Tag Archives: Features

Syd’s Run: If You Can’t Be Fast, Be Spectacular

Syd's Run Uli Cloesen

If anyone in Australia told you another Syd’s Run is coming up, you might think it has something to do with Sydney. However, it happens in Christchurch, New Zealand. One instantly knows something is up when you spot a gaggle of Honda C50s on the way to the starting point of the event at the periphery of Christchurch’s Central Business District.

Syd's Run Uli Cloesen

Syd’s Moped Run is held each November, just before New Zealand’s summer kicks in. The run was started by Sydney James Falconer in 1995. Falconer ran the event for many years on the Saturday that fell closest to his birthday. After he passed away, his son Keith continued to run it for several more years.

“Dad was a hard man,” Keith told us. “He wasn’t one for rules and regulations. He rode bikes all his life, like Triumphs – biker’s bikes mainly – but as he got older, he moved back to the smaller stuff. Our family tried to give him a party for his 70th birthday, but he refused. Instead, he sat down with his old cronies from the vintage car club, and they mapped out a moped run, which had to be pedal-powered when it initially started.”

Falconer rode an old 50cc Puch with pedals, or alternatively, his Ducati Cucciolo. He was a great one for specials, a hard case. Falconer ran the event for nearly 20 years until his health got the better of him.

Syd's Run Uli Cloesen

The whole spectacle is a great way for people to get out on small bikes and enjoy themselves. Current organizer Aaron Card says the run is for anyone riding small bikes, but he doesn’t mind if you turn up on a Harley and join in. Ride it slow and have a good time; that’s all that matters. Card says it’s not at all about speed but rather the people, the mates, the camaraderie, and hanging out together.

See all of Rider‘s Trike, Sidecar & Scooter reviews here.

Syd's Run Uli Cloesen

Attendance is impressive. On the 25th anniversary run in 2020, organizers stopped counting when they reached 306 participants leaving the start, with more who kept joining in. It was a significant jump from the very first run, which had about 45 riders.

Syd's Run Uli Cloesen

And what a selection of machinery it usually is. Wandering through the crowd in the main parking area and adjacent street parking for the overspill, a vast array of vintage mopeds from the Big Four Japanese manufacturers usually dominates the spectacle. It ranges from small Honda cafe racers with up-spec or aftermarket fitted horizontal engines to racing fuel tanks to fancy Yoshimura exhaust work. I’ve seen pit bikes with suicide shifters, a ratty looking Honda Hero Stream, and a 50cc Honda Turbo Z.

Syd's Run Uli Cloesen

Some of these bikes belong to the local Quake City Rumblers, a moped club that pines over modified classic Japanese mopeds and helps with marshalling duties at the event. Your eye might catch a rusty metal panel lookalike scooter, perhaps a Honda Joker or something of Aprilia origin, complete with metal chains hanging off it. One of the very few Vespas I’ve spotted was modified to run on a slammed rear suspension. Had I not seen the scoot arrive earlier, I would’ve guessed it wasn’t rideable.

Syd's Run Uli Cloesen

Honda Cubs in original vintage patina join forces with specials like a stretched Honda Cub with a long chopper fork. Even the odd Honda CT110 “Postie” or farm bike usually blends in seamlessly. A Gandalf-like bearded enthusiast willingly posed for a picture for me, sitting on his vintage Yamaha scoot, parked up close to some vintage Suzuki scoots and small-displacement Suzuki street or trail motorcycles, including a Suzuki AC50 Maverick from 1973.

Syd's Run Uli Cloesen

Italy represented itself with an immaculately looking Guzzi Stornello 160 and a Ducati 55, joined by some “cyclemotors”: bicycles with engines fitted to them on the frame rails or on the rear carrier rack, such as a Triumph-framed bike. Hell, even an old Velosolex showed up, a moped hugely popular in its day in Europe.

Syd's Run Uli Cloesen

An Excelsior scooter joined ranks with a Mayfly Falcon from 1938, the latter parked with a “For Sale” sign. Nearby, a Raleigh moped proudly displayed a small handwritten phrase: “If you can’t be fast, be spectacular.” This catchphrase can easily describe the whole event in one sentence. More vintage European scoots rounded up the spectacle, including a rare German-built 49cc Goericke Goerette from 1955, a Victoria from Nuremberg, and a good old Puch from Austria.

Syd's Run Uli Cloesen

There is a big social aspect about the whole outing. Half the day is about eating, having a drink, and talking, and the other half of the day is about riding the bikes. The ride stretches over 62 miles, done in two parts over Christchurch’s predominantly flat terrain over the span of about eight hours.

Syd's Run Uli Cloesen

The first part leads the participants down Ferry Road toward the Christchurch Gondola to the Port Hills tunnel over to Lyttelton and its natural harbor, which is a caved-in extinct volcano filled with sea water, then to Bridal Path Road, and on to the seaside settlements of Sumner and New Brighton (Quadrophenia, anyone?) to Thomson Park. Proceeding from there, the cavalcade rides down Marshlands Road and via the suburb of Northlands back to the CBD, concluding in the inner city’s Smash Palace outdoor pub for prizes and the subsequent wrap-up.

Syd's Run Uli Cloesen

You can keep up with Syd’s Run happenings on Instagram @SydsRun. And you can watch a half-hour video from the 2003 run on YouTube.

See all of Rider‘s Rallies & Clubs coverage here.

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2024 Motorcycles with Kevin Duke (Part 1) | Ep. 68 Rider Magazine Insider Podcast

Rider Magazine Insider Podcast 2024 Motorcycles Kevin Duke

Episode 68 of the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast is sponsored by FLY Racing. Host Greg Drevenstedt talks with his friend Kevin Duke, a longtime motojournalist who is editor-in-chief of American Rider, about new/updated 2024 motorcycles, the popularity of adventure bikes, the rise of high-tech bikes, having big fun on little bikes, dirtbikes from Triumph and Ducati, and more.

Related: 2024 Motorcycle Buyers Guide: New Street Models

LINKS: FLYracing.com@flyracingUSA on Instagram

You can check out Episode 68 on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPodbean, and YouTube or via the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast webpage. Please subscribe, leave us a 5-star rating, and tell your friends!

Visit the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast webpage to check out previous episodes:

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Motor School with Quinn Redeker: How’s Your Dismount?

