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Small motorcycles or why you do not need 1000cc to have fun

Saturday, September 20, 2014 @ 08:15

After riding small displacement bikes for seven years now, I feel it is high time to explain myself – why do I bother; why not “upgrade” to a bigger machine?Lukas J on his motorcycle

First of all, I must point out that it is not some sort of twisted loyalty or mania for compact engines. Well, that is not completely true – sometimes it is. Like with everything in life, we try to be devoted and respectful for the things we truly love. 
 
In the following section, I will discuss some key light motorcycle advantages that I find relevant for both new and experienced riders.
I would like to mention that I had the chance to experience all of the skill points, which I will come back to in the next paragraph, while on a two-day motorcycle trip in Ecuador. I felt extremely comfortable and confident on the rented bike within just a couple of riding hours. Furthermore, I could truly appreciate the amazing curvy roads with numerous hairpin turns amidst the so called “Volcano alley” of Ecuador.
 
Finally, the choice of travelling with a 200cc bike proved to be a smart one in the end, as I could easily handle the light machine in sandy off-road terrain and push it out on my own after getting stuck in a muddy river crossing. One important reminder – a good idea would be to avoid resting camera cases or other electronics against your tool bag, but that is a completely different story… 
 

Skill based

  • New riders often experience that they can master small bikes much faster. The sensation is based on the fact that the rider begins to feel confident sooner due to acquiring full control and response on the machine after less time compared to bigger bikes. It is especially useful for learning how to use the bike’s transmission efficiently, as you will have to play a lot with the clutch and gears to beat those persistent cyclists and scooter guys...
     
  • High versatility, manoeuvrability and response makes small bikes the prefect little monsters for practicing and experimenting while minimizing the risk of serious injury and financial loss. Furthermore, their characteristic manoeuvrability enables the rider to embrace rapid cornering and make full use of next to unlimited freedom in heavy traffic situations. 
     
  • Due to fast response, small bikes are ideal for learning how to plan ahead while on a motorbike, raising the awareness of the rider as a result. Simple control and jumpiness of the tiny rockets can be the perfect properties to develop quick reactions and life-saving riding instincts before moving onto more powerful machines.

Most of the technical advantages come from my personal experience as well. Starting with the fact that I was able to own both a cross and an enduro, later a cross and a street bike at the same time due to the low initial costs. It was amazing to know that despite the rain, I could always go to the forests on two wheels. Regarding the impressive mileage, my two sea-crossing trips proved the point to me – I could easily ride the 600km distance with just two buckets of petrol. Finally, I am constantly impressed by how dynamic I can be in heavy traffic while on my YBR. And all of this comes with straightforward do-it-yourself mechanics!

Technical

  • Small displacement bikes usually come at significantly lower initial investments, so the rider can easily afford a new machine and be the first owner. Furthermore, customization and replacement parts often come at lower prices.
     
  • Nothing can surpass the economic qualities of small displacement bikes. How can you argue with a mileage of 33 km/L as an average for most small range (125-250cc) Japanese bikes compared to efficient BMW machines (650cc) that can run at 24 km/L?
     
  • Lightweight motorcycles have proven to have obvious advantages when commuting in cities and while travelling or touring light. Their low fuel consumption combined with nearly the same packing capacity is preferred by many. Furthermore, this is supported by their flexibility and easy repair procedures.  
     
  • Yet another important advantage is the ease of maintenance and robustness. The combination of the two creates a perfect environment for learning about the mechanics of motorbikes by fixing and maintaining the bike on your own.
     
  • Despite volumetrically smaller engines, most modern motorbikes are equipped with high-end technology such as ABS brake systems, liquid cooled engines, electronically controlled fuel injection, etc. Therefore, one must understand that the choice of riding small does not necessarily include a technological downgrade of any sort.  
 
Lukas J holiday in Equador
 
Hopefully the described highlights have sown a seed of curiosity in some of you, fellow riders. It is obvious that there is much more to lightweight bikes than keeping the throttle howling at 8500RPM to finally feel the wind or choosing lightweight camping gear to avoid losing precious top speed, or racing with cyclists in heavy traffic, or being overtaken by THAT GUY on a CBR who is flying at 200km/h, or even feeling like you are in the middle of a hurricane while overtaking trucks.
Not to mention filling 10 litres of petrol every 300 kilometres, sensing every little bump and twist in the road or the feeling of breaking world records when you finally reach your inconceivable top speed of 125km/h! 
 
Some riders will giggle and say: “But I can achieve 125km/h in 5 seconds on my Super XXX 5000!”, to which I would simply sit back and respond casually: “I’m sure you can, but where’s the challenge in that, huh?”. How is that comparable with a deep and spiritually engaging experience of truly connecting with your bike and skilfully bringing it to its peak performance on a daily basis? 
 
