viernes, 28 de junio de 2013

RideApart Review: Honda Pioneer 700-4

This new Honda Pioneer 700-4 Side-by-Side isn’t just a utility vehicle and isn’t just a sports model. Instead, it aims to combine work with play in a package that instantly transforms from a two-passenger with bed to a true four-passenger vehicle.

Photos: Kevin Wing

What’s New

The Pioneer replaces the Big Red in Honda’s line up, bringing more capability to a lower price point.

Big Red was a two-seat utility SxS, retailing for $11,699. The two-seat Pioneer starts at $9,999 and the four-passenger convertible model seen here retails for $11,699.

The Big Red to Pioneer 700-4 story is about much more than just some extra seats though. With it, Honda wanted to create a SxS that could handle both work and play. The bed, which can raise at the front to dump its load out the rear can carry the same 1,000lbs payload as Big Red and both vehicles use the same 675cc, liquid-cooled, four-valve, single-cylinder motor and three-speed, torque-converter, automatic transmission. But, the similarities end there.

The Pioneer is equipped with independent suspension front and rear with 7.9 inches of travel at the front and 9.1 at the rear. In an effort to keep the price down, no power steering is fitted, with Honda saying that the combination of front suspension geometry with a new, 8-inch front tire should keep steering light.

The mid-mounted engine drives the rear wheels through a non-differential rear end in default, Two-Wheel Drive mode, directing power to the front in 4WD or locking the front differential when “4WD Diff Lock” is selected. There’s no low-range transfer case or hill descent control, but the low gearing and sensitive brakes are able to walk you down steep hills in complete confidence.

The automatic transmission is equipped with three forward speeds and a reverse, as well as programming that allows it to detect rider input and adjust itself automatically between “sport” and “cruise” modes, with the former kicking down noticeably sooner and holding onto gears longer and the latter delivering a much more relaxed ride.

The Pioneer is also equipped with a car-style parking brake that makes deactivating it while parked on a hill simple and easy. Some other Side-by-Sides require rocking the vehicle to remove pressure from the mechanism before it will release. Honda is targeting user friendliness in nearly every aspect of this vehicle.

The company is also serious about safety. Unclip the standard safety net, reach inside to unlatch the standard door, climb through the heavy-duty roll cage and clip yourself into the three-point safety belt and you’ll find the Pioneer’s cabin spacious and comfortable, if extremely utilitarian. The only potential problem with ergonomics comes from the unadjustable steering wheel, which may get in the way of very large riders’ beer bellies.

Believe it or not, but the rear seats are even more comfy. Fold the backrest up and the cushion down — which takes about 15 seconds — and the tilt bed locks in place. Rear seat passengers also get doors, safety nets and three-point belts, but also more leg room than is available in the front seat. Even at 6’ 2” tall, with a 34-inch inseam, I was able to ride back there in complete comfort, with inches between my knee and the front seats. Rear seat passengers are also treated to a plusher ride thanks to the rear suspension’s longer travel.

The Ride

We flew out to South Carolina to visit Honda’s Timmonsville production facility for the Pioneer’s line-off ceremony, then spent the afternoon honing the Pioneer around Honda’s own test trails.

The Pioneer is assembled at that plant, with the only major part coming from Japan being the 675cc motor. The new production line for this model represents an additional $27 million investment and 65 new jobs at the 535,000 square foot facility which already employs 650 people. The plant produces up to 100,000 ATVs and Side-by-Sides annually, for both domestic consumption and export.

The Pioneer and other models are designed and developed in America with validation testing taking place in the swampy woods behind the factory. There, trails snake tightly between trees, through mud and water, over rocks and downed trees and up and down steep hills.

I don’t have a ton of experience piloting these types of vehicles, but the Honda provided an easy learning curve, delivering power slides and jumps after just a few minutes inside that black-plastic cockpit.

The least experienced journalist there, I also put the Honda through tougher tests, discovering obstacles that challenged the Pioneer’s full ability to deal with idiot operators. Because of that lack of experience, I didn’t know when simply pointing the vehicle at an obstacle and flooring the throttle would be a bad idea, so made that my default approach. Everything I could throw at the Pioneer — from hitting logs at 25mph, to dragging the frame over berms, to clipping a tree at speed with the front wheel, to achieving full suspension articulation through an obstacle course to landing a jump on the front nerf bar — was handled by the Pioneer with total assurance. At no point did it ever feel as if it was about to tip or roll and at no point did it experience any lasting effects from the abuse, at least none that couldn’t be resolved with a pressure washer.

