Monday, April 14, 2014

Registered for Americade 2014

I've registered for my favorite motorcycle rally, Americade, centered on Lake George, New York, which Thomas Jefferson described as the "Queen of American lakes". Americade is the largest touring rally (i.e. a centrally-organized event; not a "Bike Week" type of event) in the world, with 50,000+ registered attendees expected. Many thousand more who choose not to register for the rally will also show up. This will be my 10th Americade since 1998, and 12th bike trip to Lake George.  The rally is tremendous fun with tons to do over the course of the 6-day rally, including seminars and talks by noted moto-journalists, world travelers and industry insiders; skills shows; demo rides; bike judging; field events; guided and unguided tours; lighting shows; charity poker runs; scavenger hunts; comedy shows; fireworks; parades; and, much more. It also features a giant motorcycle trade show, TourExpo. Now all that's great, but I tend to spend most of my time riding the excellent twisties and mountain gaps in the Adirondack National Park (the largest in the continental US) and nearby Vermont. I'll also spend a bit of time riding and hanging out with Americade friends (most of which I only see during Americade). Where will you be riding this year?

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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Blow Hard Motorcycle Horn

This review of an awesome new product was just posted today from the good folks at webBikeWorld; may have to buy one for commuting duty!


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Take Advantage of Evolution

I'd had my eye on a particular motorcycle riding suit for a couple of years, waiting for the long-rumored significant updates to go into production.  Having seen the updated item on the manufacturer's website and catalog recently, I pulled the trigger. When it arrived a couple of weeks ago, I tore into the box like a kid on Xmas, but...wait, whatthefrigginhellisthis?   It was the prior generation suit!  The situation was fairly quickly and without too much hassle rectified.  The seller's explanation was that it was clearing out existing stock before shipping out the updated versions of the item.  That has me wondering how many times over the years I've unknowingly purchased outdated versions of gear/farkles/widgets; many changes are subtle and may not be apparent to the customer.   My practice going forward with any online or phone order is to make it clear I want the current generation.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Gimme a brake!

After ~55K+ miles, my motorcycle's braking power was becoming a bit Flintsonesque, so last week in addition to receiving new sintered pads, the front calipers were rebuilt with fresh seals, pistons and slider pins; the original rubber brake hoses were tossed in favor of Galfer braided stainless steel lines. The pads are yet barely bedded-in, but that "throwing out the anchor" feeling has returned, as has more precise braking feel. Job done!
Too bad they won't stay this clean.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

AcesMAD Helmet Decals

Inspired by fighter pilots and college football teams, John Woods (himself victimized multiple times by L.A. traffic) recently invented a reward system for motorcyclists for successfully avoiding injurious havoc, and to help make us more conspicuous as well: Aces M.A.D. (Mayhem Averted Decals).  I happen to believe they're kinda fun, too.  These highly reflective, removable vinyl decals stick well on a helmet's curved surfaces, and are only $4.99 for a sheet of 20 representing such enemies as cars, SUVs, trucks, pedestrians, cell phone users, bicyclists, animals and yes, even other riders. I haven't been able to get many miles in during this awful record-breaking-snow winter we're having in the northeast, but already one side of my helmet displays quite a few; that's commuting duty for ya! (Maybe I need a second set.)  Judging by the lingering glances from cagers at stop lights, they understand what the stickers represent; perhaps these drivers will be a bit more aware of motorcycles in future, or am I giving them too much credit? Get yours today at AcesMAD's website and begin rewarding yourself for dodging those bogeys!
My awards so far.

Just as bright as the SOLAS tape on the bottom edge.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

1960s Cafe Racer Culture

Just saw this video that I think is damn cool. It's new but it evokes the 1960s British biker culture...meeting up at cafes, homemade BSA and Norton cafe racers, iconic Barbour International jackets (which is still in business BTW), and "doing the ton" in the days before modern tires and brakes made it routine.

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

TT: Full Throttle

TT: Full Throttle is Toronto author Nicole Winters' first published novel. Though it was written with "reluctant young adult" readers in mind, and I have no doubt it's a great piece for that audience, it's a great read for anyone, even avid adult readers.  The protagonist, Scott, wants to fulfill his late father's dream of racing the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Race.  Scott and his friends-cum-newbie pit crew travel from British Columbia to the IoM with the goal of qualifying to race in the TT.  

