Tattoo Inspired Moto Gear

From sprockets to skulls to filigree etched on jacket sleeves, it’s clear tattooed culture has finally inked is relevance in permanent fashion on this year’s moto gear.

You can find hints of the inked lifestyle just about everywhere now, but it can no longer be denied that tattooed culture has influenced the folks in those big marketing offices to the point where their ideas have been stenciled into the manufacturing presses and distributed like wild fire to the moto population. Take a look to see how tattoos and gear have finally made each other’s acquaintance while protecting the real tattoos underneath.

Speed and Strength
With their Wicked Garden and Moto Mercenary lines, SS Gear has figured out that just because some riders have tattoos, it doesn’t mean they have to risk their skin to show off ink.

 

Bell Artist Series Helmets

These three-quarter helmets boast pin striping and graphic art designs based on original old school concepts. These designs were inspired by the industry’s best custom painters and artists, including Roland Sands Design.

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Ride Rich Clothing

You’ll love the shirts, sweaters, hoodies and bandanas from Ride Rich. Their swag encourages individualism just like tattoos encourage expression. Ride Rich clothing inspires people to ride for the love of it. It’s about riding apart from the crowd, being independent and displaying a passion for what you do no matter what the haters say. Ride because you love it. Be inked because you crave it. Be rich with what you have. Ride Rich.

Shoei Helmets

Check out the new Brigand TC-5 from Shoei. Just like the Phantasm design from the previous year, this design boasts a pirate skull with the detail and shading worthy of a tattoo artist’s applause. With this helmet, there’s a little Captain Jack in all of us.

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Icon Airmada

Probably the most iconic of tattoo-inspired helmets, Icon is still the most creative when it comes to one-off helmet graphics. If you’re looking for a helmet that people will want to stare at, the Airmada has you covered, literally!

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5th Gear Sprockets

Just like you can walk into a tattoo shop and request a specific tattoo design, so can you submit your design to 5th Gear and they will create a rear sprocket design that only you will have! Just ask Tony Carbajal!

Scorpion USA

Perhaps one of my favorite designs is the one used on the all new EXO410 Departed full-face street helmet. Complete with filigree and a full-size, intricately drawn monster girl, this is the epitome of tattoo inspired helmet art work.

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Factory Effex Graphics

Who says your bike can’t be inked too? Factory Effex makes a full graphics kit from scratch resistant Ultracurve vinyl that features skulls with glowing eyes. There’s even ink bleeding back to the swingarm for a complete, finished look.

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Biker’s Choice

Even the folks at the distributors know if you want people to order parts from you, you gotta have a killer ad campaign that is hard to look away from. So they enlisted alt models like Alloy Ash and others to put tattoos and pretty faces on the cover of every catalog nationwide.

The Lightest Most Versatile Helmet on the Market: The Redesigned Shoei RF1200 Helmet

The all new RF1200 is just what this inked girl needs.

The all new RF1200 is just what this inked girl needs.

As a commuter, having a helmet that is quiet and fits comfortably means the difference between a pleasant ride to work and a miserable hour in traffic thinking about the pain radiating through my forehead. With the Shoei RF1200, any caveats I had about previous helmets are a distant memory.

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The Phantasm is the perfect graphic for us here at motoinked.com. Skulls, matte colors and filigree. Worthy of a tattoo.

The Shoei RF1200 helmet is light and compact helmet that weighs next to nothing. It has wide field of view and is so quiet, I can hear my hear my tunes without being annoyed by wind noise. It’s not just the comfort that makes this helmet one-of-kind, it’s the technologically advanced protection based on Shoei’s racing helmets that make the RF1200 freakin’ awesome.

The folks at Shoei are motorcycle enthusiasts and they value making a helmet that works for not just racers, but the every day rider, no matter what bike they’re riding. They’re about the journey, not the hype.

A Lighter yet safer RF1200

In 2010, Shoei helmets grew in size proportionally to manage more energy making them bigger, heavier and just plain cumbersome to wear. With the new RF1200, the helmet maintains its SNELL rating, but is now smaller and lighter like previous model helmets in the early 2000‘s. This is evident in the concave curve at the bottom of the shell, which offers complete freedom of movement. The RF1200 still provides the energy management of previous models and the protection a rider needs, but in much more manageable package.

The Shoei helmet maintains it's SNELL rating while being lighter and more compact than ever before.

The Shoei helmet maintains it’s SNELL rating while being lighter and more compact than ever before.

Shoei was able to make the RF1200 lighter and more compact as the shell of the RF1200 is made with Shoei’s AIM-PLUS or Advance Integrated Matrix Plus construction which is what Shoei uses in all Snell-rated products. This SHOEI-exclusive Multi-Ply Matrix AIM+ Shell is a high performance fiberglass composite. “The other layers are trade secret, but the layers have specific attributes that we wanted in the shell, whether it be sheer strength for a chin strap rivet or anti-penetration in the shell,” says Don Bailey, Shoei’s Technical Advisor.

This Multi-Ply Matrix AIM+ Shell construction includes the characteristics needed to make the RF1200 resistant to high impact energy. To obtain the characteristics needed for an impact-resistant shell, resin was applied in the mold during the manufacturing process and this resin was pressure injected to maintain a very light, uniform thickness throughout the shell to give it optimal attenuation or flex in order to distribute load throughout the helmet in as large of an area as possible.

