Don’t Let the Weather Rain on on Your Parade: How to Ride in the Rain Redux

Don’t let a little sprinkle keep you off the road, hit those soggy twisties like a pro, let AMERiders give you our How to Ride in the Rain Redux. You might be aware that I live in Florida and if there’s one thing everyone knows about Florida, is that it can have large bouts of rain. These usually segway into hurricanes, now we don’t ride in hurricane weather that is just stupid and well someone that does has a death wish.  However, the people that ride in normal rainy weather consistently here can become unintentional experts when it comes to riding in the rain. My husband and I like to ride year-round when we can, so I thought I’d share a few tips we’ve picked up along the way.

It Starts With Good Tires

Tires aren’t terribly sexy things to talk about, and on sunny days most road riders pay little or no attention to the spinning bits of rubber beneath them. It turns out those rubber bits are more than just rubber though. They are complicated things made up of various compounds that—along with tread pattern—are tweaked by tire companies depending on desired performance.

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Deathtrap or challenge? Depends.

Unless you have a very specific desired performance (eg, exclusively off road, or racing track), my advice is to seek out tires that offer good wet weather handling. I’m partial to the Michelin Road series—almost always throwing Pilot Road 4s on my bike and eagerly looking forward to this summer when the new Road 5 will be available in sizes that fit a Triumph Tiger Explorer—but, truth is, you’ll find decent tires from a number of manufacturers like Pirelli, Bridgestone, Metzeler, and Avon.

Unfortunately, the type of bike you ride will affect the type of tires to which you have access. Longtime readers may know my greatest complaint about cruisers and heavy tourers is the fact they tend not to have very good tire options. This is because the traditional cruiser rider is an American who only rides on sunny days and cares more about longevity than wet weather performance. This is changing as Harley and Indian focus more and more attention on the European market, but it may still be a while before the options are as good as with other street bikes.

No matter what bike you ride, my personal rule of thumb is that you should opt for the best wet weather tires you can afford, even if that means sacrificing somewhat in the areas of longevity or dry weather performance.

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Wear the Right Gear

Biker Rain Gear
2 Piece Rain Suit Gear

Once you’ve got your tires ready for water from the sky, you’ll need to make sure your body is ready, too. This means investing in decent rain gear. Spending money sucks I know, but being wet on a bike sucks more. Being wet on a bike usually leads quickly to being cold on a bike, which can be downright dangerous. When you’re cold, your physical and mental abilities are diminished. We always say that you need to make sure you are geared up for your ride… and we have written a ride in the rain article previously, and about rain gear.

Most bikers hate to get caught or even ride in the rain regardless of how hard it is raining, as we all know some drivers of vehicles get a bit stupid when it starts to rain. If you are Riding in the Rain, it sucks to be wet and uncomfortable. Our Biker Rain Gear will help you stay warm and comfortable. Let’s face it if you are not riding in the rain you are not really riding, as most bikers will ride in any type of weather. Rain or Shine we love to ride.

Tea and Cake Are Your Friends

You’ll spot a theme running through the remaining advice in this article: slow down. Foul weather can cause us to think, “I just want to get where I’m going,” but you’re more likely to arrive in one piece if you adjust your riding mindset. In fact, you should even be open to the idea of stopping.

If you live somewhere other than the Pacific Northwest or the British Isles, it can be a good idea to hit the nearest cafe or coffee shop as soon as the rain starts to fall. This is because oil and road grime will have built up on the road surface and the first bit of rainfall sees roads at their slickest—oil and water don’t mix, of course. Grab a coffee or something and give the rain 30 minutes or so to wash away the worst of it.

The roads are very rarely dry for several days in a row in Blighty, so this sort of oil buildup is less likely. The advice to seek shelter is still worth taking, especially if you’ve got a long journey planned. Even when wearing the best of gear rain has a way of wearing you down. Take the time to stop, warm up, dry off, and mentally reset.

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A quick stop for hot tea or coffee will do you good on a rainy day.

Avoid the Slippy

Rain won’t wash away all oil and grime, so be on the lookout for that which remains. Do your best to avoid the telltale rainbow puddles that show up at intersections and roundabouts. Now, having said that, don’t swerve erratically to avoid them. If you didn’t spot an oil patch in enough time to have moved away in a controlled manner, don’t panic and definitely don’t hit the brakes: just ride through it as upright and steady as possible.

I often use the off-road puddle-splashing technique of pulling in the clutch to ensure I don’t put too much power to the wheel. This may be overkill however; I’m sure most people would tell you that all you need to do is maintain calm, steady throttle.

The same applies for the dreaded manhole covers, bridge expansion joints, railroad tracks, road markings, crosswalks, and other hazards that get slick when moisture is added. Avoid them when you can, ride over them calmly when you can’t.

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Sometimes rain isn’t the worst thing on the road on a wet day.

Get Physical

Some day, I may write an article about why it’s a good idea to take an off-road riding course even though I generally don’t give a damn about riding off road. One of the things I’d mention in that article is that doing a bit of off road work helps develop techniques for dealing with less-than-perfect surfaces.

One of the very first things you learn in such courses is the importance of moving your body around to help ensure weight is in the right place. More often than not, “the right place” is low to the ground, or as close to it as you can get. This can be as simple as lowering your torso closer toward the tank, or getting your ADV on and putting weight onto the pegs.

However, don’t alter your style so much that it affects negatively on your riding—generally a rainstorm isn’t the best place to try new things—you simply want to remember that how and where you place your body can assist in your maneuvering the bike. Most importantly, you don’t want to be rigid or bolt upright. Nerves may make you want to tense up, but try not to let them get the better of you.

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Get your body in motion, but not like a fit or a commotion.

Keep it Smooth

Just as you want to keep your body fluid and natural, so too should your riding be as smooth as possible. Do your best to avoid erratic movements and sudden stops. The key to accomplishing this is looking well ahead, doing your best to anticipate challenges, and coming up with means of dealing with them. In other words, ride like a RoSPA nerd (for those of you playing along outside the UK, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents—RoSPA—is one of several UK organizations that teach safe riding techniques).

The decreased visibility inherent to riding in the rain can make it difficult to scan too far ahead, so once again the advice is to slow down. Don’t ride faster than you can react. The most obvious application of this advice is to increase your following distance. Doing so actually has a double benefit: not only will it improve your chances of being able to respond to something ahead, it will also get you out of the immediate spray of the car in front of you.

Go Where the Wet Ain’t

If bikes perform better on dry surfaces it’s a no-brainer that you should seek out those surfaces. When rain isn’t actively falling, the movement of cars will start to dry out the road. Depending on a number of factors, you’ll find dry spots open up either in the tire tracks of cars, or in the middle of the lane. More often than not you’ll find that the slow lane of a multi-lane highway/motorway will dry out first because of the air being displaced by big trucks.

However, keep in mind that trucks throw a lot of spray, so don’t ride too close. Be particularly cautious when passing a big truck. The spray coming of those ginormous wheels can be downright blinding.

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Riding in the wet requires you to be even more attentive than usual.

Keep Calm and Carry On

One of the biggest challenges you’ll face when riding in the rain will be the presence of other people. Even in always-squelchy Britain drivers go a little nuts when when it rains, becoming far less observant and far more unpredictable. When I lived in Southern California, rain caused people to drive as if they were trapped in their cars with a swarm of angry hornets and cocaine-addled vipers.

As a motorcyclist stuck out in the elements, you will have an overwhelming desire to communicate to these people what idiots they are. I assure you: it is a waste of time. It is also a waste of your mental energy.

