Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What You Need to Know About Motorcycle Condition Before Buying

When you start shopping for a motorcycle on, you probably already know approximately how much you want to spend and what type of motorcycle you want. But as a potential new biker, have you considered the role of a motorcycle's condition in regard to its book value? Sometimes, there is good reason to consider a slightly abused bike. Whether you're looking for a cruiser, sport bike, or touring bike, taking problems with the bike's condition into account and using them to leverage a better price can be a real money-saver.

Is the Motorcycle You Want Worth Fixing?

Even if something is wrong with a bike's condition, almost anything can be fixed. Making some repairs can translate into money saved for you, because a bike in less-than-perfect condition can be a great bargain - if you take the cost of repairs into account. You also need to be aware that repairs can take time. This can be frustrating when you're impatient for that first ride on your new bike, but if the savings are great enough, you might find it worth investing in.

How Much Should You Spend on a Bike Repair Job?

Start by learning what the bike's book value would be if it were in perfect condition. Compare that value to its stated condition's value, such as poor or average. The difference between the two conditions provides you with valuable information, telling you how much to pay for repairs in order to get the bike back into top condition without losing money. 

  • If you are a do-it-yourself enthusiast or a backyard mechanic, you only need to calculate the cost of the parts. Just be aware you will have to invest some time in repairing your new ride before you get to enjoy hitting the road.
  • If you plan to hire a mechanic, the easiest way to determine the cost will be to ask your motorcycle mechanic for an estimate. To get the most accurate estimate possible, carefully review the details about the bike and ask the owner any lingering questions you have, then take the information to the mechanic for a quote.

Don't let a small problem stop you from getting the bike of your dreams. If the price is right, add the estimated cost of repairs to the purchase price to ensure you get a great deal.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Kubota releases new ‘K-Vertible’ UTV

From the floor of GIE+Expo, Kubota Tractor Corporation introduced a new addition to its popular RTV-X Series line. The new RTV-X1140, featuring an innovative Kubota K-Vertible cargo conversion system, transforms the vehicle with minimal effort and time from two passengers and a large cargo bed to four passengers and a cargo bed. Kubota is the top-selling diesel utility vehicle in North America, 10 years running, according to Power Products Marketing, North American Utility Vehicle Report, and the company continues to set the standard for ruggedness and reliability.
“The RTV-X1140 has a unique ROPS design that makes it easy to convert from crew to cargo,” said Eric Goins, Kubota RTV product manager. “With the RTV-X1140, Kubota offers industry-leading cargo capacity and comfortable seating for four adults in three simple steps – when you need to move your crew, swing in the cargo bed sides, fold the bed up, and flip down the rear seat – conversion is quickly and easily performed by just one person.”
The new five-point ROPS design increases RTV-X1140’s legendary workhorse characteristics allowing for more cargo volume and side loading. The RTV-X1140 also comes standard with hydraulic dump bed with 19.1 cubic feet/9.9 cubic feet capacity, two-seat and four-seat configuration, respectively.
Power When and Where Needed
The RTV-X1140 delivers a powerful 24.8 horsepower Kubota liquid-cooled diesel engine, work-proven for dependable performance even in the harshest terrains. With convenient tilt steering and simple inline shifting, the RTV-X1140 has a Variable Hydraulic Transmission that offers wide torque band and large oil cooler that boost performance and durability. Front and rear independent suspension on all four wheels ensures a truly exceptional ride enhancing drivability and handling in most off-road conditions. And Kubota raised the bar on ground clearance with the new RTV-X1140, offering a full 10.8 inches of suspension travel with the ability to glide over bumps and rugged terrain.
Kubota introduces the RTV-X1140, featuring the innovative K-Vertible cargo conversion system, which transforms the vehicle from two passengers and a large cargo bed to four passengers and a cargo bed.
Kubota introduces the RTV-X1140, featuring the innovative K-Vertible cargo conversion system, which transforms the vehicle from two passengers and a large cargo bed to four passengers and a cargo bed.
A New Level of Driving Comfort
The RTV-X1140 offers a variety of standard and optional features to enhance productivity and operator comfort. Options include alloy wheels and a factory-installed bed liner to protect the cargo bed from dirt and damage. Driving comfort comes standard with an ergonomically-designed, split-bench style seat designed to provide hours of smooth riding. With sophisticated technology and easy-to-operate features, the RTV-X1140 offers a digital meter cluster with bright, easy-to-read indicators to keep the operator informed of critical driving conditions, including speed, hours, and miles traveled. Secure lockable storage is king with a large glove box on the passenger side and under-seat storage compartments beneath the split-bench seats to provide convenient storage space for tools, tie-downs, and personal items.
The RTV-X1140 debuted at GIE+Expo and will start shipping in November to Kubota dealers nationwide.
Kubota Introduces PTO K-Connect for the RTV-X1100C
Also introduced at GIE+Expo is Kubota’s new front 4-point PTO K-Connect for the RTV-X1100C, giving it the ability to transform into the ultimate snow removal machine, with four new snow attachments: a 66 in. Snowblower, a 66 in. Rotary Broom, a 78 in. V-Plow, and 78 in. Straight Blade.
  • The Snowblower is a 66 in.-wide, two-stage commercial snowblower that throws snow farther than the competition and with less dispersion and more precision for professional grade snowblowing.
  • The PTO-driven Rotary Broom Sweeper is 66 in. wide and loaded with 34 water brushes that turn at more than 240 RPM, designed for even wear of the bristles and with floating wheel placement to follow ground contour and avoid obstructions.
  • Kubota’s V-Plow is designed for heavy-duty snow applications offering 78 in.-wide blade to accommodate the width of the RTV-X1100C when fully angled at 30 degrees.
  • The Straight Blade offers new curvature to better roll the snow, also at 78 in.-wide, the blade can operate in float or down pressure for superior, reliable performance.
With K-Connect, these new implements connect in seconds without tools and can be removed easily for seasonal storage. The PTO is gear-box driven for durability, less maintenance and quieter operation. The control handle and PTO switch offer simple and intuitive control for all implements. The control handle is designed for left or right hand operation, with a blue LED indicator that confirms the floating action of the hitch for immediate use. The PTO switch is ergonomically located and easily reachable for double action intuitive control, similar to tractor functionality.
This article originally appeared on

