A FEW THINGS YOU SHOULD STOP DOING WITH YOUR HARLEY-DAVIDSON® MOTORCYCLE, courtesy of your local HD® service experts and the Fall 2015 HOG NEWS magazine.
1. CLEANING YOUR WINDSHIELD WITH A GAS STATION SQUEEGEE.
Your Harley-Davidson® windshield is specially coated to resist scratching. But the dirty water at the gas station is like sandpaper. Plus, the chemicals can harm the coatings. Use a soft cloth and plain water or H-D® approved cleaners instead.
2. IGNORING YOUR BATTERY.
Todays high-tech H-D® motorcycles put higher demands on your battery and draw a tiny charge even when they're not running. Make sure your battery is always ready to roll - and lengthen its life - by hooking up a tender between rides, especially if its going to sit for 3 weeks or longer.
3. RIDING ON WORN OR SOFT TIRES.
One of the simplest safety precautions you can take is to make sure your tires are ready to roll. Underinflated tires can cause handling problems and premature wear. Worn tires lose traction and risk a dangerous blowout. Make checking them part of your regular pre-inspection.
4. USING ONLY THE REAR BRAKE.
Don't worry; you're not going to flip the bike over if you use too much front brake. It's not a bicycle. Gove it a good steady squeeze to increase your stopping power - up to 70% of it comes from the front.
10 Hazards of Autumn Motorcycle Riding by Liz Jansen
- Leaves on roads. Dry leaves can camouflage potholes and other road irregularities. Wet leaves are slippery and can appear unexpectedly in shaded areas. Use caution particularly during those scenic autumn rides as conditions can change.
- Shorter days. If you do much riding at all, you’re likely going to be riding in the dark. Take extra care to make sure bulbs in headlights, brake lights and turn signals are working and lens are clean. Wear high-visibility and reflective gear to make yourself as obvious as possible.
- Sunlight glare. The sun is lower in the sky and glare can be an issue for much of the day, unless you’re facing north. Along with this, as trees become barren of leaves, the patterns of light and shade can be like riding in a strobe light and very distracting.
- Deer migration and mating season. More collisions with deer occur now than at any other time of the year as a result of the dramatic increase in their movement. Be especially vigilant at dusk and dawn.
- Cold tires. While touring tires with their harder rubber compound are generally more suitable for cold weather, sportier tires are not. The sportier the tires, the softer the rubber. This is fantastic in hot weather and gives them their grippy characteristics which aid traction. In the cold, they’re hard and that traction is gone.
- Cold riders. Cold is fatiguing and in turn can cause greater impairment than moderate alcohol intake. Even when you’re wearing good gear and staying warm, the ambient temperature takes its toll. You don’t notice when you’re riding, especially over long distances and it can be startling when you stop to realize how tired you really are. Staying hydrated and taking regular rest stops help with this.
- Improper gear. Bundling up with lots of layers can be a great strategy for dealing with fluctuating temperatures during the day. However, too much bulk is not only fatiguing, it can impede your ability to react. Heated gear is a fabulous invention. You need fewer layers and it effectively – and comfortably – extends the riding season.
- Icy road surfaces. Frosty mornings mean that pavement can have a thin layer of ice and you can lose traction. As the temperature drops in the evening, be particularly cognizant crossing bridges and shaded areas as they’ll ice up first. Be prepared for changing conditions even during the day if you’re travelling through mountains and changing elevations.
- Fewer riders out. This means that car drivers, who don’t see us at the best of times, are now expecting to see motorcycle riders even less often. Be more cautious and alert. Make yourself as conspicuous as possible and assume the don’t see you.
- Scenic back roads which weave through quaint small towns, particularly in tourist areas have a whole different feel to them. Seasonal businesses close and rest stops and favorite watering holes may not be available. Plan accordingly for gas, food, lodging and emergency contacts.
Your best resource is your owner’s manual. Make these items part of your regular checks.
10 Simple Pre Ride Inspection Checks by Liz Jansen
- Measure when tires are cold, meaning they haven’t been ridden for at least two hours or have been ridden only slowly for no more than three kilometers. Both the tire and motorcycle manufacturer will have specifications and in all likelihood, front and rear tires will be different.
- If you’re down to the wear bars, it’s time for new tires. Look for worn tread, uneven wear, cracks, bulges, cupping, and any foreign objects.
- Spokes. Make sure they’re niformly tight and intact; they can be tightened with a spoke wrench or an Allen key, depending on the style. Rims need to be true with no dents.
- Drive System. Unless it’s electric, your bike will have either a chain, belt or shaft drive. Make sure the chain tension is correct and that it’s well lubricated. Check drive belt for wear and tension. If you have a shaft drive, check fluid levels and that there are no leaks.
- Cables & hoses. Make sure there is no fraying or kinking and no binding when the handlebars are moved.
- Fluid levels. Check oil, brake fluid, transmission, and coolant levels. Refer to your owner’s manual for the correct way to assess each one. Make sure there are no leaks.
