The Superb Engineering of Superbikes

The best way to gain an appreciation for something is to do it yourself. Whether you’re looking to get into a sport or a hobby, riding along with a pro is guaranteed to heighten your understanding. When it came to superbikes, Jay Bennett of Popular Mechanics did that literally.

Bennett is a casual motorcyclist already, but when he headed over to New Jersey to get the scoop on the MotoAmerica Series, he realized that it’s a completely different beast. And that difference isn’t just between your average weekend biker; MotoAmerica is just as unlike it’s better-known cousin, MotoGP.

What sets MotoAmerica apart is what’s used on the track: superbikes. These superbikes are heavily modified versions of their stock counterparts. Your first thought may be a kind of NASCAR equivalent, but the NASCAR of today isn’t what it was long ago. While we may still refer to those vehicles as “stock cars”, they are modified in ways that progenitors of the sport would have hardly imaged. Superbikes, on the other hand, stay true to the stock roots. There are strict rules on what modification can be made to stock bikes,so  a high degree of creativity and technical engineering come into play when making stock car bikes perform on the track. (In contrast, MotoGP bikes are built for racing. There’s no way you can grab the base of one of those off of the lot.)

Elena Myers racing MotoAmerica
Elena Myers racing MotoAmerica

What makes superbikes special, according to Bennett’s article, is something called “mapping”. Because certain aspects of the bikes can’t be changed, like “major components of the engines”, engineers need to alter how the bike behaves on its own. Those onboard electronics that have become increasingly standard in your average automobile can be changed and matched to certain conditions. Different maps can control things related to the drivetrain or braking systems, for instance. This, in part, is why superbike races still take place in unfavorable weather. While you expect those races to be rained out, the team just swaps the tires and selects an appropriate map. And if it starts raining during the race? No problem— some modifications allow you to select the active map while you’re already racing.

Check out the article for a video of the author riding on a superbike, and then realize that you want the same experience.

Top 5 Motorcycles We’re Eager To Ride in 2016

The usual flow of new and updated motorcycles occurs every year. And now there are even more developments to make your eyes widen and your jaw drop. This year features some of the most exciting and unique designs of the 21st century. From top manufacturers around the world, I’ve narrowed down the list of favorites to my personal Top 5. In this blog post, you’ll learn some of the newest motorcycle models we’re all eager to ride in 2016. I hope you enjoy as much as me!

2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro

2017-Kawasaki-Z125-Pro-on Top Motorcycles on 2016 on Eric Gaulin's Motorcycle Enthusiast Blog

Cycle World magazine tells readers that the Kawasaki Z125 Pro was initially designed for Southeast Asian markets (on sale there since last fall), but when Kawasaki U.S.’s planning department was given the opportunity to import the bike, it jumped at the chance. The company’s website describes it as, “a nimble street fighter” that is “small in size, big on fun.”  Additionally, Kawasaki says the bike is designed to defy what a lightweight motorcycle can be. With radical Kawasaki “Z” styling, the Z125 Pro is your invitation to the rebellious side of fun.

2016 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber

 2016 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber on Eric Gaulin's Motorcycle Enthusiast Blog

Early Moto Guzzi Grand Prix racers won eight world championships through 1957 and the artistically styled Le Mans succeeded on both street and track. Today, eight Moto Guzzi motorcycle models are available in the US. Buyers get something different with each one.  The V7 is Guzzi’s best-selling model. It is compact and lightweight with personality and good manners that make it an attractive entry-level machine. On more than one occasion it has gone head-to-head in a comparison test with Harley Davison’s 883 Sportster, and did not fare too badly, according to Cycle World magazine.

2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000

2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 on Eric Gaulin's Motorcycle Enthusiast Blog tells us that this 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 bike features everything from a ten-level traction control system to attributes such as, launch control and an automatic quick shifter with up/down function. The all-new GSX-R engine also includes variable valve timing (VVT), which is basically the different amounts of valve overlap or the amount of time both the intake and exhaust valves are open. VVT is considered better for different types of engine performance. While traction control and a bi-directional quick shifter will put the Suzuki on par with the competition in regards to electronic features, variable valve timing will certainly set the bike apart in this category.

