How to Plan Your First Spring Motorcycle Trip

Once the warm weather of spring arrives, you’ll be back on your motorcycle. Are you ready for your first trip? Rather than hitting the pavement with no destination in mind, plan ahead to increase your chances of a successful journey.

1. Know Where You’re Going

riding motorcycle on a sunny dayFor your first trip, choose a familiar destination where you already know the roads. However, potholes and uneven pavement may not be addressed by early spring. Even a route you know well could present a few riding challenges.

Wherever you go, you will need the stamina to get there. No one wants to get fatigued halfway through and turn around. Pick somewhere you know you can ride to without significant warm up. If you’re traveling in a group, decide on the destination together.

You can also get a sense of the route and current conditions with a trip in the car.

2. Pack Up Supplies

Never set out on a motorcycle trip without the right supplies. Bring the appropriate riding gear, including waterproof pieces in case of rain. This time of year, temperatures can still plunge unexpectedly, so have a balaclava, gloves and a lightweight set of layers.

On the flip side, you don’t want to lug around too much gear. Clothing aside, stick to the basics for warmth, shelter and food without weighing down your bike.

3. Check Your Motorcycle

Even if your motorcycle was properly winterized, it will likely need maintenance before your first ride:

  • Fuel: You likely added fuel stabilizer before placing your bike into storage, but make sure your bike has fresh gasoline before you set out.
  • Tires: Check the tires for flat spots, lumps, general unevenness and proper inflation.
  • Fluids: Change the oil and check the brake fluid to make sure your bike is not leaking.
  • Belts: Check the belt drive system for wear and tear.
  • Suspension: Check for rust and tarnishing around the suspension system and have it scrubbed off.

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Indian Chieftain Elite vs. Harley-Davidson Street Glide CVO

On March 1st, Indian released their 2018 Chieftain Elite bagger motorcycle. Following its release, some enthusiasts began comparing this motorcycle to Harley-Davidson’s Street Glide CVO. Just how similar are the two touring bikes?

Legendary Motorcycles

Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycles are two of the oldest motorcycle manufacturers in the world. As America’s first motorcycle company and oldest continually running manufacturer respectively, many riders can identify these brands on sight. Longtime enthusiasts know they can expect solid bikes from both Harley-Davidson and Indian, which is why we’re taking a closer look at how these two new models stack up to each other.

Chieftain Elite Specs

Touring bikes have extensive storage for luggage, making them a great asset for longer trips. The Indian Chieftain Elite has many modern features that riders new and old can appreciate, including:

  • Thunderstroke 111 49 V-twin engine
  • 6-speed transmission
  • Surround sound audio
  • Bluetooth® connectivity
  • Customizable touchscreen split display
  • Pathfinder LED lights

Bagger bikes can be very heavy – the Chieftain Elite is 827 pounds without gas in the tank! Also, weight increases when riders add their belongings to the saddlebags. The extra pounds can make this model more challenging to handle, especially for newbies.

In 2013, Indian released their all new Thunderstroke 111 V-twin engine. This high-quality air-cooled engine is 111 cubic inches (1811 cc) and produces 161 Nm of peak torque. Indian was challenged to combine their classic engine features with modern technology, without disappointing their brand-loyal bikers. Still recognizable as an Indian engine, the Thunderstroke 111 has improved power and better piston durability.

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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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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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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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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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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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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.

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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