General

What Not To Wear While Riding Motorcycles

3/14/16 UPDATE It seems that writing about "motorcycle gear" is a common theme for Vogue as I've found another article about going on a date on motorcycles... *sigh*

Yes, going out on a date on your motorcycle is really really fun. But *not* when you're only wearing a tank top and high heels. It's no wonder the public's perception of riding motorcycles is what it is. And why you see so many women wearing nothing while they jump on the back of their friend's bike, or in the front.

My Original Post on 10/25/2014: 

Recently Vogue Magazine interviewed a few "Biker Babes" who shared their tips for wearing the most fashionable denim, because you know, that's what all bikers wear.

"I usually wear head-to-toe denim on the bike. In the summer months, it’s always denim shorts with stockings for protection. You have to have something between you and the asphalt—“dress for the slide not for the ride." -Interviewee #1 pictured above

I get it. Denim is casual and it doesn't make you look like you ride a motorcycle, and many people ride with it instead of riding pants. There are also actual riding jeans with more protection than your average Levis 501s. But, let's be honest here. Unless you spend $500 on a premium jean like Rokker Denim Jeans (which aren't available for women here yet) you're probably risking a lot by trading leather for casual denim.

To be fair, 4 out of 5 of the people interviewed didn't mention wearing denim on the bike so much as their favorite denims to wear in general.  But after reading the first interview, I cringed as I read through the rest. Although none of the other gals remark that they wear denim on the bike, it sort of implies that it's all they wear while riding.... a la the way of the biker babe.

It doesn't bother me so much that this particular person is wearing only old, worn denims while riding. Ok, it bothers me a lot but everyone gets to pick whatever they want to wear when they ride, period. You or I may not agree with their decision but too bad so sad. What really kills me is the fact that she obviously did ZERO research when it came to "What should I wear while riding my motorcycle?" I understand the people that know what can happen to them and take the risks anyway, they're nuts in my opinion but I think they have real guts to do that. I'm always astounded at the ones that don't bother to google for a minute and figure out what's really out there? What's the true story?

Although I think it's lame that Vogue published these stories, it's what they were after, fashion and something that's cool and sexy, blah blah blah. Nothing hotter than half naked women riding motorcycles, right? The bigger issue I see is the lack of education and information that's available to non motorcyclists who are trying to get into riding motorcycles. I strongly urge you to watch this video, of my friend Brittany Morrow. She's the famous girl you see on all the forums with a full length photo of all her road rash injuries because at the time she wasn't really geared up:

http://vimeo.com/22897515

Mainstream media shows you pictures and articles like this of people riding with only the most fashionable looking apparel while riding. If we could just get tv, movies, etc. to portray is in a more realistic way, that would be great. How is that actually going to happen? I have no idea. All I can do is voice my opinion and hope that a couple people read it and pass the word to their friends.

But I do know that women like these featured in Vogue have no idea what they're getting into and what the consequences of these actions are. As an adult, if you are going to jump into something risky like motorcycles, you might want to try and prepare for what could happen to you.

PS, many of us don't subscribe to the whole "RIDE OR DIE" bullshit, either.

Reader Question: Gear for a New Rider

Hi,

I found your site on Google. I know you usually do motorcycle gear for women but I was wondering if you had any strong suggestions for great for first time riders.

I was very much against my son getting a motorcycle but his father decided to gift him one for graduation. He's graduating from usf this semester. With that, he is signed up to take the motorcycle courses in two weeks. The bike his dad got him is a kawasaki ninja zx6r? I think which is a 600 engine which people don't usually recommend for a first time bike. My son likes to go fast but he's a safe driver if that even makes sense.

I am much more concerned for his safety as San Francisco drivers, Bay Area drivers all together are very dangerous.

So I only agreed if he got all the gear and classes necessary. I also had him sign up for maintenance and motorcycle knowledge classes at motosf and he wasn't very happy but he agreed just to make me feel better.

He lives in San Francisco but from time to time he will be commuting to South Bay for his new job. I've been doing my research and do you recommend him get a one piece suit? Two piece?

