Wear earplugs. Seriously.

ear plugs
The ear plugs I use have a 33 decibels noise reduction rating

Hearing protection is one of the most overlooked safety precautions when it comes to motorcycle riding. It’s not uncommon to meet older bikers who have tinnitus or have suffered some sort of hearing loss due to the constant wind noise while riding. Ear plugs have two distinct benefits for beginner riders:

1.  The noise reduction is very calming while learning. It wasn’t until my 2nd week of riding that I tried them out, and they made the learning process much less stressful. I didn’t realize how much the wind noise was bothering me.

2.  It’s a good habit to start using them early, and they will save your hearing in the long run.

I prefer the long mushroom shaped plugs; they’re easier to remove from your ears. The brand I buy has a 33 decibel noise reduction rating, which I equate to riding inside of a newer car with the windows rolled up. You can still hear sirens, your own bike, other vehicles around you, etc.

Spring time is here – time to ride again

Angeles Crest Highway
Spring time on Angeles Crest Highway

With winter officially behind us, it’s time to dust off your motorcycle again and start enjoying the dead bugs on your helmet. Just a few reminders for those of you new to riding:

  • Check your tires if you haven’t ridden in a while! Check air pressure and make sure the rubber isn’t too old or cracking.
  • Take it easy – you’ve got all spring, summer and fall to get in some great rides.
  • Be careful if you’re riding the canyons or mountain roads; if it’s been raining a lot in your area, the roads may still be dirty.

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.

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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”

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.

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