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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Motorcycle Maintenance Tips

Like cars and trucks, motorcycles can last a very long time if the owner takes good care of the bike. If you simply fill your motorcycle with gas and ride, eventually parts will fail, fluids will run low and other dangerous mechanical breakdowns may occur.

You don’t have to be a professional mechanic to spot check your bike! While it helps to familiarize yourself with the main components of a motorcycle, you will certainly know when something isn’t right due to how the motorcycle sounds and handles.

We want everyone to be safe on the roads, so here are a few tips for maintaining your ride.

Schedule Yearly Professional Maintenance

man performing maintenance repairs on his motorcycleEven if you are a seasoned mechanic, it is recommended that you have your motorcycle fully inspected on a yearly basis; a professional may identify problems you don’t see. It is also a good idea to have a mechanic check on the important components of your motorcycle, including the engine, tires and brakes.

Change the Oil on Time

When it comes to changing the engine oil, follow the same rule that applies to cars. The general timeframe is every 3 months or 3,000 miles. Use this as a reference point; you’ll likely need to change the oil more frequently during peak riding season (spring through fall) and less during the winter, but it makes sense to always be on top of the oil. When you put your bike away for the winter, make sure it has been filled with fresh oil.

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Tips for Winter Motorcycle Storage

For some riders, December 1st is the cutoff date for the riding season. While others will battle the cold and wind during January and February, many consider winter to be off-season.

If you plan on waiting for the return of warm weather before riding again, you have a decision to make regarding bike storage. Unless you have a garage or basement with room for your cruiser or street bike, you’ll have to find a way to keep your bike safe from the hazards of winter weather.

Here are a few ideas for motorcycle storage this winter.

Garages

motorcycle covered for the winter It can be costly, but a covered garage space is ideal. Winter in Connecticut often includes blizzards, ice and sleet storms and heavy winds that can harm your motorcycle. With a reserved spot in a well-maintained and secure parking garage, your bike will be protected from the elements.

Motorcycle Covers

If a garage is too expensive or not available in your area, another solid option is an all-weather motorcycle cover. These durable covers are often made of heavy duty polyethylene and are resistant to wet weather conditions. Available in several sizes, these covers can be used when blizzard warnings arise in the forecast and easily removed if you feel like revving the engine when the first warm day arrives.

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What Your Motorcycle Says About You

There is certainly no shortage of motorcycle designs. From large touring cruisers to sleek street bikes, there’s a motorcycle for every personality. Similar to cars, the type of motorcycle you choose often reveals a lot about your character.

People don’t simply buy a motorcycle because it’s on sale; quite the contrary! Most experienced riders will carefully select a bike based on who they are.

Here’s a brief analysis of what popular motorcycles say about the rider.

The Crotch-Rocket

motorcycle-blogEveryone remembers the classic Kawasaki Ninja Tom Cruise rides around on in Top Gun when he’s not flying F-16’s. This sharp and stylish bike design is tailor-made for the thrill seeker who isn’t satisfied unless he’s living life at full speed. People who choose these street bikes are often lone wolves who need their space and enjoy living on the edge. Speed is a necessity for this pack and it’s not uncommon to find a few tickets on their record.
Typical Rider: Usain Bolt, Ronda Rousey

The Chopper

Though it looks nothing like a street bike, the chopper guys are also known for standing apart from the crowd. Made famous by the classic biker film Easy Rider, choppers are part of American folklore and combine a rebel spirit with a “ride or die” manifesto. The chopper guys and gals often rebel against societal norms and are more comfortable roaring across desert landscapes than socializing in large groups.
Typical Rider: Jesse James, any member of the Hells Angels

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Great Holiday Gear Gifts

With the holiday season in full swing, lists are getting longer with gifts for family and friends. Everyone on your shopping list has their own unique preferences, but for your hardcore motorcycle riders, only certain gifts will do.

Check out these gift ideas to surprise your loved ones this holiday season.

Alpinestars Celer Gloves

Practical and functional, these ultra-durable, full-grain goat leather gloves feature chassis reinforcement with EVA foam and PU knuckle protection, comfortable for all-day rides. These superior motorcycle gloves also include ergonomic TPR sliders on the first two fingers for additional abrasion resistance. The third and fourth finger bridges are perforated to prevent finger roll and separation during impacts.

Tour Master Element Cooling Leather Jacket

REVITAkiraCool and stylish, the protective Tour Master biker jacket is the ideal gift for the rider in your life. Available in sizes X-Small to 3XL, this jacket features:

  • 1.1 – 1.2 mm cowhide leather
  • Removable, CE-approved armor at the elbows and shoulders with an articulated triple density back protector
  • Polyfill insulation in the body
  • 5 OGM in the sleeves
  • Adjustable waist straps with TPR pulls

Garmin Zumo 660LM GPS

Never get lost again with this handy GPS unit from Garmin. Featuring Bluetooth wireless technology that enables hands-free cell phone connectivity, a 5-hour battery life, advanced 3-D navigation and high resolution touch screen, this GPS system fits most bike models and has a rugged, waterproof design.

2017 Triumph Bonneville Bobber

If money is no object and your loved one is in desperate need of a new ride, consider the 2017 Bonneville Bobber from Triumph. Featuring drag bars, bar-end mirrors, a hardtail style and single tractor-style saddle, this brand-new model is an update of the original 1960s Bobber.

