Finally got the opportunity to catch up with me Gypsy mate Jase from the GypsyTales Podcast. You can listen to us yarn about heap of different topics in the link below! Thanks for having me and I hope everyone enjoys 👍🏻

Finally got the opportunity to catch up with me Gypsy mate Jase from the GypsyTales Podcast. You can listen to us yarn about heap of different topics in the link below! Thanks for having me and I hope everyone enjoys 👍🏻

Source: Jack Miller on Facebook

How To Get the Best Deals on the Safest Helmets

(Sponsored post for our North American readers)

Before you hop on your motorcycle or ATV, you want to make sure you have the best helmet possible. Among all of the ATV accessories on sale you find, a helmet is the first one you want to purchase. It will protect you in the event of a collision, and it may just end up saving your life. A new CST CU02 Abuzz rear tire may be nice right now, but for the time being, your attention should be on finding the best helmet possible at the lowest price.

Make Sure the Helmet Still Meets All Safety Standards

It makes sense for riders to not want to spend a lot of money on a new helmet. However, you never want to sacrifice quality in the hunt for a good deal. There are plenty of cheap helmets you can find, but many of these were not designed to handle a full-force impact. You want to make sure your helmet was thoroughly tested and meets the standards set forth by the Department of Transportation.

You know when you have something good when the product description says that an item is a “D.O.T. Helmet.” This test will check for criteria based on severity and impact. Some cheap helmets out there will crumble up at the slightest impact, but you want something that will actually protect your head. A traumatic brain injury is not worth saving a few bucks at the moment.

Check Online Often for Deals

You can frequently find deals on great helmets online. Some stores simply need to get rid of a back catalog of helmets when a new shipment is imminent, so you could get a great deal that way. There are also some sites, such as RetailMeNot, where you can find coupons for a wide array of online retailers. Coupons come up often, so keep checking to see if the helmet you want finally gets a deal.

Another good option is to wait during parts of the year where a site is more likely to have discounts. If you do not plan on riding your ATV again for the winter, then you could wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday to find the deals you want. Additionally, you do not want to overlook the saving power of cashback deals. You make your purchase now, but you get money back on your credit card later. Some sites also offer a service discount where you can save money if you are a first member or a member of the United States.

Get the Best Deal on the Best Helmet

You can find plenty of helmets and ATV tires on sale online, but the trick is finding the best products at the lowest prices possible. In many cases, you do not even have to sacrifice on quality to find a great helmet that offers ample amounts of protection. That is honestly the most important part of a helmet. Price should come second to safety, but with the right ATV accessories retailer, you can manage to get a good product at an affordable price.


2020 vision: Bikes you most want to ride

There is a host of exciting motorcycles being released in 2020 that have caught the attention of our more than 300,000 readers a month.

We have gone over the reader statistics for our motorcycle stories, assessing multiple entries about particular bikes and also considered your comments.

The statistical analysis arrives at what we think are the bikes you would most like to ride in 2020.

We apologise if this list does not reflect your particular interest. It certainly doesn’t reflect my choice!

After all, it’s just a statistical analysis and a bit of fun for your New Year reading.

2020 vision

So here are the top five bikes possibly coming in 2020 … according to you!

1 BMW R 18 cruiser

BMW Concept R8 cruiser r 18 heritage
First R 18 concept

BMW said it would never build another cruiser after the R 1200 C. A few years ago they altered their tune, saying “never say never”.

Now they are building one!

BMW R 18/2 cruiser
BMW R 18 second concept model

We are still unsure what the R 18 will look like, although there have been some concepts and spy photos.

2020 BMW R 18 \
BMW R 18 spy photo

Even so, it hasn’t stopped BMW from launching a dedicated order site and even taking deposits from excited fans. 

2 Indian Challenger

Indian Challenger
Challenger Limited

Our spy photos of the Indian Challenger rated very highly, but the actual images of the production version not as much.

2020 liquid Indian Challenger spy bagger
Spy photo of a 2020 Indian Challenger

We’re not sure if that means you are not happy with how they look, but you certainly are interested in this challenger to Harley’s bagger dominance.  

3 Harley Bronx Streetfighter

Harley-Davidson Revolution Max platform Bronx Streetfighter
Harley-Davidson Revolution Max platform Bronx Streetfighter

Speaking of which, Harley-Davidson will release an abundance of unusual products in 2020, including the Bronx Streetfighter range, electric bicycles and motorcycles, and their first big-bore adventure bike, the Pan America.

