It’s Getting Crowded on the Scrambler Farm

As I’ve said multiple times on the new podcast, we live in strange times. Fortunately, motorcycling at its core is a solo sport. “Social Distancing” on a motorcycle is easy, and for many, the whole point. For the protection of my wife, I spent the early days of the (Ohio) “Stay At Home Order” keeping to myself, meanwhile I stumbled on some local trails that became my saving grace. Flogging Jerri the Tiger Shark for everything she’s worth, I found release, if not serenity along the single-track paths through the dense woods. Between the first round of KXCR prior to “lockdown”, and polishing off-road skills on local dirt, I started to feel the limits of the CRF250L’s capabilities, if not simply the intended purpose of said machine. I mentioned in my long-term 250L review , my eyes had already started shifting to a more suitable machine for a dirt Muppet.

So I bought a new bike

By new, a mean another; in addition to. While I felt Jerri deserved a better life than being thrashed near the redline at the local hare scramble, she certainly still has her place.

For all the points I made about the 250L’s strengths, I told the wife I didn’t want to part with the 250 because it does a job that cannot be replaced by a race bike. To my shock, I’m still living indoors (for now). A day after bringing home the new steed Jerri was already back to work, teaching my sister-in-law how to ride a motorcycle. I expect we’ll still spend a lot of time on the trail, as the new bike will not be suitable for riding endless hours on pavement or carrying luggage and the Kentucky Adventure Tour is high on my priority list this year, especially after NE24 was canceled.

Ellinor the Buzzsaw

I’m pretty thrifty, or well, “cheap” depending on what we’re talking about. As much as I wanted to roll down to the local KTM dealer and pick up a 2020 KTM 300 XC-w TPI, that was simply not in the cards. I rode most of KTM’s off-road line last fall, along with select Sherco models, a friend’s Beta Xtrainer, and an extended test ride on a KTM 350 XCf-w on some of my favorite bluegrass byways. Husqvarna TE250 CreekAfter all that, I felt I had a pretty good grasp on the type of bike I wanted, but it was a matter of finding something in my price range (AKA cheaper than a divorce lawyer). I bookmarked pretty much every 2-stroke woods bike in the Tri-state, along with Yamaha WR250f and Honda CRF250x models nearby. In the end, I wanted another Honda, but I wanted a 2-stroke more. Unfortunately Honda gave up that game a long time ago, and Yamaha’s YZ250x is hard to find for what I was willing to pay. I had a good deal on a used KTM 300 XC-w lined up, but couldn’t pull the trigger in time. Fortunately I had a buddy that was ready to part ways with his Husqvarna TE250 (to buy a KTM 350 XCf-w). When the wife said “go to the bank”, there was a trail of flames for two miles leaving the driveway. The 2015 Husky is essentially a copy of the KTM 250 XC-w, with exception of linkage rear suspension and polymer rear subframe (and other nuances). I’m not crazy about orange, but understand that KTM is (arguably) the leading game in two-stroke enduro motorcycles, so I wanted “made in Austria” stamped on the smoker I brought home if it was possible.

Two is greater than four

Brace yourself, conjecture follows. Unfortunately, I did not grow up riding two-stroke dirt bikes. I now believe that is the “correct” way to teach motorcyclists (as kids, starting on dirt bikes, preferably 2-strokes in early stages, but not necessarily first). Husqvarna TE250 LogBut without a long monologue about “learning to ride”, I watch the World Enduro Super Series (WESS), the Cross Training Enduro channel on YouTube, and see the other bikes that I’m racing against at the local hare scrambles. While I don’t think I have a shot at every becoming someone like Graham Jarvis, I do want to get into slower, more technical riding off-road. In that realm, I believe two-strokes dominate, purely because of how they function. I like the way a 2-stroke woods bike transitions left and right faster. The explosive power of the smoker is also intoxicating; while I also like the “ring-da-ding-ding-ding” song the expansion pipe sings. Lastly, as dumb as it sounds, I believe the two-stroke will be cheaper and less work over the life of the bike versus a comparable 4-stroke. I may be eating crow down the road, but that’s where my head is for now. I probably have 5-10 hours on the new steed as of now, so I’m sure there will be a lot more to talk about after the first race coming up later this month. Stay Tuned.

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What’s In Your Dream Garage: How Many Motorcycles Do You Need?

I’ve been working from home going about two months now. In that time I’ve been keeping up with friends on Instagram, messenger, and whatnot, and the same question keeps coming up, “what two-stroke are you looking at buying?” Since I love the sound of my own voice, or typographical monologue as it were, and I love playing this game (as you may recall), along with answering that question, I decided to put a new twist on a common theme: how many motorcycles do you need?

Peter Egan, a far superior author compared to yours truly, once penned an article on this very subject. Hops Fork Bikes Parked MotoADVRPeter’s preface was that while most of us mortals insist that N+1 is the correct formula for the number of bikes a given person needs; however, taking into account the necessary maintenance, the minimum amount of miles a given machine needs to move to stay in good running order, and so on, it’s much more practical to have a manageable number of bikes. With that, he also suggested that you should have a bike for a specific purpose or type of riding. If memory serves, Peter suggested that 4 was the magic number; something sporty, a travel bike, something vintage, and something for off-roading. Far be it for me to argue with Mr. Egan… but I’m going to suggest that the magic number is actually 5.

 

The Workhorse

When starting a collection of motorcycles, this is probably the first member of the team. If your goal is five, but you only own one, the only motorcycle you have is obviously the workhorse. This bike is your commuter, your Sunday cruiser, and regardless of model, it’s your do-it-all machine because you have no alternative.

CRF250L Creekrocks MotoADVREven after stuffing multiple bikes in the garage, I still think it’s wise to keep a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none machine in the stable. A machine capable of doing many tasks in all weather conditions. Something you’re not afraid to scratch, leave out in the rain or drop in the parking lot. I will also suggest that over time, the emotional connection between man and machine tends to make it hard to part with a given bike. As miles pile on, this bike becomes the go-to machine for various errands when “better” bikes are preserved for specific tasks (or trophy status); reminds me of a Scrambler I know, but more on that in a moment.

 

The Tourer

Peter Egan and I agree on this one for sure. While not everyone’s cup of tea, for those that are interested in traveling by way of motorcycle, there are creature comforts most of us want for spending long days in the saddle. Most folks would assume a touring bike is something akin to a Gold Wing, Yamaha FJR, or Harley bagger of some variety. 2016 Harley Davidson Road Glide MotoADVRThose would certainly fit the bill, but for someone like myself, a larger displacement adventure bike might align more with my taste in riding (rumor is R1200GSAs are starting to dominate the Iron Butt Rally… so I hear anyway). Ultimately I want a machine that makes it easy to ride from sun up to sundown, just to turn around and do it again the next day. Heated grips, luggage, and wind protection are likely high on the list for many riders. With that, I personally want accommodations for navigation, while others will insist on a 200-mile fuel range before setting out on a long trip.

Per my previous comments, I imagine that the average Joe envisions some sort of luggage shod land yacht when they hear “touring”. On the flip side, some folks pack light, don summerwear under a riding suit, and spend most of their travels off-road. Honda CRF1000 Africa Twin DCT Black MotoADVRThat being the case, I see bikes like the Versys 650, the venerable KLR, or even the Triumph Bonneville in this category for the right riders. Grant Johnson from Horizons Unlimited has said on multiple occasions that the bike you own right now is usually the best bike to ride around the world. There are always better bikes for long trips, but any bike can assume that role when needed (which may require small sacrifices elsewhere). This is obviously a common theme for me, using one tool for many jobs, but as far as touring is concerned, I’m most concerned about all-day comfort, reliability, and ease of maintenance considering this machine is likely to rack up miles a lot faster than the rest of the fleet.

