Monday, January 15, 2018

How Bikers Save Money for their Road Trip(s)

Admittedly, when most people see a Biker, they think that they have little to no money. And in most cases they'd be wrong. (Unless you see us right after a trip to a Bike Rally or long road trip.)
On my way back from Laconia, NH
Truth be told the average Biker has a decent bank roll. There's their Harley-Davidson motorcycle, about $12K+. Then there's all the Riding Gear- leather and/or nylon jackets, leather chaps, usually two or more helmets, rain gear, boots and gloves- probably $2500 all together. Plus there's bike parts and maintenance, another $1000-$2000 annually, depending on the bike's mileage. 

And then we have money for our long road trips, probably to Laconia or Sturgis, or over several (or longer) days. That's fuel (although it only takes $20 or so to fill up on high octane), food, lodging, entertainment and souvenirs. 
Our bikes (I'm in the middle) on the Cape May - Lewis Ferry
But how do Bikers afford it all? How can we afford to take our long road trips across states, or maybe even across the country? 

We save for it. And this is how we do it:

1) We don't spend excessively when we're home. We don't get Starbucks every morning, we drink the coffee at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson. We don't eat out every lunch time, we bring our lunches with us to work. Cable and streaming services are at a minimum, we look to save on groceries, and we do our drinking at home (which also saves on DUI charges!). We know that while we're on our Road Trips we'll be having coffee, eating out and having loads of entertainment while having our adventures, so waiting for that is worth it.

2) We use dedicated savings accounts. By cutting our expenses at home we're able to put that money immediately into a savings account where we can't touch it. We take $25 a week out of our paycheck, so at the end of the month that's $100, and at the end of six months that's $600. See how fast that adds up?
My boots in the sand at Lake Winnipesaukee
3) Have spare change will travel. I'm talking about apps that take the spare change from purchases on your debit card and invest them (Acorns, Digit and Chime). You spend $29.32 filling up your car, they'll take the remaining $0.68 cents and put that into an investment account. You'll be surprised at just how fast that adds up!! With Acorns (that's what I have and I love them!!) you can even have them invest another $10 -or which ever amount you wish -every week and it'll add up even faster. The only caveat: it takes about a week to ten days to withdraw your money.

Then there's apps like Ibotta, EBates and other cash back sites that will put money in your account for making certain purchases. It's a little, but it's still money that adds up over time.
H.O.G. Harley Owners Group
4) We are H.O.G.s! That stands for the Harley Owners Group and you can be a member as long as you own at least one Harley motorcycle. By being a member you'll get pins & patches for mileage accumulated, HOG Magazine, Touring Handbook and more. While at home you can save on your AT&T wireless services, motorcycle insurance & shipping. While your traveling on the road, even if you're in your car, you can save on lodging with Best Western Ride Rewards. See all the H.O.G. membership benefits for yourself by clicking here.

5) Of course you can't travel by motorcycle if you don't have one! We at FXCHD have that covered: until the end of January 2018 we at FXCHD have a "No Money Down, No Payments 90 Days" with AmeriCU. Get the new bike now and be ready to ride come spring-time.

As with any travel, things rarely go exactly according to plan. So you'll want a little money cushion and be open to adjusting your plans as needed. And remember what all Bikers know to be true: 

It's the journey, not the destination, 
that makes all the difference.
Me stuck in the middle again!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

I'm 24 and Single... Is buying a Harley a terrible idea?

The short answer is: No. No it's not a bad idea to buy a Harley, no matter what age you are (IMHO of course).

Over the years working for FX Caprara Harley-Davidson (and other H-D Dealerships) I've heard the term "geezer glide" when younger generations refer to Harley motorcycles.

Or how they can't even think of owning a Harley because they're sssooo expensive.
Put yourself here....

Still, they stare at our bikes with that dreamy look in their eyes. 

I tell them they can through a leg over and sit on the bike they're drooling over, and when they do, I hear "Oh, this is nice!"

Growing up in Northern California, Harley-Davidson motorcycles were everywhere. Relatives, friends and then co-workers all had them and I thought to myself that they must have been rich. 

But once I graduated college I realized that all my "Harley Relations" had just made the feeling of being free (the feeling we all get from riding) a priority in their lives.

Let me see if I can elaborate on what it's like to ride:
When I'm riding my motorcycle, and it sounds cliche to say this, but I really am FREE... 

I am at one with my universe and everything else (stress, troubles & worries) just melt away. 

