Motorcycle Men Podcast

Earlier this week I was a guest on another podcast called the Motorcycle Men. 

Ted, Tim and Chris were absolute gentlemen and such a pleasure to talk to. They let me go and on about riding motorcycles and asked some really great questions about women in motorcycling. They hail from New Jersey and are cruiser heads who I think, had a blast talking to little old me about sportbikes. :D

THANK YOU for having me on Guys! Take a listen: 

http://www.motorcyclemen.us/episodes/blog/episode-52-a-monkey-a-woody-and-joanne

And then don't forget to visit my podcast, Moterrific and listen to our latest episode 85 where Cristi and I get caught up after a month long break.

http://www.moterrific.com/blog/2016/9/18/episode-85-birthday-adventures-in-pillion-and-just-jeeping

New Boots from Daytona, The Lady Pilot GTX

I've always been a Daytona fan but in recent years I've left my Daytonas behind except for extreme weather conditions like freezing temperatures and heavy wet weather riding. I also have found ways of compensating for lack of height using other methods.

But if you're looking for a way to get additional height without resorting to a casual styled, chunky heel that isn't protective enough, light enough, or strong enough for riding then try these new Lady Pilots from Daytona.  

I'm liking the cleaner calf / leg design and the simplified styling. To me it also seems like there's more height offered through the soles given the wedge-boot style design. I'm going to test this theory out this week and try on my Ladystars and these Lady Pilots to see if I can tell a height difference. Fit wise, these are going to be a wider fitment overall like the Ladystars but we'll see if there's much difference. 

Either way, you save $100 and get the height you might be looking for with a simplified style and the same comfort and quality you'd expect from Daytona. 

Women's Waterproof Jackets for Fall/Winter ish

Olympia's New Durham Jacket is waterproof and warm (to a point)

Olympia's New Durham Jacket is waterproof and warm (to a point)

Living on the East Coast, winter has a completely different meaning. For those of us over here in 40F temps with windchill, we need more than just a waterproof jacket. But I think for the majority of riders who tend to stop riding before ice starts to take over the pavement, a jacket like this one fits just right.

Olympia has always been a brand to offer slightly higher than entry level priced gear but this season they've introduced a jacket ($199) and matching pant ($169) that offers new riders something to get started with. The Durham has a waterproof, integrated (non removable) shell and removable thermal liner. With reasonable "winter" temperatures (think winter in the Bay Area, Fall in Philadelphia) I think this jacket is perfect.

If you need a hardcore, winter worthy coat then I'd opt for the ladies Ranger instead. Match this with the toasty ProMax pants and you'll have a great outfit for this season. (A slightly less toasty pant would be the Expeditions since there isn't a thermal liner)

Revit's Monroe Jacket (in Olive Green, pretty!)

Revit's Monroe Jacket (in Olive Green, pretty!)

On the slightly higher priced scale ($299), the Monroe also offers an integrated waterproof (non removable) membrane with a removable thermal liner. You'll find the fitment to be a true European cut with a slightly slimmer body/chest and shoulders. And of course the standard Revit fit which offers a long sleeve and torso. And if you're a hardcore winter riding citizen, then I'd recommend something more robust like the Neptune which offers additional wind protection with the Gore-Tex membranes. 

A quick pic of the Monroe in person, live at the Revzilla Gear Boutique in Philly. 

A quick pic of the Monroe in person, live at the Revzilla Gear Boutique in Philly. 

I'm a perfect 36 in this and as a Rev'it fan I'd certainly buy this IF I needed another jacket to fill my closet (which fortunately, is impossible to squeeze in another at this point :P) I never thought I'd wear a green jacket but this one is so pretty in person I really love how it looks and fits. The matching toasty Factor pants ($199) are a nice match to this cold weather outfit. (for a less toasty pant I would recommend the Enterprise ($169) since they don't have a thermal liner) I wouldn't say that this jacket is for the snow but will certainly get you down to similar temperatures as the Olympia option above. 

So for less than $500 you can get yourself pretty toasty and cozy for the upcoming winter riding season. Of course, other colors are available in both jackets as well. But if you are truly riding in extreme temperatures, none of these will offer you the warmth that Heated Liners can bring when you start hitting lower digit windchill temperatures. 

