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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

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. 

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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

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

Backcountry Discovery Routes | Ep. 70 Rider Magazine Insider Podcast

Rider Magazine Insider Podcast Episode 70 Backcountry Discovery Routes

Our guests on Episode 70 of the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast are Paul Guillien and Ron West of the Backcountry Discovery Routes organization, which is a nonprofit that creates off-highway routes for dual-sport and adventure motorcycle travel and recreation. The newest Backcountry Discover Route is in Northern California and covers 940 miles off-pavement from Mammoth Lakes to the high desert of the Modoc Plateau at the Oregon border.

LINKS: RideBDR.com, @ridebdr on Instagram, Backcountry Discover Routes on Facebook

You can check out Episode 70 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.

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

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Source: RiderMagazine.com

MV Agusta International Women’s Day Event

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event

This year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) held particular significance for me as I had the distinct privilege of touring the KTM North American headquarters for esteemed motorcycle brands such as KTM, Husqvarna, GasGas, and a newcomer to the company, MV Agusta.  

The evening before the IWD ride, Olivia Goheen (MV Agusta’s Marketing Manager) invited all the female media personnel to dinner. Upon arrival at Gourmet Italia in Temecula, I greeted both familiar faces and new acquaintances. The evening unfolded with a delightful dinner, engaging conversations, and a convivial atmosphere that fostered a sense of belonging. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event

Touring Pierer Mobility North America 

The subsequent morning began with a visit to Pierer Mobility North America headquarters, where a fleet of 13 MV Agustas awaited us. Before our ride, we toured the facility. Stepping through the grand entrance, I was greeted by a spacious layout adorned with an array of motorcycles and captivating imagery showcasing MV Agusta’s legacy. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event

Among the highlights of our tour was the training room, where local dealer mechanics undergo comprehensive instruction on servicing the Austrian and Italian brands. This chamber, replete with meticulously dissected motors, provided insight into the internal workings of these engines. Notably, transparent valve covers, exposed cams, and cut-out stator covers offered a tactile understanding. One particularly captivating example stood out to me: a vertically cut cylinder revealing a piston nestled at the nadir of its stroke. Additionally, an electric motorcycle motor was dissected to expose its internal data boards, exemplifying the thoroughness of the presentation. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event
MV Agusta F3

Following this enlightening experience, we proceeded to the electric-assist and pedal bike servicing area, catering to an assortment of brands including Husqvarna, GasGas, Felt, and R Raymond. The staff exhibited notable enthusiasm in presenting the recently arrived MV Agusta Rush 1000, which had just been transported to the facility. Exquisite craftsmanship and aesthetic elegance were prominently showcased in this meticulously designed motorcycle adorned with a striking combination of red, black, and carbon fiber accents. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event

Our journey then led us to the motorsports building, which is dedicated to the factory race teams. As soon as you walk through the doors, the illustrious histories of KTM, Husqvarna, and GasGas are celebrated through an impressive display of trophies on the wall. As we navigated through the bustling workshop, conversations with factory race mechanics provided invaluable insights into the meticulous preparation of the on- and off-road motorcycles destined for competition. We proceeded through the suspension assembly area before reaching the engine workshop, where an array of over 100 engines awaited deployment for various racing events. Among these engines was one meticulously tuned for optimal performance at the high elevation of Pikes Peak, Colorado. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event

Prior to a sumptuous lunch, we were introduced to the dedicated women of KTM NA, whose integral roles within the organization underscored a commitment to diversity and inclusivity. After lunch, we got the opportunity to ride an assortment of MV Agustas. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event

Riding MV Agusta Motorcycles  

The motorcycle assigned to me initially was the Dragster RR SCS America, a limited production model with only 300 units handcrafted in Italy. Several features immediately caught my attention. The transparent clutch cover, the distinct separation between the seat and subframe revealing the background, and the carbon fiber wheel cover with red, white, and blue accents all contributed to the motorcycle’s unique aura. As a 5-foot-6 petite woman, I found the 33.3-inch seat height to be easily manageable, allowing both of my feet to firmly touch the ground. The riding position proved to be remarkably comfortable for a high-performance motorcycle, with the upright handlebars adding to the overall ergonomic appeal. 

