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How Confidence Affects Women and Motorcycling

 Me, feeling supremely confident on my '12 Street Triple R. But it wasn't always that way.

Me, feeling supremely confident on my '12 Street Triple R. But it wasn't always that way.

Learning to ride a motorcycle is certainly about confidence. The majority of mine came from learning to ride the right bikes and increasing my skillset dramatically from bike to bike.

But there was always a small chunk of it that came from me telling myself that I could and "eff it". If something happens, I'll deal with it or call for help or whatever. I'm not going to be afraid of it anymore.

But keep in mind, that absolutely has to be within reason like when I decided to take the Ninja 250 to work instead of my scooter. I just went the 40 minute route to work (avoiding busy thoroughfares like Van Ness Avenue and Steep ass hills like Gough Street). I had already been commuting on my scooter to work for a year. This wasn't a huge jump from what I had already been doing. It was totally realistic given my experience and what I had been doing previously.

 Me in 2006 on my first "long" ride outside of San Francisco to Half Moon Bay, a whopping 50 minutes one way!

Me in 2006 on my first "long" ride outside of San Francisco to Half Moon Bay, a whopping 50 minutes one way!

This article says what I've witnessed and experienced personally in my 15 years of riding and helping other women learn to ride and talking to them about riding. And certainly my work life too. Why aren't we as confident from the get go? What is it about many of us (not all, I know, but more than most I'm sure) that holds us back from succeeding other than some of the most common mistakes new riders make ?

When all of our ducks are in a row, we still feel like we don't deserve it or are that good. I still feel like I'm terrible at riding at times. I'm terrible at nailing my lines every time I go riding, I'm terrible at braking. I'm terrible at cornering. I mean, okay I'm not horrific in that I crash every time I ride, but when I do go out I'm constantly critiquing myself and trying to figure out what I could've done better to take that particular corner better/faster/smoother. Is that just a regular aspect of riding? I'm guessing many of my male readers are going to argue that "of course, I think that too".

But how many of you think that way in your everyday life as many women have experienced per this article?

Riding as many of us know is 90% mental, 10% physical (that's why YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE ABLE TO PICK UP YOUR MOTORCYCLE to ride it).

I recently joined this cool interactive panel of my fellow women riders about how we got into riding and some of the barriers we ran into along the way. There are some really great tips and advice here that I think many of you can relate to:

https://www.cake.co/conversations/HKn99Mb/a-panel-of-women-who-motorcycle-what-it-s-like-in-a-sport-with-a-bad-boy-vibe

So if something is holding you back, what do you think that is?

12 Days of Winter Deals

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Follow me on Facebook for my 12 Days of Winter Deals. I'm sharing some of my favorites for jackets, pants, boots, gloves and helmets that will save you money and time. 

Like this Olympia Expedition Jacket on sale for $267. 

You don't have to log into Facebook to see my deals, but if you're already there....

Give me a follow! 

facebook.com/gearchic 

Alpinestars Motegi Stella Women's Race Suit

 Riding in the Alpinestars Motegi v1 Stella Suit

Riding in the Alpinestars Motegi v1 Stella Suit

alpinestars_motegi_v2_stella_womens_1piece.jpg

Motegi v2 Stella

The newest version of the popular Motegi Suit for women.

As you may remember, I recently completed another track day with California Superbike School on July 31st. My husband and I loved it so much, we decided to sign up again on August 21st. So I thought it was time to get a suit, as I know I will be doing more track days in the Spring. 

So I ordered up Alpinestars' newest women's suit, the Motegi v2

I ordered a size 40, which I could never fit with Alpinestars in previous years but my body has changed (although my weight hasn't) in recent months so I'm finding myself needing a 38. 

It's a fantastic suit, the problem for me and women like myself who have very little to offer in terms of curves is that it's too loose now. 

What's really difficult is that when I tried to size into a Dainese 40, I could *barely* get my hips in and then I couldn't zip it shut! My waist/belly was too much. I would have to loose 1-2 inches in my waist minimum to get that to zip and even if I did I couldn't get a back protector in there. If I sized up then I'd have it too loose everywhere else. 

I have a 35" chest and this size 40 easily fits another 2-3 inches in the chest. This 40 now fits like an old 42. if you're looking for a 1 piece with ample waist/belly/bust room, this suit is definitely for you. 

