Spectro Performance Oils’ Spectro Shine is a silicone-based spray-on cleaner/polish that gives your motorcycle, ATV, UTV, scooter, automobile, snowmobile or watercraft a showroom finish. It creates a protective barrier that keeps road grime, bugs, grease, dust, dirt and mud from sticking to polished surfaces. For the best results, first clean your vehicle with Spectro Motorcycle Wash and then finish with Spectro Shine. An 18-ounce can retails for $10.99.
What do bikers believe in the most? I’d venture a guess that the most common answer is freedom. When you’re going down the highway at 130km/h, you get the impression that the world is your playground. Nothing can stop you when you’re moving that fast, with the wind blowing in your face and all is right with the world. That feeling you get is freedom, and that’s what a motorcycle represents.
Even if you’ve never thought about it as such, your love of motorcycles can also be your pipeline to financial freedom. The motorcycle industry is currently experiencing some interesting changes. With those changes come a stream of new trends that a savvy entrepreneur with a love for two wheels and a motor could take advantage of.
If you want to make money with your love of riding, tap into these four trends that the motorcycle industry is experiencing.
1. Shifting to a Younger Demographic
The motorcycle industry was built by the Baby Boomer Generation. Their desire to get on the open road and enjoy all that life had to offer meant that the motorcycle lifestyle was a perfect match for them. However, as the Boomers grow older and start to retire, they just aren’t investing in the industry like they used to. That’s a problem in and of itself but it gets worse: there aren’t as many young riders to take their place.
That’s quickly changing. Execs of motorcycle manufacturers all over the globe are slowly starting to realise that they’ve failed to reach a younger, progressive, more diverse audience. And they’re working to change that. Gone are the big, flashy, $30K Harleys of yesteryear; in are the vintage cool models that harken back to the 50s and 60s, when motorbikes had their own unique edge. That, and they cost under $10K.
How You Can Bridge the Generational Gap
One of the biggest reservations Millennials have about getting into motorcycles is the cost. Already rattled by record levels of student debt and ever-growing inflation, Millennials are more frugal, whether they want to be or not. Buying a big, expensive Harley just seems like another unnecessary debt.
What they’re asking for is an easier, more inexpensive way to get into the lifestyle. Ride-sharing, which has been popularised by the Uber and Lyft models for cars, could easily be extended to motorcycles. You could rent out your own bike, or even develop your own mobile app centred around motorcycle ride-sharing.
2. The Rise of the Electronic Bike
There was a time when vehicles powered completely by electricity was the stuff of science fiction. With a greater emphasis on environmental conservation against the rising cost of fuel, automotive manufacturers across the globe are trying to turn science fiction into science fact. The motorbike industry is no exception.
A Super Charge for Your Bank Account
As the demand for electric bikes grows, manufacturers are going to invest more money into R&D and marketing towards these electric bikes. Many sources from within the industry and those who watch it closely say that electric bikes will be what saves the industry. By investing now, when giants like Harley Davidsons’ stocks are at their lowest point, you can enjoy a big return on your investment when those stocks grow.
3. Growth in Motorcycle Accessories
While actual sales of bikes have been slowing for the past few years, sales of motorcycle accessories have continued at a healthy pace. It may not seem apparent why at first, but consider the following:
As technology advances, helmets, pads, gloves, and the like become more lightweight and more supportive
Old accessories wear out and need replacing
Bikers who’ve lived their entire life riding on two wheels can’t ever have too much gear
When you consider all of the above it makes perfect sense. People may struggle to drop $15K on a new Ducati but it’s not too hard to get a $50 jacket with the logo of a beloved brand.
Give the People What They Want
No big mystery about how to tap into this steady source of revenue. If you want to make some good money through accessories, you need to start up an online business that sells them. The advantage of using a web-based platform is that you can opt for a drop-shipping model. This means that you don’t have to maintain or ship your own inventory. When you do get an order, you contact your supplier, and they ship the product directly to the customer. You make money, your supplier makes money, your customers get great products – everybody wins.