REVIT Flash Sale, This Week Only

Only through TUESDAY, AUGUST 30TH! Select items are 15% off, and I'm talking about new items for Fall like the Outback 2 Ladies Jacket above. 

If you need to get ready for Fall/Spring/Winter, then this is the time. The Outback 2 is in awesome, 3 layer jacket with a removable waterproof liner, and a removable thermal liner. The cut is European fit but not nearly as slim as a Dainese women's jacket.  

Normally priced at $349.99; it's $297.99 for the sale only. And then it's back up to regular price next week. Don't worry, there are other colors like black, black and black if you prefer darker colors. 

The Enterprise ladies pant is a great option to pair with it for $199.99, although it's not on sale (but a great price for a waterproof pant!). Don't worry, this is also available in black. Remember that Rev'it is one of the few brands that offer short, standard and tall sizes for women so check out their size charts and let me know if you need help! Their pants fit true to Revit sizing.  

Mention in Be Fabulous! Magazine

I'm in very good company with my fellow women moto-bloggers in the latest edition of "Be Fabulous!" magazine (free). 

Click Here to Read in Any Browser: http://issuu.com/diannabowes6/docs/be_fab_july_2016

The mission of the magazine is to "Inspire, Educate and Empower the baby boomer woman".  This particular issue features other prominent female bloggers and adventurers such as my good friend Alisa Clickenger aka MotoAdventureGal

And if you're looking for a magazine that highlights the various issues that Baby Boomer women experience you may want to check it out. 

For more information: www.fabulousat50.com

 

 

Why Motorcycle Seat Heights Are Overrated

Me, in 2014 riding an almost impossibly tall DRZ400SM. ~36" seat height with the knobby tires and me barely compressing the suspension.

Me, in 2014 riding an almost impossibly tall DRZ400SM. ~36" seat height with the knobby tires and me barely compressing the suspension.

So you're shopping for your first sportbike, or you're thinking about upgrading to a taller, heavier, faster bike? What does seat height really mean? Does it matter whether the bike is a V-Twin, L-Twin, Inline-4 or Single Cylinder engine? What exactly am I looking for beyond seat height? Does the suspension matter? These are all questions you should be asking, and you will want to ask to consider whether or not that bike really fits you.

Stop letting seat height be your only determining factor when considering what to ride! 

When you initially look at seat height, say on a 2017 Suzuki SV650A (which is 30.9"), you need to know that this measurement is taken when there isn't a body sitting on it. It's simply obtained by measuring with a tape measure from the ground to the top of the seat. 

2016 Suzuki SV650: Seat Height, WITHOUT YOU ON IT!

2016 Suzuki SV650: Seat Height, WITHOUT YOU ON IT!

But when a person (of adult size and stature of course) sits on this bike, the rider may make the rear shock compress, which can result in an overall reduction in seat height (for me that was ~0.75" when I put in a softer spring on my Triumph). Let's go off on a little tangent here for a second.

When you're a small person like myself (130lbs, 5'2"), there are VERY few 600cc-1,000cc sportbikes/touring bikes that are designed for me to sit on the bike and compress that rear spring (if you aren't doing this, then the bike isn't set up correctly for you). And my Triumph definitely falls into that category. The stock rear shock was really meant for a heavier rider, about 150-160lbs to shmush that spring.

This is what suspension gurus (thanks Ken!) call SAG. For a more in-depth explanation of how this all works, read this

The original rear shock that came with my Triumph before I got a customized Ohlins.

The original rear shock that came with my Triumph before I got a customized Ohlins.

So what did I do to resolve this issue? I married a wonderful man a long time ago who bought me a used Ohlins Racing shock for my 40th birthday that I then had resprung (essentially traded in) with a new spring that was much softer and would compress (sag) under my little weight.

No, that didn't mean I could flat foot my Triumph (and I never will!). But it did mean that when I put my left foot down I didn't have to shift my butt over to the left to get it completely flat. I would say easily, a half inch lower, maybe almost an inch. And having YOUR body sit lower in the seat is far better than having the bike itself lower to the ground (for clearance, especially while LEANING which is the whole point of riding a sportbike! Otherwise, you may want to consider a cruiser because frankly they're just not meant to lean over very far).

