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
    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 -
    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!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I don't want you to get screwed over (Part IV of Getting Real Serious Now)

Local temperatures lately have been in the 50s & low 60s, which is real unusual for Northern New York, but I'll take it. I even smelled a dead skunk this morning! We still have to get through the month of March, but these are sure signs that Spring and the 2017 Riding Season is just around the corner!

So, along with checking your smoke detector batteries at the "Spring Forward" time change and renewing your NY Registration (all are automatically renewed in April), it's a good plan to haul out your motorcycle insurance policy for a thorough review.

(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.)

Part I went over how Motorcycles are considered
recreational vehicles, and the insurance coverage a motorcyclist is required to carry doesn't protect the rider at all. Add to the fact that 75% of the drivers out there have the minimum insurance under the law - which in NYS is $25K per person, $50K per accident. No where near enough!

Part II talked about how insurance companies want to save you money now.... which might mean not paying out later because you don't have the correct coverage.

In Part III we discussed planning ahead - not just for you but also for your spouse (if s/he rides their own) in the event they have a motorcycle accident. 

Now I'll talk about the coverage you should strongly consider having:

  • New York is a "no-fault" state, meaning car
    owners have to have personal injury protection (PIP) and are limited on how they can sue someone after an accident. BUT these "no-fault" rules do not apply to motorcyclists!! We are not required to carry PIP, nor are we limited when it comes to lawsuits.
  • You have a nice house, a couple of cars that are relatively new (under 10 years), maybe an ATV and/or ride on lawn mower - in other words you're not rich but you're financially better off than some. Consider increasing your liability limits since this will protect you if you are found to be at fault for causing the accident.
  • Optional Coverage: Bodily Injury and Property Damage (BIPD). Did you run your motorcycle through someones manicured backyard? Took out a guard rail? This coverage will help pay back the home owner or county/state.
  • Optional Coverage: Medical Payments Coverage.
    You might be thinking, "I have my own medical insurance, so I'll be fine." (I'm guilty of that!) But if your medical insurance has deductibles, then you'll be paying for those out of pocket. Say you have to go to physical therapy, three times a week at $40 copay per visit - that's $480 per month! This coverage will come in handy.
  • Optional Coverage: Comprehensive and Collision.
    If you're bike is still owned by a lending institution, you probably have this coverage already because they insisted on it. It pays for motorcycle repair or replacement in an accident, and covers you in case your bike is stolen or a victim of vandalism. If you own your bike outright and don't have enough money to get another one should something happen to yours, you might want this coverage.
  • Optional Coverage: Uninsured/Under-insured. This
    is the "biggy" - this is what will protect you when Nathan No-Look decides to turn left in front of you, you can't stop in time, and run into Nathan's car. Nathan is clearly at fault but his policy is only for the bare minimum = $25K. Your Life Flight will cost about $13K+, and that's just the beginning. Because you have under-insured motorist at $100K, your policy will now cover
    the difference (meaning up to $75K). 
These are not all the optional coverages you can get on your policy, just the major and most important ones. Again, these recommendations are just for those of us that live in the Empire State (aka NY). If you're not here, then be sure to check your own state for their requirements and optional coverage.

Ride on over to Part V 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

7 Mistakes to avoid when traveling by Motorcycle

For anyone who has ridden a motorcycle there is no doubt that this particular mode of travel is different than planes, trains and automobiles. You're in the scene rather than just watching it.

And when it comes to traveling by motorcycle beyond just day trips, that too becomes an adventure all on it's own. If you're new to life behind bars, or planning your first long weekend ride or even riding across a couple of states, here's the mistakes you are going to want to avoid:

  1. Not Babying Your Baby: It should be obvious that the better you take care of your bike, the better your bike will take care of you. Routine maintenance is highly recommended - and the back of your Harley-Davidson owner's manual will tell you when & what will be done. But, before heading out on a journey, especially if you skip
    So that's what that noise was....
    the routine, schedule your bike to get actual, no-shit service done at the dealer (because we know your bike best). Out on a long road trip, a few hundred miles from home, is not the time to find out your oil pump just pumped it's last and have your motor seize up. Because you wanted to spend large wads of cash now that you're stuck on the side of the road, right?
  2. May the Road Rise to meet you: When you're riding a motorcycle you are using your entire body to control the vehicle - right hand for front brake, right foot for rear brake, left foot to shift the bike through the gears, left hand that works the clutch, and your weight as you lean through the curves. You can see why someone might easily get tired out riding a motorcycle for 100+ miles
    With the right Riding Gear you can
    compared to driving a car. Try to have a goal in mind as to how many miles/hours you want to ride, but don't hold yourself to it. If you don't feel comfortable riding any longer, stop for the night. Pushing yourself beyond your body's limits while riding a motorcycle is never a good idea.
  3. Advance Reservations: With that in mind, don't make hotel reservations ahead of time, no matter what kind of deal you find. You never know when you might have to stop! I got stuck in traffic for hours on a very hot day and that, combined with the heat coming off the bike, led to a royal migraine. Even though I was only 75 miles from my goal and plenty of daylight left, I was DONE. The good news - you can still find great deals thanks to all the apps (Kayak, Priceline, etc.) that have the "room for tonight" feature. If you do make reservations in advance, be sure to check their cancellation policy.
  4. Bigger not always better: There are plenty of sites that will tell you what to pack and how to pack it onto your bike. The main key to remember is you don't want to take it all. At first I used to bring travel size shampoo & conditioners, but now I leave them home since almost every hotel has
    My bike on the Maine Coast
    them already in the room. Be sure to bring any prescription medicine you
    might need. Remember my migraine? Good thing I took my prescription pain meds even though I only use them every once in a while. Don't forget you'll want to leave room on your bike to bring back those souvenirs!
  5. Forgetting "you are what you eat": You've been riding since 7am and logged over 200 miles. You've only had orange juice and a cinnamon roll.... now both you and your bike are running on empty - time to stop and refuel. You might be tempted to devour half the menu but I'm here to suggest to go lightly. Have a wrap versus a triple-patty burger, or a grilled chicken sandwich instead of the fried chicken meal. When you eat a big, heavy meal then your digestive system is going to
    Leave the greasy, heavy foods for dinner.
    be working on getting that through your body, which can overtax you. Eat small meals, stay hydrated with water, tea or juice, and save the big meal for dinner once you've stopped. Another rule when I'm long-distance traveling: I don't eat at any place we have back home. Look for restaurants that aren't local to you - either chain or mom & pop owned. That way the trip is even more memorable.
  6. Didn't do the homework: You might have been out of school for a few years now, but you still have homework to do before taking off on a motorcycle trip! Inform your bank & credit card companies that you'll be traveling to avoid getting your cards shut off. Check with your cell phone provider so you don't rack up overages. Decided to take the
    I took the road less traveled,
    now I don't know where I am!
    back roads & now you're lost with no cell service? Get motorcycle maps for the area you're riding in. Riding to Nova Scotia? Check the requirements to get into Canada AND back. We once had a couple of guys intent on seeing the beautiful Canadian coast - they brought their birth certificates to get into Canada, but to get back into the U.S. they needed a passport or enhanced DL - oops! Also, you might want to get travel insurance in case you get stranded.
  7. Focused on your End Game: When you go, go with an open mind, not one set for certain experiences that have to happen. Because when your expectations don't become your reality, you can get upset and it's just not worth it. Plus you'll be missing out on what actually is happening and that's no fun at all.
The 2017 Riding Season is almost upon us and one of
My bike in Gettysburg, PA
my resolutions is to ride more miles than I did last year. To be sure I'll be doing at least one long distance ride, if not two!

Do you have any travel mistakes to avoid that I missed? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Do you hear their call?

Some of our customers don't believe us. They think it's just a sales tactic. However I've seen it happen enough times, both at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson and at Harley-Davidson of Atlanta, to know it's true. I even had it happen to me!

The Bikes call to people. "I should be yours..." "Take me home." "Let's go ride!" And they call all year round, regardless if there's snow on the ground. But they don't just call to only one person.... and that's when the trouble starts.

When I was working at H-D Atl, they had a 'previously enjoyed' Super Glide in the showroom. Every day I went to work I'd see this bike and hear her call. 

Finally, after almost two months, I made the choice
to bring her home. As I was filling out the finance app our GM came over to me. "I heard you were interested in that silver Dyna Super Glide.... How interested in it are you? Because I just had two others say they want it."

At FXCHD we've had customers express their love for a particular bike, but when we ask if they'd like to leave a deposit to hold the bike they decline. Then, sometimes within an hour after the first customer leaving, another customer comes along and falls in love with the same bike, and wants to get it.... NOW.

We do try to contact the first customer (if they gave us their info) and let them know about the other interested party. Not to start a bidding war but simply because they were there first! 

Customers will come back in a few weeks or even a month later and ask, "What happened to that bike? Why did you sell it??" Well, that's because we're not a museum.... It's our job.

Even though there's still snow on the ground, February is a great time to buy a motorcycle - even the other experts agree. We've gotten in great trades and our new bike inventory is stocked up, plus a few less customers around to hear "the call."

However, once the weather shows a hint of warming up enough for us to ride - usually in late March - the demand will increase and supply decrease. 

Not to mention, Harley-Davidson has two good programs that are ending on February 28, 2017: 

  1. 0.99%APR with $0 Down* on select new 2016 Harley Motorcycles
  2. FREE Extended Factory Warranty** on new 2016 Harley Motorcycles
So, even though the riding season is still 6 to 8 or maybe even 10 weeks out, if you're in the market to get a motorcycle, NOW is the time to do it. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Trying to keep •B A L A N C E D•

Balance.... it can be found virtually everywhere. Between work and home life. Nature versus Nurture. Online and off. And, of course, balancing life on two wheels.

With recent events happening in our country and around the world, it seems as though our balance might be off.... Do we open ourselves up which can lead to vulnerability? Or secure ourselves while shutting others out? It's a fine line to balance on and no easy answers.

That doesn't mean we just quit all together. If it's one
thing I've learned while balancing on two wheels - you've got to keep moving forward!

And that's one thing you'll notice about Bikers: we put our heart into it and work hard until it - whatever it is - is fixed. Obviously that trait doesn't apply to just Bikers, but Americans as well - that's what makes this country of ours so great.

So we will keep moving forward, trying to regain our balance. Americans before us have succeeded achieving it and we can too. We will come together and figure this out.

But that's the key: coming together! You know that old saying, "United we stand, divided we fall."

I'm proud to say that Harley-Davidson feels the same and has publicly announced it with a "United We Roll" campaign launched last week. Plus they've shipped stickers to each dealership across the United States, including FX Caprara Harely-Davidson, to be handed out for free to anyone that wants one.

No matter where you are in the U.S., there's a Harley dealer close by. And if you visit FXCHD, I'd love it if you made a point to say HI!