While our articles on all these bikes scored highly with our readers, the macho Streetfighter won this title bout. 

4 Savic electric motorcycle

2019 Savic electric motorcycle prototype orders
Denis Savic with his Aussie electric motorcycle

While opinions about the coming wave of electric motorcycles continue to divide the Motorbike Writer community, there was a lot of interest in the first Aussie full-sized electric road motorcycle from Savic.

We wish founder Denis Savic the best of luck with his motorcycle and are looking forward to the promised test ride. Stay tuned!

5 Suzuki Hayabusa

Suzuki Hayabusa 1440cc
Hayabusa engine patent filing

The Suzuki Hayabusa no longer meets stringent Euro5 conditions that kick in from 1 January 2020.

And we don’t exactly know what Suzuki will do to replace it or even if they will!

However, our articles about patent filings for an updated Hayabusa have sparked a lot of interest, especially the possibility it could be powered by a 1440cc engine. 

Other 2020 contenders

Ducati EICMA Streetfighter V4 vote
Ducati Streetfighter V4 wins most beautiful bike at EICMA

It’s difficult to set out the other contenders, but there has been a lot of interest shown in the Ducati Streetfighter V4 and the MV Agusta Superveloce 800.

MV Agusta Superveloce Serie Oro model design
MV Agusta Superveloce Serie Oro

They also rated highly in your votes for the most beautiful bikes of the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan.

As for current bikes, our tests of two very different motorcycles were highly rated: The CFMoto 650NK learner and the Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special tourer. 


Your top 10 motorcycle stories of 2019

Stories about helmet safety and legalities, Arlen Ness and Charley Boorman, road rules, crashes, lane filtering and a big-bore kit attracted the most interest from our readers in 2019.

With more than 300,000 readers a month, we have a pretty fair idea of what subjects are of interest to our readers.

So we have compiled a list of the most read stories from our website in 2019.

Top stories of 2019

1 Sticker fine

Our readers love stories about riders winning over an injustice.

So the top story of the year went to our article about Queensland Police waiving a Bribie Island rider’s $400/3point infringement for having a void helmet sticker.

Ian Joice told us the external certification sticker had the word “VOID” across it from age and sun damage while the internal label was faded due to wear. 

We reckon it proves that riders can legally remove the external sticker so long as the internal label is still there, no matter what condition it’s in.

2 Lane filtering

menace ACT police are seeking to charge this driver with road rage on legally filtering riders mencaing appeal rejected
ACT police finally nabbed this driver for road rage

Speaking of injustice stories, you were greatly relieved when ACT Police finally nabbed a driver seven months after he swerved his car at two legally lane filtering riders. 

However, four months later first-time offender Jake Searle, 28, got off with a light penalty of a one-year good behaviour order and three-month disqualification with no fine. That means he’s out there legally driving again, so watch out!

3 Arlen Ness

Arlen Ness - one cool dude
Arlen Ness – one cool dude

Sadly, iconic American motorcycle customiser and cool dude Arlen Ness died, aged 79, in March.

There must be a lot of riders out there who admire his work, ride bikes with paintwork designed or inspired by him, own some of his accessories, or wear some of his riding gear.

In November we also lost Luigi Termignoni, aged 75, the founder of eponymous motorcycle exhaust company. Our glowing obituary was also one of our most popular stories, although not in the top 10. 

4 Helmet safetyCrush helmet

Anything to do with helmet safety usually rates high.

Our report on the latest testing for safety and comfort by the NSW Consumer Rating and Assessment of Safety Helmets (CRASH) revealed that only seven out of 30 helmets rated four out of five stars. 

5 Emergency rule

Cop injured under new speed rule crash police emergency 40km/h charged
Cop injured under new speed rule crash police emergency 40km/h

Most riders seem to believe they are in danger of being rear-ended under the rule in some states that requires motorists to slow to 40km/h when passing emergency vehicles (25km/h in South Australia).

So there was a lot of interest in our article about a NSW police motorcyclist being hit in that exact scenario in January under a 12-month trial of the rule.

In September, NSW made the rule permanent but with some changes. Click her for more info. 