Need room in the thighs? Yep. Need room in the booty? That too. Race suits for women are few and far between. If you google, you'll basically find three companies offering suits:

  • Dainese
  • Alpinestars
  • Spidi

Between these three brands, Alpinestars will offer you the fullest fitments. 

So I did what any woman who only had a week to figure out a suit would do, I tried the previous version, the original Motegi (v1):

Read my fit review of the Motegi v1 suit here

Revit Xena Leather Pants on Sale, And Updated

I've updated my review of the Revit Xena Pants, since a new version was released recently. My version is on sale everywhere right now, and the new ones have an updated fit profile that I think will work much better for everyone. Take a look at my review above and read the differences between the old and new models. 

New Review! Held Women's Touch Summer Gloves

A summer glove review in the winter? Why Not? 

I'm a little behind on this review, but if you're shopping for next season, or plan on riding somewhere tropical for the holidays, then check out my review of these awesome summer gloves. 

http://www.gearchic.com/held-touch-womens-gloves

Bull-It SR4 Flex Women's Riding Jeans

You may have seen these on Revzilla recently. The Bull-It SR4 Flex Women's Riding Jeans offer a full length lining of abrasion resistant material called Covec. I finally had a chance to try them in size 24 and they actually fit me quite well. They still had some room for me in the thighs/butt, so I would say these are fairly bootyfriendly. 

Let me just say that I am NOT a size 24 in any other casual jean, except Uniqlo's skinny stretchy jean. (And only because those were so damn stretchy.)  I normally buy size 27 in other brands, and I have virtually no booty (flat as a table, although I'm working on it). I would probably get these as a Spring/Fall jean but would probably too warm to wear in hot, humid, summer weather. I would stick to mesh pants or mesh leathers instead. I like the plethora of inseam options as well. 

I thought the fit was nice, a straight leg with a slight bootcut, just enough to get over your boot but not a flared leg. The rise was also Mid but not as high as men's jeans. On a bike they didn't feel terribly low in the back, but I could see it being a little too much in a really aggressive riding position. The lining is really warm, but decently breathable. 

In addition to this version, they offer 2 others for women for $149.95-$179.95. Buy them here at Revzilla, and for more details about the company, visit their website

 

How a Custom Suspension Changed my Ride

My bike (Goldie, 2012 Triumph Street Triple R) originally came with a stock rear shock. 

 Benny, with the original Ohlins Shock that was gifted to me by the best husband, ever. 

Benny, with the original Ohlins Shock that was gifted to me by the best husband, ever. 

Then my beloved husband bought me a used Ohlins Shock from a friend of ours, which I had installed earlier this year. Neither of us realized how stiff this shock was. It came from a Triumph Daytona, and it was set up for racing, not street riding.

What that meant was that it was extremely stiff. SO stiff, even my friend who's 6', 200lbs remarked how stiff it felt when he sat on it. It's definitely a bad sign when your weight isn't enough to compress the rear shock on your motorcycle.

It should ALWAYS sag a little bit beneath your weight. If it isn't, you need to get it looked at asap.

Or if you're looking at buying a particular bike, you need to consider how the suspension is set and hopefully you've had a chance to sit on it to see if the suspension is remotely close to your weight/profile. 

 Ohlins Shock 1.0, installed on Goldie before the magical Rebuild

Ohlins Shock 1.0, installed on Goldie before the magical Rebuild

This shock was SO stiff, that it literally bruised my tailbone. For several weeks, it felt like I bruised my tailbone hard. I know for a fact that I didn't fall down on it, and I hadn't been sitting in hard chairs. Apparently, students can get bruised tailbones from sitting all day in classroom desks. I definitely wasn't doing that, and working at Revzilla keeps me on my feet pretty much all day. 

The only thing I could tell for sure is that I rode my bike with the stiffer shock recently and it definitely was kicking my ass, literally. I felt every.single.bump. I was saying Ow! inside my helmet over every bump in the road. And if you're from Philly then you know how especially painful the roads can be. 

In April, I was excited when my friend Shawn told me that Ohlins would be at NJMP for MotoAmerica racing, and someone could rebuild my shock and make it actually fit ME!!

