Stay safe and hydrated in the heat on your motorcycle

Motorcycle and rider taking a break on the side of a road to stay safe and hydrated in the heat
I pulled over for a rest in the shade on a recent motorcyle ride.

Riding your motorcycle in the heat is potentially very dangerous. Dehydration, slow reaction times, and fatigue are just some of the risks. Here are some important tips to stay safe and hydrated in the heat on your motorcycle.

  • Consider whether or not it’s a good idea to ride today at all, especially if it’s over 100 F / 40 C. It’s worth thinking about a nice day indoors instead.
  • Make sure your bike is in good condition. Coolant, tires with plenty of tread, tire pressure, and oil levels are all simple checks that can be done ahead of time.
  • Avoid routes with long stretches where help or cellular service are not available.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water or a sports drink before you start.
  • Pack a bottle of water or a sports drink.
  • Plan extra and frequent stops ahead of time – do not underestimate the importance of rest.
  • Plan stops somewhere where you can buy more water or sports drinks.
  • Hydrate every time you stop.
  • If you feel the least bit not well (dehydrated, dizzy, nauseous, off-balance), pull over in a shady area and hydrate. Rest until you’re 100% sure you’ve recovered.
  • In a worst case scenario where you can’t recover, consider calling a tow service. It’s really inconvenient, but it’s so much better than crashing.

It’s important to be extra cautious when riding in the heat. Even a simple mechanical failure can mean getting stuck in the heat for hours if you don’t take the proper precautions. If you follow these tips to stay safe and hydrated in the heat on your motorcycle, you’ll reduce the risk of a bad situation on a really hot day. Anytime you can reduce your risks when riding a motorcyle is key.

No, electronics do not make it safe enough to buy a 1000cc superbike for your first motorcycle

BMW S1000RR
The BMW S1000RR, and no it’s not my first bike (it’s my fourth)

We will never endorse anyone buying a 1000cc superbike as a first motorcycle, regardless of its electronic safeguards or the rider’s supposed “sensible” approach. This thread on a motorcycle forum is an example of the countless times I’ve seen someone buy such a motorycle as their first, shockingly accompanied by some members approving of the purchase. No, electronics do not make it safe enough to buy a 1000cc superbike for your first motorcycle

The temptation is real. Any new rider who likes sportbikes likely has a superbike in mind as their ideal motorcycle, but sometimes without knowing how much more difficult a 1000cc superbike is to handle compared to the bikes we do recommend for starters. Here are some of the factors involved:

  • Our brains tend to freeze in dangerous scenarios, often resulting in bad things for new motorcycle riders. New riders are still learning the simple basics of riding a motorcycle. Like this unfortunate person completely forgetting how to brake or let go of the throttle. There are no electronic controls to keep you from forgetting how to operate the motorcycle.
  • Superbikes have bad ergonomics for beginner motorcycle riders: the seat is high, your feet are high and behind you, and the bike is top-heavy. Your body is pitched forward with a lot of weight on your hands. They’re way too easy to tip over in parking lots (been there, done that) and it’s harder to just look around or check your blind spot.
  • If you play sports, you’ll understand that you don’t give expert level equipment to a beginner. Why? It’s unforgiving. You can’t make mistakes. You don’t even know how to use the damn thing right. Motorcycles are even worse in that respect, because a simple mistake can cost you your life, and even someone else’s in an accident.

What I’m saying is, for f***’s sake, no, electronics do not make it safe enough to buy a 1000cc superbike for your first motorcycle. Anti-lock brakes or traction control aren’t going to stop you from going 0-60 MPH in 3 seconds and then forgetting how to brake before slamming into a tree. Take a safety course and get yourself a Kawasaki Ninja 400, Yamaha R3 or MT-03, and start things off nice and slow.

Besides, every motorcycle rider changes bikes frequently. It’s one of the great things about riding – trading up and trying new and different bikes. The argument that you should buy a bike that “you can grow into” is ridiculous; it’s very easy to buy and sell motorcycles, and you’ll want to. One type of motorcycle is never enough.

