The Bikers' Den https://bikersden.com Motorcycle Gear and Biker Clothing Comparison Shopping Tue, 12 Mar 2019 14:39:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://bikersden.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/cropped-The-Bikers-Den-Favicon-32x32.png The Bikers' Den https://bikersden.com 32 32 74401164 Stuff to do with the Scoots Before Riding Season Starts https://bikersden.com/stuff-to-do-with-the-scoots-before-riding-season-starts/ https://bikersden.com/stuff-to-do-with-the-scoots-before-riding-season-starts/#respond Tue, 05 Mar 2019 17:39:31 +0000 https://bikersden.com/?p=7039 Since we’re all in some version of the Polar Vortex that’s capturing news all over North America – it’s even cold way down here in Georgia – I figured we all might be thinking long and hard about stuff we want to do to the scoots before riding season starts back up. All three of […]

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Since we’re all in some version of the Polar Vortex that’s capturing news all over North America – it’s even cold way down here in Georgia – I figured we all might be thinking long and hard about stuff we want to do to the scoots before riding season starts back up.

All three of you guys that read me regularly know that my main bike is an old Sportster that I upgraded the wiring on, but this little “how-to” extends to almost everyone.

Let’s talk about lights.

Now, sure, older bikes don’t have the electrical system to handle some of the oddball “new” stuff and, at least to me, there’s something wrong about looking at a Shovelhead with LED strips on it.

Harley-Davidson Shovelhead with LED Strip Lights

To each his (or her) own, I guess.

On the other hand, a lot of older bikes can benefit from changing out older incandescent bulbs to a modern LED.   Why?

Well, for starters, if your old stuff has been tucked away in those sockets for 15 years, you’ve likely got some corrosion on the terminals.

Corrosion means you’re creating resistance (and heat) and on older systems, this can begin to tax how much the electrical system can actually put out.  As in dimmer lights.  As in oncoming traffic that can’t see you as easily or cars behind you that aren’t sure if your brake light is on or it’s simply a tail lamp.

The challenge, of course, is that installing LEDs can be a little tricky when it comes to how the blinkers work.  You’ll have to play with some additional wiring to get LEDs to work in a circuit like the turn signal/taillight combo most of us have.  Personally, I’ve cobbled together a system to make it work, but there are plenty available on Amazon and other online vendors to allow you to nearly “plug and play” with LEDs in multi-role lamps.

I’m not going to get into that right now, because the sheer numbers of ways that Harley and everyone else produced and wired their bikes makes it a little too in depth.  Let’s just say, the info is out there and the hardware isn’t expensive, but the logic behind the wiring might make newbies a little nervous, especially if the bank owns more of your bike than you do.

Let’s get back to maintenance and corrosion.

At the very least, now is a perfect time to go ahead and clean all the plugs and connections in your electrical system and, if they have a few years on them, go ahead and swap out the bulbs, too.

To do that, you’ll need a couple things – first of all, some dielectric grease, a brass or even stainless steel brush (an old “GI toothbrush” works great and costs next to nothing), and maybe a couple scraps of sandpaper.

Now, if you’re really anal about all this, you might get an electrical multimeter to see how much resistance you’re encountering (or the change from before cleaning to after), but you really don’t need it.

If you’ve never done this before, it might be worth looking at what bulbs you have – Harley used several different types over the years and while you’ll probably be able to buy every bulb you need at the local auto parts place, they’ll almost certainly give you the wrong bulb.  It’s usually better to take the old ones with you and compare bulb numbers in the store. Stuff to do with the Scoots Before Riding Season Starts

You can also use the power of the Interweb to buy what you need, but there is often a BIG difference in quality between the cheap Chinese stuff and a quality Western manufacturer.

So to start out, pop the bezel off your light, remove the cover, and unhook the bulb.  If its crusty, swap it out.

Now, use your sandpaper or your brush to clean the contact points inside the socket and on the bulb and you’ll coat them in a thin coat of the dielectric grease.

Then replace it.

Simple as that.