He gets hot very easily so he's not a fan of very heavy clothing. What would do the job? His dad bought him an arai rxq helmet as well as dainese gloves. Not sure which. But I wanted to know more about the protection and clothing he would be able to wear in commute vs shorter rides. Is there something he can wear over his work clothes of snacks and a button up shirt without getting sweaty and smelly?

What brands do you recommend. What protection? Also sizing... He likes to wear baggy things. Not super baggy but he likes to have room. Is that not recommended when buying motorcycle jackets? Also what do you recommend in leather vs textile jackets?

Thank you so much for your opinion and time.

Kirsten

Hi Kristen,

I totally understand your hesitation and anxieties concerning your son. I would have to agree that a sportbike such as the Ninja ZX6R is not exactly the perfect first bike for everyone. However, if he's a fairly levelheaded person, he'll probably be okay. I think you've done everything you can by pushing him to get training and educate himself on how to ride and take care of his motorcycle. It's definitely a good idea to know exactly what he's getting into. I'm not sure where he's signed up for classes, but if he hasn't checked out  Bay Area Moto Shop in San Francisco, I highly highly recommend it. It's a fantastic community of riders for him to get comfortable and excited about riding!

MotoShop-Logo

As far as gear, he could definitely do a 1 or 2 piece, depending on his lifestyle. It will also depend on his body type and overall fit profile. If he hasn't already, I recommend going to the Dainese Store SF. They are extremely knowledgable and have an incredible selection of 1 piece suits. I also recommend going to Scuderia in SF as well, and ask for big Dan. :D It also sounds like he has

Personally, I'm a fan of 2-piece suits because it allows flexibility when you go places. You can take your jacket off if you need to, or wear your jacket with different pants. If you wear a 1 piece, you always wear the 1 piece. He can definitely find overpants and jackets to wear over work clothes. He can also find vented gear that allows air to flow through the jacket so it's not too warm. There are many options, especially for men!

Everyone has different preferences in how they want to dress, but the one thing that is definitely important about motorcycle gear is Fit. Gear must fit close to the body so the body armor sits on top of the shoulders, elbows, hips, knees and back so it doesn't move upon impact. Unfortunately the baggy fit doesn't translate with gear. There's almost no point in wearing any if it isn't fitting you properly, as motorcycle gear's #1 purpose should be to protect the body. Anything can be labeled as motorcycle gear, but if you read my Basics then you know how to tell if it's real motorcycle gear.

As far as leather v. textile, it's definitely a personal choice. Basically you choose leather if you want more durability and a little more protection. However, not all leather is the same. There's everything from lightweight, 0.9mm casual style leather to 1.3-1.4mm high quality, heavy leather. So you definitely have to look at each one individually and see what that jacket offers in terms of protection.

revit_tornado_jacket

Generally, textile offers a little more functionality like the Revit Tornado Jacket on the left;  it has one removable liner that is waterproof and warm. The outside has mesh panels so he'll stay cool, but when he has to get back up to the City he has a warm liner.  Most people prefer textile at first because it's immediately comfortable, doesn't feel as restrictive as leather and just feels good from the get go.

Leather requires break in time, because it starts out stiffer and less comfortable. Many new riders (including myself when I was new) aren't willing to make this investment until it feels more comfortable. It certainly can offer more protection, but it's all about what feels good to the rider. If it doesn't feel good or comfortable, a rider won't wear it.

These are definitely options that each rider has to explore on his/her own and possibly make the wrong decision(s) to make the right one. It sucks but sadly that's how most people realize they need better gear, or gear in general.

I hope this helps, good luck to your son in making great riding choices!

Ride Review: Suzuki DRZ 400 SM. That Was Tall!

Suzuki DRZ400SM Last week I rode a DRZ 400 SM. Wow, I learned so much and rode the tallest bike I've ever ridden. Yes, You Can.

I learned that a Suzuki Drz400sm isn't in my near future. Not because it was really tall (35"+!) but I didn't like the way it rode. I'm still very much a sporty girl and love the handling, feedback and stability that modern sportbikes offer. If you know me at all, you know I'm a sucker for twisties and don't care much about straight lines either. This bike was definitely a demon in the twisties, but in a different way.

