Attending a Bike Event: What Should You Know?

Group motorcycle rideDuring a typical year, late spring through early fall is prime time to attend local motorcycle events. Some are charity rides to support a specific cause, while others are simply for camaraderie.

Due to COVID-19 concerns and social distancing measures, many annual bike events have been canceled or rescheduled to next year. Yet across the country, some events are still on with significant changes from previous years.

If you plan to attend a motorcycle event in 2020, here are some common precautions being taken and what you should expect.

Outdoor Only

Most motorcycle events have adapted to be outdoor-only for 2020. Take Myrtle Beach Bike Week’s Fall Rally as an example. This event will take place outside under a pavilion and feature about one-third the usual number of vendors.

Although an outside event eliminates some risk, those in attendance still need to practice social distancing and be mindful of the surrounding community.

COVID Testing

Especially for events that have attracted thousands of motorcycle riders in the past, some organizers are debating, if not requiring, COVID testing pre or post-event.

In the case of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, this 80-year-old event attracts riders from all over the country, who could have brought in the virus or took it back home to loved ones. It’s estimated that more than 400,000 people attended this year’s 10-day rally.

Due to opposition from the surrounding community, Sturgis organizers encouraged attendees to be tested four to seven days following its conclusion on August 16th.

While some Coronavirus cases have been attributed to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, official numbers have not yet been determined. 
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How to Care For Your Motorcycle Tires

Motorcycle tires literally set the pace for your ride, in terms of handling and performance. When tires show significant signs of wear, your bike may feel drastically different, which could increase the chance you’ll lose control. Whether you perform motorcycle maintenance yourself or have a trusted mechanic, here’s what you should know about taking care of your bike’s tires.

Regularly Check the Pressure

man checking tire pressureBefore taking a ride, use a tire gauge to check the front and back pressure, which is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). If you’re unsure about the recommended PSI, check your owner’s manual.

It’s important to ensure both tires are properly inflated. Multiple factors can affect pressure, including how long you’ve been riding on the tires and current weather conditions.

If the pressure is low, you’ll need to pump both tires with compressed air to reach the desired PSI. If the tires are over-inflated – often a result of warmer weather or the load you’re carrying – bleed them via the Schrader valve.

As a note, some dealers use nitrogen instead of air, which makes the tires run cooler.

When you return home, give both tires a thorough once-over to check for nails or glass shards embedded in the rubber, cracked material, tread separation, bubbling or bulging. These factors not only affect tire pressure but also increase your risk of a blowout.

If you test the pressure after riding for a few hours and notice it has slightly increased, you may need to reduce your bike load or travel at slower speeds.

Check the Treads

Worn treads are a telltale sign your tires are on their last legs and will no longer effectively handle slippery or rough conditions. Get in the habit of checking your tire treads every time you go out for a ride.
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Post-COVID-19: What Motorcycle Riders Need to Know

States across the country have begun to reopen, following the global Coronavirus pandemic. Many non-essential businesses that temporarily closed can now accept customers, but restrictions remain in place on a state-by-state basis, including for non-essential travel.

When you factor in motorists who have driven less often over the past few months, your next motorcycle ride becomes fraught with uncertainty. Consider the following points to help you prepare for a safe trip.

Roadways Will Have Less Traffic

motorcycle parked on the open roadA recent article in the New York Times described the experience of riding through the near-empty streets of New York City. Especially for urban motorcycle riders, this sounds like paradise: You don’t have to worry about traffic and can actually enjoy the open road.

Yet there’s one major catch: In an environment like this, some riders may be tempted to speed or forget to watch out for other road obstructions.

A driver may turn a corner without looking properly or a vehicle may back out of a blind driveway right into the street.

As you enjoy the freedom of less congested roads, obey the speed limit, be aware of your surroundings and ride defensively.

Motorists Are Not Expecting to See You

A report in the Seattle Times found that motorcycle accident rates started to increase in April and continued through May in Washington State, hitting the highest level since 2006.

