You will be stunned by our choice for the 2019 Bike of the Year! Read on.
Unlike previous years, I have not ridden a lot of the new bikes this year. Manufacturers don’t seem to like what I have to say, so they don’t readily supply them.
Reviewing new bikes is getting fairly pointless, anyway. Each year bikes get that little bit better, lighter, more economical, faster, etc.
Even on paper, there are no huge advances in performance.
As for style, that’s down to personal preference.
So the exercise of naming a bike of the year seems fairly pointless.
For example, how could an adventure bike win over a sport bike, cruiser, tourer, naked, neo-classic, etc?
And each year there seem to be new niches being added to the market to target new riders.
So for me, the bike of the year is not the fastest, most powerful, prettiest, most technological, best value, the biggest seller, etc.
In fact, the bike we have chosen seems to have been a bit of a sales flop and is quite expensive. It isn’t even available in Australia yet!
So here goes … drumroll please.
2019 Motorbike Writer Bike of the Year
The Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric!
This is a landmark bike in our beloved industry.
It’s the first full-size electric road motorcycle from a traditional motorcycle company.
While the others have talked about electric motorcycles and shown us some future designs and working concepts, Harley got in and produced it.
Ok, it’s been a bit of a sales flop.
The bike was supposed to be released in September, but deliveries were delayed.
Then they had to temporarily halt production to fix a fault with overheating chargers.
When they did arrive in US showrooms, customers did not exactly flock to buy them at $US30k (about $A44k).
They won’t even arrive in Australia until “late” in 2020.
And when they do, they may cost more than a full-dresser Ultra Limited tourer!
But not only is the LiveWire an historic landmark in our industry, it’s also a damn good ride.
I tested one around the streets of Portland, Oregon, and into the mountains and forests around the town.
It looks great, it’s lightning fast, super-smooth, handles very well, has loads of electronic gadgetry, it’s comfortable and brakes are exceptional given the added assistance of enormous electric motor back-torque.
Apart from the price, the drawbacks are limited range (235km city, 152km highway), about 11 hours to charge off the mains and limited fast-charging infrastructure.
These issues will slowly be overcome with rapid advances in battery technology. Cleverly, Harley will be able to update easily its battery and even its supplier.
The LiveWire won’t change the minds of those who don’t like the idea of electric motorcycles. That includes those who simply want a bike to make noise, even though the LiveWire has a pleasant “whooshing” turbine sound.
Despite finding the LiveWire exciting to ride and admiring the tech, I certainly wouldn’t own one. I still love the pulse and feel of a conventional bike.
In fact, the bike I am most looking forward to riding in 2020 is the insane 208hp Ducati Streetfighter V4!
But I’m glad an established motorcycle company finally made the leap of faith with a proper electric motorcycle.
Let’s face it; electric motorcycles are inevitable, especially with countries such as Sweden planning to ban all fossil-fuel-powered vehicles from 2030.
Our decision will not be popular, but it will cause controversy and it will get people talking about the future of motorcycling.
Let’s hope the LiveWire paves the way for a future of interesting and exciting motorcycles.
What was your choice for 2019 Bike of the Year? Do you agree/disagree with our choice? Leave your comments below.
Alpinestars will be showcasing over 55 years of class-leading product innovation in motorcycling and motorsports protection technology, including the all-new completely independent Tech-Air® 5 motorcycling airbag system. The new system is the latest addition to the Alpinestars Tech-Air® family, allowing more users to benefit from an independent, wearable garment featuring all the protection that the Tech-Air® airbag system delivers.
Tech-Air® 5 is a slim, self-contained wearable airbag vest designed to be worn under any textile jacket. The system provides unrivaled upper body protection uniquely covering the rider’s shoulders, critical in motorcycling accidents, in addition to the chest, ribs and full back, and offering the most comprehensive coverage of any motorcycling airbag available today.
The state-of-the-art Tech-Air® 5 airbag system features six integrated sensors which continuously monitor acceleration and the rider’s position. In the event of a crash, the system has a maximum inflation time of up to 40ms and the impact absorption while wearing the airbag results in a decrease of the impact force by up to 93% compared to a passive protector. The airbag has been designed to deploy before the first impact with an obstacle, and in addition, protects riders in the event of a rear-end collision.
