- The Grand Canyon – How many other states can claim to have one of the Natural Wonders of the World?
2. There are things you simply won’t see anywhere else. In the historic town of Oatman, Arizona, burros run the town – no kidding!
3. Living history – Arizona has towns that actually live out their history. Tombstone, Arizona is one such town where the residents dress and live the part.
4. Incredibly diverse scenery – you can go from the saguaro cacti of the Sonoran Desert to alpine meadows in just a few hours.
5. For the pure beauty of it – have you noticed the pictures? Here is one of our favorite roads to ride. It is called Oak Creek Canyon.
6. Thousands of miles of back highways and open riding – perfect for motorcycle touring and getting off the beaten path! In Arizona, you can ride just for the sake of riding. You don’t need a destination to provide entertainment, the beauty and diversity is enough to keep you entertained.
7. You are close to many other great destinations like the beaches of southern California, the mountains of Colorado, the casinos of Las Vegas, and the adventures found in Mexico. Start your motorcycle tour here and experience awesome Arizona on the way to your destination.
8. Great destinations right here in Arizona. We mentioned the Grand Canyon, Tombstone, Arizona – where the actual gunfight at the OK Corral took place with Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, and crew, and Oatman, Arizona – where burros run the streets; but there are many more like: the Painted Desert, the Petrified National Forest, and various ghost towns.
9. Try this: Visit Arizona and take in a professional sports game: hockey, football, basketball, baseball, golf, whatever, then rent or take your motorcycle and ride through the ruggedly beautiful Sonoran desert. Ride north to higher elevations and alpine meadows – continue north and check out the Grand Canyon. Feeling lucky? Head over to Laughlin, Nevada (just across the NV – AZ border) and try your hand in the casinos. Ride back to Phoenix via any of the incredible back highways and catch another game before heading home. Sound pretty cool? It is!
10. Ride year-around! You can’t do this in very many states. When it’s snowing on the east coast and up north, it’s sunny and warm here!
When it came time to replace the Dunlop D418 Elite 3s that came with our 2015 Victory Cross Country Tour, we started to shop around. The Dunlops had been a decent tire but we didn’t want to pay $400 plus installation costs to replace them. That’s when we came across the Shinko SE890s on the Motorcycle Superstore website and decided to give them a try. We weren’t disappointed!
By the time we replaced the Dunlops they had about 8500 miles on them and were starting to make a notable buzzsaw sound (apparently this is common if you read various motorcycle forums) and the rear tire had a pronounced flat spot on the center of the tread pattern which was making turn-in initiation difficult. In fact, this had started at around 6000 miles. There was plenty of tread life left on both tires and we had heard that many riders were getting 12,000 miles or more on these same Dunlop Elite 3s – based on estimated remaining treadlife alone we probably could have too but a motorcycle that doesn’t corner isn’t very fun to ride.
Riding Conditions: Before going into specifics regarding the Shinkos, let me describe the conditions that we ride in. The Victory Cross Country Tour weighs about 850 lbs and nearly all of the time we ride 2-up, fully loaded for a weekend tour. That’s an estimated 1265 lbs and a lot of load on a set of tires!
We live in the Phoenix, Arizona area where it is generally warm and dry but frequently venture into mountainous destinations often encountering rain, sleet, and snow – sometimes on the same day! The vast majority of our riding is along back roads and highways, just taking our time and enjoying the scenery. We almost never reach maximum lean angle or accelerate and brake hard.
Price: We paid around $220 for the set.
Reviews: Many reviews on the Motorcycle Superstore website were raving about just how good this tire was, especially at the price point. This, combined with the low price, is the reason we decided to purchase them.
Appearance: I’m sure many riders don’t really care about the way a tire looks but I’m not one of them. There are white-lettered tires, white-walled tires, skinny tires and fat tires. There are even some with just plain weird looking tread patterns. All of these have their purpose and probably look and work well for a specific application. In the case of the Shinkos, as shown in the picture above, they don’t really have any outstanding features, they simply have the appearance of a quality tire.
Performance: As previously stated, we don’t do much canyon carving on our Victory so dry grip has never been an issue with these tires, even on tar snakes (lines of tar used to patch cracks in the road) which Arizona roads are full of. The Shinkos are quiet, smooth, and offer good bump absorption, even at maximum air pressure, unlike some other tires with stiffer sidewalls.
We did experience loss of grip once during a light rain storm. We were pulling out of a gas station at about 15-20 mph and at minimal lean angle and crossed a painted stripe on the road. Both the front then the rear completely lost traction, which was disconcerting, but immediately gained traction again once past the painted stripe.
