Anyone else heading out to Monterey this coming weekend to soak in some MotoGP action? In case you’re just getting familiar with motorcycle racing, MotoGP is the motorcycle equivalent of Formula 1 – motorcycle road racing at its highest level. The MotoGP circus stops in Laguna Seca this weekend and I’m heading out to watch the world’s best go all out, including one Valentino Rossi racing with a broken leg. It doesn’t hurt that it’s in one of the most beautiful areas in California. If you’re heading out there too, be on your best behavior – the local police will be in full force. And oh yeah, bring ear plugs because the bikes are deafening.
Every motorcycle racer or sport rider who does track days wants to go faster. Enter Keith Code and his California Superbike School, one of the best ways to learn the skills required for that extra speed we all want. I returned to Superbike School for level 2 last weekend to build on what I learned in level 1 back in late 2008. It was also a great opportunity to finally ride the BMW S1000RR, the incredible new sportbike that’s now the standard issue student ride at California Superbike School.
Scour the motorcycle sites often enough and you’re bound to find the occasional free demo day. It’s rare for dealerships to offer test rides due to the risk involved, but sometimes it’s a good way for the slightly more obscure or expensive brands like Aprilia to draw interest. Get some butts on the seats and inevitably the brains attached to those butts start to think about how they can afford the bikes attached to those seats. It’s also a great idea to bring along one of the most accomplished motorcycle racers in the world, like four time world champ Max Biaggi.
Every sport bike rider could use a set of leathers in the closet. They’re required for track days and nothing protects better on a canyon ride. The choices are endless, ranging from several brands of pre-made suits to custom one-off suits based on your design and measurements. There are even 1 and 2 piece varieties, though 2 piece suits are less common. I chose what many consider the best off-the-rack 2 piece suit available, the 2010 Dainese Laguna Seca 2 piece. It happened to fit me pretty well, much better than my old Alpinestars suit, and I like 2 piece suits because I can easily remove the jacket when I stop to eat on a canyon ride. Now that I’ve worn it at a track day and on a few rides, it’s review time.
If you saw my recent review of the Arai Profile, you know part of the reason I purchased a new helmet was to get one that was compliant with the new Snell M2010 safety standard. Snell’s own website lists the Arai Profile as M2010 certified so I was confident that’s exactly what I was getting when I ordered it. It wasn’t as clear cut as I had hoped.
After four years with my trusty Shoei X-Eleven and the new Snell M2010 standard in full effect, I finally felt justified in buying a new helmet. It’s a big deal for me since I’m not the gear hoarder that some of my riding buddies are. I could have extended the life of my X-Eleven by just replacing the flattened cheek pads, but it’s a good idea to replace helmets every few years anyway and more importantly I wanted a helmet that was either Snell M2010* or ECE 22.05 compliant. Enter the Arai Profile.
Arizona House Bill 2475 would make it legal for motorcyclists to split lanes in Maricopa county. The catch? It’s only for one year (2011) and only applies during stopped traffic. It’s interesting progress nonetheless and will undoubtedly spark its own controversy (just check out the comments in the source article). What’s also noteworthy is that if the bill is passed, it will be the first time a state has explicitly allowed lane splitting. California has always tolerated it, but there are no laws specifically allowing or disallowing the practice.
Tires are always a hotly debated topic amongst sportbike riders. Fierce brand loyalty, strong opinions and even occasional misinformation can make it hard for newer riders to get helpful information from the forums. Nobody knows everything about tires but there’s definitely a common base of knowledge you should have when thinking about your bike’s buns. Here are some frequently asked questions I get along with my answers.
Some of you new and aspiring sportbike riders will (and should) eventually make it out to the track for some track day action, and you’ll definitely need a good pair of boots to protect your lower extremities. Since I recently bought a set of Dainese Laguna Seca leathers, I decided to get a matching set of Dainese boots to go with them. I opted for the Axial Race New model which features the “in” design – they’re designed to go underneath the bottom of your leathers as opposed to tucking your leathers into the boot.