General

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.

airbag-pixabay_large.jpg

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.

Breaking in New Motorcycle Boots. Ugh.

Last year I wrote about the newest women's motorcycle boots from Dainese, the Torque D1's, the first true women's motorcycle boot that offers real ankle support. What this means they make it incredibly difficult for you to twist your ankle. Of course, the impact protection is also incredibly supportive as well. 

I didn't think I could wear these. I still am not 100% sure. My problem was that as a woman with a very small, wide foot boots like these from Dainese are incredibly difficult to wear. 

Typically I size into a US 6.5-7 (7 if it's a narrower shoe) which translates to about a Euro 36-37. These are a Euro 38. My feet are also incredibly high at the instep. My other weird issue is that I have a small cyst on the top of my left foot, so that makes wearing any tight shoes (like if I lace my shoes too tight) especially painful. 

Since these are fairly difficult to get my foot into so I had to size up. 

I've been wearing them around the house for about a total of 1.5 hours and luckily I haven't felt any pinching or piercing pain anywhere. Just tightness from a new pair of boots, especially race boots. They're just not easy. 

I did find that crossing my legs while sitting on a kitchen stool did make my toes go numb... so I recommend not doing that ;D

I've also added my super insoles to still give me the extra heel height that I like having.

They seem to fit okay, of course I removed the insoles that came with the boots but it certainly makes the heel and ankle space a bit tighter. I'm hoping as I keep breaking them in they only get better!

Just a little test ride.. in the kitchen! Always take your gear for a test ride at home so you can see what it might feel like to wear things for more than 2-3 minutes. 

Just a little test ride.. in the kitchen! Always take your gear for a test ride at home so you can see what it might feel like to wear things for more than 2-3 minutes. 

Breaking in new boots isn't fun. It can be a pain in the ass really. But I really wanted the extra ankle support that these boots offer that my old Sidis don't even though they took great care of my feet when I crashed two years ago.. I'm also doing a track day next month so I want to be ready for that too. 

Also, I'm trying to sell my new-used Sidis (not the ones I actually crashed in) if you know anyone who might be interested.

 

Women's Motorcycle Gear Project

I'm starting a new project and I need some volunteers. I'm starting with a few volunteers to fill out my database so I can put this new website together. I don't have a name yet, but my goal is to help women figure out what might fit them, and how the sizing and fitments will work. 

Size charts only tell you so much, so I'm using real women with real gear (sorry, no casuals on this site for now) to help you shop. On this site you'll find measurements for every woman who submits a photo along with sizing and fit feedback from each person. Hopefully it makes searching for gear easier by also entering your measurement e.g. 41 chest and search results will deliver options for you that might work.  

Katherine in her Rev'it Levante Jacket (40) and Rev'it Tornado Women's Pants (38)

Katherine in her Rev'it Levante Jacket (40) and Rev'it Tornado Women's Pants (38)

So I need your help because I can't possibly be every woman who rides!

Fill out this google form and then email me some photos (instructions provided in the form) 

 

https://goo.gl/forms/4oz8vFgkGajIdfoF3

I might not use your submission depending on what it is. I'm still figuring out how this is going to work and be organized so the more data I have to start with, the better. Only 1 of each item can be submitted right now, so you can submit:

  • One Jacket
  • One Pants
  • One Jacket AND One Pant

I'm shooting for a launch this Summer so if you want to be notified when it launches, sign up for my newsletter.

Email me if you have any questions or post a comment here and I"ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Thank you!!

 

Goodbye MSF, It Was Nice Knowing You

My old site, San Francisco City College via motorcycle school.com

My old site, San Francisco City College via motorcycle school.com

12 years ago I committed to becoming a certified rider coach with the motorcycle safety foundation. Last month I gave up that commitment. To some it's not a big deal. Just a job, whatever. 

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To me, it meant meeting new riders, feeling their excitement and helping many of them overcome fears, anxieties of learning how to ride. After I took my first safety course in 2004, it led me to incredible confidence, happiness and a passion for riding I never imagined.

I learned so much in my short coaching career, and I definitely owe it to the San Francisco school that made it happen for me. They were incredibly supportive, encouraging and positive. I never left that school to teach anywhere else because I couldn't imagine finding another school that treated students the way we did. My bosses were always focused on creating positive learning experiences for their students. Sometimes there would be folks that didn't quite follow that philosophy but they didn't last very long. If they were there only for Themselves, then it was painfully obvious they really weren't there for You.  

