What’s Your Comfort Zone?

_Ortiz Big Apple Motorcycle SchoolBy Diane Ortiz – President and founder of the Big Apple Motorcycle School.<

There are those who covet the latest and greatest and those who prefer to stay with the basics. A simple helmet (full-face, but no Bluetooth or radio), good basic motorcycle gloves, protective jacket/pants and motorcycle boots and they’re off. A map is always ready and doesn’t need batteries. Some beeswax and a soft piece of dishrag stuck in a jacket pocket do a great job cleaning dirty plastics like face shields or glasses/goggles. A cellphone for emergencies, a small wallet with ID and some cash and a credit card are all many riders need to make for a happy day riding. Some riders have a “go bag” that they keep on the bike with an extra set of gloves, rain gear, flashlight, side stand puck, sunscreen, pen/paper, duct tape, tie wraps and a multi-tool.  I call them minimalists.

At the other end of the spectrum are the packers – those of us who need to have a tire-plug kit, extra clothes, food, drinks, tiny folding chair, electronics, spare everything and more on even a day trip “just in case”. Packers are often more likely to look at the latest and greatest accessory to add to their inventory. One of the newest innovations in the gear area is an “air bag” vest for motorcyclists. It inflates on impact to mimic an air bag and protect the rider.

There’s nothing wrong with either style. Just thinking about where you fit in as either a packer or a minimalist can help you plan for your next trip or purchase. Evaluating your riding style is also helpful in getting the most out of the time you spend on your motorcycle. Have you found that you push your limits and sometimes feel uncomfortable at higher speeds or off-camber corners? The Fall is a great time to think about what you can do to improve your riding skills. As in most sports, one-on-one coaching can help you identify those areas where you may have developed bad habits and suggest ways to bring you to the next level.  Another way is to participate in a dirt bike, track day or MSF skills practice. Learning about yourself and self-assessing your riding style and skill is a good way to improve your enjoyment of motorcycle riding.

Another way to enjoy the sport is to try out something new or unusual. Who could have imagined we’d be seeing three-wheeled bikes other than trikes on our roadways. The low-slung Slingshot roadster by Polaris has replaced the Can-Am Spyder as the latest head-turner. Both require a minimum of a 3-wheel motorcycle endorsement or full motorcycle license to ride them legally in New York State.  To me they look more like “supercars” than motorcycles, but I’m sure they are fun to ride!

Whether you’re a packer or minimalist, step outside your comfort zone and find new ways to enjoy motorcycling. It’s exciting to think of what we might see next!

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Ride safe!