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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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Profiles

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May 2017

On Saturday, May 6, the Washington Art Association & Gallery will present Objectivity, an exhibition of sculpture and photographs. This exhibition will explore how five artists working in...

Cost: free

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Memorial Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06059
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Carol Moore is a lifelong resident of Litchfield, currently residing in Bantam. She is well-know in the area for her colorful, energy-charged paintings and pottery. Carol has always been drawn to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 860-567-8030
Contact Name: Tricia Messenger
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On Saturday, May 6, the Washington Art Association & Gallery will present Objectivity, an exhibition of sculpture and photographs. This exhibition will explore how five artists working in...

Cost: free

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Memorial Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

The Gunn Historical Museum presents George Krimsky, Class of 1960: The Cold War at The Gunnery and Beyond. The Gunnery’s Gunn Scholar, Dana Ross, a student from Moscow, Russia will...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Gunn Historical Museum
Telephone: 860-868-7756
Contact Name: Lisa Breese
Website »

More information

Facilitated by Cameron Bove, Monday Scholars is a weekly series that meets in the library’s Jamie Gagarin Community Room. The series combines the best of online learning with the best of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St.
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 860-567-8030
Contact Name: Tricia Messenger
Website »

More information

Carol Moore is a lifelong resident of Litchfield, currently residing in Bantam. She is well-know in the area for her colorful, energy-charged paintings and pottery. Carol has always been drawn to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 860-567-8030
Contact Name: Tricia Messenger
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

American women artists, especially those working before 1945, had to navigate societal expectations of women’s domestic roles with their drive to be recognized as professionals. These artists...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 860-567-8030
Contact Name: Tricia Messenger
Website »

More information

On Saturday, May 6, the Washington Art Association & Gallery will present Objectivity, an exhibition of sculpture and photographs. This exhibition will explore how five artists working in...

Cost: free

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Memorial Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

Connecting with Balance is a 12 week program focusing on using movement and dance to maintain and improve dynamic balance. Participants will work with Pilobolus Teaching Artists on creating...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Litchfield Community Center
421 Bantam Road
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Telephone: 860-567-8302
Contact Name: Litchfield Community Center
Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Carol Moore is a lifelong resident of Litchfield, currently residing in Bantam. She is well-know in the area for her colorful, energy-charged paintings and pottery. Carol has always been drawn to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 860-567-8030
Contact Name: Tricia Messenger
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On Saturday, May 6, the Washington Art Association & Gallery will present Objectivity, an exhibition of sculpture and photographs. This exhibition will explore how five artists working in...

Cost: free

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Memorial Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Carol Moore is a lifelong resident of Litchfield, currently residing in Bantam. She is well-know in the area for her colorful, energy-charged paintings and pottery. Carol has always been drawn to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 860-567-8030
Contact Name: Tricia Messenger
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On Saturday, May 6, the Washington Art Association & Gallery will present Objectivity, an exhibition of sculpture and photographs. This exhibition will explore how five artists working in...

Cost: free

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Memorial Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

Japanese school children visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima’s peace parks and museums in order to fully understand the complexities of war and the damaging effects of nuclear weapons. Japanese...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 860-567-8030
Contact Name: Tricia Messenger
Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The popular History Bites Lecture Series is back! The Litchfield Historical Society invites you for their installment of the series on Thursday, May 25, 2017 at noon. Portrait miniatures thrived...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

  Actress Sheryl Faye brings Eleanor Roosevelt to life!  She grew up and became an American politician, the longest-serving First Lady of the United States. She was the first presidential spouse...

Cost: $5.00 donation at door

Where:
Litchfield Community Center
421 Bantam Road
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Telephone: 860-567-8302
Contact Name: Litchfield Community Center
Website »

More information

Put your detective hats on for more American Girl mysteries! Join the Litchfield Historical Society’s American Girl Book Club on Thursday, May 25 from 3:30-5 p.m. Who stole the Jazzman’s...

Cost: $7 members; $10 non-members

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06059
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Carol Moore is a lifelong resident of Litchfield, currently residing in Bantam. She is well-know in the area for her colorful, energy-charged paintings and pottery. Carol has always been drawn to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 860-567-8030
Contact Name: Tricia Messenger
Website »

More information

The Bridge Healing Arts Center Hosts an open house for practitioners of the healing arts to explore Connecticut’s first synergistic wellness community. Providers will now be able to refer...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bridge Healing Arts Center
304 Main Street
Farmington, CT  06032
View map »


Sponsor: Bridge Healing Arts Center
Telephone: 860-710-5504
Contact Name: Vera Halina
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On Saturday, May 6, the Washington Art Association & Gallery will present Objectivity, an exhibition of sculpture and photographs. This exhibition will explore how five artists working in...

Cost: free

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Memorial Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

Our outdoor annual book sale carries a wide range of books, including many current best sellers, mysteries, biographies, art history, to name a few; the book sale caters to all interests. (these...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Kent Memorial Library
32 North Main St
Kent, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Carol Moore is a lifelong resident of Litchfield, currently residing in Bantam. She is well-know in the area for her colorful, energy-charged paintings and pottery. Carol has always been drawn to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 860-567-8030
Contact Name: Tricia Messenger
Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Power Sanctuary Yoga in Torrington 8:30-9:30am - FREE Sanctuary Power Flow  with Heather 10-11am - FREE Sanctuary Power Flow with Heather & Melissa 11:30am-12pm - FREE Unheated Gentle...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Power Sanctuary Yoga
23 Franklin St.
Torrington, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

On Saturday, May 6, the Washington Art Association & Gallery will present Objectivity, an exhibition of sculpture and photographs. This exhibition will explore how five artists working in...

Cost: free

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Memorial Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

Stop by the studio of Robotics And Beyond at 30 Bridge Street (Suite 204) in New Milford, Connecticut for a free open house to learn about the exciting STEM and STEAM Summer Camps offered to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Robotics And Beyond
30 Bridge Street
Suite 204
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Robotics And Beyon
Contact Name: Paul Chayka
Website »

More information

The Smithy Store’s Loft Gallery will host a collection of original works by Frank Frederico of Goshen. In addition to Mr. Frederico’s work, the gallery will feature stunning photography...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
Website »

More information

Our outdoor annual book sale carries a wide range of books, including many current best sellers, mysteries, biographies, art history, to name a few; the book sale caters to all interests. (these...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Kent Memorial Library
32 North Main St
Kent, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Carol Moore is a lifelong resident of Litchfield, currently residing in Bantam. She is well-know in the area for her colorful, energy-charged paintings and pottery. Carol has always been drawn to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 860-567-8030
Contact Name: Tricia Messenger
Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Show More...
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