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.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

It sounds cliché, but it's true.

The employees of FXCHD have a passion for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. But our passion alone wouldn't give us a job here- it's because of our customers that we have employment in a job we love (most of the time). 

Our customers have the same passion for a life behind bars and on
two wheels as we do- some that fire has just been ignited, others it's
been burning for a long time. And no matter where they are on their road, they come in and tell us their latest adventure or ask us what they should do next for customizing their bike.

And in a world that has definitely sped up over the last few decades, with 'one-click' shopping & businesses that value commerce over people, I am definitely thankful for a job that does the opposite. 

If it weren't for the 'family' of our customers, I think this would be 'just another job' for me. And to some it might look like that at times- I have reports and deadlines too. 

However I also get to help people fulfill their dreams -getting on a Harley, twisting the throttle and finding their freedom. 
And for that I'm thankful every time it happens.

I hope that you have found that same freedom to be thankful for, and that you celebrate it more than once a year. If you haven't, I invite you to stop into FX Caprara Harley-Davidson and we'll talk! 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Family conversations & how to deal with them Biker style

Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners - they're both great because they involve eating and drinking and being happy about all the cool things in your life (like friends, that Greek food restaurant and - if you're really lucky - your Harley).
But they also mean the relatives are coming, and just like most family gatherings, you cannot have your pumpkin pie and eat it too. These holiday dinners come with a catch.

The family personalities gathered round the table come primed with all the personal questions. Tough questions, like about your personal finances, your love life, career and that one time you were found sleeping on the front lawn..... the neighbor's front lawn that is.

However, this year is going to be different. This year you're going to put Aunt Deb in her place because you're an adult and your life is none of her damn business. 

Obviously you're going to need to inject some Biker into your family proceedings to get you through this. And we at FXCHD are going to help you prepare with these questions (and sarcastic comebacks) to each investigation your relatives have to offer.

As always, we're going to keep things completely scientific and rate these questions on a level of 1 to 5 backfires, just like before.

Ready? You've got this, tiger.

FXCHD anxiety rating: 1 backfire
The Bike: a Breakout with Spectra Glo LED Lighting which is brighter than the fake smile you're going to flash while you walk through the front door.
Your Reply: "Well, if you move to Sturgis, Laughlin, Daytona or Laconia, you'd be sure to see me at least one week out of the year.... sort of.... I'll definitely crash on your couch in-between burnout competitions."

FXCHD anxiety rating: 1 backfire
The Bike: Sportster Forty-Eight that is as zippy as your father's tone.
Your Reply: "Two words Dad: Parachute Pants. Let's pull out your 1982 high school year book and see what your fashion sense looked like back then."

FXCHD anxiety rating: 2 backfires
The Bike: a Street Rod that good 'ol cuz probably got after getting the MF Dean's Award for underwater basket weaving.
Your Reply: "How about we not compare everyone's lives right now.... I've seen Mandy's snapchat stories with my own eyes- her and her sorority did stuff that was waaaaay less than honorable."

FXCHD anxiety rating: 2 backfires
The Bike: Sportster 1200 Custom -with 67 horses of power and lots of soul on two wheels.
Your Reply: "Have you seen the movie Wild Hogs? When Dudley let his bike bounce off the curb and fall to the ground.... that gets me crying every single time. Why did they have to torture his Harley like that??" *sob

FXCHD anxiety rating: 2 backfires
The Bike: the Street Glide with a 6 gallon tank that holds enough fuel to gaslight all your mom's horrific backhanded questions.
Your Reply: "When I bought my Harley and put having fun in my life first for a change, you made it clear exactly how irresponsible I was being. Now you expect me to bring a baby into this world??"

FXCHD anxiety rating: 2 backfires
The Bike: the Ultra Limited so you and your guy/gal can Ride far, far away.
Your Reply: "Well, we have so much fun sleeping around during bike week that we really don't see the need to tie each other down with an archaic ceremony. While we're at it- let's ask Uncle John about how his third divorce is going."

