The Wind Chill Myth

A cold wind can chill you to the bone, no doubt. But what does “wind chill” really mean, and is it even an accurate concept? The real answer might surprise you.

 

You hear about wind chill all the time once temperatures start to drop. It’s one of those things people love to throw out when discussing the weather: “Did you hear? Its 10 degrees out, but with the wind chill its 15 below zero!” It’s become so commonplace, many people disregard the actual temperature and go straight for the wind-chilled “effective” temperature – because it just sounds so much more interesting.

As a rider, wind chill is something you’re even more keenly aware of. We’ve all been chilled to the bone on a ride when it’s only moderately cold out, because of the blast of “wind” created by rushing through air on a bike at high speed. What would be slightly chilly standing still suddenly feels like a polar vortex when riding down the highway.

I know riding a motorcycle at speed magnifies the cold, because I’ve felt it. But when I set out to understand wind chill as a scientific model, I was surprised to find out that it’s actually not very scientific at all. It turns out that “wind chill” is really a very hazy concept, rooted in some very inconsistent assumptions, and it’s probably one of the most subjective and misused measurements in all of weather science.

 

Why Does Wind Make You Cold?

the wind chill myth frozen face This photo truly captures the essence of riding a motorcycle in the cold. 

 

Wind doesn’t actually reduce temperature at all – all things being equal, it is impossible for wind to reduce the temperature of something below the ambient temperature.* Any non-living object can only be chilled to the ambient temperature, and not below it. The temperature isn’t actually causing the temperature to drop; it only feels like it is to humans, because of the body’s physical response to cold. By constantly blowing away the heat the body generates, convection (the transfer of heat by flowing air) creates the sensation of being colder than it actually is.

*I said “all things being equal” because this doesn’t account for the effect of moisture and evaporation. If something is wet, and wind is passing over it, the evaporative effect can drop the actual temperature of the object. When you get out of a pool on a hot day, and a breeze hits you and makes you feel cold, this is technically not “wind chill,” but rather, the chilling effect of evaporation.

 

How is Wind Chill Calculated?

Because wind chill tries to measure the perception of cold, and not the actual temperature, it is necessarily an inexact science (and one might say, not actually science at all, since it is not consistent or reproducible.) Different people in varying conditions will feel different at varying levels of cold. Wind chill is in fact only an approximation of a feeling – and a very rough one at that.

The problem is that, unlike temperature – which is a uniform and exact measurement – there is no universally accepted standard for the effects of wind chill. Different countries actually use different formulas to estimate wind chill, and they have changed significantly over time (In Europe, “wind chill” isn’t even a commonly used term – check out this headline from last year in BBC News entitled “Who, What, Why: What Is Wind Chill Factor?“) The current standard for measuring wind chill was developed only recently, in 2001, and it’s based upon the estimated effect of wind on a bare human face walking into the wind at 3mph.

In addition, because wind chill is calculated as the feeling of cold wind upon bare skin, the degree of wind chill estimated by the formula would only apply if you were completely unprotected by windshields or fairings, and if you weren’t wearing any clothes. Hopefully you don’t ride like that (but if you do, we don’t want to know!)

So ultimately, wind chill is only an attempt by science to describe the sensation of cold on the skin as it is affected by wind. It’s not an actual unit of measurement, and it varies from person to person depending on their tolerance to cold, what they are wearing, and even the level of moisture in the air.

 

Does That Mean Wind Chill Doesn’t Exist?

Heck no! Anyone who’s ridden a motorcycle in the cold can tell you that zooming through the air makes it feel a lot colder than it is. But that’s just the thing – it’s all about feel, and everyone feels cold differently (personally, I’m a pretty big wimp when it comes to the cold.)

My point is not that it doesn’t exist. Only that it’s far from exact, and based on the way it’s measured, is usually grossly exaggerated. Wind-chill reports tend to exaggerate the actual rate at which you feel cold, and those reports often end up being discounted by most people who have experience in cold weather because it does not tend to agree with personal experience.

 

How to Fight Off Wind Chill on a Motorcycle

Since riding a motorcycle doesn’t usually involve much physical activity, your body isn’t doing much to generate its own heat. This means you have to do all you can to insulate the heat you do have, to prevent it from being whisked away by rushing air. If you protect yourself from the cold adequately with windproof warming layers and even heated gear, you can take huge steps toward making wind chill become almost not a factor at all.

Fighting wind chill comes down to two components: insulation layers to slow the rate at which body heat is lost, and wind proofing to prevent rushing air from stealing that heat away.

Layering is critical to all cold-weather activities, including motorcycle riding. Good bottom layers are things like a snug fitting poly fleece or wool, followed by down or synthetic down insulating layers. Heated gear is also highly recommended for motorcycling since you have a power source – your bike – available to you. (Check out our complete buyers guide on heated gear by clicking the banner below.)

 

 

Wind proofing is where you seal the heat in to keep it from being stolen away by the rushing air. The most important part of wind proofing is seamlessness – all the money you spend on high end windproof gear doesn’t mean squat if you have weak points where all the heat is escaping. At motorcycle riding speeds, that small gap between your gloves and jacket cuffs or between your collar and helmet suddenly become gaping holes in your cold defenses. And you won’t just have a cold neck or wrists either; because blood is being pumped throughout your circulatiodn system constantly, those small cold areas literally spread cold throughout your entire body!

On a motorcycle, its critical to be able to seal up those leaks with Velcro, drawstrings, and even versatile items like a scarf or balaclava. And don’t forget the single biggest wind protection item you can use, and you don’t even have to wear it – a windshield!

To help you calculate the degree of protection you’ll need on a ride, we created this wind chill chart for motorcycle riders, with wind chill factor expressed at common cruising speeds.

 

bikebandit motorcycle riders wind chill chart  

What Is The Coldest Wind Chill Ever Recorded?

According to WikiAnswers, the coldest wind chill ever recorded on earth was -192 degrees Fahrenheit at a remote weather station in Vostok, Antarctica in 2005. The high temperature that day was -99 degrees, and wind gusts reached up to 113 MPH, resulting in the -192 degree wind chill. Try riding a motorcycle in that!

Do you think wind chill is exaggerated, or is it totally legitimate? Let us know in the comments below!

How Yamaha’s Massive R1 Recall Is an Opportunity in Disguise

Yamaha just recalled every unit of it’s new flagship superbike, the R1, due to major transmission problems – and this has a lot of owners very angry. Here’s how this recall could be a make-or-break moment for Yamaha.

yamaha 2015 r1 recall The 2015 R1 is a spectacular machine – but a major recall like this could give Yamaha’s reputation a black eye if they don’t handle it properly.

Last week, after a number of rumors that Yamaha was experiencing problems with the gearbox in it’s flagship superbike, a recall was finally announced – and it’s a big one. Yamaha is recalling every unit sold of the all-new R1 – over 3500 units – and replacing the entire transmission on all of them.

It’s going to be a big, expensive recall for Yamaha, and a headache for owners of the bike. But instead of being a black eye on Yamaha’s reputation, it could actually be an opportunity for them to enhance customer loyalty – if they handle it right.

 

Why Such a Big Recall?

Here’s the deal with the recall. The 2015 R1 and R1M have weaknesses in the gearbox – specifically, weak 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gears – that could cause them to break under extreme stress, making the transmission to lock up, and potentially cause injury or death. Sources say the cases that prompted the recall were from track and race bikes that are subject to extreme abuse, but Yamaha is recalling every unit to make sure they’ve done all their due diligence. In that respect, they are doing a good job getting out in front of the problem, and making it right as fast as possible.

