citybike

1st Annual CityBike Day at the Junction

CityBike is hosting their very first day at the Junction on Sunday, May 29, 2011.

The Junction 47300 Mines Road Livermore, CA

Motorcycles will be on display from BMW, Triumph, Can-Am and Aprilia will be there. (As of this moment in time, however, there will not be test rides).

I'm also going to give my Gear seminar to anyone interested in listening to me blather on for 20 minutes about gear.

I hear this Mines road business is goatey and rough at times. I'm going to ride there, and hope I don't wipe out on a gravel trap.

See you there!

Corazzo 5.0 Review

It's official, I'm really a contributor to CityBike Magazine! If you aren't familiar with this historic magazine based in San Francisco, it's one of the few regional newspapers that is totally dedicated to motorcycling.  The magazine recently changed hands last year to a couple of really great motorcycle enthusiasts who are putting CityBike back on the map, in the Bay Area, so to speak.

My second article is coming out in the June issue, which you can pick up at most dealers in the Bay Area.  If you don't live nearby, here's my extended review of the Corazzo 5.0 Ladies Jacket. And, in case you missed my first article, you can read it here.

Corazzo is a company based in Portland, OR that designs and manufacturers “technical riding apparel for people who ride in an urban environment.” Well that description pretty much fits many of us who live and ride in San Francisco.  I’m normally not a fan of ‘Scooter friendly’ gear, since many of the garments aren’t articulated enough to fit a more aggressive seated position on a motorcycle.  But I was pleasantly surprised by the fit and feel of the Corazzo 5.0 Women’s textile jacket. It was, however, the only jacket out of their entire line that fit comfortably on my motorcycle since most of their jackets are articulated for a fully upright position. So if you’re riding a Standard, DualSport or Dirt motorcycle and are looking for something lightweight to wear around the city streets, you may want to consider the Corazzo 5.0 (for men and women!).  Corazzo is also one of the few companies that “design(s) and manufacture(s) our garments and accessories in North America (California and Oregon and Canada), sourcing our raw materials from companies that manufacture in the US, whenever and wherever possible.”

The 5.0 is a lightweight, textile jacket that was designed by Alan Hardy, who has experience designing athletic wear in the sports apparel industry.  I have to admit, this jacket gets a lot of attention.  Anytime I’m with other motorcyclists, I’m always asked who makes it and what is it?  Something about the vertical stripes down the front and the horizontal stripes around the left sleeve give this jacket a very unique and cool look. And stripes aren’t just fashionable - they’re reflective too! Stylish and visible, what else could a girl ask for? I must admit, I didn't think I'd like wearing this jacket at all. Next to my Ignition, it's #2 in my closet.

A few features of the 5.0:

• Specially patterned for a woman’s body with Spandura® inserts. • Removable CE Rated Knox® Armor in shoulders, elbows & back • 1000 denier Cordura® abrasion and water resistant shell • Reflective 3M Scotchlite™ trim for 360° degree nighttime visibility • Superior venting for warm days • Two-inch longer tail & arms designed for upright riding • YKK® high-grade zippers throughout • Fleece lined collar and cuffs • Women’s sizing from XS – 2XL • Multiple color combinations • $229.00 US

I was a little skeptical of this jacket’s ability to keep me warm in San Francisco. As a small woman, I’m always cold, even when everyone else is hot.  Although the 5.0 doesn’t have a removable liner, it does a decent job of keeping me fairly warm, even in windy conditions.  Perhaps the 1000 denier Cordura® helps with wind resistance, I’m not sure, but paired with a sweater or well insulated base layer it provides just the right amount of warmth for San Francisco summers.  The wind resistant properties of the 5.0 were impressive to say the least, and have led me to rely on it for my daily commute across town from the Sunset to the neighborhood of South Beach (or any short jaunt around San Francisco for that matter).   There are 2 zippered vents on the back, right below each shoulder, in case it gets too warm. Something I really found useful were the YKK zippers over the front pockets. I could easily reach for them and zip my pockets closed while riding (something you may not want to attempt until you can ride comfortably with one hand :D), as I frequently forget to close them after putting away my wallet or precious iPhone.

