Rider magazine is a motorcycle publication written by, and for, passionate motorcycle riders. It is dedicated to delivering comprehensive road tests, touring stories, product evaluations, technical features and award-winning editorial to enthusiasts who use their motorcycles for travel, recreation and commuting, who enjoy motorcycle rallies and clubs, who repair and restore motorcycles, and who..
Committed to getting new riders on two wheels, Discover the Ride will return to the 2019-2020 Progressive International Motorcycle Show. (Photo by Manny Pandya/IMS)
The Progressive International
Motorcycle Shows (IMS) has announced its 2019/2020 tour dates and
locations, including a new stop in Denver, Colorado. The eight-city tour will
provide motorcycle enthusiasts and consumers an opportunity to interact with
the latest models coming to market and brand-new accessories, merchandise and
more. Actively supporting IMS’ dedication to the growth of the industry and
sport, Progressive, the leading motorcycle insurance company and IMS title
sponsor since 2010, will continue to work alongside IMS through 2025. Tickets
for the 2019/2020 IMS tour will go on sale September 5.
2019/2020 Progressive IMS tour dates and cities are as follows:
Long Beach, CA: November 22-24, 2019, Long Beach
New York, NY: December 6-8, 2019, Jacob K. Javits
Dallas, TX: January 3-5, 2020, Kay Bailey Hutchison
Washington D.C.: January 10-12, 2020, Walter E.
Washington Convention Center
Denver, CO: January 17-19, 2020, Colorado
Cleveland, OH: January 24-26, 2020, International
Exposition (I-X) Center
Minneapolis, MN: January 31 – February 2, 2020,
Minneapolis Convention Center
Chicago, IL: February 7-9, 2020, Donald E. Stephens
To learn more about the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows tour, visit motorcycleshows.com.
With eight stops around the U.S., at IMS motorcycle enthusiasts can check out the latest models from most major manufacturers and many apparel and accessory vendors.
getting new riders on two wheels, IMS debuted Discover the Ride, a forward-thinking
initiative designed to introduce riding motorcycles to consumers of all ages in
a safe and controlled environment, on the 2018/2019 tour. Survey feedback
provided by participants of the initiative found that 81 percent of currently
non-motorcycle-licensed consumers who experienced the program’s New Rider
Course plan to get their motorcycle license, indicating a high level of
interest of new riders to the industry.
engaging approach to increasing new ridership is exciting and we are thrilled
to continue our title sponsorship of this industry leading event for another
five years, ” said Eric Doubler, Recreational Vehicle Business Leader,
Progressive. “The show provides a fantastic platform for our brand to
connect with both new and seasoned riders, and each year we look forward to
presenting motorcycle enthusiasts with a can’t be missed experience,
deeply-rooted in motorcycle culture.”
the 2019/2020 tour is the Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show (UBCBS), sponsored
by J&P Cycles since 2012, the world’s largest and most robust motorcycle
builder competition. Also returning this year is the Marketplace presented by
Cycle Gear, an interactive retail space allowing consumers to touch, test, and
buy the latest gear, parts and accessories from key aftermarket brands with
specialists on hand to educate, introduce products, and answer questions to any
Gear couldn’t be happier to be back as a presenting sponsor of the Progressive
International Motorcycle Show’s Marketplace for the fifth year in a row,”
said Dan Nelson, President and COO, Cycle Gear. “Cycle Gear prides itself
on being a part of the motorcycle community everywhere from our own local store
events to a premier destination like the Progressive International Motorcycle
Show. We’re excited to continue our presence and meet riders across the nation
to show off all of the ways Cycle Gear is working to make the ride that much
better, from tire and Bluetooth installation services to our new online product
reservation experience. We’re always eager to show people the Cycle Gear
Difference and this is a fantastic event to do just that.”
“By working with Progressive, Cycle Gear, and J&P Cycles over the years, we’ve been able to continue our legacy as the nation’s leading motorcycle tour, providing a source of growth for the industry and sport,” said Tracy Harris, Senior Vice President, IMS. “With the unwavering support of these key sponsors, and the motorcycling community, we have been able to curate memorable experiences for seasoned riders while simultaneously inviting new riders into the community. We look forward to the upcoming 2019/2020 and bringing the love of motorcycling to an even larger market.”