By and large, the reason people drive so poorly in wet weather is that such conditions pull the driver’s perspective into the car. He or she is paying attention to the task of finding the wiper switch, or trying to figure out why the defogger isn’t working, or searching the radio for weather updates, or just focusing on the fact their shoulders hurt from tensing up so much. When you start focusing on how much these boneheads piss you off, you’re effectively doing the same thing as them—bringing yourself into your helmet, rather than focusing on the road.

Over time I have come to accept that the people around me are stressed and my best course of action is to just stay alert and not get angry when something dumb happens. Give yourself plenty of time to react to a situation, but don’t overreact.

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Never let a little rain get in the way of a good ride.

The last thing and one funny thing we should mention is that you should expect to see steam. The front tire will kick water on your exhaust, or the rain will trickle down from up top. There may be times when you are riding in the rain and end up at a stop sign, that you will get a concerned motorist yelling at you: DUDE, YOUR BIKE IS ON FIRE! RUN AWAY FROM IT. After a quick explanation, they understand its just steam. The first time its funny. After the 7th, not so much.

Once you learn where the grip is, how to stay as visible as possible, get your riding smooth as silk, and get a more rain oriented tire, riding in the rain almost becomes fun! we enjoy doing it simply for the look people get on their faces when they see a bike toughing it out. A little damp, yes, But look at it this way: free bike wash!

~And as always….

~Live Free Ride Hard~

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~AMERiders

and

Let AMERiders keep you up to date with information How to Ride in the Rain Redux.

And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY.AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM  and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.

Like what you just read? Share it on social media ( Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram) with others and let them get the information and benefit from it as well.

Things You Are Not Told About Riding a Motorcycle and Their Dose of Reality

Riding a motorcycle is a fabulous experience, but it doesn’t come without its dose of reality. Everyone who’s walked around wearing riding gear has lived this at least once: people being curious, asking questions, making small motorcycle-related talk. Admit it, you feel undeniably cool! We’re a fairly rare species and I don’t know about you, but I enjoy answering people’s questions about riding and giving advice to new riders. It’s also during these conversations that you realize how romanticized riding a motorcycle really is. AMERiders wants to give you a few Things You Are Not Told About Riding a Motorcycle and Their Dose of Reality

Warm and sunny really isn’t that great

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Looks nice, doesn’t it? It also looks hot and dusty and sweaty.

 

Granted, it is better to ride under the sun than in the rain. As most riders wear full gear (or at least should) whether the weather is nice or not, pool-party weather actually kind of sucks. Imagine having to wear a full jacket, a hat, and gloves in 85-degree weather. Sweaty right?

You can open up all the air intakes on the helmet, remove your jacket inner layer, choose a pair of lighter mesh gloves; there’s no escaping it, you end up slow cooking in your gear. Plus, when the sun hits hard, everything gets hot, especially if you’re sitting in rush hour traffic with not even the shade of a lamp post to give you a break. The sun heats up the asphalt as well which then radiates so you end up being like in an oven with heat coming from above and heat rising from below. Who smells bacon?

It’s almost a complete workout

reality
Riding a motorcycle is nothing like an advertisement for men’s body wash.

Do people assume that because you own a motorcycle, you enjoy going stupidly fast on the highway? Obviously, that’s because these people haven’t actually done it. Riding can be quite the workout. Wind pressure makes the bodywork hard at highway speeds, especially on a model fitted with a smaller shield. The rider is pretty much holding on while managing the throttle and maneuvering the vehicle. You also tend to be ultra-focused and the faster you go, the more attention your actions require, which is equally draining. So no, we don’t all enjoy going 100 mph. Even those of us that ride with our spouses get a workout, at least I feel I do, I want a nap at the end of a ride.

It gets complicated

reality
You try switching bags every time you go outside and see how you like it.

Many of us have been through this conversation. when we show up somewhere “Oh! It’s a beautiful day, I bet you came on your bike!”. Except we didn’t. And then we may feel bad like we need to justify ourselves for not enjoying the few decent days of summer on two wheels. Truth is… it sometimes gets stupidly complicated. If you’re in a rush, forget it: it’s faster to jump in the car then to pack everything in a motorcycle-friendly bag, dress in a motorcycle-friendly way, gather all the gear, put it all on, and finally make your way out the door. You won’t leave for a good 5 to 10 minutes.

Especially as a lady rider, you have to transfer half of the contents of your purse into a bag which means you sometimes leave important things behind and even losing things all together. It doesn’t end there, either. Once you get to your destination, most of the time you’re stuck carrying or wearing your gear unless, unlike some of us, you have a pair of convenient saddlebags that will keep your personal items safe for you.

Oh! Right. And if the forecast calls for some rain, you’ll also want to add the rain gear to the list. And if you have an impatient spouse with you then it gets even worse.

Itches left unscratched

reality
There’s nothing worse than an itch you can’t scratch.

You know that itchy feeling that sneaks up on you and temporarily disables you until you get a good scratch? Does don’t stop happening because you’re riding. Imagine feeling the sudden urgency to scratch yourself under the foot while said foot is in a boot, resting on a foot peg. You can’t exactly drop everything you’re doing to reach down your boot or else you might end up with bigger problems than an itch. That’s when you have to master your inner Jedi and not let that itch define you.

Oh yeah, and beware of sneezes! Goes for your passenger too.

Stuff hurts

reality
Hitting a bee at speed is like getting shot with a BB gun at close range.

Another advantage of wearing proper gear is that most of the time, you won’t realize that you are constantly bombarded with everything while riding. Try riding without a proper pair of pants on just once and tell me how you like your free microdermabrasion. Dust lifted by the cars in front of you actually stings the skin. Pebbles and small rocks feel like needles poking. And bees? Ugh, don’t get me started on bees. Even while wearing a jacket you can feel those tiny striped rockets smash into your shoulder, so imagine on bare skin. Think paintball, minus the tactical fun.

Sure, it sounds like I’m complaining a little about the reality of riding. Truthfully, it’s those little quirks that make riding so special. These small issues are only a speck on the grander scheme of riding. You become part of a big family and, you get to feel pretty darn cool answering people’s questions.

Sometimes you have to figure out how to word it in a way that doesn’t scare off the new riders or people that want to ride. Hope this has been enlightening with a dose of reality.

~And as always…

~Live Free Ride Hard~

reality

 

 

 

 

~AMERiders

and

Let AMERiders keep you up to date with Things You Are Not Told About Riding a Motorcycle and Their Dose of Reality.

And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY.AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM  and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.

Like what you just read? Share it on social media ( Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram) with others and let them get the information and benefit from it as well.

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Rehash and Update to Our Previous : How to Wash Your Motorcycle Properly

Cleaning your bike is more than just spraying it down with a hose and parking it in the garage. Now that it’s July and we’ve put a few miles on our rides, it’s probably time to scrape off the bugs, buff out the paint, and make ’em shine again. We’ve updated this previous AMERiders article to help your Mid-summer bike wash. Enjoy!

Your bike looks like it’s been ridden through an insect abattoir. Blood, guts, and body parts are smeared across the chrome and plastic alike. There are months of road grime occluding your paint and every nook and cranny is packed with dirt. Is it possible to get it looking new again without spending a ton of time and money?

To find out, we visited a few vehicle product companies online. With the info we found, we’ve put together this basic guide to wash your motorcycle. It may sound sort of obvious, but there are some fundamentally right ways to clean a motorcycle and some things you definitely shouldn’t do.

Wash

There’s a ton of information and advice out there. Some of it is personal preferences, where people are happy with following the same routine and using the same products; it works for them. But, there’s a huge range of different washes, compounds, waxes and even tools you can choose from. Understandably, that can be a little confusing. You might not know where to begin. My advice: keep it simple.”