That included tackling a swampy water crossing of unknown depth. Turned out it was deep enough to flood the front floorboards with an inch or so of water, but with that front differential locked, it just crawled through the sticky mud and deep water and out the other side. The Pioneers airbox is located in the cabin, to the rear of the mid-mounted engine, meaning you’d have to really sink this thing to flood the engine. Another clever trick when getting muddy comes from the rear seats which, when closed, seal out mud and water to keep themselves clean.

On a straight stretch of gravel road, I reached the Pioneer’s indicated top speed of 43mph and, once the transmission detected that I’d backed off the throttle, was able to cruise comfortably at 40mph, with the suspension just soaking up any bumps and the vehicle tracking true with good straight line stability.

Hooning the Pioneer actually turned out to be much more fun that I’d expected, this is an extremely capable, fun vehicle.

Photo: Guido Ebert

What’s Good

Even loaded down with three big dudes and the fourth seat full of camera gear, performance and handling remained unaffected.

The transmission delivers aggressive downshifts and holds upshifts to the rev limiter while hustling the Pioneer, but quickly and seamlessly transitions to relaxed, easy-going cruise mode once you back off.

Stability both in a straight line and while tackling significant obstacles is impressively secure.

Handling is light and fun; the Pioneer is an easy vehicle to throw around tight trails, belying its four-passenger capability.

The convertible seats delivery impressive versatility. In two passenger configuration, you can haul 1,000lbs of dirt like a dump truck; with three passengers aboard there’s still room for a full-size cooler in the bed, next to the rear seat; with four passengers aboard everyone is seated in spacious comfort without impacting performance or handling.

Those seats couldn’t be quicker or simpler to put up or down either and lock out dirt and water when closed.

A mechanical lock prevents bed tipping when the rear seats are raised.

Safety is high thanks to that beefy roll cage, three-point belts and the standard safety nets.

The Pioneer is capable of tackling anything even an idiot operator can throw at it while remaining easy to use and fun.

Despite the two extra seats, the Pioneer weighs 37lbs less than Big Red.

Photo: Guido Ebert

What’s Bad

On-board storage areas are limited to four cupholders and a very small, non-lockable glove box.

While performing very tight, three-point turns, the lack of power steering does require some significant effort.

The Price

The Pioneer is actually fairly unique in the market given its ability to serve as a four-passenger recreational vehicle or two-passenger utility vehicle. The new Yamaha Viking can only seat three, only haul 600lbs in its bed, but starting at $12,499 costs more. The Polaris Ranger 800 is a little more powerful and can tow and haul a little more weight, but doesn’t have the ability to carry four passengers while, at $11,399, coming in significantly more expensive than the 2P Pioneer. The John Deere Gator RSX850i is much more expensive at $12,999 and is more powerful than the Pioneer, but again lacks the ability to carry four and haul less weight in its bed.

$9,999 for the 2P Pioneer and $11,699 for the 4P makes the Pioneer something of a bargain.

The Verdict

Delivering two extra seats in a package that’s lighter and more fun than Big Red, without sacrificing any of that model’s work capability, all at the same price, is a master stroke for Honda. The Pioneer isn’t a focused sports model, instead it’s a fun, versatile, useful vehicle that should expand the Side-by-Side appeal to the largest possible audience. One vehicle that can work and play while carrying up to four people.

RideApart Rating: 9/10


Helmet: Bell Moto-9 ($324, Highly Recommended)

Goggles: Oakley Crowbar ($80, Worth Considering)

Glove: Racer Mickey ($116, Highly Recommended)

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martes, 25 de junio de 2013

23 Things You Never Knew About Motorcycles

There is it seems some debate as to what was the first ever motorcycle made. Some think it was the coal-powered SH Roper from 1869, while others say the first proper motorcycle was Gottlieb Daimler’s wooden-framed gasoline engine version of 1885.

I’m a sucker for trivia and useless information so I attempted to do some research with books and the internet about this but instead found myself lost in a myriad of weird facts and stories about motorcycles that took on a life all of it own.

