Honda Grom 125 - The Perfect Beginner Bike?

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The Grom is the perfect beginner motorcycle if you’re |this| small. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it if you’re blessed with a taller inseam. But I absolutely, positively, love this bike for anyone out there thinking they’re too small to ride anything.

Even if you can’t flat foot,

IT DOESN’T MATTER

IT DOESN’T MATTER

IT DOESN’T MATTER

IT DOESN’T MATTER

IT DOESN’T MATTER

I flat foot , but barely. Without shoes on, I’m not even flat! Also, I have a 28.5” inseam but the bike has a 30” one. So how is this possible?    SUSPENSION!

I flat foot , but barely. Without shoes on, I’m not even flat! Also, I have a 28.5” inseam but the bike has a 30” one. So how is this possible? SUSPENSION!

Because riding some motorcycles (anything except a cruiser) inherently means that you won’t flat foot.

And if you want to join this club, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You must learn how to ride a motorcycle first, so well that your inseam becomes far less important than you think it does right now.

Meet the Honda Grom. It’s a lightweight, single cylinder (less cylinders = slimmer bike between your knees), 220lb bike with plenty of power for a smaller rider. Because no, if you’re 250lbs, this bike will definitely feel severely underpowered.

I rode it home to downtown Philly on my way home from the RevZilla Philadelphia Showroom and it was SO much fun.

Traffic is moving at an average speed of 25-35mph, and if I was a new rider, I would feel comfortable on this bike, taking corners swiftly and smoothly. I wouldn’t be scared or worried because I accidentally hit the brakes too hard, which will likely result in me dropping 400-500+lbs of metal on my foot. Instead I would feel confident, comfortable and happy that I chose something that I’m not afraid to ride everyday.

You’re going to see all types of riders on all types of bikes. You will absolutely notice that not everyone has flat feet when they ride. I know what you’re thinking: “But if I don’t flat foot, I won’t be comfortable.” That is mostly true when:

  • You’re not wearing real riding boots (pretty much anything on Zappos)

  • You’re riding a bike that exceeds your riding experience (pretty much anything over 300cc because they’re probably going to be too heavy AND tall)

  • Your skills are so poor that you aren’t able to overcome your lack of height

When these areas are ignored, and you let your ego or peer pressure take over, you are not only making things more challenging/frustrating but you’re actually slowing down the process. Your instinct to ‘speed things up’ by buying a bigger bike is actually going to slow you down in every way possible.

Small bikes like Groms are designed to motivate, excite and move you towards your ultimate goal of learning to ride motorcycles! I’m going to do a more in-depth review in a few weeks after I’ve ridden it around a few more times.

So give yourself a huge break, and take time to learn how to ride a motorcycle (really well).

No one says “I want to learn how to ride poorly, or slowly, or at an extremely slow pace”. Do you?

Need "Bad Fit" Women's Gear Photos

To my fabulous female readers. I'm contributing to an article about women's gear fitment and need photos to illustrate "bad fit" for women's gear, especially jacket and pant photos.

Please <EMAIL> them to me.

For example, here's a pic of my saggy butt showing the worst pant fit ever. I have a very flat butt.

This was about 6-7 years ago when I lost a lot of weight (almost 20lbs) so when I tried on my pants after ~6 months this was the result.

(For reference, these were Revit Gear 2 Pants, now discontinued but the current version is called the Ignition 3)

Before they are used, I will email you and let you know.

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Ride Report, Solo Ride through West Virginia and Virginia

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During the second week of May this year, my plan was to spend 8 solid days on the road, but unfortunately mother nature decided otherwise. It was the high 40s, low 50s and raining on and off. So I left on a Tuesday instead of Sunday as planned. It was still chilly and raining off and on the entire day.

Since I really had zero plans other than meeting my wonderful friend Tamela Rich in Roanoke VA on Thursday, I had plenty of time so I took the long way down and stayed off highway, went around DC and ended up my first night in Front Royal, VA.