But this recall will not be cheap for Yamaha. The procedure involves removing the engine from the bike, splitting open the engine cases, and completely removing and reinstalling a whole new gearbox – a job that Yamaha estimates will take at least 16 hours of labor, plus around $500 in parts.

 

yamaha 2015 r1 recall parts The parts kit Yamaha is providing for the repairs. As you can see, it’s not small.

The job will cost an average of $2100 which, when multiplied by 3500 affected units, will cost Yamaha at least a staggering $7,350,000 to carry out. When you consider gross dealer margin is right around $2000 per unit on the R1, and Yamaha’s margin is roughly in the same ballpark, that means this recall could completely wipe out any profit the new R1 might have generated for Yamaha this year. Ouch!

 

What It Means For Riders

Now as an owner of the 2015 Yamaha R1, I’m one of the ones affected. I didn’t buy what was supposed to be the greatest superbike on the planet this year to find out it was sent out with a half-baked transmission, will need the engine case to be cracked open and put back together in a way that will almost certainly not be as good as Yamaha did it at the factory, and I won’t even be able to ride it for a month or two. Needless to say, I’m not happy about the recall.

 

yamaha 2015 r1 recall r1 engine dropped What my bike will look like in a few weeks. This major recall requires removing the entire engine, cracking the case open and replacing the entire transmission – in other words, it’s gonna cost Yamaha some money.

But consider this: While the R1 recall is a big deal because of the high-profile nature of the bike and the expense of the repair, it’s far from the only recall in the news this year. Yamaha actually recalled 4900 units of 6 other 2015 models due to other gearbox problems, and Honda recalled 45,000 bikes this year due to faulty ignition switches that could cause the engine to stall unexpectedly.

But the king of recalls by far is Harley-Davidson, who recalled a staggering 312,000 models this year for a laundry list of assorted problems. The Motor Company has actually been plagued with recall-related woes the last few years; between 2012 and 2014, they spent a whopping $30 million on recall-related repairs!

So the truth is, recalls happen – all the time, in fact. And while the “idea” of a recall makes it sounds like a brand is cranking out crappy quality product, recalls are actually a good thing.

 

Why Recalls Are Actually Good

A recall is a manufacturer’s way of saying “listen everyone, we screwed up on something we sold you, and while there is only a tiny chance of it actually affecting you, we want to make sure there is no chance of that happening…so we’re going to make it right.” Recalls are costly – both in dollars and in reputation – so when a company gets out in front of a problem like this, it means they are taking their responsibility to their customers seriously.

In fact, not performing a recall when one is warranted ends up being a lot worse for a brand. Ducati found this out the hard way, when it had an issue with warping gas tanks on a number of 2008-2010 models (likely caused by ethanol in American fuel.) Complaints were widespread, but Ducati didn’t do anything about the problem – at least, not until a class-action lawsuit was filed against them in 2010, which they ultimately settled by extending the warranties on some 50,000 motorcycles.

It was a costly defeat for Ducati; but what may have been more costly was Ducati’s refusal to acknowledge the problem early and make its customers happy without being forced to do so.

 

ducati warped gas tanks The warped tank on a Ducati Streetfighter. Ducati finally repaired the warped tanks on tens of thousands of motorcycles – but they had to be forced to do it, which left a bad taste in many owners mouths.

 

How A Recall Can Be A Golden Opportunity

Beyond just doing a recall, a brand can also do it well. Consider the case of BMW’s recall of the R1200RT last year due to suspension problems, where BMW offered 3 options to owners to “make it right”:

  • Sit tight while BMW finds a solution to the problem and fixes it, and a $2500 check will be cut to the owner for the inconvenience
  • Ride a BMW loaner bike until the RT is fixed, and upon completion a $1000 credit will be given to the owner for BMW gear or accessories
  • The bike can be purchased back by BMW from the owner for full MSRP, no questions asked

 

bmw r1200rt recall The 2014 R1200RT, BMW’s most popular touring bike, was the subject of a massive recall last year that BMW used as an opportunity to show oustanding customer service.

Now that, my friends, is a recall done right. The repairs are going to be expensive no matter what. But the kind of brand loyalty a move like that instills in its owners is priceless, not to mention the fact that BMW bending over backwards in the case of the RT recall has now become legend in the riding community among riders of all brands. BMW saw the opportunity – and nailed it.

 

How Will Yamaha Handle It?

Will Yamaha do the same? So far, no indication has been made that Yamaha will be doing anything beyond replacing the gearboxes – but as I said before, that alone is “making it right” by most reasonable standards. While it is a big problem, and dealing with the recall will be a headache, knowing that I bought a bike from a brand that will go out of it’s way to fix potential problems as soon as they are discovered means a lot to me.

 

yamaha r1 recall instagram A line of R1s at the dealership awaiting parts, while a “stop ride” order prevents any R1 owners from riding in the mean time anyway. (Photo credit: my good friend iGoldeneye21 on Instagram)

How Yamaha ultimately handles this recall remains to be seen, but the fact that it is happening is not inherently a bad thing; it’s how they handle that’s most important, and what will leave a good or bad taste in owners mouths for years to come. I don’t like recalls. But I also don’t expect Yamaha or any other brand to be perfect all the time. I just expect them to make it right when they get it wrong. And we’ll see if they do.

And hey – at least I get a free oil change out of it.

 

How do you think manufacturers should handle recalls like this?

Unique Rear Entry Helmet Makes Putting On Your Helmet a Snap

Putting on a helmet before a ride has always been a pain; but this unique rear-entry motorcycle helmet could change that completely. Could this be the future of helmet design, or is it just a novelty?

Whether you ride a cruiser, a sport bike, or an adventure bike there are a few annoyances about being a motorcycle rider that plague us all – and one of them is putting on your helmet before a ride.

You know the drill. Start your bike to let it warm up (because you know it’s going to be a minute); take off your glasses or sunglasses; put on some kind of hair cap or bandanna if you use one; close your eyes shove your head into the tight neck roll of your helmet; fiddle around with D-rings until you get them secured; put back on your glasses or sunglasses; put on your gloves (because there’s no way you could have ever secured the D-rings with them on); and now, two minutes later, you’re finally ready to ride.

 

Vozz’s unique clam-shell design allows you to snap the helmet on right over your head.

Let’s face it – putting on a helmet is a pain in the ass.

Now, shoving your head into a properly fitting helmet and strapping it on to go ride has always just been part of the deal. But what if it wasn’t? What if there was a much easier way to get your helmet on that took only seconds? Well this Australian helmet company, VOZZ, envisioned that, and the result is this unique rear-entry motorcycle helmet.

It looks unusual, but it’s a neat idea with several benefits:

  • Time: it takes only seconds to put on and take off
  • Safety: it doesn’t need to be pulled off after an accident, which could aggravate a spinal injury; it can be opened and removed easily
  • Aerodynamic: a wide neck opening is not necessary since you don’t pull your head through it, so the shell is rolled inward all the way to the neck which eliminates wind noise and buffeting
  • Convenience: you don’t have to remove glasses or sunglasses before putting it on
  • No more helmet hair: this speaks for itself

 

A look inside the Vozz helmet. Notice the profile of the chinbar; it’s rolled inward all the way to the neck, to eliminate wind noise and buffeting.

The rear-entry helmet is a novel idea, and seems to have a lot of benefits.

I’m a big fan of the helmet’s shape at the neck in particular; because the shell is rolled inward all the way to the neck, it provides a lot more protection around the bottom of the helmet than a traditional helmet would. And not just from impact, but from damaging wind noise and buffeting, which is a problem with every full-face helmet I’ve ever worn. And the convenience of putting it on and taking it off – well, you saw the GIF. It couldn’t get much easier than that.

