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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Harley-Davidson Plans 100 New Motorcycles

With competition getting stronger, Harley-Davidson is mapping out a 10-year business plan they hope will increase ridership, grow its international business and reduce its impact on the environment. In addition, the company aims to launch 100 new motorcycle models during that timeframe, 50 more than was previously announced.

Harley-Davidson CEO and President Matt Levatich said in a statement, “By 2027, our objectives are to build 2 million new Harley-Davidson riders in the U.S., grow our international business to 50 percent of annual volume, launch 100 new high-impact motorcycles, deliver superior return on investment capital and grow our business without growing our environmental impact.”

New Motorcycles Emerging

motorcycle sketchThis quarter, Harley-Davidson has already launched two new models: The Road King Special and the Street Rod. Although the company continues to dominate its market, recent moves by Indian Motorcycles have led to new strategies aimed at reversing a trend of fewer motorcycle riders.

International Expansion

Harley-Davidson plans on taking advantage of a huge international market by adding 150 to 200 dealerships around the globe by 2020. Already, the Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer has added locations in China, India, Norway, Slovenia, Spain and Thailand. Long an iconic symbol of America, Harley understands the need to expand globally to remain successful.

While sales in Asia have been sluggish, due in part to competition with Asian manufacturers such as Honda, Latin America has seen a 24.2 percent increase in motorcycle sales since last quarter.

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Spring Motorcycle Maintenance Tips

When spring weather arrives in Connecticut, there is one group of people who are more excited than anyone else. These would be motorcycle owners, who have waited patiently for warm weather through snow and cold weather, so they could once again enjoy their passion: riding motorcycles.

Getting back on the road after the long winter is a great feeling, but before you go full throttle, there are necessary steps to ensure your bike is ready to ride.

Here are some simple maintenance tips every motorcycle owner should know when getting a bike ready for spring riding.

Test the Brakes

man performing maintenance repairs on his motorcycleIf your bike has been in storage over the winter, there is a chance the brakes may have seized up. This can lead to fluid absorbing moisture, which can make the brakes feel spongy. Before you hop on, it’s a good idea to walk your bike around the driveway and test the brakes. The last thing you want is suddenly realize your brakes need repair when cruising on the roads. It is also recommended that you clean any surface corrosion from brake discs so they are in top form.

Check the Fluids

Many bikers will put a fuel additive in their tanks before storing a bike for the winter. In the case you did not, there is a chance that the fuel injectors could be clogged. It is a good idea to fill the tank with fresh fuel and new fuel filters after a thorough cleaning of the injectors. Also check the oil and, if necessary, do a full oil change to ensure no moisture got into the system.

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Best Apps For Your Motorcycle

The wind blowing through your hair as you roll along back roads with no destination is one of the feelings that motorcycle riders love. While we are driven by these traditional thrills of riding, we cannot ignore the fact that technology continues to evolve and improve, impacting our daily lives. In 2017, there are new apps designed for motorcyclists that help make riding safer and more enjoyable.

Here are a few of the apps motorcycle riders are choosing.

Waze

motorcyclist smiling at smartphone The Waze app calculates the quickest path to your destination by gathering speed information from all other Waze users in your area and at your destination. Based on a community approach, the Waze app works with input from other riders to help you avoid accidents, traffic and hidden speed traps.

By using a smartphone paired to a Bluetooth communicator in your helmet, Waze’s robotic spokesperson will give you turn-by-turn directions to ensure you take the most direct route possible. Waze also lets you search for the nearest and cheapest gas station, caravan with others to check on progress and electronically send your route and arrival time to someone so they can track your progress on the internet.

Road Cruncher

Riders who enjoy keeping up-to-date with their bike’s performance will love the Road Cruncher – it’s like having a mechanic in your phone! With this app, you can get comprehensive data on crucial elements of your motorcycle’s performance, including fuel mileage, service and repair logs and average speed. The app will also send you a reminder when it’s time for service and can track trip expenses to help you calculate the cost per day, per mile and provide a moving average.