The dielectric grease, contrary to what a lot of people tell you, does not conduct electricity.  It prevents corrosion – it’s not conductive.  You still need to have good contact between the bulb and the socket.

Where do the LEDs come in?  I use them in license plate lights and the gauge cluster – usually these are 194 or 168 bulbs and can be had in a variety of colors.  For the gauge, I like red, since it doesn’t screw up your vision as much as white, green, or blue.  Your local law enforcement might have some ideas on what your license light can be, but I like a basic white light.

This isn’t going to take long, even for the headlight or the gauge cluster, but it can give you some additional visibility and take some of the load off an already taxed electrical system.

Besides, it gave you a couple hours to play with the bike and didn’t cost more than a tank of gas.

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The Story of Viking Bags https://bikersden.com/the-story-of-viking-bags/ https://bikersden.com/the-story-of-viking-bags/#respond Tue, 05 Feb 2019 18:53:25 +0000 https://bikersden.com/?p=6960 From day one, Viking Bags envisioned every bag they would build to be an extension of the bike itself.  Those bags should hold true to the very values that riders wanted in the bikes themselves – functional, durable, and, yes, even beautiful.  The Viking philosophy was simple and radical – build bags inside out.  The […]

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From day one, Viking Bags envisioned every bag they would build to be an extension of the bike itself.  Those bags should hold true to the very values that riders wanted in the bikes themselves – functional, durable, and, yes, even beautiful.  The Viking philosophy was simple and radical – build bags inside out.  The fiberglass shell first, and then wrap that in the best quality weatherproof leather.  The result?  A bag that could be mounted on a bike and never have to take back off.

Viking Bags Motorcycle Luggage

In the end, Viking Bags’ gamble paid off – people loved the ideas and they loved the quality.  They asked for more.  The next challenge was how to make these beautiful and durable bags lockable.  Sure, Viking could have taken the easy path and simply added hanging padlocks like everyone else, but instead, they chose to rethink designs and start from scratch.  In the end, their answer to the locking problem was an ergonomic, key locked system that blending in seamlessly with their designs and visions.

Motorcycle Saddlebags Made for Harley Davidson Bike by Viking BagsAs their ideas continued to upset the industry, Viking Bags looked at how bags were mounted.  Traditionally, motorcycle bags of all kinds required far too much effort to mount on any given bike.  Viking’s answer was to spend hundreds of hours designing specific mounting solutions for every bike.  All that time speaks for itself, with Viking offering one of the most extensive custom mounting options for nearly any bag and nearly any production bike.

The story of Viking Bags is the story of doing the hard things for the right reasons, and their customers responding to that exceptional quality.

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The Lowdown on Motorcycle Spark Plugs https://bikersden.com/the-lowdown-on-motorcycle-spark-plugs/ https://bikersden.com/the-lowdown-on-motorcycle-spark-plugs/#respond Thu, 31 Jan 2019 21:24:33 +0000 https://bikersden.com/?p=6884 Now that many of us have our bikes put away for the winter and might be deep into projects for those same bikes, it’s a good time to talk about some maintenance items that you probably don’t think about. Spark plugs. Sure, a lot of riders don’t even think about them – they’ll leave their […]

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Now that many of us have our bikes put away for the winter and might be deep into projects for those same bikes, it’s a good time to talk about some maintenance items that you probably don’t think about.

Spark plugs.

Sure, a lot of riders don’t even think about them – they’ll leave their bike at the Stealership and hope they change them out when the manual says to do so.  There’s a lot of reasons that isn’t the best idea, least of all, that changing out plugs might be the easiest thing you can do with a bike and a ratchet.  Now, this isn’t a “how-to” on plugs, but rather, a “what-to” on the options we’ve got know that we didn’t use to.

For starters, let’s talk about the spark plug gap.  If you’ve got a hotter-than-factory ignition, you can run a little more gap than stock.  Here’s a hint, though – gap is set at the factory when the plug is built.  Yes, I’m aware that you can tweak the gap by a few thousandths if you need to, but the actual bend in the plug is virtually always going to be the shortest distance (and the preset gap) between it and the electrode, so guess what?  You’re not increasing the gap.  Buy the plug with the gap you need and then, just ensure that the gap is correct before you install it.

