About pradsliff

Many things: husband, parent, entrepreneur, technologist, marketer, guitarist, singer, scuba diver, photographer, illustrator, writer, blogger, and whatever else fills my sails.

REVIEW: MOTO-D Racing – Performance Riding Motorcycle Socks


When MOTO-D Racing asked me to check out their Performance Riding Motorcycle Socks and tell them what I thought, I had no idea how many different makers and types of biker footwear there were! A search on a popular motorcycle store Web site produced 23 different brands selling 141 different models of motorcycle socks. Wow, who knew? And that’s not even counting any regular manufacturer of socks trying to get into the moto action. Each of the companies I found were bona fide motorcycle brands. So I wondered what could be so special about the MOTO-D Racing socks to make them stand out.

MOTO-D CoolMax Motorcycle SocksFirst of all, it is not my intent to contrast and compare the MOTO-D socks against all of their competition. I’m sure that would be an interesting article for all you sock buffs out there, but I’m going to make this a quicker read so you can get back to riding. My only points of comparison are with a few pair of thin and thick moto socks I own from a national moto-store retail chain.

MOTO-D CoolMax Motorcycle SocksI have two pair of the MOTO-D summer socks and I’ve been wearing them for the past month. I did two different types of tests with them: 1) wearing on weekend rides with regular washing in-between, and 2) wearing while riding everyday for a week straight before washing. Okay, okay…unscrunch your nose already! Amazingly, the pair I wore for a week riding to and from work and all day afterwards never got stinky or gross. I attribute this to their moisture wicking attributes and the unique combination of synthetic fibers.

MOTO-D CoolMax Motorcycle SocksThe MOTO-D Socks are made from the fibers shown above. I haven’t been following the state-of-the-art in sock construction lately, but I do know a lot about fiber and fabric technology from the 10 years I spent in the scuba diving equipment manufacturing business. It’s great to see MOTO-D Racing specify high performance synthetic fibers like Tactel® that is twice as soft and 20% lighter than most other fibers.

These socks seem to have just the right amount of stretch and rebound to stay snug and comfortable. They don’t bunch up above the instep and they don’t get loose above the heel or in the arch. The Lycra does its job of providing just the right amount of stretch. In the month that I have been wearing and washing these they have not lost any of their elasticity. Oh, and the metallic-looking Lurex gold thread add a bit of swag when you take off your jeans or leathers after a long ride.

MOTO-D CoolMax Motorcycle SocksAnother nice feature is the vented weave on the instep and the moisture-wicking attributes of the fibers. When riding all day in hot weather wearing my SIDI Doha boots, my feet were never swimming in sweat. And they accomplished that feat without the bulk of thicker socks.

MOTO-D CoolMax Motorcycle SocksWhat really is different and interesting about the MOTO-D socks are the hundreds of dots on the sole that provide a huge amount of traction. You won’t be doing any Tom Cruise slides in your undies while singing Old Time Rock ’N Roll with these socks on! I wondered why MOTO-D would design these with traction grip soles in the first place, and whether they be comfortable riding and walking. Since I was testing these socks while street and freeway riding, I never used them on or around a track. However, I can only imagine that parts of a paddock might be like my garage and have a slippery painted cement floor. The MOTO-D traction grip soles did an excellent job at providing grip when I was padding around my garage and on my home’s hardwood floors. I was happy to find out that although you can definitely feel the dots on your feet, they didn’t bother me at all when stepping on my pegs while riding.

MOTO-D CoolMax Motorcycle SocksIn looking through the 141 socks I found online, I didn’t see any others that had a traction grip sole. I don’t know if this is a MOTO-D Racing exclusive, but it certainly seems unique. I really like how they help keep me from slipping and my impression is that they will also be much more resistant to getting a hole in the bottom of your socks when not wearing your boots.

These socks are sold as one-size fits all, and are listed as fitting from size 8 to 14 shoe size (U.S. male). I have size 13 feet with very large calves and they fit me just fine although at the edge of their stretch in the calf area. It is amazing to me just how elastic these are while still being comfortable and not stretching out of shape. It’s the miracle of modern fiber technology combined with an excellent design.