As mentioned before, the cuffs and collar are not only fleece lined but adjustable as well. With the extra long velcro adjustments you can wear them over or under your gloves.  I wear a glove with a generous gauntlet, so I normally wear them over my sleeves, but if you have a short glove or your gauntlet is really small then the cuffs should adjust easily over them. And since they’re velcro they should hopefully keep the sleeves from pulling up and exposing your forearms in the event of an accident.

The Knox® Armor that’s provided with the jacket includes not only shoulders and elbows but a back protector too. Most protective jackets will only provide elbow and shoulder armor, but Corazzo has gone a step further by providing a CE rated back protector from Knox® as well.  I found the armor is a little hard at first but you just need to give it little time to conform to your elbows and shoulders.  Since I prefer Forcefield TPro® back protectors I swapped one for Knox - they both have the same distinctive “T” shape.  Unfortunately (if you like to zip your pants and jacket together like I do) the 5.0 lacks a connecting zipper at the waist - but I’m sure that a qualified tailor would be able to add one if desired. Keep in mind that the armor may feel uncomfortable at first, but you must give it some time to break in too.  After you wear this armor for a bit, it will mold a little more to your shape, so don't be too turned off by it when you try it on.

The fit of the 5.0 is fairly generous.  You’ll find that the sleeves are extra long, as well as the torso, which helps me out greatly on my motorcycle.  The waist is not terribly narrow, proportioned just right in relation to the shoulders, and the arm holes are generous enough to accommodate a couple layers. Actually, this was the only fit issue I had.  I wish the arms were a little narrower to fit someone like me (5'3", 130-135lbs).  If you're going to fit a size XS, chances are that you will have narrow arms and shoulders. I think the arms were one size too large.  I particularly like how it’s fitted through the torso but not too narrow - I don’t have much of an hourglass figure, I'm more like a square with my short torso. The XS fit me almost perfect and I’m normally a US 4 in women’s clothing. If you’re a super petite girl, size US 0-2, you may find this to be a little too big.  Textile doesn’t need to be as snug as leather, but it does need to be snug enough to keep your armor in place while in riding position. Even layering this jacket with a hoodie or multiple layers, it still felt comfortable and not too tight also.

The only thing the 5.0 lacks is a connecting zipper for overpants. I frequently wear waterproof overpants to work, or at night when it’s a little chilly.

If you’re in San Francisco, you can find Corazzo gear exclusively at the SF Scooter Center, or Corazzo.com. This jacket is made for both men and women and retails for $229, and also comes in a variety of color combinations that can be found on their website.

Finally, remember my #1 shopping rule, which is to try on each and every item of gear you intend to purchase on your scooter and/or motorcycle. You never want to make fit decisions in front of the mirror.  ATGATT! (All The Gear All The Time J ).

New Givi Cases, Test Rides

If you're looking for a new top box for your scooter or motorcycle, Givi is usually the first name you may think of. And for good reason!  Recently, they've upgraded the design on 3 of their boxes. The lower left box, the 46 Liter (46N) is what I'll be getting my hands on this time next week!  If you have a scooter and are looking for a new top box, you'll want to check out the E300B, which has a white cover and clear reflectors.   You won't find these boxes on Givi's website yet.  Don't ask me why, because I have no idea. I'm just lucky that I know the Bay Area Givi representative, who turned me onto these new boxes. I really like the style of the new reflectors on the 55 liter (E55NT), but that's just a touch too big for me. I think the 46 will look perfect on my tail. Pics to come after I get her mounted up.

Contrary to what you might think, I'm not planning any long trips or adventrues anytime soon.  The main reason I want/need this box is so that I can ride even more.  Having the flexibility of a secure place to stash my motorcycle boots, full face helmet and puffy overpants is something I've been wanting for a really really long time.  I make decisions on where/when I'm going to ride, based on the type of places I'm going to ride to.  When you live in San Francisco, it only makes sense to ride everywhere you can. But if I want to put on some peep-toe high heels, and a cute jacket, it isn't convenient to carry overpants, a jacket, boots and a helmet with me. I don't expect to put all these items in my box, but if I can manage to at the minimum, stash 3 out of 4, I'm happy to carry something.