For background research for her book, Ms. Winters attended the IoM in 2010 and 2011 and interviewed organizers, riders, pit crew members, et al.  She even toured the 37 3/4 mile/200+ corner course with a former TT champion and volunteered as a roadside marshal.

Check out the author's website for more info and reviews and high praise from IoM TT riders. The book was resealed in Canada last Fall, with the U.S. release scheduled for March 2014. I suggest ordering the book by clicking thru to Amazon from Ms. Winters' website. 

TT: Full Throttle
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: James Lorimer; Reprint edition (March 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1459405161
  • ISBN-13: 978-1459405165

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Why Own A Vintage Motorcycle?

There are countless reasons to own a motorcycle. The freedom, the economy, the cost, the sense of excitement - it all adds up to a connection with travel and the road that you’re unlikely to experience in a car. If you find a reason to own an old motorcycle, the experience can be even more enjoyable - the simple mechanics and pure ‘seat of the pants’ riding is addictive and can often lead to a love affair with vintage motorcycles. Here are 5 reasons to invest in and ride an old motorcycle.


There is a definable sense of camaraderie within the riding community, and even more so if you have an old motorcycle. Parts get shared, tips exchanged and anecdotes swapped. It provides an involved and immersive sense of being involved in something, and regular meetups and social events help to contribute to the enjoyment of being part of something everyone can relate to.


With an old motorcycle it’s likely that the repairs will cost far less than more modern bikes. Old fashioned carburettor systems are relatively easy to work on, and have a number of benefits over modern fuel injectors when it comes to tools, access and sourcing parts. Repairs either done by yourself or a mechanic can also be completed fairly quickly.

Smell, Atmosphere and Sense of Occasion

You more or less know that if you try to start your modern motorcycle in the wet or cold, everything will be fine. They’ll be no glitches, no hiccups and no sense of drama. However perfect that might seem, it is sometimes the temperamentality of vintage and old motorcycles that give them their charm and character. Their sound, the smell of grease and the sense of occasion every time you ride one is part of their attraction - and part of the sense of nostalgia many people have when it comes to their most treasured possessions.

Gain in Value

Because they are easy to work on, many people can buy old motorcycles for a small sum and increase their value by restoring them to their former glory. Although the costs of restoring compared to their ultimate sale value must be borne in mind, if there is an old motorcycle which has seen daily use their value is likely to remain relatively stable.

Style and Substance

There’s no doubt about it, having an old motorcycle in truly excellent condition will turn heads no matter where you go. There’s something recognizably refined and stylish about it - old motorcycles have a look and feel you can’t find these days even in the more modern replicas of cafe racers, choppers or old school bobbers. The associated lifestyle, clothing, music and films can often be intrinsically linked to the motorcycle you own. Companies such as Deus Machina are a good place to go for more information.

About the Author

This post was created by Infinity Motorcycles – stocking the fullest range of motorcycle clothing, accessories, luggage and care products for motorcycle riding. We have 10 UK branches from Southampton to York, and you can be sure of quality and excellent service when you visit any one of them.

Please do get in touch if you’d like any more information. Alternatively, find out what we stock in our online shop.

Photo credits: Tilted Horizons

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

The million mile motorcyclist, Glenn Turple!

Photo Credits:

Glenn Turple of Alberta, Canada, was only eighteen when he bought his first motorbike, a 1926 Harley Davidson – even in 1946 it was a bargain at only $25 but he never even rode it; he fixed it then went away on a summer job and when he came back his brother Rex had broken it again!

But this was the beginning of one man’s love affair with the motorbike and it wasn’t long before he made them his living, opening small parts and servicing business – Olds Motorcycle Sales – in a shed on the family farm. Although motorcycles in those days didn’t all have odometers, Glenn started keeping a careful eye on his mileage and soon was averaging over 25,000 a year on his various bikes with trips to places as far away as Los Angeles

Turple Bros. is born

After only seven years trading off the farm, the brothers moved into town, converting a house in Red Deer, on the highway between Calgary and Edmonton. They used the old kitchen of the house as a workshop and the business was soon doing well enough to keep them both occupied full time. Glenn always rode British bikes – Ariel, Triumph and BSA – until he bought his first Honda in 1966 and has never looked back. When the Gold Wing entered his life in 1975, Glenn’s mileage per year (and per bike) absolutely soared. The Gold Wing was designed as a touring bike and Glenn does love to tour – his 1984 Gold Wing took him over 215,000 miles. 