Front Royal is basically the starting point of the Blue Ridge Parkway. As much I as I enjoy the scenery of the parkway, it’s a fairly limiting road due to the speed limits and traffic. But I did do an obligatory portion of the top of the parkway so I could snap a few pics. And do a little scenic, casual riding.

One of the many well paved roads I found in WVA.

One of the many well paved roads I found in WVA.

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We went riding the following morning and ended up on one of the many unpaved backroads that VA is notorious for. For the ADV folk out there, it's a dreamy place to ride. But for us, particularly me and my smooth tires, it was a nailbiter. I've been on 3 death grip dirt roads in my illustrious 15-year riding career. This one was one of the worst.

A single lane, dirty, steep, gravel-filled road with no room to turn around. Something about riding uphill on this kind of road terrifies me when I'm on a sportbike. All I could see was my rear wheel spinning so fast and hard, losing traction and then flipping over. My bike has so much torque and can send so much power to the rear wheel, even at 1,000rpm that I didn't foresee this going very well.

My friend Tamela on her dirt worthy F650GS

My friend Tamela on her dirt worthy F650GS

This is why many sporty folk fear the dirt. We can lose traction so very quickly. I know that if I were on a cute KLX250 with knobby tires that I would've tore up that hill like it was a smooth, paved track. 

Luckily I remembered what my friend Nancy from Streetmasters told me a long time ago; smooth and steady in 2nd gear. So up I went. It was only a mile or so but felt like 10. This was really the most exciting part of my trip. Otherwise, I had an uneventful trip with an awesome friend whom I missed very much. We have

Sometimes getting out of my comfort zone can be painful. But afterwards, it feels so good knowing that I did it!

Trip planning post, if you want to see what gear and luggage I used

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New Dainese Airbag Vest - Wireless, Smart and Safe

Full, standalone, wireless, mesh airbag vest

Full, standalone, wireless, mesh airbag vest

So I’ve never been a fan of airbag vests, or jackets with integrated airbag technology because it is rather limiting, in my opinion.

If I choose a traditional, tethered airbag vests to wear over my gear, then there’s this rather ugly, cumbersome thing that I will have to wear on top of my awesome jacket. Admittedly, I’m lazy. And the idea of wearing a second piece of gear over my gear is too much.

I’m also a very petite, small woman so wearing something larger over my gear isn’t ideal either.

But if I choose a jacket with an integrated airbag vest option then I’m limited to a handful of jackets. Let’s just say I’m very picky about my gear and how I want to wear it. I like my jackets very much, and having to buy an all new jacket to have that added protection isn’t attractive either. I would be much more inclined to wear a vest like this underneath my existing gear so it’s hidden.

Dainese just released an airbag vest for ALL riders, not just for sport bikes or road racers or track junkies. It can be worn over OR under your existing jacket!

I know what you’re thinking because there are already airbag vests on the market. But not anything like this: fully wireless, smart and capable of sensing when or if you need it to deploy at any given moment while you’re riding. NO tether required.

This is also something that should be worn with your existing gear, whether it’s a track suit, mesh jacket or leather street jacket. It will NOT give you protection against road rash or save your skin.

I have always felt that Dainese’s proprietary airbag technology was better than anything out there. Now that their advanced tech is going to be available in freeform like this, from an integrated jacket is pretty huge in my book.

#IMightActuallyWearOne

//PRESS RELEASE//

COSTA MESA, Calif. – June 18, 2019 - Dainese presents Smart Jacket, the new D-air® airbag vest that can be worn underneath or atop any garment. Available for men and women, the new Smart Jacket is a foldable, functional article of clothing that does not require any connection to the bike. Used by MotoGP™ champions, D-air® technology has been developed by Dainese through more than 20 years of research in order to achieve the maximum level of versatility, and is now also built for use on the road. With the Smart Jacket, for the first time ever Dainese introduces stationary impact protection, adding a whole new level of safety.

Dainese’s new Smart Jacket is the first airbag vest featuring D-air® technology that can be worn either over or under any jacket or outfit, without requiring any connection to the bike.