Tire Life: It has now been one year since installing the Shinkos and they have right at 5500 miles on them. Both tires show very little tread wear. As shown in the pictures below, the front tire is starting to exhibit some cupping which hasn’t yet translated to noticeable loss of performance. The rear tire is starting to get a flat spot which is, like the Dunlop, making turn-in initiation difficult. Because of the flat spot I will be replacing this set of tires soon but would feel safe riding them far beyond their current mileage.
Comparison to Dunlop Elite 3s:
Price: Almost half the price ($220 vs. $394).
Performance: Equal in grip and comfort but quieter, especially when the Dunlop gets worn.
Tire Life: Equal – both start flat-spotting on rear tire at approximately 5000 miles under conditions described.
The Shinko SE890 tires were a great replacement for the Dunlop Elite 3s that came on our Victory Cross Country Tour. They are easy to find and relatively inexpensive, have positive reviews from many different riders, look and perform well, and matched the factory-specified tire for overall tire life. In our experience this is an outstanding tire that we will use again and recommend to anyone riding under similar conditions.
Motorcycle tours to great destinations like Sturgis or the Grand Canyon, or routes like the Tail of the Dragon are a ton of fun and a dream come true for many motorcyclists. But did you know some of the best riding can be found right in your own backyard? We have found many incredible motorcycle routes, some within minutes of our home, by simply going out and exploring or by asking local motorcyclists. We highly recommend you do the same if you haven’t already, you might be pleasantly surprised with what you find. To help you out, we’ve provided a link to Sunday Morning Rides website where you can find many FREE motorcycle routes in your area. This website is a great resource providing tour descriptions, maps, photo galleries, and even GPS files to guide you along the route. Check it out, Like their site, and enjoy!
Here is a list of 10 tips we’ve learned over the years of motorcycle touring in all different weather and road conditions. Some were learned the hard way and some came as pleasant surprises but all have helped to make our subsequent tours safer and more enjoyable. Pay heed to these tips and make your next motorcycle tour even better than the last.
- Cool-looking bikes don’t always make the best touring bikes. On our honeymoon, my wife and I met a couple at a great B&B just outside of the Sequoia National Forest. They were in their early 40s and riding a full-dress Harley touring bike. They appeared much fresher and well rested than us after a similar day of riding. We began to discuss this observation and after looking at our bike, a custom cruiser, the Harley owner stated that he had given up buying bikes that looked really cool (like ours) but weren’t made for touring. Our next bike was more touring oriented and now we too are much fresher and rested after a long day of riding. The lesson we learned: buy a bike for its intended purpose and live happily ever after.
- Try new things. We’ve been on more motorcycle tours than we can count. Those that were overnight tours we often ended up staying in various hotels and for the most part, don’t remember anything outstanding about any of them. The trips that do stand out in our memories were those where we tried something new or different. One particular trip we stayed at a KOA campground (we were roughing it), and as the sun went down the folks next to us came over offering cold beer and friendship. We ended up talking well into the evening and having a great time sharing our stories, food, and beverage around a campfire. It was a great time. I don’t recall many experiences like that when staying in a hotel.
- You don’t alway need to plan every ride down to a gnat’s butt. One day we simply headed out in a general direction with no set plans or destination. We ended up finding a great little cafe in the middle of nowhere that we now visit regularly. On the way home we took a back road that we had never been on, and wasn’t even sure where it went (we had a full tank of gas just in case). It turned out to be a little-traveled and scenic byway with undulations and great curves – a great motorcycling road! We would have never found it had we not allowed our sense of adventure to guide us.
- Stick to the ride plan. This sounds like it contradicts #3 and it does in a sense but applies when you do have a set destination and especially when riding in groups. On one particular overnight tour with a group of friends it was decided to deviate from the ride plan and add an additional stop – without extending the duration of the tour. It seemed not to pose a problem and everyone was up for it. As it turns out, by the time we made this additional stop most of the group was tired and did not want to continue with the route as planned and the group split. There was no real harm in this but half of the group missed out on the best part of the tour and we lost some of the camaraderie that goes with group riding. When on a timeline it’s best to stick to the ride plan.
- Don’t trust weather forecasts. We headed out once for a great day of riding. The weather forecast was sunny and a pleasant 66 degrees. A few hours into the ride it was 41 degrees and raining. 41 degrees on a bike feels much colder with the wind chill factor. Needless to say we were quite cold, and had we not found a cafe with hot coffee, would have been quite miserable! This leads to #6.
