The International Motorcycle Show is a great way to see the best beginner bikes

If there’s one place where you can sit on all of the motorcycles you want to check out without a salesperson breathing down your neck, it’s the International Motorcycle Show. More manufacturers have brought their bikes to the show than ever, so it’s definitely worth the trip if you can make it. It’s a beginner’s dream, as bikes like the Yamaha R3, Kawasaki Ninja 300 and KTM RC390 are all there waiting for you to throw a leg over the seat.

Continue reading The International Motorcycle Show is a great way to see the best beginner bikes

Is the Yamaha YZF-R3 the new cool kids’ sportbike?

R3 riding group at Newcomb's Ranch on Angeles Crest Highway
This R3 riding group stopped in at Newcomb’s Ranch on Angeles Crest Highway

I’m starting to see more and more of the Yamaha YZF-R3 out in the wild, whether it’s on the road or at track days. I’m not exactly sure why I’m seeing more of them than the Kawasaki Ninja 300, but I suspect it has to do with its very sharp looks and 25cc engine size advantage over the Ninja. It’s definitely hard to tell it apart from a 600cc supersport, and I came away impressed from a test ride late last year. If you’re an aspiring sportbike rider looking for your first motorcycle, the R3 is a really good choice.

Riding the Back Roads on your Motorcycle

Catching the rare green countryside in southern California
Catching the rare green countryside in southern California

Anytime I take my motorcycle out for a ride, I’m hitting a back road in the southern California countryside. Fortunately it’s not that far of a ride before I’m away from the city and in some beautiful area that makes me forget I live in a huge metropolis. If you want to ride some nice back roads yourself, here are a few tips before you head out to unfamiliar territory. Continue reading Riding the Back Roads on your Motorcycle

The Joy of Just Riding a Motorcycle

My trusty R6 still gets it done at the track
My trusty R6 still gets it done at the track, as long as I keep myself in control

I nearly crashed at my last track day. I was leaned hard in a turn, slid the bike, scraped a foot peg, sh** my pants and wondered how I didn’t go down. After a few more laps I brought myself in and realized I didn’t need to try so hard – it’s just a track day. Continue reading The Joy of Just Riding a Motorcycle

Older Sportbikes Still Aren’t Good Beginner Bikes

My 2005 Yamaha R6 - still not a beginner bike
My 2005 Yamaha R6 – still not a beginner bike

It’s weird; some bikers that have been around for a while tend to think of older sportbikes as good beginner bikes and will even recommend them as such. If a bike wasn’t good for beginners when it was new, why would it be good for them 10 years later? If they were hard to ride in 2005, they’ll be hard to ride in 2015. Continue reading Older Sportbikes Still Aren’t Good Beginner Bikes

Best New Beginner Bikes – 2015 Edition

2015 Ninja 300
2015 Ninja 300 ABS

There are more awesome beginner sportbikes to choose from than ever, but this year’s best beginner sportbike is again the Ninja 300. Its super sharp looks, friendly ergonomics and proven capability as a street bike keep it at the top of our list for now. I’ve even seen track day instructors using it at Willow Springs with shocking corner speed. Kawasaki has done a tremendous job of making the Ninja 300 a thing of desire; experienced riders (including me) have trouble distinguishing it from its bigger brothers. It can top 100 MPH making it more than suitable for freeway duty while retaining very beginner-friendly power. It’s light, inexpensive, available with ABS, has good ergonomics for a beginner and its high demand means it can be easily resold once you’re ready to move on to something else. Winner. Again.

Continue reading Best New Beginner Bikes — 2015 Edition

Video: Beginner Motorcycle Rider Crashes on Canyon Road; He’s Okay Though

A new rider crashes on highway 33 near Ojai, CA
This beginner rider crashed on highway 33 near Ojai, CA. He was not hurt and the bike’s okay.

It was a beautiful Saturday as seven of us rode out to Ojai, CA. My brother and I stayed in Ojai for lunch while the other five rode up Highway 33, one of the best motorcycle roads in all of southern California. To my surprise one of the riders was still a beginner; he had only been riding for four months or so and was brought along by a more experienced friend.  Continue reading Video: Beginner Motorcycle Rider Crashes on Canyon Road; He’s Okay Though

It’s Spring, Time to Ride Again

snow.
It’s been a long tough winter for some riders.

Spring is finally here and it’s time to start riding again, that is if your region has adequately thawed out. If you haven’t ridden your bike in a few months, may I suggest the following:

  • Check tire pressure
  • Get some fresh gas in the tank
  • Clean and lube the chain
  • If your battery’s dead, get a trickle charger to bring it back to life

For those of you thinking about a first bike this year, we’ll have an updated list of our preferred beginner bikes for 2015 soon. Stay safe out there.

 

V-Twin vs. Inline 4: Riding Impressions

Super Duke Engine
KTM’s big 1301cc v-twin engine from the Super Duke 1290; definitely NOT a beginner bike

Last year I wrote a post about the differences between the various engine types you might encounter in sportbikes, but since then have received a lot of questions about the differences in riding a v-twin vs. an inline 4 motorcycle. The sportbikes I usually recommend for beginners have parallel twin engines, but most sportbike riders eventually want to own a sportbike that has a v-twin or inline 4 and want to know what the differences are when riding down the road. This is not meant to be a nerdy technical exercise, but rather a focus on the riding impressions of each engine type. Continue reading V-Twin vs. Inline 4: Riding Impressions

Sportbikes for beginners