4 Winter Activities for Riders

When winter arrives in New England, it can be a depressing time for many people. After the holiday season passes, the cold temperatures and darker commutes home until late March can be tough. Don’t get us wrong, freshly fallen snow can be mesmerizing, but riders have a distaste for winter for another reason: Their motorcycles go into storage. If you’re already missing your bike, what can you do to ease the separation anxiety?

We offer 4 winter activities to try instead.

Sledding or Snowtubing

skiingThere is no feeling quite like riding a motorcycle on a warm day, but sledding down a steep hill can be another exhilarating adventure. Maybe you haven’t broken out the sled or snow tube since you were a kid; winter is your opportunity to relive those old memories and have fun while off your bike.

Skiing or Snowboarding

Riding a motorcycle requires more skill than driving a car, much like skiing or snowboarding is more complex than walking. If you like a challenge, learn one of these two sports this winter! Skiing is easier for most people to learn, so you could pick it up early in the season. Snowboarding for the first time can be more difficult, but daredevils will get a kick out of learning some of the cool moves they see watching the X Games.

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Harley-Davidson To Expand “Riding Academy”

Among motorcyclists, it is no secret that Harley-Davidson – one of the most popular and influential brands in the motorcycle industry – has been struggling in recent years. Less people are riding and less people are shopping for bikes. In addition, the perception of Harley-Davidson is that it’s for older generations. As sales continue to drop, the company has made several attempts to get business booming again, while restoring their image for younger generations.

Harley’s most recent solution? Expanding their 17-year-old “Riding Academy”.

What Is Harley Riding Academy?

motorcycle safety training courseIn 2000, Harley-Davidson launched a program of three to four-day motorcycle courses offered at dealerships around the country. Approximately 245 dealerships offer this training, but about 25 percent of them have only been for the past three years. Clyde Fessler, who started the “Riding Academy” program, says it is about “getting people comfortable on a motorcycle and getting them to feel safe and confident.”

Why Younger Generations Don’t Ride

Intimidation is a big reason why more millennials are not riding motorcycles. Yet, there is another factor keeping this generation off two wheels. Many young people – especially recent college graduates – have to put off major purchases due to overwhelming student loan debt and low entry-level salaries.

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New 2018 Harley-Davidson Softail Model Unveiled

In 2018, Harley-Davidson will celebrate its 115th year in the motorcycle industry. Ahead of this milestone, the company has rolled out a plan to revamp its image and attract a younger generation of riders. As part of their plan, Harley-Davidson is renovating their Softail lineup of cruiser bikes. In late August, eight new models were announced. On November 7th, news broke of a ninth motorcycle.

What do we know about the Softail Sport Glide?

A City Cruiser with Touring Style

riding motorcycle on a sunny dayThe Sport Glide is being described as a cross between the Sportster – a stripped down cruiser- and the Electra Guide – a bulked up touring motorcycle. Harley-Davidson hopes this new bike will be attractive to up and coming riders who are intimidated by touring models.

Since touring bikes are designed for long trips, they need to fully dressed and have a large frame. Such features can translate to more difficult handling, which is why these bikes can be daunting to many beginners.

The Sport Glide comes with lockable saddle bags, cast aluminum wheels and forward-mounted foot controls. It’s new fairing is designed for ultimate wind resistance, keeping gusts away from the rider’s chest. Sporting a 107-cubic-inch V-twin engine, the Sport Glide bike is powered with the same “Milwaukee Eight” engine of the other 2018 Softail models.

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Triumph Unveils 2018 Bonneville Speedmaster

Triumph Motorcycles, the largest British bike manufacturer, has revealed their 2018 Bonneville Speedmaster. The first model of its kind was produced in 2002. Minimal changes have been made since, aside from minor engine and fuel injection updates.

During Triumph’s 115-year history, the company has provided bikes to the U.S. military, the Hollywood movie industry and everyday riders like us. Known for their modern take on classic motorcycle design, the new Bonneville Speedmaster is a more versatile version of the 2017 Bonneville Bobber.

Let’s take a closer look at the 2018 bike.

