Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Are you maintaining your ABS?

No matter what your summer beach body looks like, you  
should know that ABS (aka Anti-Lock Braking System) - if you have it - is important. (I apologize if you were hoping this blog was going to talk about abdominal muscles!)


Do you know if your bike has ABS? The technology has been around since 2005 in Harley-Davidson Touring & Police models, V-Rod models got it in 2008, and today ABS is an option (if not standard) for every 2-wheeled motorcycle Harley makes. 

Look for the ABS module in the space in front of the motor, between the down tubes of your bike's frame, just behind the front wheel.

Or check out your front brake caliper - there will be a wire running alongside the brake line.
Still not sure if your bike has ABS? Just type your bike's VIN into FXCHD's "Contact Us" webpage and I'll look it up for you.

Ok, so back to maintenance: the memories made while riding your motorcycle will last a lifetime! The brake fluid.... not so much!! It is right in the H-D owner's manual that you should have your brake fluid changed every two years - no matter what your riding style is.

Regardless of who made your motorcycle, your bike will take care of you as much as you take care of it. Changing your brake fluid is part of the cost of properly maintaining your bike - just like oil & filter changes, brake pads, tires, etc.
That's because the "brake fluid ages and absorbs water over time. This reduces its performance and ability to protect the internal components of the brake system. If left unaddressed, it may eventually lead to a loss of brake function." <directly from Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Inc. (it don't get more official than that!!)

And, unless you're a certified mechanic with the necessary 
tools, specifically Digital Tech II, and knowledge to replace your brake fluid as recommended, I urge you to take your bike to your local authorized Harley-Davidson dealer. 



This is where that old saying comes in: If you think it's expensive to hire an expert, try hiring an amateur. Going fast is fun, but being able to stop when you want is necessary for motorcycle riding. Hire the expert and have us service your bike.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Ride Motorcycles and be Happier - 10 Ways

At times I'm your typical Northern California girl - I love yoga, definitely a nature lover, I'm into Zen-like thinking, and I subscribe to a number of "feel good" blogs.

One Elephant Journal article I read recently was titled 10 ways to Choose Happiness. (However I'm not a complete "hippie" because my first thought was, "One of them better involve riding a motorcycle!!") 

And, while the author didn't mention motorcycles in the article at all (how DARE they!), as it turns out all the bullet points can be achieved when you're a motorcyclist. Here, I'll show you: 

  • Detach: On my motorcycle all I have to do is twist the throttle and I detach myself from all the negatives of my day.
  • Give & Receive: By joining NNY H.O.G. (our local Harley Owners Group chapter) I am able to give advice and mentorship to those around me. And the camaraderie & great memories I receive in return? Priceless.
  • Appreciate Yourself: "Give yourself some love on a daily basis." Easily done when I'm riding, or thinking about riding, or planning a ride, or reading about riding.... You get the point.
  • Connect with Nature: Riding a motorcycle is
    "You in the mini-van - how long you in for?"
    completely different than riding in a car. In a car the windshield & cabin act to keep you in a cage, detached from what is around you - like you're watching a movie. When you're riding a motorcycle, you are IN the scene rather than staring at it from afar. You see & smell much more on a motorcycle than you ever do in a car. You're definitely connecting with Nature on a very intimate level.
  • Be In The Moment: To be a good motorcyclist you need to be focused on what you're doing, NOW.
    What happened 10 minutes ago, last week and last year all melt into the background. And the only future you need to be aware of is which road you're going to take.
  • Love Yourself: The fact that I didn't reach my weight goal, or that my teeth aren't going to pass the "tissue test" or that I didn't get many "likes" on my Facebook posts, doesn't matter in the least to my Harley-Davidson!! But seriously I don't really care about any of that stuff because I learned a long time ago that none of that matters. Thanks in large part to riding, I've come to know I'm beautiful. Period.
  • Practice Gratitude: It's easy to complain, but then
    I realize how blessed I am - I can simply jump on my bike and ride away from it all and not everyone can.
  • Get Inspired Daily: I'll think back to Harley-Davidson's four founding fathers who, over a century ago, had the foresight to start a company that evolved into a way of life that I so enjoy. Listening to other Bikers tell their story of their favorite road is another way I'm inspired.
  • Focus on the Good: I was stuck in traffic on a hot July day, getting caught up at how I should have
    taken another route - getting too focused on the bad. I started looking around and there was a straight up Amish guy sitting close by, just looking at me on my bike as I sat sweating. All of a sudden he gives me the biggest smile and flashes me a 'biker wave'!!! The best one I've ever gotten came out of something I didn't initially see as good... 
  • Practice Self-care: Putting on my riding gear and making sure my bike is well maintained certainly rev up my mind, body & spirit!!
So there you have it, when you ride a motorcycle you're a happier person. It's true that money cannot buy happiness, but it can buy you a Harley, which is pretty much the same thing! 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

