Real Riders: The Journeyman Riders

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Real Riders: The Journeymen Riders

My group of riding friends are an eclectic bunch to say the least. Most of us have been friends for years. We all bought our bikes within the past three years, and it’s really interesting to see what everyone came up with when left to their own devices. Together, however, as the Journeyman Riders we are all after the same thing – the ride.

As luck would have it, we live in an area that has absolutely phenomenal roads. With Push Mountain, Highway 23 (Pig Trail Scenic Byway), and literally more forested and mountainous empty highways through national forests than you can shake a stick at within 200 miles, we managed to live most of our lives in prime motorcycle country without even realizing it.

Zach was the first to take the dive into riding on the street. With Bikes, Blues and BBQ being hosted in our area, he was bitten by the cruiser bug. He was a beard and boots kind of guy long before he purchased his 2010 Kawasaki Vulcan 900. The gear he rides with might be as stereotypical “cruiser guy” as you will find.

He wears an Outlaw Ultra Slim Carbon (yes, the one that the DOT decided wasn’t actually approvable after release) when the weather permits and a GMax GM38 when it doesn’t, or when his wife wants to put his sissy bar through its paces. He is a t-shirt and jeans kind of guy , and he dons pair of safety glasses I think I wore in biology class in high school.

He loves highway 23 because it is a good mix of breakneck straight-aways and never-ending-apex corners that aren’t too tight for a lumbering beast to break a sweat. Interestingly enough, he has spent the past 6 months or more pining for a BMW GS. He has always been an avid outdoorsman, and after getting a taste of something meant do to more than go in a straight line, our bikes, I think he has finally seen the light!

Next up is Josh. We’ve known each other the longest of the group. He and I were in the bike market at nearly the same time, so there was a fair amount of collaboration in the decision making process. He was dead set on a faired sport bike when he was a kid, and had all but settled on a Kawasaki Ninja 300 until I introduced him to the 2013 Honda CBR500 that he would eventually buy.

Josh purchased a Bell Revolver helmet with a Sena SMH10R on the side. He trusts his digits to a pair of Icon Overlord Resistance gloves. While I don’t necessarily understand the logic behind wearing nice armored gloves and a soft shell from “insert local outdoors shop”, it’s not my place to spend the man’s money.

Josh is comfortable on just about any road we’ve ridden together, eight lanes or two. He does seem to prefer our jaunts over to Siloam Springs via highway 102 and 59, though he also enjoys gambling on the Oklahoma side of the line, which could be a factor. He has fallen in love with his Honda, and is hoping to convince his wife to grant him an upgrade to the new CBR650F as soon as he can.

Third in line is the youngest of the group, James. He’s a mechanic, paramedic, fire fighter and soldier. If I remember correctly, James has gone through about 10 cars in 10 years. Luckily for him, he is vastly more subdued without the cage. As his introduction implies, he wanted something a bit more sporty for his first ride so he went with a used 2007 Yamaha ZX6.

James wears a Nolan N90S helmet. He liked the idea of adding a “doesn’t stick out” communication system, and I don’t blame him. His choice of jacket is the Teknic Freeway HP. He also wears a pair of Speed and Strength Rage with the Machine gloves.

James, like Zach, is more comfortable on the straights. Having ridden his FZ6 for a few stints, I understand why. Compared to the CB500′s smooth predictability, it feels pretty twitchy. He by no means refuses a challenge, but when we find a road that is 75% straight, he appreciates the ability to twist out some power. I would say that James will probably keep his FZ6 for quite a while, but he has expressed an interest in the small side of the GSX-R lineup.

The fourth entrant into the mix is JC. He rides every day there isn’t snow on the roads which makes sense, since it is his only mode of transportation. What makes this even more interesting is that he rides a 2014 Yamaha FZ09.

JC dons a Speed and Strength SS1500 Solid Speed helmet, which he spray painted hunter green for reasons unbeknownst to me. To add to his feat of winter riding, he wears a Joe Rocket Phoenix jacket year round. He does wear a hoodie under it when the temperatures dip below 30 degrees Fahrenheit (seriously, this guy need a show with Bear Grylls). He wears Joe Rocket Moto Air gloves and adds some liners for when things get frozen.

