How To Start Riding

Motorcycling is a tremendous activity. It’s something I recommend to just about everyone. If riding is something you’ve been thinking about taking up there are a few things you can do to make sure you get off to a good start. Get a book on basic motorcycling, talk to riders you know. If possible, take a basic rider’s course offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF).

Motorcycle Safety Foundation

According to some studies that I’ve seen you’re actually better off teaching yourself how to ride than you are having a friend teach you. Unless off course that friend is a certified instructor. Whichever way to decide to learn how to ride, this article will give you some of the basics. I’ve written it as if I was discussing the topic with a friend who had never ridden.

Let me also suggest you read a couple of other articles here on PowerSportsTV.com, Motorcycle Safety And How To Ride Safely, 5 Things You Should Know Before You Ride and What To Look For When Buying A New Motorcycle all contain some great information for riders of any experience level.

Get To Know Your Bike

Most motorcycles have a lot in common, but each model is a little different. Once you get your new ride home spend a little time familiarizing yourself with it. Take out the owner’s manual and read it. Then take the manual with you outside to the bike. Stand on the left hand side of the motorcycle facing the seat with your left hand on the left handlebar. Throw your right leg over the seat and sit down. Grab the right handlebar with your right hand and look straight ahead. This is a view you’ll come to love.

Put your feet up on the pegs (or floorboards if that’s what’s on your motorcycle) and move around on the seat a little to get an idea of how much room you have to adjust your sitting position. Get both feet back on the ground and straighten the bike so that it’s off the kick stand. You may need to stand up to do this. Once the motorcycle is up, sit back down and rock it gently from side to side to get a feel for how heavy it is.

Now while still sitting on the bike and with it resting on the kick stand, open your owner’s manual and identify all of the controls and instruments located on the handlebars and/or tank. The grip on the right handlebar is the throttle or accelerator. You twist that toward you to increase the amount of fuel going to the engine and thereby increasing your speed. Also on the right handlebar you’ll find the lever that operates the front brake, squeeze it to get a feel for how much play it has. You’ll also see a red rocker switch on the right handlebar, that’s the kill switch. To be able to start the motorcycle that switch must be in the “on” or lower position. Directly below the kill switch is the starter button. With the key in the ignition, the kill switch in the “on” position and the clutch in or disengaged, all you have to do to start the bike is push the starter button. But we’re not there yet.

Since we mentioned the clutch, let’s move to the left handlebar. The lever over there is the clutch. Go ahead, squeeze it and then let it out slowly. That motion is one you’re going to spend a lot of time practicing. On most motorcycles you’ll also find your turn indicator switch on the left handlebar. Very few bikes have self-canceling turn signals, unlike cars. So chances are your switch has three positions, the center or “off” position, and then left and right. To signal a turn simply slide the switch to the left or the right. You’ll notice that (on most bikes) the switch will return to the center position after you’ve released it. To cancel your signal (or to turn off the blinker) you have to press in on the switch. There may be several other controls on your left handlebar. Usually you’ll find the horn button, the headlight dimmer switch and, if your bike is so equipped, the emergency hazard flasher switch.

Somewhere in the center of your field of view you’ll find an instrument cluster. Some bikes have these mounted on the tank, others on the handlebars. Common instruments include a speedometer, odometer, fuel gauge and tachometer. Not all motorcycles are going to have all of these. Many will include a digital display that allows you to select between the clock, trip meters and other readouts. There will likely also be indicator lights for neutral, high beams and turn indicators. You’ll probably also find either gauges or warning lights for oil temperature and/or pressure and the fuel injection system, if your bike is so equipped. The cap for the gas tank is located on top of the tank itself on most bikes and usually locks and unlocks with the ignition key.

You’re going to have to use both feet to control your bike. So let’s get you feet back on the pegs, with the bike still resting on the kick stand. Your right foot will operate the rear brake pedal. Go ahead and depress it. You should be able to operate the rear brake with your foot remaining on the peg. Your left foot shifts gears. Pull in the clutch with your left hand and push down on the shift pedal. If your bike was in neutral this will put it in first gear. Most bikes have a shift pattern of one down and four or five up, depending on how many gears. Between first and second gear is neutral. Neutral is usually indicated by a green light on your instrument panel, but it only lights up when the bike is running. Like the brake pedal, you should be able to operate the shift pedal with your foot remaining on the peg.

Starting Your Motorcycle

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the basic controls, let’s fire up the bike. Take your key and put it in the ignition switch. This is one of those components that doesn’t have a standardized location. Some bikes have the ignition switch on the fuel tank, others are mounted on the frame and some are under the seat. Before turning the key to the “on” position make sure that you’re in neutral. Many motorcycles will not start if the bike is in gear and the kickstand is down. And if you put the kickstand down while the bike is in gear it will, on many bikes, stop the engine.

Flip the kill switch into the “on” position and then turn the key to the “on” position. Your speedometer will probably peg and then return to zero and your warning lights will come on. Your bike is doing a self-test, making sure everything’s good to go. Once that’s compete, usually just a few seconds, squeeze in on the clutch, disengaging it and then push the starter button. If the bike doesn’t start you’re probably not in neutral. Shift up or down with your left foot until the green neutral indicator light is on and then push the starter again.

You can go ahead and let the clutch out, since we’re not going anywhere just let. If the bike’s been sitting for a while and the engine is cold you’ll want to let it up warm up for a minute. Go ahead and twist the throttle slightly and listen for how the engine responds. Now lift the bike off the kickstand and flip the kickstand up. Let go of the throttle and pull the clutch lever in all the way. Push the shift lever down into first. Now slide your toe under the shift lever and lift up to put the bike back into neutral. Do this a few times to get used to how much pressure you need to apply and to get familiar with getting your foot into position under the lever. Practice this until you can do it without looking at  your foot.

Friction Zone

If you’re still sitting on your motorcycle with the engine running and you don’t have your helmet on yet, turn the ignition key to “off”, flip up the kill switch and go get your helmet. It’d be a good idea to put on your gloves and jacket too, we’re finally ready to get the bike moving. Start your motorcycle, flip the kickstand up, pull in the clutch lever and shift into first. Put both feet firmly on the ground. Now start to let out the clutch slowly. You’ll feel the motorcycle start to move forward. You are now in the friction zone, that point where the clutch begins to send power to the rear wheel.

Your clutch is more like the slider on a dimmer switch than an on-off switch. As you let out the clutch slowly it transfers more power to the rear wheel until the clutch is fully engaged (the point where you let go of it) and all available power is now being transferred to the rear wheel. Just like the further you push a dimmer switch the brighter the lights get until you’ve moved the slider all the way open and the lights burn at full power.

As the bike begins to move you’ll need to gradually twist the throttle. Practice this while keeping both feet on the ground, walking the bike forward, as you continue to slowly let out the clutch and open the throttle. Once the clutch is fully engaged put your feet on the pegs and increase throttle gradually. This maneuver sounds pretty simple, but chances are it’s one that you’ll need to practice. I’ve seen people wash out of Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Basic Rider Courses because they couldn’t master this basic skill. Engage the clutch too quickly and your bike will lurch forward and stall. Give it too little throttle, you’ll stall.