If I had gone the lowering route, there's absolutely no way I could lean over on my bike in a corner like this. As you can see, I'm definitely NOT dragging my knee, as I'm not leaning that far over. Bottoming out is a very real risk aside from the performance issues, that come along with lowering your sporty bike. Photo: Killboy.com  

If I had gone the lowering route, there's absolutely no way I could lean over on my bike in a corner like this. As you can see, I'm definitely NOT dragging my knee, as I'm not leaning that far over. Bottoming out is a very real risk aside from the performance issues, that come along with lowering your sporty bike. Photo: Killboy.com  

So consider the suspension on the bike, on top of the seat height. How stiff is it? Where did the rear shock come from? Was it added on afterwards? Are there any adjustments that can be made now that you are going to ride this bike? If you don't address suspension from the beginning, it can greatly impact your ability to ride the bike, your perception of what you think you can ride and your overall experience. 

If you don't have the funds to customize your suspension, your bike probably has at the minimum, the ability to adjust the Preload. In this handy guide from Sport Rider Magazine, they have a simple definition.  If you lessen the Preload, that can also result in an immediate drop in seat height! When I bought a Kawasaki Z750S about 10 years ago, it felt a tad taller than I was ready for. But my mechanic was able to drop the Preload and bring it down to the lowest point which immediately made me feel much more comfortable. I'd say it lowered me a good 0.5" overall. (Certainly not near flat footing but at least I got the balls of my feet down instead of tip toes, and almost a flat left)

z750s

So assuming that the bike you want has a shock that's set in the range of your weight, and you have the option to adjust the Preload, you've immediately lost a good chunk of seat height. On that SV650A, I'd say you could easily chop off at least a half inch, if not an inch depending on the combination of Preload adjustment and rear shock compression. 

There's also the issue of the bike itself. Now, look at the SV650 and look at my old blue Kawi above. Look at the engine. What's different? Well, first off the Kawi is a 4-cylinder, also known as an Inline-4. That makes for a MUCH wider engine overall than the SV650, which is only a 2-cylinder! And, see how they lay the cylinders at an angle on the Suzuki? That's why it's called a V-Twin. Now you've lost half the thickness of the bike between your legs. What just happened? Your knees are much closer together than on the Kawi. So when you go to put your feet down, they'll also be a bit closer to the ground because there aren't 2 more cylinders in your way. Also notice how the seats on both bikes are tapered as it gets closer to the tank. This is a good thing because again, now your knees are much closer. It's not just height that keeps your feet from reaching the ground.  

2017 sv650A
Specs for the 2017 Suzuki SV650A, from SuzukiCycles.com

Specs for the 2017 Suzuki SV650A, from SuzukiCycles.com

Another thing to consider that you will (yes you really need to) be wearing proper motorcycle boots. Not sneakers, not flip flops, not loafers. Real riding boots. Something that has a real sole, grippy, anti slip and probably ~1-2" higher in the heel. Leverage is one of our most important friends as shorter riders. Without it you are screwed. (Pssst..Stop trying to ride a motorcycle without the right gear. It's a real motorcycle, not a video game :D)

A very good example of this is the Daytona Ladystar. But you may not even need something that tall.

You may just need a regular riding boot like these Sidi Vertigo Leis, (left) which I wear every time I go riding. And even these have ~3/4" heel on them. So add that to your natural inseam. 

I've also added these awesome insoles which give me another 2" of overall height! HELL YES.

 

Available on Amazon.com. Just do a search for Height Insoles or Lifted Insoles and you'll find a ton on Google or Amazon. 

Available on Amazon.com. Just do a search for Height Insoles or Lifted Insoles and you'll find a ton on Google or Amazon. 

So all I'm saying is, DON'T GIVE UP just because some numbers tell you that you should! If you've been riding something for awhile and are ready for the next level, then some of these things will greatly apply to what you're thinking about riding. 

Or, as a totally new rider you will also be thinking about what you can or can't ride. So make sure you start AT YOUR EXPERIENCE LEVEL. I can't emphasize this enough. 