6 Multiple fatality

Pick-Up crash with US riders accident
Image: Associated Press

Horrific news emerged from the US in June of a pick-up truck driver ploughing into a group of former US Marines riding to their annual meeting, killing seven and injuring three others. 

Driver Volodoymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, is alleged to have been under the influence of drugs at the time and had previous similar convictions.

volodoymyr zhukovskyy Rider killer faces long jail term carnage
Zhukovskyy in court

He remains in jail facing multiple charges and up to 105 years behind bars! 

Meanwhile, the transport department that failed to disqualify his and other drivers’ licences for similar offences has been overhauled and the boss sacked. 

Car ploughed into riders month
Kyogle crash (Image: Seven News)

There was a similar incident in Kyogle, NSW, in October when a Kia Rio ploughed into four motorcycles from the Sons Of The Southern Cross motorcycle club, killing one rider.

NSW Police are yet to charge the driver. 

7 Parking damage

Parking incident

Another injustice article: Toowoomba Regional Council said it was not liable for damage to a motorcycle that fell over while parked in an area where the bitumen surface had deteriorated.

Rider trainer Tony Gallagher says he watched as his 2001 Kawasaki ZRX1200R sank into thin bitumen and fall over in a Crows Nest main street parking bay.

It wasn’t a hot day, either, just faulty bitumen. It’s since been fixed, but Tony is still out of pocket for damage. 

8 Charley’s back

Charley and Ewan McGregor
Charley and Ewan on electric Harleys

In September it was confirmed that Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor would ride from the bottom of South America to LA for the third Long Way TV series.

But this time they would be riding Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycles! 

Two weeks ago the pair completed the journey. From your interest in our articles about the trip, you will be keen to find out when the TV series airs. Stay tuned and we will to keep you updated! 

9 T-boner

Lane filtering has made commuting safer and more enjoyable. Any articles we publish about the lane filtering rules is always well received.

But when one stupid rider was caught on video (above) weaving erratically through traffic and t-boning another lane-filtering rider, it certainly caught your attention.

10 Royal bore

S&S Cycles big bore kit for Royal Enfield 650 camshaft-kit-royal-enfield-650
S&S Cycles big bore kit for Royal Enfield 650 camshaft-kit-royal-enfield-650

There has been a lot of interest in the Royal Enfield 650cc parallel twins.

So when American engine giant S&S announced a big-bore kit, the article shot into our top 10, although that could be because there are millions of Indians who love the brand! 

5 perennial favourite stories

As well as the news articles that emerged this year, there are older articles that continually rate among our readers.

Most have to do with riding tips.

Surprisingly the top riding tip of this year was our tongue-in-cheek article on how and when to do the motorcycle wave motorcycle wave

It only narrowly beat another article that continues to score well which shows that tall bikes may be putting off short riders.

It’s our guide to the seat heights of all motorcycles. Click here to find out how high the seat is on your next bike. 

Other advice articles that scored well with our readers were how to deal with a tank slapper or speed wobble; what are the correct tyre pressures; and how to wash your motorcycle.

Ride safely and we will see you in 2020!  


BMW Motorrad plans sidestand charger

BMW Motorrad has filed a patent for a sidestand charger that looks like it belongs to an electric motorcycle, lending more weight to an electric future.

It follows a patent application last month for a frameless electric motorbike with the motor and battery making up the bulk of the frame.

bmw serious about electric motorcycle
Patent drawing

These patent applications seem to give a clear indication of BMW’s electrification plans.

However, BMW Motorrad boss Markus Schramm recently told US website Cycle World they would not have an electric motorcycle for at least another five years.

“In the urban environment, it is possible that there will be an electric BMW motorcycle in five years. In the touring, off-road, and sport segments, I am not sure that we will see them,” he is quoted as saying.

The Bavarian company already has an electric scooter, the C-Evolution.

Oliver van Bilsen living with an electric BMW C evolution scooter electric motorbike historic
BMW C evolution electric scooter

But these latest patent filings seem to show plans for an electric motorcycle, at least for the urban environment.

Previous BMW electric concepts include the boxer-style Vision DC Roadster unveiled in June 2019, the Concept Link electric scooter and the electric S 1000 RR concept called the eRR.

Sidestand charger

The sidestand charger system involves the stand slotting into a “puck” which is plugged into the AC mains.

It’s simply another way of connecting to a charger.

It would probably only be of use in your home as we cannot see this sort of infrastructure being rolled out in public places.