Motor School Quinn Redeker How's Your Dismount?
If getting thrown into oncoming traffic or pinned under your motorcycle doesn’t sound super awesome, learn from the “Motor School” and embrace the “high side.” (Photos by Kevin Wing)

In my career, my police motor slammed the pavement exactly five times when deploying the kickstand and dismounting the bike. And yes, it was on par with that dream we’ve all had where you show up at school with no pants and all the kids laugh at you. Exceedingly embarrassing for sure, but thankfully I’m still alive and riding because every single time I dropped my bike, I was following the Golden Rule: “Always and forever mount and dismount your motor from the high side.”

That’s right, folks. It turns out there’s a correct side of the motorcycle to get on and off from, and it isn’t the side most of you use. Sounds ridiculous, right?

Now, I know you’ve successfully accomplished the task of resting your motorcycle on its kickstand thousands of times. Heck, you’re almost psychic when it comes to surface appraisal and road camber when you boot that stand out. In fact, you’re probably cursing me in your head, arguing that which side you mount or dismount from ultimately depends on where you park your bike or which hand is holding your Milk Duds. But in motor school, I learned the best way to get on and off a motorcycle: from the “high side.” 

Motor School Quinn Redeker How's Your Dismount?
Motor officers use the high side every time they get on and off because it works.

Perhaps it’s obvious, but in case I lost you, allow me to explain. For the most part, kickstands are deployed from the left side of the motorcycle. If you put your motorcycle on its kickstand, the bike will settle, or lean, to the left. Therefore, if you were to stand directly behind the bike, the “high” side is the right side of the bike, or the side where your throttle and front brake lever are located. Since the bike is leaned over on the stand, the seat is higher on the right side. Make sense?

Keep in mind that all vehicles in the United States travel on the right side of the road, with opposing traffic on the left. Now, let’s imagine you are riding along and need to get that super tight blue sweatshirt that you love to show off out of your saddlebag. You pull to the side of the road, kick your stand down, and start getting off the bike. But on this particularly cruel day, your bike begins to roll off its kickstand, resulting in the bike falling to the left – or “low” side – and toward traffic. 

Adding chaos to the scenario, it turns out your right leg is the one with a wonky ACL and two meniscus surgeries, so you decided to plant your left foot on the ground and started your dismount on the left (low) side of your bike as it began to fall. Regrettably, your bike starts falling directly onto your one good leg, potentially knocking you into oncoming traffic as it wraps you up and takes you down with it. Not great.

Motor School Quinn Redeker How's Your Dismount?
The high side is the right side to avoid going down with the ship if your bike falls over.

Now let’s put on our mirrored rainbow glasses and imagine you dismounted from the “high” side as your motorcycle started to fall off the kickstand. Not only will you look fabulous, but your right leg will remain planted so your left leg can gracefully swing over the seat like a gazelle’s, safely clearing you from the bike as it ponders what parts and pieces to destroy as it slams to the pavement. Embarrassing and costly? Absolutely, but pretty low risk to you physically.

The good news is this technique pays dividends not just when parked on the road but also in parking lots, your driveway, or anywhere else you throw that kickstand down. I can’t promise that your buddies won’t find some other reason to make fun of you, but like I’ve said a thousand times, you bring that crap on yourself.  

So, from now on, follow my little parking ritual: Shut off the bike, put it in 1st gear, deploy the kickstand, turn the handlebar full‑­lock left, gently ease the bike over onto the kickstand, and step off the high side of the bike. If you need a little assistance with your dismount, grab the front brake and use the handlebar for leverage. And while the process is simple enough, give it a few dry runs in the garage first. Practice makes perfect, though I can’t promise you won’t get weird looks from your friends.

Bonus Motor School Tips

As the late, great Billy Mays used to say, “But wait, there’s more!” Here are a couple more tips to help you out there on the street. 

Curb appeal: If you find yourself in a situation where you need to ride your big heavy bike off a curb, accelerate off rather than tiptoe and duck walk the front wheel off the drop where the lower fairing, oil pan, or pipes could get smashed. I’m not suggesting you channel your inner Daniel J. Canary, the man who invented the wheelie, but ride off like you would accelerate from a typical stop: in a straight line with smooth, assertive throttle (as shown in the photo below). 

And yes, I know firsthand what a great tip this is because I once watched a fellow motor officer gingerly roll his new BMW R 1250 RT‑­P off a tall curb at a DUI checkpoint. After hearing a gut‑­wrenching pile‑­driver concussion, I watched as hot oil spewed out onto the pavement. Oof. 

Motor School Quinn Redeker How's Your Dismount?
It’s not if but when you’ll be faced with navigating a tall curb. Heed my advice and avoid immeasurable personal (and costly) anguish.

Brake time: If your bike has been sitting unridden for a while, be sure to work your brake levers and pump up the calipers before you take off. When I first heard this suggestion from an old motor cop, I laughed out loud. But then he walked me over to my bike, gently pushed on my front brake calipers with his boot, and asked me to grab the front brake lever. With a cocky gleam in my eye, I pulled the lever, only to have it bottom out at the throttle grip – the brakes didn’t work at all. Turns out the fluid in your brake calipers can be forced back into the master cylinder if bumped or pushed hard enough, causing the brakes to need some pumping up before they work again.

Find Quinn at Police Motor Training. Send feedback to [email protected].

See all Motor School with Quinn Redeker articles here.

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Rally for Rangers Announces 2024 Rally Dates, Locations

Rally for Rangers, a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to protect the world’s special places by empowering rangers around the world with new motorcycles and equipment,” has announced its 2024 rally dates and locations. Rally for Rangers has provided 160 motorcycles to rangers in 16 parks in Mongolia, Argentina, Nepal, Bhutan, Peru, and Namibia. In September of last year, the organization held its first U.S. rally in the Black Hills of South Dakota (read about it in the sidebar of Brad Gilmore’s article about riding the Black Hills BDR-X).

Rally for Rangers Peru
Rally for Rangers in Peru. (Photo by TopTop Studio)

For more information on Rally for Rangers, visit the Rally For Rangers website or listen to our interview with Rally for Rangers co‑­founder Tom Medema on the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast. For details on the 2024 rallies, read the press release below.

Celebrating 10 years of supporting rangers and protecting parks one motorcycle at a time, 2024 will see a “Greatest Hits” of our decade of adventure. We hope you’ll consider joining us or otherwise supporting these critical efforts to aid park rangers in their important work!

Peru: May 18-30, 2024

Rally for Rangers Peru
Photo by TopTop Studio

Beginning in May, we will return to Peru for a road-based tour of parks from the Pacific to the Amazon.

