Motorcycle Suspension: Harder Than It Looks

Ohlins makes excellent but expensive shocks
Ohlins makes excellent but expensive shocks

For beginner motorcycle riders, suspension isn’t usually given too much thought. Considering how much it affects a motorcycle’s performance and riding characteristics though, it should be given a lot of thought. The bikes on my recommended beginner’s list typically have low-tech suspensions with only one adjustable feature, but even understanding just how that one feature affects your riding will make a noticeable difference in how the bike feels. When you’re ready to move onto a true sportbike, their suspension components become more complicated, more expensive and more important to set up correctly.

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Your First Engine: V-Twin vs. Inline 4 vs. Single

Ducati 250
Updated 4/20/2021

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 divided between inline fours, v-fours and twins. Single cylinder engines (“thumpers”) are usually reserved for dirt and off-road bikes. Engine type should not be taken lightly when choosing a first motorcycle and I’ll try to make some sense of the differences here.

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How To Not Look Like a Moto Noob – Part 3


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.

Wear a Real Helmet… Please

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

Angeles National Forest – Still Recovering and Still Dangerous

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.

Angeles Crest Highway Update

Newcomb's Ranch on Angeles Crest Highway

California’s budget problems will prevent the CHP from receiving a grant that was supposed to help them step up enforcement on and around famed Angeles Crest Highway. That’s not to say they won’t still be up there; they just won’t have the presence they were hoping for. For those of you who live close by but have never ridden it, I’ll be posting a riding guide for Angeles Crest Highway a little later this year.

Source: La Cañada Valley Sun,0,4426477.story | Beginner Motorcycle Rider Help and Advice