If your bike is in the driveway or parking lot or on a lightly traveled street, practice finding the friction zone and getting your bike up to speed. If you don’t have room to turn around once you’ve reached the end of the driveway, put the bike in neutral and walk it backwards. Practice until you can get the bike up to speed 10 or 20 times in a row without stalling.

You’re going to stall the bike. Don’t let that discourage you. Keep practicing. Once you’ve gained a basic mastery try it on a slight incline. The trick to getting rolling while going up hill is to not roll backwards before you get to the friction zone and begin forward movement. You can apply enough pressure to the rear brake with your right foot to keep you from rolling backwards down hill as you slowly let out the clutch and apply throttle while keeping your left foot on the ground.

Counter Steering

So now you’re actually riding. But eventually you’re going to come to the end of your driveway or street. You can’t spend your entire time on a bike going in a straight line. To change direction, make a turn or go around a curve at speeds above about 10 mph you have to employ a method commonly called counter steering. Personally, I don’t like that term. I think it confuses many new riders. Some instructors explain counter steering as turning the handlebars in the opposite direction of a turn. But unless you’re maneuvering at parking lot speeds you never actually turn the handlebars.

Counter Steering

Press or push steering is actually a more accurate description of what you do to make your motorcycle change direction. By applying pressure downward on one of the handlebars you cause the bike to lean into a turn. The term counter steering comes from the initial motion of the tire in the opposite direction of the turn.  To turn left you apply pressure to the left handlebar, to turn right you push down on the right handlebar. The more pressure you apply the more dramatically the bike will lean and the more sharply you’ll turn.

Here’s how press or counter steering works on a motorcycle or bicycle or other single track vehicle. The spinning of the tires, above parking lot speeds, creates a gyro effect, much like a gyroscope or spinning top. The gyro effect of the spinning tires keeps the motorcycle upright and stable. Press steering exerts force against the gyro effect, causing the bike to lean. Release the pressure, or stop pushing on the handlebar and the spinning tires will cause the motorcycle to return to its original upright position. The faster you’re going the more pressure you need to exert to counteract the gyro effect and get the motorcycle to change direction.

Before making a turn or rounding a curve reduce your speed by downshifting, reducing throttle and/or braking. Look through the curve or turn to where you want the bike to go. There’s something almost magical about how a motorcycle will follow the rider’s nose. So to maintain control and keep your bike on the road look at where you want to go, not where you are going. Next, press on the handlebar in the direction of the turn or curve. As you enter the turn maintain or slightly increase throttle to keep the bike stable.

Find an empty parking lot to practice your press steering. As you get more proficient and confident try increasing your speed. Remember, you need to be traveling at speeds about 10 mph for press or counter steering to work.

Start Slow

With these basic skills under your belt you’re ready to ride in traffic. But take your time here, don’t jump right onto the Interstate. Plan out a few rides that will include gradually more challenging elements. For you first ride stick to lightly traveled two lane roads with minimal stop signs and traffic signals. Once you’re comfortable with this route incorporate a short stretch on road with two or more lanes traveling in the same direction.

After you’re confident riding in heavier traffic you’re ready to try the Interstate, but let’s keep to stretches of Interstate that don’t take your through major metropolitan areas and ride during non-peak hours. The longer you ride and the more challenging your rides become the more confidence and experience you’ll gain.

Common Mistakes

You can help ensure that your first motorcycling experiences are fun, safe and not your final motorcycling experiences by avoiding a few common mistakes. First, don’t buy more motorcycle than you’re able to handle. The bigger the engine the more powerful and heavier the motorcycle, and the more difficult it will be control. There’s nothing wrong with starting with a mid sized bike, in the 500 cc to 1000 cc engine range and then, if you absolutely feel it necessary, moving up to a bigger motorcycle once you’ve gained some experience.

Even if you’ve taken an MSF course, you’ll want to build up your skills and experience by riding lightly traveled roads at first. Work up to more complex situations as you gain confidence. And be sure you’re comfortable riding by yourself before you attempt to travel with a passenger or with a group. Both of these activities change the dynamics of operating your motorcycle, so make sure you have adequate solo time on the bike before attempting either.

And remember to cancel to your turn signal once you’ve completed a turn. There’s nothing that screams “I’m a new rider” louder than a motorcycle traveling for miles with it’s left hand blinker flashing.

Get Out And Ride

Nothing can make you a better rider than actually getting out on the road on your bike. So ride, whenever you get the chance. Talk to other bikers and read all you can, but ride. You many just surprise yourself at how quickly your skills improve and how natural it feels to travel on two wheels.

Get Out And Ride…

New Models Added – November 29, 2012

- Motorcycle / Scooter

- 2013 Ducati Hypermotard 1100 EVO SP

- 2013 Ducati Hypermotard 796

- 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200

- 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Granturismo

- 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak

- 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring

- 2013 Ducati Panigale 1199

- 2013 Ducati Panigale 1199 S

- 2013 Ducati Panigale 1199 S Tricolore

- 2013 Ducati Streetfighter 848

- Utility Vehicle

- 2013 Can-Am™ Maverick 1000 X rs

- 2013 Can-Am™ Maverick 1000R

Motorcycle Safety And How To Ride Safely

Life is a risky business. You can minimize risk, manage risk, anticipate and have a plan for dealing with risk, but you can never totally eliminate risk. There is risk associated with riding a motorcycle. You can ride safely and do things, employ strategies to help ensure your safety, but, as the U.S. Supreme Court said in a workplace safety related case in 1980, “safety is not the equivalent of risk free.”

Motorcycle Safety

There are two major areas of motorcycle safety or risk management that I’ll look at here; avoiding getting into an accident in the first place and minimizing your risk of injury if you do have an accident.

Before You Get On The Bike

If you drive a car there are probably a few things you do before pulling into traffic. You fasten your seat belt. Check your mirrors, maybe you use your blinkers to signal your intention to pull away from the curb. And then you drive away. All of the safety equipment you need is contained in the vehicle itself; air bags, steel body and chassis, crumple zones. Not so much with your motorcycle.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety says, “Motorcycles continue to offer no significant protection to their users in a crash, a fact that horrifies some people used to being enclosed in a steel cage and cushioned by airbags. The very fact that a motorcycle at rest won’t remain upright without its rider or some external method of support seems ominous to some.”

Largely due to what most attracts us to riding, the unfettered freedom of riding in the open air, we bikers are at greater risk of injury if we have an accident. The NHTSA says that 80 percent of motorcycle crashes result in injury or death to the rider compared with 20 percent for occupants of a passenger car involved in an accident. There are several common factors that contribute to the severity of the results of being in an motorcycle accident. If you’re aware of these factors you can take steps to minimize your risk of being involved in an accident and of being seriously injured if you do have a wreck.