As of the writing of this post, I found these Performance Riding Motorcycle Socks on the MOTO-D Racing Web site for $14.99 a pair or $29.99 for a three-pack. Compared to the other 141 that I found online, that makes these well-designed performance riding socks a super deal! Hey, but I would be glad to pay a few extra bucks anyway just to have socks I can wear on an extended motorcycle journey that treat my feet well and don’t stink up my other gear.

MOTO-D CoolMax Motorcycle SocksMOTO-D also has a “Fall/Cold” version featuring hollow-core Thermolite fibers. I’ll be picking up three pair of those come October this year. ::

Review: Why We Ride – The Movie


Why We Ride Movie

Yesterday I saw the new documentary movie “Why We Ride” at the AMC 14 theaters in San Francisco along with a hundred or so other motorcycle fanatics. I’ve never seen so many helmets in a theater at one time.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie which walked in the footsteps of Bruce Brown’s 1971 classic “On Any Sunday” and many of Warren Miller’s ski films. The cinematography was outstanding and the flow of the film worked well.

But recently, I have been watching a lot of motorcycling documentaries and it seemed to me that what Why We Ride lacked was why a non-motorcyclists would enjoy the movie. A few months ago, I discovered Evan McGregor’s “Long Way Round” and “Long Way Down” mini-series. I recommended those to my sister who has no interest in motorcycling whatsoever. She was captivated by the story, partly because of the adventure, but mostly because of the incredible friendship that comes across onscreen between Ewan and Charlie. That was the real story of Long War Round, the phenomenal bond between two blokes, who happen to ride motorcycles and who embark on an incredible adventure. By contrast, Why We Ride seemed to be more of a public service announcement for motorcycling, especially for the family-friendly aspects of the sport.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the film and think that a love letter about motorcycling is something that is needed. The only problem with Why We Ride is that it will only be seen by people who already ride. There is no overarching story that would cause a non-motorcyclist to care about the movie.

And maybe that is okay. Maybe that is the way that all enthusiast documentaries about a specific sport our activity end up. Maybe this movie will play well with the seven million or so motorcyclists in the U.S. and maybe that’s enough. But I can’t help but wish for a deeper story that would keep me coming back to the movie time and again, or to recommend it to my non-moto friends. Why We Ride, is not one of those movies. It will remain as a beautifully shot and well told story about motorcycling, for motorcyclists. Or, for a husband to convince his wife that it’s okay to get mini-dirt bikes for the kids. There is a LOT of that message in the movie.

So congratulations to the director and producer. And know that I, and many others, will indeed buy the DVD. But please also take this as encouragement to keep going and take your prodigious cinematography and moviemaking skills and tell other, deeper stories about the human condition on two wheels. In my opinion, only then will you really get across the story of Why We Ride to those who don’t already know the answer.

What did you think? Please leave a comment below.

2013 International Motorcycle Show, San Mateo: Part 4 – The Show


( continued from Part 3 – The Demo Rides )

A Love Affair…And A Rant
I really enjoyed attending and photographing the Progressive International Motorcycle Show in San Mateo this year. However, having enjoyed the show for the past three years, I couldn’t help but notice it seems to have downsized a bit. I remember when there were additional halls of the Expo Center that were full of vintage bikes, a stunt bike exhibition in the front parking lot, and an entire wing of affordable accessories. I was told by an exhibitor that it is difficult to attract as many exhibiting companies as there used to be when the bulk of the accessory business now goes to online retailers. Personally, I wouldn’t blame this on a shift in the retail landscape, I would offer that it is industry leadership that needs to be improved. But ultimately, it will take everyone in the motorcycling community to support these shows if we want them to exist in the future. And that means us, the riders.

The good news is that I photographed a sea of bikes in the parking lot Saturday, and the show even seemed well attended Friday evening. I was also happy to see a large section presented by The Motor Cafe, a local dealer from Sunnyvale. But where was the participation from other Bay Area dealers? Where was GoPro, who is headquartered in San Mateo? Or Kali Protectives, one of the most interesting players in the helmet space, also a local company? And did I miss something, or where was Zero Motorcycles, arguably the most interesting new bike manufacturer, and also a Bay Area company? It’s easy to say that these and other companies just decided not to participate—for budget reasons or other priorities. But I would suggest that the show management should make it a strategic imperative for these companies to attend, because of the incredible business opportunity it represents for their businesses, and for the industry as a whole.

