One of the best gifts a motorcyclist can give themselves is a day spent on a motorbike alongside better riders. Instruction is the fastest way to go faster, so if Santa slipped a little cash-money in your stocking we suggest spending some of it on a riding school. Our favorite is So-Cal Supermoto, where you’ll master how to hustle around a race track on either a TTR 125 (don’t knock it till you try it) or one of their many race-ready DRZ 400 SMs. So, what do you get for your Christmas cash at a place like So-Cal? You learn to ride on both pavement and dirt, how to see through a corner, when to stay on the pipe and when to get off the gas, how to back a bike into a corner, and all sorts of useful skills. There are lots of other awesome schools out there, offering lessons for all flavors of motorcyclist – California Superbike School for the go-fast guys, Rich Oliver’s Mystery School for the flat track fans, and Rickey Gadson’s Drag Racing School for those who are quick on the draw just to name a few.
Having had an off-bike experience recently while wearing a pair of 16.5oz raw denim jeans (I’ll write about this a little later), I can attest to the need for wearing something more serious south of the waistline. Motorcyclists have a tendency to take everything up top to the right level – helmet, gloves, a jacket with armor – but for whatever reason, we often opt for Levis and little leather boots over something more substantial. Kyra loves her Worse for Wear Crosstown 4.0 jeans, which utilize Armalith denim and feature integrated armor pockets on the knees and hips. Men’s options are abundant, especially in the premium riding jeans category, but I’ve been keen on REV’IT’s new Alpha Trousers which have more office appeal than just a regular pair of blue jeans. A good pair of riding jeans is worth its weight in gold (and will save you money in skin grafts should you have a get-off - JM), and new riding gear is always a good way to spend your money.
Maps and Apps
An affordable navigation or map option might motivate you to hit the road, help you find the best roads and trails, or just navigate to your office a little faster in the new year. Our favorite classic option, Butler Maps, offers both on and off-road options plus a line of Backcountry Discovery Route maps. They’ve also teamed up with REVER, a mobile app available on iTunes and in the Google Play store, that lets you plan, track, and share your rides. Sign up for their Premium Subscription, and you’ll have access to a digital version of Butler Maps’ rated roads. Another app we’re into, which also happens to be free, is WAZE. They recently added a ‘motorcycle’ option and integrated it into their navigation software – think Google Maps only more intuitive and aimed at motorcyclists. It’s about time!
Treat yourself! One of the best ways to beat the winter blues is to put something – a motorcycle trip you’ve been daydreaming about or a ride you’ve put off for years – on the books for spring or summer. Better yet, book a trip south of the border into Baja with the gang from EagleRider. We took one of their guided tours last year and loved it. Let them handle the hard stuff – logistics, lodging, etc. – while you enjoy what you came to do: ride. Another great option is to rent a bike from MotoQuest and hit the road using the maps and apps we recommended above. International options are more expensive, so that’ll depend on how much cash versus coal was inside your stocking. If you do go international, we recommend riding in Northern Thailand. We spent the month of July exploring the area with our friend Jamie Robinson and the gang from DART Asia, and it was phenomenal. Check out Jamie’s video from our adventure, and stay tuned for a story!
Races in Places
While we don’t have an ever-present motorsport culture like they do in Europe and elsewhere around the world, Americans are lucky to host some pretty amazing series here at home. You could, for example, head to Texas in April for the Moto GP race, or cruise along the west coast to catch the World Superbike (WSBK) round at Laguna Seca. There are also a variety of dirt-oriented racing events that move around the country all year. AMA Supercross will hold 17 rounds in 2018, while the newly renovated EnduroCross series will get going again in August. We’ve attended all of the above, and although we can’t recommend one more than another we can say that you should definitely plan to watch one or all of these races in the New Year.