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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Top Hazards for Motorcycles

Riding a motorcycle is one of those life thrills that is hard to match. Traveling down an empty backroad on two wheels with the wind flowing across your body and the power of the bike underneath is a unique experience only riders understand.

However, with this thrill comes many hazards that every motorcyclist needs to be aware of before hitting the road. The following dangers are widely regarded as the most important for riders to pay attention to. And remember, other motorists are not always looking out for you, so it is imperative you take the initiative to be cautious.

Oncoming Traffic

motor vehicle accidentOne of the main issues among motorists today is distracted driving. From texting and eating to daydreaming, many recent accidents are the result of motorists not paying attention. Even if a distracted driver simply clips a motorcycle, it can result in the rider being thrown from his bike, which could lead to serious injury. As a rider, you need to be attentive always and recognize ahead of time when a distracted driver is approaching. If you see a motorist talking on his phone or swerving out of his lane, ease up and wait for the danger to pass.

Sudden Stops

While most drivers try to be cautious, there may come a time when a sudden stop is necessary. From children darting out into the street to a vehicle pulling out in front of another, situations will occur that you could not have predicted.

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Harley-Davidson Releases 2018 Softail Lineup

A few months ahead of their 115-year anniversary, Harley-Davidson has introduced its largest development project of new motorcycles in company history.

The 2018 Softail lineup of motorcycles was unveiled on August 22, 2017. This particular line of cruisers has not been changed since 1999. A cross between street and sportster bikes, the eight 2018 models have a new fuel-injected V-twin motor and 107 or 114 cubic-inch engines.

Why the New Look for Softail?

riding motorcycle on a sunny day Harley manufacturers surveyed over 3,000 riders across the country to gain their insights on cruiser motorcycles and this new line of versatile, comfortable bikes are the result of that research. The bikes have been completely redesigned with a new steel frame and dual-bending valve front suspension. The chassis weighs about 15 to 20 percent less for a more relaxed ride, depending on the swingarm design of the particular bike. Practically the only thing unchanged about the Softail bikes are their names!

“It was a massive undertaking, a complete redesign from the ground up of our cruiser portfolio,” said Paul James, product portfolio manager.

The Future of Harley-Davidson Bikes

The Milwaukee-based icon in the motorcycle industry hopes this new line of bikes will help reverse the recent decline in sales of cruiser and touring motorcycles. Expect more changes over the next 10 years, as Harley Davidson looks to attract younger generations when baby boomers start to hang up their leather jackets.

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Will Harley-Davidson Make a Bid for Ducati?

Recently, Reuters news agency reported that Harley-Davidson was preparing a potential bid to purchase Ducati in a deal that could be worth up to $1.67 billion. Harley, known for large cruisers, and Ducati, famous for high performance street bikes, would bring together two of the most recognized names in the motorcycle industry.

A source told Reuters that Harley has already hired Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs to begin working on a bid. Tentative bids are expected in July. Others interested in buying Ducati include India-based Bajaj Auto and several buyout funds. Ducati is currently owned by German auto manufacturer Volkswagen.

Potential Benefits for Harley-Davidson

motorcycle wheelAcquiring Ducati would give Harley-Davidson a prestigious brand name known for a celebrated racing pedigree and dominating road racing championships. Harley often sells more bikes in three months than Ducati sells in a year, but as co-founder of Motovid Michael Casey said, “We view Ducati as the Ferrari of sport bikes, race bred and very much a niche market.”

Harley has been very interested in expanding and diversifying its brand. With Ducati under its wing, it would have a strong foothold in a young European market. Previously, Harley acquired motorcycle maker MV Augusta for $109 million in 2008, but the partnership was short lived. Despite the allure of the F4CC, a limited production bike that could reach 195 mph and sold for $120,000, in 2010 Harley paid the previous owners to take the company back.

In 2009, Harley also let go of Buell Motorcycle Company, manufacturers of sport bikes based in East Troy, Wisconsin. The negative impact of the financial recession forced Harley to unload assets that were experiencing declining sales and riders.

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How to Prevent Motorcycle Theft

According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, motorcycle thefts rose two percent in 2016. During that year, 46,467 motorcycles were reported stolen compared to 45,555 in 2015. While California is the top state for bike thefts, the trend is alarming and should be a concern for motorcycle owners across the country.

riding fast on a motorcycleThe article lists the following bike brands as most likely to be stolen:

  • Honda
  • Yamaha
  • Kawasaki
  • Suzuki
  • Harley-Davidson
  • KTM
  • Ducati
  • BMW

Unfortunately, recovering a stolen bike is not as easy as a car. The recovery rate for stolen bikes is about 42 percent; only about 18,000 of the 46,467-motorcycle reported in 2016 found their way home.

Here are some tips to make your bike a less likely target:

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Signs Your Motorcycle Engine Needs Repairs

Owning a motorcycle requires a lot of work, including regular maintenance. Motorcycles are more likely than cars to need repairs to the engine. While many motorcycle owners enjoy tinkering with their bikes in their spare time, not every rider has the mechanical skills to fix serious problems.

If you own a motorcycle and notice the following signs, it may be time to bring it to a professional mechanic for a repair estimate.

Loss of Power

motorcycle shock absorberMany riders will know right away when their bike is running at a lower performance level. You can feel this loss of power, which indicates a problem with the internal workings of the motorcycle engine. These issues can range from simple to complicated, but as soon as you notice your bike experiencing a loss of power, get it to a repair shop. The sooner you act, the better chance you have of preventing a more serious problem in the long run.

Strange Noises

Similar to cars, a problem with your motorcycle can be identified by the unusual noises the bike starts to make. When you’ve owned a motorcycle for several years, you will come to understand the sounds of a healthy engine, as well as the sounds that indicate a problem. Hissing, backfiring, popping and knocking are all signs that there may be a problem with the engine’s combustion flow.

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Motorcycle Summer Safety Tips

Summer is the season many motorcycle riders live for; long days when the weather is warm and the roads are open for day trips. However, if you don’t prepare properly, a lot of things can go wrong that could turn your trip into a less than enjoyable riding experience.

We want everyone to enjoy their time on the roads this summer, so here are a few tips that can help ensure your ride is both fun and safe.

Hydration

Summers in Connecticut can be very hot and humid. Being in the burning sun for hours on a heat-emitting motorcycle can take a toll on a rider. If you get dehydrated, your ability to ride safely becomes more difficult. You may start to feel weak, disoriented and even faint. Avoid this situation by drinking plenty of water before a trip and having water with you while riding.

Navigation System

Many motorcyclists ride to get away from the stress of everyday life, but you don’t want to go so far you can’t get home. There are plenty of GPS systems for smartphones and watches, as well as motorcycle dashboards, that can help you navigate your way back to familiar territory.

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How Cars & Motorcycles Can Share the Road

As the weather starts to heat up this spring, traffic on Connecticut roadways will only get worse. With motorcycles returning to the scene, it is especially important for everyone to use sound judgment and caution to help reduce accidents.

Both car and truck drivers, as well as motorcyclists, can do their fair share to make the roads safe for everyone. We outline a few tips for all parties.

Tips for Motorcycle Riders

  • car and motorcycle accidentMake sure your motorcycle is ready to ride by performing your own maintenance checklist or having it professionally tuned-up by a mechanic.
  • Position yourself for maximum visibility and avoid riding in blind spots.
  • Learn how to brake correctly, using both brakes, and practice proper braking techniques.
  • Take a motorcycle safety training course. The more you know about your bike, the better you become at making important decisions when riding.
  • Always expect the unexpected and don’t assume a car or truck sees you.

Tips for Car Drivers

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