So I scrambled to take off the rear shock and get it over to the racetrack so a wonderful man named Ken could work his magic and modify it. 

I have to give Ken a Huge THANK YOU for squeezing me in to his very busy racing schedule that afternoon. Thanks Ken!!! So go check out his Instagram feed and give him a follow.

 Ken uses his magic fingers to adjust valves to perfection!

Ken uses his magic fingers to adjust valves to perfection!

 What appears to be a box full of keychains is really the secret to suspension magic. But that's all I know. 

What appears to be a box full of keychains is really the secret to suspension magic. But that's all I know. 

After all was said and done, and my wallet was emptied (because all that work doesn't come free!) I have a new-to-me rear shock. 

Just to compare, take a look at the before (blue) and after (red). It doesn't look like much, but the spring is much shorter, and the clearance is totally different. And also, the little bits inside the gold canister are different now and totally reworked for me. I'm not sure what that means mechanically, but all I know is that the new-to-me shock provides a completely different riding experience (Ohlins only had a used spring, so that's why it's a little smudged. But whatever, I didn't care!).

So what exactly does all this mean for me and Goldie? Well, for one thing, my bike actually responds to my weight. When I sit on her, my weight actually compresses the spring, I can feel the bike smush a little beneath my weight!  If I feel like it, I can actually modify the compression and rebound on the fly. I'm terrible at explaining this, so I highly recommend reading this article which gives a great overview of rear and front suspensions and what can happen if it's too soft or firm. 

Your bike suspension is designed primarily to absorb the imperfections in the roads, and ensure that tyres keep contact with the roads. Most bikes suspension are based on a spring like you would find in a pen, mattress or trampoline but much stronger. To stop the spring from bouncing the tyre like a yoyo; the rate the spring moves up and down is controlled by “dampers”.
— GoStar-Racing.com

When I would go over bumps, it felt like the bike wasn't absorbing the shock at all, instead my butt would take the brunt of it. Anytime I'd go over even a tiny bump I would squeeze my knees against the tank and raise my butt off the seat a bit (pavement, not dirt). Now I find myself doing that far, far less frequently than before. 

Corners

When my husband and I went to West Virginia last week, it was a game changer for me. Goldie had always been an amazing ride, even with the stock suspension. But now I felt a noticeable difference in slow and fast corners. 

In the tighter, slower turns I no longer felt like the rear wheel was going to slide out from under me because it wasn't gaining the right traction (which can be dangerous in corners). It feels firm, solid in every corner, as if the bike were attached to rails (traction!) and I was gliding through the corner without any wobble/bumpy feedback when rolling on the throttle (which I love to do once I'm in the corner). At higher speeds (freeway) I can feel the suspension working overtime to go over all the small bumps in the road. It's like I know I'm going over them but my body isn't feeling them as much.

my ass 

But most of all, my ass! It doesn't hurt anymore. And most importantly, my confidence has gone up. I'm still recovering from my accident last year so I still think of oil/fuel being spilled in every corner that I'm up against. Even if it's just water, in my mind I immediately think that it's something slippery. Having a stable, smooth rear suspension has helped me trust not my bike, but myself too. 

a little lower? 

Now that my rear suspension actually responds to my weight, I've found that the seat height has adjusted about 0.5" lower, possibly more. I just don't know how to measure that. But I can definitely tell because for the first time I was able to flat my right foot (although I still had to slide my butt off the seat a bit).

I'm so used to riding with the bike the way it was before, taller. Although I'm by no means flat footing both (which I would never want anyhow), now I find parking a little easier if there's a slight slope. I'm still wearing my tall insoles, but now I wonder if I can try the Dainese boots I've been wanting. Since they fit so tight on me, I'd have zero space for my insoles. Hmmmm. 

now what?

Now the only thing left to do is take it to a suspension guru to have the bike set up correctly so the front is balanced with the rear. Next year I might try to take on the front forks and see if they need to be changed, but so far I'm liking it the way it is. 

Happy Riding, and don't forget to check that suspension!

 Some women want diamonds, pearls, and other useless junk. But this one needs a revalved Ohlins!!

Some women want diamonds, pearls, and other useless junk. But this one needs a revalved Ohlins!!

