Attending a Bike Event: What Should You Know?

Group motorcycle rideDuring a typical year, late spring through early fall is prime time to attend local motorcycle events. Some are charity rides to support a specific cause, while others are simply for camaraderie.

Due to COVID-19 concerns and social distancing measures, many annual bike events have been canceled or rescheduled to next year. Yet across the country, some events are still on with significant changes from previous years.

If you plan to attend a motorcycle event in 2020, here are some common precautions being taken and what you should expect.

Outdoor Only

Most motorcycle events have adapted to be outdoor-only for 2020. Take Myrtle Beach Bike Week’s Fall Rally as an example. This event will take place outside under a pavilion and feature about one-third the usual number of vendors.

Although an outside event eliminates some risk, those in attendance still need to practice social distancing and be mindful of the surrounding community.

COVID Testing

Especially for events that have attracted thousands of motorcycle riders in the past, some organizers are debating, if not requiring, COVID testing pre or post-event.

In the case of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, this 80-year-old event attracts riders from all over the country, who could have brought in the virus or took it back home to loved ones. It’s estimated that more than 400,000 people attended this year’s 10-day rally.

Due to opposition from the surrounding community, Sturgis organizers encouraged attendees to be tested four to seven days following its conclusion on August 16th.

While some Coronavirus cases have been attributed to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, official numbers have not yet been determined. 
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Tips for Cleaning & Disinfecting Your Motorcycle

Whether it’s your car, truck or motorcycle, all vehicles need to be washed regularly. Debris and dirt can tarnish its appearance, while corrosive substances like road salt can cause metal parts to rust. As such, washing your motorcycle is an essential maintenance task.

Yet, a motorcycle cannot be taken through the car wash like a passenger vehicle, as its exposed components are too delicate for a high stream of water. Failing to wash or using high-pressure water could affect your bike’s structural and operational components.

To keep your motorcycle clean and ready for your next ride, get started with these 6 tips.

1. Have All Your Supplies

polishing motorcycle wheelAlong with water, it’s recommended you have multiple cleaning tools on-hand. Sponges are ideal for removing dirt without scratching paint, brushes are crucial for the fine components, and flannel or microfiber are gentle enough to dry off the bike. Also have a separate cloth for removing any debris on the vehicle before you finish with a detailing product.

At most dealerships, you can purchase specific cleaning and soap items that also help eliminate scratches. If you have an older bike with chains, you will need to apply a specific type of lubricant. Be sure to avoid the detergent you would use on your car and never use dish soap to wash a bike.

As the final step, you’ll need to replace the lube that was cleaned off, especially on the chain. Have some additional lube ready for application once the bike has fully dried.

2. Avoid These Techniques

As we mentioned above, high-pressure hoses are out of the question when washing your motorcycle. In addition to avoiding the car wash, don’t use a pressure washer on your bike, even on the lowest setting. Instead, carefully wash all parts with a bucket of water.

Washing should be avoided on hot days, when your motorcycle has been in direct sunlight, or if the engine is still hot. These factors can cause the soap to dry quicker and stick to the bike’s components, requiring you to work harder.

3. Preparing Your Motorcycle

Before using water and cleaner, it’s a good idea to check all electrical connections and cover or plug the exhaust pipe to prevent moisture from entering the exhaust system. If you have bags or other accessories attached to your vehicle, remove them for easier access to all the bike’s surfaces.
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How to Care For Your Motorcycle Tires

Motorcycle tires literally set the pace for your ride, in terms of handling and performance. When tires show significant signs of wear, your bike may feel drastically different, which could increase the chance you’ll lose control. Whether you perform motorcycle maintenance yourself or have a trusted mechanic, here’s what you should know about taking care of your bike’s tires.

Regularly Check the Pressure

man checking tire pressureBefore taking a ride, use a tire gauge to check the front and back pressure, which is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). If you’re unsure about the recommended PSI, check your owner’s manual.

It’s important to ensure both tires are properly inflated. Multiple factors can affect pressure, including how long you’ve been riding on the tires and current weather conditions.

If the pressure is low, you’ll need to pump both tires with compressed air to reach the desired PSI. If the tires are over-inflated – often a result of warmer weather or the load you’re carrying – bleed them via the Schrader valve.

As a note, some dealers use nitrogen instead of air, which makes the tires run cooler.

When you return home, give both tires a thorough once-over to check for nails or glass shards embedded in the rubber, cracked material, tread separation, bubbling or bulging. These factors not only affect tire pressure but also increase your risk of a blowout.

If you test the pressure after riding for a few hours and notice it has slightly increased, you may need to reduce your bike load or travel at slower speeds.

Check the Treads

Worn treads are a telltale sign your tires are on their last legs and will no longer effectively handle slippery or rough conditions. Get in the habit of checking your tire treads every time you go out for a ride.
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Post-COVID-19: What Motorcycle Riders Need to Know

States across the country have begun to reopen, following the global Coronavirus pandemic. Many non-essential businesses that temporarily closed can now accept customers, but restrictions remain in place on a state-by-state basis, including for non-essential travel.