I have read an online discussion  recently, where one rider answered a couple of questions regarding the topic of riding small. As it turns out, our views are similar; hence this article is not just a set of one person’s ramblings - now there is at least the two of us!
What is happening in your head while you are riding a small bike? What is the main difference?
“Your mind stops thinking about just twisting the throttle, and more about the road, hills and what's around you. The skills that you can learn from these bikes are incredible, and they really do change the way you see the whole world of motorcycling. 10/10, would recommend for at least a week for ANYONE on two wheels.“
All strapped and ready to cross the Baltic sea once more
 
Is there any controversy regarding this?
“Sure… I often meet riders who claim that small displacement bikes are simply too slow for them. A valid argument for a professional racer, I would say. However, assuming that you are a responsible rider, why would you need a machine that peaks at 300 km/h?
 
Unless, obviously, you ride on a race track. Whereas commuting and touring hardly ever should require higher speeds than 130 km/h if you live outside of Germany – the land of das autobahn, you are not suicidal and actually enjoy seeing what surrounds you while riding.”
 
All in all, it does not really matter whether you choose to ride small or big as long as you are on two wheels and you enjoy every second of it. However, the aim of this article was to shed some light on the existence of the lightweight motorcycle world which, I hope, by now you believe in. And now you know why some people love it. 
 
We could discuss the advantages of both David and Goliath all day long: is it better to go small when commuting in heavy traffic or are large displacement bikes are better on long tours in mountainous terrain - many different circumstances and many great solutions. Whereas the main message is that every rider must try each bike type and all riding styles at least once in order to embrace the change and take in the corresponding challenges to develop one’s skills. As Dr. Andrew Weil had once said: “You've got to experiment to figure out what works.”
Written by Lukas J.

Airoh Movement motorcycle helmet test

Saturday, August 30, 2014 @ 16:00

One of the most important gear for a motorcyclist is helmet, as it protects what is most vital on a motorcyclist - the head. During the late summer I have tested an "Airoh Movement Shot" helmet, which this product test is about.

Airoh Motorcycle Helmet - in the box

The helmet comes in a box, containing the following:

  • Helmet
  • Wind breaker
  • Anti fog instert 

Well, a bit about me. I am motorcycle rider who has been riding motorcycle for approx 28 years, and tried a few helmets. I ride a Honda VFR 750F and likes touring and riding hard i corners. The previous helmets I have used earlier are flip-up helmets, so it is rather new to me to try the a closed full-face helmet. 

The short conslusion.

I am impressed. The first time I had the helmet on, I had a feeling as the helmet  was made exactly for my head. I felt the weight of the helmet was comfortable light and it was easy to operate the visor and the built-in sunglasses. It is a pleasure riding with the helmet.

Evaluation criteria and test result

I better elaborate why the helmet is a pleasure, but first a few words how I have evaluated and testet the helmet. My main focus is to test like any user will do, where the focus is not so much on the technical issues, but simply the user experience. 

The most important issue with any helmet is the protection when crashing. Fortunately, I have not got any experience within this with the Airoh helmet, but I rest assured the helmet fulfills the most demanding standards, even the external shell of the helmet is made of termoplastic. Airoh Motorcycle Helment and Honda VFR 750 F

Below find the evaluation criteria and the result.

  • First impression
    It is a nice designed helmet with built-in sunglasses. Especially the sun glasses is a very neat feature, as I very often ride with the sun glasses. This might be because I not so often ride in rain.... When the sun glasses are built in, there is no discussion wheter it is possible to get sunglasses on or not. After all the years with a flip-up helmet it is time to learn new tricks how to get the helmet on without having your ears ripped off. After only a few try's I managed this, and the helmet get's on with no problem. Just note, that I have for the last 25 years only used flip-up helmets.
     
  • Weight
    When I got the helmet, it was of course still in the box and I thought something was wrong. Can a helmet and a box be that light? Yes, that is for sure possible. The weight is 1 420 gram which is in the low weight range. When using the helmet, it also feels light.
     
  • Noice
    Noice in a helmet is a common and important issue to discuss, and to me it is one of the most important issues, as I am very sensitive to noice. That is why I always wear ear protectors, and can clearly hear the noice level is lower than compared to my old flip-up helmet. Still I use the ear protection when riding my motorcycle, but the noice level is lower. Full face helmets are also known for lower noice level, but still I am very satisfied with the Airoh.
     