Two factors likely point to this trend. For many riders, the motorcycle season started later than previous years. Typically, we’re back on our bikes and have completed a couple long-distance trips by April or May. Yet, motorists have primarily kept their cars and trucks in the driveway, only venturing out to the grocery store.
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How COVID-19 Is Changing Motorcycle Season

With social distancing orders in place to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the start of motorcycle season looks and feels different. Many early season events are being canceled or postponed to later dates and some dealerships have closed until further notice.

Additionally, the group rides you were planning are now off the table due to the ban on large gatherings. Nevertheless, you can still enjoy a ride under the following conditions.

Take a Solo Ride

bikers on the open roadThe big question among motorcycle enthusiasts is, “Can I still ride?” The short answer is “yes” – if you keep a few factors in mind. For instance, riders are advised to avoid crowded routes and heading out in groups. Essentially, you’re free to enjoy the backroads solo.

Shelter-in-place rules don’t require you to stay indoors all the time. As one provision, you can participate in solo activities outdoors, as long as you keep six feet away from other people.

If you are feeling healthy and want to get some riding time in, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Wear hand and face protection.
  • Stay away from crowded areas.
  • Strategically time your ride to avoid busy routes.
  • Don’t travel far – aim for 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Keep up-to-date on restrictions in your area, as well as neighboring communities.
  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms, don’t go out for a ride.
  • Avoid attending pop-up events, where the disease can be easily spread.

Riding with Friends

While large group rides are not recommended, you can ride with a couple friends – as long as you adhere to social distancing rules. Everyone should wear a face covering and avoid touching each other’s bikes. When you stop for a break, make sure to keep your distance.

Protect Yourself

It’s always a good idea to have extra protection in spring, whether it’s rain gear or additional layers. Thinking ahead to reduce the spread of Coronavirus, wear a pair of gloves while riding and filling up at the pump.
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Preparing for Early Spring Riding Hazards

Spring has officially arrived! Motorcycle enthusiasts are hoping for a mild season with great riding weather. With longer days, you can also look forward to more hours of daylight.

On the flipside, road hazards often emerge after the long winter season. In addition to brushing up on your skills and performing bike maintenance before you head out, also keep your eyes peeled for the following hazards.

Rough, Damaged Pavement

riding motorcycle on a sunny dayWinter conditions can take a serious toll on the roadways. Although issues are often addressed by the town or state within the first months of spring, they still pose a hazard to riders. As a general rule, always look ahead to anticipate potential risks and avoid losing control or puncturing a tire.

While potholes are a big hazard, they are not the only one to look out for. Riders should also be mindful of the following:

  • Leftover sand and road salt used to melt snow and improve traction.
  • Melted snow making the roadways slicker.
  • Patches of ice and frost from leftover snow that melts and refreezes.
  • Corners where winter debris has been gathering all season long.
  • Rough patches, which give the pavement an uneven surface.

Other Motorists

Car and truck drivers have not seen a motorcycle in months. As a result, they’re not likely to be on the lookout for riders behind or beside them. It may take some time to remember to share the road.

Bikers should ride defensively and follow the rules of the road. Never lane split and always give cars space to avoid getting caught in their blind spots.
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6 Common Late Fall Riding Hazards

Many riders would agree, fall is prime motorcycle season. Near perfect temperatures, clear blue skies, changing leaves and less traffic on favorite backroads make for great end-of-season rides.

On the other hand, fall has a few downsides. With winter right around the corner, riders have to be mindful of freezing overnight temperatures and black ice. These hazards, combined with falling leaves, roadwork and drivers who aren’t expecting to see motorcycles this time of year, remind us to ride carefully and defensively through the end of fall.

As you enjoy the few mild autumn days we have left here in New England, keep these points in mind.

1. Beware of Fallen Leaves

fallen leaves on the road Our region of the country is a must-see spot for leaf peepers – however, changing leaves have to come down eventually. When they do, they can form a slick, muddy blanket that greatly reduces tire traction. An unsuspecting motorcyclist may start to slip and slide, especially if their tire treads are worn out.