For more information about the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows, visit motorcycleshows.com.
Nothing fancy here, just a good, honest motorcycle in the classic UJM mold–in-line four, single disc brake, tube frame.
You probably wouldn’t think that new riders looking for a cheap and unintimidating starter bike would have much in common with budget-minded veterans who neither need nor want the expense and complexity of new models. But the requirements of both often seem to converge around middleweights from the mid-1990s. At the center of this particular Venn diagram is Yamaha’s Seca II, a bike whose modest specifications belie its versatility, and whose used price is such a bargain you almost can’t afford to not buy one.
The Seca’s 599cc engine has dual overhead cams, two valves per cylinder, four 28mm Mikuni carbs and a six-speed gearbox. There’s little in that list to make a sportbike rider’s heart beat faster, but that wasn’t what Yamaha was after. With 61 horsepower on tap, the 452-pound Seca is sufficient to introduce novice riders to the heady joys of acceleration while keeping the transportation-focused ones from becoming hood ornaments on the freeway.
Basic scheduled maintenance is usually all it takes to push the understressed Seca past the 50,000-mile mark.
What the Seca lacks in sheer excitement it makes up for in practicality, usually as a backup for your hot-blooded sportbike or your elephantine tourer. The Seca won’t take up much of your weekends with maintenance or repair; the understressed engine routinely sends the odometer past the 50,000-mile mark with little more than regular oil changes and the occasional chain service. Some high-mile engines sound like they have a dollar’s worth of loose change in the crankcase, but synching the carbs and adjusting the valves usually clears it up.
One very large red flag is if the starter spins without turning over the engine. A stripped idler gear might be the cause, and it’s not an easy fix–the crankcases have to be split to get at it. Leaky valve-cover and clutch-cover gaskets are common but easily fixed.
The Seca II was featured on the cover of the March 1992 issue of Rider.
The Seca’s chassis mimics the engine’s no-big-deal philosophy. The tubular-steel frame has a 38mm non-adjustable front fork, a single rear shock with preload adjustment, a 320mm single disc brake and a 245mm rear. Cast wheels are shod with a 110/80-17 front tire and 130/70-18 rear. The seat is 30.3 inches off the deck and, while not actually built for touring, is tolerable for one or two riders on day rides. Mileage is typically in the 45-55 mpg range, depending on how you load the bike and how hard you flog it.
The fairing does a decent job of blunting the wind. But like all plastic parts, and especially those on older bikes, it’s expensive to replace, so look closely for cracks around the mounting points and the windscreen, and be prepared to lower your offer substantially depending on what you find. Also inspect the fuel petcock for leaks. Faulty ones let gas drain into the engine, leading to the aforementioned starter idler gear losing its teeth as it strains against flooded cylinders.
The Seca’s reputation for reliability is sometimes its downfall, as owners neglect necessary chores in favor of more road time. Check used examples for leaks, loose steering-head bearings and crash damage. Shine a light in the tank and look for rust caused by water in the gas. The Seca is notoriously cold-blooded, but if it can’t be ridden cleanly off the choke after 10 minutes something’s up. Book prices range from just under a grand for a 1992 model to $1,300 for a ’98.
Yamaha XJ600 Seca II
Pros: A solid and reliable middleweight that won’t keep you up late at night in the garage. A learner bike worth keeping.
Cons: All the flair of vanilla ice cream. Gets you there with little fuss, and less excitement.
Specs: Displacement: 599cc Final drive: Chain Wet Weight: 452 lbs. Fuel capacity: 4.6 gals. Seat Height: 30.3 in.
After the success of the Niken, the world’s first production Leaning Multi-Wheeled motorcycle introduced last year, Yamaha has launched a sport-touring version called the Niken GT, with a larger windscreen, heated grips, comfort seats, saddlebags, a centerstand and more. With neutral, natural steering feel and an incredible amount of front-end grip, the Niken must be experienced to be believed.