The D-air® protector is worn separately from clothing, can be used riding any bike and on any road, and is available for both men and women. The Smart Jacket is also foldable for easy storage in a backpack or top box.

For men AND women. Awesome.

For men AND women. Awesome.

Dainese’s new Smart Jacket is the first airbag vest featuring D-air® technology that can be worn either over or under any jacket or outfit, without requiring any connection to the bike. The D-air® protector is worn separately from clothing, can be used riding any bike and on any road, and is available for both men and women. The Smart Jacket is also foldable for easy storage in a backpack or top box.

“Smart Jacket is the result of more than twenty-five years of research on the D-air® system, and combines in a single, intelligent, versatile, now available-for-everyone garment the ultimate in airbag technology for motorbikes, the same used by MotoGP professional riders”

—Cristiano Silei, CEO of Dainese Group.

The “brain” of Smart Jacket is the triggering algorithm: At a rate of 1,000 times per second, the electronic central unit analyzes data transmitted by 7 sensors and detects dangerous situations, activating the system only when necessary. Through two decades of development and extensive data collection, Dainese has refined its sophisticated D-air® algorithm to predict accidents, including stationary vehicle and stationary rider collisions.

The Shield is the heart of Smart Jacket protection, an airbag featuring Dainese’s patented technology that integrates proprietary internal microfilaments that guarantee inflation is even and controlled throughout the entire surface. When activated, The Shield envelops the body and delivers maximum protection to the rider.  The Shield covers the chest and back, ensuring the same degree of protection as seven Level 1 back protectors, despite not having hardshell protective gear inside. The result is an extremely light and practical garment that riders can easily fold and place in a lateral bag, a top box or in a backpack when not in use.

Smart Jacket is also designed with incredible ventilation for further versatility and comfort. The external fabric of the jacket is ventilated but the most innovative ventilation is found inside, as the Shield folds over on itself. In normal riding conditions, this enables air to flow through the front. In case of activation, the Shield expands and covers the entire chest area, providing maximum protection. The Smart Jacket also features water-repellent fabric and the integrated D-air® technology is waterproof to protect riders regardless of weather conditions.

Smart Jacket inherits the best practical features from the third-generation D-air® Road range, including the ability to have the airbag replaced by an authorized dealer. The long battery life – with 25 hours of operation when fully charged - makes the Smart Jacket even more usable, and the garment recharges quickly.  

Learn more about Smart Jacket at: https://www.dainese.com/us/en/smart-jacket.html#sj-form

Dainese Smart Jacket is available in six sizes, with versions for men and women

It will be in stores from July 2019 for $699.

Oh How I Miss Riding Motorcycles in San Francisco

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Long ago, there was a time when everyday was Ride to Work Day. I was forced to, parking in San Francisco is no joke. And it’s impossible to find affordable, all day car parking so two wheels is practically a must. Unless you want to sit in traffic on a bus for an hour, a motorcycle or scooter can shave a good 30 minutes off of your cross town commute.

If I go way back to 2003, when I had a scooter, it saved me money on bus far because it only cost me $0.10/HOUR to park all day. You read that right, $0.10 AN HOUR. Less than $1.00/day, which was half the rice of a round trip bus ticket. It also cost me less than 25 minutes weaving in and out of trafffic, lanesplitting down Fell Street or navigating Van Ness Avenue in the middle of rush hour.

It was one of the most freeing experiences I ever had. Now, I have lots of free, all day parking. And not a curvy hill in site during my commute. Let’s also just say that Philadelphia stop signs and traffic lights make for a pretty annoying ride.

Goldie starts to overheat after just 5-10 minutes in slow speed traffic. If I want to avoid that, then it’s a brief zip down Interstate 95, and by the time she warms up it’s ready to get off 2 exits down.

Le Sigh.

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3 Myths About Motorcycle Gear for Passengers

Me, in 2008 posing for a photo on a rented R1200R that my husband rented. I also rented an F800ST on this trip, but decided to pose for a quick pic.