Large leaf piles can obscure potholes and uneven pavement, also catching riders by surprise. Added to this, high winds may bring small branches down with the leaves, creating another level of obstruction.

With these risks in mind, here’s how to approach a leaf-covered road this season:

  • Ride around the piles, as you never know what lies underneath.
  • Go slow, until you’re past the areas with fallen leaves and acorns.
  • Make sure your tires have sufficient traction.
  • Slow down and take care around corners.
  • Never ride over broken branches, as they have potential to rip and puncture your tires.

2. Adjust to Shorter Days

When daylight saving time comes to an end, you’re more likely to end a late afternoon ride in the dark. For this reason, make sure your bike’s headlights, brake lights and turn signals are all in working order. So other motorists can see you, further make yourself visible with reflective clothing.

This time of year, the sun now sits lower in the sky. Unless you’re traveling north, this positioning often creates glare and, with fewer leaves on the trees, there is nothing to block the light. To reduce the blinding glow and any potential accidents, make sure you’re equipped with appropriate eyewear and take it slow when the sun prevents you from seeing far ahead.

3. Think About Animals

Plenty of creatures are migrating south, searching for food or seeking hibernation this time of year. Due to these factors, you’re more likely to come across deer and other medium-to-large mammals, especially at dawn and dusk. To anticipate this risk, ride with appropriate protective gear and keep your eyes peeled for animals approaching from the side of the road.
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Fall Safety Tips & Best Spots to Ride

Many people say fall is the perfect time to explore New England on two wheels. You have the chance to see leaves changing color from vibrant green to warm oranges, yellows and reds, while the temperatures are comfortably cool.

The crowds have thinned, beaches and their surrounding communities are still open and the frigid coastal winds have yet to arrive. What could be better? Check out some of the region’s most road trip-worthy destinations.

Fall Riding Safety

colorful fall foliageBefore an autumn motorcycle ride, it’s important to think about safety. The changing leaves are beautiful to see, but once they fall from the trees and gather on the road, leaves becomes dangerous.

Riders should be on the lookout for piles of dry leaves that could be covering hazardous road conditions like potholes. Always be looking at the road ahead and make sure to steer around any piles.

Wet leaves are another danger. Your motorcycle could lose traction with the road if your tires make contact with a slick surface. Also be sure to slow down and maneuver around wet piles of leaves.

In addition, watch for other motorists who may be taking in the scenery and not see your bike. Always make eye contact before proceeding at an intersection and dress to make yourself visible to others.

Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire

Commonly called “The Kanc”, this highway cutting through the White Mountains leads outdoor enthusiasts right to hiking and ski trails. It covers roughly 34 miles of canopy-like foliage that lines the winding road and passes through many small towns. September through October is peak foliage season here, so schedule your itinerary before frost sets in.

Mohawk Trail, Massachusetts

This scenic route officially starts on the New York border, then takes you 60 miles through the Berkshires. It’s a day’s journey that wanders by some of the region’s best sights to enjoy the panoramic scenery. Along the way, you’ll ride by 18th and 19th century homes and bridges to stop and admire.
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Tips to Share the Road with Motorcycles

This time of year, it’s more common to see motorcycles on the road. In the event of a crash, a motorcycle rider is more vulnerable to injury. Whether you’re running late or distracted behind the wheel, think about everyone’s safety before cutting in front of a motorcycle.

Riders can keep themselves safe by obeying the speed limit, never lane splitting and proceeding with caution – even with a green light or the right-of-way. When it comes to sharing the road with cars and trucks, what can a motorcyclist do to stay safe on the roads?

