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Five Motorcycle Projects for the Off Season

As a motorcycle enthusiast, the off season can be a great time to work on projects to improve your bike or get it ready for the next riding season. Here are a few ideas for motorcycle projects you can tackle in the off season:

  1. Clean and Wax: The off season is a great time for a good full detailing. Clean your motorcycle with detailing spray, since it is too cold for a hose. Polish out any blemishes and put on a few nice coats of ceramic wax. Remember to wait 24 hours in between coats of ceramic wax. This is also a good time to give your gear a good cleaning. Most gear can not go in a washing machine, but you can use leather conditioners and cleaners to clean off bug splats, etc. Give your helmet a good cleaning to make it look like new. You may choose to wax your helmet, but be careful as it makes it slippery so a lot easier to drop, and a dropped helmet becomes a display piece and should no longer be used for riding.
  2. Maintenance: Winter is a great time to give your motorcycle a thorough tune-up. Check the spark plugs, fluid levels and, if equipped, external fuel filter. You can also take this time to take the tank off and give it a good cleaning. Make any necessary repairs, get tires changed if they are due, change the brakes, chain and sprockets (remember, they must be changed together), change the coolant and, if equipped, external fuel filter, if it is due. When the weather starts warming up is a good time to do your annual oil change and change the brake fluid. You don’t want to change the oil and brake fluid in the heart of the winter unless your garage or area is environmentally controlled as condensation will be absorbed. Doing these things will help ensure your bike is in top condition when the warm weather rolls around.
  3. Customization: If you’re looking to put your own personal touch on your motorcycle, the off season is the perfect time to make modifications. Whether you want to add some gadgets, upgrade your exhaust, or paint your bike a new color, the off season is the perfect time to get creative.
  4. Restoration: If you have an older motorcycle that you want to restore, the off season is a great time to get started. You can take the bike apart, clean and repair each component, and put it back together again, giving it a new lease on life without losing any riding time.
  5. Safety upgrades: Winter is also a good time to consider adding any safety upgrades to your motorcycle. This could include installing new lights, adding reflective tape, upgrading your brakes, adding a better horn and more.

No matter what project you choose to work on, the off season is a great time to get your hands dirty and make your motorcycle even better. Just be sure to follow all safety guidelines and take necessary precautions when working on your bike. Happy wrenching and keep the rubber side down!

Motorcycle Riding Tips for the Winter/Cold Season

Hi Everyone! Riding a motorcycle in the winter can be a thrilling and enjoyable experience, but it’s important to take extra precautions to ensure your safety. So these are five tips to help you safely enjoy cold season riding.

  1. Dress Appropriately. Now this may seem like an obvious one, and I know you aren’t going to go out in a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops. Even squids aren’t that crazy in the cold season… or are they?  You want to wear warm, waterproof gear to protect yourself from the elements. Layering is key, as you’ll want to be able to remove or add layers as needed to regulate your body temperature especially as the temperature changes throughout the day. Make sure you have a base layer that has the armor and protection you should always have while riding. Of course you wear a helmet normally, right? For winter riding a lot of helmets come with a air dam that will help keep your face warm. You can also wear a thin face mask underneath to help keep everything much warmer. Your gloves should be non ventilated and thicker. Heated grips are nice, but the outside of your hands can get cold, so heated gloves would be a nice investment. You can also wear glove liners to help keep your fingers toasty on those cold weather days. You want good boots, possibly even heated boots, with thick socks. The important thing here is if your feet sweat your socks will get wet and your feet can get really cold, so make sure to keep extra pairs of dry socks. The most important thing is to do what you can to keep your extremities warm and protected.
  2. Check your motorcycle. This is another one which should go without saying and should be done before every ride, but you need things to be in the best condition possible. Being stranded on the side of the road because you forgot to check the chain and sprockets and a failure happened is bad enough, but when it is freezing temperatures outside it can be brutal. Make sure your bike is in optimal condition including the tires, tire pressure, chain, sprockets, brakes, fluids and full tank of gas. Ensure everything is in proper working order.
  3. Take it slow. I know one of the big thrills for riding any type of sport bike is to go fast, but when it comes to the cold season you want to take it much slower. Road conditions can be slippery and unpredictable in the winter. You have sand, salt, cinders, ice, snow and much more things to look out for than normal. You want to be sure to give yourself plenty of time to react to any hazards and avoid making sudden moves or sharp turns. Take extra caution when braking and accelerating. It is also important to note your tires take much longer to warm up in the cold, and they don’t stay warm as well, which means they will be less sticky and have less traction. If you need to warm them up for some extra twisty roads, remember braking and accelerating are what cause motorcycle tires to heat up, so do so on a safe, dry and debris free surface and take things slow.
  4. Stay visible. While this is something that we strive for all year long, visibility is a bit more complicated in the colder season. You have fog and snow which greatly impacts the ability for other drivers to see you. Cloudy, murky days where things have less contrast and appear more gray and flat can make it much harder to be seen. Wear reflective gear, even if you have to get one of those bright green or yellow vests. Always ensure your headlights, taillight and signals are all properly functioning and clean any dirt off the lenses to help their intensity. Keep in mind it will be harder to see others out there as well, so keep a keen eye on everything. A lot of people drive in bad weather without headlights on, this time of year is definitely no exception.
  5. Watch for ice. Ice can be a major hazard when riding a motorcycle in the winter. Keep an extra special eye out for black ice – as it can definitely catch you off guard and put you in a risky predicament. Even if the weather turned nice and it is fifty degrees out, black ice can be hidden in shady spots that don’t get sun. Always avoid riding on frozen bodies of water, you never know how thick the ice is and if your tire suddenly breaks through it can flip you over the handle bars or cause you to lose control. If you do come across ice, take it slow and try to maintain as much control as possible. It is always best to hit ice head on and in a straight line, so try to avoid turning on the ice.