I only had the chance to ride it for one afternoon, down to Alice's Restaurant from San Francisco. We took a very simple ride route, a little slab to get to the twisties!:

  • 280 South --> 92 West
  • 35 South (twisties begin)
  • 84 West
  • Quick stop at Stage Road in San Gregorio, then South on Stage Road
  • Left on Pescadero Road to 84 East back to Alices

Although short but sweet, it was heavenly. We left around 12, so it was too late of a start to head further south towards Boulder Creek as planned. Oh well, that's what Christmas vacation will be for! So my friend generously let me borrow his DRZ 400 SM and my husband rode another friend's KTM RC8 (we have awesome friends!!), and my girlfriend joined us on her DR650.

I definitely wouldn't have ridden a heavier bike of the same height. Since it was skinny and lightweight, I felt fairly confident that I could handle it. But to be completely honest, I probably would've said no if I took a minute to think about what I was going to ride.

I'm glad I didn't think about it too much and just rode my brains out. I also didn't wear my big girl boots which didn't make it much easier but I guess I like a challenge.

2005 Suzuki DRZ 400 SM

Here are some specs for the one I rode:

  • Dry Weight: 295lbs
  • Wheelbase: 57in
  • Seat Height: 35in; with a Gel Seat for a 1" shorter seat height
  • Ground Clearance: 10in
  • Unlowered suspension
  • Shinko Trailmaster Tires; these tires are taller, so they counteracted the gel seat
  • Click here for a full list of specs 

If there's one thing I love about riding different bikes, it's that I usually learn something new. On this bike, I had to relearn how to make my lines. I was having trouble through corners and my friend reminded me that I can't ride it like a sport bike because it isn't one. It's a supermoto! After she gave me a couple tips, it was a lot easier to stay smooth through the corners and increase my entry and exit speeds.

I quickly learned that in the twisties, I still love the way street bikes perform and am not sure if a smaller supermoto is in my future. I definitely love how mid weight supermotos like KTM's 690 SMR and 690 Duke feel and would love to have one someday.

I'm a bit on the fence about this bike, I mean besides the fact that it's annoyingly tall. I loved the riding position and how far I could see up ahead. You're almost the same height as SUVs so it's really easy to see down the road. Of course, the riding position was really comfortable. I did have to jump on the highway to get down to Alice's but doing 75mph was easy.

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When you ride something that's barely tall enough to throw one leg over, curbs suddenly become your best friend. As soon as I'd see one at a stoplight or freeway offramp, it was always convenient to pull up next to one and rest my wayward foot. My right leg is typically rather useless because I can only get my toes down, but on this one it was *completely* useless! I also avoided dirt and uneven pavement and always got off the bike to park it. Luckily I was able to balance it just perfectly to hop right and get my right foot down to kick the sidestand down with my left foot. Whew!

 

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It's just too bad I didn't have time to throw a leg over my friend's RC8!

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At the end of the day, I feel like I accomplished a lot and rode something I never expected to be able to ride. If someone told me that someday I'd be able to throw a leg over a bike with almost 35" seat height I would've told them they were nuts.

I guess the moral of the story is, don't think about it, just do it. (Of course, after you've perfected your braking and balancing techniques :D)

Thinking about getting into Motorcycles

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"So I have been thinking a lot about riding, i don't know many that ride so it would primarily just be me by myself. But this leaves me with no one to get answers from.. I read all about the gear things, I just ordered these riding sneakers but the more I read the more I think i need actual boots... anyway what about bikes themselves, i'm pretty short, what happens when i go buy a bike new/used what if i feel like I'm too high off the ground? is there anyway to fix that or am I kind of left with being uncomfortable."

-Lisa

First, I want you to know that you are Not alone! There are so many resources online, women's motorcycle groups and more to help you get started. A few resources:

  • Clubs: Motor Maids, Women on Wheels. Both of these groups are national, and have chapters all over the country. I'm sure there is a chapter in your area.
  • Meetup.com: Depending where you live, you may be able to find riding groups in your area. It's free to join, it only costs money to create a group.
  • Try googling for "women's motorcycle groups <yourcity>"  There are lots of women's motorcycle clubs/groups all over the country, many of them welcome new riders with open arms. If you're anywhere near Philly, please join my Facebook Group.
  • Moterrific.com: I have to recommend my podcast show since we talk a lot about new riders and things that every rider wants to know about including gear, used bike shopping and more. There are lots of other podcasts that you can learn from as well including The Pace and Wheel Nerds.

