Monday, September 25, 2017

The Best Fall Leaf Peeping Trips are by Motorcycle.

Even though the calendar now says we're into Autumn, Mother Nature (in Northern NY anyways) has deemed it to be Summer - temps in the 70's & 80's with big, white cumulus clouds in the sky.
But regardless, the shorter days and cooler temps are triggering the
My fav tree in my backyard
leaves to throw on their many coat of colors. That plus the many Fall Festivals & Events going on throughout our area make this the perfect time to jump on the bike and do some Leaf Peeping.

Just some quick tips: 1)Do your T-CLOCS inspection - make sure your bike is ready to go. 2) Dress in layers, especially if you plan to be out for the entire day. 3) Watch for wet leaves in the corners and frost on the road in the early morning. 4) Be sure to bring a camera or that your phone is fully charged so you can take as many pictures of the b-e-a-utiful scenery as you like. 5) Leaf Peeping is really a thing for a lot of folks, and they'll be taking to the roads as well this time of year. Watch out for cagers who aren't paying attention.
Here's my idea of a perfect Fall Ride in the Adirondacks:
Gazebo in Harrisville on the Oswegatchie River

1) Start off with a Good Breakfast: Just like your bike, you'll need a good tank of fuel to get you through the day. My favorite spots are Gram's Diner in Adams (they are on vacation 9/25-10/3) or Lloyd's of Lowville in Lowville of course. 

2) From Lowville (pronounced "Lau-ville" by the locals), take Route 812 up to Bonaparte's Cave State Forest and take a hike in
The Adirondack Hotel is popular with riders & non-riders alike
the region where Napoleon's brother once eluded hired assassins. 

3) Take Route 812 back to Harrisville, then jump on State Route 3 heading East. In Tupper Lake follow Route 30 to Long Lake. Just about now you might be hankering for lunch, and the Adirondack Hotel is a perfect spot to grab some grub.

4) After lunch hop back on Route 30 going South to State Route 28 and head West. Enjoy the views of Raquette, Seventh and the Fulton Chain Lakes as you ride into Old Forge. A stop at the Old Forge Hardware Store is a must because they have everything.

Inside Old Forge Hardware Store
5) Continue West on 28 until you get to Route 12, jump on that heading North. It won't be too long before you'll be in the quaint village of Boonville. If you're wanting dinner, a place to stop for the night, check out the Boonville Hotel - a great place for both.

Of course you don't have to follow my route - check out Go Tour NY for more rides/routes in the Adirondack & 1000 Islands regions. Just as long as you take the time and celebrate Autumn in the Adirondacks the best way possible - by Motorcycle. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Nearly two weeks ago Harley-Davidson began a custom revolution by taking the best of the 'old' Dyna and Softail frames and combining them in a "New" Softail frame for the 2018 model year. And more than a few people are freaking out about it. #RIPDyna and this hilarious Youtube Video is just the tip of the iceberg.
At first I could understand, even agreed with those crying "blasphemy" to a certain extent. After all, 'better the devil you know than the one you don't.' 

There's a reason it's called a 'comfort zone'! It's what we know, we're comfortable with, and any deviation from that brings a whole host of things that we don't know. That unknown can be pretty scary.

When you look at it though, change is a part of our daily lives. Our bodies change, weather changes, popular music, movies and television change, and on and on. Everything changes. And when we avoid this fact of life, things can get pretty bad pretty fast.

Did I tell you I'm a Ford Girl? Ever since my teens when my best
friend's dad was a Master Mechanic for a local Ford dealership. They even started the same year as my favorite motorcycle company (1903)!! I used to think Henry Ford could do no wrong (when he was alive, of course).

But when I read the history of Ford I saw that he didn't really want to change the Model T, at all. Henry was quite content to sit on the success, even when others were coming up with electric start and hydraulic brakes. If it weren't for his son Edsel and the Model A, Ford Motor Company might just have been a blip on history's radar. 

I mean really, could you imagine driving to work in a Model T with a top speed of 45mph today? How about doing your work on an old Mac computer? And your cell phone - is it the same big brick as they used to be when they first came out? 
We as humans need certain things to change in order for us to grow and evolve. Otherwise we get stuck in the same patterns, going in circles, doing the same thing day in and day out.

Of course we should also honor those certain things that need to remain the same. So then it becomes a balancing act between sameness and change, something Harley seems to have achieved with the new Softail frame.

In designing the new Softail frame, the powers that be looked to the
1950 FL while also keeping pace with the technologies of today. Add in more agility, increased lean angels, more torque and a smoooooth ride and we're talking about a major achievement.