The first questions are: how much time do you really have available to clean your motorcycle. How much do you know about cleaning bikes and what tools do you have on hand?

If you want to spend 10 hours cleaning your bike every time you ride, that’s absolutely fine, but most people just want to make the job as efficient and as short as possible, with good results.

Another important thing to consider is the age and condition of the motorcycle. Is it new, old or just plain trashed? This will determine your method and tools.

You also need to understand what materials are used in your bike’s construction. Is there anodized aluminum, bare aluminum or chrome? Each requires a unique cleaner. Get the wrong one and it could permanently damage the surface.

What sort of paint do you have? Is it matte or gloss? If your bike is newer, odds are it has a layer of clear coat over the actual paint. Or, maybe it’s old school and only has a single layer of paint. Both require different approaches.

The fundamental thing to remember, when buying a product to clean your bike, is to read the instruction on the packaging before you buy. Look at what the manufacturer tells you about the product. What it’s designed for and make absolutely sure it’s right for your bike and the job you have in mind.

Also, think about what your goals are with cleaning your bike. Do you just want to keep it clean and tidy, or do you want to make it look like a show bike? That’s going to affect how much you spend in time, money and effort.

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To get started, some professionals suggest a three-step method:

  1. Evaluate the situation. What do you want your bike to look like and how old is it? What condition is it in?
  2. Choose the right products.
  3. Use the right cleaning techniques.

Unlike cars, motorcycles have a huge array of exposed materials and components that all get dirty and need regular cleaning.

Never wash a motorcycle while the engine is hot. It’s ok to wash if it’s cool enough that you can touch the engine without burning yourself, but you’d ideally clean it when the bike is completely cold.

Always clean a bike in the shade too, for the same reason. Contaminants in water, such as mineral deposits, become much more aggressive when warm and, if water is sprayed onto a hot bike, those water spots then become much more difficult to remove.

People think they have to use a special water with low mineral content to stop watermarks. But that’s not the case, Just make sure your bike is not hot and that it’s not in direct sunlight, Cool surfaces are much, much easier to work with.

We suggest three types of products to achieve a nice, clean finish:

1. A good wash. Ideally, it should have a pH balance of between six and eight, so it’s neither too acidic nor too alkaline, either could damage your paint. Check it’s safe to use on all paint types.

2. Compound. If you have swirls or scuff marks on the paintwork, use a reputable compound to take them off. Use compounds designed for modern paint finishes and never use a compound on a matte finish; it’ll damage the paint.

3. Wax. It works like sunscreen and leaves a UV barrier to protect your paint. Wax needs to be reapplied regularly to provide this protection.

You can use a polish between the wash and wax stages. Some people like it, but it doesn’t remove paint swirls and doesn’t add any protection. On darker colors, polish gives a deeper, darker finish.

Another good option, on an ongoing basis, is to use a spray detailer. Basically, it’s a wax lubricant that will remove dust and some dirt. It’s a quick and easy way to smarten up your bike. But, the bike has to be reasonably clean in the first place, and the spray detailer won’t remove scuffs. You simply wipe spray detailer on and then wipe it off. It cleans and waxes and does a little bit of everything. Its biggest advantage is time-saving.

Ready to get started? This is what some professionals suggest you do:
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Getting the right supplies together is the first step to cleaning your motorcycle.

Get two buckets for this first stage of the wash. One buck as the wash solution and water in it, while the other has just clean water. Use a premium quality microfiber cloth or lamb’s wool mitt to wipe the bike down from top to bottom.

You need the two buckets as, between washing the bike down, you should rinse your cloth in the clean water. Otherwise, all you are doing is putting the dirt you have taken off, straight back on the bike.

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Careful where you spray, you could do more harm than good.

If your bike is really dirty, you can use a pressure washer to get the worst of the grime off. But, be careful. Motorcycles are water resistant, not waterproof. Use high-pressure water for the wheel rims and under the fenders, but be careful around the engine, where the electronics are. Pressure washers are great, but just be smart about how you use them.

Keep high-pressure water away from the electrics, cockpit, any and all bearings, the chain, and other such components.

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Detail brushes are the key to getting into hard-to-reach areas.

In addition to the cloth or mitt, it is also suggested that a detail brush is used to help you get inside all the motorcycle’s nooks an crannies. It adds time and effort but also hits those hard-to-reach places around levers and cables and fairing parts.

wasFor stubborn marks like squished bugs, we recommend a plastic cleaner. But take care that the chemicals aren’t too aggressive. The key is to soak the bugs in the cleaning solution then, when they’re re-hydrated, lift them off with a cloth. Never rub or grind them, as this will damage your paint, screen or other such parts.

Special attention also needs to be paid to the wheels. Some wheel cleaners are so harsh, they can actually damage paint or corrode the metal.

The problem is, some wheel cleaners may look like they take brake dust and road grime off in one shake of a can, but they could also be doing a lot of damage. It’s much better to use a less acidic or alkaline cleaner and put some effort in by hand. The results will be just as good. It’s also worth using a separate cloth, just for the wheels, so you don’t transfer highly abrasive brake dust back onto your bike.

The final step is to dry the bike. You can do this by hand with a soft, microfiber cloth. But, if you want to speed things up, consider using compressed air, a leaf blower or one of those small, inexpensive household vacuums that can blow as well as suck.

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Compressed air makes for a quick and thorough dry.

At a motorcycle dealer, air is your friend. It prevents water spots from forming and you can get into all the tight spaces to make sure it’s absolutely. Once the bike’s dry, you can then assess whether you want to do anything about paint swirls or scuff marks. Again, quality is king, so buy a good compound that is designed for clear coat paint.

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Apply it to a small area of paint, then buff with a soft cloth by hand. You can also buy inexpensive buffer pads that fit a standard power drill. Those speed up the process.

The final step is to apply a coat of wax to add luster and help protect the bike’s paintwork. If you get wax on any matte finishes or bare plastic parts, remember to wipe it off immediately, or it’ll leave white marks.

If you follow all these steps, I think you should be able to get a great result in less than an hour. Take your time though, on your first attempt, and use the right products for the job. Always read the instructions!

~And as always…

~Live Free Ride Hard~

Memorial Day

 

 

 

 

~AMERiders

and

Let AMERiders keep you up to date with information on How to Wash Your Motorcycle Properly.

And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY.AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM  and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.

Like what you just read? Share it on social media ( Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram) with others and let them get the information and benefit from it as well.

Tech Tip:How to Give Your Motorcycle Chain and Sprockets a Proper Service

Chains are widely used on motorcycles because they are simple, efficient and relatively inexpensive. But they still need regular maintenance, including lubrication, adjustment, and eventually replacement. A well cared for chain may last 15,000 miles or more on a street bike, but if abused or neglected, its service life can be severely shortened. When a chain fails it can severely damage the engine case or even get wrapped up in the wheel and sprocket, locking the rear wheel. So, AMERiders gives you the Tech Tip: How to Give Your Motorcycle Chain and Sprockets a Proper Service, since last week we gave you the tip on how to clean your chain

Two major chain types are O-ring and non-O-ring chains (although you may hear of similar designs such as “X-rings,” which are a variant of O-ring). The O-ring chains have small rubber O-rings between the side plates, which hold in lubricants. This design typically lasts much longer than non-O-ring chains but also costs considerably more. Either type needs to be kept clean to prevent a buildup of grit, which accelerates wear, and the links require just the right amount of lubrication.

