Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gear Review: Ladies' Rev'It Levante Jacket

It's taken years, but I'm finally ready to embrace the white.  I've been averse to white my entire life.  I wear it; stains gravitate toward me like matter to a black hole.  I've been tempted by the idea that if I wore lighter colored gear, perhaps the heat index inside my jacket wouldn't rise to 115F in a stopped position.  I was eager to take a chance with the Levante, and though I've had the jacket and remained mostly silent for the past few months, the real driver to my silence has been the anticipation of HEAT.  Can you believe I was actually wanting it to be HOT to test the limits of the jacket???  I wanted to ride in something awful to give the jacket a chance to shine.  And shine it did.  I'm always cold so that thermal/waterproof Hydratex liner stayed in until the temps started peaking above 65F.  I waited until the low 90s to really give it a go by comparison with my other "unsuitable" black jackets.

The Levante eschews the need for zipper vents, which are never accessible enough to open mid-ride anyways.  The entire jacket acts like one giant vent once the dual liner is removed, and there is well-placed cinching on the arms and the natural waist, ensuring a perfect or near perfect fit.  The liner is ridiculously easy for this klutz to remove, which hasn't always been the case. I struggle a bit with the Legacy GTX liner, but can honestly say the color-coded snaps and the fact that there are only 5 total with two zipped sections make me happy.  Quick and easy for someone like me who hates a liner challenge.  Easy to wash since no white jacket shouldn't be and because no white jackets stay white for long.  Just remove (easily) the CE-rated shoulder and elbow pads and pop the jacket into the washing machine on hand wash/gentle. Air dry.  The velcro wrist closures are stronger than that of the GTX and really do their job well. I have a short gauntlet on my Held Air Heros and I cover them by securing the jacket at the wrist.

The cons - they are few and minor.  The rear flap pocket is advertised to fit your liner, which is the 2-in-1 thermal/waterproof Hydratex G-Liner.   Not happening.  Even got a second opinion from RevZilla.  I'd really like that to work out because I don't always want to take a tailbag or panniers with me on a ride, but occasionally want to shed a layer.  Interior pockets...once the liner is out, there is only one inside the jacket.  The exterior ones seem to hold paperwork but not much else so I would love to see one more pop in there inside the jacket (not thermal) itself. Elastic at waist of liner in lieu of a zip into the jacket may not have worked in their favor.  I'm long waisted and legged (hence my penchant for Rev'It's "long" pants options - a rarity in ladies gear).  The elastic on the interior liner would occasionally ride up above my pants and move around.  It is more of an annoyance than anything else.  Lastly, at this price point ($299) I wouldn't argue much about the lack of CE-approved back protection, but I will say that I highly recommend upgrading and a suggested manufacturer's improvement would be to design a universal back protector for all of the ladies' Rev'It jackets.

Overall, I'm really pleased with the jacket's performance in warm weather, and it fared very well on my ride through Paso Robles/San Miguel areas where temperatures peaked at around 97F.  I felt comfortable, got curious as to the outside temp, and the BMW said 97F.  Pretty sweet to not feel any discomfort at that temperature while you ride.

Product Link - Rev'It Ladies Levante Jacket

Simple logo, no flashy styling = much appreciated!

Cinching goodness at the natural waist and bicep.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

(MO)terrifically behind...

I've been focusing so much on my baby that I neglected my updates here.  Sorry!  For those of you who don't know, I started the Moterrific Podcast back in March with the lovely Joanne (aka "Gearchic").  We try to keep a weekly schedule with a Thursday night recording/Monday release. Topics covering gear and bike reviews, whatever's in our heads, issues, laws, you name it...we'll take a crack at it.  We're also the only female motorcycle podcast and there aren't many motorcycle-related podcasts with men as it is.  It took many sound checks and equipment searching, but I think I've rested upon the Blue Yeti mic system for the Los Angeles studio with a soundproof box. Not too shabby considering I lack all technical skill in recording equipment and sound quality. Look Ma, I'm editing.  Never thought I'd say that.  You can download directly from our website as well as iTunes and Stitcher.

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Facebook - The Moterrific Podcast

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Look Ma! A Magazine Ad...

My lucky mug will be appearing in Progressive Suspension ads in motorcycle magazines in the next couple months.  The first ad is in this month's issue of Adventure Motorcycle.  A big thanks to BMW Motorrad for outfitting me in that sporty Ladies' Trail Guard suit.  Breathable synthetic with reflective elements, a boatload of zippers, pockets, and vents, and stout padding to protect me for those unexpected moments...which for my first official foray in dirt, there were none.  And if you feel your ride could improve with suspension catered to you and your needs, check out Progressive Suspension's product lineup.  This shock added to my BMW F650gs is their 465 Series shock with remote pre-load.  It has definitely changed the feel of the bike for me, considering I am well below the standard weight range for a rider.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Piece of the International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach

Sure, I only went to the Friday evening glimpse and missed the all-day weekend affair, but the show's attraction nowadays for me are the bikes.  The classes don't sing to me; the attempt at reaching a female audience is gone.  I was in good company Friday, so what more can you ask for?  I call this a piece because a journalist and avid photographer I am not.  There's much to be desired in my photos, lots of bikes missed, but hopefully enough to be mildly entertained.