2016 Yamaha XSR900

2016 Yamaha XSR900 on Eric Gaulin's Motorcycle Enthusiasts Blog

The company’s website calls the new 2016 XSR900 a “blend of Yamaha’s world-class engineering with standout neo-retro style, creating a new type of machine for riders looking for an authentic and honest motorcycle that doesn’t sacrifice performance.”  Cycle World magazine includes, “While many retro bikes are tame by modern standards, the XSR promises much higher performance than its rider’s cool, casual hipster riding gear might imply.”

2017 BMW G310R 

BMW-G310R-on Eric Gaulin's Motorcycle Enthusiasts Blog

This is BMW’s first entry-level motorcycle, and a big departure for a brand that has long been known for building high-end motorcycles that make performance a priority over a low price point. If the G310R is to the little bike category what the S1000RR is to the literbike class, or what the R1200GS Adventure has been to the adventure-touring category, then there will be a big shakeup within the small-bike world. Riding one will tell us just how big that shakeup will be, and so now we wait, gear in hand.

To read the original article, click here 

Learn to Ride from Harley-Davidson


Image source:
Image source:

Fulfilling dreams of personal freedom is more than a phrase. And, top motorcycle manufacturer, Harley-Davidson says its their purpose and passion. The company’s website also says, “We bring a commitment of exceptional customer experiences to everything we do – from the innovation of Harley-Davidson products to the precision of our manufacturing – culminating with our strong supplier and dealer networks. We are Harley-Davidson.”  What’s more, this innovative company offers a variety of different services including riding courses and lessons for beginner motorcyclists learning to ride. 

The Harley-Davidson® Riding Academy New Rider Course is designed to get you comfortable on a bike and give you the skills you need to ride with confidence.  Offered at select H-D® dealers, the New Rider Course provides you with expert guidance from H-D certified coaches. In the classroom, you’ll get to know the motorcycle you’ll be riding and learn the basics of rider safety skills.  On the practice range, you’ll learn braking and turning, along with maneuvers like controlling skids and surmounting obstacles. When you’re finished you’ll get a completion card. Depending on your individual state this card may exempt you from having to take the riding portion of your motorcycle license test and may also score you a discount on motorcycle insurance. Ask your H-D® dealer and insurance provider for details.


  • How much does it cost? The H-D®  dealer where you sign up for the course will determine the exact cost.
  • What will I need to register? You’ll need a valid automobile driver’s license or learner’s permit, and have the ability to ride a bicycle.
  • Do I need any special gear? You’ll need to bring the following:
    • A heavy, long-sleeve shirt or jacket
    • Jeans, chaps, or leather pants
    • Over-the-ankle, sturdy footwear
    • Full-fingered gloves
    • A government approved motorcycle helmet (in the U.S., a motorcycle helmet that meets D.O.T. standards) 
    • Eyewear
  • What bike will I ride? For the riding portion, the H-D® dealer will provide you with a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle suited for the course.
  • Where can I find a course? Get in touch with your local dealer or search for classes.

Additionally, you may have heard people say that there’s nothing like being on a Harley-Davidson®  motorcycle. Now, you can find out for yourself – even if you have no previous experience with motorcycles.  The company’s website includes an offering for The Harley-Davidson®  JUMPSTART™ Rider Experience, which combines a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a specially-designed, stationary support stand.  You’ll mount the bike, set your boots on the foot pegs and fire up the engine under the watchful eye of trained personnel. Give the throttle a twist and hear that unforgettable Harley sound. Sitting comfortably on the bike, you’ll continue to shift through the gears – all safely and securely attached to the JUMPSTART™ platform.


  • Will I be experiencing an actual Harley-Davidson motorcycle? Yes! The bike you try is a 100% street-ready Harley® motorcycle.
  • Is this a training program? No. It is an introduction to the experience of riding a Harley®  motorcycle.
  • Is it safe? Yes. The bike is securely fastened to the JUMPSTART™platform and there is no danger of tipping or damaging the bike.
  • Do I need any special gear? A good solid pair of shoes is the only gear you should bring. Anything else can be provided at the dealership.

For more information, visit the company’s website here

What You Need in a Motorcycle Home Shop

What You Need in a Motorcycle Home Shop Motorcycle Maintenance Blog by Eric Gaulin You’ve probably already figured out one of the best ways to save money servicing your motorcycle is the DIY– do it yourself– method. Dealerships and independent shops charge up to $100 per hour or more for service labor. Replace that with your own labor and you’ll make a considerable saving.