Rally for Rangers Peru
Photo by TopTop Studio

We will be visiting world renowned parks like Machu Picchu along the way and reaching heights of 16,000 feet as we traverse the stunning Andes range on Peru’s famous winding mountain roadways.

Learn more and sign up.

Mongolia: July 21 to Aug. 3, 2024

Rally for Rangers Mongolia
Photo by Phil Bond

July will see our return to where it all began: Lake Hovsgol National Park. The Mongolia rally is SOLD OUT and will be our first all-alumni event to celebrate this historic milestone. Waitlist signups are still available. Learn more.

Black Hills: Sept. 18-22, 2024

Rally for Rangers Black Hills
Photo by Kirsten Midura

Following our successful first venture in the U.S., next September we will return to the stunning and historic Black Hills. This rally will support not only the Oglala-Sioux Park Rangers but also rangers of the Northern Cheyenne.

Rally for Rangers Black Hills
Photo by Kirsten Midura

The event has a broad mix of riding options, from full pavement tours of parks and monuments to the off-road challenges of the Black Hills BDR-X. You get to choose! More details in early 2024.

Bhutan: Nov. 3-16, 2024

Rally for Rangers Bhutan
Photo by TopTop Studio

The Kingdom of Bhutan welcomes our return in 2024 to support parks and rangers that protect an incredible array of endangered species such as tigers, elephants, and so much more.

Rally for Rangers Bhutan
Photo by TopTop Studio

This primarily road-based trip is suited for intermediate and advanced riders. Learn more and sign up.

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Rider Magazine Top 11 Stories of 2023

2023 Rider Magazine Motorcycle of the Year

That’s right, this one goes to 11.

Here at Rider magazine, we believe that joke should never get old. Something else we hope never gets old is passion for all-things-motorcycles, and in 2023, we were pleased to see our readers continuing to carry that torch.

While Rider publishes a wealth of detailed gear reviews, travel stories that make you want to leave your day job, entertaining and informative features, and the latest in motonews, when it came to 2023, most readers came to our site looking for what Rider does best: motorcycle coverage.

So check out the Rider Magazine Top 11 Stories of 2023 below, and keep the rubber side down.

No. 1 – Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders: Seat Heights Under 30 Inches

2021 Harley Davidson Sportster S Best Small Motorcycles

Whether you’re a shorter rider, a new rider, or an experienced rider who loves zipping around on small bikes, there are plenty of options out there for you. In this list, we’ve collected the best motorcycles for smaller riders with seats under 30 inches and selling for less than $17,000.


No. 2 – 2023 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-4RR | First Look Review

2023 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-4RR KRT Edition
2023 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-4RR KRT Edition

The 2023 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-4RR is a new track-focused sportbike powered by a 399cc inline-Four with ride modes, traction control, and more. MSRP is $9,699.

Related: 2023 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-4RR First Ride Review

No. 3 – 2024 Motorcycle Buyers Guide: New Street Models

2024 Motorcycle Buyers Guide Kawasaki Eliminator SE

Rider‘s 2024 motorcycle buyers guide features new and updated motorcycles, including photos and details, as well as links to videos, first looks, first rides, and road tests.

See all of the Rider magazine buyers guides here.

No. 4 – Honda Announces 2023 Gold Wing Family

2023 Honda Gold Wing

Honda has announced the return of the Gold Wing family of motorcycles for 2023, three of which feature Honda’s exclusive Dual Clutch Transmission, starting at $25,600.

Related: 2024 Honda Gold Wing, Rebel, and NC750X Returning Models 

No. 5 – Suzuki Announces First Motorcycles in 2024 Lineup

2023 Suzuki GSX-R750 Pearl Brilliant White and Metallic Matte Stellar Blue
2023 Suzuki GSX-R750 in Pearl Brilliant White and Metallic Matte Stellar Blue

Suzuki Motor USA has announced its first group of 2024 motorcycles: the GSX-R750 sportbike, the DR650S and DR-Z400S dual-sports, and the DR-Z400SM supermoto.

Read all of the Rider magazine Suzuki coverage here.

No. 6 – 2023 Honda XR150L and CRF300LS | First Look Review

2023 HondaXR150L
2023 Honda XR150L in White

Honda has announced two new beginner-friendly dual-sport motorcycles for model year 2023: the all-new XR150L and the new low-seat CRF300LS. Models returning for 2023 include the CRF300L, CRF300L Rally, and Navi.

Related: 2021 Honda CRF300L and CRF300L Rally | First Ride Review

No. 7 – Honda Announces More 2023 Returning Models

2023 Honda CB1000R non-U.S.
2023 Honda CB1000R in Black

Honda has announced more returning motorcycles for 2023, including the CBR650R and CBR500R sportbikes; the CB1000R, CB650R, and CB500F naked bikes; the CB500X adventure bike; the XR650L dual-sport; and the Fury cruiser.

See all of the Rider magazine Honda coverage here.

No. 8 – 2023 KTM 390 Adventure | First Look Review

2023 KTM 390 Adventure

The 2023 KTM Adventure 390 returns with a 4-stroke DOHC 373cc Single, but the small-displacement adventure bike has been given a new look and increased off-road capability.

See all of the Rider magazine KTM coverage here.

No. 9 – 2024 BMW R 1300 GS Review | First Look

2024 BMW R 1300 GS

The 2024 BMW R 1300 GS has a larger, more powerful 1,300cc engine, a new chassis, 26 lb less weight, fresh styling, and new technology.

Related: 2024 BMW R 1300 GS Review | First Ride

No. 10 – 2024 Honda XL750 Transalp Review | First Look

2024 Honda XL750 Transalp

The Honda XL750 Transalp returns to the U.S. market with a new 755cc parallel-Twin, a 6-speed gearbox, a quickshifter, and five ride modes, all starting at $9,999.

Related: 2024 Honda XL750 Transalp Review | First Ride

No. 11 – 2024 Triumph Speed 400 and Scrambler 400 X | First Look Review

2024 Triumph Speed 400 Triumph Scrambler 400 X

Joining the company’s Modern Classics lineup, the all-new 2024 Triumph Speed 400 and Scrambler 400 X feature a liquid-cooled 398cc single-cylinder engine making a claimed 39.5 hp and 27.7 lb-ft of torque.

See all of the Rider magazine Triumph coverage here.