In normal riding conditions, street riders should lube O-ring chains about every 500 miles or so, but consult the owner’s manual for specific recommendations. If you ride in the rain, mud, silt, dust, or other tough conditions, or have a non-O-ring chain, intervals should be sooner. When washing a motorcycle, avoid directing water on the chain and be sure to lube your chain right after washing the bike to prevent rust.

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Rusty Master Link

Avoid using avoid harsh or flammable solvents such as gasoline, which can ruin the O-rings or cause a fire. Rather, use a cleaner such as PJ1 Super Cleaner or Bel-Ray Chain Cleaner during giving your motorcycle chain a proper service. A handy cleaning tool is the Simple Solutions Grunge Brush, which cleans well and is easier to use than a rag and small wire brush.

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Cleaning Chain

Chain lube comes in a variety of types and brands, and many riders have their individual favorites. Waxy lubes seem to stick well, instead of slinging off. Most of the heavier lubes seem to last longer, but often make a mess of the wheel rim and surrounding area. It may take some experimentation to find the one best suited to you.

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Chain Lubes

Lube the chain while it’s still warm after riding, but never with the engine running. Maintenance is much easier if your motorcycle has a center-stand. Position it on the center-stand and place the transmission in neutral to allow the rear wheel to be turned by hand. If your bike doesn’t have a center-stand, roll it forward a short way each time to access another section of the chain. Apply the lubricant evenly; most spray cans come with tiny straws that make it easier to direct the flow directly onto the chain.

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Adjustment

If a chain is too loose it may grind on the swingarm or even jump sprockets. If a chain is too tight it may damage the countershaft and bearings, or even break. Owner’s and shop manuals provide slack measurements and adjusting procedures. If you don’t have a manual handy, a rule of thumb is about 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches of vertical slack, measured midway between sprockets.

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Measuring Chain Slack

To adjust chain tension, typically a cotter pin is removed and then the axle nut is loosened. Next, either adjusting bolts are shortened or lengthened (most have locknuts that must be loosened first, and then re-tightened after adjustment), or adjusting cams are turned, until the proper slack is achieved. Old worn chains wear unevenly and develop loose and tight sections, so slack varies. Therefore, it’s important to check slack several times in different sections of the chain, as you rotate the wheel and set it where the chain is at its tightest point. Always recheck slack after tightening because the setting might vary.

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Pull Out On Chain To Check Wear

Most swingarms have alignment marks on each side to make it easier to keep the wheel straight during chain adjustment, but there are other ways to check axle alignment. Motion Pro makes a useful chain-alignment tool. You can also use a tape measure and check the distance from axle the centerline to the swingarm pivot bolt centerline on each side.

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Chain Adjustment Marks

Chain Replacement

Motorcycle chains come in various sizes, and are numbered (e.g., 520, 530, etc.) This has to do with the width and pitch or distance between links. Chains specifications also list tensile strength rating; the higher the rating, the stronger and (likely) the longer it will last. The other vital specification is the number of links. Make sure you get a chain that meets all specifications for the bike.

Many motorcycles come from the factory with continuous chains that are all riveted together and don’t have a master link. Replacement chains are sold either with:

  • Master links with clips (which can be installed without special tools)
  • With a master link which must be riveted
  • Chains with no open links

In general, high-horsepower bikes only come with either a link that must be riveted (because they’re stronger), or a one-piece chain without an open link, which makes it necessary to remove the swingarm for replacement.

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Grinding Off Peened Over Rivet

If you find that a replacement chain is too long, links can be removed. The most expedient way to do this (besides taking it to a shop) is to grind the peened over the end of a rivet off, on the pin you want to remove. After the “head” is ground off, take a small pin punch and a small hammer and drive the pin through the link and out the other side. If you plan to service chains regularly, consider buying a chain breaker/riveting tool. Emgo, Motion Pro and RK Chain, among others, all make them and these make the job much easier.

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Pin Pushing Tool Set
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Chain Tool Used To Push Pin To Break Chain

To install a new chain that has a clip-type master link, have the wheel off the ground and transmission in neutral. Remove the old master clip and link, and connect one end of the new chain with the old chain using a new link. Slowly feed the new chain from rear to front along the top, onto the front sprocket. Pull the new chain with the old one until both ends meet at the upper rear portion of the rear sprocket (the axle adjusters needs to be loosened to provide slack.) Insert the master link through both new ends, make sure the O-rings are in place and install the side plate and clip. Sometimes it is necessary to compress the O-rings with a special tool; a needle nose Vise-Grip can be used in a pinch. With rivet-type master links, follow the instructions that come with the tool.

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Master Link Installation

Sprocket Replacement

Generally, when chains are replaced, the sprockets should be changed too. When sprockets wear out their teeth become sharper and eventually they become somewhat hook-shaped instead of symmetrical, which accelerates chain wear. To check for wear, pull straight back on the chain at the middle of the rear sprocket. If the chain pulls out enough to reveal sprocket teeth, it’s quite worn. If the chain won’t pull away from the sprocket, it’s probably OK. Chain links that start to kink and don’t move readily (even after lubing) also indicate replacement is due.

Changing a front sprocket usually requires removing a sprocket cover (and the chain). Typically, a metal locking tab must be bent away from the retaining nut. With the engine in first gear, the nut is removed with an impact wrench and reinstalled the same way. It should be tightened to the specified torque, and the tab, cover, and chain installed.

Changing a rear sprocket usually requires chain and rear wheel removal. Many sprockets fit onto a cushioned hub, and you have to unbolt the sprocket from its mounting. Install a new sprocket and tighten securely. Reinstall the sprocket assembly onto the hub and wheel, install the wheel and axle and adjust the chain.

Always follow the procedures in the service manual. When work is completed, visually inspect it to verify everything is properly assembled and tightened. Push the bike and verify free proper movement and test the brakes. Ride slowly during the initial test ride and reinspect all work. If you don’t feel confident about how to service your motorcycle, take it to a professional.

We do want to make to make the comment that if you don’t feel comfortable or if you don’t have a real mechanical ability DON’T attempt to service your chain yourself let your mechanic do it. As if it isn’t done correctly it can result in harm to you or those around you during riding.

~And as always…

~Live Free Ride Hard~

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~AMERiders

and

Let AMERiders keep you up to date with information about How to Give Your Motorcycle Chain and Sprockets a Proper Service.

And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY. AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM  and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.

Like what you just read? Share it on social media ( Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram) with others and let them get the information and benefit from it as well.

AMERiders Tech Tip: Cleaning Your Motorcycle Chain

Over the years, I’ve seen people that have owned motorcycles that were equipped with metallic chain for a final drive system.  Chains have a number of advantages: They are versatile, fairly tough, relatively lightweight and relatively cheap—at least where the run-of-the-mill consumer varieties of chain are concerned.  They also have a number of disadvantages including the need for grease-gob sloppy frequent maintenance. However, they do need to be de-gunked and cleaned once in a while so today AMERiders gives you a Tech Tip on Cleaning Your Motorcycle Chain if your motorcycle has one.

Yes, the joys of metallic final drive chains can be swamped by having to deal with gunk slung off the chain onto anything in range, the frequency of cleaning, and lubrication requirements and the mess of having to carry out those requirements.  There is no perfect way to carry out the clean and lube process without having some grime and mess to go along with it. My father was a motorcycle mechanic and I spent hours watching him do repair bikes and I agree this is the best and easiest way, and it provides the most satisfying results and that is using a toothbrush. I am not kidding.

Motorcycle Chain

The beauty of using a toothbrush is that it minimizes lubricant product waste by getting nearly all the lubricant on the Motorcycle Chain with very little lost to drip-off or overspray, and it also does a lot for loosening up caked on crud to help keep the chain clean.  Minimizing overspray keeps the gunk off your rear tire, rim, frame, and maybe with a little luck, you.