Related: MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America | First Ride Review 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event
MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America

Upon ignition, the 5.5-inch TFT display underwent a brief but thorough eight-second diagnostic check, ensuring optimal functionality of the battery voltage and other electronic components before permitting engine startup. As I rode, the bike’s Smart Clutch System operation felt familiar to me, drawing parallels to the experience with the Rekluse clutch in my KTM 500EXC. The launch control functionality was particularly impressive, delivering rapid and seamless acceleration while keeping the front wheel down enough to prevent too much height. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event
MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America

As we navigated twisty roads, I encountered a subtle bump on an uphill corner, causing the front wheel to lift momentarily. The responsiveness of the motorcycle was such that I scarcely noticed the maneuver until the front wheel returned to the ground, reflecting the seamless handling characteristic of the Dragster America special edition. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event
MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America

I then transitioned to the Brutale 1000, which offered a similar riding experience as the Dragster, albeit without the SCS. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event
MV Agusta Brutale 1000RR

At the next stop, I switched to the F3, a visually striking red sport bike characterized by its aggressive seating position and edgy gas tank design. Equipped with a 3-cylinder 675cc engine and a built-in lap timer, the F3 exuded a sense of performance prowess. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event

Upon reaching a spacious open area, I had the opportunity to fully experience the performance of the F3, which exhibited a strong inclination for spirited acceleration. Despite its dynamic capabilities, prolonged riding on the F3 proved taxing on my hands and wrists, emphasizing the intensity of its performance-oriented design. 

After riding several MV Agusta models, I was impressed by the diverse range of experiences afforded by the motorcycles, each offering a unique blend of performance, craftsmanship, and ergonomic comfort. 

Uniting Women Riders 

The day concluded with a visit to the esteemed Doffo winery, where a private dinner awaited us in the motorcycle room. Against the backdrop of fine wines and exquisite cuisine prepared by a talented female chef, we reflected on the significance of IWD. It was a fitting tribute to the countless contributions of women in motorcycling, a sentiment echoed by one of the owner’s daughters who explained her love for motorcycles and graciously extended her appreciation on this auspicious occasion. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event

As we departed, the camaraderie forged during our time together lingered, a testament to the bonds forged through shared passions and experiences. Indeed, this IWD celebration served as a poignant reminder of the strides made by women in traditionally male-dominated fields, inspiring us all to continue pushing boundaries and challenging stereotypes. 

I am thankful to MV Agusta and Olivia Goheen for providing opportunities to connect, collaborate, and ride together, fostering a more inclusive motorcycle community. Here’s to next year’s International Women’s Day with MV Agusta and the continued empowerment of female riders. Cheers! 

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2024 Adventure Bikes with Kevin Duke (Part 2) | Ep. 69 Rider Magazine Insider Podcast

Rider Magazine Insider Podcast 2024 Adventure Bikes Kevin Duke

Episode 69 of the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast is sponsored by FLY Racing. Host Greg Drevenstedt invites his friend Kevin Duke, a veteran motojournalist who is editor-in-chief of American Rider, to talk about adventure bikes, which represent nearly half of the more than 70 new/updated motorcycles announced for the 2024 model year. 

LINKS: FLYracing.com, @flyracingUSA on Instagram 

Related: 2024 Motorcycle Buyers Guide: New Street Models

You can check out Episode 69 on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPodbean, and YouTube or via the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast webpage. Please subscribe, leave us a 5-star rating, and tell your friends!

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

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10 Most Significant Motorcycles of the Last 50 Years

The following feature on the 10 most significant motorcycles of the last 50 years first appeared in the March issue of Rider as part of our new “Rider Rewind” feature, a monthly tribute to various aspects of either motorcycling history or the 50-year history of the magazine, which was founded in 1974.

