Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Solstice

We just got back from a Winter Solstice party, we drank some wine, danced in the clear, cold, dark night, named and anointed a mighty oak tree, offered libations, we all said a few words then drank some more wine.

It was great getting together with friends we hadn't seen in sometime and catching up on what's going on with everyone.

And if the days start getting longer tomorrow, then all the better.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Seattle Motorcycle Show 2011

Another show, another weekend and another year has come and gone. While many mark the year end with all that holiday fuss, I much prefer to note it with much less stressful events like meeting fellow bloggers in Seattle for the weekend and taking in a motorcycle show.

This is our third consecutive year attending the show and every year it is in someway just a little bit different, each year we try a new hotel and of course new restaurants. Not everyone can always make it to the show every year so I'll give all of you much more notice next year.

We drove up Friday afternoon and arrived early enough to wander around town and find some dinner before Bobskoot and Mrs. Skoot arrived. Bob was anxious to go down to Pike Place Market and snap some night photos before they shut off the lights. We played around down there for an hour or more until they kicked us out by threatening to call the police on us.

This couple came out of the restaurant and into my shot, I don't think they saw me standing there but it made a great photo.

Bob on the other hand, you have to be quick to catch him.

Saturday morning it was rise and shine, bright and early to get down to the lobby for the continental breakfast and to beat the crowd. We had our fill and chatted with Bob and Yvonne before heading down to the motorcycle show.

 We met up with SonjaM and Roland as well as Orin, another blogger difficult to catch on camera.

The venue this year was at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle which made it very convenient to find somewhere to eat, sneak in a little shopping, see the sights and for its close proximity to our hotels. It has been held at Qwest Field the past few years which is a bit out of the way and a bit of a walk if you want to do anything after the show. The Convention Center in my opinion is a much better location as the show was set up in different rooms which spread the crowd a bit and reduced the noise opposed to the one big stadium. Tully's Coffee was in the house to provide sustenance and restrooms were plentiful.  

Moving to the show and the motorcycles.

 Aurora Suzuki dealer was present with the redesigned 2012 V-Strom 650.

Triumph was there with the bike I most wanted to see, the Tiger Explorer 1200.

It isn't as big as I expected nor as heavy but at 539 lbs. wet it took some heft to get her off the side stand. It is so similar in size to Lucy that it would make a great tourer across country but I'd be reluctant to take it too far off the beaten path. Although the Explorer has shaft drive, ride by wire and traction control I still much prefer the Tiger 800.

2012 Triumph Street Triple in Imperial Purple

Tiger 800... Bob says he's already on the darkside but could be easily persuaded darker.

 Even Harley fans are "Tri-curious", wait is he an H-D rep?

A BMW dealer was there with a couple of bikes and the BMW R 1200 R. and WOW is that a nice bike. I may have to change my 7 bikes for 7 days choices, unfortunately I couldn't get a picture.

Kawasaki had a large presence as well as Honda, Star/Yamaha, Ducati, Victory, Can-Am and Harley Davidson whether as manufacturers or dealers. Not to mention the vendors that braved the "poor economy" to show up and those poor scantily clad models who couldn't afford full skirts and had holes in their stockings yet always offer a smile.

I had to laugh as the young lady was teaching kids how to paint bikes. I told one guy to hide the paint cans in his garage or he'd come home to a freshly "look daddy" painted bike. 

 My babysitter never looked like that!

 Needless to say we all had a great time at the show and it was off to lunch with the moto-bloggers.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

International Moto-Bloggers Convention 2012

Stories from the first IMBC in 2010 are still circulating to this day.

Is anyone interested in getting together next summer for IMBC2012? 


Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Favourite Five

Roger Fleming of All Things Rogey posted the following challenge:

Well  the year is drawing to a close very fast, Christmas will be upon us in just a days.  So here is a little challenge for you.   Post your five favourite photos of 2011.  Tell us why you like them.  It could just be you like the pic or it could be more personal or of great meaning to you.  The only rule is that you have to have been the one who took them, and there must be at least one of you.

