How to learn to ride a motorcycle

I know a woman whose attempt to learn to ride a motorcycle lasted ten feet. She decided she’d have her boyfriend, a very experienced motorcyclist, teach her. She lurched ten feet across the parking lot, he screamed at her, they started arguing about his teaching technique and she gave up then and there. Never did learn to ride.

Sometimes it’s better to learn from a professional than even the most well intentioned friend or relative.

Fortunately, there’s a program set up to teach you all you need to know to get started riding a motorcycle in just one weekend. Continue reading How to learn to ride a motorcycle →

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What to wear: A non-ideological, common-sense guide to gear

If you want to start a raging, multi-page debate in an online motorcycle forum, there are a few old standbys that always work: what’s the best way to break in an engine, what kind of oil should I use, and do I really need to wear all my gear all the time?

It’s the last one of those three that’s most important, in my mind, because what happens to our bodies has a much greater impact on our lives and is much harder to repair than what happens to our motorcycles. Like most things related to riding, I’ve put a lot of thought (maybe too much) into the issue, in an effort to come up with an ideology-free, common-sense, informed and rational approach to what to wear when riding. Continue reading What to wear: A non-ideological, common-sense guide to gear →

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Should I buy an electric motorcycle?

Brammo Enertia

A Brammo Enertia, an all-electric motorcycle.

It’s not really surprising that most people buying an electric motorcycle these days are not current owners of an internal combustion motorcycle. Many people who ride motorcycles just don’t get the idea of an electric motorcycle. The objection usually goes something like this: I can pay $9,000 for a motorcycle that will make 125 horsepower, will take me 200 miles on a tank of gas and I can refill it in five minutes on just about any street corner. Why would I pay more for a motorcycle that takes me 25 miles and then I have to recharge it for four hours?

A hundred years ago, those people’s ancestors were pointing out that those early production automobiles weren’t really much faster than a horse, were more prone to get stuck in the mud since few roads then were paved, and weren’t as reliable. Surely cars would never catch on. Continue reading Should I buy an electric motorcycle? →

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The 200,000-mile Ninja

Hang around online motorcycle forums any time at all and soon enough you’ll see someone post a request for advice that reads something like this: “I’m thinking of buying this sportbike. It looks clean and the owner seems like he takes care of his stuff, but it has 20,000 miles on it. Is it used up? Should I be worried about the high mileage?”

Only in America is 20,000 miles on a modern, liquid-cooled, high-quality motorcycle considered “high mileage.” So it was with great pleasure that I wrote this story about Willard Huedepohl and his 200,000-mile Kawasaki ZX-9R. Instead of explaining that a well cared for 20,000-mile sportbike is closer to “not broken in” than “used up,” I can just tell them to click here.

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Motorcycle 101

motorcycle campingAlong with the touring stories, personal profiles and articles about one-of-a-kind customs, some of the stories I’ve written for Accelerate magazine have been practical, how-to pieces. Though I’m no master mechanic, I have learned some helpful tips during a lifetime of riding, from how to prep your bike to how to pack for a long tour on the road.

Here are some of those how-to stories:

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Thanks for the sunshine, November

A November motorcycle rideNovember in Ohio can bring absolutely anything, in terms of weather. One year, I watched my wife’s nieces and nephew play in the piles of leaves in our backyard on a sunny, 70-degree Thanksgiving Day. I’ve seen snow on Thanksgiving, too.

So when November throws us one of those good days, I take advantage. Continue reading Thanks for the sunshine, November →

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The most beautiful rides of the year

West Virginia Route 16

West Virginia Route 16.

On those crystal days of autumn, when the air is just the right temperature to comfortably wear the gear and the leaves are hitting their peak, there is no better time to ride, just for the sake of breathing a deep gulp of nature’s beauty and celebrating the feeling of being alive.

And to relive the feelings of those few and fleeting days of fall, once they’re gone and the harsh slog of winter is upon me, I make sure to take photos. Just for the fun of it, here are a few photos from this fall’s rides. Continue reading The most beautiful rides of the year →

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90k

In the grand scheme of motorcycling, it wasn’t really that big an accomplishment. But still, when my 1997 Triumph Speed Triple rolled over 90,000 miles yesterday, I stopped to take a photo. Continue reading 90k →

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