First ride of 2014!

Well, I decided to go out for a short ride today.  It’s about 45 degrees and the roads are mostly dry.

I took the Street Triple out so that I could test the quick shifter.  This is an awesome accessory!  It shifts fast and smooth without using the clutch.

I had also replaced the useless stock mirrors with some Triumph bar end mirrors.  They’re a bit small but do seem to work pretty well.

It’s great to be back out on the bike.  I may not be able to ride again for a week or two because it’s going to turn cold again but for today, I’m happy to be able to take advantage of a warm February day.

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Low Mileage Bikes

I’m always amazed at the number of low mileage bikes that you see for sale.  I never quite understood why people would go out and spend a bunch of money on a bike, ride it a few thousand miles, and then sell it or trade it in on a newer model just a few years later.

If you take a look at the used bikes posted on craigslist or in any dealer’s inventory, you rarely ever see a bike with more than 40k miles on it.   It doesn’t seem to matter how old the bikes are either, they just don’t have many miles on them.  I’ve seen a lot of 10 year old bikes that have less than 15k miles on them.  It makes me wonder why people even bother buying a bike if they’re only going to ride it a few times a year.

The worst offenders have got to be Harley owners.  They go out and buy a $15k-$25k bike, spend another 3 grand on exhaust, motor work, chrome, and other accessories, and then leave it in the garage because they don’t want to get it dirty.   I don’t get it.

Maybe people are worried about the resale value of a high mileage bike.  With so many low mileage bikes available, a high mileage bike is going to be a tough sell.  Rather than getting some enjoyment out of the bike by actually riding it, a lot of people seem to park them in a garage so that when it’s time to sell, it’s in pristine condition with low miles.  At least the next owner can enjoy it.    Doesn’t make sense to me. 

Whether it’s being ridden or it’s  parked in the garage, all motorcycles depreciate in value over time.  You might as well get out and ride.  At least that way you get some enjoyment out of it.

My bikes have plenty of miles on them and are usually dirty from riding them.  I’m sure that the resale value has suffered, but I’ve enjoyed countless hours of riding in return.

161,286 Miles and Counting

Recently, I was taking a look at some of the statistics I’ve gathered over the years and thought it would be interesting to share with everyone.  When I started riding, I never expected to accumulate so many miles in such a short period of time.  

Since purchasing my 2006 Harley Davidson Electra Glide Classic on May 9th, 2006 I’ve racked up a total of 161,286 miles between the four bikes that I’ve owned.  

 Miles by Bike
2006 Electra Glide (May 2006 – Feb 2014) 68,467
2010 Electra Glide Limited (Jan 2010 – Aug 2012) 60,429
2012 BMW K1600GTL (Aug 2012 – Feb 2014) 26,312
2013 Street Triple (Jul 2013 – Feb 2014) 6,078
Summary
Total Miles as of 2/21/14 161,286
Average Miles per Year  21,108

Here in Upstate NY, I actually end up riding about 8-9 months a year due to the cold and snow that we get. 

During the riding season, I commute back and forth to work almost every day.  I’m also out riding most Saturdays and Sundays.  This all adds up to quite a few miles.

Of course a good chunk of the miles I’ve accumulated are a result of the cross-country trips I’ve taken.  These trips have ranged from 7k-9k each year accounting for somewhere between 45k – 50k of the total miles I’ve ridden.  These long trips are the reason I really like big touring bikes.  

While averaging over 20k miles a year sounds pretty good, in some ways, averages can be deceiving.  If memory serves me right, the first couple of years I only averaged about 13k-14k a year.   This past year is the most miles I’ve done in a single year.   I’ve racked up 32k miles in 15 months (Aug 2012-Nov 2013) between the BMW (26k miles) and the Triumph (6k miles).     These two bikes are a lot of fun to ride.

I’ve spent countless hours enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells that only a motorcycle can provide.  I hope to be able to continue for many years to come.

Long Distance Riding – Packing for the Trip

Over the years I’ve gradually reduced the amount of stuff that I pack when I go for a long ride.  The first couple of years, I packed lots of stuff that I never used.  I found that the extra stuff I brought with me just added weight and made it more difficult to find the stuff that I really needed.  So, I now pack less and just stop at the local WalMart to buy whatever I need along the way.

I don’t put a lot of thought into what clothes I pack.  I just grab enough clothes for about a week and throw them into a bag. I bring a variety of clothes to account for the various extremes in weather including both hot and cold weather.  One thing you definitely want to bring is an extra pair of shoes so that you have a dry pair after a long run through heavy rain.

The riding gear you choose to bring with you needs to account for variations in weather.  If you’re going to be out on the road for any length of time, it’s going to rain so a good rain suit is essential.  Riding hundreds of miles in the rain is no fun, especially if your gear isn’t up to the task and you end up getting cold and wet.