The vintage section is always an attraction for me.  Local enthusiasts lend their bikes to the show and idle nearby to chat you up happily about their machines.  For example, this enthusiast lets his wife travel in a style more plush than I've ever witnessed before on a bike.  Imagine what this sidecar could carry in Vietnam?  The possibilities are endless if you've been to any number of motorcycle-riding Asian countries or have seen the motorbike photos in "Beasts of Burden."

And then there's a collection of Honda's I'd love to have, minus the 80's models.  There's just something about the 80's that was terrible to cars, motorcycles, and interior design.  I just can't find anything in my heart to love about it.

Despite being a product of the 80's, did you take a look at this engine???!?!  Jee-zus.

And of course the bike build sections.  The first one below here had a lot of work put into it.  I'll politely leave it at that.

Of course like the stereotypical woman who's attracted to all things flashy, this one caught my eye.  I've never met an exposed metal surface on a bike I didn't like (chrome doesn't count).  The peep show windows into the inner workings of the bike were interesting touches, but I think the exhaust is distracting to the design as a whole.

A shrunken head suicide shifter makes this bike twice as difficult for the average cyclist to ride.  If you knew how to use a suicide shifter, you're already in the minority; but, to want to palm a shrunken head in the process?  To each his own.

The revamped 2013 Honda CB1100 doesn't quite do much for me.  It's got 80's styling on the tank and wheels, and if it was aiming to mimic the latest cafe trend or vintage CB750 styling, it falls short.  I don't think hipsters would appreciate the styling or the $10,000 price tag.  Maybe a more vintage vein in the styling category and an engine in the $7,500 price range would be a better fit.  Time will tell.

Thankfully it's called a Goldwing F6B and not just F6B.  The name is a bit odd.  I am not much of a cruiser type and don't understand this bike much, so I cannot appreciate luxury in a bike like the 50-something male.  But in jest, I can make jokes like 'look at the backyard on this one...' and get a laugh out of a bike with an actual keyed entry to a trunk.  A trunk.  I'll stick to my iPod and panniers, thanks, but if you want everything but the kitchen sink (Blu-Ray player and nav), this enormous bike is for you.

What wasn't photographed....Harley's extensive revamp of their bikes and pretty obvious attempt to cast a wide net for a greater audience after being punished in the market for the past couple years.  Hipsters, ladies, "cafe" guys, older men all waiting in the wings to talk to you about owning a Harley.  What they should have offered instead of a yearlong membership in their rider's club was their riding class.  Maybe that is included and not advertised, but buying a $12,000+ bike as your first ride leads to its challenges and disappointments.

BMW's revision to the F650GS and its replacement, the F700GS, was interesting.  I love my blue Beemie and wouldn't rush out just yet to replace her.  If I did, it would probably be the F800GS.  Interesting changes to the F700GS that caught my eye were the hand controls on the bars.  Completely revised = good.  Overly simplistic looking = meh.  I myself wonder if I can hit the horn in time if I need it due to its strange placement on the controls.  The kill switch on the turn indicators was also something I've complained about.  Well, my prayers were answered with the redesign, just not fashionably so.  A single toggle switch operates both turn indicators and the off button.  The controls seem to have the ease of my old 200cc Honda back in the day.  I like it, and because I love the bike so much, don't mind function over form in this case.  Minor annoyance for me.  Haven't ridden one, but maybe on my next visit to Irv, I'll test it out.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Random Motorcycle Tidbits

Again the motorcycle show is upon us and again the ladies will be left disappointed, wondering where their representation went this year...aside from the faux Barbie-esque types astride motorcycles to capture the weak eyes of man.  I will endeavor to photograph, post, and comment.  My posts have been enormously lax, lots of things going on I cannot yet discuss.  But, in the interim before the show pops back up, please enjoy Nicole Espinosa's recap of the 2010 show here and catch me at 18:21 talk much ado about nothing and bikes.

About a year ago, my British travel partner through Brazil and Venezuela, Ted Hely, wrote an article for Adventure Bike Rider magazine called "Reign Forest."  I can't reproduce the article in its entirety, but I can tell you it's in Issue 5 in 2011.  I did however snip the most interesting parts just for your viewing pleasure.  It happens to be grand coincidence that these parts include me, nothing more ;)  Honestly though, there's nothing funnier than a Liverpool bike mechanic travelling with a Californian bike noob (me), especially when you reach the part where he calls me a "beach babe."  If you visit the Adventure Bike Rider website, I'm sure you can buy a back edition if you'd like.  My hard copy never materialized from the UK.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Progressive Suspension's High Performance Adventure Suspension - Don't leave home without it!