Beneath the shell is the EPS, or Expanded Polystyrene, foam interior. This EPS interior shell has two different densities. The purpose of the dual density EPS is to get stiffer and bleed off more energy as the rider’s head presses against it during the event of a crash thus protecting the rider’s head from injury.

The Emergency Release function is annotated on the exterior of the helmet so the EMT’s know the helmet has this function. I knock on wood as I say this, as I have yet to crash-test-dummy proof this feature, but I feel better knowing that if I were in crash, the EMT’s job would be a little easier.

The Emergency Release function is annotated on the exterior of the helmet so the EMT’s know the helmet has this function. I knock on wood as I say this, as I have yet to crash-test-dummy proof this feature, but I feel better knowing that if I were in crash, the EMT’s job would be a little easier.

The Emergency Release Function

In addition to a high impact resistant shell and dual density EPS interior, the cheek pads of the RF1200 have the emergency release function or two red pull straps, integrated into them to create another line of defense for the rider. This is a feature that has been garnered from SHOEI’s technologically improved VFX-W and X-Twelve racing helmets.

Shoei began including this function in their helmets a fews years ago to help EMT’s remove the helmet safely and quickly from an unconscious rider without causing unnecessary damage to the rider’s neck. The EMT’s are able to pull the red straps at the bottom of the cheek pads and thus create a much bigger hole to pull the rider’s head straight through.

The padding inside is available in different sizes for a completely custom fit.

The padding inside is available in different sizes for a completely custom fit.

The RF1200‘s Inner Liner

The RF1200‘s 3D Max-Dry System II liner is three-dimensionally shaped to match the contours of a rider’s head and thus make the helmet fit comfortably. Pressing foam with spoons and pulling over to massage a pressure point is a thing of the past, as the RF1200 has a completely snug and contoured fit.

The cheek pads, center pads and chin strap covers are fully removable, adjustable and replaceable through Shoei. The cheek pads, center pads and chin strap covers can be removed from the helmet easily as they are snapped in. The cheek pads and center pads are available through Shoei in different thicknesses for a completely custom fit.

The padding of the Shoei RF1200 is made with Shoei’s exclusive Max-Dry System II liner material that is plush and soft to the touch. This material absorbs and dissipates sweat and moisture twice as fast as traditional Nylon interiors for riders who wear their helmets for longer periods of time. This technology is also borrowed from Shoei’s premium racing helmets.

How to Wash the RF1200‘s Helmet Liner

To best preserve the material of the cheek pads, center pads and chin strap covers, it’s best to sink wash them with a mild shampoo. If you’re unable to get all of the shampoo out of the padding, it won’t irritate your skin like laundry detergent as it’s something you wash your head with on a regular basis.

Also, you don’t want to twist the padding while washing them. Squeeze them and then let them air dry. If you do this instead of tossing the padding in a laundry bag and machine washing them, they will last a lot longer. “We definitely recommend people do that because as you sweat and dirt gets in the padding, it clogs all the pores in the foam and that’s when they start packing down and not fitting very well,” says Don.

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The outer shell of the RF1200 is equipped with three large upper air intake vents as well as four large upper exhaust vents at the back of the helmet to improve air flow over the rider’s head. These vents can be easily opened or closed with gloves on.

 

There is a large lower air intake vent on the chin bar of the helmet in front of the rider’s mouth that when left open, can act as a defogger during misty early morning rides.

There is a large lower air intake vent on the chin bar of the helmet in front of the rider’s mouth that when left open, can act as a defogger during misty early morning rides.

The exhaust vents not only keep my head cool but keep me from being a bobble head on the freeway. Thank you Shoei!

The RF1200 has the exhaust vents in the spoiler to create a down force as air passes over the spoiler. This induces “negative pressure suction” to keep the rider’s head more stable and thus reduce wind buffeting.

Beneath the outer shell, the EPS liner is also equipped with tunnels to help cool the rider’s head during hot summer rides without compromising the integrity of the shell. I can attest to the awesomeness of a cool breeze while riding in toasty California weather and I give Shoei a hi-five to offering me some relief on the highway.

Beneath the outer shell, the EPS liner is also equipped with tunnels to help cool the rider’s head during hot summer rides without compromising the integrity of the shell. I can attest to the awesomeness of a cool breeze while riding in toasty California weather and I give Shoei a hi-five to offering me some relief on the highway.

The QR-E base plates are spring loaded so when the is shield installed, it is pulled back against the dual-lip window beading to keep the wind and rain out when the shield is closed.

The QR-E base plates are spring loaded so when the is shield installed, it is pulled back against the dual-lip window beading to keep the wind and rain out when the shield is closed.

Shield System

The new RF1200 is furnished with a CWR-1 Shield that protects against 99 percent of the sun’s damaging UV rays and is available clear and tinted. The visor is manufactured with a rib that molded into the inside of the visor around on the top and bottom edge. Per Shoei, this rib improves rigidity and eliminates bending that may occur due to wind pressure or during the opening and closing process.

Along with the CWR-1 shield, the RF-1200 has a new QR-E base plate system that makes shield changes quick and easy. The sun is usually down during my evening commutes and this new system makes having to change out my shield quick and convenient.

The base plates are also equipped with a five-stage rotating dial that provide nearly half a millimeter of adjustment. This doesn’t sound like much but can make a huge difference as the helmet wears over time.

