Tips for Motorcycle Touring in Spring and Summer

Consistently warm weather is on the horizon! Sunshine and comfortable temperatures are the perfect combination for long motorcycle journeys. As COVID-19 travel restrictions continue to loosen across the country, you may be able to plan a much-needed road trip!

A significant amount of preparation can help ensure you have a successful, memorable adventure. Consider these tips to get started.

Have the Right Gear

riding motorcycle on open roadNot all clothing and saddlebags are suited for the demands of motorcycle touring. We strongly advise against riding while wearing shorts and sneakers. You’re better equipped with the following gear:

  • Protective Footwear: Make sure you wear boots that protect your ankles from debris and exhaust.
  • Weatherproof Essentials: Bags and gear designed to block out rain and wind can keep you cool and dry. Also consider a windproof jacket and a full set of rain gear.
  • Layering Pieces: Leather should be worn as your top layer for its durability and protection. Underneath, wear a combination of breathable and moisture-wicking lightweight and midweight layers to hold onto body heat, without adding bulk.
  • Tank and Saddlebags: The tank bag sits on top of the fuel tank and saddlebags go on either side of the rear wheel. Both are designed to hold your gear, tools and other essentials. For more storage, consider a trunk bag if the rear seat will be empty.
  • Comfortable Grips: Heated grips can help keep your hands warm and comfortable, while padded grips assist with reducing fatigue after hours of riding.
  • A Supportive Seat: A gel seat and a back rest can offer more support to reduce strain as you ride for miles, day after day.

Have the Right Motorcycle

For optimal touring performance, consider these two well-suited motorcycles:

  • Proper Touring Motorcycle: Designed to keep you comfortable during hours of riding, touring bikes can reduce back strain by allowing you to sit upright. Touring motorcycles also have a trunk area, which can be supplemented with saddlebags.
  • Cruiser Motorcycle: Can handle the strain of a long ride and has a tank bag and saddlebags for sufficient storage. Consider adding a windshield, so the air passes around you to reduce fatigue as you ride.

Read More

Getting Ready for the Motorcycle Riding Season

While the 2020 motorcycle riding season was unlike any other due to the Coronavirus pandemic, 2021 represents a new beginning. There is a vaccination available for the virus, we have developed new riding techniques to socially distance and are better prepared for any potential risks.

To get your spring riding season off to a solid start, consider these tips.

Prepare Your Bike

group of motorcycle ridersThis initial step remains the same no matter if it’s a pandemic or ordinary motorcycle season. Never hit the road before you’ve checked and updated the following areas:

  • Tires: Look for wear and tear, flat spots and check the treads. Also measure the tire pressure, as it likely decreased during months of winter storage.
  • Wheels and Brakes: Give the wheels and brakes a once-over for signs of wear, particularly noting the quality of the brake pads and discs.
  • Inspect the Full Bike: Examine the chains, wires, levers, pedals, frame and other parts for damage. Test the lights, check the battery and look for signs of pests.
  • Check the Fluids: Even with proper winterization, moisture can still build up and lines may experience leaks. As such, replace the oil, coolant and gasoline before you take your bike out for a trip.
  • Belts & Sprockets: Check belts and sprockets for wear, as well as rocks embedded in them. Also check chains and sprockets on older bikes.

Review our list for more spring maintenance tips to help determine if repairs are needed.

Go Over Your Gear

Your gear won’t be all that different this year but you should be prepared with a mask when making stops. In busy areas, make sure to social distance. Additionally, have protective pants, a jacket, boots and gloves. In spring, make sure to bring layers to adjust to variable conditions and rain gear in case you’re caught in a storm.

Once you have the right clothing items, make sure they all fit and there are no seams coming apart. Worn out safety gear provides reduced protection out on the road.
Read More

Tips for Motorcycle Brake Maintenance

Brakes are one of the most essential parts of any vehicle, including your motorcycle. When out riding, they are crucial for helping you slow down and stop your bike. Poor or insufficient maintenance can decrease brake performance and increase crash risks. Especially come springtime, brakes should be high on your motorcycle maintenance list.

Many of today’s motorcycles use disc brakes, which are less likely to overheat and need fewer adjustments. Typical modern brake models feature twin disc brakes in front and a single disc or drum brake in the rear.

Each brake is supported by a caliper, which is powered by up to six pistons, and the brake pads will be clamped to the disc. Your brake usually sits in the wheel to adjust to temperature changes as you ride and may feature anti-block system (ABS) technology.

Much like a car, motorcycle brakes experience wear and need to be replaced. The system’s fluids may run low or hold onto debris and moisture, so it’s a good idea to give the brakes a once-over before every ride.

Brake Fluid

closeup motorcycle front brakeBrake fluid helps reduce wear on the system’s mechanical components. Over time, the amount of fluid starts to decrease and may trap moisture or debris. Based on how often you ride, it’s recommended the old brake fluid is flushed out and a new supply added every one to two years.