Here’s the approach: If the bike has a center stand, set it up on that, put down a piece of cardboard or newspapers under the chain, have an old towel handy, your chain lube of choice and a toothbrush.Motorcycle Chain

Spray (or otherwise apply) the lubricant to the brush and give the top and bottom roller surfaces and side plates a good scrubbing with the brush.  That will loosen grit and grime and then when you have the crud looking fairly liquefied, take the towel or rag and clean the residue off the chain until you’re back down to bare metal.

You may prefer to use a separate chain cleaner instead of the lubricant as a first-step cleaning agent—that will work as well.  I prefer to use the lubricant as a cleaner/liquefier of the caked on gunk and grit because it eliminates the possibility of any chemical incompatibility between the cleaner and lubricant.  It also prevents there being any chance of the cleaner itself adversely affecting the 0 or X rings in the chain.  Always check manufacturer’s recommendations on what to use to clean and lubricate the chain on your bike as well as the mileage intervals for doing it.  Clean, lube and adjust the chain more often in hard use or off-road, sandy, dusty, muddy riding conditions.

Motorcycle Chain

It’s a good idea to get some rubber, nitrile or vinyl gloves for doing this because some of the grime will get on your hands. Depending on your lubricant chain cleaner of choice, you could have a skin or even more serious allergic reaction.  Also, if you have ever reacted to the kind of vinyl used in gloves, keep that in mind in picking those out as an allergic reaction to that can be serious as well.

After the chain is good and clean, repeat the process on the cleaned Motorcycle Chain, applying a liberal coating of the lubricant to the chain on top and bottom roller surfaces and side plates.  This is another advantage of using a toothbrush to clean and lubricate. If you can find a reasonably good access point to the chain, you will be able to do justice to all four sides of the chain, which you may not be able to do very easily if you simply try to spray the lube on.  Keep at it until you have a clean, totally lubricated drive chain.

Motorcycle Chain

While you’re at it, this is a perfect time to check the Motorcycle Chain tension at various points and, if necessary, adjust it.  Also, inspect the chain and sprockets for wear, damage, loose side plates, cracked rollers and so on.  It’s much easier to spot the potential for chain failure and prevent it by replacing the chain and sprockets now than having a chain failure 300 miles from home in the middle of nowhere. And there ya have it.

~And as always…

~Live Free Ride Hard~

Motorcycle Chain

 

 

 

 

~AMERiders

and

Let AMERiders keep you up to date with information Cleaning Your Motorcycle Chain.

And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY. AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM  and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.

Like what you just read? Share it on social media ( Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram) with others and let them get the information and benefit from it as well.

What Independence Day Means and the Independence of Riding a Motorcycle

With the 4th of July, being tomorrow AMERiders wanted to let all our readers know the in’s and outs of Independence Day and what it means, a few other tidbits. In case any of our brothers and sisters or future brothers and sisters didn’t know. Independence Day is annually celebrated on July 4 and is often known as “the Fourth of July”. It is the anniversary of the publication of the declaration of independence from Great Britain in 1776. Patriotic displays and family events are organized throughout the United States.

About Independence Day

indepenceIn 1775, people in New England began fighting the British for their independence. On July 2, 1776, the Congress secretly voted for independence from Great Britain. Two days later, on July 4, 1776, the final wording of the Declaration of Independence was approved, and the document was published. The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence was on July 8, 1776. Delegates began to sign the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776. In 1870, Independence Day was made an unpaid holiday for federal employees. In 1941, it became a paid holiday for them.

The first description of how Independence Day would be celebrated was in a letter from John Adams to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776. He described “pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations” throughout the United States. However, the term “Independence Day” was not used until 1791.

Interestingly, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both signers of the Declaration of Independence and presidents of the United States, died on July 4, 1826 – exactly 50 years after the adoption of the declaration.

Celebrate The 4th of July

independenceThe 4th of July is a day of family celebrations with picnics and barbecues, showing a great deal of emphasis on the American tradition of political freedom. Activities associated with the day include watermelon or hot dog eating competitions and sporting events, such as baseball games, three-legged races, swimming activities and tug-of-war games.

Many people display the American flag outside their homes or buildings. Many communities arrange fireworks that are often accompanied by patriotic music. The most impressive fireworks are shown on television. Some employees use one or more of their vacation days to create a long weekend so that they can escape the heat at their favorite beach or vacation spot.

The 4th of July is a patriotic holiday for celebrating the positive aspects of the United States. Many politicians appear at public events to show their support for the history, heritage, and people of their country. Above all, people in the United States express and give thanks for the freedom and liberties fought by the first generation of many of today’s Americans. The Statue of Liberty is a national monument that is associated with Independence Day.

But what about being independent on a motorcycle

You can be as independent on a motorcycle as you can be. Many people feel more free on a motorcycle than they do in other vehicles or doing other activities. Below are just two examples of putting that rumbling engine between your legs and taking off. This will explain just how independent a motorcycle can be.

Women are Riding Motorcycles and being Independent is part of it.

independenceWhether it’s for freedom, adventure, spiritual experience, confidence, independence, or community, women are taking to motorcycles with an increased voracity.

Three years ago, Debra Teplitz, 44, decided to silence the voice in her head that said, “Nice Jewish girls from the North Shore of Chicago don’t ride motorcycles.” Like so many women who are learning to ride in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond, Teplitz has confronted personal challenges, societal stereotypes, and cultural expectations to embrace the freedom and independence of motorcycling. For many female riders, mastering a motorcycle has served as a catalyst for other long-awaited life changes. While their riding is at an all-time high, women on motorcycles are nothing new. We’ve been riding longer than we’ve been voting. Nonetheless, there are a lot more of us now. Women are one of the fastest growing demographics in the powersports industry.

Because Freedom

independence“Freedom” is such an overused word I sometimes question whether anyone really knows what it means. But I can’t think of a better one to use in describing the sense of self-sufficiency and independence that comes from the simple act of getting on a bike and twisting the throttle.

We live in a jittery world; there are so many demands for our attention. If you are a person in a relationship with kids, a family, a job, and ambitions, it may at times feel that everything you do is at the service of someone or something else; that every action you take is directed by something external.

On a motorcycle, it’s just your little head inside that helmet. You are in control of you, totally and completely. You feel the immediacy of your actions and decisions. The zen state pushes away anxiety about deadlines and bills to pay, and whether that girl at Starbucks was flirting when she told you to have a nice day.

It’s not selfishness, but simply the realization of the fullness of yourself. On a bike, you feel like a complete human being, not an insignificant part of something else. And with this knowledge you’ll find your interactions with your partner, kids, family, job, ambitions and so on, will improve.

Oh and let us not forget we here at AMERiders would like to wish you all a

4th of July

~And as always…

~Live Free Ride Hard~

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~AMERiders

and

Let AMERiders explain to you what Independence Day Means to Celebrate and Be Independent.

And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY.AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM  and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.

Like what you just read? Share it on social media ( Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram) with others and let them get the information and benefit from it as well.

How to Change Your Own Motorcycle Oil in Eight Easy Steps

Changing your own oil is simple, cheap, and puts you more in tune with your machine. The oil inside your engine lubricates and protects it; you want that oil to be in the best condition it can be, so it can do its job effectively. Over time, impurities get into your oil and can affect performance, so it’s important you change it regularly. Better quality oil means a longer lifespan for your motor. So, we at AMERiders decided we would give you 8 easy steps in How to change your own Motorcycle Oil.