Put any liquids such as toothpaste, shampoo, sunscreen, etc. into a plastic zip-lock bag.  That way, if there’s a leak, it’s contained within the bag and won’t get all over everything.  I learned this the hard way when a bottle of sunscreen cracked and got all over everything.

If your luggage isn’t waterproof, pack everything in plastic garbage bags to keep your stuff dry. You really don’t want to have to dry out all of you clothes after a long day of riding in the rain.  I also bring some extra plastic garbage bags to put dirty clothes in.

A heated jacket liner is great to have because it doesn’t take up much space and eliminates the need to bring other bulky cold weather gear.  I’ve ridden in some pretty nasty weather with my heated jacket liner and, along with rain gear, has proven itself to be one of the most important pieces of gear I have.

If you’re like me, you’re going to want to bring along a bunch of electronic devices.  Make sure you have all of the necessary chargers and cords.  Of course, any electronics need to be kept dry so make sure you pack them in waterproof containers or bags.

A few extra bungee cords or straps are nice to have and don’t take up much room.  Somehow, it seems like I always end up coming home with more stuff than I left with and need to strap extra junk to the bike.

You should bring along some basic tools and repair items just in case you have a problem on the road.  You should be able to fit all of this stuff in a small bag.  I would suggest the following:

  • – Assortment of wrenches, pliers, torx, allen wrenches
  • – An assortment of zip ties
  • – A roll of electrical tape, a few spare fuses and a small roll of wire
  • – Tire plugs and small 12v air compressor
  • – Pocket knife or other cutting tool

These are just some general thoughts and suggestions.  In the end, what you pack will depend on how far you’re going, weather conditions, and how much room you have for stuff.   One thing I cannot stress enough is to ensure that everything is packed in waterproof bags – it will rain if you are planning on any kind of extended trip.

Long Distance Riding – Bike Preparation

Before embarking on a long ride, you should do some basic bike preparation.  Once you start off on your epic journey, you want make sure that your ride will be as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.

Take a few long day rides in different weather conditions and note anything that you find annoying or uncomfortable.  Two day weekend rides can help to identify any weaknesses so that you can fix them before starting out on a long ride.  Small annoyances can become quite problematic when you spend multiple days on the road.

Depending on the bike you have, you may be able to tweak things like the position of footpegs or handlebars to make them more comfortable.  You might also discover that the seat that is fine for an hour or two becomes uncomfortable during longer rides.

When you spend a week or more out on the road, foul weather is inevitable.  Anything you can do to minimize the effects of poor weather will pay huge dividends in the long run.  Is your windscreen the right height to block wind and rain?   Are you able to adjust the windscreen to allow cool air to pass by when it gets hot outside?  Is your riding gear and luggage truly waterproof?  Anything you can do to address these issues before embarking will make your ride more tolerable when the weather turns bad.

Storage is important when travelling so you should do a test fit of the luggage and/or gear that you plan on taking with you so that you know how you’re going to attach everything to the bike.  If you think you’re going to be gathering souvenirs during your trip, have some extra space available.

Make sure that all of your gear can be mounted securely and isn’t going to shift around.  Any straps that flap around in the wind will scuff paint so make sure to trim them to the proper length.  Keep it simple and make it easy to attach and detach because after riding 10-12 hours you want to be able to quickly and easily unpack each night and then repack the next morning.

Finally, you’re going to want to do all of the routine maintenance before leaving.  Here are a few obvious things that you want to do or at least check before embarking on your long ride:

  • Fluid change (oil, transmission, rear differential, etc.)
  • Tires
  • Brakes
  • Chain/sprockets
  • Lights and turn signals
  • Check/replace coolant
  • Check overall condition, check critical fasteners, clean radiator fins, etc.

Fluid changes are relatively easy and inexpensive so there’s no reason not to do this before leaving.  There’s no harm in changing them even if you haven’t reached the normal service interval.

Tires are a bit trickier.  They’re expensive and may not be worn out when it’s time to start your trip.  You need to decide whether or not it’s worth spending money on a new set of tires now, or plan to change them while out on the road.  It’s certainly easier to change tires at home than it is to try to find a place with the right tires for your bike when you’re out on the road.

You might also want to consider fitting a different tire than you normally use.  If you generally use a sticky sport oriented tire, you may want to consider a sport touring tire that will provide higher mileage to extend the distance you can travel on a set of tires.

In addition to the unknown cost of replacing tires in some unknown city, it also takes time.  You’ll probably need about half a day to make the arrangements and get your tires changed which is time you won’t be riding.  For me, it’s not worth the hassle I did this once and the time lost getting a tire changed wasn’t worth saving a few dollars.

In closing, you want to do everything you can to make your ride comfortable and enjoyable before you commit to weeks on the road.    A bit of preparation ensures that you will be able to enjoy a nice comfortable ride without interruption.