Anyone who is a decent rider will always make a better driver. There is no ifs/buts/what ifs etc around this fact. And no I am not biased just because I am a rider myself. Let me explain.
As a motorcyclist, we tend to very aware of what is happening around us. This is called situational awareness. We look far down the road and we can almost always anticipate the idiot next to us, is going to come to our lane. We are constantly scanning forward, backward and sideways.
No distractions help too. We cannot text, eat, drink, fight with people we love, and stare at one place for long while we ride. I will be honest that I like that. I do not like distractions at all. I am not a fan of being too busy. Call me old school, boring etc etc. I was actually born in mid 80s, so I do not think I am too old haha.
Now, let’s transfer my skills to driving a motorcar. Funnily enough, I look really far down the road and scan for everything possible. This includes soccer moms distracted with their eyes stuck on instagram, weird guy using profanity, screaming kids with soccer ball, little dogs barking, cyclists, pedestrians, potholes etc. Also I tend to take better corner than many cars on highway entrance/exit ramps. What happened here? I used my riding skills including smooth throttle and looking far while driving my car. Since I have had close calls with drivers while I was on my bike, I know what to look for. This experience easily transfers when I am driving the car.
Riding has also made me appreciate the comfort that a car offers. For example, I do like ice cold air condition in a hot scorching summer day. It feels so cozy and warm when the weather outside is super cold. Anything in between, the bike is out and I am grinning from ear to ear.
In conclusion, people who ride motorcycles and drive cars, also tend to watch a lot more for motorcyclists while they drive. We are actually looking out for our own people’s safety. At the end of the day, we want to go back to our loved ones. Does not matter whether you are behind a wheel or behind the bars of a motorcycle.
Congratulations! You have decided to be brave, feel your inner bad ass and become a brother/sister of our own elite group.
First of all, you must be at least 16 years old. Please ensure you are in decent health and have good vision or wear glasses/contacts. Leave the ego at the door and bring the positive vibes.
Do you know what kind of motorcycle do you want to ride? It matters. The type of motorcycle you want to ride, will determine how much insurance you will have to pay. Also your location matters. For a quick idea, how bad or how good is your area, click here: https://www.kanetix.ca/insuramap
If you do not take the course (I highly recommend that you do take the course):
Write and pass M1. M1 has G1 components, so make sure you brush up on your G1 knowledge.
You can buy the MTO Motorcycle Handbook from the ministry or any other place such as Canadian Tire
You can also be cheap like me and borrow it from your local library 🙂
Hold on to M1 for 60 days.
Pass M1 exit test and move to M2 within 90 days of getting M1, otherwise M1 expires in 90 days.*
Pass M2 exit test and get M after 22 months, otherwise M2 expires in 5 years and you will have to start all over again (Worst thing!)
If you are smart and take the course:
Write and pass M1. M1 has G1 components, so make sure you brush up on your G1 knowledge.
Pass M1 exit test and get M2 via course within 90 days of getting M1, otherwise M1 expires in 90 days.*
However, take your M2 to Ministry only after 60 days of having M1.
Pass M2 exit test and get M after 18 months, otherwise M2 expires in 5 years. You could do M2 exit test via ministry and save yourself money but I do not recommend it. My other post will explain why.
*Update: Recently, I have also found out that after getting your M2, you still have 6 months of time beginning from M1 to submit your M2 letter to ministry and officially move to M2 status.
And there you have it! Now get out there, buy proper gear and start this wonderful journey. I will see you on the road!
This post is actually for any car driver. It will be a short read but it will help any driver for free, potentially, saving him/her heavy fines due to speeding. Read on.
If you are driving on the opposite lane of a motorcyclist and you notice him/her tapping their helmet, it means they just passed a police speed trap. So as you are driving, you will approach either a speed trap or you will know that police is ahead. Slow down!
As motorcyclists, we tend to be very aware of our surroundings and we always look out for other riders. Now you know our little secret. When we tap our helmets, we are alerting our brothers and sisters on two wheels. Well, since you have read this, you will be alert too!
Thank you again for checking out my blog. This time I will bring you the adventure I had while riding through the loop of Algonquin Provincial Park and then riding home to Toronto.