If you’re doing lots of short journeys, or you just like to ride the hell out of your bike every time you get on it, the condition of your oil may deteriorate quicker than someone who just cruises at the speed limit on a highway, so how often you change your oil can depend on usage. That said, it pays to be diligent. Check your motorcycle manual, but as a rule of thumb change it once a year or every 3,000 to 5,000 miles; sooner if your bike has a harder life. (Note: Many modern manufacturers, e.g., Triumph, promise up to 10,000 miles between oil changes, but we’d argue that it can’t hurt to do it more often.)

The type of engine oil you need will depend on the bike you ride – again, check your manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation; some suggest to use a weight of oil according to the weather conditions you ride in regularly.

You also might want to check out our other article too in case you have questions about Synthetic or Conventional Oil

What you need

  • Engine oil: Check your manual for the quantity you require and the type of oil you need. It pays to buy an extra quart of oil, just in case. You can always use it to top up your oil over time, anyway.
  • Oil filter: Naturally, you want one that fits your engine, but if in doubt get the part number from the manufacturer and buy from a dealer. Sometimes it can be just as cheap (even cheaper) as a third-party filter.
  • Sump washer: These cost pennies – even if your old one looks OK, replace it just in case.
  • Oil filter removal tool: If you have a standard oil filter, this makes it easy to remove your filter with a wrench attached.
  • Oil tray: You can use anything you like to collect the oil, but a wide, shallow tray (preferably with a spout in one corner) makes draining your oil easy and spill-free.
  • Funnel: To make it easy to fill your engine with oil.
  • Socket and wrench: For removing the drain plug/filter.
  • Torque wrench: Not absolutely necessary, but having it enables you to torque your filter and sump plug without fear of stripping the threads.
  • Gloves: Hot engine oil is bad for your hands, so get some cheap, disposable gloves. Plus, then you get to look like those dudes on CSI.
  • Wood blocks: Put these under your side stand and you can make your bike level – perfect for checking your oil correctly.

Our Step by Step Guide – to Change Motorcycle Oil and Oil Filter

Motorcycle Oil
Make sure that oil is nice and warm, but remember to keep your hands off hot engine parts and out of the oil.

1. Warm it Up

To make it easy to drain the oil from your engine, it needs to be warm (or vicious, in technical terms). You can let your engine ideal for 5-10 minutes, but personally, I think it’s a great excuse to go for a burn, and it’s a better way to warm your engine anyway.

 Motorcycle Oil
You will drop the drain plug into the drain pan the first time you do this. Be prepared.

2. Drain the Oil

When you’ve got back and stopped grinning, rest the bike on its side stand and put the oil tray underneath the bike. Making sure you don’t touch any hot engine parts, use the socket and wrench to remove the engine drain plug – turn anti-clockwise to undo it. Make sure you remove the washer while you’re there and put the plug in a dish for safe keeping.

3. Let it Flow

On level ground, allow the oil to drain completely. You can simply sit back and let it drain out by itself, and as a friend said, coerce any of those remaining bits of oil hidden in nooks and crannies into coming out by carefully tilting the bike on each side (don’t do this if your bike is particularly heavy or you feel unsure about it).

Motorcycle Oil
Once again, watch out for hot oil. Also, have a rag handy to wipe off your ratchet.

4. Remove the Old Oil Filter

Using a wrench attached to the filter removal tool, unscrew the old oil filter by turning the wrench (again, anti-clockwise). Another batch of oil will come out of the filter, so make sure you let this drain com-ple-tely. Now’s a good opportunity to make a cup of coffee (or crack open a beer) and come back a little later.

Motorcycle Oil
Make sure to lube that O-ring

5. Install the New Oil Filter

Once there are no more drops of oil coming from the filter or plug housing, grab your new oil filter and some of your new engine oil and, using your finger, smear some onto the sealing ring of the filter. You can put it straight on, or fill the filter with oil first (some manufacturers recommend to do this, some don’t). Screw it on by hand, then attach the adaptor with wrench installed and tighten it up.

Motorcycle Oil
Make sure the drain plug is nice and clean before reinstalling.

6. Refit the Sump Plug (Drain Plug)

With all the old Motorcycle Oil drained out of the engine, refit a new washer to the engine drain plug. Then, screw the plug into the sump by hand and tighten it up fully. Use the torque wrench and the manufacturer’s recommended torque setting if you’re not sure how much to tighten it.

Motorcycle Oil
Careful with that oil, and make sure to clean up any spills

7. Fill With Fresh Motorcycle Oil

First, check your manual for the exact capacity of your engine oil. Now, undo the plug on the engine fill hole, insert the funnel and start adding oil. Be careful as you don’t want to overfill; aim to add about two-thirds of total quantity and then add the remainder gradually, checking the oil level on a level surface (using your blocks) as you go, using the sight gauge (or the dipstick method).

Motorcycle Oil
If you’re lucky enough to have a dipstick, use it.

8. Final Oil Level Check

When you’re happy that the level is around the max mark, start the engine and let it idle for about five minutes, checking that the oil pressure light goes out after starting. Turn off the engine, get the bike on a level surface once more and check the oil level, adding more if need be. On your first proper ride after changing the Motorcycle Oil, it’s worth double-checking the level once more, or several times thereafter if you want to.

~And as always…

~Live Free Ride Hard~

Motorcycle Oil

 

 

 

~AMERiders

and

Let AMERiders keep you up to date with information on How to Change Your Own Motorcycle Oil.

And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY.AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM  and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.

Like what you just read? Share it on social media ( Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram) with others and let them get the information and benefit from it as well.

What You Need to Know as a New Rider :Seven Essential Tips You’ll Need

So, you’ve finally taken the plunge, attended a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic RiderCourse, and earned your motorcycle endorsement. Truth is, the adventure is really only beginning once you get that piece of plastic. There’s a lot more to do. So, AMERiders wants to give you some information on What You Need to Know as a New Rider and just about Seven Essential Tips You’ll Need.

First and foremost, you need to get out there and make use of your license, which means getting a bike. I recognize that, financially, such a thing is easier said than done but my general advice is this: unless you happen to be rather mechanically minded, go to a reputable dealer and get the best bike you can afford. Repeat: the best bike you can afford. Don’t finance your first bike.

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If you’re some people I know, the desperate need to get out on two wheels will make you really, really, really want to ignore that piece of advice, but the fact is, you are going to drop this bike a few times; it’s going to get dinged-up. Having a moto that’s fully paid for will make these learning experiences easier to tolerate. This may mean having to save for a few extra months (which can be torturous if you’re bike-free during the summer), or having to lower your standards to get a motorcycle that’s not as sexy as the one you really want (hence the reason don’t end up with the exact bike they want), but it’s better than being in an upside-down loan, or, worse yet, not going out to ride for fear of causing depreciation.

Related to that experience of letting anxiety keep you from riding, once you’ve overcome the not inconsiderable challenge of getting your hands on a bike you’ll need to keep a lot of things in mind if you want to continue to enjoy riding for a long time. Here are a few of them:

Get Out Your Salt Shaker

Motorcyclists love to give advice, but not all of it is good. Indeed, quite a lot of it is terrible. As you get further into motorcycling you will discover there is something of a folklore subculture within certain riding circles. Take a look at the way some folks feel about helmets, for example, or attitudes toward the necessity of loud exhausts. You’ll find a surprisingly high number of conspiracy theorists, too. Point is: not all motorcyclists are clever and you should take all riding advice with a grain of salt.

