Viking 14 Large Tank Bag

Viking 14 Large Tank BagThe folks at Viking Bags sent us their Viking 14 Large Tank Bag a few weeks ago and after thoroughly testing it I can report that I’m quite impressed. If you ride as much as I do you know the value of a quality tank bag and the Viking 14 really fills the bill for both the commuter and serious touring rider. The Viking 14 (the 14 stands for its 14 liter capacity) is well made with Cordura stitching throughout. It features a sturdy carry handle, hefty zippers (which can be locked and are large enough to make access easy even with a gloved hand), all the pockets we’ve come to expect in a tank bag and of course a removable clear map sleeve.

The strength of the magnets in the base actually surprised me. I ride a V-Strom and you can see from the photo that the tank on a V-Strom isn’t smooth and flat but the Viking firmly grips the tank and hasn’t moved once in the dozen or so rides I’ve taken with it.

Here are some of the Viking 14′s features:

  • Heavy duty Cordura Construction.
  • Organizer included inside for Keys, wallets, cell phones etc.
  • Reflective piping for additional night time visibility
  • Easy to remove snap Pocket with zipper entry.
  • Duraflex® buckles throughout for added strength.
  • Flex Buckles throught the bag for extra strength.
  • Carry handle included.
  • Audio Slot.
  • Protective base.
  • Rain cover included.
  • Cell phone storage pocket.
  • Magnetic Base.

vikingbags-logoI won’t miss the need to loosen and tighten straps when gassing up and the Viking 14 stows away nicely in my top box to prevent theft (it also features lock loops if you prefer a strap to deter theft). At $61.99 the Viking 14 Large Tank Bag is competitively priced and, in this rider’s opinion, an excellent bag for the price.

Please check out the video below for more information and, as always, ride safe.

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Slick New Gear

With the 2014 riding season currently underway, there has never been a better time to begin looking at the different options that you have available to you in the way of gear. Motorcycle gear usually means yearly investments for motorcycle riders, upgrading previous gear that needs to be looked at, and also treating you to a few new toys. A number of new products have been announced to much critical acclaim for the 2014 year. There is a lot of new gear available, allowing for upgrades for many of us. Take the following gear and products into consideration for the 2014 season.

Quality Saddlebags

For touring enthusiasts, there are multiple things that need to be taken into account when you are looking at new saddlebags for the 2014 season. Start by determining the maximum distance that you are planning on traveling this year. This will give you good idea of exactly how much storage space you are going to require in your high quality saddlebags. Make sure to find saddlebags that are going to be compatible with your specific motorcycle model. You will find that Harley-Davidson’s are always compatible with Harley saddlebags that are built for specific models, rather than going with some universal saddlebags that may or may not snugly fit your bike. Saddlebags are important because they allow you to carry all of your gear that you could potentially need in the event of a breakdown, or issue with the bike.

Tina Walker

UglyBROS Motorpool Pants

One product that has received a lot of attention is Uglybros’ Motorpool Pants. These pants are manufactured by a Korean company that has been in business for just 10 years in total. However, the company has taken the motorcycle industry by storm by releasing a number of high quality accessories and gear products, that are able to stand up to even the most stringent of wear and tear, while still providing a fashionable look. This particular pair looks like it could’ve come out of the Mad Max movie, with an olive color that has been stained, and a slim fit. It comes complete with both knee and hip protectors, as well as rip paneling to help protect the rider from industry. Although they are a bit expensive, costing $320 overall, it does provide a very unique look and is an excellent product overall.

Bitwell Gringo LE Helmets

Are you looking for a slick new helmet, and want something that has a cool, or futuristic or retro feel? Well, a number of limited-edition Bitwell Gringo helmets have recently become available. And not only provide you with the utmost comfort, but offers a 1970s styling that has become increasingly popular in motorcycle gear in recent years. Although they are not flashy, many of them feature neon colors. The best part is, many of the helmets are available for less than $200, which is a steel given the intricate and beautiful designs that the helmets are currently offering.

If you are looking to spice up your gear, and stay safe during this motorcycle season, you should consider getting quality saddlebags, stylish pants, or spicy helmets to add to your current fashionable look.