The base plates are also equipped with a five-stage rotating dial that provide nearly half a millimeter of adjustment. This doesn’t sound like much but can make a huge difference as the helmet wears over time.

To remove the shield, simply pull the spring-loaded stirrup down and lift the shield away from the helmet.

To remove the shield, simply pull the spring-loaded stirrup down and lift the shield away from the helmet.

 

To put the shield on, hold the cam in the open position and line up the tabs and push it in.

To put the shield on, hold the cam in the open position and line up the tabs and push it in.

IMG_2260Fog Shield

The RF1200 visors have two posts on the inside to clip in the fog shield which uses Shoei’s PINLOCK® system. The fog shield is mist retardant and when used in conjunction with the visor, creates a clear field of view for the rider during foggy or misty rides.

The fog shield is not scratch resistant, however, and should only be cleaned with soapy water and a nonabrasive cloth then left to air dry before reassembling. The fog shield should only be used during the day and not at night. I found this out when I left it on during a night ride home. The fog shield created a bad reflection that obstructed my field of view and was very distracting.

To clip in the fog shield, flatten the visor and clip in on one side, then clip in the other side. Once the visor retains it’s curve, the fog shield will seal against it.

To clip in the fog shield, flatten the visor and clip in on one side, then clip in the other side. Once the visor retains it’s curve, the fog shield will seal against it.

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The chin skirt helped to reduce air flow on a cold morning ride.

The chin skirt helped to reduce air flow on a cold morning ride.

Options and Accessories

The Shoei RF1200 helmet is available in 22 different colors and graphics from sizes XS-XXL for an m.s.r.p. of $485.99 for solid colors and $589.99 for graphics. All RF1200 helmets come with the pertinent manuals, a nose guard, chin skirt, fog shield, helmet bag and a small bottle of Shoei visor lubricant for ease of shield installation.

Don’t forget all SHOEI helmets are backed by a five-year limited warranty which covers any manufacturer defects. I doubt you’ll find any! With more than 50 years experience, Shoei is an industry leader in R&D for helmet testing with a state-of-the-art wind tunnel facility based in Japan. Their helmets are made in-house making them well worth the money.

The RF1200 has the most wide range of use of all the helmets in Shoei’s product line. Whether you ride scooters, commute or do track days, the RF1200 will provide the comfortable fit and protection a rider needs. “It’s like the swiss army knife of the Shoei line where a lot of the other models are more focused on a particular type of riding,” says Don. Kudos to Shoei for creating this amazing helmet!

Click here to find a Shoei dealer nearest you.

Competition Werkes Fender Eliminator Kit for the 2013 Ninja 300R

Whenever I purchase a new motorcycle, the first thing to be removed is the kite of a mud flap hanging off the rear end. It’s unsightly, ungodly and just unacceptable. My favorite thing about riding sportbikes has always been chasing tail (no pun intended) and it wouldn’t be any fun if that tail were bigger than mine, catch my drift? So naturally, that legal, DOT compliant fender has got to go. No streetfighter of mine is going to be stuck with excess plastic.

This is why we chose to install the Competition Werkes fender eliminator kit to return the tail section to the high and tight look it was meant to have before it was tainted with an awning meanwhile remaining street legal with a license plate light and turn signals. There you go California. I haven’t completely disregarded the rules. And it only took an hour to install.

Interested in getting one for yourself? They pay attention pupils because we’re about to give you a lesson in mechanic-in.

Step 1:

Make sure you have all the necessary hardware to complete the task.

The packages should contain the license plate bracket, license plate light, short stalk turn signals and all the necessary hardware to install.

The packages should contain the license plate bracket, license plate light, short stalk turn signals and all the necessary hardware to install.

Step 2:

Remove and passenger seat and flip up the tray underneath to expose the four bolts holding the mud flap assembly and three wires routed to the turn signals and license plate light. Cut these three wires with a pair of cutters and remove the bolts with a 5mm allen socket or T-handle. Pull away the stock mud flap assembly.

The bolts and wires are located just underneath this flip-up tray.

The bolts and wires are located just underneath this flip-up tray.

Cut these wires and remove bolts with a 5mm allen.

Cut these wires and remove bolts with a 5mm allen.

Here is what the 5mm allen bolts look like from the under side (just underneath the tray). They should come out fairly easily.

Here is what the 5mm allen bolts look like from the under side (just underneath the tray). They should come out fairly easily.

Step 3:

Adhere the license plate light to underside of the top of the license plate holder and route the wires up through the center of the slot.

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Step 4:

Take the zip tie provided in the package and loop through the center hole of the license plate holder from the back as shown.

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Step 5:

Retrieve the two second to longest bolts from the package. I found it easier to loosely install the turn signals and turn signal brackets to the license plate holder before installing the holder to the tail section but of course, this can wait until later.

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Step 6:

Route the wires from each turn signal through the zip tie on the back of the license plate holder and then route the wires up through the center grommet and into the tail section.

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Step 7:

Retrieve the four longest bolts from the package along with four washers and nuts. Install license plate holder to the tail section.

I installed the bolts nuts-up (lol) in the tail and I used a 10mm T-wrench and 4mm allen to install all four nuts and bolts.