To start with, you’ll need to come up with a workspace of some sort. It needs to be indoors, clean, and dry. It ought to be big enough to store your things, and have a good light and ventilation, a concrete or tarmac floor, electricity, and a work bench. It should be sufficiently secure so you can stop in the middle of a task and take a break, get some more parts or advice, or return to your day job. If at all possible, make it inviting. Put in a space heater for winter, tack up some posters if you like, tile the floor if you’re particularly bucks-up.  You’re going to spend what you should be enjoyable time there; its your workspace, and it shouldn’t resemble a Turkish prison cell.

Then you’ll want to get an official service manual from your bike’s manufacturer. Yes, times have changed for the better. Third-party service manuals are not the tw0-wheel equivalent The Necronomicon they once were. Still, you’re better off with the manufacturer’s version; they built the bike, after all.

Every motorcycle is slightly different, and the service manual will provide invaluable specifics, such as how to actually get to parts on your particular bike that need service, as well as tolerances, gaps, thicknesses, run outs, and so on. Perhaps one of the most useful things it will have, apart from specialized service procedures, is torque values for almost every fastener on your motorcycle.

Once you’ve got your space and your service manual, you’re ready for a great rite of passage for every motorcyclist; the acquisition of tools. While many consider Snap-on Tools the gold standard, several reputable brands offer equal status.  Recommended tools are broken down here into three groups:

  1. First group should be considered the absolute bare minimum, a.k.a tier one, for being able to perform most projects. Also included will be additional alternate tools that  would be beneficial but not crucial.
  2. You can consider the alternates to be semi-pro, or Tier two tools. If you’re flush or dedicated, or both,  you’ll acquire these tools as you come to realize how much they’ll aid your work.
  3. Lastly are the pro, or tier three tools, which you’ll see in shops of motorcycling friends or dealership service departments. They’re expensive, perhaps of limited or overly specialized usefulness, but pure gold when it comes to saving time and stress.
Source: Everitt, C. (2007). How to repair your motorcycle. St. Paul, MN: Motorbooks.

Basic Riding Skills

Eric Gaulin Basic Motorcycling Riding Skills BlogGetting underway on a motorcycle is considerably more complicated than climbing on and twisting the throttle.  In fact, it’s considerably more challenging than driving a car. Because of this, it’s important to familiarize yourself completely with the controls and functions of the motorcycle before you attempt to ride. This blog will show you the location of the motorcycle controls and introduce the procedures necessary to make the motorcycle go and stop.  This blog won’t teach you how to ride– nothing but lots of practice can do that– but it will give you a familiarity with the machine and its controls so that you can go out and practice on your own.

Motorcycle Controls 

The first step toward riding a motorcycle is learning how to operate the controls that you use to ride a motorcycle.  Besides the handlebars, there are five other primary controls, operated with either the hands or feet, that make a motorcycle go and stop.

Motorcycle Throttle Eric Gaulin Motorcycle Blog1. Throttle: Located on the right handgrip, it controls engine speed.  Use your right hand to roll the throttle “on” (top of the grip rolls toward the rider) and “off” (top of the grip rolls away from the rider).  If released completely while rolled on, the throttle will spring back to the idle position.

2. Clutch Lever: Located in front of the left handgrip, it connects power from the engine to the rear wheel.  Use your left hand to squeeze the clutch lever toward the handgrip to disengage power; release the lever slowly away from the handlebar to again engage power to the rear wheel.

3. Gear Shift Lever: Located in front of the left footrest, it shifts the transmission from one gear to the next.  Lift the lever with your foot to upshift one gear at a time; press the lever to downshift one gear at a time.  The lever operates as a ratchet mechanism: after each shift, the lever returns to its “home” position.  The typical gear shift pattern, form the bottom to top, is 1-Neutral-2-3-4-5-(6).  Your bike may have a sixth gear.

Eric Gaulin Basic Motorcycle Riding Tips Motorcycle Blog4. Front Brake Lever: Located in front of the right handgrip, it operates the front wheel’s brake.  Use your right hand to squeeze the lever toward the handgrip to apply the brake.

Eric Gaulin Basic Motorcycle Riding Tips Motorcycle Blog5. Rear Brake Pedal: Located in front of the right footrest, it operates the rear wheel brake.  Press down with your right foot to apply the brake.

Source: Basic Riding Skills. (2005). In The Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s guide to motorcycling excellence: Skills, knowledge and strategies for riding right. (2nd ed.). Center Conway, N.H.: Whitehorse Press.