Me, in 2008 posing for a photo on a rented R1200R that my husband rented. I also rented an F800ST on this trip, but decided to pose for a quick pic.

Hopefully if you’re reading this, you’ve either been riding as a passenger or are about to become one.

I often see lots of passengers come into the Showroom and there are so many misconceptions, false narratives and untruths that need to be cleared up.

If you have NO IDEA what you’re getting into, would you really accept the risks? That’s like saying yes to going swimming but you don't know how. Wouldn’t you want to know how to at least tread water?

Yes, it’s a big investment. But you’re riding a motorcycle. This isn’t a light hobby like camping or hiking. This is something that has a very high risk of injury or death if something goes wrong. Many of us have been riding for years and have had zero injuries. It’s just like being in a car and not wearing your seatbelt. You may or may not ever need it, but if you do, you will very likely have severe injuries or worse, death.

Why would you wait until you’re hurt, in pain, in the hospital or deep in debt over medical bills to then gear up?

So here are 3 Myths that need to be buried forever.

#1 You Don’t Need a Full Face Helmet Because You Don’t Ride Enough

Probably one of the last times I ever rode on the back of a motorcycle ~6 years ago

Probably one of the last times I ever rode on the back of a motorcycle ~6 years ago

This is simply not true.

This pic above is me wearing a full face (modular) helmet while riding with my husband on the back of his Triumph. I rarely rode with him, but the few times I did, I absolutely wore my helmet. Why would it be any different for you as a casual passenger?

Nothing about being behind the driver minimizes the risk of injury to your face. Unfortunately you are also at at risk of death as a passenger.

Your risks are very real, and equal to that of your driver when you are on the actual motorcycle.

#2 You Don’t Need to Gear Up Your Whole Body

Wrong.

This is where I tell you to click here and read a story that every rider needs to read. Don’t worry, there are no graphic images, just a detailed, personal story that should show you the risks that you are choosing to take when you swing a leg over any motorcycle.

As a passenger, you must be willing to accept all the risks AND consequences. You may know the risks, but do you really know the consequences?

Me and my awesome friend  Brittany Morrow,  whom I wish I had met earlier in my riding career. She’s an inspiration and a badass. Unfortunately, she had to suffer consequences that hopefully you will never have to endure.

Me and my awesome friend Brittany Morrow, whom I wish I had met earlier in my riding career. She’s an inspiration and a badass. Unfortunately, she had to suffer consequences that hopefully you will never have to endure.

#3 You Don’t Need As Much Protection as the Driver

Wrong. So Very Wrong. See #2.

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What is going to happen to you if your driver suddenly swerves to avoid hitting a deer but ends up crashing because he didn’t expect that to jump in front of the bike?

No magical airbags, inflatable rafts, imaginary heroes are going to save you from sliding down the asphalt or hitting the ground.

Your driver cannot possibly prevent you from getting injured. Only YOU can do this. Only you have the power to decide what you will wear, and when you will throw a leg over that motorcycle.

Why does your car have airbags and seatbelts for both the driver AND passenger? Because you both need it.

As you can see the moral of this story is, GEAR UP, no matter how often you ride. No matter whether you ride on the back or drive up front.

If you’re thinking that gear is cumbersome, or that you can’t possibly find something that will work for you I hope you will reach out to me directly and let me help you find options that are within your budget and style.

If you have 15-20 minutes to spare for a quick chat, it can quite simply change your life.

GPX Routes for Virginia and West Virginia

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This week I’ve been having fun riding around VA and WVA before and after meeting up with a friend in Roanoke. Here are the individual GPX Routes I created, feel free to download any or all of them:

Philly to Front Royal VA

Front Royal VA to Roanoke VA

Elkins WV to Philly

Staunton VA to Hagerstown MD (I did this because I didnt have time to do Elkins to Hagerstown)

Elkins WV to Hagerstown MD (if you have more time than I did)

You might be wondering how I do my routing and directions on the fly while I’m on a trip like this. Because I refuse to bring a laptop for a 3-5 day trip. I do have my iPad sometimes but it’s not a laptop.