I am flying without having to grow wings. 

We believe you can fly too....
I am alive with every fiber of my being. 

So, how do you know if owning a Harley is your priority? Two questions to help you decide:

  1. First, there's the cold math of if you've got the money. But luckily you can often find "Previously Enjoyed" Harley-Davidson Motorcycles for under $10K. And sometimes dealers have "No Money Down, No Payments for 90 Days" finance deals (like this one).
  2. Then there's the emotional side: You should want to travel and have fun.
Ready to go on? 

Now that you realize you want to live life on two wheels, there are some things to consider:

  • Motorcycling is a sport that requires focus, mental dexterity and agility. If you're wanting to ride to impress others or race the other guy to the next stop light, then you're in it for the wrong reasons. As long as you keep your ego in check and understand how and where a motorcycle operates, you will lower the chance of being "young & dumb."
  • The best way to get the "M" endorsement on your license is to take the Basic Riders Course through a MSF Certified School. You'll learn things you didn't even know you needed to know, you'll be better behind the wheel of your car, you'll lower your insurance rates, and (as long as you pass) you won't have to re-test at the DMV.
  • Gear to Stay: Having the proper riding gear can make or break
    Full Gear, not Fool's Gear
    you -literally. DOT Helmet, over-the-ankle boots, jeans and a nylon jacket are all highly recommended. If you don't have the gear already, factor this in on Step 1 above.
Next comes finding the right first bike. 

If you know anyone who rides, you can  ask them to help you..... as long as they're not a snob about it, you'll be fine.

And of course, there's always Google...

When it comes to your first love on two wheels, I suggest remembering:
  • Size matters: you should be able to pick the bike up off its kick stand and sit comfortably with both feet flat on the ground. Harley-Davidson motorcycles are great in this regard because they can be made to fit you: change the seat and lowering the shocks can get you closer to the ground; or if you need to stretch out, extended controls and changing out the seat will allow that to happen.
  • No PDQ about it: Motorcycles will give you the most bang for
    V-Rod Muscle
    your buck performance wise- but your first bike doesn't necessarily need to have 125 hp right out of the box (like the V-Rod Muscle). Start with a Street 750 until you get a couple thousand miles under your belt, then upgrade. If your riding friends quip about how bored you're going to be with a smaller motor, ignore them. This is about you. (Remember what I said about ego?)
  • Money is no object: So you've got Step 1 covered and wish to buy the bike of your dreams before that "M" is dry on your license. You do realize that your first bike is going to be  dropped & stalled more times than you'll admit to anyone, right? Learn to ride first, decide the type of riding you prefer (long distance, around town, all the above), put those miles on, then get the bike of your reality.
  • Feeling the Age: Your clothes -vintage. You frequent antique
    shops and estate sales. And your friends frequently describe you as being an "old soul." So you might be thinking of going kickstart shovelhead for your first Harley. I implore you to think again. Yes, old school is great, but older motorcycles are prone to mechanical failure, parts are hard to find, and you're not a mechanic by trade. You want to be riding, not wrenching. Then see how much motorcycle technology has advanced in the past 10 years alone: electric start, fuel injection, ABS, rider aids are all there for a fun and safer ride than your grand-dad had. You'll want to get a modern, reliable bike from a trusted H-D Dealership. 
So to recap: it is a great idea to own a Harley. Sure ownership comes with responsibility- you should be able to afford it and take care of your motorcycle with routine maintenance. 

Just remember the rewards that also come along with Harley ownership are sssoooo worth every penny. 

Among which are a life worth living, 
liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Biker Resolutions for going into the New Year

Anyone else think 2017 was sort of weird, or is it just me?

Between the weather, juggling the boatloads of work I have with family life and riding, this year has been kind of a bust... (I did ride to Gettysburg which was really cool.)

And now, just moments before the new year begins, everyone starts telling me to plan and make resolutions for the New Year. 

In fact, just the other day I printed off Harley-Davidson's marketing calendar for the year. WTH? Seems like everyone but me has a plan...
In HDMC's defense, 2018 is their 115th Anniversary and they're planning a LARGE celebration in Milwaukee - and that kind of party you do need to coordinate months in advance.
Despite the MoCo planning out 2018, it's ok that I don't have resolutions for 2018. That's because if you're a Biker you know that we usually don't make New Year's Resolutions.

Resolutions are made by those who have resolved not to have adventures.