The system includes Bluetooth connectivity and comes with the Tech-Air® App, which uses the rider’s phone to display the system’s operational status, battery status and provides detailed analysis of a ride, in addition to over-the-air firmware updates. The airbag has a battery life of 30 hours of riding time on a single charge and an LED display conveniently shows system status directly on the garment. The Tech-Air® 5 airbag system will be available on the market in March 2020.
The Consumer Electronics Show takes place from January 7th to 10th in Las Vegas. Alpinestars will showcase the Tech-Air® 5 airbag system and offer live airbag deployments to CES attendees. Please plan to visit our booth for the unveiling of the airbag on January 7th. Alpinestars exhibit will be in Hall D, Booth 46046, of the Sands Expo Center and our technical staff will be available to showcase the innovation on display, provide live airbag inflations, and meet with journalists and attendees on an individual basis.
The Ecommerce site puts customers in closer contact with their local dealers.
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Vespa is already known for blending classic style with modern technology, and today the brand increases its ability to interact with a contemporary and connected consumer. The Vespa USA online store offers customers the ability to browse existing vehicle styles, colors, displacements, as well as accessory and apparel offerings. Utilizing Vespa USA’s network of authorized Vespa dealerships, purchasers can consider stock availability, ongoing promotions, and delivery preferences in order to receive an official estimate and place an order directly, at any time, day or night, convenient to them.
As a tool to the dealership network, the Vespa Online Store will help pre-qualify interested parties for special financing and promotions, on the model of their dreams, ahead of their arrival. To better support the customer’s vision and interests, the online store allows consumers to consider popular performance and cosmetic accessories, as well as technical and lifestyle apparel, which in turn allows the dealership to better serve each customer’s style and quickly allocate restocking as needed.
Optimized for both desktop and mobile platforms, Vespa is pleased to announce its own e-commerce tool that streamlines the consumer journey, better supporting dealerships to manage and fulfill their expectations. The Vespa Online Store is developed to optimize the amount of information available online, which Vespa expects will bring more customers into authorized dealerships and continue to grow the amount of satisfied Vespa owners on the road.
Live And On-Demand Streaming Also Available For Roku
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MotoAmerica has announced that pre-sale pricing for MotoAmerica Live+, the series’ live and on-demand streaming service, is now available for the 2020 MotoAmerica Series. In addition to the service being available for IOS and Android apps, MotoAmerica Live+ will also be available on Roku streaming media players and smart TVs prior to the start of the racing season.
The pre-sale pricing of $54.99 will be available through March 1, 2020, and existing MotoAmerica Live+ customers will be renewed automatically on March 1 at the sale price, which equates to $5.50 per round. In addition to the season package, individual rounds can be purchased pre-race for $9.99.
MotoAmerica Live+ is comprised of four to six hours of daily live coverage of all five classes during the 2020 MotoAmerica Series via a paywall package that opens the series to anyone with a computer and/or smart TV/phone and internet access worldwide. MotoAmerica has partnered with ViewLift, a leading digital distribution and monetization platform, to power its digital and live-streaming experiences on web and mobile devices. The MotoAmerica Live+ features live coverage each day, including practice, qualifying and racing from every class, plus interviews, special features, etc., from all 10 rounds.
“Our MotoAmerica Live+ proved to be extremely popular in its first year and we’re pleased to be able to provide pre-sale pricing to our fans,” said MotoAmerica President Wayne Rainey. “Last season we received a lot of requests from fans wanting to stream MotoAmerica Live+ through Roku so we’ve stepped up this year to make that possible. The coming season promises to be an exciting one and MotoAmerica Live+ makes sure that our fans don’t miss a minute of our on-track activity from green light to checkered flag.”
Roku now boasts of 30.5 million active accounts with viewers streaming 9.4 billion hours in the second quarter of 2019, up from 5.5 billion hours in the second quarter of 2018.
MotoAmerica fans who purchase the MotoAmerica Live+ package during the pre-sale will be eligible to buy tickets to five of the 10 events at a 50-percent discount. The tracks that are eligible for the discount are Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, Virginia International Raceway, Pittsburgh International Race Complex, New Jersey Motorsports Park and Barber Motorsports Park.
