Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: March 2010


Investing in (You and) Your First Motorcycle

At my new position as a helmet sales associate at a comprehensive motorcycle accessory store, I have often heard the first request of new riders when they're choosing their first helmet, "I only want to spend this much money" or "What's the cheapest helmet I can be fitted in?" With the many choices of helmets we do carry at the store, I can pretty much fit you in any helmet you'd like; whether or not it would be able to sufficiently reduce the chances of injury is another story. That same issue continues on from everything below the neck, such as a proper jacket, pants, and boots.

More often than not, newbies try to cut corners in the safety and apparel department when they make their first bike purchases. In reality, purchasing proper motorcycle wear is an essential part in achieving maximum comfort and confidence on your first ride. Unlike a car purchase, a motorcycle buyer must also consider what they must wear to keep themselves safe while they are riding.

Getting into the sport of motorcycling is a major investment in time and money. The amount of money largely depends on the bike being purchased (type, new/used, condition, etc.) and the safety equipment selected for that ride. Just to put this in perspective, I'll throw this scenario out for you.

"Bob" wants to purchase his first bike. He finds a used (but not abused) motorcycle on Craigslist for $1500. It's in fair condition but it needs some maintenance and new tires. He also needs to purchase riding gear so he can take the motorcycle safety course. He doesn't want to cut corners on the gear and wants the best stuff out there. Here are some of the expenditures he may expect with this choice.

Bike: $1500
Bike repairs (at a shop): $200-500 - may depend on extent of work
New tires (front and rear) - $150-250
Mounting and Installation of tires: up to $60 per tire
New DOT/Snell, full-face helmet: $100-600
New jacket: $150-300
Riding pants (Bob felt that jeans weren't enough): $100-$200
Gloves: $50-100
Boots: $50-100

In the end, Bob is looking somewhere between $2700-3700 to have him and his "new" bike road ready. That's a far departure from the original $1500 just to get the motorcycle.

If you're financing a brand new motorcycle, one must also consider the same type of equipment and the first break-in maintenance service (after 500-600 miles depending on the bike). That's still at least $1200-2200 worth of equipment if you decide to cover yourself from head to toe in quality gear.

Not to worry, there are some ways to stay suited up while saving some money.

Closeouts. Closeouts. Closeouts. Several top helmet companies are transitioning to new models and are putting previous year models on closeout. Finding those gems can mean savings anywhere from $50 to a couple hundred dollars. I strongly recommend new riders (or any riders for that matter) to NEVER purchase a used helmet. You don't know it's history or where it's been, and it's already been broken in and molded to someone else's head shape.

Vanity needs to take a back seat. That one helmet may not perfectly match your bike, but it's DOT/Snell and fits you properly and comfortably. The jacket may have one zipper too many, but it's $100 less than the one that really catches your eye. Sometimes a little compromise can mean a smaller hole in the wallet.

Motorcycling is a sport of growth. You will buy eventually move on to another helmet. You will get into another type of jacket. And if you stick around the sport long enough, you will probably upgrade your bike as well. Let your initial set of equipment be your beginning standard and move up from there. If you've got the money to dish out on the best gear, wonderful! But, if you're like the typical rider who's still trying to figure everything out, a little research and planning can go a long way when you're looking for safety gear.


Where's Waldo? In Ohio, eating bologna sandwiches.

Two of my fellow Women On Wheels® members and I went on a ride on Saturday to explore some of the country areas north of Columbus. It was nice day and without the traffic of the main paved roads. We rode for about thirty or so miles and stopped for lunch in Waldo, OH, a small town with a very famous bologna sandwich.

When we entered the G&R Tavern in the middle of town, the place was packed full of people. We sat at the bar and ordered our food from a simple menu posted on a lit board. Apparently people come here from miles around to indulge in this strange lunch meat-based entree and we were about to become part of the phenomenon.

So, I'm thinking in my head, what's so special about a bologna sandwich? It turns out it isn't your standard mayo and white bread quick concoction. It's actually a thick slab of the meat, grilled to give it a crispy outside while leaving the inside meat extremely tender and juicy. That slab is then put in between a hamburger bun and topped with onions, cheese, mayo, and pickles. I ordered mine with grilled onions, cheese, mayo and no pickles, and I was impressed with the juiciness of the whole combination. The onion rings were tasty too; I'd like to try the fried mushrooms if I ever have a chance to return to that place.

If you're a biker going through central Ohio, a stop at the famous G&R Tavern is just the place to drop your kickstand and satisfy your palate. Parking is ample, the area is pretty quiet, and it's wonderful destination for taking the bike buddies!

  G & R Tavern on Urbanspoon


H-D Women's Garage Party...riders wanted.