 

The Scratcher

Ducati Monster 1200 Dragon Andy ParkerA few years back, my buddy, Andy said he needed a new “scratcher”. A born and raised Midwesterner, still new to the motorcycle scene, I had no idea what he meant. Turns out, he was saying that he was itching to get another sporty machine for the paved twisty bits; a bike that might (unfortunately) end up “scratched” by pavement, hence the British slang.

At any rate, wrestling the pig down the likes of The Dragon and the Cherohala Skyway each fall, it became apparent that my “Modern Classic” doesn’t exactly have the most impressive lean angle. It will certainly “do the thing”, mounted with the correct pilot, but for me, “maximum lean angle” is most likely a byproduct of the crash. As such, at some point in this life, I want to have lightweight, sportier steed fitted with dual 17-inch hoops and some aggressive rubber. For street fairing riders, especially here on the east coast, I suspect that most would benefit from skipping the full-faired, clip-on fitted bikes and perusing the growing “sport naked” class of bikes that are available today. Different strokes for different folks obviously (especially if you want to do track days with frequency), but I like the versatility (there’s that word again) of the wide handlebar and upright seating on bikes like the 790 Duke, Yamaha MT-07, or even the Ducati Hypermotard. Kawasaki KLX250SF KillboyCertainly “sport” riding may be of no interest to some, but in my case, I’d still like to hustle a motorcycle through a long stretch of bendy tarmac with more precision and a little less effort than my daily rider. Considering the popularization of the before mentioned naked bikes, the sea of 90’s era sportbikes, and the lifespan of supermotos like the DR-Z400, the bike of choice for this job is pretty endless. I personally like really tight, technical roads versus high speeds and long sweepers, so a Supermoto or small-displacement naked would likely be my choice. I suspect the answers to this question will be nearly as diverse as the next battle scared category.

 

The Dirt Bike

Speaking of scratches, buy a dirt bike… and an extra set of plastics while you’re at it. I presently have two multi-tools parked in the shed, neither of which is exceedingly competent at dirt riding. KTM350XCw Bill DeVoreThe CRF250L and I are making our best go at aggressive off-road riding, but there’s no question we’re both carrying too many el-bees around the waistline. Considering most plate-less thumpers tip the scale around 250, that means the Too Fatty is outclassed by the average dirt bike by about 70 pounds. Around a foot of suspension travel with matching ground clearance is pretty standard (the Little Red Pig might have ¾ of that), fitted with hardy spoked rims these machines are unquestionably meant to be crashed and keep riding (and racing) with significantly less drama. Like most things, dedicated dirt bikes come at a premium. That “race-ready” suspension and thoroughbred powerplant pedigree means a few dollars more; but at the same time, the premium bits make for an easier ride when you learn the techniques (much like those sportbikes).

Again, not for everyone, but now that I’ve been exposed to dedicated motorcycle singletrack, I’ve been bitten by the bug for a proper off-road machine. Yamaha YZ250 MotoADVRI’m sure I’ll miss the flexibility and street manners of a dual-sport, but if we’re stuffing the garage with two-wheeled toys, most folks would benefit from improving their skills in a low traction environment. Moreover, addiction aside, one of the best parts of riding singletrack in the woods is that you don’t have to be riding that fast to experience the same level of focus you might experience riding at speed on pavement. Which also makes for lesser consequences when you make mistake (but I digress).

As I’m learning every day, dirt bikes also come in infinite flavors, including engine architecture. Do you want a 2-stroke or 4-stroke engine? You want a motocross bike, trials, or an enduro? Meanwhile, a lot of these machines can be purchased with DOT light packages and license plates. They still have a racing thoroughbred but have street-legal equipment to connect trails (a welcome addition for us peasants here on the east coast).

As I said, dirt isn’t for everyone, but I’ve published no less than two articles outlining the advantages of off-road riding. Ultimately I think it’s a safer way to teach new riders how to start riding a motorcycle, it’s a great way to keep your balance and low traction skills sharp; along with serious fitness advantages if you’re so inclined.. That and well, power-slides, wheelies, and hill climbs are just fun.

 

The Project

Ripley the Dirtster Kegs MotoADVR

Motorcycles are different things for different people. For me, it’s a means of travel and adventure. “The road is the destination” is a very real thing for me; albeit, they’re often dirt roads. On the flip-side, I’ve met a few people who like to buy a bike, customize it, ride it for a short bit, then find a new project. They enjoy hours in the garage as much, if not more so than time in the saddle. For these folks or anyone else with an emotional attachment to a machine, they need a project bike.

The project bike is the “just because” addition to the garage. For some, it’s some vintage machine they’ve had some love affair with. They may have become the caretaker of a bike that once belonged to a family member who has since passed. For others, it’s the Ducati Panigale or Harley Fat Bob you just wanted to have, even if you had no justification for owning it based on your “normal” lifestyle.

Considering my own affinity for high-piped British twins, Rosie will likely take up residence in this category at some point. I assume no one would offer me a dime for that machine (considering its history), so I suspect I’ll be nursing that bike into old age where she’ll no longer be the daily rider. However, considering the infinite combinations Bonnevilles come in, she’s the perfect platform for a project, if she’s not that already.

 

What’s In Your Dream Garage?

A few days ago I caught an Instagram post from @OfficialTriumph asking people to fill out their top 5 Triumphs to put in their dream garage. Triumph Scrambler SilosI’ve been wanting to revisit this topic for some time, but there’s no doubt that post is what spurred inspiration to put words to paper for this article. I’m a nerd and like to have “tools” for certain jobs, so I have “classes” of bikes I want to fill, similar to Mr. Egan. That said, sometimes you just want toys, and those toys are kind of the flavor of the month. I obviously made a list like this one way back when, and at the time the Triumph Tiger 800 was on the top of that list. While it’s still a contender today, tastes change, and it’s probably not the breadwinner here (that new 900 is a solid contender though). If money were no object, and I could walk into dealerships tomorrow, I’ve listed the bikes I’d bring home to fill these categories below.

So, what’s in your dream garage?

My picks as of right this minute:
The Workhorse: Yamaha Tenere 700 (Runner Up: KTM 790 Adventure R)
The Tourer: Moto Guzzi V85TT (RU: Honda Africa Twin)
The Scratcher: KTM 500 EXC [2 sets of wheels #SumoIsLife] (RU: Yamaha MT-07)
Dirtbike: KTM 300 XC-w (TPI) (RU: KTM 500 EXC)
The Project: Triumph Scrambler “Rosie”

(post publishing edit: I stand corrected. Thanks to some homework from my buddy Tom, Peter Egan’s article suggested 5 bikes, A sport bike, a sport touring bike, a dirt bike, a hog of some kind, and an old crock)

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Motorcycles, Social Media, and Doing It For the Gram

Over the last few months, I’ve heard multiple podcasts making mention of “fake people” on social media (in a much more eloquent fashion). While they’re correct, I can’t help but feel the tone of the message was painting social media with a broad brush; ultimately suggesting that as an attention grab, most people are posting pictures of a rosy life of adventure (or supposed affluence), and you shouldn’t waste your time with it. Triumph Scrambler Dirt Pile MotoADVRCertainly, those accounts are out there, but you won’t find many of them in my feed. While I admit, I inch closer and closer to parting ways with Facebook with each passing day, I can’t help but mention the incredible relationships I’ve discovered thanks to Instagram (even after what Facebook has done to it). Despite the negative aspects of social media, I’ll argue that if used carefully, it makes for a better community than you might expect.

