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Motor School with Quinn Redeker: Balance Ball 2.0

Motor School with Quinn Redeker Balance Ball 2.0
Let’s find your center in this Motor School installment. There is nothing more sublime than the moment you discover perfect balance on your motorcycle. (Photos by Kevin Wing)

In an earlier column, I mentioned that my background was primarily in off-road riding and racing before I got into the police motorcycle thing. So it was inevitable that some of my lifelong dirty habits would bleed over into my techniques for riding heavy streetbikes. Hey, I was an old dog when I became a motor cop, and I had lots of old tricks. Of all the off-road skills that transferred into my urban traffic enforcement program, today’s class covers one of the best.

Let’s kick it off with some game show trivia. I’ll go with “Motorcycles” for $200, please. How do you hold on to a motorcycle when you ride? “With my hands on the handlebar.” Sorry, that’s incorrect. The answer our judges were looking for? We control the bike (push, pull, twist, and squeeze the controls) with our hands; we hold on to the motorcycle with our legs. Thanks for playing, pick up your free copy of Green Smoothies for Life on your way out the door.

Okay, that was the bell, please have a seat so we can begin. For today’s lesson, it’s important to understand that there is an optimal position within the rider cockpit that keeps the rider’s mass always balanced, minimizing the negative effects it has on the motorcycle when we experience weight transfer while riding on the street. 

Let me explain: When we ride around on our motorcycles, we encounter forces of acceleration and deceleration. Do you ever find yourself holding on to the bars like a water skier under hard acceleration or performing an involuntary push-up against the bars under heavy braking? That’s weight transfer, and the less we can include our own mass in the exchange, the less it unsettles our suspension or impacts our traction, braking, steering geometry, and more. In short, the less we throw our weight around, the better. And maintaining a consistent center of balance within the cockpit is key.

Now, to put this lesson into practice, let’s go to the land of make believe (or the garage) and do a visualization exercise while perched atop our motorcycles. With your bike standing straight up (either on the centerstand or balanced with both feet on the ground), pretend the motorcycle is one of those big exercise balls you see people balancing on at the gym.

Motor School with Quinn Redeker Balance Ball 2.0
Counteracting weight transfer under acceleration with only one hand on the bar.

Now play along, and in your mind, with your eyes closed and your hands off the handlebar, shift your body to the precise location on the ball (your seat) that puts you in the center of it. Pay attention to how far forward or back you are and imagine the ball moving around in all directions. Are you still balanced? If the answer is yes, this final position is ground zero. Bullseye. Home plate. From this point forward, this will be the spot you operate from when you encounter forces of acceleration and deceleration (weight transfer) that push and pull you as you go and stop. Oh yeah, you can open your eyes now.

Let’s go ahead and gear up. I’m going to put you through an exercise that will force proper body position during weight transfer and help you develop a better sensitivity for when you get it wrong. This will allow you to self-diagnose and make the necessary corrections, because I can’t always be there to wave my pom-poms and get your special lemon drink.

The Tank Drill: This is a 1st-gear, straight-line, less-than-20-mph exercise. Pick a safe, uncongested strip of roadway or parking lot that will allow you to ride 300 feet or more in a straight line without dealing with pedestrians, cross traffic, or road hazards. Start by pulling away from a complete stop and accelerating to 15-20 mph. Then use your brakes to smoothly and comfortably slow down to approximately 5-10 mph, but don’t make a full stop. Fantastic. Now, while still in motion, accelerate back up to 15-20 mph again. At some point in the process, you will need to turn around, so go ahead and do that in whatever safe manner you choose. That’s all there is to it. Great work, you’re a ringer. Oh, I forgot to mention…

We are going to do this drill with your right hand on the bar and your left (clutch) hand resting on the tank. That’s correct: Only your throttle hand is allowed to grip the bar except during take-off and turnaround. Other than those two exceptions, your clutch hand must rest on the gas tank where I can see it. No cheating.

Motor School with Quinn Redeker Balance Ball 2.0
Shifting your weight back counteracts braking forces, and the Tank Drill helps you learn to get it just right.

You will immediately notice that to avoid pulling on the bar during acceleration (and generating an uncomfortable turning movement), you will be forced to move your upper body forward. Same goes for the braking portion, but you will need to shift your upper body weight back to remain balanced and generate no additional force on the handlebar.

Take it slow, breathe, and concentrate on getting to a balanced centered position like you’re floating on top of the bike throughout the exercise. That’s how you’ll know you got it right. Rinse and repeat, look to the sky, and proclaim “Hallelujah!”

Work this drill until you can comfortably maintain a place of perfect balance when encountering forces that occur while accelerating or braking without feeling the need to grab the handlebar with your left hand to offset any weight transfer. Keep in mind, the harder you accelerate and brake, the greater the weight transfer, which means your range of motion will need to increase within the cockpit to keep the magic carpet ride going.

In time, the pushing and pulling pressure you exert through your hands will decrease as you gain sensitivity to weight transfer. And don’t be surprised when you have more comfort and dexterity at the controls too. Most important, now that you’ve quit upsetting the physics equation with your body weight, your bike will perform better and safer beneath you. That’s huge.

If you want to watch a live-action version of this lesson, go to Police Motor Training with Quinn Redeker on YouTube and find “Perfect Balance On A Motorcycle – Balance Ball 2.0.” The Tank Drill is one of a few exercises I cover in the video, so feel free to fast forward – you won’t hurt my feelings.

Quinn wears Lee Parks Design gloves exclusively. Find Quinn at Police Motor Training.

See all Motor School with Quinn Redeker articles here.

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Source: RiderMagazine.com

Joshua Tree National Park Motorcycle Ride | Favorite Ride

Favorite Ride Joshua Tree National Park Motorcycle Ride
While the majority of visitors to Joshua Tree National Park stick to the pavement, there are several dirt roads that finger into the beautiful desert landscape, perfect for this Joshua Tree National Park motorcycle ride. (Photos by the author and Cheryl Kessel)

“It’s the Joshua tree’s struggle that gives it its beauty,” writes Jeannette Walls in her 2005 memoir The Glass Castle. She further contends that such struggle leads to growth and resilience. We motorcyclists know all about struggle, especially in the depths of winter. We struggle to find ways to assuage our overwhelming desire to ride as snow blankets roads and freezing winds cut like knives. For us, the Joshua tree can also represent escape and relief. 

My wife and I sat in the morning sun in the courtyard of the beautiful Dive Palm Springs, a downtown boutique hotel in the vibrant California desert city (see sidebar below). As we ate croissants and fresh fruit, we discussed our January therapy session: riding our BMW G 650 XCountry through Joshua Tree National Park.

Favorite Ride Joshua Tree National Park Motorcycle Ride

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

The ride out of Palm Springs was easy. The city has embraced and preserved its mid-century heritage and charm. Buildings, landscaping, and signage harken back to the city’s heyday as a mecca for L.A.’s rich and famous. We rode alongside expansive golf courses and tennis courts. Once out of the city, we continued east on Interstate 10 through the muted hues of the Mojave Desert. 

Favorite Ride Joshua Tree National Park Motorcycle Ride

Joshua Tree National Park has three entrances, and our route took us to the southernmost entrance near I-10. There was no wait at this lesser-used access, and our National Parks Annual Pass granted us entry.

Our ride north into the park started as a nicely paved roll through the sparse desert landscape on Pinto Basin Road. Mountains rose on the horizon, but no Joshua trees. A full palate of cacti, including chollas and ocotillos, defined our early impressions of the national park. Long sweeping corners and smooth straight stretches marked the climb in elevation. The road became more curvaceous, and the park’s namesake trees started to appear sporadically, foreshadowing what was to come. 

Favorite Ride Joshua Tree National Park Motorcycle Ride
The author’s wife, Cheryl, stands in front of the park’s entry signage.

See all of Rider‘s West U.S. motorcycle rides here.

Pinto Basin Road terminates at Park Boulevard. A right turn would lead us north to Twentynine Palms, the city immortalized in a great Robert Plant song of the same name. Instead, we turned left into the heart of the park and the center of the Joshua tree universe. 

Favorite Ride Joshua Tree National Park Motorcycle Ride
The roads through Joshua Tree offer up starkly beautiful visual backdrops. The rock vistas, desert sand, and unique trees combine for a remarkable riding experience.