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Applying this, you should take some time to be honest with yourself about what sort of bike you want, what sort of riding you want to do, and how you want to address the inherent risks involved. Ultimately, you are the one most affected by your decisions. And your decisions don’t have to agree with the decisions of others. Your buddy may think a Harley-Davidson Breakout is a great first bike, but he’s not you. Take the time to research things thoroughly and be confident in the decisions you make as a new rider.

Do the Stuff They Tell You to Do

If you are used to living with modern cars you may not be used to sticking to a maintenance routine. That’s something you’ll want to develop as a motorcyclist. Modern bikes are pretty reliable—yes, even the Harleys—but the nature of a motorcycle is such that a little problem can easily create a big problem. For example, if your car dies in the middle of nowhere during a rainstorm, you can just sit there—nice and dry—waiting for the AAA dude to show up (Related advice: it’s a really good idea to sign up for breakdown coverage). If your bike dies in the same scenario, you’re stuck waiting outside in the cold and wet, with nothing to do but get colder and wetter and curse the fact you chose theater as an elective in high school rather than auto shop.

The most barebones maintenance routine can be remembered with the word “bolt:”
Brakes
Oil
Lights
Tires

You should check those things a lot. You’ll likely have heard this from your riding instructor before you got your license, and he or she may have even suggested a little “pre-flight” routine for each time you get on your bike. Here’s what I do:

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Make sure these are functioning correctly before hitting the road.

At the start of a day of riding, I check tire pressure cold. If everything’s OK, I quickly check the oil level. This is easy if you have a sight glass, but very much worth doing even if you don’t. Bikes can consume oil quickly (I was always surprised by how much of the stuff disappeared after a day of hard riding on a bike). Next, click on the ignition and make sure all the headlights and indicators are functioning properly. It can be a trick to check that brake light, but you’re a clever bunny—you’ll find a way. Lastly, once I’m on the bike, just before setting off, I rock the bike forward a little and make sure the front and rear brakes each are working.

If you’re new to riding it’s a good bet your bike will be chain-driven. It doesn’t hurt to give that a quick tug before each ride as well, making sure it’s neither too slack nor too tight. At regular intervals, you should check the chain more thoroughly, actually going to the trouble to measure the slack, just like they tell you to in all the owner’s manuals.

Get Your Hands Dirty

Part and parcel with checking to make sure stuff is working properly is maintaining it. I’m not a huge fan of wrenching, but there are certain things you should just be doing yourself—primarily (oil changes, chain cleaning, and chain adjustment and we will cover these three in later posts). If you don’t know how to do these things you will find literally hundreds of YouTube videos explaining how. I’m personally a fan of the videos from Moonfleet41, aka Delboy’s Garage, which are thorough, easy to understand, and watchable.

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This picture is somewhat unrelated but we threw it in because it’s so awesome. Check out his right hand: it’s prosthetic.

Finding the space, time, patience, and confidence to work on your bike can be tricky, but it’s worth it to do as much as you can. These days, you can expect to pay in excess of $80 an hour for a motorcycle mechanic. I don’t begrudge anyone earning a good wage, but doing stuff yourself means you’ll have more money to spend on New gear or a new bike.

Make Sure Your Bike is Right For You

Related to the idea of doing a little bit of maintenance yourself, take the time to make sure the bike is set up so you are comfortable as a New rider. Are the handlebars where you want them to be? Is your seat at the right height? Are the shift lever and brake pedal naturally accessible? How about lever span and clutch free play? On most bikes, all of these things can be adjusted.

Do the Stuff They Tell You to Do, Part II

In addition to telling you to do pre-ride checks, it’s a good bet your grizzled old riding instructor also emphasized the importance of regularly reminding yourself of the basics. Doing this will feel dumber and dumber as you put on years of experience, but you really should find the time every now and again to spend an hour or so in an empty parking lot doing tight circles and emergency stops and pushing your bike around and all the other things they had you do when you were learning.

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Getting out onto the open road won’t be as much fun if your foundational skills aren’t there.

As I say, you’ll feel silly doing this as a more experienced rider and perhaps inclined to tell yourself you don’t need to do it, but here is what will happen: you’ll find yourself having to do a U-turn in front of a load of other motorcyclists (at a cafe, for example) and you will get it all kinds of wrong because you haven’t practiced, and they will laugh at you.

Cover Your Ass (as Well as The Rest of You)

Wear your gear, I can’t say this enough!!! I realize that being fully kitted can be pretty damned expensive. Go crazy with riding gear for, and you can easily spend more on stuff to wear on a bike than on the bike itself. We at AMERiders can help you with plenty of items to wear. But few things will throw ice water on your enthusiasm for riding like a bad case of road rash.

My tip is to look for quality New gear, NEVER use already worn gear especially helmets. You never know where and when it will fail to protect you. Make sure that you are covered with New safety apparel from top to bottom Helmet, Glasses, jacket, gloves, pants/chaps, and boots. We carry all of these items at great prices.

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Always wear a helmet. Sure, you may have the freedom to ride without one, but you also have the freedom to poop in your own bed. Both are bad ideas.

You will, of course, need to buy your helmet brand spanking new. And don’t forget the earplugs. If you learned to ride without them they may seem a little awkward at first, but they’re worth it for the sake of protecting your hearing. I find that wearing earplugs also improves my concentration and decreases fatigue.

Take Responsibility For Your Actions (and the Actions of Others)

It’s just you on that bike, and whatever happens on it is your responsibility. Or, perhaps a better way to phrase that is to say you will be the one most affected by whatever happens. Other road users will do dumb things and that will make you angry, and at some point, along the way, you’ll want to respond. YouTube videos of guys responding in the wrong way, often with pretty painful results. Don’t be that guy. Instead, do your best to anticipate and avoid hazards and dangerous situations.

We hope this has been helpful to you.

~And as always…

~Live Free Ride Hard~

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~AMERiders

and

Let AMERiders keep you up to date with information on What You Need to Know as a New: Rider Seven Essential Tips You’ll Need.

And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY.AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM  and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.

Like what you just read? Share it on social media ( Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram) with others and let them get the information and benefit from it as well.

We Give You 8 Reasons Why Motorcycles Are the Best Drug

Drugs rot your mind and body. But, people use them for a reason. They get you high, they take away your worries and they’re, well, addictive. So are bikes. If you’re going to take up an addiction, it may as well be this one. Here at AMERiders, We Give You 8 Reasons Why Motorcycles Are the Best Drug.

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1) Motorcycles Are Legal

Want to get into motorcycling? Just walk your way down to the DMV, apply for a learner’s permit and sign up for a class. A few weeks later, you’ll be handed a license and getting your jollies in a legally-sanctioned manner. All 50 states allow the recreational use of motorcycles and you can even take yours across the border to Canada. You can’t say that about the legal recreational use of any drug.

…Sorta

Who would you rather deal with, a shady drug dealer in a dark alley or your “friendly” local motorcycle dealer…wait, don’t answer that.  You see, the deal here is that, so long as you aren’t bothering other people, the cops will sometimes leave you alone. But, riding a motorcycle may impact the way you’re treated at the hospital if you hurt yourself on one…argh. Our legal system may also discriminate against you for using them. OK, let’s just say the counterculture element can be part of the fun.

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2) Motorcycles Are Safe

The high you experience from motorcycles has not been conclusively shown to clog your arteries, impair your brain function, shut down your heart or collapse your septum (wait, ignore the last one… that can happen in certain ways…)

…Sometimes

But, it’s one of the most statistically dangerous things a person can do in this modern age. A lifetime of motorcycle abuse has left me with metal body parts, hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills, months of pain, significant scarring and permanent hearing loss. But, the feeling you get from overcoming that danger is also a part of what makes riding worthwhile.

