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!!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Carpe Diem = Seize The Day on Your Harley!!

Hallelujah - the Sun Gods have finally smiled upon us in Northern New York!! Now's the time to ride out and put some miles on your bike. 

Don't have time for a long, overnight trip? Then it's a good thing there's lots of riding adventures within a day's ride of FX Caprara Harley-Davidson. Here are my favorites:

Thousand Islands Region:
This video, which features members of our Northern New York H.O.G. Chapter, pretty much says & shows it all. Literally right in our back yard, so even if you only have half a day or even just wanna take the long way home, it's very easy to do here.

If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, then a video is 10,000

Cooperstown, NY: 
In addition to the Baseball Hall Of Fame (and even if you're not that into baseball, it's still pretty cool to check out because the game is America's pass-time and our history as a nation is sssooo intertwined), there's the Fenimore Art Museum & Brewery Ommegang. Be sure to ride through the Illion Gorge on your way - south of Illion on NY-51.
More than just Baseball lives here....

Saranac Lake & Mount Baker:
Located on NY-3 in the heart of the Adirondacks, this mountain town is a nice alternative to the hustle & bustle of Lake Placid (except Whiteface Mountain, if you haven't been, is very "Ride List" worthy). Canoeing, Kayaking & Hiking - oh, my! The later is my fav with a hike out to Baker Mountain to see & photograph the High Peaks region.
The breathtaking High Peaks Region

Finger Lakes Region:
A visit to the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum is a must!! A pioneer in aviation and early motorcycle manufacturer, Glenn H. Curtiss was an innovative genius. The museum is home to original and reproductions of early aircraft, automobiles, boats and motorcycles - including a V8 bike from 1907.
Curtiss earned the title "Fastest Man on Earth" with his 1907 V8 Motorcycle

Letchworth State Park:
I'm actually leading a ride with our NNY Harley Owners Group there at the end of this month, and it'll be my first visit there. Hailed as the "Grand Canyon of the East," the state park offers nature, history and performing arts programs, guided walks, tours and more. Wanna ride with us? Meet at the Adams Center Sunoco Gas Station (by FXCHD) on July 30th, 7:30am; KSU at 8:00am
One of three falls on the Genesee River inside Letchworth State Park

Still looking for places close by to ride to? Want to find new roads? Check out Go Tour NY

You got your motorcycle for a reason, remember? And it wasn't to collect dust in your garage. Now, turn off your computer or tablet and get out. Go Ride.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Go Fourth & Ride • Top 5 Tips for a Better Trip

'Tis the Season!! And if you're lucky enough to have a motorcycle to ride (hopefully a Harley-Davidson 😎), then you're lucky enough and hopefully you get time to go ride. 

And when you do get time to go ride, no matter if it's just to work & back, over the next mountain or off to another state, here's what you need to know to make your ride that much better:


  1. Get the right gear: The most important thing to
    know is your riding gear can make or break your trip. You should have gear that's made by riders for riders: tough, reliable & able to hold up. The essentials are a versatile riding jacket, over-the-ankle boots, jeans or riding pants, a good quality rain suit with heat shields (that won't melt on your hot exhaust), and a DOT approved helmet.
  2. Embrace the challenge: Starting out on your motorcycle, even on a short trip to work, might not seem that challenging... but don't ever underestimate the physicality of any trip. Recently I started off for work knowing I'd encounter rain (so had my rain suit on) but halfway there the rain turned into a deluge. The idea of pulling over to wait it out was attractive, but instead I pushed through and when I arrived I felt even more accomplished.
  3. Bring your charger: My life is on my phone!
    Checking my work email, looking up a route on Google Maps, listening to Pandora, and taking pictures to post to Instagram. Even taking a lunch break on the road I'll charge my batteries so I won't miss taking as many pictures as I want.
  4. Stay comfortable: Nearly as important as the right
    gear, getting out of your riding gear - especially on the longer road trips - is a must do. Flip-flops and/or slippers, shorts and a t-shirt, and a hoodie are easy to pack (and feel really good at the end of a long day!).
  5. Go Slow: I'll be the first to admit - I like to go fast! The thrill of speeding down the road, feeling the wind, maneuvering my bike through the twisties is a lot of fun. But I have to remember that when I go too fast I'll miss the scenery (no matter how fast I'm going I always take time to see what other riders/drivers are doing!). Remember that on a bike you're seeing much more than you do in a car, so take the time and enjoy the view.
Your motorcycle trip should always start by planning ahead. What's the weather going to be like? What gear should I have with me? Thinking it through in advance will help you to have a great experience instead of being preoccupied with the other stuff.

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!