When I read Mark Tuttle’s One Track Mind article last month entitled “Open Their Eyes,” I could not help but remember my friends suggesting that I should begin riding at the age of 50 during the midst of a terrible divorce. I had never ridden any motorcycle other than small dirt bikes on a handful of occasions. In addition to Mark’s suggestion about talking to the neighbor or friend that may have a casual interest, I’d like to also suggest mentioning the benefits of motorcycling to anyone going through a life changing event, such as a divorce. Riding allowed me to partially escape the pain of not seeing my children and to fill my lonely days with adventure, and opened my world to new friends. If you cannot attend the motorcycle shows referenced in Mark’s article, you could gently “push” the idea by offering to take a beginner motorcycle course with your friend. Seven years after my first ride, I am now on my fifth motorcycle and I ride more than ten thousand miles a year. Where would I be but for my friends’ gentle but forceful persuasion? I could not imagine my life today without riding.
Fran Murrman, Greensburg, Pennsylvania
Rider safety is the primary reason I am a religious reader of Rider. Decades ago, I took the most significant step in rider safety when I admitted to myself that riding is a dangerous sport, so I should do all I could to reduce that risk. Now, after four MSF courses and attention to safety and technique on every ride, I continue to work towards that goal. Tuttle’s article “The Next 50 years” cautioned those of us who have been riding for 50 years or better to consider carefully the steed we choose and company we keep, and was a significant contributor to my recent switch from a 2007 Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom to a 2016 Gold Wing. The other factor was my wife’s desire for a more comfortable ride. While I miss the amazing power-to-weight ratio and go-anywhere versatility of the V-Strom, I am enjoying the velvety smooth shifting, acceleration and low speed maneuverability of the Gold Wing. I read Eric Trow’s Riding Well article every month. His October 2019 article, “Accidents Happen — Or Do They,” masterfully described how to reduce the risk of accidents. Also have to give a shout out to Jenny Smith for her insightful “Sticking Together” article in the same issue. I will keep and reread that one before each group ride.
Richard Thomas, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
I just finished reading the November issue, and it may be my favorite one yet. While I’ve never owned a Harley or Indian, I love reading about them and was pleased to see their new lineups. Then came the article on my home state of Iowa, and riding its roads in the northeast, something I had long wanted to see in your magazine. The Gold Wing article was also of interest, as I love that bike, and the article on the ride to Deadwood. And to top it off was the Retrospective on Honda’s rocket of a cruiser in the ‘80s, the V65 Magna. I had the extreme pleasure of owning a (“mere”) V45, and that may have been my favorite bike ever. It was so coolly styled, blazing fast and, of course, had Honda’s dependability. Twist the throttle and you were gone instantly. I loved that bike. With this issue, you were truly hitting on all cylinders!
Craig Rupert, Richmond, Virginia
Just reading Retrospective (November 2019), where you said the V65 had an under-seat fuel tank and the one up top was fake. In fact, the normal fuel tank was real and there was another sub-tank. No “fake fuel tank.”
Kurt Grife, via email
My bad! I must have been thinking of my ST1100 when I wrote about the “fake gas tank” and “4.5 gallons sat under the saddle.” The V65 Magna had two gas tanks, a real one up top, and a smaller tank under the saddle with a fuel pump. Can’t find the capacities, but think the top tank was about three gallons, bottom, 1.5. –CS
Thank you Rider for not changing your format to big pictures on fancy paper with little to read! Thank you Rider advertisers for continuing to buy ads in the printed magazine! This magazine is where I find out about your products via the ads and reviews. It is also where I am most likely to find your web address or to know your name to use in a web search.
David Lay, Cumberland Center, Maine
I recently read fellow subscriber Alan Paulsen’s touring article, “Stage Route to Deadwood” (November 2019). While very informative for the most part, there was one notable segment of the piece that made me cringe. My own ancestry does not include any indigenous Americans, but if it did, I would have taken particular offense to the author’s terminology in referring to the military clash between the forces lead by Red Cloud against the U.S. Army. As depicted in the article, the Army did suffer a disastrous defeat, by an armed opponent of overwhelming number and force. However, to use the terminology “slaughter” and “massacre” in describing this battle is quite distasteful and inaccurate. Such terms are far more accurately used to describe events such as the wholesale killing of non-combative indigenous Americans at an event which has come to be known as the Marias Massacre in the (then) Montana Territory on January 23, 1870, or at Wounded Knee, which took place on December 29, 1890. In both instances, the U.S. Army wantonly gunned down hundreds of defenseless old men, women and children.