I installed the bolts nuts-up (lol) in the tail and I used a 10mm T-wrench and 4mm allen to install all four nuts and bolts.

I loved how the license plate holder had holes to slip the T-allen wrench through in order to tighten the mounting bolts. Installation would have been a pain without them. Remember! Appreciate the little things!

I loved how the license plate holder had holes to slip the T-allen wrench through in order to tighten the mounting bolts. Installation would have been a pain without them. Remember! Appreciate the little things!

Step 8:

Adjust and tighten the turn signals so they’re facing level.

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Step 9:

Use the splice connectors provided to connect the turn signals to the previously cut wires. Note the sleeve with the black wire and white wire is for the license plate light. It may take a few attempts to connect the turn signals correctly, however, as both wires for each side are black and it is difficult to tell which side goes to which. Don’t worry though. You can turn the key on and hit the turn signal switch to verify both sides are blinking correctly.

Tip: I used pliers to squeeze the splice connectors onto the wires due to my lack of upper body strength. Hey, work smarter not harder!

Tip: I used pliers to squeeze the splice connectors onto the wires due to my lack of upper body strength. Hey, work smarter not harder!

Step 10:

Hook up the license plate light. I had to cut the spades that were originally crimped to the wires and strip the wires to crimp new spades. I didn’t use the ones in the package because they’re a one-time, permanent-type of connector and I want to be able to unhook the running lights if I need to.

I used a set of wire crimpers to crimp on a set of automotive-style spades. You can find these at any auto parts store.

I used a set of wire crimpers to crimp on a set of automotive-style spades. You can find these at any auto parts store.

This is the end result. It takes more time, but it's worth it to have options.

This is the end result. It takes more time, but it’s worth it to have options.

Step 11:

Tuck the wires to the side so you can close the tray above them. I wrapped the wires with electrical tape and secured them to the subframe with a zip tie to clean up the install.

I wrapped the wires in electrical tape for fear that the zip tie might eventually chaff the wiring from vibrations. Call it paranoia, but better safe than sorry.

I wrapped the wires in electrical tape for fear that the zip tie might eventually chaff the wiring from vibrations. Call it paranoia, but better safe than sorry.

Step 11:

Verify operation of all lights and install the license plate with the remaining hardware from the kit.

The license plate light is pretty potent for a couple of small LED's. Kudos to Competition Werkes on the lighting.

The license plate light is pretty potent for a couple of small LED’s. Kudos to Competition Werkes on the lighting.

Stock mud flap vs. Competition Werkes fender eliminator. Yes, Comp Werkes eliminator wins!

Stock mud flap vs. Competition Werkes fender eliminator. Yes, Comp Werkes eliminator wins!

Tools I used: 4mm allen T-wrench, 10mm and 14mm ratchet wrenches, cutters, pliers, wire crimpers (one automotive, one metric-specific)

Tools I used: 4mm allen T-wrench, 10mm and 14mm ratchet wrenches, cutters, pliers, wire crimpers (one automotive, one metric-specific) and electrical tape

The Competition Werkes fender eliminator kit for the 2013-2014 Ninja 300R includes the CNC laser cut license plate holder made from 304 stainless steel as well as short stalk turn signals and an LED license light. The entire kit is feather light compared to the heavy weight mud flap the bike is equipped with at the factory. You can purchase this kit from any Competition Werkes dealer at an m.s.r.p. of $119.95.

Competition Werkes is an aftermarket motorcycle accessories and parts company that has been producing fender eliminator kits, exhausts and parts for motorcycles since 1984. To find out more about their products, click here.

Here is how the Ninja Turtle looks with the Competition Werkes exhaust and fender eliminator kit installed. Stay tuned as the transformation resumes!

Here is how the Ninja Turtle looks with the Competition Werkes exhaust and fender eliminator kit installed. Stay tuned as the transformation resumes!

Competition Werkes GP Slip-On Exhaust System for the Ninja 300R

There is nothing like the rumble of an aftermarket exhaust while decelerating into a corner. If you’re going to build a streetfighter, you need a sound to match the look; something that gives the bike a loud, in-your-face persona and  makes people stare as you ride down the street.

In 2013, Competition Werkes developed the GP shorty slip-on exhaust system for the Ninja 300 that transforms the bike’s passive thrum into a race bike’s growl. The system produces a little more bottom end grunt to gives you a snappier feel at the throttle and leaves an inevitable grin on your face.

The system is hand crafted from 304 stainless steel and has a tapered baffle for “improved performance and advanced tuning.” The canister is small and compact giving the bike a lighter, tighter feel without sacrificing styling. We installed the stainless steel GP system on our Ninja 300R Streetfighter project bike and here’s how we did it.

Step 1:

Make sure you have all the hardware and clamps needed to install the system.

The GP exhaust system comes with the muffler, high shield, 4mm allen bolt, pipe clamp and sticker.

The GP exhaust system comes with the muffler, high shield, 4mm allen bolt, pipe clamp and sticker.

Step 2:

To remove the heat shield from the stock exhaust can, remove the 5mm allen bolt and the clamp on the mid pipe with a Phillips screwdriver.

Remove the 5mm allen bolt.

Remove the 5mm allen bolt.

Loosen the bottom clamp with the Phillips screwdriver.

Loosen the bottom clamp with the Phillips screwdriver.