During Rider’s 50‑year history, we’ve announced, featured, tested, and toured on thousands of motorcycles. We’ve covered a wide spectrum that includes pretty much anything with a license plate: cruisers, tourers (sport/luxury/traditional), sportbikes, standards, adventure bikes, dual‑sports, cafe racers, classics, scooters, trikes, electric bikes, and some that defy easy categorization. Here are 10 significant motorcycles that changed the course of two-wheeled history.

1. 1975 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing

10 Most Significant Motorcycles 1975 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing

We’ve got a soft spot for the Gold Wing because it was introduced soon after Rider got started. With its driveshaft and liquid‑cooled engine, the Wing has evolved over the past 49 years from a naked high‑performance machine to a luxury tourer, from four cylinders to six, and from a displacement of 1,000cc to 1,833cc. Its first dresser version all but killed the aftermarket for fairings and saddlebags, and later versions introduced the first motorcycle airbag and were available with Honda’s automatic Dual Clutch Transmission.

Honda Gold Wing Timeline: 1972-2018

2. 1981 BMW R 80 G/S

10 Most Significant Motorcycles 1980 BMW R 80 GS

The R 80 G/S was the first motorcycle that delivered on‑road comfort and performance and genuine off‑road capability in equal measure, and its air‑cooled “boxer” flat‑Twin and driveshaft could be traced back to BMW’s first production motorcycle, the 1923
R 32. Between 1981 and 1985, the G/S (the slash was later dropped) notched four wins in the grueling Paris‑Dakar Rally. After launching the adventure bike revolution and becoming BMW’s bestselling model, the completely new R 1300 GS was unveiled on BMW Motorrad’s 100th anniversary.

2024 BMW R 1300 GS Review | First Ride

3. 1984 Harley‑Davidson FXST Softail

10 Most Significant Motorcycles 1984 Harley-Davidson FXST Softail

In 1983, Harley‑Davidson was in deep trouble. Its old Shovelhead motor had run its course, so the MoCo introduced a new 80ci Evolution motor, an air‑cooled, 45‑degree V‑Twin with aluminum heads and numerous improvements. It was offered in several ’84 models, including the new custom‑look Softail, which appeared to have a classic hardtail frame but concealed dual shock absorbers under its engine. That Evo motor helped save the company, and the Softail was a huge success, paving the way for the Harley‑Davidson juggernaut of the ’90s and beyond.

See all of Rider‘s Harley-Davidson coverage here.

4. 1986 Suzuki GSX‑R750

10 Most Significant Motorcycles 1986 Suzuki GSX-R750

Before the Gixxer appeared, a “sportbike” was a standard motorcycle to which the owner had added engine mods, a lower handlebar, and suspension and braking upgrades, all in an exhaustive and expensive effort to improve power and handling. With its oil‑cooled inline‑Four and aluminum frame, the lightweight GSX‑R750 was track‑ready right out of the box. The GSX‑R launched the sportbike wars among the Japanese Big Four, and 600cc, 750cc, and 1,000cc models sold like hotcakes and won numerous championships.

Suzuki GSX-R750: The First Generation 1986-1987

5. 1987 Kawasaki KLR650

10 Most Significant Motorcycles 1987 Kawasaki KLR650

When it punched its KLR600 dual‑sport out to 650cc for 1987, Kawasaki struck a near‑perfect balance between on‑road comfort and off‑road capability, and it went on to sell a boatload of KLR650s without making significant changes for decades. A true do‑it‑all, go‑anywhere machine that was both affordable and bulletproof, the KLR became a popular choice for round‑the‑world travelers and helped launch an ADV aftermarket cottage industry. It got its first major update in 2008, and fuel injection finally arrived in 2022.

Requiem for the Kawasaki KLR650 (1987-2018)

6. 1990 Honda ST1100

10 Most Significant Motorcycles 1990 Honda ST1100

By 1989, sport‑tourers were either a low‑buck Kawasaki Concours or a high‑dollar BMW, both of which had been adapted from other models. In 1990, Honda made the bold move of introducing a purpose‑built sport‑tourer with a full fairing, integrated bodywork, removable saddlebags, and shaft drive. Its liquid‑cooled, longitudinal V‑Four was designed specifically for this model, which was known for its plush suspension, comfortable seat, and huge 7.4‑gallon tank. The ST1100 was a big hit and helped establish the open‑class sport‑touring segment.

