Tag Archive: reviews

Weather On The Go

wbNow ScreenIf you’re anything like me you ride often, whether weekend day trips, daily commuting or extended multi-day trips. I commute in southeastern Pennsylvania throughout the year which means I ride in all types of weather, rain, occasionally snow, fog, high winds. Now on weekend rides or day trips that’s fine; but one thing I don’t do is commute in bad weather. My work occasionally involves being outside and I prefer not to have to deal with inclement weather on work days and the requisite clothing considerations that entails. With that in mind I’ve been using the WeatherBug weather app for a while now and with good results.

The widget on my Galaxy S5 (which I refer to often without ever needing to open the app) is unobtrusive and (more…)

SlimFold Wallet

waterproofThe people at SlimFold Wallet recently approached me about trying one of their products and I jumped at the chance. A week or so ago I took a ride with my friend Bob and, while riding, I realized I had forgotten to remove my wallet and put it in my tank bag. Ordinarily I like to keep it on me at all times but it was hot and it always feels better not sitting on a thick bump in my back pocket. I ended up removing it while I rode, not the safest idea. So the timing was perfect for me to try the SlimFold and I have to say, I’m quite pleased and impressed. color options

Made of Tyvek (which is printed in colors with a tactile feel somewhat like coated paper) or soft shell (the version I tested which has more of a wet-suit feel) from recycled material and nearly impossible to tear and waterproof the SlimFold is barely noticeable in my pocket. In fact the first few days I used it I kept thinking I had left my wallet behind somewhere.

Stitching along the fold allows the Slimfold to easily stay closed (unlike leather wallets) which contributes to its slim feel. I assumed I’d use the SlimFold only on the motorcycle but it’s quickly become my only wallet. I no longer need to find room in my minuscule bicycle bag and I can work all day with it in my pocket without ever noticing it. If you’re tired of lugging around a thick wallet do yourself a favor and checkout the offerings at SlimFold. You’ll be glad you did.

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Helmet Halo

Helmet Halo logo

My helmet at YogaNext to the cost of the motorcycle itself your biggest riding expense is most likely your helmet. If you’re anything like me you don’t like putting your costly lid on the ground or any other surface apt to be dirty, hot, wet or sticky; unfortunately there are times when I have little choice. When I get to the office and the forecast calls for rain and it’s time to put the cover on I’m forced to put my helmet on the hot asphalt. In my cubicle at the office my choices are the floor under my desk or on my desk where I have precious little room. The Scala Rider attached to my helmet is also a concern due to its position on the chin bar. I’ve broken a few brackets when setting my helmet down in the past.

Halo StackHelmet Halo was designed to be a compact motorcycle helmet holder that eliminates these worries. Helmet Halo is made of tough plastic designed to stand up to abuse (trust me I’ve abused it in testing). Helmet Halo is inexpensive, portable, comes in four colors and can be coiled up for transporting. If I could wear it as a bracelet when not in use it’d be perfect; but even as is it’s pretty close.

(Note: Helmet Halo does not attach to a helmet in any way, it is merely a stand to hold a helmet upright.)

Please visit Helmet Halo to order.Helmet Halo

Under Asian Skies – The World is Colorful, Complex and Beautiful

Under Asian SkiesIf you had spent any time lately watching any of the mainstream news, it is easy to begin viewing the world as a diabolical, scary place, occupied by either victims or perpetrators.

However, not everyone ascribes to the mainstream media’s view. The recently released audio version of Sam Manicom’s Under Asian Skies provides one of the best alternatives.

