When the weather starts warming up, I get the bug to start up the Harley and enjoy the open road. I know that I am not alone because warm weather brings invites to poker runs, weekend get-a-ways and just local rides. All of it is a good time; you just have to decide which one fits into your hectic schedule.
When asked to write this article and share important reminders, the first thought that came to mind about the great two wheel sport is “You better respect that motorcycle. It is not a forgiving machine.” With that in mind, please do a good safety once over on your motorcycle before you take that long ride.
First and most important, check the tires to make sure they are properly inflated; check for dry rot or excessive wear. If the tread is worn, getting caught on a wet road can be very painful and costly.
I will never forget, as a young man, I was in the high school parking lot showing off my Bonneville. As I was just getting the front wheel off the ground the rear wheel took off with a mind of its own. Needless to say, I was picking gravel and glass out of my hide for day. The incident cost me a new handle bar, pipes, and seat- due in part to a bald back tire and not enough respect for an unforgiving machine.
Dan Kenney, owner of Motovation Cycles & Accessories in Charlotte Hall is not just an old biker, but one of the best mechanics in the area. His customers come to him from New York and as far away as Ontario, Canada. He believes that one of the most common problems is the gasoline they sell us that has ethanol with a short shelf life. Dan says to use Blue Stabil when you put your bike up or in storage for any length of time. If you did not use your Blue Stabil when you put your bike away for the winter, be sure to drain that old gas before you start her up. Ethanol absorbs 600% more water than a pure gasoline product. Dan also agrees that tire condition and correct air pressure is very critical.
Finally, or at least until next month’s edition, do a good walk around inspection, check for loose parts, nuts, bolts and screws. Use a torque wrench if it is recommended, as it is often required. Don’t be a Bolt on Bob coming back from Fredericksburg. About a year ago, I was one biker behind Bolt on Bob who was riding a Harley Ultra Classic. After about ten miles out of town, market clutter began to fall off. First he lost a turn signal light cover, and then his heel/toe shifter with a skull image fell off on route 301. Then just before the bridge he lost a chrome thing that looked like a 58 caliber mini ball bullet. None of these flying objects were Harley Davidson parts, nor did a mechanic put these parts on the bike. Don’t get me wrong, I like a custom bike as much as the next guy. BUT-IF YOU ARE LIKE Bolt on Bob, make sure all those cool items are on tight so they do not fall off your bike. You will be legally responsible for damage caused by those flying objects. Additionally, you could hurt or even kill a fellow biker.
Good luck, ride safe and watch out for the other vehicle operators because often they do not see you.