I needed a solo trip again to clear my head, refresh my thoughts and just to feel better overall. I have been to Algonquin before but never on a motorcycle. The plan was actually simultaneous. There wasn’t too much to plan, to be honest. I have downloaded the app EatSleepRide and I found out about the loop from there. I did put the directions in Google Maps, however, my gps was not working once I was in Algonquin. This is when I wished I had a paper map. Oh well. So Saturday morning, June 17, 2017, I got my tailbag ready with rain suit, some fruits, bottle of water, phone power pack and extra bungees. My first out of the town trip of the season and apparently there has been tornado warning. More on that later.
I reached Orillia by 11:30 am.
Stopped for a fill up and then went back to highway 11. I saw OPP headquarters in Orillia and I knew I had to take a picture.
After riding for some time, I have reached Dorset.
Random scenarios here at Dorset:
Before the ride, I did some research and I found out about Dorset Lookout Tower.
I knew I had to see it. And here I am.
I love how there is motorcycle designated parking!
The views were spectacular! I was completely blown away.
By the way, this area was full of biggest mosquitoes I have ever seen. So please have bug spray with you or any mosquito repellant. These little bastards were annoying!
I had another fill up right before entering Algonquin.
Algonquin Provincial Park
More pictures at Algonquin.
Stopped at this local place called The Moccasin House. Their fudge is local and pretty tasty!
Anti tank gun
Beautiful Barry’s Bay
I stopped here because….
I saw this little guy crossing the street.
He did not seem very friendly…
Finally at my last point
Found a tank in Haliburton.
I have completed the loop at Dorset. The weather was perfect and road conditions were superb. Yes, there were some construction zones. But they were few and they had warning signs along with gravel warning. This was essential.
Now on to not so fun part of the trip. While I was enjoying ride, there had been torrential downpour, thunderstorms along with tornado in Southern Ontario, specifically in GTA. By the time I started my voyage to home, the storms reached north towards me. I pulled over and put my rain suit on. This helped me to stay dry, kept the wind away and helped me to concentrate. Honestly, I think every rider must get a decent rain suit. You never know when you need one.
As I was riding through heavy rain, evading cars splashing me, watching massive lightning in the horizon, I was thinking about life. Here I was, all by myself, riding a sport bike in horrendous weather conditions. I knew if I was to go down, this will be it. I kept myself calm by thinking of good memories, applying steady throttle and looking as far as I can. By the time I reached Orillia, my gas light started flashing. So immediately I took exit towards downtown Orillia and my goodness, this town gets puddles everywhere. Finally, I found a gas station and Tim Horton’s. Filled up and ate at timmys.
Locals were quite nice and were chatting me up. They all felt bad for me. I checked the weather and it said that rain will stop soon, however, will resume in an hour. So when it did stop, I got on the bike and left.
Rest of night was somewhat calm with light drizzles here and there. I reached home by 1 am in the morning. I put 900 km on that day. Except the last part of the ride, I loved every moment of it. To be honest, even the last part was not so bad. In our modern times, we do not face life or death situation at all and sometimes we are not prepared. I am lucky and happy to survive it all and write my story about it. Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Always carry a paper map
Carry extra set of gloves that are waterproof and high quality
Carry a toolkit, zipties, mini survival kit, some high energy food such as nuts and water (I did have water and blueberries with me)
Carry baby wipes
For touring, use waterproof boots
When it rains heavy with thunderstorms, just pull over, get to safety and wait it out
This post is for people who will be taking ministry approved courses in order to get M2 and M. I, myself, have done it and will always say that everyone must do these courses. Could you pass M2 and M without courses? Yes. But should you? Absolutely not. Read on to find out why.
M2 Course: Centennial College at Ashtonbee Campus
Day 1: Most likely Evening
Most M2 courses start on a Friday evening and finish by Sunday afternoon. On your first day (evening!), you will be expected to come with your M1 licence. Key note: You must have had your M1 for at least 60 days when you move to M2 course. In my case, I have had my M1 for 30 days when I started M2, however I handed in my letter of pass to Ministry after 60 days of having M1. Discuss this with your training institution before registering. Just remember in 90 days after getting M1, it will expire. So move to M2 before 90 days of M1 expiration and after 60 days of being within M1. Basically, get your M1, then do M2 but wait 60 days of having M1, then take your M2 letter to Ministry in order to move to M2 status. Hope that makes sense. Also because courses get full so fast, you are better off to book M2 course first and do M1, and then start M2.
Update: Recently, I have also found out that after getting your M2, you still have 6 months of time beginning from M1 to submit your M2 letter to ministry and officially move to M2 status.