8 New York State Biking Laws

Eric Gaulin MotorcyclesToday, the motorcycling and motorcycle lifestyle are becoming more popular.  Not surprisingly, we are beginning to see an increase among female bikers.  Women riders are attracted to motorcycles for the same reasons as men.  They enjoy the dangerous thrill of high speeds, power and the feeling of being part of the road.

As exciting as it sounds, its important to remember the laws and licensing requirements for motorcycle riders in different areas and regions throughout the states. These laws are unique in terms of the state you live in.  For example, there’s nothing quite like riding a motorcycle on an open road, especially on a beautiful, fall day in New York State.  Great gas mileage, easier parking and smaller storage requirements all make motorcycles very appealing to riders everywhere.  But there are still plenty of risks for bikers.  For example, for us bikers in New York, we face a number of dangers each time we take to the road.  Awareness of motorcycle dangers and state laws just might make all the difference in your next ride.

Eric Gaulin MotorcyclesAccording to the NYS DMV Vehicle and Traffic Law, Section 501 these are the top 8 biking laws New York Bikers need to know:

  1. In New York State,  you must have a Class M or MJ Operator’s License or Learner’s Permit.
  2. You and your passengers must wear a helmet.
  3. Riders must wear eyewear if not included on the helmet.
  4. Daytime headlight use is required.
  5. If carrying a passenger, a passenger seat and footrest are required.
  6. Motorcycle helmet speakers may only have one earphone.
  7. Only two motorcycles may ride side by side in a single lane.

Additionally, aside from knowing the laws and requirements, motorcycles can also be downright hazardous under adverse weather conditions.  And since New York experiences all four seasons, its important NY bikers understand the best ways to stay safe if they ever have to venture outside in poor weather or find themselves unexpectedly riding through less-than-ideal conditions.

Eric Gaulin MotorcyclesAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), here are some tips for riding motorcycles in bad weather:

  • Riding in the Rain: If you’re riding in the rain, remember the following tips from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation:
    • Aim for smooth control. Be gentle with your brakes and throttle, but balance your grip. When you’re riding in the rain, aim to complete your turns before you accelerate.
    • Avoid last-minute reactions whenever possible. In wet weather, you must plan ahead to determine when you will need to accelerate or brake. Using engine braking for corners and junctions will reduce the risk of skidding.
  • Riding in Hot Weather: When you’re riding your motorcycle on a hot summer day, the best safety precaution you can take is to stay hydrated. Take plenty of water breaks. If you don’t like the taste of water, drink sports drinks instead. However, you should avoid soda whenever possible. The caffeine and sugar will add to dehydration.
  • Riding in Cold Weather: Dressing appropriately is the best way to keep  yourself safe while riding your motorcycle in cold weather. Remember the following tips as you’re selecting your motorcycle apparel:
    • Keep your hands and feet warm. Invest in a good pair of gloves and some high-quality motorcycle boots.
    • Keep your torso warm. If your torso is cold, it will restrict blood flow to your hands and feet.
    • Wind-proof your body. Make sure the outside layer of your outfit is made of a material that will stop the wind.
    • Seal the openings in your outfit. Don’t let air come in through the neck opening in your jacket, the sleeves of your shirt, or the bottom of your pants.
    • Choose a good insulating material. Wool is the best natural fiber insulating material, but synthetics such as Thinsulate work well also.

How To Get Your Motorcycle License in New York State

motorcycle licenseThere are between 36,000 and 44,000 motorcycle permit riders in any given year statewide.  A New York resident must have a motorcycle license or motorcycle learner’s permit to operate a motorcycle or scooter. If you don’t know how to ride, the best way to learn and get licensed in New York is through the two-day course with the Motorcycle Safety School. There are locations around the city and a few upstate.  Most of the courses go from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (EST) in the afternoon, both Saturday and Sunday. It’s roughly half classroom time and half riding time.

Unlike cars and scooters (in the U.S., at least), most motorcycles use manual transmissions. There’s no need to know how to drive a stick before taking the course (the only requirements are the permit and the ability to ride a bike), but a basic understanding of what a clutch and gears do will make learning how to use them much easier.