To avoid air bubbles in the brake fluid, you may want to have a professional perform the job if you’ve never done it yourself. Additionally, the substance can be damaging to your bike’s exterior, eating through the paint or plastic if it splashes outside the reservoir.

Do not get in the habit of only checking the brake fluid when you suspect it needs to be replaced. Riders should inspect the fluid level and color at least once a month.

If the fluid is brown or black instead of clear, it needs to be flushed out. Delaying fluid replacement reduces brake lubrication and decreases performance.

Motorcycles are equipped with two brake fluid reservoirs, one located toward the handlebars and one in the back. Both should be opened as you monitor the fluid levels.
Read More

Best Starter Bikes for New Riders

Older, more experienced motorcycle enthusiasts often have loyalty to one brand and type of motorcycle. Yet for beginners, the number of models and amount of specs to review can be overwhelming! If you’re just getting started on two wheels, learn more about the best options for new riders.

Cruiser Bikes

young man on a cruiserAlso called a “street cruiser”, this type is exemplified by the classic Harley-Davidson and is considered the quintessential motorcycle. Cruisers span a wider range of models, from a 250cc to a 2,300cc engine, to mid-century American motorcycles and heavier-duty Japanese models introduced in the 1980s and 1990s.

In terms of design, the typical cruiser has more metal than plastic on the exterior, although carbon fiber parts in more recent years have helped lighten the once-heavier weight. These bikes also tend to be situated lower, requiring the rider to sit upright or lean back a little.

Aside from these attributes, the ideal cruiser has a high-torque V-twin engine and bigger tires. As you get more immersed in motorcycle culture, you’ll find that when riders talk about custom bikes, they nearly always mean modifications to a cruiser.

A cruiser can also be a solid choice for beginners due to the slower speed, reduced power and ability to travel longer distances. Especially if you’re looking for a starter bike that will give you several years of use, the larger engine in a cruiser better handles wear and tear for longer trips and highway riding.
Read More

Harley-Davidson’s Pan America Virtual Launch

Harley-Davidson first introduced the Pan America in 2018, intending the motorcycle to be its first off-road bike. The new Pan America, expected to be available for purchase later in 2021, will be officially previewed during a digital launch on February 22nd.

About Harley-Davidson’s Pan America

motorcycle riders on the highwayHarley-Davidson has long remained a key player in the cruiser market. Yet, the buying habits of younger riders skew smaller, more sustainable and toward active pursuits.

Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire electric motorcycle was one bid to attract younger riders to the brand and the Pan America appeals to more adventure-style use.

To date, the Pan America’s key features have included:

  • Liquid-cooled 1250cc V-twin 60-degree engine, offering 145 HP and over 90 ft-lb of torque
  • Chain-and-sprocket final drive
  • Cross-spoked wheels
  • Double-sided swing arm attached to the rear shock
  • Liquid crystal display (LCD) computer
  • Reflect Defensive Rider System for traction
  • Lower seat height for greater accessibility
  • Design input for the frame and tires from Michelin and Brembo
  • Strong capabilities for on and off-road travel
  • Engine integrated into the frame to reduce the overall weight
  • New power train

Pan America’s Promotion

Harley-Davidson held a virtual global launch for all anticipated 2021 models on January 19th. The Pan America was not the only bike featured – riders learned more about 27 new models, including the Street Bob 114, Fat Bob and CVOs.
Read More

Why Pests Go After Your Motorcycle in Storage

During winter when our bikes are in storage, motorcycle riders have to think about the battery, fluids and reducing rust. One factor often gets pushed to the bottom of the winterization list: Pests.

Although this can happen any time of year, mice, rats and squirrels looking for warmth in winter may target your motorcycle, especially if your garage is not fully sealed. They can burrow into the exhaust pipe or air intake box, build a nest in your saddle bag and may chew through wires.

Before you discover pests living in your bike or have to pay for extensive repairs once spring arrives, here’s what you should know about protecting your motorcycle.

How Pest Infestation Happens

man working on bikeMice and squirrels do not hibernate during winter, but they still want a warm place for temporary shelter from the cold. Your motorcycle, particularly if stored under a cover, can look like the perfect home.

If you periodically check your motorcycle while it’s in storage, you know you’re dealing with a rodent problem if you spot droppings around the bike. You may also see scratches or bite marks on the seats, saddle bag and anything else that’s not made out of metal.

Unfortunately when you spot these signs, you have other things to worry about. Most importantly, rodents constantly need to gnaw to keep their teeth from growing too much. To do this, they will go after wires and other hard surfaces of your bike. As such, if you haven’t checked your motorcycle in a couple of months, mice may have gone after the electrical system.

Additionally, mice that have been there for a while will likely make a nest, tearing parts of leather, rubber and paper to create one in an enclosed area. You might see a nest inside a saddlebag, between the handlebars or on the seat.

