Harley-Davidson has officially pulled the plug on Buell, ending operations for the only major American manufacturer of sportbikes. Erik Buell worked in R&D at Harley-Davidson many moons ago, then left to develop his own bikes. Eventually Harley-Davidson purchased a majority stake in Buell which is how we arrived at today’s announcement.
One of the best things you can do with your sportbike is take it to the local racetrack for a track day and open that sucker up. Once you’re out there flying down the straights and carving corners without cops, cliffs or SUVs to worry about, you’ll be hooked.
It sounds like a hassle to actually make it out to the track; I certainly thought so even by the time I bought my second bike. The good news is that it’s really not that difficult. It certainly takes some effort, but I had so much fun my first time out that the effort hasn’t mattered that much. Let’s take a look at what it takes.
Look at the back of most full-face helmets sold in the U.S. today and you’re likely to see a SNELL logo sticker. It means the helmet meets or exceeds the Snell Memorial Foundation’s standards for motorcycle helmets. Here’s a snippet from their (terribly outdated) web site, www.smf.org:
In order to continuously monitor the quality of helmets being sold to the public, Snell purchases and tests samples of currently certified helmets from the marketplace. These helmets are tested only in Snell labs by Snell technicians. Should a currently certified helmet fail, the helmet manufacturer must take corrective action to Snell’s satisfaction.
In other words, if you make a helmet and want to have that Snell logo on the back so you can tell potential buyers that your helmet is Snell certified (and presumably safer than one that isn’t), your helmet has to pass Snell’s tests. In the American motorcycling community, seeing the Snell logo on the back of a helmet is generally accepted as a good thing.
I went to The Streets of Willow Springs for a track day yesterday, a twisty 1.8 mile road course at the Willow Springs Raceway complex. For those of you new to the concept, a track day is chance to spend a day at the race track with your motorcycle. It’s not a race though, just open track time so you can test your skills and do some speeding without getting a ticket or having to worry about SUVs crossing over into your lane.
I’m going to post a track day starter guide later for those of you thinking about testing your road racing skills; in the meantime here are some pictures from yesterday. The first one is me; the rest are pictures I took of some of the “A group” (fast) riders. Note how some of them position their upper bodies differently; I’ll make a note on that in my track day starter guide.
One of the best by-products of my motorcycle hobby was becoming a huge motorcycle road racing fan – it gave me a whole new sport to follow and obsess over. I didn’t have much interest in it until I started riding because I couldn’t relate to how difficult it really is.
It took me a little while to figure out what was what in road racing though, especially since it’s somewhat obscure here in the U.S. It’s for this reason I decided to post a brief summary of the different road racing series for those of you just getting into it. Have fun!
Originally posted February 22, 2006 Updated: September 23, 2009; August 3, 2014
By Ray Kim
One of the most hotly debated topics in motorcycling is whether or not lane splitting is a good idea. To the hardened motorcycle commuters in California’s big cities, it’s a necessity and a huge time saver. To just about anyone else who’s seen it done, it’s insane.
Update August 3, 2014: The DMV and California Highway Patrol have both removed guidelines for lane splitting from their websites and printed materials, likely in an effort to distance themselves from condoning the practice (though it remains legal).
The NHTSA is the best source anytime you’d like to get your hands on vehicle accident data, including information on motorcycles. Looking at their latest data on motorcycle fatalities brings out some interesting information about motorcycle safety.
For those of us addicted to doing motorcycle trackdays*, having a dedicated track bike is the ideal situation. Most track bikes look like something only a mother (er… owner) could love, but not this one.
Startriding.com has finally been reformatted and streamlined as a blog site. There will still be permanent articles here so the beginners can find useful information quickly, but this new format will make it easier for me to manage the site and post new or relevant information. Ride safe.
Ducati had its own campaign in full swing this year, promoting the Hypermotard with a nationwide test ride tour. I had the good fortune of attending the test ride on Southern California’s famed Angeles Crest Highway. Ducati had set up camp at Newcomb’s Ranch (the official Angeles Crest Highway restaurant/bar/hang out) and all that was needed was a valid CA driver’s license with an M1 motorcycle endorsement. Sweeeeeeet…