how to ride

Riding a Suzuki SV650 v. the SV650S

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After spending a few months on my new ride, I thought I would share my experiences riding almost the same bike.  This is my second SV and my fifth motorcycle since I started riding bikes in 2004. My previous S model was with me for 4 years before I sold it last Christmas before moving to Philadelphia. The main reason I bought that one was because I hated the Kawasaki z750s I had at that time. I made the mistake of buying it because it looked cute and I did very little research on it. As a result, I only rode it 6,000 miles in 3 years! Sad. Before I tell you some of these differences, I think it's important that you know where I was coming from before I bought my first SV.

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Once I found the S model, I was in love. Definitely love at first sight, and first ride.

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So that brings me to what made the S model so awesome. Here are a list of features that I noticed and right off the bat and learned to love:

  • Falls easily into corners, with very little input
  • Much lower center of gravity; the fuel tank felt like it was under me not in front of me
  • Responsive to my lower body's input; when I used my legs and feet to lean into the corner the bike responded quickly and easily.
  • Figured out how to use my body position to lean into the corners
  • Almost 2" shorter seat height! I can barely remember how I rode that thing.
  • 50lbs lighter

Toward the end of our relationship, I grew to hate the aggressive riding position because I enjoyed taking long rides (150+ miles) and long trips (1,000+ miles). This bike was killing me at the end, although I thought heavily about putting risers on it I simply never got around to it. In hindsight, I should've sold it for the other version.

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Which brings me to the differences I've noticed about the non S model.

  • Steering input; feels different but just as easy to fall into a corner with. I can't quite say if it's better or worse, it's just different.
  • More comfortable; if I hadn't almost ruined my back on my last trip with the S version, I would've gotten another one. I'm really loving the almost upright riding position. Of course the seat is still stock, so still massively uncomfortable after 30-40 minutes but we'll (and hubby's speed triple) be refoaming our seats very soon.
  • Stiffer front end; I think because there isn't a windscreen and large fairing up front that it's lighter, so the front doesn't feel as soft. I feel like the front isn't as 'bouncy' when I come to a stop. Whereas the rear is definitely stiffer and I need to drop the preload and then at some point, get a shock that's a bit softer. Even with the awesome Pilot Power tires I have, my weight doesn't compress the rear shock enough to give me stability in corners. If I throttle too hard then the rear end slides a bit.
  • No windscreen; Oy. Riding into the wind at highway speeds is definitely more work. I definitely need a small windscreen of some kind, hoping that I can find a Puig that will work and not look too awkward.
  • More seat space; since the toolkit is stored in a different spot so that means I can shove my rain liners and a pair of gloves under the seat. YES!
  • Torque; I have a Delkevic shorty exhaust and it's Loud. It has a low rumble, which I appreciate so hopefully I'm not pissing off any of my neighbors. They say some aftermarket exhausts add a little power. I really can't tell if it's the noise that's creating the illusion of more power.

Everything else is the same; gas mileage (although the fuel light blinks now, instead of just staying on), seat height, weight, overall performance.

Overall, I would recommend the non S version, because it's a much more comfortable bike to ride vs. the S. You're more upright and almost in a supermoto-ish riding position. Feet are right beneath you and it feels natural and easy.

 

New Addition to our Motorcycle Family

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Someone picked up a new-to-him Speed Triple this week. I've yet to climb aboard but I'm sure that will end soon when we take a 4 day weekend trip to Williamsport, PA during the 4th of July. We'll be meeting up with a couple of very good friends to ride back and forth across the state and finally hit up some incredible twisties! Sitting on this bike, it's a bit taller than my SV, but nothing crazy.  

Riding Motorcycles in Pennsylvania with Mad Maps

motorcycles routes roads pennsylvania mad maps I don't know why I didn't think of this earlier, but Mad Maps has riding maps all over the country! Of course, they have an extensive offering of maps for the Bay Area, but they have one for PA and NJ. Woo Hoo! Looking forward to checking out these routes as soon as they hit my mailbox.

Taller Motorcycle Boots for Women

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If you're looking for boots that offer a little extra height (and traction) to give you more leverage and confidence while riding, as well as protection, here are some ideas.

Options 1-3 are fully lined with Gore-Tex, considered to be the most breathable, waterproof membrane you will find in footwear.

1/ Daytona Ladystar GTX

$449. My favorite recommendation (and most expensive, unfortunately) are the Daytona Ladystar GTX's above. Yep, you get *that* much extra vertical height. Definitely the tallest women's motorcycle boots on the market that I've seen so far that also provide plenty of protection for street riding. You can read my review here. Two places to buy these online; Helimot or Revzilla. Pick your poison! Daytona also makes the same boot for those of you over a size 40, called the MStar (typically marketed towards men, even though its the same exact boot).