Rodents also carry various diseases that are harmful to humans and pets. Through their presence and droppings, your motorcycle has been exposed to whatever they may be carrying. Touching or taking a ride in the spring could become a health and safety hazard.
Read More

How to Prevent Motorcycle Cover Condensation

When it comes to motorcycle winterization, a temperature-controlled environment is safer than leaving your bike outside, exposed to precipitation and UV rays. Yet not everyone has the same options for winter storage.

Whether in a garage or securely covered in the driveway, you assume your motorcycle will be safe throughout the cold season but the risk of condensation increases under a cover.

Condensation can accumulate underneath, resulting in rust, corrosion and mold after months in one place. Learn how you can keep your motorcycle protected this winter.

How Condensation Occurs Under a Cover

cover on parked motorcycleThe air contains a percentage of water vapor, known as relative humidity. When the temperature drops, water vapor gathers on cool surfaces.

A motorcycle cover can trap moist air underneath that starts to condense when the air temperature rises, but the bike’s metal parts are still cool. As a result, it might appear as if the cover is leaking.

The condensation cycle may be intensified by the ground below, particularly with dirt or cement that absorbs moisture. Especially in New England, snowfall can also increase the amount of moisture that may gather below a motorcycle cover.

What Can Happen As a Result of Condensation

If this process goes unchecked, you may be dealing with more issues than the condensation itself. Other potential damage includes:

  • Rust: May affect the metal or damage the gas tank. A rusted tank can decrease fuel economy, affect how fluids flow through the bike or cause pressure buildup.
  • Corrosion: Can be accelerated by rock salt or substances like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide – two byproducts of the engine’s combustion process.
  • Mold: Can start to form on non-metal components.
  • Fuel Breakdown: Water vapor gets inside the gas tank and mixes with ethanol.

Read More

Motorcycle Winterization Mistakes to Avoid

Plenty of motorcycle guides provide advice on how to winterize your bike. Yet, conflicting opinions can make it difficult to know which tips to follow. Once spring comes, your bike could have sludgy fluids or visible rust on the exterior without the right winterization checklist. While having a plan is crucial, you should be mindful to avoid the following mistakes.

Not Filling the Tank

closeup motorcycle wheelBefore placing your bike in storage, fill the tank with fresh gasoline and add fuel stabilizer. Run the motorcycle, so the stabilizer goes through the system.

Settling for Older Fuel

Fuel that your bike has used all season can pick up debris and start to thin out. As gasoline breaks down quickly – especially when a vehicle is not in use – these deposits remain and you’ll end up with varnish deposits in your tank, fuel lines and carburetor.

To avoid this, drain old fuel before winterizing your bike, add gasoline to your tank and fuel stabilizer. Especially if your bike will be sitting in a garage for months, this approach decreases the likelihood of deposits and clogs.

You Use the Same Oil

Your bike’s oil goes through the same process and pattern as your gasoline: It picks up substances and breaks down through repeat use and exposure to heat and oxygen. In storage, this process will continue, resulting in a thick, cloudy consistency when you take your motorcycle out for spring riding. Instead of skipping this crucial step, replace the oil and all other fluids during the winterization process.
Read More

Tips for Storing Your Motorcycle Under a Cover

When a motorcycle is left uncovered, it doesn’t take long for the outdoor elements to affect its main components. While age can play a factor – newer models are designed to handle UV rays, moisture and cold better – any bike left outside can succumb to corrosion, cracked seals and rusted bolts.

To avoid these issues, you need to keep your ride covered. Experts recommend storage in your garage or another climate-controlled shelter, but what if these options aren’t available to you? Consider a motorcycle cover that’s designed to breathe, keep out moisture and shelter the bike from inclement weather conditions.

Finding the Right Cover

two covered motorcyclesNot all motorcycle covers are created equal. You may come across canvas, medium and heavy-duty polyethylene, and vinyl varieties. The goal is to find a sturdy material that offers UV and moisture-resistance but still provides a degree of breathability to prevent water droplets from getting locked in.

For long-term storage, you’ll want to look for waterproof, puncture-resistant materials that offer venting and include a soft fabric liner to lessen scratches to the finish.

Avoid selecting a light fabric motorcycle cover. These can blow off and tear easily after long-term exposure to the elements and won’t provide the degree of protection your bike needs.

Clean Your Bike

Dirt and debris can do more than dull your motorcycle’s finish. Long term, these particles can accelerate rusting and cause the metal to develop a pitted appearance. With this in mind, thoroughly wash off your motorcycle before covering it for long-term storage.

As moisture can also contribute to corrosion, let the bike fully dry. If you’re winterizing for the season, go through the usual steps of lubing components and replacing fuel and fluids. Focus on the essential parts for operation that can rust quickly when exposed to moisture.
Read More

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. 
Read More