Insuring for the road

When Glenn first started riding, insurance was not as sophisticated as it is now and not everyone carried it. Nowadays, insurance is mandatory of course and everyone who uses the public highway must carry it.

With big bikes like Gold Wings people tend to worry that motorcycle insurance might be too costly, but of course it is not just the price and engine size of the bike that determines the cost, but the riding record of the owner, their age and experience.  Luckily all this can be done online and there are many sites that offer cheap motorbike insurance such as at Express Insurance, the bike insurer and GoCompare to name a few. There won't be many motorcyclists in the world who can claim a total mileage like Glenn’s, but what the bike is used for is also a deciding factor on the price of the motorcycle insurance and also any exclusions or excesses on the policy.

Use as a commuter vehicle will bring a different quote from use as a leisure bike; accurate form filling is essential, as in all kinds of motor insurance.

Every state and province
Glenn estimates that he passed the million mile mark back in October 2013, although he has had to do a certain amount of maths to convert kilometres to miles. Since his motorcycle wanderlust really kicked in with the purchase of his first Honda Gold Wing, he has visited every state in the US and every province and territory in Canada.

His business is still in operation although now in much bigger premises and run by his family. Glenn is 85 now and still on his motorcycle – he says that as long as the temperature is above -10°C and the roads have been cleared of snow, he’s happy to ride anywhere. Now there speaks a true Canadian!

One of his never-miss dates in the year is the Calgary Motorcycle Show so it’s just as well he doesn't mind the weather. The show takes place in January every year and January on the Prairies could challenge the keenest motorcyclist. Glenn and his Gold Wing will hopefully be making the journey for a good long time yet.

This post courtesy of  Express Insurance, motorbike insurance specialists in the UK

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Product Review: Auritech earplugs

You DO ride with ear plugs, right?  If not, you've got no excuse; wearing ear plugs can prevent wind-induced hearing loss, will reduce rider fatigue and, contrary to what many believe, will allow you to hear MORE of your engine and surroundings (e.g. automobiles).  I literally haven't ridden a mile without ear plugs since the first time I tried them around 1998.  The key is finding plugs that work for you among the many brands, shapes and materials on the market; most fall into the categories of foam, wax/silicone, plastic or custom molded.

I've been auditioning a set of Auritech Hearing Protectors/"Biker Earplugs" from Appia Healthcare, a UK outfit with extensive hearing protection experience.  They're available from retailer, which also sells a great variety of ear care and hearing protection products.  The Auritechs are constructed of soft thermoplastic and contain both a ceramic filter and a venturi chamber, which together are claimed to attenuate wind noise without muffling conversational frequencies.  We've had a lot of snow and ice so far this winter, so my riding has been limited, but after about 400 miles I can say that the Auritech Biker plugs perform as claimed.  While the claimed attenuation is a little over 29db, I don't notice much difference in noise reduction between the Auritechs and my "go-to" foam plugs that are rated at 33db.  Comfort is highly individual, with ear canal size and shape, and helmet interior construction all playing a part, but these plugs worked fine for me without a hint of pressure or pain. The Auritech plugs are much easier and quicker to insert than my foamies -- using the molded-in "handle" one simply inserts them straight into the ear canal while pulling the ear up and back a bit; no rolling/compressing required like with foam plugs. Unlike foamies, however, the Biker Earplugs won't be thrown away after a few uses, so some minimal care is required; AllEarPlugs sells a cleaning kit, or they can be washed in soapy water.  The plugs are supplied with a useful aluminum screw-top cylindrical carrier sealed with a rubber o-ring, which also has a split-ring for attaching to a key ring, jacket zipper pull, tank bag zipper, etc.

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Brand new old BMW!?

