Tuesday, May 22, 2018

8 Things Every New (or Nervous) Rider Should Know

Between Chad, Dan, Dennis and myself at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson, we have about 100 years of motorcycling experience. We're not saying this to toot our own horn... just so that you know that we've been there and done that -probably more than once.
L to R: Chad, Me & Dan
So, in case you're thinking we were all just "born to be Bikers," with the knowledge somehow transplanted into our brains, I'm here to tell you we weren't. We were beginner riders too.
On that note, we thought we'd share with you some advice we wish someone had told us (or maybe they did and now we wish we hadn't ignored it) as we first started out.
Shades of Grey: My Old Bike & Dennis' Street Glide



1. Read your Owner's Manual. Twice.

Even if you grew up around and already know everything about bikes, this is still good advice. Your owner's manual explains everything about your bike- from ABS and setting cruise control (if equipped) to setting the time. 

It'll explain how to put your bike that has factory security into 'Travel Mode' so you don't drain your bike's battery while trailering it to Daytona Bike Week. 
{3 Things Every Harley Owner should be doing for their Bike}
Tip- keep the manual in your bathroom so you have something to read during your 'alone' time.


2. Practice, Practice, Practice

Again, this is good advice for the seasoned Biker after a long winter's break. Go out to a large, empty parking lot (the local high school on the weekend is my fav) and practice cornering, counter-balance, emergency braking, etc. 


3. Spend the Money and Get Good Gear

Clothes make the Man, and good Riding Gear makes a good Biker. Spending $400+ on a good Leather Riding Jacket after you just dropped $7K or more on a Motorcycle might seem costly now, but it will come in very handy later! 

Having the right gear while Riding will help keep you warm when it's cold and cool when it's hot, which will help to keep you safe. Because when you're thinking that you're going to freeze to death if you go another mile, you're not thinking about what you're doing on the bike. And Riding a Motorcycle takes your full concentration. 


4. Smash Bugs, Wash, Repeat

Maybe because your bike is smaller than a car is why it will accumulate more bugs... or maybe because you tend to take the long way home through the back roads. No matter the reason, you'll want to clean your bike of said bugs often. 

The bug guts can do a job on your paint, and if left to sit too long, will start to eat away. No big deal... until you want to trade or sell your bike. 
{Learn How to Wash Your Bike}
Besides, by washing your bike you'll get to know it better. And the old saying is true: the better you take care of your bike, the better it will take care of you.


5. Know You're Really Fully Covered

As a motorcyclist you are required by law to carry insurance. So, if you've got the required insurance, are you fully covered? 
The question you need to ask & the find the answer to is, "Who is that insurance designed to protect?"
In New York, we are required to carry liability motorcycle insurance. Those minimum coverage limits per accident are $25K bodily injury per person, $50K if there are multiple people, $50K for death per person, $100K if there are multiple deaths, and $10K for property damage.

But that's only if you are found to be at fault for causing the accident. What happens if the driver who hit you is found to be responsible? It's true that NY is a 'no-fault' state, but that's only if you're in your car -the no-fault rule does not apply to Bikers.
From our friend, Attorney Ben Rabin: "Because bikers face unique laws in New York State (laws that are NOT in the biker's favor)... You need to make sure you have enough insurance to cover yourself in the event of an accident. Don't rely on the other guys insurance, because it might not be enough."
You'll want to check into spousal coverage (if you're married and your spouse rides with you on your bike), medical payments to cover medical expenses that occur as a result of an accident, and -the biggy- supplemental under-insured/uninsured coverage.
Last, go and talk to a licensed insurance agent or broker, rather than just buying your insurance online -you won't be charged any more on your policy, the cost is the same!! Ben recommends talking to a broker because they'll represent several insurance companies, meaning they'll be working for you. Ask about the above coverages, find out for yourself. 


6. Be Social

You got your bike to ride & have fun. And when you join a riding group, club or association, you get to share all that fun with people who share your same passion- and the happiness you'll get is multiplied by 100. Because there's nothing stronger than the bond of the open road.

