reviews

New Gear for Spring/Summer 2018 from REV'IT

There are so many new products for us this Spring, I'm going to keep this limited to my top 4 favorites. 

If you follow my Instagram feed, you know I practically live in my Gear 2 Leather Pants almost year round. As long as it isn't below 60F, I'll pretty much live in them because they're so comfortable. 

This Spring, Rev'it is updating the Gear 2 with a new name but basically the same pant with a couple nice armor upgrades. 

The new Ignition 3 Pants (right) is pretty much the same pant as it's predecessor, the Gear 2's but with upgraded Level 2 Seeflex Knee Armor and Seesmart Level 1 Hips. Unfortunately this also means a price upgrade to $429 for the pants (previously $399). But worth $29 extra in my opinion for softer and more protective armor. 

The matching Ignition 3 Jacket is pretty much the same as the 2 with the same armor upgrades for elbows and shoulders for $30 more:

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Another new pant for us is the Varenne. 

The Varenne is a ladies version of the popular Axis Unisex Waterproof Overpants which are now discontinued. 

These feature full hip to knee full length, two way zippers on each leg for those of you looking for easy commute wear.

Instead of riding in your skinny jeans, tights, shorts, chinos, and anything else that's not worthy of abrasion, check out these overpants. 

They're waterproof all the time and offer Seesoft Level 2 Knees and soft Seesmart Level 1 Hip protectors.  

They're simple, black and easy to wear and less than $200. And as always, available in (some) short and tall sizes for women (and the mens versions too). 

There are quite a few new additions to the rider looking for modern classic leather jackets.

Three new jackets; the Clare, Rosa and Erin offer slightly different leathers, styles and colors. I want to see someone in that gorgeous red Clare.  

Softer Seesoft Level 1 armor is included (except the back) to make them even more comfortable while riding.   

I think this Spring is going to be awfully cool and protected.... 

 

Stay tuned for a review of my Rev'it Neptune GoreTex Suit !

Winter Is Coming, Rev'it Neptune GTX Women's Jacket

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I'm super excited to update my old Legacy with a warmer, newer version. The new Neptune Jacket has a heavier outer shell, and some really nice updates that make wearing it more comfortable. 

 With the Gore-Tex liner OVER the jacket!

With the Gore-Tex liner OVER the jacket!

I'm just happy that its keeping me warm without my heated jacket liner when it's 55F out. This time around, the Neptune unlike it's predecessory (Legacy) has two removable liners. One is Gore-Tex and one is a thermal, insulated liner. What this does is give the jacket a little more flexibility for summer riding. If it starts raining and it's hot and humid, the Gore-Tex jacket is wearable on the outside :) 

 Hip gusset for alllll the hips

Hip gusset for alllll the hips

What I want to mention is the fitment. They've loosened up the chest, hips and arms on this model compared to previous versions. I have a 36" bust and a 37" hips. So I have absolutely no hips or butt. I need a really straight cut. When I have the hip gussets closed, there is still a good ~1-1.5 inches (with all the liners in) of room left that could fill it out. Not a dealbreaker for me, but I knew that going in. I'm wearing a Euro 36. I can't size down because of my shoulders. With the liners in, my shoulders are too tight in a 34 while in riding position so I need the 36. I really think a Euro 36 could fit someone with up to a 39" chest and up to a 40" hip for a snug fit with all the liners. I would say this is a curvier cut than Dainese or Alpinestars. The hips flare out even when they're zipped shut on me. Although I admit, I have NO hips/butt. 

The impact that this has on me is warmth. Because it's not fitting tight in the chest when I learn forward, I get a chilly draft. If I wore my windstopper North Face vest I could eliminate that. But then wearing that with the thermal liner is too much.

What I need is a bigger chest! :P This is where layering is crucial. If I wear a thick baselayer (smartwool or Polartec fleece shirt or something along those lines) then I think it would minimize the draft on my chest.  

I'm going to take this jacket on a chilly weekend ride in a couple weeks and then I'll do a full review. Stay tuned! 

For more details on the Neptune, find all the detailed specs on Revit's website

Reviews and a Riding Jean Party

It's been a busy weekend. 

