It’s the first week of the year that is scheduled to get (and for the most part stay) above 50 degrees for almost a whole week. If you are like many motorcyclists that live north of Florida, you are probably itching to get your bike out of the garage as soon as physically possible. It’s the only known cure to what we like to call PMS or Parked Motorcycle Syndrome. But breaking your bike out of the garage on the first nice day might be trickier than you think. Whether you have been riding for a minute or a thousand years, it never hurts to brush up on a few basics before you hit the road. Here’s 5 things to watch for this early in the riding season.
- Your four-wheeled mindset – You’ve been driving a very stable four-wheeled cage for the past 120 days. Do you remember how to turn? Do you remember what part of the lane to be in? How quick is your emergency quick stop? Typically if you stop doing something for that length of time, your muscle memory will deteriorate a little bit. Just like your clutch hand is a little sore on that first long ride of the year, your other muscles need a little work out too. First step is to realize it. Next step is to exercise those muscles and practice those much-needed skills before you need them. Some of the most talented and experienced riders will still ride out to an empty parking lot, toss down a few cans and practice the basics at the beginning of each season. Some good things to practice are quick stops, slow speed maneuvers and U-turns, weaving, and turning from a stop.
- Is your bike ready for this – Your bike has been sitting tucked away in your garage, properly covered, on a nice little piece of carpet, hooked up to your H-D Battery Tender all winter right? You winterized it properly and it should be ready to go. Even if all of that is true, how much air has leaked out of your tires? What condition is your gas in? How low is your oil? Has a little critter crawled into your tail pipe without you knowing? Even if you take great care in winterizing your bike, don’t just think you can hit the road like a maniac. Go over the basic T-CLOCS a little more in depth than you normally would. Make sure your bike is 100% ready to go, especially your tires. Your tires are the only little bits of rubber that keep you upright on the road. If you aren’t sure about any aspect of your bike, bring it in for a once over by one of our mechanics. They’ll be happy to answer and questions and look at any problem areas.
- Is your gear ready for this – Let’s say it hits a balmy 55 degrees. Perfect riding weather right? You take off down the highway and hit the speed limit of about 60mph. No big deal right? Except that the wind chill you experience at those speeds is really closer to 33 degrees. Are you wearing the gear to ride in 33 degree weather? Don’t put away your winter riding gear until the temperature gets up into the high 70s or 80s. You might not feel like layering up with chaps, heavy gloves and heated gear but you’ll be thinking otherwise at highway speeds. Check out some of the most popular Cold Weather Riding Gear available now.
- Road conditions – Do you know how they treat your roads in the winter time? All that salt and all those chemicals are designed to break down the slick stuff on the roads. What do you think it’s doing to your tires? Your chrome? Your leather? Most importantly, your traction? Salt can be just as dangerous as gravel. Not to mention just because the snow and ice is melting in the warm spring sun, doesn’t mean the ground is warming up. Slick spots still exist is the shadows and you have to be prepared to run into them. One other concern is pot holes. They’ve spent the entire winter getting bigger and deeper with no maintenance. Maybe if you are thinking about riding to work one day this week, drive the route first and be extra watchful for slick spots, areas where they dumped extra salt and pot holes. That way you’ll have a better idea of what to expect if you do decide to ride in.
- Other drivers – They’ve spent a blissful four months not paying attention to anything but giant snow flakes and the occassional black ice. The millions of drivers out there haven’t spotted a motorcycle in forever and might have forgetten what they looked like. In the summer, motorcyclists have the advantage of there being hundreds of other motorcyclists out on the road and drivers should be accustomed to seeing them. Just like after the first snow, where everyone has appeared to have forgotten how to drive in slick conditions, just after the break of spring, everyone forgets how to share the road with bikers. Our tip is to drive like you aren’t being seen. And make it as obvious as possible with bright colors and reflective gear.
If you are sick of the typical Bake Sales and Car Washes for your charity fundraisers, why not try something a little different by planning a charity motorcycle ride? Whether you are not sure where to start or you need some advice to make your existing ride stronger, check out these tips from Marketing Manager, Carolyn.
- Pick a date far enough in the future that you have plenty of time to plan and promote – So many organizations decide to throw an event together too quickly. Problem is that you just barely have all of the details hammered out by the time your date rolls around but you haven’t had any time to promote your event!
- Pick a non-conflicting date – Don’t worry too much about weather. It’s out of your control. What you can control is picking a date that already has a ton of other motorcycle events going on. So do your research and look at not only what is already on calendars for the upcoming year but also what events happened on your desired weekend last year? Many times they are annual events and keep to the same weekend.