For fellow Rider subscribers interested in an insightful summary of the battle referenced in your story, I highly recommend reading an article by Shannon Smith at WyoHistory.org, titled “New Perspectives on the Fetterman Fight.” I studied American History as an undergraduate and have enjoyed a lifetime of reading and learning about our country’s fascinating and often complex Westward expansion. I know our society is often accused of being overly sensitive, but in this case I feel more care could have been utilized.
Rich Stern, via email
After rereading “Best Budget Brake Mods” in the November issue, I noticed an important step for any brake job not being mentioned: using an aerosol brake cleaner on the rotors and new brake pads. Either sprayed or rubbed on with paper towels, it will remove, or at least loosen, any brake pad residue or road grime from the rotors that the sandpaper may have missed, and will also remove any manufacturing residue from the new brake pads.
Bill Dennehy, Hanover, Massachusetts
My November issue arrived a day ago and I picked it up this morning. Right at the start I see Tuttle’s One-Track Mind reminding me of the motorcycle show I used to enjoy. After attending for many years at the San Mateo County Fairgrounds, the Progressive International Motorcycle Show dropped the visit to northern California a few years ago. Something like 7 million people live in this area and the people who put on this show cannot be bothered. When I see their ad in your magazine now I check the other side and rip it out. If they can get to smaller markets like Cleveland and Minneapolis, they can get to my more populous area too.
Tom Miller, via email
As I was reading Clem’s Retrospective about the Honda V65 Magna in the November issue I noted an incorrect statement. He notes that the redline is 10,000 rpm and then comments that, “A lot could go wrong with 16 valves popping up and down 10,000 times per minute.” In all four-stroke engines with both intake and exhaust valves, each valve cycles at one-half of the engine speed, so in the Magna at 10,000 rpm, each valve is cycling at only 5,000 times per minute. There is still a lot happening. Each piston is cycling up and down 167 times and each valve is opening and closing at 84 times per second. Now we know why oil is so important to keep an engine healthy.
Kern Fischer, via email
I was surprised to see Eric Trow write in his November Riding Well column, “I routinely employ observation, logic and intuition on every ride….” Why surprised? Because several years ago, Eric used the same terms in a different sequence — “observation, intuition and logic” — and collapsed those words into the memorable and moto-appropriate acronym OIL. Ever since then, I’ve recalled Eric’s clever OIL mnemonic on many rides. No need to change the OIL, Eric! Thanks for your consistently excellent and valuable columns.
Mark Hammond, Mohawk, New York
Until Honda launched the all-new 2018 version, I wasn’t interested in the Gold Wing as it was too large, but this new model is great. The double-wishbone front suspension is amazing and soaks up bumps like an accordion. It’s much easier to maneuver at low speeds compared to most big bikes or my ST1300. I encourage all riders to not think of the DCT automatic like a car. It’s smooth, quick and exciting to use. It’s also intuitive and can be tweaked to some extent to fit your riding style and shift accordingly. When riding, I’m not thinking about shifting, I’m paying attention and enjoying the ride. If you want to add additional excitement, start playing with the paddle shifters, hang on and listen to the sweet sound of the exhaust. Regarding gas mileage, I consistently average in the high 40s. I feel Honda not only hit a bull’s eye, they reset the benchmark for all models to follow.
Pete Rancourt, via email
Having lived in the Black Hills for 25 years, I read Alan Paulsen’s article with great interest. In many situations those writing about the Hills scarcely touch on the heritage there. I hope Alan’s article brings more riders during the “off time” (not the Sturgis rally) to enjoy some of the best riding in the U.S. My wife and I have traveled the United States and Canada since we started riding together in 1980, and have doubled our riding efforts since retirement in 2007. I always look forward to the riding articles in your mag; many we have already gone on but consider doing again. The wisdom of Eric Trow is always shared and discussed with fellow riders and Mr. Salvadori’s wit and wisdom often brings some stimulating conversation around the dinner table. I can’t say enough good things about your mag.
On a side note, Alan and I spent many a day taking apart and reassembling many motorcycle engines and agonizing over electrical trouble shooting some 40-plus years ago. It is always good to hear that others in our class are still out there riding and enjoying this great continent. I can’t help but comment that most long distance riders seem to lean toward the philosophical. My guess is that many of us ride without the benefit of music, radio or other forms of communication, just the sound of our motors, the wind in our ears and incredible scenery. Give Alan my very best, and see you all on the road.
