Are Motorcycles a Path to Rehabilitation?

I’ve been sitting on this story for a long time. It’s been rolling around in the back of my mind for several years now (like a BB in a boxcar), but I’ve struggled to put pen to paper. After reading one of Chris Cope’s recent blurbs I decided it was time.

After spending two years in the middle east, I returned home for the last time to start a “new” life. Reintegration into civilian life was not a smooth transition. Fortunately, some strange things happened, and unbeknownst to me, the obsession of riding brought about positive change despite shitty conditions. I believe this change is possible for more people. So much so, that I wanted to get this message in front of a larger audience. Today the full story is up on Revzilla; if you would take a few minutes to give it a read and share it with your friends that you think might benefit from it:

Returning from war: How motorcycles made me whole again

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Icon Raiden Jacket and Pants: Adventure Gear Review

New for 2020, Icon has gone back to the drawing board for a full redesign of their Raiden gear. Now in its 3rd generation (arguably 4th), this year Icon has made a host of changes to the venerable Raiden adventure gear, including materials, layout, features, and fitment.

In the interest of transparency, let me cover some official business. A while back, a good buddy over at Tirox linked me up with the marketing folks at Icon. I bought a full set of the Icon DKR kit a few years back. That gear tackled the Daniel Boone Backcountry Byway, tropical storm Irma at the Dragon Raid, and the lion’s share of the Ride 365 challenge. After crashing in that gear in February of ’19, it needed replacing. Budget, availability, and exposure to new things led me to try out a different set of replacement gear. However, after some conversations with folks over at Icon, they sent me a set of the new Raiden gear to test out.

Fitment

For folks already familiar with Icon gear, I’m sure you’re curious about sizing. In my experience, Icon gear (designed in Portland, Oregon) is generally more relaxed than most of the popular European brands. My previous Icon DKR jacket was a size medium, and if I was honest with myself, I probably should have been wearing a small. Based on advice from Icon, after consulting the sizing chart, I actually went with a size large in the new Raiden jacket. The new jacket is more tailored than the previous generation DKR jacket. That said, at 5’10”, 180 pounds, I feel like I’m between sizes. I could probably fit in a size medium, but might be a little cranky when piling on layers for cold weather riding this winter. However, the new Raiden jacket fits comfortably in a size large with the thermal layer installed.

When I ordered my original DKR pants a few years back I went with a size medium but had to ship them back for a size small. Today Icon’s over-pant sizing chart puts me directly in size medium for the new Raiden pants. I want to emphasize “over-pant” sizing, these pants are designed a little more relaxed so you can wear the pants over casual clothes and so on. For summer riding, if you prefer riding commando… you may want to select a size down. In my case, I want to wear these pants with thermals in the winter, so they’re about spot on.

Features

Those familiar with the previous Raiden Patrol and DKR iterations, the new Raiden gear again arrives with a waterproof outer layer, a full suite of D3O armor (including back protector), and abrasion-resistant materials on the joints. The pants again arrive with optional suspenders, or zippered jacket attachment if you so choose. Just like the jacket, pants also come equipped with D3O knee and hip armor as standard features.

The “monkey paw”, magnetic closure, handkerchief waterproof pocket, and hydration system from the DKR series has been removed this year, in favor of a revised ventilation scheme and better hot weather performance. The overall material is a little thinner than the previous generation, including a redesigned mesh “comfort liner”; much different than the loose, baggy comfort liner you’re accustomed to seeing on summer-weight gear from competitive brands (more on that in a minute). Meanwhile, ADV staples like spacious handwarmer pockets, zip-in thermal liner, and rear pouch are all back again with this rendition of the Raiden Jacket.

Airflow and wet weather tolerance were both hallmarks of the previous generation DKR Jacket (the former not so much for the pants, but I’ll circle back to that). With this latest iteration, Icon has shifted and redesigned the chest vents for increased airflow. The vents now have a cord and hook “stay” to hold the chest vents open. Along with removing the “monkey paw”, additional vents have been added to the wrist to facilitate more active venting up the sleeve and out the armpit and rear exhaust vents.