Here’s a little of some of the more diverse things that I discovered and whilst some of you may already be aware of these I was genuinely surprised about some of the thing I learned.

The name Hayabusa, as used by Suzuki, is actually a Peregrine falcon as well as a World War 2 Japanese Kamikaze fighter plane – the Nakajima Ki-43 known more widely as the Zero

Did you know that modern sports bike tires do not contain any actual rubber? The tread of a tire is composed of synthetic rubber, which has been compounded to give a compromise between durability and traction.

The longest distance riding a motorcycle in 24 hours is 2,019.4 miles and was set by American L. Russell “Rusty” Vaughn at the Continental Tire Test Track, Uvalde, Texas, USA, on 10 August 2011.

Vaughn used his own 2010 Harley-Davidson FLHTK Electra-Glide Limited for the attempt and completed 238 laps of the test track and earned himself a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

I didn’t realize in the world of cinema Steve McQueen’s infamous 65 ft motorcycle jump in the film The Great Escape was actually done by American Triumph dealer Bud Ekins who did it in just one take.

Nor was I aware that in the 1970s TV cop series CHiPS, actors Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada rode Kawasaki Z1000s with BMW fairings and that prior to the show Estrada underwent an intensive eight-week course, to learn how to ride. In 2007 it was revealed that Estrada didn’t actually have a motorcycle license during the time CHiPs was in production, and he only qualified after three attempts, while preparing for an appearance with a motorcycle on a later reality television show.

I tried to find out what happened to the motorcycles used in the 1970s cult film Easy Rider and opinions on web sites range from both bikes being destroyed during filming to actor and Grizzly Adams TV star Dan Hegarty apparently owning one. But there appears to be more Easy Rider motorcycles out there for sale than were ever actually made for the film. So I got no further with this.

Nobody it seems knows either what exactly happened to Marlon Brando’s Triumph 650 Thunderbird motorcycle from the film ‘The Wild One’. Some people claimed that it was Brando’s own motorcycle that he agreed to ride on the set. Thereafter the trail goes cold. Surprisingly Johnson Motors, which imported Triumph to the USA, was at the time very unhappy about the Triumph logos being seen on Brando’s bike and asked unsuccessfully for them to be taken off the gas tank when filming started.

The first company that advertised its motorcycle’s top speed of over 100mph was Brough Superior that made the claim for its SS100 in 1924. Considered even today to be innovative and beautifully designed machines, Brough motorcycles were the first to have prop stands, twin headlights, crash bars, interconnected silencers and 1000cc v-twin engines. Every SS100 was road tested (yes on public roads) to check that it could reach 100mph. If it didn’t it was returned to the factory for further work.

Engineering genius and owner of Brough Superior, George Brough, also wrote all of his company’s advertising copy describing his motorcycles as “atmosphere disturbers”.

Some of today’s motorcycle companies are more diverse than you would ever believe. Many started from humble beginnings such as Ducati which was a family-owned firm that opened in Bologna, Italy, in 1935 making parts for radios before building motorized bicycles fitted with a 48cc SIATA engine. By 1950, more than 200,000 of these Ducati ‘Cucciolos’ (Italian for puppy) had been sold and two years later the company started making its own motorcycles and engines.

Aside from making bikes today Kawasaki also manufacturers personal watercraft, ships, electronics, construction equipment tractors, trains, helicopters, jet engines, missiles and space rockets.

While rival Yamaha began life in 1887 as a piano manufacturer but today is a multi-national conglomerate which still produces musical instruments, but also boats, car engines, swimming pools, industrial robots, wheelchairs, RVs, electronics, and golf carts amongst other things and motorcycles.

Suzuki began life at the turn of the 20th Century making weaving looms for Japan’s then burgeoning silk industry. However, company founder Michio Suzuki wanted to diversify his company and began an engineering firm that started making small cars and its own engines during the 1930’s. The first Suzuki motorcycle appeared in 1952 and was really a motorized bicycle called a Power Free. It was fitted with a two-stroke 36cc engine and was unique at the time as it featured a double-sprocket gear system that allowed the rider to either pedal with engine assistance, pedal without the engine or simply disconnect the pedals and use the engine. Today, aside from the production of motorcycles, Suzuki makes cars, marine engines, wheelchairs and is Japan’s second largest manufacturer of small cars and trucks.