Believe it or not, the instructions for getting a motorcycle license when it’s your first license are similar to the instructions for getting a car license, except that you’ll need to study two manuals―the Motorcycle Manual and the Driver’s Manual―and take both written tests.  You will still fill out an Application for Driver License or Non-Driver ID (Form MV-44) and go to the local DMV office to apply for the license and take the test, but you’ll pay the full application fee for an original license.

You will be issued a Class M or Class MJ learner’s permit, and all the same information under the “Learner’s Permit” heading above will apply to you. In addition, you will be required to take either a pre-licensing course or a full driver education course before you can make your road test appointment.  Again, it’s not required but the DMV recommends that you enroll in a rider training course to learn specialized motorcycle skills.

When you have completed the required courses and practice, you may schedule your road test. In addition to providing a certificate of completion from either a pre-licensing or a driver education course, you’ll also need to provide both a registered and inspected motorcycle with the correct equipment for you to ride, and a registered and inspected car or truck operated by a licensed driver 18 years old or over to transport the license examiner during the road test. 

Once you pass your road test, the examiner will issue you a temporary motorcycle license and your permanent photo license will arrive in the mail in about 2 weeks.

The Different Types of Motorcycles




Every style of motorcycle is unique, meant for different purposes and attracts a certain type of person. Some people like motorcycles because they can ride through traffic or use less gas. The uniting factor among motorcycles is the sense of freedom one gets from riding them. Whatever the reason you want to ride a motorcycle it’s important you know the different options available to you.

There are three broad categories of motorcycles, and a number of different styles of motorcycles. The categories are off-road, street, and dual-purpose. Here are the different styles:


Cruisers are the bikes people think of when they hear of outlaw motorcycle culture or “Sons of Anarchy”. Highly customized bikes, most often Harley-Davidson or Indian motorcycles. Often cruisers are characterized by low-riding bikers with outstretched arms. Theses bikes are a little more difficult than most to learn on because they tend to be unwieldy.

Sport Bikes

If you want to street racing motorcycle, you want a sport bike or “crotch rocket” as it is often referred. These are often flashy, neon colored bikes with great handling, high top speeds and higher 0 – 60 speeds. Sport bikes are not ideal for safety or even comfort, so definitely not a beginner bike.

Touring Motorcycles

When you are just starting out, aren’t interested in speed or motorcycle culture and things like distance, storage space and comfort are important to you, Touring motorcycle is your kind of bike. Touring motorcycles offer a lot of comfort, but lack grit.


Scooters are great if you live in a small town and don’t need to get on the highway. These are comfortable, fuel-efficient vehicles that will take you from point A to point B. These bikes can be great stepping stones to bigger, badder and faster bikes. Just don’t ride it to your local biker bar.





Best International Motorcycle Brands

There are hundreds of different bikes on the road and not all of them are created equal. Each brings with them their advantages and disadvantages but also their own culture of riders. No matter what bike you ride though, you still get to experience the freedom of the open road.


These are the top motorcycle brands:

Harley Davidson

Harleys (Hogs) are the quintessential American bike.  Motorcycle culture in the United States fundamentally changed in the early 1900s when Harleys were introduced in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Only Harley Davidson and Indian (below) remained after the Great Depression because of passionate riders.


Indian started around the same time as Harley Davidson and was able to make it through the Great Depression but eventually went bankrupt in 1953. The Indian brand remains popular among motorcycle enthusiasts, which is why Polaris Industries recently purchased the brand and manufactured new models with an old look.

BMW Motorcycles

BMW is a world recognized brand known for fast, reliable and stylish cars. Their motorcycle division, BMW Motorrad, has not strayed from that reputation. BMW makes some of the best luxury motorcycles on the market. Internationally BMW sells anywhere from 80,000 to 100,000 bikes a year.


Ducati makes the Lamborghini of bikes. That is likely because Ducati is owned by Lamborghini which is owned by Volkswagen. Ducati’s enthusiast community is equally as strong as Harley-Davidson in the United States. There are over 400 Ducati clubs around the world.

Honda Motors

Since 1959, Honda has been one of the the biggest motorcycle company in the world. They are also currently the 8th biggest car company. This shows how important the motorcycle division is to the company. At one point Honda sold 3 million motorcycles each year, but that number has since fallen significantly.

Yamaha Motors

Another huge Japanese automobile manufacturer that makes very popular motorcycles. Yamaha’s first product was a motorcycle that was fast enough to win a number of international races. Yamaha has since been a popular bike for motorcycle racing.