Im so sad to give up my certification for now but I hope someday I can get back to teaching again. I really loved every minute although it was hard at times.  

It was one of the most rewarding jobs I've ever had and I'll never forget what I learned, who I met and how it helped me evolve as a person. 

In the meantime, I'll do what i can from over here... 

An Open Letter to New Women Riders

 

So you just decided to get into riding motorcycles. WELCOME! We are so happy to have you. But before we get on the road, I just want to let you know a few things because I want you to know what you can expect. And I know there's a lot to learn. 

I've seen so many new women join the ranks of fellow motorcyclists. And I'm SO happy to see that! More women, the merrier! As a women's gear enthusiast, the focus of my message is more about you, not your motorcycle.

Something that I keep seeing that's really really difficult to swallow is the fact that many of you are simply wearing what you have in your regular closet. And this is especially disconcerting because it seems that you just don't know any better. Almost as if no one in your world has bothered to mention:

"Hey, you know that jacket you're wearing won't do anything to prevent you from breaking your elbow, or shoulder or getting road rash" or

"Hey, those boots are going to slip out from under you when you put your foot down on slippery pavement or an oil patch" or

"Hey, that open face helmet is still exposing your face and mouth, which are the most vulnerable parts in a crash" 

I feel like for some of us, this is definitely a no brainer. But that's easier when you've grown up around motorcycles, or you have a lot of motorcycle friends, or are really familiar with motorcycle culture. But when you're BRAND, spanking NEW and this is a totally alien planet to you, it's just not common sense yet. Because the little bit of motorcycling you've probably been exposed to is limited to movies, tv, movies and tv. And we can all agree that real life isn't portrayed quite right in the movies or tv.

So that's what me and my fellow female motorcyclists are here to tell you. The reality is that your body NEEDS gear. It NEEDS to be protected. And that you ARE vulnerable.

My elbow post accident, and that's while wearing really good gear. Just imagine what that would've been like without any at all!

My elbow post accident, and that's while wearing really good gear. Just imagine what that would've been like without any at all!

My Revit Jacket held up great in a 40-45mph lowside. It really doesn't take that much. I wasn't racing, just riding at the speed limit into an easy right hand curve.

My Revit Jacket held up great in a 40-45mph lowside. It really doesn't take that much. I wasn't racing, just riding at the speed limit into an easy right hand curve.

I was crossing the street this morning while walking my dog, and a care went speeding by down our residential street going at least 30mph when they really should be going 15mph. I had a quick vision of that person not seeing me and hitting me as I crossed the street. The tremendous force of that would've thrown me a good 20-30 feet from where I stood. And you can only imagine how my body would make out from something like that.

But now imagine wearing a full face, Snell approved helmet. And then head to toe protective gear with body armor covering your shoulders, elbows, hips, knees and spine. And then boots with ankle protection and reinforced soles, heels and toes. Now how would I make out?

As a brand new rider, it might seem like you could never get hurt because you're not "racing". I hear that SO much when people ask me about what gear they should buy. And it's quite the opposite! There are FAR MORE choices for casual, functional, real street motorcycle gear than what's available for the racetrack. Because there are probably more of us on the street. In some cases, you might get hurt far more on the street than you will on the track. The constant stop and go traffic patterns make us vulnerable to being struck as we're moving, and the last thing you want is for someone *else* to stop your motorcycle for you!

I also find it ironic that if you're riding around with just a tank top and nothing else, that you obviously are proud of your body. And have no trouble showing it off to everyone who sees you driving that motorcycle. But, the minute someone cuts you off, merges into you or turns left in front of you (which is a constant occurrence in Philly) then you're going to lose what you've just shown everyone that you value so very much.

But I want to assure you of one thing, you can absolutely look fantastic while being safe and protected. No, you won't have the exact same clothes as you are probably wearing right now on the motorcycle. But you can definitely get really, really close. If you're in it for the Look of riding motorcycles, and not the Feel, then you're in for a world of hurt. And a really expensive hospital bill, and a week / weeks / month / months off of work, and a bruised ego and whatever else comes out of you making an uninformed, uneducated choice.

And Last but certainly not Least, meet my friend Brittany of RockTheGear.org. She has an incredibly painful but inspiring story to tell which I think every new rider should read before they learn to ride their motorcycle. There's absolutely no way for me to tell her story since it can only really be told by her words. Read her story and then make see if you can still make the same decision.

