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How to properly winterize your motorbike is an ongoing question for first time riders. I know for me, the first winter I put my bike away for the year, I didn’t even think there were things I had to do. I just stopped riding it and parked it on the front porch. Boy was I surprised when I went to ride it a few weeks later on an unseasonably warm day and it wouldn’t start.

As a bachelor, I have a very convenient and dry place to store my motorcycle for the winter – my foyer!

So when I got the offer of a guest blog post from Bobby Cleveland, the Gold Eagle Engine Answerman and spokesman for the STA-BIL® folks, I jumped at the opportunity to publish it as a service to my readers.

After getting my bike running again that first year when I didn’t winterize, my mechanic suggested I use STA-BIL® in my fuel tank during the winter to preserve the gasoline and make sure the bike started in the spring. I’ve been using it ever since; it’s good stuff that works. I’ve seen some debate whether it’s really necessary but for a couple of bucks, it’s well worth the investment.

And here are Bobby’s suggestions for proper winter storage.

Five Steps to Proper Winter Storage of Your Motorcycle

 By Bobby Cleveland, Gold Eagle Engine Answerman

With winter rapidly approaching, most of us are bidding farewell to our joyous motorcycle rides in the warm summer breeze and getting them ready to store for the colder months ahead.

But, what most aren’t looking forward to is the process of getting this completed. In fact, a national survey conducted by Gold Eagle® Co., an industry pioneer of aftermarket fluids and additives, found that 97 percent of consumers know that properly storing their motorcycles in the offseason will actually help them run at optimal performance come springtime. However, almost 75 percent of people encounter issues when taking their motorcycles out of storage—which means they likely missed some important steps when storing them in the first place.

To help prepare for winter storage, Gold Eagle Engine Answerman®, Bobby Cleveland, has some helpful time-and money-saving tips to help ensure you properly prep your motorcycles for storage, so they are ready to rev up come springtime.

 Step One: Block off a few hours in your schedule to ensure you have time to complete the process. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, and it’s well worth the time, as you’ll be helping protect your motorcycle from corrosion, rust and other damaging elements and avoid repair costs in the spring.

 Step Two: Clean your bike thoroughly to remove all residue and dirt from surfaces, so it doesn’t sit all winter long. Using a cleaner like 303® Fabric & Vinyl Cleaner to remove residue that could cause stains if it sat through the cold winter months. Also, using a protectant like 303® Aerospace Protectant will help keep vinyl and leather from cracking in lower temperatures.

 Step Three: Clean beyond the surface, taking care to clean the INSIDES of your bike too. Fuel problems are a top issue that motorcycle owners run into during storage and it’s important that you complete this step properly, or you’ll face consequences come spring. With this in mind, when winterizing your bike, leave your gas tank full of fuel and add STA-BIL®Fuel Stabilizer. If you’re fuel is fresh, you do not need to drain it, but if you’ve had it more than a month, you should drain it completely and refill with fresh fuel.

Once you’ve filled your tank and added a stabilizer (use 2 oz to every 5 gallons of gasoline for storage), you should run your engine for a few minutes to make sure the fuel stabilizer gets into the carburetor and injectors. By filling the tank with fuel and stabilizer, you clean the carburetors and fuel injectors and ensure there is less air in the tank to prevent corrosion. If you leave air in the tank, it creates condensation, which can cause corrosion, so the more you eliminate water in your tank the better.

Here’s a video explaining why this is an important step in the winterizing process:

It is also a good idea to use a fogger to coat the inside of the engine when it is stored. You can use STA-BIL® Fogging Oil that you spray into your carburetor to coat the inner lining and prevent corrosion.

Step Four: Make sure your battery is properly charged, so you don’t end up with a dead battery come spring. You’ll want to make sure it has at least a trickle charge. Check your engine manual to make sure you are doing this correctly.

Step Five: Cover the bike properly and store it in a cool, dry place. This will help to keep any eroding elements away from the surface and keep it in the best shape until you are ready to take it out next spring.

Written by Bobby Cleveland – Bobby Cleveland shares his engine knowledge as Gold Eagle’s Engine Answerman. As a former technician, he shares his experience and advice with consumers on how they can obtain greater performance out of all things motor—from power sport vehicles and classic cars to household power equipment such as string trimmers and lawnmowers. Learn more from Bobby at his blog – On the Road with the Engine Answerman.

