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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Tips to Share the Road with Motorcycles

This time of year, it’s more common to see motorcycles on the road. In the event of a crash, a motorcycle rider is more vulnerable to injury. Whether you’re running late or distracted behind the wheel, think about everyone’s safety before cutting in front of a motorcycle.

Riders can keep themselves safe by obeying the speed limit, never lane splitting and proceeding with caution – even with a green light or the right-of-way. When it comes to sharing the road with cars and trucks, what can a motorcyclist do to stay safe on the roads?

1. Be Aware of Risks

motorcycle driving through trafficMotorcycles are fun to ride and make traveling in warm weather more enjoyable but are much harder to spot, due to their small size:

  • To cars and trucks, your motorcycle appears farther away than it actually is. A car may pull out in front of a bike and cause an unavoidable collision.
  • A motorcycle may get lost in a driver’s blind spot, making it harder to see when another vehicle tries to change lanes.
  • Motorcycles do not offer the same degree of protection as cars and trucks, particularly due to the lack of seat belts and air bags.

2. Know How to React

In addition to keeping the above points in mind, make sure you:

  • Never tailgate a car or truck, staying several vehicle lengths back.
  • Always make eye contact and signal before any maneuver.
  • Never drive next to a car in the same lane. It is unsafe and illegal in many areas, including CT.
  • Allow enough room to counter steer or swerve to avoid obstacles in the road.

3. Keep Posted on the Weather

Motorcyclists know the risks of riding in bad weather, including snow, ice, rain, wind and fog. Cars and trucks can travel below the speed limit and generally stay safe, but riders have to keep in mind there is no enclosure separating them from the elements.

At night, it’s important to stay visible in any weather conditions. Use your high beams on dark streets, wear bright clothing that other motorists can see from a distance and make sure your eye protection is not tinted for better visibility.
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Tips to Stay Hydrated While Riding

The conditions we ride through during spring, summer and early fall increase the chances of dehydration. Especially when you’re wearing a heavy leather riding jacket, the direct sun beats down on you and the whipping winds can leave you feeling dried out.

You may initially feel thirsty, but symptoms can develop into headache, nausea and muscle cramps. To avoid these first signs of heat stroke, have an effective hydration plan for your upcoming rides.

Before You Go Out

Preventing dehydration starts with preparation. The night before a big ride, lower your alcohol and caffeine intake – too much has a diuretic effect on the body, causing you to release more water than you take in.

The day of your ride, start drinking water in the morning and continue gradually throughout the day. Drinking too much at once may lead to stomach cramps. Also realize that while water and other fluids quench your thirst immediately, they take roughly an hour to reach your muscles.

Use a Hydration Pack

Hikers and cyclists swear by hydration packs. For longer rides, they are growing in popularity among motorcycle riders. The convenient two-in-one design combines a 1.5L to 3L bladder with a tube and bite valve that let you drink hands-free, and an actual bag for storing a few small items. All you have to do is strap it on, sip and refill at the next rest stop.

Beyond the convenience factor, it’s far safer than using a mug or water bottle to stay hydrated and usually holds more fluid. To keep your water cold, consider filling and freezing the bladder the night before your trip.
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4 Tips for Riding Over Rough Pavement

You’re enjoying a smooth ride when suddenly, your motorcycle hits a bump. You maneuver your way around the potholes and loose gravel in the road, hoping for smooth asphalt around the bend.

For cars, these disturbances are a minor annoyance but for motorcycles, they can lead to a fall or bike damage. Unfortunately, you’re likely to encounter uneven, ridged roads at some point while out on your motorcycle. What can you do to get through these rough patches?

1. Plan Ahead for Rough Pavement

road construction signWhen you see signs for construction or enter a highly trafficked road, you may ride over:

  • A grooved surface
  • Gravel or an unpaved surface
  • Rumble strips, usually around diverted routes and construction zones
  • Fresh pavement, which brings oil to the surface when wet
  • Slick pavement, worn-out blackout tape and pavement markings
  • Steel plates, which may be smooth or rough in texture
  • Manhole covers

In particular, pavement milling can be very noticeable on bikes with narrow front tires. When driving over these uneven surfaces, don’t panic. Stay relaxed and ride through it slowly.

In many of these instances, the change is sudden. Coupled with the uneven or traction-free surface, your bike may become harder to control. Take it slow and allow yourself enough time to see the obstructions before passing over them.

2. Look for Smoother Ground

Maneuver around ridged, cracked areas and seek out smoother ground. Similarly for slick surfaces, move around what appears to be wet, oily or shiny. Keep in mind that on highways, this smooth area may toward the center of the lane. Be careful of debris that ordinary motor vehicles can drive over.
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