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Polaris Taking on Harley-Davidson in Electric Market

Indian to Compete with Harley-Davidson

close-up of leather motorcycle gloveIn January, Polaris Industries announced it was closing the Victory motorcycle brand. Recently, Polaris announced its intention to roll out electric motorcycles under the company’s growing Indian brand in the next four to five years. Polaris motorcycle division president Steve Menneto recently made the comment to Reuters, after citing that Polaris’ current electric motorcycles are Victory bikes sold under the Empulse brand.

The decision comes not long after Polaris decided to close the Victory line in favor of putting more focus on Indian, which has grown its U.S. market share in what has been a relatively flat market for motorcycle sales.

According to the Polaris timeline, electric Indian motorcycles should hit the market around the same time as Harley-Davidson will introduce its LiveWire electric motorcycle. It’s no secret Indian and Harley vie for the same spot in the market and this simultaneous rush to the electric model could be a significant boost for whoever does it better.

In 2014, Harley introduced the LiveWire as a prototype available for test rides. Originally LiveWire was priced at $50,000 with a range of 53 miles. However, industry experts expect the consumer model to go for $15,000 and a range of at least 150 miles. Menneto also told Reuters that the Indian electric bike would have a range of up to 140 miles on a single charge.

While Harley-Davidson dominates the U.S. market for heavyweight motorcycles, Indian’s market share has grown 3% since 2011 of the U.S. on-highway motorcycle market.

As Victory Shuts Down, Indian Motorcycles Rise

Earlier this month, Polaris Industries Chairman and CEO Scott Wine made the decision to wind down the production of Victory Motorcycles over the next 18 months. In a somber statement, Wine said, “This was an incredibly difficult decision for me, my team and the Polaris Board of Directors. Over the past 18 years, we invested not only resources, but our hearts and souls into forging the Victory Motorcycles brand, and we are exceptionally proud of what our team has accomplished.”

The Future of Indian Motorcycles

indian motorcycleDuring that time, Polaris made the move to acquire and develop the famed Indian Motorcycle brand, where the company will now focus its attention. The move is already paying off; in its first year on the market, Indian sales doubled for Polaris. The strong existing brand, combined with Polaris’ design and engineering knowledge, could build a line of just a few models that eclipsed Victory’s previous 16 years of effort to grow sales.

The good news for Polaris is that employees who worked on the Victory brand will be able to work jobs in other parts of the industry. Few shut-down stories have such a silver lining, but the Polaris power sports segments is expanding rapidly and the company will be able to avoid the pain of layoffs.

Victory took major risks over the years, mostly with the first production of the V92C built in 1998. Models like the V92SC Sport Cruiser, the Vision tourer, the Vegas Cross Country and Project 156 were credited with saving the brand and had critics pointing out how the company’s spirit and expertise allowed it to survive mistakes and manufacture even better bikes.

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The History of Motorcycles

Hogs, crotch-rockets, dream machines…we all have a chosen moniker for our motorcycle. Whether you are a fan of modern day street bikes or vintage cruisers, motorcycles have a storied and fascinating history.

Here’s a brief overview of how the motorcycle movement began and why they remain so popular today.

The Beginning

motorcycle shock absorberBased off the bicycle, invented in 1817, motorcycles don’t have a clear and agreed-upon start date. It is understood that motorbikes began in the second half of the 19th century, when cycles were designed with a front and rear wheel of the same size and a pedal crank mechanism used to drive the rear wheel.

If you’re looking for a date, try 1866. In Paris, a blacksmith by the name of Pierre Michaux’s son who a bicycle with a steam-powered engine. That same year, a co-worker of Michaux’s named Pierre Lallement filed a patent in the United States. In 1868, Sylvester H. Roper of Roxbury, MA developed a twin-cylinder steam velocipede, with a coal-fired boiler between the wheels. The first successful motorcycle production company began in Arizona under the guidance of Lucius Copeland. He designed a smaller steam boiler and called the company the Northrop Manufacturing Co.

The Progression

After the initial attempts to produce a motorized, two-wheel bike, the 1880’s saw a flurry of activity. Particularly in England and Germany, there was a race to advance the design and make it a commercial success. Names like Wilhelm Maybach, Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz are all referenced when it comes to the origins of the modern-day motorcycle. In 1896, the Excelsior Motor Company began production of their first motorcycle model that was available for purchase to the public. The first commercially produced motorcycle was built in the U.S. in 1898 by Charles Metz at his factory in Waltham, MA.