- Decide on a format – There are so many formats to choose from! Marble runs, poker runs, bug runs, all kinds! A standard poker run is fun but remember that you’ll attract more people if you have things like live music, bike show, celebrity guests, tattoo contests and games. Many people will try to plan an organized ride like Bikers for Babies or Ride for Kids but remember that the logistics of these rides are very difficult with shutting down streets and coordinating with local law enforcement.
- Call your dealership - It might help to call up Gateway H-D and schedule the dealership as your final stop. Scheduling to coordinate with a larger lot party already going on at the dealership might be an easy way to provide food, drinks and music for your attendees without worrying about logistics!
- Seriously. Call your dealership – Gateway H-D has some amazing opportunities like Pancake or Hot Dog Saturdays that you can take advantage of. We take care of logistics for small snacks and drinks if you make our dealership as one of your stops.
- Don’t charge too much – Find a nice balance between charging a registration fee and collecting other donations through 50/50 raffles or Silent Auctions. This tip goes for food and drinks too. No one wants to pay $10 for a small plate of food. Work with sponsors to see about donating a portion back if they are dead set on maintaining their prices. People will pay more when they know some of it will go to a good cause. High prices can hurt other things like raffles and silent auctions so be careful not to charge too much!
- Work with your charity not for them – Pick a charity that has volunteers that can help you out. Most of the time charities have plenty of volunteers that can work a few hour-long shifts to help you raise the money.
- Market your event – Flyers at local dealerships and bars. Event postings on national, regional and local websites and biker magazine websites. Press releases and social media posts work great too.
- Contact Local Motorcycle Organizations – Clubs are always looking for rides to go on, especially ones that are unique and ones they don’t have to organize. Offer a small discount to groups that register as part of a club or organization! Don’t forget about the Creedom H.O.G. Chapter!
- Talk it up to sponsors – Even if all they can give is a t-shirt or gift card this is a great way to get people to support your event and make it bigger. Make sure to submit a flyer and a nice short cover letter that talks about the good work the charity does.
- CYA with waivers and arm band – Ask an insurance agent for a liability policy and an attorney to draw up an event release of liability form for everyone to sign at registration. Hand out arm bands (can be found cheap at party stores or office supply stores) to those that have signed.
- Keep it together – Don’t try to separate food and drinks from the rest of your activities. People want to be walking around, checking out bikes when they are at a bike event. Work with bars or restaurants that are willing to get picnic licenses. Or, as always, call Gateway H-D to see what can be worked out.
- People’s Choice is the way to go – Don’t put yourself or your sponsors in a position to judge anything. Involve everyone and make any kind of Car or Bike Show or Best Of Competition a “People’s Choice”. Attendees might be able to get mad at one or two people, but no one can argue with a crowd. It also helps with attendance because people who know they want to try to win might try to talk up the event more with their friends.
- Whatever you do, be organized and on time – There is nothing worse than a discorganized event. Make sure people at all points in the event can contact others in charge. Give everyone helping a map of the event and a timeline of events and then stick to it. Keep track of people that you’ve put in charge of donations, count the money often and keep locked up when possible. Think of as many possible scenarios and have a plan on how to deal with them before the day of.
- Don’t forget to have fun – People feed off your energy at an event. Remember that since you are so organized there is no reason to flip out about small details. Make a note of any issues for next year and try to keep this year’s event running smoothly. Let people see that all of your volunteers and workers are having a great time and this will ensure people come back for years to come!
This is a guest post written by Libby Brown, MotorClothes™ Associate at Gateway Harley-Davisdon. You can contact her directly at email@example.com.
Check out this new Women’s Pink Label Leather Jacket by Harley-Davidson®. This jacket has adjustable venting in all the right places, power stretch material so you’re always comfortable, body armor pockets, and the best part is a portion of the proceeds of your purchase goes to Breast Cancer Research. Even if pink is not your favorite color, this jacket is one that will catch your eye.
The Pink Label Collection by Harley-Davidson
This is a guest post written by Rocky, Parts Associate at Gateway Harley-Davisdon. You can contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a guest post written by Rocky, Parts Associate at Gateway Harley-Davisdon. You can contact him directly at email@example.com.
I live in the middle of nowhere out in the woods, and its not uncommon for a bear to walk through my yard. The only problem is they have an appetite for motorcycle tires. That is until I had the new H-D® Impeller Wheels put on my bike! and now the sun and my porch light make those wheels shine brighter than FIRE! The bears are scared of it, they no longer eat my tires and my bike doesn’t smell like piss. Now I can pick up the ladies with confidence. Thank you H-D® custom wheels!
Break away from the bland and ordinary. NOTHING separates your bike from the herd like custom wheels. New this year from Harley-Davidson® are the Impeller 10 spoke and Enforcer 5 spoke mirror chrome finish wheels. These wheels are made to fit all 2009 and newer 2-wheeled touring models. Other popular wheels include the Agitator and Anarchy. H-D® Custom Wheels are made for all other models as well. You can greatly improve the look and stance of your bike all in one!