Allow me to introduce the Harley Owners Group and our local NNY H.O.G. Chapter. They're the ones who want to go farther, laugh louder, ride bigger, and have more fun.

And by being a H.O.G. Member, you get a sh*t ton of extras that no other club has: mileage recognition, pins & patches, touring handbook, H.O.G. Roadside Assistance, HOG Magazine & Insider, rallies, events and more. Plus there's discounts with AT&T, Best Western Hotels, and motorcycle shipping with Federal Motorcycle Transport.

We get together to crank maximum adventure out of life on two wheels. Then we ride our separate ways. When you're a member of the Harley Owners Group, even when you're riding solo, you're never riding alone. The sun never sets on our rumbling motorcycles. We're the worldwide, independent nation of H.O.G.


7. Increase your odds of survival - a word about alcohol

Reasonable Risk: you've taken the Basic Riders Course and understand how to control your motorcycle. Knowing what you know, it's a reasonable risk for you to ride your bike down a city street. 

Given your knowledge base, you're most likely not going to get on a 250-horsepower motorcycle, go as fast as you can into turn one of a race track, leaning the bike so far over your knee is just inches from the pavement. Why not when racers do it every weekend? Because that's an unacceptable for you- you're not a professional in that field. 
So, when it comes to 'Reasonable Risk' while out riding with friends and one of the stops is at the favorite Bar & Grill, most figure having a beer with a burger is somewhat safe.... 

It's not and here's why:

  • Lots like to blame 'cagers' for crashing into Bikers, but the reality is most of the fatal motorcycle accidents don't involve a car at all. 
  • Bikers who are fatally injured in an accident are more likely to be intoxicated than the driver of a car or pick-up truck.
  • Experienced Bikers were tested at different levels of intoxication, going through drills on a MSF course. In some cases, the Bikers showed reduced performance with a BAC of just 0.05% -still within the 'legal' limit.
  • You have the good judgement needed to know when drinking is starting to impairs affect your ability to ride... but drinking also impairs your judgement. So if your judgement is off how can you make an accurate call as to your riding ability?
I'm not saying not to drink! I've got DNA proof I'm Irish- so you know I enjoy drinking, either with friends or alone (I'm not that picky...). You should have seen the mess I was the morning after this picture was taken!!
Yes, I was quite drunk here, on a ride with my girlfriends, heading out to Maine. BUT this pic was taken after our kickstands were down for the night.

The same goes for Riding and Marijuana use. It's quite easy for you to increase your odds of survival- don't drive or ride while under the influence.

8. Be Bold - or, at least, don't be fearful

Being a beginner Biker doesn't mean you have to stick to the roads you know. Take the road unknown and see where it leads...

So what if you have to do a U-turn? Or you don't know exactly where you are? If you've got enough gas to get you to the next gas station, then you're not all that lost. 

I've often come across the best views, roads and adventures by taking a new road that I didn't know. I guess Robert Frost got it right. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Conclusive Harley Summer Vacation Guide

It is sssooo nice to be out on two-wheels again!! The smells in the air. Seeing each plant springing back into life after a cold, long winter. Forgetting everything else and just focusing on the moment as I ride along.
April 22 - first ride of 2018!!
Summer is the absolute best time of the year, thanks in part to the four founding fathers of the MoCo. And with my new bike from FX Caprara Harley-Davidson, this summer is going to be filled with lots of adventures!!

Except there are a few things I need to remember while riding down the road. So I thought I'd share these helpful tips to make your summer rides easier, safer and, of course, more fun.


1. Don't get burned

If you're riding back and forth to work, then you can probably skip the sunscreen. But if you're like me, you'll end up taking the looooong way home after work, exposing yourself to those wonderful rays. 

I've got DNA proof I'm a "pasty-white chic" (Irish, British & Scandinavian). There is no 'tan' for me, I go straight to 'burn.' If I forget my sunscreen, I will pay the painful price!!

The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends a broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher, and that it be waterproof. 

Also you'll want to wear protective clothing as another barrier against the sun. Enter Harley's Performance Shirts with Coldblack Technology.

Taking a few steps to prevent getting a sunburn and reduce your risk of skin cancer is well worth it in the end.

