Wednesday, April 11, 2018

5 Tips for Riding in the Rain

I've always been that type of person that I'll do what I have to do to get the job done.... eventually. Procrastination is definitely in my 'wheel house,' but only when I dread what it is I have to do. And riding my motorcycle in the rain is one of those dreaded things. 
That being said, if you're the type of those 'fair weather' riders, I feel that you are missing out. The sights, the smells, that feeling of riding through a storm and coming out on the otherside... it's something that separates so-called bikers from actual, no-sh*t Bikers.
To better equip you to ride in liquid sunshine, here are some tips for you:
  1. Wear proper gear - At the bare minimum you're gonna need a rain suit made for motorcycle riders (click here)!! One that has heat shields to protect the plastic from melting onto your hot exhaust. Bonus: Waterproof = Windproof. Even if it's not raining, but you're cold, you can wear your rain suit to block the wind.
  2. Go smooth on the controls - Riding in the rain is not the time to dump the clutch unless you wanna end up on your a**. Take your time, slow and smooth starts and stops, and choose an arcing line through the turn rather than a sharp one. Also, increase your following distance and lower your speed.
  3. Pay attention to the pavement - Don't ride down the center of the lane, where the oil build up from cars & trucks is. And those lovely "tar snakes," you'll want to try to avoid those as well, but sometimes it's next to impossible. If that's the case, ride through them straight up & down (not leaning), and don't speed up or hit the brakes.
  4. Improve your vision - Sunglasses may be cool at night, but while riding in the rain definitely not. Use day-to-night or clear goggles if your helmet doesn't have a shield. If your helmet does have a shield you can treat it with RainX to help deflect those pesky rain drops. Another factor is that your goggles or shield can fog up. For that you can use anti-fog coating like CatCrap.
  5. Motorcycle maintenance - When it comes to riding in any kind of weather, proper maintenance plays a big part. But even more so when those blue skies turn grey and the rain starts coming down. Having good tread on your tires is extremely important since there's less traction on wet pavement. Also a tire that is under- or over-inflated will play havoc with your ride, so check your tire pressure. And surprisingly, a final drive belt that's too tight or loose can affect the power to the rear wheel, which you don't need in rainy weather for sure. When was the last time your bike had the proper service? Call FXCHD® Service to get it scheduled (315-583-6177).
With these tips you'll find it an absolutely joy to ride in the rain.... Oh, who am I kidding? Maybe 'joy' isn't the right word, but at least it won't be such a chore. And hopefully your bike won't stay parked when the weather calls for the wet stuff.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

5 Packing Mistakes to Avoid when traveling by Motorcycle

Baseball's Opening Day is tomorrow, there's the promise of Spring in the air, I'm all set to get on my new bike and start the Riding Season.... But all I can think of is my trip to Milwaukee, happening in six months!
2018 is is Harley-Davidson's 115th Anniversary year. That's over a century of continuous motorcycle manufacturing (unlike what some other brands that try to claim). And to celebrate the MoCo is throwing one heck of a party!

So for my vacation this year, some NNY H.O.G. friends and I are riding out to Milwaukee to join in the festivities. And while we're planning the route & stops, one thing you definitely don't want to overlook is how and what to pack on your bike.

Here's five mistakes to avoid:

  • You just throw it all in... You're gonna want a way to get your stuff from your bike to your hotel room (or campsite). You might think those plastic shopping bags are just for that purpose, but you'd be wrong! They rip, they never hold enough, their cheap, and you're not going to look anywhere near as glamorous as this woman -not that Bikers care... What I advise instead is to get yourself a set of Saddle Bag Liners to pack your stuff in... sssooo much easier!
  • You bring everything & the kitchen sink... There's a finite amount of room on your bike, so think carefully what clothes you're going to bring. Just two pairs of shoes (in addition to your riding boots), clothes that can do double-duty -like windproof jackets or vented and moisture-wicking shirts. Pack your underwear & socks into your shoes -you'll want to use every bit of space! You will need two pairs of gloves, a small first aid kit, and don't forget your meds. Take with you travel size toiletries. Plan to do laundry. Less is way more in this case.
  • You don't save space... When you travel, do you buy souvenirs? Shot glasses, fridge magnets, dealer tees, etc. are going to be taking up space in your bags on the way home. Consider buying that dealer tee to wear on your trip (one less shirt to pack), or mailing your goodies home. 
  • You didn't check the weather... Say you're riding to a rally and all you pack is tank tops- chic yes, but not so good when they're getting a good sized rain storm!! It's always a great idea to pack a rain suit, because waterproof equals windproof and it'll help keep you warm. Still, check the weather on the way out & back as well- you might want your full leathers rather than your light-weight nylon jacket.
  • You make your bike lopsided... Remember that you'll be balancing on two wheels, so you don't want a bunch of weight on one side, or heavy stuff up high. Put shoes and toiletries at the bottom of your saddle bag, towards the front (closest to your bike's center of gravity). You'll want to save the lighter stuff- maps, charging cords, gloves- for windshield bags and your tour-pack/trunk. Never hurts to have extra bungee cords or cargo nets to help keep stuff in place.
Do you have questions or other packing tips to share? You can contact me at FXCHD!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

What's Luck Got To Do, Got To Do With It?

Thanks to Ancestry DNA, I now have conclusive proof that I am Irish! So there's scientific evidence why I'm the way I am (and I wasn't just driving my poor mother insane with all my antics).
That being said, I'm going to change this Irish saying to:
If you're lucky enough to own a Harley,

you're lucky enough!
No, I'm not lucky enough to win the lottery. Nor am I lucky enough to win big at the casinos.

But I am lucky enough to own one of the things I'm passionate about: a 115th Anniversary Heritage. And I'm lucky enough to work at a place that allows me to share my passion: FX Caprara Harley-Davidson.
Take for instance this picture of Karen taken at the Ladies Intro to Motorcycling event. This was a no-pressure event simply to introduce ladies to the idea of riding. It allowed me to explain how riding is more of a stress release than just a mode of transportation. 
As part of my job, I got to talk with her and try to reveal the freedom that riding a motorcycle brings.... which is definitely hard to describe. But if you ever took off down the street, pedaling as fast as you could get those two wheels going, you've had a taste of it.

Of course the best thing to do is to try it for yourself, just like Karen did. Remember: we all started somewhere, the important thing is that you get started!!

And when you're lucky enough to get on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle- there is nothing more (and nothing less) than a way to get the most of that feeling out of life. When you throw a leg over any one of them, the feeling will blow you away.

Come over anytime to FXCHD and get Lucky with the rest of us! If you'd like to speak directly with me about how to get started living a life on two wheels, just send me an email ( or call me (315-583-6177) and we'll set something up.
This could be you!!

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. 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.

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.

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.

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.
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.

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.
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.

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. 
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 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!!

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!