Why Maxim got it wrong about flat-track racing

Brad Baker

Brad Baker deserves all the rewards and recognition he gets. But no matter what he does, flat-track racing is not going to be the next big thing.

I’m only picking on Maxim because a media empire built on cleavage is an easy target. Their argument is not unique.
Continue reading Why Maxim got it wrong about flat-track racing →


Kawasaki brings its Z125 Pro to the U.S. market to battle the Grom

2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro

It’s like a Grom, only green. And maybe a little better. And a bit cheaper.

The Honda Grom has been a big hit by being one of the few motorcycles that appeals to a wide range of riders, both newbies and experienced. Kawasaki has decided to cash in on that success and offer a similar bike that looks to be a little better or equal and $200 cheaper.

Last fall, Kawasaki announced two versions of its Z125 for Asian markets: the Pro, with a four-speed transmission, and a regular Z125 with an automatic. Kawasaki has now confirmed the U.S. market is getting the Pro. Continue reading Kawasaki brings its Z125 Pro to the U.S. market to battle the Grom →


The EPA thinks most professional motorcycle racing in the U.S. is illegal

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency thinks motorcycles raced in the MotoAmerica series, the top professional motorcycle racing series in the United States, are illegal. Superbikes, Superstock bikes, Supersport race bikes — all of ’em, illegal.

Roger Hayden's Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike

The EPA says Roger Hayden’s Suzuki GSX-R1000-based superbike is illegal, just like all the other bikes raced in the MotoAmerica series.

Same goes for that modified Mazda Miata your friend races in SCCA, by the way.

If you have a track-only bike you take to track days and you’ve modified the exhaust, airbox or reflashed the ECU, the EPA says that’s illegal, too, even if it never rolls a tire onto a public street or highway.

All those companies like Dynojet and Bazzaz selling fuel-mapping hardware or companies selling full “race” exhaust systems? They might as well shut down. Selling that stuff is illegal, too.

What’s this all about? Deeply buried in documents released months ago by the EPA are provisions that explicitly contradict a decades-old understanding: that emissions regulations don’t apply to motor vehicles that are not operated on the public roads. Now, the EPA says that was never the case. All along it has been illegal to modify an emissions-certified car or motorcycle for competition use. And by the way, the fine is $37,500.

Continue reading The EPA thinks most professional motorcycle racing in the U.S. is illegal →


The best advice: Five things to remember

good advice makes the ride better

Eric Trow (right), owner and chief instructor of Stayin’ Safe Advanced Rider Training, gives a student some one-on-one instruction during a training tour.

If you’ve been around motorcycling as long as I have, you can remember a time when there were no Motorcycle Safety Foundation courses and few good books on how to ride better. Training may have been the motorcycle salesman telling you, “This is the clutch, this is the brake, one down and four up. Good luck, son.” Advice varied widely, depending on your sources, and could have been as ill-advised as the infamous, “Never touch that front brake, she’ll throw you right over the handlebar.”

Today, we have far more sources of advice, but it’s still up to us to separate the good from the bad. Having thought about all the tips and lessons thrown my way over a lifetime of riding, I’ve come to the conclusion that these are the best five pieces of motorcycling advice I’ve been given. Continue reading The best advice: Five things to remember →


2016: Day one, ride one of a new year

ride to Pickerington Ponds

No ice here. Funny how much better 35 degrees and sunny feels compared to 40 degrees and gray and damp.

With the sun shining and temperatures around 35 degrees, there was nothing to stop me from starting off the year with a motorcycle ride on Jan. 1, what many people in these climes call a polar bear ride. Thanks to El Niño and one of the strongest freak storms on record, the North Pole was the same temperature as Chicago this week, so even the real polar bears didn’t face serious winter weather.

I took the camera and the Versys for a short ride to a nearby nature preserve. While I was fiddling around with the camera, a man and his wife in a car arrived. He walked over to strike up a conversation.

Turns out Mike is a BMW rider, and we ended up talking for quite a while about his bike, mine, favored roads and the usual topics of conversation that arise when two riders happen to pull off the road at the same spot and time.

Through circumstance and, to be honest, choice, I spend most of my riding time alone. For some people, motorcycling is appealing mainly because it is a social activity, and they probably can’t imagine the appeal of the riding I do. My work, though, not only gives me more than an average amount of opportunities to talk about motorcycles, it actually requires it. So foregoing the social aspect of riding is not really a hardship for me.

Still, I always find myself cheered up by those chance encounters with strangers who instantly have plenty to talk about with me, just because we’re both part of that minority that rides. Like my habit of taking a polar bear ride the first day of each new year, whenever possible, it’s a small positive that forces its way into my awareness, and I’m a person who’s all too quick to spot the negatives.

All in all, a good way to start the year.


¡Feliz Navidad! y’all.

Feliz Navidad


Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT review

Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT

The Versys 1000 LT came to the United States in 2015 after being first available in Europe. As a long-time Versys 650 owner, I spent a week on the big brother to see how it measures up. Photo by Scott Sorenson.

About 13 years ago, my wife saw a TV travel show about a place in Saint George, Utah, called the Red Mountain Resort. At the time, she was a mid-life grad school student dreaming of a spa getaway with her girlfriends. Now that she’s the associate provost of her college, she decided it was finally time to indulge that old fantasy, so we planned a trip around her birthday.

Of course I had to find a way to squeeze some motorcycling into the excursion, so I hatched a plan that involved me flying to Southern California before heading east to meet her. From the start, I knew exactly which motorcycle I wanted to borrow for this mission: the Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT.

Why? Several reasons.

First, I knew it would be capable and comfortable enough for us to do a little two-up riding, but sporty enough that I wouldn’t feel like I was a barge pilot for the majority of the trip, when I was riding alone. Second, I knew there was interest in the bike among our readers at RevZilla’s Common Tread. And finally, as a long-time Versys 650 owner, I was very curious to see if Kawasaki could supersize a bike known for being nimble and fun to ride without losing those positive qualities.  Continue reading Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT review →


Alpinestars T-Jaws WP textile jacket review

I have more than my fair share of Alpinestars gear. From my old faithful roadrace boots and one-piece leathers to a pair of SP-1 gloves, two textile jackets, a mesh jacket and pants. If you plot all those products on a spectrum of my level of satisfaction, a pattern emerges. The more track-oriented stuff, I’m content with. That’s why I’m still wearing those old boots and leathers, even though I probably should retire them. The least satisfactory of the products are the two textile street jackets.

Alpinestars T-Jaws WP jacket

The Alpinestars T-Jaws WP is a sporty textile jacket that is comfortable in a sport bike tuck or on an upright bike like my Versys.

The newer of those is a T-Jaws WP jacket I’ve now been wearing for more than a year, in all kinds of weather and temperatures. Is it a failure? Not at all. But it makes sense for a smaller slice of riders than I expected when I first started testing it. Read on for all the details.  Continue reading Alpinestars T-Jaws WP textile jacket review →