In 2017, BMW Group Australia boss Marc Werner said Australia needed tax incentives, import subsidies and/or charging infrastructure, but we don’t think he had a sidestand charger in mind at the time.

The only advantage we can see of a sidestand charger is that it might save you a couple of seconds where you would normally plug in the bike’s onboard charger.

However, the filing is important as it is another example of BMW getting serious about electric motorcycles.


Bike cop pings driver 34 demerits

A NSW Police Motorcycle Response Group rider has caught a female driver using a mobile phone while negotiating a roundabout, contributing to her incurring $1793 in fines and 34 demerits.

Motorcycles are considered an important asset to police, manoeuvring in traffic congestion, public event management, dignitary escorts, ceremonial duties, and speed and traffic offence patrols.

They have been particularly useful for patrolling for mobile phone offences as in the situation above in Katoomba yesterday (27 December 2019).

Cops mobile phone penalties day of action
Police patrol for mobile phone misuse

A motorcycle cop’s high position allows them to see drivers holding a phone in their lap.

Riders are well aware of this and often see drivers illegally using mobile phones.

In the Katoomba driver’s case, she was also pinged for having three children and a man in the car with her not wearing seatbelts.

Double demerits currently apply in NSW which resulted in the driver accumulating the massive penalty of 34 points.

We asked NSW Police what that would mean for her licence and they said they did not know, but referred us to the Roads and Maritime Services website.

It says motorists who accumulate 20 or more points in a three-year period will cop a five-month suspension or three months if they are on a restricted licence.

The RMS may also refuse to renew their licence for another five phone demerits

Double demerits

Double demerit points now apply in NSW and the ACT until January 1 (inclusive) and January 5 in Western Australia.

Riders from Victoria, Tasmania, Northern Territory and South Australia passing through NSW, ACT or WA during any declared holiday period do not cop the double demerits.

Queensland motorists attract double points for speeding offences of 21km/h or greater over the speed limit and seatbelt offences if they occur more than once within a 12-month period.


Balancing scooter comes when you call

This balancing act will amaze your friends when you call your motorbike or scooter and it automatically comes to you from its parking space.

That’s a vision of the future from Indian company Liger Mobility who have developed a prototype self-balancing scooter that comes when you call it.

It basically uses voice activation like Siri and it self-balances via gyroscopes controlled by microprocessors.

Self-balancing prototypes

It’s not dissimilar to self-balancing prototypes already developed by Honda, BMW and Yamaha.

Honda's self-balancing motorcycle - short season damon last
Honda’s self-balancing motorcycle

However, this scooter goes further with the ability to come when called.

Apart from the carpark scenario, we can also see that this could be convenient for ageing riders or women riding in high heels who don’t want to get them dirty.Balancing scooter Liger Mobility

However, the Bombay start-up’s claims that it will somehow be safer seem spurious.

We’re not sure of the statistics, but we couldn’t imagine too many deaths from parking incidents or falling over when coming to a stop.

The balancing act a novel display and makes a great video, but surely the extra weight and expense of gyroscopes won’t make these self-balancing scooters and motorcycles commercially viable.

Liger Mobility think it will and say it will only increase the cost of an electric or petrol-powered scooter by 10%.

That’s 10% many might prefer to spend on protective clothing!


It’s about the journey, not the destination

(Contributed post for our North American readers)

Of course, you have heard this statement before; it’s not the destination, but the journey. Whether you’re a serious adventurer or a more relaxed kind of biker, you can choose the motorcycle trip customized to your level and the type of experience you are looking for. From the Himalayas to Mongolia, from a rugged raid to a smooth cruise everything is possible to suit every taste.

Bike travel gives you heaps of freedom and offers a more intimate connection with the people of the places you pass through. There are several scenic roads around the world, yet the best rides are spiced by the rush of twists where motorcyclists can wrench open the throttle.

A motorcycle trip requires extensive pre-trip planning and research, and there are many factors to keep in mind while planning the trip. The following are a few tips that you need to know before you jump on a bike and take a trip.

  • Selection of right bike:

Picking the ideal motorcycle is one of the most significant parts of going by bike. And your bike needs to be in accordance with the demands of your trip. Your checklist for choosing the right bike should focus on aspects like mileage, low maintenance and most importantly, a comfortable seating position so that you don’t strain your neck and/or back over the course of a long journey.