A few weeks ago I was on a date with a woman. It was pretty early in the dating process – that awkward stage where there’s preliminary attraction but you just don’t know for sure. We were at a coffee shop, groping for common ground, and it was becoming increasingly clear there wasn’t enough.

Then she sealed her fate by asking, “What’s with the motorcycle thing, anyway?”

I was caught off guard by the whole way she asked the question, in a semi-accusatory way. As if I had to justify my love of motorcycles to her. I thought for a moment about how to answer. Usually, I tell my story about how watching The Last Lecture had me thinking about childhood dreams, and how this led me to inventory my childhood dreams, and #1 on the list was riding a motorcycle, and how within 60 days of that realization I had a motorcycle license and a new Triumph America.

If I want to be charming, I’ll tell that story, and continue on to how motorcycling has since become my #1 passion and hobby and has changed  my whole lifestyle. But I had no desire to be charming with this woman since it clearly just wasn’t there. Didn’t want to waste my breath.

So I simply replied, “It’s fun.”

Fun.

And it’s true. Why do I ride, really? Because it’s fun. Why do I chose to go through the process of gearing up and stowing my briefcase and ride to work instead of drive? Because it’s fun. Why did I essentially give up golf because I preferred going for a long motorcycle ride on a Saturday afternoon to hacking my way around a golf course? Because it’s fun. Why do I take 10 or so days a year off from work to go on motorcycle camping trips instead of lying on a beach? Because it’s fun.

So there you have it folks, I ride because it’s fun. And that’s now become my standard response when someone asks about riding a motorcycle and how I got into it and why I ride. It’s simple: I ride because it’s fun.

Fun.

Fun.

Fun.

Fun.

I blogged about this fantastic trip earlier this month. Here are the rest of my pictures – well, at least some of the best. Between setting up the GoPro to take stills every 30 seconds and stopping around every bend to take a photo of another jaw-dropping view with my still camera, I had over 600 pictures.

Bring me that horizon!

This past Memorial Day weekend I had nothing to do, no plans, didn’t have my kids. I decided to take an impromptu trip out West and do some riding and camping. I’m not one to do things spur of the moment but something gripped me and told me it was right. So I told my co-workers I was taking Friday off, hopped online, booked a cheap flight to Denver ($300 roundtrip on Southwest), found a motorcycle rental place and reserved the cheapest bike they had (BMW F650GS at $135 a day) and decided to do something I’ve never done before. Just take off.

Canyonlands National Park

I’m so freaking glad I did it. Colorado and Utah are stunningly gorgeous. There is no such thing as a bad motorcycle road out there. The people are just fantastic. Even though it was just four days, it was the experience of a lifetime. I love being on a motorcycle.

The low points (there were a few):

  • Work. My plan was to get the bike early in the AM and get started early-early Friday morning, but I had a client crisis blow up and had to work for a good chunk of  the morning from my hotel room at the Denver Airport. I didn’t get on the bike until later than I wanted.
  • I got a speeding ticket. There was exactly one rural stretch of Route 50 where the speed limit dropped to 55. The rest of it is 65. Guess where there were about 5 cops all up and down the road? What really galls me – I was doing 70 in a 55. Anywhere else on the planet, the cop wouldn’t look up from his donuts. Not this two-bit backwater deputy sheriff, no sireee. So there was a tax of $169.50 on my trip. Officer Turner of the Montrose County Sheriff’s Department: you should be ashamed of yourself for your part in this fraud perpetrated against unsuspecting Colorado tourists.
  • Windstorms cut my day short on Saturday. My plan was to make it to Moab by Saturday but the wind as I got closer to Grand Junction was ridiculous. When I stopped for gas someone told me that this was due to a big windstorm and there would be 75-90 mph gusts. I decided against traveling any further that day, as I was having a hard enough time keeping my light 650 upright on certain stretches of open highway. I checked into a hotel and chillaxed.

The high points (too many to list but here are a few):

  • Shortly after this picture was taken (on top of Pike’s Peak), I fell flat on my face because of disorientation from the change in altitude.

    Pike’s Peak. Climbing Pike’s Peak on the 650 was a major accomplishment. At the top I met a fellow inmate from the Advrider forum who chatted me up for a bit and gave me some great tips for future trips.