But this solution has it’s own set of problems too. First of all, would it really be safe in a serious accident? And how would this design be tested for DOT or ECE certification when the entire certification system is designed to test traditional, solid-shell helmets? Also a rider was in an accident, how would EMTs know how to remove the helmet if they’ve never seen a design like this before?

 

One of the biggest benefits is safety; this helmet can be removed with minimal disturbance to the head and spine, as opposed to traditional helmets, which need to be pulled (or sawed) off.

With any new technology, there are questions to be answered and a learning curve involved, but regardless, I think this method of getting a helmet on and off is pretty awesome. VOZZ hasn’t made it’s way into the North American market yet, so we probably won’t see it any time soon; but the product video has gone viral, getting over 35,000 views in only two days, which means there is definitely some interest in it.

 

So what do you think – would you be interested in a helmet like this?

Video How-to: Flush Coolant System and Change Coolant

“Change coolant every 2 years or 24,000 miles” is about all manufacturers will tell you about your coolant. But there’s a lot more to it than that – check out our how-to-video for helpful tips to make this messy, boring job a breeze!

“Change your coolant every 2 years or 24,000 miles.” That’s what the manufacturers usually tell you, there’s a lot more to it than just that!

In this video, we go over the differences between coolant and anti-freeze, and who should actually use what based on the climate where you live. Then we show you the full process of cleaning the entire cooling system on your sport bike with a mild acidic solution, then flushing it out and replacing it with fresh new coolant.

Check it out, and if your bike is due for a coolant change, get the products we used in this video here!

And don’t forget, please share our video with your motorcycle-riding buds too!

 

Do you have any tips for making a coolant flush and change on your bike easier? Let us know what they are in the comments below!

 

The Cold Weather Motorcycle Gear Buyer’s Guide

When it gets cold, you’ve got two choices: winterize your bike and put her up for a few months, or gear up and brave the cold like a boss. If you choose the latter, we’ll help you get ready with this 2017 edition of our Cold Weather Motorcycle Gear Guide!

 

The cold may slow down your riding, but it definitely doesn’t have to stop it. With the right gear, as long as your tires have traction, you can keep riding!

 

We’re sure you’ve already noticed, but the days have gotten short and the temperatures have dropped. We know that, compared to a lot of you folks across the country, those of us here in SoCal dont know the first thing about real cold but hey, even here it gets pretty chilly on those early morning rides to work.

No matter where you live, when winter starts to come around, you have a big decision to make either winterize your bike and put it up until the weather heats up again, or make some major adjustments so you can ride through the cold. If you’re a trooper and plan to do the latter, then this guide is for you!

 

Winter Riding Gear

Remember Ralphie’s friend in the movie, A Christmas Story, whose Mom bundled him up in so many layers of sweaters and jackets he couldn’t even move? Great intentions, but that would be a bad move on a motorcycle. We know it gets cold out there, and the wind chill created at highway speeds can make it even worse, but it’s absolutely essential to retain your range of motion when on a bike. For that reason, you want to go for quality instead of quantity when choosing your cold weather riding gear.

 

Not the ideal way to stay warm – especially on a bike! Go for quality, not bulk, using gear like synthetic fleece, 3M Thinsulate insulation, and heated layers.

 

Whatever products you choose, the best system to keep the heat in and the cold out on a motorcycle is created by layering. Not only does each layer have its own purpose in a cold-weather system, but a layer of air also gets trapped in between each of them, which creates additional insulation as it warms up.

Next, we’ll get into each of the layers you’ll need for cold weather riding and how they work.

 

Outer Shell

On the outside, you want a shell that will protect you from the elements. A good winter riding jacket should have a waterproof and windproof outer shell; waterproof to protect you against unexpected moisture like rain or snow, and windproof to keep rushing air from robbing your body of precious heat. You’ll definitely want to avoid perforation on a winter jacket, but you might look for features like zippered armpit vents, so you have some adjustable ventilation when you need it.

Remember, even the best materials won’t work if you leave gaps in your gear that lets heat-robbing wind penetrate your cold defenses. Make sure the shell you choose has flaps over the zippers, and adjustable closures at the waist, sleeves, and neck openings that you can cinch tight to block the cold air out. Also, check out jackets with matching pants that zip together to create a two-piece suit, so you can stay dry and protected from head to toe.

 

Great Value Jacket

Tour Master Transition 4 Jacket

Tour Master Transition 4 Jacket

Price: $269.99

Features:

  • 600d Carbolex outer shell
  • 1680d reinforced high wear areas
  • Patented Aqua-Barrier under-helmet hood
  • CE-rated shoulder and elbow armor

Winter Sport Jacket

Alpinestars T-Jaws Waterproof Jacket

Alpinestars T-Jaws Waterproof Jacket

Price: $289.95

Features:

  • Waterproof sport jacket
  • CE Bio Armor at shoulders and elbows
  • Removeable thermal liner
  • Waist connection to matching pants

Premium Winter Parka

Klim Keweenaw Parka

Klim Keweenaw Parka

Price: $439.99-449.99

Features:

  • Up to 300g 3M Thinsulate
  • Gore-Tex waterproof shell
  • 3m Scotchlite reflective panels
  • 200d ballistic Cordura

 

Insulating/Heating Layer

Inside your weather resistant outer shell is where you want the warming insulation. Most quality winter jackets will come with inner thermal liners to retain heat, but these may not be enough for riding in serious cold. If you need to add additional warming layers, consider synthetic fleece, which does a great job of retaining heat without trapping moisture the way cotton does.

In extreme cold, you may want to also consider heated gear. A simple device like a heated vest will keep your core heat up, and will help to warm your entire body as your blood circulates. After that, heated gloves should be high on your list; directly facing the oncoming wind, hands tend to take a beating in the cold, and heated gloves are a good way to fight back if regular gloves aren’t cutting it for you. (Check out our Heated Gear Buyer’s Guide for more information.)

 

Fleece Warming Layer

Alpinestars Legacy Fleece

Alpinestars Legacy Fleece

Price: $80.95

Features:

  • 400g premium zipper front hooded fleece
  • Heavyweight 100% cotton construction
  • Reflective detailing & dipped drawcords
  • Lined hood

Battery-Powered Heating

TechNiche Iongear Battery Powered Heated Vest

TechNiche Iongear Battery Powered Heated Vest

Price: $199.95

Features:

  • Powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries
  • Wind and rain repellent fleece barrier
  • Removable heating elements
  • Conversion kit to 12V power available

Plug-In Heating

Tour Master Synergy 2.0 Motorcycle Jacket Liner

Tour Master Synergy 2.0 Motorcycle Jacket Liner

SALE Price: $234.99

Features:

  • Runs off all 12V electrical systems
  • Intense warmth without bulk
  • Adjustable heating elements
  • Connects to all Synergy heated liners

Base Layer

For your base layer, closest to your skin, you have a few options. Traditionally you would go with wool, which is a great, all-purpose warming layer, and works well even when wet. But a more modern option is to go with synthetic undergarments made for cold weather, like the Glacier shirt and pants from REV’IT!, which keep you warm and also quickly evaporate any moisture from sweat that might accumulate under your warming gear.

