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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6 Holiday Gifts for the Motorcycle Rider

The holiday season is upon us and whether you or a loved one is a rider, you know that owning a motorcycle is a lifestyle. From long road trips to bike maintenance and upgrades, motorcyclists are always thinking about their next adventure. As you search for the perfect gift, consider these recommendations for riders.

Wearable Storage Bags

holiday giftsSome riders lack space with their bike’s current storage solution and have to keep packing minimal. With this in mind, wearable and collapsible storage bags have started gaining traction for their versatility and adaptability, particularly when a motorcyclist only needs to take along rain or protective gear.

Collapsible tail bags are small enough to double as a seat pad. Roll bags can offer waterproof protection, which is essential for keeping your belongings dry.

Kevlar Jeans

These riding pants offer head-to-toe protection against road rash and more severe injuries. At a glance, they look like ordinary denim jeans, yet the construction is fortified with the strength of Kevlar, an abrasion-resistant synthetic material used across a range of protective riding and tactical apparel.

Bike Phone Mount

As smartphones serve multiple functions, there’s often no need to purchase a separate GPS or radio. To keep this device secure and accessible on a motorcycle, a phone mount attaches to the bike’s handlebars and is strong enough to handle long-term exposure to the elements.
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6 Common Late Fall Riding Hazards

Many riders would agree, fall is prime motorcycle season. Near perfect temperatures, clear blue skies, changing leaves and less traffic on favorite backroads make for great end-of-season rides.

On the other hand, fall has a few downsides. With winter right around the corner, riders have to be mindful of freezing overnight temperatures and black ice. These hazards, combined with falling leaves, roadwork and drivers who aren’t expecting to see motorcycles this time of year, remind us to ride carefully and defensively through the end of fall.

As you enjoy the few mild autumn days we have left here in New England, keep these points in mind.

1. Beware of Fallen Leaves

fallen leaves on the road Our region of the country is a must-see spot for leaf peepers – however, changing leaves have to come down eventually. When they do, they can form a slick, muddy blanket that greatly reduces tire traction. An unsuspecting motorcyclist may start to slip and slide, especially if their tire treads are worn out.

Large leaf piles can obscure potholes and uneven pavement, also catching riders by surprise. Added to this, high winds may bring small branches down with the leaves, creating another level of obstruction.

With these risks in mind, here’s how to approach a leaf-covered road this season:

  • Ride around the piles, as you never know what lies underneath.
  • Go slow, until you’re past the areas with fallen leaves and acorns.
  • Make sure your tires have sufficient traction.
  • Slow down and take care around corners.
  • Never ride over broken branches, as they have potential to rip and puncture your tires.

2. Adjust to Shorter Days

When daylight saving time comes to an end, you’re more likely to end a late afternoon ride in the dark. For this reason, make sure your bike’s headlights, brake lights and turn signals are all in working order. So other motorists can see you, further make yourself visible with reflective clothing.

This time of year, the sun now sits lower in the sky. Unless you’re traveling north, this positioning often creates glare and, with fewer leaves on the trees, there is nothing to block the light. To reduce the blinding glow and any potential accidents, make sure you’re equipped with appropriate eyewear and take it slow when the sun prevents you from seeing far ahead.

3. Think About Animals

Plenty of creatures are migrating south, searching for food or seeking hibernation this time of year. Due to these factors, you’re more likely to come across deer and other medium-to-large mammals, especially at dawn and dusk. To anticipate this risk, ride with appropriate protective gear and keep your eyes peeled for animals approaching from the side of the road.
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Fall Safety Tips & Best Spots to Ride

Many people say fall is the perfect time to explore New England on two wheels. You have the chance to see leaves changing color from vibrant green to warm oranges, yellows and reds, while the temperatures are comfortably cool.

The crowds have thinned, beaches and their surrounding communities are still open and the frigid coastal winds have yet to arrive. What could be better? Check out some of the region’s most road trip-worthy destinations.

Fall Riding Safety

colorful fall foliageBefore an autumn motorcycle ride, it’s important to think about safety. The changing leaves are beautiful to see, but once they fall from the trees and gather on the road, leaves becomes dangerous.

Riders should be on the lookout for piles of dry leaves that could be covering hazardous road conditions like potholes. Always be looking at the road ahead and make sure to steer around any piles.

Wet leaves are another danger. Your motorcycle could lose traction with the road if your tires make contact with a slick surface. Also be sure to slow down and maneuver around wet piles of leaves.

In addition, watch for other motorists who may be taking in the scenery and not see your bike. Always make eye contact before proceeding at an intersection and dress to make yourself visible to others.

Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire

Commonly called “The Kanc”, this highway cutting through the White Mountains leads outdoor enthusiasts right to hiking and ski trails. It covers roughly 34 miles of canopy-like foliage that lines the winding road and passes through many small towns. September through October is peak foliage season here, so schedule your itinerary before frost sets in.

Mohawk Trail, Massachusetts

This scenic route officially starts on the New York border, then takes you 60 miles through the Berkshires. It’s a day’s journey that wanders by some of the region’s best sights to enjoy the panoramic scenery. Along the way, you’ll ride by 18th and 19th century homes and bridges to stop and admire.
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