  • Gunnison, CO. What a cool town. An oasis in the middle of nowhere. Some of the nicest and friendliest girls on the planet, too. 🙂
  • Arches National Park. Every American should see this in their lifetime. Jaw dropping.
  • Moab, Utah. Sedona, but on a much grander scale. I told my daughter (who loves Sedona) to imagine Sedona, but 100 times larger.
  • Reddit. I met up with a friend from the Reddit motorcycle forum in Grand Junction. He spent an hour with me giving me lots of helpful tips. The cameraderie of motorcyclists is pervasive!

Things I learned:

  • Roads like this look inviting, especially on a GS, but it takes a very different skill set to navigate them.

    Offroading is way harder than it looks. Sand is evil.

  • Acclimatize. Don’t go from sea level to 14,000 feet in the span of 24 hours. I was really struggling at the top of Pike’s Peak.
  • The Lost Cajun. What a great little restaurant in Frisco, CO. Only 5 minutes off interstate 70. By all means, stop there and enjoy the company of the owner, Raymond Griffin. The food is wonderful but Raymond’s life wisdom and company was worth the trip all by itself.

I’ll be doing more impromtu ( and promptu ) trips like this. I’m already scheming about when I can do something like this in Ireland. Stay tuned.

Arches National Park is a must-see.

I’ll post more pictures and video in the coming days.

One of my goals for this year was to get some experience offroading. I haven’t had a two-wheeled motorized vehicle offroad since my Rupp Scrambler circa 1975. At Saturday’s Kawasaki demo day I asked one of the guides who had offroad experience about how to get training, to which he replied, “I dunno. I’m one of those crazy guys who will just go and do it.” Mind you, this is a guy who claims he rode his KLR-650  to the Arctic circle last year. So I was inspired.

Yesterday I found some dirt roads to demo my V-strom on. Here’s some video of my first offroad experiences.

Somewhere on the mountain near Bear Creek Ski Resort:


Then when I got back to my hometown I had a realization. Lansdale is an old town with old-school back alleys behind the homes. These back alleys are all gravel. So I decided to take a few laps around town. “Urban Offroading” I called it. The trip ends with a lap around my yard. And you’ve gotta love the drunk stumbling down the back alley with a big jug of wine in his hand at the 34 second mark of the video. It was about 3:40 in the afternoon too, and he was weaving back and forth pretty good. Lansdale is also one of those towns where drunks stumble down the back alleys:


On a completely unrelated note, riding motorcycles on strange roads lets you see some strange things. Here’s a house I saw in my travels that is made to look like Noah’s arc. As a friend mentioned, Noah didn’t need a dove…he had a satellite dish.

"It's the Lord, Noah"...."Riiiiight!"

My friend Scott is a fan of classic bikes. He has two right now – an early 80’s BMW K100 and this – his prized Honda CB450. He had the Honda out yesterday and I snapped a couple of pictures. He bought the bike a couple of years ago for $500 and says it had makeshift plumbing pipes for exhaust. It was a near-basket case. I’d say he did a pretty nice job with the restoration, eh?

I used my iPhone and uploaded a few pics with Instagram too. Still trying to figure out what makes this app worth a billion to Mark Zuckerberg….

I bought a GoPro HD Hero last fall for a motorcycle trip through West Virginia and North Carolina, and I’ve got to say I’m one of the few who’s not in love with it. The small form factor, rugged construction, and multitude of mounting devices are main selling points. But I have a few pretty big complaints about it:

  • Battery life is limited. I’m only getting about an hour of life from the battery.
  • Navigating the settings is a challenge. If I ever lose the users manual to this camera, I’m screwed. The settings are in a decision tree embedded within the camera and proffered up on a miniscule display in arcane codes. Every time I want to change settings I have to bust out the manual, which means I have to carry it with me on every ride.
  • You can’t change modes on the fly. There’s no way to switch from video to still photography (or vice versa) on the fly, something I used to do with my old Flip video camera. (See below.)
  • It’s hard to turn it off and on while riding. You have to firmly press the power button and hold it down for 7 seconds for the unit to power up. And there is no way from the rider’s seat to know if it has powered up successfully or not. If your finger wavers on the power button even for a moment it won’t turn on. There have been times I thought I was recording awesome footage, but I wasn’t.
  • It’s hard to engage the shutter button while riding. Pressing the shutter button requires a firm press to engage, and there’s no way for the rider to know if the camera is actually recording. The red blinking LED that’s on the front, confirming operation, should be mounted on the back. Likewise, because of the tricky shutter button, there have been times I thought I was recording awesome footage, but I wasn’t.