Get Licensed And Trained: I’ve said this before here at PowerSportsTV. And I’ll likely say it again. Before you ride get your motorcycle license and take a rider safety course. About 25 percent of riders involved in an accident are not properly licensed. A safety course will introduce you to or refresh you on some basic safety strategies and give you the opportunity to practice them in a controlled environment.

Motorcycle Training

Gear Up: You’re hanging out there in the open on your bike, that’s the beauty of riding. It’s also why your risk of being injured if you have an accident is so high. There are no seat belts, no cage-like body, no roof, no airbags (unless you ride the top-of-the-line Honda Gold Wing). So invest in some safety gear and wear it every time you ride. The NHTSA puts the percentage of riders involved in a crash who are not wearing helmets at 42 percent. So strap on that lid.

Drop your bike, even at parking lot speeds and you’ll find out just how hard and abrasive the road is. Motorcycle specific jacket, gloves, boots and pants will protect you against road rash and lessen the likelihood of broken bones thanks to the body armor included in many jackets and pants. Brightly colored or florescent gear will also make you more visible to other motorists, reducing your chance of getting into an accident in the first place.

Ride Sober: Riders with a blood alcohol level at or above the legal limit account for 34 percent of all motorcycle accidents and, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), 29 percent of all motorcycle related fatalities. Even if you somehow manage to ride after drinking without having a wreck you risk a stiff fine, possible impounding of your bike or even jail time if you’re caught. Drinking and riding is just not worth the risk.

Do A Pre-Ride Bike Check: A motorcycle is not totally void of safety features. But if they’re not working they’re not going to do you any good. Before every ride do a quick visual inspection of your bike. Look at all the cables and hoses to make sure none are fraying, cracked, kinked or leaking. Check your tires for tread depth, cracks or bubbles. It’s a good idea to regularly check the air pressure in the tires.

Once you start the motorcycle make sure all your lights are working; high beams, turn indicators, brake lights and, if your bike is so equipped, emergency flashers. Sound the horn. Yeah, those bike horns are pretty wimpy, but it’s still loud enough to get the attention of a motorist who’s about to pull out in front of you, so be sure it works. Check and, if necessary, adjust your mirrors. It is possible to get most motorcycle mirrors positioned so that you’ll get a clear view of what’s coming up behind you, so take the time to set them so they work for you.

On The Road

Sitting in the driveway, all geared up, the motor running. That’s a pretty low-risk environment. It’s also a pretty low-fun experience. Funny how those two factors, risk and fun, so often seem to be related. If you’re wearing the proper gear, done your pre-ride check and you’re sober you’ve gone a long way in reducing your risk of injury if you have an accident. Once you get into traffic there are a number of strategies you can employ to keep from having an accident in the first place. So let’s get you out on the road.

Lane Position: A car or truck will take up an entire lane of traffic. But our bikes are much smaller, so we have three options for positioning ourselves; the far left, the center, or the far right of a lane. I usually opt for the far left. This gives me the best view of oncoming traffic and puts me about equidistant from the shoulders on both sides of the road, giving me the maximum amount of time to react to a critter or pedestrian who might dart out in front of me. I do move around in the lane though, as circumstances require.

Position yourself where you have the best view of what’s ahead. If you’re coming up on an intersection and there’s a truck or high profile SUV or van in front of you, look for oncoming traffic that may be turning left and traffic preparing to enter the intersection from the left cross street. Then you’ll want to shift to the far right to check traffic coming into the intersection from the right cross street and to make it easier for that driver to see you. Choose the lane position that gives you the best view of the road and makes it easiest for others to see you.

If you’re riding in a stiff cross wind you can ride on the side of the lane that the wind is coming from to minimize the chances of your bike being pushed into the oncoming lane. Big trucks can cause a pretty strong windblast, so when you see one coming in the other direction, move to the center or far right portion of the lane.

On multi-lane roads choose a lane position that keeps you out of the blind spot of vehicles in front of you. If you can see the driver’s face in the mirror then you know you’re not in his blind spot. If a vehicle starts to pass you it’s a good idea to move to the center position of your lane. Staying in the far left puts you too close to the other vehicle, especially if the driver swerves into your lane too quickly. And riding in the far right of the lane may encourage the driver of the passing vehicle to jump into your lane without giving you adequate space.

Anticipate Hazards: When you ride, play a little game. Try to guess which other vehicle on the road is trying to kill you. Here’s a hint: they all are. Or at least it can seem that way. A good dose of paranoia is a healthy thing when you’re on your bike. And are you really paranoid if they ARE out to get you? Watch people as they drive. They’re eating, drinking, talking on the phone, texting, checking email, putting on makeup, singing along with the radio. No wonder they don’t see you and your comparatively small motorcycle. It’s actually pretty amazing that any of them ever make it to their destination.

Be keenly aware of your environment when riding. Pay special attention to intersections. According to the NHTSA that’s where 70 percent of collisions between motorcycles and other vehicles happen. Get a good view of traffic around and in the intersection. Anticipate what they’re going to do and have a plan to deal with it. Don’t expect other drivers to signal before they make a turn through an intersection. Always signal before you make a turn through an intersection.

Look as far down the road as you can. Watch for entrances to the roadway, driveways, parking lots, on ramps and position yourself in the lane to give you the best view and the best chance of being seen by other motorists. If you live in an area with a large deer or other wildlife population (which would be about anywhere except for maybe Antarctica) watch the sides of the road for animals that may dart out in front of you.

The roadway itself sometimes presents hazards. Debris, road kill, potholes, oil and other fluids left on the roadway, especially around intersections where vehicles have to sit idling waiting for a light to change, are all things you want to see long before you reach them so that you can safely avoid them. Different road surfaces will provide different levels of traction. Approach railroad tracks, manhole covers and the steel surfaces of some bridges and overpasses with caution, especially in wet conditions.

Establish A Space Cushion: Empty space is one of your best friends when you ride. The more space there is between you and other vehicles the more time and room you have to react and maneuver when faced with a hazard. Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Keep at least two seconds of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. More at highway speeds. This gives you ample time to stop or swerve to avoid a vehicle that stops suddenly in front of you. To determine how close you are to the vehicle in front of you look for a stationary object up ahead, such as a mile marker sign or phone pole. As the rear end of the vehicle in front of you passes the object begin counting; one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two. If you pass the object before you get to one-thousand-two you need to slow down.

Motorcycle Space Cushion

It’s a little tougher to command the space between you and vehicle behind you. If you’re being followed too closely tap your brake lightly a few times to cause your brake lights to flash. If the other vehicle doesn’t slow down then you should slow down a little. Still too close? If you’re on a multi-lane road or a two-lane road with a passing zone slow down even further so the other vehicle will pass you. He won’t pass you? If possible, and safe, pull off the road and wait for the other vehicle to get a good distance down the road before you continue. If you can’t pull off the road and the other motorist can’t or won’t pass, reduce your speed to the safest slowest rate you can. At least that way if you have to brake suddenly the other vehicle will the maximum amount of time to stop, reducing the likelihood that you’ll be rear ended.

