly thirty years of motorcycling; so I am not really sure what I will need to do to get the Big Red Pig ready for the race. I am going to consult my Honda manual to see if there may be some additional maintenance that needs to be performed on the bike that I do not normally perform. Of course, I will be getting new Maxxis desert motorcycle tires for the bike this winter, along with heavy duty motorcycle tubes. I had planned this well before deciding to make an attempt at the race.

As for Joey’s bikes, I will keep both of them well-maintained and then make the final adjustments later in the winter, after I have decided which bike he will be racing. I think that the tires on both of his will be adequate for the peewee race and the motors will remain stock.

Mike is shopping for a replacement to his two-stroke KX250; he has found what he calls his “dream bike.”When we were at Endurocross, he fell in love with the Kawasaki KX450F and has been working extra hours this fall in hopes of being able to purchase one. He said that he may also get an ATV to help in his pre-running.With the new bike, we will probably spend some pre-running time getting his suspension dialed in to suit his needs.

For pre-running maintenance on the four-wheeler, I will do normal winter maintenance like change the oil and coolant, check all the fluid levels. I will inspect the cables, brakes and any other movable parts recommended by the Kawasaki owner’s manual. The ATV tires are in really good shape, so the only thing I will have to do is check the pressures.

Conclusion

The hare scramble has given me a goal to get my body and our machines into better shape this winter. I am looking forward to “training” for this event and to preparing the machines for both the pre-run and the race itself. I am looking at this as the beginning of a new chapter in my offroading life. It is also going to introduce Joey to something he may want to do competitively for the rest of his life. I am not going to push him into doing this; it is his choice to do this as he pleases. For Mike, it means a bonding experience with a good friend and something we can do along with our families for many years to come.

James Parker

Tags: , , , ,

Joey’s New Ride

Posted by moto_admin on October 10, 2011
Recreation / Comments Off on Joey’s New Ride

What started out as a good place to stop for lunch turned into the purchase of Joeys new motorcycle! I was at my day job, going through a normal Thursday sales route when I decided to stop and have my lunch in the parking lot at a dealership I frequent, Fay Myers Motorcycle World in the Denver area. My original intent was to eat lunch and walk through the dealership to get some ideas for Joeys new motorcycle. He has asked for a Honda CRF 70 or CRF 80; this is because I have the Honda XR 650R and he wants to look just like Dad.

70 vs 80

I was going to compare the size of the two models and think over which one to purchase, but as I approached the doorway I spotted both a 70 and an 80, and immediately decided that the 80 would be too big for Joey. So the 70, with a number 2 on the number plate, would be the one! We had been thinking that we would purchase him a new motorcycle this time around. After sitting down with the sales rep and compared final prices, though, it made sense to go with the used 2005 armed with fresh Dunlop motorcycle tires. In buying the older, lightly used motorcycle, we were saving over $1000.

The original plan was to bring Jennifer and Joey in to look at the bike before making a purchase; but it would be at least two days before we could all make it back in. I thought this is too good of a deal to wait, so I made the purchase less than ten minutes after walking in the door “just to take a look.” Even though the purchase was spur of the moment, I feel very comfortable with the decision.

Tie Down Straps

As I was sitting in the dealership waiting for the paper work to be completed, it dawned on me that I was driving the work truck and I have no motorcycle tie down straps with me. I am always hauling building materials for my day job, so I did have a plethora of ratchet straps. I decided those would work as long as I didn’t pinch the forks down too tight. Also, I would need to be especially careful since I did not have a fork saver. A fork saver is a block that keeps the forks from being tightened down too much, which will blow out the fork seals. I have one of these that I purchased and several others that I made myself from 2×4’s, which work splendidly. As soon as I get a chance at home, I will custom build one for Joeys new motorcycle.

Planning the Surprise

On the ninety mile drive home, I was thinking of different scenarios of to how to present the bike to Joey. Jennifer was fully aware of what was going on because I had texted her and sent pictures of the bike. Joey, however, had no clue what was happening; he knew that we would be purchasing a new motorcycle for him soon, but he didnt know it would be this soon. He would be in for quite a surprise when we all got home that night.

I was a little fearful, too, remembering the day we went to Denver to buy his Yamaha PW 50 and coming home just in time for me to be called away to a structure fire. I had a premonition that there would be a fire call on my arrival home; and sure enough, not five minutes after my arrival, the pager was sounding an alarm for a haystack fire. Haystacks are long, drawn-out affairs to begin with; and a day of high wind warnings with gusts up to 60 mph could have made it an all-nighter. Fortunately, some bystanders had the fire contained upon our arrival. Since Joey had some after school activities that day, he was not home yet when I got back from the fire, so I will still be able to see the look on his face when he found his new ride!

My presentation plan was formulated; I decided to set the new bike, “The Piglet,” next to my Big Red Pig in the motorcycle garage. At our house, the ATV and the motorcycles are in a separate garage from the cars, tools and other junk. When Joey got home, I would have him take a ratchet strap into the motorcycle garage where he would discover that he now has two motorcycles. I think as the proud dad, I was just as excited about his motorcycle as he would be when he came home.

Surprise!!

Finally, all the after school activities were done and Joey came home. I give him the strap and told him to take it to the motorcycle garage. With no kid argument at all he took the strap, walked the fifty feet across our backyard, opened the walk-in door and turned on the light. He began to look around to decide where to put the strap. He looked at the new bike, turned his head away and then took a second look. There was a two second pause and then he exclaimed, “MY NEW MOTORCYCLE IS HERE!!”

We pulled it out of the garage and pushed it up toward the house so that it was in the light from the back of the house (it was already dark outside). At that point, Joey inspected it to make sure it was up to his specifications. Upon completion of the inspection, we got the thumbs up!

How excited is the boy? Extremely! When we asked him what he thinks of his new ride, he says, “this is just what I wanted.” He is now planning rides for us, including a hare scramble in the spring (which is a subject for a different post). I am not sure who is more excited about the new motorcycle, Joey or me; I am such a proud father when it comes to the dirt bikes. Joey is such a good rider at eight years old; he just seems so natural when he is on the bike. It also puts a soft spot in my heart when, without prompting, he asked for a motorcycle that looks like mine so that he could be “just like Dad.” Joey, Jennifer and I have a lot of good, quality, family time to look forward to in the coming years on our ATV and dirt bikes.

James Parker

Tags: , ,

Endurocross Round 4, National Western Complex, Denver, CO

Posted by moto_admin on October 05, 2011
Racing / Comments Off on Endurocross Round 4, National Western Complex, Denver, CO

EnduroCross has become my favorite form of motorcycle racing! We used to go to Arenacross, supercross and motocross races all over the country, but now that EnduroCross has become popular, I prefer to watch it over the other forms of dirt bike racing. The reason I am drawn to this new form of racing is because it takes one of my trips to the mountains and puts it into a track the size of a football field. It has rocks, sand, water crossings, logs and tractor tires; it resembles a motocross track designed by some deranged offroader who wants to make mince meat of other riders.

The Leaders

This past weekend, a group of us attended the AMA sanctioned race, partially sponsored by Kenda tires, at the National Western Complex in Denver. After all the heat races and last chance qualifiers, the eventual winner was Taddy Blazusiak; with local favorite and former trials champion Geoff Aaron taking the runner-up spot. While the main event was somewhat of a runaway win for Blazusiak, there were some very close qualifier heats where a win was clinched with a last second pass.

Tractor Tires

This particular track included a water crossing, large boulders and three separate sections where the riders were required to traverse tractors tires. In two of these sections the tires were standing up, and on the other section the tires were laying flat. I hadn’t thought of taking the tires off our tractor and trying different ways of riding my motorcycle over them. The challenge riders face with the vertical tires is having to clear a 6 foot tall obstacle; the challenge on the flat tires was to avoid dropping their motorcycle tires into the center of the tractor tire. Getting stuck in here can send a rider from first place to the middle of the pack in no time.

Trials

Trials motorcycles have a race class of their own; these simple little motorcycles with no seats actually clear many of the obstacles with what seems like much less effort than the bigger offroad bikes. Recently, the Smage Brothers made these motorcycles famous on the television show Americas Got Talent. Phil Smage was in this race, in fact, and leading the trials main event until he had a mishap in the matrix section (where logs lay down in different directions) and fell to the back of the pack.

In the dash for cash race, there were actually two trials bikes racing against offroad bikes; one of the trials riders finished in second place ahead of several of the offroaders. In the first three or four years of the series, the trials bikes were in the same race class as the offroad bikes; the trials became so competitive and so popular that a class of their own was created. These little bikes have become a fan favorite over the short history of EnduroCross and have shown that they can hold their own against the bigger more powerful offroad motorcycles.

Concluding Thoughts

As we were studying the track prior to the race, our group decided that we had ridden over most of the EnduroCross obstacles out on the forest trails; with the exception of the tractor tires. This is what draws me to want to watch this sport; it is how I ride on my trail rides. Many of the obstacles in EnduroCross seem to have been pulled straight from the Colorado trails I describe on this blog. Of course, I am not out in the woods trying to clear a 60 table top jump or trying to throw a nac-nac; but I am out there fording streams, riding over basketball size rocks and jumping over fallen trees.

Offroad is my world; this is where I feel at home. I do have friends who are motocrossers, and I enjoy talking to them and watching them ride, but if given a choice, I prefer to watch an EnduroCross race. When a rider is fighting his way through the rock garden or having trouble crossing the water hazard, all I can think is, “I feel your pain, Brother.If the opportunity arises for you to attend EnduroCross, take it – it is well worth the time and money.

James Parker

Tags: , , ,

Motorcycle offroading – safety is no joke

Posted by moto_admin on September 19, 2011
Recreation, Riding Tips & Education / Comments Off on Motorcycle offroading – safety is no joke

The most memorable quote from our last trip to Taylor Park was when our group reached a significant water crossing on the Lily Pond single-track trail, miles from our camp. Mike volunteered to ford the crossing first. Once across, he parked his bike and shut it off so he could hear us speaking. Dave, the one who had just led us on a harrowing journey through the forest, over rocks and trees, around corners and through other smaller water crossings, hollers at Mike, “We changed our minds, we are going golfing!” The look on Mike’s face on the other side of the water was priceless. The odd look was probably because there is not a golf club owned between the three of us.

We are offroaders. We all live to ride these trails. For us, there is nothing better than putting our motorcycle tires on the surface of these trails. The point I am making here is that while we like to joke around, we take our offroad riding seriously. Just as many golfers spend time and money perfecting their game; we do the same with preparing and riding our dirt bikes. All three of us will arrive at camp with finely tuned machines.

A few days after returning home from the ride, Dave said his favorite quote of the trip came from me. I had said, “Let’s get on our motorcycles and try to see how far up the creek we can get.” Dave says it takes a serious offroad rider to think this way; most casual riders wouldn’t say something like that. They either want to ride easier trails that are not so much work or to see how fast they can go. We consider ourselves to be technical riders; my buddies and I relish the chance to take on difficult trails that test our riding skills.

Not only do these trails test our riding skills, they test our mechanical skills as well; meaning that if maintenance on the machines is not done properly, it would not take long on one of these trips for a poor maintenance routine to rear its ugly head. Since so many of the trails are very rocky and have many obstacles, I don’t think I would want to begin to travel them without being confident in my maintenance regimen and the parts I have used on the machines.

To me, first and foremost is to make sure to have good, sturdy tires and tubes. I am picky about tires and do a lot of research before purchasing them to make sure that I choose the correct tires for my style of riding.

Good quality riding gear is just as important. Remember, not only could you be miles from camp, you could be hours away from advanced medical help. Protecting your body in case of a crash helps to ensure your injuries are less severe. As a firefighter, I have some emergency medical training; Dave likes to joke that this is the reason he lets me go riding with him. He thinks it is funny to tell people that he has his own personal rescuer along on the ride. However, in our miles and miles of riding, I was the one to have had the most serious crash resulting in knee ligament damage. All he could say to me as he was picking my bike up was, “That looked like it hurt.” Trust me, it hurt a lot! That is the day after which my protective apparel was upgraded tremendously.

The point of all this is that our little group of riders is not just a hapless group of guys who go out to ride on a whim. We come prepared and we make sure our motorcycles are well-maintained, from the clutch cables down to the motorcycle tires. We dress appropriately and for safety so we are protected on more challenging ride trails. Enjoying the good company of our friends is only the beginning when it comes to having a good time offroading.

James Parker

Tags: ,

Upcoming Winter OHV Improvements

Posted by moto_admin on September 13, 2011
Maintenance & Modifications / Comments Off on Upcoming Winter OHV Improvements

It is mid-September already and the summer offroad riding season is winding down. We are down to one or two more extended riding trips and will try to do some local rides throughout the winter. The thought of the summer season coming to an end brings me to some wintertime improvements for the motorcycles and the ATV. I have some ideas for my Big Red Pig, Jennifers ATV and Joeys little PW 50 for machine improvements this winter. I thought I would share my thoughts for my off season plans and OHV improvements.

The Big Red Pig

After putting many miles on it this summer, the pig is in dire need of new shoes (in other words, I need new motorcycle tires). I have been running one set of tires for about six years; it is definitely time to put on new meat. I have found Maxxis Maxxcross Desert-IT tires to be ideal for the diverse terrain I ride. They work well for me in the mountains when I am traversing rocks, in the sand and on the different desert courses that I ride. These tires have lasted over twice as long as the stock tires I originally ran when I first got the bike. I also like how the bike handles and grips in different situations better than with the original tires. Whenever I change tires, I always install new tubes; I then rotate the old tubes into reserve duty. The old tubes will be placed in my traveling kit to use as replacement tubes for a time when I get a flat out on a trail.

While I have the tires and wheels off, the chain and sprockets will be inspected for wear and tear. If the chain is stretched to the point where it will no longer take adjustment and the sprocket teeth are worn down, I will replace whatever is necessary. I dont anticipate needing to replace the chain, but I have not looked closely at the sprockets for a while; if I do replace the sprockets, the chain will be replaced as well.

This is the year targeted to change out the coolant from the radiator, all the filters including the air filter as well as the spark plug. The pig has run so well over the years, some of these simple tune-ups have been overlooked. I have been riding the bike for eight years, it is time to just start replacing these parts just to keep it the finely tuned machine that it is.

The ATV

Since I am new to four wheelers, I really dont have routine down for the ATV yet; I will start by changing the oil and checking all the fluid levels. I am going to read the owners manual to see what it suggests for annual maintenance and begin to follow its routine. I plan to go through it with a fine tooth comb looking for missing bolts, checking filters, and just familiarizing myself with the machine in general. Up to this point, I really have not had a chance to do this, so hopefully this winter there will be a chance to tinker with the four wheeler.

Joeys PW 50

Well there really isnt much to say about the little Yamaha; Joey has gotten to the point where he has pretty much outgrown the bike. We will be shopping for a new motorcycle this winter; he says he wants a Big Red Pig. Obviously, I am not putting an eight-year-old boy on a 650cc motorcycle! What he means is that he wants to switch from Yamaha to Honda. It is nothing against Yamaha, they are a great company with awesome machines. Joey is in a phase right now where he wants to do everything like Dad; so we will shop for a Big Red Piglet. When we got the Yamaha, the reasoning behind the decision was that it was blue. As he has gotten a little older, he makes his decisions based more on Mom and Dads tastes.

Anyway, the PW 50 has an automatic transmission and the new bike will likely have a manual transmission, as I think he is ready for a clutch. I am confident he is ready for this change since he can operate the clutch on one of the tractors at the farm with no problems. He is coordinated enough and can handle a motorcycle as well as anyone I have seen at his age. He will do things with the bike which I am not sure I want to do with mine. He has talent for motorcycle riding and it will be a lifelong hobby for him.

Conclusion

Well, it looks like I have some work ahead of me this winter; this is what I like to do with my Sunday afternoons in the winter time. You will not find me watching football, I can be found in the shop with some music on, tinkering with our bikes and ATV. The improvements and changes I have planned for this winter should make for a fun and trouble-free riding season in 2012.

Tags: , , ,

Labor Day weekend family OHV ride

Posted by moto_admin on September 06, 2011
Recreation / Comments Off on Labor Day weekend family OHV ride

As the Taylor Park trip came to an end, I realized that I did not get to go on a ride with just my family. Labor Day weekend gave us the opportunity to render that situation. We took a trip to a private riding area about an hour’s drive from our house, and since none of the usual suspects (otherwise known as my riding buddies) were able to come along, we took a family ride with just the three of us.

We had a prior commitment in Denver on Saturday, so we made a reservation at an RV park where we could stay with our machines that night and left Sunday morning to the OHV area.When we finally arrived at the riding area on Sunday morning, we found the caretaker, paid our “ten dollar per person per day” entry fees, asked where we could set up camp and got on with our riding day.

The first order of business was to unload my Honda XR650R (The Big Red Pig), Joey’s Yamaha PW50 and Jennifer’s Kawasaki Prairie ATV. This would be the first time it would be just the three of us riding simultaneously since we got the four-wheeler.We all donned our riding gear, including helmets, gloves, chest protectors and boots and gave it all a once over.

The four-wheeler and the Big Red Pig both started right up, but when we got to Joey’s little Yamaha, it wouldn’t start. I was doing everything I could think of to get the little motor going as Joey began to look sadder and sadder. It just wouldn’t start.So to the toolbox I went; I grabbed my sockets, a rag, a wire brush and my trusty can of WD-40.My first inkling was to pull the spark plug to see what it looked like; once out it looked a little oily and burned. I sprayed it with the WD-40, scrubbed it with the wire brush, sprayed a little more WD-40 on it and put it back it the motor. After fiddling with the choke and kicking the starter a few times the tiny motor came alive. My spirits rose when I heard Joey coming out of the camper excitedly yelling, “Dad, you fixed my motorcycle!” That little boy just made my day, and I was a hero to him.

So we were off on our little adventure! This riding park has something for everyone – from an MX track to rock crawling, and from rally cars to a ten mile desert course. We chose the desert course, as we thought it could offer something for everyone in the clan. Jennifer and I first discussed whether or not Joey could go that far, but we decided to just get out there and see what happens. Well, after about thirty minutes of uphills, downhills, corners, whoops, gullies and switchbacks, we had made the ten miles and were back to our camp. I asked Joey if he was feeling okay and his response was, “Dad, I want to go around again!” So we were off for the second ten mile lap; we did it even faster and took a few extra turns that we didn’t take the first time which actually made the lap even longer.