FXCHD anxiety rating: 3 backfires
The Bike: the minimalist style yet maximum impact of the Low Rider S.
Your Reply: "Yes, I have a good paying job that pays me enough so I can have my Harley. If by 'decent pay' you mean a job that has to pay excessive wages just to keep employees because it sucks the very life from you, then no -no, I don't."

FXCHD anxiety rating: 3 backfires
The Bike: a Fat Bob with a meaty front tire that handles everything exceptionally well.
Your Reply: "Oh Melissa, you're so sweet to point that out. And if it bothers you that much, then by all means stop stuffing your face with it." *imagines doing a burnout in the kitchen 

FXCHD anxiety rating: 4 backfires
The Bike: the Softail Deluxe for obvious reasons
Your Reply: "Oh.... well.... yeah, they died. Very shocking. I'm kind of still sensitive about it. Who wants to watch Ride With Norman Reedus?"

FXCHD anxiety rating: 4 backfires
The Bike: the holy-trinity of three wheels- the Freewheeler
Your Reply: "Until the priest has a ride-through confessional, you can see me out Riding my Harley in all of God's splendor, every day of the week and twice on Sunday."  

FXCHD anxiety rating: 5 backfires
The Bike: a Street Bob for it's light-weight frame which is super agreeable, but also easily handles the turns- like the give-and-take nature of the two-handed adulation.
Your Reply: "Life was so much simpler when you could BS your way through an associate arts degree, like you did back in the '70s Uncle Mike. So yeah, let's move on from this convo just like my Harley does when the light turns green."

FXCHD anxiety rating: 5 backfires
The Bike: the Heritage Softail for all the history but it also has all the modern conveniences. 
Your Reply: "It would be in your best interest to leave my pie alone because my Harley has been in Winter Storage for the last month and I will cut a bitch." 

FXCHD anxiety rating: 5 backfires and then stalled out
The Bike: a CVO Road Glide with a 117 cubic inch Screamin' Eagle motor to fly you the f*** out of there.
Your Reply: "You are so right, I should have known better. I should have learned from when you had all that financial trouble because your house was upside down and you declared bankruptcy.... but you only lived out of your car for those five months, right?" 

FXCHD anxiety rating: 5 backfires and then stalled out
The Bike: the Fat Boy because, yeah - The Terminator.
Your Reply: "Ooh, uummm - hey did I show you pictures from the bike rally I rode to on my Harley? Check these out!"

Reminder of the classic Biker saying if all else fails: 
When in doubt, throttle out.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The #1 Question at the Parts Counter

As we round the corner into my second favorite time of year (the Riding Season, aka Summer, being my first), and we get customers wanting to buy parts for their beloved, I thought I'd try to answer the most asked question during the holidays at FXCHD
Will this part fit his bike?

But, as with anything, it's best if you do a little homework on your end. "Well, it's either a Street Glide or a Street Bob.... it's definitely got 'Street' in there somewhere....." just isn't going to cut it.
Let's start off with what year the bike is. We know that all bikes look essentially the same from year to year, but trust us- there are also minor changes that can affect how a part fits. The size of a gas tank could be different from one year to the next, so the seat (where it butts up to the tank) might not fit. Or a more narrow primary will mean a different derby cover.
Then there's Harley's "Alphabet Soup".... which can sometimes look like a whole other language. It starts with what family the bike is in, but it doesn't end there. 

Sure you know his bike is a Sportster, but the next question from us is going to be, "Is it an 883 or 1200??" So if you can tell us you're looking for forward controls for your guy's 2013 XL1200L, we will be able to get you the right kit. 
If you're trying to be sneaky because you want to surprise your man with the parts he's been drooling over, take a glance at the R/O (repair or work order) paperwork - that'll usually tell you the year, make and model of the bike. Or, if we've seen the bike here for service, we can look it up for you in our system.
Of course, one word of warning: Some guys (and gals too!) are very specific [read picky] about what they think does and doesn't look good on their bike. If your significant other fits this description, you might just want to get him/her a Harley-Davidson Gift Card and let them pick out their own parts.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

ICYMI: Shop Talk -DIY Winter Motorcycle Storage

Recently I talked about this at our dealership, as I'm a firm believer in preventing Harley abuse! And because of that, I'm sharing it here just in case you missed it:
Days getting shorter, temps dropping, and soon that four letter "s" word will be upon us. While some of us can transition easily into the coming winter wonderland, your bike isn't one of them. That's why FXCHD is here to show you how to tuck your bike in for it's long winter's nap.