Yup, I tricked ya -sorry. But, in light of all that, here are five of the most popular resolutions and what you should do instead for 2018:

#1: Get in Shape
True that December seems to be a month long all-you-can-eat orgy of decadent foods, and you probably consumed 4500 calories in a single meal, but by no means do you have to loose the love-handles gained. Hey- Round is a shape people!

If you really want to loose weight, start off by getting one of the new 2018 Softail models which are up to 35 pounds lighter (compared to 2017 models) and a 34% stiffer chassis. Then ride it to the gym or the park to meet your personal trainer.

#2: Enjoy Life to the Fullest
Do you really need a resolution to do this?? 

To really enjoy life to the fullest, you should have and ride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. When you own a Harley there is nothing more - and nothing less - than a way to get the most of that  life has to offer.

#3: Spend more time with Friends
Again, you need a resolution for this??

Bikers do this already when they walk into a Harley-Davidson dealership (like FXCHD) and join a chapter of the Harley Owners Group (like NNY H.O.G.). Here you'll meet people from all walks of life and all levels of riding experience who have one thing in common: a love for being in the saddle of a Harley.

#4: Learn Something New
So you say you're going to learn Mandarin in 2018.... And when is your trip to China scheduled?? And when you don't achieve this how will you feel? Taking on something new can be frustrating and a time drainer. 

Maybe instead try a more attainable goal, like learning to ride a motorcycle. If you can ride a bicycle, you can ride a motorcycle. And if you know how to manually shift a car, you're that much more ahead of the game. The best and easiest way to do it is to take a class taught by professionals.

Already have the "M" endorsement on your license? Then we say to teach something new. Most Bikers I know are happy to tell you what they know about riding, the tips and tricks they've learned along the road. Sort of like a mentorship to those who have just started out in a life on two wheels. 

#5: Travel More
OK, if there is ever a 'resolution' among Bikers, it's to:
Ride More Miles

But don't just make those miles to and from work. Get out and ride!! Cross into a different state or even a time zone. Save your money, plan the route, tell your friends.

2018 marks the 115th Anniversary for Harley-Davidson and I'm already planning to join with more passionate people in Milwaukee this coming labor day. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

5 Tips to help Bikers Survive Winter

You think it's cold where you live? Come to Northern New York and we'll show you cold (this morning it was -11°F)!!

I love, love, love the summer months -long days in which to ride my 2004 Dyna Super Glide, warm weather to ride in, BBQ's on the back deck after washing my bike, then sitting by the fire pit for a lovely evening before getting up and doing it all again.

So winter for me really starts when I put my bike up for Winter Storage.... which was just before Halloween this year...... Sigh.

And I am not alone. Many others suffer from PMS during the cold winter months (that's Parked Motorcycle Syndrome), the same as I. 

In light of this, I've gotten together with my co-workers at FXCHD and we've created this list so that you might survive the cold chill without losing your mind.

  1. Stay Warm: Which can be a tough one but doable. Block drafts
    from coming in your house and change the furnace filter. Dress in layers when outside. Wear lined boots with good, thick socks. Oh, and a good hat with flaps to cover your ears.
  2. Celebrate the Holidays: And I'm not talking about just Christmas and New Year's. I'm talking about Thanksgiving, Ground Hog Day, Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day. Really throw yourself into it, and by the time
    Easter rolls around you know you've made it through.
  3. Stay active: I mean more than just shoveling and snow blowing, which is inevitable here. I mean doing a project that keeps you occupied, like an engine upgrade on your bike. Or jig-saw puzzles, or taking your dog for a walk and/or take up snowmobiling (remember to dress in layers). Bear in mind
    the Biker saying: Keep Moving Forward.
  4. Stick it in your Ear: Being off the bike means I'm stuck in my car for the duration. Fortunately my car has Sirius XM and is usually set to Octane. It's a chance to listen to new music and update my MP3 player for when I am back on my bike. And Grant Random keeps it real with his insights & comments (he definitely has a Biker mentality). 
  5. Remembering the 7 "P's": Proper prior planning prevents piss
    poor performance. Look at the riding season and plan ahead. Going to a rally? Book your stay now rather than wait till the last minute (even three months out you're likely to have a hard time finding a place to stay). Take a look at which route you'll ride to get there. Make out your packing list now and update or upgrade your gear as needed (especially since shops tend to have sales on Riding Gear during the off season).
The good news is that by the time Winter officially starts (December 22), it's nearly half over for us. Another plus, wintertime in Northern New York is quite beautiful.