Almost immediately, the stands of Joshua trees became denser, the trees larger. Joshua trees are fantastical, whimsical, and majestic all at once. It is as if each one has a personality of its own. Some are simple and understated, but many are over-the-top in their stylized poses. Arms emanate in every direction and at rakish angles that seem almost comical, like attention-seeking adolescents with limbs akimbo and wild haircuts. 

Our first pedestrian foray was at the fantastic erosion-sculpted Skull Rock. My diminutive riding companion could easily fit within one of the cranial cavities in the impressive monolith, one of many sculpture-esque outcroppings of granite in this portion of the park. 

Favorite Ride Joshua Tree National Park Motorcycle Ride
Cheryl stands in front of one of the park’s most recognizable features, Skull Rock. The rock morphs in appearance with the changing shadows throughout the day.

After a few more miles on our northwestern route through the park, we sampled one of the established dirt roads that wind through Joshua trees. Vehicles must stay on approved roads, and there are several dirt roads that offer off-pavement possibilities for dirt-worthy mounts. Our midsized BMW proved perfect for a little sandy exploration. 

See all of Rider‘s California tour stories here.

Back on tarmac, we motored past climbers scaling the vertical walls of beautiful rock formations. We also cut through the part of the park that features the most spectacular Joshua trees, which cast long shadows in the late afternoon light, adding an otherworldly quality to the ride. 

Favorite Ride Joshua Tree National Park Motorcycle Ride

After leaving the park, we rolled back to Palm Springs on Twentynine Palms Highway (State Route 62). We motored west and then south past Desert Hot Springs and beside a different forest – one of towering wind turbines. Back in Palm Springs, we showered off the day’s ride and headed downtown to enjoy the Palm Springs Village Fest, an event hosted every Thursday that features art, food, music, and lots of smiling attendees. 

With our therapy session complete, we felt much better. This ride would be oppressively hot during the summer, but it’s the perfect escape in fall, winter, and spring months. 

See all of Rider‘s touring stories here.

SIDEBAR: Dive Palm Springs

Favorite Ride Joshua Tree National Park Motorcycle Ride
The pool at Dive Palm Springs.

Dive Palm Springs is a quaint and beautiful 11-room boutique hotel on the fringe of downtown Palm Springs. The petite, Euro-inspired property is meticulously maintained, with a restored historic pool as its centerpiece. A welcoming glass of rosé greets new guests, and an individually prepared organic breakfast is delivered to your room or beside the pool each morning. This hidden gem is the perfect place to recline in luxury after a long ride.

Joshua Tree National Park Motorcycle Ride Resources

Tim Kessel Contributor

With 50 years of motorcycling and 30 years of teaching English under his belt, Tim Kessel has melded those two passions into a gig as a motojournalist. Maybe that’s why there is always a permanent, satisfied smile under his full-face helmet.

The post Joshua Tree National Park Motorcycle Ride | Favorite Ride appeared first on Rider Magazine.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Route 66 Motorcycle Ride in Oklahoma | Favorite Ride

Route 66 Motorcycle Ride Oklahoma
The Route 66 Interpretive Center, one of several interesting stops on this Route 66 motorcycle ride, uses audio-visual exhibits to immerse visitors in the history of the Mother Road. The building was built in 1937 and served as an armory until 1971. Photos by the author and Steve Skinner.

U.S. Route 66 was established in 1926 and was billed as the shortest, fastest, and most scenic all-weather route connecting Chicago, St. Louis, and Los Angeles. Dubbed the “Mother Road” by John Steinbeck in his novel The Grapes of Wrath, Route 66 was used in the 1930s by migrants fleeing the Dust Bowl in search of a better life out West. During World War II, it facilitated the movement of troops and equipment. And during the post-war economic boom of the 1950s and 1960s, Route 66 became indelibly linked to the Great American Road Trip.

Route 66 Motorcycle Ride Oklahoma

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

My home state of Oklahoma boasts about 400 miles of the historic highway – the most of any of the eight states touched by Route 66. The Mother Road played a central role in my budding love affair with riding. In 1977, at the age of 14, I rode a 100cc 2-stroke Kawasaki along one of the best stretches of Route 66 in the state – the 100 miles between Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The 200-mile round trip was my first long motorcycle journey. It took me all day and cost about $2 in gas, and my long-suffering parents had no idea what I was up to.

See all of Rider‘s Southern U.S. motorcycle rides here.

Forty-six years after that formative adventure, I retraced my route, only this time I allowed time to take in the roadside attractions and small-town charms that make Route 66 such an iconic piece of Americana. Once again, I felt right at home on the Mother Road. 

Not far from my home, I hopped on Route 66 at its junction with Interstate 35 in Edmond. I headed east through wooded terrain and past sprawling Arcadia Lake before stopping at the Arcadia Round Barn. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, it was built in 1898 by a local farmer who thought its round design would make it tornado-proof. Science may not support that belief, but the Round Barn has survived in the middle of Tornado Alley for 126 years. It’s now a museum, gift shop, and live music venue.

Route 66 Motorcycle Ride Oklahoma
The Arcadia Round Barn, built in 1898, was designed to be tornado-proof and still stands in the heart of Tornado Alley.

Continuing east, the countryside along this stretch is a mix of woods, farmland, and grazing pasture. Although not the transcontinental artery it once was, Route 66 remains important to the communities it passes through. The tarmac is mostly in great shape, and the occasional sweeping turns are enough to get you off the center of your tires.

In Wellston, I stopped at The Butcher BBQ Stand, one of the best barbecue restaurants around. The award-winning flavors were developed during eight years on the competitive barbecue circuit, including more than 400 1st-place finishes. One of my riding buddies calls this barbecue “meat candy,” and he’s not wrong. Thirty minutes before The Butcher opened, the line was already out the door.

Route 66 Motorcycle Ride Oklahoma
The Butcher BBQ Stand offers award-winning smoked meats on Route 66 near Wellston.

Just a few miles down the road in Warwick is the Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum, which was originally a Route 66 service station named after the proprietor back in the 1920s. The building was purchased in 2007 by Jerry Reis, and he opened the museum in 2010. It’s not only a great place to see a bunch of classic motorcycles, but it also has great Route 66 swag.

Route 66 Motorcycle Ride Oklahoma
Seaba Station in Warwick has an impressive collection of vintage bikes and memorabilia as well as a great gift shop for some Mother Road swag.

I next headed east-northeast toward the town of Chandler, where roadside attractions include the Route 66 Interpretive Center and Route 66 Bowl, a bowling alley with dozens of authentic vintage oil company signs lining the parking lot.

Route 66 Motorcycle Ride Oklahoma
Route 66 Bowl in Chandler with its collection of authentic oil company signs is one of the many Mother Road landmarks to visit on this ride.

Another 14 miles up the road, we stopped for lunch in Stroud at the Rock Cafe, another Route 66 institution. Opened in 1939, it’s named after the local sandstone used in its construction, and over the years it has been a trusted stop for long-haul truckers, a high school watering hole, and even a makeshift Greyhound bus station for soldiers shipping out during World War II. Pixar executives made stops at the cafe when developing the hit movie Cars and based the character “Sally Carrera” on proprietor Dawn Welch. The burger I had there was outstanding – and it was cooked on “Betsy,” the original 1939 grill.

Route 66 Motorcycle Ride Oklahoma
The iconic Rock Cafe in Stroud gets its name from the sandstone used for its construction in 1939. The delicious food served up there is still cooked on the restaurant’s original 85-year-old grill, “Betsy.”

The final stop on my Mother Road reunion tour was Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios on Route 66 in Tulsa to see “Muffler Man” Buck Atom, Space Cowboy. Few authentic Muffler Men – giant statues used by businesses for eye-catching advertising – remain. Buck Atom was created using a mold from a salvaged 1960s Muffler Man cowboy. Christened in 2019, Buck is 20 feet tall, and he now holds a silver rocket instead of a muffler. He stands guard over a gift shop at the site of an old Route 66 gas station in the heart of Tulsa. The new, old-time Muffler Man fits right in on the Mother Road.

Route 66 Motorcycle Ride Oklahoma
A reimagined Muffler Man stands tall at Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios in Tulsa.

Headed back to my home in Oklahoma City with daylight fading fast, I hopped on the interstate to make time – the very interstate that marked the end of Route 66’s prominence in Oklahoma, bypassing many of the communities stitched together by the Mother Road. True, the ride home was faster, but it was far less interesting. Just like during my first highway riding adventure back in 1977, I’m more at home on the Mother Road. 