8 Questions Answered About Bikers You're Too Scared To Ask

If you're within the North American continent, then at some point you probably have encountered a Biker as they were pumping gas into their bike, crossing on the ferry, at a stoplight, etc. But ever since Life Magazine published that article about the "Hollister Riot," and the movies (Wild One)
and television shows (Sons of Anarchy) that have followed, the general public has been a little leery of the so-called Biker crowd. 

It's only natural that you have questions about these black leather clad men & women, but didn't know who to ask. Certainly most Bikers seem very cold, so it's only natural you want to keep your distance... so here's everything you've wanted to know about them but were afraid to ask.

What exactly is a Biker?
There is no easy answer to this one... you might as well try to define the meaning of life while you're at it. But Motorcycle-Central.com broke it down into 8 variations for you. However, the majority of Bikers aren't going to "fit" exclusively into just one category. For instance, I see myself as a combo of Brand Loyalist, Cruiser, Philosopher and a small bit of Mechanic.

What does "KSU" mean?
When Bikers are organizing a group ride for charity or for fun, we will have a time to meet up at a preset location and a KSU time, usually 30 to 90 minutes after the meet-up time. "KSU" is an acronym for "KickStands Up" - or a shortened version of "the ride will leave at."  

Why do Bikers wear black ALL the time, even when it's 100°F outside?
The easy answer is that black doesn't show dirt... we are smashing bugs (and sometimes even birds!) with our riding gear. Gas & grease are also easily accessible while riding a motorcycle, so black items of clothing won't show the stains and dirt. Plus with some of the newer technology, like 'coldblack', wearing black in the heat of summer isn't as bad as it once was.

Why do some Bikers wave at each other?
The "Biker Wave" is nearly as old as motorcycling itself. It's
just something Bikers do as they pass each other while riding (I've even "Biker Waved" at riders from my driveway while washing my bike!). It's a way to show camaraderie to others who share the same passion for life on two wheels. But not all riders wave and as a rider, there are certain times you can't wave (your left hand is busy with the clutch), and that's ok too - there's no hard & fast rules to doing the Biker Wave. Except for this dog - bow wow.

Is it ok to sit on a motorcycle?
Only if you're in a dealership showroom is it ever ok just to sit on a motorcycle, and even then you should ask first or wait until someone offers. If the motorcycle is on the street or at a rally, then the rule that my dad taught me is the one you should follow: Look with your eyes, not with your hands (or butt).

What do all the patches mean?
And again, a question that doesn't have just one, straight-forward answer. A "Broken Wings" patch can either mean the rider had a crash and/or broken bones. Fat Boy, Heritage, Dyna & Sportster (and more) are different Harley bikes. You can also have Knucklehead, Panhead, Shovelhead and Evo which are different types of Harley motors. Two-piece and three-piece patch sets can show that the Biker is in a motorcycle club or association. Then there's also the 1% patch. Here's a webpage that goes into a little more detail.

Now that you mention it, what is a "1%er"?
Going back to 1947 and what is now known as the American Motorcycle Association made the comment that 99% of motorcyclists are law abiding citizens - which implied that 1%
are not. The 1% of motorcyclists are the ones who ride hard no matter what the weather, party hard, not "main-stream" type of people. 
     Then there are 1%er "Biker Gangs" - Hell's Angels, Outlaws, Bandidos, Pagans, etc. These motorcycle clubs follow a lifestyle that work for a certain type of personality. There's camaraderie, danger, living on the outskirts of society, no-apologies, a bond stronger than you have with blood relatives and a dedication to each other than most people will never understand. 
     If you encounter a Biker with a three piece club patch and a 1%er patch and/or tattoo, you definitely do not want to f*ck with them and now is not the time to prove just how tough you are. Just give them the same respect you would anyone else. 