Now you can rent a Can-Am Spyder or Ryker through Turo, an online vehicle sharing marketplace.
Can-Am has announced a partnership with Turo, a global online vehicle sharing marketplace–think of it as Airbnb for vehicles–to engage potential enthusiasts with an extended ride experience.
The pilot program will initially be available in nine markets in three states, all specifically chosen because they do not require a motorcycle endorsement to ride a Can-Am 3-wheeler. These initial markets include:
Via the partnership, Can-Am has provided preselected 5-star Turo hosts with multiple vehicles and helmets, and they’re trained and ready to guide riders through the entire rental process.
While this is a great way for non-Can-Am owners and those new to powersports in general to dip a toe in the fun of the open road, it’s also a great way for existing owners or enthusiasts to create road trips outside areas where they live.
For example, a rider living in Chicago could book a Spyder or Ryker rental in California and take an epic ride up the famed Big Sur coast, without having to ride all the way across the country.
It also opens the door for Can-Am owners to potentially join Turo as a host and put their own vehicle up for rent to help offset the cost of ownership.
BMW’s Vision DC Roadster electric motorcycle concept, complete with Duolever fork, shaft drive and “boxer” power plant. Photos courtesy BMW Motorrad.
As most of the major motorcycle manufacturers in the U.S., Europe and Japan continue to pursue battery-powered electric propulsion, BMW found itself asking, “What would an electric BMW motorcycle look like? And how would it be immediately recognizable as a BMW?”
Given that the opposed-twin “boxer” engine has been at the heart of BMW motorcycles for more than 90 years, the answer seems to be something along the lines of the newly-unveiled BMW Vision DC Roadster concept bike.
This top view clearly shows the protruding cooling elements, a nod to BMW’s classic “boxer” engine.
While the Vision DC’s battery is oriented in a standard vertical/longitudinal position, it has two cooling elements with integrated fans that extend out to each side, a nod to the protruding cylinders of the boxer engine. Slung underneath the battery and connecting to the driveshaft (another BMW hallmark) is the cylindrical electric motor itself.
Clutching the battery from above is a split, milled aluminum frame with what appear to be carbon fiber reinforcing tubes that span the opening where the fuel tank would normally be. The subframe also appears to be of a tubular carbon fiber design.
Up front is a Duolever fork capped with an LED daytime running light (DRL) flanked by two LED lights, one for low and one for high beam.
BMW says the rider’s apparel represents the next generation of riding gear, with integrated lighting and a magnetic backpack.
Even the rider’s clothes might offer a preview of things to come, including integrated lighting and a backpack that attaches to the jacket via magnets rather than straps.
Electric motorcycles are coming, whether you like it or not, and we’re excited to see BMW striving to stick to its signature look, making a battery-powered bike that’s still unmistakably a BMW.
Keep scrolling for more images….
Subframe is tubular carbon fiber, with LED tail lights.
Driveshaft is exposed. Metzeler tires incorporate postage stamp-sized LED lights to aid in visibility.
The flat, milled aluminum frame is suspended over the battery, which attaches via carbon fiber tubes.
LED daytime running light (DRL) turns its cooling fins into art.
Side-mounted cooling elements extend out when the bike is turned on.
Prototype drawing of the new Harley-Davidson model to be co-developed with Qianjiang Motorcycle Company in China.
Amidst a slowdown in sales domestically, Harley-Davidson has announced another step in its strategy to expand its presence in Asia through a collaboration with Qianjiang Motorcycle Company to launch a smaller, more accessible Harley model in China by the end of 2020.
This collaboration with Qiangjiang, which owns the Benelli brand, will produce a “premium 338cc-displacement Harley-Davidson motorcycle for sale first in the China market with additional Asian markets to follow,” per the press release.
According to the press release, the new model will be produced in a Qianjiang facility in China and is intended to expand access to the Harley-Davidson brand and drive incremental sales, both of the new motorcycle and also traditional Harley products already offered in Asia.
Harley has previously stated its objective is to grow its international business to 50 percent of annual volume by 2027, and China is an important part of that plan. Harley-Davidson retail sales in China grew 27 percent from 2017 to 2018.