Bruce Stinson, Prescott, Arizona
I enjoy your magazine above all other motorcycle magazines. It really is for people who enjoy, ride, respect and revere motorcycles. All that is evident in each issue. The two-page ad just inside the November issue’s front cover for a certain petroleum product shows a picture of a gentleman who I’m not sure is dressed in a manner that coveys much of that. That company may know more than most of us about engine protection, but it seems to know practically nothing about rider protection.
Belson Jones, Abbeville, South Carolina
Thanks for the kind words, Belson. Regarding the Chevron advertisement, you may have noticed that the company changed the image in the ad for the next (December) issue. Though we gave it our best shot, it was simply too late to change or remove it for the November issue by the time the editorial staff saw it. Kudos to all of you who wrote to express your concern, and to Chevron for being so receptive to our suggestions for the following issue. –EIC
When it comes to motorcycle sport-touring no other bike brand offers the wide array of motorcycling options as Kawasaki. And for those seeking an upright sport-touring rig that strikes an optimum balance between the two segments look no further than Kawasaki’s 2020 Versys 1000 SE LT+ ($17,999).
Last updated for the 2019 model year, the Versys 1000 SE LT wears more edgy-looking bodywork that’s slathered in a newly developed and scratch-resistant paint. Sophisticated LED lighting package with cornering headlamps brighten dark, moonless roads. More creature comforts come in the form of heated handgrips and a manually, tool-less adjustable windscreen. The plush, well-supportive saddle for rider and passenger and upright handlebar makes it easy to drain the 5.5-gallon fuel tank.
A set of well-engineered easy-to-put-on, easy-to-take-off color-matched hard cases are capable of swallowing nearly 15 gallons of cargo. We loaded them with a 100 or so Matchbox toy cars that we dropped off at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. The Southern California hospital specializes in pediatric care, and treats more than 100,000 sick kiddos each year.
Its tried-and-true 1,043cc inline-four has been retro-fitted with ride-by-wire throttle connectivity that facilitates selectable engine/throttle response maps (Rain, Road, Sport, and a customizable Rider setting). The setup also allows for ultra-precise cruise control. An up-and-downshift-compatible electronic quickshifter makes for fast gearshifts, and is especially helpful when downshifting at lean.
These improvements go a long way to making this engine feel more modern than it is (remember, its architecture is based off the old Ninja ZX-9R). Still, with around 105 hp the Versys 1000 likes to boogie and delivers an especially raucous engine/airbox note inside the cockpit. As always, this powertrain can feel buzzy at higher rpm, but it’s easy to overlook considering how playful the engine is with especially well-sorted throttle response.
The Versys 1000 SE LT+ now includes semi-active suspension that automatically adjusts damping settings based on road conditions and rider control input. The damping settings are linked to each riding mode. Furthermore, the rider can further tune the suspension to their liking via the Rider map. Handlebar-mounted switch gear offers great tactile function and the color display offers crisp fonts with a logical menu layout.
With nearly 6 inches of suspension travel fore and aft, the Versys 1000 glides over the rough tarmac yet offers a pleasing degree of road holding during more spirited riding maneuvers. Triple-disc hydraulic brakes with cornering ABS functionality keep speed in check and helps mitigate loss of control when riding through turns. Lean-angle-sensitive and three-way-adjustable traction control helps ensure the Bridgestone Battlax T31 sport-touring rubber doesn’t excessively slip.
With an MSRP that’s nearly $5,000 more than the old Versys 1000, this 2020 SE LT+ edition certainly can’t be deemed cheap. However, for a rider seeking a regal touring experience that skates the fine line between sport and touring duties, the Versys 1000 SE LT+ delivers.
2020 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+ Price and Technical Specifications
1,043cc, liquid-cooled inline 4-cylinder
75.2 lb.-ft. @ 7,500 rpm
Showa 43mm inverted fork adjustable for KECS-controlled rebound and compression damping, manual preload; 5.9-in. travel
Showa piggyback reservoir shock adjustable for KECS-controlled rebound and compression damping, electronic preload; 5.9-in. travel
As cold weather looms, one debate reliably emerges on a riders’ forum I frequent. On one side are those who try to stay warm with extra layers of clothing. On the other side are riders who discovered heated gear. This second group knows that adding heat to your body, at precisely the level that makes you comfortable, beats attempting to insulate your own body heat by piling on bulky layers.