Do I have to be a 1%er in order to be a true Biker?
Short answer: No. However most Bikers embody many of the 1%er characteristics: you love to ride your motorcycle - even a day riding in the rain is still riding; you help your fellow rider when you can - especially if they're stuck on the side of the road; you like to hang out and party with people who share the same passion. All you need is two wheels.

Do you have a question about Bikers that I failed to answer here? Ask it below in the comments and I will answer to the best of my ability.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day and Rememberance

You may already know that Harley-Davidson has been working with the US Military since the days of General "Black Jack" Pershing and Pancho Villa. 

Then there's Roy Holtz who rode his Harley-Davidson into Germany after WWI.
And all the WLA's Harley-Davidson produced during WWII, making parts easily interchangeable so soldiers could cannibalize one Harley to fix another - as they learned in Service School (which was carried over from WWI). 


All those years Harley-Davidson worked with the military, but what it comes down to is the personal connection that we have to these motorcycles. This picture, that the Harley-Davidson Museum posted to their Instagram today, speaks to that connection.
Wallace didn't use a Harley in wartime - he purchased it on his own. He loved his bike so much that his mom, rather than sell it, saved it as a shrine. Then his nephew, rather than sell it, donated it to the museum so that others may know of his uncle's passion for Harley-Davidson. It is this selfless passion for our country, so that others may have a chance to ride and be free is what I remember today.
Thanks to their sacrifices I am able to go where I want, when I want, dressed how I want on my Harley-Davidson. I can say what I want about our countries leaders - I can even post this blog! - without fear of reprisal. All because of Wallace and other soldiers, sailors, airmen & marines like them. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Don't wait for the perfect day - Make It!!!


This is not the first time you've heard that saying (and if it is you've got to get out more!) - but know that you're hearing it again because it's true.

To be sure Bikers know this since we often live in the present - we know that Life is short and we've got to get out to enjoy ourselves while we're here.

So it's with that in mind that this past Mother's Day, despite the cloudy skies and damp weather, I ventured out and had some fun.

The day was far from perfect by most people's standards, and yet the sun was still there and Spring is blooming in Northern New York - albeit a little slowly.

But nonetheless I got out and had some fun while connecting with Mother Nature (even though I didn't ride!).

Once again, you don't have to wait for the perfect day to get out and enjoy yourself and life. You just have to go out and make it perfect & have fun!!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

You've got no excuse!! (Part V of Getting Real Serious Now)

This is the last time I'm going to bug you about your insurance.... for this year.... maybe! Only because it really is that important and, if you screw this up, you only have yourself to blame.

In Part I we talked briefly on motorcycle insurance and how it differs from auto insurance. Then in Part II we covered how insurance companies want to save YOU money (in the short term). In Part III we talked about what motorcycle insurance you're required to carry (and how it does nothing to protect the rider). And in Part IV I showed you the type of coverage you should strongly consider having added to your policy and why. 

(And once again I'll just remind everyone that I'm not an insurance agent or broker, nor am I an attorney of any type. I'm just someone who has seen a few things while working at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson.)

This time around let's discuss another type of insurance that might be beneficial: supplemental insurance.

At FX Caprara Harley-Davidson® we recently had an
insurance rep come through and I signed up big time. In addition to my dental & vision plans, I'm also covered for accident, disability, life & cancer.

Anyone who has ridden a motorcycle for any length of time knows that it is not a matter of IF you'll go down, but WHEN. And that was the major determining factor for me to get those policies.

Having that additional coverage will help me out with lost wages and missed bill payments. Here's a great article on how you can determine if you need supplemental insurance.

Now that you know almost all there is to know about how to best protect yourself while riding your motorcycle - beyond your riding gear and skill set - you have no excuse to be under-insured should the worst happen.

Have Fun & Ride Safe!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

8 Common Motorcycle Accidents & How to Avoid them

It doesn't matter if you're new to motorcycling or been at it for a while - every Spring you should take some time to dust off your riding skills (if you're lucky enough to live where snow dominates the landscape 6 months out of the year, that is).