Race Tech’s G3-S IFP shocks (center) and fork kit with new springs and Gold Valve Emulators (left and right) that effectively emulate the cartridge fork on newer, more sophisticated bikes.
Twelve years after buying my 2006 Triumph Bonneville T100, with 38,000 miles on the odometer, the very conventional suspension was showing its age, the 41mm fork feeling somewhat less springy, the shocks a bit unbouncy.
I whined to EIC Tuttle, and he called up Race Tech, which happily offered to bring my bike up to date. Race Tech sent a pair of its G3-S IFP shock absorbers, a fork kit with new springs and its Gold Valve Emulators, which would effectively emulate the cartridge fork on many more sophisticated bikes.
The author’s 2006 Triumph Bonneville T100 with the new Race Tech suspension upgrades.
To do the necessary wrenching I went to my local technician, Herb Varin at C&H Motorsports here in Central California. He pulled the fork apart and enlarged the holes in the damping rods, and drilled four new ones. The original holes would no longer be responsible for controlling the flow of oil, as the emulator deals with the compression damping, while the rebound damping is done by the oil viscosity. The emulators are held in place by the new springs, which are rated at 0.8 kg, suitable for my 230 pounds. The neat thing about these emulators is that they can be tuned by controlling the flow of oil; Race Tech advised me to use 15 weight. However, adjusting means pulling off the fork tops and fishing the emulators out, so it is not the simplest of tasks. And a bit messy.
Along with the fork kit, Race Tech sent along a pair of G3-S IFP shock absorbers, which come with preload and rebound damping adjustability. These have Internal Floating Pistons in their reservoirs, and preload was preset for my weight; a pinwrench is needed to alter the preload. The rebound damping has a hand-turned adjuster knob, one way for stiffer/slower, the other for softer/faster. Sag was set at the factory at about 30mm, and the spring rate is 2.2 kg.
The Race Tech springs and Gold Valve kit will run you about $300.
The Bonnie is not going out on any racetrack, but the improved comfort and handling on my county roads has made a major difference. When leaning into a curve the occasional ripple seems to even out, and less harshness is evident on a rough road. Cruising around town the fork provides an excellent feeling of control, even when bouncing over manhole covers. I went out with several friends who have stock Bonnevilles, one who rides slightly more aggressively than I do, the other, less, and I like to say they were both a bit envious.
The springs ran $130, Gold Valve kit, $170, shocks, $900. If you send the fork off to Race Tech, the cost of installing the kit will be about $175. Of course, most riders, including myself, have the ability to change the shocks.
The only problem is that while I am happy with the settings that Race Tech advised me to use, I’m wondering what might happen with a little bit of fiddling. Who knows?
For more information, see your dealer or visit racetech.com.
We riders enjoy not only the twisty roads and breathtaking vistas in settings such as California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, but also the crystal-clear air and full range of scents nature pours out. The aromas from this particular combination of flowers, shrubs, grasses and conifers magically swept me back in time to relive some long-forgotten memories. Photos by the author and Katie Lee.
It was the scent in the air that did it, plucking me out of the Suzuki’s seat and transporting me back to the distant past. Not physically, of course. But my brain kept reporting I’d been swept away to relive a fond childhood moment buried deep in my subconscious. Riding along the Sierra Nevada foothills through California’s Gold Rush country, the particular combination of local trees, bushes, flowers and grasses surrounding us made my brain fold back on itself and suddenly I was 11 years old once again, trudging along a dusty wooded path at Boy Scout camp–a surreal moment to be sure. But also a pleasant reminder about the many small, unexpected joys we discover with motorcycle travel.
The author’s wife Katie poses with the 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 XT they took on the ride.
My wife Katie and I are native Californians but strangely enough we’ve never visited the Gold Country together, nor have we toured Yosemite National Park as a couple. So we started by spending a few nights along State Route 49 in the vicinity of Jamestown, Sonora, Columbia and Twain Harte, an area chockfull of historic sites and a wealth of varied activities–not to mention world-class riding roads. The open road always beckons to motorcyclists, so we riders enjoy striking our own balance between seat time and tourist/vacation activities. For this trip, Katie and I agreed on keeping a distinctly leisurely schedule since there’s so much to do and see in the area, but also because we both wanted to try and find some old haunts from our childhood years.