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What Every Biker Needs to Know

When you choose to join the special fraternity of motorcycle owners and riders, you take on a lot of responsibility. Unlike cars and trucks, motorcycles are a unique mode of transportation that are not always respected by other drivers on the road.

Whether you are a beginner who just got his motorcycle license or a seasoned vet who has been roaming the roads for decades, there are certain things every rider needs to know.

The Road Hierarchy

close-up of motorcycle speedometer You will hear people say “share the road” and “the roads are for everyone,” but the simple fact is that motorcycles often take a back seat to cars and trucks when it comes to common roadway courtesy. Unfortunately, there is a definite bias against motorcycle riders and if you ride, you need to be aware that car and truck drivers often don’t pay enough attention to you. This means it’s up to you to be extra cautious when riding to avoid accidents. Is this fair? No, but it is a reality of the road and needs to be understood by riders of all experience levels.

Invest in Safety Gear

No matter how safe a rider you are, you can never predict the weather conditions or actions of other motorists. The best you can do is ride safe and buy gear that will protect you in case you do end up taking a spill. Great options include a leather biker jacket, steel toe boots, leather gloves, a helmet and a face shield to ensure you don’t sustain a serious injury should an accident occur.

License & Insurance

The license and insurance you carry for your car or truck does not apply to your motorcycle; some riders learn this the hard way. You will need to pass a test through the Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain a motorcycle license and it is highly recommended that you get a full license, rather than a renewable learner’s permit.

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Riding in Cold Weather

blog_winterIf the chilly temperatures of winter are bearable for your biker blood, then there is always an opportunity to get your engines revving. However, riding in cold weather is not ideal and if you plan to take on the challenge, there are some tips worth considering to make your ride a little more comfortable.

Check the Weather

While most bikers will store their motorcycles for the winter season, some are determined to see it through and get in a few rides. While riding in cold weather is one thing, heading into a nor’easter is quite another. Before heading out on your bike, be sure to check the local weather. If there is any chance for precipitation, be it freezing rain, sleet or snow, consider postponing your trip. Some can handle the cold better than others, but your bike will be in serious danger if the weather turns ugly.

Layer and Layer Again

Every rider knows a high quality leather jacket is a necessary second layer of skin, but when heading out in temperatures below fifty degrees, it is advised that you have the proper gear to stay warm. A good idea is to start with full leg and arm layers, fleece if possible. You should also consider sock and glove liners that can help keep your hands and feet warm when the cold air starts to bite. Gore-Tex is a great brand for cold weather gear and you should also check out Klim Element and Aerostich.

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2017 Motorcycle Wish List

With 2016 coming to end, it’s time to start thinking about how you are going to treat yourself in the new year. If your current motorcycle has seen better days or you are ready to make your first purchase, there is no shortage of outstanding bikes in the 2017 lineup. From cruisers to crotch rockets and all models in between, you’ll find a fantastic selection of new motorcycles roaring off the assembly line in 2017.

Here are our picks for the best bikes being introduced in the new year.

Harley-Davidson Road Glide

motorcycle wheelCompetitors keep trying to dethrone the king, but Harley will not be intimidated! Coming soon is the anticipated Road Glide. While the $19,000 price tag may make some shy away, it is the most affordable of Harley’s big bikes. The Glide is power packed with treats, including an all-new 107 cubic-inch Milwaukee Eight V-Twin engines, four valve heads and a bump in compression to add roughly 10% of torque and reduced vibration and heat from the motor.

Moto Guzzi V7 Stone II

Not familiar with Guzzi? Maybe this is the year you meet one of the motorcycle industry’s best performing bikes. The all new V7, an upgrade from last year’s I, is roomier (due mostly to a half-inch lower seat and an engine moved forward in the chassis). The V7 Stone II features a new 750 cc, air-cooled V-Twin linked to a 6-speed transmission that replaces the previous five. Though this is not technically a sport bike, you’ll feel the need for speed. Other features of the V7 include ABS and traction control that comes as standard equipment.

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