- Lights and electrics. Activate your bike’s brake light using the front and rear brakes independently; check the front and rear turn indicators, horn, headlights – high and low beams.
- Throttle. Twist it and check to make sure it snaps back to home position.
- Brakes. Check the brake pads for wear periodically, using a flashlight. Depending on the manufacturer, brake pads may have a groove to indicate wear, similar to wear bars on your tires. Test both front and rear to make sure they’re working satisfactorily.
- Side stand. Make sure it retracts firmly, is not bent, cracked or damaged. The spring must be intact and the cut-out switch functions.
- Clutch and brake levers. Check both for smooth operation, correct freeplay and adjustment for reach.
10 Musts for your Spring Motorcycle Checklist by Liz Jansen
- Tire condition. Check for tread depth, flat spots, embedded objects, bulges, damage and cracks. They should be OK if you followed our winterizing instructions – however, it’s always good to make sure. Keeping your tires in good condition is one of the most important, and easiest, checks you can make to keep yourself safe.
- Tire pressure. Make sure it’s at the setting recommended by your motorcycle manufacturer. Tires can lose air pressure with time, especially in cold weather.
- Check for any leaks before and after you’ve started it for the first time. Make sure your brake fluid is within speck, both in terms of quantity and age. It needs to be replaced periodically; fluid that is dark amber is likely due for a change. Do a full circle check, inspecting hoses, cables and fluid levels and ensuring all the lights and turn indicators are working.
- Oil and oil filter. Change your oil and filter if you didn’t do it in the fall.
- Battery and wiring. If you’ve kept your battery on a trickle charger, it should have maintained its integrity. Examine it and make sure it is fully charged and topped up, depending on the type of battery you have. Make sure the strap that holds it in place is secure. Check the terminals and leads to make sure they’re secure and free of corrosion. Check the wiring for any signs of wear, corrosion, or damage. Make sure all the lights and turn indicators are working.
- Tool kit. Make sure the tools in your bike’s kit are clean, and free of rust. Double check to make sure everything is still there and replenish if necessary. You may want to add a few small frequently used items that aren’t in your kit, such as an air pressure gauge.
- Drive chain and sprockets. Make sure the chain is clean and well lubricated. Check the sprockets for wear and before you take it out for the first time, make sure the tension is set to your manufacturer’s specifications.
- Air filter. If you plugged your air filter as advised during winterization procedures, make sure to unplug it now. If you didn’t, check for evidence that critters have used it as a winter residence. Also remove any plugs from your exhaust pipes.
- Fuel intake. Make sure the gas supply is turned on and that your gas is in good condition.
- Brake pads. Look at each set of brake pads on your bike to confirm they’re not worn out. Often they have wear bars on them just as tires do. Change them now if they need changing.
Bonus: Even if your bike didn’t rust over the winter, to varying degrees, your skills will have. Ease back to riding gently and practice braking and maneuvering in a parking lot.
10 Tips for Selecting a Motorcycle by Liz Jansen
- Consider the kind of riding you’ll be doing. Not only do you need to think about whether you’d enjoy a cruiser, sport bike, touring, off-road or dual sport bike, take into account the carrying capacity of the bike, whether it’s suitable for a passenger and how it can be outfitted to suit your needs.
- Make sure you’re a match. It needs to be compatible with your skill level and riding experience. Don’t buy something that you can “grow into” and don’t get talked into something that doesn’t feel right for you. This is risky behavior and will jeopardize your safety and enjoyment.
- Look for comfort. Sit on the bike in the riding position. How comfortable is it for you? Is it a stretch to reach the controls or the ground? Can you picture yourself in this position for extended periods? Make a rational, not an emotional decision.
- Think about convenience. How often you are going to have to take it in for service? How convenient is the location and their hours of operation? Ask for and talk to references to determine the shop’s credibility and service level.
- Plan for maintenance. Ask about the frequency of maintenance and expected costs. If you like to perform routine maintenance yourself, how simple is it to do? Do you need to purchase other equipment such as a lift or specialized tools? How readily available are replacement parts?
- Speak with a credible sales rep. Purchase from a salesperson who is also a rider. Enough said.
- Consider what changes you’ll want. (if any). All bikes can be customized – at least to a certain extent. If you see one that’s just right for you except for a few adjustments or accessories, ask what’s available (and where) to make that bike yours.
- Consult with a trusted advisor. Bring an experienced rider with you, whose opinion you value. They may pick up things that you miss. Just remember, ultimately, it’s YOUR decision.
- Shop around. Resist the temptation to purchase the first bike you see. There are lots to choose from. It’s an important purchase and your safety and enjoyment depend on you making an objective decision.
- Research. Talk to other trustworthy riders, retailers, insurance companies. Beware of forums. While you can find valuable advice, you usually don’t know whom you’re talking to so can’t reliably assess their level of expertise – even though they sound like an expert. Additionally, they’ll be talking from their area of interest and experience – which may be very different than yours.
