Category Archives: Riding Tips

What Is Going On With My Motorcycle’s Front Tire?

Front tire wear

Front tire wear

What is going on with my front tire (tyre)? I checked my tires (tyres) a few weeks ago and found my front tire was wearing just on the left side. The right side had a lot of tread but the left side tread was gone! What could cause that? It looked like a major problem to me. I have never had a tire wear that way before. My first thought was to take my bike to the dealer to have them check it out but I didn’t have time. A week or so went by and it was still bugging me. I thought I would google it and see what would come up. WOW, a lot came up. There are a lot of riders out there with the same problem asking the same question. I found a lot of answers but some of them were pretty crazy… Below are some of the answers…

  • Something else that affects left side tire wear is a lot or riders cruise with only their right hand on the bars. The left hand sitting in your lap or resting on the tank. This causes you to subconsciously shift your body weight slightly to the left to compensate for holding onto the right side of the bike.
  • Were you ONLY turning left? Not a good thing at all.  Left fork and left rear shock on different settings/ fluid levels than the right?
  • You may want to watch how you load the saddle bags, if your heavy on the right side you will tend to lean left to keep going straight….
  • Actually, how badly crowned are the roads where you live? Here in Maine, we have some roads at, if they got more crowned, you could confuse them for the roofs of houses. That can (and does) cause uneven wear on tires. (will cause a little less than normal wear on the right, a LOT more wear on the left)

This is what I believe to be the correct answer or reason for the left side tire wear. Last September we did a ride with thousands of curves. Lately, we have done a lot of rides with a lot of curves… more curves than normal… That’s normal for around where I live. You folks who live in countries that ride on the wrong (left 😉 ) side of the road may notice the same tyre (tire) wear but on the right side. The short answer… Each left hand turn is longer than a right hand turn because we ride on the right side of the road and most people are more comfortable taking left hand turns and will ride more aggressively. In other words you are riding longer distances making left turns and you are riding harder… I did find several posts stating this same reason. This post goes into great detail about all types of tire wear. If you have a tire wear question, this post probably answers it. Here is another post worth looking at… Problem solved… answered… Ride safe…

What Motorcycle Do You Ride?

100_2486

So what motorcycle do you ride? If you ride, you will meet people who ride and people who do not ride. The conversation always gets around to your ride and why you love… or in some cases hate your bike… or trike. Everyone has good reasons what and why they ride. I have learned a lot over the years talking to other riders. There is no one bike for everyone… If you have ridden any length of time you know that. The bike you ride is as important as the gear you wear. A bike that does not fit your style of riding or how well you fix on the bike will eventually cause you to want something else. I’m vertically challenged and that affects what bikes I have to choose from.  All the vertically challenged know exactly what I talking about. Vertically superior riders have their issues too. I think I would rather have their issues… but they may not agree.

I’m always getting prospective first time riders who ask what bike they should buy. I have my experiences and they have served me well… but I feel I could know more.

No one wants to buy a bike and wished they had bought something else. They say it takes 3 bikes to get to the one you really like. From my experience I think that tends to be true.

Please take a few moments and tells us what you ride and why… We could all benefit from your knowledge.

 

Rest stop with town in the distance...

Rest stop with town in the distance…

Planning Motorcycle Trips

166

To me, planning motorcycle trips is a necessity for a good motorcycle trip. You can never over plan but you can under plan…

In 1977 I took my first long motorcycle trip of 1800 miles. The only thing I planned was the start date, return date and destination. In spite of the lack of planning it was a good trip. Fast forward to June 2002 and I’m a lot older and I would like to think a lot wiser (I may get an argument from Janet on that point). This was my first long ride in 25 years and it was Janet first long ride ever. To top it all off it was to a place (Big Bend National Park) that is not forgiving if you have not planned. Because this was Janet first long ride, I wanted her to enjoy the ride and continue riding with me. I planned every detail of the trip. Because everything is “few and far between” in West Texas I knew where every gas station, lodging and places to eat were. I did make some mistakes. Nothing that ruined the trip but we learned from the mistakes. We have learned a lot and continue to learn more as we travel by motorcycle. This post is about my method of planning our trips.