Step 3:

Pull the bottom clamp on the mid pipe down or toward the front of the motorcycle, then pull the heat shield toward the front of the motorcycle to remove it.

Pull the bottom hose clamp down the mid pipe, then slide the heat shield forward (toward the front of the bike) to remove it.

Pull the bottom hose clamp down the mid pipe, then slide the heat shield forward (toward the front of the bike) to remove it.

Step 4:

To remove the stock exhaust can, loosen the clamp around the muffler with a 12mm socket or T-handle.

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Step 5:

Remove the 14mm bolt and nut from the rear set.

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Step 6:

Pull the exhaust toward the rear of the motorcycle.

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Notice how the stock exhaust has a muffler gasket while the Werkes USA exhaust does not. This is because the Werkes USA exhaust muffler slides forward onto the midpipe until the bolt hole for the heat shield is just forward of the rear set heel guard bolts. The Werkes USA exhaust does not need an exhaust gasket!

Stock (left), Werkes USA (right)

Stock (left), Werkes USA (right)

Step 7:

Remember to slide the Werkes USA clamp onto the mid pipe before sliding on the Werkes USA canister onto the midpipe.

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Put a rag over the swing arm to avoid scratching or denting the Werkes USA canister while wiggling or sliding it over the mid pipe. Note: It is a tight fit, so it takes a little body English.

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Clean the Werkes USA exhaust thoroughly on the outside with WD-40 or comparable cleaning substance to avoid discoloring the canister after starting the motorcycle.

Step 8:

Tighten the hose clamp. Install the new stainless steel heat shield with the 4mm allen bolt provided.

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Final Step:

Make sure you clean the outside of the pipe with WD-40 or a comparable product before running the motorcycle to avoid discoloration.

Start and enjoy.

Tools I used: 3/8’’ ratchet with 14mm and 12mm sockets, Phillips screwdriver, 12mm T-handle, 14mm wrench 4mm/5mm T-allen wrenches

Tools I used: 3/8’’ ratchet with 14mm and 12mm sockets, Phillips screwdriver, 12mm T-handle, 14mm wrench
4mm/5mm T-allen wrenches

We put each exhaust system (both stock and the Werkes USA muffler) on the scale. The stock exhaust weighs 17.5 lbs. while the Werkes U.S.A. exhaust weighs 2.5 lbs. This is a total weight savings of 15 pounds!

We put each exhaust system (both stock and the Werkes USA muffler) on the scale. The stock exhaust weighs 17.5 lbs. while the Werkes U.S.A. exhaust weighs 2.5 lbs.
This is a total weight savings of 15 pounds!

You can purchase the GP slip-on exhaust for an m.s.r.p. of $399.95. The exhaust is also available in Carbon Fiber, Cobra Black, Cobalt Black, Tungsten, Titanium, Mag Silver, Satin Silver and Gold for $100 more, as well as Black Velvet for $50 more. The install takes roughly ten minutes and is very easy. With the Competition Werkes GP exhaust, you’ll be where on your way to a lighter, faster and better-sounding machine in no time!

Competition Werkes is an aftermarket motorcycle accessories and parts company that has been producing fender eliminator kits, exhausts and much more for motorcycles since 1984. To find out more about their products, click here.

“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.”

Viva La Biker Beauty!

So excited about my Biker Beauty hoodie!

So excited about my Biker Beauty hoodie!

Biker Beauty is a clothing line inspired by strong women, tattoos and motorcycles. In a narrow market where clothing choices for women riders are limited, Biker Beauty is a new, trending apparel company that is gaining popularity amongst the female and even male motorcycling crowd, no matter what they rie!

Ranessa Villalba, founder of Biker Beauty clothing, found her calling six years ago after her knack for creating unique and fresh designs was discovered through a shirt she printed and sold at a swap meet. The shirt coined the phrase “Make-up, Men & Motorcycles.”

It became so popular, she printed more shirts with this phrase and they sold out a week after. This inspired her to create the Biker Beauty clothing line and she’s steadily been creating new apparel designs since. You can find Ranessa representing Biker Beauty at local bike nights and events, mainly to show that sexy women ride bikes too! “I started riding about 12 years ago and us ‘biker chicks’ were always known as butch chicks. So it was a way of showing everyone that we can ride and still be beautiful,” she says.

Ranessa is known for her ability to create edgy, sexy designs for women who ride, much of which have “women power” themes blended with day of the dead and urban ink undertones supported by powerful, contagious anecdotes or sayings.

Biker Beauty’s best seller to date was a shirt that boasted the phrase “I ❤ Badass Boys, Badass Bikes, Badass Tattoos.” The shirt sold out fast and since then, there have been no re-prints. “It’s kind of like a limited edition,” Ranessa says. “The only design that has been reprinted is ‘Make-up, Men & motorcycles.’” With these shirts being rare and only available through Ranessa’s website, this makes her apparel lucrative and sought after in person.

Biker Beauty is still growing with every design Ranessa prints to a shirt. Who knows? In five years, you may see Biker Beauty clothing in a boutique style store. For the time being, it can be found through Ranessa’s online store, www.bikerbeautyclothing.com, or by purchasing directly through Ranessa if you happen to see her out and about.

Ranessa is also a proud supporter of Breast Cancer awareness and she hopes to create a non-profit organization through Biker Beauty to help the families of those afflicted by cancer. Additionally, Ranessa uses Biker Beauty to support local bike clubs and can be found at many of their events and fundraisers as well.