The Low Down on Motorcycle Spark Plugs

Plugs are designed for specific temperature ranges.  Now, a lot of debate has centered on the “heat range” rating of plugs.  The simple fact is that the heat range doesn’t indicate when the plug fires or the heat of the spark – it indicates the range of temperature in which the plug works best.  If you’re running in hot summer temperatures in south Florida, a different range might improve performance versus a rider out for an early spring jaunt on the Canadian prairie Provinces.  At the same time, it sometimes does help to experiment with different plug heat ranges to see if they have an impact on performance or economy.  Years ago, I built a Chrysler Slant-6 engine for a bracket racer, and since we had cobbled together a forced induction system on the top of that motor, we found cooler running plugs resulted in better ignition and lower E.T.s.

No conversation about spark plugs is complete without addressing the exotic materials and “split fire” types of plugs.  To me, they are just so much marketing hoopla.  Yes, platinum tipped plugs can result in an arbitrarily “hotter” spark, but do you have the air and fuel to use them?  Just as importantly, if you are still running a stock ignition, the electrical output through the plug may not be “hot” enough to improve anything, despite you paying 3x as much for a plug.

Plugs with split tops, to me, are nearly useless.  In most ignitions, you only get one spark pulse, so you only get one spark, right?  Why would you need two tips?  In theory, of course, if one somehow got fouled, yes, the arc could jump to the next tip, but if one tip is fouled, the other one, less than a millimeter away, is just as bad. The Low Down on Motorcycle Spark Plugs 2

Do yourself a favor, unless you’re running a much hotter ignition, bigger wires, and timing that can take advantage of that hotter spark, you’re best bet is to change your plugs more often, make sure that you run your bike at operating temperature for at least twenty minutes (this helps to keep carbon build up to a minimum and ensures that “clean” air-fuel mixtures – not too rich, as in a cold-start scenario) to scavenge the ignition chamber of carbon build up, and make sure you are running high quality gasoline in your tank.

Save the twenty bucks that fancy plugs will set you back and put that money into real go-fast stuff.  No plug is going to make your beater into a beast, but a quality plug recommended by the manufacturer for your bike will do a great job of keeping you on the road.

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Pro Pad Motorcycle Products – USA Made https://bikersden.com/pro-pad-motorcycle-products-usa-made/ https://bikersden.com/pro-pad-motorcycle-products-usa-made/#respond Tue, 29 Jan 2019 21:44:06 +0000 https://bikersden.com/?p=6871 Pro Pad, Inc. is a family-owned manufacturer of motorcycle parts and accessories, such as motorcycle seat pads, motorcycle gel seat inserts, and motorcycle flag mounts.  They got their start back in 1999 with the simple goal of making comfortable seats for their personal Harleys. From day one, the team at Pro Pad has believed that […]

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Pro Pad, Inc. is a family-owned manufacturer of motorcycle parts and accessories, such as motorcycle seat pads, motorcycle gel seat inserts, and motorcycle flag mounts.  They got their start back in 1999 with the simple goal of making comfortable seats for their personal Harleys.

Pro Pad Motorcycle Products

From day one, the team at Pro Pad has believed that every bike is a custom bike and a reflection of the owner’s personal taste.   Today, from the factory in North Carolina, Pro Pad still holds true to their first goal – to provide a better riding experience via a high quality, super comfortable seat pad.

Today, the team at Pro Pad has branched out considerably, offering seat pads for a variety of bikes, flag mounts and additional storage options for Harley Touring bikes.  Those motorcycle seat pads are nearly a work of art in themselves – a medical grade polymer gel usually used in hospitals and wheelchairs and covers sewn from materials that can actually stand up to long rides and thousands of miles. 