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Interview with Grant and Susan Johnson


Several months ago we reviewed the Achievable Dream DVD Series, produced by Horizons Unlimited, a worldwide portal, resource and meeting spot for motorcycle travelers. Recently, Zen contributor, Henry Yampolsky, spoke with Grant and Susan Johnson, who after spending ten years traveling around the world on their modified BMW F80GS, founded Horizons Unlimited, which now has members in over 160 countries, hosts travelers meetings worldwide and provides one of the most comprehensive resources for motorcycle travel.

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Easy Like Monday Morning

The article “Easy Like Monday Morning” by Bud Miller/Zen MEasyotorcyclist was originally published on the “RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel” magazine website on 2/02/2014.

Cori and I both started new jobs recently and with that come changes to schedules, new responsibilities, routines, and pressures. She mentioned during a recent conversation that at lunch she’ll find an empty cubicle where the sun pours in and take time to consider all she has to be thankful for. It struck me as a gentle way of calming yourself and finding a center of peace amidst all that is changing. I realized that I already do something similar on my daily commute on the bike.

Motorcycling is a unique pursuit. It can be at once spiritual, a vacation, recess, and meditation (and is often all of them together). It can be (and is for me) a chance to commune with nature, to consider what’s important, to clear your mental slate, and be a time when you aren’t trying to please anyone other than yourself.

Like any successful and mutually beneficial relationship, riding should elevate and inspire. Monday morning need not be dreaded. Many a Sunday night over the last decade or so I’ve drifted off to sleep after checking the weather with thoughts not of the workweek ahead but rather of the Monday morning ride. It’s a way to carve out a little more time to give thanks in my own way.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “…tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” That’s usually what it boils down to; a head full of nonsense that just needs to be swept away. Life’s challenges never cease but one thing remains a constant, the morning and evening commute (or any ride for that matter). That’s when I’m easy, easy like Monday morning.

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Into Africa – Just Listen to the Voice

Into Africa Front Cover JPG 237kbRecently, I went on a harrowing train ride across the Sahara;   rode through the dusty back roads of Ethiopia; experienced unconditional generosity of a Zulu man and even got to spend some quality time in a Tanzanian jail.  I also felt the breathtaking majesty of Victoria Falls; bargained for papaya at a Kenyan roadside market and drove through South African villages, still reeling from the effects of the years of Apartheid.  My guides were adventurer, Sam Manicom, and his trusty companion, Libby, a BMW R80GS motorcycle which took Manicom on a year-long journey across Africa.

Actually, I experienced Africa while never leaving Philadelphia which went through a blustery and snowy winter of historical proportions.  But, for about ten days, as I drove my car to work over pothole, gravel and ice-covered roads, I was almost expecting to encounter the searing desert oasis of flowering shrubs, palm trees and green grass.  During my commute I was listening to Sam Manicom’s Into Africa, read by the author.   

I have read Into Africa before and really enjoyed it.  However, listening to Manicom tell the story of his journey was an experience unlike any other.

Into Africa is an extraordinary adventure by a relatively ordinary bloke who one-day, almost on a whim, decides to learn to ride motorcycles, and then quits his job as a shoe store manager, and takes a year to ride Libby, the motorcycle, through Africa.  As we learn from the book, aside from riding a motorcycle, painting is one of Manicom’s favorite pastimes.  And, the man can paint a museum-worthy piece with just a few words.  The image that emerges from Into Africa is that of a diverse, complex and awe-inspiring continent with many colors, shades and shadows, whose people face every-day adversity with grace, ingenuity, unconditional kindness and a great sense of humor.

Yet, it is not just Manicom’s ability to paint a picture with words that make this book so moving.  Rather, it is Sam Manicom’s voice.  It is a voice of zen-like acceptance, compassion and gratitude that deeply permeates his narrative.  Thus, Manicom manages to treat even the worst moments of his trip and tackle some of Africa’s well-known ills with humility, humor and even a sense of appreciation.  Manicom’s voice makes it clear that he takes to heart the key lesson that Africa and its people have taught him – “remember your yesterdays and dream of your tomorrows, but live the day!”

It is in the audio version of the book that the true voice of the author who relieves his adventure in every chapter comes alive.  It is this voice that makes reading Into Africa a great experience and listening to it a truly special one.   It is listening to Sam Manicom read his book that could transport you into Africa.Zambezi-Sunset

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