Saturday, February 17, 2018

How to Break Up -- (aka how to successfully trade your bike in)

Yup, I did it. On Groundhog Day no less (at least it wasn't Valentine's!). 

But I'm not talking about the romantic kind.... Well, it was sort of. After a 10 year relationship, and 40,000 miles, I've broken up with my 2004 Dyna Super Glide.
We had some great times together & I'll never forget you!!
I traded her in for a New 115th Anniversary Heritage at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson, and I have no regrets. 

Are you thinking of breaking up with your bike? (aka trading in) Well then, keep reading cuz this is how you do it:

  1. Know that you're not going to get out of the relationship exactly what you put in: I bought my Super for $9500, and since then I've spent close to another $3000 on parts & maintenance. NADA.com values my bike now between $2900-$3900... that's a 30-40% return just on my original purchase price. Of course I had the maintenance done and engine upgraded out of love, not for the money. 
  2. Leave 'em feeling loved: Yes I rode my bike and I wasn't afraid to put the miles on, and I also got her in for regular maintenance routinely. This is key because the dealership will be able to tell (kinda like when your dentist asks if you've been flossing...).
  3. No 'take backs': You put extra stuff on your bike, you told/showed the dealer your bike with the extra stuff - like a Daymaker LED Headlight for example. And the dealership gave you a quote based on that extra stuff. Then you bring your bike in, except now the stock sealed-beam headlight is on it.... Not cool at all. Unless it's extremely personal, leave it. (At FXCHD we can tell you about the personal, interesting things we've found in traded bikes!)
  4. Clean 'em up: It's one thing if your trade is a true 'barn find.' But if not then at least wash the dust & bug guts off and present your bike in the best light.
  5. It ain't done till the paperwork is complete: Bring in the A) Title, B) Lien Release or Bank info & payoff amount, C) current Registration and D) the Owner's Manual for the bike you're trading. The dealer will need the first three to sell your bike to the next owner, and the manual is nice to give as well. 
Want to get a Trade Value for your bike at FXCHD? Click Here
Looking forward to starting a nice, long relationship with this one!!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Let's start a New Revolution

With Polaris (manufacturer of Indian Motorcycles) and Harley-Davidson's announcement of fourth quarter earnings last week, we are seeing the two year trend of declining sales that is industry wide. And one of the major factors behind this? There are less and less new Bikers getting on the road.

Why should you, as a rider and motorcycle enthusiast, care? Because without new riders, groups like ABATE and the AMA will cease to make an impact on legislative issues that threaten our sport. For instance, the "self-driving" cars that everybody seems to be leaning towards, not being able to "see" motorcycles - exactly what happened last December in San Francisco
Not to mention, we'll have fewer friends sharing the road with us. I know I love, love, love sharing my riding adventures with old and new motorcycling friends that "get it." 
We are a rare breed that truly know how live, and we're facing extinction.  
By starting a Revolution (a sudden, complete or marked change in something; a procedure or course back to a starting point), we can change this.

To help ensure the future of motorcycling, Harley-Davidson has already pledged 100 new bikes in the next 10 years, and recently announced plans to bring an electric motorcycle to market within 18 months. 

And this is why Robert Pandya, a fearless moto industry expert in public relations and marketing, has started Give A Shift, or GAS. They are bringing together all interested parties to identify problems and find solutions; and they want to hear from everyone - from newbies to veteran industry personnel.

What can we as Bikers do? 

It all begins with us - all of us have to get involved in order to turn this trend around. We cannot just leave it to the motorcycle manufacturers and dealerships. 