In 1946 Honda began selling pushbikes fitted with two-stroke 50cc generator engines originally designed for use with army field telephones. And 46 years later on it launched arguably the most technically complex production motorcycle ever made with the 1992 Honda NR750. The NR boasted oval pistons with two con rods and eight valves per cylinder. Designed initially as a race bike, Honda made 300 road-going versions of the NR available to the public and at the time it was considered one of the most expensive motorcycles you could buy.

There is so much technical information about motorcycles out there that it’s hard to choose one interesting fact over another. But here are a few points that leapt out at me.

The gearshift lever on a motorcycles was invented by Harold Willis, of Velocette Motorcycles, in 1927 prior to that motorcyclists relied on a system of a foot clutch and hand shifter.

In 10,000 miles the average four-cylinder motorcycle engine will have completed 100,000,000 revolutions and it’s estimated that a con-rod of a modern sports bike engine at full revs withstands 10 tons of compression and tensile forces 500 times a second.

BMW was the first manufacturer to patent and use telescopic forks on its R12 in 1932, yet ironically does not use the system on its big bikes today.

And although BMW claims it has been making Boxer twin engines for its bikes since 1923, production actually stopped for a few months in 1986 when the company thought all of its bikes in the future should have triples and four-cylinder engines. Customer demand persuaded BMW to continue with the Boxer and the production line was re-started again.

Recognized around the world as a leader in crash helmets manufacture for both on the race track and road, ARAI was actually a hat making company founded in Japan in 1926 making headgear for the construction industry. Company founder Hirotake Arai was once a motorcycle stunt rider and the company is still privately owned today and run by the third generation of the Arai family.

When I started out on my research to find out precisely the first production motorcycle ever made (which incidentally is purported to be a 1488cc 2.5 hp Hilberand & Wolfmuller built in Germany from 1894–1897) I never envisioned I would get so distracted by the huge amount of facts and figures out there about motorcycles. But I did learn a thing or two.

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Aether Chasing Winter

We’ve been a big fan of Aether’s jackets ever since they came onto our radar. We love any company seeking to push function and aesthetics (no shocker here) and these guys are one of the best. We also love a good riding video as much as anyone else, and they really did this one right.

Aether Chasing Winter from Aether Apparel on Vimeo.

The Trip

The Aether co-founders Jonah Smith and Palmer West set out this past April to chase winter and the last of the snow up into the Rockies. They rode from Telluride, Colorado, to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and stopped at every major ski resort along the way. Their motorcycles, BMW GS’s, were specially modified to carry their ski and snowboard gear, including one which was rigged for a side car setup.

They were joined by Raphael Bertolus of Rawhyde Adventures and Davide Berruto of Shelter Half. The whole gang completed the trip wearing Aether gear (in case you were wondering how the gear holds up), specifically the Canyon Motorcycle Jacket, Skyline Motorcycle Jacket, Altitude ski jacket, Apex snow pant, and more from the line.

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lunes, 24 de junio de 2013

The Best Motorcycles For New Riders

Just got your motorcycle license and want to buy your first real bike? Here’s 12 of the best new motorcycles for you. They’ll help you develop skill, save money and have fun.

How To Learn To Ride

Visit your local DMV to obtain a learner’s permit, then sign up for a Motorcycle Safety Foundation or equivalent class. Depending on which state you live in, that two-day course may serve as your practical exam, but even if it doesn’t, it’s the best possible way to learn.

After that, you’re still going to be extremely…green. It’s probably best to borrow or buy a small, cheap, likely crappy bike and toodle about on that for a few weeks while you get over your new rider nervousness. You’re going to drop a bike a few times during that time, doing so on something crappy is relatively consequence free. Not until you feel you’re riding with confidence, skill and safety is it time to buy something nicer.

Motorcycling isn’t something you just buy into either. Even riders with decades of experience are still trying to improve their skills. Start small and work your way up and you’ll be a better, faster, safer rider who gets much more enjoyment out of doing this than someone who insists on riding a bike that’s too big or too fast and who likely just ends up being terrified the entire time. Riding with skill is cooler than just buying something flashy.

How To Stay Alive

Wear full safety gear; refer to our Beginner’s Guide To Motorcycle Gear for how and why.

Always ride within your skill level, don’t try to keep up with more experienced riders or bite off tougher conditions than you can chew. Go out when there’s little to no traffic, practice in quiet parking lots or on dead-end streets. Allow yourself time to practice.