But when I’m out on a ride, or on a short trip, these are the 3 things I use: in conjunction with my iPhone so that I can do two very important things: A/ Create, save and/or share a route on my phone (without a computer) and B/ Receive turn by turn directions into my helmet.

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  1. Bluetooth Intercom (Sena or Cardo or Other). Right now, I’m using an older Sena SMH10R since my Sena 10R is on my Bell. But this Summer I’m going to spring for a new Cardo Freecom 4+ with JBL speakers. Woo hoo!

  2. InRoute app (iPhone only) - Read my Review here which shows you how to make GPX routes on the fly, as well as exporting them to share with a friend, or saving them for later. This feature is what differentiates it from Google Maps. At least for those of us with iPhones. I’m guessing Android users might have more privileges, and if that’s the case please post a comment below.
    As much as I like this app, the only thing I hate right now is the sound quality of the Voice. The female US English voice is too high pitched, so I started using the male UK English voice and it’s much better. I’m hoping that when I switch to Cardo, it’ll be a little better. The Google Maps voice (I call her Gigli) is much, much clearer and smoother.

  3. Google Maps: I mainly use this as a search tool for things like gas stations, restaurants, etc. Although you can create a multi-waypoint trip, you are limited to so many waypoints (far less than 100, I think 10ish or something) and you can’t save them on an iPhone. So InRoute really works better as a trip planning tool.

So I use #1 and #2 so that I can get turn by turn directions through to my helmet so I don’t have to look down to view the directions. I do have my phone mounted to a Ram Mount just in case, but I generally try not to look at it and just rely on the audio.

I created all of the above routes on my iPhone, using the InRoute app, no computers needed. You do have to pay a monthly or annual fee in order to have many waypoints but it’s worth the $30/year subscription for 100+ waypoints.

If you have any questions, please post a comment!

For more trip photos, please follow me: instagram.com/gearchic

Trip Planning for a Multi Day Solo Ride

One of the maps I created from my last solo trip several years ago down to NC

One of the maps I created from my last solo trip several years ago down to NC

I’m going to be riding this week somewhere. Initially I was thinking of going back South, towards the Carolinas, Virginias and Tennessee. I really love the riding down there, so I guess I just am drawn to going back there. I’m open to going North instead, but I don’t honestly know much about the riding in that direction.

Unfortunately the weather this week has hampered my leaving on time because if I don’t absolutely have to, I would rather NOT ride in the rain all day for 2 days. So I will leave as soon as the weather lets up tomorrow, or Tuesday morning if need be.

Someone asked me about my trip planning and what / how I am going to plan for something like this. Well, for me, it’s not going to be too much work, but I will be thinking about the following things.

But I won’t know exactly what I’m doing until I sort out all the people that i want to meet up with first. I know people have lives, so I certainly don’t expect everyone to meet me on my schedule. I will likely play a lot of my day to day destinations by ear.

Me and my friend Tamela meeting up 4 years ago in West Virginia. That was a fantastic trip!

Me and my friend Tamela meeting up 4 years ago in West Virginia. That was a fantastic trip!

Who Do I Want to Visit? Who Wants to Meet Up, and Where?

I’ll be looking a routes and using an online planning tool, Furkot.com. It’s my favorite tool for long distance planning because it takes in to consideration your mileage per day, hours you want to travel, breaks, gas stops and hotel stops. I can also take the route and import it into my iPhone app, InRoute. It’s freaking amazing.

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How Many Points Do I Have for Free Hotel Nights?

(I’m NOT a moto camper, this queen needs a real bed and shower)

Who can say no to free hotel rooms? I have some points with Holiday Inn Express so I will likely route some nights onto those if I’m not staying with a friend. We’ll see.

What’s My Daily Budget?