While going through our photos from the past year it was interesting to see which photos I actually took opposed to which photos Trobairitz took. That narrowed the search considerably since she bought a camera this year and I now rely on her to document our adventures through photos. Everytime I turn around she is off snapping pictures while I'm busy checking the map, setting up camp, rustling around in the saddlebags for something or taking care of important business. She is just quicker to get the camera out.

Anyway, here are my five and why:

 On the Range

I took this photo trying to mimic a photo that Irondad took of my bike alone during my first audit of the Team Oregon class. This one is of both our bikes where he was the instructor and my mentor during my second audit. The beginning to what I hope is a long and rewarding journey teaching motorcyclist the fundamentals of riding.

 Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes. 

This covers the one photo of me (and my best friend). We were in San Francisco for her birthday, walking down the stairway from Coit Tower and Telegraph Hill. It was early in the day so morale was still high. The day ended after an 11+ mile walk around SF... good times.

 She always wanted to see an aircraft carrier.

This was the next day was spent in Alameda on the USS Hornet. There are many photos of her goofing around when put on the spot, but more so I love her laugh and shy embarrassed grin that follow these impromptu poses.  

 Crater Lake

This one is on our first moto-camping trip together to Crater Lake, we've been on overnight trips but this was our first self-contained camping trip on the bikes. A great accomplishment for her, showing how much her riding has improved during the year and how proud I am of her.

 Triangle Lake

This is another of those goofy pictures that make me laugh. I was busy heating water for tea so we could warm up during a cold autumn ride while she had wondered out on the boat dock. I looked up to notice  her reflection in the water. The lake is rarely this quiet and calm so this time of year was perfect to stop and enjoy the scenery.

Here is wishing everyone a happy and successful 2012 and thank you to Roger for the challenge and having us reflect on our ups, downs, appreciations and accomplishments of 2011.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Somebody stop me

I have to either find some way to fund this little project or someone to talk me down. I want to marry these two Craigslist buys together:

Stella Scooter Tangerine 2 stroke - 235 miles! - $2400 (Canby)

Date: 2011-11-27, 12:16PM PST

Selling my beloved 2005 Genuine Stella Scooter 150 cc. 4 speed. Only 235 miles! I bought it this summer, but now have to part with it because of a job loss. I am the 2nd owner, original owner bought it in 2006 and only put 70 miles on it, then let it sit. New battery, Tags are good until 2013, everything works perfect except the gas gauge (common with stella). Some minor light scratches. No dents, never downed.

Clear title, cash only.





Cozy Scooter Sidecar - $800 (Oregon City)

Date: 2011-11-25, 11:33AM PST

Cozy scooter sidecar. Purchased from Scooterworks in 2005. All metal body, 12" wheel and tire, windshield, locking trunk, luggage rack, tonneau cover, folding passenger top, and mounting brackets for Stella or P/PX Vespas. Actually will fit most classic Vespas (the Cozy sidecar site has additional information on all compatible models). Will fit the new 4T as well as the 2T Stella. In good condition with some minor signs of wear from 5 years light use. The chrome rack and sidebar show some corrosion and will need replating or painting. The orange color matches the orange Stellas of the middle 2000's. Asking $800.

Except now I've discovered classifieds.

2008 Stella with sidecar

Year/Make/Model2008 Stella with sidecar 
DescriptionStella has less than 1200 miles. Sidecar has less than 300 miles. It's in great shape and runs perfectly. Easily rides with two grown adults at approx. 45MPH. Gets about 50-60 MPG. $4,000 OBO. 
LocationBaton Rouge, Louisiana 

This one is way out of my budget.