But I wasn't completely sold until I test rode the new FLFBS Fat Boy (with a 114ci Milwaukee-Eight engine!). Other than having to shift, it really felt as if I was riding on a magic flying carpet - it was that effortless and powerful thanks to the motor. And then the handling through the corners - a tiny bit better than my '04 Dyna Super Glide, but with a lot less vibration.  

Keeping things the same while going through change - when we get it right, we're in tune with the universe. Embrace the change AND hold on to the old ways allows us to be free and live a wonderful life.

Therefore I personally invite you out to FX Caprara Harley-Davidson for our Fall Open House, September 22-24 (of course you can stop in anytime- we are open seven days a week) for you to experience these new "Freedom Machines." Not close to us? Check out this link to find a dealership close to you.

Until then, you gotta just keep moving forward in order to balance on two wheels. Ride safe & have fun!!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Did I predict the future??

Even though I'm not a French physician writing in quatrains, I think I may have predicted the future last week when I blogged, "So, unless you're in an interview with the MoCo., let the Low Rider be in a Softail frame. It's adorable." But did I really perceive the coming of the new Softail frame through my crystal ball? (Yes, that is my crystal ball!) Let's review:

*In case you missed it, Harley-Davidson announced a new cruiser frame to house the Milwaukee-Eight motor for the 2018 model year. And now the Low Rider IS a Softail.

  • The Dyna model family as we know it began with the Super Glide, when Harley combined the Sportster with the larger big
    twin models of the day, waaaaay back in 1971. That was 45 years ago.
  • Nearly 35 years ago the Softail family was born from the brain of Bill Davis, who sold his patents, prototype and tooling to Harley, who produced the first FXST Softail in 1984. 
  • For decades people have said that even though a new model year had been announced, the only real difference from one year to the next was engine displacement and/or paint. 
  • Traditionally, the newest motor goes in the Touring lineup first, then it makes it down the rest of the family tree the following year. That happened with the Twin-Cam 96ci, 103ci & 110ci motors. But when it came to the new Milwaukee-Eight, it was
    too big to fit into the traditional Dyna & Softail frames.
  • Earlier this year Harley announced they were moving the manufacturing of the Softail line from York, PA (where the Touring & Trike lines are produced) to the Kansas City plant, birth place of the Dyna, Sporster & Street bikes.
  • It wouldn't be cost effective to continue to make four motors - the Milwaukee-Eight, Twin Cam, Evolution (Sportster), and Revolution X (Street). Harley has always been good at balancing the books as well as their bikes- that's one of the reasons they've been in business for 115 years (not many companies can say that). 
So yes, I'm a Witch (told you that crystal ball is mine!), but I really didn't use a anything to foresee the change coming. Anyone who knows the pattern of a successful company knows that they will continue to innovate and push the envelope.

I am proud to keep my 2004 Dyna Super Glide as well as excited to witness this moment in history. I might even possibly add to my collection with a new Heritage Classic 115th Anniversary edition.

Don't forget you're invited to FXCHD's Fall Open House, September 22-24 and you can see the new Softail family for yourself. Not in the area? Don't worry - just go to a Harley-Davidson dealership close to you.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Don't be "THAT Guy": 13 Biker Snobbisms to avoid

Yes, the world of motorcycling (aka Bikers) can be intimidating. And yes, when we're intimidated, some people try too hard to fit in. So I'm here to stop you before going too far and you do a shameless Sons-of-Anarchy-makeover. 

Once you've learned a bit about something, especially if it's something you're passionate about, it can be hard not to share your new-found knowledge with everyone. Bikes, Star Wars, credit scores, or even wine - the path from novice to snobbery is actually a pretty slippery slope. 

If you've already caught yourself being a "big-bad-biker" with reckless abandon, you should definitely check this list out- make sure you'll never be found guilty of these snob acts.*

*To keep things accurate, I've graded these acts on a level of 1 to 10 backfires (the universal biker symbol of snobbery).
You've completed tons of research before buying your bike, you test rode it, bought it way below asking price, and have read through the owner's manual twice. Now you're telling your friends, family, complete strangers and even coma patients just how spectacular your bike is, exactly why you choose it, and are giving mile-by-mile recaps of the rides you've gone on. Besides annoying those around you, there's the needlessness of it all. Trust me, a simple, "Hey - I got a new bike," will do just fine. 
Snob factor: 2 backfires 