4. Women Want to Ride Too
If there’s one demographic that the motorcycle industry is kicking itself over, it’s women. Back in 2015, the number of women riders reached a new all-time high. The Motorcycle Industry Council reported at the time that women accounted for around 14% of all riders on the road. The issue is that companies are marketing to the same group they have been for close to 40 years: Baby Boomer men. As far as women go, the industry’s outlook has been way out of touch – make it smaller, make it pink.
The awesome thing is that women riders, especially in Australia, are gaining traction, whether the industry pays them any attention or not.
Make the Ladies Feel Welcome
Because it’s good business, and because it’s the right thing to do, you need to start looking at ways to encourage more female ridership. One thing you could consider doing is to start your own motorcycle rider’s training service. As more young riders get into the life, especially young women, they’re going to want mentors who can help them get into the lifestyle, choose the best gear, and of course, learn to ride.
It’d also be an awesome idea to start your own women’s motorcycle club. There’s plenty of MCs out there that cater to men exclusively. It’s way past time that the ladies had their time to shine.
Why is that so many motorcycles have rearview mirrors that are better at providing a view of your shoulders than of what’s behind you? Good explanations are nonexistent, but I’m sure it has a little to do with a lot–styling, clearance, cost, etc.–because the manufacturers of our motorcycles just aren’t that inconsiderate without reason. On the other hand, they’re the ones who have started including fiddly little cables that loop around underseat hooks as a substitute for convenient keyed helmet locks, and I can’t think of anything less considerate that that. Dang cables are never long enough, and removing the seat can be a pain if luggage is installed.
Leave it to an engineer to do something about this stuff rather than just complain about it. You have probably heard of Al Jesse–he’s the guy who created a line of rugged motorcycle luggage suitable for around-the-world travel that is still highly sought after by big-mileage ADV riders. As part of a semi-retirement plan Jesse recently sold the luggage business to the guy who fabricated it for him, and is now happily tinkering away on other projects under the Moto Manufacturing banner. They include the MirrorLok, an ingenious little bolt-on that he designed to address the problems of obstructed mirror view, vibration and the lack of a helmet lock on many motorcycles.
The MirrorLok starts with a solid hunk of black powdercoated aluminum a little less than 3 x 1 x 1 inches in size that has smooth, rounded edges. This mounts to your existing mirror mount on one end, extending outward at the angle of your choice. Your stock mirror mounts in the outward end in a threaded socket dampened with thick polyurethane O-rings, which absorb vibration and improve the view in the mirror. On my BMW R 1200 GS, both mirrors ended up about 1-inch higher and about 2.5 inches farther out as well as clearer at speed on the highway, greatly enhancing the view to the rear.
Appreciating multi-purpose designs, Jesse has also included a sturdy spring-loaded, pushbutton-locking shackle on the MirrorLok for helmet D-rings or cable loops (yes, even the cheapo one that came with the bike) that opens with a key. Moto Manufacturing also offers its own sturdy gear security cables in a 16-inch length to make it easier to secure helmets with or without D-rings to the shackle (e.g. around the chinbar), and a 42-inch length for multiple helmets and/or other riding gear such as jackets and overpants.
I had no trouble at all installing the MirrorLoks, though more detailed instructions would have made it easier still (the installation video on the website does help). Vibration blur in both mirrors has been reduced enough to notice a difference, and I especially like the wider field of view–it allows me to see not just around my shoulders but nearly the entire lane behind me and well out to the sides. The only downside is that I tend to bump into the mirrors more often now getting on and off and walking around the parked bike (perhaps this is another reason the manufacturers make them narrow…).
I would suggest investing in MirrorLoks primarily for the wider field of view and the helmet lock(s), since how much mirror clarity improvement you experience will vary from bike-to-bike. And though they’re sold as a pair you don’t necessarily have to install both….