You will fill up some forms, waivers etc and watch videos on riding safety. Listen carefully, take notes, ask questions and note down the answers. There is no silly question, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Day 2: Morning to Afternoon
Please be on time and show up promptly. You will be assigned to an instructor with 3/4 other guys/girls. It is an exciting day! You get to pick your bike! Now you do not get to ride it, yet. You will be learning simple maneuvers with a buddy. I would say this was the most physically demanding part of the course. Basically, you will sit on the bike and your buddy will push you on the parking lot, and vice versa. This is to learn how to balance the bike. Then you get to start the bike, understand the clutch, friction/catching point of clutch and how to shift gears. You will also be taught how to use front and rear brake. The rule of thumb is using both brakes slowly with a firm but not too strong of a grip. You do not want to lock up your brakes! Afterwards, you will do slow speed maneuvers, emergency stopping, sudden lane change practices etc. If you drop your bike, stall the bike, don’t be embarrassed. It happens. If you drop the bike, ask an instructor to help you to pick it up. Self confession: I dropped my bike when I thought I had the kickstand down. My bike was a Yamaha Virago 250 and it looked like this.
Day 3: Morning to Afternoon
Today is the final day. You will practice more and have tons of fun. After lunch time, you will be given a sheet of skills that you will be tested on. Make sure you understand everything and ask in doubt. At this time you are expected to be skilled enough to not stall nor drop the bike. Remember dropping the bike during test is an automatic fail. Also remember the test is actually much easier than practice runs that you will have to do over and over.
After you pass, high five your instructor and gently ride your bike to the designated spot. Park it, get off of it and pat yourself. Well done! Since you did your M2 with ministry approved school, now your minimum waiting time to advance to M is 18 months. If you would have completed M2 without course, your minimum waiting time would be 22 months.
M Course: Learning Curves in Downtown Toronto
Day 1: Friday Evening
I met with a small group of riders and instructor at Urban Rider location. Everyone was friendly, eager to learn and excited about passing their M. Man I had goose bumps too! I was thinking like that is it, I am almost there.
We had a briefing and introduction of ourselves and our rides. Our instructor explained us what we are going to be tested on. She said that firstly there will be parking lot test, emergency braking and then riding on city and highway. However, she told us about specific points that I believe are quite useful. These are:
Always leave one bike and half length of space between your motorcycle and car ahead of you. That way you can pull out easily if you need to.
Always scan driveways/small streets/parking lot exits for cars wanting to pull out on your way.
I may have forgotten, but I think we were given a sample sheet on what are we going to be tested on. This will give you a good idea and perhaps raise questions that you may have. Ask away!
Day 2: Riding in the morning and test in the afternoon
Firstly, your bike will be inspected for proper tire tread, brake lights, horn, signal lights, high beam light and for anything hanging loose. Hopefully everything works and you will be asked to do parking lot test. See the diagram below.
Always watch where you are going and never look down!
Now is the fun part. You will be riding in a group with your instructor. Riding positions will be changed as instructor tells you to do so. I was doing quite well, however, I was not scanning the driveways. See below.
I was also hammered on my inability to constantly check my mirrors every 10 seconds. So I started checking them more often. It feels like a chore but not for very long. Also this is important for safety.
I placed a marker labeled X on the back of my helmet. This helps the instructor observe your head movements better. Always keep your head on a swivel!
The pictures below are from our group rides:
In the afternoon, we were ready for the test. I calmed my nerves, wore the safety vest along with Bluetooth/radio earpiece and was good to go. My instructor followed me in a car. At the end, she asked me how did I do? I might have been a bit too negative and said not too well. On contrary, I did really well! I made only three errors. So I passed with flying colours and was on my way home with my shiny new certificate!
So at the end I have spent about $800 for both M2 and M courses. That is a lot of money. However, the tips I have learned from experienced instructors is quite valuable and necessary. I have also learned how to ride defensively and scan for dangers ahead properly. I strongly encourage new riders to take ministry approved motorcycle safety courses.
Do you have any questions/concerns? Did I miss anything? Please let me know.
It has been a while since I have posted anything. Well I am back to writing! Today I want to discuss a sensitive yet important topic. Insurance is a tricky subject. Now think of Ontario and Super Sport Motorcycle. These two do not get along quite well. Why not you may ask. Well that is beyond this post. In a quick summary, Ontario insurance is privatized, this province has a lot of fraud claims which do not make super sport motorcycle insurance friendly. A lot of new riders regardless of age may want to start on a super sport right away. In my opinion this is your personal choice. You could but keep in mind you will be paying a lot more to insurance. This is what I have done and so far it has been working out quite well.
