By Leslie Mann
Special to Tribune Newspapers
1:51 PM PST, January 21, 2011
By day, Martin Pinnau is an IT professional at a county-level education office. Off duty, though, he is an auto enthusiast who communes with like-minded people through the Internet.
"I was that little kid with all the Hot Wheels," Pinnau admitted. A Prius owner, he follows priuschat.com. "Hybrids are different from other cars, so it's good to have that community of people to ask questions," he said.
Pinnau goes to wikipedia.com for general overviews of car makes, to eBay.com to buy car-repair products and to howstuffworks.com for details about obscure cars he sees at car shows. "I saw a 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser and found out more about it on this site," he said.
"I upload pictures of cars I see to Flickr.com's photo-sharing site," he added. "It's interesting to see that cars we consider mundane are so interesting to Europeans, and vice-versa." Pinnau also joins the photo games on Flickr.com. "Someone posts a car and people guess what it is," he said. "Or everyone posts pictures of, say, yellow Ferraris."
A cross-section of auto enthusiasts were asked which auto Web sites they prefer. To Pinnau's favorites, they added these:
- bangshift.com. This "car junkie daily magazine" entertains with crash-and-burn videos and informs with updates on products that are or are not "bangshift-approved."
- cargurus.com. This new- and used-car marketplace tells you where to find the make and model you want in your area or how much money your used car would fetch on the open market. Owners chime in about the pros and cons of the cars they bought.
- ChevroletVoltage.com. If you can hardly wait for the debut of the Chevrolet Volt near you (happened in late 2010 in some states, 2011 in others), visit this site to share news about this electric car.
- forum.miata.net. This is one of many model-specific sites where enthusiasts congregate. "We're sure you'll end up spending more time here than you thought," it warns upfront. Others include ferrarichat.com for all things Ferrari, vtec.net for Honda fans who know what VTEC means, s2ki.com for Honda S2000 owners and JeepReviews.com for Jeep junkies.
- indycar.com. You live for an annual race in a certain city in Indiana, but the rest of the year is a waiting game? Then fill your time at this site, where you can memorize stats, read driver profiles or buy a life-sized cutout of Danica Patrick.
- jalopnik.com. This quirky site offers "spy photos" of unveiled cars and discussions about cars ranging from a Cadillac hearse to a sawed-off Lamborghini.
- kbb.com (Kelley Blue Book) is the go-to site if you are buying or selling a car, because its prices are the industry standards. Consult consumerreports.com and edmunds.com for reviews before you make the transaction.
- moparts.com. If the car chase scene in 1968's "Bullitt" is your favorite and you spend your weekends rebuilding engines, this site is a good online source for parts, movies and books.
- Motorator.com. If you consider performance cars a way of life, not a hobby, this is the place for you, says this site. Want to know what engine options the new Camaro has? The best way to add horsepower to your Jeep Wrangler? Join the discussions.
- oldride.com. Billed as "your classic car community and marketplace," this site links you to car and parts sales and to hundreds of local car clubs. Decatur, Ill., for example, has the Rolling Prairie Corvette Club, while Milford, Conn., has the Blood Sweat and Gears Car Club.
- vwvortex.com. Beyond VW Beetles and bugs, this site leads auto fans to sites that focus on other makes, too.
The occupants of her garage say it all: a 1948 Harley-Davidson, 2001 Indian Scout, 2009 Indian Chief Dark Horse. Addison resident Gina Woods is a "motorcycle maven," she said. When she's not airing her syndicated radio show, Open Road Radio, Woods is online researching products and networking with other bikers.
"I get technical answers and camaraderie," said Woods of her online time. She networks with biker buddies on cyrilhuze.blog.com. For product news, she goes to dealernews.com. For female-friendly products, clubs and rallies, Woods visits womenridersnow.com.
"It's still a man's world," said Woods. "But there are more women riding now." Going online, she said, keeps her connected to the motorcycling world in general and motorcycle maven world specifically.
Following are some more cycle sites recommended by readers:
- ADVrider.com is a hang-out for adventure riders. Read: people who prefer to ride their motorcycles up steep mountains or through rapids than down quiet country roads.
- conspicuityinc.com. Shop this site for vests, armbands, stickers and Glo Glovs that reflect light to keep motorcyclists safe in the dark.
- cvoharley.com and hdforums.com are where Harley-Davidson fans gather. Other make-specific sites include kawasakiworld.com and txindianriders.com.
- horizonsunlimited.com professes to be the motorcycle travel site. It tells where to go, what to wear, and, if you are going overseas, how to ship your bike there.
- RevZilla.com. Co-owner Anthony Bucci calls this site the "Zappos of motorcycle gear." Find everything from rain bibs to heated gloves for you, plus tires for your bike.
- vavavroomonline.com. This online store is a godsend for women who want motorcycle clothes that are made for riders with two X chromosomes.
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