Since this was the first extended riding I have done with Jennifer since we got the ATV, I got to watch her handle her new toy. She looks so much more comfortable on the four-wheeler than she did on the motorcycle (because of her back pain).There were many sections of this course that we would not have been able to do if she had been on two wheels instead of the four ATV tires. She was absolutely railing through terrain that would have stopped her dead in her tracks on the motorcycle. Joey gets better as a rider every time we go out; since I was in the lead I didn’t see it, but Jen said that Joey actually caught air going over some of the jumps. I don’t know if I am ready for the boy to be jumping his motorcycle! He is fearless on his bike so I know the jumps are only going to get bigger.

For me, this wasn’t a challenging technical ride like I am used to; nor was it a fast ride like I would do with my usual gang of friends. It was better than that; it was a ride with my two best friends, my wife and son. All my worries were gone for the time being, because I was captivated by how our little family can have so much fun doing this activity together.We are not sports fanatics or television watchers; we like to go camping, we like to go riding, and most of all we like to be together.What a better way to spend a long weekend than to be with my family enjoying our outdoor toys.

James Parker

Tags: , ,

Post Trip OHV Maintenance

Posted by moto_admin on August 30, 2011
Maintenance & Modifications / Comments Off on Post Trip OHV Maintenance

Now that the fun part of the Taylor Park trip has passed, it is now time to get to work on post-trip maintenance on the motorcycles and four wheeler. Since the Colorado Mountains offer very rugged conditions, post-trip inspection and maintenance is very important. I have come back from multiple day trips to find that I had missing bolts on my machines, flattened tires and chains that need adjusting. When arriving back home, I have a ritual that I go through in order to getting the machines back in perfect working order.

Clothing and gear
The first thing I usually do is to unload the dirty protective gear such as the helmets, boots and chest protectors. The only reason that this is the starting point is because these items are situated at the back of the trailer. Obviously the clothes are extremely dirty after forging streams, climbing rocks and riding through dust clouds for several days, so I take the dirty clothes straight to the washer and set it on a heavy setting. I don’t stop at putting jerseys and pants in the washer; I will disassemble the linings from my motorcycle helmet and put it in with the other clothes. After several days of offroad, the helmet lining is pretty rank. Also, perspiration can break down the lining’s fabric; so washing it out every once in a while is a good idea.I will discuss how to clean the boots later, but at this time I also take the chest protector and the shell of the helmet and hand wash them with soap and water.

Power washing
While the clothes are in the wash, I will line up all the machines on the lawn and commence power washing. I include my riding boots in this phase since they are generally as dirty as the motorcycle. As I mentioned in a previous post, I use a lower pressure electric power washer that will not blow the grease out of bearings as easily. I make sure that all the mud clumps are knocked off the bikes, especially under the fenders, under the motor and off the tires. Why worry so much about cleaning the machines after a ride?It is to avoid cross-contamination; meaning that it can be environmentally irresponsible as a rider to take dirt from a mountain riding area to a desert riding area. This contamination can introduce plants foreign to the next riding area. Funny side note to this: I always do the washing in the same spot of my lawn, and that is the greenest section of grass I have.I like to joke about the new species of grass I am growing in that section from all the different places I have ridden over the years.

Inspections
Once the machines are clean, I will take them into the garage and start inspecting them one by one. I am looking for missing or loose bolts, cables, levers, foot pegs, handle bars, fenders, you get the idea. A place like Taylor Park is very rocky and can easily jolt bolts and other parts loose. I remember the first time I went to Taylor on my old XR600R; upon my arrival at home, I actually found bolts that were missing entirely. This taught me to carry a metric bolt kit with me so that I would always have replacement bolts. I will also take the air filter out to inspect it; if necessary, I will clean the filter using a foam filter cleaner or if it is in horrid condition, I will simply replace it.

I will inspect the ATV and motorcycle tires for wear; if they are worn down too much, I will order replacement tires and tubes. I never like to put new tires on the bikes without putting in new heavy duty motorcycle tubes; since the tires on the ATV are tubeless, this is not a concern. While inspecting the tires, I will also check for loose spokes and bent rims. The spokes may simply need to be tightened, while a bent rim will be cause for replacement. Also, I check the drive chain on the motorcycles for proper adjustment and make sure they are not too worn. My nephew went along on the trip to Taylor Park and he managed to bend the rear brake lever and the gearshift lever on his motorcycle. I helped him replace both levers, because the metal is sufficiently cracked and they can’t be salvaged.

Since I am new to the ATV, I am still coming up with a ritual for it. It will be much the same, though, I’m sure. Since ours has a drive shaft instead of a drive chain, I will be looking at the shaft oil instead of adjusting a chain.

And that’s that!
The inspections, adjustments and repairs of the post-trip ritual are the most time consuming part of this routine. Once the fun part of the trip has come to an end, don’t neglect the important phase of post-trip inspection and maintenance. Skipping it can ruin the next trip due to riding poorly maintained vehicles.

 James Parker

Tags: , ,

Warm-Up Ride, Taylor Park, Colorado (part 3)

Posted by moto_admin on August 23, 2011
Recreation, Trails and Trips / Comments Off on Warm-Up Ride, Taylor Park, Colorado (part 3)

I am continuing my trend of telling Taylor Park stories in reverse; the story I told two weeks ago was actually the final day of the trip, last week’s story was about the second day of our trip, so I decided to use this week’s space to talk about our “warm-up” ride on the first day. As I mentioned in the post about altitude sickness, we like to get ourselves acclimated to the high elevation before taking on a long, hard ride. We arrived at camp the first day around 11:00, and after all the unloading was done, we had a leisurely lunch and a rest period to get our bodies used to the altitude. After our break we checked our motorcycle and ATV tire pressures (changes in altitude affect tire pressure) and then we were off on our first adventure.

This first ride occurred about three hours after our arrival in Taylor Park; it was a motorcycle ride involving Mike and myself. Our third partner in crime, Dave, had not yet arrived and we were way too excited to wait. Imagine trying to keep my son Joey off the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. That is what it would be like to try to keep the two of us off the epic single track trails of Taylor Park, Colorado!

Since I have been to the area more than Mike, I took the lead in this first ride; I decided to go to Dinner Station Campground and take the trail that runs to the south in front of the campground. This trail leads down to a bridge that crosses the Taylor River. Once across the river, the plan was to take a trail that runs upstream and eventually connects with Road 748. Well, that idea was squashed as soon as we crossed the bridge; the trail head for the route was blocked with a trail closed sign. This was a bit disheartening since that connector trail has always been high on my list.So at that point, we had only one option; straight up the mountain on a rugged, steep single track trail we went. This is an awesome trail – I always feel as though I am railing around corners and over rocks.

As we began this section of the Gunnison Spur, I throttled up, hit the small stream crossing, and rocketed up the mountain.I knew Mike was behind me for the buzzing of his two-stroke KX 250. We hit a few switchbacks, and I just kept pinning the throttle; what an awesome feeling, this energy had been pent up in my body for months. This area of Colorado had an extremely harsh winter; the remnants of that remained as we encountered the first of many fallen trees. I was so amped up it didn’t matter; I dropped the clutch, throttled up and lifted my front wheel right over the trees.Later, Cowboy commented on how it seemed the trees didn’t faze me in the least and he had a hard time keeping up with me. I think he was just stroking my ego; but I allowed it, especially since he was saying it in front of my wife Jennifer!

After a few more rocks, switchbacks and fallen trees we reached the first of two fire roads, which gave us a breather.I stopped and told Mike that was our warm-up ride; we both laughed, got a drink of water from our hydration systems and decided to head down the fire road to the continuation of the Gunnison Spur.

The fire road actually turned into the next single track section of the Gunnison Spur; I didn’t feel as though this section was as difficult as the first section. To me, it was a more leisurely trail; it didn’t have the hard, steep climbs. There were some rocky sections and a few mud holes to traverse; this made The Big Red Pig muddy on the very first ride of the trip, which I don’t mind at all. This section was only a few miles long. As I wound my way through the forest, I imagined that I was racing the GNCC series; oh well, just a fantasy.We came to another fire road, this is where the next section of the spur takes off; I told Mike we should save that for tomorrow, as it is a very difficult section with steep, rocky and tight switchbacks. It is not a trail for a warmup ride at all.

It was getting close to dinner time, and Dave was expected at camp anytime, so we decided to take a shortcut back. This excursion covered about twenty miles of very beautiful scenery – forests, streams, high mountain ponds and wildlife.

Although this was a short ride, it was a taste of what was to come in the next few days; we were in store for some epic single-track, my first taste of extended four-wheeler riding and creating life long memories with some really good friends.We are now a couple of weeks past this trip and when I think back to the dirt biking, ATVing and friendships that these activities have cultivated, it makes me smile.I have found that offroading is not only a good activity for a family, but it is also a way to create some really strong bonds with friends.

James Parker

Tags: , , , ,

Tellurium Creek Trail, Taylor Park, Colorado (part 2)

Posted by moto_admin on August 16, 2011
Recreation, Trails and Trips / Comments Off on Tellurium Creek Trail, Taylor Park, Colorado (part 2)

Once again, I have had a new experience! While on my fortieth birthday trip to Taylor Park, Colorado, I had my first extended trail ride aboard our new four wheeler. Being a lifelong dirt biker, it was a great experience for me to be riding a different vehicle on one of my favorite trails – The Tellurium Creek Trail.

The impromptu ride began when I asked the question of whether anyone in the group had ever been up the Tellurium Creek Trail. I did not know about Tellurium until about my fourth or fifth trip to the area after a friend told me about it, so when the answer all around the circle was no, I suggested we go now.

The late afternoon ride up Tellurium started out as being a combination ATV/motorcycle tour with Dave and I riding our dirt bikes along with some other fellows who were on ATVs. When we realized that neither of our family’s four wheelers were not being ridden, though, we decided to make it an all-ATV tour. I had been riding hard all day on my bike and thought a nice leisurely four wheeler ride may be a little more relaxing anyway.

Tellurium Creek is an ATV or Jeep trail, and one of the lesser known trails at Taylor Park, since it is at the northern end of Taylor Road (742) before the road comes to Taylor Pass. From our camp, we had to travel about seven miles of Taylor Road, which is much like any groomed, gravel county road.This is a straight stretch of road and not at all exciting.Once we got to the trail head near Dorchester Campground, we stopped, regrouped and picked a leader for the trail.I drew the short straw and had to be the leader.

As we started up the trail, it immediately became rocky and steep; and being new to the four wheeler, I knew that I would be in for a learning experience on this excursion.I found that the large balloon ATV tires were excellent at absorbing the beach ball size rocks.After several steep rocky sections, we came to a stretch where the trail was actually in a creek for about one hundred yards; it wasn’t as deep as it was a few years ago, which was surprising after the wet spring and summer this year in Colorado. We went around a few corners and came to some stream crossings, which we all blasted through with no problems at all. After a couple of stops to take in the views, we made it to the top of the trail to the most gorgeous mountain valley I have ever seen.

This is one of the most beautiful places I have ever laid my eyes on; it is worth the ride to see this gorgeous green valley surrounded by high mountain peaks.Upon entering the meadow, the trail comes to a fork; it doesn’t matter whether a rider takes the left or right fork because the trail makes a loop through the valley. We chose the trail to left which is the hardest section of the loop; it is a side hill trail which climbs up a rocky slope with sharp drop offs. This section is not for the faint of heart – one slip could send a rider tumbling for hundreds of feet, so I’m glad my ATV tires had good grip! Once we reached the summit, we began to descend, going from switch back to switch back until we got back to the green shrubbery. We came to a water crossing which was fed by a spectacular waterfall. This seemed to be the apex of the loop, because afterward, we were headed back to the fork in the trail. On the way back, we came to some ponds that were teeming with water; in fact, the water was spilling onto the trail, creating a creek in itself.A few more bends and we were back to the fork.It was getting to be late in the afternoon and we all decided to make our way back to camp for supper.

What a ride! This thirty mile round trip from camp turned out to be the longest ATV ride I had been on up to this point and I found it to be quite enjoyable. The loop at the top of Tellurium Creek was just as beautiful as I remember it being a few years ago when I rode my motorcycle to the top. The guys were all talking about the trip around the campfire that evening. All were in agreement that this was one of the most beautiful spots many of us had ever seen. In fact, at least two of the riders from the original group went back up the creek the next day; I guess that I must be a good tour guide! When in Taylor, make sure to ride the Tellurium Creek Trail!

What are my thoughts on my longest ATV ride thus far? It was great; I used to make fun of people on ATVs thinking they may as well stay at home on the couch.My opinion is now quite the contrary; I see the advantages of four wheels and see how it expands offroading to a greater population who may not want the challenge of riding a motorcycle across these rough trails. There will be a day when I will be on a four wheeler full time.

James Parker

Tags: , , , ,

Offroading Trip – Happy Birthday to Me! Taylor Park, Colorado (part 1)

Posted by moto_admin on August 10, 2011
Recreation, Trails and Trips / Comments Off on Offroading Trip – Happy Birthday to Me! Taylor Park, Colorado (part 1)

We have returned from our trip to Taylor Park, Colorado; this four day trip was my 40th birthday present. My birthday occurred on the third day of the trip and it was the best ride day of the four, because it was a day of epic single-track, with some ATV trails thrown in the mix. The previous couple of days I just did some easier motorcycle rides and rode about fifty miles on the four wheeler. This was to be the hardcore single track day with only advanced riders. This was my day; and I shared it with my friends Mike and Dave.

Ride at First Light

Dave was unable to attend the first ride of the day, so Mike and I had decided to take off at dawn on Sunday morning. We wanted to repeat a section of the Timberline Trail that we rode the day before to see how fast we could cover it the second time. We picked up this trail at the Red Mountain stage coach stop. Right off the bat at 7 am and forty-some degree temperatures, we had a water crossing. What a way to wake up! This water crossing requires you to make a turn in the middle; well, I missed the turn and had to stop and put my foot down, which filled my boot full of icy water. Oh well, I knew my socks would dry out, and that I was in for one of the best riding days of my life.

Once out of the water crossing, the trail climbed up the mountain following a rocky trail and around some gorgeous ponds. This is a forest service trail 414, which is suitable for motorcycles or ATVs. I was on the Honda XR650R (the Big Red Pig) and Mike was on his Kawasaki KX 250. Since Mike has a two stroke machine, I always knew that he was behind me, as I could hear his motor buzzing like a swarm of bees. After several hard, rocky climbs and descents, we arrived at Pie Plant Mill, the site of an old mine where we would pick up the single track section of the Timberline Trail.

The next section of trail was extremely challenging. When we made our initial ascent out of the Pie Plant site on the four wheel drive trail, I remember thinking this isnt so bad. The first mile or so was a gentle climb with some loose rocks. This trail would be harder for less experienced riders, but I had been on tougher trails. But once past this beginning section, it got much harder. After a short while, we reached a closed gate, looked to our right and saw something that resembled a single track motorcycle trail. It was very rocky and steep; in some sections it resembled a staircase – except that each of the steps was two feet tall!

We seemed to climb for quite some time before the rocky trail dropped into what I thought would be a nice peaceful meadow. It was, too, for about 100 yards until we began a very steep climb over large boulders unlike any trail I had ever been on. I was leading Mike up the mountain when I lost track of where the trail was and stalled my bike, getting my motorcycle tires stuck in the process. We decided that maybe this trail should be placed on our bucket list for another time. After we got my bike unstuck, we carried it backwards down the hill. Once off the mountain we backtracked to the Pie Plant Mill site and took a four wheel drive trail back down to camp for a much-needed breakfast.

Lily Pond and American Flag Mountain

After a wonderful breakfast of pancakes, eggs and corned beef hash, the three guys saddled up on our dirt bikes for more single track hardcore dirt bike adventures. We decided to head toward Lily Pond, so aptly named because the water is covered in lily pads. It is simply gorgeous when the pads are open and glistening in the high Colorado sun. The trail to the lily pond is a 4×4 trail, but it does offer challenges to an ATV or motorcycle rider, as it is steep and very rocky. On the way is another abandoned mine and several cabins left by the mine workers. It is fun sit and ponder about the life that those miners lived as they worked their fingers to the bone in the dead of winter at ten thousand feet.

Once to the Lily Pond, the trail becomes motorcycle-only. This trail in many spots is barely wide enough for the handle bars of the Big Red Pig to fit through. It has many switchbacks, rocks, trees, ups and downs. It is an epic trail for many a dirt biker and offers a challenge to all skill levels. A river crossing about a mile from the end signals that the end is near; however, the challenges in that last mile before coming to the Italian Creek Trail abound. There are still many ascents, descents and rocks to traverse before there is a break.

Once at Italian Creek, we made a left turn and started climbing the mountain; I am not sure at what point it does this, but Italian Creek turns into Cement Creek. Following Cement Creek, we passed the abandoned Star Mine, the intersection with the infamous Star Trail, and eventually we made it to the summit. Once I spotted the flag (yes there is an American Flag permanently planted at the top), we still had some steep climbing to do on loose shale rock. The Big Red Pig began to spin its rear motorcycle tire and the motor started to cut out a little. I just gave her a little Rock Slayer love and she came through for me and our little riding group made it to the summit of American Flag Mountain.

While at the 12,713 foot Peak of American Flag Mountain the emotions began to flow through my body. These ranged from the fact that it was my fortieth birthday and I had a couple of good friends ride to the top of this mountain with me, to the patriotic feeling I had standing up on this mountain looking at this great country of ours and how proud I am to be an American.

Funny story from the top: Mike was riding a motocross bike with no side stand. Dave says, bring it over and lean it against my KTM.” So Mike goes that direction – too fast I guess – and knocks the KTM right over. Once we gathered up the bikes, we realized that the KTM had a broken bolt on the side stand and the handle bars were bent from the little accident. It provided great fodder around the campfire that evening.