A map of the route taken, by Bill Tipton/compartmaps.com.
A hot highway drone north from our Southern California abode brought us to Merced, which served as our jumping-off spot for the good stuff as we traced two-lane roads eastward. We took flat, straight State Route 140 to connect with Route 49 at Mount Bullion on our way to Jamestown. Here, 49 is simply spectacular: fresh pavement, rising and falling twists and turns, and virtually no traffic. In short, riding bliss.
Jamestown gave us a warm welcome, in part due to the hot weather, but this little town offers an engaging, quiet, old-time feel to the place with plenty of stops for refreshments and window-shopping. But here’s the big find: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park with its tribute to steam-powered locomotives. Railtown gives a whole new meaning to the notion of big-displacement iron as the 26-acre park includes historic locomotives, a working roundhouse, belt-driven machine shops and a horde of train-related parts, signs and memorabilia scattered throughout. Steam train rides are available on weekends April through September, and if you’re a film buff you might recognize Sierra No. 3, a steam engine circa 1891 that appeared in many movies, such as “High Noon” and “Back to the Future Part III.”
Railtown 1897 in Jamestown is a must-see stop for everyone visiting the area.
Gear heads, history buffs, cinema fans and kids young or old will enjoy riding behind the still-operational steam locomotive from 1891.
Nowadays, nearby Columbia State Historic Park is a working town filled with historic re-creations including a blacksmith shop, an historic saloon, stagecoach rides, a gold-panning stop where you can try your luck and the Fallon Theatre, which still stages performances. We stayed in the Fallon Hotel, one of the two historic hotels still operating in Columbia, but my favorite stop had to be the ice cream shop located right between the hotel and theater. Our biggest disappointment is that we couldn’t stay longer to just soak in the atmosphere. Also close by, the town of Sonora is bigger and busier than Jamestown and Columbia, and offers much more to see and do (and buy!). Twain Harte, in turn, feels small, sleepy and relaxed, so pick the one that best suits your mood.
In Columbia, we walked out of our lodgings at the Fallon Hotel and just a few steps took us to the stagecoach stop—talk about stepping back in time!
All of these stops proved delightful, but we also scheduled time to just roam around local roads on the V-Strom 1000 too. We both spent our childhood years growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and this portion of the Sierra could be easily reached for day trips throughout the year. And so I had to ride up State Route 108 to revisit the place where I first strapped on snow skis, Dodge Ridge. At nearby Pinecrest Lake, Katie and her family spent summer days trout fishing. And up the mountain we stumbled upon the Strawberry Inn, the lodge where Katie’s parents made their first stop on their honeymoon in 1947, on their way to Idaho for more fishing. For no reason at all we decided to go poke around on Old Strawberry Road, which meanders around on the north side of Route 108, crisscrossing the South Fork of the Stanislaus River. Understand that while 108 is a great road for motorcycling, the entire area is laced with miles and miles of back roads that don’t even show up on large-scale maps. It’s fun and easy to set up looping day rides along deserted byways, and again we only wished we had more time to just go see what’s on the other side of the mountain.
For this trip, we kept a more leisurely schedule and were rewarded handsomely. Taking time to wander down tiny spurs such as Old Strawberry Road led us to isolated little gems such as this spot beside the rushing Stanislaus River. We shoulda brought a picnic lunch along…
Eventually, it came time to literally head over the mountain as we rode Route 108 up and over to Bridgeport in the Eastern Sierra along U.S. Route 395. Although you’re smack dab in the middle of Big Country–Sonora Pass sits 9,624 feet high–it’s only 97 miles between Sonora and Bridgeport with an approximate driving time of 2 hours–no sweat at all on a bike. A portion of this gorgeous expanse of high-mountain goodness suffered greatly at the hands of the huge Donnell Fire in the summer of 2018 and although the scars will last for a long while it’s still spectacular country. A short hop south on U.S. 395 led us to State Route 270 and another California State Historic Park, the gold-mining ghost town of Bodie. The final three miles to Bodie turns from paved road to dirt, which the V-Strom handled easily, even with our two-up load. Once a thriving town of 10,000 people, Bodie is now preserved in a state of “arrested decay,” and no food or gasoline is available so come prepared.