2023 Rider Magazine 11 Honorable Mentions

Returning 2024 Suzuki Motorcycles Announced

2023 Motorcycle of the Year

2023 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 | First Ride Review

2023 Triumph Rocket 3 R | Road Test Review

Yamaha Announces Updated Ténéré 700, Other Returning 2024 Models

2024 Kawasaki Ninja 40th Anniversary Editions | First Look

2024 Kawasaki Eliminator | First Look Review

2023 Honda Rebel 1100T DCT and Returning Models | First Look Review

2024 Yamaha MT-09 and MT-09 SP Review | First Look

Honda Monkey and Super Cub Return for 2024

2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide and CVO Road Glide | First Look Review

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Riding South Dakota’s Black Hills BDR-X

Black Hills BDR-X
On the Black Hills BDR-X, Daniel was thrilled with the 411cc Royal Enfield Himalayan. “It’s the way to go for me as I continue to master my off-road riding skills!” (See Shad TR40 Terra Adventure saddlebags review here.)

If you’re looking for a golden adventure riding opportunity, the Black Hills BDR-X marks the spot. Backcountry Discovery Routes are adventure/dual‑­sport routes that typically cover entire states and take about a week to complete, with GPS tracks and helpful info provided for free by the nonprofit BDR organization. In addition to its main routes, BDR has mapped out several shorter BDR-­X loop routes that can be completed in a few days.

Black Hills BDR-X

Scan QR code above or click here to view the route on REVER

Located in western South Dakota, the Black Hills area is known for its scenic beauty, curvy roads, and historic sites like Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. When most motorcyclists think of the Black Hills, they think of the Sturgis rally, which brings upwards of 500,000 people to the region every August.

The Black Hills BDR-X is a 355‑­mile mostly off‑­road loop that starts and ends in Keystone, just a few miles east of Mount Rushmore, and is divided into three sections. Backcountry Discovery Routes recommends riding the Black Hills BDR-­X counterclockwise, but since it’s a loop, you can start and finish anywhere along the route and run it in either direction.

Black Hills BDR-X Mount Rushmore
The presidents at Mount Rushmore represent key aspects of U.S. history: Washington symbolizes the country’s birth, Jefferson represents expansion, Lincoln signifies development, and Roosevelt signifies preservation.

What makes the Black Hills BDR-X such a perfect adventure route is its variety. The landscape includes rugged mountains, dense forests, and wide‑­open prairies. The route passes through historic towns like Deadwood, Mystic, and Hill City, as well as public lands such as Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park.

Black Hills BDR-X
We rode into Deadwood covered in Black Hills dust just like they did 150 years ago.

There are great campgrounds or more luxurious lodging available. You’re never far from civilization, so you can get away from it all yet still have access to gas stations, stores, restaurants, and hotels. The BDR-X route includes flowing gravel and dirt roads, challenging two‑­track, and some of the area’s best paved roads, including Spearfish Canyon Road, Needles Highway, and Iron Mountain Road.

Black Hills BDR-X Spearfish Canyon
Spearfish Canyon was the filming location of the final scene in “Dances With Wolves.”

Setting the Hook

Last July, I joined three of my CFMOTO USA colleagues – Reid Strait, Daniel Dégallier, and Bill Baker – at Get On ADV Fest, a four‑­day adventure‑­bike rally in the Black Hills where we introduced the Ibex 800 T adventure bike. There was plenty of off‑­road riding involved, and REVER provided excellent tracks for the event.

Related: 2023 CFMOTO Ibex 800 T | Road Test Review 

Black Hills BDR-X
The Black Hills BDR-X is a best-of-class route. Gorgeous canyon roads. Superb gravel. Epic two-track. Majestic scenery. Native American and U.S. history. Clean, easy camping. Great food. Yup, there’s golden riding in them thar Black Hills.

The riding was so good, we were inspired to return in September and be among the first to ride the new Black Hills BDR-­X. The stars aligned when we learned that Rally for Rangers, a nonprofit organization that raises funds to support park rangers, would be hosting an event in the Black Hills at the same time (see sidebar below). CFMOTO USA provided Ibex 800 Ts for the guides to use during the event, along with a Papio minibike for cruising around the campground.  

Black Hills BDR-X Hitchrail Bar
The Hitch Rail Bar and Restaurant in Pringle is a great lunch stop.

After we delivered the bikes to the event, we spent the next few days riding the Black Hills BDR-­X to do some team bonding. Reid rode an Ibex 800 T, but the rest of us rode our personal bikes: Bill on a KTM 690 Enduro R, Daniel on a Royal Enfield Himalayan, and me on a Kawasaki KLX 300.

Black Hills BDR-X Pactola Reservoir
There’s an old mining town at the bottom of Pactola Reservoir, which was completed in 1956.

Black Hills BDR-X: 4 Riders, 4 Bikes, 4 Days

We may have different tastes in bikes, but we all agree on one thing: The Black Hills BDR-X is fantastic. It’s 355 miles of adventure motorcycling bliss. In terms of difficulty, I’d rate it 4 or 5 on a scale of 1‑­10. (I’ve also ridden the Mid Atlantic BDR, which I’d rate an easy 2 or 3.) Every day of the BDR-­X was filled with moments of euphoria, which crystallized into memories that we’ll share around the campfire for years to come.

Related: Backcountry Discovery Routes Announces Economic Impact of BDR Routes

Black Hills BDR-X Kawasaki KLX
Brad’s Kawasaki KLX after the BDR-X.

During one part of the ride, the sun overhead was radiant, casting a warm, autumn glow. The steady, gentle crunch of gravel under my tires never got old, nor did the scenery. Towering cliffs with rough textures contrasted with the vivid foliage below. The curves and bends unfurled before me, each one as breathtaking as the last. It was a sensory feast, as if Mother Nature took out her paintbrush, mixed up an impossibly diverse palette of rich colors, and painted a masterpiece. At higher elevations, the hills were ablaze in scarlet, amber, and gold, while it was a verdant wonderland down below. I was tempted to ride faster, but I slowed down, smelled the pines, and savored the experience.

Black Hills BDR-X
Campfire quote of the night: “Motorcycles are like beer. The best one is the one in your hand.”

Black Hills Gold

If you love off‑­road adventure riding, you’ll love the Black Hills BDR-X, which was like discovering a vein of gold. There’s gravel, rocky two‑­track, mud, and epic pavement. There’s majestic scenery, wildlife, and history. You can’t see and do it all in one trip, so like the four of us, you’ll want to come back. It’s fun but by no means a stroll in the park, and it’s the difficult stuff that sticks with you for a lifetime.

Black Hills BDR-X
Get the best zip ties money can buy; you’ll be glad you spent the extra quarter.