Get G license and please keep it clean
Get M2 through ministry approved course and keep it clean
Get a small bike, ride it for a season, don’t mess up your record and sell it
Get your dream super sport and by then your insurance should be less
Keep yourself sane and keep your record clean
Also keep in mind that it helps being old when it comes to insurance. You get a break at 25 and even better discount at 30. Even though this post is targeted to super sport motorcycles only, any motorcycle rider can use this guide. Remember to shop around for insurance.
Couple of things:
Location matters. Someone in Brampton is paying more than someone else who lives in Toronto, everything else being same.
Gender matters. Ladies pay less.
Motorcycle matters. This variable has a lot of factors. A super sport will almost always be more expensive to insure. However, an exotic may be less because there are few on the road and the claims history is very small.
Age matters. As mentioned above.
Marital status matters. Married folks pay less because they are seemed less reckless.
If you have questions about Ontario Super Sport Motorcycle or any Motorcycle insurance, drop me a line. Until then ride safe!
Any hobby could be expensive. Even the ones that do not require money, may still require your most valuable asset, which is time. However, one does keep himself/herself occupied with things/activities that make them happy and enjoy themselves. For me, it is definitely riding a motorcycle (duh). Is it expensive? Let’s discuss.
The answer is yes and no. The true answer lives within you and how you feel about riding. Does it make you smile every time you twist the throttle? Do you acknowledge the compliments from strangers? Do you enjoy talking to other riders and sense the bond of riding community? If yes, well, it will never be an expensive hobby to you. Some people like to spend money on booze, clubs, going out etc. I like to spend money on my bike. Does it mean those people or I not spending money wisely? No. It is our preference. However, being an Ontario resident really sucks for riders. The insurance itself kills the deal for many guys and girls. Let’s go over the points that are important to consider when you are thinking of getting into riding:
In Ontario, we pay the highest premiums for motorcycle insurance. You do get a break when you are over 25 and over 30. Being under 25 and trying to insure a Super Sport motorcycle is a nightmare. Even car insurance is very expensive in Ontario.
Buy some legit gear and save your skin and flesh. The importance of gear is too much for me to describe. Remember that you must dress for crash/slide. A proper full face helmet, gauntlet gloves, boots with ankle protection, jacket and pants with CE approved armours must be worn. Leather or textile is your choice. I feel more responsible when I ride with full gear. I did ride couple of times with no protection except gloves and helmet. Very bad idea. You do feel free and invincible which is the last thing you want when riding a motorcycle. You can always buy used gear, however, I recommend to get a brand new helmet.
Motorcycles require more attention and care. You need chain cleaner, lube, engine oil, filter, coolant etc etc. Learn how to do basic maintenance by yourself and save money. Consult your riding buddies who know technical stuff. Maintenance does add up, but in my opinion it has been less than my car overall. Look for sales, learn a thing or two and you will be good to go.
Price of the motorcycle
I put this as a last point because, well you can always negotiate price of a bike or walk away from it. Unless you are an experienced rider and/or have lots of money, I do not recommend buying a brand new bike. You will save so much by buying used. You declare for it less and save. Can’t do that with a brand new bike. Plus the moment you ride off with shiny new bike, the price drops significantly. Do some research, buy a bike that is couple of years old and negotiate well. What I like about motorcycles is that the value does not depreciate as much compared to cars.
None of the points above would matter without taking the ministry approved riding course. Please take this course to learn defensive riding, emergency manoeuvres, slow turns and how to prepare yourself for unexpected.
I hope I did not discourage you so much. Truth is when you twist the throttle, when the sun shines on your helmet and you feel the breeze, nothing else matters. And this is what I am going to do in a bit. Until then, keep the shiny side up!
You know there is a saying that you have bought the right ride if you take a second look at it, after walking away from it. I believe that should be slightly tweaked. I think one has definitely bought the right ride when he/she whips out his/her cellphone or SLR camera to take pictures of it without any occasion. The bond between man (or woman!) and the machine is one of the strongest. Given the power of social media, it is essential that we take pictures of our toys and share with the world.
I will not bore you with the technical details of photography. If I were to do that, trust me, you would run away. Let’s jump into today’s topic on how to photograph your motorcycle.
Lights, camera, action!