Here's some suggestions:
  • Share your passion with everyone: I'm talking about your family, friends, organizations you're involved in (Elks Club, City Council, etc.), and co-workers who don't ride. Tell them about your riding adventures - especially how complete strangers come up to you to admire your bike. Be sure to tell everyone exactly how motorcycling enriches your life.
  • Share on your Social Media: Instagram, Snap-Chat, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn -post pictures of you riding, packing for a long motorcycle trip, sitting on a bike at the dealership, hanging out and partying with other Bikers (because as we all know, whenever Bikers get together it's always a party!). 
  • Have a Dinner Date: Invite the mentioned non-riding friends over to your house for lunch or dinner and a movie. I suggest such motorcycle cinema classics as "21 Days Under the Sun," "World's Fastest Indian," "The Motorcycle Diaries," "On Any Sunday" or the classic "Easy Rider." Then take 'em out to your garage, let them sit on your bike and pick it up off the kick stand. Even teach them how to start it up. This just might spark them wanting to get on a bike.
  • Take them to an event: Take them to an International Motorcycle Show. The Syracuse Super Swap and FXCHD's Chili Cook Off happen every February. In April you'll have Spring Open House events, and May will feature a Season Opener event at our dealership. Explain to your non-riders what's going on, introduce them to other motorcyclists, and include them in on the fun.
  • Bring them to a dealership: Show off the casual clothing as well as the Riding Gear (I've always said it starts with the clothes!), the branded collectibles and auto accessories. And of course the bikes themselves - all the different colors, shapes and sizes they come in.
  • Get involved: Join Give A Shift if you're interested in lending your voice to the wide variety of riders. Or join your local ABATE, H.O.G. Chapter or the AMA.
I am asking all my riding friends to convert at least one non-riding person into a motorcycle enthusiast this year- get 'em on and get them riding. 

We Bikers are a passionate people who have found our freedom with a life on two wheels, behind bars. We can do this and ensure the future of motorcycling will be around for generations to come.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Organizing a Motorcycle Ride for Charity

A sure sign of Spring is FX Caprara Harley-Davidson's Ride Calendar Meeting that happens every year in March. This is where our NNY Harley Owners Group and local motorcycle & riding clubs get together and plan out their rides that will leave from our dealership.


Some rides are just to have fun, but the majority are to raise funds for a charity. For instance, the Watertown Chrome Divas put on their annual Ta-Ta Run every year for local breast cancer services.

(All the pictures in this blog post are from the Diva's 2017 Ta-Ta Ride, their 10th year of putting it on.) 

It is a lot of fun to go on a well organized charity ride, but don't be fooled - it takes a lot of dedication and time to make it successful!

So we #atFXCHD thought we'd give you the highlights on how you can make this happen, on the off chance you'd like to set up a charity ride.

CHOOSING YOUR CHARITY
You may already have a charity in mind, or perhaps you're still in the process of choosing one that you feel a connection to. Either way, be sure to contact them and get permission to raise funds (it sounds weird I know, but sometimes they have rules for such things). Also get their permission to use their logos on your flyers to promote your ride. An added bonus: see if a few people from the charity you've chosen can be there for your ride - connecting a face to the cause will help immensely.

SETTING THE DATE
Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? Except that you'll want to remember major holidays (because people will be spending time with family/friends) and other bike rallies & events in your area (because they'll be going to Thousand Islands River Run, Americade or Laconia instead of going on your ride). 

You'll also want to decide on a rain date - usually the following weekend - in case you need to postpone it. We recommend giving yourself at least six months to get your ride all put together.

YOU'RE NOT A ONE MAN BAND
Get some friends/volunteers to help you, cuz you're gonna need it. From organizing, to planning the route, to finding give-aways and sponsors, and getting Bikers signed up on the day of the ride, plus a lot more - there's absolutely no way you'll be able to get it all done by yourself. Decide who is going to do what and meet regularly to see what's going on and where everyone is at.
LOGISTICALLY SPEAKING
Choose your starting and end points. Using a start point at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson (or your local Harley dealership) is great because we will help promote your ride, we have room enough in our parking lot, able to set up tables and chairs to register your riders, and have free coffee and donuts for everyone the day of. Plus, everyone loves going to a Harley dealer!! 
Your end point should also have a large parking area, have food (if you decide not to have it catered), music - live music preferably, and room enough inside for a Chinese Auction, 50/50 raffles, etc. Perfect places are Elks Clubs, American Legions, VFWs, and Marine Corp League. You can choose a restaurant of course, just see if they'll block off part of their parking for the bikes.