Vespa GS150 VS5

Year/Make/ModelVespa GS150 VS5 
DescriptionVespa GS150 VS5 with rare vintage side car. Full mechanical rebuild and paint by Tonka Bay scooters about 8 years ago. Runs near perfect. Paint is nicer then factory. Coverted to a very reliable non-battery VBB system. Probably one of the coolest/nicest vintage Vespa side car rigs in the US. Runs straight and strong. E-mail me for more pics or questions. $10,000.00  
LocationTonka Bay, Minnesota 

But if someone would buy these so I won't, that would certainly help. Thanks.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How and Why did you get into Motorbikes?

The question asked by Gary France of Flies in your Teeth: How and Why did you get into Motorbikes?
Way to get bloggers posting and thinking. 

I have to think way back to when I was just a toddler, my first motorcycle memory has to be of a plastic riding toy motorcycle I received for Christmas. From there it was tricycles, to bicycles then to riding everywhere. Back in the days when kids could take off all day, not worry about stranger dangers and not come home until the streetlights came on. I went through several bicycles as a kid and putting baseball cards with a clothespin in the spokes before upgrading to a toy throttle Rev Maker.

I so want one of these.

My first experience with an actual motorcycle had to be about the age of nine or ten when a childhood friend let my brother and I ride his Briggs & Stratton type mini bike around the yard. I was hooked.

We would ride our bicycles down to a wooded area at the edge of town where the older kids would ride their dirt bikes and if we were lucky they would take us younger kids for a ride to try to scare us, it only made me want a dirt bike even more. The closest motorcycle shop was Sid's Cycle, a Yamaha dealership just outside of town along a major highway that we weren't allowed to ride our bicycles along so we would get down there by bus instead.

My brother and I must have begged, pleaded and annoyed our parents enough that the best Christmas I had was when we found a brand new Yamaha 80 Enduro under the tree.

My parents would take us down to a newly developed industrial park on the weekend where my brother and I would fight over who's turn it was to ride round and round and round the park for hours and hours. I never got bored with that bike and rode it everywhere until I finally outgrew it and I was too big to ride it. 

I went a couple of years without a bike and got into trucks instead but when I finally finished high school and scraped some money together I bought a bike. 

A fully dressed 1975 Honda CB750Four, she was a heavy girl and not a wise choice for a first bike. I never crashed but I wasn't a very proficient rider either. I sold it a year later and for awhile I was financially forced to go bikeless.

It wasn't until I met Brandy that I got another bike and never went without again. I bought a Suzuki GS550, it was nice and got me back in the saddle but it didn't satisfy my need for speed so I bought an '84 Honda Magna V45 instead.

Look familiar Motorcycle Man?

I discovered touring and never looked back.

And the why? That's easy, if I don't ride I get grumpy, riding is therapy. 


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

December to Remember

My wife will not be surprising me with a brand new Lexus in the living room this Christmas... 
 I am the 99 %


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Doubts About Roudabouts

You want to instill fear into the motoring public?  Public Service Announcements and graphic drunk driving films have little effect, these aren't even broadcast on television in the US. Threats of new laws, fees and fines... ha, that doesn't even faze them.

If you really want to instill fear into the motoring public, mention a roundabout.

Read the article here.

Holy shit!!! You'd think the world was ending in an apocalyptic, horrific, fiery ball of destruction.

This intersection is currently a Northbound and Southbound street (53rd) with Eastbound and Westbound traffic stopping at stop signs. The speed limit on 53rd is 45 mph.

The comments in the local paper make for an interesting read to say the least.
- "I developed an extreme hatred of roundabouts driving in Bend. The Europeans can keep them."

- "The engineer study on this project shows an increase in emissions by placing a roundabout. I was at the meeting when this was discussed. We are not in Europe folks. If you want this move there."

- "Can you imagine four cars traveling at 45 MPH entering this proposed interesection at the same time? Haven't we learned from the fiasco out on the bypass not to listen at all to any advice given the bicycle and pedestrian committee?

Does anyone in Corvallis government have a lick of common sense? Put a (cheaper) stoplight there and call it good."