 

Base Layer Pants

Firstgear TPG Winter Base Layer Pants

Firstgear TPG Winter Base Layer Pants

Price: $69.95

Features:

  • Wind and water resistant nylon outer shell
  • Inner fleece lining for warmth
  • Moisture-wicking fabric construction
  • 7% Spandex for stretch fit

Value Base Layer Top

Firstgear TPG Winter Base Layer Jacket

Firstgear TPG Winter Base Layer Jacket

Price: $69.95

Features:

  • Wind and water resistant nylon outer shell
  • Inner fleece lining for warmth
  • Moisture-wicking fabric construction
  • 7% Spandex for stretch fit

Sport Base Layer Top

Joe Rocket Full Blast Layer Jacket

Joe Rocket Full Blast Layer Jacket

Price: $62.99-66.95

Features:

  • Polyester and elastane soft shell
  • Sport fit cut
  • Tall wind-blocking collar
  • Long sleeves with thumb hole to keep sleeves from bunching up

Warming Your Extremities

So that takes care of your core; but what about your extremities like your hands, feet, and head? Having cold hands can not only be painful, but it can make it hard to use your controls, and having your hands move in slow motion when youre trying to grab the clutch or brake can create a dangerous situation.

In winter, your hands take a beating being out in front of the cold wind, and if your gloves happen to get wet, wind chill will make it worse with a quickness. If youre going to be riding in winter, you’re definitely going to need some high quality, waterproof, insulated winter gloves.

If your gloves aren’t warm enough by themselves, you can add glove liners underneath them, and even just a set of latex or nitrile gloves from your toolbox will help block the cold in a pinch. And remember, if all else fails, heated gloves will definitely do the trick.

Like hands, feet also have a tendency to get cold quickly, but they can still sweat even at lower temperatures. Throw on some winter riding socks such as the Klim Mammoth or REV’IT! Tour Winter motorcycle socks, which wick away any moisture while keeping heat in. Regular shoes or even sturdy boots probably won’t have what it takes to keep the cold out, so invest in a pair of insulated waterproof riding boots, which will not only keep your feet warm and dry, but will also protect them much better in a crash than regular boots can.

If your feet still need a little more warmth while youre out on the road, you can also use heated insoles. Consider a pair of waterproof boot covers too, for protection against heat-robbing moisture in wet conditions.

Finally, you have to protect your head. A full-face helmet is more or less a given in intense cold, but even that won’t necessarily keep you warm. Remember, a helmets primary job is to protect you from impact, and secondly to protect you from wind and road debris. Providing warmth isn’t necessarily in the job description, so you have to take care of that on your own.

The best way to keep your head and neck warm is a balaclava, like the Open Face Balaclava from Alpinestars, but a scarf or neck gaiter will also go a long way in keeping cold wind off your neck and from penetrating inside your jacket. A pinlock shield can also prevent your visor from fogging up if you happen to close your vents to keep that cold air out.

 

Winter Balaclava

Alpinestars Open Face Motorcycle Balaclava

Alpinestars Open Face Motorcycle Balaclava

Price: $24.95

Features:

  • Heavyweight, moisture-wicking material
  • Flat-lock seams for comfort
  • Reflective Astars logo
  • Strategically designed chin panel

Cold Weather Gloves

Cortech Scarab Winter Motorcycle Gloves

Cortech Scarab Winter Gloves

Price: $94.99

Features:

  • Aniline drum-dyed cowhide
  • HiPora waterproof and breathable barrier
  • Titanium/carbon covered padding
  • 3M Thinsulate 100g insulation

Foot Warmers

Tour Master Heated Insoles

Tour Master Heated Insoles

Price: $80.96

Features:

  • Operates off vehicles 12V system
  • Creates warmth without bulk or discomfort
  • Fully adjustable heat
  • Can be used individually or with Synergy 2.0 pants

Winter Bike Prep

Now that your body is all geared up and ready to venture out into the frigid winter air, it’s time to turn our attention to your bike itself. The way your bike is set up can make all the difference between you being able to get out there and brave the cold, or just throwing in the towel and putting the bike up for the winter.

First of all, the style of bike you ride makes a huge difference in your ability to ride in severe cold, and the key is the bikes windshield and fairings. Fully faired touring bikes with large windshields will push the wind around your body, keeping wind chill to a minimum, and cruisers or ADV bikes with windshields will do pretty well in the cold too. Sport bikes will be tough to ride in winter with minimal protection from the wind, and naked bikes are the worst, with no wind protection at all.

If you’ll be riding in winter, a large windshield should be your first motorcycle investment. It will make a huge difference in the amount of wind that blasts you while you ride, and if you don’t like the look, you can always just pop it back off once the weather warms up.

Even with a big windshield installed, your hands are still going to be out there getting the brunt of the cold wind, so next consider installing some handguards to cut the wind blasting your hands. If that’s not enough, a pair of heated grips will really help keep your hands warm and dexterous so you can stay in full control of your bike.

And if you really want the ultimate in cold weather hand protection, you could also install the BikeMaster Hand Mitts. Yes they’re real, and yes they’re weird, but they are insulated and fleece lined arm mitts that engulf the entire hands and arms in warm joy. Plus they’re rain and snow resistant. They also come with confused stares from other car drivers and motorcycle riders at no extra cost.

 

Universal Windshield

National Cycle SwitchBlade 2-Up Windshield

National Cycle SwitchBlade 2-Up Windshield

SALE Price: $251.96

Features:

  • Made of high-impact acrylic
  • Quick-set hardware permits quick removal with NO TOOLS
  • DOT approved

Heated Grips

BikeMaster Heated Grips

BikeMaster Heated Grips

SALE Price: $44.99-52.95

Features:

  • Open-ended grip allows use of various bar ends
  • Works with 12V DC applications
  • Available in 7/8″ and 1″

Hand & Arm Warmers

BikeMaster Hand Mitts

BikeMaster Hand Mitts

SALE Price: $32.95

Features:

  • Deflects wind, rain, and snow from hands and arms
  • Insulated and fleece lined
  • Durable 600d water resistant polyester body
  • Confused looks at no added cost

Keep Warm and Ride On

 

We won’t pick on you for putting your bike away when it gets cold (but your riding buddies who still ride throughout the winter might!)

 

Riding season may be over for some people, but hey – until you’re covered in snow and you can’t walk outside without slipping on a patch of ice, its not really over. You just have to have the right gear to beat that cold back into submission, and you can get it all here. As long as your tires get traction…you can still ride!

Do you have any great tips for cold weather riding to share?

Top 10 Most Hated Things That Happen While Riding

It seems like every time you go out on a ride, someone flicks a cigarette butt at you, tailgates you, or almost plows right into you – sometimes infuriating, sometimes downright scary! We spoke to you on social media about your most hated things that happen while you’re out on a ride – these were your top 10 responses!

 

It seems like it never fails – every time you go out for a ride, someone does something, or something happens, that absolutely grinds your gears! We talked with you, our customers, on social media and forums to get your take on the most frustrating, most annoying, or scariest things that happen while riding that you absolutely can’t stand – and these were your responses.

See if you agree (and if you know anyone that does any of these things, make sure to send them this article so they get the picture!)

 

10) Riders Who Ride In a Group and Block Traffic

We’ve all come across a big group of motorcycle riders at some point while riding that acts like they absolutely own the road. Many times, these riders are clustered up in a formation so messy and spread out that you can’t even get around them, holding you and all the other traffic up as a result – very aggravating.

But what is downright infuriating is when groups of riders actually do this deliberately, stopping the flow of traffic so they can enjoy their “show of force,” or worse, shutting down the road completely to do wheelies, burnouts or other stunts. That not only pisses you off in the moment, but it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of drivers in our communities who think “that’s just how motorcycle riders act.”

Seriously – it’s not hard enough already being a rider out in the world without making people hate us even more?

 

9) Excessively Loud Exhausts

Some riders enjoy the finely-tuned, and mellow sound of a fully stock exhaust, and many opt to modify their exhausts to something more performance oriented that shows off the sound of their machine a little. We’re gearheads here at BikeBandit – we get it.

