A look back at my 2016 in riding

California sunset

As the sun sets on 2016, here are a few of my memories from the year on two wheels. Photo by Kevin Wing.

In the waning days of December, the nights come early and the tendency to look back comes easily. For me, the year of riding was far from the best or the worst.

For some, riding a motorcycle is a hobby, maybe even an expensive and time-consuming one, like playing golf or owning a boat. These are the people who post ads for used motorcycles for sale, saying “no time to ride.”

I don’t need time to ride because riding is just one more thread in the fabric of my life. It’s my job and my hobby, my entertainment and my recreation, and it’s my transportation. So I never have to make time to ride. It just happens because I’m living my life and going places.

In 2016, that riding included no epic, once-in-a-lifetime trips, but no year on two wheels is totally uneventful. There was that foolish thing I did back in April, a couple of “work” trips to the Superbike races, trips to the office in Philadelphia for work and to the hospital in West Virginia for family, and to Maine and Michigan for fun. Here are a few highlights in photos. Continue reading A look back at my 2016 in riding →

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First ride review of the BMW G 310 R

When BMW showed its G 310 R roadster at the EICMA show a little over a year ago, I wasn’t sure I’d ever see it on U.S. roads. Even less did I expect that a year later I’d be riding one through the Santa Monica Mountains to the popular motorcycle hangout, the Rock Store, or slipping through stalled lanes of traffic in Hollywood.

BMW G 310 R

I didn’t really expect to find myself riding this motorcycle in the United States, but BMW is giving U.S. riders a shot at their new world bike. The BMW G 310 R handles canyon roads just fine, though it will probably spend a lot more time in the city. Photo by Kevin Wing.

This motorcycle was built for the world, not so much for riders in North America, but with the proliferation of new, smaller models, BMW decided to bring it here, anyway. After riding the bike for a day at the official press intro, a few things were clear: Yes, the littlest BMW is capable of keeping up on U.S. freeways; no, that’s still not the primary or most important market for this bike; and finally, BMW recognizes that this motorcycle, and the models to follow in what will surely be a fuller G line, are critical to achieving the company’s goal of selling 200,000 motorcycles worldwide by 2020. Continue reading First ride review of the BMW G 310 R →

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I’m a Life Member of the AMA and I have mixed feelings about that

AMA Charter Life Member certificate

My AMA Charter Life Member certificate.

I am now a Charter Life Member of the American Motorcyclist Association. All that means is that I just paid my annual dues for the 25th time, so I don’t have to pay dues the rest of my life. It’s a milestone that’s both more significant than I would have predicted 25 years ago and less satisfying than I imagined 10 years ago. There have been some detours in the road over the past quarter century, as there are in any life.

Of course the most significant detour in my case is that I went from being an AMA member, to an employee, and back to being just a member. Some of the things I learned about the association along the way surprised me. Continue reading I’m a Life Member of the AMA and I have mixed feelings about that →

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Motorcycle styling: Evil bots, crouching predators and your grandfather’s bike

Kawasaki Z1000

Kawasaki Z1000.

At some point in recent years, apparently when I wasn’t paying attention, styling of your basic street motorcycle (call it a standard, a naked bike, or whatever you prefer) split into two distinct branches. Now, those branches have grown so far apart, with just about nothing in between, that they hardly seem like they could fit into the same category.

And maybe they don’t.

Look at the Kawasaki Z1000 above, for example. Continue reading Motorcycle styling: Evil bots, crouching predators and your grandfather’s bike →

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The tweets say it all: #FirstDayofFall, last summer motorcycle trip

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100,000 miles on the Speed Triple

99999.9 miles

Poised to start the second go-around.

We humans like nice, big, round numbers. So inevitably, I’ve had nothing but positive reactions when I’ve told people about my 1997 Triumph Speed Triple rolling over 100,000 miles. Continue reading 100,000 miles on the Speed Triple →

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How to get ripped off when buying a used motorcycle

In the unlikely event you’d like to overpay for a used motorcycle, then you’ll be happy to know it’s an easy process. Really, there’s just one step: Be foolish and impulsive (or lazy) and do no research.

I could have chosen a lot of examples, but here’s one that works quite nicely. This Cincinnati dealership is advertising this 2009 Kawasaki Versys with just 3,838 miles on it for $4,995. If you don’t know better, and don’t bother to find out, I suppose it could sound like a decent deal. Under $5,000 for a clean, low-mileage bike.

Used 2009 Kawasaki Versys

Good deal? You could have bought this used motorcycle new six years ago for less.

I just happen to know better, because that price is a couple of hundred dollars more than I paid for the exact same bike, same color and everything. And the one I bought had zero miles. Brand new. And that was six years ago.

I really wonder. Are there people out there who really pay anything close to the outrageous prices I see dealers and independent shops asking for used bikes?  Continue reading How to get ripped off when buying a used motorcycle →

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Three reasons why your first motorcycle should be a used motorcycle

People get into motorcycling a lot of different ways, but one case I’ve seen over and over is the non-rider who spots a beautiful motorcycle that somehow fires all the right synapses in some deep primordial part of the brain and who absolutely knows in that instant, without a hint of doubt, that this is the bike he or she must own.

Yamaha XSR900

Whenever a uniquely styled motorcycle like the Yamaha XSR900 comes out, some would-be riders fall in love and consider making it their first motorcycle. The enthusiasm is understandable, but the decision is not wise.

In this scenario, knowledge may be lacking, but certainty is not.

Hey, I don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun or drain away somebody’s passion. I think you should indeed buy your dream bike. I just strongly believe it should be your second or third bike. I can think of three good reasons why your first motorcycle should be something used and probably cheap.  Continue reading Three reasons why your first motorcycle should be a used motorcycle →

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