THE RIDE AND THE ROUTE
Next you'll want to decide what type of ride to do: scavenger hunt, poker run, or guided ride. The hunt gives a chance for everyone to do it on their own time and meet up at the end point. For both the poker run & guided rides you will need a group of Bikers to lead it. And for the poker run you'll need a deck of cards, score cards and prizes or part of the pot to award at the end. Some groups give out prizes for the best & worst hand, which gives everyone a chance to have a great time.

As for the Route: look for scenic rides along well paved roads with little traffic, so don't think of riding through the middle of downtown - the goal is to keep your group together & safe. 
Recommended length is 50 to 100 miles in all with at least three stops before reaching the end point (five if you're doing a poker run). Have the route printed out so you can give them to the Bikers going. Also actually ride the route, including stops, at least once before the day of the event. Remember: Summer months mean road construction can pop up anywhere! Adjust your route as necessary.

If your group is going to be large, you might want to ask local law enforcement weeks in advance to block large intersections for you. Or you can break up into two or three smaller groups. Remember: only law enforcement can block traffic - we advise you or any of your crew not to do it yourselves on the ride.
SHOW ME THE MONEY
Raising funds for a charity means you'll have to put a price on your ride. If you're having any sort of food, drink and entertainment at the end, and the cost of that isn't being covered by your sponsors, then you'll have to consider this going into the price of the ride as well.

You can sell early tickets at a reduced rate - this will give you an idea of how many people to expect (and also a way to contact them should you need to enact the rain date). And/or if you set the price at $25 per rider or vehicle and they hand you $30, you can ask if they'd like to put the $5 change towards 50/50.

Wrist bands will need to be given to those that have registered so you can easily see who has paid for the ride and who hasn't. Designing buttons, patches and/or t-shirts to sell to commemorate your charity run will help keep your event in the minds of the participants for next year's ride as well.

GET THEIR JOHN HANCOCK
Registering Bikers for your ride, you'll want them to sign a release waiver - they have to know that each person will be liable if involved in an accident. You may wish to check with an insurance agent for a liability policy and an attorney to draw up the release form. 
GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN
Getting the word out, now that you've got it all organized, is key to getting people to go on your ride. Tell everyone: bike dealerships and local repair shops, restaurants, bars and at all the bike nights you can go to. Start a Facebook Event Page and consider putting it on Eventbrite.com. Tell all the local clubs- the local H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group), Motorcycle & Riding Clubs in your area. If you can, get the local tv and radio stations involved. Don't just tell them once either, tell everyone lots of times - especially the closer you get to your event. This is an absolute must if you're wanting any sort of turn out for your ride!!

LAST BUT NOT LEAST
The day of your ride has finally arrived and you're all set. You and your crew get to the starting point at least 30 minutes before registration starts. Make sure you all have everything set and a way to get a hold of each other should questions arise that they need answers to. 

---And there you have it: the keys to organizing a motorcycle ride for charity. As you can see, it is quite a lot of work... but done correctly it will also be a lot of fun with old friends, plus you'll make new ones.

Monday, January 15, 2018

How Bikers Save Money for their Road Trip(s)

Admittedly, when most people see a Biker, they think that they have little to no money. And in most cases they'd be wrong. (Unless you see us right after a trip to a Bike Rally or long road trip.)
On my way back from Laconia, NH
Truth be told the average Biker has a decent bank roll. There's their Harley-Davidson motorcycle, about $12K+. Then there's all the Riding Gear- leather and/or nylon jackets, leather chaps, usually two or more helmets, rain gear, boots and gloves- probably $2500 all together. Plus there's bike parts and maintenance, another $1000-$2000 annually, depending on the bike's mileage. 

And then we have money for our long road trips, probably to Laconia or Sturgis, or over several (or longer) days. That's fuel (although it only takes $20 or so to fill up on high octane), food, lodging, entertainment and souvenirs. 
Our bikes (I'm in the middle) on the Cape May - Lewis Ferry
But how do Bikers afford it all? How can we afford to take our long road trips across states, or maybe even across the country? 