Custom motorcycle builder releases Stainless Steel Collection

Inspired by the craftsmanship of yesteryear’s legendary motorcycle builders, British Customs launched a line of products for Triumph motorcycles called the Stainless Steel Collection. Their Stainless Steel Collection’s design pays homage to the mindset of those who helped shape the motorcycle industry with an obsession for using only the highest quality materials on their motorcycles.
"We want to restore a love for craftsmanship and quality materials in the motorcycle industry," stated Jason Panther, President of British Customs. "We want to revitalize the tradition of working on your own bike, and the heritage of craftsman designs."
The British Customs Stainless Steel Collection ensures that the aftermarket parts any rider installs on their Triumph are precision-engineered from the highest quality materials, and are built to last. Stainless steel aftermarket parts are fairly uncommon in the motorcycle industry, but British Customs seeks to change the way riders think about the materials of their upgrades by producing high quality, strong parts that emphasize performance as much as looks. Like all of British Customs’ parts, they are made to factory specifications and bolt-on, meaning the average rider can easily install them with common tools and minimal technical knowledge.
The Stainless Steel Collection consists of parts for multiple systems, and are available in polished or brushed finishes, allowing riders to personalize their motorcycle however they would like. The components included in the initial release include a vintage styled Mock Monza Gas Cap, a Retro Taillight, and Quick Release Seat Screws and Side Cover Screws that can be tightened or loosened by hand--an innovative response to the original parts' tooling. Available to be purchased as a package, these parts are designed to upgrade both the quality and appearance of any modern Triumph Bonneville T100, Triumph Thruxton, or Triumph Scrambler 900.
British Customs has published a series of buyer's guides on their newly redone blog, including one for the Stainless Steel Collection, that discuss available upgrades and how to install them together to achieve the best results.
This article originally appeared on

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Is Your Motorcycle Helmet Snell Certified?

This article was provided by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys.