In my humble opinion, it seems that some things could be done to ramp up the show for the good of the industry stakeholders and the motorcycling community at large. Here are a few ideas from someone who is not from within the industry, offered with respect, and for what they’re worth:

Learn to Ride
I would encourage the show to adopt a robust “Learn to Ride” program sponsored by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Why not offer a discount on enrollment to any MSF course by a show attendee that equals the cost of a 3-day show pass? It would be a great way to encourage prospective or even experienced riders to attend the show. Give the MSF or local schools booth space for free in order to make it happen.

Conference Sessions
Offer conference sessions in a separate hall that provide educational opportunities to attendees. I could envision a seminar by an expert from GoPro on how to get the best ride videos, or a talk by Doc Wong on how to get your back in shape for adventure rides, or a talk by Brian or Michael from Destination Highways on the right way to plan a route. It would be a great way for exhibitors to talk to larger groups of attendees and for attendees to get great information. And this needs to be in a separate hall, not on the main stage where it is too loud with too many distractions.

Keith Code’s California Superbike School
With the San Mateo show being only a two-hour ride from Infineon or Laguna Seca race tracks, why don’t you create a partnership with this famous riding academy that gives Keith a booth at the show and, in turn, partner to host a demo day at one of the tracks? The show could draw attendees for the whole weekend with a three-day show pass and one-day track pass to watch, or ride. I bet riders would come from all over the West to attend a full weekend of motorcycle activities if it included the excitement of riding.

Point/Counterpoint Panel Sessions
Remember those wickedly funny Saturday Night Live skits that parodied 60 Minutes’ Point/Counterpoint? The reason they were so infamous was not just because they were funny, it was because people like to observe conflict. I’d like to see a serious panel discussion that had a member of the California Highway Patrol, a 15,000+ mile/year freeway commuter, and a “loud pipes save lives” biker all discussing the merits and best practices of lane splitting. By encouraging discussion about the elephants in the room, the show would drive attendee engagement, and probably raise safety awareness too.

Where is motorcycling’s Warren Miller?
The ski industry has Warren Miller’s films to answer the question, “Why do people love skiing?” Where is motorcycling’s Warren Miller? How about a screening of On Any Sunday, Cycles South, or clips from The Great Escape or The Long Way Round? Looking at YouTube, there are many talented moto-filmmakers out there (and even more that could use some more talent). Why doesn’t the show get GoPro to sponsor a contest with big prize money around the theme, “Why We Ride.” The finalists could be shown at the 12 shows around the country and the attendees could vote onsite for the winner.

You Meet The Nicest People
Especially after the recent episode in New York, motorcycling could use a boost of good will in the local media around the country. Could the show offer a poker ride on Friday before the show in each city to benefit a national charity? If done right, it could be a good story for local news media which would help promote the show while taming motorist angst against our breed.

What The Show Really Needs
But aside from specific ideas for the show, I offer that what attendees are really looking for is…
– To do something
– To learn something
– To enjoy something
– To belong to something
– To share something

You tell me!

Photos from the Show
Okay, okay…so that’s enough of my rant. Here are more photos from this year’s show (roll-over photos for captions or click for full-screen mode):

Final Thoughts from This Industry Outsider
I’m the first to admit, what the Hell do I know about the motorcycle industry? It’s easy to offer ideas from the outside of an industry looking in without knowing the history, business realities and political struggles that are faced by the show organizers. Although the ideas above come from 30+ years as a marketer, they may well have been tried and discarded as failures years ago. To the show management Advanstar, I commend you for putting on a well-run show. And to Progressive, for showing leadership in this category, you deserve your number one spot. But if the intent is for all boats to rise in this industry, I encourage everyone to achieve new levels of leadership. And to consider doing this through even deeper partnerships and increased participation from all industry stakeholders. Carving up the same pie into different sized pieces should not be your goal. Growing the pie for all to benefit from should be your aim. The downsizing of the show does not go unnoticed by the attendees. I heard from more than a few people that the show is suffering from being smaller and with the same features—more or less—year after year. What I am hearing is apathy from the attendees, not for the sport, but for the show. It’s time to consider what the industry impact would be if these shows did not exist, and decide to do something about it before it is too late. To that aim, I wish you all the best. Ride On. ::