Harley-Davidson has named March as "National Garage Party Month" in which numerous dealerships across the country host a women-only evening event filled with seminars and opportunities to network with other ladies that share an enthusiasm for motorcycles and riding. I, along with three other members of my Women On Wheels® chapter, met up to see what this event was all about.

I was one of a handful of riders to brave the 55°F weather (yeah, it was "that" cold) and take the FJR on down to Centennial H-D in Pataskala (just outside of Columbus) to join about 100 or so other women to socialize, learn about the Harley motorcycle lineup, and take home safety tips such as picking up a fallen motorcycle. The event was very well organized, with free food and drinks provided by the dealership. The event opened with a social time in which we had to meet other ladies by matching pictures of various H-D bikes with another person holding an identical image. After that, we all gathered in the main showroom for a small introduction and then split up into three separate groups to partake in three various workshops. Here was the breakdown of the workshops.

Workshop 1: Harley-Davidson bike customization for fit and style. Speakers went over various options women riders have in terms of fitment (i.e. seats and suspension) and accessories for aesthetics and comfort.

Workshop 2: Introducing the Harley-Davidson bike line. Speakers went through a rundown of H-D's bike lines from the Sportster to the touring series. Guests were then able to break into groups and sit on various models. I was mostly interested in the V-Rod Muscle bike and the XR1200; more so on the former because I've already test ridden the XR.

Workshop 3: How to pick up a fallen bike. Speakers played a DVD demonstrating how to pick up a fallen motorcycle by yourself. The technique was then demonstrated live and several women tried it themselves. This was probably the most useful workshop of the evening. I hope I never have to use the technique, but at least I have an idea on how to use it.

Overall, the evening was a great success and very enjoyable. I wish other motorcycle makers would make an attempt to reach out to women riders as H-D has with their Garage Party campaign. I truly believe that social events such as this increase brand loyalty and sales in the product. But as a female, I'd like to take a potential woman rider to a Garage Party just to show her that yes, you're not crazy; there are other ladies who are interested in motorcycles just like you.


The sun is out!!!!

Yeah, that title needed four exclamation points.

It's been sunny ALL week, and I've been riding the FJR since Monday. After a miserable two months where I was only able to ride a handful of times, it feels good to have clear, dry roads and no other bikes on the road because "it's too cold."

Seriously? You're going to pass up rideable conditions due to a matter of ten or so degrees under desirable outside temperature? Picky, picky. It's Ohio, a place where weather can change in a matter of hours. Enjoy this gap while it lasts!

On Monday, I began the task of scrubbing in my brand new front tire by putting around local roads near my work in Lewis Center. Only other bike on the road was an older Honda Goldwing. It was about 25°F that day and I was still able to get in about 80 miles before going in for my shift.

Tuesday pretty much saw me and Matt as the only riders in the area. He was glad to be back on his BMW jetting down the freeway and not on the little scooter, his main transportation during snowstorms.

On Wednesday, a man in a truck put down his window as I was walking with full gear to Office Max and asked if being out here on the bike was "pushing it." I smiled and replied, "The roads are dry, and I'm layered pretty well, so it's just fine." It was only 26°F out.

On Thursday, I rode to Popeye's for lunch. As I left the restaurant, a rider in a yellow Honda CBR 1000 in full gear rolled up to me and asked, "So I'm not the only crazy person out here riding today? All my friends said I was." Temperature on my bike read 33°F.

I answered, "Pass up a nice day like this? Glad I'm not the only one!"

He gave me a fist bump and I rode to work.

On Friday, I took my time and cruised eastward, past the Longaberger basket building and toward Zanesville, about 60 miles outside of Columbus. About 150 miles later, I had dinner back in Whitehall, OH with the Knights of Columbus and their fish fry. I think that's the first time I've had fried Ocean Perch. Damn good fish.

I guess riding every day in CA has put me in the mentality that if it's good roads, I'm out there. I've spent years perfecting my gear and my bike to withstand what most recreational riders consider to be too "risky." If you're dressed properly, cold is the least of your worries. If ice was on the road, then the bike stays in.

Overall itinerary for this week:
Monday: Scrub tire in. 80 miles.
Tuesday: Continue scrubbing tire. 80 miles.
Wednesday: Test tire for scrubbiness. 50 miles.
Thursday: Same as Wednesday. 50 miles.
Friday: Going to Target in Newark because the ones in C-bus are too close. Going for the century mark today. Ended up doing almost 160 miles that ended with a fish fry at the Knights of Columbus in Whitehall, OH but no Target.
Saturday: Ride somewhere, far, for ice cream and long enough before tonight's hockey game. Maybe some Target.

So, all you other Ohio riders, when are you getting out there?