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3) Motorcycles Make You More Appealing To The Opposite Sex

Leather jacket? Check. Dirty jeans? Check. Confident swagger? Check. Devil-may-care attitude? Check. There’s a reason bikers are one of the most iconic images of the American male in his prime — women dig us. Are you a female? Do you ride bikes? Can I have your number?

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4) Motorcycles Make You Confident

Somehow, using nothing but your wits to overcome danger has a way of making more mundane problems like a difficult job, a crazy boss or striking up a conversation with a pretty girl just pale in comparison. What other people consider scary, we simply scoff at.

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5) Motorcycles Come With Friends

Is there any family more closely-knit, as immediately welcoming, as endearingly awkward or as ready to help out its members than that of the biker? I know there’s not one that involves more spooning.

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6) Motorcycles Expand Your Consciousness

The sights you see will become more intense. Nature isn’t just a vague concept, it’s something we feel and smell and something which causes us both intense pain and intense pleasure. And in a way, outsiders will never get to experience. Motorcycles change your perspective on life, they expand your horizons and they alter the way your mind is wired.

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7) Motorcycles Make You Forget Your Problems

Did you have a Bad day at the office? Girlfriend dump you? Is there any more life-affirming experience than just hoping on your bike and going for a ride? I don’t think so. It make you focus on nothing but the ride and, by the time you’re done, all those problems just don’t seem so big anymore.

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8) Motorcycles Justify Their Cost

Drugs? Money down the drain. But a motorcycle? It’ll likely cost you less to buy and own than a boring old car. You’ll save money on the purchase price, you’ll save money on gas and you’ll never sit in traffic or pay for parking again as long as you live. Heck, you could likely sell your car today and use the proceeds to fund an entire year of riding, a decision that will actually improve your life.

~And as always…

~Live Free Ride Hard~

drug

 

 

 

 

~AMERiders

and

Let AMERiders keep you up to date with information on 8 Reasons Why Motorcycles Are the Best Drug.

And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY.AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM  and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.

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How You Balance Motorcycle Tires After You’ve Changed Them

We all know that wobbly wheels Suck and in our, last article, we covered How to Change a Motorcycle Tire I covered how to remove and replace a motorcycle tire. If you are replacing your own tires, you probably will be interested in balancing them yourself as well. In this article, AMERiders and I will guide you through the process of How To Balance Motorcycle Tires. Like mounting your own tires, balancing is easy to do and requires only minimal tools.

I will cover a technique known as “static balancing” which relies on gravity to find the heavy spot on your wheel. Most people are more familiar with the other balancing technique referred to as “dynamic balancing” which uses a machine to spin the tire at high speeds to determine balance. Unless you are planning on opening a tire shop, you probably will not want to spend the money on a dynamic balancing machine or devote the floor space to one for just changing your own tires.

As you can see from the picture, there isn’t much to a static balancer, just a frame and a horizontal shaft for the wheel to rotate on. If you like doing a little bit of light fabrication, you can certainly build one yourself and can even use your own axle for a perfect fit. For everyone else, you can pick up a factory made stand for ~$100 online. These factory-made stands are made “universal fit” by using a small diameter shaft with two cones that fit into the axle sleeve on either side of the wheel. Once the cones are locked down to the shaft with a set screw, the wheel is centered on the shaft and ready to be balanced.

Since you typically only balance motorcycle wheels after installing new tires, I’ll assume you already have the wheel off of the motorcycle and go straight into the balancing process.

Step 1: Make sure that your balancer is sitting on a very stable surface and the shaft is perfectly level. I find that a standard 9″ magnetic level makes this process a whole lot easier.

Balance Motorcycle Tires

Step 2: Remove one of the cones from the balancer’s shaft before sliding the shaft through the axle sleeve on the wheel. Then slide the cone back onto the shaft (narrow end first) and firmly tighten the set screw to lock it in place. It is important to make sure that both cones are fitting inside the axle sleeve if not the wheel will not be centered on the shaft and that can affect the balance of the tire.

Balance Motorcycle Tires

Step 3: Thoroughly wipe down the rim with a good degreaser. This is important for two reasons: first, you don’t want any globs of grease throwing off your balance and secondly if you are using adhesive wheel weights you want to make sure that they stick on well. Also, if there are any remaining weights from previous tire balancing, make sure to remove them.
Balance Motorcycle Tires

Step 4: Gently spin the tire and let it come to a stop on its own. Gravity will cause the tire to stop spinning with the heaviest portion at the lowest point. Take a piece of masking tape and mark this point on the rim. Simple Green is an excellent way to clean off any dirt, grime or grease from your wheel.

Balance Motorcycle Tires

If the heaviest portion of the wheel is at the lowest point, then it stands to reason that the lightest portion of the wheel is at the highest point. Therefore you will be adding weights to the top of the wheel, directly across from the heaviest portion. Adding a piece of tape makes it easy to remember the location of the heaviest point on the wheel. If you are using a non-spoked rim, your best option for weights is the adhesively backed variety that just sticks to the rim. These are cheap and easy to use and allow you to spread the weight out on either side of the rim. If you are using a spoked rim, you also have the option of spoke weights with a crimp to the spokes or are held to the spoke with a set screw. These tend to be more expensive than the adhesively backed weights, but they do have the advantage of being reusable and less likely to come off.

Balance Motorcycle Tires

Step 5: Add a few ounces of weight to the lightest portion of the tire. If you are uadhesive-backedacked weights, use tape to hold them in place temporarily. Adhesive backed weights come in strips that can be cut apart to achieve the desired weight. Spoke wheel-weights come in various weights and can be stacked if needed.

Balance Motorcycle Tires

Step 6: Rotate the tire until the lightest portion and the heaviest portion are located equal distance from the work surface and gently release the wheel. Again the wheel will naturally rotate to a position where the heaviest portion is at the lowest point. Typically this will be the same point that you determined was the heaviest portion of the wheel initially, which means you need to add more weight to the lightest portion. Alternatively if the portion you just added weight too is now at the lowest point, then you added too much weight and need to remove some. Using double-stick tape or masking tape to temporarily hold the weights in place during this process.

Balance Motorcycle Tires

Step 7: Continue to repeat Step 6 until the wheel no longer rotates on its own when released. A properly balanced tire should stay still when released as there is not a heavier portion to pull the wheel around. When you think you have the balanced correctly, try rotating and releasing the wheel (using the tape as a guide) at the 12:00, 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00 positions.Balance Motorcycle Tires

Step 8: If you are using spoke weights, you are now finished balancing your wheel and can remove it from the balancer. If you are using adhesive backed weights, use a piece of tap to mark the edge of the line of weights before removing whatever is temporarily holding the weights in place. Then simply remove the backing paper from the weights and press them firmly onto the rim to hold them in place. A balanced tire should stay still when released no matter what position it is in.

Balance Motorcycle Tires

One thing to keep in mind is that it is pretty tough to get your wheels perfectly balanced since wheel weights come in fixed sizes that may not add up to the weight you need. Of course, you could file the weights down to achieve the exact weight, but I don’t think you’ll notice much difference on the road to make it worthwhile unless you plan on running at high speeds in a race type scenario. At that is left now is to remount the wheel as per the manufacturer’s instructions and go out for a test ride.

~And as always….

~Live Free Ride Hard~

Memorial Day

 

 

 

 

~AMERiders

and

Let AMERiders keep you up to date with information How You Balance Motorcycle Tires After You’ve Changed Them.

And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY.AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM  and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.

Like what you just read? Share it on social media ( Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram) with others and let them get the information and benefit from it as well.