Thursday, July 19, 2018

To Biker Wave or Not to Biker Wave -that is the question

I'm getting ready to Ride out to Milwaukee for Harley-Davidson's 115th Anniversary Celebration over Labor Day Weekend. So, in addition to taking the long way to and from work, I just finished a 3 day trip over to Ticonderoga (check out my pics on Instagram).
Summer Riding in the Adirondacks -this is one of my favorite things!! The way the road just stretches out before me, inviting me to twist the throttle and fly...
From Route 84, between Newcomb and Interstate 87
And the crystal clear lakes -I always feel like I've found a slice of heaven. (These three pictures are from Google Maps -I'm not that technologically advanced to go with a personal camera. But this is from the route I took.)
Route 74 by Eagle Lake
Of course, I'm not the only motorcycle enthusiast who enjoys riding in Northern New York. I saw Kawasaki, Yamaha, BMW, Honda and -my favorite (obviously)- Harley all out and about enjoying the day.

Some bikers waved at me, others didn't...
The tradition of the Biker Wave supposedly goes back to the day Bill Harley and Arthur Davidson passed each other while riding and gave each a friendly wave.

Some think it goes back to the days of Knights on Horseback, lifting their visor to acknowledge each other.
And there are as many styles of biker waves as there are motorcycle manufacturers: two fingers (like ✌) pointed down, pointed up, open handed regular wave, a 'thumbs up', etc., etc.

There are a few Bikers out there who will only wave to other Harley Riders. Sport Bike Riders sometimes fall into this as well. 

As for me, I'm a little different.

At first I wouldn't wave to anyone on a Can-Am Spyder, believing that since they never started out as an actual motorcycle those riding them weren't 'true' Bikers. I wouldn't wave at anyone on a scooter either.

But then I had an 'ah-ha' moment. 

Those that are brave enough to get out of their cage [of their car or truck] and share the road deserve to be recognized. 

There's a whole lot of people in this great wide world, and those of us that ride are truly linked in a special way. 

The Bike doesn't make the Biker. It's the Biker that makes the Bike.

So, I choose to wave. Hoping you'll wave back.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

5 Ways to Ruin Your Bike

You just bought a beautiful new (or 'new-to-you') Harley-Davidson. Keeping it in good running order as well as keeping that showroom shine isn't hard, but it isn't exactly easy either. If you're not careful, you can ruin your motorcycle for trade/re-sale later on before you know it. 
Here's a look at five common ways to trash your bike, according to Chad and Kate, our Service and Parts Managers at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson.

1. You changed the Air & Exhaust, but didn't do a Tuner

You've done the research and decided to do a Stage I Kit- increase the air & exhaust for your bike's engine. Then decided, since it's basic motor parts, you could skip the tuner or recalibrating the ECM... but now your bike is running like sh*t. 

Just like you can't be expected to run a marathon without the proper training, your bike cannot run well without 'teaching it' how. It has to be programed how to handle the engine upgrade. 

2. Not Keeping the Charge

A reminder that even as your bike sits in your garage, waiting for the next ride, there's a small drain on the battery. And for your bike's system to be charged back, the bike needs to be under power (in other words you've got to be riding). 

If you find that you won't be riding for a week or two, it's a good idea to put your bike on a Smart Battery Tender to keep your battery fresh.

3. Salt

Not just for your Margarita glass, salt is used on roadways during the winter months in Northern NY. It melts the ice and snow so that we can safely drive our vehicles -you know this. The problem comes in the early Spring and late Fall -you decided to ride even though the salt is on the road.

Salt is very corrosive and your bike's motor, frame and wheels -basically the very essence of your bike- is very exposed to all corrosive loveliness when you're out and about with salt  still or already on the road. 

We all suffer from PMS (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome), but don't compound it by allowing salt to eat away at your precious bike.  This will really bite you in the ass later -either when you're looking to sell your bike -or worse, having to repair it.

4. Not washing your bike

Some see all the dirt, grime and bug guts as a badge of honor. We at FXCHD say that's Harley neglect. Like salt, not washing your bike can destroy your bike's painted & chrome finishes. 

And please, for the love of all that is Harley, do not take your bike through a car wash!! Blasting water at all that electronics is like submerging a toaster in a bathtub full of water, and then expecting it to work right the next time you go to use it. 

For the proper way to wash your bike, visit our webpage: Smash Bugs. Wash. Repeat.

5. Neglecting routine maintenance

A Harley-Davidson Motorcycle is literally a rolling piece of art, with all its parts designed to intracally work together, bringing you the best ride possible.

However, the more miles you ride, the more things can become out of factory specifications. Look at the back of your owner's manual- things to check at 1K, 5K, 10K, etc. are listed. Things like steering head bearings, drive belt & sprocket, transmission lubricant, clutch lever and more.

It's best to have factory trained technicians at an authorized Harley-Davidson dealer perform the services for you. This is their job- it's what they do day in, day out. And if they have a question about part fitment or a particular problem, tech services at the Motor Company is just a phone call away.

Bottom line, it comes down to the "7 P's": Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. If you take care of your bike, it will take care of you.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

My first 30 days in Behind Bars...

You may remember this past February I broke up... with my 2004 Dyna Super Glide. I traded her in and got my 2018 115th Anniversary Heritage from FX Caprara Harley-Davidson.
Except that it was February... Not exactly Riding Season in Northern New York. 
So I had to wait... and wait... and wait... Then finally, on Earth Day no less, we were finally together and Riding.
One month later and 738 miles are in behind bars of this beautiful bike, and it's been phenomenal! 

Even though there are quite a few differences between my new bike and my old -most notably the engine displacement (my '04 was 88 cubic inch (1450cc), new is 114ci (1868cc)... !!!) -the new still felt like my old friend: cozy & natural. 
And yet, the 114ci Milwaukee-Eight motor is smoooooth -so smooth in fact that it's very easy for me to get up to 70mph and not realize it. (I hope no police are reading this!)

The frame of the 2018 Heritage is as agile as my old bike, making it a true joy to lean into the corners, roll on the throttle and go flying down the road.
With the high-performance suspension, the bike is easily maneuverable in parking lots as well as quite comfortable on long rides. 

Then there's the torque... as in there's A LOT of it!! 

In case you didn't know, torque is the feeling you get as the power of the motor gets transferred to the pavement, sitting you back in your seat.
At first it was hard for me to know when to shift, because this bike has torque that pulls through every gear (rather than running out of power forcing the rider to up-shift). 

The power and torque that the new Softails have will truly put a smile on your face! As the MoCo puts it, "...increased lean angle, quicker turn-in, quicker acceleration and more flickability, all with easier lift-off from the side stand."
I'm here to tell you that is truth in advertising!! Beyond the specs of any bike, there is the 'fun factor' to consider when making a buying decision. And all the new Softails, with their Milwaukee-Eight engines, have a very high rate of 'smiles per mile.' 

I am very much looking forward to many more days behind bars, riding my new Heritage for many, many more miles.

If you're interested in what my 'old' bike is doing now, she's gone on to have lots of fun doing wheelies and performing stunts with Hostile Crew -check out their Facebook page and Instagram.

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 & then 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? Racers do it every weekend! 

Because that's an unacceptable risk 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.