On Day 3, it was raining, and we opted to do the optional hard section over Bear Mountain. The route was rutted, rocky, steep two‑­track. The slick mud packed up on our tires, turning them into Teflon‑­coated slicks. Bill christened this spur route “Axle Grease Alley.” On the final bit, I chose my line and went for it, twisting the throttle to the stop, desperate for the tires to hook up, every muscle in my body fighting to keep me and the Kawasaki upright. After I made it to the top, Reid gave me a thumbs‑­up and said, “Brad, you looked like a flailing Kool‑­Aid man. Next time keep your feet on the pegs!”

Black Hills BDR-X
Climbing Bear Mountain in the rain took its toll on the KTM’s 17,000-mile clutch, which gave up the ghost short of the top. Bill had just enough bite left to make it to camp.

Happily, we all made it through the toughest sections in one piece. Despite the struggle and the chaos, even with our bikes and bodies caked in mud, we were grinning from ear to ear. Daniel’s quick thinking led us to a car wash in Custer, where we pressure‑­washed our bikes and could again recognize which was which. Cost? A few quarters. Memories? Priceless.

Black Hills BDR-X Bear Mountain lookout tower
BDR-X Section 3: If the trails are muddy, there are two ways to reach the Bear Mountain lookout tower: the “Hard Way” and the “Not Today” way. If it’s dry as July and the dust is flying, no problem.

Rally for Rangers Sidebar

The mission of Rally for Rangers is “to protect the world’s special places by empowering rangers around the world with new motorcycles and equipment.” It has provided more than 160 motorcycles and equipment for rangers in parks in distant places like Mongolia, Argentina, Nepal, Bhutan, Peru, and Namibia.

The first Rally for Rangers USA event took place last September in South Dakota’s Black Hills National Forest and Pine Ridge Reservation. Fifteen adventure riders raised nearly $40,000 before convening in Custer State Park for a weekend of camping, riding, visiting tribal park rangers, and donating equipment and funds to protect parks and forests.

Traditional Rally for Rangers events are two‑­week international journeys, but the USA rallies are held over a long weekend. The Black Hills event donated night vision optics for tribal rangers of the Oglala Sioux Parks to conduct nighttime anti‑­poaching patrols. A donation was also made to the Forest Service motorized trails program to support motorcycle‑­only trails in the Black Hills National Forest.

Black Hills BDR-X Rally for Rangers
On our third day, we met up with Rally for Rangers. It was a night to remember that included amazing food, a meet-and-greet with the Oglala Sioux rangers, and ideal camping conditions in Custer State Park.

Riders in this inaugural event hailed from all over the U.S., with some trailering their bikes and others renting from Rogue Moto or using demo bikes provided by CFMOTO. The weekend included off‑­road training by Heavy Enduro as well as on- and off‑­road riding on Needles Highway, portions of the Black Hills BDR‑­X, and otherwise inaccessible trails on the Pine Ridge Reservation hosted by the Oglala Sioux rangers.

The Black Hills Rally for Rangers event takes place again in September 2024 to support Oglala Sioux and Northern Cheyenne tribal rangers. For more information, visit the Rally For Rangers website or listen to our interview with Rally for Rangers co‑­founder Tom Medema on the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast.

Black Hills BDR-X

Black Hills BDR-X Resources:

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Motor School with Quinn Redeker: Ride Less and Ride Better

Motor School Quinn Redeker motorcycle balance
When Quinn Redeker tells you to “sit ’n spin,” it’s not an insult but rather a Motor School lesson. (Photos by Kevin Wing)

When I was 9, I spent every single day riding my dirtbike in the hills north of Los Angeles with all my delinquent buddies. Rain or shine, light or dark, we burned so much premix I’m pretty sure they will find traces of Golden Spectro two-cycle oil in my tissue if they ever do an autopsy on me.

But these days, I just don’t get seat time like I used to. Yes, I was a motor cop and rode with my buddies every day, but that was different because it was merely the platform for a host of other responsibilities: traffic enforcement, collision investigation, emergency patrol support, and so on. It lacked that element of exploration, freedom, and discovery you get when there are no strings attached.

And the worst thing? When I finally do get time to hit the track, tackle some challenging single-track, or sign up for a local club race, I have these painful moments of reckoning that my skills are nowhere near their peak. So there I am trying to enjoy an experience muddled by a crappier version of myself. I try to maintain a glass-half-full mentality, but I swear every time I take my eyes off that damn glass, it loses a little more water.

But I’ve been doing some proactive things around the house to slow the leak, and trust me, they’re helping. What types of things? I’ll give you a hint, they all revolve around one primary goal: improving my balance. I agree it’s a bit obvious and I probably won’t be doing a TED Talk on the subject, but without spinning a single lap, balance drills vastly improve my core strength, reaction time, breathing, on-bike focus, and indeed, my generally souring self-image. They can do the same for you.

Motor School Quinn Redeker motorcycle balance
It’s easier than it looks. Unicycles offer massive gains in balance despite occasional pointing and laughing from passersby.

What tools do I use for the job? I just finished my morning self-affirmation ritual, so now I can set my mirror down and go over them with you. They’re listed below, from easier and more accessible exercises to those that are more challenging and require some investment. A word of caution: While these exercises will surely improve measurable performance metrics and enhance your overall riding abilities despite less actual time in the saddle, they can also get you hurt. If, like me, you’re of a certain age, bones are easier to break, and muscles can get pulled just doing the dishes. If you question your ability to perform one of the activities listed below, err on the side of caution and skip it.

Spin Training: Crazy as it seems, all those wasted hours you spend spinning around in your office chair might just pay dividends. Here’s why: Spinning around in a circle increases your inner-ear activity, which, in turn, improves the information your inner ear feeds to your cerebellum. And it’s the cerebellum that controls movement, so better information (in the form of a more active inner ear) will improve your overall motor skills. To reap the benefits, you will need a swivel chair. The goal is to slowly increase your spin speed and number of spins over time. Start slowly and keep your eyes open. As you gain comfort, try it with your eyes closed for greater challenge and benefit. The good news here is that even if your riding skills don’t improve, at least you can feel like you’re doing something productive at work.

Motor School Quinn Redeker motorcycle balance
Who knew spinning around in circles could make you a better rider?