See all of Rider‘s touring stories here.

Route 66 Motorcycle Ride Resources

Tim DeGiusti Headshot

Tim DeGiusti lives and works in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Tim returned to motorcycling in 2012 after a long break, and since has ridden throughout Oklahoma and 38 other states (and counting).

The post Route 66 Motorcycle Ride in Oklahoma | Favorite Ride appeared first on Rider Magazine.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. at Road America 2024 

Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. Road America
We traveled to Road America in Wisconsin to catch the Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. races and learn more about the program. Photos courtesy Royal Enfield.

Women in motorcycle racing have always been the exception, not the norm. To change that, Royal Enfield’s Build. Train. Race. was created as a one-of-its-kind program that invites women riders to build their own Royal Enfield motorcycle and prepare it for racing, train with professional coaches, and compete in a series of races in either flat-track or roadracing. 

Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. Road America
Shea MacGregor finished in 6th on the wet track on Saturday. This is MacGregor’s first year at BTR, and she hopes to continue racing after she graduates from the program.

Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. hopefuls send in their applications each season, and those who are chosen compete for one or two seasons. In the roadracing category, the women are given Royal Enfield Continental GT 650s, while the flat-trackers get INT650s. At the end of their time in the program, the competitors keep their bikes. One of the goals of BTR is to provide women with a starting point from which they can launch a career in racing. 

The 2024 season includes four races and 10 competitors for flat-track and five races with 13 competitors for roadracing. The second roadracing event of the season was held June 1-2 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and we were happy to accept Royal Enfield’s invitation to the Royal Enfield Experience Center in Milwaukee to find out more about the series and ride to Road America to see the action. 

Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. Road America
The Royal Enfield Experience Center in Milwaukee showcases historic Royal Enfield bikes, as well as the current model lineup. Photo by the author.

The Royal Enfield Experience Center is located in a brick building that was once a dealership. Upon entering, you’ll notice significant historical Royal Enfield motorcycles and memorabilia displayed around the room, as well as examples of the current lineup. In the back of the building, bikes were on stands being worked on. It doesn’t take long to tour this small center, but if you’re a Royal Enfield fan, a visit and some riding in the area are well worth the trip. 

Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. Road America
Royal Enfield offered a variety of bikes for the journalists on our ride, including the INT650, the Scram 411, the Shotgun 650, and others.

With the other journalists who would be joining the ride gathered, we each swung a leg over a bike in front of the Experience Center and took off through the streets of Milwaukee. I was mounted on a Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650, a bike I’d ridden and reviewed before in Dallas, Texas

Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. Road America
The Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 provided a relaxing cruise through the Wisconsin countryside on our ride to Road America.


We took a scenic route up to Elkhart Lake, following flowing roads through the countryside and weaving into and out of forests and farmland. It’s a beautiful ride and another great reason to visit Road America for the MotoAmerica events. About halfway through our ride, rain began to fall, and it would continue falling throughout the day, resulting in a wet track for those competing. 

Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. Road America
Rain began to fall about halfway through our ride, but the roads weaving through wooded land were still fun to ride. Photo by the author.

When we arrived at Road America and the Royal Enfield paddock, motorcycles screaming down the track drowned out the sounds of Royal Enfield racers and crew members checking over the bikes and discussing the upcoming races. Build. Train. Race. was scheduled for later in the day, so we had a few hours to chat with the competitors, explore the track, and watch the other races. 

Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. Road America
Road America offers motorcycle parking that’s a short walk to the paddock area. Photo by the author.

The first thing I noticed in the Royal Enfield paddock was the sense of friendship and community. The racers and crew members joked with each other as they checked over the bikes. Everyone was there to compete, but they were also there to enjoy the experience, improve themselves, and learn. 

Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. Road America
Lauren Prince working on her bike hours before the first race. Photo by the author.

Shea MacGregor is new to roadracing this year. A motocross racer for most of her riding life, she came to the Build. Train. Race. roadracing series to try something new. 

“We’re all very competitive and we all want to win, but it’s a great community,” said MacGregor. “Everybody wants everybody else to be here too because we all want to race. I crashed this morning, and as soon as I got back, everybody was like, ‘How can I help you? What do you need?’” 

Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. Road America
Miranda Cain checking her tire pressure as the other racers in the Royal Enfield paddock also get ready for Race 1. Photo by the author.

Another newcomer this year, Lucy Blondel, has been riding on street for seven years and started racing last year. Blondel is a picture of resilience, and even though she had a rough opening weekend at Barber, she showed up to the races at Road America ready to try again. 

“Barber was really awful for me. I didn’t expect how intense it was going to be,” said Blondel. “I was having panic attacks, and I was just done. I’ve worked through that since. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I come from a family where that’s always been a thing, and you think through that failure if you don’t meet the expectations you set for yourself. So I’m just mentally prepared to be in the race by myself, improve my times, and then I’ll eventually get in the race with everyone else.” 

Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. Road America
The wet track on Saturday created a challenge that many of these racers had never faced before.

Mikayla Moore is the dominating force in BTR. During her first year in the BTR program in 2023, she won every race. The opening double-header at Barber in May continued that streak with two more victories for Moore. But as I walked around the paddock on Saturday, Moore was noticeably absent. 

I found out that Moore, who was also planning to debut in the BellissiMoto Twins Cup class that weekend, had an accident in the Twins Cup qualifying rounds that caused an injury to her thigh. X-rays showed no broken bones, but her muscle was injured. 

Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. Road America
The BTR ladies in pit lane getting ready for their warm-up lap. Photo by the author.

As the women rolled into pit lane to begin their warm-up laps, the rain had slowed to a light sprinkle, but the track wouldn’t have a chance to dry before the race. Moore joined the riders in pit lane for the warm-up lap, but she dismounted the bike after one lap while shaking her head, clearly not feeling up to a race that day. 

With Moore out of the race, an opportunity opened for someone else to score her first victory of the season. Moore quickly changed out of her leathers and joined the crew in pit lane to cheer on the others, while those still mounted on bikes put their heads down and got ready. These women who were so jovial in the paddock a few hours ago were now serious competitors determined to cash in a win. 

Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. Road America
Miranda Cain and Emma Betters finished Sunday’s race within 0.04 second of each other.

Off the start, first-year racer Cassie Creer leapt ahead of the pack and continued putting distance between herself and those behind her, gaining up to a 5-second lead. However, Emma Betters continued improving her lap times and slowly closing the gap. Many of these racers were unfamiliar with racing in wet conditions, but they continued improving and gaining confidence on each lap of the 4.05-mile, 14-turn track. 

When Creer crossed the checkered line, Betters had gotten within 0.225 second of her for a close 2nd-place finish. Camille Conrad, another first-year racer, finished in 3rd. 

Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. Road America
Even though Mikayla Moore (right) had to sit out of Saturday’s race due to injury, she was the first at the podium to congratulate the other racers. Photo by the author.

At the podium, Mikayla Moore was the first one to congratulate the racers and give everyone a pat on the back. All the BTR ladies smiled widely as Creer, Betters, and Conrad took their podium spots. Just as quickly as the women had gotten serious and competitive when the race started, they became convivial friends again once the race was over. 

Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. Road America
Cassie Creer took home her first win of the season at Road America. Emma Betters and Camille Conrad filled out the podium. Photo by the author.

While I was on a flight back home the next day, the BTR ladies headed onto the track for the second race of the weekend. Moore, with a full day of rest to recuperate and a dry track beneath her tires, took the victory ahead of Aubrey Credaroli and Cassie Creer. Moore is leading in the standings with 75 points, but her absence from Saturday’s race allowed Emma Betters and Camille Conrad to narrow the gap, both with 65 points. 

The Royal Enfield Build. Trian. Race. roadracers compete again on June 30 at Ridge Motorsports Park in Whelton, Washington. They’ll have the chance to catch their breath before the final race of the season on Aug. 18 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. 

Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. Road America
Mikayla Moore was back in action on Sunday, once again taking the victory, followed by Aubrey Credaroli and Cassie Creer.

If you haven’t seen the BTR action in person, I encourage you to get out to the races and see it for yourself. You’ll be witnessing the early stages of a greater diversity in motorcycle racing, and once BTR graduates are competing in other classes with bigger stakes, you’ll be able to say you saw them at their beginnings. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on where these ladies go next. 

Visit the Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. website for more information. 

