Basic Motorcycle Maintenance All Riders Should Know

When your car, motorcycle or truck needs an inspection or repairs, many of us have an auto shop or mechanic we trust. Yet for basic maintenance, you might find that doing certain tasks yourself can be more affordable and convenient.

Even if you’re new to motorcycle maintenance, the owner’s manual can help familiarize you with basic upkeep, including the following tasks.

Changing the Oil

man replacing motorcycle air filterIf you already change the oil in your car or truck, you can do the same for your motorcycle. To start, reference the owner’s manual for the type of oil recommended for your bike and the ideal number of miles between oil changes.

As you’re preparing to change the oil, start the motorcycle for a few minutes to get the fluid flowing and decrease its viscosity.

You should also prepare to change the oil filter, during which the fluid will drain from your bike. At this point, you can add the new filter, replace the drain and oil plugs, and replenish with the proper type.

Changing the Coolant

Coolant helps prevent your engine from overheating when it’s hot in the summer, freezing in the winter, and guards against corrosion.

Drain the old fluid first, which will require you to remove the drain bolt. You can then add new coolant to the system. To ensure you have added the proper amount, restart the bike right afterwards, turn it off quickly and check the coolant level again.

Replacing the Air Filter

This part filters out debris and other particles that could clog the engine and impact its performance. One of the more challenging maintenance tasks to do on your own, the air filter is not always accessible depending on the model. You may need to remove the gas tank to access the air box and the filter.
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8 Motorcycle Riding Habits to Avoid

As motorcycle riders, we all enjoy the sensation of the open road. While safety should come first, certain questionable riding habits can leave you compromised. Learn more about what actions to avoid on two wheels.

Failing to Look Ahead

riding a motorcycle Riders worried about obstacles in the road may solely focus on the immediate area, looking out for potholes and rough pavement. When there’s traffic or another hazard up ahead, these riders can get caught by surprise and may not have time to react.

Look a minimum of 100 feet in front of you to prepare and react to changing conditions.

Ignoring the Car in Front

Riders are advised to pay attention to the car in front. Watching the driver’s movements can help you steer clear of potential hazards, including potholes and slippery roads. Also avoid riding in a car’s blind spots, so the driver can clearly see your bike at all times.

Using the Rear Brake Too Often

The rear brake does not deliver the power needed to fully stop a motorcycle when the car in front comes to a complete halt and may reduce traction.

Riders should use the front brake most often, saving the rear brake for stability on uneven surfaces and taking corners. When you have to decelerate, use both sets of brakes.

Not Safely Pulling Over

To get out another layer of clothing or rain gear, some riders simply pull into the breakdown lane or stop under an overpass. Yet cars may pass dangerously close to your bike. To accomplish what you need to do, search for a nearby parking lot for your own protection.
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Harley-Davidson Announces 2021 Sportster® S

When Harley-Davidson previewed the Pan America in 2018, it accompanied the Bronx Streetfighter and a motorcycle that was then called the “Custom 1250”.

On July 13, 2021, Harley-Davidson unveiled its Sportster® S model after a teaser video and press release came out in June. This custom motorcycle combines power and modern technology, setting a new performance standard for the Sportster lineup.

“This is a next generation Sportster defined by power, performance, technology and style. And it’s part of our commitment to introduce motorcycles that align with our strategy to increase desirability and to drive the legacy of Harley-Davidson,” said Jochen Zeitz, Harley-Davidson Chairman, President and CEO.

What We Know About the Sportster S

view of front motorcycle wheelThe Sportster S is another Revolution Max-powered bike, similar to the Pan America but more accessible.

As part of its revised business strategy, Harley-Davidson now plans to focus on what resonates with its core riders while also building out the LiveWire line. Dubbed “Evolution to Revolution”, the Sportster S teased as more of a classic Harley bike, equipped with the brand’s latest features.

Based on reports, the Sportster S will be released in the fall at a base price of $14,999 with:

  • A 121-horsepower Revolution Max 1250T V-Twin engine
  • Reduced engine weight for more precise handling
  • Lightweight chassis and premium suspension
  • 6-speed transmission
  • Cast aluminum wheels with a five-spoke design
  • Cornering Rider Safety Enhancements by Harley-Davidson®
  • Two power points for heated riding gear and a USB-C port
  • Five selectable Ride Modes
  • Proximity-based security system
  • All LED headlamp, tail lighting and turn signals
  • A round 4.0-inch TFT screen to display all instrumentation and infotainment functions

Are you excited about this addition to the Harley-Davidson lineup? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

Introducing the Harley-Davidson Icons Collection

In Spring 2021, Harley-Davidson announced its Icons Collection. The Milwaukee-based motorcycle company has cut back on its offerings, while focusing on heritage appeal.

The Icons Collection will feature a limited-edition bike based on classic Harley-Davidson design, upgraded with modern features. The company is celebrating its history and what customers have loved about the brand for years, while advancing new technologies.

What to Expect

row of motorcycle tiresAs part of its Hardwire effort, Harley-Davidson intends to introduce one or two models for the Icons Collection each year. Every new bike will be produced for a brief period and have a serial number.

The company does not intend to repeat production for these bikes; once purchased, you will be presented with a certificate of authenticity.

Considering its classic appeal, Harley-Davidson plans to introduce models inspired by its most desired and familiar bikes, complete with their signature, historical colors.

While highlighting its legacy, each model will incorporate the company’s most advanced features.

The Electra Glide® Revival™

Kicking off the Icons Collection is the Electra Glide® Revival™, with 1,500 serialized bikes on a global scale. True to its mission, Harley-Davidson based this model on its 1969 Electra Glide, their first bike to include accessory “batwing” fairing.
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How Motorcycles Can Share the Road with Cars

Spring is here and as temperatures continue to rise, you have likely taken your motorcycle on a few trips. While you have no trouble getting back on the road after a long winter, other motorists may not be prepared to see you. May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, which encourages safe driving behaviors and highlights the specific dangers that riders face.

Based on figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, motorcycle riders are five more times likely to be injured during a crash than a car driver or passenger. This is due to a lack of enclosure, often coupled with poor weather conditions and reduced visibility.

As a motorcycle rider, here’s how you can stay safe and share the road with other drivers.

1. Think About Your Location

truck behind motorcycleMotorcycles should be positioned for other vehicles to see them. Ride defensively, avoid riding in blind spots and use your blinker before changing lanes. To increase visibility:

  • Keep your head on a swivel at all times.
  • Do not lane split, which is illegal in Connecticut.
  • Take care when passing a car or truck.
  • Give yourself enough space from other vehicles.

Also make sure to stay off any painted lines, especially in the rain. When you come to a stoplight or stop sign, be aware the white stop line will be slippery, even if dry.

2. Know How Your Motorcycle Responds

If you’re a younger or less experienced rider, not understanding how your bike responds can increase your accident risks.

For one, a motorcycle is heavy and requires more time to speed up and slow down than a car. This factor increases when you have gear or a passenger on your bike.

Motorists cannot always judge the speed motorcycles are traveling, so keep your distance, use your turn signals and give yourself enough time to slow down when approaching traffic.
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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.

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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