Women's Gear Success Story!

dainese_airframe_womens_mesh_jacket
dainese_airframe_womens_mesh_jacket

 

Today I had a really great success story with a woman who needed almost an impossible jacket with longer arms, and a very lean body. 

She also had broader shoulders too which made it even more difficult. Another hurdle was the fact that she was rather tall and long waisted (~5'8") with a very lean build; probably a US 0-2 in the body but US 4-6 for shoulders and sleeve/torso length.

So what to do? After trying on many options, she left happily with the above Dainese Air Frame Women's Jacket, perfect for summer riding weather.  Dainese is a fairly slim brand, but not slim enough when you have to size up 2 times to fit your sleeves and shoulders.

What you don't see in the photo are also 2 key button adjustments; one at the bicep and one at the forearm to taper the sleeves even more. The last piece was adding a heavier back protector to take up quite a bit of volume in the body of the jacket.  I chose the Dainese Manis G1 Back Protector. The result was a better fitting jacket and a perfect sleeve length! This means that she can pretty much go with any Dainese ladies jacket in the same size and have a fairly good result with fitment.

Dainese tends to run narrow and long in the sleeves, but when you're caught outside of even this fitment, sometimes a little creativity needs to be employed for an ideal outcome.

Women's Riding Jeans

2012 triumph street triple R black gold dainese revit shoei sidi Why is it so difficult to find women's riding jeans that fit? Well, it's certainly difficult to fit women's clothing online as it is, let alone motorcycle specific clothing. 

I'm proud of a little project that I participated in to help my fellow women shopping for riding jeans. When you visit Revzilla and click on any of the women's riding jeans pages you'll see fabulous new fit notes to tell you how they might fit.

Here's a pair that I really like, the Alpinestars Daisy Jeans, available in black and dark denim. At the bottom of the description, you'll see a few fit notes that I hope makes this process much easier!

New Dainese Women’s Motorcycle Gear for Spring

dainese_womens_veloster_leather_jacket  

Dainese launched a few new products worth mentioning in its latest Spring 2016 Women's collection. Here are my favorites. 

Veloster Perforated Leather Jacket

This jacket has a great sport fit to it, without being too aggressive for street riding. It features a removable, long sleeve thermal liner so you can make this work most of the year depending how mild your winters are.  Lucky you! :-(

For those of us on the East Coast, this would definitely be a Spring/Summer/Fall Jacket. Even the toasty thermal liner wouldn't cut it in the middle of February!

I tried this one on and I really loved it. It reminded me of my Dainese Cage jacket,  which has a more relaxed fit from other women's Dainese Jackets. It's too bad my closet is already overflowing with leather.... #firstworldproblems.

Veloster 2 Piece Women's Race Suit $999.95

This suit comes in 2 pieces, both in the size that you choose. It isn't a new suit, but hot damn it's HOT! I just had to mention it. It also comes in 2 more colors including less red and more pink (for the few pinks fans out there)

! If there's one thing Dainese knows how to do, it's designing motorcycle gear. Why am I sweating so much right now? If I needed a 2 piece, I'd run out and get this one. Too bad I have tooooo much gear in my closet. The only downside to buying a set like this is if you are different sizes on top or bottom, then you're stuck. But the good news is you could always buy the Veloster jacket, and then buy Delta Pro Evo (race fit) or Pony Pants (street/touring fit)!

dainese_veloster_2piece_womens_suit

Women's Torque D1 Out Boots

$389.00 I wrote a blog post about these boots earlier this week, check it out!

dainese_torque_d1_womens_boots_black

 

 

Carbon D1 Long Gloves

$179.95 THANK YOU again Dainese, for adding Palm Sliders to these gloves which the mens version had previously! Some brands like Olympia and REV'IT has always made the women's gear equally as protective as the mens versions, but some brands are still catching up. These are also offered in 2 more colors as well. Whoop!

dainese_womens_carbon_d1long_gloves

 

As you may or may not know, Palm Sliders are *really* important for street riding, because the minute you fall down you will almost always put your hands out in front of you. And if you're moving, now you're tearing through the leather on your palms. These are also available in a shorter version, which I don't recommend unless you're wearing them with a Dainese jacket, because the elbow armor guards extend almost down to the wrist.

You can check out the rest of the items in the Dainese Spring 2016 Women's Collection on Revzilla.com!