Getting Ready For The Ride

Look, we’re all getting antsy about the riding season, even down here, where “cold” weather is practically shirt sleeves for our brothers up north.  Nonetheless, I thought it might be smart to take a few minutes this week to share a few things you ought to look for before you jump on the bike this season.

Even if you’ve been riding this winter, it’s still a good idea to take a few minutes, read this list, and … I don’t know … fix what’s broken?

No lift off I love this helmetCheck Your Head. Look, many of us wear beanies.  Plenty of riders think, when they buy a helmet, they’ve got a lifetime contract with it, but a few “oopsies” dropping your lid in the parking lot, or letting it bake in the sun during the season WILL make it harder for your helmet to do what it’s supposed to do:  Save your life one time.  If you’ve got more than few years on your helmet, retire it and spend a little coin to get a fresh one… that’s DOT certified.

Eye Protection. Sunglasses and goggles are the same way as your helmet.  Can you actually see out of them?  Have the bugs and the scratches made it harder to focus?  Let’s be real, too – do those old eyes need to get a prescription to drive safely?  A lot of the better sunglass manufacturers have a prescription program for those of us that are a little older and need to wear glasses, so there’s no reason you can’t look good and still be able to watch out for the idiots on the road.  (link to glasses)

Bottoms Up. Chances are, nothing exciting happened to your scoot under the tarp in the garage.  Yes, a rat or squirrel might have eaten some wires, but for now, let’s keep it personal.  How’s the footwear situation?  Personally, the way I ride and the roads I ride on, I end up wearing out a pair of boots about every two years.  Something to remember is this:  even if they look great, think about how they feel when you go to shift.  Can they make the upshift?  I had an old pair of steel toes that were nearly perfect, except for where the shifter rode on the toe.  It literally wore out from the inside, and one day, a loooooong way from home the damned thing simply disintegrated around my big toe.  Let me tell you, that made for a few hard shifts while I found somewhere to buy a new pair.

Got Skin? Almost every year, I talk about our riding leathers, and whether you like chaps, chinks, a vest, a jacket, or whatever, the fact is, they need some love.  I try to get my leathers dry cleaned at least once a year – in the winter is a great time, since most folks are wearing their jackets now.  Nonetheless, it makes a lot of sense to take the time now – rather than in a month – to check out your gear and get it cleaned or replaced.

Schott NYC Leather Motorcycle GearWhile we’re on that subject, let’s be real:  quit riding in garbage leather.  You’ve made an investment in your bike, make a solid one in the leather you wear.  Last year, I finally bought a jacket from Schott NYC and let me tell you – it’s worn like iron.  Yeah, it’s not a cheap goatskin thing from Chinastan, but I’ll guarantee it’ll last three times as long as that cheap thing your old lady gave you from Burlington Coat Factory.  Check out Schott’s stuff here…  (And I’m going to be talking more about Schott in another post later, because they’ve got some COOOOOOOL stuff they’re launching for those of us (ahem) of a certain age…)

Don’t Roadtrip It Yet. The last thing I want to say is this:  when you do pull out the bike from it’s winter nap, don’t hammer it 300 miles.  Give yourself a little warm up time first.  Take it around the block, check the brakes, run it through the school parking lot on a weekend and re-learn the “feel” of it in the corners and the turns.  Burn a little fuel getting reacquainted with it so you and your boys can go take that long weekend trip and you’re not the old fart playing catch up.

Most of all?  Remember, have fun.  Spend a little money, take your time, pull over and look at the view.  None of us are getting out of this thing alive, and we’re not taking anything with us.  We might as well enjoy everything, from head to toe.

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