But then there are those who run insanely loud exhausts – or worse, straight pipes. And they’re usually the same ones pinning the throttle on every launch, bouncing off the rev limiter while riding through town, and blipping the throttle at every stop light. It’s unnecessary and very annoying, not to mention it puts a target on our back for the public (and law enforcement) even bigger than the one that is already there.

We get it, “loud pipes save lives” and all (a debatable point already), but if you’re whacking the throttle open for no reason at a stop light to show off, trust us, you’re pissing everyone off (yes, even other riders!)

 

loudest motorcycle exhaust ever I’m gonna go ahead and go with “excessively loud” on this one.

 

8) Oh, Deer!

Granted, nobody can really be at fault when a deer decides to dart out into your path while on a ride. But at best, it can put a terrifying scare into you – at worst, it can actually cause an accident, either by forcing you to swerve suddenly, or even making direct impact with your bike!

Deer are no joke, either – believe it or not, motorcycle collisions caused by deer cause serious injury or death to the rider nearly 70% of the time, and deer-related collisions actually kill an average of over 200 Americans each year! (For more information on deer-related collisions while riding and how to prevent them, check out our article When Animals Attack: Dealing With Animals In The Road On Your Bike .)

 

deer crashing into motorcycle This happens a lot more than you might think!

 

7) People Who Mow Grass Into The Street

“If it’s not on my property, it’s not my problem.” That must be the mentality of that rare breed of person who mows their thick, wet, grass right into the road – and right into your path while you’re on your bike. They are clearly oblivious to the fact that all their clippings can become very slippery underneath the tires of your bike! But what do they care… “it’s biodegradable, right?”

 

mowed grass in road Not on my property, not my problem right? WRONG.

 

6) Tailgaters

No, we’re not talking about the crew that busts the grill and a cooler out at the stadium on game day. This kind of tailgater rides your butt on the road, thinking somehow that putting their front bumper within feet of your will either get you to go faster, or force you out of their way.

This is already aggravating when in a car – but you really have to be a special kind of jerk to do it to someone on a motorcycle who, should they mistakenly get too close and cause an accident, could end up being a crumpled pile of human underneath their car! And yet there they are, hovering behind you in the rearview with no regard for the danger they are putting you in by riding your fender. Now that is seriously hateable!

 

5) People Who Cross Double Yellows On Curvy Roads

Both motorcycle riders and drivers are guilty of this one – when you’re on a windy road, and someone coming in the opposite direction crosses the double yellow into your lane. That split second will send you to pucker city in an instant – and that’s assuming you don’t get into a head on collision!

These types of crashes are nothing to take lightly either – while head-on collisions are not the most common type of accidents for riders, they do result in the highest rates of serious injury or death for them. And all just because someone wanted to ride or drive faster than their skills can handle – an absolute tragedy for both all parties involved.

 

car crossing double yellow line If you see something like this on a fast ride through the canyons…it could be the last thing you see.

 

4) Brake-Checkers

This is closely related to tail-gating, but even more sinister – when someone feels like you’re following them too closely, and smashes on the brakes to scare you into backing off. In a car, it’s rude, and very scary – but when a car does it to a motorcycle, it’s damn near attempted assault!

Luckily, motorcycles are nimble and typically have good braking ability, so we can usually react to that kind of situation fairly quickly (if we’re paying attention, at least.) But what goes through the minds of people who brake-check a motorcycle, I will never know – but I do know, it ain’t anything good.

3) People Who Flick Cigarettes Onto The Road (and Onto You)

Littering in general is one of the nastiest, most foul things a person can do on the road – utterly disrespectful to not only the environment, but every other driver behind them. But when it’s a cigarette butt they’re tossing off, it’s even more despicable – they’re literally launching something set on fire right at you!

When you’re in your car, it’s upsetting – but when you’re on a bike and get a butt tossed at you, it’s a real “WTF” moment (and I know some of you riders won’t let someone like that get away without a “stern talking-to,” if you know what I mean!)

 

flicking cigarette butt out of car window If that thing ends up hitting me, we’re gonna have a problem.

 

2) People Texting And Swerving While Driving

Using a phone while driving in general is a dangerous distraction, but texting – which requires focused concentration on a tiny screen – while driving is almost suicidal. Yet we see people do it, every single day. Hundreds of them.

Texting at a light is one thing – not exactly smart, but you’re probably not hurting anyone either. But we’ve all seen that one car before, driving way too slowly, swerving from side to side in their lane, almost looking drunk. And when you pull up next to them, you see it: the phone in their hand, as they’re furiously tapping away at the screen, holding a full-on conversation. I don’t know if I’m more angry, or more sad at the state of human affairs when I see this. But I do get the hell away from them while riding.

 

1) Drivers Who Turn Left or Pull Out Right In Front Of You

This seems to be the number one most hated thing by motorcycle riders, not because it’s necessarily such rude behavior – drivers who do this usually don’t even realize they are doing it – but because it is so dangerous, and happens so often! It often seems like you can’t go on a single ride without someone who had no idea you were even there plowing right into you.

There is actually a reason for this – a phenomenon called inattentional blindness, where someone will not notice something that happens right in front of them because their brain was not “primed” to look for it (you can learn more about it in this article, Ride Like You’re Invisible…Or Be Seen?. Drivers are used to looking for other cars and trucks, but many are not trained to look for motorcycles – which is why some people can pull out right in front of you, even if it seems like they looked right at you.

 

crashed motorcycle People turning in front of a motorcycle is the most frequent cause of accidents for motorcycle riders…and it usually goes a lot worse for the rider than the driver. Never, ever assume you were seen by someone who can pull out in front of you!

 

This is not just a “hated” occurrence, but actually, the most dangerous thing that can happen to a rider. The most common cause of motorcycle collisions is the infamous “left turn at an intersection in front of a motorcycle,” which often ends in serious injury or death to the rider – and anything that causes that many riders to go down, get hurt, and even lose their lives is something we absolutely can’t stand. So remember to look for it when you’re out riding – never trust your safety to another driver, and always assume you might not have been seen, especially in cross traffic!

 

What else happens while you’re out riding that grinds your gears?

Inspecting and Maintaining Street Motorcycle Tires

Your tires are some of the most important parts of your bike – if not THE most important – and it’s essential to take care of them, so they can take care of you. Check out our quick guide on inspecting and maintaining the tires on your street bike, to make sure your machine is as ready to hit the road as you are!

 

These days, rubber composite tires are standard on everything from dirt bikes to sport bikes to big adventure bikes, but one thing is certain – they are certainly not all created equal. In this article, we’ll give you a basic rundown of what you need to know about your tires and check on a regular basis, to make sure your tires – one of the most important parts of your entire bike – are always in shape and as ready to ride as you are!

 

Tires: The Most Important Parts of Your Bike?

Your tires are one of the most critical – if not the most critical components of your entire motorcycle. Unlike cars and other vehicles, motorcycles only have two tiny points of contact with the road at any given time, so it’s essential that these points of contact be the right size, shape, and compound to make your bike ride properly. You can get away with mismatching tires, putting on retreads, or even driving with steel cables showing in a car – but try that on a bike, and your ride wont last long!

 

No, these aren’t expensive race slicks – just really worn tires!

 

Reading Your Treads

So your tires are one of the most essential parts of your bike, but they are also the part that wears out the fastest, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your tread (the rubber that literally “meets the road.”) One important thing to know about tread is that the “pattern” (the grooves cut into the surface) of every tire is specifically designed for riding in certain conditions – on a street bike, this mostly has to do with the tires ability to shed water and maintain traction. The wetter the conditions, the more tread is needed for safe riding, so it’s important to choose the right kind of tire with the right tread pattern for the conditions you will be riding in most frequently.