Way to bury your head in the sand and believe me, there are plenty of stoplights in Corvallis, in fact another one was just installed down the street and the last thing we need is another traffic light. All of them are actuated by sensors, none of them are timed and I suggest the city change their motto to
"Welcome to Corvallis, Home of the Stoplight. Enjoy your Stay".
And where are these people getting this idea that the speed limit will remain at 45 mph entering a roundabout?

I am going to speculate, prejudge and stereotype here. I suspect that the majority of drivers opposed to roundabouts have never used them, don't know how to use them and if they have, panicked and used them incorrectly. Maybe they are simply terrified of having to finally use their turn signals.

Although there is now graduated licensing in Oregon, years ago once you turned 16 years of age, passed a written and short driving test you received your license. So this makes me believe that the majority opposed are over the age of 40, 50 or 60 and have never been re-tested or looked into further driver education. These people have been driving for 25 to 50+ years without ever having to better themselves or their driving behaviour. As roundabouts are a fairly new concept in the US have they recently been added to the Oregon Driving Manual. Now I know that as motorcyclists we are always learning, taking riding courses, signing up for clinics and track days to improve our skills. Right?

These same people are simply unfamiliar with roundabouts, afraid of change and they aren't willing to open their minds, research, read and educate themselves on the benefits or how roundabouts work.

When Brandy and I went to the town meeting last year the engineers mentioned a poll they took when proposing a roundabout in Albany, a neighbouring town. They said the proposal was faced with 90% opposition, but after it was installed and residents became familiar with it a second poll revealed a complete change of heart and the majority polled actually liked it.

New, unfamiliar and change is difficult for people to accept, but you see these opposed to change accept it everyday. Technology is a perfect example, computers were unknown and unfamiliar but now these people who hate change are reading the newspaper online, commenting and participating in real time chat and video conversation on Skype. Facebook, bah! That will never catch on. Cellphones are still not accepted by many, but those who were reluctant at first are not only talking on cellphones they are texting, surfing the web and checking email and updating their facebook status all at the same time and some even while driving.

The reason I post this is because I am curious how you motobloggers in other States of the US, in Canada and around the world think of roundabouts and of the licensing process in your municipality, district, state, province.

Which do you prefer?


Friday, November 11, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The 7 Day Challenge

Pick seven bikes to own then name them by each day of the week and ride regularly? That's going to be tough, but sharing a garage with Trobairitz really helps.

Hmmmmm....I thought about European bikes not available over here, money is no object right? But then to get caught up in the EPA regulations and red tape quashed that idea.

Sure there are plenty of older bikes I'd love to own, models I grew up with or remember as a young teen, but I like fuel injection and the convenience of thumbing the starter and riding so my choices are of late model bikes with all the reliability and amenities of modern engineering, well, except for the Ural.

Monday is a Scooter - I'd begin with something tame and start the week off easy. The Vespa GTV300 in Espresso brown, just because it has that laid back vintage look and it can carry a cup of coffee. That and it would be so cool to rock a scooter.

MSRP: $6899

Tuesday would be a Cruiser - I may as well put Monday behind me, far behind me, and why not go to the extreme with the authority of the Triumph Rocket III Roadster. This bike is pure muscle and would flat out kick ass... my ass.

MSRP $13,999

Wednesday has to be a Dual Sport - What better way to handle the ups and downs of hump day than with a dual sport and the Triumph Tiger 1200 Explorer. This was actually a toss up between the Triumph Tiger 800 but the new 1200cc won with the shaft drive and traction control and I can buy an 800 with my own money.

MSRP Not Available, I'm guessing $16,999

Thursday I went with Electric - Brammo Empulse 10.0 Electric Motorcycle, simply for the peace and quiet, besides, it's been a long week.

MSRP $13,995

Friday requires a Tourer - and Trobairtz already put a Can-Am Spyder in her "our" garage so I chose a BMW K1600GTL for swtichin' to glide and I may want to haul some camping gear or tour for the weekend.

MSRP w/premium package $25,845

Saturday demands a Sidecar - Ural Patrol 2WD in orange of course. This would be a great bike to go meet the gang for Saturday morning coffee, run errands, groceries then go play in the mud and still have all weekend to get unstuck or completely dismantle, repair and reassemble using the stock toolkit (right Jim?).