Many Women On Wheels® members live by the motto “all the gear all the time”, but what do you really know about the quality of your gear and its ability to protect you?
Take your helmet for example; while it provides shelter from the elements and may even be a stylish accessory, how do you know which helmet will best protect your brain? What’s the difference between a DOT helmet and a Snell certified helmet, isn’t it just a marketing gimmick? And how often should you replace your helmet?
The ladies of Northern California WOW chapter Gold Country Riders (GCR) went in search of these answers and more. We didn’t have far to ride on a cold, wet January morning since thankfully we are privileged to have in our backyard the only Snell independent testing laboratory in North America. Thanks to GCR member Dee Dee Gray for coordinating the outing; and thanks to the knowledgeable scientists at Snell for being kind enough to open their facility on a Saturday. Not only did they give GCR members our own private tour they also, over the course of two hours, demonstrated each of the rigorous tests a helmet has to pass before it receives a coveted Snell certification, and they answered every question we could possibly ask.
pic 1
First, why wear a helmet?
We learned from Snell Director of Education Hong Zhang that “the primary purpose of a helmet is to manage energy so that if you have an accident all that energy is managed by the helmet and not your brain”.
So how do you determine how well a helmet can manage energy? “Well unfortunately it isn’t easy” shares Hong. “It’s not something as a consumer you can determine by looking at the thickness of the helmet, the weight, what it’s made of, or even the price tag. The only way one can tell is through extensive testing”.
That’s where Snell comes in. The Snell Foundation prides itself on the fact that they don’t make helmets. They make motorcycle helmets safer. They do this by developing rigorous testing standards and serving as an independent testing laboratory to ensure the manufacturers meet these stringent requirements. Through a series of high tech tests, each helmet that enters the Snell lab is put through its paces. To receive the much sought-after Snell certification, a motorcycle helmet model in a specific size range must meet all the criteria in every single one of the following tests: impact protection, retention system, rotational stability, outer shell and face shield penetration and chin bar impact. My favorite test was the “buckshot test” which is meant to simulate debris that is hurled at a rider’s because of their standards, “Snell certified helmets manage energy between 40% to 110% better than a standard DOT approved helmet” shares Hong. In fact “The Snell standards are so high that many of the helmet models tested do not make the cut” says Hong. “And those that do pass continue to be tested on an ongoing basis for as long as the model is sold.”
To ensure the integrity of retests, Snell procures motorcycle helmets from online and local stores and not just from the helmet manufacturer directly. This guarantees Snell tests the same helmets you and I ultimately purchase and not just hand selected ones the manufacturer believes to be of the highest quality. According to Hong “If at some point down the road a previously certified helmet fails the battery of tests, the model has to recalled.
If you’re interested in learning more about each of the demanding tests, please check out the Snell You Tube video found at
So what’s the difference between a DOT helmet and a Snell certified helmet?
“DOT standards are maintained by the Department of Transportation and are the minimum standards a helmet manufacturer must adhere to” says Hong. “DOT certification is done on the honor system. The helmet’s manufacturer determines whether his helmets satisfy DOT and then claims the qualification for himself. There are no reporting requirements and the government provides very little spot checking to ensure the standard is being adhered to”. The DOT standards are substantially more lenient than the Snell standards and therefore the protective qualities of a DOT helmet are not as strong.
For more information on the differences check out 2
The tour was truly fascinating and there were so many tips shared and questions addressed during the two hours it’s impossible to share them all, but here are the top eight.
  1. Fit: Fit is very important when it comes to your helmet. Hong shared that “Most riders wear a helmet that is too large. A helmet should fit snuggly.” For this reason Snell encourages riders to wear the helmet in the store for at least 3 to 5 minutes to ensure the helmet is comfortable and does not have pressure points. Online helmet purchases should only be made after ensuring proper fit.