2/ Dainese Siren WP

$249. Although the Siren doesn't feature Gore-Tex, it's waterproof and breathable per Dainese. Also, the Siren has a very generous calf space, so this is a great boot if you need a little more room. Remember that Dainese's fit profile is a little narrower everywhere (except the calf).  I've included a photo showing where your foot will be once inside the boot (0" mark). So that's almost 2.5" of extra height. You will get the same height on the Svelta (#2) and Luma (#3) as well.

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Dainese Siren GTX 

 

2/ Dainese Luma GTX

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$249. The Luma isn't a full height boot, but falls just below your calves. The height on these and the Siren will be the same.

3/ Dainese Svelta GTX

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$269. I love the Svelta because it actually doesn't have a large calf space since it zips all the way to the top. I don't need extra room there, so for me, it's the perfect boot. If you have a slender leg then you'll like the streamline fit on the Svelta. Another fabulous Gore-Tex lined boot!

4/ Alpinestars Stella Gran Torino GTX

Alpinestars Stella Gran Torino GTX

 

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$299. The Alpinestars should have a slightly wider footbed and slightly larger ankle space. A good amount of calf space is provided as well.

5/ Sidi Livia Rain

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$230. Sidis have a more generous fit all around than options #1-4, especially the ankles / heels and arches (better for high arches). They're incredibly comfortable as well, and also have a very generous calf space. As generous as the Sirens (#2), maybe even a tad more.

For those of you that can't afford a new pair of boots, here are two ideas:

  1. Try new insoles to add height and / or comfort. Dr Scholls, Superfeet, etc. I also wear Sidi Vertigo Leis but they took away from my vertical height so I couldn't get my heel down at all. So I added another insole, and a heel cup to give me an extra inch. It also made working all day in them far more comfortable.
  2. Try checking eBay. I found a barely used pair of Daytonas on eBay for less than $100 because I set up an alert to let me know if someone posted a pair in my size. It took a year, but a year later I found them!

Wanna Ride a Motorcycle? GTFO of Your Comfort Zone.

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You may need to google GTFO :D. If someone told me a few years ago that I'd be up and moving all the way across the country to a city I've never visited, I would've told them to GTFO!

A few years ago I realized that I wanted to really pursue this hobby and try to incorporate it into my 'career. It's been a difficult journey, especially after losing the one job I thought was going to make that dream come true.

I pretty much gave up on the idea of having a 'real' job in the motorcycle industry, because if you work in the industry, you know how difficult it is to find a really good one that actually pays you real money. I didn't start this website to make money, god knows it's not how I've supported myself.

But I thought there must be some way to do a little of this and some 'real' work on the side. Fortunately, I found Revzilla.

revzilla navy yard philadelphia pennsylvania motorcycle gear best selection

I'd never consider moving across the country for a job I wasn't already in love with. And although this means relocating to a completely foreign city, on a coast I've never lived on, I had no choice. Because I'd rather live in Philly and have this awesome job, than stay in San Francisco and not be completely in love with what I do.

One thing I've figured out so far is that no matter how difficult this journey might be, I know it'll be one of the best experiences I've ever had. But if I didn't put myself out there first, it never would've happened.

 

 

New Rider Advice, Should I Wear Taller Motorcycle Boots?

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A new rider from Kuala Lumpur wrote me awhile back about whether or not she should wear tall, 3" boots. She rides a brand that we don't really get here, a Benelli Keeway RKV 200. It weighs less than 300lbs and has a ~30" seat height. A little taller than other beginner bikes, but certainly not impossible. She's 5'2" and my guess is she has a ~26-27" inseam. She says:

"I'm okay with riding really slowly, until gear 2, but my shortness is really killing it for me. Especially when i have to backup. Plus, i'm awful at even maneuvering the bike even when i'm off it.. lol! I guess i'm not that good at faking it when it comes to how heavy the bike is. Well, just wanted a word of advise from you and do you think wearing 3 inch high boots will help?"

First off, I have to ask if you've had any basic rider training? If not, I hope that you have some local resources to take a basic class. Being a shorter person, I have learned that your skills and riding techniques compensate very well for lack of height. Otherwise, I'd never would've been able to ride any of these bikes.

As far as taller boots, they definitely help. I'm not a fan of wearing non protective boots for riding, so ideally I'd suggest buying any of the models in this previous blog post. They will all offer extra traction and the protection you need. But if you don't have access to these or can't afford to order them and have them shipped, then work with what you can get but AVOID high heels/fashion heeled boots. If a chunky heeled boot works, then great. Given where you live, I imagine women's gear choices are really limited.

The other thing I'd highly recommend is learning how to push your bike around while standing next to it. I also wrote a blog post about this here. Sometimes our bikes weigh A LOT. There is nothing wrong with getting off the bike to park. Sometimes it's easier and faster. I always park my bike like this if it's there's any kind of incline/slope. Why fight gravity? I've learned to back up with one foot and it works quite well for me :)