Me and Brittany Morrow at the Women's Sportbike Rally East, 2015

Me and Brittany Morrow at the Women's Sportbike Rally East, 2015

If after you've figured out everything that can possibly happen, and you still choose to wear very little or nothing at all then More power to you.  And I honestly applaud your ability to take those kinds of risks, where I'm just a big wimp. There's a huge difference between knowing what's coming and making your own decisions vs. having absolutely no clue and making the most uninformed, uneducated choice that can result in living with regret.

#atgatt

(all the gear all the time)

Motorcycle Etiquette

brammo_empulse As a city girl, I find myself surrounded by a variety of motorcycle / scooter riders. I can honestly say that I've never seen people ride the way they do here. 

I've gotten used to seeing the whole No Helmet, No Gear thing, given PA's lack of a helmet law. But what is really annoying is the lack of motorcycle etiquette (including scooters) that I'm used to experiencing. In addition to general lack of pedestrian and driver safety really. But I suspect that sort of thing is common in most big cities.

Tonight, I was riding home just a few blocks from my house about to pull into a gas station on my right. I'm going maybe 10-15mph and these two bikes pass me on the left inside my lane. I've NEVER had that happen when I rode in San Francisco. Ever. The one time I had someone pass me on the right while out riding my ride leader yelled at him for being such an ass (and doing that to other riders as well, not just me).

The attitudes about motorcycles and scooters here are far less serious and seem whimsical at best. I guess it's a difference in attitudes that are specific to this region. I don't know.

But what I do know is that I'll never be ok with it. And if you're one of those people who like passing your fellow motorcyclists in their lane WITHOUT permission, you're not only risking my life but yours.

Record Number of Women Own Motorcycles

philly moto girls revit dainese tourmaster pants jacket leather marryl gear2  

According to the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) more women are not only riding motorcycles today but Owning them as well! 

More Female Riders Than Ever According to Latest Motorcycle Industry Council Owner Survey

IRVINE, Calif. Dec. 16, 2015 –Female motorcycle ownership is at an all-time high, according to the latest data from the Motorcycle Industry Council. The MIC’s latest Motorcycle Owner Survey found that women account for 14 percent of all U.S. motorcycle owners, well up from the 8 percent reported in 1998.

“Women continue to embrace motorcycling like never before,” said Sarah Schilke, national marketing manager of BMW Motorrad USA and chair of PowerLily, a group consisting of female motorcycle industry professionals. “Of the 9.2 million owners, more are women than we’ve ever recorded. And, among the more than 30 million Americans who swung a leg over a motorcycle and rode at least once in 2014, a quarter (25%) of these riders were women (riders aren't all necessarily owners).”

Among younger generations of owners, the percentage of women is even higher. More than 17 percent of Gen X and Gen Y owners are women (I definitely see younger and younger women riding these days). Among Boomer owners, women make up 9 percent.

“It’s encouraging that we’re seeing more women among the riders who are coming up,” Schilke said. “Motorcycling is for everyone, and that’s being recognized by younger generations.”

gearchic_sarah_schilke_bmw_motorrad

The Owner Survey also revealed what type of bikes women prefer. Cruisers are the choice of 34 percent of female riders. Scooters rank a close second at 33 percent, followed by sportbikes at 10 percent (we still have work to do, fellow sporties!).

In the survey of some 48,000 American households, women were asked to share their top three reasons for riding motorcycles. They answered “fun and recreation,” followed by “sense of freedom” and “enjoy outdoors/nature.” When it comes to purchasing a motorcycle, women rate “Fuel Economy” and “Test Rides” as the most important factors.

The study revealed that female riders are safety-conscious (Hell Yeah!). While 60 percent of women took a motorcycle safety course, only 42 of men had any formal training (are boys letting their egos in the way?). In some state motorcycle safety training programs, women make up 30 percent of the student population.

Other key survey results:

  • The median age for female motorcyclists is 39 versus 48 for males
  • More than 49 percent of women motorcyclists perform their own maintenance or have a friend or relative do it, instead of taking their bikes to a shop
  • New bikes are preferred over used by 57 percent of female riders (I guess I'm in the minority, used all the way!) 49 percent of female motorcyclists are married 47 percent of female motorcyclists have a college or post-graduate degree

****

The MIC Motorcycle Owner Survey is free to MIC members, but can be purchased by non-members for $12,500. 