Destination or Destinations

Every trip begins with a destination or destinations. We pick destinations in various ways. Some of the ways are…

  • Destinations come from places I have always wanted to ride or after traveling somewhere and realizing the trip would be a great motorcycle trip.
  • Friends are always telling us about some of the places they have traveled and have suggested rides. It’s always good to get first hand information, recommendations and you can always ask questions and get suggestions.
  • Some destinations come from reading blogs like this one. Some of my favorite blogs are Coyote , Moto Hobos, Observations of a Perpetual Motorcyclist, Crossings and alison’s wanderland to name just a few. The nice thing about following blogs is you can always get more information from the bloggers. Bloggers are always happy to share their knowledge. Just ask…
  • Some destinations come from motorcycle publications or travel publications. My favorite publications for destinations are Ride Texas, Roadrunner and Rider magazines.

Route Planning

Once we have chosen the destination, we start planning our route. Not a simple task. When riding with the wives I try to keep the mileage per day from 200 to 350 miles. The wives have things they like doing, so I plan accordingly. If just us guys are riding I try to keep it under 500 miles per day and plan the route accordingly.

The routes are not always direct. We try to see what interesting things are along the way and plan stops if they aren’t too far off the beaten path. The stops can also limit the mileage per day depending on what the stops are. You can’t see something like Big Bend in an hour…

Another consideration is lodging. We might be able to travel further on a particular day but our lodging options maybe “slim to none“ in some of the more remote areas. I am a member of most of the motel chains reward programs so I check their websites to see what is available at the planned days end. Depending on the time of year, its popularity and the remoteness I may make reservations. In places like Big Bend National Park don’t expect to ride there in the spring when the cactus are blooming and expect to get a room. It ain’t happening, reservations need to be made a year in advance in Big Bend!!! Do the research before you go… Reservations are always a good idea if traveling to popular areas at popular times of the year. Unless you like sleeping on picnic tables… You should make reservations.

The availability of gas (petrol) is a consideration in route planning too. Depending on the range of your bike and the remoteness of the area it might be a good idea to know where gas stations are before you go and plan gas stops accordingly. If you don’t have many options in an area you might want to call ahead to know business hours. Sometimes they maybe closed or out of business.

I have several road atlases that are a good source for finding scenic routes. I usually google the routes to read about what touristy things are on the route as well as what others have written about the route. We don’t want to miss anything. It might be a while before we can get back to the area.

Once all the information is collected, I start planning the routes for each day. I use google maps the most. It allows me to plot a route with via points, determine mileage and if there is a question about road quality you can check the satellite view or use the street view to get a really up close look. This has been very handy over the years. I have changed routes when I realized the road in question was a gravel or dirt road. We have traveled a few of those roads and prefer not too. You can also check for motels, restaurants, gas stations or other services you may need.

Road construction could be a big issue so I check our routes before we leave. Each state in the U.S. have websites to check road construction areas.

As I map the route I enter mileage, stop information and other need information into a spread sheet. When I make changes the total mileage is recalculated. I print out the spread sheet so I can refer to it on the trip and I use it for entering destination and via point into the GPS each day. Below is the information for one of our riding days.

Itenary example, spread sheet, trip, plan, ride, motorcycle

Before I used a GPS I would printout each day as above and placed it in a map holder on my gas tank as a “quick reference” while riding. It was a great low tech method. The mileage between via points helped to know when my next turn would be and onto which road. Then came the GPS and now I don’t travel without a GPS or maybe I should say I would prefer not to travel without one..

Weather Information

The weather on the trip is good to know but the weather history is useful too. I always check weather.com for the average high, low and record temperatures and the average perception of each area we are traveling. This also helps me determine the best time of the year to travel “weather wise” and it helps to know what to pack and not to pack.

This summer we are planning ride to 4 national parks, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier and Banff. We will be leaving Texas in 90/100 degree heat but in the parks it will be 20 or 30 degree colder in the northern higher elevations and much colder at night. Needless to say we need to pack accordingly.

I hope this is of some use to novice and seasoned riders. One thing I’ve learned while traveling by motorcycle is you can never know too much but you can know too little. Be prepared…

I hope we see you down the road somewhere… Ride safe…

Stuck At A Light On your Motorcycle?

Have you ever been stuck at a light on your motorcycle? You are the only one there at the light. There are no cars just you. The light doesn’t change and you wait and wait. So you have a choice: You can sit, potentially for hours, waiting until a “real” motorist pulls up behind you to trigger it, or you can just throw caution to the wind and run the light. You’ll wait the first few times it happens… and it will happen… even though you have the patience of a saint, you’re eventually going to run a lot of lights.

Most red lights work one of two ways: They’re timed or they’re triggered. The triggered lights usually work on an induction loop. Inductive loops work by detecting a change of inductance. A traffic light sensor uses the loop in that same way. It constantly tests the inductance of the loop in the road, and when the inductance rises, it knows there is a car waiting! If you look you can see these inductive loops in the pavement. They are usually rectangular and sometimes circular but they are there and can be seen.

