Friday, October 24, 2014

Motorcycle lane-splitting study

Photo: Randall Benton/Sacramento Bee

A recent California study has arrived at the rather obvious conclusion that lane-splitting on a motorcycle becomes increasingly riskier as the speed differential increases. Last year, the California Highway Patrol published guidelines suggesting riders should not travel more than 10 mph faster than surrounding traffic, and should not lane-split at all if other vehicles are traveling faster than 30 mph. That isn't law, but seems like a common-sense suggestion. As you may know, though it's common in civilized places like Europe, California is the only US state in which lane-splitting is expressly permitted. Many states, such as mine, do not expressly prohibit lane-splitting, but it's an uncommon practice and a lane-splitting rider is subject to LEO interpretation of whether the maneuver constitutes a violation of "catch-all" traffic laws such as careless or reckless driving. In my neck of the woods, a lane-splitter may also expect to get clothes-lined, cut-off, or have a driver's door opened by a disgruntled/jealous motorist. Frankly, it won't be worth the risk around here until driver attitudes change. I've only done it a handful of times, and then only while traffic is stopped, in order to get around extremely slow-moving vehicles such as farm equipment, street sweepers, etc. What are your thoughts and/or lane-splitting experience?

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Vintage Trials this weekend!

This Sunday, vintage trials returns to the duPont family's Granogue estate outside of Wilmington, Delaware.  This year, there is a viewing route available to spectators riding dual-sport or ADV bikes. Having been years since I've attended an observed trials event, I may have to shlep up there and have a look.

(Click to enlarge)

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rumor Central: Yamaha FJ-09

Related to the below post, Yamaha didn't debut the much-rumored FZ-09 based FJ-09 at InterMot, but the name has been trademarked in the US, and the below image was "leaked" on the internet (it may have been purposefully leaked.)  The old Yamaha FJ series was among the first of what came to be known as sport-touring models, so it's nice to see the name reborn.  Judging merely from images and anticipated specs, the FJ would be in keeping with the new trend of ADV-styled street-only bikes that are in reality the new "standards" or sport-tourers: upright ergos, stonkin' motors, near sportbike-like chassis and brakes, 17" wheels, and luggage capability.   I'm very interested in this one, assuming Yamaha fixes the fueling glitches plaguing the FZ-09 and keeps the pricing reasonable as it has on the FZ-07 and -09. It's sure to be less expensive than the Honda CrossRunner given Honda's pricing strategy over the last few years.  Some color would be nice, too, but wouldn't be a deal-breaker.  Yamaha seems stuck on graphite/grey a lot lately.  How 'bout a retro Yamaha Racing white with red laser stripe scheme?

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Monday, October 20, 2014

2015 Motorcycle Shopping List

Wow; a bunch of awesome ideas for 2015 model-year motorcycles were debuted at Intermot 2014 in Cologne a couple of weeks ago. Below are the ones that are one, likely to make to US dealers, and two, are particularly interesting as possible replacements for my current bike.

Honda Crossrunner, a VFR 800 based strictly-street "ADV" bike.

Suzuki V-strom 650 XT, a somewhat more dirt-capable Wee; still a street bike really.

Revamped Kawasaki Versys 650, now with tidy luggage option

BMW R1200R replacement. Hope it has windscreen & luggage options.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Snell M2015 Standards

Snell has released a new standard for motorcycle helmet certification.  Snell M2015 replaces its M2010 standard.  Manufacturers can now apply to Snell for M2015 certification.  If you're considering replacing a M2010 helmet, you may want to hold-off (if possible; don't wait if you're helmet is in dire need of replacement) for a while to see if/when your favorite model is awarded certification under the new standard.  The helmet experts at have a detailed write-up on the Snell M2015 standard you should read.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Throw-Back Thursday: My First Motorcycle

Santa somehow managed to get  a brand spankin' new Yamaha TY80 down the chimney on Christmas Eve, 1974.  The TY80 was essentially a shrunk-down version of the TY250 and so was a competition-ready trials bike: very low gearing (with neutral at bottom), super-slim, high ground clearance, super-light weight, soft and springy suspension, and massive steering lock.  The engine was capable of chugging along in first with no throttle without stalling, and could loft the front wheel at will over obstacles. It came with plastic fenders, which were just starting to show up on pure dirt bikes, but the fuel tank was still steel.  Though most kids my age (13) were zipping around on 70-80cc MXers or "enduro" bikes, a trials bike offered a great platform to learn some of the finer points of motorcycle control that I still use today, such as traction and momentum preservation, body positioning and "English," and smoothness.  I also cut my mechanical chops (such as they are) on the little two-smoker, though it was so tough and reliable I don't remember having to do much other than normal maintenance.  I did learn how to unclog a carb jet while out in the woods, but that wasn't so rare 40 years ago.  This scan of a textured print (remember those?), likely shot with my trusty Kodak 110 Instamatic, hides a lot of detail, but I see some patchy ice in the foreground -- yup, even back then I didn't have the good sense to quit riding when it got real cold. #TBT

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Thursday, October 02, 2014

Adventure Motorcycle Calendar 2015

The annual Adventure Motorcycle Calendar is back for 2015.  I love these calendars; I'm staring at the 2014 edition as I type this, and the 2015 version will be proudly displayed immediately upon completion of Earth's current orbit. Published by Octane Press, this year's edition features images by professional photographers from around the world, including the stunning photography of Gregor Halenda, a commercial photographer and adventure motorcyclist. His work takes you to some of the most interesting portions of the United States including; Copper Center, Alaska; Moab, Utah; and Rollins Pass, Colorado. 

The calendar also features shots from other photographers that explore the wilds of Russia winding through Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, as well as the Himalayas, remote corners of Alaska, and the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia. 

The world is your oyster when you own a motorcycle, and the Adventure Motorcycle Calendar 2015 celebrates the fabulous places and fascinating people who adventure out to see the world on two wheels. The calendar is available for purchase at and wherever books are sold.
Adventure Motorcycle Calendar 2015
Editor: Lee Klancher
ISBN: 978-1-937747-38-1
Publication date: August 1, 2014
17" x 11.5" 
24 pages
24 images

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