By Team EarPeace
As the weather started to cool down, we shared some tips on 10 Ways to Make the Most of Limited Riding Time. Now that the days are getting shorter and the kids are back in school (or Zoom meetings, you get the idea), it's really starting to feeling like the seasom is winding down.
But there’s still stuff to do before you park your steed for the winter!
Go to a (safe) ride or rally where you’re the only rider there on your brand
Sure, much of the country is closed for business, thanks to our friend the Novel Coronavirus ‘19. But motorcycling is as popular as ever, which explains the massive attendance for the 2020 Sturgis rally.
We don’t encourage anybody to take risks with COVID-19: it’s way too serious for that. However, if you can find a rally or event that your comfortable (at least for the purposes of disease transmission) attending, especially if it’s not the kind of event you’d ever consider going to, by all means pack your stuff and go.
That’s right: if you’re all into the swoopy, sleek looks of vintage Italian sportbikes, go to a stunt show where baggy-clothed riders on battered Japanese sportbikes perform amazing feats. If you have a gleaming, grumbling Harley-Davidson and a closet full of rally t-shirts and leather vests, go to a mini-moto or Supermoto race at your local Kart track.
You may get perspective on why riders love those things you turn your nose up at, and may even want to learn a really fun new style of riding. At the worst, it’ll make you appreciate your “thing” even more.
Check out a hill climb
If you’ve never attended a hill climb, you’re missing out on one of the oldest and most fascinating forms of motorcycle competition. Imagine drag racing, except up a near-verticle slope on a stretched-out dirt bike running a 200-horsepower nitro-fuelled 1000cc sportbike engine. Yes, it’s as insane to watch as that sounds.
Not only are the bikes fast, furious and almost guaranteed to go off course and flip through the air (luckily, the speeds are relatively slow compared to other forms of racing, so injuries are usually not too serious) while spewing huge plumes of mud and dust, the spectators are colorful and noisy and the scenes in the pits and vending are a great combo of home-y and wild.
Check out the AMA Hillclimb Schedule here.
Go to a moto-swap meet
Once a staple of moto-culture, Ebay, Craigslist and discussion board classifieds have shrunk this down, but moto swap meets are still out there, and they’re a blast. You’ll make new friends, see old ones, and probably find a lot of cool $%#^ you never even knew you needed, which is why in-person shopping is better than doing it online.
Selling at a meet is great too. Motorcyclists start accumulating parts, extra supplies and gear they can’t use on day two of becoming riders, so you probably have a mound of stuff that your local riding community doesn’t know they need, either. It’s a great way to lighten your load and make some cash, too. Cycle Fish Swap Meet Directory.
Organize a motorcycle swap meet
Like we said above, Craigslist killed the swap-meet star, or something like that, so your area might not even have a swap meet. So why not make it happen? Not only can you clear out your stuff, you may even make some money selling space to the vendors. It’s also a great way to raise money for charity. If you have 10 riding friends, and they each have 10, and they each have ten, you might be able to get a few hundred people to show up. Throw in an end-of-season bike wash for charity and a bike show with prizes and now you’re talking a real event.
Customize some damn thing
Maybe you don’t think of yourself as much of a gearhead. Maybe you’re too intimidated by the thought of wrenching, so you take your bike to the shop for all scheduled maintenance and repairs. That’s too bad: motorcycles, compared to cars or home repair, are pretty simple things to work on and there’s lots of knowledge and help available online.
That’s why you should customize your bike. We’re not talking about chopping, slamming, painting or any other kind of “ing.”: we just want you to pick one thing, one small complaint about your bike you want to correct.
Are the bars to high? Too low? Do you hate your mirrors? Is the seat too high or too hard? All these things are easy to fix, even if you can’t change a lightbulb.
Plug, patch or change a tire
You may have to do this whether you want to or not. Sooner or later, you’re going to get a flat tire. Do you want to learn how to do this on the side of the road in a rainstorm at 3:00 am? Or in the comfort and safety of your garage or driveway? We thought so.
These are actually three different skills. Plugging a tire is the easiest and probably most relevant to most riders. You use a plug kit (look for a future post on roadside repair essentials) which should also include either a small compressor or CO2 cartridges to reinflate after the repair.
Patching is when you remove the inner tube from a tube-type tire, patch or replace the tube, and replace it. Changing is the hardest, as you have to learn how to pull the “bead” or inner edge of the tire off the wheel – and put if back on when you’re done. It’s close to impossible using tire irons on the side of the road, so most riders who can do this themselves use a tire changer, which if you ride a lot will quickly pay for itself in shop-labor-savings.
Become a drag queen (or king)
Self-described “real” racers don’t think drag racing is a sport, but believe us, it is. Put two different riders on the exact same motorcycle and time them accelerating from a standing stop to a quarter mile and you will get different results, even from riders the same weight. Why? Like any other sport, there’s technique, aptitude and raw guts involved to get to the lowest possible time mixed in with building and setting up the fastest equipment you can.
It’s also pretty cheap compared to roadracing or any other motorsport…at least to start. Most dragstrips have open drags, where anyone, on any motorized vehicle, from dump trucks to scooters, can compete against the clock. You don’t need 1,000 blown, nitro-fuelled horses to practice that technique, and just about any motorcycle, even a middleweight Twin, can post quarter-mile times to rival $80,000 sports cars. Do it once and you could get hooked…and that can get expensive.
Test ride something completely different
If you want to do something fun and totally free, go to the dealership of a brand you’d never, ever consider owning – short of at gunpoint – and ask for a demo ride. Be careful though, because one of two things may happen here: you’ll hate it and have to make up an awkward excuse to leave the dealership gracefully (pro tip: ‘pick up kid from daycare’ always works) or you’ll want to buy one and will have to think up an equally lame excuse for your riding buddies.
Build a motorcycle
If you’re intimidated by basic maintenance (see number 5), you probably think we’re insane just for suggesting it. But in customizer parlance, “build” a bike doesn’t mean you have to hand-make every piece like a 17th-Century cobbler.
If you or an acquaintance have some ugly old nail that hasn’t run in years, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to take the thing apart, clean it up, and put it back together with enough different bits and other modifications to make something cool, unique and fun to ride. You’ll learn a lot about motorcycles and maybe acquire some new skills in the metal fabrication/painting/grinding/welding space.
Be a Dirtbag
If number 9 sounds interesting and you live a drivable/rideable distance from San Francisco, California, check out the Dirtbag Challenge page on Facebook, read the simple rules and decide if you can do it.
The rules are deceptively simple: you have 60 days, can spend $2,000 (including the cost of the bike, if you didn’t already have it) and no Harley-Davidsons allowed (Pol, the event’s colorful organizer, explained that the anti-H-D rule isn’t because he dislikes Harleys, but because they’re so popular and established as custom bikes he didn’t want them to dominate the competition).
Oh, and the contest was announced on August 23rd, so the clock’s a-ticking. If you want to experience the craziest motorcycle experience maybe on the planet, come check it out.