Tag Archives: Harley

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 – Introduction

It’s winter and here in Upstate NY.  That means that  riding is limited to just a few days from December – February so I thought I would use this break from riding to share some of my thoughts and experiences related to long distance riding.  I’ve ridden from NY to CA six times now on three different bikes and have traveled through most of the lower 48 states on a motorcycle.   While that may not make me an expert, I have learned a lot over the years.

I guess that a good place to start is with a definition of what a long distance ride is.  For me, this means a week or more and at least a few thousand miles.  I don’t consider a 300 mile ride to be “long distance” – that’s just a nice Saturday ride.  I say this because the level of planning and preparation for a 3 day weekend getaway is far less than what it takes to go away for a week or more.

Next, I think it’s important to discuss riding style.  Where and how you ride will define what preparations you need to make.  My cross country trips are limited to paved roads. Trips last from 2 to 3 weeks and cover 7,000 to 9,000 miles.  I ride alone, stay in hotels and eat at diners/restaurants.  If you spend time riding off-road and primarily camp out, your preparations will be quite different than mine.

I ride alone for a couple of reasons.  First of all, it’s hard to find other people who are willing or able to take time off of work for 3 weeks.  I’m fortunate to have a job that provides a generous amount of paid vacation time.  The second reason I don’t mind riding alone is because it gives me the freedom to go wherever I want to go and stop whenever I want to stop without any consideration for what a riding companion wants to do.

I stay in motels because after riding 500+ miles I want to be able to take a shower and sit back and relax in a room with heat and/or air-conditioning.  Riding hours through 100 degree desert or cold rain makes you appreciate a climate controlled room with a real bed and is something I consider necessary to get rested-up and ready for the next day.

I don’t do a whole lot of pre-planning as far as routes are concerned.  Instead, I just start going in a general direction and then adjust my route as I go along.  I’ve never made a reservation at hotel ahead of time because I when I leave in the morning, I really don’t know where I’ll be stopping for the night.

When I ride, I don’t spend a lot of time stopped and just ride right through places stopping only for gas and maybe to take a few photos.  This approach allows me to see a lot of places in the limited amount of time that I have but it also means that I don’t always see things in a lot of detail.  I guess you could say that I tend to favor quantity over quality.

The distance I travel is based more on time than distance and typically ranges from 10-12 hrs a day.   Depending on the roads I choose, the weather, and how I feel, I usually end up traveling 400-800 miles a day.

So, there you have it – my long distance riding style.

My Favorite Bike

When people find out that I have three bikes, they inevitably ask me which one I like best.  This generally results in me having  to explain that I really don’t have a “favorite” bike.  Each bike is different and is used for a different purpose.

The Electra Gide is comfortable and generally quite relaxing to ride.  The Rinehart true dual exhaust and amplified stereo ensures that everyone hears me coming from afar.  The Harley is a motorcycle that has a classic feel to it that makes it a great bike to ride.  With 68K miles, my 2006 Electra Glide has been 100% reliable and has never leaked a drop of oil.  It’s definitely not fast, corners poorly compared to my other bikes, and the brakes are just OK.  This is the bike I ride when I just want to slow down, relax and enjoy the scenery.

The Street Triple R is my sport bike.  It’s the bike I’ve been riding the most lately because its lightweight, powerful, handles great, and has terrific brakes and is an incredibly easy bike to ride.  While long rides are not out of the question, the Triumph’s suspension is firmer and  focused on performance rather than comfort.  In short, it’s everything that the Harley is not.  Its’ the bike I ride when I just want to have fun.

The BMW K1600 has to be the star of the bikes I own.  Every time I ride the BMW I marvel at just how good it is.  It’s fast, comfortable, corners great, stops brilliantly, and has every electronic gizmo you could imagine.   The 6 cylinder motor is amazing – very good low-end power with amazing high rpm power as well.  Sure, there are more powerful engines, but when you can go from 35 mph to 135+ mph in 6th gear on a 750lb motorcycle, that’s impressive.  The suspension/handling is equally impressive and amazingly flexible due to the ESA.  The electronic suspension adjustment (ESA) allows you to have a very soft and plush ride on the interstate highways and then, with a couple of button presses, switch to firmer settings to handle the twisty roads.  Really, the only downside to the BMW that I can come up with is that it’s heavy to move around in the garage and parking lots.  I ride the BMW when I want the comfort, weather protection,  and storage of the Harley with the performance of a sport bike.  It’s got to be one of the best all-around bikes ever made.