We bikers don’t always need to use the brakes to scrub off a little speed. We can roll off the throttle or down shift to control our speed. But motorists behind us won’t always recognize that we’re slowing down. Be aware of what’s going on behind you and if you’re slowing down a little or coming to a complete stop tap your brakes three or four times a few seconds before you actually begin slowing. This will cause your brake lights to flash and alert the driver behind you that you’re preparing to alter your speed, provided of course that he’s not reading his email.

Whenever possible allow yourself enough space for an escape route, especially at intersections. Don’t pull up so close to the vehicle stopped at a traffic light in front of you that you can’t quickly move to safety if another vehicle comes up behind you too quickly or closely. On multi-lane roads don’t allow yourself to get boxed in. Alter your speed, slow down or move faster, to keep some open space on at least one side.

Recognize Your Own Limitations: Nothing compares to zipping along the open road on a motorcycle. And it can be tempting to open the throttle a little more than is prudent, especially on a nice long stretch of straightaway when there are no other vehicles around. Don’t allow yourself to over ride your limitations or the limitations of your bike or the road. Research by the GHSA shows that 35 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents involved excessive speed. And half of those fatal accidents were single vehicle wrecks. Let’s not add ourselves to that list of people who are out to kill us. Slow down and ride at a speed that’s within your ability to control your motorcycle.

You can ride safely if you recognize the inherent risks associated with motorcycling. Wear safety gear. Be aware of other traffic and potential hazards. Keep as much space between you and other vehicles as possible. Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll be riding safely for years to come.

 

The 2013 Toyota Avalon – What you need to know before you buy…

The 2013 Toyota Avalon is a visually attractive and comfortable answer to the family transportation experience. With improvements to style, performance and interior comforts, as well as a price cut for this model, its appeal has increased roughly $2,000-fold.

2013 Toyota Avalon Exterior

The Avalon is available in four trim packages; the XLE, the XLE Premium, the XLE Touring and the Limited. The Limited has an additional tech package option that adds passive high beams, active cruise control and a Pre-Collision System. The array of colors available for the 2013 models are Blizzard Pearl, Champagne Mica, Moulin Rouge Mica, Classic Silver Metallic, Magnetic Grey Metallic, Attitude Black Metallic, Sizzling Crimson Mica, Cypress Pearl and Nautical Blue Metallic.

In addition to its color appeal, the exterior features of the Avalon draw attention from all angles. The XLE and XLE Premium are fitted with 17-in. silver-painted alloy wheels, while the XLE Touring and the Limited packages have 18-in. silver painted alloy wheels. All four packages come standard with LED taillights, color-keyed heated power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators, an acoustic noise-reducing windshield and a dual chrome-tipped integrated exhaust. The Limited has High Density Discharge Quadrabeam headlights with an auto on/off feature and LED Daytime Running Lights. The XLE package is equipped with Quadrabeam halogen headlights that also are equipped with the auto on/off feature. The XLE Touring and Limited add wide-angle fog lights to help with lower visibility situations.

The interior of the Avalon is comparable to a comfortable evening at home. The dash is covered with hand-stitched material that is soft to the touch. The aesthetic appeal of the dash set up is also notable, as the layered and sculpted surface of the dash creates a sense of seclusion for the driver while opening up the area the passenger overlooks. All packages of the Avalon have a leather trim, wood-grain style interior with smoked chrome accents and door handles.

2013 Toyota Avalon Interior

Comparable to a favorite armchair, the driver’s seat in the XLE package is eight-way power adjustable with power lumbar support. The driver’s seat in the Limited is 10-way adjustable with multi-staged heat and ventilation, as well as having power lumbar support and a power cushion extension. The front passenger seat in the XLE package has four power adjustment options, while the Limited’s front passenger seat is eight-way power adjustable. Seat comfort is not withheld from rear passengers either, as the rear seat has a center armrest with cupholders and folds down with a trunk passthrough for excursions with bigger cargo and fewer passengers.

The XLE and XLE Premium offer dual zone automatic climate controls, display audio with a 6.1-in. touch screen, have an AM/FM CD player with MP3 and WMA playback capability and features eight speakers to reach all passengers equally. A USB port and auxiliary audio jack allow for music input from other sources, as does the music streaming option using Bluetooth wireless technology. The inclusion of multi-information displays, Bluetooth hands-free controls, Optitron instrumentation, navigation with turn-by-turn directions and an ECO Drive Level Indicator make the car current in technological advances, keeping the consumer on the leading edge of vehicle technologies.

2013 Toyota Avalon Optitron

The XLE Touring adds Sirius XM satellite radio capability, an HD Radio and iTunes tagging for additional entertainment opportunities. The Limited package adds Entune and JBL to the mix, as well as a 7-in. high resolution touch-screen with split screen capability. The Limited also comes standard with 11 speakers in 9 locations, including a subwoofer and amplifier. Passengers will enjoy the ride in style amidst audio perfection. Entune access is complimentary with each vehicle for three years from purchase.

The 2013 models of the Avalon also have a covered center console with two front cupholders and eBin – a sliding electronic device holder with wire management and illuminated interior storage. There are three 12V auxiliary power outlets, two located in the eBin and one in the center console of the vehicle.

As is expected with a Toyota product, the Avalon is equipped with a wide variety of safety features. These include the Star Safety System, Whiplash-Injury Lessening seats, three-point seatbelts, 10 airbags and both the LATCH system and child protector door locks. In terms of support and exterior protection, the steering column is made to be energy absorbing and collapsible. The front and rear each has energy absorbing crumple zones. There is an anti-theft system with an alarm and engine immobilizer to deter today’s criminal element from targeting your vehicle.

The Avalon gets 25 miles per gallon combined in projected fuel economy. This translates to 21 miles per gallon in city driving and 31 mpg when hitting the highway. With a 17-gallon tank, this means less fuel stops on those family vacations, although pit stops will remain necessary for all the other typical reasons.

In terms of safety and handling, the Avalon boasts an impressive 268 horsepower and 248 lb.-ft of torque in a front-wheel drive car with a six-speed ECT-i automatic transmission. Electrically assisted rack-and-pinion steering, ventilated disc front brakes, solid disc rear brakes and standard ABS enhance the control and confidence for the individual behind the wheel. Blind Spot Monitors and a Rear Cross Traffic Alert eliminate the dangers of a second’s distraction in a family neighborhood, something no one would ever want to experience.

The Blind Spot Monitor uses radar to warn of vehicles in adjacent lanes that might be out of view, while the Rear Cross Traffic Alert is enabled when the vehicle is in reverse and detects moving objects that enter the warning radius. All packages above the XLE also come equipped with a backup camera standard that shows a view of the area not easily monitored from the driver’s seat.

The price tag for the 2013 begins at $31,785, a $2,205 cut from the price for the 2012 model. This price is also cheaper than rivals in the midsize sedan category, such as the Buick LaCrosse or Nissan Maxima. It is, however, slightly undercut by the Ford Taurus, which is available with a base price tag of just over $27,000.