Balance Board: Using a balance board in the comfort of my living room and office has noticeably improved my balance, coordination, motor skills, and leg strength. And guess what? It all translates when I swing a leg over my bike. Instead of hunting for a used board on Craigslist, I recommend going with a new unit from a trusted manufacturer due to some boards being of questionable structural integrity. Mine is a Vew-Do El Dorado ($169.95 at VewDo.com), which is strong as hell and American-made.

Motor School Quinn Redeker motorcycle balance
Park your bike and grab your board. Balance boards improve your on-bike balance and control after just a few sessions.

There are plenty of YouTube videos to help get you started, but make sure you practice by holding on to a solid surface as you gain confidence and ability.

Slackline: More than any other tool, the slackline has been the best at improving my body control and breathing while I ride. If this is the only tool you employ, I feel confident in saying you will go from a midpack guy in your riding group to crushing all your buddies, including “Big Ronny,” the resident fast guy who still brags about his 10% racer discount back when he won a local Novice race. A slackline is a taut line tethered between two points, running a few feet off the ground and spanning 15-28 feet in length, or the approximate length of the sun-bleached jet boat in your neighbor’s yard.

Motor School Quinn Redeker motorcycle balance
Improved core strength and better body control are tangible benefits of regular slackline practice.

It’s fairly intuitive, but again, there are plenty of YouTube videos out there should you need coaching. As for recommended brand and setup, Amazon is your friend – you’ll find a variety of indoor and outdoor versions. Mine is just a long ratchet strap I got from a local hardware store and tied between two trees in the yard.

Unicycle: I get it. They look impossible to learn, and more importantly, you can’t imagine ever becoming one of “those people.” Get over it and pick one up on Craigslist for cheap. A 20- to 24-inch wheel will do fine, and you can watch some YouTube videos to learn. Within a few weeks, you will have balance like you’ve never had in your life, and trust me, it translates. Too old you say? I have buddies in their 70s that I bullied into riding unicycles, so borrow my mirror, hold it in front of your face, and repeat after me: “Yes, I can.”

Motor School Quinn Redeker motorcycle balance
It’s easier than it looks. Unicycles offer massive gains in balance despite occasional pointing and laughing from passersby.

I don’t want you to start feeling overwhelmed with any of this information, like I just dropped loads more work for you to do. We are having this discussion because both of us have less time to ride, so think of these tools as supplements. Any amount of effort on your end will pay dividends on the bike, so remain calm and bite off a little bit as you go. If it helps, I’ll even let you keep my mirror. 

Find Quinn at Police Motor Training. Send feedback to [email protected].

See all of Quinn Redeker’s “Motor School” articles here.

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Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona from Texas to California

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R
A roadside break on Interstate 10 in New Mexico between Deming and Lordsburg. We brought only the essentials on the Triumph Daytona T100R: a change of clothes, a few tools, and photography equipment.

In May 1974, my wife and I, then students at Baylor University in Texas, took advantage of the break between semesters to ride two-up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R from Waco, Texas, to the California coast – our first long-distance adventure together.

At the time, we had been married for three years. I was a doctoral student in clinical psychology and worked part-time at a Gulf filling station, largely because the McDonalds next door gave free Big Macs to the Gulf employees. My wife was an undergraduate majoring in liberal arts and journalism as well as a photographer. For our trip, she packed rolls of black-and-white film and strapped a tripod on the back of the bike. We had no saddlebags or storage compartments. For a trip of 4,200-plus miles over 18 days, we traveled light: helmets, jackets, a change of clothes, a few tools and chain oil, and photo gear.

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R
Another break on Interstate 20 west of Abilene, Texas. The Triumph ran trouble-free, but its vibration on the highway was intense.

I had handpainted my Bell 500TX helmet with red, white, and blue stripes and affixed a small peace-sign-with-stars decal on each side. Hidden inside the helmet were the words “free, to be, to become” – my mantra then and now.

With no cellphones or GPS, our “navigation” was a Kawasaki Good Times Vacation Guide and Road Atlas strapped on top of my clothes bag, which was bungee-corded to the gas tank.

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R Utah
Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R Nevada

The Triumph Daytona was produced from 1967-1974 and had an air-cooled 490cc parallel-Twin with a 4-speed gearbox, chain final drive, drum brakes, and a kickstarter that could definitely kick back. It had a right-hand throttle, left-hand front brake, right-foot gear shifter, and a left-foot rear brake.

The single weak headlight, taillight, and Smith gauges were illuminated by the electronics of Joseph Lucas – aka the “Prince of Darkness.” Night riding with Joseph with no lights was a frequent thrill!

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R

My Triumph Daytona was a piece of British driftwood in a Japanese sea of Hondas, Yamahas, Kawasakis, and Suzukis. The ride was like a runaway jackhammer on the interstate, but over the course of the trip, the Triumph performed flawlessly, dripping just a drop or two of oil on the ground and only needing its chain lubed.

For the first 300 miles of the trip, hot headwinds of 20-30 mph buffeted us. Looking in the mirrors, I couldn’t see the whites of my eyes – only red.

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R New Mexico
New Mexico may be the Land of Enchantment, but since we were just passing through on our way to California, it was the Land of the Interstate. At every stop, we checked to make sure the bungee cords had not vibrated loose.

The Triumph had no odometer or gas gauge for its 2.5-gallon tank. At one point, the engine sputtered, and I knew we were running out of gas. I reached down under the tank and switched on the reserve petcock, and the engine fired back up. We were good for maybe 6 miles, but the closest town was 15 miles away.

When the bike sputtered again and gradually coasted to a stop by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, I thought we were cooked. But in a stroke of deus ex machina, a Texas Highway Department truck appeared as if in a mirage, stopped, and had a full gas can. We couldn’t believe our good fortune and were so grateful!

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R

We would end up topping off the gas tank several times in Texas at an average of 57 cents per gallon. Motel rooms ranged from $8 to $9 per night. 

In New Mexico, we saw the Rio Grande with Mexico on the other side. Globe, Arizona, was all about copper, silver, and gold mining – ruggedly beautiful mountain country. 

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R California
We enjoyed the vibe of California.

In California, we rode from Laguna Beach up the coast. One of the best roads was State Route 1 from Cambria up through Big Sur to San Francisco. My focus alternated from the blue ocean to the curvy switchback-filled two-laner cut into the side of the mountains high above the sea.

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R Esalen Institute
Located in Big Sur, the Esalen Institute was ground zero for the Human Potential Movement in the 1960s and ’70s.