So there  you have it. Three bikes for three different riding moods.


Stereo Upgrade for the 2010 Limited

A couple of days ago, I decided to move the HogTunes speakers and Tweeter Pods from my ‘06 Electra Glide to the ‘10 Limited.  I find myself riding the Limited most of the time and decided that it was time to make the swap.  The stereo on the Limited sounds better and best of all, it was a free upgrade. 

I put the stock speakers from the Limited into the ‘06. Removing the Tweeter Pods from the left 4 holes in the fairing so I’ll need to come up with something to plug or fill-in the holes at some point in the future. 

GPS Mount

In preparation for my West Coast trip this summer, I got a cheap GPS mount ($2.69 on eBay) for my Garmin Nuvi 350 that attaches to the handlebar.  In addition to being a GPS, the Nuvi 350 includes an MP3 player which is a welcome addition to the bike.  The handlebar mount seems to work well, is conveniently located, and allows me to zip tie the cords to the handlebar resulting in a reasonably clean installation. 

In the past, I’ve used a couple of strips of velcro on the dash console.  While this worked,  it always presented problems with routing the wires (charger and AUX).  With the wires touching the tank for a couple of weeks, the cords actually dulled the paint on the gas tank.  Now that I can secure the cables, this should no longer be a problem.

New Exhaust

About a week ago, I got new mufflers for my 2010 Limited.  They’re Jackpot mufflers from FuelMoto and have slash-up tips.  When I first started up the bike after installing them, they seemed to be very quiet – about the same as stock.  After a week of riding, they’ve become a bit louder but not too loud.  The sound is right between stock and Rineharts which is good for me.

I also added a high flow air cleaner and Power Commander V.  The PCV has a feature that allows you to switch between two separate fuel maps so I have one map loaded that is for power and another map that is tuned for MPG.  I mounted a switch on the left saddlebag guard making it very simple to switch maps as I ride down the road.  The fuel maps provided by FuelMoto seem to be working well with no decel popping and good throttle response.

New Seat

After riding around 3,000 miles on the Limited, I decided that the stock seat just had to go. I never could get comfortable on it and couldn’t ride more than 50 miles without having to get off and take a break. I want a seat that will allow me to ride all day without any undue suffering.

After doing some searching on the internet to find opinions on seats, I decided to go to the Harley dealer and check out some seats. The good folks at McDermott’s Harley Davidson allowed me to take a Hammock seat out for a ride to see if it would work. I’m happy to say that I found the right seat for me.

I’ve ridden a few hundred miles with the new seat now and it’s a nice comfy seat. I’m looking forward to going on some nice long rides as soon as the weather improves.

Out for a Ride on the New Ultra Classic Limited

Well, the weather is starting to turn nice so I got out and rode the new Limited this weekend. I rode up to McDermott’s Harley Davidson to order some accessories for the new bike. After leaving the dealership, I decided to take Rt 4 home. It was actually a nice ride and the temperature was in the mid to high 40’s.

I’m really liking the new bike. It handles better, has more power, and the lower fairings and heated grips help a lot when riding in cooler weather.

New Ultra Classic Limited

Over the winter, I decided it was time for a new bike. I had pretty much settled on an Ultra Classic and was thinking of getting a leftover ’09 when I saw the new 2010 Ultra Classic Limited. After a couple of days of research, I decided that was the bike for me. So, about a week later, I went ahead and bought a Vivid Black/Black Ice Pearl Limited.

The color takes some getting used to – I actually prefer black over most colors. The Black Ice Pearl color has a lot of metal flake in it and changes between blue and purple as you move around the bike. The more I look at it the more I like it.

I haven’t ridden it much yet, only a couple of hundred miles, but so far I really like the 103 motor, 6 speed tranny and heated grips. I also bought a heated jacket liner for those days when it’s cold outside and transferred some of the accessories from my ’06 to the new bike.

This new bike should be nice when I go for my cross country ride this summer – I just need to figure out what route to take on the way out to California.