If you can tell me where you live, I'm sure we can find a group / club near you.

To answer your first question, yes, I would definitely recommend riding boots. Not just sneakers. Especially one of these to give you the most traction, stability and protection that you can get as you start out. Starting with a really good pair of boots helps you gain better control over your braking, shifting and stopping so you have lots of stability when you come to a stop. I like to tell people that when you put your feet down when you're seated on a motorcycle, it sends a very strong message to your brain. Either "This is Great! I feel fantastic." or "Oh Shit, what have I gotten myself into?" Of course, this will only feel good if you're on a lighter bike that's a good match for you (think under 300lbs).

I also recommend taking the motorcycle safety class (if you haven't already), so that you get proper instruction and you'll get to ride a few small beginner bikes to get a feel for the whole experience. You may Love or Hate it after that. I think that will ease a lot of your anxieties right there. You'll also meet lots of fellow new riders in your class, and will probably make friends with some of them as well. If you've already taken your class, you've taken the first step.

Here are a few beginner bikes that I recommend looking at:

  • Ninja 250R (old or new, I had a 2003 and it was fantastic)
  • Yamaha TW200
  • Honda CBR250R
  • Honda Rebel 250
  • Suzuki DR200 (although it's a bit taller than the others, it's SO light it doesn't matter)
  • Suzuki Tu250
  • Older standards like a Honda CB350

Since you're a new rider, everything will feel uncomfortable if it isn't short enough to let you flat foot with both feet. That's why I recommend the safety class because almost all the bikes will be short! But you will also learn lots of good techniques like smooth braking and stopping which helps you manage taller motorcycles. I know it's not easy to be patient, but if you start on the right bike for your experience level, I know you'll find it to be much easier than you expected. I think you run into trouble when you start on bikes that are way too heavy, tall or powerful to learn on.

And there are things you can do to alter your motorcycle if it's a bit too tall. I'm not a fan of lowering motorcycles but if you need to always consult a shop that specializes in motorcycle suspension, because they will know *exactly* how to lower it properly. Most dealerships don't have suspension mechanics on site. Before you do that, look into lowered seats! You can get an aftermarket low seat, depending on your bike, or you can have one custom made too.

Generally speaking, being shorter means having to struggle a bit to ride bigger bikes. There's no way around it. So it helps if we start out small and just get used to riding to work our way up. I spent more time doing this than most folks, and I know not everyone has the patience to do so but I highly recommend it. As a result I've been able to ride a lot of bikes that I never, ever thought I'd be able to ride because my inseam is so much shorter than these bikes.

As you ride more, you get better. The better you get at perfecting your riding techniques, the easier it gets to ride bigger bikes. There are so many people out there who ride tall motorcycles, it's not impossible!

As far as buying a used bike, here are a couple resources for you to read with regards to used motorcycles:

  1. AMA Used Bike Checklist
  2. Article about Shopping for Used Motorcycles
  3. Moterrific Podcast Episode about Used Motorcycles

 

 

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.

2006_kawasaki_z750s

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

2003_suzuki_sv650s_livermoreCA

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.

2006 sv650 naked blue

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.

 

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.

Random Things I Miss from the Bay Area

nacimiento ferguson road california highway 1 fort hunter liggett When you leave your homestate, you miss a lot of things. I guess the most obvious thing for me is roads.....

Roads

Granted, I haven't ridden very many here near Philly. But the bottom line is that California has a very unique set of roads. The combination smooth twisties, goaty twisties, desert, dirt, gravel, etc roads are unlike any other. Living in the Bay Area, you people have a ginormous cluster of roads that are awesome. Don't take it for granted! Get Out and RIDE. NOW!

hwy 229 rossi's driveway

And I Know I've yet to travel south, which I'm DYING to do. Virginia, Tennessee, the Carolinas... it all looks heavenly!

Food

Yep, Burritos. I miss them. It's getting a lot easier but every now and then I crave a big, fat one. Gluttonous, delicious, carb filled goodness.

el farolito san francisco

I also miss the snobby, elevated breakfast food. Specifically, the Plow. I know it looks just like regular bacon and eggs, but what you might miss is the fact that these potatoes are Fried! I know, such a small thing but so damn tasty. I've found some delicious breakfasts here, but everything is is just a little less refined so far.