There are products sold for motorcycles that claim they will trigger inductive loop sensor traffic lights. They may work… I don’t really know. I haven’t tried any of them but here is a trick I’ve learned that seems to work just fine. When I have done this, I have never got stuck at a traffic light triggered by an induction loop sensor.

The trick is to stop over one of the edges of the inductive loop. I always look for the loop when stopping and do this. So far it has never failed. Give it a try…

For other Tips check these out…

Follow us by either of these methods…

“Subscribe to Texas Rambler via Email” Click at the bottom left column to receive notifications of new posts by email. Also please take some time to leave us a comment. We always love hearing from y’all… And checkout the Texas Rambler Facebook page and click “LIKE” or “+FOLLOW

I hope I see you down the road somewhere… Ride safe…

I Had a Flat On My Motorcycle… Miles From Anywhere…

 

One big screw in my tire… Not a good thing…

I had a flat on my motorcycle… Well sort of.

I was returning from New Mexico and I was about 500 miles from home. I pulled into the picnic area to have lunch. I ran over something that made a loud pop. I looked on the road to see if something was there but I didn’t find anything. I checked my rear tire to see if I had damaged the tire but I didn’t find anything. So after lunch I packed up everything again and headed down the highway. As I pulled on to the highway I could hear a clicking sound that increased in frequency as I sped up. Then I knew I had picked up something in my tire. I stopped on the shoulder and checked the tire more closely, rolling the bike forward until I found a very large screw sticking in the center of the tire.

Rest stop with town in the distance…

Because the size of the screw was very large, I was afraid that the plug wouldn’t do the job. The tire wasn’t leaking air so I opted to ride to the next town which is about 6 or 7 miles ahead. I could see the town from the picnic area. The first business I saw when I got to town was a small tire shop. I stopped and the owner was a biker and he plugged the tire. The screw looked even bigger once it was pulled from the tire. I wasn’t sure if the plug would hold. Now I had to decide if I should ride back to Lubbock or ride on to Abilene. It was Monday and bike shops are always closed on Mondays so either way I could not get the tire replaced until the following day. I decided to ride on to Abilene. The tire shop owner told me to call him if I had any problems and he would come get me. Hearing that made me feel good. When I got to Sweetwater I stopped for gas and checked the tire pressure and it was good so I decided to ride on. I stopped a second time about 150 miles further and the tire was still OK. The GPS was estimating my arrival in Georgetown at 7:30 PM so I thought I would try to make it on home. The last time I stopped for gas I called Janet to let her know my ETA. I got home at 7:44. It was good to be home. I missed my riding buddy that I left at home.

If you don’t have a tire repair kit that you carry I hope this story makes you realize that a tire problem can happen to you. Sometimes in places that would put you between a rock and a hard place. There are a lot of tire repair kits out there. Which kit is the best has yet to be determined by me. I have spoken to several people in motorcycle shops and they all have various opinions but they all seemed to be saying they are all good if you have a flat. Some are easier to use than others. It comes down to your preference and space you have available on your bike.

“Slime” air compressor stowed in the Goldwings right saddlebag.

Progressive Suspension tire repair kit stowed in the Goldwing’s left saddlebag.

My tire repair kit is made by Progressive Suspension.  It is contained in a small case so it doesn’t take up much room. The kit has 2 CO2 cylinders , 3 tire plugs, insertion tool, cement and small hose to air tire with CO2 cylinders. A friend suggested I get a small air compressor also because if the patch leaks you can add air and it is easier than using the CO2 cylinders. The air compressor is made by Slime the folks who make the tire sealant. It too is very small and stores away easily. The sides of the Goldwing’s saddlebags are not flat and have indentions where I have velcroed the patch kit and air compressor. So they use space that would normally be wasted.

Gryyp tire plug

There is another patch kit I plan to get. It’s the Gryyp tire plug. I have found them as a kit with CO2 cylinders but I want just the plugs and haven’t found where I can buy them separately. I like these because you screw them in and snap of the top part and go. The reason I think this will work well is I know a rancher who patches his 4 wheeler tires with metal screws. The tires have many screws in them. He picks up thorns daily on his ranch. He says he would go broke fixing and buying tires if he didn’t use the screws. So when I saw this product I thought why not… If any of you have experience using this product please share your thoughts in a comment.

Don’t leave home without your tire repair kit…

I hope we see you down the road somewhere.

Ride safe…