2. Make your bike and yourself road ready

Since your bike is just waking up from a long winter's nap (the price we pay for living in Northern New York!), you'll want to do a thorough T-CLOCS inspection -especially if you stored your bike at home. 

Then there's you- the rider. You've also had four+ months off your bike- and the old adage "if you don't use it, you lose it" is true. Take some time to get to know your bike again. Head to a large, empty parking lot (like at a school on a weekend) and practice, practice, practice!!

You might even consider taking a Advanced/Experienced Rider Course -now known as the Basic Rider Course 2 -Skills Practice. Using your own bike you get to practice emergency stopping, cornering, counter-balancing and more. It's a great way to get rid of those cobwebs.
And if you're a H.O.G. Member, you'll get $50 bucks for taking the course. It's called the H.O.G. Safe Rider Skills Recognition -you'll find it under the benefits tab online at HOG.com

Another added bonus: you'll probably get a discount on your insurance as well.

3. Get outside!!

That's the whole reason you got a motorcycle to begin with, right?? 

Traveling by Motorcycle is 10x better than traveling by car, and 100x better than by plane (no TSA!). But before you leave for your week long trip, you're gonna want to do some research.

If you're camping with your bike, check the camp site you want to visit -some can book six months in advance. If you're camping at a "first come-first serve" site, then your best bet is to get there mid-week to avoid the weekend rush.

Prefer more modern accommodations? Then I highly suggest booking your hotel reservation at your destination only. Because on the way there you don't know when you'll want to stop, or what will make you have to stop (i.e.- sudden migraine, bike breaks down, etc.). Either way, you should review the hotel's cancellation policy and be comfortable with that. 

Use a checklist of what to pack- here's my recent blog on what packing mistakes to avoid

You'll also want to check the weather- up in the mountains you might be wanting your leather jacket instead of your nylon one.

Last but not least...

Summer is a time to relax and enjoy all that mother nature has to offer. However, there is a time-limit on the summer fun -Autumn (better known as "Almost Winter"). Take advantage of it while you can!!

Ride Safe & Have Fun 

°Biker Wave

Friday, April 27, 2018

3 Tips That Aren't "Good Advice"

The majority of us want to help- and for some reason, when a friend or family members ask us for advice, it's waaay easier to solve their problems than our own.

We see it occasionally at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson- those that are 'new' to the sport ask a friend that rides to help them. To advise them on what helmet to buy, or what bike they should get. 

Most of these friends are good at dispensing advice without letting their ego get in the way. They'll actually ask us if they don't know, rather than make something up.

Then there's the "Harley Advisers" that have been there, done that, and will tell you (and anyone else within ear-shot) just what's wrong with your choice of [fill in the blank]. 
In case you know of someone that fits this description, this post is dedicated to you -you probably already figured out that they're full of sh*t (although some do honestly feel like they're 'helping'). 

Here's the most common advice that these Harley Advisers give that's not good advice at all:

  • Riding Gear= 
Bad Advice: "You want to get a leather jacket a size bigger so you can wear a sweatshirt under it." Except that when the leather jacket breaks in, it'll be way to big. 
Good Advice: With a new leather riding jacket, you actually want it to fit a little snug, so that once you've gotten it broken in it'll be juuuuust right.
  • Which Bike= 
Bad Advice: "That bike doesn't have enough power- you're going to be disappointed in six months." 
Good Advice: Actually, Harley has their Freedom Promise, which takes care of that. 
  • What to Do= 
Bad Advice: "If you're going to crash- just lay your bike down." Unless you're a real life stunt rider, there is no reason to do that... 
Good Advice: If you find yourself in a situation where an accident is about to happen, your best bet is to keep your bike upright and shed as much speed as possible. Even if you can only slow down 10-20mph, it'll make a big difference.

I'm not saying you can't bring a friend with you to the dealership. What I'm asking is that you seek more than that friend's opinions and advice. Get a rapport going with the dealership employees, go to bike nights and talk with Bikers there, and you can always ask your Riding Coach (if you've taken a Basic Riders Course) as well. 

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 (DawnFXCHD@yahoo.com) 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. 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!!