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Joy Riding

It’s never too late to discover the fun of cycling



Kawasaki Vulcan

The motorcycle itch—almost every red-blooded human has had it. You see a couple of buddies leaning their sport bikes through the twisties on a bright summer day, or a couple out on that big old cruiser. Or maybe you just catch Easy Rider on Netflix. And you think, “yeah, but—”

But nothing. We’re here to tell you from experience that itch is worth scratching—and with today’s friendlier-than-ever bikes, it’s easy to do. With a little training and vigilant riding, it’s pretty safe, too.

We went bike shopping for you this past December at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show, at New York’s Javits Center. We were looking for bikes suited for grownups who were either first-timers or what the industry calls “Chapter Two riders”—midlife empty-nesters who hung up their wheels years ago to raise a family. If that describes you, manufacturers have you in their sights. After years of jockeying to build the biggest, baddest, tire-shreddingest beasts, they realized their future belongs to people like us, who just want to have fun.

So we set out to find bikes you could feel confident riding, even as a newbie. Our three criteria: Under 1,000cc. Comfortable riding position. Available anti-lock brakes (ABS) or traction control. The good news—there are almost too many bikes to choose from, and most of them are reasonably priced.

Let’s start with a toe-dipper: The Honda Rebel (pictured left) Older riders may scowl, recalling the underpowered, underloved 250cc Rebel of the ’80s. But the new 2017 model is a real motorcycle. Bypass the 300cc model for the 500cc—a half-liter bike with real attitude. With its responsive parallel twin engine, upright riding position, light weight (408 pounds wet, i.e., with a full tank) for easy handling, classic styling and available ABS—not to mention low seat height—it is the ideal starter bike. In fact, even for experienced riders, it might be all the bike you need.

Want to dip just your pinky toe? Check out the funky Suzuki Van Van (pictured right.) With its modest 200cc single cylinder, it’s not for the highway. The balloon rear tire and wide, plush seat promise stability and comfort, even on gravel roads or fire trails. They call this lightweight runabout (282 pounds) an “urban commuter,” but it’s also a suburban commuter. It lacks ABS, but are you going to go fast enough for that to matter?

Admittedly, you’re not going to make much of an impression parking your Van Van among the Harleys outside the coffee shop on Sunday. Here are two bikes that are both image- and rider-friendly:

The 1,000cc Indian Scout 60 (pictured left) is a detuned (by 22 HP) version of the acclaimed Indian Scout cruiser. The iconic Indian brand was resuscitated in 2011 by Polaris. Made in Spirit Lake, Iowa, the Scout is real American Iron for those who can’t buy into the whole Harley gestalt. It’s big and moderately heavy (555 pounds wet) and not cheap ($9,999 with ABS)—but think how great you’ll look.

If you’re more Tom Cruise than George Clooney, you’ll want a sport bike (aka “crotch-rocket”). The Kawasaki Z650 ABS (pictured right) has sport-bike attitude (it’s based on Kawasaki’s best-selling Ninja 650), but with a low seat height and more upright riding position. At 410 pounds wet, it’s a nimble carver of country curves.

But who needs roads? The BMW G 310 GS (pictured below) is a great entry-level adventure bike. Its  313cc single provides all the power you need for the single-track. With its higher seat height and ground clearance, you can go anywhere. And standard ABS helps stop anywhere, too.

Which bike is for you?

Ultimately, one that fits, and manufacturers are increasingly adding options that adjust seat height and reach. As Kawasaki spokesman Kevin Allen points out, “Comfort is the shortest route to confidence—which is the key to having fun.” Kawasaki’s innovative Ergo-Fit system lets you build a Vulcan S 650cc cruiser practically to measure.

Today’s rider-friendly bikes are a blast, and there’s no reason to hold back. Get your motorcycle license (see sidebar), find your dream bike, and meet us at Starbucks this Sunday at 9. The road beckons. 


Take it easy, rider

When you announce your intention to gear up, everyone will have a second- or third-hand horror story to tell you. But riding can be a lot safer than many other recreational pursuits, if you:

  • Get anti-lock brakes. ABS reduces fatalities by 37 percent.
  • Wear a helmet. In 2014, helmets saved 1,669 lives.
  • Ride sober. Nearly 30 percent of riders who lost their lives in 2014 were over the 0.08 limit.
  • Slow down. A third of riders involved in fatal crashes in 2014 were speeding.
  • Get a motorcycle endorsement on your license. In 2014, 28 percent of those involved in fatal crashes had no valid motorcycle license.
  • Take a class. You’ll learn not only the rules but everyday bike-handling and safety skills. Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey all offer multiday state training programs that conclude with an evaluation, and ultimately an endorsement, waiving your road test.
  • To put it simply: How safe is motorcycle riding? That’s up to you. 

—RG & DG

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July 2017

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Starting June 3rd thru August 27th, Ridgefield Golf Course offers families an opportunity to play golf. For $25 groups of up to 5 people can play a few holes (golf cart included). Tee times are...