I'll admit, there are lots of tasty food options in Philly. Tons. But not quite the same, almost but not quite.

Shopping

This is probably more of a San Francisco thing, but I miss having every possible kind of store in a 10 minute radius from my house. 3 Movieplexes within a 10 minute radius, 3 costcos within a 15 minute radius, and countless specialty stores like Sports Basement.

Bed-Bath-and-Beyond cost plussportsbasement REI costco

I know, when a city is made up of millionaires, you need every kind of possible retail establishment to feed the wealthy!

Motorcycles

I think one of the most difficult adjustments has been the motorcycle community itself. It feels strange not having motorcycle resources nearby such as MotoJava, MotoShop and more. There were so many, I devoted an entire page to these businesses that have been a part of the motorcycling community for a really long time. I know there are other resources available, but with a town that has such a large contingent of motorcyclists, it seems strange not having more dealerships and shops close by.

MotoShop-Logo werkstattSF motojava

zooni_leathers dubbeljuSF tokyomotosf

Parking

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There's this awesome service called PayByPhone. Practically every single meter in San Francisco is equipped with mobile phone payments! So convenient when you didn't feed enough time into your meter, and instead of walking 2-3 blocks over to where your car is to print out another paper ticket, you can do it all from their handy little app. Hopefully the mayor of this city is looking at this option to help push Philly further into the 21st century.

 

Calling all women riding motorcycles in Philadelphia

women riding I want you! To join my Facebook Group. So we can meet, ride, talk, about motorcycles. All riding experience levels welcome.

Find it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PhillyWomenRiders/

Or if you don't want to join, fine. Send me an email using the contact link and I'll just shoot you an email when we meet up. Sounds good? Great. I look forward to meeting you.

How I Found My Motorcycle

When my husband and I left San Francisco, not only did we leave behind my family and friends, but we also left our beloved motorcycles. I was a little more adamant about selling mine than my husband was. But after a good conversation with a friend, he told me that I should just sell it. Given that it wasn't a very expensive bike, it would be far too much trouble to maintain it in CA while living in PA. After all, it's just a motorcycle. It's not a person, and in the  It was a little hard at first, but after I made the decision to sell it, I felt like it was the right decision all along. And I'm so glad I did.  

suzuki sv650 triumph sprint rs lucifer orange

When I finally made the decision to sell, it was definitely in my mind that I would find a new motorcycle to love. There are so many to choose from, after all. When I started the search, I had my heart set on something more upright along the lines of a Supermoto ("Sumo"). I was hoping for a used Suzuki DRZ 400SM, something fun for city living. I should preface that I am a whopping 5'1", with a 28.5" inseam.  My inseam has allowed me to ride far more motorcycles than I could've ever imagined, including these. I also knew that that with a 35" stock seat height, I would have to look into lowering a little bit if necessary. However given how light they are, I really wasn't expecting it to be an issue.

If you've never ridden a Sumo, it's one of the most exhilarating experiences you'll have on a motorcycle. Completely upright, like a dirtbike but with street sensibilities (suspension, braking, tires, etc. optimized for street use). It handles like a giant bicycle! But with plenty of power. Certainly not designed for distance or long hauls, but I thought I would manage for a while without something that was touring worthy. Apparently, I was wrong.

After looking online for a few weeks, I realized that DRZs are just as @*(%*)! expensive in Philly as they were in the San Francisco Bay Area. Damn. So then I decided to alter my search a bit. I found some DR650's that were definitely less expensive. Dual Sporting is something I definitely want to get into. I still love street riding but have been inspired by many friends who have ridden all over the world on them and have had such great adventures. Having ridden a DR650, I knew exactly what to expect.

I started my search with a very low budget, ~$3,000. I actually found a few of DRs that were close but I waited too long and they were no longer for sale. After missing out on these, I decided to look at naked SV's. If you aren't familiar with the SV650, they were made in the full faired (very forward, low bars) and naked (very upright, single handlebar) versions. My last one was an S and I grew to hate the extreme riding position for long trips. As someone who enjoys long, 150+ mile rides, I knew that wouldn't work again.