In terms of roads, JC is definitely a Pig Trail fan. It offers every kind of twist, turn, and straight-away anyone could ask for, and there are spots where his hunter green helmet provides camouflage. He is the most speed comfortable among us, and likes to play the drop back then pass you all game. If I were in a yearbook voting panel, I would vote JC as the “Most Likely to Purchase a Liter Bike”. He has been pining for a Ducati Monster, and we all hope it’s something on the smaller end of the line.

I, since I can remember wanting to drive, have always wanted a motorcycle. Unfortunately, I heard the “you’ll shoot your eye out” line more times than I care to remember. Almost exactly a year ago I got married, and, to my surprise, she was on board! I went out and bought myself a 2013 Honda CB500F.

I wear a Shoei Gt Air helmet, which I am in love with. Being someone who loves versatility, I opted for the River Road Scout jacket. It is virtually a Swiss army knife! I bought two pairs of gloves, Alpinestars Polar Gore-Tex for the cold and some Icon Pursuit Perforated gloves when the sun decides to come out. I keep some Frogg Toggs Horny Toadz Highway pants handy as well.

In terms of my preferred roads, it’s a tough choice. Honestly, I can find something to love about any road that isn’t awash with SUVs and lets me see a bit of nature. Luckily, living in the natural state, I’m hard pressed to be more than 15 miles from a scenic byway anywhere I go. While I love naked bikes, my neck isn’t as fond of them on high speed 100+ mile road trips. My heart wants me to buy a Triumph Street Triple, my brain wants me to get an FZ09, but every time I see Marc Marquez dominate a GP circuit, I get a burning desire to own a fully faired sport bike (maybe even orange). Hopefully one of these days I will be able to justify two bikes, and I may just join Zach on some ridiculous trip on a pair of BMW GS’s!

  • William Connor

    Awesome that you have such a diverse riding group of friends. On the FZ6 with the twitchy throttle, some folks have found relief with a Power Commander and throttle adjustments to help smooth it out. Yamaha’s FZ1 and several other models have had this low throttle part throttle sensitivity. It seems to be how Yamaha goes for EPA standards by shutting of the fuel under closed throttle creating an abruptness when opening the throttle back up. Congrats on the marriage and the bike, that’s a nice package. Show your friend the new Icon Statistics helmet to see if that can change his mind about the Outlaw.

    • BobasBounty

      Thanks! I would say 90% of the cruiser riders is see here in Arkansas, which is about 90% of all riders here, ride without a helmet. I actually took my practical license test a couple of months back, and the other guy getting his was in a hat and t-shirt…. And he was allowed to test and got a pass.

      Sadly, it’s the culture here, and the only way it’s going to stop is probably some gearless guys laying their bikes down.

  • taba

    No one wears boots?

    Nice piece, thanks.

    • BobasBounty

      Couple of us wear cowboy boots…. But I know, for me, it tends to boil down to a couple of things: not wanting to have to change everything but the underwear when I get to the office, and having 0 opportunity to try things on and compare with no stores that stock such things around here.

      I’d actually love it if someone would make some boots that qualified as business casual with safety features!

      • Phil Mills

        They aren’t cheap, but my Sidi Canyon boots disappear pretty well under “business” denim. At a glance they’re pretty close to a set of Doc Martens or similar chunky boot. I do keep a pair of spare shoes in my desk drawer, though, for the sweaty and humid days.

        • BobasBounty

          Yikes, those are not cheap lol. Keeping a pair of spares isn’t a bad idea. I have entertained the idea of getting some classic motorcycle boots (with the wrap around buckled leather up top) that would probably look like an Oxford with pants on. I may also invest in some of the sneaker style riding shoes with ankle support for the weekends and long rides, since they are cheap enough to leave in the closet most of the time.

          • Phil Mills

            Like I said… But they’re built to last a while, so it’s not like you’re dropping four bills every other year. And they are sure-as-anything waterproof even after 4ish years.
            I’ve looked at the “riding sneakers” and never felt really comfortable about them. I destroyed an ankle back in college (got double-bounced off of a trampoline by a 6yo kid) and it healed “weak”, so I need my coverage/stability to come up pretty high.

            A pair of loafers in the desk drawer is a cheap fix for any boot, though.

      • it_weenie

        I took the advice of Wes and bought some Corcorans. They do great at the office. I wear overpants (mesh in warmer weather and solid in cooler) so I can wear slacks and not have to do anything other than peel off the outer layer. Someday, I’ll have an Aerostich onesie.