The Viva La Mujer is my new favorite sweater. I love the design and I look forward to when people ask about it.

The Viva La Mujer is my new favorite sweater. I love the design and I look forward to when people ask about it.

I recently obtained Biker Beauty’s most recent popular item, the “Viva La Mujer” hoodie. The “Viva La Mujer” design features a beautiful woman with purple flowers throughout her wavy, black hair and her face is painted in sugar skull make-up. The phrase “Viva La Mujer” is laced beneath her in cursive font. The sweater is made from 100 percent cotton and is comfortable, warm and comfy. It is the perfect garment to add to your wardrobe this winter if you’re a woman, a bike lover, a man lover, a tattoo lover, hell a lover of anything that would empower a woman to say, “Give me more!”

As a fan of all things tattoos and Dia de los Muertos themed, this hoodie won me over before ever trying it on. “I chose this design because ‘Viva La Mujer’ is a strong woman,” Ranessa says. “In our bike scene, women aren’t recognized as they should be. We are in a male dominated sport.  ‘Viva La Mujer’ is my way of saying, ‘We are here, we are riding and we won’t stop! Women ride and we ride in heels! We’re a force to be reckoned with!”

You can purchase the Viva La Mujer hoodie as well as other apparel and accessories with many other cool designs at the Biker Beauty online store.

Ranessa, beautiful as ever on her Harley.

Ranessa, beautiful as ever on her Harley.

A Little About Ranessa:

Ranessa Villalba is a tenacious, empowered, strong and business minded woman.

A motivator of women. That's Ranessa.

A motivator of women. That’s Ranessa.

Ranessa is a mother of two children, a son (eight years old) and daughter (three years old). As a native of Whittier, CA, she’s adept to year-round sunny weather and spends much of it outside riding her 1973 Harley Davidson Ironhead.

She has one tattoo, which is also Dia De Los Muertos themed. “It represents the beauty in all women,” she says. Her tattoo artist is Dreamer of Distinctive Ink in Pico Rivera, CA.

Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken: Tonya’s Road to Recovery

At the scene of Tonya's crash at the top of Modjeska.

At the scene of Tonya’s crash at the top of Modjeska.

In the movie Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken, no one could really make sense of the reason why Sonora would want to fall off a tower on a horse into a pool of water, even after she became blind. Some might call it brave. Some might call it stupid. Either way, the audience watched in awe.

You can’t deny the fact that someone who would take such a ridiculous risk despite a crippling handicap would fascinate someone as much as it would befuddle them. It’s this paradox that sets precedence for Tonya Depue’s story. Why continue to ride a motorcycle after horrific injuries nearly stole her life? Is it insanity? Is it passion? Or is it that hers is a wild heart that can’t be broken?

I sat with Tonya at a café near her home two years after her accident to ask her those questions. She was just returning from a long ride down the coast with a friend, her first since the accident. She smiled and laughed the way a happy and confident woman would and in that moment I never would have guessed she was just a quarter of an inch from losing her life only two years earlier.

Paramedics struggle to get Tonya on the board and into the ambulance, meanwhile keeping her comfortable despite a broken neck.

Paramedics struggle to get Tonya on the board and into the ambulance, meanwhile keeping her comfortable despite a broken neck.

The Accident

On May 28th, 2011, it was a perfect day for a ride. Sunny with clear skies and cool temperatures were beckoning Tonya to the streets. She climbed astride her Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R and met up with friends, Aaron and Joey at Little Saigon in Westminster, CA. From there, they headed out to Santiago Canyon, rode down Live Oak Canyon Road and turned back to Cooks Corner, a grill and bar located off El Toro Road, for a quick break.

Rejuvenated, the three of them rode west on Santiago Canyon Road with Tonya at the back of the pack. Since the road was crowded, they turned right to take a detour on Modjeska Grade, a tight twist off shoot off the beaten path. The road began climbing and with the guys slowly disappearing from Tonya’s view, she continued at a spirited pace. Once she arrived at the peak of the hill, her fear of heights overcame her and panic set in as there were no guard rails. “I knew I was going too fast to take the curve,” Tonya remembers. Her vision became fuzzy and instead of the road twisting to the right as it appears to just before the crest, it went left. Upon seeing the drop-off, Tonya laid on her rear brake, sending her bike into a slide. Suddenly the rear tire gripped and she was flung like a rag doll 25 feet down the canyon wall. “I remember thinking ‘oh shit!’” she recalls. “I remember waking up on the ground and Aaron saying, ‘Don’t fucking move!’” With back pain shooting down Tonya’s spine, she thought it might be broken and attempted to remove her helmet and jacket, but her friends Aaron and Joey struggled to keep her still, insisting she not move and that help was coming. “It’s the worst feeling in the world to see one of your friends laid out on the side of the road,” Aaron recalls of Tonya’s accident. “I remember that day like it was yesterday.”

Once the ambulance arrived, Tonya only remembers bits and pieces, but she still recalls the excruciating pain she felt as she was carried by paramedics on a stiff, shaky board up the hill to the ambulance. The ride to Mission Hospital wasn’t much better, as the constant rocking and swaying only augmented the pain in her back.

Tonya's crippling injuries would still require therapy more than two years after the accident.