In that spirit, here's a reminder of the most common motorcycle accidents and how to avoid them. Feel free to share this blog post with drivers as well to help them understand better what we motorcyclists go though.


  1. Entered a corner too fast and you can't stay in your lane: the best approach is to trust the bike and ride it out. The bike is likely more capable than you are, so it's really you that thinks you're not able to make it around. Take as much lean out of the bike as possible by counter leaning, look where you want to go, and be as smooth as possible on the controls. How to Avoid it: Only ride as fast as you can see and use visual cues like telephone polls or signs to judge the sharpness of a corner.
  2. A car/truck is merging into your space: beware of situations where lane changes become more possible. Is highway traffic slowing with one lane moving faster than the other? Did the person merging onto the interstate get behind you? (see "Thanks for waving as you tried to crush me"). How to Avoid it: Know
    The Truck Driver cannot see any of these bikes!
    where the blind spots are and spend as little time in them as possible.
  3. Someone on a group ride decides to show off their "mad riding skillz": Going out on a group ride when one rider wants to demonstrate their stunt riding act (although they're not professionally trained....). They end up doing something stupid, over-correct and cause an accident. How to Avoid it: Make sure everyone knows group riding etiquette and to ride in staggered formation. 
  4. A Car Door opens into you: You're in the city, stuck in a traffic jam, and it's HOT!! You decide to pass everyone on the right, between the line of traffic and parked cars when, all of a sudden, Nathan No-Look swings his door open into your path. How to avoid it: Don't "lane split" in the first place. In NY it's illegal - in fact, California is the only state that allows you to do it under the law. 
  5. You've hit gravel in a blind corner and are losing
    traction:
    You're out riding through a few twisties when you round a corner only to find gravel, sand, wet leaves, or manure in your path. How to Avoid it: Don't hit it in the first place! Ride at a pace where you have time to move your bike. Enter the corner wide so you can see, and once you can see all the way through the turn you can speed up. "Slow in, fast out."
  6. Caught out in the Rain and you're playing "slip & slide": Things like manhole covers, 'tar snakes' and painted lines on the road can become slippery during a rain storm. Plus the first rain after a long dry spell can bring up all the oil & gas out of the pavement. How to avoid it: As long as you've got good tread on your tires, your bike will be fine in wet conditions. Just be smooth on your controls, take corners easy, and leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  7. A car/truck turns left in front of you - the most
    common type of motorcycle accident: 
    The science behind this happening: a driver looking for cars perceives merely an absence of cars, not the presence of a motorcycle. How to Avoid it: Look for signs that could indicate someone may turn in front of you: a car waiting to turn at an intersection, or come out of a driveway or parking lot. Yes, you do need to take something as innocent as a car waiting in a turn lane as a major and immediate threat to your life. In either situation, slow down, cover your brakes and get ready to take evasive action. And once you’ve identified said threat, you can work through it. Is the driver clearly able to see you? Are they looking at you? Where are their wheels pointing? What’s the road surface like? Is it going to be able to handle the full force of your brakes or are you going to lock them? You do know how to use the full ability of your brakes, right? Look at their wheels, not the car itself, because the wheels will give you the first clue of movement. During all this, also be aware of what’s behind and to your side. Should you need to take evasive action, you’ll need to know your routes of escape. It’s no good braking in time to avoid a turning car, only to be swatted from behind by a tailgating SUV. 
  8. The 100% Most Avoidable Accident -
    DUI/DWI: 
    You’d think this would be a ‘no brainer’ – we did just cover how, as a rider, you need to develop a precognitive sixth sense. But now you’re out with friends and you think by consuming a beer or two is going to add in on the fun, then ride home after that. It’s not!! You’ve just dulled your senses and taken away your reaction time. How fun is it going to be paying the DUI ticket and state fines? Paying the increases in your insurance premiums? How fun is it going to be when you get demoted at work? How fun is it going to be laying up in a hospital bed, recovering from a major accident? Or that you took someone else's life from them, their family and friends.... How to Avoid it: THINK!! DON'T DRINK AND RIDE!!! I'm not saying you shouldn’t drink at all. Just that when you do, your kick stand is down and your bike is parked for the night.
There you have it so now you can do what my Dad always told me to do, "Plan as if you'll live forever. But LIVE as if you'll die tomorrow."

Do you have any helpful advice to add? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!