Who is the Mysterious Alex?

Since I’ve started this blog, two artists have caught my eye as being the best moto-tattoo artists out there. One of them is Sara Sabbah, who you’re already familiar with. Her Ohlin’s shock tattoo went viral across social media not too long ago.

And then there’s Alex Gershman, a.k.a. alex_besss on Instagram. As many avenues as I’ve tried, I’ve been unable to get a hold of her, perhaps because she only speaks Russian? The text for all her photos is in a language I don’t understand. I reply with no answer, maybe because she doesn’t understand me either. I know nothing about her. The only glimpse into her live I have is her Instagram. What I do know is she rides and her work is amazing.

Perhaps it’s on odd synergy that both of my favorite moto-artists happen to be women. Maybe women connect with motorcycles more deeply than men which enables them to truly embody the passion for riding in their work. Whatever the case, I’m completely infatuated with Alex’s talent. I just had to share some of her photos here so you could see what I see on Instagram on a daily basis.

It’s because of artists like Alex and Sara I feel so passionately in love with both tattoos and riding. They can physically show what I feel which almost makes me think all motorcyclists are connected in some way. To think that the feeling of freedom and love for riding could be so efficiently captured by the stroke of a needle or pen is baffling and breath taking at the same time. I hope to see more work from both of them and many more…if I can find them.

An Aftermarket Exhaust Singing a Legal Tune!

Kess Tech’s electronically controlled ESM2 slip-on exhaust systems are now available state side only through Glendale Harley Davidson.

Oliver's 2011 FLT Touring model equipped with the new KessTech ESM2 electronically controlled exhaust system.

Oliver’s 2011 FLT Touring model equipped with the new KessTech ESM2 electronically controlled exhaust system.

Since federal regulatory agencies have started cracking down on the aftermarket scene, it’s getting harder to customize your motorcycle, at least legally. With the noise bugging the neighbors and emissions standards favoring environmental friendly vehicles, modified motorcycles have been facing a slow and cumbersome demise. But not anymore, thanks to KessTech.

Each system has an engraved stamp, which is basically it's legal passport for the road.

Each system has an engraved stamp, which is basically it’s legal passport for the road.

Based in Germany, KessTech is a thirty-year-old company dedicated to creating exhaust systems with legal, yes, legal sound performance for Harley motorcycles. Based on a technology gleaned from the automotive industry, KessTech has created a line of electronically controlled exhaust systems to include the ESM2, ESM1 and MMV slip-on systems.

Oliver Shokouh, the owner of Glendale Harley Davidson, is a member and former president of the C.M.D.A. or California Motorcycle Dealers Association. The association has 155 franchised motorcycle dealer members. “Our purpose is to improve motorcycling in California for dealers and motorcyclists,” Oliver said. “We track new legislation and sometimes we produce new legislation. We have a special program for insurance, workers compensation, safety issues, D.M.V. matters and we offer many other benefits to our members. We are also in tune with legal requirements and laws pertaining to motorcyling, including emissions and noise standard policies.”

With his proactivity in motorcycle legislation, Oliver felt passionate about getting KessTech to the states. So he joined ranks with Rob Harrison, who is a specialist in motorcycle and automobile sound and exhaust emission certifications in Calfornia and the U.S. to legalize the ESM2 electronically control sli-on exhaust system in California. “He certified our exhaust noise levels as per E.P.A. standards and verified we are indeed within the allowable decibel limits for the federal standard (of 80 decibels) which mirrors California noise standard for motorcycles,” said Oliver. To find out more about how decibel tests are conducted, click here. With Harrison’s help, the ESM2 passed with flying colors, but is currently only available for the Harley Davidson Touring 103 or FLT models through Glendale Harley Davidson.

Here you can see the flaps or valves inside the mufflers that can control the sound at the press of a switch.

Here you can see the flaps or valves inside the mufflers that can control the sound at the press of a switch.

“We figured the market was best with this model,” says Derrick Meador, a Service Technician at Glendale Harley Davidson. “Kesstech has several exhaust systems for several models but we started with this one to test the waters.” Each ESM2 slip-on exhaust system is made of stainless steel and has a laser engraved stamp specifically for Harley Davidson Touring 103’s. Oliver, the lawyer and Christian are still working to expand availability of KessTech exhaust systems for all Harley models.

The valve inside the exhaust can be opened and closed with a push of this button (bottom left). When it's lit up, be ready to hear something amazing!

The valve inside the exhaust can be opened and closed with a push of this button (bottom left). When it’s lit up, be ready to hear something amazing!

How ESM2 Works

The ESM2 exhaust system has a valve inside each muffler that is open and closed electronically by an actuating arm. This actuating arm allows two electronic modules that are wired into the system to talk to each other and tell the valve when to open and close. By pushing the button on the right side of the handlebar, the modules tell the valve to open (button lit) or close (button not lit).

When the rider pushes the button in, it lights up and within a quarter of a second, the exhaust valve opens and a unique, crazy-amazing sound can be heard! The exhaust valve is legally open in all gears except 2nd and 3rd, making this sound always and completely legal under the 80 decibel limit! Plus, the rider enjoys a three percent horsepower gain with the valve open!

When the button is not lit up, the exhaust valve (or flap inside the muffler) is closed, thus quieting the engine so as not to wake the neighbors during an early morning departure. Fortunately, the closed valve has no effect on horsepower, so the rider doesn’t have to compromise performance for the sound.