I truly think this is the #1 mistake people make (aside from not gearing up). When you start on a bike that is well beyond your level, you have no idea how to compensate for the lack of height. Instead you end up frustrated, stressed out, unhappy and probably someone with very poor riding skills as you drop your bike left and right. 

A couple of caveats however, with all this advice: 

  1. Don't expect to ride a bike with a really tall inseam (~3-6" taller than yours) if you've never ridden before! Because, no, that won't work! 
  2. And there are NO shortcuts to becoming proficient in riding and getting better at riding. When we are short, we must ride better:
    • With more precision than anyone else to ensure we brake perfectly so as to prevent dropping the bike. This means clutch/throttle control, exceptionally smooth braking and cornering, etc. 

Also read this article I wrote about all the bikes I've ridden in my brief career as a motorcyclist. There are a few other things to think about when choosing the right motorcycle as well.  

Good luck, and remember to consider everything when shopping for a motorcycle. Don't let anyone make a decision as personal as choosing YOUR motorcycle or motorcycle gear. 

Great Deal on the 2014 Klim Altitude Ladies Jacket

March 2014. Here I am wearing a Small? in the older Klim Altitude GTX ladies jacket. 

March 2014. Here I am wearing a Small? in the older Klim Altitude GTX ladies jacket. 

It's been awhile since I put this one, and I think I was a little heavier back then as well.  

At Revzilla, this jacket used to retail for $589. Now it's on sale for $285! But only in sizes L-3XL. Sorry little ladies, it's only for the curvier girls now. And the fitment is very good for a curvy body type. It does run long however, especially in the sleeves and waist. Perfect for a touring / adventure riding position. 

Launch Party for the 2016 Motorcycle Exhibit at the Simeone Museum

Photo Courtesy of SimeoneFoundation.org

Photo Courtesy of SimeoneFoundation.org

There is a little known gem in Philadelphia called the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum.

It mainly houses sports car exhibits of various makes and models, but for a short period of time they will have a motorcycle exhibit featuring " LAND OF THE RISING SUN, MID-CENTURY MOTORCYCLES AND FAST FROM THE PAST"

"The stars of this year’s exhibit include a 1973 Honda Superbike, streamlining icon 1987 Honda Hurricane, 1969 Kawasaki H2 “King of the Streets”; 1954 MV Augusta “Disco Volante”, 1952 Vincent Black Shadow (at the time the world’s fastest standard motorcycle and still a treasure) and also the famed 1958 Triumph “The Parasite” which achieved over 150 miles an hour in 10:33 seconds the quarter-mile. These are just a few of the over 40 special motorcycles on display." -www.simeonefoundation.org

The motorcycles on display are SO varied, with every manufacturer you can think of between 1917 and 1987. It looks like most of them are owned by local riders who've taken lovely care of their bikes and are providing them to the museum for this limited collection. 

It doesn't matter if you're a Harley person, a Triumph person or a Suzuki person. If you love seeing beautiful classic, vintage motorcycles all under one roof then come out and hang with us Saturday night. I'll be there with my man and my good friend Aleks

Saturday, August 20. 5:30pm - 9:00pm. 

Tickets for the launch party are $40. 

AS OF 8/18/16, TICKETS ARE SOLD OUT :-(

Purchase Tickets Here.

The Perfect Bike for this Speedy Old Lady, a BMW R1200R

I know, I know. I'm not that old. Mentally I feel 21. However, I definitely cannot lean over on a sporty bike anymore for more than 10 minutes. That's really the only reason why I call it the Perfect Bike for this Speedy Old Lady. 

I'm not planning on upgrading or trading in Goldie anytime soon, however, it certainly made me think twice....

As you might recall, I rode the first 5 days of the Sisters' Centennial Motorcycle Ride last month to commemorate the anniversary of the Van Buren Sisters achievement 100 years ago.

I was able to borrow this bike from a very, very generous person in the Bay Area so I was able to pick this up early Friday morning on the 22nd of July. I've never ridden The Baron (my nickname for him) before. And it's been at least 5? years since I threw a leg over a Beemer too. I didn't know what to expect. The first thing that sort of blew my mind was how comfortable it felt from the get go. 