MirrorLoks retail for $125 per pair and come with mounting hardware specific to your bike, as well as a promise from Moto Manufacturing to make good on any defects. The 16-inch gear cable is $8.95 and the 42-inch is $12.95.
It may be safe to say that most (if not all) riders have, at one time or another, dropped a bike. After all, a motorcycle’s natural resting position is lying on its side. I’m not talking about crashing, but just your foot slipping out when you come to a stop. It happens, even in the privacy of your own garage. Then the bike has to be put back on its wheels, and it might well be too heavy for a one-person pick up–depending on the person, of course. It’s not bad when you’re riding with a group, except for the embarrassment, or when a pickup with two construction workers stops to help, but if it’s just you….
MotoBikeJack to the rescue. This lifting device weighs a mere eight pounds and comes in four pieces. The base is five inches square, big enough to support it if the bike is on soft ground. Three steel shafts fit into the base, giving a height of more than 30 inches, and the ratchet at the top holds 40 inches of webbed strap, with a vinyl-covered hook at the end. Hook entry is 1.25 inches wide. All this rolls into a storage bag, which ends up some 15 inches long, and roughly five inches in diameter.
Bike is on its side. We presume you have not carried the jack in a clamshell saddlebag that is now lying face-down on the ground. Assemble the four parts, pull the strap out from the ratchet, hook it to some secure place, like the frame or footpeg, and then place the assembly at mid-bike, touching the saddle. It’s best to inspect your bike when you first receive the MBJ to figure out where, on both sides, is the best place to hook the hook. Remember, if your frame section is 1.5 inches wide, the hook won’t fit.
Then ratchet away. Wait! Make sure the bike is in gear, or use the included hook-and-loop strip to secure the front brake. You don’t want it rolling.
As you ratchet, the bike will lift and the jack assembly will lean into the saddle, with the baseplate beginning to tilt up. Worry not, this is how it is supposed to work, and you can brace the plate with your foot. To protect the saddle put the empty storage bag between the strap and the saddle. Ray, the designer of this jack, says it has a 1,000-pound capacity.
Ratcheting away, the bike will rise to a full 90 degrees standing, but it’s best to stop a few degrees short of that, allowing you to get a leg over the saddle and get the kickstand down. If the bike fell on the right side, do put the kickstand down before you start.
There are hundreds of different scenarios to contemplate, whether the bike has fallen over on pavement, or flat ground, or a rutted dirt road or on a slope–and is it lying downhill or uphill? You might have to get creative. I tested the MBJ by picking up my 500-pound Suzuki V-Strom twice, then a kindly neighbor laid his 650-pound Harley Low Rider flat on a bit of grass; it was a crawl to get the hook in place using the rear peg. Finally a friend offered to drop his 800-pound Gold Wing 1800 on his lawn. All came up easily.
The website says the price for the MotoBikeJack is $216, plus shipping. Once you buy this jack and carry it wherever you might go, fate might well step in to make sure you never have to use it.
Original Grip Buddies neoprene motorcycle comfort grips with Smartskin Technology add cushion to hard rubber OEM grips and provide a grippy, tactile feel through gloved hands. Because they fit over OEM grips, they add slightly to grip circumference. Many riders like that added grip thickness, but for riders who don’t, there’s now a thinner alternative.
Original Grip Buddies has added a Lite version to its Smartskin Comfort Grip product line for riders with smaller hands or anyone who wants the comfort and grip benefits with less bulk. Smartskin Lite comfort grips are made from the same rubber-rich neoprene as the originals, they’re just thinner: 3.2mm for Lite vs. 4.7mm for the original.