Speedmaster vs. Bonneville Bobber

closeup of chrome motorcycle engineTriumph’s latest motorcycle borrows a few features from the Bonneville Bobber. Namely, the frame, suspension and twin-cylinder, six-speed 1200cc High Torque engine. Both bikes have a retro look with modern features, but the Speedmaster has a more casual riding style.

The 2018 model also has separate riding modes for rain and rain, a 5-inch LED headlight and standard cruise control for a safer and more environmentally-friendly ride. However, it’s important to note that LED headlights are not yet regulated in the United States.

Where the two bikes differ most is the smaller front wheel and fixed fender at the rear of the Speedmaster to hold a passenger cushion. The newer bike’s seat is only 28 inches high and features a wide handlebar for cruising. Also, the Speedmaster contrasts chrome, aluminum and gold accents with white seat piping versus the Bobber’s darker tones.

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5 Winter Motorcycle Storage Mistakes to Avoid

In New England, the start of winter marks the end of motorcycle season for many riders. When there is snow and ice on the ground, commuting on two wheels can become even more dangerous. While most motorcyclists are reluctant to store their bikes away for the season, it’s important to take the necessary steps for proper storage.

We list five winter motorcycle storage mistakes to avoid.

1. Storing the Bike Dirty

storage garage Throughout the motorcycle season, our bikes see a lot of wear and tear. Sometimes you cannot avoid hitting that pile of mud and, before you know it, your motorcycle could use a good wash. When winter rolls around, it’s especially important to clean all debris from your bike prior to storing it away to prevent paint corrosion and rust.

2. Neglecting to Change the Oil

You may not think about it, but what happens to your bike’s oil when it’s not in use? The oil becomes stagnant – unmoving – and can cause problems when you rev the engine come springtime. To keep it from deteriorating over several months in storage, drain the old oil and add fuel stabilizer to the new.

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Tips for Riding a Motorcycle in Traffic

When you do not speed, drink and ride, or go to the left into oncoming traffic, your chances of being in a fatal motorcycle accident are greatly reduced. Following the rules of the road is also a good rule of thumb to stay safe, but this can be more difficult for motorcyclists – especially in traffic. There are many blind spots with vehicles and its far more dangerous for riders when a truck is involved. Not only can we be less visible to drivers, but stop and go traffic can make the bike harder to handle. 

We offer 4 tips to ride safely in traffic. 

Watch Other Drivers

motorcycle driving through trafficIf surrounding motorists fail to see you, it becomes your responsibility to keep an eye on them. Watching their mirrors and head movements can help you anticipate a sudden maneuver that could knock you down. Especially in congested traffic, a motorcycle can get lost in a car’s blind spot. Keep your head on a swivel to help prevent a tragic accident.

Pick a Side

When traffic slows during rush hour, never position your bike directly behind a vehicle. Many motorists are guilty of speeding up at the first sign of open road, only to slam on the brakes when cars get backed up again. If you stay to the left or right of the vehicle in front of you, there is room to get around if the driver stops short. Rather than slamming into their bumper and risking being thrown from the bike, choose a side to lean towards.

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7 Scenic Motorcycle Rides in Connecticut

By popular demand, we are back with more of our favorite scenic motorcycle rides. There are so many beautiful areas in Connecticut that it’s hard to narrow down! Everyone has their own preferences, but we will highlight 7 great routes to try. 

Colchester, CT Tour

Cornwall Covered Bridge Situated in Southeastern Connecticut, Colchester is a historic town with plenty of landmarks to visit and activities to try. As a motorcycle rider, you know there is often no better way to clear your mind than to take a scenic cruise on winding country backroads lined with farmland. That’s what you will experience in Colchester and at the Salmon River State Park. Be sure to stop for a hike or picnic lunch and enjoy the views!

Connecticut Route 4

Starting in the rural, woodsy town of Sharon, this trip from the northwest region of the state brings riders through the relatively deserted roads of Cornwall, Goshen and Torrington into Harwinton, Burlington and West Hartford Center. Along the Farmington River, there is a great stretch of open road for riders who need to clear their head among nature.

Connecticut Route 20

This route through Litchfield and Hartford Counties spans nearly 32 miles across some of the quietest areas in our state. Starting from Route 8 in Winchester, riders can enjoy long, winding and scenic rural roads.