In any event, we decided at the top of the mountain that we were getting pretty tired, so it was time to head back to camp. All in all, that day gave us nearly fifty miles of trail riding and much of it on hardcore single track trails.

Conclusion and Tips

As I have said in past articles, Taylor Park for me is the happiest place in the world. Over time many lifetime memories have been created with my friends and family. We have a circle of folks who enjoy going to the area, both with us and on their own. Most folks I know that have gone to the park once will go again and again. Dont forget, this is not the true Disneyland; this is genuine wilderness. Be sure to respect nature, the environment and everything it has to offer.

As always, come prepared. I was happy that I brought extra motorcycle tubes along, as my nephew Cody The Carnage Kid came along on the trip. He had a front tire go flat on the second day, so luckily in my collection of tubes I had one that fit properly and had him up and running in no time.

All I have left to say about this fantastic day is Happy Birthday to Me!

James Parker

Tags: , , ,

Preparing for Taylor Park

Posted by moto_admin on August 02, 2011
Recreation / Comments Off on Preparing for Taylor Park

After six months of planning, it is finally here our trip to Taylor Park, Colorado. Dirt Bike Magazine once called this area the Mecca of offroading in Colorado.  This is our sixth trip to the area in the last eight years and I recently described the trail system to a friend as my Disneyland. I spent this past weekend getting ready for the four day trip. Saturday and Sunday consisted of preparing the motorcycles, ATVs and gear; gassing up the machines and preparing the truck and camper.

Loading the Machines

If you read about Taylor Park, you know that the closest motorcycle supplier is at least an hour’s drive away. So it is advisable to come to Taylor prepared; if not a person may spend the weekend driving around for parts. So I spent part of this weekend in the garage going through the machines checking for loose bolts, checking ATV and motorcycle tire pressure and making sure the oil and coolant levels are correct. My system is usually to do this one machine at a time as I am loading the trailer. I start with the Big Red Pig, as it goes on the trailer first, then the four wheeler and then the mini PW50. The machines fit on the trailer like a puzzle so everything has to be configured in a certain order.

Protective Apparel

Once the bikes and ATV are loaded, I will get our protective apparel, including the motorcycle helmets loaded onto the trailer. I save space toward the back for the riding gear. Each of us have our own bag that our individual gear goes in, and we have an oversized duffel bag that all three gear bags and our drink systems fit into.

I use this double bagging approach to keep the clothes dry on the drive. This is important because we do not have an enclosed trailer to offer protection from the elements. We really don’t want to arrive at this awesome place with wet riding gear that could ruin the weekend.

Gasoline

When going to a trail system such as Taylor Park, it is a good idea to pack along enough gasoline for the entire trip. More remote trails may not have a gas station near by. I plan to have 5 gallons per day for our three machines; we will be there for four days, but we will only be riding three days. We dont have a fancy fueling system like some newer trailers have, so we carry three five-gallon gas cans and make sure all the fuel tanks on the bikes and ATV are full when we pull out of our yard for the trip.

Camper

On a long trip like this we take our camper, so we also have to prepare it for the four night stay. During the summer months, the camper is generally ready to go at a moment’s notice, so getting it ready to go mostly involves a trip to the grocery store just before the trip and filling the water tank from our home faucet. Why don’t we store the riding apparel in the camper? The gear is stored in the garage at home, so it tends to smell like gas and oil. We don’t want to bring that smell into our vacation home.

Conclusion

The main point of this article is to come prepared when you visit a remote trail system like Taylor Park. Being unprepared in a place like this can mean an early end to the riding weekend or it could mean added driving time into a not-so-close town to pick up extra supplies or parts to repair a broken down machine. As with the theme of all my articles in this blog, make sure to be prepared for anything that may be in store for the trip.

James Parker

Tags:

Preparing yourself (physically) for a mountain ride

Posted by moto_admin on July 26, 2011
Riding Tips & Education / Comments Off on Preparing yourself (physically) for a mountain ride

As I was preparing the ATV and the motorcycles for our trips to the higher elevations of the Colorado Mountains, it occurred to me that the machines are not the only objects that need to be prepared for the ride. My body requires some maintenance to be able to operate in this extreme elevation and climate. I have learned a few things over the years and here are some tips to ensure your body is at peak performance.

Workout

About five years ago I started working out with the purpose of being better prepared for trail riding. Since starting a workout regimen, I began to have much more endurance and to enjoy the ride even more. I don’t get tired as easily as I used to and have more strength as I ride down the trail.

Although my schedule has not allowed for it to happen as much as I would have liked these past few months, I do belong to a gym where I try to workout at least three times per week. My favorite workout is swimming laps; I like being in the cool water even during the cold Colorado winter months. I like how the simple act of swimming laps works my entire body and improves my cardiovascular health. I swim at least twenty-five laps when I’m there, and with that, my entire body has been exercised.

There are days when I don’t want to swim, so on those days I will either walk or run on the treadmill for twenty minutes; then go lift weights. If you are new to lifting, be careful not to lift too much weight until you know what your body can handle. The point is to increase strength, not to injure yourself. If you don’t know where to begin, try checking out menshealth.com or womenshealth.com for example routines.

Prepare for the Elevation

In just a few days, my family and I will be going to Taylor Park, Colorado. The area of the park where we will be camping is at an elevation of about 10,000 feet and it only gets higher from there. At 11,000 feet in elevation there is 33% less oxygen than at sea level. Many folks who come into Colorado from other areas will suffer from altitude sickness if not prepared for the high elevation in advance. It is a sickness that can ruin the first few days of the trip if a person is stricken with it. It will begin with a headache, followed by nausea and then shortness of breath.

To prepare for the elevation, drink lots of water while traveling to the destination just like the ATVs and motorcycles, your fluids need to be topped off, too. As your drive starts to gain elevation more rapidly, pay attention to your breathing take deeper breaths than normal to increase the amount of oxygen reaching your brain. When you arrive, take it easy for the first day or so; maybe putt around camp and take a few of the easier trails until your body becomes acclimated. Generally, my wife and I will set up camp and then lay down for an hour or so in the camper. After that, we are off to ride some awesome trails. Keep in mind, though, that our home is at an elevation of 4,300 feet; this means that we are already more acclimated to higher elevations than those who might be visiting the mountains from sea level. Just make sure to rest often and listen to your body.

Conclusion

A rider must prepare more than his machine, ATV and motorcycle tires, and gear for offroad trips. Make sure to get regular total body workouts prior to riding, whether it is from swimming or lifting weights or some other type of exercise. If you are traveling from lower elevations, stay hydrated and let your body acclimate itself to the higher altitude before taking on a difficult trail.

James Parker

Bring on the offroading adventures!

Posted by moto_admin on July 19, 2011
Maintenance & Modifications / Comments Off on Bring on the offroading adventures!

It is now July! Wow, the year is going by fast! My family is just finishing up with some annual commitments which take up most of June and July, so it is time to begin preparations for our extended motorcycle and ATV trips. Before these trips (we have two planned in the next three weeks) we like to do our regular maintenance prior to the outing to ensure a trouble-free trip.We have been doing our local rides down at the Bijou and out at our farm. Now, we are preparing for our extended trips to the mountains.

ATV Preparations

ATV Storage TrunkThis past weekend, we added a rear storage trunk to the ATV, because we thought it would be useful for hauling additional supplies on our longer rides. Although our storage trunk has a seat, it is not intended for use by a passenger; it will simply be a nice place for Jennifer to stretch out as she takes a break. We plan to use the storage space for extra jackets, drinks and snacks.I usually have adequate tools in my multiple packs on the Big Red Pig, so as long as we are riding together, the ATV shouldn’t have to carry any tools. However, since we always want to be prepared, we will probably stow some wrenches and screwdrivers in it anyway.

We don’t have enough hours on the ATV to warrant an oil change; but we will check it daily on these trips and add to it if needed. The ATV and my motorcycle use the same coolant and oil, so I will pack extra of these just in case.

ATV Storage TrunkAs always, we will make sure to run the correct ATV tire pressure. Since we have been life-long dirt bikers and the four wheeler is new to us, we have to experiment with the tire pressure to determine what works best with the varying mountain terrain. Four psi will be a good place to start, but we will carry a 12-volt air compressor along in the truck just in case air needs to be added to the tires.

Motorcycle Preparations

For the most part, I think Joey’s PW 50 is ready for the rides. I just have to make sure it has an adequate amount of 2-stroke oil. Actually, this is a chore that I will teach him how to do himself. I may change the transmission fluid, as it has not been changed this season and I will make sure to check over his brakes and cables, too.

On my XR650R, we will change the oil and grease all the zerk fittings shown in the service manual. All the cables and linkages will be given the once over. As far as the motorcycle tire pressure? Twelve psi is a good pressure for one of the trail systems we are going to be riding. The other trail system we have never been to, so we will start at twelve and adjust from there. One thing to remember is that the elevation changes significantly when traveling to a trail system in the mountains. With elevation changes, tire pressure will change along with it. It is best to adjust the tire pressure after arriving at the trail system to account for these fluctuations.

I also know just by looking at it that the chain on my bike is out of adjustment. It is drooping right now and needs to be tightened. Over time, a motorcycle chain will stretch, which causes this drooping appearance. To fix this, the rear axle needs to be loosened and the wheel slid towards the back of the bike. Look for marks on both sides of the swing arm; make sure that both sides are on the same mark. If they are not aligned correctly, the chain will become twisted and break. I know this from personal experience. The first time I changed my own chain, I was off by one notch and the chain did not last twenty miles. Fortunately, it failed at the master link and I had an extra in my bag, so I was able to make a quick fix on the trail. Check the owner’s manual for your specific machine for the proper chain slack when making the adjustment. On some bikes, such as the Big Red Pig, the adjustments are displayed on the swingarm.

Conclusion

We are so psyched for these two upcoming trips; we look forward to late July and August every year because that is finally the time of year when we get to do some extended trail riding. Personally, I am looking forward to having an old friend (but new riding buddy) take me to a new trail system on the first trip. We are all looking forward to spending four days in Taylor Park, Colorado; one of our favorite places in the world, for the second trip. Once these trips are over, there should have some stories to share with you!

James Parker, “Rock Slayer”

Tags: , , ,

Choosing a helmet and eye protection

Posted by moto_admin on July 12, 2011
Apparel & Accessories, Riding Tips & Education / Comments Off on Choosing a helmet and eye protection

We have a rule in our family, that when riding the ATV or motorcycle, protective riding gear is not optional. The most important part of that gear being a helmet and eye protection. There are basically two styles of helmets – open face and full face. Riders tend to choose one style over another for personal reasons, and I have talked to some of my riding buddies on which they prefer and why.

Protecting your head
HJC CS-5N open face helmetMy riding buddy Dave, for instance, prefers to wear an open face helmet because it gives him better vision while riding. Dave has some vision problems, so this does make sense; but he also likes to stop to take videos while on trail rides. So, this style helmet makes sense for him in that respect as well – he can stop to shoot videos and not have to remove his helmet to do so. I’ll admit, Dave has some valid reasons for wearing an open face helmet.

My preference (and most others I ride with) is a full face helmet, because it provides more protection in the event of a crash. As one buddy said, I have to protect the money maker. Which I suppose means his brain?

When I bought my first motorcycle back in the 1980s, the dealer threw in a helmet as a part of the deal; and since I was in 6th grade at the time, I am sure my mother had something to do with this part of the transaction. This was an inexpensive white open face helmet that matched the color of my motorcycle. I wore it for the first year or so until I opted for a full face helmet for face protection.

Arai VX-Pro3 MilsapNot only is face protection better in the event of a crash, but I end up doing a lot of riding in the rain in the Colorado mountains, and the full face offroad helmet gives better coverage during these storms. Also, during the winter months, it will keep my face warmer when I get the urge to ride in colder temperatures. For these reasons, I recommend a full face helmet to anyone who asks; but I am not here to tell anyone what to wear, it is each persons personal preference.

Protecting your eyes
When choosing a helmet, you may also want to consider eye protection. To some, this is as important of a factor as the helmet. With either an open or full face helmet (without a face shield), a person might wear goggles for a variety of reasons. Scott 87 OTG GogglesIn colder weather, I will wear them over my glasses (OTG goggles) in order to keep the cold wind from making my eyes water. In warmer weather, I typically just wear sunglasses so that the breeze will circulate throughout my helmet to keep my head cooler. But goggles are a wise choice in the summer as well, to protect your eyes from debris; especially if you don’t wear prescription glasses.

Whichever style of helmet one prefers to wear, I think it is necessary for all ATV and motorcycle riders to wear one in addition to the rest of their protective riding apparel. There are valid reasons for a person to wear an open face helmet, such as better vision and less bulkiness for activities like shooting videos. A full face helmet will protect your face and keep you warmer in rain or cold weather. Consider eye protection to keep debris out of your eyes and go have some fun!

James Parker, “Rock Slayer”

Tags: , , ,

2011 U.S. Motorcycle Helmet Satisfaction Study

Posted by moto_admin on July 08, 2011
Apparel & Accessories / Comments Off on 2011 U.S. Motorcycle Helmet Satisfaction Study

Link: 2011 U.S. Motorcycle Helmet Satisfaction Study

A J.D. Power and Associates study finds motorcycle helmet brands Arai and Icon tie for customer satisfaction. Shoei not far behind.

For a 13th consecutive year, Arai motorcycle helmets rank highest in customer satisfaction, and tie with Icon with a score of 852 on a 1,000-point scale.

Arai performs well across all 11 attributes, particularly in fit and comfort and face shield effectiveness of keeping wind out.

Icon motorcycle helmets perform particularly well in color/graphic design.

Shoei motorcycle helmets follow in the rankings with a score of 831 and perform well in ease of replacing the face shield.

Tags: ,

Riding with my son

Posted by moto_admin on July 06, 2011
Recreation / Comments Off on Riding with my son

I have found that there is one thing better than riding my dirt bike, and that is to watch my son Joey ride his motorcycle. Last week I had promised Joey that we would go to the farm after work on Wednesday, but because of work and weather we were unable to go until Saturday morning. Once we finally made it to the farm, it was well worth the wait. Jennifer and I got our work done while Joey was able to do some riding and get his motorcycle dirty.

Next month Joey will be eight; he has been riding his motorcycle since he was four. One can easily see that he is an experienced rider. This may be a proud father speaking, but when I watch him ride his motorcycle, he looks so natural. It is almost as though riding a dirt bike is his calling in life. He can seat the bike as well as many adult riders I know; he rails around corners and has done a few jumps here and there. Not that I am any kind of freestyle, extreme motocross rider, but I know a couple of tricks. I have spotted Joey doing some of the same tricks that I know – at the age of seven! I did not know how, nor had the nerve to try them until I was well into my thirties. If we are not careful, the boy may be providing for our retirement as a professional freestyle motocross rider. Whatever happens, it is his life to live and those are his decisions to make.

During the summer months, I like to keep the motorcycles and the four wheeler on the trailer, so that we can just hook it on and go at a moments notice. Saturday morning, we got up and headed out early. Jennifer and I had some mowing to get done, and normally when we are doing farm work, Joey will either ride his motorcycle or go cart. This day, he decided the dirt bike was his vehicle of choice, so I did a once-over of his motorcycle tires before we left the house, and we took off to get fuel and head to the farm.

Joey is big enough now that he can put on his own riding gear, including his motorcycle helmet and boots. He can now help to load, tie down and unload his motorcycle. He is not quite big enough yet to do it all by himself; however, I tell him if he is going to ride, he is going to help. So after he is dressed for the ride, we unload the little blue bike. Joey has always known the process required to start his motorcycle, but hadn’t yet done it himself; this day he chose to try starting it himself and succeeded! This was a big moment in his motorcycle life; this is now one less thing that I will have to help him with.

Once his motor was running, Joey was off like a shot. He headed up the field road to the top of the hillside. He rocketed around a corner and headed down the hillside toward the creek; the creek is running full right now. Luckily he made the decision not to attempt to do the water crossing. This would have just swallowed the PW 50 and we would have never seen it again. This is a nice, grassy hillside that offers a lot of cushioning in case of a spill. Fortunately, though, the J Dog doesnt crash very often. Once along the creek, he rode it upstream for about a quarter of a mile and looped around back toward the top of the hill.

I decided the farm work could wait for a few minutes, so I grabbed the four wheeler and led him down some more field roads that run throughout our corn field. Out in the field we found a muddy spot – anyone who knows Joey knows that he cannot resist mud – and he shot right through it. The mud was so thick on his little motorcycle tires that the wheels would not turn. I made him clean the mud off enough so that the bike could be ridden. He did this task and we moved on; when Jennifer took a break from mowing, Joey talked her into following him so that this incident could be repeated in its entirety. She was so impressed! We both told Joey when we got home it would be up to him to get the power washer out to clean his bike.

After the mother/son ride it was time to load up and head home. Joey took care of his riding gear and helped me load the ATV and the motorcycle. Back at the house, we unloaded the bike and parked it on the lawn next to the water faucet. I reminded Joey where in the garage I keep the power washer; he retrieved it for me and I helped him get it all set up. I left to do some other chores while he cleaned the bike with some supervision from his mother. Soon Joey and the clean PW 50 appeared in the garage. We reloaded everything onto the trailer: the PW 50, the ATV and the Big Red Pig are ready for another scoot.

This has been the first summer since Joey has begun to ride motorcycles that he has been able to help with things like loading and clean up. As time goes on, I plan to give him more and more responsibility for his equipment and his motorcycle. I am thinking that by the end of this summer, I will be having him check his own oil and the air pressure in his motorcycle tires. Some would probably tell me that eight is not old enough for that kind of responsibility, but I remember what my Dad used to say when I was a boy: You cant learn any younger. I really didnt understand that statement until I began to teach my own son about life. My lesson learned this weekend: riding with Joey is becoming more and more fun as he learns how to take care of his motorcycle and riding apparel.

James Parker, “Rock Slayer”

Tags: ,

How to find places to offroad

Posted by moto_admin on June 28, 2011
Recreation, Trails and Trips / Comments Off on How to find places to offroad

Over the years, my wife Jennifer and I have found some awesome places to ride and people always ask us how we find them. It is a combination of things: studying trail guides, networking, contacting riding clubs and exploring. We have used these methods to find great ATV trails, and have spent many hours benefiting from our research. We also like to share these places with others so that everyone can enjoy the trails. Whats more, the greater number of ATV and motorcycle tires hitting the surface of these trails, the better the odds that the political leaders who control the public lands will keep our riding areas open.