When you factor in motorists who have driven less often over the past few months, your next motorcycle ride becomes fraught with uncertainty. Consider the following points to help you prepare for a safe trip.

Roadways Will Have Less Traffic

motorcycle parked on the open roadA recent article in the New York Times described the experience of riding through the near-empty streets of New York City. Especially for urban motorcycle riders, this sounds like paradise: You don’t have to worry about traffic and can actually enjoy the open road.

Yet there’s one major catch: In an environment like this, some riders may be tempted to speed or forget to watch out for other road obstructions.

A driver may turn a corner without looking properly or a vehicle may back out of a blind driveway right into the street.

As you enjoy the freedom of less congested roads, obey the speed limit, be aware of your surroundings and ride defensively.

Motorists Are Not Expecting to See You

A report in the Seattle Times found that motorcycle accident rates started to increase in April and continued through May in Washington State, hitting the highest level since 2006.

Two factors likely point to this trend. For many riders, the motorcycle season started later than previous years. Typically, we’re back on our bikes and have completed a couple long-distance trips by April or May. Yet, motorists have primarily kept their cars and trucks in the driveway, only venturing out to the grocery store.
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Tips for Motorcycle Riding with a Passenger

The feel of the open road doesn’t always have to be enjoyed solo! When you want to share the sensation of traveling on two wheels, you invite another person to come along on the back of your motorcycle. Yet, it’s important to be an experienced rider to carry a passenger.

Before heading out, make sure you’re comfortable with another person on your bike and the passenger is comfortable being on a motorcycle. What else should you keep in mind?

Passengers Add Weight

motorcycle riders with passengersThe extra weight of a passenger will make the bike a completely different machine. When accelerating from a stop sign or stoplight with a passenger on back, do so gradually. Start with a slow and steady twist of the throttle, so you have complete control of the bike.

Know the State Laws

Whether you’re riding alone or with a passenger, know the state motorcycle laws. For instance, only passengers under the age of 18 have to wear a helmet in Connecticut, while Rhode Island requires a helmet for all passengers.

Getting On & Off the Bike

Before a passenger gets on your bike, make sure it’s completely upright and you grip the front brake, while holding the handlebars tightly.

Riding Around Corners

When you enter a corner and are leaning, make sure the passenger is comfortable and lets you control the bike. Your passenger should relax and react to the bike, avoiding any sudden or jerking movements.
 
Do you have experience riding with a passenger on your motorcycle? Share your tips and strategies on our Facebook page.

How COVID-19 Is Changing Motorcycle Season

With social distancing orders in place to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the start of motorcycle season looks and feels different. Many early season events are being canceled or postponed to later dates and some dealerships have closed until further notice.

Additionally, the group rides you were planning are now off the table due to the ban on large gatherings. Nevertheless, you can still enjoy a ride under the following conditions.

Take a Solo Ride

bikers on the open roadThe big question among motorcycle enthusiasts is, “Can I still ride?” The short answer is “yes” – if you keep a few factors in mind. For instance, riders are advised to avoid crowded routes and heading out in groups. Essentially, you’re free to enjoy the backroads solo.

Shelter-in-place rules don’t require you to stay indoors all the time. As one provision, you can participate in solo activities outdoors, as long as you keep six feet away from other people.

If you are feeling healthy and want to get some riding time in, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Wear hand and face protection.
  • Stay away from crowded areas.
  • Strategically time your ride to avoid busy routes.
  • Don’t travel far – aim for 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Keep up-to-date on restrictions in your area, as well as neighboring communities.
  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms, don’t go out for a ride.
  • Avoid attending pop-up events, where the disease can be easily spread.

Riding with Friends

While large group rides are not recommended, you can ride with a couple friends – as long as you adhere to social distancing rules. Everyone should wear a face covering and avoid touching each other’s bikes. When you stop for a break, make sure to keep your distance.

Protect Yourself

It’s always a good idea to have extra protection in spring, whether it’s rain gear or additional layers. Thinking ahead to reduce the spread of Coronavirus, wear a pair of gloves while riding and filling up at the pump.
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Preparing for Early Spring Riding Hazards

Spring has officially arrived! Motorcycle enthusiasts are hoping for a mild season with great riding weather. With longer days, you can also look forward to more hours of daylight.

On the flipside, road hazards often emerge after the long winter season. In addition to brushing up on your skills and performing bike maintenance before you head out, also keep your eyes peeled for the following hazards.

Rough, Damaged Pavement

riding motorcycle on a sunny dayWinter conditions can take a serious toll on the roadways. Although issues are often addressed by the town or state within the first months of spring, they still pose a hazard to riders. As a general rule, always look ahead to anticipate potential risks and avoid losing control or puncturing a tire.