First, I want to invite women riders of Philadelphia to a special pop up party that we're having:

Saturday, September 30th in Philadelphia, 7pm-9pm. 

The exact location is TBD but will be somewhere in Center City. I will do my best to find somewhere convenient to the freeways and with decent parking. 

If you've been looking for the best pair of women's riding jeans then look no further because Laura is bringing the best. She also offers fully custom - made to your measurements - jeans.

https://shop.worsewear.com/collections/all

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If you've never heard of her jeans, please listen to my latest podcast interview with Laura to find out more details and information. 

This event is limited to 20 Women Riders only. Due to the intimate nature of this event, men are not invited to this party. Next time! 

Event Details and RSVP here: 

https://www.facebook.com/events/804848576349084/

Don't worry, if you don't facebook just post a comment that you plan on attending and I'll make a note. Or drop me a line at gearchic at geemaildotkom with your full name and what you ride so I can add you to my list!

Please check the Facebook Page for location updates, of course I will also post on my social feeds and update this post when the location is finalized. 

Next, I've got reviews, review and reviews ready on my website: 

 

 

Alpinestars Motegi Stella Women's Race Suit

 Riding in the Alpinestars Motegi v1 Stella Suit

Riding in the Alpinestars Motegi v1 Stella Suit

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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

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

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. 

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.  

Ride Report, West Virginia. Again!

 At the top of Skyline Drive

At the top of Skyline Drive

What can I say? I love West Virginia. I never thought I'd say that, but when it comes to finding heavenly, twisty roads, I can't help it. 

My husband and I went on a 5 day vacation from Philly to West Virginia a few weeks ago, leaving on Sunday and returning Thursday that week. Here are a few highlights!  

 Stopping somewhere in Washington DC by the Potomac on our way down.

Stopping somewhere in Washington DC by the Potomac on our way down.

When we left on Sunday, May 8th, we had a rather late start. I won't even bother to share the ride route. We pretty much slabbed  drove through Washington DC and stopped briefly to take some pictures before heading into Arlington. Since we started so late we decided to stay the night just outside DC at the Hampton Inn Gainesville-Haymarket

I'd highly recommend it, very motorcycle friendly, clean and just overall a very nice place to stay (I usually try to stay at smoke-free hotels, because I just can't stand the smell of smoking hotels). Unfortunately someone left the microwave on or something, and we had a 4:30am wake up call. Luckily, it only lasted about 20 minutes and we were able to get back to sleep. Zzzzzzz. 

The weather was raining on and off Monday, so we headed out late and just decided to head south, towards the border of West Virginia and Virginia. Looking at the radar reports, we tried to go just below the storm paths so we could at least find some dry, twisty roads. Oh and along the way we found tasty Mexican food! Who knew there were delicious, authentic Mexican restaurants in Virginia? We stopped at La Michoacana Taqueria & Restaurant. Delicious! 

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So we headed out and we aimed for Waynesboro, VA. When we stopped to take a look at hotels, we found a room in Staunton, VA at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel. It was beautiful, and we got their Stay 2 Nights and Save Promo. 

Staunton is a really lovely town with a lot of history including an old train station and wonderfully preserved downtown. 

 Staunton at night. My husband sure knows how to take photos. 

Staunton at night. My husband sure knows how to take photos. 

 Easy parking at the hotel in their garage. I just love how these two look side by side. 

Easy parking at the hotel in their garage. I just love how these two look side by side. 

So we decided to camp out in Staunton and just looked at the maps every day to figure out which way we thought we wanted to go. 

Tuesday was our first day of explorations. The weather was crummy in the early morning so we waited until the rain passed a bit more before heading out. We found some fun scenery including a rickety bridge that you aren't supposed to ride across. So we didn't. 

As we rode off, we found even more scenery, including some horses who didn't seem to mind as we pulled over to take photos next to them. I tried to coax them away from lunch but they just weren't interested. :(

 I don't know how, but he manages to get the timing just right on these sometimes. I guess I was stretching...

I don't know how, but he manages to get the timing just right on these sometimes. I guess I was stretching...