Following the install of the PS 465 Series Shock on my F650GS, I made my first trip in dirt in the Cleveland National Forest a couple months back.  I'll post where the print ads will be as they appear in the next couple months...but check out their Facebook page for my smiling mug and read about the fancy pants shock they installed on my bike.  Definitely a smoother ride for me with the updated shock and fork springs, considering my weight barely registered on the stock setup.  Ride More turned out to be more like Eat More until Progressive set me up. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Five years ago, I embarked on a journey that would change my life for the better.  I left with an M1 license, a helmet, and a jacket, bound for Ecuador and determined to ride a motorcycle around South America.  Mission accomplished.  What I never realized was that in the process of planning and along the way, I would meet at random (or was it?) the most amazing, friendly, compassionate, talented people that left you feeling warm and fuzzy for a variety of reasons.  Even in the aftermath of my journey, these connections have spurred new ones and continue to bring me joy...all from one journey of faith, of a desire to see more of the world than my immediate surroundings, and to do it all my way.  I guess I never really did talk much about those people.  

Glen wrote a book, which I read before I left California.  Through the power of the internet, I was able to hunt him down, email him, and he was nice enough to respond to me and give me the guidance I needed and provide valuable connections down south.  After I returned, we met in person at an ADVrider event coinciding with the International Motorcycle Show.  I am blessed to call him a friend.  He would hate me calling him wise, but I have a feeling he gets that a lot, being the sort of old soul he is and mentor to many riders and people in general.  Glen continues to be an international man of mystery; you never know where he's going to pop up next.

While posting my travels on ADVrider (a motorcycling forum), a Detroit native chatted me up as he was planning a trip on his overloaded KTM through Central America.  From those forum chats, I met a friend of his in Cordoba, after my journey was complete met his fiancee (whom he met on his motorcycle trip), was a witness to their wedding, and am now a godmother to the most beautiful girl on the planet.  Josh and Andi are two of the most impulsive people I know and no matter how often I scratch my in amazement as to how it all works out in the end, it just does.  They have a beautiful partnership that I envy and an unparalleled sense of wanderlust.  The privilege of being a godmother is awesome albeit being 10,000+ miles away means I chart growth in terms of feet and advancement in vocabulary. She already speaks more languages than I do.

While gallivanting in Buenos Aires, I decided to leave the bike and take a little backpacking trip to Uruguay. In a bus stop at the border waiting to head to Montevideo, I met Madame V.  I thought she was a French tourist and had mixed feelings about that, but she opened up into English and onward our conversation went all the way to the hotel we stayed for a night in Montevideo before both going our separate ways. Little did I know that brief chance meeting would lead me to a friendship I hold dear five years later.  It's hard to classify Madame V as one thing as she falls under several categories: friend, my forever cheerleader, favorite aunt, mentor, and one of the most intelligent people I know.  She continues to teach me so much about life and by example has shown me how to handle life's abundant experiences with grace, humility, and appreciation.  She enjoys her retirement outside of the US, dabbling in projects here and there, but every couple of years she sweeps through California with the gale force winds of a hurricane and I stumble along trying to keep up.  I love her dearly.

Upon recommendation, I stayed at a hostel run by an American expat, who also happened to be a biker, in Medellin, Colombia.  That detail isn't as important as the man I met at the hostel, a freelance editor hiding behind an Apple laptop, which allowed him the freedom to live wherever his heart desired.  We were about the same age, and coincidentally raised about 10 miles apart back in California.  I stayed in touch with Jeff after I left Colombia, and often when he came to visit, he looked me up.  Since then, he has developed his writing/editing talents into running/editing a local magazine in Medellin.  Music, his passion that seemingly took a back seat to his main source of income at the time we met, quickly evolved into something much more significant when he started a radio station, which through the glory of the internet has become a launch pad for local bands to reach audiences well beyond their hometown and something of a Colombian version of KCRW (sans lowtalking and subscription drives). A man of many talents, he never sits still and just recently along with the band Explosion Negra, wrote the soundtrack to a musical and will be touring the East Coast shortly.

And the snowball effect...

From that first meeting with Glen, I met beautiful Nicole, who effervesces a contagious optimism and a gorgeous smile. And from reconnecting with Jeff in California, I have since had the pleasure of knowing many of his friends who live as close as five miles from me (Coach, Leigh, and Corin come to mind).  

I continue to be amazed by the chance meetings and friendships that have evolved as a result of an impulsive decision to step outside of my comfort zone and take a chance.  I am so very blessed and fortunate to have so many amazing people in my life and am in awe at how different my life has become as a result of that single journey.  Most people just revel in the fact that I didn't crash or die.  Now they can appreciate a different perspective.