The post Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. at Road America 2024  appeared first on Rider Magazine.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Motor School with Quinn Redeker: The Art of Being Slow

Motor School with Quinn Redeker The Art of Being Slow
Learn how to use the windscreen as a level to ensure both rider and bike work as one balanced mass in this Motor School installment. Photos by Kevin Wing.

A little while back, I took a ride up the coast. It was around 75 degrees outside, the sun was shining, and the ocean was waiting just nine miles from my driveway. I remember smiling, a bit embarrassed at myself for getting caught up in the coolness of my Vanson riding jacket and my retro Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses. Maybe I even started feeling like Top Gun’s Maverick – if he wore a helmet. But there I was, effortlessly clicking through gears on my way to a much-needed reset button in the form of sun, sea, and wide-open air. God Bless America!

But as the ocean revealed itself, I knew I wasn’t the only one looking for coastal therapy. As I turned onto the Pacific Coast Highway, I was immediately wedged into heavy traffic in both directions. Sure, I could see the ocean, but I was stuck in 1st gear, engine fan humming, beads of sweat trickling down my back. It looked like I was going to have to skip the gratuitous beach volleyball session and practice my slow-speed balancing work.

Lucky for me, riding really slow was always part of my gig as a motor officer. Parades, escorts, crowd control, and just plain old everyday traffic. And like anything else, you get good at the things you practice. I learned key concepts and skills that eliminated duck-walking, in-lane weaving, grabby clutch and brake work, and the general sense of fear when stuck in stop-n-go.

What components of slow riding are involved in creating magical on-bike-balance bliss? Slow riding can be broken down into three parts: the rider, the motorcycle, and the rider’s inputs. Let’s look at each one, starting with the rider.

The first thing to appreciate is that slow riding is all about balance points: the bike’s balance point, the rider’s balance point, and the relationship between the two. This means we need a good sense of our own body’s center of balance to minimize any negative impact it might have on the motorcycle’s equilibrium. In other words, if you can’t control your own balance, things only get worse when you get on the bike.

Now let’s look at the motorcycle. No matter what you ride, big or small, long or short, your motorcycle was engineered to have a magical spot where it maintains vertical balance. In fact, the motorcycle is capable of slow-riding on its own, but then we come along and screw up the program by throwing our weight around like a mid-level manager at a big box store on Black Friday.

The last ingredient in our slow-riding skills concoction relates to the rider’s controls and how we exercise them. If we’re prone to on/off, light-switch clutch work and grip-it-and-rip-it throttle action, then we’ll struggle to keep the bike in balance each time we engage the controls. But when you get the proportions right, you’re in for a sublime slow cruise through the worst traffic imaginable. The key is to engage the controls sparingly and calmly, with the goal of having them support rather than upset our balance.

Below I’ve condensed my slow training into two simple (but not necessarily easy) parking lot drills. These, along with a few ideas to keep in mind, will help your slow-speed skills improve exponentially with minimal risk or effort.

Motor School with Quinn Redeker The Art of Being Slow
Improving your slow-riding skills will pay off every time you throw your leg over the bike. Just practice a few simple drills and say goodbye to all your fears of going slow.

Slow Weave Drill: This drill helps you understand how your bodyweight shifts as the motorcycle changes direction. Our goal here is to become sensitive to subtle weight shifts as we sit on the bike and how they impact our overall balance profile.

Find a traffic-free area and set up six cones in a line, approximately 9 to 18 feet apart depending on bike type and skill level (if you don’t have cones, use parking stall markings, which are usually 9 feet apart). With the bike in 1st gear and the clutch partially engaged, weave through the cone pattern. Do your best to control your speed to around 2-3 mph with minimal bike lean. To keep the speed down, you can gently drag the rear brake but avoid mashing it. We want to upset the bike as little as possible when using the controls.

Now position your body so it’s aligned with the motorcycle’s center line. Our objective is to take two parts – you and the bike – and make them move as one balanced mass. And once we arrive at this perfect balance spot on the bike, we want to live there as long as we can, deviating from it as minimally and as infrequently as possible. Easier said than done, but you get the idea.

A great way to help keep you and your bike working together is by using your windscreen as a “level.” Keep your eyes tracking the top edge of your windscreen, and you will spot even the slightest body movement in relation to the bike using this visual cue. With practice, you’ll make fewer big weight shifts and more micro adjustments to remain balanced. Rinse and repeat the drill until you and your bike feel like Maverick and Goose going inverted in the F-14 Tomcat. Feel the need…the need for (slow) speed!

Motor School with Quinn Redeker The Art of Being Slow
Move the bars full-lock left and right to shift the bike’s balance point beneath you.

Bar-to-Bar Drill: While parked, sit on your bike and slowly turn the bars lock-to-lock. Did you notice that the bike shifted a few inches in either direction? It did, and it’s this side-to-side movement that we’re going to exploit to help the bike balance beneath us when we come to a complete stop without putting our feet down. Welcome to hyper-slow mode.

Now that you understand my little handlebar trick, let’s go back and rework the Slow Weave Drill. Only this time I want you to go slower each time, eventually challenging yourself to come to a stop – with your feet up, steady clutch engagement, and light rear brake – at several points along the path.

The task here is to recognize and correct the subtle instabilities in balance by smoothly but assertively moving the handlebar in either direction to regain stability beneath you. If you need to roll forward to find balance and reset, that’s fine. Stay relaxed and keep at it. Your sense of balance will improve over time, and you will see huge gains.

For a live-action example of all this, go to Police Motor Training with Quinn Redeker on YouTube and watch the video “Quinn Redeker Riding Slow.” If it’s easier, you can swing by my house, and we’ll set up some cones over here. But it’s currently 5:30 p.m., so you might hit some traffic.

Quinn wears Lee Parks Design gloves exclusively. Find Quinn at Police Motor Training.

See all Motor School with Quinn Redeker articles here.

The post Motor School with Quinn Redeker: The Art of Being Slow appeared first on Rider Magazine.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

California Superbike School Review – Level I

California Superbike School Level I
California Superbike School is all about teaching students the fundamentals and building from there. The step-by-step method of instruction resulted in measurable improvement throughout the day. (Photos by etechphoto.com)

Like any hobby, sport, or activity, riding a motorcycle gets better as the rider gets better. While nothing quite compares to the initial thrills of early riding days, improving riding skills opens doors to new opportunities, builds confidence, and makes riding safer by reducing panic when unfamiliar situations arise. 

California Superbike School Level I
NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is just one of 11 tracks in the U.S. that host California Superbike School yearly.

For a while, I’ve been a good enough rider for the type of riding that I do with my family and friends, which is usually relaxed day trips in low-traffic areas. But since I’ve started working as associate editor at Rider, I’ve ridden a variety of bikes in diverse locations alongside very experienced riders, and it’s led me to believe that “good enough” isn’t quite, at least not for me anymore. I want to be a better rider. 

My journey to improve my riding starts with the California Superbike School’s Level I class, which I attended at the NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Before attending the class and with the help of Cobie Fair of CSS, I graded my current riding on a list of skills using a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most confident. When I revisited my list after the class, I saw definite improvement almost across the board. As I continue to practice what I learned in the class, I’ll return to this brief questionnaire to measure my progress before jumping into Level II. 

California Superbike School Level I
California Superbike School classes take place rain or shine. Luckily, we had a beautiful day with temps in the mid-80s and sunny skies.

California Superbike School: First School of Its Kind 

California Superbike School was created by Keith Code in 1980 as the first of its kind track school, and it was based on the techniques and concepts that Code used to coach professional racers. Code has a long list of champions that he’s trained, and although his son, Dylan, runs the day-to-day aspects of CSS now, Keith was present when I attended the class, chatting with students and overseeing the program. 

California Superbike School Level I
CSS founder Keith Code (right) addresses students at the beginning of the day. His son, Dylan (center), now runs California Superbike School’s day-to-day operations.

The school is divided into four levels. Those new to CSS start at Level I, regardless of experience or skill set. Levels II and III build on the techniques taught in Level I, while Level IV is a more tailored class that coaches individual students based on their unique needs. Each level can be completed in a day, and two-day camps are available. 

Pricing is the same for each level, and you can choose to rent one of CSS’s track bikes, or you can save a couple hundred dollars by bringing your own bike. One-day classes are $845 to rent a bike and $645 if you bring your own. That’s a significant investment, but the class was well worth the price for me. If I’m willing to invest in gear to protect myself while riding, investing in myself to become a better and safer rider is a no-brainer. 