Buy a copy of Nick Ienatsch’s Sport Riding Techniques, read it through, then go through and pick individual skills to work on one step at a time. Then, go out and practice that individual skill until you’ve mastered it and move on to the next. Seriously, practice, practice, practice. Devote a day a week to just that and, before you know it, you’ll get good at this bike thing.

Chose a bike with ABS brakes. They really will help you stop faster and safer and with more confidence. Especially useful in bad weather or on rough urban streets.

Which Bike Is Right For You?

In America, the bike market is polarized into extremes — extremely large cruisers, extremely fast sport bikes — but there’s actually a happy middle ground of bikes that just sort of do everything well. By starting on on of the bikes listed here in place of something more ridiculous, you’ll be able to gain riding experience on something suitable for learning while developing an informed position from which to decide what style of motorcycling is right for you. With a few miles under your belt, you’ll be in a better position to make that decision in a way that’s good for you rather than simply the product of misinformed mainstream media or bad advice from friends.

Honda CBR250R

A stunningly complete motorcycle, this little Honda will give a new rider everything they want and more. Heck, even experienced riders will enjoy the care-free nature of the thing. Whether you’re commuting through dense urban traffic, learning the skills necessary to go fast, just getting around or looking for fun ride, the CBR250R is easy to ride, faster than you’d think and extremely economical to run. As long as you don’t want to go off-road, you can just skip the rest of the list and get one of these.

CCW Misfit

Chinese production leads to an extremely low price, while Cleveland, Ohio based design and quality control ensure a stylish, reliable ride. Basic in the best possible way, this is a bike you can both learn to ride on and learn to work on at once. A great platform for customization too.

Honda CB500F

This do-it-all naked is upright and comfy and has more than enough power to blast past highway traffic or head for mountain roads to have some fun. Much higher quality than the $5,500 price tag would suggest, the CB500 is everything you want from a motorcycle in one, extremely affordable, economical package.

Honda CBR500R

The fully-faired version of the CB500F is a better choice for those planning lots of highway models or who prefer the sporty styling. Ergonomics remain all-day comfortable and the performance remains accessible. A great tool for learning the skills necessary to become a fast rider.

Honda NC700X

This jack of all trades is one of the most easy-to-ride bikes there is. With an engine based on that of the Honda Fit hatchback, power delivery is torque and the redline low. The payoff is easygoing performance and, at 64mpg, excellent fuel economy. Equally at home loaded down for a cross-country ride as it is on a twisty road, the NC700X is surprisingly good off-road too, where that low center of gravity and ease-of-use make more expensive bikes look positively silly.

Moto Guzzi V7

Why didn’t we include a Triumph Bonneville in this list? Because this Moto Guzzi is 100lbs lighter, has much more character and even a lower seat height. As its designer Miguel Galluzzi says, “The V7 is just a great bike for riding around on.”

Kawasaki Ninja 250

The archetypal learner motorcycle is available cheaply in the used market. Originating all the way back in 1984, it’s certainly not the nicest motorcycle you can buy, but it is cheap, easy and accessible.

Kawsaki Ninja 300

An update to the 250 uses the same basic platform, but the larger engine means more power and the aggressive styling will appeal to riders who eventually want to upgrade to a full-on sport bike.

Suzuki TU250X

This little retro is surprisingly small, making it a great option for riders of smaller stature. It’s not available in California due to emissions regulations, but elsewhere, new riders will find it utterly unintimidating.

Honda CRF250L

Thinking of taking in some fire roads, camping trips or just getting a little dirty? The CRF250L is fun and easy off-road and surprisingly capable on-road too, where it can tackle highways or blitz through traffic jams.

Suzuki DR-Z400SM

Plan mostly on short trips through the city? This supermoto makes traffic and bad roads a breeze while offering an extremely fun ride. The tall seat and commanding riding position offer great vision, too.

Star Bolt

Dead set on the cruiser thing? This is a friendly, stylish, reliable, safe and affordable option. The Bolt has better performance, a plusher ride and is just friendlier and easier to use than equivalent Harleys.

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Surfing In Baja Via Sidecar

Filmed by Scott Toepfer, the guys from Iron & Resin head for Baja, Mexico to surf and skate aboard a Ural sidecar.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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Jamie Robinson Interviews Charley Boorman

While visiting the Isle of Man TT, Jamie ran into Long Way Round star Charley Boorman and shoved a camera in his face. Here’s the result.