The beauty of Pro Pad is they have stayed true to the family roots that started the company two decades ago and, even with the success they have enjoyed, family and patriotism is still paramount to them.  Every item Pro Pad sells is made in the U. S. A. and the commitment to give their customers the best products and the best service, not because they demand it, but because they deserve it.

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Project Bikes – Cheaper Doesn’t Always Mean Better https://bikersden.com/project-bikes-cheaper-doesnt-always-mean-better/ https://bikersden.com/project-bikes-cheaper-doesnt-always-mean-better/#respond Sat, 05 Jan 2019 19:27:12 +0000 https://blog.bikersden.com/?p=4639 So, a few weeks ago, a friend of mine with more money than sense decided he wanted to buy a project bike.  No problem!  Craigslist down here is filled with such deals and they range from chewed up Kawasaki’s to ragged-out Sportsters.  He called me, likely because I had a truck and ramps, and we […]

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So, a few weeks ago, a friend of mine with more money than sense decided he wanted to buy a project bike.  No problem!  Craigslist down here is filled with such deals and they range from chewed up Kawasaki’s to ragged-out Sportsters.  He called me, likely because I had a truck and ramps, and we were off to pick up his project.  He’d already met the seller the night before and had done “all” his research.  The project was an ancient Yamaha Virago and about the only thing I paid attention to was that it appeared to be a 750.

Anyone who remembers the early Viragos knows they were plagued by starter challenges, so as I reminded my partner, he assured me that he’d looked into it and had a cure readily available.  The train began to run off the tracks when we got to the parking lot where we’d meet the seller.  My first look at the bike on a trailer didn’t give me a lot of hope, but my partner pressed on – he had, after all, resurrected two other bikes and loved tinkering.

Yamaha-Virago-Project-Bike

He and the seller went and did their deal on the hood of the truck as I gave the bike the once-over.  It was obvious that Chuck was buying someone else’s project and the “someone else” in this case had taken off far more than he had likely put on.  The pipes were chopped, what was left of the exhaust was wrapped with fiberglass tape and two regular – rusty –  hose clamps.  A sniff of the gas that remained in the tank indicated that whatever was in there had gone bad and, when I voiced my opinion, Chuck simply smiled and explained how he “had it all under control” and the engine had turned over briefly the night before with a shot of starting fluid.

With title in hand, we loaded up the bike and strapped it down.  Half an hour later in Chuck’s garage, we began tearing into the bike.  First to go was the crappy header wrap and that’s when the problems started.  Rust.  A lot of it.

It’s important to understand that this far south, we don’t get snow or ice, therefore, the DOT doesn’t have to use salt on the roads.  As a result, rust is usually only on the surface.

Wrong.  The deeper we got into the tear down, the more rust we found.  What had looked like grime and grease?  You guessed it – it was grime and grease, shielding an ugly coat of rust.  The whole bike was like one big frozen bolt.  We got one exhaust bolt off easily.

Everything else?

We worked for all of them.

The problem, we determined, was that all this grime and grease, which should have worked its way into the nooks and crannies and helped to free up these frozen connectors, had somehow not been doing its job.

And then we pulled the drain plug.

Water – plain, old, dirty water – came out.  Then some particularly vicious looking oil.  By now, Chuck was beginning to worry that he might have made an error in his project bike.

An idea began to form in my head and I reminded Chuck that our area has had three hurricanes hit in the last three years and there had been plenty of flooding in low-lying areas.  Brackish water – a mix of seawater, freshwater, and rain, had inundated a lot of places up and down the coast.

And obviously flooded this bike.

Whoever owned it at the time – the seller?  Someone else? Had decided they couldn’t save it and either mothballed it for a year or two or just never got around to fixing it.  In the end, someone decided to sell it.

Where’d Chuck screw up?  He didn’t do any of the due-diligence you need to do before you buy a used bike – or at least, not the right research.  He knew about the starter problems, but he’d never taken the time to pull the dipstick or look at the bike in good light.  The seller did get the bike to turn over on ether, but in the end, Chuck’s $400 project became infinitely harder because he didn’t insist on taking a harder look at what he was buying.