A Review of the 2013 Toyota Venza

The 2013 Toyota Venza is an aerodynamic attempt to cross SUV space, towing and performance with aesthetic appeal and a stylish exterior. The 2013 model improves on the standard conveniences and adds value and style to an already established norm, bringing more to the table than last year’s model.

2013 Toyota Venza Exterior

Three trim packages are available for the Venza, and those are the LE, XLE and Limited. Those packages all are available in the eye-popping and tongue-tripping colors of, Blizzard Pearl, Golden Umber Mica, Magnetic Grey Metallic, Classic Silver Metallic, Sunset Bronze Mica, Cypress Pearl, Barcelona Red Metallic, Attitude Black and Cosmic Gray Mica.

This year’s model has radial tires on aluminum alloy rims, privacy glass on rear side, quarter and liftgate windows, and color-keyed exterior door handles and mirrors. With other features including chrome tipped exhaust (dual on the six-cylinder models), UV reduction glass, an acoustic designed front windshield and a blind spot mirror to minimize the chance of accidents during lane changes, this vehicle almost breathes class. Its windshield wiper comes standard with a de-icer feature — only adding to the feeling of luxury that comes standard in this SUV.

The outer lighting features of the Venza are nothing short of impressive. The vehicle has Daytime Running Lights that can be switched on and off, built-in fog lamps, puddle lamps, projector-beam headlamps, outer mirror turn signals (on heated outside mirrors, it should be noted) and a rear spoiler with an LED center high mount stop lamp.

The Venza is available in both a four-cylinder and six-cylinder in the LE and XLE models, while the Limited is available only with a V6 engine. All three are available in front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). For those requiring significant towing power, a tow package is available for the V6 that allows a maximum towing weight of 3,500 lbs. The four-cylinder, which does not have the additional tow package available, can tow up to 1,000 lbs. This is more than sufficient for the average camper or traveler’s needs.

The 3.5-liter V6 engine offers 268 horsepower and 246 lb.-ft of torque, while the four-cylinder boasts 181 horsepower and 182 lb.-ft of torque. The V6 with FWD is expected to get 19/26 mpg for city and highway travel respectively, while the AWD option has a projected 18/25 mpg ratio for city and highway travel, respectively. The expected fuel economy for the four-cylinder FWD model is 21 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg for highway travel. The four-cylinder AWD loses only slightly in comparison, with 20 mpg expected in city traffic and 25 mpg for longer highway excursions.

These engines may or may not be a little too smart for their drivers, however, as a technology known as ECT-i, or electronically controlled automatic transmission with intelligence, it not only chooses the right gear for uphill and downhill portions of the drive, it also provides moderate engine braking for the downhill segment. The AWD system also includes Active Torque Control that distributes the torque optimally between the front and rear wheels, with the intended result of better corner handling. Smoother transitions during acceleration are also projected thanks to the Active Torque Control feature.

The Venza also provides a substantial level of comfort for up to five adults. The vehicle comes standard with power windows that feature an automatic up/down and jam protection design, power locks with a shift-based automatic lock/unlock feature, an above the head console with lights for map reading and sunglass storage. It has a center console with a dual storage compartment, two front lighted cup holders, an iPod and an MP3 player holder and wire management features. There are also rear reading lights, a cargo light and three 12V auxiliary power outlets, two in the front and one in the cargo area.

2013 Toyota Venza Interior

The Venza also comes standard with Bluetooth technology that permits drivers to use their cell phones hands-free phone with voice-command controls in the steering wheel, an outside temperature reading, a clock and fuel economy information, average speed and trip distance displays. The interior for the LE is fabric-trimmed and includes an eight-way adjustable driver’s seat and four-way adjustable front passenger seat. Both the XLE and Limited offer leather trim, and the eight-way adjustable driver’s seat also offers memory function, heat and power lumbar support. All three offer one-touch fold-flat rear seats.

Each model of the Venza comes with an entertainment system that puts the E in enjoyment. A 6.1-inch touch screen is standard, with an AM/FM CD player that is capable of MP3 and WMA playback, six speakers and a USB port to connect smartphones or other music devices. The XLE and Limited models also have Entune, which provides access to features like Bing, OpenTable, MovieTickets and Pandora. This allows the trip to reach an unplanned destination without an interruption to search for phone numbers and make last-minute reservations or ticket purchases.

2013 Toyota Venza Interior Touchscreen

Seven airbags, including driver and front passenger seat-installed side air bags, the Advanced Airbag System, a knee airbag for the driver and front and rear side curtain airbags, are the initial reassurance that Toyota takes safety seriously. Its comprehensive seating positions offer 3-point seatbelts and there are front and back force-absorbing crumple areas with side-impact door beams. Add that to the already commendable STAR Safety System Toyota installs in all its vehicles, and this SUV provides great style, handling and reassurance of safety when taking to the roads. Toyota also includes an Anti-Lock Brake System, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Smart Stop Technology.

In addition, Brake Assist, Traction Control and enhanced Vehicle Stability Control provide assurances to drivers and passengers alike that road conditions will be less of a determining factor in the handling of their vehicle. All Venza models also have Hill-Start Assist Control, so that starting on a hill can be done with no chance of rollback and potential contact with other vehicles. In addition, for the safety-conscious parent, the LATCH system is installed on outboard rear seats, and there are child-protector rear door locks.

Pricing for the Venza begins at $27,700 and can go to roughly $38,800 with the higher class luxury add-ons. A higher price for the V6 may be a concession interested buyers seriously consider, as the power of the V6 is not to be taken lightly.

A Look At The 2013 Toyota Sequoia

The 2013 Toyota Sequoia is primed to offer not only comfort and new entertainment features for long road trips, but is also prepared to take a family or group of up to eight adults off-road to the best camping spots or nature walk locations.

2013 Toyota Sequoia Exterior

The full-size SUV comes standard with a 5.7-liter V-8 in the 2013 model, providing 381 horsepower at 5,600 RPM. With the ability to tow 4,700 lbs and a tow/haul mode to help optimize transmission shift points, the Sequoia is prepared to get cargo from Point A to Point B. One feature that can be considered both a benefit and a potential frustration is the fact that the Sequoia’s tow hitch is part of the frame, a single unit rather than complementary pieces.

The new model presents an eye-catching exterior, with eight snappy color choices: Silver Sky Metallic, Magnetic Grey Metallic, Black, Sizzling Crimson Mica, Sandy Beach Metallic, Pyrite Mica, Super White (not available on Platinum) and Blizzard Pearl – a color choice only available on the highest trim package for the newest Sequoia. There are three trim packages available in the 2013 Toyota Sequoia: the SR5, the Limited and the Platinum. The lowest trim package for the Sequoia is only available in three colors, while the other options are available on the Limited and as noted on the Platinum. All three packages offer interior color choices of graphite and sand beige. Red Rock is an option only for the Platinum grade.

