A little planning
but not too much
Is Motorcycling Right for You?
A motorcycle can be a big investment – so where to start?
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (www.msf-usa.org) has a variety of classes that accommodate different riding interests, are affordable, and assist in getting a driver’s license endorsement. Jerome and Joy were my instructors for my the Basic RiderCourse. The first class was enough for me to decide that I wanted to ride. I’ve taken a few additional classes returning to my favorite instructor duo.
For the Basic RiderCourse, all I was missing was some riding boots and gloves. Bike and helmet were provided. I already had clothing that worked for riding.
Becoming a member of the American Motorcycle Association,(www.americanmotorcyclist.com) is a great way to learn more - and to do your part in promoting the motorcycle lifestyle and protecting the future of motorcycling. Having roadside assistance during my trip is just one of the benefits of joining AMA.
What Type of Motorcycle to Buy?
Sport - Naked - Cruiser - Touring - Off-Road - Adventure
There are a lot of options and a NooB like me could easily get confused. I added a helmet and riding jacket to my previous purchase of riding boots and gloves. Some bike shops featured used bikes, scheduling test rides, manufacturer demo days, and the ability to rent. Eaglerider has many locations for bike rentals. The beachside drive on a Harley Davidson Road King was very enjoyable. After all the test rides, I wanted a bike that was comfortable to ride on road and off road. I narrowed my focus to Adventure Bikes. Yep..... I like adventure.
I spent too much time debating the purchase of a used bike that I liked and it sold to someone else. The end of the year is a good time to buy. In addition to the weather, there are also deals on previous year bikes. I was a bit nervous jumping on the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 for the first time; a 468 lb bike with a 1,037cc engine and 33 inch seat height. The bike handled easily and I decided to buy a new, previous year model. I previously planned to start with a less powerful, used bike and trade up as my skills improved. The idea of storing the bike at the weekend cabin changed quickly. The SUV is now parked in the driveway. I feel comfortable commuting and riding about town on the V-Strom - though always aware that other drivers don't always notice me.
For a comparison of three premier Adventure Bikes, Cycle World evaluated the 2014 models of BMW R1200 GS, KTM 1190 Adventure and the Suzuki V-Strom 1000. As bikes are continually updated and introduced, here is a short list of adventure bikes available in 2017.
- BWM R 1200 GS - An Icon Redefined
- KTM 1090 R - Bring It On
- Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT - Where the Adventure Begins
- Africa Twin - Dream It. Do It. Ride It.
- Ducati Multistrada Enduro - Where the streets have your name
The documentary "Long Way Round" is a don't miss binge watch for anyone considering Adventure Biking. Also check out the Facebook V-Strom Group (membership is closed to owners) and the Stromtroopers Forum for those interested in the V-Strom. I will be taking the Dual Sport / Adventure Training class offered at The MSF DirtBike School and am looking for the opportunity to attend the BMW Performance Center in North Carolina.
A helmet was one of my first, and most important, purchases. I originally purchased a Shoei Qwest helmet, which needed some breaking in and switching out to smaller pads to avoid "fish face". I have since changed to an Arai Signet-X to better fit my face shape. A few features that I like with the Arai helmet; quieter, improved venting, and wider peripheral vision.
The first jacket I purchased was relatively inexpensive. It remains a good jacket for safety and works well in relatively chilly temperatures.
For long distance touring in all weather, I use the Klim Latitude Jacket.
For hot weather, I use a mesh jacket (Klim Induction Jacket). I layer different materials under the mesh jacket. The mesh jacket is not waterproof. In rain, I don't mind getting wet in warm weather. While I had a Gortex shell, i don't use it much. Waterproof pants are much more critical, Underneath the mesh jacket, I use pile for warmth, and technical shirts in hot weather.
For the Alaska trip, I will be using my Klim Badlands Pro Pants. Underlayers will include ...
For the cross country trip to California, I used Scorpion Covert Pro Jeans and Bull-it SR6 Straight Jeans. While the Bull-It jeans are made of a new Covec material, they are more bulky than the Scorpion jeans. Having limited space in my luggage, the bulk of these jeans for packing is a consideration.
I will have two pair of gloves for the trip. My original Harley Davidson gloves are coming apart, but I like them for a simple leather glove. The Alpinestars Highlands Gloves have a lot more protection. I am hoping that they break in well on the trip. The fit more snugly across the knuckles than I expected. The fingers are rather long. I do appreciate that I can operate my cell phone touchscreen.
A combination of Google Maps (mymaps) and Rever (https://rever.co/) are used during the trip.
Backcountry Discovery Routes for Utah (http://ridebdr.com/UTBDR) Butler Motorcycle Maps.
Within the last week of the trip, I decided to take my Nikon SLR with me. This has added to the weight and space available.
I will have a Sony HD Action Cam (which mounts to my helmet) and a Hasselblad camera attachment for my Motorola phone. The Moto phone is recognized for power management and is attached to the bike using the Mob Armor mount. The V-Strom's lighter/USB power adapter on the dash makes it possible to have a continuous charge while riding.
What we don't like to talk about
Motorcycling is an unforgiving sport. Prior to the trip, I ensured the following topics were in order
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Advance Medical Directive
- Insurance review
- Finance review
- Weapons carry permit and reciprocal agreements