After hours of humping boxes and furniture, the movers packed the truck front to back and top to bottom-which left no room for my Kawasaki ZX-10R. Not wanting to leave it as a play toy for West Coast vacations, I shipped it east using JC Motors' Motorcycle Transport service. JC Motors began shipping bikes in 1994, and after more than a decade of learning the business, designing its own shipping pallets and partnering with North American Van Lines, it transported more than 6000 motorcycles last year.
JC Motors' custom pallet-and four tie-downs-keeps your bike vertical while en route.
Getting an Internet-based price quote was easy. Armed with my bike's wet weight as well as pick-up and drop-off locations, I inserted the information into an electronic form that splits the country into four zones. For bikes up to 550 pounds, prices range from an in-state charge of $435 to a cross-country fee of $690, which is what I paid to ship my bike from California to Connecticut. In general, pickup takes place one to five days after the shipment has been booked, and ship time anywhere in the U.S. is five to 10 business days.
For insurance, comprehensive motorcycle policies generally protect a bike in transit, but just to be safe, each JC shipment is covered for $7000 with no deductible. Additional insurance is available for $7 per $1000 of coverage.
A high roller needing his bike to land on a specific date can add $150 for VIP Service. Those needing super-quick shipping between Atlanta, Dallas, L.A. or New York can use the Executive Express Service for an additional $300 per bike. The company offers discounts to many motorcycle organizations including Kawasaki's ROK and the Gold Wing-oriented GWRRA.
I checked with the nation's other major motorcycle transporter, Allied Van Lines Special Product division, which would have charged $875 for the same trip. Additional fees included residential pickup and delivery ($72 each) and supplemental insurance to bolster the included 60-cents-per-pound rate (less than $300 worth of coverage).
When the air-ride 18-wheeler showed up, I simply rolled my bike up to the truck's lift gate. No fluid draining was required; the only stipulation was a rolling bike with its fork unlocked. Owners even keep their key. Before loading my bike, the driver filled out a comprehensive condition report and, with a helper, raised the bike, rolled it into the trailer and onto JC's bike-specific pallet, strapping it down gingerly with four ratchet-style tie-downs. A pallet jack was used to position my precious cargo at the front of the truck, where it was draped with a protective Nelson-Rigg cover that I got to keep. The entire process took just 20 minutes.
After six days my bike landed on the East Coast. As promised, the driver phoned an hour or so before he rolled into my neighborhood, and after a quick unload, my Kawi sat in my new garage as perfect as it had a week before. For just 24 cents per mile-about the same price I would have paid to ride the bike nearly 3000 miles on the superslab, taking gas and hotels into consideration-the 10R traveled in style, and much safer than if it had been strapped between my bedroom set and office shelves. Other Motorcyclist staffers have used JC Motors and experienced the same level of quality and value, so we recommend these guys highly.
Contact: JC Motors
16591 Noyes Avenue
Irvine, CA 92606
Excellent, affordable service and above-average in-route protection make this the company to call when shipping your scoot.
Impact Safe-T Armor
Back and Chest Protectors
When it comes to body armor, empirical testing-where you're the crash-test dummy-can be a powerful persuader. Tumble arse over teakettle and walk away unaided and it's easy to stick with what you're wearing. And that's exactly the case with Nicky Hayden, Colin Edwards and Mat Mladin, all of whom are devotees of Impact Safe-T Armor.
The hand-built armor-B-005 back protector and C-005 chest protector-is similar in makeup. Both utilize a fabric pouch surrounding the protective bits, a .04-inch-thick polycarbonate spine protector, a .04-inch-thick sheet of polyethylene and a .4-inch-thick nitrile foam pad in the B-005 and a single, .03-inch-thick piece of polycarbonate and .4-inch nitrile foam, both perforated, in the C-005.
Company founder Michael Braxton says polycarbonate's greater puncture resistance earns its place facing outward in both protectors. Both the B and C-005 are significantly thinner than most body armor, each measuring about a half-inch thick-together about the thickness of most firms' back protectors alone. That can make the difference between being able to zip up your leathers or not wearing armor at all.
That slim profile makes them about as comfortable as body armor gets. Although they never seem to "disappear," they never interfere with your ability to move around on the bike. They can be pretty stifling on a three-figure day, but you'd sweat even more in a body cast, right?
Braxton says he had Dr. Roderick Woods at the UK's Cambridge University (the man responsible for current CE safety standards) test his armor and it rates at Level 2-the highest currently possible. Braxton says he can't display CE certification for his armor because each one he sells is custom-made and would have to be tested individually.
That could be a stumbling block for some, but at least Impact Safe-T Armor can boast a vast number of surviving crash-test dummies.
B-005 Back & C-005 Chest Protectors
Price: $185 back protector, $90 chest protector
Contact: Impact Safe-T Armor
Empirical testing at its best: custom-built armor crash-tested by famous (and not-so-famous) racers
Ride Like a Pro IV
If you've taken an entry-level MSF or other rider-training course and think you've got this whole riding thing licked, here's a DVD that'll show you there's a lot more to the fine art of riding than you might imagine.
Ride Like a Pro IV features ex-police officer Jerry "Motorman" Palladino (and others) taking you through numerous tips and tricks designed to help you ride as proficiently as the nation's best motor cops.
Palladino stresses three key competencies: keeping head and eyes up; keeping the clutch in the friction zone; and using the rear brake to control the motorcycle. The DVD starts with riders demonstrating how to properly control a bike at a slow, walking pace, and moves on to cone weaves, taking off on a hill, swerving, circles and U-turns. The exercises are all performed using large, saddlebag-equipped bikes, many of which are ridden by smaller-in-stature women to emphasize that it is the rider, not the bike, that's in control. Watching these ladies deftly maneuver these behemoths through such tight confines makes the point well.
Ride Like a Pro IV is for the most part professionally shot, with the occasional out-of-focus transition. Audio quality is good, and Palladino's voice-overs while other riders go through the paces are particularly helpful. Another useful feature is the helmet-cam footage, shot from riders in front and behind. Our only real niggle is with the jokey banter, particularly the "good cop/bad cop" routine.
Toward the end of the DVD, which runs about one hour and 45 minutes, Palladino and crew take us through a typical DMV road test course, and then the motor officer course. Palladino is a fluid, graceful rider, controlling his 900-pound luxury liner as if it were a minibike. After all my years of riding I still have problems making U-turns. But after watching Palladino display the proper form, I was inspired to get out and practice-and now I'm much better at it.
Ride Like a Pro IV DVD
Contact: Ride Like a Pro
Why not be the best rider you can be?