Those are the big ones. They may seem obvious, but I feel it is a good idea to have a gentle reminder every year when full-time riders hit the cold weather season. Just remember to always use caution and be aware of your surroundings, and you’ll be able to enjoy the beauty of winter on two wheels.

Stay safe and keep the rubber side down.

Five Things for Storing Your Motorcycle for Winter

$*#@ $*@!# @$$ AHHHHHHH!

It’s that time of year… The time when a lot of riders put away their babies for the cold, icy and snowy months. There could be many reasons for this. Perhaps you just don’t like riding in the cold. Hey, 50 MPH in 30 degrees has a wind chill of 12 degrees Fahrenheit. Burrrrr. I’m cold just thinking about it. That being said, there is a ton of gear out there to keep you warm including heated gear, but it just isn’t for everyone – not to mention the expense for the gear.

Then you have those who don’t want to risk the ice. I’ve hit my fair share of black ice. It will scare the living crap out of you I will tell you. It will completely catch you off guard. Then of course there is the snow and ice that comes with winter in general – not fun to ride in. Some do, some have the tires for it, but it isn’t for the faint of heart. Along with it of course comes the salt, which will make you cry to just think about it on your baby. Or worse, that pre-treatment stuff that eats everything it touches. Here in PA, they use cinders too. I could go on a whole rant about what a waste cinders are – they chip everything up, they really don’t give you any more traction than a good salted road, and when the snow is gone, they are everywhere and you are dodging them like crazy – just a lot more random gravel patches to watch out for.

You may live an in area that just gets way too much snow to even try riding – you need four wheel drive, not one wheel drive and just two wheels on the ground. I hear you, and I do not look down on any rider who decides to winterize their bike and hang up their helmet until the beautiful Spring weather hits. Heck, I stop riding around October around here because of deer! Yes, you heard me, I stop riding even though there are seventy degree days if there is any chance I would get stuck in the evening hours. Any time after evening is bad too. Let me tell you, the deer are crazy. I’ve hit sixteen deer! Not with the bike, thank goodness, but that is not a good track record, and in the country – they are in abundance. I will get out for a few afternoon rides, just be back by five.

In any case, when you decide to pack your bike away for the winter, there are several things you need to do in order to ensure it’s wellbeing and that she will be happy to see you in the Spring and run perfectly for you.

Wash your Motorcycle

Number 1: Clean your bike! Yes, clean it. You may be one of those who cleans her every day before you ride, or you may be one where your bike has never seen the gentle soothing soap bubbles that leave her gleaming in her glory. No matter which one you are, give your bike a bath. Get all the bugs, tar, paint and any other road grime off that has accumulated. If you don’t want to give her a full bath, at least clean the chain and lube it. That chain goes through a lot, and you need to take care of it.

Fuel Stabilizer

Number 2: Put fuel stabilizer in the tank, fill her up and run it for five minutes. This is very important, especially if you cannot find gas without ethanol. Gas gums up, pulls in moisture and can break down into some very nasty stuff in a couple months. There are a bunch of fuel stabilizers out there. I used to use Sta-Bil. It did the job, until my Camaro. It would run like absolute garbage in the Spring. Popping, surging, you name it. Now my Camaro is built, it needs the best fuel it can get, and even with Sta-Bil, it was not happy. That’s when I started using Seafoam and it has never been happier. Not only does Seafoam put Sta-Bil to shame in terms of longevity (ahem – 2 years) – it cleans your fuel system too! It helps with the moisture and ensuring the gas is ready to go in the Spring so you have a very happy lady. It comes in 16oz bottles which is more than enough for your motorcycle. 1oz per gallon as a stabilizer. Did I mention it cleans your fuel system? That’s right! Your injectors, carbs, pump, filter and all will be so happy you added that come Spring. If you don’t want to use Seafoam, that’s fine, but make sure to get a quality stabilizer. Do not skimp on this! If you do, you will eventually have a very angry lady and a very expensive bill.

Battery Tender

Number 3: Battery tender! That’s right, you need to get a battery tender on your bike. Some people just unhook the battery, pull it and put it on a shelf. Lead acid doesn’t do well with just sitting. If you have a lithium battery, DO NOT let it freeze. Those of you with normal led acid, agm, etc – just hook up a battery tender – just make sure it is made for your battery. A lot of them support all types of batteries now, just make sure to set it right so you don’t overcharge an AGM, etc. I use a CTEK 40-206 and it works great – plus it will recondition your battery. You can hook a connection right up to the battery and run it to a convenient spot. My Ninja 1000SX I have run up under my rear seat. Plug it in and forget it – well, until you go to take the bike out, you don’t want to start riding off still hooked up!

Number 4: Paddock Stands/Motorcycle Lift. This really depends on your bike. Sport and sport touring bikes will want to be on paddock stands. Cruisers, tourers, etc may have center stands, but may also require a different kind of stand. Do your research, pick what works for your bike, and get those tires off the ground. This avoids flat spots in the Spring. Good quality tires will eventually have those flat spots smoothed out, but with the sticky compound used on sport bikes and such – you don’t want them sitting in one spot too long. If you don’t want to have it on stands, make sure to move it around into different positions every couple weeks.

Motorcycle Cover

Number 5: Cover her up. Get yourself a cover, a sheet, anything. Keep the dust and other bugs off of it and avoid any scratches while you are searching for your long lost 10mm socket one day. If you have kids, a cover is a must, at least with my kids lol.

Stay safe, stay warm and see you in the Spring!