Essential Safety Gear for Fall Motorcycle Riding

Motorcycle riding in Connecticut takes dedication in the fall and wintertime. Spring and summer are ideal for riders, offering great weather and decent road conditions. However, when autumn rolls around, the roads can become slick and hazardous with rain, dead leaves and other debris. There’s no reason to store your motorcycle during these months, but it makes sense to have the right motorcycle safety gear to ensure your trips are safe.

Here are just a few of the items you should consider for riding in cooler weather.

Gloves, Boots & Jackets

close-up of leather motorcycle glove High-quality leather jackets and gloves, as well as sturdy, steel-toe biker boots are always a good idea – but even more so when the conditions get hazardous. With a durable pair of leather riding gloves, you can ride with confidence knowing rain and sweat won’t interfere with your grip, shifting and braking. Cool and rainy fall days can make riding difficult and a reliable pair of motorcycle gloves can be a wise investment. Also, a comfortable leather biker jacket offers that all-important layer of second skin that can protect your body from serious road rash. And with steel-toe biker boots, you give your feet exceptional protection from cold weather and road debris.

Safety Googles

Fall can be a beautiful time in New England with all the colorful foliage. However, it also can mean a lot of falling debris, which can be kicked up by wind gusts and interfere with your vision. Riding is hard enough without having to constantly rub dust and debris from your eyes. While sunglasses can help, safety goggles are specifically designed to keep all sorts of particles from getting in your eyes. If you still want the slick look of shades, you can find plenty of motorcycle safety goggles that come with a number of tints to match your biker style.

Rain Gear

Autumn in New England can often be cold and wet. Before you hit the road, consider purchasing gear that is specifically designed for rain. From boot covers to breathable rain jackets and pullovers, there are a number of great items that will not only keep you dry, but also feature fluorescent stripes that give other motorists a clear indication to share the road.

This season, be safe when riding and wear the right gear to make your trips more fun.

Best Motorcycles for Beginners

Although an interest in motorcycles can start at a young age, it will be a few years before you are legally able to take your steel horse on the road. While many people dream of a massive Harley hog or sporty Honda, the fact is that beginners need to start out with much less powerful bikes. Learning on a big bike can lead to fatal accidents for amateur riders.

Harley motorcycles are extremely powerful and quite heavy. If you don’t have the bodyweight to control these behemoth bikes, chances are you will be thrown off faster than a bucking bronco. Speed bikes like Kawasaki Ninjas will have you clipping 140 mph faster than you’re used to and such high speeds can even be dangerous for the pros.

Three Beginner Motorcycles to Consider

man receiving the keys to a new motorcycle When choosing your first motorcycle, check out these excellent bikes that will help you to master the art of riding.

  • Yamaha FZ-07: This is a bike for beginners, but it’s not a scooter. This 4-stroke, liquid cooled DOHC, 8-valve V-twin bike is perfect for people just starting out. The inline twin cylinder features a unique linear torque curve, giving the rider a smoother feeling in throttle response. With dual front brakes and a compact wheelbase, the FZ-07 can handle a lot. The design of this bike is ideal for city and country riding and even has a look that says anything but beginner.
  • Moto Guzzi V7 II Stone ABS: A retro-style bike with modern features, this Italian-made bike is made for rough terrain and winding roads. The Stone ABS is inspired by vintage 7’s from Moto Guzzi’s rich history with lighter-weight materials. The bike only weighs 417 lbs., making it ideal for beginners and riders with smaller frames. Enjoy taking long trips to learn with a large fuel tank that can hold 5.8 gallons.
  • Suzuki GW250: Featuring a displacement of 248cc, a 4-stroke, 2-cylinder SOHC engine and 6-speed transmission, the GW250 won’t make you feel like an amateur rider. A stylish entry-level bike, the GW250 has a mass that is very manageable and is helpful for new bikers negotiating weight distribution and leaning. Ideal for city riding, the GW250’s 6-speed gearing is helpful when learning how to shift properly.

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Benefits of Taking a Motorcycle Safety Class

Some bikers start riding early. As young teenagers, they are romping through the woods and open fields on dirt bikes and ATVs. Handling an off road vehicle can be quite different from a motorcycle. Riders do not have to deal with the same weight, maneuverability issues, traffic or other obstacles, but by the time these individuals buy their first motorcycle, they have a grasp on riding. Other riders are brand new to the experience and may be getting on a motorcycle for the first time when they make the decision to ride. Either way, taking a professional motorcycle safety class is highly recommended for anyone preparing to ride the highways and back roads of Connecticut.

Learn Safety Tips

closeup of a motorcycle on the road As the old saying goes, it never hurts to be reminded. From lifetime riders to amateurs, a safety course can help refresh or introduce basic safety concepts to make everyone a more careful rider. Some experienced bikers may have missed a few seasons due to work, an injury or lack of a working motorcycle, in which case a refresher course can help get you back in the saddle. For beginners, the lessons taught in a safety course will help in passing a state license test, cover the appropriate gear recommended and the many traffic scenarios one may encounter.

Receive Insurance Discounts

Did you know that some insurance companies offer discounts on motorcycle insurance rates when a rider has successfully completed a safety course? These days, every little bit helps when it comes to saving money and being able to lower your insurance rates. The discount can range from five to 20 percent, depending on the insurance carrier. Before taking a motorcycle safety course, ask your insurance agent if they provide this discount and what is necessary for eligibility.

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