Per my previous comments, the magnetic closure from the DKR series jacket has been replaced with a traditional zipper closure (with rain gutter). In line with the tailoring of the jacket, the collar has been redesigned for a closer fit with optional cinch cord and a new velcro closure, in lieu of the DKR push button. The collar also has 3 different cord and hook “stays” to choose from that hold the collar open for extra airflow on the hot days. Similar to the collar, cord and hook adjusters have been added to the bicep for better fitment and to keep the elbow armor in place. The Elastic waist pulls have been replaced with 4 nylon adjustment straps to snug up the jacket when the temps drop. That before mentioned thermal liner also zips in independently on both sides; meaning it’s also meant to be worn separately from the jacket.

While the evolution of the jacket is noteworthy, the changes to the pants are the most significant. The previous generation DKR pants were thicker than the DKR jacket but lacked the thermal liner. Like its predecessor, the new Raiden pants have heat-resistant materials on the inside of the leg to protect from hot exhaust, weatherproof outer layer, bibs, handwarmer pockets, and full-length zippers to make it easier to put the pants on over boots. The stirrups from the DKR pants have been removed in favor of a 3 button, elastic rain gaiter, along with velcro ankle closure that accommodates larger adventure or motocross boots. The new Raiden pants also come with additional thigh pockets and side exhaust vents.

Commentary

Beyond the spec sheet, after spending countless hours in the saddle with this new Raiden kit (including Red River Scramble and another Iron Butt), it’s evident that Icon put significant emphasis on improved summer tolerance with this latest generation of all-season adventure gear, while still maintaining the Raiden reputation for exceptional wet-weather performance. The newest rendition feels”lighter” than the previous DKR kit; both in weight, flexibility, and temperature tolerance. Impact zones are lined with 500D Cordura Nylon while the inner “comfort liner” is thinner than the previous version and fits closer to the outside layer which increases airflow inside the garments. Velcro closures, taped seams, and waterproof materials are sometimes abrasive to the skin, so I was initially concerned about removing the traditional, thick, mesh comfort liner. Surprisingly, this new Raiden gear still feels soft to the touch. Similar to the DKR gear, the D3O pockets are again made from soft microfiber that doesn’t rub your knees raw on a long day’s ride. All this combined with the relaxed fit, the Raiden gear is simply comfortable to wear.

My most recent experience with competing adventure gear included an internal waterproof liner (versus external). I admit the interior waterproof liner typically means the hot weather tolerance, sans liner, is much more comfortable (75°F and warmer). However, when it comes to getting stuck in an unplanned rain shower, it’s more of a process to get the rain liner installed on the side of the road, or worse, putting a rain jacket on over the gear; completely defeating the purpose of the “included” rain liner. Not to mention, you now have a soaking wet jacket on top of a rain liner, while still (mostly) functional, it’s inconvenient if nothing else. Somewhere in eastern Virginia a few weeks back, the skies opened up, including a little hail. Needless to say, I was happy to have the versatility of the Raiden gear’s exterior waterproof liner while avoiding the fuss of digging through the pannier for rain gear. I zipped the vents shut and I was ready to brave the elements.

 

Styling is certainly a matter of taste. Icon’s signature graphics and vivid colors are unquestionably what drew me to the brand years ago. On the flip side, I want to give Icon props for dialing it back a notch with their adventure gear. This is a gross statement and brave assumption on my part, but I think overall the ADV crowd is a bit more conservative than the typical urban street rider (perhaps something to do with age and the cost of entry?), so I think this is a good play on their part. That aside, I am a fan of the copious high-viz yellow details and color combinations offered thus far.

This latest rendition of Raiden gear has blended the best parts of the previous-gen DKR gear with more popular features seen on competing adventure gear. The wrist vents are a welcome addition, with the removal of the DKR’s monkey paw, the new wrist vents get substantially more air through the arms and across the torso than the previous model. Furthermore, while I love the idea of having pockets all over for every contingency (like a former jacket of mine), the reality is that most of my pockets go unused, so I think it wise that Icon skipped the excess clutter in favor of improved chest vents. Originally I thought I would have preferred the chest vents provided direct airflow on the rider, however, I think Icon made the right call to make these passive vents. I say this because front-facing zippers are about guaranteed to leak during heavy rain, so the passive venting in front of the rain liner keeps the rider dry while providing a pocket of cooler air.