Those commercials with the lux sports car going through the cones, with the "professional driver - do not attempt" warning on the bottom of the screen. This does not apply to you since you took the Basic Riders Course and have the "M" endorsement on your driver's license - you are now an expert. You'll correct your friend's on their riding style, you'll yell at those inconsiderate drivers for the smallest traffic infraction. But please, until you become a certified driving/riding instructor or go into law enforcement, be the better person and let the small things go. 
Snob factor: 4 backfires
You believe Harley's are built to last, which they are, but that doesn't mean they're maintenance free. So when you allow your bike to go 25,000 miles or more without anything more than an oil change, and that poor bike finally cracks under the pressure and you're a long way from home, it's not the mechanic who is at fault. Bonus points if you insist the dealer take the part your bike needs off a new bike in the showroom just so you can get back on the road. 
Snob factor: 6-8 backfires

Another rider who is new to the sport is excited about a new road they've discovered. Except that excitement doesn't carry over to you, and you make sure to say it. "Wow - you've lived here how long and didn't know about that road? Well, I've known about that for -" Don't, just don't. He or she is trying and here you are, being the "big-bad-biker" and crash their efforts.
Snob factor: 5 backfires
It's a nice day for a ride, so you've ridden up to the local dealership to see if they've got the one part you've been wanting, only to find out it's not a part they have it in stock. Now, somehow, you get it in your head that the Parts Department is to blame, even though it was you who didn't bother to call first. Extra snob points for complaining how you had to ride all that way, on a beautiful day, while they're stuck inside trying to help you.
Snob factor: 4-6 backfires

You know the entire history of Harley-Davidson Motor Company, which is great - maybe write a book. But when you're at the dealership, talking with the Service Department Manager, don't get into a debate about why you think a 1977 FXS Low Rider is an over-valued piece of sh.... Unless you worked next to Willie G. for all those years.
Snob factor: 5 backfires
Did you go to MMI? Great, we'll get you a job application. Ok, so you asked for a black oil filter, and they put a chrome one on instead. But if it's a matter of meticulous detail ("I hope you did torque that to the recommended 3.5 foot pounds of torque...) or subjective taste ("Well, I certainly don't use anything but Amsoil and you have only Harley-Davidson oil...") maybe just let it go.
Snob factor: 8 backfires

You're out riding with a group of friends and they stop for lunch. Like to go around the table, asking everyone what they thought about the ride? Well stop. You're not Oprah. You don't need to interview each of your companions on how they felt about the ride they just took. If they want to get verbal about it, they will, and then you can join in with your experiences.
Snob factor: 3 backfires
It's great you know enough about bikes to help your friend narrow down the choices. But don't be 'that guy' who tags along to the dealership and then immediately (and without invitation) become the sales negotiator, as if saving your friend from making the mistake of not letting you choose the perfect bike for him/her. 
Snob factor: 4 backfires

Just like when you go to the doctor because you're sick, chances are it's something small and simple, like a the flu rather than the next pandemic. Same goes for your bike. So when you say you want to drop off your bike because there's a wobble in the front end, and we ask if you've checked the tire pressure, it's because we're trying to save you time and money. Bonus points for insisting you did, you still drop off your bike, and the only thing we find wrong with it is that the front tire is 12 pounds under pressure. 
Snob factor: 5-7 backfires

You know who you are. You can never talk about bikes without mentioning the review. "Did you see what had to say about the [fill in the blank]? Well, I'll tell you...." Nice. You know what's not nice? Your regurgitation of reviews. And what makes you even more of a snob is if you bring up these reviews out of topic. 
Snob factor: 2-4 backfires
There are nearly 40 bikes across 6 'families' in Harley's 2017 model year, and not everybody is as educated as you when it comes to which bike goes where in the family tree. But when you correct someone's honest mistake ("The Low Rider was never in the Softail family!!") you just come off as annoying. Even if you're intention is well meant, you still come off as a near complete ass. 
So, unless you're in an interview with the MoCo., let the Low Rider be in a Softail frame*. It's adorable. And the ride is still good.
Snob factor: 6 backfires
*A few days after I posted this blog, Harley announced their 2018 lineup, with a redesigned frame that combines the best of the Dyna & Softail frames. And now the Low Rider DOES exist in a Softail frame!! Read more about it in my "Did I predict the future?" blog.

No doubt about it, riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle is more about freedom than anything else. But whenever someone is talking about their bike, or even bikes in general, you announce to any and all gathered: "I will only ride my [fill in year, make & model]!!" with as much passion as Patrick Henry asking for liberty or death. You see, by announcing that you've narrowed down the big, wide world of motorcycles to just one isn't the best way to impress. Remember the saying, "Knees in the Breeze," and let each ride their own.
Snob factor: 7 backfires

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

3 Things Every Harley Owner Should Be Doing For Their Bike

"Being an owner means being responsible," is one of the things my Dad used to say, and it makes sense. As an owner you should be vigilant and watch for early warning signs to help prevent major disasters later on.