  2. Care: Proper care will extend the life of a helmet. If you’re riding in the heat be sure to let your helmet air out after the ride. When your liner needs to be cleaned, use mild hand soap, hand wash the liner and airdry it. “It is important that you NEVER use a blow dryer or place the liner in the dryer. Extreme heat will damage the foam and cause it to break down” shares Hong. Hair products can also damage a liner. A thin helmet sock or Buff ( may help keep your liner clean longer and extend its use.
  3. Storage: When not in use, do not rest your helmet on your mirror, handlebars or other hard surfaces. Pressure on the inside of the helmet will cause the liner and the foam shell to breakdown, creating a weak spot in the helmet and impacting its ability to fully protect you.
  4. Damage: If, while wearing the helmet, the helmet comes into contact with a hard surface or you’ve been in an accident wearing the helmet, the helmet must be replaced immediately.
  5. Myth Buster: Contrary to urban myth, dropping a helmet does not mean the helmet needs to be replaced. The damage to the helmet actually occurs if your head is in the helmet when it collides with a hard surface since the collision compresses the foam shell.
  6. Replacement: The helmet liner and foam shell break down over time impacting the helmet’s ability to manage energy properly and decreasing its protective qualities. When this happens the helmet should be replaced. As a general rule a helmet should be replaced at least every 5 years.
  7. What types of helmets are not certified?
    • While modular helmets pass the DOT standard unfortunately they do not currently provide the impact protection required to be Snell certified. Additionally, the locking mechanisms don’t stay latched during the high impact Snell tests and this failure point could result in neck injuries during an accident. For those of us that prefer this style of motorcycle helmet it’s important that we put pressure on manufactures to improve the helmet safety.
    • Helmets with built in, flip down sun visors, have not been submitted by manufacturers to be tested. Manufactures are currently reducing the thickness of the foam in the brow area so that the visor fits in the helmet when the visor is in the retracted/stowed position. Unfortunately, this reduction compromises the ability for the helmet to manage energy and results in inferior protection for the rider. If you love the sun visor feature as much as I do, I encourage you to reach out to your favorite helmet manufacturer and request they improve protection these helmets offer.
    • Half helmets, AKA beanie helmets do not meet the Snell standard since they do not provide coverage for all the impact areas (back of the head) and offer adequate protection.
  8. Is your motorcycle helmet Snell certified? To find out if your motorcycle helmet is Snell certified look under the helmet liner.
    You can also consult the certification list found on the Snell website at
The Snell tour was enlightening, educational and entertaining. After spending an afternoon with these knowledgeable helmet protection experts it’s clear that the folks at Snell are extremely dedicated to our safety. Admittedly, I road home sad and nervous that my current motorcycle helmet isn’t Snell certified. But I had the strong conviction that a Snell label is the only “designer label” required for my next helmet. So the next time you visit Northern California, skip the typical tourist traps and treat yourself to a Snell tour. It will not disappoint you, in fact the knowledge you gain may just save your life.
“I have been on this tour 3 times and continue to learn something new each time. Snell Certified helmets is all I have and will ever buy, I believe it gives me my best chance in case of an accident. Without a functioning brain, why bother.” Dee Dee Gray SCMA #38359
“Love this tour. The staff is so committed to educating the riding population on the impact of a poorly selected motorcycle helmet that they opened for us and provided the tour on a Saturday. Great information and education; highly recommend folks seek them out on a trip through Sacramento.” ~ Janet Davidson SCMA #24836
“The work the Snell Memorial Foundation does to keep us riders safe is phenomenal. If your travels bring you to Sacramento take time to visit Snell, you will be impressed and enlightened on how helmets are tested.” ~ Sue Childress SCMA #38548
About Snell: Established in 1957 after the tragic death of racecar driver Pete “William” Snell, the Snell Memorial Foundation has been a leader in helmet safety both in the United States and around the world. For over 50 years, the Snell Memorial Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, has been dedicated exclusively to head protection through scientific and medical research, standards development, helmet testing, and public education.