Many years ago, when Jennifer and I decided to get back into offroad riding, we wanted to find diverse places to ride. When I was in high school and college, I mostly rode at our family farm and local motocross tracks. That was okay for awhile, but we like to explore and ride in different terrains. We easily get bored if we ride the same places over and over, such as on a motocross track.

Guidebooks
Eventually we discovered that published guides were a good way of find new riding areas. Many of these guides may not necessarily be specific to ATVs, though; one of the first guides we purchased was for Jeeps or four-wheel drive vehicles. At the time, these worked well since our skills were not as well refined as they are now. Also, these guides helped us to find more technical ATV and single track motorcycle trails. The first book we purchased is Guide to Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails by Charles A. Wells. We eventually purchased the second edition of this book, and these two guides gave us a lot of direction for the first couple of years after we got back into riding. A third edition has since been published, and Mr. Wells also wrote some more guide books specifically for ATV trails, as well as guides for other states. Now our friends give us guidebooks as gifts because they know we will use them.

Friend Suggestions
We have had many friendships blossom over the years because of our trail riding. We have all grown together as riders and have shared knowledge of places we like to ride. Much like in the business world, it is good to network as an offroader. Instead of your career benefiting, you will gain knowledge and skill as a trail rider. We have become close friends with people who we would otherwise probably have not gotten to know at all, had it not been for ATVs and motorcycles. These are the folks who go out on multiple day trips with us; we will set up camp and make a family event of it. We have gotten to know each others families and always share the discovery of new trail riding locations with one another.

Online
When the internet came along, it became easier to discover local riding clubs and organizations. These groups can direct riders to some nice local spots; and although we are not currently members of any clubs, we have been in the past. It was hard for us to maintain an active membership in these clubs, because we live some distance away from the meeting locations. Also, we are involved in so many other organizations that we just were not devoting the proper amount of effort. With that said, we do send a donation every year (around the amount of the clubs annual dues) to one particular trail riding club that is always willing to share tips and advice with us. So, when looking for a place to ride, do an internet search for local trail riding clubs. These folks are willing to point you in the right direction, but it is good etiquette to make sure that the club benefits from the advice given.

Explore
My favorite way to find new places to go is by exploring; we like to take our truck and fifth wheel to a campground in an area, set up camp and take the tour. There are times we will do this and not even take the ATV or the motorcycle along on the trip. A few weeks ago, we did just that; we took a trip to Wyoming, found a nice RV park to leave our fifth wheel and proceeded to see the sites in our pickup. We take along maps and a camera to document places we see that would make good riding trips in the future. An OHV/camping trip to Wyoming is certainly in our future.

Don’t Forget
While exploring new territory, keep in mind that many of these riding areas are miles away from any towns or cities with services. Make sure that the ATVs and motorcycles have been properly checked and maintained. Look over your ATV tires and motorcycle tires for any wear or problem areas. Make sure to take along an emergency kit, plenty of food and water, and wear a motorcycle helmet and proper protective equipment, too.

We have had much success over the past ten years in finding great places to offroad; this is all because we study trail guides, make friends with other riders, contact trail riding clubs and go exploring. All our research has paid off in finding some awesome places to ride, making lifelong friends and lasting memories. Remember, this is not like fishing: dont keep the great riding spots a secret. The more people who are using these areas, the more likely these trails are to stay open.

James Parker, “Rock Slayer”

Tags: ,

Proper OHV Cleaning

Posted by moto_admin on June 15, 2011
Maintenance & Modifications / Comments Off on Proper OHV Cleaning

After our Memorial Day ride, the four wheeler and the Big Red Pig were covered in mud; and I have yet to clean them (which is rare for me). I got to thinking about it and decided that it is rare to see an article on the proper cleaning of an ATV or motorcycle. I figured that I would take this time to clean the machines and provide you with some tips on how I prefer to do it, as well as what the Kawasaki owner’s manual recommends.

Why clean after every ride?

First off, as a responsible offroad rider, one should always clean their machines after each ride. This is especially true if riding in multiple riding areas. Washing before going to another area will lessen the chance of introducing foreign vegetation to the new riding area. We have found that just in Colorado, because of the very diverse landscape, vegetation varies from area to area. For instance, a plant that is common to the eastern plains may not be native to the western slope. A motorcycle or ATV tire could carry the seeds for that plant from it’s original location to an area where it doesn’t belong. Cleaning the machine after each ride will eliminate this problem.

Proper Cleaning

Just going to the car wash and blasting away at your bike is not the best of ideas, even though the common garden hose is not always going to remove all of the caked-on mud and grime. Our solution is that we purchased a small, electric power washer several years ago. This unit has enough power to remove most mud balls, but is not powerful enough to blast the grease out of the bearings. According to the Kawasaki Owner’s Manual: coin operated, high pressure washers are not recommended, because water may get into bearings and other components and then cause rust and corrosion. When using our power washer, we mainly use it on the plastics and other parts that are enclosed that water can’t get in.

Since we are new to ATVs, I read our owner’s manual prior to washing the four wheeler. Kawasaki recommends using plastic bags to cover certain parts. These include the muffler rear opening, brake levers, and the throttle case. Also, cover the ignition keyhole switch with tape and close the air cleaner intake with tape or stuff it with rags. Not following these steps could lead to major electrical or mechanical damage.

Areas where a rider should avoid spraying with great force are the master cylinder, the rear brake and under the fuel tank.Water on a brake could cause it to malfunction until dry. The reason stated for avoiding under the tank is that is where the ignition coil and spark plug are located. If water gets to these, the spark may jump through the water and be grounded out. If this does happen, the vehicle will not start until it has been wiped dry.

Drying and Inspection

When finished with the wash, remove all the bags, rags and tape that are protecting openings and other parts. Testing the brakes and lubricating all points listed in the owner’s manual of the machine is recommended. Before operating the vehicle, make sure the brakes work; from personal experience, I strongly recommend this be done. Also, start the machine and let it idle for five minutes.

Since the Big Red Pig is the first motorcycle I ever purchased new, I like to try to keep it looking new. I usually do some hand cleaning as well, like wiping down the fenders with a towel. I will also put tire cleaner on the motorcycle tires; and this sounds really crazy, but I like to Armor All the seat (do NOT Armor All your tires – it will make them slippery). This really makes it shine and it makes it easier for my hind quarters to shift around on the seat when turning.

When hand-washing, it can also be a good time to do some regular OHV maintenance.

Conclusion

Washing the machines is not just a vanity issue; it is just another thing that must be done by offroad riders in order to be responsible enthusiasts. It is a part of trail etiquette to make sure that foreign vegetation is not being transported from one location to another. And when cleaning, make sure to take steps to not cause damage to the machines.

James Parker

Tags: , ,

Have Some Fun This Summer

Posted by moto_admin on June 10, 2011
Recreation / Comments Off on Have Some Fun This Summer

Now that summer is here, it is the prime dirt bike and ATV riding season; the trick now is to find the time to ride. My day job is in the construction industry, so it is the busy season at work. Finding time to get away is tough every year; however, we usually manage to. We simply need to find breaks in the swimming lessons, work, fire department obligations and everything else that goes along with summer.

I have three weeks of vacation per year, but I generally try to work through the winter without much of a break in order to have time in the summer for riding off road and camping with the family. My work year goes from July 1st to July 1st; so in June, I usually have several days of vacation saved up. We usually use this month to search for new places to camp and ride. Due to record snowfall this year in the Colorado Mountains, it is going to be harder to do any mountain riding in June. At the time of this post, some mountain passes are not yet open for the season, because ski areas are still open and the rivers are raging. So this June we are searching for a place to ride where there is no snow and where water crossings are passable.

The offroad trails above 9,000 feet in elevation are usually not passable until the first part of July in a normal year. This year, I fear that our long-planned trip to Taylor Park in August may be in jeopardy due to the high snow volume. I do know for a fact that Cottonwood Pass, the route which we would take into the area, has just opened for the season within the past couple of days. By the first part of August, the Taylor water crossings may still be impassable.

Not only do we try to make some of our vacations into riding trips, but we have a group of friends with whom we have a regular Wednesday night ride at our local riding area. Attendance is not required; the rule is: if you are available, then you show up. If there is a family function or work activity, then go do that instead; unfortunately, I have only made it a couple of times so far this spring. It is a fun getaway for a couple of hours; also, it is a great way to relieve some stress from the work day. The weekly ride is fairly easy to fit in; the riding spot is only about ten minutes from our house. I try to throw the machines on the trailer and head out to the trails as soon as I get home from work.

After these weekly rides, I always like to wash the machines and my gear so it is ready for the next ride. Also, I check the ATV tires and motorcycle tires for any abnormal wear or damage. It is important to check the oil and coolant levels frequently, too, and add if needed.

I guess what I am trying to get at in this post is to not get too caught up in work and other non-family obligations. As Ferris Bueller said, Life moves pretty fast; if you dont stop and look around every once in awhile, you could miss it. My advice as an offroad rider is to take some time this summer to stop and look around. Offroading is a great way to spend quality time with your family; it can be a great bonding experience for all.

James Parker, Rock Slayer

Tags:

Memorial Day Weekend

Posted by moto_admin on May 31, 2011
Recreation / Comments Off on Memorial Day Weekend

Three day weekends are awesome – it is like getting a bonus day; there is enough time to get the weekend chores done and time to go riding, too. This Memorial Day weekend was just that way – by Monday morning, it was time to ride! Our son Joey was visiting his grandparents about three hundred miles away for the weekend; so my wife Jennifer and some friends and I went down to a local riding area.

Due to forecasted high winds at the riding area we were originally planning on going to, we changed our plans and decided to head to the “Bijou,” a local riding spot. This let us get some extra sleep. So after rolling out of bed, I went out to the garage to give the ATV and my dirt bike a quick pre-trip inspection.

After we got the ATV, the Big Red Pig (my motorcycle) and the riding gear gathered up, we loaded the trailer. Since the trailer was originally intended to haul motorcycles, putting the ATV on it along with the bike is a bit of a trick. I described the process to some of my riding buddies as putting a jigsaw puzzle together. As mentioned in a previous article, we did some modifications to the trailer in order to fit the Pig and the four wheeler on it at the same time. Once both machines are on the trailer, there is little room left over for anything else but Joey’s bike, a couple of gas cans and the riding gear bags. But in the end, it works; we get everything there in one trip.

Earlier in the week, we had nearly four inches of rain; with the rain and a bit of wind, Mother Nature groomed the trails in an unbelievable way. The weather gave the normally sandy trails a crusty surface, which made for some great riding.Additionally, one of the trails was now a running creek from all the rain. We had a blast riding this trail and trying to splash water on one another. When Jennifer was riding her motorcycle, she would not have liked this trail; now that she is on the ATV, she was eating up the terrain like never before. She looked much more confident on four wheels. This was this most extensive ride we have had this spring; it was very invigorating and a great end to a long weekend.

Now that summer is here, we are looking forward to some multiple day rides; one of the chores for the weekend was to get our camper ready for the season. Warmer weather is here and I have vacation time to use; it is time to get out and ride. I sort of looked at the Memorial Day ride as a “shake down” ride; it gave us a chance to try out the trailer, warm up the motorcycle tires and ATV tires, and make sure our gear was in working order. Keep checking in over the summer months; we will keep everyone up-to-date on the summer’s events.

James Parker

Tags: , ,

Fire Prevention

Posted by moto_admin on May 24, 2011
Riding Tips & Education / Comments Off on Fire Prevention

photo by USFWS/Southeast on FlickrIt was a dry winter where we live; in fact wildfires have already occurred here in Colorado. Wildfires are caused by humans nine times out of ten, and as offroaders, we must do our part in preventing them. How can we help? By making sure our vehicles have spark arrestors, fully extinguishing our campfires upon departure, ensuring the tow vehicle is not dragging any metal objects, and having our motorcycle and ATVtires properly inflated. These ideas are closely related to an earlier post about trail etiquette, but as an offroader and a fire fighter, I want to make sure that we are all fire safe.

Spark Arrestors
The first thing any off roader should do is to make sure the machine is equipped with a spark arrestor. This is simply a screen inserted into the tail pipe which is designed to catch sparks released from the motor. These may be purchased from most motorcycle dealers and accessory warehouses. Make sure that the arrestor being purchased is approved by the U.S. Forest Service. While inserting a spark arrestor, one may as well also re-pack the silencer, since it is in the same area of the tail pipe. The packing material is made of fiberglass to help absorb sound and many states have noise restrictions for off roaders. Both of these items are inexpensive; purchase of the two items combined will be around twenty dollars.

Put It Out!
Since the summer riding season is imminent, many off roaders will be taking extended, multi-day trips which will include camping. How can there be a campout without a campfire? Well, just make sure that when leaving camp – whether it is for a day of riding or to leave for home – that the campfire is extinguished. A good fire fighter rule of thumb is if it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave. What my family likes to do is collect the water from washing dishes to use as our fire extinguisher. The detergent acts as a fire fighting foam and we are also recycling our water.

Trailer Safety ChainsSecure Those Chains
I see many people, not just offroaders, letting safety chains from trailers drag on the pavement while going down the highway. I don’t think many of these folks realize that this is happening; but what’s worse is that they don’t realize how much of a fire danger this can be. We have four different vehicles that our ATV/motorcycle trailer gets towed behind. I have fabricated extensions which can be easily added on or removed from the trailer depending on which vehicle we are using for towing. The danger of a spark caused by a dragging chain is what has always driven me to make sure the trailer safety chains are the correct length.

Stay Out of the Grass
Always make sure the off road machines stay on the trail; a hot ATV or dirt bike going through tall, dry grasses or other vegetations may be all that is needed to ignite a fire. It is not unheard of for a wheel with an underinflated motorcycle tire to impact a rock and cause a spark. All it takes is one spark to cause a fire. Check for proper tire inflation before riding and do a visual check on the tires as the riding day goes on.

As some areas of the country have been extremely wet this spring, others have experienced near drought-like conditions. Be a responsible offroader by keeping these tips in mind. The general public would not look upon off roaders favorably if it is found out that one of our own caused a wild fire that destroyed homes and lives.

James Parker

Tags: , ,

How to Change a Motorcycle Tire

Posted by moto_admin on May 23, 2011
Motorcycle Tires, Riding Tips & Education / Comments Off on How to Change a Motorcycle Tire

Changing motorcycle tires and tubes is a task which all dirt bike riders should learn how to do. There will be times when a flat tire occurs in a place where there is not a repair shop anywhere around. Knowing how to do this task can salvage a riding trip and save you some money.

The first thing to do is raise the bike; I generally use a milk crate turned upside down. Once the tires are not touching the ground and you feel the bike is stable you are set to begin. If changing both tires, I like to start with the rear tire; the rear is bigger and harder to manipulate. Plus, the back tire has the chain and sprockets which need to be addressed. Start by removing the cotter pin, loosening the lug nut and removing the axle. Once loose, the wheel should be free enough to slide forward so that the chain can be removed from the wheel sprocket.

When removing the tire from the rim, first locate and loosen the rim lock; then find the valve stem and remove the valve core. Removing the valve core will let any remaining air out of the tube, making it easier to break the bead on the tire. The next step is to remove the tire from the rim – for this job you will need tire spoons. I usually use at least four spoons; do not try to use makeshift tools such as screwdrivers, as these simply do not work. Take one of the spoons and put it between the edge of the rim and the tire, then put at least two more of the spoons in the same position at various points on the rim. Then start to pry the tire loose from the rim; work the spoons 360 degrees around the rim, eventually one side of the tire will be off the rim. Once the first side it off, the second side wall of the tire will be easier to remove.

The tube and tire should now be free from the rim; now it is time to put the new tire and tube back on the rim. Begin by putting the new tube in the tire; I like to add some air to the tube so that both the tube and the tire will take proper form. Then check the rim strip to see if it is in need of replacement. Once again, I like to remove the valve core from the valve stem; this will allow for movement of the tube while at the same time keeps some semblance of its proper form. Next locate the opening in the wheel for the valve stem. Put the stem through the opening and put the valve cap on the threads; this will help hold the tube and tire in its proper place. Now, once again, take the spoons and begin to work the tube and tire onto the rim; the two things to watch for here are pinching the tube with the spoons and pinching it with the rim lock. As you are working the tire and tube onto the rim, make sure the tube is between the tire and the rim lock. If the tube is between the rim and the lock, you will end up with a punctured tube; if that happens, you will either be patching the new tube or buying a different one and starting over. Once the tire is seated on the rim, it is now time to tighten the rim lock, which holds the two edges of the tire to the rim. Then put the valve core back into the valve stem. If the tire doesnt quite seat onto the rim, it helps to set the tire out in the sun or inflating the tire will sometimes help with tire seating. I should note that I find it best to change tires on a warm day, as the rubber is more pliable.

It is a good idea to look at the chain and sprockets while changing tires; it is really simple at this point to go ahead and change these parts while the rear wheel is off. In fact, I know of riders who will just change out the chain and sprockets every time they put on new tires. Replace any chain with damaged chain sliders, loose links or that appear to be unserviceable. As far as the sprockets go, look for damaged or worn teeth. If you change the chain you should also change the sprockets. Do not put a new chain on old sprockets. Also, check the sprocket attaching bolts for wear.

Now it is time to put the wheel back on the motorcycle; make sure to get the brake rotor lined up between the pads and make sure the chain tension is within manufacturers specifications. After tightening the axle, put the cotter pin back in place to hold the lug nut. Now is the time to do the final inflation of the tube, sometimes it is easier to put the wheel on the bike with no air in the tube. Tire pressure generally varies based upon the terrain being ridden; however, check the manufacturers specifications for proper inflation. Once everything is tightened, start the bike and take it for a slow short ride to check acceleration and braking.

Changing your motorcycle tire is not hard; I used to hire the work done, until I realized finding a repair shop may not always be feasible. I bought the spoons and basically taught myself how to change dirt bike tires. I have taught others how to do it now, too; and not only could this process save a riding weekend, it will also save you money.

