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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Pros & Cons of Motorcycle Windshields

When Plexiglas entered the market in the late 1920s, windshields started appearing on motorcycles. Windshields continued to grow in popularity through the rest of the 20th century and today, are one of the most-requested aftermarket accessories.

Yet, windshields are not for every rider. Some feel they break up a bike’s visual flow and would rather feel the flow of wind. If you’re considering one for your bike, think about the following points.

Improve Fuel Efficiency

motorcycle windshieldBy design, motorcycles are not very aerodynamic. With a windshield, air is diverted around the rider’s body, which reduces the dragging effect and lessens the amount of fuel used.

Shield From the Elements

Perfectly warm spring and summer days with clear skies can suddenly turn windy or rainy. Without a windshield, riders have to face cold gusts, precipitation and flying gravel.

A properly fitted windshield creates a cushion of air to keep you warm, divert rain and guard against debris headed your way.

Limited Wind Exposure

Touring motorcycles helped the popularity of bike windshields, and for good reason. Cold weather and precipitation can drain a rider’s energy for long distance rides.

Wind exposure causes fatigue to set in: The faster you ride, the more force wind exerts on your body and the sooner you’ll get tired. A windshield can help conserve energy on these longer trips.

Could Obstruct Vision

In a perfect situation, the windshield is positioned so the rider looks directly over the top. However, if the model is too tall, dirt and bug residue will eventually cloud your field of vision. Should it rain while you’re out, the windshield may suddenly become blurry and water-covered. Test a windshield out to see how high it sits on your bike before buying.
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How Bad Is Rust for Your Motorcycle?

For many riders, their motorcycle is their most prized possession. As such, the last thing you want to see is rust on your bike. Rust forms when the vehicle’s steel components are exposed to a mixture of moisture and oxygen. Cold Northeastern winters and road salt can also speed up the process.

In addition to these factors, inefficient maintenance often creates a straightforward path for rust to attack metal. As you get ready to put your motorcycle away for the winter, consider the following points to avoid dealing with rust once spring arrives.

Rust in the Gas Tank

waxing red motorcycleThere’s a reason nearly every winterization guide recommends filling your gas tank before putting your bike in storage. If the tank is not kept full, condensation occurs. When moisture gets trapped inside, the metal interior begins to rust.

Ethanol gas, more corrosive than pure gasoline, also affects the metal in your tank after a certain point and is not recommended for long-term storage. As one common method, blend fuel additives or stabilizers into the ethanol to stave off potential corrosion in storage.

What could happen to your bike if the gas tank starts to rust?

  • A rusted gas tank decreases the bike’s value – an issue if you plan to sell in the future.
  • Rust affects how well the fuel flows through your motorcycle.
  • Clogged filters and fuel lines, resulting in pressure buildup.
  • Rust can start to circulate inside the engine, which impacts the amount of air mixing with fuel.
  • If your bike’s tank is rusted beyond repair, finding a replacement tank isn’t always easy.

Poor Motorcycle Maintenance

Beyond key components like the chain and tank, rust can eat away at other motorcycle parts, which will then need to be replaced.

To combat this, regularly clean off your motorcycle, washing off dirt, debris and grease, as well as waxing and protecting the surface. Rather than hosing everything down, use a nylon- or soft-bristled brush to loosen up any debris. While doing this, check all parts for signs of rusting.
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How Cold Weather Affects Your Motorcycle

Certain habits lengthen the life cycle of your motorcycle, while others can truncate it. Leaving your bike outside, uncovered all year long falls into the shortening category. Especially when temperatures plunge, snow and salt could take a toll on your prized possession. By spring, your motorcycle could be rusted and the engine gummed up with old oil. What else can happen if you forget winterization?

Decreased Tire Pressure

checking motorcycle tire pressure All vehicles run this risk. For every 10-degree drop in temperature, tire pressure drops roughly one to two PSI. Once spring arrives, your bike’s tires may be down at least six pounds. If you kept the tires directly on the ground instead of elevated, they could also be sporting a few flat, uneven spots.

It’s unsafe to ride on underinflated tires. While overinflated tires can blow out, below PSI:

  • Can’t always support the load you need to carry
  • Feel sluggish, which can affect your steering
  • Have lesser ground clearance
  • Might separate from the rim
  • Have to flex more, which causes a greater amount of internal damage
  • Will start to experience uneven tread wear and fail sooner

Rusting

When your bike is left unprotected outdoors, it’s only a matter of time before its exterior and metal parts to rust. Moisture is all it takes, whether it accumulates on the exterior or builds up inside the fuel tank. Leaving snow to pile up, while passing cars spray salt and slush from the street, accelerates this process. In turn, rust may eat away at the exhaust pipes, forks and wheel spokes before the season is over.

To combat these effects:

  • Keep your motorcycle indoors all year long, ideally in a climate-controlled area.
  • Fully wash it off and replace all fluids before placing it in storage.
  • Wax the exterior before you put it away to reduce corrosion.
  • Consider spraying the pipes with WD-40 to repel condensation and stuff them with a clean rag to prevent moisture and keep pests from building nests inside.

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Replacing Your Bike’s Fluids Prior to Storage

Although you may store your motorcycle in the garage for a week at a time when not in use, winterizing is a completely different process. When winter arrives in New England, your bike will be stored in a climate-controlled space for at least three months. Inactivity, moisture and pests can all damage your bike and by spring, what seemed fine in November may be covered in rust.

There are several factors to address as you winterize your motorcycle, but fuel degradation and oxidation need to be high on your list. Specifically, never keep old oil, fluids and gas for several months at a time. The solution will continue to degrade, gum up and separate, inviting corrosion in the process. In defense, flush out and replenish your bike’s fluids with the following factors in mind.

Limits of Ethanol-Based Fuel

checking motorcycle fluid levelsEthanol, found in gasoline, poses a few drawbacks for long-term motorcycle storage:

  • It absorbs water with time
  • The solution starts to separate
  • Thick deposits accumulate on components of the internal fuel system

Over three or more months, old fuel causes parts to fail and may rust metal surfaces. In more extreme instances, the rust progresses to the carburetor and rubber parts may start to break down and crack.

On the other hand, an empty tank is not much better. Moisture can still build up inside, leading to rust and dried out seals. For these reasons, any gas and water currently in your motorcycle should be flushed out and replaced with fresh fuel and a stabilizer. Keep your tank fresh with the following options:

  • Filling it with pure gasoline: It can be hard to find, but this ethanol-free option will protect a bike in storage for months.
  • Add a fuel stabilizer: Even pure gasoline breaks down, causing varnish deposits to form in your tank. Before filling up your tank, mix a fuel conditioner in with ethanol-based gasoline to lubricate and protect the motorcycle’s internal parts.

Carburetors Cause Fuel to Evaporate

Carburetors mix air and fuel for efficient combustion. They release directly into the atmosphere, so any fuel left in your motorcycle will evaporate and leave thick deposits. This buildup prevents fuel from flowing through your bike the next time you go for a ride.

To prevent this, run a fuel treatment through its system to remove any buildup and contaminants, before you switch the petcock to “off” and drain the carburetor. From here, add fresh fuel with a stabilizer to your tank. Deposits may start to form, so be prepared to flush it again in the spring.
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