Snow and mud tested radial tires, front and rear mudguards, an in-glass antenna and privacy glass on the rear side are standard.  Quarter and lift gate windows provide the sleek, yet rugged look some consumers have in mind when thinking SUV, while providing the necessary comfort and performance for the off-roading enthusiasts.

Some of the exterior features available in the SR5 package include heated outside mirrors, integrated fog lamps, a roof rack, power tilt moonroof and running boards. A peek into the interior shows three-zone front and rear climate control, cruise control, map lamps, a leather-trimmed steering wheel that both tilts and is telescopic. Other features include Bluetooth hands-free telephone controls and 16 cup and bottle holders.

The driver’s seat is 8-way power adjustable for the pickiest driver, while the front passenger seat is 4-way adjustable. The second row seat slides, reclines and lays flat. It also provides one-touch access to the third-row seating. The rear doors open at such a wide angle that not only can passengers enter and exit with ease, but the installation of a child safety seat is made simple. This is something every parent and grandparent can truly appreciate.

The CD player has standard AM/FM capacity, the ability to play MP3 and WMA files, is set up to handle Sirius Satellite Radio subscriptions and has 14 speakers and a subwoofer to provide optimal sound quality. Music streaming via Bluetooth technology is also an option, guaranteeing music no matter where your Sequoia is taking you.

2013 Toyota Sequoia Navigation

Additional highlights to the Limited package include map pockets in the door, more leather trim and a heated driver’s seat that adjusts two additional ways, along with a Homelink universal receiver integrated into the rearview mirror and retractable sunshades for the second and third row seating.

For the Platinum package, consumers can expect second row heated captain’s chairs, dynamic laser cruise control and a rear-seat Blu-ray entertainment system, complete with two wireless headphones and a wireless remote for the nine-inch display.

For all three trim packages, Entune is available to provide an enhanced audio experience incorporating the ubiquitous smartphone, and navigation systems of various complexities can be relied on to keep those wheels turning and avoid confusion on any road trip. Bing, Pandora and real-time traffic and weather updates using the Entune connection with a smartphone makes conventional radio and its notorious unreliability a distant memory rather than a current frustration.

2013 Toyota Sequoia Interior

The six-speed automatic is available in both two-wheel and four-wheel drive and offers reasonable EPA estimates for fuel economy, with 13 miles per gallon city and 18 highway for a two-wheel drive. The four-wheel drive option only drops the expected mpg for highway travel by one, keeping city driving expectations to 13 mpg.

Standard safety features for the newest model of Toyota’s off-road family SUV includes a four-wheel ABS with both Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution. The Sequoia also has ventilated disc brakes for both front and rear and a rack-and-pinion steering system that recognizes vehicle speed and has Variable Flow Control to respond in kind.

The Limited and Platinum packages for the Sequoia also offer front and rear parking sensors that recognize standing objects and their distance from the vehicle, relaying that information to the driver. These packages also have the option to include a back-up camera to further assist in parking safely.

With the safety ratings and quality standards consumers come to expect from Toyota, the Sequoia continues to be a solid investment in terms of SUV purchases. The Sequoia comes equipped with advanced airbags, knee airbags and seat-mounted side airbags for both the driver and front seat passenger. For the other occupants of the vehicle, all-row roll-sensing side curtain airbags are installed. The four-wheel drive models come with a cut-off switch for these airbags as well.

The seatbelt sensor for both the driver and front seat passenger makes forgetting that all-important safety measure difficult. Also, three-point harnesses for all seating positions mean no one is under-protected. The LATCH system for car seats provides anchors in all seating in the second row and also in the middle seat of the third row. In addition, the Sequoia is equipped with child protector rear hatch and door locks and a power window lockout feature.

The safety measures of the Toyota Star Safety System cannot be ignored. This includes the aforementioned ABS and ventilated disc brakes, in addition to Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Control and Smart Stop Technology.

An anti-theft system with engine immobilizer, daytime running lights with an on/off feature and a tire pressure monitoring system all add to the assurance Sequoia owners can drive with confidence and know their vehicle won’t be stolen from the supermarket parking lot.

Barber Vintage Festival (Birmingham, AL)

Birmingham, Alabama native George Barber modified, raced and maintained Porsches in the 1960′s (63 first-place wins). He started collecting and restoring classic sports cars in 1989, but his interest soon turned to motorcycles. Barber recognized that there was not a museum which reflected the history of motorcycles from a global perspective. He wanted to preserve motorcycle history in the United States in a way that represents an international aspect and to supply an example of motorcycles that until then could only have been seen in books and magazines. This was the theme used in the mission and development of the Barber collection.

The collection grew with the assistance of skilled restorers that worked for Barber at a secluded location in Birmingham that once housed a commercial vehicle refurbishing facility. Out of the same shop a vintage motorcycle race team operated with the challenge of maintaining and racing historically significant machinery. These bikes were routinely campaigned around the United States and Europe so that they could be enjoyed and appreciated in their original setting, rather than collecting dust in a garage. This racing effort brought the Barber Team 7 National Championships in the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA) and helped secure a credible place for the collection in the community of motorcycle enthusiasts.

In 1994, the Barber collection became the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum when it was granted a 501(c)3 not for profit status. On March 14, 1995, the museum was officially opened to the public in the original secluded location on Birmingham’s Southside. The museum operated here until November 1, 2002. The Museum reopened at its new location at the Barber Motorsports Park on September 19, 2003. Along the way vehicles from the museum’s collection have been featured in exhibits around the world. Twenty one motorcycles were selected for the famed Art of the Motorcycle exhibit at the Guggenheim’s New York and Bilbao, Spain location as well as the Field Museum in Chicago. England’s Goodwood Festival of Speed has featured cars from the Barber collection. Birmingham’s own Museum of Art has conducted a special exhibit featuring motorcycles from the Barber collection.

The collection now has over 1200 vintage and modern motorcycles and as well as a substantial collection of Lotus and other racecars. It is considered the largest collection of its type in North American and possibly the world. There are approximately 600 of the collection’s 1200 motorcycles on display at any given time. These bikes range from 1902 to current-year production. Bikes from 20 countries represent 200 different manufacturers. The common street bike is represented, as well as rare, one-off Gran Prix race machinery. Bikes have been purchased from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden, but also as close as down the street.

barbervintagefestival.org

barbermuseum.org

barbermotorsports.com

Wheels Through Time Museum

The Wheels Through Time Museum is home to the world’s premier collection of rare American Vintage Motorycles.  Located 5 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, in beautiful Maggie Valley, NC, this All-American motorcycle museum houses over 300 of America’s rarest and most historic classic motorcycles, with over 24 marques on display, including the likes of Harley-Davidson, Indian, Excelsior, Crocker, Henderson, and much more.  Western North Carolina’s premier museum and tourism attraction features dozens of motorcycle-related exhibits, ranging from board track racers, hillclimbing, and original paint machines to American Dirt Track racing, choppers and bobbers, and one-of-a-kind motorcycles. The museum also annually holds a motorcycle raffle, which helps them continue their mission.