We save for it. And this is how we do it:

1) We don't spend excessively when we're home. We don't get Starbucks every morning, we drink the coffee at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson. We don't eat out every lunch time, we bring our lunches with us to work. Cable and streaming services are at a minimum, we look to save on groceries, and we do our drinking at home (which also saves on DUI charges!). We know that while we're on our Road Trips we'll be having coffee, eating out and having loads of entertainment while having our adventures, so waiting for that is worth it.

2) We use dedicated savings accounts. By cutting our expenses at home we're able to put that money immediately into a savings account where we can't touch it. We take $25 a week out of our paycheck, so at the end of the month that's $100, and at the end of six months that's $600. See how fast that adds up?
My boots in the sand at Lake Winnipesaukee
3) Have spare change will travel. I'm talking about apps that take the spare change from purchases on your debit card and invest them (Acorns, Digit and Chime). You spend $29.32 filling up your car, they'll take the remaining $0.68 cents and put that into an investment account. You'll be surprised at just how fast that adds up!! With Acorns (that's what I have and I love them!!) you can even have them invest another $10 -or which ever amount you wish -every week and it'll add up even faster. The only caveat: it takes about a week to ten days to withdraw your money.

Then there's apps like Ibotta, EBates and other cash back sites that will put money in your account for making certain purchases. It's a little, but it's still money that adds up over time.
H.O.G. Harley Owners Group
4) We are H.O.G.s! That stands for the Harley Owners Group and you can be a member as long as you own at least one Harley motorcycle. By being a member you'll get pins & patches for mileage accumulated, HOG Magazine, Touring Handbook and more. While at home you can save on your AT&T wireless services, motorcycle insurance & shipping. While your traveling on the road, even if you're in your car, you can save on lodging with Best Western Ride Rewards. See all the H.O.G. membership benefits for yourself by clicking here.

5) Of course you can't travel by motorcycle if you don't have one! We at FXCHD have that covered: until the end of January 2018 we at FXCHD have a "No Money Down, No Payments 90 Days" with AmeriCU. Get the new bike now and be ready to ride come spring-time.

As with any travel, things rarely go exactly according to plan. So you'll want a little money cushion and be open to adjusting your plans as needed. And remember what all Bikers know to be true: 


It's the journey, not the destination, 
that makes all the difference.
Me stuck in the middle again!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

I'm 24 and Single... Is buying a Harley a terrible idea?

The short answer is: No. No it's not a bad idea to buy a Harley, no matter what age you are (IMHO of course).

Over the years working for FX Caprara Harley-Davidson (and other H-D Dealerships) I've heard the term "geezer glide" when younger generations refer to Harley motorcycles.

Or how they can't even think of owning a Harley because they're sssooo expensive.
Put yourself here....

Still, they stare at our bikes with that dreamy look in their eyes. 

I tell them they can through a leg over and sit on the bike they're drooling over, and when they do, I hear "Oh, this is nice!"

Growing up in Northern California, Harley-Davidson motorcycles were everywhere. Relatives, friends and then co-workers all had them and I thought to myself that they must have been rich. 

But once I graduated college I realized that all my "Harley Relations" had just made the feeling of being free (the feeling we all get from riding) a priority in their lives.

Let me see if I can elaborate on what it's like to ride:
When I'm riding my motorcycle, and it sounds cliche to say this, but I really am FREE... 

I am at one with my universe and everything else (stress, troubles & worries) just melt away. 

I am flying without having to grow wings. 

We believe you can fly too....
I am alive with every fiber of my being. 

So, how do you know if owning a Harley is your priority? Two questions to help you decide:

  1. First, there's the cold math of if you've got the money. But luckily you can often find "Previously Enjoyed" Harley-Davidson Motorcycles for under $10K. And sometimes dealers have "No Money Down, No Payments for 90 Days" finance deals (like this one).
  2. Then there's the emotional side: You should want to travel and have fun.
Ready to go on? 

