Ah, the good old engine debate. Ask any motorcycle rider what kind of engine they think is best and you will get some surprisingly heated opinions. Our cruiser riding brethren will of course talk up the virtues of v-twins and their torque, while sportbike riders might be somewhat divided between inline fours and v-twins. Single cylinder engines (“thumpers”) are usually reserved for dirt and off-road bikes, but one of the better beginner sportbikes happens to use one – the sharp looking Honda CBR250R. Engine type should not be taken lightly when choosing a first motorcycle and I’ll try to make some sense of the differences here.
Anytime I see someone riding a motorcycle without gloves, I’m about 98% certain they’re a noob. They probably haven’t ridden long enough to experience what happens when road debris hits the hands, or worse, what kind of damage can be done to the hands in a crash. Think about how important your hands are to your everyday life… then get yourself a good pair of gloves to protect them. Sportbike riders should look for full gauntlet-style gloves that have padded palms, extra padding on the outside of the pinky finger and hardened knuckle armor.
There’s something therapeutic about a good motorcycle ride; it’s hard to explain and really needs to be experienced to be understood. Being out and about in the mountains soaking up some nice curves, the sun, and some awesome pine-scented fresh air is really something special. So are the multitudes of bugs that splatter all over you during spring time rides, but hey, it’s a small price to pay. Just remember the goals are to have fun and get home safely, so take it easy out there, take your time and enjoy the ride.
It’s really sad to see something like this accident happen. The passenger was wearing a “novelty helmet” which according to the California Highway Patrol, “…failed in the collision and significantly contributed to her death.” Sometimes called skid lids, novelty helmets are not DOT approved and are technically illegal in California and other states with similar helmet laws. They don’t offer any real impact protection and shouldn’t be worn in lieu of a real helmet.
If you’re new to motorcycling, a good helmet should be your first priority when it comes to safety gear. Make sure to get one that’s DOT and/or Snell M2010 approved because it means the helmet has gone through rigorous standardized testing to ensure the rider has a chance to withstand an impact.
Source article: The Press-Enterprise
At the edge of the Angeles National Forest on Angeles Forest Highway
Angeles Crest Highway has quite the reputation as a dangerous place for motorcyclists and deservedly so. Any canyon road in southern California can be a risky ride simply due to the nature of the roads themselves; they’re narrow, mountain-hugging, twisty, prone to falling debris and full of blind turns. Angeles Crest Highway adds its own unique risks thanks to its popularity; it’s a favorite weekend getaway road for motorists, motorcyclists, bicyclists and hikers all looking to enjoy L.A.’s native forest. Put all of those people together on the same snaking asphalt and bad things are going to happen, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be safely enjoyed.
I’m a huge proponent of track days. There’s no better way to safely learn what your sportbike was built to do while having a blast. Of course nothing’s ever foolproof when it comes to motorcycles; things happen even when you’ve taken all the precautions. But if you’re a beginner or aspiring sportbike rider, don’t let that scare you.
My bike in the foreground, burnt trees in the background
The ghastly Station Fire in August 2009 devastated huge portions of the Angeles National Forest, making much of the famed Angeles Crest Highway look like a wasteland. It will take decades for the forest to recover, but eventually it will. As for the area’s roads that many of us have enjoyed for so long, they remain under constant repair due to complications arising from the fire and subsequent landslides due to the lack of vegetation. They also remain as dangerous as they’ve ever been.
If you’re a beginning sportbike rider aspiring to take a run on one of southern California’s most famous roads, keep in mind that it’s not a competition out there. I had a great ride up there by myself last weekend, but that same day a fellow rider didn’t make it home. If you’re ever up there, take it as easy as you need to. If faster riders are behind you, let them pass. If the group you ride with starts going “super squid” on you, stay back and ride your pace. The goal is to enjoy the road and make it home safe.
Nicky Hayden, MotoGP Laguna Seca 2010
If you’re new to sportbikes, becoming a MotoGP fan is a great way to learn about bleeding edge motorcycle technology and give yourself something to talk about amongst fellow sportbike enthusiasts. MotoGP is the motorcycle equivalent of Formula 1: the bikes are 100% custom prototypes costing millions of dollars, there are factory (manufacturer-operated) and satellite (manufacturer-supported) teams, the races are held all over the world and the season runs from March through November. The top racers can’t walk down a street in Europe without being mobbed, and the sport’s most visible star, Valentino Rossi, is one of the world’s highest paid athletes.
So how do you become a MotoGP fan? Here’s the startriding.com 3 step plan:
- Watch the documentary Faster, which makes anyone who watches it an instant MotoGP fan. The 2-disc set covers the 2001-2004 seasons and is an amazing piece of work. It’s on Amazon here: http://goo.gl/II3pr
- Watch the races on Speed (check listings here: http://goo.gl/iGWpq)
- Look for news, bios, pictures and other goodies online:
If you missed Sunday’s season opener, Australian rider and 2007 champion Casey Stoner (Honda) won the race while last year’s champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) took second. The top American racer is Ben Spies (Yamaha), who got a bad start and finished 6th.
The all new Honda CBR250R
2011 is going to be a great year for beginner motorcycle riders looking at sportbikes. That’s because Honda came out of nowhere and introduced the brand new CBR250R, an entry-level stunner aimed directly at the Kawasaki Ninja 250R and its dominance as the best beginner sportbike available in the U.S. It’s terrific to see some variety at the entry level.