So now, instead of a fun winter project, Chuck is neck deep in a project from which he’ll never recoup his investments.  He’s taking it in stride, though, and found another parts Virago that had been laid down and put away four years ago … on high ground.  Hopefully, by Spring, he’ll have taken two dead bikes and resurrected one, so in the end, at least one more old cruiser will still be around.

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What Type of Motorcycle Insurance Do I Require? https://bikersden.com/what-type-of-motorcycle-insurance-do-i-require/ https://bikersden.com/what-type-of-motorcycle-insurance-do-i-require/#respond Tue, 27 Nov 2018 18:32:20 +0000 https://blog.bikersden.com/?p=4627 We know motorcycle season is coming to an end as winter creeps up on us.  And sure, the snow might mean months and months (and months…) of your favourite summer toy being stuck in the garage, untouched. But eventually the sun will return, the temperatures will start to rise, the snow will melt, and the […]

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We know motorcycle season is coming to an end as winter creeps up on us.  And sure, the snow might mean months and months (and months…) of your favourite summer toy being stuck in the garage, untouched.

But eventually the sun will return, the temperatures will start to rise, the snow will melt, and the roads will once again be calling you.

With the return of the warm weather and your return to motorcycling, you’ll want to make sure you are protected – both physically and financially.

motorcycle-insurance-faqs

Just like any vehicle, your motorcycle requires insurance – and what better time to study up on what type of motorcycle insurance you require for your next big trip than when your stuck inside on a cold winters night?

Protect Yourself

This task is easier said than done – in fact, there are actually several different types of motorcycle insurance. Here are some of the options you will be presented with when shopping around for your motorcycle insurance:

  • Comprehensive Coverage – comprehensive keeps both you and your bike covered if there is an accident that is your fault. It will pay out for damages to your bike or the other vehicle involved.
  • Third Party – this will cover the third party involved in an accident that is your fault, but will not pay out for damages to you or your bike. Typically this is the minimum required coverage.
  • Fire and Theft – this part of the policy will cover you if your bike is damaged in a fire or stolen.
  • Social, Domestic, and Pleasure, or Social, Domestic, Pleasure, and Commuting – these categories are used to inform your insurer of how you intend to use your bike. The first option covers you for activities such as visiting friends, running errands, or going for leisurely rides. The second option will cover you for all of that as well as commuting back and fourth from your place of work.
  • Pillion Coverage – pillion coverage is meant to cover any passenger that may be riding on the back of your bike.
  • Personal Accident Coverage – this is an additional cost, intended to provide additional financial assistance in the event that you or your passengers are seriously injured. Generally, this will cover permanent disablement, loss of limbs, and even death.
  • Helmet and Leathers Coverage – lastly, you can even choose to add coverage for your riding gear in the event that it is damaged or stolen.

As you can see, you will really have to consider what type of coverage is right for you and your needs as a rider.

However, it isn’t all up to you – you will have to purchase at least the minimum required coverage, and depending on which state (or province) you live in, these minimum requirements will vary.

Speak With A Broker

Perhaps the easiest way to build a policy that satisfies the requirements as well as your personal needs is to speak with a professional.

An insurance broker will be able to help you find the best possible solution for you and your bike – and you will be riding off into the sunset in no time (or in 6 months when the snow melts..).

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What Makes Café Racers Special? https://bikersden.com/what-makes-cafe-racers-special/ https://bikersden.com/what-makes-cafe-racers-special/#respond Wed, 31 Oct 2018 19:55:38 +0000 https://blog.bikersden.com/?p=4614 The motorcycle marketplace is a conundrum. With so many specialized bikes on showroom floors, it is strange how vaguely homogenized the market seems. Tourers, ADVs, dual sports, standards – they’re all so alike. That’s where the classic café racer stands alone. It is a glimmer of individuality in a world of increasing sameness. Café racers […]

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The motorcycle marketplace is a conundrum. With so many specialized bikes on showroom floors, it is strange how vaguely homogenized the market seems. Tourers, ADVs, dual sports, standards – they’re all so alike. That’s where the classic café racer stands alone. It is a glimmer of individuality in a world of increasing sameness.