- Always bring as much riding gear as you can carry for varying weather conditions (see #5).
- There is no replacement for proper riding gear. One of our first motorcycle trips we got caught in 27 degree temperatures coming home. We thought we were prepared with our multiple layers of flannel shirts, thermal underwear, and winter coats. Wrong! We froze our butts off and the next day invested in proper cold-weather riding gear. There is a difference in gear made specifically for motorcycle riding versus everyday wear and it is worth every penny you pay for it.
- Motorcycle trips take longer than car trips. Touring motorcycles can be very comfortable for extended durations but rarely as comfortable as your car where you can stretch out, change leg positions, recline your seat, etc. For this reason you will generally find yourself taking more rest stops when touring on a bike. That’s okay, if you choose a scenic route, staying off the freeways, it’s more enjoyable anyway and extending the time to get to your destination is actually desirable.
- The little things can make a huge difference. We took a week-long tour through the beautiful mountains of Colorado and awesome desert scenery of northeastern Arizona…and I didn’t enjoy a minute of it. The helmet/earplug combination I was using caused incredible discomfort in my ears and no matter what I tried, I still couldn’t make it comfortable. Upon returning, I decided to research various earplugs, as they do not all fit and work the same, and now have found a pair that can be worn all day comfortably (By the way, here is a link to a useful earplug review that might help if you experience similar problems). The point of this story is that small details can make a big difference in your riding experience. Pay attention to these details, often times just a simple change can make a world of difference.
- Talk to the locals. Some of the best roads, restaurants, places to stay, and things to do can be found by simply asking the locals wherever you are at. We were on week-long tour, staying in Silver City, New Mexico, and decided to extend our tour for a few more days after a very kind and knowledgable couple told us about one of the local favorite motorcycle routes. We had no idea it existed and it turned out to be the highlight of our trip. We would never had know if we didn’t ask the locals for tips.
If you’ve struggled to find earplugs that don’t hurt your ears or excessively muffle communications from the speakers of your helmet-mounted headset then you might consider one of these options described in this earplug review. I ran across this review not long ago on the Tour on 2 Wheels website and decided to try one of the recommended products – the Motorsport earplugs from the company NoNoise.
After using the NoNoise earplugs now for several day-long and multi-day motorcycle tours I can say without hesitation that they are the best I have tried to date and recommend them to anyone looking for the ability to retain the ability to hear voice and music through their headsets but still manage to block out a significant level of road and wind noise. These earplugs do this by the use of an internally mounted and non-adjustable filter (details in the linked review).
Here are a few observations and notes of interest:
- The first time I used the NoNoise earplugs I ran into the same problem experienced using other universal fit earplugs – they made my ears hurt after a few hours of riding. It turns out I had simply inserted them too far into the ear canal which wasn’t necessary since the same basic level of attenuation was obtained without having to insert them so deep. After a few rides I learned to find an insertion point that was both comfortable and allowed the earplug to work adequately.
- There is still some road and wind noise that comes through using these earplugs but it is significantly reduced compared to using no ear protection at all. The linked review provides claimed levels of attenuation for reference. I have not verified these claims.
- All motorcycles have varying levels of road and wind noise so results with these earplugs will likely vary also. We ride on a Victory Cross Country Tour with a full windscreen and wear full-faced helmets. These earplugs work great in combination with the protection from that windscreen.
Overall I am very happy with the purchase of the NoNoise earplugs (and I’m not a paid spokesman). They aren’t what I’d consider perfect but they were affordable (around $35.00), reasonably comfortable to wear all-day long, and I can still hear voices and music through my headset while still reducing road and wind noise considerably. I’ll use these until something better comes along.
Thanks much to the writers at Tour on 2 Wheels!
Detailed Tour Planning Done for You
As locals, we know the most scenic backroads the Southwest has to offer and we’ve meticulously prepared all of our tours so no planning or reservations are required on your part. We’ve pre-run every tour, making sure there are clean bathrooms, the best available meals and incredible scenic photo stops. We are continuously improving upon our tours. All this means you get a stress-free, fun, and relaxing motorcycle tour.
Good Eats; Restful Sleep
We’ve hand selected and personally stayed at all overnight accommodations to ensure the most restful night’s sleep. We’ve also chosen restaurants, using our local knowledge, offering great food and service as well as Southwestern charm.
