Tips for Safe Riding

springRiderAs the cold weather slowly becomes warmer and the snow has melted, it’s time to get ready for the spring and summer riding season. Once all systems are checked and the necessary tune-ups have been performed, it’s time to hit the road. Bikes can be hard to see on the roads, especially during the summer when it can be crowded on the highways, so it is important for motorcycle owners to be cautious to ensure their rides go smoothly.

Here are some tips for avoiding accidents and staying on the right side of the law.

  • Ride within your skill set.
    Riding a motorcycle can be a lifelong affair and depending on how long you’ve been riding, your skill set will differ from that of a novice to someone more experienced. It is important to know where you stand on the skill hierarchy and to not stray far from your comfort zone. Trying to emulate more experienced riders when you’re still a beginner can lead to serious accidents and severe damage to your bike. Keep it steady and ride within your limits.
  • Focus.
    Just like car drivers, the more distracted you are on a motorcycle, the more likely it is that you will get into an accident. Leave your phone out of view so you won’t be tempted to text or email and avoid wearing headphones that will make it difficult for you to hear a car honking or brakes screeching.
  • Watch the weather.
    Riding in bad weather conditions significantly increases your risk of an accident. While winter is never considered riding season, spring and summer can also make roads hazardous for motorcycles with rain, wind and slick surfaces. Check the weather forecast before you head out for a day trip and be sure to steer clear of oncoming storms.
  • Leave the weave.
    We’ve all done it and we don’t think it’s a big deal, but weaving in and out of traffic is a good way to get noticed by the police and also annoy other motorists. You are just like any other motorist on the road and to share the road means to abide by the same rules. While it is tempting to bypass traffic jams, do yourself a favor and be patient to avoid a ticket or an unexpected move, such as a driver suddenly opening their door which can cause a nasty spill.
  • Get the gear.
    Accidents are a part of life and no matter how careful you are, the longer you ride the more likely it is you will be involved in an accident. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to have the right gear: durable, steel-toe boots, leather jackets and vests, high-quality riding gloves, a helmet with a clear shield and chaps if you will be riding on a long trip. Learn the crash protection system and heed the advice of experts who know what it takes to stay safe.
  • Don’t ever ride without a valid motorcycle license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
    You are no different from a car driver required to carry the same documents. Riding without the important paperwork can lead to your bike being towed and you facing a hefty fine, traffic school and, in some cases, a day in court. Don’t fight a system you can’t beat. Be up-to-date with your documents and ride with peace of mind.

Motorcycle Spring Checklist

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Spring has sprung, the snow has melted and warm air is lingering longer. That’s right, the time we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived: riding season. Whether you are a weekend cruiser or a weekday commuter, bringing your baby out of storage and preparing it for use is an exciting time.

However, before you rev the engine and take off on a trip, be sure your bike is ready. From engine checks to insurance reviews, there are a number of things you should do before riding to ensure that you and your bike are ready for the road.

Here are a few of the more important checks to perform:

  • Check the fuel system: It’s a good idea to replace the fuel filter and inspect the fuel tank, fuel lines and fittings for cracks and leaks. Open the filter cap and look inside for grunge or stratification. If the fuel is consistent and clean, you are in good shape. If not, try draining the tank and fuel lines before running the engine.
  • Charge the battery: Many riders remove the battery in the off season and keep it charged. If this is the case for you, simply clean the cables and terminals, grease and reconnect. If you did not disconnect the battery, then it will need to be fully charged or replaced. Check the leads for corrosion and make sure each attaches tightly.
  • Inspect the tires: If your bike was suspended during storage then the tires should be in good shape. However, the tires may need to be replaced if the bike was weighted down. Check for cracks, bulges, punctures, stress marks and flat spots. Use a tire pressure gauge to check the air pressure in both tires to ensure proper inflation.
  • License and Registration: If you get caught riding with an expired license or registration it could be “bye bye” for your bike season. Make sure your motorcycle license is valid and your registration is up to date before you head out on the road. Also, if you paused your insurance during the winter, don’t forget to contact your insurance provider and reactivate it.
  • TCLOCS: The Motorcycle Safety Foundation uses this acronym for tires, controls, lights, oils and fluids, chassis and stands. Check each carefully to make sure your bike is cleared to ride.

Before you head out, let the bike idle for a few minutes to get the fluids circulating. If all systems go, roll on out and enjoy the season.

Tips for Buying your First Motorcycle

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If your days of wishing you owned a motorcycle are over and you’re ready to initiate yourself into the family of bikers, there are a few things you should know before buying your first ride. Similar to cars and trucks, not all motorcycles are the same. Depending on what you’re looking to get out of the experience, there are some important decisions you will need to make.

What Kind?

First off, what kind of bike are you looking for? A heavy hog that roars like a lion? A speedy street bike that makes your hair stand on end? For the beginner, it is a good idea to research the pros and cons of the popular models of motorcycles. These include Cruisers, Sportbikes, Touring, DualSport and Standard. If your purpose is to take day trips to destination sites, then a high-quality Touring bike is the way to go. However, if you feel the need for speed, then a Sportbike may be a better fit. Interested in off-road riding? A DualSport bike will provide the necessary handling to navigate rough terrain. Take some time to consider your lifestyle, the amount you want to spend and the purpose of owning a motorcycle before making a purchase.

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Winter Maintenance Tips

For motorcycle owners, winter can be one of the longest seasons of the year. Dangerous weather conditions and cold temperatures often leads to putting your baby away for several months. For any die hard rider, this can cause a serious case of the blues. However, instead of longing for spring and the chance to get back on the road, make use of the winter months by performing necessary maintenance on your bike. This will keep your motorcycle in good condition and ready for use come springtime.
 
Here are a few suggested tips for winter motorcycle maintenance:

Pre-Storage Cleaning

blog_closeupMany motorcycle owners will have a storage plan for their bike. From portable garages to all-weather tarps, there are a variety of storage options that will keep your bike safe from the elements. Before putting your ride into storage, it is recommended that you give it a final and thorough cleaning. Getting rid of mud, dirt and other debris can reduce paint corrosion and prevent rust. You may also want to consider a wax and polish job to deter damage from moisture.

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