While potholes are a big hazard, they are not the only one to look out for. Riders should also be mindful of the following:

  • Leftover sand and road salt used to melt snow and improve traction.
  • Melted snow making the roadways slicker.
  • Patches of ice and frost from leftover snow that melts and refreezes.
  • Corners where winter debris has been gathering all season long.
  • Rough patches, which give the pavement an uneven surface.

Other Motorists

Car and truck drivers have not seen a motorcycle in months. As a result, they’re not likely to be on the lookout for riders behind or beside them. It may take some time to remember to share the road.

Bikers should ride defensively and follow the rules of the road. Never lane split and always give cars space to avoid getting caught in their blind spots.
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Why Replace Your Motorcycle’s Fluids Before Spring?

You followed the proper winterization steps, including gas and fluid replacement, before placing your motorcycle in a secure, climate-controlled storage location. After periodic checks throughout the season, you assume the bike is good to go come springtime.

Unfortunately, fluids can break down even when you’re not riding. While your motorcycle is in far better shape than letting old fuel sit in the tank, it’s not quite ready to ride. To make sure your bike is completely road ready, learn why you should replace the fluids first.

Drain the Gas Tank

woman inspecting motorcycleCome springtime, you have a few tasks to complete before your motorcycle is ready to ride:

  • Examine the fuel and drain the tank, especially if it has a brown, gritty texture.
  • Refill the gas tank. Add fresh fuel along with a fuel stabilizer to move any stale gas through the system and prevent clogs or misfiring.

Oil Breaks Down

Oil may attract condensation during winter and has been known to separate when your bike is not in use. For these reasons, it’s a good idea to check your oil for condensation before you ride, then change the oil and filter. Otherwise, you risk damage.
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New Harley-Davidson Models for 2020

Harley-Davidson has announced its plans to launch several new 2020 models. The upcoming lineup includes a few additions that reflect the brand’s strategy in recent years, including electric bikes for eco-conscious riders and sporty all-terrain bikes. Here are some of the new models scheduled to appear before the end of the year.

Low Rider S

While not a completely new model, it’s been couple years since Harley-Davidson had this performance cruiser in its lineup. The upgraded version trades the old Dyna platform for the Softtail underpinning, complete with a 43mm inverted fork toward the front and adjustable shock.

Visually, it’s the bike you remember but with a heavier feel. The Softtail chassis weighs an extra five pounds, which will give a greater sense of power and more assertiveness from the 1,868cc Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-twin engine.

Pan America & Bronx

The highly anticipated Pan America off-road motorcycle has been in the works for the past few years. While not all details are known, Harley-Davidson fans have plenty of reasons to be excited. The Pan America is its first true adventure bike powered by the Revolution Max mill, a 1250cc V-twin engine delivering over 145HP and 90 lb-ft of torque. It will also feature design input from Michelin and Brembo.

The Bronx is essentially the Pan America on a smaller scale, featuring a 975cc engine capable of producing over 115HP and 70 lb-ft of torque. It stands out in a few regards, including a sportier, street-influenced look that’s geared toward a younger audience.

Electric Scooter

Harley-Davidson made its first venture into electric motorcycle territory with the LiveWire and now, rumor has it that two new electric models will come out late in 2020 – a proper electric scooter and a midweight proper motorcycle, inspired by flat track models.

The scooter, built more like a moped, recently had a patent filed through the European Union Intellectual Property Office, although recent reports say its features aren’t quite established. Meanwhile, the larger “Mid Power” model appears to pick up where the LiveWire left off.
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How Oil Quality Affects Your Motorcycle

Lubricating your motorcycle seems like a straightforward task, but everyone has their preferred method. You may use conventional solutions, while another rider uses synthetics.

Bike lubrication is not one-size-fits all. There’s a range of oils are available, but riders have to be careful about solutions that may negatively affect the bike’s overall performance.

Start with the Basics

riding on a sunny dayFor modern-day bikes, oil has many essential functions, including:

  • Reducing friction and wear between moving parts
  • Working as a coolant
  • Gathering debris to deposit into the oil filter
  • Identifying and neutralizing acids and moisture created through combustion
  • Protecting against oxidation

Oil has evolved with bike design. Earlier models did not circulate oil; it passed through the engine and was eventually discharged onto the ground. Today, engines recirculate the oil and need filtration systems to catch and remove any dirt and buildup.

In this setup, the detergents essentially suspend the foreign particles until they’re captured by the filter. Unless you’re riding a vintage model, your bike has a filter and will need a detergent oil.

With these points in mind, run synthetic oil through your bike that has additive in the final formulation to improve corrosion resistance. This solution:

  • Offers better oxidative stability, or resistance to chemical breakdown
  • Resists heat better
  • Keeps its viscosity without thinning out, yet offers a dependable pour point

If you are unsure, it’s always a good idea to use the oil recommended in the owner’s manual. More advanced riders should look out for consistency between API, ILSAC and JASCO classification and viscosity.
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