James Parker, Rock Slayer

Tags: ,

Summer OHV Maintenance Preparations

Posted by moto_admin on May 12, 2011
Maintenance & Modifications / Comments Off on Summer OHV Maintenance Preparations

Wow! I can’t believe that it is already May; the year is flying by and it is time to start thinking seriously about those summer riding trips. Now is the time to make sure the ATV and the dirt bikes are in good running order for the grueling trails that they will be seeing this summer. I did the spring maintenance on all the machines, which was good for the local rides that are much shorter in length. Now it is time to go through them all again to ensure that the machines will be in tip top shape on the steep, rocky, root-filled trails we will be seeing this summer.

Oil

Before June arrives I plan to change the motor oil and filters on all the bikes and the ATV; since all the motors we own are four strokes, this is an important area to address. We have probably put about ten hours on the motorcycles this spring and maybe even more on the ATV. That doesn’t seem like much; however, it has been mostly slow riding, meaning the motors didn’t get as much airflow as they should. This can cause the engines to run on the warm side, which breaks down the oil faster. So before we go to the higher elevations of the mountains, I want to have fresh oil and filters to protect the motors and transmissions, which will now be working harder.

Brakes

A few years ago on my Honda XR650R, I came down a very long, steep and winding down hill trail. This was one of the hardest stretches of trail I have ever ridden; after a couple of miles I pressed the rear brake lever with my right foot. There was nothing there; I had to rely on gearing down to first gear and on the front brake in order to get back to camp that day. From then on I always make sure that the brake fluid and the brake pads are in good working condition. Also, I learned that day not to ride the brakes down the mountain.

Tires

I will be checking the ATV tires and motorcycle tires for tread quality and proper inflation. It is important when purchasing new tires to know what type of terrain you will be riding, so that the proper tire compound can be purchased. Tires are designed for different surfaces, such as sand, rocks, hard terrain or soft terrain. Knowing what kind of surface you will be riding on (and staying on that surface) will save you wear and tear on your tires; which will save you money.

The places which my family and I like to go riding in the summer sometimes are fairly remote. Because of this fact, we usually pack extra tubes, a 12-volt tire pump for the bikes and tire repair kits. We have gone to places where we set up camp an hour and a half from the nearest supply store. When going out to the wilderness, make sure you are prepared. Also remember to check for proper tire inflation when arriving at camp the first day; changes in elevations as you travel will change tire pressure.

Linkages, Chains and Cables

Make sure that all the cables, linkages, drive lines and chains are well lubricated and in proper adjustment. Water crossings, sand and rocks can all be damaging to these parts. Without proper lubrication these items are in danger of breaking under stress. The last thing any rider wants is to be stranded miles down a trail with a broken cable or chain. Trust me; it is not fun to have to be towed back to camp by your father-in-law on his motorcycle because of a broken drive chain.

Protective Gear

My family never rides without wearing motorcycle helmets, boots and riding pants; it is extremely important to have well-maintained riding gear. Remember, the trail may be miles and miles away from civilization, so avoid injury by wearing the correct equipment. Inspect it to make sure it is in working order and fits properly.

Maps and Guides

Make sure to study where you are going to be riding before you go. Get some up-to-date maps and guide books and know what the terrain is like before departing. It is very easy to get lost on some of these trail systems; a few dollars spent on a map is well worth it when considering the cost and anguish to your family if you get lost.

Conclusion

This is just a sampling of things I like to do in preparation for taking my family on long riding trips out in the wilderness. Most riders I know have personal rituals they go through prior to heading to the trails for a good time. You can now take this list and expand on the ideas that I have presented and make them your own.

James Parker

Tags: , ,

Places to ride in Colorado

Posted by moto_admin on April 19, 2011
Trails and Trips / Comments Off on Places to ride in Colorado

Colorado has some world class offroad trail riding.A trip to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado is an experience that will create memories for a lifetime. There are many places for a family to set up camp and stay for a week, exploring an entire trailsystem. In this post, I will share some of my familys favorite spots.

Taylor Park

Taylor Park is a vast, high mountain park in the central part of the state; it is insidea triangle thatwould be made if you drew a line on a map from Buena Vista to Gunnison to Aspen. The park is near the top of the Rockies at an elevation of 9,400 feet andis an awesome place to get away from it all; there is absolutely no cell phone service. When I am in this area, I forget about everything else in life;which is justas well, because if I knew what was going on, I couldnt do anything about it anyway.

When thinking about coming to Taylor, make sure to have adequate motorcycle or ATV tires, extra tire tubes and tools to make repairs to your machines. Once in camp, it is an hour and ahalf drive to Gunnison or Buena Vista.

The route to Aspen takes you over Taylor Pass, which is an ATV trail. The area is home to some famous trailslike Star Trail, Timberline Trail and the Gunnison Spur. My favorite is the Tellurium Creek Trail. This is one that a friend suggested to me and after several trips to Taylor I finally took it. The name is completely true, it is literally a creek. Several miles into the trail, the creek opens into the most gorgeous valley I have ever seen. My first time in the valley, I felt as though I were the first person to ever see it. It gave me a sense of what early American explorers must have felt like. The trail makes a loop through the valley, and I use the term trail loosely in this context. Parts of the path are merely a few loose rocks hanging onto the side of a cliff. Tellurium Creek is a must-see as far as I am concerned.

Another very popular trail in the Taylor Park system is Italian Creek; this is popular because it leads to the top of American Flag Mountain. Yes, to answer the question, there is an American Flag at the top. It is an awe-inspiring sight and will make any American proud at the grandeur of the view.

Camping in the park is plentiful; there is developed camping at the forest service campgrounds of Dorchester, Dinner Station and Rivers End. It is also common for many to disperse camp -folks will find a spot off the road to set up camp.

To me, Taylor is the quintessential Colorado; if you are traveling from far away for a Colorado offroad vacation, Taylor Park should be at the top of the list.

Rampart Range

South of Denver, near the town of Sedalia, lies the Rampart Range Recreation Area. The area extends down to Woodland Park, which is just to the northwest of Colorado Springs. This is a popular day trip for the Denver and Colorado Springs locals, as it can be accessed from and has camping at either end.

A couple of years ago, I took the family to the Woodland Park end and found a dispersed camping spot at North Rainbow Falls. This is a great family spot, because thereis a beginners trail at the entrance to the area. At the time, my son still had training wheels on his motorcycle, and he was able to ride most of this trail unassisted. The training wheels actually made it harder for him to ride over some of the obstacles, becauseone of themwould go over a high spot and cause the drive wheel of the bike to be off the ground, spinning in the air.We are far less limited now that he can ride on two wheelsor on the back ofour ATV.

The North Rainbow Fallscamp is about thirty minutes from Woodland Park; on the Denver end, the entrance is about thirty minutes from Sedalia. ATV supplies are available in both Woodland Park and Sedalia. If you forget to bring your motorcycle helmet, you can also pick up a new one in these towns.

Camp Hale

Camp Hale is a very interesting and historical place that is niceto visit with a four wheeler. The camp, during World War II, was home to the 10th Mountain Division of the United States Army. These soldiers were trained for winter combat in the European Theatre. Many of the soldiers went on to found many of the large ski areas of Colorado following the war.

Found along Highway 24, between Minturn and Leadville, the camp is in a large valley along the east side of the road. We found a spot that backs up to a creek and enjoyed it very much, because listening to the water flow by gives you such a feeling of peace when you are simply sitting around at camp.

Many of the ruins from the army base are still visible; the camping spot we found is near the train depot where freshly trained troops would depart for deployment in Europe. A person could spend days exploring these ruins, reading the informational signs and reflecting on what the men who once occupied the area were set to face. But be careful in this area; there may still be unexploded bombs lodged in the ground. If explosives are found, the county sheriff has a standing request that he be contacted.

From the camp in the valley, it is an easy gravel road up to the top of Ptarmigan Pass; in fact, I have seen four door sedans at the top. However, dropping down the other side of the pass is a different story -it becomes a jeep trail with many rocks and water crossings along Trail #747. This trail will hooks with the McAllister Gulch trail, which first takes you up a hill climb that seems to last for miles and miles. But all of a sudden, the trail climbs out of the trees into a high meadow above the timberline onto a long straight stretch with green tundra grasses on both sides. The trail winds around the top of the mountain for awhile and thensnakes through the trees for a few miles until eventually the trail drops back into Camp Hale. Keep a lookout for views of the Mount of the Holy Cross along this loop. Make sure to have a good helmet, boots and protective gear, as this trail is steep and rocky in sections.

Camp Hale is an inspiring place to visit. It makes a person think of the sacrifices that our service men and women have made.

Conclusion

This is only a small sampling of some of the places to offroad in Colorado. There are many other spectacular spots to visit, like the San Juans around Telluride, Pagosa Springs and Ouray. There is desert riding near Grand Junction and Montrose, and sand riding in the Walden area. Along the front range and eastern plains there are many motocross tracks which host a very strong local circuit. Colorado has many diverse riding areas to suit almost anyone. Everyone is welcome tocome and visit -Colorado is very friendly to OHVs.

James Parker, Rock Slayer

Tags: , ,

Monster Energy AMA Supercross in St. Louis

Posted by moto_admin on April 12, 2011
Racing / Comments Off on Monster Energy AMA Supercross in St. Louis

This past weekend I got my first taste of Supercross racing. I have seen the amateur races at the local fairgrounds and district races, but had yet to see the pros race. The race we attended was in St. Louis, MO, at the Edward Jones Dome. We arrived early and watched some of the riders coming in, signing autographs and getting pictures taken with fans. Just the amount of semis hauling all the bikes and gearand pit equipment is enough to stop you in your tracks -and they allhave the paint shined and the chrome polished.

We had V.I.P. passes to get into the pits before the general public and had access to all of the sponsored booths, too,like Monster Energy & Rockstar. After an hour and a half each of the V.I.P. areas were closed off to specific V.I.P. passes only, so if you didnt have a Monster Energy V.I.P. pass, you had to keep walking. Luckily, my son, two other friends and I were invited to the Parts Unlimited V.I.P. section for a fantastic lunch, where we were able to meet some of the other dealers and their families. The best part is that you could come and go as you please from 1:30 to 6:00, meaning you always had a place to rest in between all the places you are running back and forth to.

Monster VIP Area

Once the V.I.P. sections closed, we decided to find our seats and wait for the races to start. Just the opening ceremonies alone we were worth the wait. Between all the flames, lasers and fireworks backed up by some awesome heavy metal, thescreaming announcers introduced the riders and the adrenaline was through the roof.

Laser Show

Once the racing started, it was complete chaos on the track. Watching it on tv, you only ever see the top 3 riders and the wrecks. Trying to take in 16 riders all over the track is a system overload on your first race. You have non-stop jumps and riders dumping their bikes after coming into contact with one another, getting jammed into a hay bail or failing to land a jump. The announcer is screaming and the crowd are all pointing to different areas of the track while yelling. By the end of the night youve got a much better grasp of how they run, but by that time the race has already come to an end.

Chaos on the track

After nine hoursand what seemed like only 45 minutes of racing (in reality was almost 3 hours), the night was done. It was an absolute rush to see the race in person and I would highly recommend that if you ever get the chance to go, dont miss itand bring comfortable walking shoes, because your going to be doinga LOT of it!!!

James Stewart Wins the 450 Event

ATV Maniac

Tags: ,

Motocross Season Has Begun

Posted by moto_admin on April 12, 2011
Racing / Comments Off on Motocross Season Has Begun

Local motocross is something everyone needs to experience at least once! I once tried racing motocross years ago and decided that trail riding was morefor me. However, I enjoy attending races to watch my friends. Last Sunday we had friends racing in classes ranging from the 50cc Peewees to the over 40 class at the local track. It was a good family offroad outing where we didnt have to prepare all of our gear.

When we got up that day, it was like any other Sunday Morning. We slept in, got up had some breakfast and sat on the couch for about an hour. My buddy Mark Franklin had told me the day before that he would text me when he had an idea of what time his race was. Just as we were finishing breakfast, my phone was chiming that I had a message; it was Mark telling me he would be racing sometime around noon. Great, that would give us plenty of time to swing by the grocery store and pick up some items for a picnic lunch and get to the track.

Mark Franklin #957When Joey was informed of the days plan, he stood up, ran to his room and got dressed in no time at all. He loves motorcycles; when he rides his mini-bike, he looks like a natural. He looks as though he was born to ride motorcycles.He was excited to say the least; butlittle did I know that he had formed a plan all his own inside that head of his.

When we arrived at the track, we paid our admission fee and proceeded to find Mark. At this particular track, spectators are allowed to drive into the pits and park andwander through to visit with racers or just look at the bikes and haulers. Once we found Mark, he had his bike sitting on a stand, out of the trailer. Darin #111 and Lucas Russell #229Obviously, he had been running practice laps, as the motorcycle tires and fenders were muddy. He was making adjustments like tire pressure, chain tension, and checking cables and linkages.

At this point we heard the announcer say that the next race would be one of the mini races. The sons of my friend Darin Russell were racingin it -Darin, number 111, and Lucas, number 229 – so we walked over toward the starting stretch and found a spot to stand and watch the racers as they whizzed by. This is when we learned of Joeys big idea. Mark Franklin #957He had decided that he was going to race today andbecame a little perterbed with me when I told him that wouldnt be possible. Besides, I asked, did we bring your motorcycle? When he realized that today was not his day; he decided it would be more fun to sit at my feet as I watched the races and play with the toy dump truck he brought along. We finished watching the mini race; young Darin ended up with a 2nd place overall and Lucas ended the day with a 4th place overall.

The next race was Marks race; he is in the over forty class. He tells me he really enjoys riding with this group of guys as they are easy to get along with and they all have a good time. Mark rode well; however, he finished toward the back of the pack. Oh well, at least he is out there trying, and most of all, he is having fun.

Following this race we went back to Marks trailer and sat inside to eat our picnic lunch. This was a cold and blustery day; in fact, soon after lunch it began to snow. Darin #111 and Lucas Russell #229Later, while I was helping Mark inspect hisbike, the track made the decision to cancel the rest of the race day. It didnt matter to us; we had a fun family outing, saw some friends and got to see some motorcycle racing.

Joey saw what other kids his age can do, and it showed us that he may have an interest in motocross racing. If he wants to give it a shot, we will support him – and perhaps invest in somemini motocross tiresfor his bike. If he decides he does not want to race, then that is fine with us as well. It is his life to live; I have a feeling that ATVs and motorcycles will always be a part of his life.

Tags: ,

First ride of the season

Posted by moto_admin on March 21, 2011
Recreation / Comments Off on First ride of the season

First ride!Thanks to record high Colorado temperatures and daylight savings starting earlier than ever, we got our first ride of the spring in this week.Daylight savings time started last Sunday andthen Wednesday was a warm spring day. My buddy Mike and I both got our work done early that day, so wedecided to go riding.

Generally, an attempt at amiddle-of-the-week ride for me fails because my job may require me to visit a job site at a moments notice; but by noon I realized that anything that needed to be done after 4 p.m. could be handled by phone instead of in person. Mikes dirt bike is stored in my garage, so heand I planned to meet up at my place betweenfour and five.Our schedules worked out and we finally met up around five, loaded up our machines and riding apparel and headed out to our local off road riding area.

MikeSince Mike is younger than me, he has yet to realize that knee braces and elbow pads are an important part of ones motorcycle riding apparel.He likes to stand over me, for what seems like an eternity, while I am donning my riding gear. Yes, I look like a knight ready to joust after I am dressed; but after all the injuries I have suffered while riding, it is justified.I kept telling Mike to go take a spin on his bike, I will catch up; but he declined.Instead, he likes to stand over me and remind me of how much older I am.

Once dressed, the next step was to start the bikes; this can be a daunting task this time of year in Colorado due to the wide temperature swings.It turned out to be an easy task -both machines fired right up.We then did quick inspections of the chains, sprockets and tires.Upon inspecting my motorcycle tires, I once again noticed how worn they are- it will be time for new tires soon! I also checked my oil for the proper level; Mike was on a two stroke, so his oil is pre mixed into his gasoline. Once the bikes were running and had been inspected, I sat on my idling machine for a few seconds and reflected on how great it felt to be geared up in my motorcycle apparel and out in the fresh spring air ready to ride the off road trails in front of me.

We were off!The first trail we took is one which encircles the property; I was in the lead initially.I turned off the main road and opened up the throttle- it wasan adrenaline rush unlike any I had felt since last fall.Going down that trail and over the whoops gave me a feeling of freedom.I could hear the two stroke of Mike behind me andcould only assume he was feeling as good as me.About halfway down the trail we came upon an unexpected surprise.A water crossing!This is the bottom of a usually dry creek bed -it is rare that there is a water crossing here.Nonetheless, we crossed and continued on our way to a late March afternoon of fun.

When we returned home, my wife Jennifer and son Joey brought out some burgers for our supper; we sat on the tailgate and ate dinner as the sun set.We didnt stop for long, though, because we were burning daylight. We finished our sandwiches and went for another ride.We chased each other around the sandy trails and up and down the hills until there was just enough daylight to load the bikes into the pickup.

As we were loading the bikes and packing away our boots, helmets, goggles and chest protectors, we lamented on how much fun we had.Then we talked about how this should be an every Wednesday night event for the duration of the summer. But then reality set back in for us when we remembered that neither of us have jobs with steady hours.And asboth of our jobs get busier during the summer months, we will just have to fit our riding in wherever and whenever we can.

James Parker, Rock Slayer

Tags: ,

Off Road Riding Apparel – Then and Now

Posted by moto_admin on March 16, 2011
Apparel & Accessories / Comments Off on Off Road Riding Apparel – Then and Now

A few days ago, my wife and I were in our garage looking at our machines; we looked up on the shelf and saw an old, red, white and blue motorcycle helmet from the seventies that had belonged to her Dad.We began to talk about how ourmotorcycle apparelhas changed over the years.