Now that you realize you want to live life on two wheels, there are some things to consider:

  • Motorcycling is a sport that requires focus, mental dexterity and agility. If you're wanting to ride to impress others or race the other guy to the next stop light, then you're in it for the wrong reasons. As long as you keep your ego in check and understand how and where a motorcycle operates, you will lower the chance of being "young & dumb."
  • The best way to get the "M" endorsement on your license is to take the Basic Riders Course through a MSF Certified School. You'll learn things you didn't even know you needed to know, you'll be better behind the wheel of your car, you'll lower your insurance rates, and (as long as you pass) you won't have to re-test at the DMV.
  • Gear to Stay: Having the proper riding gear can make or break
    Full Gear, not Fool's Gear
    you -literally. DOT Helmet, over-the-ankle boots, jeans and a nylon jacket are all highly recommended. If you don't have the gear already, factor this in on Step 1 above.
Next comes finding the right first bike. 

If you know anyone who rides, you can  ask them to help you..... as long as they're not a snob about it, you'll be fine.

And of course, there's always Google...

When it comes to your first love on two wheels, I suggest remembering:
  • Size matters: you should be able to pick the bike up off its kick stand and sit comfortably with both feet flat on the ground. Harley-Davidson motorcycles are great in this regard because they can be made to fit you: change the seat and lowering the shocks can get you closer to the ground; or if you need to stretch out, extended controls and changing out the seat will allow that to happen.
  • No PDQ about it: Motorcycles will give you the most bang for
    V-Rod Muscle
    your buck performance wise- but your first bike doesn't necessarily need to have 125 hp right out of the box (like the V-Rod Muscle). Start with a Street 750 until you get a couple thousand miles under your belt, then upgrade. If your riding friends quip about how bored you're going to be with a smaller motor, ignore them. This is about you. (Remember what I said about ego?)
  • Money is no object: So you've got Step 1 covered and wish to buy the bike of your dreams before that "M" is dry on your license. You do realize that your first bike is going to be  dropped & stalled more times than you'll admit to anyone, right? Learn to ride first, decide the type of riding you prefer (long distance, around town, all the above), put those miles on, then get the bike of your reality.
  • Feeling the Age: Your clothes -vintage. You frequent antique
    shops and estate sales. And your friends frequently describe you as being an "old soul." So you might be thinking of going kickstart shovelhead for your first Harley. I implore you to think again. Yes, old school is great, but older motorcycles are prone to mechanical failure, parts are hard to find, and you're not a mechanic by trade. You want to be riding, not wrenching. Then see how much motorcycle technology has advanced in the past 10 years alone: electric start, fuel injection, ABS, rider aids are all there for a fun and safer ride than your grand-dad had. You'll want to get a modern, reliable bike from a trusted H-D Dealership. 
So to recap: it is a great idea to own a Harley. Sure ownership comes with responsibility- you should be able to afford it and take care of your motorcycle with routine maintenance. 

Just remember the rewards that also come along with Harley ownership are sssoooo worth every penny. 

Among which are a life worth living, 
liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Biker Resolutions for going into the New Year

Anyone else think 2017 was sort of weird, or is it just me?

Between the weather, juggling the boatloads of work I have with family life and riding, this year has been kind of a bust... (I did ride to Gettysburg which was really cool.)

And now, just moments before the new year begins, everyone starts telling me to plan and make resolutions for the New Year. 

In fact, just the other day I printed off Harley-Davidson's marketing calendar for the year. WTH? Seems like everyone but me has a plan...
In HDMC's defense, 2018 is their 115th Anniversary and they're planning a LARGE celebration in Milwaukee - and that kind of party you do need to coordinate months in advance.
Despite the MoCo planning out 2018, it's ok that I don't have resolutions for 2018. That's because if you're a Biker you know that we usually don't make New Year's Resolutions.

Resolutions are made by those who have resolved not to have adventures.

Yup, I tricked ya -sorry. But, in light of all that, here are five of the most popular resolutions and what you should do instead for 2018:

#1: Get in Shape
True that December seems to be a month long all-you-can-eat orgy of decadent foods, and you probably consumed 4500 calories in a single meal, but by no means do you have to loose the love-handles gained. Hey- Round is a shape people!