  • Rain
    Riding in some pouring rain simply is just a part of life as a motorcyclist. It is important the helmet does not get wet and water and fog on the inside of the visor. It is impossible to avoid, but the Airoh manages fairly well, as I just opened the helmet a bit to get some ventilation. This kept the visor fairly free of fog. I ride mostly in dry weather so to open for some ventilation and not to breathe directly on the visor is the best option for me. So for me it is not necessary to mount the extra fog shield protection. 
     
  • Wind breaker
    In the box is also a wind breaker. I have been riding without  is, and really not felt it was necessary. Just mounted the wind breaker to try it, and it looks OK and is no obstackle when taking the helmet on. Airoh Motorcycle Helment and sunglasses
     
  • Price quality ratio
    The price is very attractive, as when testing in summer 2014 the price is approx only DKK1800 // EUR240 when purchasing by www.duells.dk which leaves the helmet on an absolute price attractive level, and compared to the quality, the price/quality ratio is very attractive and competitive.
     
  • The motorcycle ride
    As mentioned, the helmet appears to be made for my head. However, it is only after some hours riding your motorcycle that you really can feel if this is true. It is. The only thing I noticed was the cheek pads are just a bit too big for me. Well, that is a small issue, and I think I will manage it.
    It is a pleasure the helmet have different steps in which the visor can be opened during the ride, and the visor stays in the same position even when riding highway speed and turning the head looking behing before pulling out for passing a car.

So the next task for me is to mount the Cardo communication in the new helmet. It has done well in the old helmet, and now my wife and I cannot ride the motorcycle without it. Here you can read a test of the Cardo communication system - click here to read Cardo Scale Rider Q3 test.

 

Tourstart Pro membership

Saturday, August 23, 2014 @ 07:14

To all users of Tourstart.

Effective from Monday 15th September 2014 Tourstart will change the terms and conditions, as we introduce a "Tourstart Pro" feature on the web page. Until 15th Septemer, all users have access to all the Tourstart Pro functions, where after the 15th September only users who paid the annual fee can enjoy the full functions.

Discount
We offer a discount on the yearly subscription fee in case you move fast. Until 15th Septebmer 2014 we offer as much as 25% discount

Euro - subscription fee per year
Normal price EUR 14
Reduced rate for 12 month membership if purchased before 15th September 2014 is EUR 10.5

US Dollar - subscription fee per year
Normal price USD 18
Reduced rate for 12 month membership if purchased before 15th September 2014 is USD 13.5

Sounds good? - then continue to purchase by <<clicking on this link>> and pay in the currency you prefer.

What do I get as a Pro?
You simply get access to all the great features enabling you to plan a great ride. Here is a list of some of the differences between a "Tourstart Pro" and a "Free Rider".

Tourstart Pro functions
Tourstart Pro_functions

 

Here some Q&A.

  1. Why shall I pay for the Tourstart Pro
    It is not free of charge to develop and run Tourstart. We have thousands of users who enjoy our functions, so it is only fair, that the users support us in continuation of the development and operation of the web page.
     
  2. Are there no free version anymore?
    Tourstart still have a free of charge version, so you can still use Tourstart without paying. Of course, only with limited functions and possibilities. Our motto is "We love motorcycling" and also for those who can do without the Pro functions, we will like to support getting the good experiences riding the motorcycle.
     
  3. What can I do as a Free Rider?
    You can make a few tours and download gps data each day. So if your requirements are not big, then a Free Rider account is good for you.
     
  4. What is the normal yearly price?
    The price is a yearly subscription fee, and it is only EUR 14 or USD 18, but we offer a great discount if you sign up before 15th September.
     
  5. What to do now?
    To be sure you can get the most optimum tools to enjoy a great motorcycle ride, then all you have to do is to purchase the "Tourstart Pro"
     
  6. How do other see my status as Pro or Free Rider?
    There will be an icon on your profile on "My Page" showing the status of your membership. The icons will only be shown after 15th September 2014.

Please note this e-mail is sent to all Tourstart members, as we change the terms and conditions. Should you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact Tourstart.

 

Best regards,
Jan A. Pedersen
jap@tourstart.org
+45 42 550 660

Bridgestone Battlax T30 road test

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 @ 06:26

Test of Bridgestone Battlax T30

After having tested the Bridgestone Battlax S20 tire, it is with great exictment the brand new Battlax T30 are being road tested. The S20 was a great thrill to ride on, why the expectations were pretty high as the T30's are up against a though competitor. My riding stile is giving some throttle in the corners and not so much on the straint roads, why the focus in this road test is stability and cornering.

Battlax T30 tire is a sport-touring, which can be seen in the letter "T" in the name.

Bridgestone Battlax T30 test

Short and Quick conclusion

The short and quick conclusion is the tires are more sport than touring and is increadible trustworthy riding on. Current status is the tires have now done 1 300 km and the wear is only a few 1/10 mm, so it seems like there are a lot of km in the tires.