Cost: For $25 groups of up to 5 people

Where:
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Stamford Downtown
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Starting June 3rd thru August 27th, Ridgefield Golf Course offers families an opportunity to play golf. For $25 groups of up to 5 people can play a few holes (golf cart included). Tee times are...

Cost: For $25 groups of up to 5 people

Where:
Ridgefield Golf Course
545 Ridgebury Road
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View map »


Website »

More information

There’s a new theatre in the neighborhood, committed to producing ambitious, thought provoking plays and readings. Thrown Stone, the brain child of  co-artistic directors Jason Peck...

Cost: $29-$49

Where:
Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance
440 Main Street
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Cost: Free

Where:
Stamford Downtown
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Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
149 Girdle Ridge Road
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The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Rd
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Sponsor: The Ridgefield Playhouse
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Telephone: 914-232-9555
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Cost: For $25 groups of up to 5 people

Where:
Ridgefield Golf Course
545 Ridgebury Road
Ridgefield, CT
View map »


Website »

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There’s a new theatre in the neighborhood, committed to producing ambitious, thought provoking plays and readings. Thrown Stone, the brain child of  co-artistic directors Jason Peck...

Cost: $29-$49

Where:
Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance
440 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


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Each year Stamford Downtown hosts a distinguished outdoor sculpture exhibit designed to attract both local and regional audiences. Art in Public Places Outdoor Sculpture exhibit features sculptures...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stamford Downtown
, CT


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Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
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Starting June 3rd thru August 27th, Ridgefield Golf Course offers families an opportunity to play golf. For $25 groups of up to 5 people can play a few holes (golf cart included). Tee times are...

Cost: For $25 groups of up to 5 people

Where:
Ridgefield Golf Course
545 Ridgebury Road
Ridgefield, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

There’s a new theatre in the neighborhood, committed to producing ambitious, thought provoking plays and readings. Thrown Stone, the brain child of  co-artistic directors Jason Peck...

Cost: $29-$49

Where:
Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance
440 Main Street
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View map »


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Each year Stamford Downtown hosts a distinguished outdoor sculpture exhibit designed to attract both local and regional audiences. Art in Public Places Outdoor Sculpture exhibit features sculptures...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stamford Downtown
, CT


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Join us at Lounsbury House on Friday, July 21th from 7-9pm (was moved from July 14 due to weather) for an evening of great food and friendly people. There will be family fun...

Cost: $45 before June 1, $50 after June 1

Where:
Lounsbury House
316 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Grace Farms, Sanctuary
365 Lukes Wood Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
149 Girdle Ridge Road
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Starting June 3rd thru August 27th, Ridgefield Golf Course offers families an opportunity to play golf. For $25 groups of up to 5 people can play a few holes (golf cart included). Tee times are...

Cost: For $25 groups of up to 5 people

Where:
Ridgefield Golf Course
545 Ridgebury Road
Ridgefield, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

There’s a new theatre in the neighborhood, committed to producing ambitious, thought provoking plays and readings. Thrown Stone, the brain child of  co-artistic directors Jason Peck...

Cost: $29-$49

Where:
Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance
440 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Each year Stamford Downtown hosts a distinguished outdoor sculpture exhibit designed to attract both local and regional audiences. Art in Public Places Outdoor Sculpture exhibit features sculptures...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stamford Downtown
, CT


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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Ballard Park
Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce
Telephone: 203-438-5992
Contact Name: Jen Mulhern
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Cost: Advance tickets $15, tickets at the door $20

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Ives Concert Park
43 Lake Ave Ext
Danbury, CT  06811
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Telephone: 203-837-9226
Contact Name: Phyllis Cortese
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The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Rd
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: The Ridgefield Playhouse
Telephone: 203-438-5795
Website »

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Cost: $30, $45, $60, $70, $80, $90, $100, $110

Where:
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
149 Girdle Ridge Road
Katonah, NY  10536
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Website »

More information

Join Townvibe on Saturday, July 22 for a very special evening with the cast of Milk. Begin the night with the 8pm performance of the U.S. Premiere of Milk by Ross Dunsmore at...

Cost: $100/ticket to Cocktails with the Cast. Tickets to Milk sold separately.

Where:
Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance
440 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Starting June 3rd thru August 27th, Ridgefield Golf Course offers families an opportunity to play golf. For $25 groups of up to 5 people can play a few holes (golf cart included). Tee times are...

Cost: For $25 groups of up to 5 people

Where:
Ridgefield Golf Course
545 Ridgebury Road
Ridgefield, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

There’s a new theatre in the neighborhood, committed to producing ambitious, thought provoking plays and readings. Thrown Stone, the brain child of  co-artistic directors Jason Peck...

Cost: $29-$49

Where:
Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance
440 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Each year Stamford Downtown hosts a distinguished outdoor sculpture exhibit designed to attract both local and regional audiences. Art in Public Places Outdoor Sculpture exhibit features sculptures...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stamford Downtown
, CT


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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