2013 International Motorcycle Show, San Mateo: Part 3 – The Demo Rides


( continued from Part 2 – The Bikes )

Those Sweet Demo RidesDemo rides

There were a lot of interesting bikes, motorcycle accessories and people to see at the 2013/2014 Progressive International Motorcycle Show in San Mateo. And the rear parking lot of the Expo Center was full of manufacturers offering demo rides on Saturday and Sunday. Only the San Mateo, Long Beach and Phoenix shows have demo rides available, I suspect because of poor weather when the other nine shows are in their respective cities. The participating manufacturers this year are: Can-Am Spyder, Harley-Davidson, Indian Motorcycle, Kawasaki, Star Motorcycles, Victory and Yamaha. A full listing of which bikes are available for demo rides is here.

My First Demo Ride
A first for me at the show was taking two demo rides Saturday morning courtesy of Kawasaki. My new mission is to learn how to ride off-road on a dual sport and my first step along that journey was to test ride a Kawasaki KLR650. The KLR is a beloved dual-sport machine that was introduced in 1987 and remained virtually unchanged until 2008, after which it received excellent upgrades without fundamentally changing the platform. Although arguably less famous than BMW’s GS series, the KLR has circumnavigated the globe just like Ewan McGregor’s storied ride in his excellent “Long Way Round” and “Long Way Down” TV documentaries.

My KLR650 Demo Ride

I talked to Danny and Roy an the Kawasaki booth Friday night and found out that signups started at the Kawi trailer at 8:00 A.M. Danny’s wife would handle the signups. It was great to meet and greet the Kawi crew the evening before the rides and then talk to them the next morning as I signed up.

I arrived at 7:30 and took advantage of the free motorcycle parking in the front parking lot, and was the only bike there at that early hour. Unfortunately, the show didn’t open until 9:30 and the demo ride trailers were all the way in the rear parking lot where parking was $10. That meant that I couldn’t walk through the show, but had to walk all the way around the San Mateo Expo Center. But, it was a beautiful morning and a 15 minute walk in the brisk morning air was welcome.

Kawasaki Demo Ride Signup

When I arrived at the Kawasaki trailer there was already a line of about a dozen riders ahead of me. There were plenty of bikes and ride-times to go around, though, along with great camaraderie which made arriving early a very pleasant experience. Coffee and pastries were offered by the ROK people (Riders of Kawasaki) for their members or new enrollees. As I waited to show my drivers license and sign the all-encompassing waiver, I noticed the sign below. It actually made me sad to think that this sign was needed at all, but such is life in a world full of squids.

I am sad they need this sign

I came to learn that Kawi limited demo rides to two per day per person, which seemed eminently reasonable. The way riders accomplished a second signup was to go to the rear of the line and sign up again when you got to the front of the line—a very fair system. After I secured my back-to-back demo rides for the KLR650 and new 1400cc Concours, I then waited for the safety briefing.

First Demo Bike: Kawasaki KLR650
Riding a new bike for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience. Especially going from a 650 lb. top-heavy, 1000cc Kawasaki Concours like MyConnie, to a tall-in-the-saddle thumper like the KLR. I first needed to ensure my feet would touch the ground so I wouldn’t fall over at every stop. Like most dual-sports, the KLR has a tall seat height, and my 28-inch inseam legs worried me at first. I quickly found out that once my body weight was on the bike and the suspension compressed a bit, I could firmly plant my toes down on both sides to balance the bike. Or, I could plant my whole foot flat on one side or the other if necessary. It took me a little getting used to, but I checked the first item on my list: I could ride this bike even with my rhinoesque legs.

After the excellent safety briefing they made a big point of asking if anyone was new to riding on a freeway. I was surprised to find out that this was frequently answered in the affirmative, but not this day. Today we were all chomping at the bit to get on our steeds and out on the open road. A few moments later we were told to saddle up, start our engines and get ready to roll.

The Route
The demo ride route was much better than I expected. We received a 30 minute, escorted ride through town, 55 mph freeway, 65+ mph interstate, 35 mph back country roads and then back to the show. Each group of about 15 riders had an escort who wore high-visibility vests with one up front, one in the middle, and one at the rear. Here is a map of the route we took.