Retrospective: 1990-2002 Honda ST1100

7. 1993 Ducati M900 “Monster”

10 Most Significant Motorcycles 1993 Ducati M900 Monster

Known for exotic, sophisticated motorcycles that win races and steal hearts, one of Ducati’s most endearing and enduring models is the Monster. Embracing simplicity, designer Miguel Galluzzi said, “All you need is a saddle, tank, engine, two wheels, and handlebars.” The M900 (nicknamed “Monster”) had a steel trellis frame, an air‑cooled 904cc L‑Twin, a “bison‑back” gas tank, a tubular handlebar, and a round headlight. An instant hit, it spawned numerous Monster models and came to define what a naked bike should look like.

2023 Ducati Monster SP | First Look Review

8. 2001 Triumph Bonneville

10 Most Significant Motorcycles 2001 Triumph Bonneville

Few motorcycles are as iconic as the Triumph Bonneville. First introduced in 1959 and named after the famous Utah salt flats where Triumph set a world record, the Bonneville was advertised as “the fastest production motorcycle made” and became hugely popular in the U.K. and America. After Triumph went bankrupt in the early ’80s, the marque was resurrected by John Bloor and relaunched in the mid ’90s. But it wasn’t until 2001 that a modern Bonneville was born, offering a perfect blend of retro style and modern engineering.

2022 Triumph Bonneville Gold Line Editions | First Look Review

9. 2001 Yamaha FZ1

10 Most Significant Motorcycles 2006 Yamaha FZ1

The FZ1 offered liter‑class sportbike performance in a comfortable, street‑friendly package that could be used for commuting, canyon carving, sport‑touring, or trackdays. Derived from the mighty YZF‑R1, its 998cc inline‑Four was retuned for midrange torque but still made 120 hp at the rear wheel. The FZ1 paved the way for powerful, practical sit‑up sportbikes such as the Aprilia Tuono, BMW S 1000 RR, and KTM Super Duke. The 2006 FZ1 (pictured) was our Motorcycle of the Year, and its spirit lives on in Yamaha’s MT‑10.

2006 Yamaha FZ1 Road Test Review

10. 2014 KTM 1190 Adventure

10 Most Significant Motorcycles 2014 KTM 1190 Adventure

Derived from its Dakar Rally‑winning LC8 950R, KTM’s 950/990 Adventure models were the most dirt‑oriented big ADVs on the market from 2003‑2013. In 2014, KTM launched the 1190 Adventure, which offered sportbike levels of street performance while still being highly capable in the dirt. Its LC8 V‑Twin cranked out 150 hp, and its state‑of‑the‑art electronics included not only ride modes, traction control, and electronic suspension but also the world’s first cornering ABS system, ushering in the current era of high‑tech ADVs.

2014 KTM 1190 Adventure | Road Test Review

So do you agree? Or do you have other opinions on the most significant motorcycles of the past 50 years? Comment below or visit our Facebook or Instagram pages. We’re sure there will be some lively debate on this one.

And now that you’ve taken this blast down memory lane of our choices of the 10 most significant motorcycles, be sure to check out Rider‘s 2024 Motorcycle Buyers Guide for some newer bike choices.

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

Rider Magazine Insider Podcast 2024 Motorcycles Kevin Duke

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

Related: 2024 Motorcycle Buyers Guide: New Street Models

LINKS: FLYracing.com@flyracingUSA on Instagram

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

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

The post 2024 Motorcycles with Kevin Duke (Part 1) | Ep. 68 Rider Magazine Insider Podcast appeared first on Rider Magazine.

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Riding South Dakota’s Black Hills BDR-X

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

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

Black Hills BDR-X

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting the Hook

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

Related: 2023 CFMOTO Ibex 800 T | Road Test Review 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related: Backcountry Discovery Routes Announces Economic Impact of BDR Routes

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

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

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

Black Hills Gold

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rally for Rangers Sidebar

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black Hills BDR-X

Black Hills BDR-X Resources:

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