A break from the heat on my way to Carson City. Shown with the Givi Tanklock XS307 (I'm pretty sure) Bag and a Kriega US-20 Tailpack on the rear. Perfect!

A break from the heat on my way to Carson City. Shown with the Givi Tanklock XS307 (I'm pretty sure) Bag and a Kriega US-20 Tailpack on the rear. Perfect!

I don't think may non BMW riders realize that they are ergonomically quite comfortable and so well balanced that they feel a lot lighter than they are on paper. The plethora of seat and suspension options really do allow for a wide variety of men and women to ride these things (myself included at a whopping 28.5" inseam).

Unfortunately I don't have any good up close, action shots of me actually riding so you can see how well it fit me. There are a few of me riding behind my friends Sarah and Alisa (riding an F800GS in BMW jacket, wearing a Schuberth Modular helmet) here but you have to dig to find me.  

The overall ergonomics were fantastic. The reach was perfect, I felt ridiculously comfortable slabbing all the way to Nevada (Hwy 80 East to 50 East to 395 North). I would say almost a 90 Degree seated position but the bars are tapered closer to the front forks. So a modest sport touring position. My shoulders/back never felt a thing and it was too easy to ride 100 miles before pulling over for a break.  

The overall height and fit below my waist was quite perfect, and I didn't really feel any discomfort except for my right hip which I've had issues with since an accident I had back in 2009. It gets achey if my knees are bent at 90 degrees from my hip or higher. So I did have some minor discomfort due to this, but nothing that kept me from riding 250 miles in an afternoon to Carson City (11am to 4pm, with 60-75 minutes worth of breaks for lunch and gas). 

Because of my hip, I would probably opt for a slightly different seat to increase the seat height. You're probably wondering, but how tall is it?  If I had to guess, I'd say it had about a 29" seat height (before compression). It has a very narrow tankspace because the fuel is mainly below you, so the center of gravity is much lower overall. But with the combined seat shape and skinny tank, it makes for a very easy reach. Because a bike with the same seat height but with terrible ergonomics (wider, flatter seat or wider, fatter tank) can limit how your toes touch the ground. A good example of this is my husband's Speed Triple:

Me on his 2007 Speed Triple

Me on his 2007 Speed Triple

This bike has the same exact seat height as my STreet Triple R, but I can reach much much closer to the ground because of two very important details:

  • customized rear shock, which compresses underneath my weight 
  • and skinnier tank shape, bringing my knees closer together
Me on my 2012 Street Triple R with a custom Ohlins Rear Shock

Me on my 2012 Street Triple R with a custom Ohlins Rear Shock

I would say the R1200R is perfect for a compact body type; assuming the rider has adequate experience on smaller, lighterweight sportbikes. Just because I'm smaller and I can ride this doesn't mean that everyone at my height/weight should be. It's still a 1200cc bike that weighs 500lbs. And managing the weight, getting used to how it handles (especially slow speeds), and feeling 100% comfortable in corners only comes with the 10+ years of experience I've had to practice my braking and cornering skills to ensure I don't drop any of my bikes). 

If I were smart I would've played with the Dynamic Suspension, because changing the modes would've probably stiffened up the rear a bit and brought me up to a slightly higher point to ease this discomfort.

The Speedo also has KM in addition to Miles so that threw me off as well. At one point I thought I was going over 100mph (which freaks me out). 

The Speedo also has KM in addition to Miles so that threw me off as well. At one point I thought I was going over 100mph (which freaks me out). 

Let's look at the Electronic Suspension Adjustment (my favorite part of this ride). 

"Dynamic ESA enables you to adjust your motorcycle's suspension to suit the load and the road conditions." - BMW Owners Manual

You can actually adjust the spring preload and the dampening all in the dashboard. But you cannot adjust preload while riding. There are two modes: Road and Dynamic. I had it set to Dynamic the whole time, and I didn't even realize I could adjust preload. But since this was a borrowed bike I really didn't want to touch the settings so I left them alone. 

I could tell that it was definitely set too cushy in the corners, because it felt far too 'floaty' going through sweepers. Otherwise it felt smooth, stable and easy to push through the corners. 