  • Have right accessories:

It’s important that you equip yourself with the right accessories so that you stay safe throughout your journey. While sporting a biker’s jacket and gloves will help you fight the heat and avoid dehydration, always ensure you wear a good-quality helmet as this might be the difference between life and death.

Ensure you wear biker boots to protect your feet and keep a decent grip on the brake pedal. Other important accessories include biker gloves and a traveling backpack. The proper bike gear is essential to ensure a safe and adventurous bike road trip.

  • Get ready for the long journey:

Preparing your motorbike involves cleaning it thoroughly and getting it serviced when required. You have to fix any issues you notice while cleaning or riding.

Ensure that your bike has dual sport tires so that you have no problem tackling both smooth surfaces and unpaved roads. Also, get your motorcycle serviced by a respectable mechanic to guarantee it’s in top condition before you hit the road.

  • Get prepared for a breakdown:

Breaking down on the roadside can be an upsetting and unsettling experience. If you’re riding a motorbike, you’re more likely to be on your own with no passengers to help and keep you company.

Not only that, if the weather is unpleasant or it’s late at night and dark, you’re exposed to the elements. In a car, you can sit inside in relative warmth and comfort while you wait for help. With a motorcycle, you don’t have a lot of choices but to remain alongside it until help shows up.

No matter where you are when an emergency happens, Commercial Roadside Assistance Company allows you to call one phone number and get help right away.

In the end, motorbike travel is one of the best ways to explore. It’s the ultimate thrill; the feeling of total freedom, of immersing yourself in the scenery, the breeze rushing by and the buzz it offers is indescribable.


Babes Ride Out 7

Babes Ride Out 7
Babes Ride Out 7 attracted women on all flavors of motorcycles — cruisers, sportbikes, ADVs and more — to the golden hills of central California. Photos by the author.

A women-only rally celebrating the camaraderie of two wheels.

It all started, like these things often do, with two friends who just wanted to share a newfound love of riding motorcycles. They planned a “girls’ weekend” of riding and camping in California’s Mojave Desert, and thought it might be fun to invite some of the fellow women riders they’d been connecting with on social media (but had yet to meet in person). Playfully, they dubbed it Babes in Borrego. The year was 2013, and to their surprise 50 women showed up, some having come from as far away as New York and Oregon. They were all there for one simple reason: they loved to ride motorcycles. 

The next year Anya and Ashmore, the two founding friends, stepped up their game for what they were now calling Babes Ride Out, renting a private campground near Joshua Tree, California. They expected 150 women; instead they got 500. The next year, 1,500. That same year, 2015, they hosted their first off-road-oriented event, called (of course) Babes in the Dirt. In 2016, Babes Ride Out — or BRO for short — expanded to the East Coast and then to the UK. Anya and Ashmore had tapped into a powerful force: women who were passionate about riding and who craved the camaraderie that only a gathering of motorcyclists seems to provide, without egos or expectations — and, incidentally, without men.

Babes Ride Out jacket
Sorry, gents. There’s only one rule at BRO: no boys allowed. Well…two rules. The other is have fun!

BRO is a female-only event, and 2019 was my second one. My first time, in 2017, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As someone who was never one of the “cool girls” as a teenager, I was actually pretty worried it would feel like a bigger, scarier version of the junior high school lunchroom. It turned out to be the complete opposite. The whole event was infused with an energy of inclusiveness and fellowship, unlike any rally I’d ever attended. I knew I’d be back.

For 2019, BRO made a location change for the first time, from the desert to the rolling golden hills south of Paso Robles in California’s Central Coast wine country. Most everything else stayed the same; BRO has always been a riding-centric event, and on Saturday the camp empties out as everyone hits the road one on of the pre-planned routes (sponsor Biltwell provided printed maps) or one of their own devising.

Big Sur motorcycle ride
BRO has always been a riding event first and foremost, so on Saturday the camp empties out as everyone hits the scenic California roads. My group chose to cruise up Highway 1 to Big Sur for lunch, not a bad way to spend a Saturday!

