sport touring

New Time: Monday's LiveStream about Motorcycle Boots

Last week I talked about choosing a motorcycle jacket. I gave you some tips and advice on what to think about when it comes to making the best choice. If you missed, watch now:

WHEN: 9:30 PM East / 6:30pm West (so more Left Coasters can join in!) My last few streams were at 8pm East, so I'm pushing it out so my friends out west can also join :) 

WHAT TOPIC: Motorcycle Boots: How do you choose a pair? What do you need to consider? Why is it not a great idea to buy your motorcycle boots on Zappos? And for my fellow women riders, I'm going to give you ideas for men's boots that work really well for us for different lifestyles including ADV/Race and Touring. We know that men have far more options, but luckily brands like TCX and Dainese make sizes small enough for us to wear. I'm also going to break down fit differences between mens and women's boots.   

HOW TO WATCH:

1. On your Smart Phone/iPad/Tablet: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WnZw1kF5M48&client=mv-google&layout=tablet 

2. On your Desktop/Laptop: http://www.youtube.com/user/GearChic/live

When you log on through your desktop or laptop, there's a handy chat window to send in questions. Otherwise, you can also text or email your questions: gearchic@gmail.com    

See you then!  

If you missed the LiveStream, watch now:

Overview of the High Racer Gloves

Racer Gloves have always been my favorite brand. I own four pairs that are over 5 years old because I have never found another glove to give me the same comfort and protection that I have come to love. 

Check out my first video overview of these gloves (as well as my first video review). Hope you enjoy, let me know what you think and look for more video reviews soon!

New Motorcycle Boots from Sidi for Women

Sidi X-3 Boots

Sidi X-3 Boots

I know, I know. Blue, Pink, White? 

Well, I guess change is slow. The good news is these are real race level, offroad boots for women. That means more ankle support (lateral) and protection just like the men's version. That means they're offered in a size Euro 39 (~US women's 8.5) which I'm sad to see because they really need to offer 36, 37 and 38 (~US 6-8 which are the most common women's shoe sizes when it comes to motorcycle boots in addition to 39. I hope they read this and reconsider adding those core sizes.

If you do have smaller feet, and need a 6-7.5ish, then I would recommend these Sidi Stinger Youth Boots ($250) instead:

sidi_stinger_youth_offroad_motorcycle_boots.jpg

They don't offer the hinged lateral support at the ankles, but they certainly offer great impact protection in all the key areas (toes, heels, shins, achilles heel) and those fantastic stitched soles. I also like that the toebox is less bulky. Dirtbikes seem to have teeny tiny foot pegs, so I can't see how a really thick boot would work very well. 

Another boot that they just released is a touring boot called the Gavia Gore-Tex ($250):

The Gavia boots are a solid touring boot, with a Gore-Tex membrane. They've never offered women's boots with Gore-Tex, so this is definitely a first. I love Gore-Tex, if it's a waterproof piece of clothing that I own it has to be Gore. I love the breathability, added wind protection, and versatility in varying temperatures. At $250, they're a fantastic option.

If you're looking for a boot to add insoles to, Sidis are pretty roomy around the instep (but my feet are just that effed up). 

Thank you Sidi for offering more options to women riders! 

REVIT Flash Sale, This Week Only

Only through TUESDAY, AUGUST 30TH! Select items are 15% off, and I'm talking about new items for Fall like the Outback 2 Ladies Jacket above. 

If you need to get ready for Fall/Spring/Winter, then this is the time. The Outback 2 is in awesome, 3 layer jacket with a removable waterproof liner, and a removable thermal liner. The cut is European fit but not nearly as slim as a Dainese women's jacket.  

Normally priced at $349.99; it's $297.99 for the sale only. And then it's back up to regular price next week. Don't worry, there are other colors like black, black and black if you prefer darker colors. 

The Enterprise ladies pant is a great option to pair with it for $199.99, although it's not on sale (but a great price for a waterproof pant!). Don't worry, this is also available in black. Remember that Rev'it is one of the few brands that offer short, standard and tall sizes for women so check out their size charts and let me know if you need help! Their pants fit true to Revit sizing.  

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! 

mexican_virginia.jpg

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.  

ridereport_wva2 7.jpg
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..... 

The Dainese Women's Torque D1 Boots Don't Fit Me

2017 UPDATE! I purchased these boots earlier this year and made them work. Click here to find out how. 

Last month I posted about these amazing boots that Dainese created just for women. Race level boots with full lateral, ankle support. Something my Sidis just don't offer. :-(

I tried on the Dainese boots in 37 (my size when shoes run tight) and they're just TOO NARROW! *Cry* I couldn't get my amazing insoles to fit either, even a size up. The good news is, if you do have a slimmer instep, you will LOVE these. They also have a speedlace system, which allows you to cinch the ankles down even more! (Oh how I already envy you!)

This photo is from the back of the boot, all Dainese Race style boots are rear-entry. They also have velcro adjustments on either side of the boots (red circles) so you can adjust your calf fit, depending on what kind of pants/race suit you're wearing, or general calf size.

I wasn't trying to put the entire thing in side (all three pieces together). I could barely get my foot in as is. I have a high instep, so a lot of shoes in my size (6.5 US) are small at the opening so I can't get my foot in.

Maybe that's why I love my Sidis so much, they fit me so well and are so damn comfortable. I can add my magic insoles and I'm good to go.

But I really wanted more protection, in the form of full lateral support. Meaning, the boots make it almost impossible for your ankles to move sideways in case of an accident.

I also tried sizing up again (to 38), which helped so I could get my foot in. But then there was almost 2 inches of toe space :-( Looks like I'll be keeping my Sidis for awhile longer.... *sigh*

The good news is, if you have pretty, feminine narrowish feet you will be fine!

#firstworldproblems

So Excited! Women's Motorcycle Boots with Real Ankle Protection

dainese_torque_d1_womens_boots reddainese_torque_d1_womens_boots_black  

As soon as the temperatures come back up and it's time to go riding again, I'll be upgrading my everyday riding boots to these beauties, the Dainese Women's Torque D1 Boots. With my tiny Size Euro 36 / US 6.5 feet, it's incredibly difficult to find motorcycle boots that offer real ankle protection. What this means is full lateral support, and that these boots will make it nearly impossible for your leg to bend sideways at the ankle. Hopefully it should minimize the injury to a sprain or fracture vs. the need for major surgery.

Although you can't 100% prevent every injury, you can drop it down to the best possible outcome. When I crashed last June, I got lucky when I lowsided because although my foot was pinned underneath the bike for a bit, I only walked away with a fat bruise. Every accident is different, and you have no idea what can happen to you in each circumstance. Some people wear absolutely nothing and get up without a scratch, who knows how? But then there are many riders who can't get up at all. I don't want to be one of them, and rather than gamble with the ability to walk comfortably without pain, I'd rather wear a better boot.

Sidi Vertigo Lei lowside accident swollenfoot_after_motorcyclecrash_nobrokenbones_sidi

I do *adore* my Sidis, but I have to give in to the extra protection that these offer. They're too good to pass up.

dainese_torque_d1_womens_boots_pink

 

I just hope they fit me as good as my Sidis do. I only got to try the 36 (barely, since my feet couldn't get into the opening!) and not the 37. I put on a 38 and definitely had enough room to add my amazing insoles.

riding motorcycles with lifted insoles

So FYI, these do run narrow especially at the instep. The opening is rather narrow.  So I recommend ordering a size up unless you have narrow feet.