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A 200bhp Lotus Motorcycle?

A collaboration between a designer of vehicles used in SciFi films and a German car racing team is announcing that it’s developing a new motorcycle to be sold under the “Lotus Motorcycles” brand. Claims of big power and exotic materials abound. Motorcycle fact or motorcycle fiction?

“Lotus Motorcycles was established to design and build the first motorcycle of the iconic car manufacturer,” reads the Facebook post from the new brand. “The bike will be named Lotus C-01 and will be the most impressive appearance on public roads on two wheels. It will reflect a combination of lifestyle, design and high end technology.”

Perhaps tellingly, Lotus Cars does not appear to be involved.

“Lotus Motorcycles is a joint project of Kodewa, car designer Daniel Simon and the Holzer Groups,” reads the Facebook post.

Lotus Cars, which does not appear to be involved in this project in any way beyond the apparently licensed use of its name and logo, is currently in a state of financial turmoil and, according to’s editor, Matt Hardigree, is simply “a great brand with a car company attached.”

Daniel Simon is the guy who designed the Tron Lightcycle. He also lists the Tom Cruise action flick Oblivion and the livery of the new Lotus LMP2 Le Mans racer on his resume. That Le Mans prototype is his connection to German race team Kodewa, which built the LMP2, which finished 49th and 52nd at this weekend’s race. Holzer Groups owns several large German car tuning brands like Rennsport. None of the above appear to have any experience producing or racing motorcycles and the Lotus brand appears to simply be a licensed use rather than a collaboration with the historic English sportscar brand.

“The Lotus C-01 will be a hyper bike with integrated racing technology,” continues the Facebook post. It will be manufactured of materials like carbon, titanium and aerospace quality steel, which are also used in Formula 1. Safety, ergonomics and design are the most important factors the design team has put emphasis on. It will be a state of the art motorbike powered by an approximately 200 horsepower engine.”

The most powerful motorcycle currently in serial production is the Ducati 1199 Panigale R which, when fitted with the included, but not street legal Termignoni exhaust system, produces 202bhp. Ducati has been producing motorcycles since 1926, races in both SBK and MotoGP and is owned by giant auto conglomerate Volkswagen Group, one of the largest companies in the world.

“In the next few weeks, images of Lotus Motorcycles will be released and will give a first insight into what to expect from the new Lotus C-01,” concludes the Facebook post. Until then, we have this rendering of a carbon fuel tank wearing traditional Lotus black-and-gold and that apparently licensed logo. Color us skeptical.

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Video Review: 2013 Aprilia RSV4 Factory

The 2013 Aprilia RSV4 Factory adds ABS, revised front suspension internals and small ergonomic changes to what was already a very complete, very fast package. Its V4 may no longer grab headlines with “just” 180bhp, but the the slight power disadvantage to bikes like the Ducati 1199 and BMW S1000RR is made up with a cohesive smoothness those bikes lack. Here, I take it to my favorite road in Southern California for an in-depth look.

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viernes, 21 de junio de 2013

What Motorcycle Theft Statistic Mean For You

Having your bike stolen sucks big time. But according to latest statistics you’re more likely to lose your motorcycle if it’s a Honda on a Monday or a Tuesday in California than anywhere else in the U.S.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau — a non-profit organization that’s been around for 100 years and monitors national insurance fraud and crime — in its latest analytical report estimates there were a total of 46,667 motorcycle thefts in the U.S. in 2011.

That is down 6% from the previous year even though new motorcycle sales increased by 3% – 439,678 to 440,899 – during the same period.

In general, motorcycle theft according to all of the NICB’s data is a seasonal crime with July and August in 2011 peaking at 5,544 and 5,397 respectively as the two highest months that year to get your bike stolen.

If you’re motorcycle is going to be stolen then it is most likely to be taken on a Monday or Tuesday, while surprisingly at the weekend there are less reported thefts.

In 2011, California had 50% more reported thefts than the second ranking state of Texas with 5,927 bikes taken compared to 3,950. Florida was third with 3,927, North Carolina 2,466 and Indiana at 2,114. A total of 10 states accounted for 25,983 or more than 56% of all motorcycle thefts in 2011.