MSRP $13,199

Sunday - I was going to go with classic style bike but again I can borrow Trob's Triumph Bonneville so that opens up my next choice for a Supermoto Husqvarna TE511. This too is a toss up, I could have just as easily gone with a KTM, Suzuki DR, Honda CRF230L as long as I had two sets of wheels and tires, one set for street and one set for dirt.

 MSRP $8,999

Not too bad, I managed to keep it under $100k but there is always title, registration and accessories to put it over the top. I'm looking forward to everyone's choices and thanks for the challenge sweetheart.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cold Weather Riding - Gear

Okay, before rolling the bike out of the garage, check your gear. You aren't going to get far or be very comfortable riding in cold or wet weather if you're freezing cold and thinking about how freezing cold you are when you should be thinking about everything else involved with riding a motorcycle.

First thing you'll notice as soon as you get the bike started, your gloves and full face helmet on is that your visor is fogging up. Your visor is going to fog up, period. I haven't tried a 3/4 helmet or open face helmet but if you do please let me know as I have yet to find a way to keep my visor completely clear short of stop breathing. I have been tempted to try the Scorpion snowmobile helmet but I am tired of throwing good money after bad.

I do however know of a few products to help. Store your helmet inside where it's warm, the cold garage will just make it worse when you stuff your warm noggin into a cold helmet. If you're going to ride in the cold on a regular basis look into getting a Pinlock or Fog City visor insert. It creates a thin pocket of air between the insert and visor and will last a year, two or three if you're careful cleaning it. Never use paper towel or tissue to clean your visor, paper is made from wood products and will scratch, use a soft clean cotton cloth or those cleaning cloths you get from the eye doctor.

I buy a smoked visor for summer riding so my stock clear visor that comes with the helmet gets a Fog City insert for winter and I can still use it for night riding too. One problem you may experience is a bit of distortion at night and oncoming headlights will cast a bit of starburst or glare but I got used to it fairly quickly.

(online photo)

You can try anti-fog sprays, dish soap, baby shampoo, Cat Crap, Pledge furniture polish or a potato but I find these snake oils have to be applied everyday and for me are not worth the hassle. Pledge does make your helmet smell nice though.

Next, you're going to have to learn to hold your breath and control your breathing. Stop lights and stop and go traffic is the worst part of cold weather riding. If you're not moving you're fogging up. I recommend using a breath box or Respro Foggy mask. Scorpion makes a breath box specifically for their helmets, I've used it and they work well.

(online photo)

(online photo)

Unfortunately, these don't work well for anyone who wears glasses. So another risk I take is to ride with just my visor as protective glasses are just another surface to fog up. In my defense, I do have a good size windscreen on my bike. I wear yellow lens safety glasses when I can and as long as I am moving they don't fog too bad. I exhale slowly and direct my breath downward into my neck tube.

Get yourself a Buffwear neck tube. These things are so versatile you'll wonder how you ever rode without one. It keeps the sun off your neck in the summer, bees out of your jacket and the wind out of your helmet.

Although riding in colder temperatures doesn't require heated gear, I recommend it. Layering is a good substitute, just don't layer so much like Randy from A Christmas Story that it hampers your ability to operate the controls or turn your head.

(online photo)

Heated gear keeps you warm without the bulk and although it can be expensive I believe it is well worth the investment. Just make sure your bike's electrical system can handle the draw, replacing stators and rectifiers can be expensive. I wear the Tourmaster Synergy full liner as it comes with the control module and I've never had trouble with it. I understand Gerbing may be better but the control module is an extra purchase. There has been some major advances the past few years in heated gear and rechargeable battery operated options are now available which is great for football games or other outdoor activities.