Founded by Dale Walksler in 1993, WTT has become an integral piece in discovering, maintaining, and preserving American motorcycle history.  The collection houses tens of thousands of motorcycle pictures, historic memorabilia, and other motorcycle artifacts, and has been featured in hundreds of motorcycle publications, including American Iron, Cycle World, Cycle Source, and American Motorcyclist to name a few.

WheelsThroughTime.com contains hundreds of motorcycle videos, ranging from Antique Motorcycle Restoration videos to event shows, virtual tours, feature bike shows, and more, and is considered the world’s best motorcycle video website.

Top Motorcycle Gear And Accessories

Every rider has different needs, a unique attitude and wants to express that when they ride. There is a wide array of gear and accessories available to help you ride comfortably, securely and in your own inimitable style. I’ve listed some of the basic categories here along with a list of some of the major manufacturers in each.

Gear For The Rider

You don’t just hop on your motorcycle and ride away. Well, maybe some riders do. We’ve all seen those guys in shorts, T-shirt and tennis shoes flying by on their crotch rockets, weaving in and out of traffic on the Interstate. But unless you’re one of those knuckleheads you probably have a little ritual you go through each time you’re going on a ride known as gearing up. Here’s my list of some of the top gear for riders, and, if you’re riding two up, passengers.

Helmets

Most states have laws requiring you to wear a helmet while riding. If you live in a state without a helmet law, congratulations, your legislators think you’re intelligent and mature enough to make that decision on your own. So prove them right and wear a helmet, even if you don’t legally have to. Years ago comedian Jerry Seinfeld did a bit on helmet laws that’s still funny, and true, today. “The point of the helmet law is to protect a brain that is functioning so poorly, it’s not even trying to stop the cracking of the head that it’s in.”

Motorcycle Helmet Guide

There are four basic styles or types of helmets for street riding; the full face, modular or flip-up, open face or 3/4, and the half helmet or shorty. The first two cover your entire head. The modular type helmet allows you to flip up the front of the helmet, from the chin guard to the visor, allowing a rider to eat or drink without removing the helmet. The open face model lacks the chin protection of the full face, but covers the rest of the head. The half helmet covers the top of the head and maybe a little of the back of the head depending on the model.

Before deciding which style to buy you should be aware of a study areas of the head most often suffering impact in motorcycle accidents. Almost 35 percent of impact occurred in the chin area, making the chin the part of your head that is most likely to incur impact. There are only two types of helmet that afford any protection to that part of your head, the full face and modular. I don’t know about you, but I’m fond enough of my chin that the only type of helmet I wear is a full face model.

DOT Approval: All helmets sold in the U.S. for use on public roadways must meet Department of Transportation approval. Some helmet manufacturers also submit their helmets for testing by the Snell Memorial Foundation, which uses different testing methods. Don’t purchase a helmet unless it has a DOT sticker on it. If you can find a helmet with both DOT and Snell stickers it’s passed testing by both organizations.

Fit: No two heads are exactly alike, so it’s important to try on a helmet before buying it. It should be snug, but not tight. Cheek and brow pads should touch your face.

Comfort: Look for a helmet with adequate ventilation so you’ll keep cool in the summer. It’s best if the vents are adjustable, that way you can close some of them when riding in cooler weather.

 

Manufacturers: There are dozens of companies making helmets. Some specialize in certain styles and some are more expensive than others. Some of the more popular brands include Nolan, Fulmer, Arai, Bell, Shoei, HJC, Bell, Scorpion and Z1R.

Apparel

Strap on your helmet, throw your leg over the saddle and you’re ready to ride. Almost. Since your bike doesn’t have the protective features of a car, which is basically a steel box on wheels, you need to wear your protection on your body. There are some basic pieces of apparel and each comes in a style to match every rider’s attitude.

Jackets: One of the first pieces of gear motorcyclists buy is a jacket. Jackets come in a variety of materials; textile like ballistic nylon, Cordura and Kevlar, denim, and classic leather. Many include body armor inserts in the back and arms for added protection. If you live in area with cooler autumns and frigid winters and you ride during more than two seasons you may need more than one jacket. Many jackets come with removable linings, but some of those are too heavy for hot summer days. Mesh jackets provide adequate protection while allowing for superior air flow.

Motorcycle Apparel Guide

Manufacturers: Some makers of motorcycle jackets specialize in certain materials, dayglo colors or styles. Among the best known manufacturers are TourMaster, Joe Rocket, Vanson Leathers, Teknic, British Motorcycle Gear, Dainese, Alpinestars and Rev’it.

Gloves: Motorcycle gloves provide protection for your hands against abrasion in event of a crash and from road debris and weather. For winter riding you can choose electrically heated gloves that plug into an accessory outlet on your bike or connect directly to the bike’s battery via a cable. Leather is a favored material, though for summertime riding a lighter textile will allow better airflow while still providing protection.

Manufacturers: Many of the companies that make motorcycle jackets also make gloves, like TourMaster, Dainese, Alpinestars, Joe Rocket and Rev’it. Gerbing specializes in heated gloves.

Boots: Your feet do a lot of the work when you’re riding; shifting gears, braking, holding you upright at a stop. Protect them. Sturdy, over-the-ankle boots are the preferred choice for riding. And boots made specifically for bikers offer several advantages. They usually have reinforced toes, which is vital not only for protecting your feet but for keeping that left boot from wearing from constant contact with the gear shift lever. Motorcycle boots usually provide extra support in the ankle and have soles that give you a solid grip on the pegs and the ground. The key to a good boot is comfort. You want something that not only protects your feet but that also provides proper support and feels good on and off the bike. The classic motorcycle boot is the leather engineer boot, but there is a wide range of styles available from dozens of manufacturers.

Manufacturers: You’ll see some names here that you’ve read in the other categories. Some boot makers made a wide variety of styles while others specialize in footwear for a certain type of riding. They include Sidi, Bilt, Icon, Shift, Diadora, Roadgear, TourMaster, Milwaukee Motorcycle Clothing Company,  Alpinestars and Joe Rocket.

Rain Gear: If you ride long enough you’re going to get caught in the rain. A rain suit will enable you to ride in comfort when the going gets wet. Most rain gear is made from vinyl or PVC material and comes in bright colors with lots of reflective areas to make you more visible to other motorists in the low light conditions that so often accompany rainy weather. You can purchase one-piece pants and jacket outfits or separate jacket and pants that are color coordinated. Make sure any rain gear you buy will fit over your regular jacket and pants. Good rain pants will be expandable at the ankles to allow you put them on over your boots. Also consider waterproof boot covers to keep your feet dry.

Manufacturers: There are many companies that make motorcycle specific rain gear, including Belstaff, Dowco, Firstgear, TourMaster, Nelson-Rigg and Frog Toggs.

Gear For The Bike

You love your bike. But there may some things you’d like to change, improve or customize. There’s an almost limitless number of accessories and gear you can add to or swap out on your motorcycle. Here’s a starter list of categories you may want to consider for your ride.