In addition to various suspension modes, the Baron also had additional features including but not limited to: 

  • ABS
  • tire pressure monitoring
  • heated grips (multi level)
  • cruise control (which I never used)
  • electronic suspension adjustment (!!!! :D)
  • keyless ignition (so strange not needing a key, but so damn handy)
    • all you have to do is have the fancy keyfob in your pocket when you're ready to press the ignition button and voila! it starts right up. 
  • digital gear indicators
  • automatic turn signal cancellation (above ~15mph)
  • digital readouts of almost everything
    • the only readout not digital was the Speedometer. Which seems silly at this point, with everything digital why not add the Speedo as well? Even Goldie has a digital readout. 

Overall, such a ridiculously fancy bike. So much technology. By far, the most advanced bike I've ever thrown a leg over. 

One of the main features I used were the heated grips. Wheeee! I didn't anticipate chilly temperatures, but the morning of Saturday, July 23rd it was Mid to High 40s in Lake Tahoe on the north side. Luckily the heated grips saved me because I didn't expect that at all. 

Oh and I can't forget to mention the Power. I forgot how easy it is to cruise at freeway speeds on a Liter Bike. It comes to easy to this one, if I'm going 60-65mph, with just a light flick on the throttle and it easily kicks up another 10-20mph without a hiccup. The tiny windscreen seems useless but it definitely made a difference. I think I have to revisit a small windscreen with Goldie, getting out of Philadelphia requires slab sometimes to I may have to add this to my farkle list soon.

The increase in power and comfort certainly made the long distance ride feel like a much shorter one. But cruising right now for me, is a low priority. I'd rather have a nimble, lightweight bike with the type of riding I'm doing. But who knows? A lot can happen in a year :D

Besides the pricepoint (which I'm just not ready for) the way the 2 cylinders stick out right by my legs are in my way when I'm trying to park. I had to get off the bike to park only because it was so heavy. I actually had two firm balls of my feet on the ground, so stability was fine but it weighs 508lbs (curb weight, fully filled with liquids). Another 100lbs over Goldie. But honestly, other than parking lots and 3 point turns, I really couldn't tell. Something that I really really appreciate with BMW. The distribution of weight is very well balanced. BMW offers variable seat heights between seats and suspension options (from 29" - 33").

Sturdy footpegs! Just in my way a little bit. I actually felt really stable standing up on the pegs a couple times to stretch out. It almost felt as if I were riding a GS instead :D

Sturdy footpegs! Just in my way a little bit. I actually felt really stable standing up on the pegs a couple times to stretch out. It almost felt as if I were riding a GS instead :D

The only other issue I had were the footpegs. Being of shorter stature, almost every bike I ride, the footpegs are right where my feet want to go when I come to a stop. So it just took a little more effort to be conscious of where my foot went down. 

Not bad from this view, eh? 

Not bad from this view, eh? 

Luckily the owner of this steed had a Ram Mount set up already just to the left of the mirror. So all I needed was my Universal Cell Phone Holder for my trusty iPhone 6. And as you can see my Kriega US-20 Pack was all I needed for 2 days. 

Kriega US-20 pack securely mounted on the backseat, no problemo.

Kriega US-20 pack securely mounted on the backseat, no problemo.

Besides price point, I really can't say anything truly negative about this bike. Things like the cylinders sticking out and the footpegs are minor, in my opinion. 

And if you're still worried about seat height, please dont look at the numbers and think "Oh no, there's no way". Because sitting on the bike gives you a completely different feel and perception of what you think you might be able to ride. And of course, if you're considering a bike like this as a first and you're of shorter stature you sure as hell will need to flat foot it because you have NO experience riding. And I truly believe that riding taller bikes when you're shorter is only possible with substantial riding experience.  

Overall I'm a huge fan of this bike and would recommend it heartily to anyone who wants a rock solid sport tourer, that offers sportbike like performance in a comfortable riding position, technology and more speed. :D

Parked next to a Suzuki Vstrom. Size wise, the R1200R doesn't seem like it's that much smaller than the Vstrom. And it really didn't feel that 'big' to me.  

Parked next to a Suzuki Vstrom. Size wise, the R1200R doesn't seem like it's that much smaller than the Vstrom. And it really didn't feel that 'big' to me.