5 Tips For a Long Lasting Motorcycle Helmet

Motorcycle helmets are not exactly inexpensive items, so replacing them is not something that you want to do too often. Keep yours in a secure place when you park and don't be tempted to hang it from your motorcycle's mirrors where they frequently fall and get damaged. Remember that you can buy and sell helmets, along with other bike accessories through CycleTrader, but learning how to look after your helmet is better than spending hard earned cash sourcing a new one.
  1. Clean your helmet's lining regularly. As a guide, an annual clean up is all that is needed, but you might want to do this more often if you live in an area with lots of dust, perhaps close to the dessert. Warm water and a little dishwashing liquid is all that you need. Most bike helmets come with a removable lining, so you can take this out and scrub it with a brush to get rid of dirt, grease and other grime.
  2. Even hardened motorcyclists can benefit from changing their habits. If you store your gloves inside your helmet, it is time to break out of that routine. Sweat from your gloves will prematurely age the helmet's interior, particularly the lining, so remember that gloves and helmets don't mix.
  3. Use a non-abrasive cleaner and a soft cloth when removing dirt from your helmet's visor as scratches from a rough cloth are the last thing you want. Avoid some of the cleaning products that are sold for visor maintenance unless they are recommended by the manufacturer. Soap and water is usually the best combination for cleaning your visor.
  4. Allow your helmet to dry out completely before you put it away in a closet. Wet helmets can develop unwanted mold if they are not fully aerated prior to storage, which causes glued elements in the helmet's construction to weaken, as well as making them unpleasant to wear. Use a hair dryer or a fan to speed up the process when necessary.
  5. Inexperienced bikers tend to assume that a helmet is no longer safe because it has been dropped. It may be, but you cannot always tell from a visual inspection. Send your helmet back to the manufacturer who may be able to X-ray it for you to assess whether it needs to be replaced or not.
More tips on bike maintenance can be obtained by simply signing up to our informative newsletter, which is delivered directly to your inbox.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tips on Cleaning Your Bike After a Ride

Cleaning your bike's engine after a ride does more than keep it looking great -- it helps maintain the value of your motorcycle in case you ever want to sell it. Keep in mind, if you wouldn't want to buy it for top dollar because it hasn't been maintained, neither will anyone else. This need for immediate cleaning is especially valid if your bike has any small oil leaks or if you get caught riding in the rain. It can be tempting to put your bike in the garage with a plan to clean it later, especially if it was a long ride and you're a little tired, but you really shouldn't put it off. It's easy to take care of these engine-cleaning basics that help maintain your ride, and your bike is worth the effort.

Wipe the Motorcycle Tank Down

If you got caught in the rain, it's a good idea to use a soft cloth or chamois to wipe off the tank, side covers and handlebars as well as any other exposed chrome while you're waiting on your bike's engine to cool a bit. Note, however, that if there is grit or road dirt on the paint, do not wipe before washing properly it because wiping can scratch your paint if there's anything gritty on it.
If it's just rain water and not gritty road dirt, wiping prevents water spotting -- which can pit the surface of the paint -- and helps keep rust from starting on the chrome. Pay special attention to the small crevices where water can pool and give them a good swipe with the corner of the cloth to soak up the water.

Soft-Bristled Brush for Motorcycle Engine Cleaning

If oil leaks onto the side of the engine, or if rain water splashes there, the moisture can cause dirt to build up into a thick goo in the fins on the side of the engine. A toothbrush is the ideal size for removing that built-up goo. Use a soft-bristled brush and warm water with a few drops of mild detergent to clean out the fins. This prevents discoloration on the aluminum by keeping the grime from resting there too long.
Don't drench the engine while doing this -- just get the brush wet enough that the detergent can loosen the grime. As long as you stay on the sides of the engine, you're safe, but if you have doubts about exactly where you can safely use the brush, check with your motorcycle mechanic for reassurance.

Final Motorcycle Wipe-Down

Have a couple of clean, soft cloths. Gently wipe everywhere you just brushed, so the cloth can lift off any oily residue or remaining road dirt. Then, step back and give the bike a good once-over, looking closely for any water spots, road dirt, or signs of oiliness you might have missed in the first round of cleaning.

Visit to get more how-to tips like the ones in this motorcycle cleaning guide, and sign up for the Cycle Trader newsletter to get the latest tips delivered right to your inbox.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Touring Tip: Five Common Sources of Motorcycle Accidents & Strategies For Avoiding Them

Touring Tip: Five Common Sources of Motorcycle Accidents & Strategies For Avoiding ThemDefensive Riding Techniques –
1. ONCOMING, LEFT TURNING VEHICLE: This is probably the most common cause of motorcycle accidents. The driver of an oncoming vehicle doesn’t see a motorcyclist and makes a quick left turn directly in the rider’s path, leaving little or no time to avoid hitting the car.

-Avoidance Strategy: First, it’s always helpful for riders and their mounts to be as conspicuous as possible, which is helped by auxiliary lights and high visibility riding gear. Second, look for indications that the oncoming driver may not see you: no eye contact, hands turning the steering wheel, or movement of left front wheel. Third, ride at a safe speed in traffic congested areas, because higher speed equals longer stopping distances. Some riders, however, slow to a crawl when they see a left turning vehicle, but this is an invitation for that driver to turn in front of you!