 

#BewareOfTrolls

One of the best parts of the internet is that it’s given people a voice. Unfortunately, it’s also given people a voice… like trolls. Some folks just want to bring other people down to their level of unhappiness. Sasquatch MotoADVROn the flip side, some folks want everyone to believe they live in some sort of fairytale. Personalities on the interwebs are as diverse as the real world, unfortunately, it’s easy to find the negative side of humanity on social media. Some folks are addicted to likes but insecure about their failures. We’ve met those people, they’re rock stars in videos… but stumble and stammer when you meet them in person. I’m not here to bring those people down, I’m purely saying that “everything is not as it seems”. I actually think most of us know when we’ve encountered fake people or trolls. We’re not duped, but we’re pretty turned off by the experience. However, I am saying, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

 

#Shutterbug

Going on 5 years now, I started Moto Adventurer as a winter outlet. CRF250L Single Track MotoADVRAt the time, I thought I rode a lot, so why not talk about what I’ve discovered by doing things the wrong way, or lessons learned from “being cheap”. The other side of that is that I love photography. I’m not going to claim to be good at it, but I love taking photos. I live to be outdoors, so riding the motorcycle in the woods merges three of my passions, riding, nature, and photography. Instagram became a place I could share just my photos without having to proofread a story. I will not deny that I also went through of phase of being “addicted” to likes, as many of us have in some form or another, thus spending more time on Instagram. I surfed photos of other people riding Triumphs and started meeting more people that enjoy riding the same way I do. Shortly after, things started to change.

 

#DontFollowMeIBreakShit

A few weeks ago I posted my most recent race video on YouTube. Someone mentioned they liked how I included all the crashes and mistakes. My response was that “I’m a mortal on a mortal motorcycle”. CRF250L Greasy Hill MotoADVRThat was a big step for me. A few years ago, I think I would’ve had a hard time exposing my less than flattering moments on the internet. No one wants to be that person that trips on the curb walking into the grocery store, unless you’re Chris Farley. Over the last year or two my social media feed has shifted from a collage of pretty pictures to include the funny mishaps in life; more about the calamity of when things go wrong and less about the shining house on the hill. Hindsight is 20/20, but what started out as being “informative” on a blog has grown into “entertainment”. Much to the chagrin of my wife, this often means I make myself the center of attention (consciously or unconsciously); but I like to make people laugh, see the irony of life, and enjoy the journey despite the struggles. After mixing it up with the likes of @Steve_Kamrad, @OverkillAndy, @oneWheelWheatley, and countless others, I realized that if I can’t help folks solve a problem, I at least want to make them laugh.

 

#LongDistanceRelationships

When this realization of entertainment, failure, and authenticity started to become obvious, I noticed how many genuine people I’ve connected with on Instagram. That said, I’m old enough to remember life before the internet, and old enough to think Internet dating was the craziest thing imaginable. 4 HondasAs such, talking with people across the internet always felt guarded. Meeting people from the internet seemed like the fastest way to end up in a trash bag in someone’s trunk. While I certainly practice caution, I don’t fully share those feelings anymore. I’ve had beers with fellow riders I’ve met on social media. Instagram is literally why Red River Scramble takes place every year. I remember grade school pen pals and 90s AOL chat rooms; neither of which do I keep up with. However, today we have the opportunity to keep up virtual relationships with people all across the globe. I bullshit with fellow riders on the west coast every few days. I keep up with former Red River Scramble attendees that are stationed outside the country. While motorcycles are what we have in common, we have all realized we share similar tastes in riding, and have found a “tribe” of genuine personalities through the lens of social media. Folks may only see a snapshot of everyday life, but they realize these are not handpicked, airbrushed, polished and edited images; these are bolt breaking, rim bending, buried axle-deep in the mud, broken leg moments we’ve all shared with one another.

 

#ValueAdded

For all the “fakeness” and “keeping up with this Joneses” that we’re all aware of, I want to highlight the better parts of social media. I’ve heard elsewhere, Instagram and blogs are a way for some folks to live vicariously through someone else.  I like to think of myself more a “doer” than a “watcher”, but there’s no denying that it’s going to be a long time before I set out on a round-the-world motorcycle journey, if ever. With social media, I have the ability to follow along while folks like Sam Manicom and Henry Crew circumnavigate the globe. While there’s an ongoing argument about how social media has led to the popularization of formerly remote locations, the internet offers people the opportunity to quickly find information about local destinations. Derek KTM 350 XCfHere on the east coast, I’m obviously on the lookout for adventure-bike-friendly public trails, but at the same time, when folks break down in the middle of nowhere, sometimes locals can chime in on social media and help people find the closest, reputable repair shop. I’ll take that a step further, when preparing for a long trip or an upcoming event, you have the opportunity to poll the crowd about advice for prepping your bike, yourself, or perhaps your route. Forums have existed since the early days of the internet, however today you have the ability to vet the supplier of given information because you can actually see photos of their previous experiences. This, like everything else on the internet, is not foolproof, but I will say that this is likely a reason that Facebook marketplace is taking over Craigslist, you can now “see” some background from the potential buyer or seller; information can be treated the same way.


With the constantly evolving nature of Facebook’s social media outlets, YouTube, and the emergence of TikTok, there’s no doubt the landscape of “virtual connections” is continuing to change. Prior to the COVID19 situation, many of my friends and family members had abandoned social media platforms. Per my previous comments, I’ve become fed up with certain “social media norms” (like how unfriending people is apparently offensive), but have fortunately found the silver linings through the minutia. Those virtual connections have obviously become even more valuable now that many of us currently have a very limited range of travel.

What about you? Have social media outlets made life easier or more fulfilling; or is it just filling time?

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Moto Adventurer Unscripted: Can You Hear Me Now?

Considering my most recent post, it goes without saying I listen to a lot of podcasts. I’ve been debating about starting a podcast for several months now. MotoADVR Unscripted IconIn light of recent events, most people are sitting at home, including myself. Thus, I decided to seize the opportunity to sit down with a few friends and chat about life and motorcycles; so today you can now listen to the first 4 episodes of “Moto Adventurer Unscripted“.

As with other projects, like the YouTube channel, I’m not entirely sure what direction this will finally take and unfortunately this is one more thing that will likely take time away from writing. That said, I think now is a prime time to get into podcasting. With traditional “live” broadcasts struggling to stay afloat, I’m looking forward to offering a new outlet for motorcyclists, adventure seekers, and otherwise outdoorsy folks.

Right now “the plan” is to host long format podcasts with individual guests (something akin to Joe Rogan). I like the idea of two people sitting down having a casual conversation about things that interest them (not always motorcycles). I prefer the natural environment and letting the conversation flow in whatever direction the guests take it. This is, of course, the infancy of this grand idea, so we’ll see where it lands over time.

For those inclined, you can find “Moto Adventurer Unscripted” on Anchor, Stitcher (pending), Pocket Casts, and Spotify. I’m looking to have it syndicated on additional channels as soon as possible. I’d also love to hear not only feedback about the show, like “upgrade your equipment!” and what platforms you want to listen on; but also the names of guests you’d like to hear from. Please leave comments below or hit me up in e-mail with what you think!

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More Ways to Motorcycle: Indoor Two-Wheeled Entertainment

At this point, most of us are at least two weeks into some form of COVID-19 “social distancing” routine. For some folks, that might mean the motorcycle is parked for a while. In my case, I’m trying to get out when I can, but there’s no question the riding is a bit restricted.

20200331_224957

Not long after government “Stay Home” orders were released, I started receiving various text messages from friends asking about the motorcycle podcasts I listen to. When I’m not moonlighting as a moto-blogger, I spend my days sitting at a CAD machine for forty-plus hours a week. Needless to say, I consume a lot of motorcycle related audio to fill the silence. Working from home the last couple of weeks, I’ve exhausted most of the new material, but I wanted to share with folks the various outlets I listen to.