So I figured why not search for Nakeds? They seem to be less popular here, and I couldn't resist the condition this one was in. Searching Craigslist, I found this beauty. And I couldn't stop thinking about her! Especially given what great shape it was in. Barely ridden, in practically perfect shape and well taken care of. A 2006, less than 7,000 miles on it and just a hair over my budget. I guess I love street riding too much to give it up just yet. As excited as I was about the idea of a DR, the idea of another SV excited me more! Especially a Naked version with a far more comfortable riding position. And funny enough, the riding position reminded me of a powerful supermoto (2009 KTM 690 SMR) that I had the opportunity to ride once before.

2006 sv650 naked blue

 

I'm familiar with the engine, maintenance and overall care. Parts are inexpensive and plentiful, it's easy to find a mechanic to work on them and I know I can ride a few hundred miles a day on it. I've already started my long list of farkles to upgrade, and can't wait to get it totally ready for my first long weekend trip.

When I went to look at the bike, here are the questions I had ready for the previous owner:

  • Are you the first or second owner?
  • Has it ever been crashed?
  • What upgrades have you put on it, and do you still have the stock parts?
  • Do you have any maintenance records for the life of the bike?
  • Do you have the title?

I was very happy with the asking price, as I thought it was well below what others were going for so I didn't plan to negotiate on that point. Overall, I went with my instinct when I met the owner, Jerry. He was very nice, honest and truthful about the bike and why he was selling it. It just felt right, I didn't get the feeling he was trying to cover anything up or tell me something that wasn't true. When I asked him for his address to come see the bike, he was a little apprehensive about giving strangers his address. I told him that I totally understood. To make him feel better, I told him where I worked and he immediately responded positively, saying that he was familiar with the site. I also shared my blog with him which also added to my credibility.

The only rough part for me was understanding the way Pennsylvania handles title transfers and the way things work here. But Jerry was really nice and even found a late night notary that we could go to after I got off work. In this state, you have to go to a Notary together to sign off on the title and process the paperwork for the DMV. There are small businesses that specialize in this service so you don't have to go to the DMV. It was a fairly quick process, and 20 minutes later I was riding home.

I'm super excited about finding new roads and taking her new places. I even went on my first group ride with my new riding friends at Revzilla. In the end, I'm very happy with my decision, it ended up being the right one even though I never thought I would be back on an SV.

suzuki sv650n ktm 990smt revzilla

What's it like to live in Philly, from this California girl

schuykill dog park When I told people we were moving to Philadelphia, it was certainly a big surprise and the immediate reply was always something along the lines of "you know it snows there, right?" 

Right. It snows in other parts of the country. I sort of knew what I was getting into. I think I had a pretty good handle on it, actually. I knew it wasn't going to be the easiest transition, but I really didn't expect it to work out this well. After making the decision to move to Philly, I was pretty scared. I couldn't really believe what I had done, and I sort of sat in denial between late September (when I decided to move) and January 15th when we finally left.

Getting in the car and actually driving away made it very real. We had a pretty good time driving across country, we saw so many cool things, ate really good food and just had fun visiting places we'd never been to. When we rolled in, it was in the middle of the Polar Vortex of all things. I knew it would be too good to be true when my friends in Philly told me the last few winters had been super dry/warm. But to be completely honest, it's not that bad. Yeah, 20 degrees is cold. It actually felt much colder when we got here. Now, I'm feeling sweaty when it's 55!

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The food is Amazing with the exception of a good ole' Mission Burrito, of course, but otherwise we've been eating delicious foods (if you follow my Instagram, I try to snap pics of all the tasty meals) and having fun finding new places to dine.