I love the old BMW R90S, evidenced by prior posts here and here, so a New Hampshire BMW dealer's efforts to build a 100% brand new 1975 R90S from genuine BMW catalog parts caught my attention (jeez, I have trouble getting OEM parts for my 10-year old Kawasaki.)  The build has been occurring over the last couple of days and should be complete soon.  Click here to view the in-progress photos or live video feed. I can't imagine what the final cost will be, but it'll be worth it.

Addendum 1/10/2014:  Click here to see the completed bike on it's first test ride!

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Farkling Muff-tastic!

Over the last few winters, I've tried at least four different brands of handlebar muffs, including the proprietary eponymous (and pricey) Hippo Hands.  Each kept my hands warm enough, but none allowed the ease or confidence of control accessibility I wanted, and most collapsed the leading edges at speed, pushing back into the brake and clutch levers. I was about to give up on muffs when I discovered the made-for-ATVs Klopin "Geartector Mitts." Not only are the arm openings large and extremely rigid (as in you'd have to stomp on them to deform them, maybe) but the leading edges are stiff plastic panels -- probably meant as off-road branch/rock deflectors, but on the street prevent collapsing at speed. With the Geartectors, I'm able to fiddle with my helmet visor/vents, GPS and shoot the one-fingered salute to errant cagers with confidence, knowing I'll be able to quickly get my left hand back onto the controls. Until the temps get below about 20F, I'm also able to use one-step lighter gloves than I would without the mitts, allowing greater control feel.  The insulated mitts install in minutes using zippers and drawstrings with those spring-loaded tightener thingamabobs. The only change I have to make is moving the GPS inboard on the bars for the winter. The large leading edges catch a fair amount of wind, but I'm not trying to set land-speed records on cold roads and fingers with adequate blood-supply are worth trading at least 2-3 MPG. In use, the only real issue I've had is that the left mitt tends to knock the choke lever towards the off position, so I tend to warm up the engine a little longer than usual before heading out. YMMV on all this of course, because so much depends upon the specific design and dimensions of the motorcycle upon which the mitts are used. The Klopins happen to be a steal at about $30 ($24 with Amazon Prime right now.) 
Yes, they're fugly, but at 15F everyone thinks I'm stupid anyway.

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Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Last Ephrata Ride-In of 2013

November marks the end of each year's "First Sunday" ride-in series at the American Legion in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. Last Sunday the crowd numbered in the few hundreds rather than the usual thousands; I suspect the low 30s temps and gusty winds had something to do with that. I still had a great ride, some engaging conversations with fellow (fool?)hardy riders, and saw plenty of cool motorcycles, a few of which are below.

Vintage Penton enduro with period Preston Petty fenders, spare spark plug holder, etc.

Wonder if they fight over the number?

Perhaps to hairiest street bike ever sold.
Guess who I found on a bulletin board inside the AmLegion hall? I'd like to thank my hair stylist, Mr. Arai.

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United Nations of Motorcycling?

Just in from the Random Thoughts While Riding To Work Department: This morning I was wearing a helmet from Japan, neck warmer from England, jacket from Finland, hi-viz vest from Holland, pants from Minnesota, gloves from Germany, and boots from Italy.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Adventure Motorcycle Calendar

While it's no substitute to riding to exotic locations yourself, the next best thing is the vicarious thrill from viewing others' photographs of those places. The out-sized (17" x 12") Adventure Motorcycle Calendar 2014 from Octane Press contains a year's worth of spectacular images, from mountain tops to desert floors, shot by adventure riders who are also readers of Horizons Unlimited, the renowned online hub for world-travelers. This high-quality calendar is a must-have for any adventurous rider, and would make a great Christmas gift for the other riders on your list. Click here for a sneak peek and to order.