This is an internal view of the ESM2 system. Low maintenance. Legal sound. Great look. Can't beat it!

This is an internal view of the ESM2 system. Low maintenance. Legal sound. Great look. Can’t beat it!

Installation

KessTech recommends that only KessTech dealers install the ESM2 systems, due to the electrical work involved. “We have to wire the system to the handlebar so the vehicle speed and r.p.m. reading can reach the exhaust control valve electronically,” Derrick says. The installation takes longer than normal, but the benefits are worth it.

How Much Is It?

Since it is illegal to remove the catalytic converter on a motorcycle, the KessTech stainless steel ESM2 exhaust is available as a slip-on system only and carries a heavy estimated price tag of $3,000. This estimate does include shipping and installation, however. This, of course, is way above the average $400-$500 slip-on price, but the exhaust does also come with a four-year warranty that covers all exhaust components, with the exception of cosmetic damage. The exhaust also requires little attention other than a quick check during maintenance intervals by a Harley Davidson certified technician.

Options

The ESM2 exhaust system is available in chrome and matte black and different end caps are available as well to each system can have a truly individual look.

The pipes tuck into the frame nicely for a sleek, clean look.

The pipes tuck into the frame nicely for a sleek, clean look.

Demos

The KessTech ESM2 system was installed on Oliver’s 2011 Limited Touring 103 (FLT) which will be at Glendale to view. Another ESM2 system was also installed on a new 2014 Touring 103 model, which is currently touring dealers to demonstrate the exhaust system’s one-of-a-kind sound. Once it’s done with the tour, the 2014 Touring 103 will be displayed on the showroom floor at Glendale Harley Davidson and an additional demo unit will be equipped with the exhaust so customers can experience the sound before deciding to purchase the KessTech system for their own motorcycle.

Click here to find out more about Glendale Harley Davidson or here to read more about KessTech exhaust systems. “With the benefits of being legal and the sound that KessTech produces is well worth the time and the money,” Derrick says of an exhaust that continues to drive people crazy every time they hear it!

“Why We Ride” is a Must Watch

'Why We Ride' Movie Poster

‘Why We Ride’ Movie Poster

Why We Ride: A Documentary For Motorcyclists

It’s a challenge to explain to people why we choose to ride motorcycles. How can you possibly put into words the excitement and fulfillment that comes from riding without sounding crazy to someone who’s never ridden? The Why We Ride documentary did just that in a way that left chills on my skin and tears in my eyes.

During the movie, we meet racers, war veterans, mothers, stunt riders, bike builders, kids, grand parents and authors. They each have their own reason for riding but the most important theme throughout the movie is that riding a motorcycle levels out the playing field for humanity. When it comes to riding a motorcycle, we are all part of one creed, one family, one way of life regardless of disability, background, age, race, sex, occupation or beliefs. It makes me realize if everyone in the world rode a motorcycle, there would be no war. Or at least the wars would stop long enough to go for a ride together. This movie is the perfect portrayal of what riding is all about.

A motorcycle is a vessel for freedom, a means to bind a family together, a way to bring a lost soul into light through challenges, lessons, direction and most importantly, fun. Motorcycles can be motivation for a better life. You can teach a child discipline and follow through by teaching them to ride a motorcycle. You can make a disabled person a hero and a role model by building a bike to their needs so their disabilities are no longer handicaps. You can help a cancer survivor to fight the effects of chemo by providing a will to live through riding. And finally, you can teach a little girl that she is only bound by the limits she makes for herself – limits that can be beaten if she believes in herself.

This documentary is a classic depiction of the motorcycling way of life and anyone who sees it is bound to learn something about themselves, whether they ride or not. Beautifully filmed at several locations, this film also discusses the history of motorcycling and how it’s closely linked to bicycling. This is important to highlight considering how bicyclists and motorcyclists share the same roads and often ride alongside each other. Sometimes we complain about each other, but this film shows how our roots stem from the same place.

But one reason this film really got to me, especially because of MotoInked, is that it explained how motorcycling, like tattoos, is an art form, a lifestyle, a form of self expression and a means for healing. It’s a way to pull a complacent population away from their computers and phones so they can experience the open air. Rather than going through the motions, a motorcycle can pull back the curtains of a dormant existence and show anyone with a need for adventure the advantage of going outside.

The only downside of the film was how the genre of freestyle riding we left out. Freestyle stunt riding has acquired such a huge following. The riders who participate in the sport spend hours a day practicing and lose sleep most nights fixing their bikes to so they can do it all again the next day. Still, stunt riders are a breed all their own, worthy of their own documentary.

Why We Ride is a documentary for the every-day rider, the people who’d be otherwise average if not for two wheels, which is why riding is so extremely important. People can find greatness through riding, a greatness they may not have known without it.

What I loved most about this video was that it showed how all riders throughout all genres of motorcycling are family. Whether you’re broke down on the side of the road or waving to another rider in passing, you’ll meet “some of the friendliest people” on motorcycles and “make friends for life.” People who ride can “restore your faith in humanity.” And that is why this documentary hits the nail on the head.

Favorite Quotes from the movie:

About teaching kids to ride

“I took her for her first ride. Hopefully she’ll take me for my last.”

About the value of training:

“I thought I had 26 years of riding experience. But I just had one year of riding that I experienced 26 times.”

About making it possible, regardless of background:

“It’s not about strength or even bravery. It’s about determination.”