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It’s been a winter for the record books this year for most of us in the States. The interminable cold-snow-cold-snow weather pattern has most people at wit’s end, and, by this time, our thoughts can’t help but turn to mild spring days and visions of sunny afternoons tooling around on the motorcycle –purely as a matter of self-preservation!
And while you may be ready and raring to go, there is, of course, a bit of work that needs to take place as you bring your motorcycle out of winter storage. One item on your spring prep list should be a thorough inspection of the tires to determine how well they withstood being parked and stationary for a few months, as well as extended time in cold temps.
A storage area with uncontrolled conditions encourages tire deterioration, particularly on a motorcycle that is not elevated, has no insulating barrier between the tire and concrete, is a larger bike with a heavier load (thereby increasing the size of the tire’s footprint), or just plain, old-time. Any of these factors can lead to breakdown, so be on the lookout for obvious cracks or splits.
Another common, often unavoidable, side effect of a bike’s inactivity is the development of flat spots on the tire. Sometimes these spots are only temporary and work their way out after the tire warms up and puts on a few miles, but they can also turn out to be permanent and create such wobble and vibration while in motion that the tire needs to be replaced altogether.
How can these flat spots be avoided in the first place? Some manufacturers suggest making sure the tires are fully, if not slightly, over-inflated, based on the recommendation outlined in the owner’s manual. Moving your motorcycle periodically during its stint in storage so that a different section of tire becomes the footprint also helps. The most fail-safe method for cold storage of your motorcycle, though, is to use a motorcycle stand or lift and raise one or both tires off the ground completely.
Investing in a lift to remove the wheels yourself
can pay for itself after just one service visit.
If, on the other hand, you knew going into winter you’d need new tires come springtime, you are already prepared for the up-front work to get your bike road-ready for your first spin. Whether you do the work yourself or have tires professionally installed, you may want to consider handling even part of the process yourself to save a few bucks.
Investing in a lift to remove the wheels beforehand versus paying the technician at a garage to perform this basic task can, in many cases, pay for itself with just one service visit. Taking it a step further with your own bead breaker to loosen and remove the tires from the rims is also cost-effective, and a wheel truer or balancer is yet another at-home step to consider if you really enjoy a hands-on approach with your motorcycle’s maintenance.
While most of us have not yet experienced that break in the bitter temperatures to actually warrant bringing the motorcycle out of its winter hibernation, take heart, because it’s at least close enough that we can feel OK to think about thinking about it.
What are your plans to get your bike ready for riding season?
- Flat spots on tires after winter storage. Harley Davidson Forums. March 10, 2008. Retrieved from http://www.hdforums.com/forum/general-harley-davidson-chat/205410-flat-spots-on-tires-after-winter-storage.html
- Tire Flatspotting. Tire Tech Information. Retrieved from http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=42
Did you hear? Discount Ramps is running a contest for motorcycle owners!
That’s kind of a little joke, because if you follow Discount Ramps through any of our social media outlets (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest), you’re probably WELL aware of this, since we’ve been a bit incessant about getting the word out. The Road Warrior Photo Contest kicked off the last week in August and extends through next weekend, closing on September 15. The winner of the contest (the person whose motorcycle photo receives the most votes by closing) is going to be rewarded handsomely with a Black Widow Motorcycle Jack / Lift. This is a super handy tool for anyone with a motorcycle who wants to take care of their own repairs or maintenance, so we thought we’d show you a little bit about it.
The Black Widow Motorcycle Lift handles most motorcycles weighing up to 1,500 pounds, whether you own a Harley-Davidson, Kawasaki, Honda, Suzuki, BMW or other make, so any bike, even the big, heavy ones, are easily maneuvered for repairs or to swing into the corner for winter storage. The motorcycle jack elevates a cycle up to 14” and has two non-slip, rubber padded rests that protect the motorcycle’s finish as well as keep it secure and in place while you work. There are also several tie down points, should you want that added peace of mind to prevent the motorcycle from shifting, and the Black Widow Motorcycle Jack even comes with two *quality* ratchet tie down straps. A padded hydraulic foot pedal raises the bike, and there is a safety locking system that secures the lift at heights of 9”, 11-7/8” or 13-7/8”, depending on what works best for you in your shop. A pair of rear swivel caster wheels let you turn and pivot your motorcycle for the best access, and a 27” handle helps out, too, though the handle is removable if that gets in the way during maintenance.
We’ve sold this very same motorcycle jack to custom motorcycle shops who have been pretty darn happy with the Black Widow Lift, so you know it’s a nice piece of equipment for your own garage, too.
And winning one for your very own is as simple as a few clicks (and maybe some good campaigning to get the most votes!). Bear with us as we continue to promote for more entries to the Road Warrior Photo Contest in this next week, since you are sure to see more of our posts, but don’t put off submitting your own entry any longer!
