Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: March 2011


On riding ANY motorcycle regardless of seat height and bike weight...

One of my favorite perks about working at a motorcycle dealership is test riding bikes either as soon as they come to the store or before they are delivered to a customer. However, not every motorcycle I ride is the ideal seat height, weight, or ergonomics like that of my daily bike. Additionally, I only have a brief ride around my building to get a decent feel of the bike's controls before taking it for ten miles on a route that involves local roads, a portion of the interstate, and a series of constant starts, stops, fast acceleration and deceleration.

It's come to a point that I don't even think about it anymore, and I can attribute that ability of getting comfortable with any motorcycle to many miles ridden on my owned motorcycles and the many traffic situations that have required me to use my brake and clutch with precision. There are several aspects to controlling a motorcycle that, when mastered, will allow you to ride pretty much anything you desire. Here are a few that I've felt are the most important.


My Perspective on Riding Conditions

I've often heard from motorcyclists here in Ohio that they are "fair-weather" riders. The definition of "fair-weather" is usually temps no colder than 45°F, little to no wind, and somewhat sunny. Their bikes have never seen rain because they look "horrible" with dirt and dust on them. These are also the same people where, like clockwork, the motorcycle gets "put-up" for the winter right after the twilight ride during Labor Day weekend, regardless of how nice the conditions are outside. It is here in Ohio that the motorcycle "season" is truly one at that.

If I decided to be that kind of rider I'd only be riding for maybe a couple months during the year. (I don't think Eleanor would be very pleased about that, especially with all those places we still need to visit together.)

The best example of the flaws in this riding mentality was our exceptionally warm fall season in 2010. There were days when temperatures were well over 70°F and even surprisingly warmer. I did see more bikes than usual in October and November but when temps began to drop just below 40 I found myself alone on the road with my two-wheeled vehicle. By not suiting oneself up properly in insulating gear or even simply changing out the gloves worn (or wearing any at all) a rider can easily deny himself/herself of at least an additional two months of riding time.

From my experience in riding in inclement and non-ideal weather all over the United States, these are the personal boundaries I set for myself when deciding whether or not to ride in certain weather.

Dry and cold weather (defined as 32°F and below): Rideable as long as it's clear. For longer rides there must be no possibility for precipitation because anything coming down at this point can mean snow. Equipping oneself with proper insulation (layers or heated gear) can keep you riding indefinitely in these conditions. When taking twistier routes, take more time to let your bike's tires warm up to improve grip on the road.

Wet and cold (defined as 40°F and below with precipitation): I often use the "10 degree over rule" when riding in wet conditions. The ground is slowest to freeze and is on average ten degrees warmer than the air temperature. I would, however, be weary about wet bridges when riding close to freezing temps because, like the sign says, bridges are the first places where ice forms when the ground is wet. In extremely mild snowfall, air temperatures just at freezing (32°F) are similar to that of rain because snowflakes will melt instantly upon contact with the ground. The bike will get put away when snow flurries start to stick.

Are you the kind of person that will ride in not-so-ideal weather? It does come down to a personal decision. How cold do I want to go? How much do I want to invest in cold weather gear? What is my tolerance level to extreme cold? How confident am I in controlling my motorcycle when the ground is colder? I am an anomaly to the sport of motorcycling and know it. I resign myself to the fact that during the months of January, February, and half of March I will probably be one of the only active motorcyclists in Ohio. But out here, every possible day to ride is a gift that I don't like to waste.


Independent Motorsports - my new job!

For all of my local Columbus friends that have shopped for motorcycle parts and accessories at my last place of employment (which will remain unnamed but I can tell you is a very huge store somewhere in Westerville), I have left that location and joined up with the guys at Independent Motorsports at their new location in the southern end of Columbus near Obetz.

I'm enjoying my time here and getting so many opportunities to help in many aspects of this new location's ins and outs, from admin work to developing the parts and accessories department to coordinating a new rider program that helps customers purchase their first (of hopefully many) motorcycles. It is a fresh feeling to be utilized for more than just "selling stuff" and "putting boxes where they're supposed to go." I feel very refreshed and invigorated knowing that I can work in a place revolves around my passion for motorcycling and actually wants me to work to my potential.

Here are some quick shots of the store, and these guys don't mind the free press...

Some of the many bikes that grace our showroom floor. We carry all types and styles of clean, used motorcycles and scooters.
I get a desk so I'm not on my feet for 10 hours straight! :)
Here's our helmet, apparel, and accessories department. We're still expanding and looking forward to adding more products to our inventory!
Our "graffiti art" wall!
Independent Motorsports is located at 3930 S. High Street, Columbus, OH 43207. Visit our website @ for directions to the store, contact information, and to see our online listings of clean, used motorcycles!

I'm out for now...going to test ride a sportbike!


Matt and Christine in Legos

Matt had a little fun with Legos while I was out of town one weekend and made a little version of us riding two-up on an old-style Lego motorcycle. With the right type of faces and bodies he was nearly dead on with our likenesses. I'll take this over a fairground caricature artist any day of the week! Enjoy.