Tonya’s crippling injuries would still require therapy more than two years after the accident.

The Diagnosis

Tonya woke up in a hospital bed and laughs as she remembers frantically searching for her phone. “I remember asking how my bike was,” she says, but her friends insisted not to worry about it. A neurosurgeon visited Tonya and it was then Tonya found out her neck might be broken, and after a C.A.T. scan, her fear was confirmed. The neurosurgeon stood by her bedside and told her C-6 and C-7 vertebrae in her neck were broken. She felt pangs of fear at the thought of the doctor’s needing to perform a tracheotomy during surgery and that this would mean she’d need to be on life support, or worse, they’d need to place a respiratory tube down her throat and leave it there. The doctors reassured her she’d be okay and Tonya succumbed to the surreal oblivion induced by anesthesia.

After nearly eight hours in surgery, Tonya woke up in the I.C.U.  in a doped up stupor still in search of her phone. It was then that Aaron took her phone to make that difficult phone to Tonya’s then 21-year-old daughter let her know that her mom was in the hospital.

Tonya later learned that the surgery was invasive, requiring incisions from the front of her neck and down the back of her neck. The doctors installed a plate and four screws to her broken vertebrae and fused the neck back together.

Not only did Tonya just break her neck, but she also broke six ribs, dislocated her shoulder, tore her ACL and meniscus and punctured a lung. The neurosurgeon let her know that she was just an eighth of an inch from being paralyzed and a quarter of an inch from severing an artery near her spine that could have made her accident fatal. Tonya would also later learn that the neurosurgeon would perform ten trauma surgeries like Tonya’s throughout that year, and only Tonya and one other patient were able to walk again.

The Aftermath

Tonya was released from the hospital a week after surgery and her daughter drove her home while she was drugged up on Percocet’s. Tonya remained homebound for two months. During this time, she wore a neck brace 24/7. She was supposed to wear the brace for three to four months, but after the second month, she grew restless.

Tonya began doing research online to find out what exercises or physical therapy she could do to make herself stronger. “I visited with the neurosurgeon the second month and asked if I could take the neck brace off,” she says. Because Tonya had begun to make herself more active by walking around the house and performing physical therapy exercises she had researched on the Internet, her neurosurgeon agreed to let Tonya remove the neck brace.

Friends at M1 Sportriders had bake sales to try and raise money to get Tonya through difficult financial times while she was healing.

Friends at M1 Sportriders had bake sales to try and raise money to get Tonya through difficult financial times while she was healing.

From that point on, Tonya started stretching her neck more and more and she continued to do physical therapy on her own at home. After four months, she began attending professional physical therapy sessions and the therapists were in disbelief by how far she’d come with all the work she’d done on her own as a result of her research. Tonya posted her exercise sheets on the walls at home, which she used as reminders to constantly be working on improving her mobility and flexibility. She owes much of her progress to these makeshift work-out stations. Tonya’s daughter drove her to the first few in-office sessions, but after five months, Tonya was progressing so quickly, she began to drive herself.

Once Tonya’s neck healed, she was able to start in-office therapy sessions for her other injuries. On May 7, 2012, approximately a year after her accident, doctors were finally able to operate on Tonya’s ACL and meniscus injuries. The surgery required removing part of her hamstring to repair the shredded ACL and meniscus. Tonya had to wear a leg brace for three months following the surgery.

Fortunately, Tonya’s shoulder was healing on its own, as she had been doing therapy to build muscles in her shoulder for seven months. On the down side, Tonya’s ribs took more than a year to heal. “They still hurt when I twist around,” she admits. Tonya’s last loose end is her hip, as it remains inflamed and her doctors are unsure as to why. She might have one last surgery ahead of her. “They thought it might be fluid,” she says. “But it’s not and I’m still in pain all the time.” In the mean time, Tonya continues to do physical therapy for her knee once a week.

Money Woes

With depleted savings, no income and a stack of medical bills, stress was beginning to set in for Tonya and she knew she had to slowly start going back to work. Luckily, she had help from friends like Jenn and Pete Jaynes, the owners of M1 Sportriders, who arranged bake sales and fundraising events to help Tonya until she could get back on her feet. “So many people helped me with money and food,” Tonya says. “It was a blessing.” Tonya also learned she qualified for the MSI or Medical Services Initiative Program, which is basically federally funded insurance to help low income adults pay for medical bills due to trauma. With this program, most of Tonya’s medical expenses would be covered.

After Tonya’s meniscus surgery, she started working with her good friend Chris, who has helped her in the past. Tonya would help Chris behind the counter at a beauty supply store despite wearing an aspirin collar and being in a lot of pain.

Tonya with her riding buddies Joey (left) and Aaron (right). "Every time I ride that road and come up to that section, I always think of what happened. I should've been going at her pace to keep her safe. She was my prodigy and I almost got her killed. She says it was the back brake but it was more me pushing her on a road she wasn't familiar with and she didn't have enough knowledge to save herself when she got into a situation. I learned a huge lesson that day.

Tonya with her riding buddies Joey (left) and Aaron (right). “Every time I ride that road and come up to that section, I always think of what happened. I should’ve been going at her pace to keep her safe. She was my prodigy and I almost got her killed. She says it was the back brake but it was more me pushing her on a road she wasn’t familiar with and she didn’t have enough knowledge to save herself when she got into a situation. I learned a huge lesson that day.

