Meet Loryn! Some of you may know her as the creator of her super informative and highly relatable blog RIDEWELL; which she started to share how she views motorcycling: “as an incredible, fun way to experience life, that is also challenging, and requires dedication, maturity, and commitment.” Loryn wanted a lifestyle blog that is all motorcycling, all the time, but also incorporates aspects that aren’t regularly talked about (and we LOVE the way she talks about them!). Her stylings include “How I Learned to Ride,” “9 Ways Learning to Ride Changes Your Life,” and “Learning to Work on my Motorcycle.” Loryn is also the proud owner of The Little Rat, one of the most recognizable motos out on the road. Read on to learn more about The Little Rat and why we love Loryn so much!
For those who aren’t familiar with The Little Rat, do you want to talk a little about it and what you love most about it?
The Little Rat is my 1980 Kawasaki KZ440, which was rebuilt and designed by Sofi Tsingos of GT-Moto in 2015. The short story is that I bought the KZ when it was a piece of junk, and Sofi and her dad George rescued me and transformed it into the stunning piece of artwork it is today.
There are so many reasons I love this bike. I love that a badass female builder designed it for me, I love its size and the shape of the tank, I love its quirks and eccentricities, and I love that it’s an heirloom I’ll have for the rest of my life. Also, it has miraculously un-finicky carbs.
But the thing I love most is how it feels to ride: the loud exhaust, the pull of the engine, the crouched-forward riding position… newer bikes are great for reliability and speed, but they can’t quite match the visceral feeling of riding an old bike.
Photo by @ridewell
In your article “9 Ways Learning to Ride Changes Your Life,” I literally lol’d at this snippet from Way #6: “… yes, one motorcycle is cheaper than one car… but who only wants one motorcycle?” So…what is your next motorcycle going to be and why?
Heh, funny you ask… I actually just purchased a new bike: a 2016 Yamaha FZ-07. Counting my ’82 XL250R that I’m rebuilding, I have three. Oops 😉
I love my KZ with all my heart, but I still have a lot of room to improve as a rider, and my fear of damaging The Rat was keeping me from pushing the limits and doing what I needed to do to learn. In short, to become a better rider, I needed a bike I didn’t care so much about 😉
After a year of research and deliberation, I chose the FZ-07 for its size, weight and comfortable riding position. I’m looking forward to conquering new challenges with this bike, and maybe even a track day or two!
Photo by @ridewell
In that same article, you mention in Way #4 how women’s dressier clothing can become obsolete if they decide to choose dressing for riding over dressing cute. What’s your favorite piece of gear right now and does it make you feel both ready to ride and cute? Has your idea of dressing cute changed at all because of your love for riding?
My attitudes about fashion have changed quite a bit since I started riding. I used to go in for a lot of fast fashion, always looking for something new for newness’s sake. But since I started riding, I now value clothing that is well made, functional, and classically styled – as in, not necessarily “trendy” fashions, but ones I’ll want to wear for a long time.
As for my favorite piece of gear, I think I’d have to say my Knox Covert gloves. I bought these gloves more than two years ago, and they hit all my criteria: they’re functional and have the protection I require for my hands, they have low-key styling that fits with my vintage ride, and they’re well made – after two years of almost daily wear they’re still going strong!
Why did you start riding?
Like many women, it started with my boyfriend. He had always wanted to ride, and at first I really resisted it. I had only ever seen motorcycles as a risk – and an unnecessary one, at that. Highways were dangerous enough, why would you want to put yourself out there with nothing between you and the concrete but a bit of foam?
Eventually, he asked if I wanted to take the motorcycle safety course with him, and I agreed. I figured that if I didn’t like it, I would never have to put my butt on a bike ever again, but at the very least it might help me understand why he wanted to do it. Of course, I ended up loving it 😉
What were you most afraid of when you started riding?
I tend to get overwhelmed easily by motion that feels uncontrollable – I still can’t ice skate properly – so the new feeling of moving quickly over the asphalt combined with learning the controls and balancing a heavy two-wheeled vehicle was too much for my me at first.
On top of that, my MSF course was cut short by an freak November ice storm (that’s early for Texas!), so I didn’t have as much practice time as I had hoped. After the course, I wrestled for months with my desire to ride, my fear of making a large financial commitment, and my fear of overwhelm.
Eventually, I discovered a compromise: a 2012 Piaggio Fly. It was lighter and less expensive than a motorcycle, and it allowed me to get used to riding and balancing on two wheels without the added stress of shifting gears. For anyone who is struggling with the early stages of learning to ride, I highly recommend getting a scooter.
I rode my Fly for about a year and a half, and that’s when I decided it was time to upgrade to a motorcycle. After months of searching on Craigslist, I found and fell in love with The Little Rat at first sight 😉
What gear or tool do you never leave home without when hitting the road on your moto?
When I’m on my KZ, I always bring a small portable jumpstarter. The charging systems on these bikes are notoriously weak, and my headlight can run the battery down pretty quickly, so the jumpstarter is just good planning. I also keep a tire gauge, Leatherman multitool, screwdriver, and metric allen wrenches in my backpack, although to be honest I rarely need them 😉
As far as gear goes, I always wear (at minimum): my full-face helmet, an abrasion-resistant jacket with full armor & back protector, gloves with a hard palm slider and knuckle protectors, and either specific CE-rated motorcycle shoes, or at the very least boots with a rigid sole. Also, if they’re not dirty, I’ll wear my Worse for Wear riding jeans ☺
Photo by @brandon_lajoie
I’m in love with your Moto Role Model blog. What did/do you enjoy most about talking to all those incredible moto ladies?
Thank you! It’s so inspiring to talk with women who have turned their ideas into reality. I always get overwhelmed by the magnitude of things I’d like to do – how long it will take, how much it will cost, the skills I’ll have to learn, and so on. Talking to these women, listening to their stories and their struggles, reminds me that dreams can come true – with persistence, planning, and good hard work.
What keeps you motivated?
Hands down, it’s the community. I like to think that I’d still be writing RIDEWELL even if nobody read it, but if I’m honest with myself I think it would have fizzled out a long time ago if it hadn’t been for the connections I’ve made with readers all around the world. Talking to other riders, getting their support and feedback, and working through difficult topics together makes it all worthwhile.
Photo by @bradholt
When working on your bikes, what do you like doing the most and what was the most challenging to learn?
I like… completing projects! Hahah. My proudest moment was when I repaired my KZ’s starter myself. Watching it spin on its own for the first time in months was immensely fulfilling.
As far as challenges go, I’d have to say the hardest thing is staying motivated enough to see a project through. Right now my XL rebuild project is kind of in a slump – the exciting teardown process is long past, and I’m just doing a lot of cleaning, researching, and waiting on powdercoating.
But, I’m starting to get to the point where I can see the finished project in my mind, and so I just have to keep reminding myself that every hour I spend on it now, I’m an hour closer to making that vision a reality.
What do you want to learn next (whether in relation to riding or otherwise)?
Welding! I took a community college class in basic metalworking last spring, and I quickly grew addicted to sticking two bits of metal together. I have so many ideas for things I’d like to make, so I’m hoping I can get a small MIG welder to play with at home. Unfortunately, my garage is small and now houses four bikes (mine plus my boyfriend’s). But hopefully I can figure something out!
To read more about Loryn of RIDEWELL, check out her website, follow her @RIDEWELL, and sign up for her emails!