If I’ve not mentioned elsewhere, I’m quite comfortable here on the D3O bandwagon. In a world where “back protector sold separately” is the standard verbiage strategically hidden in the item description, it’s nice to see Icon including a full set of D3O armor in both the jacket and pants. These days it seems like manufacturers are skipping the back and hip protectors as a way to trim cost from the gear (and yet not lowering the price), Icon hasn’t taken that shortcut. With that, Icon is still including a removable thermal liner with the Raiden jacket. I’ll accept arguments that a thermal liner is superfluous for the fully electric winter gear crowd. While I also have electrics, I’m still pretty old school most of the time and simply don’t want to fuss with all the extra steps necessary to get riding. I really appreciate that heated gear when I’m crossing state lines in February, but for the daily 20-minute ride to the office, traditional sniffle gear is plenty effective. Moreover, that stand-alone Raiden jacket thermal was a welcome company when I was sleeping on a couch in a hospital room during my wife’s last stay in recent weeks; I’m sure it will be equally welcome next to the fire on an adventure weekend this fall.

Like so many things with the motorcycle community, I do think some folks will struggle with fitment. I know riders that want gear to be form-fitting, with armor exactly in place; with others much more interested in how it looks and keeps them dry than how safe they feel. With images of sliding on asphalt still fresh in my memory, armor positioning and safety are very prevalent in how I review gear. However, it’s not uncommon for my posterior to occupy the saddle from sunup to sundown, and as trendy as skinny jeans may be, I much prefer the relaxed fit of Icon’s gear. Finding the size that splits the difference is key. The new bicep adjustment on the jacket is a welcome addition that adds flexibility to the new Raiden jacket. Personally, I would like to see Icon add a second adjustment on the forearm to really lock that elbow armor in position when I expect riding to get spirited, however, per my comments above, with my puny arms it’s about spot on with a thermal installed. Looking at the preceding DKR pants, options for armor position adjustment were pretty scarce. I used the stirrups on the old gear to keep the cold air and water out, but also to reinforce the knee pad position. The rain gaiters and the adjustable ankle closure are a big improvement for function and fitment on the Raiden pants; combined with the fact there’s now spacious accommodation for hardy dirt-worthy boots and still keep the rain out.

Speaking of which, this iteration of Raiden pants is a big step up from the former DKR variety. The ankle closer and rain gaiter alone are welcome additions, but the thigh pockets, exhaust vents, and material changes are icing on the cake. The conveniently located thigh pockets make it a lot easier to fish out my wallet at the gas pump. As far as materials go, as I mentioned before, the reduction in the comfort liner weight makes the material feel “lighter”, but not just that, the former DKR pants had a sewn-in thermal layer the DKR jacket lacked. That integrated liner made the DKR pants a bit toasty on those summer days, but still not warm enough to combat the sting of the midwestern winter. This generation of Raiden pants has the same outer material thickness as the jacket, along with the addition of exhaust vents. I do wish the pants came with a zip-in thermal liner, however, they are sold as “Over Pants” and I have a closet full of sniffle gear that gets the job done.

As far as cold weather is concerned, we’re just now getting our first frost warnings of fall. Thus, I haven’t had the chance to put this gear through my usual winter abuse. That said, I’ve now punished enough gear through midwestern winters to get a gross feel for what to expect. Due to the spacious neckline and collar closure on my old DKR jacket, I found myself wearing a neck gaiter at much higher temperatures than previous jackets. With the more tailored fit of the Raiden jacket, the collar is more form-fitting, which does a much better job of keeping cold air out when closed completely or holding the collar open for more air on the 90° commutes home from the office in July. At the same time, while I sometimes bemoan velcro because it breaks down over time (I don’t care what they say, a moron designed the Army Combat Uniform). However, I think the change to the velcro closure on the Raiden Jacket was on point considering I struggled to close the DKR button collar one-handed.

While not crash-tested, and hopefully never, I think prospective buyers will appreciate the Icon’s upgrades to the Raiden gear this year. I think most folks struggled with sizing and fitment in the past. To reinforce what I said earlier if you’re going to wear this gear in primarily hot weather, and not as an overgarment, you’ll likely want to go down one size from the size chart. However, if you’re going to wear the Raiden kit as a 3-season winter setup with thermals and so on, I expect folks to appreciate the more tailored fit of this year’s gear per the Icon sizing chart. Either way, I can’t praise Icon enough for evolving the Raiden line based on feedback from the customers; this new gear is virtually everything I would have asked for from Icon after spending years in the DKR gear.