As tread wears down, the grooves become more shallow, and their ability to shed water and maintain traction becomes compromised – so the depth of the grooves in your tread is a solid indicator of how much life you have left in your tire. Built in tread wear indicators are typically set at 1/32nd of an inch (0.8mm), so once they start showing, it’s time to replace your tire.

 

The bars you see going across the grooves in the tread are the tread wear indicators. Once you see them

 

But as the web’s leading motorcycle tire supplier, we’re especially particular about our tires, so we recommend actually replacing your tires before the tread wear indicators begin to show. Truth be told, when you’re at 1/32nd of a inch, you’re already in the “red zone” where traction is dramatically compromised, so we recommend changing them a little earlier than that.

How can you tell when? Well you can spend a few bucks and buy a proper tread wear indicator that will measure exactly where it’s at, but we have a simpler trick you can use called the “penny trick.” Just take a penny from your change cup, flip our fine sixteenth president upside down, and place him in the groove of your tread. As long as part of Lincoln’s hair is still covered by some rubber, your tires are at a decent thickness.

 

The good old “penny trick.” Still works.

 

Mixing and Matching

When replacing tires, it’s generally not a good idea to mix and match different brands, styles, or constructions. Some people do it with no problems (and in some rare cases, even brand new motorcycles come with mixed tires from the factory), but for the most part, tires are engineered to work best as a matching pair, and combining different models can create some instability in your ride, and we recommend sticking with a matching set in most cases.

You can, however, mix old and new motorcycle tires. Since rear tires have a tendency to wear down twice as fast as the front tires do, you’ll find that you will often go through two rear tires for every front tire you burn up. While most manuals will recommend changing them at the same time, this is not necessary for most street bikes, and you’ll only be wasting money doing it.

 

Does Age Matter?

In addition, age does matter with your tires – even if they have never been mounted. Most tires have a life span of five years and should be changed at that time; the reason for this is that tires are made with chemical compounds that give tires their “stickiness,” and these chemicals evaporate over time, leaving the rubber hard and brittle (a process called “outgassing.”)

In order to find the birthday of your hoops, check the sidewall for the date stamp, a four-digit code inside a rectangular box. These indicate the week of the year, and then the year, that your tire first popped out of the mold. So a date stamp of “4012” would read as “the 40th week of 2012,” or some time in early October of 2012.

 

This is an example of the date code on a tire: this would be read as “manufactured in the 11th week of 2014.”

 

Inspecting and Maintaining Tubes

Just as tires get worn down, tire tubes do as well. Though not all tires require tubes, if your tires do (generally these are found on spoked rims), be sure to replace the tubes at the same time that you replace your tires. Over time, the tubes tend to stretch and if not changed when the new tire is put on, the tube could crease. Also, be sure that the tire size appears on the size markings of the tube, so that the two are compatible.

 

Keep An Eye On Your PSI

No matter how old the tire, having the right pressure is very important, and it can be easy to both underinflate or overinflate them. In order to keep them in the proper range, make sure to check them with an accurate pressure gauge like the BikeMaster Digital Tire Gauge at least once a week, or before any long rides. This should be done when the tire is cold, because as a tire heats up, the inflation pressure increases, which will give you an inaccurate reading.

An underinflated tire will not only diminish your gas mileage, but can actually have dangerous effects. They tend to build more heat which can cause them to be more likely to fail, they will wear unevenly, and the change in sidewall profile can cause your bike to handle and corner poorly.

Overinflating tires can be just as dangerous. Because the inflation pressure increases as it is ridden, an already overinflated tire is more easily damaged by sudden impact, and will ride harder, causing unnecessary wear and tear to the tread.

To keep your tires at the right PSI level – and this is important – you must consult your owners manual. While max PSI figures can be found on the tire itself, remember that this figure represents the maximum that the tire can withstand, not the optimal tire pressure for your specific bike.

 

This Motion Pro digital tire gauge is a top-of-the-line tire pressure gauge to use in your toolbox, on the road, or track side.

 

When doing your regular tire pressure check up, if you notice that your tires are loosing two or more PSI per month and you’re having to inflate them more than should be necessary, there could be a problem with the tire, the wheel or the valve. If that happens, we recommend removing the tire or tube to inspect it for leaks, and a patch job or valve stem replacement might be necessary.

 

Breaking In Your New Shoes

Just like a pair of new shoes, new tires are going to feel a bit different than the old worn in ones when first changed out; especially when switching to a different brand, as they will often have a different profile and sidewall feel. It’s usually a good idea to give new tires approximately 100 miles to fully break in, so try not to push the performance of your motorcycle until you’ve really gotten a feel for how your bike handles. In addition, new tires sometimes come with a coating that makes tires quite a bit more slippery, so go easy at first until it is worn off and the slick surface of the tire is worn down to get some traction (a process called “scrubbing in” the tire.)

 

Bias-Ply or Radial: Does It Matter?

Not all tires are created equally. Or rather, not all tires are created in the same way. Bias-ply and radial tires are both very different in the ways they are made and, unless approved by either the motorcycle or tire manufacturer, they should not be mixed on the same bike. Because of the differences in the way they are constructed, the two types of tires both have different advantages and disadvantages, and most motorcycles are designed to work with one or the other (for a full discussion on the nature of bias-ply and radial tires and what they work best for, check out this article!)

 

The Writing On The (Side) Wall

Much like reading the washing directions on the tag of your shirts, the symbols on the sidewalls of your tires can seem like gibberish. And since misreading a tire can be just as disastrous as throwing your wife’s dry clean only dress into the washing machine, here is a little help on how to understand what your tire is trying to tell you.

 

Check out our handy chart to decipher the different kinds of tire codes and what they mean.

2016 Supercross Season Preview

Supercross is the most popular form of motorcycle racing in the U.S., and the 2016 season is kicking off this weekend! Here’s a quick rundown of who and what to look for in this highly anticipated season.

What is Supercross? (For Those Who Don’t Know)

Supercross is similar to Motocross, but instead of racing on large tracks spread out in remote outdoor venues, Supercross tracks are entirely contained within a baseball or football stadium. It came about in the 1970s, when Motocross promoters decided to test the idea of holding a race inside a stadium to allow bigger crowds to watch the races, and to facilitate better television coverage. Supercross has grown consistently in popularity since then, but exploded in the early 2000s, and is now the most watched form of racing in the country behind NASCAR!

 

This ultra-wide shot of the track at Anaheim Stadium shows the entire track contained within the space of a baseball field, and the awesome view you can get of the entire race from virtually every seat in the house.
 

Since entire races are held within stadiums, tens of thousands of people can watch each race, and the entire event can be seen from virtually any seat in the house. Because tracks are so small, they tend to have lots of tight turns and high jumps, which makes for exciting races as places change on the track frequently, and riders spend a lot of time in the air. As a crowd-pleaser, no other motorsport even comes close.

Supercross events are sensational; you will see dozens of scantily-clad models, hear lots of dramatic music, and see lots (and lots) of fireworks at every race. But don’t let the hype fool you; Supercross athletes are truly world class, with several studies confirming that Supercross and Motocross are actually the most physically demanding sports in the world.

 

Fun Fact: Supercross riders’ heart rates soar to, on average, an astonishing 92% of their maximum heart rate during a race – which is sustained for over 20 minutes at a time! 

The skill Supercross riders display on the track is jaw-dropping, and the proximity to the action you get as a fan is unparalleled. You simply can’t not have fun at a Supercross race!