Motorcycle Men Podcast

Ted Kettler and his brothers sit down every other week or so and shoot the breeze about motorcycle stuff. Ted usually publishes an interview on the bi-weeks with various motorcycle personalities. If you recall, Ted interviewed yours truly a little over a year ago. That interview is actually what spurred my interest in motorcycle podcasts. Ted has interviewed an incredible number of guests over the last five years, including Alonzo Boden, Charlie Boorman, Robert Pandya, Graham Field, and countless others.

https://www.motorcyclemen.us/home

 

Brap Talk

Jensen Beeler of Asphalt and Rubber hosts a weekly podcast about motorcycle industry news. For those unfamiliar, right around the 2008 recession, Jensen Beeler passed the bar exam but struggled to find work as an attorney. He started a website in his basement which soon became his full-time job and is now one of the best motorcycle publications available. Jensen is joined by co-host Shahin Alvandi. Shahin is a former manager at various motorcycle dealerships, Ducatista, and adventure enthusiast; images of his “Lucky Strike” Multistrada can be found on all reaches of the interwebs.

https://www.asphaltandrubber.com/podcast/brap-talk-podcast-episode-01/

 

2 Enthusiasts Podcast

Before BrapTalk, Jensen Beeler hosted the 2 Enthusiasts Podcast with co-host Quentin Wilson for about 3 years. If you like Brap Talk, go take a peek at the 2 Enthusiasts archives; the personality dynamic is a bit different, but the overall feel of the shows is the same. It’s also interesting to go look back at breaking motorcycle news of the time in today’s light.

https://www.asphaltandrubber.com/tag/two-enthusiasts-podcast/

 

Highside/Lowside

When YouTube becomes a Podcast. Revzilla’s YouTube Channel is arguably one of the greatest reasons the online retailer was so successful. Revzilla took it a step further by hosting a roundtable discussion between three of their normal video hosts to discuss hot motorcycle topics (Spurgeon, Joe, and Lemmy). That YouTube bit was later repackaged into a podcast, including material that was normally left on the cutting room floor.

https://www.revzilla.com/common-tread/highside-lowside-motorcycle-podcast

 

Adventure Rider Radio (and ARR Raw)

Since 2014 Jim Martin has hosted a podcast dedicated to adventure riders and their passion. Jim publishes an episode of Adventure Rider Radio (ARR) weekly, including stories from the road with world travelers, riding techniques and tips from motorcycle instructors, and interviews with industry personalities providing gear and services to the adventure community.

https://adventureriderradio.com/

 

Motorcycles and Misfits

From Santa Cruz, California, Liza, Miss Emma, and a swath of personalities talk about repairing and restoring motorcycles at the “Recycle Garage”. Various guests passing through Santa Cruz often join the show and the entire crew discusses hot topics and quandaries as motorcyclists. Beyond chit chat, Miss Emma is also a veteran mechanic and goes deep into the weeds about the mechanical operation of motorcycles, how to diagnose various issues, and epic explanations of the history of motorcycle companies and their bikes.

 http://motorcyclesandmisfits.com/

 

Dirt Bike Channel

Kyle Brotherson launched his podcast recently after having several years of success on his YouTube channel. Similar to Highside/Lowside, much of his content is on both platforms, but the podcast is recorded separately and tends to go further in-depth considering he doesn’t have to hassle with video. Dirt Bike Channel is obviously what the name suggests, which is not particularly inclusive of street-legal bikes; however, there’s a lot of information about off-road riding, along with interviews of some of the industry’s best riders and manufacturers.

https://www.dirtbikechannel.com/

 

Dirt Bike Test

Sit down with Jimmy Lewis for Taco (and Tequila) Tuesday. I’ve just started listening to this podcast in recent weeks, but similar to others, Jimmy sits down with various (famous) personalities and talks about bikes, riding, and experiences. He had Johhny Campbell and Ricky Brabec on in recent episodes, both of which I highly recommend.

https://dirtbiketest.com/

 

Cleveland Moto

The Yin to Motorcycles and Misfits Yang, Phil Waters of Cleveland Moto hosts a show with an entourage of various Cleveland personalities to discuss craft beer and everything motorcycles (and scooters). The gallery of personalities is quite vast, with tastes in riding and motorcycles to boot. Phil is also extensively knowledgeable of older motorcycles and frequently dives into the details of wrenching and motorcycle design.

https://www.buzzsprout.com/112122


 

Beyond Audio, I also “listen” to several YouTube Channels. Depending on the content, I will often circle back to it after work and catch the video portions I missed.

FortNine

While I’ve never walked into a store, I would say FortNine is the Revzilla of the great white north. That said, their video department is drastically different. Ryan “F9” hosts the channel and covers whatever motorcycle topic that enters his head; from the best waterproof gear to the best chain cleaners/lubricants, to the pros and cons of mounting a car tire on your motorcycle. Brace yourself, Ryan pulls no punches.

https://www.youtube.com/fortnine

Steve_Kamrad

Beard Model and Adventure Specialist… who am I kidding, Steve’s a real dude riding and crashing real motorcycles we all want to ride. Steve no shit races adventure bikes and publishes video for the masses to enjoy. He also does reviews on some of the latest adventure machines.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcoIUZM-U-c_bWkB4PivJKg

Attention Deficit

From Central Ohio, Tanner brings a hometown, authentic feeling to youtube. Like other channels here, he and his girlfriend cover a myriad of motorcycle topics, do wrench videos in the shed, all the dank whoolies on the CRF250L, along with some trail riding and live shows.

https://www.youtube.com/AttentionDeficit

Brake Magazine

I found Brake Magazine a while back when looking at T7 vs. 790 videos. These guys put together some top-notch videos with hot on/off-road machines.

https://www.youtube.com/user/wearebrake

Cross Training Enduro

Orange Koolaid drinking dirt muppets need not apply, but if you’re an uncoordinated Gumby like myself, this is a one-stop shop for how-to videos for skills you should practice in the back yard and on the trail to pump up your off-road game. Even if you don’t ride a dirt bike, the Aussie dry humor never gets old.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJAvmhgP0h1AEKY8vTEJPJg


 

This is just a list of the channels I frequent the most, I could easily publish a list triple this size if I included them all. What are you doing at home to stay sane these days? I’m sure some folks are still working at the office, some are still riding. Even if that’s the case, what moto-media outlets do you like best? Leave a comment below and let the masses know what they’re missing out on.

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CRF250L Races a Mudder: KXCR Russell Creek

We’re now a few weeks into the COVID19 outbreak here in the U.S. If you’re holding down the couch at home, I have some epic crash video on tap for you… But first, I’m going to monologue a little bit about goings-on with the 250L and events leading up to race weekend.

KXCR CRF250L MotoADVRA few weeks back was Round 1 of the new Kentucky Cross Country Racing series (KXCR). Considering the amount of time I spend adventuring around the Bluegrass, it goes without saying my interest was piqued the moment I heard rumors about a new cross-country series. Whiskey River (IXCR) was the hardest race I’d done to date, that combined with the fact I’d sat mostly idle through the winter, I was ready to hit some virgin single-track at the earliest opportunity.

Over the winter I also made a few more modifications to the TooFatty. A buddy was selling a set of fat bars, so I picked those up cheap and removed the heated grips at the same time I installed them. CRF250L Bent Shift Pedal MotoADVRThe stock risers are molded into the top clamp of the triple-tree so I spent $30 on some Pro-Taper 7/8″ to 1-1/8″ 3/4″ risers (sorry, that’s a lot of quotation marks); just the right height for me to race at (I’m 5’10”), but too low to spend a whole day “adventuring”. To shed weight, I also unbolted the factory tool compartment and removed the rear luggage rack. Late in the fall last year I also snapped the aluminum folding shift pedal I installed when I first bought the bike. After multiple incidents of bending the shifter, I decided to order a steel folding shift pedal from Honda (CRF250L Rally part). While not a perfect solution, at least the steel pedal will bend back… a few times.