Remember that? Well, make this your main point to remember while photographing your ride. Light is everything when it comes to taking amazing or just ordinary pictures. I always prefer using natural light to take pictures and I highly recommend you doing so. Using flash is good when the conditions are dark, however, you risk ruining the background too.The best time to capture pictures is half an hour after sunrise and half an hour to an hour before sunset. The sunlight is not harsh during those times and pictures taken at those times produce the best results.
It is absolutely horrible to take pictures during broad daylight. Backgrounds tend to washout and overexposure results in not so desirable pictures.
I mean, you could still fix those pictures but you would have to use Photoshop and spend hefty amount of time to produce better result. Why bother when you can take pictures at the right time? Here is a tip: always have the object facing the sun and let the background be sharp or slightly out of focus. The advantage of taking pictures after sunrise or before sunset is the mild light which brings out the colours of background and the object as well.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail
Let’s say you want to take pictures of your ride in a nice location. Do some research before about the place. Is it private or is it open to public? How is the background there? Do you know if the place has high traffic of people and/or other vehicles? Keep in mind that sunrise or sunset may make a difference on the background. Bring extra memory cards, an extra battery and a tripod to assist you.
As flattering as it may seem, taking a picture of the motorcycle on your driveway, Tim Hortons parking lot or underground parking is not flattering at all. Based on where you live, find some places that offer unique backgrounds.
Visit those places early in the morning or before sunset. Location plays an important role in your picture. Your bike may be pretty, however, choosing a perfect location will ensure a stunning picture of it.
Weapon of choice
I, personally, recommend using a DSLR camera for taking shots. I shoot raw and I suggest you do the same. Take as many pictures as you need. You can delete them later on. Develop the pictures at home and use Photoshop to tweak them as required. With a DSLR you can also shoot some amazing night shots. You must use tripod during nights because you need long exposure. Now, I understand that some of you prefer to shoot with your cell phones and that is okay too. Make sure you follow my points and use the editing tools such as contrast, saturation, brightness and filters to make a dramatic/enhanced/better quality picture. My weapons of choice are Canon Rebel T1i, 50mm f1.8 lens, 18-55 kit lens and 70-300mm telephoto lens.
I also use my cellphone Sony Z3 to take pictures of the bike. Here is an example:
Framing the object (motorcycle)
Ideally, you would want to capture ¾ view of the motorcycle. It really shows most of the bike in a flattering manner. Think about your target audience for the picture. Is it going to be a Facebook cover photo or an Instagram shot? Depending on those factors, you may want to change the location of your object in the frame.
Ensure the object and the background is clean
I am pretty sure that you will wash your bike before shooting pictures of it. Please bring soft clothes or a rag to wipe off any dirt. The human eye looks for imperfection and before you know it, that gorgeous picture will be ruined because your lazy ass did not clean that dirt off. I strongly suggest to keep the background clean off people and/or vehicles. You want to ensure that your bike is the main focus. Being photo bombed by other objects just is not cool.
Step out of the comfort zone
Last but not least, try to get creative by stepping out of comfort zone. Take pictures in completely different angles. Edit them for dramatic effect. Use long exposures to capture the motion of other vehicles and/or people moving around your bike. There is no end of creativity and this is what really brings out of you, a unique mind.
These are my keypoints on how to photograph a motorcycle. Now, yours may be different or similar. How do you photograph your motorcycle? Comment below! Until then, keep the shiny side up!
My current ride is 2008 Suzuki GSXR 750. It is an amazing supersport bike that has enough power and good amount of torque even for street riding. Despite being three quarter litre, make no mistake about the power of this bike. It has raw power and the fun factor of a 600cc supersport bike.
My bike was one owner bike and has been in pristine condition. It came with Yoshimura R55 exhaust, Rizoma accessories and Pazzo shorty levers.
Now why I chose this bike? Well, for starters it has a perfect balance of horsepower and torque. I feel most comfortable on it compared to other SS bikes. The gixxer feels very premium to me. It has gear indicator, slipper clutch, clean and sharp body, signals are built into the frame and side mirrors. Oh and it has 4 way flashers! I know these are small things but details do add up. 08+ Gixxers also have power options A, B, and C. You can use those to decrease the power if you wish. Mode A is full power, Mode B is reduced power until you fully open throttle and Mode C is you get 60% of power even at full throttle. Mode C is good for rainy conditions. Last but not the least, 08-10 Gixxer 600 and 750s have projector light as the main lowbeam. The light is halogen, however, the cutoff is smooth and crisp. I have ridden on many dark country roads and I was blown away by the quality of gixxer’s headlight.
Finally, the reason I chose this bike is because it feels right to me. That’s it!