Smartskin grips are different from the foam tubes that slide over OEM grips. Made by hand in upstate New York in sizes to fit specific bike models, these rectangles of textured neoprene wrap around the bike’s handgrip. Installation is quick and easy. Just clean the grip with alcohol wipes (included in the kit), stick the adhesive strip along the length of the bike’s grip, then wrap the Smartskin grip around it. The sewn-in strip of hook-and-loop fastener holds it securely in place, and with a little fine-tuning you’ll have it all lined up. There is a seam, but align it where the crotch of your thumb is positioned on the handgrip and you won’t notice it.
If you want that same cushion, grip and appearance of Smartskin grips to extend all the way down onto your bar ends, Original Grip Buddies offers Bar End Buddies. Depending on the shape and width of your bike’s bar ends, both straight and tapered versions are available.
I’ve used Smartskin grips for years on my Honda ST1300, BMW R 1200 RT and Kawasaki Versys, and I like the improvement in hand comfort and control they provide compared to hard rubber OEM grips, especially over long distances. I put a set of the new Lite version on the Versys. The texture and tactile feel is the same as the originals and I found I prefer the less bulky version. I also noticed that the aftermarket grip heaters on my Versys heat up noticeably faster with the thinner Smartskin Lites compared to the originals I had before.
So why did I replace the originals? I’ve come to appreciate that what makes Smartskin grips work so well also makes them a wear item. Just as rubber tires interact with the road surface and gradually get used up, Smartskin grips interact with your gloved hands and over time they gradually get used up. Fortunately, at $24.95 it’s not expensive to wrap on a fresh set (in my case after three seasons). Just like a fresh set of tires, a fresh set of Smartskin grips feels great.
For more information, call (518) 461-3003 or visit originalgripbuddies.com.
As diehard motorcyclists, we all know that the long-term viability of our favorite pastime depends on getting the next generation on two wheels. Getting the youngster(s) in your life on two wheels could mean a 50cc dirt bike with an auto-clutch and a throttle limiter. But just as we need to learn to walk before we can run, toddlers need to learn balance before they can ride.
That’s where a Strider balance bike comes in. It looks like a pint-sized BMX bike with a straight handlebar, a height-adjustable solo seat and chunky tires, but it doesn’t have pedals. Kids sit on the Strider like a normal bike and their feet can touch the ground. To move forward, they just walk their feet alongside of the bike, Fred Flintstone-style–slow at first, then faster until before you know it they’re running.
The balance part comes in when kids get a good head of steam going. Once rolling at a decent clip they simply pick up their feet, coast along and learn to balance themselves by a combination of intuition and trial-and-error. And by learning balance from the get-go, they can skip right over training wheels when they move up to a pedal bike.
A couple of years ago we gave a Strider to Auggie, the son of my long-time riding buddy Paul, for Christmas. It was a Strider 12 Sport in bright red, along with a size-adjustable helmet with a cool stars-and-stripes paint job (one of Paul’s nicknames among our group of dual-sport riders is Captain America–like father, like son).
Weighing just 6.7 pounds, the Strider 12 Sport has a steel frame, 12-inch mag wheels with EVA polymer tires that never go flat or need air, tool-free adjustability for the seat and handlebar, built-in footrests, a padded seat, mini grips for small hands and a cushy handlebar pad. Seat height ranges from 11 to 19 inches and it fits children with inseams from 12 to 20 inches.
At the time Auggie was 16 months old, just shy of the Strider 12’s target age range of 18 months to 5 years. He wasn’t interested in the Strider at first, preferring the security and ease of being chauffeured around by Dad in his four-wheeled push car. He wasn’t too keen on wearing the helmet either. But one day while playing at a park, Auggie saw other boys on Striders and he ran over to them and wanted to go for a ride. Peer pressure isn’t always bad!
Within 6 months of getting his Strider, Auggie didn’t want to do anything else. He constantly pestered his folks: “Mama! Papa! Ride bike?” They live down the street from us, and Auggie would duck walk his Strider up the slight incline to our house with his parents not far behind, then he would put his feet up on the footrests and coast his way back down the sidewalk.