I am the rocker! I am the roller! I am the out-of-controller!
–Nightrider, “Mad Max” (1979)
Ever feel this way with a stretch of road before you? Hopefully, you don’t get TOO crazy (safety first, kids), but if you’ve racked up some miles on your motorcycle this summer, you get the idea. And even though it’s not an out-and-out motorcycle flick (Nightrider drove a car, after all), “Mad Max” is worth a re-watch if you haven’t seen it in a while because there’s a ton of still-thrilling bike action in the movie that tickles a special little brain fold we all know exists in every road warrior out there.
To celebrate this road warrior mentality we love so much, Discount Ramps is throwing a little photo contest. It’s pretty straight forward, the goal being to catch a glimpse of an awesome driver (you) on an awesome machine (your motorcycle) oozing awesomeness. It extends from August 26 through September 15, so you’ve got plenty of time to capture that once-in-a-lifetime image, perhaps at the upcoming Harley-Davidson 110th Anniversary, or maybe it’s a shot you already captured at Sturgis a few weeks back. But then again, your best motorcycle shot may have presented itself when it was just you tooling around on some back roads you’ve always wanted to check out… Point is, be a little creative, keep it clean and send us material that shows off your machine in its best light.
Just go to the app on our Facebook page, Like us to “get inside,” and you will see where to upload your mind-blowing picture, along with all the rules and regulations put forth by The Man. Once you have that handled, you’ll need to sing it from the mountain tops to your best pals and family that you’ve entered the Road Warrior Photo Contest because the image accumulating the most votes at the end of the contest wins. Simple as that. Oh, and you’ll need to check back on the contest page every so often to see if you are the conquering hero so that we can get a hold of you and lavish you with a fabulous prize.
And exactly what’s in store for the top vote-getter, besides the eternal love and admiration of your family, friends, acquaintances and the general public? The Winner receives a Black Widow Motorcycle Jack Lift, an über-useful addition to any garage’s arsenal. It’s a motorcycle lift that hoists up to 1500 lbs. with a hydraulic foot pedal or removable jack handle for the maintenance, repair or general admiration of your baby. This motorcycle lift has a couple of rear swivel casters to make it maneuverable, some built-in tie points to make it safe, and it’s valued at 100 clams. Believe us, you will LOVE using this lift! So enter the contest. Do it.
It’s Rockerbox Motofest 2013, presented by Fuel Café on August 3 in Milwaukee, Wis., and that one, small concession does not appear to have dampened turnout or enthusiasm in the least.
Reveling in its tenth year, Rockerbox dubs itself the premier Wisconsin motorcycle show, and few would dispute; it is a dizzying cross section of “everything motorcycle,” in street festival format, all wrapped in a vibe of super cool. That, plus cheap beer, to boot. Discount Ramps’ Zak and John, both first-timers from our production department, went to soak it in, and, armed with their cameras, found a generous array of sights.
Covering five city blocks in Milwaukee’s happening Riverwest neighborhood, Rockerbox draws 3,000+ motorcycles of every persuasion and an estimated 6,000 – 8,000 enthusiasts (based on 2012 numbers), despite its proximity to a certain industry icon with fanatical fanatics. For this one day, bikes hailing from manufacturers of every corner of the earth mingle and flirt in a random mix of choppers, cruisers, racers, sports and sidecars to enjoy goods and merchandise, demonstrations, a ride-in bike show, delicious food, live music and some of the best, most diverse people-watching at any rally, anywhere.
One of this year’s special events was the Skid Lid Silent Auction, featuring the work of national and international helmet artists, as well as a raffle for a gorgeous custom-built Triumph 650. Proceeds went to benefit an organization called the Steel Shoe Fund, a non-profit that supports injured racers.
The bike show is a highlight of Rockerbox, with entries classified by the judges. Categories include Best Café Racer, Best Rat Bike, Best European, Best Scooter or Cool as F^#%, among others, and the judges help determine what motorcycle is best suited for which category.
More than 60 vendors display their wares at Rockerbox, both businesses and private parties, new, used, what have you, and it is a resource to behold. In fact, Zak was pretty surprised to find a guy selling carburetor jets and snagged a card for future reference.
Both Zak and John gave Rockerbox an enthusiastic thumbs up and plan to attend next year’s outing, either as spectators, or, hopefully, to show some of our own Black Widow equipment, stuff like lift jacks, wheel chocks, scissor lifts and hydraulic lift tables. They even spied some of our motorcycle service equipment on site, so it seems like it would be a good place for us to make an appearance.
The guys chronicled their day at Rockerbox with stills and video, including John’s favorite, an AC/DC cover band, so take a look to get a feel for this cool event. Hope to see you at Rockerbox Motofest 2014.