CRF250L Evap Canister MotoADVRI also removed the charcoal canister (very similar to how I removed the EVAP canister from the Scrambler). During the Whiskey River race, I had considerable trouble keeping the bike running after several crashes. Despite being fuel injected, it seemed like the bike was getting flooded or vapor-locked. While picking up the bike late in the race I noticed fuel dripping from one of the drainage tubes. CRF250L Evap Canister Removal MotoADVRI had a suspicion that the charcoal canister was getting full and causing a vacuum problem for the fuel tank. After removing the Evap canister I experienced no so issues after similar crashes on local trails over the winter. While I’ve not tackled it yet, I will likely remove the Secondary Air Injection System (SAI) at my earliest convenience. The SAI on these bikes is a bit more complicated than the Scrambler, but it’s still a bunch of excess hoses and electrical bits adding weight and taking up space under the tank.

CRF250L TST Industries Tail Tidy Loose MotoADVRAfter some mishaps on some nondescript trails in Kentucky, I managed to damage the rear turn signals so badly they needed replacing. Thus, I finally broke down and paid for a TST Industries tail tidy. I hated the stock tail light assembly from go, but I hate mud up my back and let’s be honest, I knew it was only a matter of time before the terrain claimed a turn signal and I needed to spend a few bucks anyway.

That fateful December trip to the Bluegrass also spelled the end for the factory clutch. Toward the end of the ride, the clutch started slipping really bad above 45MPH; fortunately, I was already on the way back to the Jeep. CRF250L EBC Clutch Plates MotoADVRI got parts in hand quickly (hat tip to Honda of Fairfield), and thanks to another solid video from Attention Deficit, I removed the judder spring and installed a fresh set of friction plates and steels. For those interested, I ordered all the clutch parts for a 2013 Honda CBR250R; unlike the 250L, the CBR does not use the judder spring but all of the other parts have identical numbers. For those unfamiliar, the CRF250L makes use of a “judder spring” (look up Belleville washer) to make the clutch engagement “smoother” for new riders. I liked the clutch engagement in stock form, so I never bothered to change it. At least I thought I liked it, now that I have swapped all of the clutch discs for the CBR250R setup, I will never go back. The 250L is a serious tractor now with low gearing and a new clutch. It used to stall out on hills and so on, but now it climbs at will. That’s a good thing because I needed the torque for the carnage about to take place at Russell Creek:

 

While I was far more prepared physically, Russell Creek was significantly more difficult than my prior two races. I’d spent the weeks prior running 3 days a week, but there’s no denying the hardest part about racing the fat bike is picking it up. CRF250L Rocky Creek MotoADVRI’d previously spent some time sliding around the local river mud and some fine Kentucky Clay, but I’d never spent 2 non-stop hours in the slop. Jerry the Tigershark took a pretty good beating on that hickory tree late in the race but finished nonetheless. I still want a dedicated racing machine, but just as in previous races, I was still the weakest link, not the bike. Despite her portly physique, the CRF250L handled every obstacle and put power to the ground when I needed it, I simply didn’t have the endurance to stay on the pegs and keep the bike pointed in the right direction. As with previous races, I learned a hell of a lot, and can’t wait for the next round. I’ve spent the last two nights getting things tuned up in the shed, Jerri should be ready to rip after an oil change a new set of rear brake pads.

Lastly, I want to shout out to a couple racing buddies. First my buddy Jeff Fueling, I think he now has more race finishes than I do. He helped me out on the trail after a failed hill climb and also helped an injured racer off the trail. I also want to shout out to @tjmiller31, I spotted his WR250R on the side of the entry road before the race and was curious how things went. Turns out this was his first race ever, glad to see more people hitting the trails. I can’t say it enough, the racing community is a very welcoming one.

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Kentucky Adventure Tour: Interview with Jeff Stoess

g0355107I brought home the Scrambler in mid-summer 2016. Still fitted with street tires, Not long after I found myself staring down a mud field I dared not cross for fear of dumping the bike in the mud or getting stuck on a subsequent obstacle and having the cross the mud field a second time. That was my first excursion up Spaas Creek Road, an off-road adventure I vowed to conquer, and the beginning of my “Adventure Fever” in eastern Kentucky.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, Spaas Creek is actually one of the most northern trails on the Kentucky Adventure Tour (KAT). For those unfamiliar, the KAT is a 900+ mile dual-sport route around Kentucky. The majority of the route is unpaved, including optional “hard” sections. The KAT also dips briefly into West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennesse.

Over the last two years I’ve spent more and more time riding portions of the KAT, but I’ve still not finished the entire loop. Considering the swell of attendees to Red River Scramble, combined with my own interest in the KAT, I sat down with KAT founder, Jeff Stoess, to talk about the route in greater detail.

Jeff is a Kentucky native, Honda Trans Alp Jeff Stoess KATborn and raised just outside Louisville where he still lives today. In his youth, Jeff spent time racing cross-country hare scrambles all over the U.S. A few years back Jeff decided to tackle the Trans America Trail on an XR600. When the trip was over, he pondered the challenges of riding the route and then getting his bike back home. After going through the hassle, he thought perhaps east coast riders would benefit from a local route; a more challenging route that makes a loop and can be run in either direction.

DR350 KAT Hard 4 Jeff StoessNeedless to say, a great deal of work went into putting together the KAT. With that, the route is also very fluid, as Jeff likes to remove pavement in lieu of additional dirt tracks whenever possible. Jeff maintains a GPX file that includes points of interest, hazards, and recommended food and lodging locations. Jeff and I obviously went in-depth on all of those topics. To catch my entire Jeff, head over to my recent YouTube “video”.

 

DR350 Kentucky Adventure Tour Jeff Stoess

Note: I recorded our interview, and then “dubbed” footage of the my recent trips along the northern sections of the KAT (with the help of my buddy Bill DeVore). If you’re at the office or working around the house, just listen to the video. If you’re interested in the terrain conditions, take a peek at the video while you’re following along, whatever works.

 

More on the Kentucky Adventure Tour:

https://advrider.com/f/threads/the-kentucky-adventure-tour-kat.919224/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/KentuckyAdventureTour/

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How Do You Adventure?

Between racing and rubbing elbows with folks in the local motorcycle community, the impressively diverse nature of the motorcycle population has really grabbed my attention as of late. In a world where senseless (keyboard) arguments explode on social media about motor oil, tires, and who makes the best adventure motorcycle, folks need a rude awakening. Most folks DON’T motorcycle the way you motorcycle.

And you know what? That’s okay.

He’s the other dirty secret, those folks that ride a different bike, in a different place, at a different speed, might know something you don’t. Moreover, you might even discover you enjoy riding the way they ride, it’s just that you haven’t been exposed to it yet.

“I don’t want to ride a little 250”, something I never said, but probably thought; yet now I want to ride a 250 about every other day. Triumph Scrambler Citico Road MotoADVRThree years ago, I enjoyed wrestling the 500-pound high-pipe-café-racer through the trails and I thought that was as good as it could get. Then I took a small bike on single-track… and then I raced a small bike… and now I’m hooked. Admittedly, I’m weird, I love riding small bikes, so much I’m even considering buying a one-two-five two-stroke. And yet, I also enjoy riding twisty pavement and I still get silly kicks out of playing in the dirt with the trusty Warthog.

So, in an attempt to spread the gospel of “all motorcycles are awesome, and all kinds of riding are fun”, I wanted to talk a little bit about how I like to “Adventure”.

Adventure

“Adventure” means different things to different people. For me, it’s mostly doing something new, typically in an unknown place, likely including some level of risk (i.e. motorcycle involved), and lastly I sprinkle in a little randomness by throwing out the plan from time to time.