 

What to Watch Out For in the 2016 Season

This year’s season is one of the most highly anticipated in years, with a number of strong contenders vying for the title. It will also be the most televised ever, with every race either being streamed live or broadcast on Fox Sports. Here are some of the riders and stories to look out for this season:

 

James “Bubba” Stewart:

Rides for: Team Yoshimura Suzuki

“Bubba’s” aggressive, win-or-crash riding style makes the 30 year-old former world champ a force to be reckoned with. He is returning this season after a controversial suspension for taking Adderall without a therapeutic use exemption, and his return to the track is one of the most anticipated events in Supercross in years.

 

Eli Tomac

Rides for: Monster Energy Kawasaki

Eli Tomac is the new face of Monster Energy Kawasaki in 2016, filling a void left by former four-time world champ Ryan Villopoto. He is one of the most exciting riders to watch, and is a risk-taker on the track; but with risks comes crashes and injuries, both of which have kept this talented rider from a title so far.

 

Chad Reed

Rides for: Factory Yamaha

The 33 year-old Australian is a two-time world champ and one of the most seasoned riders on the track, and his riding skills make him a strong contender. However, after closing down his self-owned team last year, he waited so long to finally close a deal with Factory Yamaha that his biggest challenge might be not having enough time to develop his new machine in time for the start of the season.

 

Justin Barcia

Rides for: Joe Gibbs Racing/AutoTrader/Monster Energy Yamaha

Justin “Bam Bam” Barcia recently made the switch to Yamaha in 2015 after a strong early career with Honda. He suffered a nasty crash that kept him out of most of last year’s season, but he is an aggressive rider who was dominant in the 250 class, and is a favorite for a shot at the title this year.

 

Ryan Dungey

Rides for: Redbull KTM

Last year’s champ (who also won the 2015 Motocross championship) returns this year to defend his title. He is a seasoned rider, with a riding style that is so meticulous and precise, some consider him to be boring to watch! But being so calculated means he makes few mistakes, and he turned what was supposed to be a hotly contested season last year into a rout, winning the title 3 rounds early.

 

Ken Roczen

Rides for: RCH Suzuki

German-born Roczen is the wunderkind of Supercross, having become one of the best riders in the sport at only 21 years of age. The former Motocross world champ got off to a great start last year in James Stewart’s absence, but struggled with injuries the rest of the year. Healthy and hungry this year, he is one of the top riders to watch.

 

Trey Canard

Rides for: Team Honda HRC

Trey Canard is a strong rider and a crowd favorite, but has struggled with some of the roughest injuries in the sport, such as a broken back in 2012 and a broken arm last year. This year he is in good health and good spirits, and is ready to put up another strong fight for the top spot.

How to Catch Supercross This Year

So you want to check out Supercross this year? Good! You won’t regret it. Now just decide if you want to go to a live race or watch them on TV, and for your convenience, we’ve included the full schedule for this year’s season below!

 

Women Riders On The Rise in 2015: What Will This Mean For The Motorcycle Industry?

More women are owning and riding motorcycles, a trend that is growing rapidly every year. We take a look at the changes woman riders are bringing to the sport, and how the motorcycle industry will change in the years ahead as more women get involved in riding than ever!

 

 

If you’re a rider, when you’re out and about on the road – whether you’re on your bike or in your cage – you tend notice other riders. And I don’t know about you, but here in SoCal, I’ve definitely noticed a trend in the last year or so: it seems that there are a lot more women riders on the road out there nowadays.

Well the Motorcycle Industry Council – the organization in the motorcycle industry responsible for gathering and analyzing mass amounts of data about consumers to guide the decisions of manufacturers – just released the results of it’s annual Owner’s Survey. And as it turns out, the data are showing that there are fact more women riding in 2015 than ever before, and the trend shows no signs slowing down.

Specifically, of all the 9.2 million motorcycle owners in the country, 14% of them are women based on last year’s stats. I know 14% may not sound like a whole lot, but that figure has more than doubled since 2003, which shows an explosion of popularity of riding among women in just the last ten years.

In addition, the numbers of women riders skew strongly toward lower age groups. In the group of riders aged 18-35, nearly 18% are women, and in the cohort aged 36-50, the percentage dips only slightly, to 17%. (The number drops off sharply after that; in riders aged 50-69, only 9% are women.) Overall, the median age for female riders is significantly younger, at only 39 compared to 48 for males. 49% of all female motorcycle owners are married, and 47% had at least a college degree.

 

women motorcycle riders on the rise leslie porterfield Leslie Porterfield knows a thing or two about riding – she was named the Fastest Woman on Earth in 2008 by the Guinness Book of World Records, and co-owns a motorcycle dealership in Dallas, TX.

The MIC survey bears out some more interesting stats about female motorcycle ownership too: of all women riders, fully 34% prefer to ride cruisers, followed very closely by another 33% that ride scooters. Only 10% prefer sport bikes, however, and the remaining 23% is a mix of standard, dual-sport, and off-road bikes.

Even more interesting than that, however, are the numbers related to the behavior of female riders. They are a lot smarter about managing the risk of motorcycle riding than males are; 60% took a motorcycle safety course, compared to only a measly 42% for men. The most important reasons women listed as influencing their buying decisions were “fuel economy” and “test rides,” and interestingly, fully 49% said they either perform their own maintenance, or ask a friend or family member to do it instead of taking it to a shop.

 

woman motorcycle riders on the rise 2015 melissa paris Melissa Paris is unique not just because she is a woman who races professionally in AMA Superbike, but because she didn’t even start riding motorcycles until the age of 19!
 

What Do These Numbers Mean?

Now these statistics are interesting and all, but the fun part is trying to figure out what these numbers mean. As I looked at the stats, these are a few things that stood out to me:

There is a generational difference in how motorcycle riding is perceived by women. When you look at how the percentage of women riders rises as you go down in age groups, along with how the median age is a lot lower for women riders than men (39 and 48 respectively) it seems clear that younger women are a lot more open to owning and riding motorcycles than they used to be.

If the trend continues (and it will), the number women riders will continue to grow over time, and represent a much larger share of the motorcycle-buying market in the future. This is underscored by the fact that such a large percentage of women (34%) choose to ride cruisers. These are numbers that mtorocycle manufacturers will definitely be paying a lot of attention to in the years ahead!

 

Women are a lot more safety-conscious than men are about riding. When you compare the 60% of women that took a safety course to the only 42% of men that do it, it’s clear that women tend to be a lot more safety-conscious about getting into riding. This probably comes as no surprise – we all know guys tend to have those egos that make them think they can figure it out themselves – but I think this represents a big opportunity for not only providers of safety courses, but for safety gear manufacturers.

Here’s my logic: women may only be 14% of owners, but based on the fact that almost 50% more of them take motorcycle safety courses than men, I’d bet that a lot more of them use proper safety gear when riding too – meaning the market for women’s helmets and riding gear is actually a lot higher than 14%. This is definitely a statistic gear manufacturers should pay attention to. (Besides, anecdotally, the one complaint I’ve heard from every woman rider I know is that it’s tough to find a good selection of gear.)

Women don’t seem to be comfortable taking their bike to a shop. Probably the most eyebrow-raising statistic in this study for me was the huge number (49%) of women that would rather perform maintenance themselves or have someone they know do it than take it to a shop. I think this says a lot about how uncomfortable women feel in the shop environment.

In my life I’ve had a lot of female friends ask me for help when their cars needed servicing because they were afraid that, as a woman, they would be taken advantage of by a mechanic. Motorcycles being the “guys world” that it traditionally is, I think the stigma there is probably even stronger. With the growing demographic that women riders are, dealers would be wise to make an effort to reverse this trend, and make women feel a lot more comfortable getting work done on their bikes – or they’ll be leaving a lot of money on the table.