Most of the pre-planned routes are short, a few hours or so, to give riders a chance to return to camp and take part in welding or leatherwork workshops hosted by Real Deal Revolution (co-founded by the late Jessi Combs), Harley-Davidson demo rides, M1GP minibike knee-dragging seminars, bike games and more. In the evenings, there is karaoke, live music (this year was Twisted Gypsy, a Fleetwood Mac tribute band), vendors and craftswomen, a tattoo station, free beer and whiskey (“till it runs out!”), telescopes for stargazing and food trucks for late-night grub.

Entrance to the private venue is secured 24 hours a day, and they take the “no guys allowed” rule seriously. Most of us camped in the big open field, but plenty of women brought RVs and there are even some available for rent. For those who wanted to camp but don’t own all the gear or couldn’t transport it on their bike, items like tents, sleeping pads and sleeping bags are also available to rent.

Babes Ride Out camping
The private venue, which has 24-hour security, included a huge open field for camping. Meeting new friends is a large part of the BRO experience, so even if you roll in alone you’re likely to have a neighbor stroll up and introduce herself.

There was a lot of smiling, a lot of laughter, dancing like no guys are watching, fantastic riding in California’s Central Coast and, of course, the warm camaraderie of a couple thousand women coming together to celebrate the passion we all share. Consider me a Babes believer; this is a special experience and I encourage female riders of all persuasions to attend at least one if you can. You won’t be disappointed. 

BRO East typically takes place in early June; BRO West takes place in mid-October; Babes in the Dirt takes place in late April. See websites for locations and updates. /

Keep scrolling for more photos!

Babes Ride Out barn
The barn was the center of the action each evening, with a karaoke contest the first night and live music by Twisted Gypsy, a Fleetwood Mac tribute band, the second night.
Babes Ride Out Twisted Gypsy
Babes Ride Out
The barn also hosted several female artisans offering their crafts, like custom embroidery and helmet pinstriping. A raffle included items like hand-painted helmets, jackets, camping gear and more.
Real Deal Revolution
Between daytime rides and in the evenings, attendees could sign up for Real Deal Revolution workshops including leatherwork, welding, painting and more. This year was bittersweet, as the event paid tribute to Real Deal co-founder, land speed racer, television personality and all-around awesome lady Jessi Combs, who tragically died in a land speed record attempt in August.
Real Deal Revolution Babes Ride Out
Christina with Real Deal Revolution hosts a leatherworking workshop, making keychains participants got to keep.
Real Deal Revolution Babes Ride Out
The hands-on experience continued with welding classes. Real Deal Revolution’s self-stated mission is to “revolutionize the perception of skilled trades…and women’s role in them.”
M1GP Babes Ride Out
Most of the ladies in this picture had never dragged a knee before today, but after our M1GP minibike seminar we were all feeling like professional racers.


Connecting Small Towns in Northeast Iowa

FB & Company, a bar in Waubeek
Looking back across the river at FB & Company, a bar in Waubeek. Housed in a century-old Stone City building, the place is very rustic but does have food, even a good breakfast. Photos by the author.

Iowa is not known as a motorcycling destination, but rather a through state. Motorcyclists travel mostly on the four-lane roads thinking that’s all there is to see, and that includes many of those who live in Iowa. Even our maps don’t make it look inviting, since the squiggly lines aren’t all that squiggly. So here are some roads I enjoy traveling that will be a treat for any motorcyclists looking for lightly traveled, interesting roads and a highly adaptable route.

Iowa motorcycle ride
Map of the route taken, by Bill Tipton/

I start at the intersection of State Highway 13 and U.S. Route 151 outside Cedar Rapids only because I live near there. The ride starts on what I call transit roads, or primarily straight roads. At County Road E34 head east toward the small town of Whittier, past a few houses, a Friends meeting house and a small store, then turn north. I should note that terms like village and hamlet are not common in Iowa, so even a few houses grouped together is called a town. At Waubeek you’ll cross the Wapsipinicon River, where an old mill has been turned into a rustic bar. You’re now on Boy Scouts Road, a former gravel road paved in the chip and dip manner. It’s narrow, the pavement is uneven but not rough and it has some tight corners. It’s a short stretch to savor before returning to more traditional Iowa-style main roads.

curvy road sign
Now this is a sign we like to see! The 25 mph suggested speed on Boy Scouts Road is for grain wagons, not motorcycles. Be aware of furry forest creatures though!

When Boy Scouts Road ends, turn east onto County Road E16 and enjoy some smooth pavement with nice open curves. At a four-way stop, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, turn north on County Road X20. This is a nice paved road off the beaten path where you can enjoy the scenery with a few curves thrown in to keep you from getting white line fever (remember that!).