Before the accident, Tonya owned a travel and hair service business where she visited bedridden trauma patients at their homes and in hospitals to do their hair. She lost a lot of clientele due to the accident, but now she’s working part-time with her friend Chris, she’s also working to reestablish her business. “I had to do what I had to do to get my life back,” Tonya says. “It’s been a tough road.”

How Her Accident Has Affected Her Family

Tonya lives with her now 24-year-old daughter and 28-year-old niece. Her daughter and niece work in the school district and meanwhile, they’ve been helping Tonya to recover. Tonya’s daughter is inspired by the fact that Tonya rides, even after having such a bad accident. But a lot of Tonya’s family has ceased communications with her. “I had family issues where I quit talking to my brother and sister three months after my accident. It was an emotional roller coaster,” she says.

Now, much of her family won’t speak to her at all since she’s back on the bike, which can add weight onto an already difficult recovery. Tonya says she talked to her sister recently who asked her, “Are you back on that stupid bike again? Don’t call me if you go down.” How could someone say that? “It makes me mad,” Tonya says. “Why would you be mean and tell your family something like that?”

Of course, it’s understandable considering the anguish family endures when caring for an individual who has suffered a major injury but still, a depressed individual with no passion or hope cannot recover the way someone who is taking risks can. “You should be able to do what you want to do,” Tonya insists. “This is what I love to do. It’s my life and my decision.”

Getting Back in the Saddle

Jenn Jaynes had fixed Tonya’s bike shortly after her accident, but Tonya wouldn’t ride her bike again until eight months later. “I rode down my street and was really nervous and scared.” She can even pinpoint exactly where her fear kicked in. “I was afraid to make the turn at the end of the street, as a curve is what got me into trouble the first time.” She rode slowly, despite fears and a tender neck, but she was back in the saddle and that was all that mattered.

“My therapist thinks getting back on the bike is crazy,” she laughs. “Always when I see him, he says ‘You got a second chance. You’re not on that motorcycle right?’ I always say no and I never tell him the truth.” He told her it was going to take a couple of years to get back to her old self, so she continued to ride periodically, taking short jaunts to the store and later, rides down the coast.

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Sutures on the back of Tonya’s neck after surgery

Tonya knows if she crashes again, there are no more second chances. She will never revert to her crazy days of going fast with the boys in the canyons, but she still has aspirations. She still wants to attend a track day so she can check it off her bucket list.

But before she goes to the track, she wants to continue to lose weight and make her quadriceps and core muscles stronger as those are the muscles that mainly support her body. A strong core means less discomfort and Tonya knows it.

She knows she has to remain accountable if she is going to continue to get better. She goes to the gym at least three to four times a week and has been on the Atkins diet for about 48 days. She has lost 20 pounds during her recovery by doing cardio and hitting the weights. She also says that as of March 2013, she was able to cease her pain medication. “I’m always going to have to exercise to be limber and not be in pain for the rest of my life,” Tonya says. So in a way, the accident made Tonya’s life better by forcing her to take better care of herself.

Lessons Learned and Word to the Wise

It’s amazing how nearly losing your life can make you appreciate the little things like waking up and being able to walk. In Tonya’s line of business, she’s realized how lucky she is because she could have ended up like the patients she used to see every day. Most of those patients are on life support and never getting out of bed. They’re paralyzed from the neck down because of bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents and sometimes accidents that just happened under the influence of alcohol. Many of them are comatose.

Tonya’s will to live a normal life has enabled her to avoid sinking into depression and becoming a lost cause like some of the patients she’s done hair for over the years. Tonya did, however, shut herself off from her friends for a short time because she didn’t feel good about herself. She felt handicapped because she couldn’t ride or do the things she was used to doing. “I miss being around people with bikes,” Tonya says. “I miss the camaraderie and going to bike nights.”

Tonya today, smiling and recovering with a positive outlook on life.

Tonya today, smiling and recovering with a positive outlook on life.

Tonya came to the realization she had to stop hiding after doing a customer’s hair. Her customer is fifteen years older than her and had the same injury as Tonya. Tonya’s customer cannot move her neck and shakes all the time because she quit therapy, is hooked on anti-depressants and pain medication and gets Botox injections in her neck to be more comfortable. “I keep trying to convince her to swim or do something,” Tonya says. “I don’t want to end up like her. I’d rather be dead.”

Conclusion

Tonya Depue has invested more than 150 hours into her recovery with research, physical therapy and working out at the gym. She continues to ride whenever she can and will most likely own a bike until she’s too old to ride. Tonya’s story has inspired others to persevere through the pain. So much so, she now has more than 2400 friends on Facebook.

Some might wonder why Tonya would still want to ride after a nasty accident that nearly crippled her. To her, it’s pure logic. You fight to live your life the way you want or you give up and toss back the pills. For Tonya, rolling over and sucking down the pity juice just isn’t going to cut it, even if the doctor insists you can’t take a second chance for granted after you were a quarter of an inch from death. Tonya continues to work hard and push down the bumpy road to recovery despite being criticized for her love of riding. She is an inspiration to any victim who has ever wanted to retire to a wheelchair and quit. I wish she could step into the room of every hopeless accident victim, slap the invalid out of them and say, “You might be in pain but you can find other ways to get around it and live again.”