Adventure Motorcycle Calendar 2014
Author: Lee Klancher
ISBN: 978-1-937747-23-7
Publisher: Octane Press
Format: 17x12 inches, 24 pages
Publication Date: August 1, 2013
Price: $15.99

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Book Review: Motorcycling Through Midlife

Motorcycling Through Midlife, The Call of the Corner is best read the way one attacks a good motorcycling road: finding the rhythm, settling into a pace, feeling the flow from turn to turn, and reveling in sudden changes in direction and elevation.  Thorough reviews can be found here, and here.  I wrote this book for my fellow baby boomers who are thinking about taking up motorcycling, or already have, said Metzger, who is also the founder of Motomarathon, about which I've posted a few times before. Though its a dangerous hobby fueled by subconscious adolescent cravings, motorcycling can be the finest expression of youthful joy and freedom if approached with the wisdom of midlife and before we get too old.”  While I came into motorcycling from a totally different direction as the author, and while I don't agree with a number of his opinions, I found much to like, to chuckle over, and ponder. I was wishing for higher quality, color photographs as well.  Being a slim book, the ride was over all too soon, much as journeys down fun roads always seem to be.  I recommend this book for any rider's motorcycling library.
Published by the Motomarathon Association Press, first edition paperbacks of Motorcycling Through Midlife can be purchased for $15 in The Shop at

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Omerta MC St. Jude Children's Hospital Motorcycle Run 2013

Proving that not every motorcycle group ride in New York City on Sept. 29th was hell-bound on mischief and mayhem (of course, we knew that), the Brooklyn-based Omerta MC hosted a charity ride to benefit the St. Jude's Children's Hospital. Roughly 300 riders attended, including one of my long-time readers, Jason Nakleh, who shot this footage of the event from the saddle of his H-D Street Bob using a helmet-mounted Go-Pro.

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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Motorhead Coffee is back on track!

Back in February 2009 I had the pleasure of reviewing some great coffee from Motorhead Coffee, a venture of an Indiana motorcyclist named Jamie ("Shep" on ADVrider.)  After taking a break to suffocate in the corporate world for a while, I'm glad to report that Shep is back, breathing the fresh air again and custom-roasting some great new products.  Four bags of beans arrived in a tidy package on my doorstep pronto: 10W-30, a light roasted African; 10W-40, medium roast Latin; 10W-50, medium-dark Sumatran; and, the seriously-robust Diesel. All are roasted in small batches using a traditional, gas-fired, drum roaster.  The product, price, customer service, shipping and packaging all get a big thumbs-up!  I highly recommend you order up some of Motorhead's finest today and (cue music) get your motor runnin'...

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Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Product Review: Rev'It! Athos Vest

Below is pasted a slightly edited version of my review from Rezvilla's website:

5 / 5
5 / 5
A less dorky, flap-free way to wake up those cagers!
July 26, 2013
Customer avatar
From Newark
Rider Type:Road Warrior
Bang for the Buck 
4 / 5
4 / 5
5 / 5
5 / 5
5 / 5
5 / 5
Protection & Durability 
4 / 5
4 / 5
Air Flow 
4 / 5
4 / 5
4 / 5
4 / 5
Slightly Small
For many years, I've carried a reflective vest to use at night or in rain or fog, figuring that not getting run over outweighed the dork factor. However, I've never worn plain black gear until recently when I purchased a Rev'It! Ignition 2/Gear 2 combo, primarily for commuter-duty, which convinced me I needed something to make me more visible in ALL conditions.
Enter the Athos vest, with its eye-poppingly hi-viz. It's sooo much better suited to motorcycle use than the construction-worker types I've used in the past: it's snug, aerodynamic, securely attached with a zipper, won't fall off every time you don or doff your jacket, and doesn't flap around in the wind. With the retro-reflective strips and Rev'It! logos front and back, it's an excellent conspiscuity device day and night. At $60, the Athos is more expensive than the construction and emergency services reflective vests, but because it's designed specifically for motorcycle use, it really can't be compared to the others on a cost basis. However, I do think the Athos is a bit overpriced.
Sizing: Taking RZ's advice, I bought a Large (I would've bought a Medium if left to my own devices), which fits great over my size 52 Ignition 2 jacket (which also fits a bit small).
More hot air: The vest flows a decent amount of air, though it does somewhat reduce flow thru the mesh portions of my jacket, a trade-off I'm willing to make. Surprisingly, my sophisticated tests (blowing air thru it) shows that air outflows easier than it inflows.
She blinded me with, well, you know: The color of the hi-viz portions are (to my eye) more yellow than the green-ish product images on RZ's site. It's still plenty hi-viz, tho, and really "pops" against my black jacket. I ride like I'm invisible nonetheless.
Just stuff it!: The vest comes with a nice hi-viz stuff sack, which I use to stash other junk in a side case because I wear the vest any time I'm wearing my new black/black suit.
Etc.: While I don't mind it not having pockets because I carry almost nothing in my outer gear (which explains the bulging tank bag), you may. The vest's zipper is "left-handed" like much Euro clothing is. I've only had the vest for about a month so I can't comment on durability, which I have to say is a weakness in some Rev'It! gear. I bet cleaning bug innards off the hi-viz material will be difficult. The zipper is branded "SBS."
Yes, I recommend this product.