1. Be Aware of Risks

motorcycle driving through trafficMotorcycles are fun to ride and make traveling in warm weather more enjoyable but are much harder to spot, due to their small size:

  • To cars and trucks, your motorcycle appears farther away than it actually is. A car may pull out in front of a bike and cause an unavoidable collision.
  • A motorcycle may get lost in a driver’s blind spot, making it harder to see when another vehicle tries to change lanes.
  • Motorcycles do not offer the same degree of protection as cars and trucks, particularly due to the lack of seat belts and air bags.

2. Know How to React

In addition to keeping the above points in mind, make sure you:

  • Never tailgate a car or truck, staying several vehicle lengths back.
  • Always make eye contact and signal before any maneuver.
  • Never drive next to a car in the same lane. It is unsafe and illegal in many areas, including CT.
  • Allow enough room to counter steer or swerve to avoid obstacles in the road.

3. Keep Posted on the Weather

Motorcyclists know the risks of riding in bad weather, including snow, ice, rain, wind and fog. Cars and trucks can travel below the speed limit and generally stay safe, but riders have to keep in mind there is no enclosure separating them from the elements.

At night, it’s important to stay visible in any weather conditions. Use your high beams on dark streets, wear bright clothing that other motorists can see from a distance and make sure your eye protection is not tinted for better visibility.
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Tips to Stay Hydrated While Riding

The conditions we ride through during spring, summer and early fall increase the chances of dehydration. Especially when you’re wearing a heavy leather riding jacket, the direct sun beats down on you and the whipping winds can leave you feeling dried out.

You may initially feel thirsty, but symptoms can develop into headache, nausea and muscle cramps. To avoid these first signs of heat stroke, have an effective hydration plan for your upcoming rides.

Before You Go Out

Preventing dehydration starts with preparation. The night before a big ride, lower your alcohol and caffeine intake – too much has a diuretic effect on the body, causing you to release more water than you take in.

The day of your ride, start drinking water in the morning and continue gradually throughout the day. Drinking too much at once may lead to stomach cramps. Also realize that while water and other fluids quench your thirst immediately, they take roughly an hour to reach your muscles.

Use a Hydration Pack

Hikers and cyclists swear by hydration packs. For longer rides, they are growing in popularity among motorcycle riders. The convenient two-in-one design combines a 1.5L to 3L bladder with a tube and bite valve that let you drink hands-free, and an actual bag for storing a few small items. All you have to do is strap it on, sip and refill at the next rest stop.

Beyond the convenience factor, it’s far safer than using a mug or water bottle to stay hydrated and usually holds more fluid. To keep your water cold, consider filling and freezing the bladder the night before your trip.
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4 Tips for Riding Over Rough Pavement

You’re enjoying a smooth ride when suddenly, your motorcycle hits a bump. You maneuver your way around the potholes and loose gravel in the road, hoping for smooth asphalt around the bend.

For cars, these disturbances are a minor annoyance but for motorcycles, they can lead to a fall or bike damage. Unfortunately, you’re likely to encounter uneven, ridged roads at some point while out on your motorcycle. What can you do to get through these rough patches?

1. Plan Ahead for Rough Pavement

road construction signWhen you see signs for construction or enter a highly trafficked road, you may ride over:

  • A grooved surface
  • Gravel or an unpaved surface
  • Rumble strips, usually around diverted routes and construction zones
  • Fresh pavement, which brings oil to the surface when wet
  • Slick pavement, worn-out blackout tape and pavement markings
  • Steel plates, which may be smooth or rough in texture
  • Manhole covers

In particular, pavement milling can be very noticeable on bikes with narrow front tires. When driving over these uneven surfaces, don’t panic. Stay relaxed and ride through it slowly.

In many of these instances, the change is sudden. Coupled with the uneven or traction-free surface, your bike may become harder to control. Take it slow and allow yourself enough time to see the obstructions before passing over them.

2. Look for Smoother Ground

Maneuver around ridged, cracked areas and seek out smoother ground. Similarly for slick surfaces, move around what appears to be wet, oily or shiny. Keep in mind that on highways, this smooth area may toward the center of the lane. Be careful of debris that ordinary motor vehicles can drive over.
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