Map of Route: Google Map

Map of the demo ride route

My Impressions of the KLR650
The KLR was a lot of fun. Danny at Kawasaki told me that the KLR felt very much like what we all originally wanted to get out of motorcycling: a light, nimble and quick ride that can go anywhere. He was right. Since the seating was high I felt very different than when on my relatively low-slung Connie. Also, being a mostly naked bike, I was unaccustomed to having a lot of wind hitting my legs, torso and helmet. This wasn’t a problem, but it added a bit to the first ride jitters associated with getting accustomed to any new bike. After a few miles, though, I felt like had owned the KLR for years. What especially surprised me was how comfortable it was at 70 mph on the freeway, even with knobby tires! I could easily see a KLR in my future for motocamping trips, especially since they only cost about $6,200 brand new. There are also many available used online for a good amount less than that. As much as I would love to consider a BMW GS, it’s hard to rationalize the $15K+ price tag and oft-bemoaned service costs which helped coin the snarky acronym Bring My Wallet.

Second Demo Bike: Kawasaki Concours 1400 ABS
Right after returning the KLR to the demo area, it was time to saddle up for my next ride on the new Connie. I’ve heard a lot about this successor to my bike from the other members of the Concours Owners Group (COG). I knew that at 1400cc, it had 40% greater displacement than MyConnie and almost double the horsepower making it good that it also had ABS brakes. Last year, a 70 year old Connie rider in the show parking lot told me that the variable valve timing made it so fast that his son’s Suzuki Hayabusa had to work hard to keep up.

Kawasaki Concours 1400 ABS Demo ride

What I noticed after mounting this supersport touring beast was that the speedo went to 180 mph. Humm-baby! But even though I had great anticipation of feeling those ponies beneath me, after firing up the Connie the first thing I did was turn on the heated grips and adjust the temperature to “microwave” to take the chill away from my previous ride. Sport tourers are so much more civilized than canyon racers.

Demo ride on a Kawasaki Concours 1400 ABS

My Impressions of the Concours 1400 ABS
Pulling out of the parking lot felt much more natural on the Connie than on the KLR. It was  more like MyConnie in how it handled. But I soon found out that the similarities between this 1400cc model and my current ride were few. Surprisingly, the new larger Connie handled very well, and felt significantly less top-heavy than my 2001 version. There was no time where I felt uncomfortable in terms of handling the bike. It seemed to have less wind protection than the older Concours but the electric adjustable windscreen was neat. I preferred riding with the screen in the lowest position which placed my chest and helmet into the wind. At its highest position, the wind still hit me mid-helmet, so I would imagine achieving a full tuck to get out of the rain would be difficult, but not impossible.

Except for the demo rider in front of me who decided that 60 mph was the right speed for the freeway, I had a glorious time on the new Connie. This would be a fantastic bike for touring, camping, commuting, canyon carving…or whatever. But, with a MSRP of $16,199, MyConnie doesn’t have to worry about being replaced by MyConnie II anytime soon.

The Kawasaki Crew
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what a tremendous group of people the folks at Kawasaki were. I spent a significant amount of time talking to the different folks, especially Roy and Danny, and I have to tell you that they made attending the show a fantastic experience. Having been a veteran of trade shows myself for over 30 years, I know it‘s their job to do so. But they went above and beyond the call of duty getting me interesting in what was going on, answering my questions about the different Kawi models, and demonstrating their personal enthusiasm for motorcycling. I guess the people at Kawasaki really do let the good times roll.

Up Next: Part 4 – The Show

2013 International Motorcycle Show, San Mateo: Part 2 – The Bikes


( continued from Part 1 – The People )

Those Marvelous Moto Machines
As expected, the 2013/2014 International Motorcycle Show that I photographed in San Mateo was all about the bikes. As usual, J&P Cycles held their Ultimate Builders Competition, and this year’s crop did not disappoint (roll-over photos for captions or click for carousel mode):

However, much to my dismay Progressive Insurance didn’t have a “Take your photo with Flo” feature this year. For some reason, getting my photo digitally superimposed with Flo had become a tradition for me. That’s okay, instead they had a slot-car racing track, custom created t-shirts and a tank painting demo. Here is some of the gorgeous tank art:

Part of each year’s show were the frenzied signups to win a bike, helmet or accessory gift card worth $1,000. I’m holding out hope that I win a Hayabusa, Triumph, BSA and Motorcycle Superstore gift card. : D

As usual, I was on bike overload drooling over all the new models from all the manufactures. And the custom bikes were truly works of art. It was also great seeing the large contingent of vintage Japanese bikes. I just don’t understand why everyone isn’t a motorcycle fanatic. There is just so much here to appreciate.