California Superbike School Level I
The BMW S 1000 RR is the standard rental bike at California Superbike School. Although I rented a smaller BMW G 310 R for the day, the students who rode the S 1000 RR said they enjoyed the bike.

California Superbike School: Gotta Start Somewhere 

Before the class, I used my questionnaire to grade myself after a ride close to home. Skills included setting the correct entry speed for a corner, quickly steering the bike to avoid unexpected obstacles, steady throttle use throughout the corner, choosing a good line through a decreasing radius corner, and others. Knowing I didn’t quite panic in these situations as I did in my early riding days, I felt like I was at least above a 1 rating on most of these skills, but not much beyond that, so I gave a grade of 2. By the end of the class, I confidently bumped my score up to a 2.5 or 3 on many skills on the list, and I expect those levels to continue to rise. 

California Superbike School Level I
When asked who in the class was returning for the second day of the two-day camp, the majority raised their hands.

Upon arriving bright and early on the day of the class, I signed up at the registration table in the paddock, where coaches were greeting students and snacks, coffee, and water were available. The BMW S 1000 RR bikes rented by the school for the class were lined up outside the paddock. Knowing I’d be more comfortable on a smaller bike, I had called ahead to reserve a BMW G 310 R for myself. 

Related: 2023 BMW S 1000 RR and M 1000 R | First Ride Review

When it was time to get started, we headed into the classroom for a safety presentation and an explanation about how the day would go. The coaches and instructors introduced themselves, and they explained that we would be divided into three levels for the rest of the day. 

California Superbike School Level I
This was not only my first time at a track school; it was also my first time on a track! Now I understand why many riders enjoy track days.


Throughout the day, we stayed with our assigned group. Level I had six students including myself, and each level covered five lessons throughout the day. Each lesson started with a few minutes in the classroom, followed by a 20-minute track session to practice the exercise explained in the classroom. Right after the track session, we’d meet with our coaches to talk about the session and our individual progress on that lesson. Each group rotated through these three steps, so while our group was in the classroom, another group was on the track, and the other one was talking with their coaches. This system kept everything running smoothly, and it kept the track and other areas from becoming too crowded. 

California Superbike School Level I
Seeing the checkered flag signaling the end of the session was my least favorite part of each session, but I looked forward to meeting with my coach to get feedback on how I could improve in the next session.

California Superbike School: Diving In 

Our first lesson was about throttle control. To start, Dylan Code, the Level I instructor that day, asked our class a few questions to gauge our understanding of throttle control and address any misconceptions. He used a white board to write out and draw concepts as he explained, and he also used photos and videos of both professional racers and CSS coaches that demonstrated correct throttle control. In each lesson, Dylan broke down the basic science behind the technique in a way that was simple enough to understand and paired that knowledge with real-world examples. 

California Superbike School Level I
Dylan Code was the Level I instructor for our class. He used a white board and a TV displaying videos and graphics to help us understand each lesson. (Photo by the author.)

As we lined our bikes up to begin our first track session, our on-track coaches introduced themselves. My coach was Lyle, and since we had a smaller group, I was his only Level I student. Even with larger class sizes, each coach will only have 2-3 students per group, which is also why it’s important to register early, as space is limited. Registering a few months in advance is the best way to ensure you’ll get a spot. 

California Superbike School Level I
The BMW G 310 R was a great choice for me. I was able to comfortably focus on each exercise rather than worry about riding a larger bike. Most of the students in my group trailered their personal bikes to ride during the class.

Lyle explained that he’d watch me while trackside to observe how I was doing on the track with the throttle control exercise. Then he’d catch up to me and follow me to observe my progress. After following me for a few turns, he’d ride in front of me and use hand signals to communicate what I should be doing with the throttle. 

California Superbike School Level I
Wanting to become a better rider, I attended Level I of California Superbike School with five other dedicated students.

When I started following Lyle’s hand signals as a guide to using the throttle, the classroom lesson began clicking into place, and I began to understand not just the concept of throttle control but also the feeling of correct throttle control. At each corner, my throttle usage smoothed out, and I was better able to judge a good entry speed that wouldn’t require me to make panicked adjustments in the middle of the corners. Before long, we were heading off the track and toward our coaching session. 

California Superbike School Level I
When our group lined up before the first session, our individual coaches came out to introduce themselves and explain how they would help us with the throttle control exercise.

I met Lyle in the paddock at a table with a map of the track. Lyle made it clear that his job was to make me a better rider and asked how I felt and what I wanted to focus on. He used a dry-erase marker to mark turns where I was doing well and turns that needed improvement. He told me that in our next session, I should focus on smoothing out two particular turns and gave me advice on how to do that. After grabbing some snacks and water in the paddock, it was back to the classroom for the second lesson. 

California Superbike School Level I
By following my coach, Lyle, I was able to get a better understanding of the right way to do the exercises.

California Superbike School: Step By Step 

The lessons continued in a similar way, each one adding concepts and exercises and building on the lessons before. We were told to use no brakes at first and reintroduce brakes in a later session, again slowly adding in extra things without overwhelming students with too much to remember at once. 

California Superbike School Level I
Lyle and I meet up in the paddock to discuss the session over a dry-erase map of the track on the table.

Once we got into the second half of the day, I told Lyle I was having a hard time choosing the best line at each corner, so although we continued working on the lessons from the classroom, we also worked on choosing lines. He marked a couple of turns where he noticed I would turn in too late or too early, and then on the track, he signaled by pointing to the ground where I should begin the turns and where I should apex. Having this visual cue was a great help, and it felt fantastic to see my lines improving after each session. 

California Superbike School Level I
My coach, Lyle, points to the apex of the turn ahead of me to help me find my line.

Five sessions after the start of the day, it was 5 p.m. and time to get off the track. We were each given a folder with brief explanations of our levels’ lessons, a completion certificate, and more information about the school. 

California Superbike School Level I
An instructor demonstrates lessons on a bike in the paddock. Later in the day, these students sat on the bike while the instructor guided them on body positioning.

My day at California Superbike School was everything I wanted. The step-by-step system of lessons gave me the tools to continue improving without feeling overwhelmed, and I ended the day tired but excited by my progress. The coaches told me that I’d learn more about visuals and body positioning in Level II, and I’d get the chance to try out some of their specialized training bikes. 

California Superbike School Level I
By the end of the day, I was feeling confident in my progress and excited to return for Level II in the future.

This step in my journey to becoming a better rider covered more distance than most. Now it’s time to put in the work and practice what I’ve learned – not a bad way to spend my summer evenings. 

Learn more about California Superbike School, view the schedule, and register for a class at the CSS website. 

The post California Superbike School Review – Level I appeared first on Rider Magazine.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show Winners

2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show
Winner of the 2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show Adventure category on Day 2: Dan Verkleir and Harley the Dog with their 1981 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing Terraplane Sidecar.

We were excited to return to Lake George, New York, for the 41st annual Americade rally and our Bring It Bike Show. Held at Fort William Henry on the southern shore of Lake George in the Adirondack Mountains, few rallies are in such a beautiful location surrounded by world-class motorcycling roads.

For the second year in a row, Rider and American Rider magazines co-hosted the Bring It Bike Show. With thousands of cool motorcycles at Americade, we invited attendees to Bring It!

2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show
Warm, sunny days with a cool breeze off Lake George made the 2024 Americade rally one of the best yet. The Bring It Bike Show was held at the corner of Canada Street and Beach Road, and the event drew steady crowds.

Related: 2023 Americade Bring It Bike Show Winners

The 2024 Bring It Bike Show was sponsored by Americade, Spectro Performance Oils, SMK Helmets, Monimoto, Wild Ass, and The Lighthouse Grill. For three days, May 30 to June 1, we gave daily awards in several categories as well as a daily $200 cash prize for Editors’ Choice. All daily winners were eligible for the Best of Show award, which included $1,000 in cash plus several prizes.

The bike that won Best of Show was truly a showstopper, a motorcycle that was built from the ground up by a talented 25-year-old mechanical engineer named Hunter Leonard who lives in Crown Point, New York, an hour north of Lake George.

2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show
Best of Show: Leonard Motor Works Starrettania created by Hunter Leonard (center). The award, including $1,000 cash, was presented by Americade Executive Director Christian Dutcher (left) and Rider Magazine Editor-in-Chief Greg Drevenstedt (right).