What Makes Cafe Racers so Special

Café racers exude retro cool in a way that no purpose-built factory bike can manage. They have achieved a cult following over the decades since their first appearance, ostensibly in 1960s England. These machines are built for the short haul, intended to get from points A to B as quickly as possible, without concern for rider comfort. But any modern sportbike can achieve that. What is it that makes café racers cool?

Built for Speed

While builders usually try to improve the power of their café racers, raw speed is not necessarily a requisite for these machines. Many café racers are built on now-antiquated designs, underpowered by today’s standards. Single- and twin-cylinder engines with displacements under 500 cubic centimeters are common choices for café racer builds, despite these bikes’ modest power output.

Rather, these builds evoke speed through design. Dropped bars and rear-set pegs are part of the equation, as is an elongated fuel tank. Seat cowlings often complete the look. It is not until the rider is situated in the cockpit though they the look of speed is complete. These are bikes that need their owners.

Superior Agility

Few of these design elements exist for completely aesthetic reasons. Most evolved over time because of the needs of riders customizing their bikes. Café racers have a look that is unmistakable. The uninitiated can pick one out of a crowd, even if they can’t explain why. That look is the result of countless riders improving the handling of their own machines.

Café racers evolved to improve aerodynamics, reducing the wind buffeting that slows progress and makes inputs feel clumsy. Clip-on bars and rear-sets produce an aggressive riding position, placing the rider’s weight forward, in the ideal position to get the most agility possible from the machine. The result is ideally a bike that handles curves far better than it did in stock form. Aesthetic beauty is a side effect.

Outright Performance

Builders typically wring every last ounce of power hiding within their machines. Performance upgrades are the norm in this genre, as are modernized electronics. Ignitions are often made electronic if they weren’t already, and stators are often beefed up to provide a hotter spark. As many of these bikes are carbureted, jet kits and high-flow air filters are common mods.

Another common modification is aftermarket pipes, which are often necessary for ground clearance as much as power delivery. Freely aspirated, classic café racers often realize significant power improvements. They also typically achieve exhaust notes that modern motorcycles rarely exhibit in stock form, especially in today’s decibel-averse world.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, what makes café racers cool is less about what they are, and more about what they are not. These bikes are not common. They are not cliché. They aren’t same. These are the steeds of iconoclasts. Unless you join a riding club, you aren’t liable to see many bikes like yours on the road, and you’ll never see a carbon copy of it. Check out the machines on caferacerforsale.com if you are interested in becoming part of the elite company of custom café racer owners. Careful though. You’re liable to get hooked.

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Ways To Help You Afford Your First Motorbike  https://bikersden.com/ways-to-help-you-afford-your-first-motorbike/ https://bikersden.com/ways-to-help-you-afford-your-first-motorbike/#respond Thu, 18 Oct 2018 14:30:45 +0000 https://blog.bikersden.com/?p=4607 If you’re in the market for your first motorbike, you’ll no doubt be wondering just how you’re going to afford it. Depending on your stage in life, you may not have any particular savings to speak of, and a brand new bike may be a little outside of your means. Luckily, having cash in your […]

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If you’re in the market for your first motorbike, you’ll no doubt be wondering just how you’re going to afford it. Depending on your stage in life, you may not have any particular savings to speak of, and a brand new bike may be a little outside of your means.

Luckily, having cash in your bank account isn’t the only way of going about financing the bike of your dreams, and there a few different finance options out there that could help you. We thought we’d take a look at some of the different things out there that can help you afford your first motorbike so that you can decide which route may be the best for you.

Ways To Help You Afford Your First Motorbike 

Types of motorbike finance

Personal loan

If you have a good credit rating, you may be able to simply take out a personal loan to cover the cost of buying your new bike. Interest rates can be low on some of the top loans, and sites like Moneysavingexpert.com can help you to find the cheapest personal loans out there at the moment.