But what if it’s cold and also wet? Last fall I did a 10-day tour from my native New England to the mountains of western North Carolina and most days it was cold, wet or both — but I was always warm and dry. A large measure of the credit goes to a Generation Waterproof Heated Liner from Warm & Safe.
Warm & Safe has been innovating and refining designs for heated garments and controllers for a quarter century, and its experience is revealed in the details. This liner is waterproof and breathable by way of Gelanots, a high tech, laminated, three-layer fabric. It’s made with hydrophilic polyurethane, which allows water vapor to pass out through the membrane but doesn’t allow liquid water to pass in from the outside. I was never wet or clammy on my North Carolina tour, despite days riding in cold, steady rain with the heat on constantly. Because this heated liner is waterproof, it provides an extra advantage for touring: not needing to pack a separate rain jacket to wear around camp or into town.
Unlike other waterproof garments I’ve worn, this one doesn’t feel stiff. It’s thin, light and provides good freedom of movement. The heat panels use soft, flexible carbon, and stretch panels in the side and back help keep the liner snug against your body for efficient heat transfer. There are two heat panels in the chest, two in the upper arms, one on the upper back, one on the lower back and a heated collar. The main zipper is the latest YKK model that is waterproof but without the rubbery feel I recall from earlier versions. Seams are sealed and the garment is washable.
Warm & Safe heated gear plugs conveniently into a battery harness (included) and is best controlled using an optional Heat-troller. I use a Dual Remote Control Heat-troller (read the review here or in Rider, April 2018), which lets me separately control heat levels in the liner and my heated gloves. The liner is rated at 7.8 amps, 1.8 ohms and 106 watts at 13.8 volts.
Warm & Safe originally offered Generation Waterproof Heated Liners in four colors (black, gray, red and yellow) but most people chose black, and new production going forward will be just black. You may still find colors in certain sizes. And while some gear suppliers don’t appear to realize that men and women are different, Warm & Safe offers this liner in distinct models and sizes for men and women.
Warm is good. So is dry. The Warm & Safe Generation Waterproof Heated Liner is currently on sale for $289.95, and the Dual Remote Control Heat-troller is $139.95.
For more information, call (503) 212-4166 or visit warmnsafe.com.
We all like to talk about our motorcycle’s acceleration and handling capabilities, but when you really think about it, being able to stop efficiently is probably the most important thing your motorcycle has to do. Your brakes are critical, but unfortunately brake componentry is often where manufacturers skimp on quality to help keep a motorcycle’s MSRP down. The result can be a soft lever, poor initial bite, crummy modulation, fading under hard use or just plain lack of stopping power.
Not all issues are caused by less-than-ideal componentry, however, which is why the first suggestion for addressing underwhelming brake performance is to bleed the system.
Bleeding your brakes is actually just regular maintenance that your owner’s manual will probably suggest doing every 24 months, and if you ignore it then brake performance may suffer as a result. That’s because over time, brake fluid will absorb moisture out of the atmosphere and air can creep past the seals, making the fluid more compressible and lowering its boiling point. Both of those are bad things for your brakes and can lead to a brake lever or pedal that feels squishy or cause the brakes to fade as they get hot.
So if you’re not satisfied with your bike’s brakes, it might just be time to bleed the system. Make sure you’re using the appropriate DOT fluid — it’ll be printed on the master cylinder lid — lay down plenty of paper towels to protect your paint, and keep pumping that lever until every last bubble is pushed out and you see fresh, clean brake fluid.
If bleeding the brake doesn’t do the trick, the next step is to start replacing parts. And the easiest components to upgrade are your brake pads. Many stock pads are of the semi-metallic variety and designed for general use with a gentle bite for a friendlier feel. That’s fine if you’re primarily commuting or touring, but if you ride your bike hard on twisty roads and want more bite and power when you pull the lever, upgrading to sintered pads is going to increase the friction rating which will net a strong initial bite, more stopping power and better resistance to fading. For more in-depth info on sintered pads, check out DP Brakes’ website. It specializes in sintered pads and has a robust FAQ section online.