If I have my druthers, I pack the bike the night before. Invariably, I end up lying awake all night, trying to suppress the excitement of the next day’s ride, then roll out of bed before dawn. Triumph Scrambler Simon Kenton Bridge MotoADVRAssuming things go as planned, I’m throwing a leg over the bike right at twilight. A good morning ride with the sun poking through the trees just as the fog starts rising from the cornfields is heaven on earth for me. The direction is almost always due south, and while I typically have a destination in mind, these days the “path” to said destination is more flexible than ever. I used to plan every stop and every route days in advance. Nowadays I carry a 20oz fuel bottle and keep a general idea of where local gas stations will be.

If it’s not overly obvious, I’m usually an adventure “day-tripper”. I fantasize about the idea of living off the bike for weeks at a time. Unfortunately, the reality is that I have a wife with a health condition and like most mortals here in the Midwest, I have limited vacation time. It’s going to happen eventually, but I need things to calm down a bit at home in the meantime.

CTR Ride Home MotoADVR

I also have another dirty secret to share. Despite 6 years in the Army and riding my bike for 365 straight days… I hate being wet. Seriously, it ruins my whole day (so much for being a water sign). I wear rain gear religiously, I “shower test” all of my rain gear right after buying it. I don’t mind riding in the rain (for the most part), but at some point, some piece of gear gives up the ghost, and your feet are crotch end up being soaked. No Beuno.

All that aside, the biggest peeve I have it trying to break camp in the rain, pack the bike, and move out when it’s pouring. I could write an entire article about “all-weather travel”, so let’s just say that (if I was young and single again) I would just as soon quit my job and live off the motorcycle. When it rains, just take a lazy day and read a book. But that’s a goal that will have to wait for at least a couple more years.

Similar to my taste in motorcycles (I love them all, for different reasons), I also enjoy group riding, almost as much as I like riding solo. Sharing the experience with other riders, especially if I’m playing the tour guide, is something I really enjoy. Ashley Road Trio MotoADVRGroup riding off-road offers another layer of safety and I feel like folks are more willing to challenge themselves when they’re not solely reliant on self-rescue if things go pear-shaped. Obviously, you need to have that understanding with your group before you start ripping down creeks and over boulders. That’s actually what this is discussion is all about; promoting conversation about what you like and understanding what others prefer.

I like to get outside my comfort zone when the time is right, but I also love to stop and take photos, and sometimes just stop and listen to the silence; especially when I’m deep in the woods. Honda CRF250L Pumpkin Hollow DBBB MotoADVRI find I skip out on photos when I’m group riding, while at the same time I fear I’m WAY too focused on riding and not “resting” and “talking” when I’m with a group. I tend to lean on helmet communicators as a way to socialize when riding, that way stops are shorter and more distance can be covered. That turns a lot of people off, and thus I enjoy riding alone in a lot of circumstances.

Worse still, I typically eat at gas stations or pack food on the bike so I can maximize seat time. It’s not uncommon for me to grab a biscuit for breakfast at the first gas stop, eat a cliff bar or a sandwich on the trail for lunch, and then grab a quick burger in a parking lot at dinner, hoping to make it home just after dark. Honda Africa Twin KT2016 MotoADVRFor what I can’t do over multiple days I tend to jam into one day. 500 miles in the saddle and diet of “speed dogs” is certainly not for everyone (nor is it helping my waistline). In my case, this evolution came out of riding solo, not what caused it. I’ve said it before, for as much as I enjoy sharing the experience, I also find serenity when riding down a deserted (dirt) road all by my lonesome. If something goes wrong, it’s completely on me (mostly) to fix the situation and continue the journey. That sounds like a nightmare for some, but for me, it’s empowering.

So this standard “adventure” procedure for me right now. Three years ago it was very different, as I suspect it will be even more different three years from now. What about you? Do you prefer to ride solo or with your friends? Is the ride to the “destination part of the fun or do the truck and trailer make for better action on the trail (or pavement)? Are the food stops the best part of the trip or is it a snack in the woods? Do you like riding the big bikes because they’re challenging and can do it all or do you like the small bikes so you get deeper in the holler? How do you adventure?

note: If you don’t ride off-road, it’s still “adventure” and I still want to hear from you.

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Progressive International Motorcycle Show: Interview with Tracy Harris

With a press pass in hand, in addition to the show, I got the opportunity to have a little back and forth with the folks behind the scenes at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show. IMS Cleveland Discover The Ride MotoADVRWhile in the past I’ve been mostly preoccupied with the hottest new bike at the show, I admit I’ve seen the exhibition evolve a bit each year, especially in the last two. While we, unfortunately, didn’t get the chance to shake hands and have a longer discussion, I did get the chance to exchange e-mails with Tracy Harris, Senior Vice President with Progressive International Motorcycle Shows. Below you’ll find the transcript from our short exchange, where Tracy, much more eloquently, expands on my comments about Discover the Ride, along with wider details about IMS. 

(In case you missed it, you can also see my write-up on the rest of the show HERE)

Moto Adventurer: Besides manufacturers and new models, what’s new at the International Motorcycle Show for 2020? 

Tracy Harris: This season the tour has stops in eight cities across the U.S., IMS Cleveland Discover The Ride Afar MotoADVRincluding Denver, a market we have not been in for years. As we continue to display the hottest gear and vehicles at each stop, this year we evolved our popular show attractions. Back for the second year, Discover the Ride is now a more complete program both at the shows and beyond, with increased guidance from our NewTo2 hosts and local riding schools. We also introduced new DIY workshops at the Vintage at IMS where attendees can learn from their local garage builders and experts how to restore and build custom bikes. Additionally, the SHIFT area at IMS is also expanding with great new moto lifestyle brands like Revzilla at the show. 

MA: What has average attendance been like for IMS Cleveland the last few years? 

TH: Across the tour, including Cleveland, we’re seeing minor shifts up and down annually in our attendance—but overall the attendance has remained consistent and reflects the state of the industry. While sales have been flat and baby boomers are slowly aging out of the market, there is a shift towards a new audience of younger riders.

MA: A lot of news articles have suggested that new bike sales are down, have you seen any correlation between these types of stories and attendance? 

IMS Cleveland opening crowd MotoADVRTH: The industry is in the midst of a demographic shift. As baby boomers are aging out, millennials and Gen X’ers are entering the market, many of whom are actually entering the industry through the secondary/used market. In fact, we saw a 25% increase of younger attendees (under the age of 35) in the past four years (2014/2015 through 2018/2019 tour) in addition to an increase in female riders.

MA: There’s been a lot of focus on attracting new riders to the sport as of late, what changes or features has IMS added in recent years (or this year) to help attract new riders?

TH: In addition to providing a platform for attendees to connect with their local riding community to share their passion for two-wheels, it is our mission to continue to grow the motorcycle community and ensure those interested in learning and becoming riders are given the opportunity and tools to do so. Discover The Ride Wheelie Simulator MotoADVRLast tour we launched “Discover the Ride,” a first of its kind program in the Powersports industry, specifically designed to introduce riding motorcycles to consumers of all ages through a New Rider Course, educational seminars within New To 2, The Kids Zone, and a dyno and Wheelie Experience. By the end of the season, more than 2,000 potential brand-new riders participated in the Discover the Ride course with more than 6,800 overall participants.

Following Discover the Ride’s successful implementation into the 2018/2019 IMS tour, this year we introduced an extension of the program dubbed “Next Steps.” Next Steps represents an evolution of the program by helping new riders get trained as part of their journey to becoming formally licensed. In alliance with the Academy of Motorcycle Operation (AMO) – an organization that provides quality motorcyclist training in a safe, positive learning environment – AMO has offered IMS-sponsored courses. As Discover the Ride helps riders identify that they want to ride, Next Steps takes the extra step of breaking down more barriers to entry by getting new riders formally licensed.

MA: I’m obviously a big adventure enthusiast, so I’m anxious to check out “Adventure Out!” this year. I also see “Shift” and the “Vintage Garage” sections listed at the show this year, how have these new features been received (Cleveland and elsewhere)?