Now that Auggie is 3 years plus a few months, he’s ready to graduate to the Strider 14x, which is designed for ages 3-7 (inseam of 16-23 inches or height of 30-57 inches). It starts off as a no-pedal balance bike, but can be easily converted to a pedal bike with the Easy-Ride Pedal Kit, which includes a fully enclosed chain, special narrow pedals and a coaster brake. Since it’s designed for larger kids, it has 14-inch spoked wheels with pneumatic rubber tires, a taller handlebar and a larger seat.
The other toddler in our life, my niece Nina, got a Strider 12 Sport for Christmas last year when she was 18 months old. My mother gave her a pink one along with a matching helmet. Like Auggie, it took a while for Nina to warm up to it, but the nice thing about the Strider is that it can be adjusted to accommodate a child’s growth so that it fits them perfectly at any appropriate age.
Whether or not Auggie or Nina will become motorcyclists remains to be seen. But at least they’re learning balance and the joys of rolling around on two wheels. And since they’ve been told to wear helmets from day one, they’ll be safe riders whether or not they ever end up with a throttle in their hand.
The Strider 12 Sport no-pedal balance bike for ages 18 months to 5 years is available in blue, green, pink, red, orange or yellow for $119.99, and Strider offers free shipping on orders over $50.
For go-fast kids, there is the Strider 12 Pro ($169.99), which weighs just 5.6 pounds thanks to its aluminum frame and comes with textured performance footrests and a front number plate. And yes, there are even organized Strider races, including the Strider Cup Series and Strider Cup World Championship.
The Strider 14x with Easy-Ride Pedal Kit for ages 3-7 years is available in blue or green for $209.99.
And if you want to start ‘em really young, Strider sells a Baby Bundle ($199.98) for ages 6 months and older, which includes a Strider 12 Sport that fits into a rocking base so they can ride a rocking bike instead of a rocking horse. When the time comes, remove the Strider from the base and they’re ready to balance on two wheels.
You can find Striders co-branded with Honda, KTM and other motorcycle manufacturers, though availability may be limited, and you can find below-MSRP pricing from many retailers. Do an Internet search to find co-branded bikes and/or the best deal.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
See your toy or sporting goods retailer or visit striderbikes.com
If you read our First Ride Review of BMW’s new G 310 GS, or the Mini ADV comparo that followed, you might’ve noticed that one of our complaints about the little GS’s street friendliness was its lack of wind protection. The tiny barely-a-flyscreen was great for bouncing around off-road but not so great once it was time to hit the highway and head home. Living in Southern California means freeways are an unavoidable way of life, so we called up the folks at National Cycle and ordered a VStream Sport Windscreen for our GS.
National Cycle offers three sizes of windscreens for this model, described as Sport, Sport/Touring and Touring, but we decided that with a center height of 14.25 inches and a width of 13.25 inches, the Sport would be plenty big for this pint-sized machine. We also liked its super dark tint, which blended in with the GS’s dark gray paint and pointy nose and didn’t look completely out of place.
The VStream Sport screen is made from 4.5mm Quantum hard-coated polycarbonate; National Cycle says the combo is 30 times more scratch-resistant than acrylic, with better optics and superior UV, chemical, crack and impact resistance. Mounting it is as easy as removing the four 5mm hex head bolts and stock flyscreen, then bolting on the VStream screen with the included 3mm hex bolts.
The improvement in wind protection was immediately apparent. Whereas in stock configuration I was taking the full force of the wind on my chest and (often peaked, wind-grabbing) helmet, with the VStream that wind was diverted around my torso to my shoulders and arms and to the top of my helmet. The larger Sport/Touring and Touring screens would likely decrease wind blast even more, but I found the Sport to be an ideal compromise between a sporty, off-road ADV look and decent protection.
At $129.95 and covered by a three-year warranty against breakage, the VStream Sport Windscreen is a necessary upgrade for any G 310 GS rider looking to better their ride’s road manners, without overpowering the little GS’s aggressive ADV looks.