When I first started as a dirt biker in the early 80s, like everyone else I wore an open face helmet that the dealer threw in with the purchase of the motorcycle.It was white; I chose it because it matched the color of my Yamaha 100.I also wore ski goggles that I picked up on the bargain rack at the local ski shop.Because I was in junior high at the time, I thought the coolest thing I could do was put my name, motorcycle make and model, and some random number on the helmet with one inch stick-on letters from an office supply store.I soon realized that I looked like a dork and scraped them off as best I could.The helmet had no visor, so I ordered an after-market vented, snap-on visor from an accessories catalog to put on the helmet.I swear that thing was 10 long and pointed straight up -again, I am sure I looked like an idiot.

The rest of my protective gear consisted of the typical 80s satin jacket, a pair of leather work gloves, Levis 501 jeans (you werent cool if you didnt have 501s) and cowboy boots. Iprobably looked like a forgotten character from The Village People, but I didnt care; I was just thrilled to be blazing trails around our family farm.Thinking about it now, this apparel would not have offered the necessary protection in the event of a crash.The cowboy boots offered no toe protection like ATV boots do now; there was virtually no ankle support in them either. The jacket and jeans offered no extra padding like a modern off road jacket, jersey and pants would.It is a wonder that every ATV and motorcycle ride did not end in a trip to the emergency room.

Today I must have a vented full face helmet; you can buy a stock helmet now with really cool graphics.Also, I wear a pair of goggles -and since I have some miles on me, the goggles have to be able to fit over my eyeglasses. Next, Iwear a Lycra jersey that allows air circulation, along with a chest protector.For the colder months, I wear an all-weather jacket, too; I chose one that I can zip the sleeves off to create a vest.If it is really cold, I will wear under garments, too,toprovide extra protection from the cold.These are of the stretchy, thermalmaterial that bicycle racers have worn for years. As far as gloves, I usually prefer the latest and greatest with Velcro closures.My pants have to have lots of pockets for tools, maps and snacks.I like the ATV style boots; these have a hiking boot sole on the bottom.These are best for me because I pull off the trail and get off my machine and explore on foot every now and then.

Back in the 80s, we never thought about carrying water or first aid gear with us. As far as tools, we would carry a pair of pliers and a screwdriver wrapped up in a rag andattached somewhere on the bike. I have come a long way since those days, in terms of packing essentials. Now I wear a backpack with a hydration system, which also serves as my first-aid bag, just in case there is a mishap along the trail. I have a tool bag on my machine that has a plethora of tools, wire, tape, an emergency blanket, rain poncho and CO2 cartridges in case of a flat tire.

So, from looking like a dorkin the 80s to being prepared and comfortable now, motorcycle apparel and protective gear have come a long way.What I wear now makes me feel more at ease and I dont come home with as many bumps and bruises.It does make riding more enjoyable and makes it something a person can do for many years.

James Parker Rock Slayer

Tags:

Spring Has Sprung

Posted by moto_admin on March 08, 2011
Maintenance & Modifications / Comments Off on Spring Has Sprung

March has finally arrived, Maniacs, which means that spring is close at hand. This signals the start of the offroad riding season.It’s time to tune up the OHV, get your protective gear and apparel ready and start planning some trips.My family and I have begun our spring ritual of getting ready for the riding season and are looking forward to many new adventures this summer.

Start ‘em up
About this time every year we go out to the garage and unearth ourOHV’s, which have been entombed all winter.The first thing we do is roll them out into the drivewayinto the sun.We have found that after the vehicles have spent a winter in the freezer (a.k.a. the garage), they start more easily after sitting in the warm spring sun for about forty-five minutes.Once started, we let them idle for ten to fifteen minutes to get their juices flowing before taking them into our shop to do normal maintenance.

Maintenance
For us, maintenance means changing the oil andfilters, checking the spokes on the wheels and taking a good look at the motorcyle tires to make a judgment on whether or not the knobbies will last through the season. Right now I am am debating what to do in respect to my tires. The last ride of last season we rode a very hard-packed desert course, andbecauseI didnt have the correct compound for that terrain, the knobswore down significantly.I think I will be purchasing a new set of tires at some point this year.

Other things we like tolook over are all linkages, chains and cables to make sure they are in adjustment; andlook, too,at the obvious things such as wear and tear on sprockets. I also like tocheck simple things like handlebar grips to ensure they will make it through the season.If these preventative maintenance measures are not taken, a weekend ride can be ruined very quickly.

This is also a good time of year for deciding what accessories we may want to add to our vehicles.

Check your gear
When we finish with the vehicle maintenance, we get out our protective gear and apparel for inspection.A good rule of thumb is to start at the head and work your way down.Start with the most important piece of equipment -your motorcycle helmet.Check to see that there are no cracks in the shell andmake sure the lining is in good condition-there should not be chunks of foam are falling out.Nextcheck over your chest protector for cracks in the plastic, broken or frayed straps or broken buckles.Inspect your gloves for holes and make sure the Velcro still keeps them closed.On the way down, dont forget to take a look at your jersey and pants, checking for holes and proper fit.Sometimes my jersey seems to shrink during the winter…I think it must be from, er…being out in the cold! Yeah, that’s it.

I also wear knee and elbow pads, so I check that those are not cracked and that the Velcro straps are in good working order.Finally, we are to the boots – on OHVs, boots are extremely important since they protect your legs from logs and rocks.Make sure the buckles are in working order and that the boots offer the correct ankle stabilization.If your protective riding gear is in good shape, youare less likely tobe paying medical bills later for an injury that may even bring an abrupt end to your riding season.

Where should we go?
Once all our gear is in order, we start planning some trips -if we dont sit down with the calendar and plan out the summer now, it seems we dont get it done and just end up staying home.We already have plans for a four-day motorcycle and ATV trip in August, although some friendsthink late summer is too far out to plan for. But it gives us something to look forward to if it is on the calendar it will happen. When we go on a trip, we take our camper, so it is wise for us to plan it out and make campground reservations ahead of time. This reminds me that we should probably get the camper ready for the season, too…but now I’m getting off topic.

Following some of these tips in the spring can help make for a trouble-free riding season.Make sure your vehicles are in good working order and your apparel and protective gear are in good condition.Most of all, start planning out some spots toride this year.Look at places you have never been, get out and enjoy the trails.If the trails are being utilized, the powers that be may take a longer look before closing trails in the future.

James Parker, “Rock Slayer”

Tags:

Motorcycle Tires and Safety

Posted by moto_admin on March 08, 2011
Motorcycle Tires, Riding Tips & Education / Comments Off on Motorcycle Tires and Safety

Tires are the most important safety feature on any motorcycle. A good set of motorcycle tires, cared for properly, will help you avoid many dangerous situations. A bike with good tires has fewer crashes, too; making it cheaper to insure. Heres what you need to know to keep your motorcycle tires in top condition for a safer ride.

Be Aware of Manufacturer Recommendations

Always check the manufacturer recommended pressure and load standards for your tires. The tire pressure rating should be marked on the side of the tire itself. It is also a good idea to check your owner’s manual to see if a different pressure is recommended for different weight limits. If you carry heavy loads or usually take a passenger along, you will probably need to keep a couple of pounds extra pressure in the tires. Too much pressure can cause the tires to rupture more easily. Too little can make the bike more difficult to steer, especially if you hit a sandy or soft patch in the road.

Tire Preservation on the Road

While you are riding your motorcycle, pay attention to the surfaces you ride on. Rougher surfaces can wear your tires down more quickly. Try to avoid areas that are away from the main road. Even the shoulder of a highway can be damaging to your tires, as itis a collector of glass and other debris kicked up from the travel lanes. If you ride over any bumpy areas in the road or notice any changes in the way the bike handles, pull off and look your tires over as soon as possible.

Keep an Eye on Tire Condition

Since your tires are constantly in direct contact with the road, they are always wearing down. Give your tires a good check at least once a week if you ride your bike daily. If you are a weekend rider, check the tires over at least once a month. Look for irregular wear patterns, cracks in the sidewalls, large bumps or blisters, and anything else that might look unusual. If the tires become too old and stiff, they will not grip the road properly. Tires that have lost too much tread are unable to provide the traction you need.

Shopping for New Tires

It is important that motorcycle tires are always a matched set. You can get away with using different tires on a car, but motorcycles rely on their tires for balance as well as traction. Likewise, you cannot rotate tires on a motorcycle the way you can on a car. If one of your tires begins to show excessive wear, it is better to buy a new set if you cannot find an exact replacement.

Following these tips will keep you safer on the road. Theyll also keep a little more insurance money in your wallet!

Jessica Bosari writes for carinsurancequotescomparison.com, a site that seeks to inform all motor vehicle operators about safety. Well-informed consumers have the best chance of getting a good rate when they compare car insurance quotes.

Tags:

Choosing A Motorcycle Helmet

Posted by moto_admin on March 03, 2011
Apparel & Accessories / Comments Off on Choosing A Motorcycle Helmet

A big part of the fun of biking for us motorcycle maniacs is the gear, reading reviews in motorcycle mags, shopping online and checking out the latest arrivals at our favorite bike shops. Even if you prefer to ride with little or no special motorcycle apparel, chances are that you at least wear a helmet. Many of us have several, either because they eventually wear out, get dropped or because we can’t help ourselves when we spot a cool new lid that fits our style.

Any discussion on motorcycle helmets has to give at least a nod to the controversy surrounding mandatory helmet use laws. Most bikers’ rights groups, like the American Motorcyclist Association, encourage helmet use. The controversy comes when states legislate that adults must wear a helmet, thus removing an individual’s right to choose for him or herself. If you live in a state where helmet use is optional I still strongly encourage you to wear a motorcycle helmet every time you ride. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation says that a motorcycle helmet is one of the best items of protection you can use.

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld comments on helmets and helmet laws, We chose not to avoid these (head cracking) activities but instead come up with some kind of device to help continue enjoying our head cracking lifestyle, the helmet. The idea behind the helmet law is to preserve a brain who’s judgment is so poor it does not even try to stop the cracking of the head it’s in.

Safety First

The primary function of a motorcycle helmet is to provide safety. And that should be your first concern when choosing a new helmet. To be sold as a motorcycle helmet in the U.S. a helmet must be certified by the DOT (Department of Transportation) and carry a DOT sticker on the back. You can buy helmets that are not DOT certified, but if you do so in a state with a helmet law you’re risking a ticket.

To do its job properly a motorcycle helmet should fit snugly, but not so tight as to become uncomfortable. Good fit should be your primary criteria. Try on helmets from several different manufacturers and move your head sideways and up and down to test for movement and slippage. The human head comes in a wide variety of shapes and different manufacturers make helmets that are a better fit for different types of heads.

Motorcycle Helmet Styles

There are four major styles of street motorcycle helmets and each has its unique advantages. Whatever type of motorcycle you ride, your own personal tastes and your budget you can find a helmet that fits well and looks good from a variety of manufacturers. Arai, Nolan and Z1R offer a variety of motorcycle helmets in each of the four major styles. Other manufacturers that offer several different styles include AFX, Cyber, Scorpion and Sparx.

KBC Force RR Full Face Motorcycle HelmetFull face and modular helmets offer the most protection. They also tend to be a little heavier than other styles since there is more to them. And because they cover your entire head and face they can get a little warmer, which is a good thing on winter rides but can be bothersome during the summer months. Many full face and modular helmets have extensive venting systems. Unfortunately the only way to test the effectiveness of a helmet’s venting system is during a ride. You’d think that stores that sell helmets would provide a fan to give you an some representation of how well a helmet lets air flow through. I’ve yet to experience a store that does so though.

Critics of full faced and modular helmets claim that these two styles limit peripheral vision. I always wear a full faced helmet (I own several, all by different manufacturers) and have never experienced this problem. I suspect it’s largely an argument from the anti-helmet crowd.

The difference between full face and modular helmets is that on modular helmets the chin bar will flip up making it easier to get the helmet on, especially for riders who wear glasses. The modular or flip up style also allows you to eat or drink without removing the helmet at a quick rest stop. The mechanism that allows the chin bar to flip up can add a little weight to the helmet. And some reviewers have claimed that some models of modular helmets are a little noisier than their full face counterparts.Bell Shorty Open Face Motorcycle Helmet

Open face helmets cove the entire head with the exception of the chin. This means open face motorcycle helmets are a little lighter. Air flow is generally better as the wind is not impeded by a chin bar. Of course that means that open face helmets tend to be a little noisier. And of course you do risk damage to your chin and jaw if you do a face plant.

AFX FX-70 Half Motorcycle HelmetHalf helmets provide the least amount of protection and are the noisiest of all motorcycle helmets, since they only cover the top of the head, leaving your ears entirely exposed. They do provide the best air flow, again because they cover so little of the head. If it’s bad boy style you’re after, or if the only reason you wear a helmet is to be in compliance with the law, then a half helmet may be for you.

Regardless of the style that appeals to you, once you find a motorcycle helmet that fits your specific head shape be sure to wear it every time you ride.

Jerry Romick, Gun-Slinging Biker

Tags:

Eliminate Distractions

Posted by moto_admin on February 28, 2011
Riding Tips & Education / Comments Off on Eliminate Distractions

A few weeks ago someone told me about a video on YouTube. It shows a woman walking out of a store at a mall while texting on her cell phone. She allows herself to become so involved in her tiny screen and keyboard that she doesn’t notice the large fountain directly in front of her. Without looking up or side to side she continues walking until she falls face first into the fountain. We can take quite a few lessons from this woman’s unfortunate distraction, especially those of us who proudly wear the title motorcycle maniac.

Most distractions, such as the one encountered by the lady walking into the fountain, are self imposed. For her the result was a few bruises, getting soaked and being embarrassed on the Internet. For a motorcyclist such a distraction would almost certainly have a much more tragic result. And while I’m not aware of any biker ever texting while riding (how would you work the keypad while wearing gloves?), there are plenty of other potential distractions that we face every time we flip the side stand up.

There are a number of motorcycle accessories meant to make the ride more enjoyable that can actually cause distractions if we’re not careful while using them. Two that spring immediately to mind are music systems and GPS. Both can provide enhancement, especially on a long ride. Hitting the twisties to “Born To Be Wild” or the soundtrack from “Sons of Anarchy” can be a rush. But trying to adjust the volume or jump to another playlist at 60 mph is just the kind of distraction that can cause you to miss that driver on their cell phone drifting into your lane until it’s too late. If you’re going to ride with tunes, set the volume and shuffle your songs before you pull away and then live with those settings until you get off the road.

A GPS system can be a great aid in getting you to your destination, especially an unfamiliar one. But again, you should make sure to enter all your settings before you start your ride and then only glance at the screen occasionally. If you miss a turn don’t stare at the “recalculating route” message until the screen refreshes; either pull off the road and wait for it or keep riding and allow the system to catch up with you.

A number of GPS systems are equipped with Bluetooth to enable you to get audible turn-by-turn instructions through a head set mounted inside your motorcycle helmet. Some of them even will connect via Blue Tooth to your cell phone. My wife and I use a Bluetooth communications set that allows us to talk to one another while riding and also connects to our cell phones. Being able to communicate with each other while riding makes our time on the bikes even more enjoyable and is less distracting than trying to get one another’s attention with hand signals. But we don’t make calls while riding and limit incoming calls to, “I’m on the bike, I’ll call you back.” Or if it’s an urgent call, “I’m on the bike, let me pull off the road.”

Even things meant to add safety to the ride can cause distractions. Ill fitting motorcycle apparel can do more harm than good. Boots that are too tight, a jacket that rides up or a motorcycle helmet that’s a little loose can distract from our concentration. Check your gear before every ride and make sure it still fits or hasn’t become worn to the point of being uncomfortable.

Riding in moderate to heavy traffic can present distractions that aren’t of our own making, but it’s up to us to minimize them. In an earlier post, I mentioned the MSF “SEE” system:

  • Search for potential hazards.
  • Evaluate the hazards.
  • Execute avoidance maneuvers.

I use this system and play “what if.” What if that lady in the SUV on my right starts putting on her makeup and swerves into my lane. What if the guy in the pick up truck traveling in the other direction suddenly turns left in front of me. I remember a public service spot that ran on television a good deal while I was growing up in the greater New York City area in the 1960s. It was called “Watch Out For The Other Guy” and cautioned motorists, “You just can’t trust the other guy, but you can watch out for him.” It ended with the line, “Nearly half the drivers in fatal accidents are in the right,” and then showed a shattered headlight on the side of the road as the announcer finished up with, “This one was right, dead right.”

When traffic is especially heavy and there are a lot of vehicles behind me I’ll adjust my speed to slow things down. I do this by increasing my speed to four or five mph more than the greatest flow traffic. This is can be most effective on the interstate. By leaving the bulk of traffic behind you can concentrate more fully on potential hazards in front of you. In this way you remain in control of your ride rather than allowing the flow of traffic to control you.

There’s one more lesson we can take from the woman in the fountain. It turns out that she worked at the mall, so she was in familiar surroundings when she tumbled into the water. You’d think she would have remembered the fountain was there. For us motorcycle maniacs it’s easy to let our guard down when we get close to home or travel a regular route. It’s been said that most accidents happen only a few miles from home. Granted, that’s largely because most of our rides will include those few close to home miles and since we’re traveling those miles more often than areas further away the law of probability kicks in. But we shouldn’t allow the familiarity with an area or stretch of road to cause us to be any less vigilant for potential hazards or distractions.

By being aware of potential distractions, eliminating those we cause ourselves and minimizing the ones imposed on us we can concentrate on what’s going on around us more fully and make sure we arrive at our destination without unwittingly showing up on You Tube.

Jerry Romick

Tags:

A new maniac joins the family

Posted by moto_admin on February 23, 2011
Recreation / Comments Off on A new maniac joins the family

Hello Maniacs, my name is James Parker and this is my first post for the Maniac Blog.I have dreamt of doing something like this for many years. I want to take the opportunity with this first blog to introduce myself and give you a summary of what I know about off roading.

I have owned a motorcycle since March of 1983, when I was in the sixth grade. My brother and I talked our parents into letting us buy some dirt bikes. Mine was a 1979 Yamaha MX 100; I still have it in my garage and it does still run. My brother bought a 1978 Yamaha DT 125 dual purpose back then they were called dual purpose instead of dual sport. We putted around on those for a few years at our family farm and vacant lots near our house.