2020 Icon Raiden Jacket (Gray HiViz)

2020 Icon Raiden Pants (Gray HiViz)

 

 

 

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Ride 1000 miles in 24 hours: Why Would Anyone Do That?

With the mercury hovering in the mid-sixties, my teeth chattered in my helmet as I watched the damp fog rise out of the cornfields and waft onto the highway. DCIM129GOPROThe morning sun finally started to emerge above the tree line as I pulled into a Sheetz station just outside of Wheeling to top off. Tap dancing in the parking lot to get the blood flowing, I scarfed down a Shmiscuit in desperation to find warmth. I left Dayton geared up from head to toe but apparently not enough because somehow the morning air was just sapping body heat right out of me. I’d been on the road through almost 200 miles of darkness, and still had a full day of riding to go.

The above tale is how my morning started out last August;Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE Virginia Farm MotoADVR a 500-mile ride to Virginia to go test ride a Scrambler 1200 (Big thanks to Triumph of Harrisonburg), just to turn around and immediately ride back home. A 20-hour ordeal full of highs and lows, with more hours in darkness than I’d like to repeat. Having said all that, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: I hate riding on the interstate. The highway is monotonous; chocked full of disinterested traffic, making for otherwise unremarkable, dull experience. If I had to describe my favorite type of (paved) roads, it would probably be a tangled ribbon through a mountain pass or a neglected goat path through Kentucky Amish country. But what if I said, I like to ride the interstate for (almost) an entire day about once a year? Like truly enjoy it, to the point I’ve done it multiple times, with intentions of more.

Iron Butt Paperwork MotoADVRShivering in the cold, monkey butt from the long hours on a factory saddle, and soggy feet from failed waterproof boots doesn’t sound like fun to most people. On most days, I’m in complete in agreement; but I can’t deny, I get sick kicks out of doing “hard” things. Like anything else, difficulty is a matter of opinion. In my case, I find riding a motorcycle from sunup to sundown over long distances difficult; more specifically, documenting an Iron Butt Ride.

For some, the prospect of riding 1,000 plus miles in one day is unthinkable; for others, it’s not even seen as a challenge. Triumph Scrambler Appalachian Mountains Virginia MotoADVRTastes in riding are as diverse as the people that do it; in my case, I’m not spending a moment on flat, straight pavement unless the payoff is worth the tedium. Thus, where I’ve discovered the challenge: having the tenacity to endure the boring, repetitive nature of the “all-day” commute. With the right bike, and the right setup for the rider, finding comfort for an Iron Butt ride isn’t nearly as difficult. With the right route and enough entertainment, the scenery, and some good podcasts, staying entertained for 18 plus hours isn’t necessarily difficult. However, riding an ironing board the journalists call a “styling exercise”, having your GPS take a crap, feeling your footpeg coming loose at 80 MPH (allegedly), and riding into a hailstorm make for exciting, if not challenging events.

Certainly, you don’t need to ride a thousand miles in a day to find excuses to have breakdowns and endure the elements, you can do that anytime. I, however, I’ve discovered that I like to use a long-haul ride as a confidence booster for recent maintenance I may have done. The bikes I have parked out back in the “pig pen” tend to hang around for a while, and thus have various “afflictions” that need tending to from time to time. Triumph SCrambler Valve AdjustmentAfter the slow tedious process of getting the Scrambler back up to speed after it spent years as the breadwinner, I wanted to give it a proper shakedown, which ultimately gave birth to the before-mentioned trip to out to the Shenandoah Valley and back. Do you ever get the feeling like you rode away and forgot something? I get that nagging feeling after I’ve installed a new clutch, adjusted the valves, and so on. The fear that I perhaps forgot to torque a bolt to spec or I didn’t balance a tire correctly. It may nag me for a couple of days when I think I “feel” something on the ride to work and so on. To shake off the “demons” I like to “prove” my craftsmanship by “testing” the machine with an all-day ride. Assuming I don’t ride “shotgun” back home in a tow truck, that usually puts the doubts to rest.