Of course, doing a trip like this costs money! Hopefully between the free hotel nights and 1 or 2 friend’s couches, I will only have to pay for my food and gas. Not too bad. I’m a huge Waffle House Fan so i will be looking for those as much as possible. :D

Am I the only one who LOVES Waffle House while traveling? #smothered #covered

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What Gear?

For this trip, I’ll have to take my trusty Revit Neptune GTX Suit. It’s a full multiseason suit with two removable liners; one is waterproof and the other one is thermal. So since the temperatures are going to be cooler from the high 40s/low 50s at night to mid 70s in the afternoon, depending how high the elevation is I’ll need something very versatile. I know that it’s going to rain on my way out of Philly and possibly coming back in next Monday. #firstworldproblems

I also will be taking my cool weather, waterproof Rukka Gloves, and my Dainese Torque Out boots. I do have Daytonas for when there’s heavy rain riding but if I’m only going to be in light to moderate rain, I don’t mind my Dainese because they’re water resistant and that’s good enough. The majority of this trip is dry and cool, so I can easily make those work. Daytonas are so bulky and heavy, it’s hard to go back to that kind of touring boot when you wear lightweight sport boots so much .

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I’ll also be wearing my Shoei RF-1200 because I need a quieter helmet, and my Bell is SO LOUD (even with earplugs). It’s also so tight, that for 8 hours a day it’s just too much. That’s really my summer, light riding helmet. I decided not to spend money right now on the Cardo Freecom 4+ headset that I’ve been drooling over. I will probably wait until Summer.

The reason I want to convert is because of the JBL speakers and the jogdial! Oooooohhhh. It has a very low profile, just like my current Sena 10R. But with these two vastly different features, I think it’ll jut be a much better headset overall. And the fact that it’s waterproof is a HUGE bonus.

What Luggage?

With my Triumph, I always use my Kriegas. They’re simply the best traveling luggage for low profile, waterproof, non saddlebag-hanging luggage with maximum volume. For trips like these, I have 40 Liters of packable space which doesn’t include my little Cortech tankbag.

Emergencies?

For emergencies, I’ll have my AAA membership and my AMA membership handy. I’ll also find the closest Triumph dealers and metric line dealers that might be able to help me if I have to get something fixed or serviced. My bike is in pretty good shape, so I don’t anticipate any issues but if I do, these will be my main lifelines.

I’ll carry just a few things might come in handy as far as tools and supplies:

  • Antigravity Microstart Power Supply with me in case I need a jump

  • a tire gauge

  • zip ties

  • folded duct tape

  • folding leatherman

  • allen key tool because pretty much everything on my bike can be tightened/loosended with 4 metric sizes

And that’s it! I can’t prepare for everything, so I’ll do my best and know that I can call for help if I need it. I’m mostly going to stick to paved, highway roads and will let my husband know what I’ll be doing every day so if I’m alone, someone knows where I’m headed.

Join Me on The Lean Angle

(Left: Alisa Clickenger/ Women’s Motorcycle Tours , Right: Porsche Taylor/ Black Girls Ride Mag ,)

(Left: Alisa Clickenger/Women’s Motorcycle Tours, Right: Porsche Taylor/Black Girls Ride Mag,)

I never have enough to do so I started a brand new motorcycle show on Facebook, called The Lean Angle.

We’ll be streaming live on Facebook, on our page here: Facebook.com/LeanAngleShow.

The Lean Angle will cover a wide range of topics as it relates to motorcycles. Alisa has a strong solo travel, dual sport background (in addition to street touring) and Porsche has a lot of experience in solo travel, sport touring and cruising. And you know me and my sporty bike addiction.

We hope to be on at least once a month for ~60 minutes but will do our best to try and see you a little sooner. With summer around the corner, our schedules are hectic but we all love talking about motorcycles so check out our first episode which aired last night!

And you DON’T even need a Facebook account to watch! But if you do have an account, post a comment in the episode and let us know your thoughts including what kinds of topics you’d like us to cover in future episodes.

Facebook.com/LeanAngleShow

So it doesn’t matter who you are, what/when/how/where you ride. Join us on The Lean Angle!

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