Around 1987, he purchased a repossessed Honda XL 600, which rode much like a tank.I went a different route by purchasing a clapped out KX 250 motocross bike on which I would make some unsuccessful attempts at racing. My “racing” career ended when I crashed while practicing and broke a wrist. This was during my freshman year of college; and as most college students do, I found other interests and moved into street bikes, selling my motocross bike.

During the early 90’s, I thought riding a street bike was much cooler than riding dirt. I made several trips to Sturgis and the Colorado mountains. I met many nice people and had some awesome adventures for a good portion of the 90’s. Me and the After college, I got busy building my life and career and did not have much time for anything else, so motorcycles were put aside for a few years.

I had been married to my wife Jennifer for a year when I decided I wanted to get back into dirt bikes. I bought another clapped-out bike, a Honda XR 600R, about two weeks before my thirtieth birthday in 2001. That bike was great for what I was using it for at that time. My wife’s parents were living in Grand Junction, Colorado, which is considered a desert. So I had one of the best desert bikes ever made to cruise around the vast BLM land of the Grand Valley of Colorado. My wife became hooked; we purchased a 1981 Yamaha DT 175, much like my brother’s first bike, for her to ride.

We rode those for about three years until we got serious. Then Jennifer bought a 2001 Suzuki DRZ 250 and I bought my first brand new bike. It was 2004, but I bought a new 2002 Honda XR 650R (or as it is commonly called, the “Big Red Pig”). My brother, who will occasionally still ride with us, has a Yamaha WR 450.

Joey with his training wheelsWhen our son Joey came along, he eventually needed a bike, too. In 2008, we purchased a 2007 Yamaha PW 50 for him. He chose the Yamaha over a Honda because his favorite color is blue; I wish my choices were all that simple. The first two years he had training wheels on the bike I decided to keep the training wheels on the motorcycle until he could ride his bicycle without training wheels. Even then, I hesitated taking them off (I tend to be nervous father) – but at least he still has to wear his helmet! Joey did just fine without them; in fact, that first day without them he told me, “If you want, I could give you some pointers!” I may have to take him up on that some day.

For summer vacations we like to combine our two passions: camping and off roading.We started out tent camping, then upgraded to a truck camper and then to the fifth wheel camper that we currently have. In future blogs, I plan to tell stories about our adventures.

Our fifth wheel and bikes

This is where I stand today: I have nearly thirty years of stories and tips that I can’t wait to share with you; but I am even more excited about going on new adventures so that I can share those stories as well.

James Parker

Tags: , , ,

Be Ready For Spring, Check Your Motorcycle Tires Now

Posted by moto_admin on February 09, 2011
Motorcycle Tires / Comments Off on Be Ready For Spring, Check Your Motorcycle Tires Now

Groundhog Day has come and gone and spring is on the way. Though much of the nation is experiencing some sort of nasty weather; so chances are that there won’t be many bikes out on the road for a couple of days, even in the southern part of the country where we ride year ‘round. So this would be a good time to check your motorcycle tires.

Even if you store your motorcycle through the winter months, I know you will want to be ready to ride at the first sign of the spring thaw. There’s nothing worse than pushing the bike out of the garage for the first ride of the season, firing it up and pulling away only to feel the unmistakable sensation of mushy motorcycle tires beneath you.

So bundle up and take your tire gauge out the garage to inspect those motorcycle tires. First thing to check is the pressure. If your bike has been sitting since Thanksgiving weekend chances are you’re going to need to add a couple of pounds of pressure. Keeping the tires properly inflated, even during storage, is one of the most important things you can do to prolong their life. During riding reason you should check tire pressure at least once a week, more often if you don’t ride almost every day.

One of the best motorcycle accessories I’ve ever purchased was a portable electric air compressor. Inflating the tires at home, while they’re still cold, gives me the opportunity to get an accurate read on pressure. Improperly inflated tires can cause faster and uneven tire wear and can be downright dangerous. If you notice that you have to add air to a tire every time you check the pressure you may have a leak and should replace the tire.

Once you have the pressure corrected it’s time to check the tread depth. You can use the old penny test for this. Stick a penny into the tread with Abe Lincoln’s head pointed into the tread. If the tread doesn’t cover the top of Abe’s head it’s time for a new set of motorcycle tires. If the tread wear indicators on your tires are visible that means that you only have 1/32 of inch of tread left and you should have replaced the tires a couple of hundred miles ago. Worn motorcycle tires will provide less than ideal handling, especially on wet roads.

Next, check the surface of the tires for cuts or cracks, especially if your motorcycle has been sitting in the cold for several weeks. Cold can have a detrimental effect on rubber, causing cracking and hardening. This can make the tires handle poorly and make it more susceptible to penetration from an object like a nail.

If you need to replace your motorcycle tires this is a good time to start shopping. Check your owner’s manual to determine the size and type you need and then start looking around for deals. Once you’ve established the size you need, you have a lot of choices. Dunlop motorcycle tires are an excellent choice—they make a wide range of tires for different types of bikes and riding styles.

The kind of riding you most often do will be a major factor in your decision. The materials used and tread patterns of the tires will be different in a race tire, sport tire and touring tire. Each one is made to be better suited for different applications, such as cornering, traction or mileage. Many manufacturers’ websites contain details on the different models they offer. The Dunlop motorcycle tire website has an extensive motorcycle tire tips section that can help you decide on the type of tire that best suits your needs.

Motorcycle tires are arguably the most important part of your bike. If your engine fails, you can roll to stop; but if your tire fails, you’ll find yourself hanging on for dear life (or worse). Check your tires now. Give them a visual inspection before every ride and keep them properly inflated. They’ll serve you for thousands of miles and keep you riding in comfort and safety.

Jerry Romick

Tags: , ,

Riding Trails in Central Utah

Posted by moto_admin on February 08, 2011
Trails and Trips / Comments Off on Riding Trails in Central Utah

Central Utah has some of the most beautiful ATV trails in the world. You can drive through towering red rock, lush green aspen tree forests, or the arid sandy desert. One of the best ATV trail systems is the Great Western Trail.

The Great Western Trail is a trail system that covers 5 states in the western United States. Over 1,600 miles of the 4,455 trail system is located in Utah. In 1996 Governor Mike Leavitt designated the Great Western Trail as Utah’s Centennial Trail as part of the state’s centennial celebration. In 2000, the White House and Department of Transportation named the Great Western Trail as one of the national Millennium trails (16 long-distance trails selected from 58 nominees as visionary trails that reflect America’s history and culture).

Part of the beauty of traveling on your ATV/UTV in central Utah is the fact that you can also connect to the Paiute ATV Trail system. Several ATV publications have named the Paiute ATV Trail system to be one of the best ATV riding trails in the country. It is a trail with no beginning and no end. The main trail is 238 miles long and has many connecting side trails to make it an adventure for any rider. The trail covers over 1900 miles in the Fishlake National Forest and the beautiful scenery you ride through will take your breath away.

In order to truly enjoy the trail systems you need to experience it. One of the best ways to experience trail riding in Central Utah is to attend one of the ATV/UTV Jamborees held during the summer months in towns in Central Utah. These jamborees last 3-5 days and have several guided tours to explore the Great Western Trail and the Paiute Trail systems. Take a couple extra days as well just to experience the trails on your own. In your “on my time” rides you will have more time for stopping and taking pictures and enjoying the scenery. However, the jamborees are a great place to learn more about all of the trails to ride and information about the equipment you should take on your journey.

Are you an avid ATV/UTV rider? Then you should definitely take the opportunity to ride through the amazing trail of the Great Western Trail and Paiute trail system located in Central Utah. The pictures and memories you take away from this trip will last a lifetime.

Kirk Rasmussen
Guest blogger from ATVWest

Tags: , ,

Motorcycle Milestones And Memories

Posted by moto_admin on February 01, 2011
Recreation, Trails and Trips / Comments Off on Motorcycle Milestones And Memories

Life is full of milestones and memories. And for motorcycle maniacs, many of those not only happen on a motorcycle, but are built around motorcycling. Milestones include the firsts and other significant markers in a rider’s life. There is the first ride home on a new bike, first group ride, first overnight motorcycle trip, first set of new motorcycle tires and of course the first motorcycle.

Othermilestones actually include miles. Watching the odometer flip to 10,000. A personal mileage total of 100,000 miles, on one or multiple bikes, is also noteworthy. Trips measured in increments of 500 miles also count as milestones.

And while all milestones are memorable, not all motorcycle memories involve a milestone. Cresting a hill heading west just in time to catch the orange glow of the sun sliding behind the horizon is something you don’t forget. Finding a new route to a favorite destination or working your way back to familiar surroundings after being lost both make for a great memory. And then there is the time spent with fellow riders—on a fundraising ride for a worthy cause, swapping stories about past rides and even picking up new motorcycle apparel during a rest stop on a group ride.

This past weekend I had one of those combination milestone memories. First, a little background. Taking up riding was something inspired by my son Caleb. He was in the U.S. Army stationed in Oklahoma when he called me and said, Hey Dad, listen to this. He then fired up his new motorcycle, holding the phone near the exhaust so I could hear the rumble. Two months later, I had my own bike and within a few weeks of that, my wife was the proud owner of a new ride, too. We talked often with our son about our riding, sharing stories about rides and gear. We visited him and his family in Oklahoma several times, but without our bikes.

After Oklahoma, Caleb got stationed in Japan. We continued to speak almost daily, and riding was often among our topics of discussion. Our oldest grandson, Toby, was getting big enough to ride on the back of our son’s bike, so we sent him a new motorcycle helmet. Motorcycling had become a multi-generational family affair for us, over one shared long distance.

After nearly three years overseas, my son’s hitch was up. On Christmas evening of this past year we picked him and his family up at the airport. And this past weekend the weather finally cleared enough for us to take a real ride. The only snag was that Caleb’s motorcycle was still in transit from Japan. My wife graciously allowed him to ride her bike while she and our daughter-in-law Brandi and younger grandson Travis followed in the car. Toby got to ride on the back of my bike.

We did about a 90 minute ride in all, with a stop at a local park for the boys to play on the playground and explore around the lake and waterfalls. All in all, this was a memorable ride. And once Caleb’s bike gets stateside there will be even more.

Jerry Romick, gun-slinging biker

Tags: ,

Make every day "ride to work day"

Posted by moto_admin on January 26, 2011
Riding Tips & Education / Comments Off on Make every day "ride to work day"

I dont make resolutions for the New Year. I use that as an excuse for this post showing up with under a week left in the first month of the New Year. Its part resolution, part challenge to those who fancy themselves motorcycle maniacs, yet drive a cage to work every day. Its time to take that maniac moniker to heart and ride to work, every day.

You dont have to be sold on the sheer joy of motorcycling, the adrenaline boost you get leaning into the twisties or the special camaraderie shared by all of us on two wheels. Maybe you just need a little nudge to make the bike your daily commuter. If youre among those motorcyclists who do not ride to work on a regular basis youre surprisingly not alone.Only about one in 1,000 commuters in the USA use a motorcycle as their normal means of transportation to and from work. And only about 4.3% of motorcyclists use their bike as their everyday commute ride. That number does jump to 14.2% during riding season. But come on, youre a maniacriding season is year round!

Advantages Of Riding To Work

Again, you know the benefits of motorcycling. Riding the bike to work has all of the advantages of weekend riding, and maybe even a couple more. Perhaps the biggest benefit is that riding is simply more fun than driving. It puts you in a better mood and more positive frame of mind. Imagine arriving at work every day with a big grin on your face. The boss is going to think youve found a renewed sense of dedication to your job. And the closer it gets to quitting time, the closer you are to another ride.

Photo by LaggedOnUserGranted, gearing up and the pre-ride check of brake and directional lights may take a few more minutes than jumping in the car. But youre likely to make up that time and more once youre on the road. Depending on the study youre reading, when traveling identical routes under identical conditions motorcyclists arrive at their destination anywhere from 20% to 50% sooner than cagers. If your commute includes an Interstate with an HOV lane, youll be able to use that, saving even more time. And once you get to where youre going its much easier to find a place to park.

Not only will you save time, but youll save money as well. With an average commute youd traveling about 150 miles per week to and from work. In a car getting 30 mpg, that means youre burning up five gallons of gas per week just on your commute. As of January 24, a gallon of regular gasoline was costing between $2.918 per gallon in the Rocky Mountains to $3.388 per gallon in San Francisco, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The average of those two prices comes to $3.153 per gallon. So that five gallons of gas is costing you $15.77 per week. Thats $820.04 per year!

If your bike gets a modest 50 miles per gallon, youre only using three gallons per week at a cost of $9.46. Thats a saving of $6.31 per week, or $328.12 per year. If your car gets less than 30 mpg, gas in your area is more expensive or your motorcycle gets better than 50 mpg, then your savings will be even greater. Additionally, if you have old or worn motorcycle tires, replacing them can improve your mpg. The same goes for ensuring your tires are properly inflated.

There are other intangible benefits to riding to work on a regular basis. For one, you wont get stuck making drop off or pick up runs to the airport. Youll never have to stop to pick up donuts for a morning meeting, either. When bad weather threatens you also have a built-in excuse to not stay late, since you are on the bike and at the mercy of the elements (or so you can plead). And when that annoying guy in sales needs a ride to pick up his car at the shop, you can offer, knowing hes going to decline.

The 20th annual Ride To Work Day is Monday, June 20, 2011. Its a great movement aimed at demonstrating how motorcycles help traffic to flow better and make parking easier.The day also hopes to gain improved employer, public and government awareness and support.But we motorcycle maniacs dont need to wait till June.Lets make every day Ride To Work Day!

Jerry Romick, gun-slinging biker

Tags: ,

Motorcycle Situational Awareness

Posted by moto_admin on January 21, 2011
Riding Tips & Education / Comments Off on Motorcycle Situational Awareness

Since I’ve been riding a motorcycle my situational awareness has significantly improved. And not just while I’m on the bike. Part of that is probably due to the MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) class I took some years back. Yes, I still remember some of their catchy acronyms and the basics I learned in that class.

The MSF teaches SEE, for Search, Evaluate and Execute as you ride. More fully that’s:

  • Search for potential hazards.
  • Evaluate the hazards.
  • Execute avoidance maneuvers.

I find that not only am I more aware of my surroundings and possible hazards when I’m riding, I also consciously evaluate the situations I may encounter before every ride. There are two major areas I consider, climatic (the weather) and environmental (road conditions, construction, traffic patterns, etc). The weather is easier to get a handle on. As I stated in a post on cold weather riding I’m a big fan of the Weather Channel’s Local on the 8s and the functions on their website that allow you to track weather along the route of your trip. And I always have the rain gear in the saddlebags in case of an unexpected shower.

It’s a little tougher to be fully briefed on environmental conditions, especially, if like me, you really enjoy discovering new roads and getting lost is part of your plan. Even if you’ve ridden a route before, you can’t be sure that the road is still in the same condition or that a construction project hasn’t materialized since the last time you rode it. The best you can hope for is that you’re prepared for what the weather may throw at you and you can anticipate any environmental elements before they become hazardous.

Once I feel like I know enough about the conditions I’ll be facing, I gear up accordingly and hit the road. I’m not suggesting spending hours strategizing like you’re planning the attack on Normandy, just checking the forecast and possible routes on Google maps. After all, we motorcycle maniacs want to spend as much time on the bike as possible. Occasionally this information will cause me to alter the plan by changing the route, leaving a little earlier or later, or using a different combination of gear. There’s only one condition that will make me cancel a ride, but we’ll get to that. Here’s what I look for in my pre-ride evaluation.

Weather Factors

There is always going to be some sort of weather condition, much of it less than ideal. It can’t always be 75 and sunny. And while non-maniacs may say “It’s too cold,” or “too hot” or “too wet” or “too dry” to ride, the maniacs venture out in nearly any condition. In fact, riding in less than perfect conditions is something maniacs like us wear as sort of a badge of hardiness. The worse the weather we ride in is the more a true maniac we are.

So let’s score ourselves. Identify your ideal riding conditions, say sunny and 75. That’s a 10. For each of the following scenarios subtract an appropriate score. The lower your score the more maniacal you are. But use a little common sense, especially if your numbers run into the negatives—we’re maniacs, not fools.

photo by Extremepods.comPrecipitation

This is probably the most common inclement weather condition we’ll experience. Rain and snow pose potential hazards in two areas: visibility and traction. Both are minimized during precipitation. It’s harder to see and, maybe more importantly, harder to be seen. Wear gear with bright colors and reflective material. One of my helmets has a strip of red lights on the back that I can set to steady on, flashing or quick flashing. I use this helmet when I anticipate rain or riding after dark.

To help you see more clearly switch to a clear face guard on your helmet. An advantage bikers have in rain or snow is that we sit up higher than the average cager and have a less obstructed view of the road. But the rain can hide things. Standing water may be just a puddle or it could be a three-inch pothole waiting to bend a rim.

The distance you need to bring your ride to a safe stop will be affected by a wet road surface. Increase your follow distance from the normal two-second rule taught by the MSF to allow for that. You can get a better handle on the traction available to you by practice braking on a straight stretch of road with no traffic behind you. And you can use engine braking and downshifting to help avoid the need for heavy or sudden braking.

Investing in premium aftermarket motorcycle tires, such as the Dunlop Cruisemax, will ensure you a better grib on wet surfaces than the original tires that came with your bike. Keep in mind, too, that different road surfaces also become more slippery when wet. Especially metal or painted surfaces, like manhole covers and railroad tracks. Use extra caution when you encounter them.

Score:

Rain:  -2

Snow: -3 (because snow also means cold and when it sticks it has a worse effect on vision and traction)

Cold and Heat

I already covered cold weather riding in an earlier post. The main point to remember about riding in the cold is to prevent or slow the loss of body heat. Riding in extreme heat can be as dangerous as extreme cold. Dehydration can occur quickly. And while it’s tempting to ride in a t-shirt in temperatures above 90, you lose moisture more quickly through exposed skin. So a mesh jacket may be a good choice. It will allow some air flow but will keep the moisture from evaporating away from your body as quickly.