The Leonard Motor Works Starrettania is one-of-a-kind. Named after a small town in Pennsylvania (with a slightly different spelling), the Starrettania is a vintage-style electric motorcycle that Leonard started designing as a college project. It took about three years to go from the original concept to the final version entered in the Bring It Bike Show.

Although its styling is inspired by a 1930s-era motorcycle, the Leonard Motor Works Starrettania was designed using the latest CAD software, and some of its parts – fenders, headlight nacelle, tank, and instrument panel – were built using a 3D printer. Leonard fabricated the frame and many other components, and only a handful of off-the-shelf parts were used.

2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show
Modern meets classic on the Leonard Motor Works Starrettania, a vintage-style electric motorcycle with 3D-printed components. If you’re wondering what that gear on the front wheel does, it runs the speedometer. The electric motor is in the rear wheel hub.

The Starrettania is powered by four lithium batteries from a Nissan Leaf, and its electric motor is built into the rear wheel’s hub, which allows for efficient packaging of the drivetrain. Leonard says the bike has a range of about 100 miles and a top speed in excess of 92 mph.

Hunter Leonard entered the Starrettania all three days of the Bring It Bike Show, and it drew a steady stream of crowds, questions, double takes, and photos. It won the Editors’ Choice award on Thursday, and at the end of the show on Saturday, it was the unanimous winner for Best of Show. We know we’ll be seeing much more from the creative, energetic, and enthusiastic Hunter Leonard, and we’ll follow up with a profile of him and the Starrettania in the near future.

2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show
There was a little bit of everything at the 2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show, from a tiny motorcycle powered by a weedeater motor to the massive orange-and-black Gold Wing trike with custom trailer seen in this photo.

Related: Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero: Hugh Smith Jr. and his ‘Milwaukee Packout’ Bike

We thank our show entries, our sponsors, and all Americade staff and volunteers for making our second Bring It Bike Show such a success. We’ll be back next year, so Bring It!

Bring It Bike Show Day 1 Winners:

2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show
American Bagger (Day 1): a highly customized 2010 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic with a stunning paint scheme inspired by 19th century Buffalo Soldiers, owned by Douglas Alexander.

2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show
Adventure (Day 1): 2012 Honda Gold Wing with matching Tote “floating” trailer, owned by Barry and Lisa Woodcock.

2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show
Anything Goes (Day 1): 1967 Harley-Davidson Sprint Electric, owned by Tom Fisher. Tom used to race the gas-powered Sprint in the AHRMA 350GP class, and then he converted it to an electric bike with a 3kW (15 hp) motor.

2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show
Editors’ Choice (Day 1): Leonard Motor Works Starrettania, designed and built by Hunter Leonard. The Starrettania also won Best of Show.

Bring It Bike Show Day 2 Winners:

2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show
American Bagger (Day 2): 2022 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Apex owned by James Pitman.

2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show
American Cruiser (Day 2): 2012 Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxed owned by Coby Borwell.

2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show
Best Custom Paint (Day 2): 2020 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special with a stunning “hellscape” paint job owned by Frank Dumond.

2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show
Adventure (Day 2): Dan Verkleir and Harley the Dog with their 1981 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing Terraplane Sidecar.

2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show
Anything Goes (Day 2): Boss Hoss V8 owned by Kevin Taylor (not shown).

2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show
Editors’ Choice (Day 2): 1974 Honda CB750K owned by Tim Curley. Tim also won Editors’ Choice on Day 3 at the 2023 Americade Bring It Bike Show.

Bring It Bike Show Day 3 Winners:

2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show
American Bagger (Day 2): 2010 Harley-Davidson Road Glide owned by Stephen Luczkowec.

2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show
American Cruiser (Day 3): 2007 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 owned by Pete Ashak.

2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show
Anything Goes (Day 3): Razer Minibike powered by a 43cc weedeater motor, created and owned by David Kerl. Yes, he rode it to the show!

2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show
Editors’ Choice (Day 3): 2006 Honda Gold Wing Hannigan Trike with custom 1955 Chevy Bel-Air trailer. Ed’s trike (sans trailer) won Best Japanese (Day 2) at the 2023 Americade Bring It Bike Show.

The post 2024 Americade Bring It Bike Show Winners appeared first on Rider Magazine.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Americade and Bring It Bike Show | Ep. 71 Rider Magazine Insider Podcast

Americade and Bring It Bike Show
Episode 71 of the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast is sponsored by Fly Racing. We talk about Americade and the Bring It Bike Show.

On Episode 71 of the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast, which is sponsored by Fly Racing, we talk about the Americade rally, which takes place May 29 to June 1 in Lake George, New York. The world’s largest all-brand rally has scenic rides, demo rides, entertainment, and events. Rider and American Rider sponsor the Bring It Bike Show, with daily winners in multiple categories and a people’s choice Best of Show. Bring your motorcycle and show it off! 

LINKS: Americade, Bring It Bike Show registration, FLY Racing@flyracingUSA on Instagram

Related: 2023 Americade Bring It Bike Show Winners

Americade Lake George Rider Magazine Insider Podcast
Views of Lake George and riding in the Adirondacks are highlights of the Americaderally.

You can check out Episode 71 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! Scroll down for a list of previous episodes.

Americade Canada Street
There’s always a wide selection of bikes parked on Canada Street during Americade.

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

The post Americade and Bring It Bike Show | Ep. 71 Rider Magazine Insider Podcast appeared first on Rider Magazine.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero: Hugh Smith, Jr. and his ‘Milwaukee Packout’ Bike

Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero Hugh Smith, Jr. and His Milwaukee Packout Bike
Hugh Smith, Jr. (right) with Brandon Hamblin, owner of Twitchy’s Speed Shop in Chestertown, New York, who helped Smith build the 2006 Yamaha Road Star “Milwaukee Packout” bike, at the 2023 Americade Bring It Bike Show. (Photo by Matt Gustafson, @gustophotos)

As we gear up to head to Lake George, New York, for the 41st Americade rally (May 29-June 1), we are excited to host the second annual Bring It Bike Show alongside our sibling publication American Rider. Like the Americade rally itself, last year the inaugural show brought out all sorts of bikes. The one ridden by Hugh Smith Jr. definitely made an impression – so much so that we chose it the lead image for the online story we published featuring the winners of the 2023 Bring it Bike Show.

Related: Join Rider Magazine at Americade 2024

Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero Hugh Smith, Jr. and His Milwaukee Packout Bike
The “Milwaukee Packout” bike has Milwaukee Packout toolboxes as side cases, a custom passenger seat, and a Milwaukee battery-powered miter saw on the back. (Photo by Matt Gustafson, @gustophotos)

Dubbed “Milwaukee Packout,” it’s an eye-catching bike, a 2006 Yamaha Road Star outfitted with Milwaukee Packout toolboxes as side cases and a Milwaukee battery-powered miter saw on the back. However, it wasn’t just the bike that caught our attention; it was Smith’s story. He is a Marine Corps veteran who uses his motorcycle as a work vehicle to help build housing for female veterans with children.

Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero Hugh Smith, Jr. and His Milwaukee Packout Bike
Hugh Smith Jr. (near the back with cowboy hat) and his Milwaukee Packout bike with other 2023 Americade Bring It Bike Show winners at the Industry Meet & Mingle party. (Photo by Matt Gustafson, @gustophotos)

Last year’s Best of Show bike was selected by popular vote during Americade’s Industry Meet & Mingle party. Nearly 100 votes were tabulated, and Keith Youngblood’s 1969 Triumph TR6R hardtail bobber, which won the Best European category on Day 2 of the Bring It Bike Show, earned the grand prize. Smith’s bike came in second place, but his story pulled so many heartstrings at the party that Americade’s executive director, Christian Dutcher, graciously dug into his pocket to gift Smith with $200 for a special award.

Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero Hugh Smith, Jr. and His Milwaukee Packout Bike
Hugh Smith Jr. (center, with cowboy hat) was all smiles when he was presented with a special award at the 2023 Americade Industry Meet & Mingle party, where is Milwaukee Packout bike got the 2nd-highest number of Best of Show votes but won the most hearts and minds.(Photo by Matt Gustafson, @gustophotos)

After the 2023 show ended, we reached out to Smith to get to know a little more about the man and the mission.

Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero: Who are you, wearing my eagle, globe, and anchor?’

Hugh Smith Sr. was a U.S. diplomat, and as a result, the younger Smith grew up at embassies around the world surrounded by Marine security guards. Before his days as a diplomat, Smith’s father was an MVP soccer player at New York University, which was impressive for a young Black immigrant in the 1960s. Smith said as part of the “Jr. thing,” he was always trying to live up to his father’s accomplishments. For him, it was training to be an all-star wrestler, a goal he worked toward while moving around.

Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero Hugh Smith, Jr. and His Milwaukee Packout Bike
Have tools, will travel. (Photo by Greg Drevenstedt)

“It was something I could train for and do independently,” he said. “I spent most of my time around the Marine security guards, lifting weights.”

He said that as a teenager stationed in Italy, he and the Marines would run the Spanish Steps, a steep, 95-foot slope comprising 138 steps.

Smith saw his goal accomplished a few years later at Wesleyan University, becoming the school’s first all-American wrestler in about a dozen years. However, with this mission realized, college “didn’t make sense.”

“I love to read. I love to travel. I love to learn from people in the environment. If we’re going to build a house, let’s go build a house. Let’s not read a book about it,” he said, adding that when it came to getting a degree, there was “nothing on paper that I could say, ‘Yes, that’s me.’”

Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero Hugh Smith, Jr. and His Milwaukee Packout Bike
What’s in your saddlebag? (Photo by Greg Drevenstedt)

After this realization, he decided he wanted to learn more about living off the grid and took an interest in wilderness education, which led him to Outward Bound. It was here that he discovered how much he enjoyed working with kids, especially the at-risk population.

“I saw the hope and excitement as their eyes lit up, especially the truant youths, when someone finally listed or they were able to open up,” he said.

In 1999, Smith enlisted in the Marine Corps, joining the Infantry. It was here that he got his first taste of motorcycles when a guy in his unit taught him to ride a Suzuki Katana. While out riding one day and pushing the limits, he experienced a speed wobble, but instead of feeling scared, it exhilarated Smith.

Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero Hugh Smith, Jr. and His Milwaukee Packout Bike
Smith on the Hudson River at the first Fleet Week after 9/11. Standing next to him is Jeanpierre Boucher, the first wrestler Smith coached before going into the service. Boucher ended up going into the service as well, and he started Grunt Works Design with Smith. (Photo courtesy Hugh Smith Jr.)

“It shook me,” he said. “It was the first time I felt exposed and vulnerable, and I remember thinking, ‘I better pay attention. I’ve got to be in control.’ I fell in love with it. And then the freedom to be able to just take off and be open like that was amazing.” 

Smith served six years and two deployments in the Marines; however, once again he wasn’t getting the experience he had hoped for.

Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero Hugh Smith, Jr. and His Milwaukee Packout Bike
Sticker on the front of Hugh Smith, Jr.’s Milwaukee Packout bike. (Photo by Greg Drevenstedt)

“I loved my time in the Corps,” he said. “I never thought I would leave. I tried to qualify and do as much as I could, but unfortunately, my contract kept me with my unit. I was trapped. As much as I had been promoted, I felt stifled.”

Smith decided to leave the Corps when his contract was finished. He ended up in upstate New York, but he felt lost. He fell back on construction, primarily framing, and went through a rough patch, alternating between drinking heavily and trying unsuccessfully to quit.

At one point, he made the decision to move out of upstate New York, selling his van and buying a Honda Shadow 1100 Sabre.

Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero Hugh Smith, Jr. and His Milwaukee Packout Bike
The Honda Shadow 1100 Sabre customized by Brandon Hamblin, owner of Twitchy’s Speed Shop in Chestertown, New York, who won the Old School category on Day 3 of the 2023 Bring It Bike Show. (Photo courtesy Hugh Smith Jr.)

Smith was out and about in town when he saw a group of people wearing the Marine Corps insignia.

“I tapped one of them on the shoulder and said, ‘Who are you, wearing my eagle, globe, and anchor?’” he said, adding that because he hadn’t grown up in the U.S. and was still relatively new to the motorcycling world, he didn’t know about motorcycle clubs.

Turns out he had met the Lake George chapter of the Leathernecks Motorcycle Club, whose members are active and veteran Marines, a group that Smith said literally saved his life.

Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero Hugh Smith, Jr. and His Milwaukee Packout Bike
Smith riding “Milwaukee Packout” to Sturgis in 2021 with a Leatherneck club member. (Photo courtesy Hugh Smith Jr.)

“They were a group of really good people who took the time to get to know me,” he said. “They took care of me. No one else could put up with me.”

Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero: ‘Something with the riding’

Even with these new associations, it wasn’t an overnight transition for Smith. He continued to struggle for several years until finally, around four years ago, he built “Milwaukee Packout” with the help of Brandon Hamblin, owner of Twitchy’s Speed Shop, and decided to put it to good use. Even during the bad times, he had always tried to give back, through coaching, charity work, and donating – “some of the only times I would be sober” – but in January 2021, he quit drinking and decided to turn his life around.

Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero Hugh Smith, Jr. and His Milwaukee Packout Bike
Work to ride, ride to work. (Photo by Greg Drevenstedt)

“So many better veterans than I am have quit or given up – or committed suicide or are still out there drinking and lost because they didn’t have a Marine who was willing to put up with them,” he said. “The VA couldn’t put up with me, not friends, my folks, family. Nobody could, but there was something there with the Leathernecks. Especially something with the riding; we were together but still off on our own.”

Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero Hugh Smith, Jr. and His Milwaukee Packout Bike
Safety first. (Photo by Greg Drevenstedt)

Disappointed in seeing larger charitable drives like Toys for Tots distributing donations to other areas, Smith and other Leathernecks started grassroots efforts to keep the donations and the support for veterans in their own community. What started as simply giving food, toys, and other donations to local veteran families expanded when Smith learned about the Foreverly House, which was going to be built next to the Guardian House, the latter of which was already well-known for being the only VA-funded transitional housing for female veterans in New York and only 1 of 7 such residences in the country at the time.

Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero Hugh Smith, Jr. and His Milwaukee Packout Bike
Milwaukee Packout parked in front of the in-progress Foreverly House. (Photo courtesy Hugh Smith Jr.)

The Foreverly House would be unique in that it would be the first of its kind for veteran mothers and their dependents. Smith wanted to be a part of it.

“Literally 10 years earlier, I was a homeless vet at the VA in their 30-day in-patient program with a bed waiting for me, and now I was able to be the guy who owned a company that had five guys putting the roof on top of Foreverly House.”

Smith said he was able to get half of the materials donated, and he further donated 90% of the labor.

Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero Hugh Smith, Jr. and His Milwaukee Packout Bike
Not your typically passenger seat. (Photo by Greg Drevenstedt)

His next steps include continuing to grow his business, Grunt Works Design, which connects veterans – especially homeless veterans – with local businesses willing to offer training. There are a wide variety of possibilities, but recognizing the importance of the trades in developing self-sufficiency, this is largely where he is focusing for now. 

“I want to bring together other veterans who the system has given up on. I want them to keep going and to give them a useful talent,” he said. “I want to bring them into building the houses – not a donation, but give me the tools, teach me how to do for myself, let me work with others who speak the way I do, and let me see the fruits of my labor at the end of the day.”

Given the design of “Milwaukee Packout,” Smith has reached out to the tool company and made contact with a local representative, a relationship he hopes to grow.

Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero Hugh Smith, Jr. and His Milwaukee Packout Bike
Hugh Smith, Jr. and his 2006 Yamaha Road Star “Milwaukee Packout” won the Best Japanese category on Day 3 of the 2023 Americade Bring It Bike Show. (Photo by Matt Gustafson, @gustophotos)

He has also gone back to school and is currently about halfway through the New York State Code Enforcement program, so he’ll have qualifications beyond carpentry and can help certify some of these building projects. He wants to see – and be a part of – more projects like the Foreverly House.

He said that while it’s the only one of its kind currently, “it can’t always be the only one of its kind.”

“You see one, do one, and teach one,” he said. “The Foreverly House is something that should be taught. It should be laid out as a blueprint and duplicated and not just championed as ‘Yes, we’ve done a wonderful thing.’” 

Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero Hugh Smith, Jr. and His Milwaukee Packout Bike
2006 Yamaha Road Star “Milwaukee Packout” (Photo by Greg Drevenstedt)

These plans won’t be easy. Smith admits his story is still developing, and he was a little hesitant to tell that story when we reached out. He still struggles with self-confidence and says he often feels like a “second-class citizen.” He has had a hard time finding a place where he feels like he belongs, largely because he was told by so many during his recovery that he didn’t fit in. But he circled back to the support and camaraderie of the Leathernecks.

“Those gentlemen kept me around long enough until something clicked, and then something else clicked, and then something else. I don’t know if it’s all clicked yet, but I did give a little. And hopefully it will help.”

Smith wants to accomplish more, but we are already impressed with what he’s done and wish him the best of luck with the next chapter in his story.

The post Americade Bring It Bike Show Hero: Hugh Smith, Jr. and his ‘Milwaukee Packout’ Bike appeared first on Rider Magazine.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Steed Rides Again for Veteran Suicide – This Time with a Crew

Ride for Light veteran suicide
L-R: Perry Steed, Jason Conyers, and Bruce Knobloch getting in some practice miles before their Ride for Light to raise awareness of veteran suicide.

Just because his first mission is complete doesn’t mean the battle is over for Perry Steed. In May 2022, the former Army paratrooper set out on his first Ride for Light, hitting 48 states on his BMW R 1200 GS and carrying the ashes of two brothers in arms. His goal was to raise awareness for the issue of veteran suicide. Two years later, Steed is taking a second Ride for Light, but this time, he’s kicking it up a notch, taking the show on the road – or more appropriately, making the road into a show.

Related: Veteran Takes a 15,000-mile ‘Ride for Light’

The 2024 Ride for Light will still be under the banner of Operation: Purpose, the 501(c)(3) that Steed set up to foster and nurture a community of veterans in Wilmington, North Carolina, which has a large military population. However, the ride itself is more about the larger epidemic of veteran suicide. And this time, Steed won’t be riding alone.

“We’re a blended crew this year,” he told me. “I’ve got my battle buddy who I actually grew up with. He and I joined the Army within a couple of days of each other. We had the same job, went through basic training and AIT (advanced individual training) together, and were at Fort Bragg together.”

Ride for Light veteran suicide
L-R: Perry Steed, Bruce Knobloch, and Jason Conyers.

Steed said Bruce Knobloch came to see him the night Steed’s oldest child was born, but after that the two men lost track of each other for almost 19 years until reconnecting this past summer.

Knobloch has been a motorcycle enthusiast for 20 years. When the two met up after all those years and the 2022 Ride for Light came up in conversation, Knobloch told Steed that he would’ve gone along if he had known about it.

“I told him, ‘Well, I’m doing it again.’”

The other addition to the crew is cinematographer Jason Conyers.

“When I got back from my 2022 ride, I joined the American Legion and became a Legion Rider because they really showed up and supported me,” Steed said, adding that one of the Legion Riders he met was Conyers, who was out of the Navy and had a film studies degree. “I was telling him what I was wanting to do, and he’s like, ‘Well, I’ll go with you, and I’ll document the whole thing.’”

Steed tapped some of his other resources, including a film studies professor at the University of Colorado and an art director for North Carolina PBS, who told him that once a documentary gets on one PBS station, the other states will pick it up.

“Of course, I gotta be censored a little bit,” Steed said. “I can’t just let it fly, but that’s fine.”

The 2024 Ride for Light began taking shape. There was just one glitch. On the 2022 Ride for Light, Steed had taken several opportunities to ride his GS off-road. This was something he wanted to do even more for the 2024 ride. When it came to Knobloch, Steed said if there was anyone in the high school yearbook with the caption “Least likely to own a Harley-Davidson,” it would’ve been Knobloch, yet that’s all he had owned since. He recently traded a CVO Street Glide for a Pan America. 

However, Conyers had a Low Rider.

“I told him, ‘You ain’t going with me on that bike.’”

Unsure what to do, Steed got on a call with a guy he met through some restoration work Steed had done on a 1961 BMW R50S. He told Steed “consider me a friend” and offered up business advice.

Ride for Light veteran suicide
1961 BMW R50S restored by Perry Steed.

“I needed someone who was not close to me that I could run some of this shit by, because everything I say, people are like ‘Yeah, man, that’s a great idea.’ I know not all my ideas are great, and I need someone who will tell me, ‘That’s freakin’ stupid.’”

During the phone call with Sean Slovenski, Steed explained Operation: Purpose and the Ride for Light, and in a stroke of good fortune, Slovenski donated two bikes: a 2010 BMW R 1200 GS with just 15,000 miles on it and a 2009 BMW R 1200 RT.

“He said, ‘Do whatever you want with the bikes,’” Steed said, adding that Slovenski recognized that the RT didn’t necessarily fit with the trip. Slovenski told Steed he could sell it to help fund the trip and that Conyers could ride the GS.

Related: Perry Steed | Ep. 52 Rider Magazine Insider Podcast

With the bikes lined up, the trio set a launch date for May 18 from Beaufort, South Carolina, after they attend an event with Operation Patriots FOB, a veterans and first responders support group.

Ride for Light veteran suicide
Working with Bruce on his bike, adding Denali D7 lights and a few other parts before the trip.

Steed told me the plans for the ride with a mix of excitement and reverence for the places they’ll be riding and visiting.

They’ll start with the South Carolina Adventure Route – or SCAR.

“We’re gonna ride part of that from Beaufort up to Suches, Georgia, and then we’ll head backcountry through Tennessee and Kentucky to get up to Louisville,” he said, adding that the good thing about the SCAR for someone without a lot of off-road riding experience like Conyers is that it’s mostly just two-lane road. “There’s some dirt and gravel, but nothing crazy.”

However, he said the real exciting part will be the BLM land out West.

Ride for Light veteran suicide
Jason’s BMW GS in a little deeper than expected.

“You know, really getting off the beaten path, out to where there’s no lights, no light pollution, and it’s just us out there. Three guys, talking smack and eating and sleeping under the stars.”

As for their on-road plans, Steed said they intend to visit a variety of places, from veterans cemeteries to a speaking engagement at an American Legion nursing home in Minnesota to the location of a large parcel of land that is being turned into a veterans retreat by a family who lost their son to suicide.

As with the first trip, they’ll be carrying the ashes of veterans.

“There’s a really horrible statistic that I want to lay on you that will blow your mind,” Steed told me. “There’s over 3,000 unclaimed veteran remains every year. A lot of these guys – very often Vietnam vets – through whatever happens, when they die, no one is able to locate the next of kin.”

Steed said there is a nonprofit organization in Wilmington called Veterans Memorial Reef that takes ashes and inters them in an artificial reef 5 miles offshore.

“I told them I would pick up whatever I can carry along the ride. So I’m leaving room on my bike for that.”

But as Steed said in 2022, this isn’t a trip about death. It’s a trip about life, so along the way, they’ll make “buddy checks” with as many other veterans as possible, spreading hope, love, and camaraderie.  

That’s the most important aspect of the ride, and Steed said even if they don’t end up making a documentary, he just wants to get these two other guys out on road.

When I first connected with Steed in 2022, he was already a couple months into his ride and had stopped in Mexican Hat, a small town in southeastern Utah that was a favorite place of his father-in-law, an important figure in Steed’s life.

When I called him this time around to talk about Ride for Light 2024, he said that just the night before, he had been replaying in his head that conversation we had almost two years ago.

“I was thinking about where I was at. I see constant reminders when I’m in my office, these little mementos from my trip, and I remember exactly where I was.”

Steed said that Conyers has been fortunate in that he’s done a few cross-country trips – but not Knobloch.

“Every veteran needs to see and experience what they fought to preserve,” he said. “I need to get these guys out on the road…and get myself back out there too.”

To learn more about the Ride for Light 2024 or to donate to the cause, visit the Operation: Purpose website or follow on Facebook.


If you or someone you know is in danger because of suicidal thoughts or actions, call 911 immediately. Suicide is an emergency that requires help by trained medical professionals and should always be treated seriously.

Nationwide suicide hotlines, 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) and 1-800-273-TALK (8255), have counselors available 24/7. Other resources include Suicide.org, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the American Association of Suicidology. All provide comprehensive information and help on the issue of suicide, from prevention to treatment to coping with loss.

The post Steed Rides Again for Veteran Suicide – This Time with a Crew appeared first on Rider Magazine.

Source: RiderMagazine.com