An entertaining three miles of graded dirt road brought us to the gold-mining ghost town of Bodie.
The entire site is preserved in a state of “arrested decay” and many, but not all, buildings are open to visitors.
At its peak, 65 saloons lined the mile-long Main Street in Bodie to serve nearly 10,000 residents.
Be sure to set aside enough time to cover the area and view the many artifacts and buildings.
Our overnight stop at the Double Eagle Resort in June Lake had us wishing for a longer stay, but early in the morning we rode to the shores of Mono Lake to meet with Nora Livingston, a naturalist and guide with the Mono Lake Committee (monolake.org). Nora shared some of the history and ecology of the area that includes unique tufa tower limestone formations, and an ancient saline lake that covers more than 70 square miles, holding trillions of brine shrimp and alkali flies that nourish millions of migratory birds every year.
The Mono Lake Committee offers field seminars during summer and autumn; we enjoyed a private mini-tour of this fantastic setting.
From U.S. 395, Route 120 traverses 9,941-foot Tioga Pass as you enter Yosemite National Park, which is indeed one of the greatest natural wonders in the world. Low speed limits and tons of vehicular traffic slow your speeds–so just go slow! You’ll want to take in the awe-inspiring views anyhow, and plan on making lots of stops to enjoy the vistas fully. In fact, it’s best to bring a lunch along so you can just hang out at one of the many scenic pullouts along the way and take in the views.
Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley was the favorite spot for naturalist John Muir, but in 1913 San Francisco was allowed to clear-cut, dam and flood the valley to create a source of drinking water.
Many gorgeous scenic stops remain throughout Yosemite; this one offered 360-degree views, each magnificent in its own right.
Canny readers will note an ongoing theme lurking in the background of this story: our continuing wish to spend more time enjoying the area. If we could do it all over again each overnight stay would last two nights to allow more time for exploring and whimsical stops. Especially when considering the many incredible secondary roads in the area, we barely scratched the surface. Nonstop twisty, turning mountain back roads, gorgeous mountain scenery and virtually zero traffic outside the main roads in Yosemite. What’s not to like about that?
In fact, maybe next time I can go looking for that old Boy Scout camp I remember so fondly….
Thanks to some help from the good folks at the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau (VisitTuolumne.com) and the Mono County Tourism bureau (MonoCounty.org), we tapped into some excellent options for overnight stays, all with plenty of history, atmosphere and memorable surroundings.
Fallon House in Columbia State Historic Park: Situated right in this California State Historic Park, a night here feels like you’re immersed within a Wild West movie. parks.ca.gov
The Inn on Knowles Hill in Sonora: Sited on a picturesque hilltop overlooking Sonora, this bed and breakfast features lush appointments creating a turn-of-the-century experience, plus a sumptuous breakfast. knowleshill.com
McCaffrey House Bed and Breakfast Inn in Twain Harte: Spacious and well-appointed rooms in a secluded wooded setting, located just off Route 108. mccaffreyhouse.com
Double Eagle Resort and Spa in June Lake: Spacious cabins, spa services and a fly fishing pond for guests up in the high Sierra combines mountain living with full-on resort facilities. doubleeagle.com
Groveland Hotel in Groveland: Modern renovations make this historic hotel a delight, one that’s within easy reach of Yosemite National Park. groveland.com
HJC makes a lot of helmets–more than one million per year in four factories in South Korea and Vietnam, according to the company website. At the upper end of its product range is the RPHA lineup (Revolutionary Performance Helmet Advanced, pronounced “are-fah”), which includes two sport-touring helmets and two street/racing helmets. The RPHA 70 ST is the newer of the two sport-touring models, and there’s much to like about this sharp-looking lid.