While looking into your electrical system wire up some heated grips. This is probably the best value for the money on any bike and I would put them above heated gear on the list of things to buy. The SPI is a great bit of kit, inexpensive and relatively simple to install. If you're looking for a more rugged set up I installed the Oxford Hot Grips on the Tiger. Both are great products and each one is simply a matter of preference and cost.

Along with heated grips, hand guards are important. Grips will keep your palms warm but hand guards will keep the cold wind from robbing your hands of heat. Look into model specific guards, aftermarket or universal, just make sure you buy the best coverage you can. Anything that wraps around the outside of the bar is great and will keep your fingertips out of the wind. Off-road guards are better than nothing but I removed the Cycra guards from my Tiger and put the larger stock guards back on. We bought VStrom handguards for Trobairitz and they are fantastic. If you can't find hand guards to fit your bike try Moose Mitts.

No, not these...
(online photo)

These!!! Moose Mitts, also known as Hippo Hands.
(online photo)

These fit over your handlebars and you slip your gloved hands into them. They are relatively inexpensive and work very well but you better know your controls because you can't see them. The one and only problem I found with these is if it foggy or rainy and you have to wipe your visor it is difficult to get your wet glove back into these at speed. I imagine the more rigid version or Hippo Hands maybe better but again are much more expensive.

Gloves, gloves, gloves... glove is all you need. Gloves so many choices, so many styles, materials and textures. Ribbed for her pleasure... Wait! What? Sorry, wrong glove.
I buy textile gloves over leather gloves and gauntlet over short cuff. For a winter glove I find textile gloves are more flexible, come with reflective piping and dry quickly. Leather winter gloves tend to be stiff in the cold, bulky and take much longer to dry, not to mention a losing proposition for the cow. Gauntlet gloves keep the cold and wet weather from wicking up your sleeves. Now there are two ways to wear gauntlets gloves, go out to the garage and sit on your bike. Do your elbows sit lower than your wrists? Wear the gauntlet on the outside of your sleeve. Do your elbows sit higher that your wrists? Wear the gauntlet on the inside of your sleeve. The reason? RAIN! Water will run down your arms to the lowest point, either to your elbows or your wrists and if you're not wearing gauntlet gloves properly you are going to end up with a glove full of water or a forearm soaked down to your elbow. Short cuff gloves... well you're on your own. Either way, look for a good waterproof pair of gloves, as much as you can afford. Some come with wiper blades stitched into the finger or thumb, I don't care for these as they are usually cumbersome at best and again reduce flexibility. Also note that over time the insulated padding will break down and effectiveness will drop year after year. If you can afford it, buy two pair, not necessarily the same gloves but if you are torn between two pair, buy them both. It is nice to a have a warm, dry pair to switch to halfway through the ride, at lunch or after work and gives you the opportunity to try a different brand. You'll eventually favor one over the other so keep the other in your saddlebags or tank bag. If you love the pair you have now and they aren't waterproof I can recommend the lobster claw style glove covers, they keep your gloves dry and block the wind. I don't use them very often so I went with the Fieldsheer ZZZ Over Glove but I would trust the Fieldsheer 2.0 Over Glove to be just as good. They take a bit of getting used to but you will be surprised how quickly you do. Another option is silk glove liners, they don't work as well as over gloves but for a few bucks they do help.

These boots are not made for walking and again waterproof is a must. You can buy Frogg Leggs boot covers if need be, but a good boot is well worth it. I am currently wearing the Tourmaster Solution boot which is no longer available and have been replaced with the Solution 2.0 WP. They have served me well for 18 months and I am going into my second winter with them. Next winter I'll step up to the SIDI Way Rain boot mainly because they are made of Lorica and considered vegan.

Socks, like gloves offer many different styles, materials and fabrics. There are Ceramic Sokz, coconut socks, merino wool socks, snowboarding socks, motocross socks, electric socks, socks with toes, electric socks you name it. I am using Kirkland Signature merino wool socks from Costco. Just find something that works, it's just trial and error. Too many layers can be too tight and cold, too loose and... well remember as kids we were always pulling up your socks.