 I think the horse is looking at us like we're crazy. 

I think the horse is looking at us like we're crazy. 

One of the coolest things we saw a few times were abandoned buildings like this old service station. These photos just don't do this building justice. It was so pretty in person, eerie and stunning at the same time.  

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 We didn't get to go inside, but I was able to get a photo through the windows. 

We didn't get to go inside, but I was able to get a photo through the windows. 

 Evan poses!

Evan poses!

 And another abandoned garage. Way creepier. 

And another abandoned garage. Way creepier. 

Since the weather wasn't that cooperative most of the time, we did some very simple routes, nothing fancy. But some of the best riding on this coast lives here: 

 Staunton to West Virginia and Back. 

Staunton to West Virginia and Back. 

We were trying to find some cool covered bridges, but we only found this one which we weren't able to actually drive through. It was called Humpback Covered Bridge in Covington. 

So all we could do was take selfies. 

I highly recommend lunch in Marlinton at the Greenbrier Grill. Tasty, inexpensive and outdoor seating. 

We took 39 back mostly, such a fantastic road. I'll warn you, these roads are twisty so should always take those easy if you're not immediately comfortable. I practically live to ride these roads, I just wish they were closer :(

My friend Tamela recommended Route 311, just south of Covington but unfortunately I somehow got us off track and never got to ride it. It also looked amazing. 

The next day we played around 39 and 250 again. 250 is probably my favorite road on the East Coast so far. 

Unfortunately we didn't get video of 250 because of the crappy weather that day, but in case you missed it, here's a short video my husband shot on his GoPro, Swivit Mount and Gimbal. We finally had some clearing weather and was able to get some beautiful shots while on 39 or 84, I can't remember which road this is. It's mixed in with some footage of Skyline drive as well, but there are bits and pieces of WVA in here. 

 Getting all the equipment ready to film. If you've never heard of  Swivit.com , check them out. Their adjustable mount is unique, and was the first of its kind. 

Getting all the equipment ready to film. If you've never heard of Swivit.com, check them out. Their adjustable mount is unique, and was the first of its kind. 

 With the Swivit, he was able to get shots like this one, because you can move the camera on the fly. (We were going maybe 15mph, and there was zero traffic!)

With the Swivit, he was able to get shots like this one, because you can move the camera on the fly. (We were going maybe 15mph, and there was zero traffic!)

 I don't know why but we decided to slab it back from Staunton to Philly on Thursday. Although we had an early start, we took the scenic route up Skyline Drive. Since the hubby had never ridden through it before, we thought we'd take a look! Twas foggy on and off. If you watch the video, the tunnel is at the end.

After a bit of fog, we finally got to some clear parts of the mountain. And yes, the speed limit is 35mph. We were following the limits pretty closely, but it was a very quiet day on Skyline so we were lucky enough to have little or not traffic at times. And no performance awards :)

The coolest stop we made was at Fort Johnson. Such a cool, crazy story from the Civil War. I didn't get to climb the entire trail, but I did get to the first tier. Since moving to an older city such as Philadelphia, I am fascinated and constantly amazed by the history that I encounter everywhere I go. Virginia was no exception. So crazy to think that a war was fought on this mountain, where we now stand and take scenic photos. 

 Steps to the first level of trenches. 

Steps to the first level of trenches. 

 A long line of trench!

A long line of trench!

 We even met some fellow motorcyclists who were passing through. 

We even met some fellow motorcyclists who were passing through. 

And then we had to say goodbye! 

We used our Sena SMH10R's to communicate with eachother the entire week and they performed quite well. I used the Garmin quite a bit, along with my music and I forgot to recharge it one night so it died after a second full day. Just by habit, we recharge our headsets every night but you really don't have to. You should be able to get 2 full days; although we don't have our channels open the entire time. We go back and forth between chatting or keeping the channel open for 10-15 minutes, then back to our own music while I listen for Garmin directions at the same time. 

If you're curious as to how that all worked for me, read my review of the Garmin Zumo 390LM here

 

  Until next time, West Virginia.... until next time..... 

Until next time, West Virginia.... until next time..... 

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!!