The Motorcycle Industry Council exists to preserve, protect and promote motorcycling through government relations, communications and media relations, statistics and research, aftermarket programs, development of data communications standards, and activities surrounding technical and regulatory issues. As a not-for-profit, national industry association, the MIC seeks to support motorcyclists by representing manufacturers, distributors, dealers and retailers of motorcycles, scooters, ATVs, ROVs, motorcycle/ATV/ROV parts, accessories and related goods and services, and members of allied trades such as insurance, finance and investment companies, media companies and consultants.

The MIC is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., with a government relations office in metropolitan Washington, D.C. First called the MIC in 1970, the organization has been in operation since 1914. Visit the MIC at mic.org.

QnA: Finding a Motorcycle to Lower?

2006 Triumph Speed Triple Reader Susan asks me what kind of sportbike should she get in order to lower and learn to ride. 

I am trying to find a bike that is safe to lower... I have a 27 inch inseam... all of the sport bikes are too tall and I dont want a cruiser or rebel.... wanted a ducati 696 but thats too tall and too much power... any suggestions ? - Susan ( love your page too )

Dear Susan,

First, thank you for reading GearChic.com!

A Ducati Monster 696 can be a terrific bike to start on. But it's not for everyone. And it certainly wouldn't have been for me. If you've read about me, then you know I started on a lightweight scooter. No, you don't have to start on a scooter. However, it's MUCH easier to start on something LIGHTER AND TALLER than heavier and taller. My scooter weighed ~250lbs but had a 30" seat height! But it didn't matter since the weight was really low (below my butt) and I could easily pick it up when I dropped it. :D

If the Ducati Monster 696 is the sportbike if your dreams, then I really recommend starting with something smaller and spend the time you need to learn how to ride! Just because you start on something like a Ninja 250 doesn't mean you are going to be married to that bike forever. We can't grow taller, so what can we do? We can hone our riding techniques and skills so balancing a bike with 4-5" of extra seat height doesn't matter!

suzuki drz 400 sm

By the time I started riding a Ninja, it was an easy transition. I was already used to using my left foot first and keeping my right foot on the brakes to keep the bike from falling over. I was already used to something almost 300lbs, so jumping up to ~350lbs was easy.

The other thing to know is that with a 27" inseam, you will probably never flat foot anything if your dream is to ride a taller bike like a Ducati. Also keep in mind that lowering sportbikes means losing ground clearance, meaning when you lean you will be limited to how much you will be able to! Something that you don't understand know, but trust me you will learn to love especially when you ride a sportbike.

A Ninja 250/300 might have a 30" seat height but that doesn't mean you can't ride them. Keep in mind that when you buy a proper pair of motorcycle boots like these you will automatically be 1.5-2" off the ground from the heel to the arches of your feet. You're now close to 29". And when you take your motorcycle safety class, you will learn the proper techniques to brake and use your controls so you don't drop you bike.

2003 Kawasaki Ninja 250

The key to all of this is being willing to learn, grow and make mistakes. It's not easy, it's not quick and it's going to take time. But trust me, when you put the time into a smaller, lightweight bike the payoff is amazing!

But that's what worked for me, and I feel I'm a MUCH better rider because of it. There's absolutely NO WAY I'd be able to ride bikes like these without having invested the time and making mistakes.

Whatever you decide, just know that motorcycling is something you work at, constantly. Even after 12 years, I still struggle every time I ride to do it better and safer each time.

 

QnA: Can a short woman ride sportbikes?

Riding my Husband's 2006 Triumph Speed Triple

Riding my Husband's 2006 Triumph Speed Triple

Reader Farhana emailed me asking if it's ever going to be possible for her to ride a sportbike at 4'11". 

The short answer is YES. Here's her original question and my slightly longer answer :D

I'm currently in the riding course, and needed input from women rider. I am 4'11, and I need input for bikes. I really want a sport bike, but since I have never maneuvered a bike before, everyone is telling me to start on a Rebel. Do you even think it's possible for me to ever ride a sport bike? I appreciate your time.

-Farhana

Dear Farhana,

Everyone is correct!

To ride the SportBikes of your dreams you have to start somewhere. Motorcycling is a constant learning experience and you have to build skills to jump to the next bike! I started on a rebel in my safety course and also started on a scooter. You won't ride a rebel forever, but you'll learn so much so you can ride a SportBike someday.