Jackets and pants. This is where the majority of your budget will go, next to the bike and helmet purchase, jacket and pants are going to set you back hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Buy what you can afford of course and stick with reputable brand names. You're shopping for function, not frosting.
My personal preference is Aerostich, I bought their AD1 pants last year and I absolutely love them. They are a great over pant with full length zippers, gusseted crotch, adjustable armor/padding and they are waterproof. They are simple, without liners or insulation, no fuss no muss. I can layer long johns, fleece pants or jeans under them depending on the temperature or length of ride and I'm not caught up in zippers, velcro or snaps. In fact, I'm saving my pennies for their Darien jacket for the same reason.
Some things to consider with gear are style, fit, comfort, warmth, rain flaps, waterproofilityness and visibility. Three quarter length jackets are great for dual sports or standards but are too bulky for cruisers and sportbikes, shorter coats are great for cruisers but are going to show off your plumber's crack or whale tail on a sportbike. Check to see if the jacket zips to the pants as this will keep the jacket from riding up and letting the cold air in. Ride your bike to the store when buying gear and ask your local shop if they'll let you test sit their gear on your bike in the parking lot (offer to leave them your driver's license or credit card). Take your time, take all day, try several shops, you want to be comfortable and get to know your local dealer. I've posted a lot of links but I always shop local when I can, we need these businesses to stay open.
You want the jacket to fit, not so loose the armor shifts but not so tight you can't wear heated liner or layer some Under Armor, a shirt and a sweater under it without cutting off circulation or hampering operation of your bike. Remember to allow enough room around the neck for a neck tube, buff or scarf and still turn your head comfortably and wear your helmet when trying jackets on. You don't want to buy a jacket only to find the collar pushes your helmet down or not allow you to turn your head, it's a motorcycle gear shop, you're trying on gear so they expect it and encourage it.
Look for waterproof outer shell, Gore-Tex, storm flap zippers and waterproof pockets and zippers. I've lost a perfectly good digital camera to a pocket full of water, now I use ziplock bags whether the pocket is waterproof or not, if it keeps water out it'll keep water in.
You want a double fold storm flap on the main zippers, the fabric doubles back over itself and lays over the zipper and secured with velcro or snaps.

Storm flaps over zipper.
(online photo)

Liners are a matter of preference, they allow you to zip in or zip out layers depending on the weather. A waterproof liner is good, but make sure it is a second line of defense and not the only waterproof protection. Many summer jackets masquerade as waterproof jackets simply by adding a liner, at the very least get a 3 season jacket.
Personally, a fleece liner does nothing but piss me off, wear a long sleeve shirt and try the jacket on, I'll guarantee your shirt will end up around your shoulders by the time you get the jacket on. If it does have a fleece liner make sure you're willing to fight with it or wear a slick under armor shirt under it.

Visibility, if it's cold and rainy then drivers aren't expecting to see motorcycles. It's winter, why would anyone be riding a motorcycle in the winter? This can work for us too because when they do see us they see us, it is in disbelief but they SEE us. Retro-reflective piping is found on most jackets and you can buy a Hi-Vis jacket or buy a vest to go over your jacket.

Pants, the most important features you want to look for in pants is a waterproof crotch and ease of removal. When riding in the rain, unless you have a barn door sized windscreen all that water is going to run down the front of your jacket and puddle on your seat, right between your legs. Oh such a wonderful feeling when it starts to wick through your jeans and into your... well let's just say that water ain't warm. Check the inner seams, make sure they are seam taped or lined or sealed tight, this is where quality counts. Be careful of too many layers. All the liners, snaps and velcro sure keep you warm and snug but they aren't so much fun when you're doing the pee pee dance trying to get out of them.

Trobairitz loves the Rev'it Siren jacket and Rev'it Sand pants and says they "were 100% waterproof riding back from Day to Ona this year. No leaks" Here are a couple of her reviews.

That about covers it from head to toe for gear. I welcome any comments on gear you use, what tips and tricks you have and what works and what doesn't.