The book is a sequence to Manicom’s debut travelogue, Into Africa, and picks up right where Into Africa left off. After spending a year as a relatively new motorcyclist touring the African continent, Manicom and his trusted companion, BMW R80GS motorcycle, known as Libby, take a cargo ship to Australia and then travel together from Asia to Europe. It would be an understatement to say that a lifetime worth of adventures and a few misadventures ensue. To name a few, there is an encounter with an Australian Hells’ Angel; a no less scary run-in with maddening Indian bureaucracy; smuggling of tractor parts into Iran on an ancient Setra bus; rides through world’s most breathtaking and most dangerous roads (with little distinction between the two); and sharing harrowing train rides with hundreds of strangers, crammed by a stroke of fate into the same rail car. There is even a love story to boot and many encounters with generosity, kindness and raw beauty of the universe.

Through his adventures Manicom does not wear paisley colored lenses. Far from it! Whether he chronicles back-breaking work of fruit IMG_0020 psrpicking in Australia or relays the frustration of dealing with the Indian port officials, who work with all the efficiency, enthusiasm and philosophical detachment of a turtle out in a mid-day sun, Manicom spares no color in painting a real picture of what he sees. Yet, he is also careful to place the picture in a proper historical, social and cultural context, thus removing the gaudy frame of judgment and arrogance so prevalent in the reporting of many of the “traditional” information sources.

What distinguishes Under Asian Skies from myriad of other travelogues is the sense of compassion towards all living beings; acceptance of the world without a grain of self-righteousness; and deep gratitude for the opportunity to experience the universe just the way it is. These qualities are especially evident in the audio version of the book, read by the author, where Manicom’s enthusiasm, sense of wonder, and basic humanity really shine through. In fact, while Manicom is clearly not a voice actor, it is impossible to imagine anyone but the author reading this book.

And, because Manicom not only describes what he sees, but makes an attempt to understand it, what emerges is a narrative of a world far different from the one seen on the evening news. The World according to Sam Maincom is colorful, complex and beautiful. Like his book, it is a multidimensional and rich tapestry, woven together by the experiences, joys, sorrows and extraordinary adventures of ordinary folk. What a joy it is to be a part of this World!Crating psr

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

Achievable Dream DVD Series

achievabledream-boxI am now convinced there are aliens living among us.  I became so convinced after watching the Achievable Dream DVD Series produced and hosted by Grant and Susan Johnson, the founders of the Horizons Unlimited web portal.

This five-DVD disc set features interviews and presentations from ordinary individuals (I could have sworn that I saw at least a few of them in my local supermarket) who are living the dream of traveling the world on two wheels.  It is when I looked into the passion-lit eyes of these seemingly ordinary people, that I became convinced that they are aliens indeed.

My conviction became a certainty when (more…)

Some Days

Some DaysThe article “Motorcycle Maintenance: Some Days It’s Harder Than Others” by Bud Miller/Zen Motorcyclist was originally published on the “RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel” magazine website on 11/17/2013.

I have a friend; let’s call him Fred. A long time ago, before he learned to do his own maintenance and before he saw the wisdom in purchasing a trailer, Fred had a unique method for getting his motorcycle to the shop for service. His method involved (more…)

Anxiety Across The Americas: Book Review

anxiety-across-the-americasThe article “Anxiety Across The Americas” by Bud Miller/Zen Motorcyclist was originally published on the “RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel” magazine website on 11/10/2013.

I’ve always ridden in all kinds of weather and don’t always pack rain gear so I keep a book stowed in my saddlebag for those times when I need to sit out a storm or just want to stop for a hot cup of coffee, get warm, and take a break. Generally my book choices have been motorcycle related. Of course now with a tablet and a Kindle app I can carry an assortment of titles with me.

Some books are hard reads, slow going, and lacking in interest, these are best read in short bursts over lunch a few pages at a time. Others, though, grab you and make you want to sit longer to see what happens next. One such book I’ve recently finished is Anxiety Across the Americas: One Man’s 20,000 Mile Motorcycle Journey by Bill Dwyer (a.k.a. Atlas Rider) who rode from Phoenix, AZ through South America with the goal of arriving eight months later in Ushuaia, the capital of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world.

I was fascinated by the author’s bold (more…)