2. ANIMALS IN THE ROAD: I’ve personally experienced just about everything from ground hogs to buffalo in the road. And it doesn’t necessarily take a large critter to take a two-wheeler down. I know this, unfortunately, from personal experience 

-Avoidance Strategy: Constantly scan the road and surrounding terrain ahead for animals, particularly when undergrowth and trees are close to the pavement. Also, those “deer warning signs” are usually present for a reason. Be especially alert when riding in the early morning or evening, when animals are the most active. Adjust your speed and cover clutch and brake levers in high-risk areas so emergency stopping distances are appropriate for those conditions. And, of course, it never hurts to periodically practice emergency stops and swerves in a parking lot.

3. GRAVEL ON BLIND CURVES: Riding through gravel with the bike leaned over at speed is almost certain to result in a crash. The situation worsens if the sliding motorcycle and rider cross the yellow line into the path of an oncoming vehicle—crunch!

-Avoidance Strategy: Gravel on roadways is more likely after heavy rains, near construction sites, and at gravel driveways in rural areas. If riders assume there will be gravel around a blind curve, they are more likely to adjust their entry speed accordingly. It’s also possible to use some light braking in a curve, even with the bike leaned over, especially if the motorcycle has antilock brakes. But the best technique is usually to avoid the gravel, stand the bike up, and apply maximum braking. Maximizing sight lines is also an important strategy for avoiding all types of hazards on blind curves.

4. CARS CHANGING LANES: At onramps or while riding on crowded multi-lane urban roads, an adjacent motorist may suddenly pull directly into your path, leaving little or no time for evasive action.

-Avoidance Strategy: Rule number one is to stay out of the blind spots of other drivers. It’s also important to maximize the space cushion between the rider and other vehicles. Rush hour traffic on multi-lane highways presents the highest risk for other vehicles changing lanes into a rider. If riding at this time can’t be avoided, I’ve found the best strategy is riding in the far left lane so traffic on only the right side must be monitored.

5. EXCESSIVE SPEED IN A CURVE: A rider suddenly realizes mid-curve that the turn is tighter than expected (e.g., a decreasing radius curve) and panics. Instead of increasing the bike’s lean angle, the rider stops looking through the curve, stiffens his or her arms, and goes straight off the roadway. This often results in the motorcyclist crashing into a stationary object (guardrail, tree, building, etc.) or flying off of a precipice.

-Avoidance Strategy: Pay attention to that little voice in your head when it says, “I’m riding above my skill level.” Of course, the easiest way to avoid crashing on a curve is to do what’s taught in the basic MSF course: slow the bike before entering a curve and accelerate out of it. Even a highly skilled rider always should keep some of his bike’s lean angle in reserve in case it’s needed.

Safe riding practices help motorcyclists avoid accidents and bodily injury, and they also build rider confidence and enjoyment.

This article was provided by Road Runner.

Ducati’s Custom Rumble Spotlights Dealer Custom Scramblers

Ducati has announced a competition to decide the best dealer-customized Scrambler bikes. Photos and videos of dealers’ works in progress will be published online weekly. The best 6 Scrambler “specials” will be voted on by users on the Instagram profile: @customrumble.
The competition, which awards the best and most beautiful “custom” Scrambler bikes built by Ducati dealers, is really beginning to heat up with the unveiling of the first works.
Renamed “Custom Rumble Ambassadors” specially for the occasion, dealers taking part in the competition have opened an Instagram profile where, every week, they’ll be posting videos and photos of the bikes they’re customizing.
Numerous Ducati dealers from Italy and the rest of the world are hard at work on all four versions of the bike — Icon, Urban #enduro, Full Throttle, Classic – to come up with truly unique Scrambler “specials.”
Customisation work must be completed by Dec. 20.
All the images of the finished bikes will be uploaded to the official Custom Rumble Instagram profile ( where users can vote for their favourite creations with a “like”.
There will be 6 winning Scrambler “specials”, one for each continent. The very best of all will be announced during a dedicated event to take place in 2016, which will, of course, be attended by the dealers and their creations.