 

woman motorcycle riders on the rise lisa thomas This may look like a shot of a model with a bike, but this woman is Lisa Thomas, who has ridden 398,000 miles through 78 countries over the last 12 years on the BMW F650GS seen here.

 

Overall, these are really positive changes for both the riding community and for the motorcycle industry. Women riders bring a whole new element and perspective to the sport, and I’m glad the idea of motorcycling being a “guy’s world” is finally being changed to be more inclusive of everyone that wants to get involved in it.

And from an industry perspective, the main thing the motorcycle industry needs is more people on motorcycles. As more women feel comfortable getting involved in the sport, manufacturers will be able to tap into a huge and growing market that traditionally been largely ignored; I think that will mean higher motorcycle sales, more diverse models, more choices in gear and accessories, and more riders lobbying for laws and policies that are good for riders!

 

What changes do you think the increase in women riders will bring to the motorcycling industry?

The Long-Awaited Honda V4 Superbike May (Finally) Become Reality

Honda desperately needs to revamp its flagship superbike to stay competitive, and evidence is surfacing that they may do this with not just one new liter bike, but two – and one may have the V4 engine Honda fans have waited years to see. But it this just yet another rumor?

If you follow the superbike market at all, you know two things.

First, that the offerings in the last couple of years in the superbike market have made an incredible leap forward in power, performance, and technology, leaving Honda’s CBR1000RR in the proverbial dust.

And second, that rumors of a V4-powered Honda superbike have been around for the better part of a decade, but never seem to materialize. At this point, more Honda enthusiasts believe Santa will be shimmying down their chimneys on December 24th than believe Honda will ever actually come through with the production V4 superbike everyone wants to see.

Granted, there are good reasons the Honda V4 superbike has thus far never come to pass. Even though they field one of the most competent V4-based platforms in MotoGP – the awesome RC213-V – making their flagship superbike based on that platform would make it a complex and prohibitively expensive machine (in other words, it would require them to build a bike that is fundamentally not what the CBR1000RR is supposed to be about.)

 

The current generation Honda CBR1000RR. She’s a pretty machine, but desperately needs an update to compete with today’s crop of spectacular superbikes.

 

But at the same time, the superbike class has rocketed forward in performance in the last few years, and Honda has to revamp it’s liter-class offering to even be mentioned in the same conversations as bikes like the Yamaha R1, BMW S1000RR, and Kawasaki ZX10R anymore.

Honda needs to refresh its flagship CBR1000RR to keep it competitive; but they also really should build a V4 superbike that utilizes all the technological and engineering prowess they gain in their MotoGP program.

But instead of doing one or another, it actually looks like Honda could be saying “why not just do both?”;

 

Honda’s (Possible) Two Pronged Approach

Based on a number of new developments, it appears Honda may be making an unusual move, and actually be pursuing two separate paths for its upcoming superbike offerings:

  • An all-new-for-2017 CBR1000RR
  • A higher-end V4-powered superbike, likely called the RVF1000

 

A concept drawing of what the RVF1000 V4 may look like (source: MotorcycleNews.com)

 

Why two liter bikes though?

Well first of all, Honda has to meet a certain set of expectations with its CBR1000RR brand; and according to Tetsuo Suzuki, head of Honda’s Research and Design department, that means a bike that is “not aimed at track riders,” but instead, a “usable road bike.” The current CBR1000RR may be a dinosaur by today’s superbike standards, but it remains popular precisely because it is not a track-bred “race bike with turn signals.” It is fast and sexy-looking, but still simple and streetable.

To that end, sources point at a redesigned CBR1000RR for 2017, featuring a jump in power and a host of electronics that will make it competitive in today’s “electronics war,” while still retaining the integrity of the CBR1000RR as an affordable, user-friendly superbike.

At the same time, Honda also sees the potential in upmarket, track-focused superbikes, and appears to be developing a higher-end, V4-powered superbike for more well-heeled performance enthusiasts. The concept of ultra-premium race-bred superbikes has already been proven by Honda’s competition, in bikes like the Yamaha R1M, the Aprilia RSV4F, and the Ducati Panigale R; now all Honda has to do is build something to compete in that market.

 

Competition like this is forcing Honda to make big updates to its aging superbike platform – but it also proves that there is a strong market for high-end, race-bred superbikes costing well over $20K.

Is This Just Another Rumor?

Now that all sounds interesting, I know; but the V4 Honda superbike myth has been around a long time, and has a lot of people understandably jaded. Here are a few reasons why this time might be different though.

  • Several patent and trademark applications have recently been revealed, showing a new Honda road bike build around a V4 engine with many details from the RC213-V MotoGP bike
  • Honda has already filed trademark applications for the RVF name in Europe
  • Honda just released the RC123-VS earlier this year, a $184,000 “halo bike”; that may set the stage for a more affordable, mass-production model with similar technology
  • Honda Research and Design chief, Testuo Suzuki, was very candid in a recent interview with MotorcycleNews.com about the importance of Honda maintaining the integrity of the CBR1000RR while exploring other higher end options based on the MotoGP bike

 

“If we get many, many orders for the RC213V-S then perhaps we can look at a cheaper version that could sit between the Fireblade and the RC213V-S” said Tetsuo Suzuki, head of Honda Research and Design, in October. Well the whole production run sold out in only 2 months, Mr. Suzuki – so how ’bout that V4 superbike?

 

Why Honda Should Do This

The idea of two liter-bike strategy will immediately raise some eyebrows, and I get that. Traditionally, it would seem ridiculous for a brand to split its efforts like that – just pick a platform, build the best damn bike you can for about $15K, and sell as many of them as you can. Right?

However, I would argue that we really are seeing a divergence in the superbike market these days, between primarily-road riders that want affordable liter-bike performance with every-day streetability, and track riders who will spend $20-30K on a bike to chase tenths of a second on lap times with knife-edge performance (or at least look like they do.) The “proof of concept”; of bikes like this has already been done by other manufacturers (the Yamaha R1M being the most notable) and a V4 Honda would be a very welcome addition to that market.

In addition, I’m certain I’m not the only one who thinks it’s a massive waste for Honda to be spending vast resources on a spectacular race machine like the RC213-V, and not let some of the technology trickle down to a mass-production sport bike. A huge part of why the Yamaha R1/R1M release last year was so successful was that Yamaha was very open about the fact that they were throwing all the MotoGP technology they had developed over years of racing the YZF-M1 into their production street bike.

 

The V4 that may power Honda’s rumored new high-end superbike (source: MotorcycleNews.com)

 

People want to feel like they’re buying technology and engineering that costs millions of dollars to develop for elite race teams – whether they need it or not. And frankly, it’s a little embarrassing for Honda to be fielding a rock star race bike like the RC213-V, with 3 world championships and 42 race wins under its belt since its introduction in 2012, while it’s flagship superbike features none of its technology and flounders around at the back of the class in every category (except maybe “practicality” – yawn.)

Honda needs to do something big to make itself competitive in the elite superbike class again. And while it may be unconventional, I think this two-bike solution could be a big win for Honda; a new, but still street-friendly CBR1000RR would please the Fireblade faithful, and a new RVF1000 V4 would give well-heeled track junkies a race-bike-in-a-box (and give all the rest of us something to blow up the internet about.)

 

The spectacular Honda RC213-V, ridden by two-time world champ, Marc Marquez. It’s a shame that Honda doesn’t let it’s technology and engineering trickle down to it’s production superbike (but that may change soon.)

 

But whatever Honda decides to do, it better do something. The superbike market is moving fast, while Honda seems to be stuck in neutral – and back-of-the-pack is not a place Honda likes to be.

 

Which one of these possible Honda superbikes would you be more interested in: a refreshed CBR1000RR, or an all new V4-powered RVF1000?