Overall, there are many things that I really love so far about Philly and those include (but are not limited to):

  • East Coast Diners and the Food! Every diner we go to has a 10+ page menu with everything you can possibly think of. So much to choose from that I find it difficult to choose every time. And there are way more open 24 hours, which was difficult to find in SF. We've found so many cool places to eat and there are more to try every day.
  • Historical architecture and culture. Everywhere you go, there's some kind of landmark or historical event that's permanently embedded in the city streets with a signpost or plaque with a cool or crazy story. This is the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence. You can drive by Betsy Ross' house, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and more. I also am in love with the classic, European influenced architecture of the row houses, brownstones and the like. Almost every street is ridiculously cool and beautiful. Although I was born here (as were my brothers), I don't think I truly appreciated the history that this country was founded on. I look forward to learning more about the events that shaped our independence and how this city contributed to the final outcome.
  • philly
  • Snow. I know it sounds crazy. But I kind of Love it! I can't wait until Christmas time, well I can't wait until summer actually. But I have a feeling this city is going to be ridiculously beautiful around the holidays with trees, snowflakes and other holiday accessories.  I'm one of those who loves layering up and wearing warm sweaters and scarves, I love dressing up for winter!
  • My neighborhood, Bella Vista. We got so lucky with our apartment, it's 5-10 minutes from everything we need. It's a great mix of suburban and city living. Lots of restaurants, shopping and things to do right around the corner. I really can't wait til spring comes so I can get out and explore a bit more.
  • No Turn on Red. Most intersections here don't let you turn on Red! Love it.
  • Dogs. You can see from the pic above that Benny is having a blast at the dog park. Philly people love their dogs, and there are a ton of them everywhere. People bring them everywhere too!
  • Diversity. One would think that SF would've been a really diverse city. Sort of, but not really. Lower and middle class families (especially minorities) are fleeing like crazy. Because you can't live there for less than $100k/year. I like seeing all different colors and classes of people wherever I go. With all the universities and colleges here, there's a nice diversity of people from all over the world.

Okay, now to the not so fun parts. Which, I don't love but aren't going to drive me to run back to San Francisco! These are things that I hope to see some changes on in the next 3-5 years. Fingers crossed, but I know it's a longshot.

  • Recycling. It's such a San Francisco thing to complain about, but I miss the mandatory composting and excessive recycling that San Franciscans participate in. It reduces waste and it's sad to think about all the trash I can't recycle or compost sitting in a landfill. It also seems to fill up the streets here, especially during snow days when the trucks can't make it out that week to do pickups because of the weather. It's been so long since I've seen styrofoam, I forgot that people still use the stuff. (And it'll still be here in xx,xxx,xxx years most likely!
  • Burritos. I'm still hopeful that I will find something sufficient, but it's definitely going to take awhile.
  • No helmet laws. I'm getting used to it, but it still bugs me. I always pray that I won't see something I can't unsee when I see someone riding without one.
  • Roads. Living in the Bay Area you're spoiled with incredible roads within 15-30 minutes of you. Everything from twisty, to goaty, to dirt, to beautifully paved.  I'm excited to find a bike and start exploring, because I know there are good roads around here somewhere, I just need to figure them out! I have a feeling I'll be doing more long weekends to go riding, vs. short 4-6 hour rides which is fine with me.
  • Humidity.  I have a feeling I'll be driving to work a lot this summer. I just don't know what I can do with that. I'm used to riding in 90 degree dry heat, but I don't think I'll be a fan of humidity... Meh.

But most of all, I have to say that the best thing about being here is that working at Revzilla has been incredible. I didn't know if I really wanted to work in a store again. After my last experience, I felt like I didn't have any options left and really wasn't sure how much longer I could do this. Now that I'm here, I KNOW I want to do this. I absolutely LOVE doing this. And helping customers like Cory today, who just needed someone to talk to about gear and understand what options could be available for her to get geared up was so awesome.  It felt great knowing that I could give her information and help that she can't find anywhere else, period. She left knowing that it wasn't hopeless and that she would be able to find gear that fits her. I have to give a shout out to my awesome coworkers who really kick ass at their jobs and also love what they do. It's so nice to be surrounded by people who are actually happy working where they work.

If you don't know what it's like to love where you work and what you do for a living, then you're really missing out. Leaving was really hard and incredibly sad for me to leave my family and friends. But I just know that living here for a bit, experiencing something completely out of my comfort zone (much like riding motorcycles, imo) will make me a better person overall. I don't regret moving one bit, and highly highly recommend it at least once in your lifetime, because it's all been worth it for me, in exchange for working someplace I never could've imagined 5 years ago.... a little place called Revzilla.com, where you can find the most unique, incredible selection of premium motorcycle gear.

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