This is a guest post written by Destiny, MotorClothes™ Associate at Gateway Harley-Davisdon. You can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her specialties include order entry, making outfits, and being sassy.
This new limited edition women’s jacket is cool! I like this jacket because of its vintage look. It was surface dyed to create the vintage appearance. Over time the color will lighten to its full effect. It’s super comfortable with its soft leather and precurved sleeves. There are adjustable tabs to get more of a customized fit. With air vents all over this jacket and its removable insulation liner, you’ll be able to ride all year long.
Clothing makes a statement about who you are and where you come from. Make a statement this fall by sporting one of our 110th Anniversary shirts or hats! These are limited edition and can no longer be ordered. What we have is what we have. Although we do have a decent selection right now… these won’t last too long!
How many times have you heard the passenger of a car call “shot gun” before jumping in? Now how often do you hear that when speaking to motorcycle passengers? Yea. That’s what we thought. Not all that often. Mostly because it’s not the most comfortable place to be. So, passengers, this article is all for you.
The number one thing passengers want is to be comfortable. Number one complaint of the past? “The saddlebag guard rubs on the calf of my leg.” Consider that fixed. With the Project Rushmore enhancements to the new 2014 Touring models, if it has a saddlebag guard, they have tucked it in closer to the bag and created a dip in the shape so that your leg no longer rubs on it. It’s the small things in life that make all the difference in the world.
Next complaint? “This seat is really small.” Deal. The redesigned shot gun seat on the touring models is now 1 inch wider, 1 inch deeper and has a redesigned backrest that is actually comfortable in the lumbar region of our bike.
Next? “The armrests are too short and my arms slide off.” Not anymore. The arm rests now included standard on the touring models are now longer and flatter. That way your arms don’t slide off. YOU can choose where you want to put your arms, whether you are wrapping them around your man (or woman!) or laying back and enjoying the ride!
We also think you are going to enjoy the louder, clearer tunes that come with the new Boom! Box Audio systems. And let’s not forget that some of the touring bikes are coming out with the Boom! Box 6.5GT with GPS navigation. So there will be no more smacking your rider on the top of the helmet when they forget to make a turn. You won’t have to worry about where you are going because the bike will get you there.
If you are like most passengers on long trips, you are going to want to pack a few things. We understand that it can be very frustrating to get everything packed up in your bags, come out the to the bike and your guy takes one look at all of your amenities and says “nope. sorry. no room for all that”. Of course you could watch Carolyn’s demo of how to pack for a week-long motorcycle trip. But all in all this is a thing of the past. The new Tour Pak may look smaller, but it is actually 5% larger. You can even fit two full faced helmets in it. So you should definitely be able to fit all of your trip-essentials. Maybe your man just needs a little organization to make it all fit? Voila! The Tour-Pak Lid Fitted Lining with Organizer, the Tour-Pak Wall Organizer, the 3-Pocket Fairing Pouch, and the Saddlebag Wall Organizer all make awesome ways to organize all of that stuff so that everything has a place and everything is in its place.
Have you ever gotten half way to your destination on a long day of riding and nearly fell of the bike at the gas station because your rear end fell asleep? We think you should request that your rider buy the new Road Zeppelin Air Adjustable Seat. It’s a low profile seat so it’ll still look awesome. But it has an adjustable air bladder system that distributes your weight across the seating surface. It removes pressure points and provides shock absorption for the rider’s and passenger’s tailbone. Pump up your seat using a little button on the side. Or let a little air out. Find the perfect amount of air. And just like that sleep number bed you have at home, you each get to choose your own level of inflation.
What if your rider doesn’t have a touring bike? Well how about adding one of the following two accessories to make your ride that much more comfortable. Try the Passenger Grab Rail which fits under your passenger seat to make for a convenient place to hold on. Or how about the Premium Detachable Backrest with Adjustable Recline? 16 degrees of adjustment doesn’t seem like much but it really does make a world of difference. You can take it off or put it in on in a matter of seconds and the knobs are easy to work while wearing gloves.
Finally, how about a Saddlebag Cooler? Can’t tell you how many passengers we’ve talked to that enjoy riding shot gun because of the ability to enjoy a refreshing beverage and not have to worry about the ride home. Of course this cooler is an awesome place to stash some cold bottled water for those hot days out on the road.
We think that the next time your significant other starts talking about wanting a new ride, instead of flipping out on him, maybe come back at him with a list of non-negotiables. Tell him that he has to get a 2014 Touring Model with the Project Rushmore enhancements. Go with him on a test ride and see exactly what bike is most comfortable for you. Talk to one of our Parts Associates about ways to make it even more comfortable. You don’t have to know ANYTHING about motorcycles to know that you need to be comfortable.
So what do you think? Ready for a whole new ride?