IMS Cleveland Vintage Garage MotoADVRTH: Motorcyclists are part of a tight-knit community with multiple lifestyle segments depending on what you’re passionate about. SHIFT has been met with a great response from our attendees that enjoy the new modern gear that fits their personal taste, tour-wide. Vintage is always a top-rated attraction at the show. This year, we gave Vintage a tune-up with the addition of restoration and DIY workshops. I highly recommend attendees check out the vintage bikes while at the show and speak to the preservers who are a wealth of knowledge!

MA: What’s your personal favorite part of the show?

TH: We launched IMS in 1982. In our 39th year, we are proud to be the nation’s largest consumer motorcycle tour providing motorcycle enthusiasts access to hundreds of the latest models from top manufacturers and premier aftermarket brands. Cleveland IMS Discover The Ride Zero Parked MotoADVRIn addition to being able to meet and build a relationship with local dealers, IMS is a special place for enthusiasts to connect with their local riding community and share their passion for two-wheels. In recent years, I personally love how the shows have evolved to become truly experiential. No matter your age or skill level, we have something at IMS that helps you grow as a rider and become part of a tight-knit community.

MA: Aside from weather and local vendors, what makes the Cleveland show different than say Chicago or Denver?

TH: The Cleveland riding community is one of the strongest. For most Cleveland attendees, IMS Cleveland serves as a reunion where friends meet and discuss their latest riding adventures—all the while getting to see the latest models from their favorite OEMs.

MA: Are there future plans or changes to the IMS that you can share with us?

TH: Every year we explore how to continue the evolution of IMS, and those discussions are guided by the on-site and post-show research and conversations we have with our exhibitors and attendees. Right now, the research is not finalized but rest assured, the IMS team strives to make the show better and more fun each year.

MA: Has there been any discussion about trying different locations for future shows, like Columbus or Cincinnati?

IMS Cleveland Adventure Out BDR MotoADVRTH: There is a thriving and passionate community of motorcycle enthusiasts in every city we travel to and we’re always striving to reach as many people that love riding and the lifestyle of it as possible. Every year we work with our partners to determine the best markets for that year. We recognize there are passionate communities of motorcyclists across the country; we’re always looking for and considering new opportunities, such as our return to Denver this year.

What sets IMS apart from other motorcycle events?

No-Mar Tire Change MotoADVRTracy: Compared to other events like rallies, IMS is a one-stop-shop for all a rider’s needs. From the latest helmets to stylish jackets, we have it all. Nearly half, 47% of our attendees make purchases at the shows, spending an average of $488. The most popular purchased items are riding gear and parts & accessories. Moreover, 44% of IMS attendees have reported that they are in-market to buy a new or used vehicle, and 75% of those say they plan to do so within the next 12 months.

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Progressive International Motorcycle Show: Cleveland in a New Light

One of the first stories I covered here on Moto Adventurer was the “goings-on” at Progressive International Motorcycle Show (IMS) in Cleveland. Considering typical Ohio weather in late January, it’s nice to fill up an otherwise snowy weekend with a some two-wheeled eye candy. Thus, between Cleveland and Chicago, I’ve attended every IMS each winter since just prior to launching the website.

IMS Cleveland IX Center MotoADVRThis being my seventh show, I have to admit things were starting to feel a bit “familiar”. In prior years, I would typically day trip to Cleveland, ogle over the new bikes I wanted to see, chit chat with a few buddies about the latest and greatest, and then endure the three-hour car ride back home. To shake things up his year I applied for a press pass. With badge in hand, I decided to slow things down this year, stay the night for once, and take a deeper look at what goes on at the show.

Have you brought a non-riding friend to a motorcycle show?

You should. Seriously.
Needless to say, I consume a lot of motorcycle media. I sit in front of a CAD computer for 40+ hours a week, which gives me a chance to listen to a lot of podcasts and keep up with moto-headlines during my lunch break. A while back I caught a podcast about the “Give A Shift” initiative. IMS Cleveland opening crowd MotoADVRIf we believe all of the headlines, motorcyclists are dying breed. Between economics, limitless entertainment outlets competing for your dollars, and a culture that’s becoming more risk-averse by the minute, fewer and fewer riders are entering the fray. When I was a kid we rode bicycles everywhere. While I do live on a busy street, I seldom see a kid on a bicycle anymore (I arguably see more adults on bicycles than kids). If we as riders don’t expose our friends and future generations to the motorcycle world… they won’t find it anywhere else.

What does this have to do with IMS Cleveland?

Funny you should ask, while I missed out on the opportunity to meet him in person, Robert Pandya, the guy who started the Give-A-Shift initiative, was on-site in Cleveland. In conjunction with IMS, Robert helps manage the “Discover The Ride” program, a program designed to give potential motorcyclists a taste of the riding experience in a safe and controlled environment.

Discover The Ride New to 2 MotoADVRFolks that sign-up to for “Discover-The-Ride” get the opportunity to ride a power assist bicycle around an indoor course, offering the first sensation of the motorized, two-wheeled travel while demonstrating they have the balance necessary to ride a full-size bike. From there, attendees are provided with safety gear and get the chance to take a specially programed Zero FXS electric motorcycle around the practice track (this is obviously the abridged version of the program, you can find more details here).

Per my comments, Discover the Ride isn’t just for adults, there’s also a program for the kids. In the Kids Zone, youngsters get a chance to scramble around a dedicated track on Stacyc electric balance bike, with or without power assist based on skill and competence.

Just outside the Discover the Ride area, an entire aisleway was dedicated to approachable current-year models from various manufacturers. Suzuki New on Two Wheels MotoADVRConventional language for these bikes used to be “entry-level” or “learner bikes”, but admit I’m trying to avoid those terms as much as possible these days. While I feel the wind is changing direction, I fear that some new riders in this country still feel judged for riding smaller bikes among their more “experienced” peers. After riding “big bikes” for the better part of a decade, I decided what I really needed was a 250… I recommend more folks give it a try, but that’s a story for another day. At any rate, bikes like the Rebel 300, the Grom, SV650, and the VanVan200 were all lined up just outside the practice track for folks to try on for size. That VanVan with those big beach tires was so popular, I never managed to snag a photo of it by its lonesome. Considering my personal affinity for the TW200, I can see why.

So what else is going on at the show?

Adventure Out Ducati Desert Sled MotoADVRSo you brought a friend and have exposed them to motorcycle fever and want to see what else was is going on. I’m naturally going to nudge you in the direction that leads away from the pavement. In the last couple of year’s IMS launched “Adventure Out”, a section of the exhibit floor dedicated to adventure riding. Inside the Adventure Out area, you can attend a series of presentations geared toward adventure riding and travel.

Adventure Out NEBDR MotoADVRThis year Backcountry Discovery Routes launched a new section in the northeast (hence NEBDR). For those unfamiliar, Backcountry Discovery Routes is a 501c3 non-profit that specializes in creating suitable touring routes that include on and off-road travel through rural America for dual-sport and adventure motorcyclists. Standing in the back of the “picnic area”, I listened to Tim James (Board VP with BDR) and Jocelin Snow discuss the finer parts of adventure riding, some backstory behind the BDR non-profit and their mission, a few notes about the Mid-Atlantic BDR, and a tease of the Northeast BDR.

Bret Tkacs Adventure Out IMS MotoADVRI also got the chance to see Bret Tkacs in the flesh while he discussed best practices when packing for adventure touring. Spoiler: take less stuff. But seriously, Bret got into the finite details about managing luggage and living off the bike during his travels. In a second session that I missed, Bret discussed more “tips and tricks” of long-distance motorcycle travel from his tours of South America, Africa and beyond; from handling border crossings, “bribes”, and things to consider when selecting the right bike for you.