The Golden Gate Bridge was a high point of our journey. In the bright sun, the painted steel looked golden orange above the dark blue water. As we approached the entrance – surprise! – a BSA pulled up right beside us. Two English bikes riding side by side on the Golden Gate Bridge. What a rush. I still get a big smile thinking about it. We rode back and forth a couple of times across the bridge – we just couldn’t get enough – and with no fairing, totally exposed, it felt like we were flying, suspended in air, over the ocean.

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R Golden Gate Bridge
We were enthralled by the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, which shone golden orange in the bright sun.

Then we rode inland and up into the Sierra Nevada to Lake Tahoe, where we touched snow in 70-degree weather at 7,000 feet. It was hard to make a snowball, but we climbed partway up a mountain and slid down a snowbank.

From Tahoe, we rode through Nevada on U.S. Route 50, known as “The Loneliest Road in America.” There were no houses, stores, gas stations, signs, animals, birds, or crickets, only the vast expansiveness of wide-open valleys. I felt direct, pure, unadulterated contact with Mother Earth. My yell was rapidly engulfed by the vastness with not a trace of an echo returning to me.

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R Loneliest Road in America Nevada
The open road. We enjoyed the emptiness of U.S. Route 50 through Nevada, known as “The Loneliest Road in America.”

We continued southeast into Utah and Arizona, through the Hopi Indian Reservation, and later stayed at the lodge on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, a source of great energy. Looking down through the layers of the Earth, I could feel its raw, latent power. So this is what you’ve been hiding from me as I walk on top of you! I thought. Even stripped naked, with all its layers worn and peeled away, the Earth demanded respect, if not awe.

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R Grand Canyon
We dealt with the discomfort and savored the wonder of seeing America’s wide-open spaces and beautiful places.

The Smith odometer on the Triumph Daytona showed 11,225 miles at the start of the trip and 15,429 miles at the end, for a total of 4,204 miles. I recorded each day’s mileage in a small notebook. The shortest riding day was 217 miles, the longest was 453, and four of the five trip days averaged 350-plus miles.

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R Arizona
Even 50 years later, our two-up ride has left an indelible imprint upon our lives. We were two students with our whole lives ahead of us. We were a young, idealistic couple looking for adventure. It strengthened our bond, which has endured for half a century.

Fifty years later – despite my wife and I living on food stamps during the years we were both in school, running out of gas numerous times, riding in bone-freezing cold, and riding in the night with no lights – the photographer and the author who took that trip in 1974 are still two-up, now alternating positions, on this magical mystery tour and adventure called life.

See all of Rider‘s touring stories here.

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Confessions of a BMW Addict

Moshe K Levy BMW Motorrad R 1150 RT
The author with his 2004 BMW R 1150 RT in Yellowstone National Park during his first cross-country trip in 2007.

As a young motorcyclist, I discovered BMW by accident. In the summer of 2003, I was cruising along the Blue Ridge Parkway on my 1998 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom, a violent jackhammer of a bike that was crude, loud, and spectacularly uncomfortable. The sun was about to set as I pulled into a motorcycle-friendly campground. After parking my bike, I saw a large crowd gathered around a blazing fire, listening intently to a presentation. I approached curiously and was soon in rapt attention myself.

The speakers were Chris and Erin Ratay, who were wrapping up a four-year, 101,322-mile circumnavigation of the planet aboard a pair of BMW F 650s, a trip that earned a Guinness World Record for the longest distance traveled by a couple on two motorcycles. I had stumbled upon the last stop on the Ratays’ “ultimate journey” before they returned home to New York.

Of course, the globetrotting couple shared interesting tales of adventure travel, but the theme they kept coming back to was the indestructability of their BMWs. Their bikes were on display, and everyone at camp scrutinized them carefully. After four years traversing 50 countries on six continents, both F 650s looked as though they had been dropped from an aircraft at 30,000 feet, crash-landed on jagged rockface, set on fire with napalm, and then run over by a battalion of Abrams tanks. Yet both started instantly and ran with the precision of a fine Swiss watch.

Juxtaposed against my primitive Sportster, the contrast in terms of modern engineering and stout reliability couldn’t be clearer. I began studying BMWs and fell in love with the R 75/5 that Clement Salvadori wrote about in the pages of Rider (Retrospective, April 1991; I also recently wrote my own Retrospective: BMW /5 Series – 1970-1973). I soon had a 1973 long-wheelbase Monza Blue R 75/5 Toaster in my garage, and it was a revelation. Despite its age, it was so quiet, so smooth, and so stable at speed. That motorcycle, with its quirky air-cooled flat-Twin “boxer” motor and bizarre but practical styling, was my gateway drug into the wonderful world of BMW motorcycles. And what a journey it’s been!

Over the past 20 years, I’ve owned or co-owned 11 BMWs ranging in age from a 1971 R 60/5 to a 2020 R 1250 GS. I’ve put well over 200,000 combined miles on them, traveling all over the U.S. and Canada. All of them have been supremely functional, which isn’t surprising given the company’s storied history of engineering innovations. BMW has given us hydraulically damped forks as well as the first production versions of a nose fairing, a full fairing, a single-sided swingarm, anti-lock brakes, and of course, BMW’s proprietary Paralever and Telelever suspension systems, among many other innovations.

1971 BMW R 60/5 slash five
The author’s wife on her first bike, a 1971 R 60/5 with standard 6.3-gal. tank. Now with almost 100,000 miles, it’s still going strong.

BMWs are generally overengineered, sometimes to a fault, but the company’s rabid fan base of high-mileage riders has come to respect the brand as representative of some of the finest motorcycles available at any price.

However, what I appreciate more than the motorcycles themselves is the BMW community of riders. They’re a wildly diverse group of mostly professionals, skewing heavily toward the intellectual and analytical gearheads that I feel most at home with. Every BMW group I’ve spent time with emphasizes riding competence and safety. BMW is a marque that appeals to serious riders, as reflected by the odometers one sees at any of the brand’s big rallies: 100,000-plus miles on bikes that are only a few years old is a common sight.

One hundred years of continuous production is a stellar accomplishment for any company, especially for a brand that has been considered a niche manufacturer for much of its history. But in recent years, BMW Motorrad has branched out beyond its traditional touring and adventure bikes to produce models such as high-performance sportbikes and electric scooters, which would have been unthinkable when I started riding BMWs 20 years ago. It’s going to be fascinating to see where the next 100 years take us!

See all of Rider‘s BMW coverage here.

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Touring on a Sportbike

Touring on a Sportbike Luggage Solutions Carly Becker
The author and her Kawasaki Ninja 400 with Kriega bags on a motorcycle tour.