The shell is made from HJC’s P.I.M. Plus, which comprises several layers of aramid, fiberglass and carbon material. A large central vent up top is easy to adjust into one of its three positions with gloves on, and two rear exhaust vents are small but also fairly easy to use. The scratch-resistant, tool-free, Pinlock-ready shield has a central open/close latch that trades sleekness for functionality–fine for a sport-touring lid–but I wish it had a slightly larger initial “vent” opening.
The integrated drop-down sun shield is also easy to use via the slider at the bottom of the chinbar. I installed a Sena 10C Pro Bluetooth communicator/action camera on my RPHA 70 ST, and the speakers were a snap to position thanks to the helmet’s large recesses that came with soft “loop” fabric ready for the “hooks” on the backs of the Sena’s speakers.
I’m usually a size small, and my RPHA 70 ST’s fit around the cheeks is on the snug side, but I prefer it that way; multiple sizes of the removable/washable cheekpads and top liner are available to dial-in fit. The neckroll fit is tight as well, making for a fairly quiet ride, and I appreciate the large reflective sections at the back for nighttime visibility. A large breath deflector and a chin curtain are included.
At 3 pounds, 8 ounces, my small RPHA 70 ST is on par with competitive lids. It’s DOT- and ECE-approved and carries a 5-year warranty, and is available in sizes XS-2XL spread across three shell sizes. Pricing starts at $399.99 for solids and $440.99 for graphics. If you’re feeling super, an Iron Man or Black Panther graphic is available for $609.99.
The Fly Racing Tail Bag holds 20.5 liters unexpanded, and 27 liters when fully expanded.
Despite possessing a fair amount of motorcycle touring experience, I’ve never been particularly good at packing light. It’s not entirely an obsession with bringing lots of creature comforts–I also wear size 13 shoes, one pair of which can wipe out a small saddlebag if I have to bring more than the boots on my feet.
When I do need more space I usually break out some soft luggage. The easiest type of bag to add to any luggage ensemble or use on its own is the good ol’ seat bag or tail bag. Important features to look for include a simple but safe and reliable mounting system; the ability to expand when you need to bring back more than you left with; and at least a little bit of style to complement your bike. Fly Racing’s 20.5-liter Tail Bag offers all of this and more at an affordable price, including a red-lined interior that makes finding stuff inside easier, and internal stiffeners with flaps that flip up to support it when the bag is expanded to its full 27-liter capacity.
Once expanded, the tail bag hold up to 27 liters worth of stuff.
At 15 inches long, 9 inches wide and 8.5 inches high unexpanded, the Fly Racing Tail Bag is intended to be mounted lengthwise on a passenger seat/luggage rack, and its unique but simple mounting system makes it easy to do so if you have the space. Instead of bungees or straps with quick-release buckles, there are four nylon web straps with loops at one end and swivel clips at the other, with a simple strap retainer in between that is used to adjust the length. It takes a bit of fiddling to get them all properly adjusted and the bag clipped to the bike, but once you do it’s not going anywhere. And you don’t have to undo the straps to remove the bag and take it with you, because it unzips from its base.
Once mounted to the bike, it’s easy to unzip the tail bag and carry it with you.
The strap clips snap onto plastic loops on the bottom corners of the base, which have flaps underneath to keep them from scratching paint. Four additional loops can be used to strap stuff to the top of the bag, and there’s a key keeper inside. Two zippered pockets on the sides of the bag and organizer pockets inside the lid are great for small items, and the piping and logos on the black bag are reflective. In addition to the sewn-on carry handle the bag comes with a shoulder strap and a rain cover. Unexpanded the bag holds my big ol’ tennis shoes, toilet kit, first aid kit, MotoPump, flat kit and tire irons, and I can cram in a jacket liner by expanding it.
The zippers for the base and lid seem on the light-duty side for this application, but I haven’t had any problems with them so far, and Fly Racing offers a 2-year warranty for workmanship and materials. At an MSRP of $89.95 the Fly Racing Tail Bag is economical in addition to versatile, capacious and secure. Also available are Saddle Bags ($119.95) with similar features that integrate with the Tail Bag as well as several nice tank bags.