Unlike some of the other types of finance on this list, a loan is one way of owning the bike outright straight away, as the money is lent to you for any reason you like.

 

Hire purchase

A hire purchase agreement is very common, and it essentially means that you take out a loan that pays for the bike over time, however, the bike still belongs to the dealership until you have paid it off entirely. During this time you get to use the bike as if it were your own.

The cost of the new bike will be split into an initial deposit and a number of monthly payments. The cost of your monthly payments will be influenced by the size of your initial deposit, as well as how quickly you want to pay the bike off.

 

Personal contract purchase

Personal contract purchase finance, or PCP is similar to HP finance, except for the fact that at the end of the PCP agreement you must either return the bike to the dealer, or pay an optional final payment in order to own it outright.

The benefit of PCP finance is that monthly payments tend to be cheaper, but you will have to be confident of saving enough money to pay for the bike at the end of it, or keep it in good nick in order to give it back.

This article explains in a little more detail what the differences are between HP and PCP.

 

125 motorbike finance

If you are just getting into motorbikes, then a 125cc bike may be just what you need. Much better than a scooter or a moped, but not the most powerful motorbike out there, you’ll look the part and be able to get the absolute most out of the performance of the bike at all times.

Superbikeloans.co.uk offer a special finance option just for 125cc bikes, which can offer you a loan of up to £25,000 following an online application, even if you have a bad credit rating.

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Why I Hate Riding In October (Sometimes) https://bikersden.com/why-i-hate-riding-in-october-sometimes/ https://bikersden.com/why-i-hate-riding-in-october-sometimes/#respond Tue, 02 Oct 2018 17:41:16 +0000 https://blog.bikersden.com/?p=4601 In plenty of places in North America, October represents some of the best riding weather around.  Leaves are starting to change, you finally don’t feel soggy at the end of a ride, and Old Man Winter being right around the corner means that plenty of us are going to be putting up our bikes for […]

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In plenty of places in North America, October represents some of the best riding weather around.  Leaves are starting to change, you finally don’t feel soggy at the end of a ride, and Old Man Winter being right around the corner means that plenty of us are going to be putting up our bikes for the winter.

October in the Deep South of the United States can really suck.

Why?

Lovebugs.Why-I-Hate-Riding-In-October-Sometimes

Yes, I said lovebugs.  Down here, for a wide swath of the month, the damnedest insect pest you can imagine pops out of lawns, mulch, thatch, and Hell and wreaks havoc on us.

And yeah, they’re called lovebugs.  Why do we call them lovebugs?  Well, they’ve stuck together in some sort of post-coital embrace, and so for everyone you see, there’s really two.  They don’t bite, they don’t sting, but they still really suck.

And the bastards are everywhere.

Here’s the real challenge – when they spatter all over your car, bike, fairing, engine block, leather – their bodies begin to turn acidic, so if you don’t clean them off older lacquer paint, it can etch it after only a couple of days.  At the same time, once the bodies dry, they seem to bond like epoxy to whatever they’re stuck on.  I’ve had a few splatter marks on my jacket that have simply never come off after years.

It’s a cleaning nightmare.

The good news is that they only “last” a few weeks, but in those two weeks, riding can really suck.  Clouds of the damn things hanging out near the roadways, squished on you and the bike, in the drink cup, in the car, in the house.

Last year, the remnants of Hurricane Irma blew through with 50 mile an hour winds for 8 straight hours.  As soon as the wind dropped and I came out of the house, what did I see?

Lovebugs.

Not a lot of them, but enough to be unhappy.

To make matters worse, I don’t think anything really likes them.  Birds that eat bugs seem to think of them like 10-year-olds look at broccoli.  I don’t even think the damned spiders like them.

Now, in fairness, I know that every place has some challenge to riding.  Down here, we can very nearly ride year-round, so taking a couple of weeks off in October isn’t the worst thing to have to do.  I only wish that they were easier to clean off and that they wouldn’t last quite so long.  As the days get shorter and the nights get cooler, you and I both know we get itchy to get on the bike and spend a long weekend exploring new roads.