All participants must meet minimum experienced requirements to participate in a tour and basic group riding guidelines are demonstrated before tour departure.
When riding as a group, there is increased visibility and awareness to other motorists thus increasing safety in many aspects.
Experienced tour guides will lead you on planned routes with known road conditions to ensure the utmost safety. If a breakdown or accident were to occur, your tour guides will lead you to safety and help get you back on the road as soon as possible.
Meet New People, Make New Friends, and Share Your Motorcycling Experience
When participating in a guided motorcycle tour you will meet new people and make new friends. It might just happened that your new friends are from another state or even country and will share fun aspects of their culture with you. It’s a blast kicking your feet up at the end of a great day of riding and enjoying the group comradery and being able to share your experience with like-minded people – motorcyclists!
Ride Your Dream Bike
Of course you can ride your own motorcycle during a guided motorcycle tour but have you ever wanted to ride that new BMW1200GS, or a Harley Davidson Road King, or how about one of those 3-wheeled motorcycles, the Can-Am Spyder? We provide rental bike coordination and give you the option to ride your dream bike, whatever it might be.
With our guided motorcycle tours all of the stresses of planning, booking hotels, finding good places to eat, being stranded in unknown territory, etc. are removed, – even making sure clean bathroom stops are provided (this is especially important for the ladies). You will find yourself willing to go places that you normally wouldn’t on your own, and isn’t that what adventure is all about? In addition, professional tour guides are at your service the entire duration to meet your every need and provide historical commentary along the way. With guided motorcycle touring you just show up and ride!
Update March 21st, 2015
Great response from everyone around the world! Thanks to everyone for participating!
Without further ado, here is the list:
Number 1: Cash
Number 2: Tools
Number 3: Underwear (great choice!)
Here are the remaining responses (in no particular order):
– Keys for bike
– Myself/Significant Other
– Fitness and diet program for extended tours
– Trash Bag
– Travel Coffee Mug
– Credit Card
– First Aid Kit
– Batter Charger/Cables
– American Motorcycle Association (AMA) Card
– All-Season Riding Gear
– Comfortable Clothes
– Beef Jerky
– Comfy Shoes
– iPod/Cell Phone
– Cable Ties
Original Post, March 15, 2015
We often get asked “What’s the most important items to pack on a motorcycle trip?”. Instead of just writing a list we thought it would be cool to ask the world, so we did. Check back on this blog in one week and we will post responses from motorcyclists all over the world.
This story may sound familiar…
The weather forecast for the weekend is perfect so you and a few riding buddies decided to go out for a ride. Everything starts out great; you’re on the road, the sun is shining with your knees in the breeze. Someone decides to make a stop at the local watering hole just to quench the thirst. For whatever reason, what was only to be a quick thirst-quencher turns into an extended visit. You see one of your riding buddies having a great time, too great a time and probably partaking in too many adult beverages. You ask your buddy if he is ok to ride and the response is “I’m cool, man, no problem. Just one more and we’ll hit the road”.
Eventually you all get back on your bikes and continue your ride – back with your knees in the breeze! All of a sudden your normally sane riding buddy, the one that was having a great time at the watering hole, is riding a bit like a hooligan pulling in and out of your group , riding in the emergency lane, and wanting to race you and everyone else on the road. You start getting nervous and hope your friend doesn’t take himself out, or worse yet your whole group!
Since having spent so much time at the watering hole you and the group find yourselves riding home in the dark. One or more of you don’t see well at night which only adds to the stress. In addition, the route you knew so well looks totally different at night and this too becomes a stressor. What started as a great ride didn’t turn out to be the safe, fun, and relaxed ride you had planned.
Now image it this way:
It’s warm and sunny outside so you decide to go for a weekend ride. The route is perfect for motorcycling; not long freeway stints but through a variety of scenery and fun, twisty roads. Everyone you are riding with is experienced, especially the group leader. All gas, rest, and meal stops are already planned so no worries about rank bathrooms for you and your gal. Meals are from hand-picked restaurants, the ones only the locals know about. Along the way are great photo opportunities to capture the good times and share with your friends. Speaking of friends, you meet some new ones while on your ride and find out you have much in common – motorcycles of course – and a whole lot more. You end up exchanging contact info so you can ride together later or just hang out.
At the end of the day’s ride you and the group find a place to kick your legs up, relax, and just enjoy each other’s company. The only thing that could make this day better is to repeat it. The good news is you get to wake up the next day and do just that!
If this sounds like your idea of a motorcycle ride then check us out. We’d love to have you along with us.