If you own a Honda motorcycle you’d better stay alert as around 24% (11,014) of all bikes taken in the U.S. in 2011 were Hondas. Next up was Yamaha at 8,800, Suzuki 7,281, Kawasaki 5,009 and Harley Davidson at 3,120.

And if you lose you bike you are only 33% like to ever see it again. Out of the 46,667 motorcycles taken in 2011 only 15,017 were ever recovered.

Although California had the high proportion of motorcycle thefts it also had the highest rate of recovery at 2,085 and an average recovery time of 22 days. Florida was second with 1,334 bikes found and 24 days to recover and Texas third at 965 and 32 days to recover.

This all makes for grim reading but as we have explained recently there are a ton of ways to keep your motorcycle safe. Just pay extra attention if you’re Honda owner, living in California on a Monday night in August

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Taste of Dakar: Sean’s gear

My attendance at this year’s Taste of Dakar event wasn’t solidified until about a week before we needed to leave, so I had to assemble a setup based on what I could borrow, steal, and get on very short notice. Luckily, I was able to put together an ensemble that not only gave me full protection while doing the two-day ride, but also kept me warm enough during the late night highway miles on our way out to Nevada and cool enough when doing low speed drills mid day.

Helmet: Bell Moto 9 Carbon Hurricane Helmet($550)

Bell was kind enough to rush me the Bell Moto 9 Carbon Hurricane Helmet. I really can’t say enough about this helmet, it acheives a level of comfort and stability I didn’t think possible from a dirt-bike helmet. The Bell Moto 9 shares the same new interior shape as the Bell RS-1 which means I knew it would fit me well. While Wes and our buddy Nick chose to ride in AGV AX-8′s (with a face shield) for a more balanced approach to our half freeway/half dirt weekend, I opted to suffer through the highway miles for the added benefit of a true dirt helmet once we got to Nevada. I had no idea that the Bell Moto 9 would not only be perfect off road, but also handle freeway speeds as well as any of my fullface helmets (except that sandstorm and the free exfoliation it gave me). The best thing I can say about this helmet is that I plan on stealing Wes’s all black version and making it my main helmet this summer. The graphics on it are actually really nice (for having graphics), but not my thing for day to day urban use. My only beef with the Bell Moto 9 helmet is that stupid magnet they use to attach the excess chin strap back to the helmet. It’s a cool idea, but when you are wearing anything with a higher collar, it gets disconnected easily and flails in the wind. Other than that, this is honestly my favorite helmet right now.

Goggles: Oakley Pro-Frame Goggles ($60)

No one was able to get back to me quickly enough so I ordered a pair of Oakley Pro Frame MX Goggles with an Iridium Lens per Brundy’s advice from Amazon. Get Amazon Prime…seriously, it’s the best for those last minute things. The goggles worked as I expected and either, other brands just suck and I’ve never had to experience it, or all goggles are basically the same depending on how picky you want to be. I will say I was super happy with the Iridium lens that came with these. I took a few rocks to the face and they don’t have a single mark on them and they were perfect keeping the light toned down a bit while not decreasing visibilty. Johnny Cambell had some goggles that looked frameless that I might try and find just because I liked the aesthetics of them, but there’s really no other reason the spend more than the $60 I did. My biggest beef with these is that they made everything look too awesome and I kept wanting to stop and take a picture because the light looked so perfect and beautiful only to stop and take them off and realize it was just the lense that made everything look so perfect. I never tried switching to the clear lense but from what Brundy says, Oakley’s have the best and fastest system for that.

Jacket: KLIM Traverse Jacket ($300)

I have heard a lot about KLIM but had never had the chance to try it until now. Luckily, they were quick to respond and we decided that the Traverse Jacket/Pant combo would be the most appropriate, especially for the DR-Z400S I was going to be riding. The KLIM Traverse Jacket retails is at the low end of the KLIM product range and I was quite surprised when I opened the box at the quality of the materials and hardware on the jacket. The Traverse jacket is constructed of 840 Denier Cordura and is completely waterproof. It is just a shell and does not have any insulation, just a sweat wicking mesh liner, but does a great job at keeping the weather out. It comes with pockets for D30 armor, though I was using separate armor and left those out. The collar is covered in some sort of micro-fleece goodness that kept my neck comfortable and unchaffed despite my best attempts. The Traverse Jacket has full pit zippers and a zipper along the back to help the jacket breath when hot out. The products from KLIM are honestly far too technical to get into all of the specs and materials and stuff that, if interested, I suggest you watch the video overview by the guys at Revzilla.