When you travel by motorcycle, people like to tell you about how they could never tour or camp on a bike. From non-motorcyclists, I typically hear that their fears or lack of confidence would prevent them from ever touring. 

Touring on a Sportbike Luggage Solutions Carly Becker
The Ninja can hold more luggage than many riders expect, proving you don’t need a touring bike to tour.

For motorcyclists, those worries don’t come up as often – motorcycle riding tends to require (and breed) a sense of fearlessness and confidence in and of itself. What I hear from fellow motorcyclists is that their equipment holds them back from touring or moto camping. In other words, because they don’t have the “right” bike!  

Touring on a Sportbike Luggage Solutions Carly Becker
A shorter trip requires less gear, and it helps if you stay in a hotel instead of camping.

Unlike their adventure brethren with high-towering suspensions and readily available luggage racks or touring motorcycles with plenty of space and smooth highway capability, sportbikes and other types of motorcycles are unfit for motorcycle travel – or so it may seem.  

Touring on a Sportbike Luggage Solutions Carly Becker
With the right luggage, even a Kawasaki Ninja 400 can serve as a grocery getter.

As someone who got her touring start on a Kawasaki Ninja 400, I can attest that it is not only possible to travel longer distances on a small-displacement sportbike but even enjoyable. The biggest issue is luggage space, and there are solutions.  

Touring on a Sportbike Luggage Solutions Carly Becker
Tankbags and even fanny packs can provide additional storage on a space-limited sportbike.

Why Is Space an Issue? 

Sportbikes are inherently shorter and squatter than adventure bikes, dual-sports, or enduros, with a shorter wheelbase and lower center of gravity. This means less physical space for luggage to sit. Add to that the lack of stock panniers, saddlebags, or even luggage racks – not to mention luggage manufacturers’ propensity to leave sportbikes off the list of aftermarket racks – and you’re left scratching your head as to where to put your gear.  

Touring on a Sportbike Luggage Solutions Carly Becker
Ripping the Ninja – complete with saddlebags – on the Tail of the Dragon. (Photo courtesy Killboy)

The solution is twofold. Find the best luggage you can attach to your bike with ingenuity, while making your gear as small as possible.  

Touring on a Sportbike Luggage Solutions Carly Becker
Don’t let the excuse of not having a touring or ADV bike keep you from exploring.

Best Luggage Possible 

For my first motorcycle tour, I stayed at a friend’s house near the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. I had equal parts enthusiasm and cluelessness, but I knew I needed a way to transport my belongings.  

Touring on a Sportbike Luggage Solutions Carly Becker
The author’s Kawasaki Ninja 400 loaded with 30L and 10L Kriega drybags.

After asking around, I found a friend willing to loan me their 30L Kriega Drypack. My husband had a 10L of the same brand, and I was able to easily attach the larger pack to the included straps under my seat and the smaller one to the other pack.  

See all of Rider‘s luggage reviews here.

I learned my first motorcycle packing lesson that trip – it’s always harder to repack on the way home, especially if you bought a few too many souvenirs. On that Tennessee trip, my bags were bursting at the seams to begin with, so I don’t know what I was thinking when I purchased additional items. I ended up asking my friend to mail those items to my house!   

Touring on a Sportbike Luggage Solutions Carly Becker
This collection of Kriega bags and a tank bag has served the author well on moto touring trips.

Having loved my experience with my friend’s Kriega, I purchased two of my own Drypacks – a 40L and a 30L. I stacked them up the same way I had the 30L and 10L but not with the same result. My center of gravity was off, and the ride, especially at low speeds, was uncomfortable.  

Touring on a Sportbike Luggage Solutions Carly Becker
Who needs a hotel when you can find a cozy campground?

This high center of gravity was alleviated with the addition of some Sedici universal saddlebags. My first attempt at using them was less than ideal, as they sagged and touched my Ninja 400’s exhaust, burning a hole and melting my toiletries. Some adjustments helped stop the sagging, and they tended to be easier to ride with than the leaning tower of Kriega I had before.  

Touring on a Sportbike Luggage Solutions Carly Becker
Another benefit of having a set-up with multiple bags is that you can take some off for shorter day trips.

Smallest Gear Possible 

If you think you’re going to fit a full kit of car camping gear on your motorcycle, you might be disappointed with the result. It’s important to purchase gear fit for the occasion. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many motorcycle-specific camping gear options for sale, especially in brick-and-mortar shops. What to do? 

Touring on a Sportbike Luggage Solutions Carly Becker
Another camping trip on the Ninja, this one to Cumberland Falls in Kentucky.

Luckily for us, a different group of adventurers also require packing compactly – backpackers. Given that their body is the vehicle for their kit, backpackers have an eye for getting the lightest, smallest, most packable gear possible. What fits on a person’s back may very well fit on your motorcycle just as well. Shop at outdoor and camping stores like REI and Sportsman’s Warehouse for backpacking essentials.  

See more by the author here.

Saving space wherever possible is the name of the game, which is made easier with the ability to compress. Clothing or other soft items can be shrunk down to a fraction of their size using packing cubes. These zippered contraptions allow you to squeeze out all the air, saving you precious space. Compression sacks are another useful tool for squishy items like sleeping bags.  

Some riders use cargo nets to secure their gear, but I won’t use one again. On my first moto camping trip, I used a cargo net to hold my sleeping bag (compressed in a stuff sack) onto one of my Kriega Drypacks. On the curvy backroads in Kentucky, it shifted back and forth with every turn.  

Touring on a Sportbike Luggage Solutions Carly Becker
Many riders use cargo nets, but Carly found using a net less than ideal for storage.

A fellow motorcyclist whom I met on the road suggested Rok Straps, and I had ordered four on my phone before our conversation ended. These ingenious straps, which combine a wide bungee strap with a non-stretchable adjustable nylon strap with a quick-release buckle and webbed loops on each end, allow you to tie anything down securely. They can be used to tighten down soft luggage or to secure items to racks or pillion seats. I rarely ride without them, even when I’m not on a trip. You never know when you might need to buy something that doesn’t fit in your tank bag.  

Related: Precious Cargo: The Art of Carrying Stuff on a Motorcycle 

ROK Straps
This is a ROK Strap, a useful tool that Carly brings with her whenever she rides.

Touring or moto camping can be an exciting and even life-changing experience, regardless of what type of motorcycle you own. No one should let the myth that only certain types of motorcycles are capable of touring stop them from experiencing the thrill of a moto trip. I’m the case in point that it’s possible.  

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