This article originally appeared on

5 Things to Check Before Calling the Tow Truck

Let's face it, if you ride a motorcycle, sooner or later you are going to find yourself stranded on the side of the road. Perhaps the only thing worse is watching your bike ride off on the back of a tow truck. So before you whip out your cell phone and make that expensive call for a wrecker, it's worthwhile to take a few minutes to make sure there is not an easy fix that will have you back on the road for free. This easy five item checklist will at least allow you to make a more informed decision before you have to make that dreaded call and if you've found yourself broken down without a phone, it may save you from a long walk.
Use Your Senses"Tastes like 50wt oil with just a hint of unleaded gas."

"Tastes like 50wt oil with just a hint of unleaded gas."
BatteryMany batteries are accessible from under the seat.
Many batteries are accessible from under the seat.
GasAvoid the temptation to stick something in your gas tank to check for gas.
Avoid the temptation to stick something in your gas tank to check for gas.
AirMy '33 uses a spring loaded J-slot air cleaner, no tools required.
My '33 uses a spring loaded J-slot air cleaner, no tools required for removal.
Make sure you are holding the spark plug cable and not the spark plug when checking for spark.

One of the best diagnostic tools in your arsenal is your five senses, and the good thing is they don't take up any room in your tool roll. Before you even consider unpacking a single tool, take some time to give your bike a good "sensory diagnostic."
I usually start by thinking back to what happened just before I found myself sitting on the side of the road. Did the bike feel or sound different? Often major engine failures are announced by unusual vibrations or sounds and if your bike is making some horrible noises, then it's time to go for the phone. If not, take some time to carefully look over the entire motorcycle, paying careful attention for loose fasteners, leaking fluids or even missing parts.
Also note if anything smells bad. Plastic, oil, transmission fluid, and clutches all smell pretty bad when they burn, which can also help narrow down the problem. For the really hardcore rider, you can also take a taste of your oil to make sure it is not fouled with gas, water, or coolant. Not something I would personally recommend, but some old timers swear by it...
If your bike checked out ok with the sensory diagnostic, then the next thing to check is your battery. As motorcycles get more and more electronics, a properly maintained battery is essential for proper operation.
The easiest way to check your battery is to turn on the key and hit the starter button. If the starter spins over, then the battery is probably ok. If you just get a clicking noise or nothing at all, then it's time to start checking battery connections.
On some bikes, the battery is just not accessible and you may have to give in at this point, but if you can get to your battery, make sure that the connections are clean and tight. If possible, it's good to check both the connections at the battery and then trace the cables out to the ground point and the starter to make sure those connections are clean and tight too.
I recommend keeping a piece of emery cloth in your tool roll for cleaning up the battery terminals, but in a pinch you can scrap them clean with your pocket knife. Just make sure you don't accidentally ground your knife to anything metallic while you're cleaning the positive terminal.
So now that you've got a bike that is at least turning over, the next thing to check is gas. Usually just removing the gas cap and rocking the bike will let you hear if any gas is left in the tank.
Unless the gas is clearly at the top of the tank, I recommend switching to reserve just to be on the safe side. Many newer bikes no longer have manual petcocks, and instead have a gas light on the dash to warn you that your fuel is getting low. It doesn't hurt to turn on the ignition and make sure that you haven't been riding with the gas light on. If you don't hear any gas in the tank and/or your gas light is on, it's probably time to start walking to the nearest gas station.
If you're confident that you do have gas in the tank and the bike still won't start, you may not be getting fuel to your carburetor or injectors. On older bikes, it's usually easy enough to pull the fuel line to see if gas is reaching your carburetor, but this is not often the case with newer fuel injected machines. Without having to take apart your fuel system, you can make sure that gas is getting to your combustion chamber by removing one of your spark plugs. If you just spent the last few minutes turning over the engine without it starting, then it should be flooded and the spark plugs will be wet with fuel.
Besides gas, your bike also needs air to run. If possible, remove your air filter and visually inspect it for dirt or debris. Mice and other rodents are know to make nests in airboxes, which certainly can block off air flow faster than a few stray bugs or leaves.
Once the filter is removed, try starting the bike to see if it will run without the filter. It is not advisable to run your motorcycle without a filter, but if it's between walking five miles or riding five miles, I'd probably risk it.
Once you've verified that you're getting air and gas to the combustion chamber, the final piece of the 4-stroke puzzle is a spark to get things going.
Start by doing a visual check of the ignition system, looking for cuts or burns in the spark plug wires, cracked spark plug boots, or loose coil wires. Then move on to making sure that your spark plugs are screwed in tightly and make sure your spark plug boots are pushed securely on the spark plugs and onto the coil.
You can check the operation of your plugs by removing one of the plugs and holding the electrode against the engine block while hitting the starter button. You should see a nice blue spark on a properly working plug.
If after running through this checklist you still have a motorcycle that won't start, it's probably ok to go ahead and call that tow truck. At least you'll know that you've eliminated some of the basic problems and have a better idea what to tell your mechanic or where to get started when you get the bike home.