One of our favorite spots to stop along this journey and experience an incredible sense of calm is the Barkhamsted Reservoir at Saville Dam. Be sure to snap some pictures and share them with us on social media! The ride continues into Granby and East Granby before Windsor brings you back to I-91.

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4 Fall Foliage Season Rides in New England

Autumn is arguably the most beautiful season in New England. The trees flourish with bright colored leaves and we adorn our homes with festive fall decorations. As temperatures drop into the 60s, we are more excited than ever to get our bikes out on the road. The air feels crisper and summer road trip traffic has died down, making fall the perfect time to ride. We list 4 of the best places to enjoy fall foliage season on two wheels in New England.

Connecticut Route 169

colorful fall foliageBeginning in Norwich, scenic Route 169 takes riders on a tour of farms, historic churches and classic village green centers. Eastern Connecticut has a beautiful landscape of rolling hills and old backroads that provide fantastic views during fall foliage season.

For 32 miles, our fellow motorcyclists can ride through quaint towns like Lisbon, Centerbury and Woodstock along Route 169, ending in Southbridge, MA. Remember to put on your helmet before crossing into Massachusetts!

North Appalachian Mountains

The northwestern corner of Connecticut is much quieter than the hustle and bustle of Hartford and its surrounding towns. To get away from it all, visit the North Appalachian Mountains in New Milford. From Granby, ride from Route 20 to Route 44 towards Lakeville and Sharon. Cross the Cornwall Bridge and enjoy the vibrant colors of fall around you.

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Fall Motorcycle Riding Tips

While every rider enjoys the warm weather of summer, fall can be just as fun for motorcycle trips. The brilliant foliage, crisp air and reduced traffic makes autumn a great time for hitting the open road – if you are prepared.

For all the scenic enjoyment that fall brings to New England, there are also plenty of hazards. From poor weather and wild animal crossings to slick roads and sudden drops in temperature, riders need to stay alert to make motorcycle riding in autumn a safe and fun experience.

Here are some tips on how to safely navigate the pitfalls of the fall season.

Look at the Leaves

riding a motorcycle in the rainFall foliage attracts thousands of visitors to New England every year. The striking red, yellow and orange colors can turn forests into magical landscapes. However, when the leaves start to fall, riders need to take notice. Dry leaves often gather in piles, which can cover up a pothole or other hazardous road condition. When approaching a pile of dry leaves, slow down and try to steer around it. You never know what might be lurking underneath!

On the other hand, wet leaves are no better. Rain and morning dew cause wet leaves that can make for a very slick surface. Many riders will tell you stories of spills caused by wet leaves. Again, be cautious around wet leaves and slow down when rain has fallen.

Deer in the Headlights

We’ve all seen the damage a full-grown buck can do to a car, whether on the news or from real life experience. Just imagine what it would do to you and your motorcycle if you collide? Fall is a popular time for deer to come out of the woods and make their way across roads, so be on the lookout for these large animals. Wild turkeys and black bears will be moving as well. 

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Tips for Choosing the Right Motorcycle

When you decide to join the motorcycle community, you have a big decision to make: Which motorcycle is right for you? From choppers and cruisers to street bikes and dirt bikes, there is no shortage of great rides to choose from. From rides that cost $7,000 to $77,000, there is quite a range of prices to consider too. Before you start looking for the bike that suits your criteria, consider these tips for first-time riders.

Budget

man receiving the keys to a new motorcycleAs with most purchases, your budget will play an important role in what motorcycle you can afford. Don’t let your eyes make decisions your wallet can’t afford. Did you know there is a bike called the Neiman Marcus Limited Edition Fighter that sells for $11 million? Sure, it would be nice to own, but would keep most people in debt forever. Carefully go over your finances and determine what you can afford. You can find a lot of great motorcycles for under $10,000 and, if you are new to riding, a starter bike can be found for about $3,000.

Experience

Your amateur riding experience also plays an important role in choosing a motorcycle. While it may be your desire to own a Ducati or Harley-Davidson, these bikes are rather advanced and newcomers may find it very difficult to handle the weight, speed and power of these machines. Look for motorcycles that match your experience level. Everyone starts simple, so don’t feel ashamed about buying a cheaper Honda to develop your skills. In time, you will get more comfortable with riding and then you can start looking at the big boys.

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