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Friday, October 04, 2013

Saving on Motorcycle Insurance

Valuable Tips: Saving on Motorcycle Insurance
There’s a pretty good chance that you’ll never see motorcycle insurance policies in a store’s bargain bin. There’s no such thing as a “50% off” or a “buy 1 take 1” for these things. However, that doesn’t mean that you can never get a hold of a motorcycle insurance policy at a lower price. In fact, there are steps that you can take to get a better deal for yourself. Luckily, these aren’t difficult to accomplish at all. Below are some valuable tips on how you can save big on motorcycle insurance.

Search for the Best

As you probably know, there’s no standard price for motorcycle insurance since different companies offer plans at widely varying rates. That is why you shouldn’t stop browsing through motorcycle insurance plans until you feel that you’ve found the company that offers the best deal possible. One of the companies that offer the most affordable, great value plans in the market is Famous Insurance, so you may want to check it out.

Pricey Bike = Pricey Insurance

Here’s a no-brainer: if you don’t want to pay handsomely for motorcycle insurance, then don’t get a handsome ride. New and expensive models will obviously cause the rate of your insurance to spike. For that reason, do think twice about this before you purchase the latest Road King or other similar models.

Insurance Deductible

The deductible is the amount that must be paid for a claim before the policy takes effect. Generally, you can lower the cost of your motorcycle insurance by paying more for the deductible amount. You’d want to seriously consider this as you can shave off as much as 20%-30% from the cost of your insurance.

Motorcycle Training

Motorcycle newbies usually have to pay premium for insurance. On the flip side, those who underwent motorcycle training or courses can take advantage of better deals (just present your certificate to your agent). Hopefully, you fall into the latter category.

Drop the “Baggage”

As mentioned earlier, there’s no such thing as a standard rate when it comes to motorcycle insurance. Insurance differs in price because drivers also vary in profile and ability. Drivers who are young or have blemished driving records normally get charged more. Thus if you share your motorcycle with such drivers, then you can expect the cost of your insurance to rise. You should exclude them from your policy if you want to save cash.

Review Your Driving Record

Do this even if your driving record should read blank. There’s always the possibility that the traffic department may have wrongly marked your record for a violation. That would of course factor into the price of your motorcycle insurance. It’s better to check just to be safe.

Remove the Guest Passenger Liability Coverage

Do away with the guest passenger liability coverage if you regularly ride (no one’s sitting behind you) by your lonesome. After all, you shouldn’t be paying for something that would be practically useless to you.

Seek Discounts

You may think that you probably can get a better deal on your motorcycle insurance since your bike rarely gets any action anyway. If that’s the case, then you’re correct. There are insurance companies that offer discounted policies to drivers who only use their motorcycles on occasion. Be sure to ask for lower rates in such a situation—you’ll be able to save a ton of cash this way.

Users of old motorcycles should also be able to score discounts on insurance as well. You’re basically just throwing away money by keeping your dated ride fully covered. Talk it over with your agent and you should be able to cut down your insurance cost.

Don’t Bother with Minor Claims

The very purpose of motorcycle insurance is to shield the insured against significant losses or damage. With that said, don’t make a habit of going after even the most minor of claims—insurance companies aren’t fond of people like that. Otherwise, you’ll be at the mercy of higher rates.

Maintain an Excellent Credit Score

Yes, even your credit score can be a factor in the cost of your motorcycle insurance. While some insurance companies don’t put this into consideration, there are many that do. Therefore, it won’t hurt to be a good citizen that pays the bills on time.

Author bio: Adriel Mercado is a freelance writer and has been into motorcycles ever since he graduated from high school.

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