Pants: KLIM Traverse Pants ($310)

Along with the Traverse Jacket, KLIM sent me the Traverse Pants as well. They are made from the same 840 Denier Cordura and have the same waterproof features. They are also just a shell and are lined with the same moisture wicking mesh liner as the jacket and they also come with little pockets to insert D30 armor. There were two things about the pants that really struck me as features that make them great. The first is that the inner part of the leg, from about mid thigh down, is lined with the really soft leather that was amazing at creating traction between my leg and the seat/tank of the bike. Often, with these cordura fabrics and fairly cheap stock seats, I feel like I am sliding around on the bike and this little forethought really helped with that. The other was the venting system on the pants. They really took in to consideration the riding position you are most often in when riding off road (standing). They have 4 vertical zippers, 2 on the outer front of your thigh and 2 on the outer rear of your thigh that, when standing, create a tunnel to funnel wind through while riding. I actually went riding with a few buddies in LA the day we got back from Dakar and it was warm that day and I was honestly amazed by how fast they were able to cool me down when I opened them up. As with the jacket, I suggest you watch the video above if you want to get into the specifics of the pant because it gets super technical and is hard to explain it all without a video and Anthony is cuter than I am so you might as well watch his.

Armor: Alpinestars Bionic 2 Protection Jacket ($200) & Alpinestars Bionic Freeride Shorts ($90)

As I mentioned, the KLIM Traverse Pant/Jacket combo comes with pockets for D30 armor, but I opted to use my own. Since Wes’s gear came with armor, I stole the armor which saved him from the perils for of a Russian sidecar. This included the Alpinestars Bionic 2 Protection Jacket, the Alpinestars Reflex Knee Guards (discontinued), and the Alpinestars Bionic Freeride Shorts. All of which offered full protection and were incredibly comfortable. I was the most worried about the knee braces as I thought they would move around or chafe, but I honestly forgot I was wearing them til it was time to try and take my pants off. Wearing this stuff seriosuly makes you feel like a superhero and I just dont understand when I see dudes only wearing an armored vest or something.

Gloves: 10 year old Alpinestars MX gloves

One of the nice things about being part of a community of guys who ride is that their is usually spare gear lying around for stuff like this. I found a box of old gear in our closet and honestly have no idea how old the Alpinestars MX gloves I pulled out of it are. They weren’t anything special, just well worn-in shorty MX gloves. I was trying to use some Powerlet heated gear this trip, but the DR-Z was having a hard time powering it and when it did, the gear would shock me or variate from burning my sking to completely off without my adjusting the controls so I just left it off. I did, however, use the glove liners it came with to put inside the MX gloves though for a little extra comfort and to help keep my hands warm.

Boots: Alpinestars Supertech R boots ($450)

I was unable to get boots in time for this trip, so I stole a pair of old Alpinestars Supertech R boots from my roomate (sorry!). While not intended for off-road use, they actually did the job quite nicely. They were supremely comfortable and their rigid frame gave me the support I needed.

Base Layers: KLIM Defender Shirt ($80) and KLIM Aggressor Pant ($43)

Along with the Traverse suit, KLIM sent me the Defender Zip Shirt and Agressor Pant. The Defender shirt is a medium weight, micro-frid polyester blend shirt. I wore it for pretty much 4 days straight under my Alpinestars armor and it kept me warm when I needed, got ride of sweat when I needed, and was completely comfortable the entire time. I even slept in it both nights with the temperature dropping down into the high 20′s/low 30′s both nights. This shirt is perfect for a wide variety of temperatures and uses and is perfect if you only want to buy one base layer to do it all.

The Aggressor pants felt more just like compression pants than thermal underwear to me which means they were very comfortable, but not all that warm. My lower half usually stays warmer than my upper half so it wasn’t much of an issue this trip, but I couldnt tell the difference between them and any other brands mositure-wicking, quick drying stretchy pants. I was grateful for the extra base layers and the added comfort they provided as a layer between my skin an the armor, but had I known how cold it was going to be I probably would have tried to get something a little warmer even to just help at night.

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