In a side conversation, I chatted with Bret and his wife Christina about Bret’s usual day job as a motorcycle instructor and some of his antics on youtube. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing more of Bret “off-script” on the interwebs in the near future.

IMS Cleveland Vintage Garage MotoADVR

For more pavement oriented folks, IMS has beefed up the “Vintage Garage” over the past few years. While I didn’t get the opportunity to sit through one of seminars this year, similar to Adventure Out, Vintage Garage has featured speakers and DIY workshops to help encourage folks to get their hands dirty, or perhaps pick up some expert tips for an upcoming project you’re working on (perhaps that final touch to your submission to Garage Brewed?).

What about the bikes?

Harley Davidson Pan America Glass Case MotoADVRTaking my first steps into the exhibition area, I was immediately greeted by Harley-Davidson’s new Pan America (and Bronx). Akin to the expansion of “Adventure Out”, it’s obvious that the adventure craze has really taken root in today’s motorcycle community. The whole idea of a Harley-Davidson adventure bike would have been preposterous no more than two years ago, and yet there it sat on display for the masses.

Unfortunately, with glass cases protecting both prototypes, photos simply don’t do either machine justice. Harley Pan America Booth MotoADVRI’ve been reluctant to write anything about the Pan America up to this point, considering the number of other articles already covering the topic, but I admit I’m excited to see what Harley-Davidson is going to do in this space. I’ve read a lot of noise in various comment sections about how “heavy” this bike looks (does the R1250GSA look heavy?), and endless remarks about the polarizing aesthetics of the front fairing. I tend to find the adventure “beak” ugly and superfluous… but freely admit that love is very much in the eye of the beholder (agreed, the Pan-Am looks like Bender). As far as the Mo-Co is concerned, I’m much more concerned with what the bike can do than I am about aesthetics.

Harley Davidson Pan America cockpit MotoADVRStanding next to the glass case, the Pan America appeared smaller and more slender than I pictured it based on the press photos. From what I can tell outside of the glass, the bike looks the part; tubeless spoked wheels, Brembo binders, supple suspension travel (for a Harley sitting in a display case), crash bars, V-twin engine, and chain drive. All things I like in an adventure bike.
Harley Davidson Scrambler Concept MotoADVRI admit, with 1250 cc’s of displacement, TFT dash and a bar and shield on the tank, I suspect the Pan America will be out of my price range for a considerable number of years, but I still want to see how this new addition influences the market. Moreover, considering my passion for scramblers and barebones adventure bikes, I’m hopeful there’s a 950 V-twin in the pipeline with less whiz-bang.

And then there’s that other adventure bike on the opposite side of the spectrum. Yamaha has been teasing the new Tenere 700 for literally years now. In Cleveland, I finally got a chance to see it in the flesh (sans the protective glass case). Yamaha Tenere 700 Decal MotoADVRWay back when, I went down to Cincinnati to test ride the (then new) XSR900 at a demo event. A triple with retro styling, I was infatuated from go, but I had to wait to ride that bike for several hours due to the high demand. I consoled myself by taking an FZ-07 for a spin in the interim, a bike I knew nothing about. Despite riding the XSR900 and the FJ-09, at the end of the day it was that peppy 700cc P-twin that really captured my soul. And now Yamaha has put a long set of legs on that bike with a matching set of knobbly shoes. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m unabashedly smitten with this new Yammy. The T7 is probably the first bike I’ve lusted after since bringing home Rosie the Scrambler (that and about any two-stroke these days).

Similar to the Pan America, sitting motionless on the carpet, the Tenere 700 checks all the boxes. Yamaha Tenere 700 RF Qtr MotoADVRAggressive adventure setup with longer travel suspension and 21-inch front hoop with a 18 in the rear, the reputation of the beforementioned 270° crank parallel twin (much like that British mill I love so much), and that oh so slender frame and “rally” style fairing. Those new LED headlights look sick hidden behind the transparent “rally mask”, and to my shock, there are actually designated handholds on the rear subframe so you can get a firm purchase on the bike when you need to pull it out of a hairy situation. I’m happy to say the latest ADV machine from Yamaha comes with everything I want in a motorcycle and nothing I don’t. The new T7 comes with ABS standard and an “ABS off” button on an otherwise vanilla LCD display. No rider modes, no traction control, no TFT Dash, no Netflix or Apple car play. If you’re looking for a no-frills adventure motorcycle, it has arrived; at a dollar less than ten-large to boot (more Tenere 700 photos below).

Good things come in small packages

Honda CRF250f MotoADVRAfter drooling over the latest twin-cylinder dirt cruisers, I found myself captivated by the dual-sport and trail offerings in the Honda and Kawasaki booths. In case you missed it, I covered the CRF250L at great length recently. Walking around the Honda booth I was surprised to find Big Red had dropped the CRF230f (former sister to the 250L’s predecessor) and has brought a new 250 cc air-cooled mill on board for off-road only riders looking for a red bike.

Kawasaki KLX230 MotoADVRDespite my best efforts to keep up with all the latest moto-news, I somehow missed the recent Revzilla article about Kawasaki’s expansion in a similar fashion with a 230cc trail bike and a street-legal sister machine, the KLX230r and KLX230 (respectively). Along with the KLX250, that now gives Kawasaki two flavors of quarter-liter street & trail machines for prospective buyers. At $4600 with fuel injection, the green 230 comes in about 600 greenbacks cheaper than Yamaha’s venerable XT250.

While not street legal, Kawasaki also launched the new KLX300 trail bike. In a world where I feel more off-road offerings edge closer and closer to full-spec race machines, it was refreshing to see the KLX300 boast a stat sheet just short of European specifications at almost half the price. Beyond my recent article about the shifting tides of the dual-sport market, I’m anxious to see where these new trail “play-bikes” are going.

You Meet the Nicest People On Motorcycles

Not pressed for time, it was interesting to sit back and look at IMS in a different light. I’ve spent days combing over photos and scratching notes about how to describe this year’s show. As much as I was hung up on the new dirt worthy machines, I think I was more captivated by the conversations and relationships forged over the weekend.

Zero Motorcycles SR-S MotoADVRStanding in the Zero booth chatting with my buddy Tim Burke, we met Scott and Dan from Motoclectic Magazine. From upstate New York, these guys have been pounding the pavement for the last year or so, working to bring local, image-focused motorcycle stories to the masses with their grassroots magazine. Some folks may say that print is dead, but I’ll argue that when done right, folks will gladly throw down some bills for a magazine that inspires. Dan and Scott both said that they’ve taken inspiration from Iron & Air, but focus on that local feel so readers relate to the characters of the stories.

Circling back around after shooting photos of Discover the Ride, I caught Phil Waters interviewing Tim for an upcoming Cleveland Moto Podcast episode.Zero Motorcycles Cleveland Moto Podcast MotoADVR If you’re a podcast listener, but unfamiliar with Cleveland Moto, I recommend you look them up. At any rate, Phil is incredibly knowledgable about Zero. I gotta tell you, his passion for electric motorcycles is almost infectious. I stood around the booth chatting with Tim long enough to notice that at no point was there not a crowd of 3 or 4 standing around Phil, trying to absorb all the information coming out his mouth (to Tim’s credit, he probably would have experienced the same, had I not been monopolizing his time.).

Per my previous comments, I had similar experiences with Bret and Christina Tkacs, a couple of side comments with Jocelin Snow (including an explanation on why the ladies take selfies holding their phones so high in the air, thanks Jocelin), and lots of conversations and even a few beers with over a dozen friends of mine who also attended the show that weekend. In previous years it was about seeing “all the bikes” and gathering “all the photos”. This year, despite all those paragraphs above, it was definitely about the people. There are a lot of great bikes out there, but there’s also a lot to learn from your fellow motorcyclist, regardless of how, when, and where you ride.

Further Reading: Interview with IMS VP Tracy Harris

 

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