This is true if you are responsible for an animal - you have your dog/cat vaccinated to prevent him or her from getting sick. If you own a house and ignored that the furnace was going out or the roof leaked, you know you'll be into spending some serious money to get them fixed.

I asked Chad, our Service Manager at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson, what are the 3 things he wished Harley owners would do for their bikes, and here's what he said:
Battery Tender
Sure you need it during the winter when your bike is hibernating and the snow is falling. But even in the warmest summer months, if you're not riding for even a week or two, it's a good idea to plug your bike in. 

Brake Service
Everybody loves to go fast, but forget that it's just as important to be able to stop when you need to. If you have your bike routinely maintained (like your owners manual says in the back), you'll be fine. (Are you maintaining your ABS?) The very worn brake pads above are mine, off my bike, while she was getting her 50K mile service.

Tire Pressure
We had a customer bring his bike in for service, swearing up & down that the wheel bearings were gone in his front tire. What was the actual problem? His tire pressure was about 12 pounds under what it should be. If he had just bothered to check he could've saved himself a bit of money.

Doing these three things is not a guarantee that your bike won't need service or repair later on. But it will help you to get to know your bike better and possibly prevent major damage down the road.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ride & Relax • the work has been done for you...

No doubt about it, taking a long motorcycle trip, riding far from home, is adventurous. 

It's just the planning that can be tedious. How many miles to ride? Where should we stop? Where will we eat? What are we going to do when we get there?

Luckily for you, we've ridden quite a few times around the block at FXCHD. And I've put together a few of our favorite "they've planned it all out for you" places:

1) Bentley's Saloon in Arundel, Maine
Can't get the time off to ride out to Sturgis? Then book yourself a long weekend over at Bentley's. They have a bike rally going on all riding season long! Even better: Maine Lobster.

2) Steel Steeds Campground by the Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania
More out in the country and still plenty 'biker-ish' (but no banjo music) is the Steel Steeds Campground. They've got rides already planned out for you, just pick one and go. Then enjoy the campfire outside one of their tent or RV campsites - they provide everything!

3) Lake Clear Lodge & Retreat in the Adirondacks
A little more country, a little less 'biker,' but still a whole lot of fun is The Lodge at Clear Lake. Nestled on 25 acres in the middle of the Adirondacks, this is definitely your chance to get away from it all. 

4) Mirbeau Inn & Spa: two locations to choose from -Skaneateles, NY or Plymouth, MA
It's practically a Monet painting come to life! I can practically guarantee your stay at the Mirbeau will be one of luscious luxury. Spa treatments, world class cuisine, and simply gorgeous rooms to stay in (with bathrobes that feel like a warm hug when you put them on!) - you'll never want to leave!!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

You can bet your sweet App on that!!

Here's what happened last week in our Service Department at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson:

As you might already know, I also take pictures of damaged bikes for warranty claims. Within the last year or so, that's expanded to taking pictures of wrecked bikes for the insurance claim.

What I recently found out is that quite a few insurance companies no longer have an insurance adjuster come out to the shop to do the estimate. You just download their app - bing, bang, boom and you're done! And now, one company I just got off the phone with, is doing claims completely through their app on my (or your) smart phone. 
"Isn't that better?" I hear you ask, "That means I don't have to wait on the adjuster, right? So I'll get my money faster." Well, the answer is yes and no.

Yes - it's better if all you care about is getting some money for your accident. Notice I didn't say "enough money" to fix your motorcycle. 

This is the point is when my answer is No - it's not better because there are things that'll get missed (and I get the feeling this is why insurance companies have embraced this practice).

The particular company our customer has told him for us to download their app to my smart phone. I punched in the claim number I had, only to learn that the app allows just three - 3!!! - pictures of the damaged area. But this bike has more than three damaged areas....

So I called the insurance company through their national 1-800 number and, after going through the automated system, got a real live person on the phone. 
"Jake" was quite pleasant to speak with - so that was a plus, but the only one. As it turns out I can only submit photos through their app - I have no way to email them to a claims representative

Jake even seemed a little dismayed to hear that the owner had brought their bike into the dealership. "Oh, the owner could have done that [on the app] - he didn't have to take his bike to you."

Alarm bells going off!! This insurance company has done away with claims adjusters in favor of inexperienced representatives who are writing estimates based on pictures taken by the owner (whose primary job isn't as a automotive or motorcycle technician). To say something is going to get missed is an understatement.
Getting something done faster and easier is not always going to be best for you, the customer. Insurance companies are hoping you'll accept the check for a substandard, below cost estimate and just shut-up about it. Consumers need to wake up!!