Why winterize?
Sure your Harley is tough, but old man winter can be tougher.
Without proper weatherization the condition of your motorcycle will rapidly deteriorate. That can add to your repair bill and will adversely effect the resale value. Of course the most important reason to prep your bike for storage is because you want to be riding your bike, not wrenching on it (or having us do it for you) come Spring.

Make some room:
Find some room in your garage or other permanent structure that has a floor, four walls, a roof and power. Clean and organize your area, then put a tarp down to act as a moisture barrier. Next put an old carpet over the tarp -this will be your baby's home for the next 4-5 months. Remember that mice will want to be getting out of the cold too, and your bike is a nice way to do that. Get some moth balls, put them in an old tube sock and put them around where your bike will be napping.

Prep your bike:
  • Fill your bike's gas tank up to the neck and add fuel stabilizer. By the time you get home from the gas station the stabilizer will have worked it's way through the fuel system. Now your bike is warm so you can....
  • Change your Oil & Filter: oil is like underwear- it should be changed every so often! The acids in dirty oil can step up engine corrosion, so you should change these out for fresh Harley Syn3 Oil.
  • Is your bike liquid-cooled? V-Rod, Street and certain Touring models are. You'll want to check your levels and add antifreeze if necessary.
  • Prep the Paint: Bug guts and road grime is like a badge of
    honor for all the miles you've ridden, but if left on over winter they can eat away at the paint & chrome. Thoroughly wash your bike, dry it, then coat all painted parts & chrome with wax and use S100 Corrosion Protectant or WD-40 on unfinished metal (mag wheels and engine fins). A better way to show off all the miles you've ridden: H.O.G. Mileage Program
  • Keep the spark alive! Even as our bikes are sitting quietly there is a drain on their battery. Hook your bike up to a Harley Supersmart Battery Tender (66000038) - it even comes with a "Pig Tail" (94624-97B if purchased separately) which allows easy access. The built in "smart" circuitry of the battery tender will turn the charger on and off as needed, so your battery never overcharges. At only $39.95 +tax (versus $115 on up for a new battery) it's a real bargain!
  • Be well-rounded.... Protect your tires over the winter months by making sure they have the proper tire pressure. Now park
    your bike on the carpet (on top of the tarp) you put down earlier. That will prevent your tires from freezing to the concrete. Your bike will be fine on it's kick stand, but if you want to go the extra mile you can put your bike up on a lift. 
  • Set it and forget it (yup, I'm borrowing from Ron Popeil). Plug in the battery tender, put one of the moth-ball-filled socks right underneath your bike (according to Dennis in Parts this will help to keep the mice away), and tuck your bike in under a premium motorcycle cover with breathable microfiber material that promotes air circulation and reduces moisture build-up.
Don't have space at your place? You can store your bike with FXCHD - all you need to do is provide us with a cover.

Don't forget your Riding Gear:
  • Use Leather Care to clean, condition and preserve your leather jackets, vests and chaps. 
  • Use Novus Plastic Cleaner to clean the bug guts off your helmet(s). Store helmets inside your house (or other climate controlled area) so the freezing temps and rodents won't get to the shell and lining. 
Waiting is the Hardest Part
Tom Petty sure got that right! Suffering through PMS (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome) can be a challenge in the North Country. Of course you can take advantage of the down time by customizing.... Turn the bike of your dreams into your reality while she sleeps. And you can come see us at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson- we'll have our annual Chili Cook-Off in February, and our NNY Harley Owners Group will have their annual Motorcycle Insurance Seminar in April.

Not close to us? Most dealerships host events and are open year round. Click here to find a dealer in your neck of the woods.

Despite all your hard work to prep, in the Spring as you wake your Sleeping Beauty, it's always a good idea to do a T-CLOCS inspection. Then dust off your riding skills- ride over to an empty parking lot and practice figure eights, emergency stops and evasive maneuvers.