California Motorcyclist Safety Course

CMSP logo

If you live in California and want to learn how to ride a motorcycle safely and get your motorcycle license, the best way to do this is taking the California Motorcyclist Safety Course. You get excellent safety training in the classroom and actual riding experience on a practice course using the program’s motorcycles. And as a huge bonus, completing the course allows you to skip the DMV motorcycle skills test for your motorcycle license (you only need to pass the written test).

Similar to the MSF Basic RiderCourse, which is no longer offered in California, the course is typically spread out over 2 or 3 days and consists of 5 hours in the classroom plus 10 hours on a motorcycle on the practice course (typically a very large parking lot with cones). As of August 2023 the cost is $425, but this is money well spent as attendees learn critical riding and safety skills.

The link to the program is below; you can check out the requirements, schedule yourself for the course, and prepare to get your motorcycle license.

https://motorcyclesafetyca.com/

Is the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-4RR a good beginner motorcycle?

Kawasaki Ninja ZX4-RR
The brand-new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-4RR

Kawasaki has done something amazing for the already bountiful small-displacement sportbike category. But is the new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-4RR a good beginner motorcycle? And what makes this 399cc sportbike different than the other motorcycles in its range, like Kawasaki’s own Ninja 400 and the Yamaha R3? Besides the nearly $10,000 price tag, plenty, it turns out.

Continue reading “Is the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-4RR a good beginner motorcycle?”

Dainese Steel Pro gloves review – are they worth the price?

Dainese Steel Pro gloves
My new Dainese Steel Pro gloves

I’ve been riding motorcycles for nearly 20 years and owned many pairs of gloves, sampling different manufacturers and models along the way. I prefer full gauntlet race-style gloves since they protect more of the forearm past the wrist. A quick check reveals that some gauntlet gloves cost as little as $50 while others can exceed $500. Price plays a huge part in choosing riding gear for most riders, so it’s fair to ask if a bargain glove is as good as more expensive one. This post explains why I recently purchased the Dainese Steel Pro gloves for $360.

Continue reading “Dainese Steel Pro gloves review – are they worth the price?”

Motorcycle rides and breakfast burritos

Grabbing a Sunday morning breakfast burrito during a beautiful ride in the southern California back country

One of the essential aspects of riding a motorcycle is planning awesome food during every adventure. Whether it’s just a leisurely ride to the local coffee spot or a 1/2 day ride with a stop for amazing breakfast burritos, it makes every ride so much more fun.

Riding a motorcycle is all about enjoyment, so why not combine it with something else that’s always enjoyable, namely some great food. And don’t limit yourself to just the places where other bikers hang out. The most important thing is that you like the place and the food, and it gives you a nice rest break on your ride.

I was admittedly scared the very first time I planned a solo motorcycle ride, so I set a goal of safely reaching the local donut shop for a donut and coffee. It was only a few miles away, but for a brand new motorcycle rider, it’s a good idea to take baby steps when getting used to riding. It also helps that I f***ing love donuts. I planned it for an early Sunday morning when I knew the streets would be light, and I made it without any trouble. Donut, coffee, motorcycle ride. My life felt complete, haha.

Nowadays I like taking an early morning ride through the back roads to a charming little town about 70 miles away. Shot out to Jim & Rob’s Fresh Grill in Ojai, CA, my favorite spot to get a steak and egg breakfast burrito and a bit of relaxation.

Sportbike Tire Guide for Beginners

rear motorcycle tire
The rear Dunlop Q3+ tire during my last track day

Tires are literally the only thing connecting a motorcycle to the road, so to say they’re important is a huge understatement. But for a beginner motorcycle rider it’s hard to know which tires are best, which brands are reputable, and which style of tire they should use. This is our first ever sportbike tire guide for beginners, which will hopefully answer some of these questions.