        • BobasBounty

          Interesting, I’ll have to check those out. Pants tend to have the same issue as shoes, IE it’s hard to buy without trying. I know a lot of the major online retailers offer as hassle free of exchanges as they can, but it’s still tough compared to having 10 options on the rack to try on.

          Also, the BobasBounty disqus account is me, Chase Foster, in case there was any confusion.

          • it_weenie

            I wear the Icon mesh overpants in the GA summer and they work great. I can unzip the cuffs and work them off over my boots very easily. I wish the cuff was a little tighter. The backs tend to drag the ground a bit when I walk, but not too badly. They are baggy and long when you’re off the bike, but when you ride, they work great. I like being able to ride to work in my work clothes and not have to completely change when I get there.

            Shameless link to an online retailer:
            http://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/icon-anthem-mesh-over-pants

          • Send Margaritas

            Cowboy boots offer a surgical feel, using the shifter. Admittedly, there isn’t much protection, but I avoid them more since the sole gets slippery when wet, and they’re not good if there is gravel.I’ve tried the Corcorans. Dress pants can make them look business-like, but above the big tow on the left foot, the shininess will fade from shifting. That said, everything is a compromise.

  • Zack

    Nice article, I enjoy the real world pieces from everyday riders.

  • Randy S

    This is making me homesick. God bless Arkansas.

  • Bob McConnell

    Great article Chase. Brings back fond memories of about 15 years ago when me and three buddies in the office were standing around one day and said “let’s all get Harleys”. We were the typical posers wrapped up in the HD marketing machine and had no idea what were talking about. We all ended up with bikes in short order but not all Harleys. It didn’t matter the make as we all knew the “The wind is all the same” We had really great times Eating to ride and riding to Eat. Thanks for the share

    • BobasBounty

      I bet there are stories worth reading from that! I love “the wind is all the same”. I think too many people get caught up in the “insert motorcycle stereotype lifestyle”. Who cares if you have the same brand/type of bike? As long as you enjoy it, I can enjoy it with you!

  • Davidabl2

    This could be the beginning of a series on “The Education of a Group of New-ish Riders.” Interesting. What’s the demographic of the group,i.e. age,education, jobs?

    • taba

      Would be interesting, but I get more out of reading the “after bromance” Sean than the “before”:

      http://rideapart.com/2012/09/how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-motorcycle-gear/

      • Davidabl2

        THAT article was one of HFL’s greatest hits, as far as I’m concerned :-)
        Re “The Education of” I was thinking less of ATTGAT attitudes than developing general biking wisdom.

        • taba

          How would that work? Like this?

          Chase: “Couple of us wear cowboy boots…”

          Search ride apart for “boots,” Chase. You’ll find this repeated:

          “Here’s a little test for you: go grab any item of footwear by the heel in one hand, toe in the other and twist it as hard as you can. Now imagine your foot inside there. That’s what’s going to happen in a crash.”

          http://rideapart.com/2013/02/boots-you-can-wear-on-and-off-the-bike/

          “A good way to evaluate a motorcycle boot’s ability to protect your foot and provide stable footing is to grab its sole at the front and rear and twist it. If the result looks like a pretzel, you don’t want your foot in there.”

          http://rideapart.com/2012/04/motorcycle-boots-you-can-wear-in-public/

          Chase: “I’d actually love it if someone would make some boots that qualified as business casual with safety features!”

          You’ll also find reviewed a number of boots that qualify.

          For example: http://rideapart.com/2010/10/alpinestars-harlem-boots-for-the-normal-in-you/

          • Davidabl2

            “”Here’s a little test for you: go grab any item of footwear by the heel in one hand, toe in the other and twist it as hard as you can. Now imagine your foot inside there. That’s what’s going to happen in a crash.”
            For the record, I also try to twist the upper sideways,and back and forth beyond the normal range of motion of your ankle. Very few boots except race boots will pass that test…no “business casual’ boots. Those Alpinestars Harlems don’t come anywhere near passing that test.

            Actually, as to ‘education” I was thinking about the gaining of real world riding skills, by some combination of trial&error “book learning” and classes.

            • Send Margaritas

              It is even safer to lie between two mattresses, in your parents basement, for the rest of your life.Just saying.

              • Davidabl2

                There’s risk reduction and there’s taking risk reduction to extremes…

  • SkunkySamurai

    I will say this about Arkansas, Natural scenery and some decent roads… outside of Little Rock.