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More Stupid Motorcycle Tricks, Tips and Hacks https://bikersden.com/more-stupid-motorcycle-tricks-tips-and-hacks/ https://bikersden.com/more-stupid-motorcycle-tricks-tips-and-hacks/#respond Tue, 11 Sep 2018 18:15:11 +0000 https://blog.bikersden.com/?p=4595 Okay, so after all these years, you know I have two bikes, but that other people’s bikes and projects seem to float into my garage from time to time. Some I actually brought home myself, still others just magically appear.  She Who Must Be Obeyed has another theory on why crappy old motorcycles show up […]

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Okay, so after all these years, you know I have two bikes, but that other people’s bikes and projects seem to float into my garage from time to time.

Some I actually brought home myself, still others just magically appear.  She Who Must Be Obeyed has another theory on why crappy old motorcycles show up in my garage, but I’ve dismissed it as nonsensical fantasy.

Nevertheless, there a few things that I’ve learned over the last twenty or so years of fooling with bikes of every make and model.  Some of them you’ve likely used, some of them you’ve heard about, and still a few others I’d like to think I sorted out all by myself.

More-Stupid-Bike-Tricks

  • Get the gas off. If you’ve been fooling around with carbs or tanks, or just missed the hole and ended up with hands that smell like gas, do this:  Use the hottest water you can get out of the tap and then, use a concoction of half dish soap and either a real, live lemon cut into quarters or lemon juice, get a handful of it all and scrub for a minute or so and now, you don’t smell like gasoline.
  • Magnets are your friend. In the bygone days before GPS and cell phones, we used magnets or tape on our tanks to keep our directions handy.  Yes, if we were dumb, we could scratch the tank, but one the other hand, we knew where we were going and never had to try to “open” a locked cell phone screen doing 70 mph with gloves on.  IF you use tape, don’t panic, any residue will clean right off.
  • Sharpies are good, too. Okay, I’ll admit, this hack arose out of the direct need to NOT let my parents know that I’d scratched my Dad’s new Lincoln years ago.  Black car, black sharpie, no scratch.  I’ve used it in plenty of places where “touch up” paint would’ve stood out far too much – especially on fenders and a custom battery box I had (foolishly) painted.
  • Don’t carry Fix a Flat. A plug kit arguably takes up less space and allows you to potentially patch a tire instead of losing a tire if you use the spray-in goop.  I learned the hard way the first time I used it – it got me a few miles down the road and the shop I took the bike to charged me extra to clean up the mess … and couldn’t plug the tire due to the nature of the sealant.
  • A lot of “motorcycle” stuff costs more. I swear, if you use the words “motorcycle” or “Diesel” with anything, manufacturers add 20%.  Case in point – the lining for motorcycle hard bags – same product as a drawer liner, but when they market it to homeowners, it is half the price of the version for bikers.  Buy some “Diesel” motor oil – same thing!  Do your research and save some coin.
  • For really nasty clean up …Use oven cleaner. You heard me – oven cleaner.  The stuff your wife uses in the kitchen will cut grease (and a lot of other stuff, too).  If you have to get an engine block cleaned up and you aren’t too worried about the paint, oven cleaner, with all its caustic goodness, will get the job done a lot cheaper than a similar “engine” based product.  No, you can’t use it on tires or anything you’re not ready to completely recondition, but it will help you get down to bare metal.
  • Carburetor Cleaner will kill wasps. Or at least slow the buggers down long enough for you to get away.  Like I said, this isn’t a scientific process, but when all you have in your hand is some carb cleaner and you pull the air filter housing off to find a dozen or so of the mean bastards, in my experience, it’ll do the job.  When you come back from your exodus of the garage, you’ll find a few stragglers that can easily be dispatched in more traditional ways.

There you go – some real garage hacks that might help you save a little money and actually get something done when you set out to work on the bike.

Got a few of your own?  Let us know.

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