Continue reading “Sportbike Tire Guide for Beginners”

Motorcycle Track Day Starter Guide

Motorcycle at Willow Springs raceway

Updated 10/26/21

One of the best things you can do with your sportbike is take it to the local racetrack for a motorcycle track day and really let it loose. Once you’re out there flying down the straights and carving corners without the police, cliffs or SUVs to worry about, you’ll be hooked.

It seems like a daunting task to make it out to a motorcycle track day, but the good news is that it’s really not that difficult. It takes some effort, but I had so much fun my first time out that I knew the effort would always be worth it. Let’s take a deeper dive into our motorcycle track day starter guide.

Continue reading “Motorcycle Track Day Starter Guide”

Shoei RF-1400 helmet review – long oval heads rejoice

Shoei RF-1400 helmet
My new Shoei RF-1400 helmet, replacing my old Arai Signet-Q

I have what the motorcycle helmet industry refers to as a long oval head, meaning it’s notably longer front-to-back. As a result, it’s hard for me to find helmets that fit perfectly since most helmets are made for medium oval heads. Many times I have excitedly tried on a helmet I wanted to buy, only to discover it was too tight against my forehead. For the last 10 years I have been wearing Arai helmets, specifically the older Profile and Signet Q lines which are specifically designed for long oval heads.

You should replace your helmets every five years due to degradation of the expanded polystyrene foam liner, the part of the helmet that absorbs impact in a collision. My Arai Signet Q was overdue for a replacement, so I started looking for a new helmet earlier this year. By default I was looking to buy an Arai Signet X, the new and improved successor to the Signet Q. Unfortunately I didn’t like any of the available designs, nor was I excited about its $829 price tag. Enter the Shoei RF-1400.

Positioned just below the X-Fourteen racing helmet, the RF-1400 is Shoei’s newest helmet, replacing the outgoing RF-1200. It’s a lightweight full-face helmet design designed for sport riders. It’s impressively priced at $629 for models with graphics, a full $200 less than the Arai Signet X. The only problem for me was that its predecessor, the RF-1200, was not a good fit for my head. On a whim I decided to visit my local Cycle Gear store and try the RF-1400 on, and much to my surprise, it fit very well. It seems Shoei made a slight change to the RF-1400, giving it a little more room front-to-back.

Shoei RF-1400 helmet
Shoei made the new RF-1400 a little longer front-to-back than the outgoing RF-1200. It fits me!

Flush with excitement, I immediately started looking for a design that I liked. Unfortunately Shoei also seemed to have trouble manufacturing enough RF-1400 helmets to meet demand, but I finally got my hands on one. Sure enough, it fits my long oval head snugly, and it also provided a few improvements over my Arai Signet Q:

  • It’s noticeably more aerodynamic, especially when turning my head to check blind spots
  • The visor port is larger, so I have a pleasantly wider viewing angle
  • Shoei has a more straightforward visor attachment system (changing visors on an Arai can be challenging)

I’m looking forward to my next track day with the improved aerodynamics, especially since my Arai Signet Q was unquestionably the least effective track helmet I’ve used in terms of its ability to cut through the air at high speed. It looks like Shoei has a winning helmet in the RF-1400 for sport riders with long oval heads.

Update: I did indeed take it to a track day at Willow Springs International Raceway, and it performed beautifully even at speeds over 160 MPH. This helmet is a winner.

Shoei RF-1400 on motorcycle rider at track day
My Shoei RF-1400 performed superbly at Willow Springs International Raceway

What does it mean when a motorcycle rider taps their helmet?

Me tapping my helmet, captured by my friend’s GoPro who happened to be riding in the opposite direction that day

If you’re riding along the road and see your fellow motorcycle riders tapping the top of their helmets as they pass you in the opposite direction, slow down and be cautious. In most of the U.S., this is a warning that the police are nearby.

This of course could be any number of scenarios where the police would typically be present. An accident, a road closure, an officer waiting to catch speeding motorists, or an officer who’s already pulled over a speeding motorist. In any case, be sure to slow down and prepare for anything when you see this warning from other riders.

Beginner Motorcycle Rider Guide - startriding.com