Most recently (last week) I accepted a full time position to work as an office administrator for a really cool engineering firm in downtown San Francisco.  As much as I love the part time schedule, I need the full time pay in order to keep up with my motorcycle addiction activities.   I anticipate I'll be running around town picking up things, and having this box is really going to help. Especially when parking costs an arm and a leg for more than 15 minutes.   If you're interested in ordering one, email me and I'll put you in touch with my local rep.

I've also got a sneak peak at some photos taken by an amazing photographer, Robert Stokstad last week on the Suzuki GS500F test ride and photo shoot I went on for CityBike magazine. I'm also wearing the Corazzo jacket I'll be reviewing soon for CityBike.

City Bike Article

Just in case you can't get your own copy of City Bike magazine for April, I'm pasting a copy for you to read below.   I wrote it  for those of you who are new to motorcycling, might be a vertically challenged (not short!) man or woman, and could use some tips to help you overcome the obstacles you may be facing as someone new to riding a motorcycle. Enjoy!

******

Selling Yourself Short City Bike Magazine New Rider Issue April 2010

Congratulations! You’ve completed your MSF course.  You found a bike, and you’re out there practicing every day.  If you’re not out there practicing every day, why is that?  Maybe you’ve even dropped it a couple times, and now you’re doubting yourself and your ability to ride.    It also doesn’t help that you’re vertically challenged, with a 28”-29” inseam.  You’re also wondering how you’re going to get any better at this, gain confidence and at the same time, increase your skills?

Having a short inseam, I know how challenging this can be.  When you decide to ride a motorcycle, it’s a bit like jumping into a relationship.  Taking your MSF class signifies the ‘marriage’ between you and the decision to ride a motorcycle.   Now that you’ve taken the plunge, it’s time to put all those skills to use.  Only riding a few miles a week, or worse, every couple weeks isn’t going to take you and your new commitment very far.   You now know that riding is a body/feel or “muscle memory” intensive activity.  If you don’t get out there and practice every minute you have a chance, everything you’ve learned will go to waste.   When I first started riding, I really had to force myself to get out there and ride.  I was so intimidated by the height and weight of my first scooter and my first motorcycle.  But pushing myself further and further has brought me to where I am today.

If you’re feeling discouraged, don’t give up! First, if you think you’re having trouble due to your height, I want you to consider all the flexible options you may have with adjusting your bike in small ways such as: a narrower custom seat, adjusted suspension, handlebars, etc. Most modern motorcycles have lots of after market options that will allow you to make these kinds of adjustments with surprising results.  Sometimes the slightest difference in handlebar height or seat position can make the bike feel completely different to you.

Second, make sure that you’re riding the right bike for YOU.  If someone else chose the bike you now ride, I strongly urge you to consider the possibility that the bike is having a negative effect on your riding skills. It may have nothing to do with your height at all!  If you talked yourself into the wrong bike, why aren’t you looking for the right one?  Ask yourself if the bike fits your needs. Are you really riding something that’s appropriate for your skill level?  Or, did you get talked into a bike that really isn’t the best one for you? Keep in mind that it’s more important for you to choose the right bike for right now, not 6 months down the line.  You can always sell a bike and buy something else when the time comes.  Perhaps a 250cc sportbike isn’t the best option.  What about a 200cc street legal dirtbike, or a 150cc scooter? When you ride something that weighs ~250-275lbs, it can be a lot easier to jump from that to something that weighs ~350lbs.  When you get used to the weight of a small dirtbike, or even a scooter, it can make that next step so much easier and less stressful to deal with.  If I hadn’t spent 3500 miles on a 50cc scooter, I don’t think I ever would’ve been able to make the jump to a 250cc sportbike.

Third, are you following the braking procedures you learned in your class? Are you grabbing your front brakes, instead of squeezing them? Maybe you’re not using your rear at all, which can add stability when you come to a stop. Or maybe your throttle control still needs a little work. You’d be amazed at how improving these techniques can change and/or improve your ability to ride.  Remember that you’re trying to achieve a seamless transition from going 20-30mph, slowing down and then braking to a complete stop.  When your braking technique is messy, it can ruin your ability to stop smoothly, and handle the full weight of your bike.