Do your homework, take your time, ask lots of questions, and then listen to your heart. Make an informed, logical decision. Then embrace the adventure – wherever your road leads.
10 Tips On Group Riding
Riding in a group carries with it a whole different set of considerations and requirements for excellent riding skills. Without being properly prepared, your fun as well as your safety is at risk.
Here are some things to take into account:
- Determine the skill level of others in the group. It's one thing to have a low level of proficiency when one is riding solo; put that person in a group with other riders and everyone's safety is compromised.
- Take your riding preferences into consideration. Do you like to ride for as long as you can without stopping or do you enjoy stopping and seeing the sights? What does the rest of the group want to do?
- Agree on your methods of communications and review the hand signals you will use. The actual signals are less important than making sure that everyone uses them consistently and understands the expectations for the group.
- Confirm that the lead and sweep riders are experienced at leading and sweeping. Either role takes a great deal of skill that is vital for managing the group safely and efficiently on the road. Special moments should be saved for after the ride.
- Determine the size of the group you'll be riding with. The larger the group, the more difficult to manage and it can invite hazardous situations on the road. If a group is more than 8 riders, we suggest dividing it in half with a qualified lead and sweep rider for each group.
- Discuss the rules of the road with your group prior to leaving and confirm how you will address situations that come up – i.e. amber light. They apply universally whether you're riding solo or in a group. Everyone is in control of their own motorcycle and responsible for their own safety.
- Ask about the speed does the group rides at. Again, refer to #6. Speeding in a group just magnifies the hazards and jeopardizes safety. Here again, an experienced leader can prevent the launch of a yo-yo effect.
- Reserve accommodations if you're staying overnight. It may be difficult to obtain any accommodations let alone those which appeal to your unique tastes and at the end of a long day of riding you don't want to be looking around for a place to stay.
- Include everyone's goals in the planning and ideally on the itinerary.
- Don't over plan – especially with a group. Everything takes longer and over planning can create tension. On the other hand, it's good to have some structure to keep things moving.
BONUS: Pack your sense of adventure and fun and keep it handy.
We are experienced at planning and leading rides, guiding routes on scenic paved secondary roads, finding accommodations and eateries with local flavour and fare, and discovering unique points of interest. You can leave all the planning to us, pack up and enjoy your ride. With the variety of rides and events we have going on, there's something to please everyone.
10 Tips On Purchasing Apparel
When choosing apparel, look for the best combination of function – i.e. safety, fit and fashion. You want to be comfortable, look good and know that your apparel is going to protect you should the need arise. There's a wide variety out there – including helmets, jackets, gloves, pants and boots and it's important.
There are too many possibilities to get too detailed so the tips below are general guidelines that you can apply to whatever you're purchasing. Research, ask questions and make an informed decision.
- Wear gear that's designed for riding. Whether you're purchasing leather or synthetic fabrics, understand the abrasion resistant properties. There are lots of clothes out there that look great – but they may not do a very good job of protecting you.
- When trying on apparel, sit on a bike (or the next best thing), put yourself in the riding position. You want to make sure that the length of your jacket, sleeves and pants is adequate to keep you covered in this position and that any armour is covering the area it's intended to protect. You also want to make sure that there's enough room across the back (jacket or pants) so that you're not constrained while riding. Consider the weather conditions you'll be riding through. You may need to layer clothing so make sure there's ample room to do this.
- It's hard to find one riding outfit to meet all the conditions you're going to encounter in a riding season. Look for versatility. There are jackets and pants with zip in/out liners which extend the time you can be comfortable in them. Or you can have several jackets. It's kind of hard to layer gloves so you'll likely need 3 pairs of good gloves – for warm weather, cold weather and rain.
- Look for breathability if you're purchasing jacket, pants or boots that are “waterproof”. Unless it says that it's breathable, it likely won't be and you'll feel like you're wearing a plastic bag – even in cooler weather.
- The more ventilation options the better. It can get pretty hot and lots of flow through ventilation is important particularly for jackets and full face helmets.
- Make yourself as conspicuous as possible at all times. Black looks great – but it can be hard to see. Look for reflective strips on pants, jackets, boots, and gloves that increase visibility at night or in fog or rain.
- Apparel that is uncomfortable or doesn't fit properly can compromise your safety. Not being able to easily reach the controls can be a big problem. If you do have occasion to meet the road you want to make sure that your gear is going to stay in place and protect you.
- Helmets need fit the shape of your head and be snug. You may have to search for the right one that fits your unique head. Wear it for 5 minutes at the shop – if it's uncomfortable at the end of this time, it's only going to get worse while riding.
- Boots should cover your ankles and have an oil and gas resistant sole. It's an awful feeling when you put your foot down and find there's no traction.
- Understand how to care for your purchase. Proper care can extend the longevity - and protect you.
Bonus Tip: Research. There are a ton of product reviews out there. Read them. Talk to other riders and retailers. Hopefully you never have to call your gear into action but if you do, you want to know that it's there for you.