Boy Scouts Road Iowa
Boy Scouts Road. If only this sign was true!

Next take the road toward Hopkinton, where you will most likely encounter horses and buggies, since there is an Amish population that runs several inviting country stores along the route. The road to Hopkinton, County Road D47, starts straight but then gets nice and curvy with a tight “S” curve that can catch out the unaware. At Hopkinton, there’s a college that used to be active — OK, it was in business about 100 years ago and today you can do a ghost hunt/sleepover if that’s your thing. Heading north you’ll find it is mostly smooth and mostly straight with a few open curves. It is, however, somewhat rough between Hopkinton and Delhi, which makes for a nice stop with available fuel and a couple of good restaurants located on the small-town main street.

Iowa landscape
Heading north on County Road C7X: not your stereotypical cornfield view of Iowa.

You’ll run into State Highway 3 at a T intersection where you’ll head left, then in a few short miles you will turn right onto County Road C7X. Turn right before the first big grain storage facility — you can’t miss the bright metal bins.

The road is smooth and has plenty of curves with gentle elevation changes. As you look around you’ll see what I call “vista views” across the hills that make up this corner of Iowa. You’ll pick up County Road X3C at what’s left of Elkport. A flood devastated the community some years ago; they did, however, make the best of the situation and created a green space camping facility.

Elkport Iowa
Looking south at what is left of Elkport. It does have a camping area with facilities — as long as you don’t mind outhouses.

The curves keep coming along with the views and smooth pavement until you intersect with Highway 13, yes, the same highway I started on. Head south toward an Iowa Welcome Center that has information, a small “Iowa Made” shop and displays of Iowa wildlife that make for a relaxing stop. There are plenty of opportunities to get food or gas along the way, but this stop makes for a quiet interlude. Leave the welcome center heading south looking for a right turn, County Road C24, heading west to Volga — any guesses as to what group settled here?

BMW R 1200 RT
Taking a break at the Iowa Welcome Center, a relaxing stop with an opportunity to stretch your legs.

This road twists and turns, rises and falls, with a few blind turns thrown in as well. At Volga there’s a park that offers camping as well as access to the Volga River for kayaking. This area has become a destination for both leisurely kayakers as well as whitewater kayaking. Volga, like most of the other towns on the route, has a convenient city park perfect for a picnic.

Iowa farm road
A view along County Road C24. I had the experience of seeing a bald eagle on the side of the road that lifted off and flew at my eye level for a second or two before taking to the skies.

Follow the signs to Wadena and you’ll be on a trip back through time to what many people think of when they think of rural Iowa. In Wadena you can stop at a locker (think no-frills meat market) and pick up travel food like meat sticks and jerky, or if you have a cooler, steaks to take home. You’ll also see an old hotel turned into a private residence that still has the name Wadena stenciled on the windows, so that when you got off the train a hundred years ago you knew where you were. Been wondering why so many very small towns exist along this route? One word: railroad. These towns owe their existence to having access to a rail line when rail was the only reliable transportation and communication line in Iowa. In Clermont you’ll see an old depot that a local group is trying to save.

Clermont Iowa depot
The author and his bike in front of the depot at Clermont. A local group is raising money to preserve the historic building. When I was there they were doing some tuck pointing to help it get through the coming winter.

When you reach Clermont, also known as “Brick City,” you can’t miss the turn of the century architecture throughout the town. Clermont was the home of the 13th governor of Iowa and has a statue and museum to prove it. Wadena and Clermont are still active and offer hospitality in the form of small-town restaurants and bars. These are not tourist towns, and they do cater to hunters in the fall, yet you’ll not feel out of place.

Grove Creek Cemetery Iowa
Many “wrought iron” cemeteries are along the route; where you see these old wrought iron signs you know a town was once there too. These old cemeteries mark just how much Iowa has changed through the years.

My ride doesn’t end at Clermont. You can reverse it (I like the way the curves string together heading north to south better then south to north), meander back on the other good roads in the area, explore the many graveled roads along the way if you’re so inclined or pick a new destination. The best time to ride the route is any time you can — I’ve ridden it four times already this year and plan on riding it at least one more time, so look for the guy on a BMW RT wearing high-viz gear: that most likely will be me!