Friday, December 1, 2017

220+ Gift Ideas for Bikers (and regular folk too)

Harley-Davidson has given us one-hundred and fifteen years of gifts for you and yours. Some naughty, all nice, to give as well as to receive.

ICYMI: People are buying gifts this time of year.

The evidence? About 1200 emails piling up in your inbox right now. Lest you forget that the holiday season is upon us.

That's why we at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson have put together this source of 220+ gift ideas perfect for your Biker friend (and also good for your old man, the couch potato, special friend). And the price range is from <$50 to >$500. 

Bonus: all these gift ideas go right along with "Creating Your Happy List"

Yup, that's right: your wish for an easier, simpler, more efficient way of getting the gifts has come true.

We call it the H-D Holiday 220+. And if you're still searching after this, then good luck with that inbox.

(Pssst: this was first sent out in FXCHD's E-newsletter.... which you can get delivered right to your inbox by clicking here.)

Monday, November 27, 2017

How to create your "Happy List"

As I type this, my email inbox is filling up with all sorts of advertising (it is Cyber Monday after all). Television is another perfect example of the over load of seemingly senseless commercials this time of year. And if I listened to local radio, I'm sure it'd be the same. 

With tag lines of: "Discounts just for you;" "25% off your entire order;" and "Last Chance to get Yours!" It's enough to drive anyone nuts!

Isn't it ironic that part of my job here at FXCHD is marketing? 

Of course during this holiday season it's almost guaranteed that we'll purchase something for a friend or family member. But before you get so caught up in the onslaught of holiday advertising, let's take a moment to create a plan that will make everyone happy.

All of us have dreams. Big, small, and all sizes in-between -maybe even tied up with a bow. And if the person you're shopping for is a Biker, then they definitely have dreams. Dreams to customize their ride, dreams of a new rear tire or tune-up, maybe dreams about new riding gear or a new bike... or dreams about riding across several states or even across the whole damn country. 

This holiday let's support those dreams.

When buying gifts, let's choose to shop in a way that furthers the dream of someone we know. 

If you're not sure of what the Biker on your list needs to fulfill their Harley dreams, ask if they have a Wish List on

Or you could give them an H-D Gift Card
I can't afford to spend lots of money on gifts -I'm like most of us, nearly living paycheck to paycheck, saving what money I can. But still when I do purchase gifts, I like to think how I can help to make my friends' dreams come to life.

Sure- it's not your responsibility to fund your friend's dream... But when you have a dream and your friends support you, doesn't that help you to feel happy? 

By giving gifts with these dreams in mind, even something small can be a big thing to the one who receives it. And I guarantee that will have you, the giver, feeling as good, if not better, than the one who receives. 

What an absolutely wonderful holiday gift to give!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

My Thanksgiving

I give thanks for the long rides that stretch from morning to late afternoon and into the evening. For the miles and curves that vanish beneath my tires, those hours when time loses all meaning. For those days when I ride so long my throttle hand is sore and I walk a bit bow-legged when I finally park the bike.

I give thanks for my Harley beneath me, for the power, the way it sets me back in the saddle each time I twist the throttle. For meaty tires and lean angles.

I am thankful for the sound of my Harley as I sit so proudly on it. It’s like hearing my favorite song drifting from a stranger’s window as I ride along. Pure joy.

I am thankful for hazards recognized, for dangers avoided, for skills of the trained technicians that help to keep my bike purring. I give thanks for the wise riding tips and techniques my more experienced brothers and sisters of the road have taught to me. I give thanks that I ride and live and live to ride again.

I give thanks for the gathering of riders, for being able to recognize a friend’s bikes approaching by their sound, for seeing good companions slow and turn into the lot. For the glad hugs and laughter, the banter. I give thanks for that good company as I see them ahead of me drift to the outside then dip into the curve, one-two-three-four, like seagulls banking and then straighten up, and fly on down the road.

I give thanks for those I come to know and care about over the months and years of riding

the same roads to the same places. I give thanks for making new friends while riding new roads and having week long adventures.  I am thankful for those who I love and who love me simply because we love the same thing--to ride on two wheels in the freedom of the wind.

I give thanks for the sense of “Being” that riding has given me, the freedom to be who I am no matter what others think. It has brought a sense of empowerment for myself and my life - the ability to take on risk and fear and triumph in the challenge. To ride my own ride whether in that good company of bikers or on my own.

I am thankful that I have found my peace in the wind.