Lastly, what kind of riding boots are you wearing? Are you still wearing the cheap hiking boots you bought just for the class? Maybe it’s time to invest in a good pair of solid, protective boots that give you far more traction in the ball of your foot.  I’ve never been flat footed with both feet on any of my bikes, or even my first scooter! I worked on stopping with my left foot first and finessing my braking technique so that I didn’t feel the need to have both feet down at every single stop.  When you put your feet down, that can send a strong message to your brain, in terms of how you feel about the motorcycle.  If you’re wearing regular street shoes,  I can almost guarantee that you have minimal traction at best, and probably minimal protection.  Protective boots will also have slightly thicker soles, and in some cases, enough to add up to 2” of vertical height, depending on the brand.

I know there’s a lot to think about right now, and you might be a little overwhelmed, if not discouraged by this stage in the learning process. But I hope that you won’t give up unless you’ve explored all the options available to you as a new rider.  Remember that riding is truly a lifelong experience, and even those of us who have ridden thousands of miles (because it’s not about time, it’s about miles!) have trouble every now and then and we could all use a little help on the journey to become a proficient rider.

Joanne Donn is the proud owner of a 2003 Suzuki SV650S. Prior to that, she rode a 2006 Kawasaki Z750S, a 2004 Kawasaki Ninja 250 and a 2003 Aprilia Scarabeo 50cc scooter.  When she’s not riding, she works part time for the Int’l Motorcycle Shows, runs her website, works part time as an MSF RiderCoach in San Francisco and at Scuderia West in apparel sales.

You can find her at GearChic.com, or send an email to joanne@gearchic.com.

Guestblogging Revzilla, MotoSFO

Revzilla graciously allowed me to guest blog about gear recently, just in time for spring shopping! http://blog.revzilla.com/2010/03/how-to-be-your-own-personal-motorcycle.html

THANK YOU to the readers who continue to support GearChic.com through your purchases at Revzilla.  And if you haven't, please visit Revzilla when you need to order anything from helmet parts to bike parts.

And as they say, when one door closes, a new one always opens!  I will no longer be appearing on Side Stand Up podcast shows. I enjoyed my time on the show immensely and certainly gained more visibility in the riding community.  I wish Tom and his team the best of luck.  You can still listen to my old episodes here.

I'm starting a whole new adventure with my wonderful friend, Carla King.  You may know Miss Adventuring from her multiple travel dispatches over the years, and her vast experience in the motorcycle travel and writing blogosphere.  If not, well then you're in for a big treat.  We've decided to start a new podcast show, based in and focused on San Francisco's motorcycling community.  We'll be featuring prominent guests and businesses in the Bay Area as well as everything you need to know about riding in our community. Everything from where to ride, how to learn to ride, where to stay, where to eat, you get the picture.    You can find a brief 15 minute introduction to the show here:

http://motosfo.com/blog/?p=1

As a couple of women who live and ride all over the SF Bay Area, we thought some of you who live in various parts of the country might be interested to know why we are a great  vacation destination. There's so much to do here in terms of motorcycling, traveling and adventure. Everything from cruising up Highway 1 on your boss hog, to Dual Sporting, to SuperMoto'ing, to Track Days, to Off Road Riding, the list goes on and on. As we all know,  San Francisco and the Bay Area are so very different from the rest of the country. And that certainly applies to motorcycling!

I think our show will give you insight into a community you may not be familiar with.  We have so much planned for this show, so please stay tuned via MotoSFO.com!

I'm also in the midst of unpacking my life and have finally been able to settle in for a bit.  Now that the shows are over, I'm trying to find some work (non moto related) and work on my website and get back to a normal blogging/newsletter/review schedule.  A couple of things on my to do list in the next week besides MotoSFO include: an IMS wrap up,  an article in City Bike magazine's upcoming New Rider issue for April 2010;  a review of a ScooterGirls jacket, another article for City Bike on Corazzo (scooter and motorcycle) gear, and a writeup on my recently acquired Shoei X-12 Vermeulen TC9 which I've only ridden a few hundred miles in so far. I'm enjoying the new feel of this helmet, as I've always been an Arai girl. But more on that in my blog review to come!