Sintered pads will likely be a little pricier than OEM replacement pads, but they’re a simple upgrade and easy to rationalize if your stock pads are worn out. It’s always a good idea to scrub your rotors with 400-grit sandpaper or Scotch-Brite pads before installing new brake pads so the friction material has a fresh surface to bed into. Also keep in mind that new brake pads will need to be broken in with a series of progressively harder stops over the course of 50 to 100 miles.
Another potentially beneficial mod is installing adjustable brake levers. The more the piston in the front brake master cylinder strokes, the more pressure is applied to the back of the brake pads. Installing an adjustable-reach front brake lever can enable you to reposition the lever for increased lever stroke as well as a more comfortable reach. Installing a matching set (brake and clutch levers) boosts your bike’s aesthetic as well as your comfort on the controls.
After bleeding your brakes, swapping pads and upgrading your levers, things start to get increasingly expensive and complicated. One popular modification is to replace OEM rubber brake lines with braided stainless steel hoses, but you’re not likely to notice any improvement unless you regularly brake in the 90th percentile. Riders that say stainless lines made a big difference are usually just experiencing the benefits of having fresh, bubble-free fluid in the brake system. Additionally, brake lines can be a pain to install, especially on bikes with ABS which often have complicated hose routing.
Likewise, you can upgrade your master cylinder to one with a larger, radial piston or slap on some full-floating rotors, but those are pricey parts, and probably not a good investment for most street riders.
One final — and free — recommendation for squeezing more performance out of your brakes is to practice squeezing the lever — hard! The fact is, lots of people don’t know the limits of their bike’s current brakes, which — even if the lever feels squishy or there’s crummy feedback — are likely pretty powerful if you really bear down on them. So go find a clean, dry parking lot and practice some hard braking. It’s great training and a good way to learn what your brakes are actually capable of.
Merry Christmas and I hope you continue to stay safe and enjoy your moto mojo!
I hate to admit it, but I sometimes feel like I’ve lost my moto mojo.
I’ve ridden so many amazing roads in exotic countries, ridden so many wonderful bikes and had more than my share of exciting adventures, it sometimes leaves me feeling a bit jaded when it comes to riding my own bike in my own “back yard”!
Many of you will think I’m being a prima donna, but some times I find it difficult to motivate myself to go for a ride.
The bike is the same. The roads are the same. The riding buddies are the same.
It’s difficult to get motivation to go for a ride, especially when there is a boring transport stage along straight highways or through boring suburbia to get to the good riding roads.
It becomes too much effort, so I just give up and stay home, working on the website or reading about motorcycles.
If you ever feel you have lost your moto mojo, there are things you can do to recharge your riding batteries and get more enthusiasm to go for a ride.
10 tips to get your moto mojo back
Here are my top 10 tips for getting your riding mojo back!
Dig out the paper maps, or fire up Google Maps on the computer and start exploring for detours along your usual route. Try to find new places to go, new roads, or even new cafes along the way.
Get out of your comfort zone and ride a different bike. Beg, borrow but don’t steal a different type of motorcycle. If you’re into cruisers, borrow a mate’s sport bike and vice versa. You may hate it, but at least it will be a new experience and give you something to talk about with your mates.
Ride with a novice or learner. Even though it may be a slower ride than normal, their enthusiasm for riding will surely rub off on you. It is also fun and a good relearning experience to impart your riding knowledge to them.
Find new friends or join a different riding group. There is a myriad of riding groups on social media. They may have different routes, bikes and destinations.
Take a master riding class. Even if you think you have skills, there is always something you can learn and being better at our craft enhances your enjoyment.
Book an overseas motorcycle tour and let someone else impart their enthusiasm about riding and travel. You’ll also meet interesting riders from around the world and enjoy new scenery, new roads and maybe even a new bike.
It may be too expensive to upgrade to a new bike, but you can always renew your interest in your bike by adding some performance parts or extra bling!
Wash your bike. It is amazing how much this simple exercise leads to enjoyment as well as the practical side of finding things in need of attention such as loose bolts.
Watch some motorbike videos, especially at night, when it’s raining or any other time you can’t go for a ride. We also recommend surfing through YouTube. Look out for the Motorbike Writer TV channel and we also recommend MotoGeo.
Go down to Bunnings, get some cement and harden up … and a Merry Moto Christmas to our many thousands of faithful readers!