Never flat foot, even with  fancy Daytonas . 

Never flat foot, even with fancy Daytonas

Me, riding the tallest motorcycle I've ever ridden. A stock DRZ400SM with ~36" seat height. Yikes.

Me, riding the tallest motorcycle I've ever ridden. A stock DRZ400SM with ~36" seat height. Yikes.

I have learned that because I'm shorter, starting out on smaller motorcycles was the only way I could get enough experience to manage bigger, heavier bikes. If you try to attack a larger bike that's beyond your experience level, it's going to be a much harder learning curve. Gaining confidence and learning to ride something smaller and lighter is one of the best ways to adapt quickly to taller bikes. Since we'll never grow taller, all we can do is master our skills and learn to ride better than someone taller.

That being said, since I don't know your inseam, I'm going to assume it's ~26-27"? Personally, I've been able to ride bikes with 2" higher inseams than my own. Mine is 28.5" and I'm very comfortable on 30-31" bikes. There's a chance you won't be able to physically ride anything larger than maybe a bike with a 29" inseam. It's totally dependent on the individual, really. I think if you can get close to flat foot on your left, then there's no reason why you can't ride something. Of course, building enough confidence to ride something that tall without dropping or falling constantly is going to take a while.

And for inspiration, watch this video:

 

Before you start, check out my post about riding motorcycles when you're short. It'll give you some tips to get started.

Good luck!

1 Year Later, Still In Philly.

SF to PHL, the long way down: 3,624 miles later  

When I think about the last year, this image always pops in my head. We drove 3,624 miles from San Francisco and drove into Philly when it was 19 degrees out. WHAT was I doing here?

Well, turns out it was one of the best (and most difficult) decisions of my life. To get up, leave the people I love the most and the only home I've ever known to move to Philadelphia and work for Revzilla.com in our beautiful retail store.

revzilla navy yard philadelphia pennsylvania motorcycle gear best selection philly

 

It's been an interesting year and I'm thrilled to say that I'm still here. Leaving a city like San Francisco was NOT easy. And I mean, really freaking hard. It took me a couple months to decide and then another 3 months to physically relocate. I pushed off my move date as far as I could (February 1, 2014) from when I accepted the position (October 2014) and I still felt like it wasn't enough time. Although I was really sad at the prospect of leaving my family and just telling them what I was about to do, I knew instinctually that it was the right decision. I refused to end up in a job that I didn't love, and this was my opportunity to keep my dreams alive. When I was relieved at Scuderia West, I wondered where else can I possibly do that job? The only answer in my mind at that moment was Revzilla. I could work in that beautiful store with all the gear all the time. :-)

It was a weird fleeting thought but a series of events happened after that like my friend Jan, calling me to ask if I'd consider relocating to the East Coast for an incredible opportunity. And then looking on Revzilla's website out of sheer curiosity there it was, Boutique Gear Geek. Or, now formerly known as Retail Store Associate.

brammo_empulse_R

I really didn't know what to expect at first. My husband and I decided that we'd give it a try for at least 1 year, see what happens. If we're miserable or I'm miserable then we leave (and live with my parents or something because the Bay Area is so much more expensive than when we left!). But what do I have to lose? Well, I lost a lot of friends, family, and a riding community that I can't duplicate anywhere else. But all is not lost, and my family has been there to support me this entire time. Did I mention that I flew home 3 times between last June and December? So there's always that.

But for me, what has become the most important factor is the fact that I LOVE my job. And although everything else has been a hurdle like getting to know Philly and missing my people (and burritos!), they don't compare to the overall joy I have in what I do. Sometimes I try really hard to come up with excuses to move back home and just leave. But I can't seem to come up with anything! It's one of those things where you just know when it feels right. And by all accounts, this is the most 'right' I've felt in a really long time.

I would much rather have this incredible opportunity than dread getting up every morning, dread looking for a new job and figuring out what I want to do with my life.

If slinging motorcycle gear inside an incredible retail store is somewhere up your alley, Revzilla needs you. We're looking for a Retail Store Associate that loves motorcycles, gear and motorcycles and did I mention gear?  

Apply Here.

This is a full time job located in The Navy Yard in Philadelphia, PA with tons o' benefits like medical/dental/vision/401k/vacation days and free lunches every now and then.