I think the latter two complaints are because the GoPro is intended as a “set it and forget it” video recording device. The editing is supposed to be done when you’re done your ride and back at home. But I’m pretty limited when it comes to video editing, and prefer to record brief memorable segments of my ride, upload ’em and ditch the whole editing process.

Last weekend I shot some video of my ride on the Jersey shore and found one more limitation: because you can’t see what’s being recorded, there’s no way to know if there’s a bug on the viewfinder! Here are a few segments of my ride down the shore on NJ Route 47:

Nice clean view across the display. Pretty day, pretty ride:



Pretty day, pretty ride, ugly blotch of dead bug in the top right quadrant of the screen, at about 2:00:



As I noted above, on previous trips I jerryrigged a FlipVideo camera to my handlebars with a mini-tripod and electrical tape.  The shots from these earlier trips look like their from the paleolithic era compared to the video footage from the GoPro, but I actually found that setup to be much more user friendly than the GoPro:




I’m going to keep experimenting with the GoPro and hopefully I’ll become a true believer like just about everyone else who has tested and reviewed this camera, but for now the jury is still out.

Today on Yahoo Autos there’s an article called Someday You’ll Wish You Owned These Cars. It’s about 10 cars that are most likely to become collectors items in the future, such as the Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca and the Nissan GT-R Black Edition.

It’s timely because just last week on Reddit there was a thread asking, “If money was no object, what would be your dream bike?” One of the Redditors responded “Ducati Sport Classic. Hands down.”

This is the color scheme of the 2008 Ducati Sport Classic I 'almost' bought at Eurosport. Image linked http://www.motorcycle-online.info.

I was curious about this, because when I was shopping for my first bike, one of the bikes I saw in a local dealership and seriously considered was the Ducati Sport Classic. It was in my price range (under $10,000) and was stunningly gorgeous. Ultimately I decided against it because I was nervous about owning a Ducati (I had heard stuff about them being expensive to maintain and there are only two dealerships near me – neither terribly convenient to my home or work). I ended up buying my Triumph America instead. It ended up being a good decision because the next year I got into touring on my motorcycle – something that wouldn’t have been particularly comfortable on the Duc.

Turns out that the Sport Classic was discontinued for the 2011 model year and have become extremely sought after and hard to find. I searched a number of websites including Ebay, Cycletrader, and Craigslist and found only two for sale this morning – one of them was at an asking price pretty close to the original sticker price. The other was highly modded and had an asking price over $16,000.

So that Sport Classic I threw a leg over and fell in love with at Eurosports back in the spring of 2008 is now a collectors item. Coulda, shoulda, woulda…

From a first time rider’s standpoint, I think I would have done all right on the Ducati. Granted, a Ducati isn’t a marque that’s typically thought of as making bikes for new motorcycle riders, but the Sport Classic was powered by a 1000 cc engine, which is about the upper limit I would recommend for a new rider. And I do think the current Ducati Monster 696 is a good bike for a first time rider – others who own it like it because it’s light, handles well, and has a peppy but not overpowering engine. And it is a sexy bike that turns heads everywhere it goes.

There are some in the motorcycling world who insist that a new rider shouldn’t buy a first bike with more displacement than 250 cc’s but I’m not one of them. I think I would have been quickly bored by a 250. I did just fine with my 865 cc America; it was nice and tame off the factory floor but modifiable to get more power as my riding skills grew.

This one was right in front of the BRP Spyder booth. Gorgeous custom build with a Suzuki 998 engine. I’m not a big fan of choppers so the cafe racers tend to jump out at me at these custom bike contests. This one was beautifully executed by a builder called “Full of Hate” (which is an ironic name because I loved this bike.)

This was a nice find. If you’re going to the show, Greg Ross and his sweet Triumph TR6R bobber are located just in front of the Honda booth on the right as you enter the show.

By the way, if you’re going to the show, mention discount code MOTOINF to receive $3 off admission.