Triumph Scrambler Gas Station MotoADVR“There has to be a better way”. My wife is so tired of hearing me say that… about everything. You see, I have a sickness, my mind is preoccupied with finding the most efficient method of accomplishing a task. When asked why I would attempt to ride such distances just to come back home the same day, it finally dawned on me, I enjoy the challenge of finding the most efficient method of getting from point A to point B in the least amount of time. I’m a navigation nerd, so I enjoy looking at maps and figuring out which gas stations are conveniently located right off the exits, and ideally, are open 24-hours. Trying to ride a thousand miles in a day means finding the best way to pack the bike with the most important things where you need them; rain gear stored on top of the tools in my pannier and snacks right under my paperwork in the tank bag. I try to make a habit of going over the bike the day before a big trip, that way I can confirm that all the essentials are packed in that before mentioned tool kit. Icon Raiden Jacket Scorpion EXO-ST1400 MotoADVR“Smooth is fast” definitely rings true here as well, which means forming habits to scribble notes in your trip log about where you’re stopping and what your odometer says when you roll into a stop; topping off the gas tank and not misplacing your keys or your credit card. Speaking of credit cards, being pressed for time means you learn how to think on your feet when your newfound routine is disrupted as your credit card is shut off for “fraud alert” after stopping at the third filling station in three states. You learn how to stay hydrated while riding and what not to eat to avoid those awkward emergency bathroom breaks. Bad weather and bathroom emergencies also help highlight any issues you may have with your chosen set of riding gear; over pants and adventure boots are all fun and games until that “oh I gotta’ go” thought hits you.

As with taste in roads, the definition of “a good day’s ride” depends on who you ask. I remember being exhausted after the 160-mile trip to grandma’s, but I also know people that don’t stop for breakfast until they’ve emptied the 7-gallon tank on their ST1300. Harley Heritage Softail Triumph Scrambler Stecoah MotoADVRTraining, or forcing yourself to tackle a thousand miles in a day shows you what you’re capable of; it demonstrates the destinations you could potentially reach in a day and tells you how much ground you can safely cover in a pinch. With that, like many of you, I have limited vacation time. As much as I would like to spend weeks taking my time and stopping in all the no-name towns around the country, sometimes I need to burn down the highway to get somewhere. Living in the Midwest means I have to commute to the type of roads (and trails) that I prefer to ride, having the experience of a full, non-stop day in the saddle means I can potentially reach destinations in a day instead of two, and still be rested to enjoy the fun riding the next morning. This obviously isn’t for everyone, but I see this as another tool in my toolbox when time is at a premium.

Lastly, I have to be honest, I also find a strange satisfaction out of doing seemingly ridiculous things. There was certainly a time when that passion was fueled by an adolescent “I’ll show them” attitude (i.e. who would ride a Scrambler off-road). Right or wrong, I think that mentality shifted to “I want to prove to myself” that I can accomplish “X” task. Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE Triumph of Harrisonburg MotoADVRAt first, it was “will this Scrambler survive 18 hours on the interstate?”, and now I’m asking myself “Will I blow up my 250L if I ride it non-stop to Denver?” I have no doubt a lot of this sounds self-serving, but if done for the right reasons, as with my previous point, it allows you to prove to yourself what you’re really capable of. Again, this isn’t for everyone, but there’s no doubt I enjoy riding motorcycles because it’s not easy. That interest pushed me into racing and continues to motivate me to ride through the night to work up to tackling 1,500 miles in 24 hours or less, and perhaps one day an Iron Butt Rally. For me, off-road racing has been (mostly) a physically demanding endeavor, whereas distance riding has been a mental test; both addicting as it turns out.

For me, what started as a “bucket list” challenge created habits that evolved into modus operandi, and ultimately a passion. What about you, is an Iron Butt ride on your bucket list? If you’ve documented a ride, do you plan on riding another? Or does this all just sound like a terrible way to ruin what makes motorcycling fun?

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Husky in The Holler: KXCR in Clay City

Savage… If I were to sum up “The Holler” in one word, that’s the word.

Humbled… by mother nature; but also the tenacity of my fellow racers.