Luggage: When I bought my first bike I picked up a helmet, jacket, gloves and boots at the same time. That pretty much depleted my discretionary funds for a time. And that was fine. I was still feeling my way, new to motorcycling and my trips were pretty short. As my confidence grew so did the distance I rode. Then I started using the bike as my daily commute vehicle and realized storage space on the motorcycle was extremely limited, as in zero. A motorcycle specific messenger bag I found online provided some immediate and relatively inexpensive relief. It had room for some files, lunch, a change of shoes and not much else, but that did the trick for awhile. When my wife asked me to pick up some groceries on the way home one day it was time to add saddlebags.

Unless you have a full dress touring bike you may find yourself in a similar situation. One of the first pieces of gear for the bike that many riders add is some kind of luggage. You can opt for saddlebags, which come in a variety of materials from leather to ballistic nylon and even hard shelled bags that can be color coordinated with your bike. If you go with soft bags you’ll need to install saddlebag supports to keep the bags from getting caught in the rear wheel. Be sure to check the specs of the bags you’re interested in to make sure they’ll fit on your bike. Some large bags may require you to relocate your tail lights.

Depending on the type of bike you have a tailbag is another option. I also ride with a tank bag. Mine is magnetic so it goes on and comes off the bike easily and is big enough to hold my phone, wallet, a few tools and most anything else I’d otherwise have to stuff into my pockets. Smaller still are handlebar bags. This type of bag will usually hold a small wrench or socket set.

Manufacturers: You can find motorcycle luggage from a number of companies, like Willie & Max, Saddlemen, River Road, Chase Harper, Givi, TourMaster, Icon and Cortech.

Seats and  Backrests: The average motorcycle seat is made to fit the average butt. The problem with that is very few of us are exactly average. Spend a couple of hundred miles in the saddle your backside is likely to go numb. A custom seat can cure that, but it’s going to cost you. Seat pads will provide some relief at a much smaller price, but some of the higher end pads can still cost a couple of hundred dollars. Still, if you do a lot of long distance riding either alternative will be worth the cost. Rider and passenger backrests will also add to your comfort and provide support for your lower back, especially on longer rides. Your passenger will also feel a little more secure with a backrest. Many custom seats often backrests as an option but you can also get a backrest without replacing your seat.

Manufacturers: Most motorcycle manufacturers offer custom seats and backrests made for their own bikes. Some of the high end custom seat makers include Mustang, Corbin, Russel and Sargent. Seat pad makers include Butt Buffer, GelSeat, Alaska Leather and Air Hawk. Saddlemen, National Cycle, Jardine and Grasshopper Limited. If you go to the Grasshopper Limited website and look at their backrest for the Suzuki Boulevard M50 you’ll see a photo of my bike.

Electronics: For many of us part of the allure of riding is the solitude and the adventure of discovering new places and ways to get there. Occasionally though it’s nice to be able to communicate with your passenger or co-riders, listen to some tunes or know where you’re going, or where you are. For those times there are some electronic gadgets made especially for bikers. You can opt for a GPS system, intercom or audio system. Many of them can be attached easily to the handlebars. Some can be helmet mounted. With the advent of Bluetooth you can link your GPS to your intercom and cell phone and in some cases your MP3 player.

Motorcycle Electronics

Manufacturers: Garmin and TomTom make GPS systems specifically manufactured to withstand the vibrations of being mounted on a motorcycle with controls that are easy to operate even while wearing gloves. Bluetooth motorcycle intercoms/communication systems are made by Cardo, Interphone, BikerCom and Sena. Jensen, J & M, and Cycle Sounds are among the companies that make motorcycle audio systems.

Maintenance Gear: Even if you’re not the type to wrench on your bike your bike to get it purring just so, there are some maintenance related items you’ll want to have. If your bike has a chain final drive then you need to lube it regularly. Most bikes come with a small tool kit, and for most of us that will be enough to keep everything tight or to make adjustments to mirrors and such. But if you do more than those basic tasks to your bike you may want to consider a tool kit that includes wrenches, sockets and screwdrivers. You should also have a decent tire gauge. Two items that will come in handy for making sure your bike is ready to ride at all times are a battery tender and a small electric air compressor so you can ensure proper tire inflation before every ride. And to keep your ride sparkling use motorcycle specific wash solution. For those times that you need to store the bike, or if you have to park it outside when rain or snow is forecast a good bike cover will keep it dry.

Manufacturers: Motorcycle tool makers include BikeMaster, Motion Pro and Cruz Tools. Dowco, CoverMax and Durashield all make covers for bikes. You can pick up a good battery tender and small electric air compressor at most bike shops, automotive stores and even some big box stores.

This should be enough to get you started on your gear and accessories shopping list. For additional information on items you may want to consider check out the “Budget For More Than The Motorcycle” section of the article 5 Things You Should Know Before You Ride and for cold weather gear read Riding A Motorcycle in Winter. A trip to your local dealership can also give you a chance to see and touch some of the gear listed here in person before you buy.

New Models Added – November 5, 2012

- Motorcycle / Scooter

- 2013 Husaberg FE 250

- 2013 Husaberg FE 350

- 2013 Husaberg FE 501

- 2013 Husaberg TE 250

- 2013 Husaberg TE 300

- 2013 Husqvarna CR 125

- 2013 Husqvarna TC 250R

- 2013 Husqvarna TC 449

- 2013 Husqvarna TE 310R

- 2013 Husqvarna TE 449

- 2013 Husqvarna TE 511

- 2013 Husqvarna TXC 250R

- 2013 Husqvarna TXC 310R

- 2013 Husqvarna WR 125

- 2013 Husqvarna WR 250

- 2013 Husqvarna WR 300

- 2013 Kawasaki Vulcan® 1700 Nomad™

- 2013 Kawasaki Vulcan® 1700 Vaquero™

- 2013 Kawasaki Vulcan® 1700 Voyager® ABS

- 2013 Kawasaki Vulcan® 1700 Voyager® Base

- 2013 Kawasaki Vulcan® 900 Classic

- 2013 Kawasaki Vulcan® 900 Classic LT

- 2013 Kawasaki Vulcan® 900 Custom

- 2013 Moto Guzzi Griso 8V SE

- 2013 Moto Guzzi Norge GT 8V

- 2013 Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 NTX

- 2013 Moto Guzzi V7 Racer

- 2013 Moto Guzzi V7 Special

- 2013 Moto Guzzi V7 Stone

- 2013 Triumph Street Triple

- 2013 Triumph Street Triple R

- 2013 Yamaha FJR 1300A

- 2013 Yamaha FZ 1

- 2013 Yamaha FZ 6 R

- 2013 Yamaha FZ 8

- 2013 Yamaha Majesty 400

- 2013 Yamaha PW 50

- 2013 Yamaha TT-R 110E

- 2013 Yamaha TT-R 125LE

- 2013 Yamaha TT-R 230

- 2013 Yamaha TT-R 50E

- 2013 Yamaha YZF R1

- 2013 Yamaha YZF R6