This article was provided by Ride Apart.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

1200 Women Riders in the Desert

This article was provided by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys.

As over a thousand women on motorcycles swarmed to the Joshua Tree desert from across the globe last weekend, men, women, and children alike were in awe of the grandeur. It’s rare enough to see one lady scooting by on two wheels, but a group of ten or more rolling by, and then another and another… well it’s practically nonexistent. Except for October in Southern California, when the annual Babes Ride Out women’s motorcycling campout takes place. This year they sold out the event- capping at 1200 tickets for the wonderful women’s weekend.
(Custom Harley bobber from Theresa Contreras)
(Custom Harley bobber from Theresa Contreras)
(Theresa Contreras in Joshua Tree State Park)
(Theresa Contreras in Joshua Tree State Park)
(A group of ladies riding through Joshua Tree)
(A group of ladies riding through Joshua Tree)
(Jessi Combs and Theresa Contreras pose for a photo)
(Jessi Combs and Theresa Contreras pose for a photo)
(Infamous Betsy Huelscamp on her Harley)
(Jessi Combs and Theresa Contreras of Real Deal on their custom Harley & Triumph)
So, what instigated over a thousand women converging to the SoCal desert? Motorcycles, it’s that simple.
Three years ago, Anya Violet and Ashmore Bodiford dreamt up an event they called Babes in Borrego. Some 70 ladies were in attendance, jumping to about 400 last year at Babes in Joshua Tree. Pairing with brands like Stance Muse socks, Chopcult, and Biltwell, the event provides fun freebies and gift bags to the first people who show up.
(Anya and Ashmore on stage announcing raffle winners) 
(The mass of motorcycling women round the stage Saturday Night)
According to a survey by the Motorcycle Industry Council in 2009, the ratio of women motorcyclists to men has grown slowly to about 2.7 million of 27 million riders- about 1 in 10. Keeping the event closed to men helps keep the pressure off new lady riders and creates a sense of exclusivity where women can be themselves and strengthen community bonds. It also let’s them all feel free enough to hop on stage and pop their tops off during Saturday night dancing.
This year, the industry kept a close eye on the massive meet up, sending their female journalists and photographers to get the inside scoop. TV host, off road racer, builder, and landspeed record holder Jessi Combs was in attendance, who enjoyed being able to disappear into the crowd and actually enjoy all the event had to offer- live music, raffles, great food, rides into Joshua Tree Park, and good company. Women traveled from all over the world- Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, are just a few examples.
Waking up in the early desert day, you feel heat radiating in your tent, hear motorcycles firing up and squeals of happiness and joy. As you exit your tent, no matter where you set up camp, you’re completely surrounded by a sea of bikes and dome tents. Pathways are only big enough to get a bike through, tents are strategically set up like a labyrinth, sometimes overlapping at the edges to make them all fit. Women are putting around and heading out to ride on all sorts of bikes- custom Harleys, baggers, adventure motorcycles, and even some new modern classics like the BMW rNineT and Yamaha SR400. There is no one specific type of rider nor age group taking over the camp out- an eclectic range reflecting real women who ride across the world.
No one is sure where Babes Ride Out is going from here- expanding to a new campground for more space next year? Keeping it capped at 1200 tickets? Only time will tell, and we are all excited to find out where Anya and Ashmore take it from here.
What we do know is… Babes Ride Out is out of this world.
Read more on or follow them on instagram @babesrideout.
(Infamous Betsy Huelscamp on her Harley)