Grateful… for the opportunity to learn new things, meet new people, and expand the family of racers.

Do hard things.

The greatest things in life are things that you work for. Beat up with a broke bike sucks, but when you find yourself in that position on the far side of the finish line, the sacrifice is worth the effort. It’s a lot more comfortable on the couch watching Netflix on a rainy day, but the experience gained by doing things previously thought impossible is invaluable. The price paid to learn new skills typically means you won’t be replacing those parts next go-round. On the flip side, that means you can raise the stakes, and again, the reward. For most folks, this is a long way from their definition of fun. Even if slogging it out in the rain in the Kentucky Clay isn’t your cup of tea, I still suggest you push the envelope on what you believe is possible. On or off the motorcycle. Remove “can’t” from your vocabulary. At a minimum, force “can’t” into a shotgun wedding with a semicolon. “I can’t do this; YET.”

Looking at the forecast on Monday, it wasn’t looking good. I was dreading another “mudder” in the bluegrass, especially on a two-stroke machine more prone to wheel spin than her docile stablemate. Saturday night the forecast held a glimmer of hope; hope that storms would pass by Clay City. Saturday has dumped a lot of rain already, and there was no such luck Sunday morning. If you’ve not heard me say this elsewhere, I hate being wet. Sliding around the trail with loaded tires and a wet crotch is an insult to injury. Despite wanting to stay home, a little voice in my head said this was “good training weather” and “an opportunity to succeed.” A little peer pressure didn’t hurt either. My buddy Bill decided he was going to give racing a go. Despite knowing the weather the same as I, he wasn’t backing out.

Placing tear-offs on my goggles, I knew it was going to be bad. What I imagined didn’t remotely prepare me for what lied ahead. Sliding backward back down one of the first hills… I rapidly realized the quagmire I got my buddy into…

KXCR Round 2: “The Holler” was an 8-mile course laid out through the Appalachian foothills in Clay City, Kentucky. Husqvarna TE250 KXCR The Holler Bill DeVoreThe course was spectacular. I can only imagine how fast and yet challenging it would have been if remotely dry (we may see this fall). Stuck in traffic on the hillside of an epic climb, I realized I needed to get out of gridlock fast before it got worse. I push the engine too hard and didn’t go fast enough to keep the Husky cool so it overheated. To my shock, I was only passed by one rider while I caught my breath at the top of the hill. I picked Ellinor out of the clay at least twice on the way up that hill; at which point I told myself the goal was simply to finish. I managed to get some pretty decent footage of the race, but there’s no doubt a lot was lost to mud covering the lens. That lost footage included 3 failed attempts on a hill climb around mile 6. The camera died with a clean lens right before my successful run.

I crossed the finish line with 7 minutes to spare; enough time that I was actually permitted to do a second lap. I thought about it for a moment and realized I barely made it up two of the climbs, especially that last doozy. Wasted, I took my single lap as a “win”, assuming it would mean being towed back to camp if I tried to struggle on. 141 racers lined up in their rows for the start. Bill and Drew KXCR The Holler Adam76 crossed the finish line. I finished 6th in my class (Vet C 30+). I’m pretty confident there were at least 20 people in my row. I grabbed a sandwich and went back to the finish line to wait for my buddy Bill. Suspecting I may have oversold the whole “racing experience”, I was concerned about how he was managing. His first motorcycle race ever, he also finished 6th his class; with so many DNFs, that also meant he beat half the field (and everyone that stayed home). I don’t know if I’ll manage to drag him back to another race, but I know I’m really proud of my friend; it was a test of my mental fortitude, I can only imagine staring down those conditions as a first-time racer. A true testament to his ability and resolve.

The Husky still needs some tuning. I’m messing around with the suspension to get things where I like them. I’d say a set of radiator braces and probably a fan are in order if I’m going to keep up this mudder madness. I made a joke with the racer organizers that I’m probably going to wear a Hawaiian shirt to the first race that’s not a mudfest, just to celebrate. We all laughed… I hope my bluff gets called. Despite the savage conditions, it was worth every minute. I was punished and totally tapped multiple times. Crossing the finish line never felt so sweet. A couple weeks from now we’ll be lining up again. I can’t wait.

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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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