Score:

Temps between

32 to 40 or 90 to 95:   -1

20 to 32 or 95 to 100:  -3

below 20 or above 100: -5

Fog

Visibility is often worse in the fog than in the rain. And if it’s dark the fog can reflect your headlight right into your field of vision. It’s especially difficult for cagers to spot a motorcycle in the fog, so you need to be especially cautious at intersections. This is one condition that may prompt you to alter your route to avoid or minimize riding in low lying areas where fog is prone to linger.

Score: -3

Wind

If you’ve ever felt the buffeting effects of a tractor trailer passing you in the opposite direction, you know the havoc wind can play with a motorcycle. Fighting sustained winds can tire you out and the unexpected strong gust can generate more adrenaline than a roller coaster ride. In windy conditions it’s best to position yourself as far over on the side of road that the wind is coming from as you can. This will keep you from being blown too far out of position. Lean into prevailing winds to help maintain your lane position.

Score:

Prevailing Winds:

20 to 29 mph: -2

30 to 39 mph: -3

40 and above: -5

For gusts, subtract one more point.

Dark

Visibility is the main concern with riding in the dark. Reflective clothing can help you be more conspicuous. A white or light colored helmet also helps cagers see you sooner. You do get an advantage in the dark in that you can usually spot oncoming traffic, even around a curve, from their headlights.

Score: -1

Icy Roads

We’ve all seen those videos on You Tube of knucklehead cagers caroming from parked car to parked car like a giant pinball on an icy street. Traction can be at zero on ice. A real danger is that you often can’t see a patch of ice until you’re on top of it, and then it’s too late to maneuver to avoid it. Add to your own loss of traction the other motorists on the road and this is the one hazard that will keep my bike in the garage.

Score: -10

No matter how long you’ve been riding, you’ll experience at least some combination of these conditions eventually. One trick I’ve learned to help be prepared for any circumstance is to purposefully ride in poor conditions just to get accustomed to them. With a little preparation and practice you can improve your situational awareness, both on and off the bike.

Jerry Romick

Tags: ,

Take the Avon Cobra for a cruise

Posted by moto_admin on January 14, 2011
Motorcycle Tires / Comments Off on Take the Avon Cobra for a cruise

We recently had a very loyal Avon Venom fan call our company to order a new rear tire for his motorcycle. He was, shall we say, not thrilled that the Venom was no longer available in the size he needed. I have used the Avon Cobra on my own bike and like how it performs, and after explaining some of the features to the man, he was willing to give it a try.

According to Avon, the Cobra was developed for the power cruiser/custom/touring market. It incorporates sports tire technologies, special construction and an aggressive tread for nimble handling, heavy load capacity, stability and longevity.

The sports tire technology they refer to is, in my opinion, the best thing about the Cobra. They are using what they call A-VBD (Advanced Variable Belt Density) to improve handling. This rear tire construction technique uses a jointless high-strength belt where the strands are very close together at the center of the tread, but spaced further apart near the edges. This makes for a broader footprint around curves.

The tread pattern is specifically designed to reduce the cupping and irregular wear patterns that are common on bikes that carry heavier loads. I’ve also found the Cobra doesn’t wander on road surfaces with rain grooves and the like, and the low noise output is fantastic – they don’t have the whine associated with other tread patterns.

Most people consider the appearance a plus as well, with the Cobra head on the sidewall and snakeskin effect tread pattern. They are available in a wide range of sizes and have been customized to fit Harley Davidson’s V-Rod, Triumph’s Rocket III, Honda’s Goldwing and Valkyrie, plus extra wide sizes for some custom bikes.

Harley Maniac

Tags:

Cold Weather Riding

Posted by moto_admin on January 10, 2011
Apparel & Accessories, Riding Tips & Education / Comments Off on Cold Weather Riding

by David GoehringWe motorcycle maniacs will ride in almost any kind of weather, and winter is no exception. While less hardy riders have already winterized their rides and hooked up the battery tender, maniacs simply break out the cold weather gear. But theres more to safe cold weather riding than putting the lining back into your jacket.

Frostbite & Hypothermia

The cold is a thief, robbing your body of vital heat. And heat loss can be dangerous, even deadly, especially when riding a motorcycle at highway speeds. According to the National Weather Service wind chill chart, riding at 60 mph at the relatively mild temperature of 40 degrees feels like 25 degrees. And under those conditions exposed skin will begin to exhibit signs of frostbite within 30 minutes. Prolonged unprotected exposure to the cold may also result in hypothermia.

by Johan ViirokEven though you may be cruising along at 60 mph, from your bodys perspective youre sitting still. And you dont generate enough heat while sitting still to make up for what the cold is siphoning off. The effects of the cold are gradual. And since they affect our ability to reason they often will go unnoticed until its too late.

Frostbite is defined as the freezing of part of the body, usually the extremities like fingers and toes. Signs of frostbite are loss of feeling, skin that is cold to the touch and/or discolored, white, gray or blue. Hypothermia occurs when core body temperature drops below 95 degrees. Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, confusion and apathy. As it progresses shivering will cease and confusion may become delirium. At the first signs of frostbite or hypothermia you should park the bike and get inside someplace warm. Drinking a hot beverage can help restore body heat quickly since the stomach is full of blood vessels that will help distribute the warmth of your hot cocoa.

Beat the Cold and Prolong Your Ride

by Wlodzimierz KuzmowiczSince Ive been riding Ive also become a big fan of the Weather Channel, especially in winter. Before any ride Ill be sure to catch their Local on the 8s and check the hour by hour forecast on their website. I factor temperature, wind speed and the length of my ride into how I gear up. The key is to keep body warmth in and cold air out.

Layering clothing will keep a pocket of warm air close to your body. I start with synthetic thermal long underwear and a wool/synthetic mix pair of hunting socks. The synthetic material will draw moisture away from your skin, unlike cotton which traps moisture. On top of that Ill pull on a wool sweater and pair of jeans. Then its my Teknic jacket with lining and Tour Master Nomad boots. Finally I put on the Power-Trip Dakota gloves and my GMAX full-face helmet and Im good to go to temperatures of about 40 degrees.

If its going to be any colder than that, or if its windy or I plan on being out for more than an hour or so Ill supplement that basic combination. Ill add a short sleeved t-shirt under the long johns for one more base layer. Then Ill wear my rain pants to help cut the wind on my legs. On really chilly days Ill go with a synthetic balaclava, fleece neck gator or neoprene face mask to keep my head, neck and face warm. I dont have a windshield on my 2007 Suzuki Boulevard M50 to help cut the wind to my upper torso, so on especially cold or windy days I may add one more base layer or my rain jacket. I want to stay warm, but I dont want to wind up like Randy from the movie A Christmas Story, either.

by Jerry RomickAdd Heat For More Cold Protection

No matter how many layers you wear, the longer you ride in the cold the more heat youre going to lose. To keep the cold at bay indefinitely you need to add an external source of heat. A few years ago my wife and I bought each other a pair of Tour Master Synergy electric gloves. The power lead was easy to install directly to the bikes battery. The connector hangs a few inches below the seat and hooks up to the wiring harness that pokes out of the bottom of my jacket, fed to each glove through the sleeves. Ive ridden for several hours in temperatures below freezing with the Tour Master gloves and my hands have remained nice and toasty.

Tour Master and other manufacturers make a wide range of heated gear, including jacket liners, pant liners and socks. This electrically heated gear can keep you riding comfortably and safely well into single digit temperatures. If you opt for electrics be sure that your bikes electrical system can handle the load.

If you are prepared, your riding season doesnt have to end with the first frost of the season. Many of us maniacs ride yearlong. Its simply a matter of keeping the cold from stealing more heat than your body or external heat source can replace, and knowing how to deal with the effects of winter weather on the roadways and your bike. Well deal with that topic in a future post.

Jerry Romick, gun-slinging biker

Tags:

Stay Safe on The Roads and Cut the Christmas Booze

Posted by moto_admin on December 17, 2010
Riding Tips & Education / Comments Off on Stay Safe on The Roads and Cut the Christmas Booze

The MCI is calling on riders to cut their Christmas drinking if they are planning to ride. The latest analysis of drink-drive statistics show that in 2008, of the motorcycle riders tested following an accident, 1.4 per cent failed a breathalyzer test compared to an average of 2.7 per cent for all road user casualties as a whole .

Although motorcyclists are half as likely as car drivers to take the risk of drinking and driving, the Christmas season marks the time of year when people are more likely to indulge in a couple of extra drinks.

Young riders in particular are most likely to drink and ride. Motorcyclists aged between 20 and 24 were most likely to fail a breath test, with 2.4 per cent of tests taken by riders in this age band positive for alcohol. However, this figure is still less than half that of the average for all road users between 20 and 24, of whom 5 per cent gave a breath test positive for alcohol.

The MCI advises:

  • Never drink any amount of alcohol if youre riding. You dont have to be over the limit for your skills to be impaired.
  • Never drink late at night if youre riding early the next morning. If you get caught out later than you thought, take alternative transport or go pillion next morning.
  • Dont let mates drink and ride.
  • Dont buy a drink for anyone if you know they are planning to ride

Steve Kenward, MCIs, CEO commented, The party season is upon us. The only sensible message is dont drink and ride. Drinking, drugs and motorcycle riding dont mix at any time in the year but be especially careful during this season of good cheer and increased temptation. Bear in mind that alcohol can stay in your system well into the next day, so if you were drinking the night before you might also want to avoid riding in the early part of the next day.

###

Source: http://www.mcia.co.uk/

Tags: , ,

Supercross 2011

Posted by moto_admin on November 23, 2010
Racing / Comments Off on Supercross 2011

The wait is almost over forSupercross!!It seems like we have had to wait forever, butonDecember 26th we will get our first taste of this season with the Supercross Season Preview, airing on CBS at 3:00 p.m. EST.After that, the season begins.

This seems to be one of the best years yet as far as riders and teams go, with the return of Chad Reed, Ryan Villopoto, and James Stewart. It is guaranteed to be a wild ride down to the finale in Vegas.With everyone coming in healthy, and a few guys on different rides than last season, it will defiantly be an amazing year.The tworiders that I am most anxious to watch are Davi Millsaps on his new Muscle Milk/Toyota/JGRMX Yamaha 450; and Chad Reed, who now owns his own team, TwoTwo Motorsports, aboard a Honda CRF450.These two guys are defiantly top performers, but you cant forget about everyone else.This will be an action-packed, bar-to-bar year that will have everyone chasing Ryan Dungey and the number 1 plate that he currently holds, and it all starts in Anaheim on Jan. 8th.

Off Road Maniac

Tags: , , , ,

Winterizing your motorcycle

Posted by moto_admin on November 15, 2010
Maintenance & Modifications / Comments Off on Winterizing your motorcycle

It’s that time of year again, at least in the northern half of the country, to get Old Faithful ready for her winter vacation. If you decide not to put your motorcycle in storage for the winter, be committed to riding it at least a couple of times a month. Starting it up in the garage and letting it idle for a couple of minutes isn’t going to be enough; to keep your bike performing at it’s best, you will need to actually ride it long enough to get everything warmed up and circulating.

If you do store your motorcycle over the winter, here are a few winterization practices that I like to follow:

  • Warm up your bike with a nice ride and then change the oil. Used oil contains contaminants that are corrosive, so you don’t want that sitting in there all winter, causing damage. I always change the filter at this time, but some people prefer to wait until Spring for that.
  • Either drain your fuel tank dry or top it off with a fuel stabilizer, like Stabill. If you bike has one or more carburetors, drain the fuel bowl(s).
  • If applicable, check the antifreeze. It should be changed at least every other season. Use the type specified by the manufacturer, not whatever you have in the back of the garage from Wal-Mart.
  • Lube the cables, levers and brake pedals. Wherever there is a pivot point, a little lube is always a good idea. But just remember, more is not always better!
  • Lube the cylinders by removing the spark plugs and putting a little (1-2 Tablespoons) new motor oil in the cylinder(s). With the spark plugs still out, turn the engine over with the kickstarter or rear wheel with the bike in top gear. Re-install the plugs.
  • Give her a bath! Everyone has their own opinion as to the best way to do this. The main thing is to end up with the bike clean, waxed and polished as needed to keep corrosion at bay.
  • At a minimum, make sure your battery is fully charged now and then check it at least once a month during storage. Some people like to use one of several brands of maintenance-type trickle chargers. I prefer to remove the battery and store it in a temperature controlled environment. This is also is a great time to clean up the battery box with a baking soda solution to neutralize any fluids in this often neglected spot.
  • Restrict access to critters – rodents love to move in while your bike is in this vulnerable condition. Make sure you close off any openings. For example, you may want to put a heavy plastic bag over the exhaust outlet(s) and secure with rubber bands. Same idea with the air intake and any other place that looks inviting.
  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Never use anything like Armor All on motorcycle tires, as they will be slippery as heck when you go to use the bike again. Also, do not store your bike near any electric motors, like a freezer or air compressor, as the ozone they produce will cause your tires to age prematurely. Avoid parking the bike on bare cement at a minimum, you should use cardboard or a piece of old carpet under the tires. It would be better yet to put the bike on stands to keep the weight of the machine off the tires to prevent flat spots.
  • Remove all paperwork to keep it from getting chewed up for bedding by rodents, and also to keep it out of the wrong hands.
  • Use a cover appropriate for your storage area and climate. UV rays from sunlight shining through a garage window can cause paint to fade and rubber to deteriorate.

A little time spent now can save a lot of time and money next Spring when it’s time to ride again.

HarleyManiac

Break in those motorcycle tires!

Posted by moto_admin on September 24, 2010
Riding Tips & Education / Comments Off on Break in those motorcycle tires!

Consumers often ignore or are unaware of the break-in period on new motorcycle tires. If you happen to be one of these motorcycle maniacs and have made it past the first 100 miles on your new tires without any mishaps, count yourself as blessed.

In the 30+ years I have been selling and servicing motorcycle tires, I have heard too many horror stories about bikers having gone down just after mounting new tires on their machines. So, for our readers who may be unaware, the following information is an attempt to explain what a break-in period is and why they are recommended by tire manufacturers.

During the manufacturing process of most tires, a waxy substance calledmold releaseis applied to the mold to help extract the tire during production. This productkeeps the tire tread grooves from sticking to the mold. Often, manufacturers will also use antioxidants in this release agent to protect the tires from oxygen degradation, both in storage and in service.

Some manufacturerswill opt to use a thin film separator in place of the mold releaseor use highly polished segmented molds that don’t require help with release; but this is not the standard. The Conti Road Attack 2 by Continental(available soon in the U.S.)for instance, takes pride in not using mold release during the molding process. They also pre-scrub the tire for extra grip on that first ride.

Obviously, onereason that tires need a break-in period is to givethis substance a chance to wear off. It can negativelyaffect the motorcycles handling.

An additionalreason is that breaking in a new set of tires is a lot like breaking in a new set of shoes – they will feel different than your last pair, even if they are the same brand. You have to get used to them and that takes a little time. And make sure you purchase motorcycle tires that are sized correctly. Walking around in a pair of shoes that look cool but dont fit properly can be painful (just ask the ladies in your life). This is also true with your bike tires; the big fat tires may look cooler than the stock size, but youll have some adverse effects.

After your new tires have been mounted, make sure to ride cautiously – avoiding sudden acceleration, strong braking and hard cornering for the first 100 miles – until the tread surface gets scuffed in enough to achieve optimum grip level. Give yourself time to adjust to the feel and handling characteristics of the new tires, too. And, as always, obey the speed limits and use extreme care at all times when riding.

TJ (Tire Jockey)

Tags: , , , ,

The End of the Road

Posted by moto_admin on September 13, 2010
Racing / Comments Off on The End of the Road

The End of the Road

Well, we are coming to the end of another year of outdoor motocross action. It was a pretty good year, with a lot of surprises.One of those was a recent win by veteran Kevin Windham. It was good to see that he still has that fire in him. Another was just how quick Ryan Dungey wrapped up the championship. Although the leaders take the limelight, I have to admit I enjoyed watching the rest of the racers, too.

Now we can get ready for an action-packed season of supercross (check out the 2011 season preview video above). I havent really caught wind of who will and who wont be racing, or who will be on which bike, but I am excited for the first gate drop at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA. That will definitely set the pace for the year. Too bad we have to wait until January 8th to do so.

2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Calendar
January 8 – Angel Stadium – Anaheim, Calif.
January 15 – Chase Field – Phoenix
January 22 – Dodger Stadium – Los Angeles
January 29 – Oak-Alameda City Stadium – Oakland
February 5 – Angel Stadium – Anaheim, Calif.
February 12 – Reliant Stadium – Houston
February 19 – Qualcomm Stadium – San Diego
February 26 – Georgia Dome – Atlanta
March 5 – Daytona Int’l Speedway – Daytona, Fla.
March 12 – Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis
March 19 – Jacksonville Municipal Stadium – Jacksonville, Fla.
March 26 – Rogers Centre – Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
April 2 – Cowboys Stadium – Arlington, Texas
April 9 – Edward Jones Dome – St. Louis
April 16 – Qwest Field – Seattle
April 30 – Rice-Eccles Stadium – Salt Lake City
May 7 – Sam Boyd Stadium Las Vegas

Off Road Maniac

Tags: , , ,

Motocross riding tips

Posted by moto_admin on August 16, 2010
Racing, Riding Tips & Education / Comments Off on Motocross riding tips

I was out in my garage doing some pre-ride checks on my bike when a buddy that recently started riding motocross called. He wanted to know what he needed to check over before we went riding the following day. I listed off the things I always check for, like air pressure, throttle and lever operation, chain tension, brake pad thickness, and so on. But afterward, I began to wonder if there were a better list somewhere.

I finished my checks and started looking around online to see what I could find and came across Motocross 101. This is a really nice site that covers a lot more than just maintenance.There are helpful tips on riding, racing and jumps; a nice little section on manufacturer history, and some reviews as well. I found this website to be very helpful and I wanted to share it with our readers in the hopes that it helps you out as well.If you know of any resources that you think our readers would find useful, please e-mail suggestions to info@webtiresales.com. We’ll be keeping a list of resources for your benefit. Keep checking back and look for a “resources link” in the right-hand menu.

Off Road Maniac

Tags: , , ,

Outdoor MX Series

Posted by