If you really want to loose weight, start off by getting one of the new 2018 Softail models which are up to 35 pounds lighter (compared to 2017 models) and a 34% stiffer chassis. Then ride it to the gym or the park to meet your personal trainer.

#2: Enjoy Life to the Fullest
Do you really need a resolution to do this?? 

To really enjoy life to the fullest, you should have and ride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. When you own a Harley there is nothing more - and nothing less - than a way to get the most of that  life has to offer.

#3: Spend more time with Friends
Again, you need a resolution for this??

Bikers do this already when they walk into a Harley-Davidson dealership (like FXCHD) and join a chapter of the Harley Owners Group (like NNY H.O.G.). Here you'll meet people from all walks of life and all levels of riding experience who have one thing in common: a love for being in the saddle of a Harley.

#4: Learn Something New
So you say you're going to learn Mandarin in 2018.... And when is your trip to China scheduled?? And when you don't achieve this how will you feel? Taking on something new can be frustrating and a time drainer. 

Maybe instead try a more attainable goal, like learning to ride a motorcycle. If you can ride a bicycle, you can ride a motorcycle. And if you know how to manually shift a car, you're that much more ahead of the game. The best and easiest way to do it is to take a class taught by professionals.

Already have the "M" endorsement on your license? Then we say to teach something new. Most Bikers I know are happy to tell you what they know about riding, the tips and tricks they've learned along the road. Sort of like a mentorship to those who have just started out in a life on two wheels. 

#5: Travel More
OK, if there is ever a 'resolution' among Bikers, it's to:
Ride More Miles

But don't just make those miles to and from work. Get out and ride!! Cross into a different state or even a time zone. Save your money, plan the route, tell your friends.

2018 marks the 115th Anniversary for Harley-Davidson and I'm already planning to join with more passionate people in Milwaukee this coming labor day. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

5 Tips to help Bikers Survive Winter

You think it's cold where you live? Come to Northern New York and we'll show you cold (this morning it was -11°F)!!


I love, love, love the summer months -long days in which to ride my 2004 Dyna Super Glide, warm weather to ride in, BBQ's on the back deck after washing my bike, then sitting by the fire pit for a lovely evening before getting up and doing it all again.

So winter for me really starts when I put my bike up for Winter Storage.... which was just before Halloween this year...... Sigh.

And I am not alone. Many others suffer from PMS during the cold winter months (that's Parked Motorcycle Syndrome), the same as I. 

In light of this, I've gotten together with my co-workers at FXCHD and we've created this list so that you might survive the cold chill without losing your mind.

  1. Stay Warm: Which can be a tough one but doable. Block drafts
    from coming in your house and change the furnace filter. Dress in layers when outside. Wear lined boots with good, thick socks. Oh, and a good hat with flaps to cover your ears.
  2. Celebrate the Holidays: And I'm not talking about just Christmas and New Year's. I'm talking about Thanksgiving, Ground Hog Day, Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day. Really throw yourself into it, and by the time
    Easter rolls around you know you've made it through.
  3. Stay active: I mean more than just shoveling and snow blowing, which is inevitable here. I mean doing a project that keeps you occupied, like an engine upgrade on your bike. Or jig-saw puzzles, or taking your dog for a walk and/or take up snowmobiling (remember to dress in layers). Bear in mind
    the Biker saying: Keep Moving Forward.
  4. Stick it in your Ear: Being off the bike means I'm stuck in my car for the duration. Fortunately my car has Sirius XM and is usually set to Octane. It's a chance to listen to new music and update my MP3 player for when I am back on my bike. And Grant Random keeps it real with his insights & comments (he definitely has a Biker mentality). 
  5. Remembering the 7 "P's": Proper prior planning prevents piss
    poor performance. Look at the riding season and plan ahead. Going to a rally? Book your stay now rather than wait till the last minute (even three months out you're likely to have a hard time finding a place to stay). Take a look at which route you'll ride to get there. Make out your packing list now and update or upgrade your gear as needed (especially since shops tend to have sales on Riding Gear during the off season).
The good news is that by the time Winter officially starts (December 22), it's nearly half over for us. Another plus, wintertime in Northern New York is quite beautiful.