Up Next: Part 3 – The Demo Rides

2013 International Motorcycle Show, San Mateo: Part 1 – The People


As a hardcore motorcyclist, it doesn’t get much better than living five blocks from the venue for the Progressive International Motorcycle Show.

Progressive International Motorcycle Show

Although Geico and Allstate would disagree, Progressive suggests you “Go with the Flo”

The show visits twelve cities each year and my home city of San Mateo, California is the first of the annual tour schedule.

Map of 2013-2014 International Motorcycle Show Locations

I feel sorry for the truck drivers going between show venues which criss-cross the U.S.

Last year, I posted photos from the show for everyone who is not as fortunate to live nearby one of the cities that host the show. I got a lot of encouragement from the visitors to that post, so this year, I spent two full days at the show and took many more photos which are posted here. I spent most of my time taking pictures of the people who visit the show instead of just the bikes. I found it interesting to chronicle the general motorcycling public and see what they enjoy.

Paraphrasing the famous Honda ad campaign: “You meet the nicest people on a motorcycle.” Here are some of them from the show. You can roll-over photos to see captions, or click any photo to enter full-screen slide carousel mode:

And not to be left out, here are some of the valiant workers that create a great experience year after year at the show:

This year, the show featured a really great rock band, the school of rock all-stars. It made for a great vibe:

But the people aren’t the only stars of the show, there is also the food:

The real reason to attend the show

The real reason to attend the show

Up next: Part Two: The Bikes

You Meet The Nicest People On A Honda


I recently came across a 1966 TV ad for Honda that was from their famous campaign: “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.” In an era of Hollywood-inspired bad boy motorcyclists like Marlon Brando and James Dean, Honda needed to combat negative perceptions of motorcycling as much as impressions of poor Japanese quality. So they hired Grey Advertising to create the famous campaign which had a 12 year run—longer than almost all television series. The one and a half minute commercialwas shot in San Francisco and is notable for a few things:

Actor Vito Scotti
Veteran character actor Vito Scotti plays a crab-monger on Fisherman’s Wharf. IMDB lists 221 acting appearances including The Godfather, Get Shorty and just about every television show from my youth.

Vito Scotti in a Honda TV Ad

Vito Scotti’s IMDB page reads like a who’s who of Hollywood

Lombard Street: the crookedest street in the world
The Super Cub rider in the commercial (whom I could not identify) takes a leisurely trip down San Francisco’s most famous boulevard, Lombard Street—known as the crookedest street in the world. I, too, thought this would be a fun jaunt when I got my first bike, a 1972 Honda CL350 scrambler. It was anything but. The steep grade—27% without the eight switchbacks—and red brick pavement combined to make this a harrowing ride. More survival than ride as I remember. I made it to the bottom—barely—to the amazement of the tourists snapping photos of the gardens and this crazy motorcyclist with his feet down trying to keep from falling over. When I related this story recently to a friend’s six year old, he said, “Well, that was stupid.” He was right.

A Honda Cub going down Lombard Street

It all looks so innocent from the top.

The world-famous Lombard Street in San Francisco

But let me tell you, don’t try this at home!

The Honda Super Cub motorcycle
Produced continuously since 1958, the Honda Super Cub in its various models is the most produced motor vehicle in history—including automobiles—with 60 million having been manufactured in 2008. This bike is the real star of the show.

Honda Super Cub at Fisherman’s Wharf

The most produced motor vehicle in history.

Other San Francisco Landmarks
Besides a brief glimpse of Fisherman’s Wharf and the top of Lombard Street, you can see Coit Tower in the background, a little bit of Chinatown, the famous, but now closed Enricos restaurant on Broadway St., and mansions on what appears to be Pacific Heights. Here is the full commercial:


Link to video

All About The Honda Super Cub and Ad Series
Wikipedia has a tremendous article about the Honda Super Cub with information about the “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” ad campaign if you want to know more: link to article.