Riding the Battlax'erne

Bridgestone Battlax T30 is mounted on a Honda VFR 750 F, and the driven kilometers are both slow riding focusing on enjoying the nature, two with full gear and riding alone with full focus doing the corners with maximum throttle. So, the tires are tested under various conditions in Denmark. Note - we have had a second-to-none weaher conditions in Denmark until now in 2014, as we have barely seen some rain.

The grip

The first thing I notice is the grip for cornering, which are very stable and neutral. The motorcycle is very eash to get into the corner, and the tires gives a stable road grip, no matter whether the speed is slow in the corner or it is with the foot pads scraping the tarmac. Independent of the angel I rode, the motorcycle is cutting through the corner sharp as a samurai sword. 

In order being able to testing partly the motorcycle and partly the tires, I once in a while takes a corner with some small stones on the road - just to feel how the motorcycle is reacting. Do not misunderstand - I am not searching for the small stones.... The sand and stones are not the favorit of any motorcyclist, but they are reality. Suddenly the stones are there, and it is necessary to test under safe conditions so I am not surprices when it is "real". Riding through the sand and stones, the motorcycle becomes a bit unstable, but the tires stays stable and have my full confidence, and as soon as being out of the sand and stone - the entire motorcycle is stable again.

Bridgestone Battlax T30 handles corners efficiently

In one of my favorite corner I had a fast corner and giving some hard throttle with the result the entire motorcycle became a bit unstable, but the tires replied with a good and stable feedback to me, and kept the motorcycle under control all the way out of the corner.

Comparison between the T30 and S20

Battlax S20 is a sports tyre which are seen by the "S" in the name. The largest difference between the T30 and S20 are the Sport button has been turned a bit more on with the S20 during manufacturing. It feels liek the S20 is asking for more throttle and angle in the corners, where the T30 is more neutral, but still rock steady.

Both tires have a fantastic grip, but again the S20 is more race oriented, which I expect are reflected in fewer kilometers. Even though I did 12 000 km on the S20, but the tire was pretty thin when replaced. The safe maximum would have been no more than 10 000, which the S30 can do for sure, as it showed only little sign of wear and tear on the 1 300 km driven so far. 

You can read the test of the Bridgestone Battlax S20'eren here

Conclusion

The requirements and wishes the modern motorcyclists have to a motorcycle tyre are:

  • Good in handling any situation the motorcyclist can face, such as corners and the general road conditions
  • Good feed-back from the tires to the rider
  • Many kilometers
  • Excellent road grip

This is exactly what you get with the Bridgestone Battlax T30 .

Bridgestone Battlax T30 - your road mate

Bridgestone Battlax T30 - your road mate

 

Merry Christmas 2013

Wednesday, December 25, 2013 @ 09:14

We wich you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We hope that 2014 will become a great year for rides and adventures on your motorcycle. Christmas and New Year is a good time to summarize on the past year and give a bit info what to expect in 2014.


Merry Christmas to all motorcycle riders

It is now time to look forward to the Christmas present, but please remember not to touch the gift before unpacking as the surprice then will be gone.....

Motorcycle gift for Christmas


Tourstart in 2013 and 2014

2013 have been a busy year for Tourstart, and we have achieved quite some important milestones. We released our  iPhone app with voice guided navigation. Further, we have released our new design and functions on the web page. Already now we have got many positive responces and improvement suggestions. We are happy for both types of feedback. Should you have a comment, please do not hesitate to send us an e-mail on info@tourstart.org

Currently we are working hard to develop off-line maps for the iPhone app. This means, that you will be able to download the maps on your iPhone, so you are not dependent on an internet connection, as with our current app. It is our expectations to release this during the summer 2014.

Tourstart motorcycle members

In 2013 Tourstart got member number 6 000. Tourstart members are from the entire world. Thanks for all of you who are using Tourstart. In this connection, I will kindly ask you a favor. I will be very happy if you will recommend Tourstart web or app to at least one of your friends.This will mean a lot to us, if each and everyone will get at least one friend to sign up. 

Financial situation

As you know, Tourstart is free of charge. However, this do not mean that we do not have any expenses. We need a more stable financial situation in 2014, so we can continue to offer a good web page with free functions. One of the steps we take towards this in 2014 is the introduction of more adverts, and as our iPhone users have noticed, we charge for using the navigation. 

Design

Our last TourNews was about our new design - so not much more to say, except many thanks for our you being patient with us when fixing bugs, and also thanks a lot for all the positive comments and responces. 

Tourstart wich you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

May 2014 be a fantastic year with many good rides.

Best regards,
Jan A. Pedersen

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