Archive for the ‘Motorcycle Rides’ Category

safety

Spring has sprung across the world (in the northern hemisphere), and riders are starting to come back out in force.  Despite my near-debilitating seasonal allergies this is one of my favorite times of year!  Nothing gets me psyched up like the first Sunday that it’s warm enough to ride after winter where I’m pretty sure every person that owns a motorcycle where I live is out!  (Side note:  motorcycles are out in much greater numbers on Sunday compared to Saturday around me, is that true for anyone else?)  The strong sense of community, camaraderie, and kinship I feel on a warm (or at least not cold!) spring day is part of why I love riding so much.

But motorcycling isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.  As we all come out of our winter cocoons to spread our wings on the road, it is important to remember that motorcycling is not without its fair share of danger.  In many parts of the world, four-wheeled motorists still are not properly trained to accommodate us on the road.

TIPS FOR YOU TO KEEP YOURSELF SAFE

Make Sure Your Bike is Properly Maintained

I will probably do a whole post just on this in the future, but motorcycle maintenance is much more frequent than cars and very, very important.  I’m only going to touch on two items today as I feel they are the most overlooked maintenance tasks, and they both pertain to your chain.

Maintain your chain!  That’s a refrain I’ve heard across the internet in regards to proper bike maintenance.  Chain-driven bikes are the single most common type of bike, and the chain is pivotal in making everything work, yet so many people neglect to take care of it.  If you don’t properly care for your chain you could one day find yourself riding down the road on a sunny afternoon one minute and on the ground the next because your chain jumped off the rear sprocket and locked up the bike.  This is a worst-case scenario, but it does happen.  Here are two simple tasks you can perform to help prevent that:

Regularly monitor your chain’s slack.  Slack allows your motorcycle’s chain to adjust as your back wheel bounces up and down on the road.  Every motorcycle has a recommended chain slack, and it’s usually even printed on the bike’s swing arm (if you have a swing arm bike) or somewhere else near the chain.  You want to keep your bike’s chain slack within the manufacturer recommended specifications so your chain has enough slack to adjust as needed, but not so much that it can fly off the sprocket.

Lube your chain.  I’ve heard many people say “I lube my chain and change my oil at the start of every season” not realizing that while that’s fine for your oil, chains need to be lubed much more frequently.  Most manufacturers I’ve seen recommend lubing your chain every 500 miles, but the usual common accepted practice among owners is about 500-1000 miles.  I commute 450 miles a week for work, so I just lube my chain every weekend regardless.  It takes 5 minutes and could save your life.  Finally, lube your chain EVERY TIME after you ride in the rain.  That’s right, every time, even if you just lubed it before riding that day.  Rain cleans your bike, but it also washes all of that sweet, sweet lube right off the chain!

Wear A Helmet

I personally am an ATGATT type of guy, but I get that some people don’t want to go through the trouble of putting on special pants, boots, gloves, and a jacket every time they go out to ride.  Motorcycling is about managing acceptable risk after all.  One thing that I try my hardest to convince every rider that I meet to do, though, is wear a helmet.  Broken limbs can heal, shorn skin can grow back, but a crushed skull is often motorcycle-helmet-after-accidentpretty permanent.  Once again, I intend to do a whole post on the topic of helmets, but for now I want to leave you with this one thought:

A friend once told me “You buy a $40 helmet for a $40 head, and a $400 helmet for a $400 head.”  I really like this, it makes a lot of sense.  What’s not said is you’re unique and regardless of what you think your head is worth, it’s worth so much more to someone else out there somewhere that cares about you.  Every head is at least a $400 head, please protect it.

Pretend You’re Invisible

I feel this too has been said a lot, but it cannot be stressed enough.  In a fight between a bike and a car / truck / whatever, the bike will lose.  Every time.  While it’s important for other motorists to look out for us, we also need to be looking out for ourselves.  Be proactive, before passing someone consider the likelihood of them wanting to get into your lane assafety you pass.  Assume that they won’t see you when they consider their lane switch.  And in this specific example, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about passing other motorists, do it QUICKLY.  Motorcycles are in part about speed.  Speed is fun.  Speed can also be a lifesaving tool if used appropriately.

A note specific to intersections:  intersections are the most deadly place for motorcyclists.  That person in the SUV crossing the other way may have looked you dead in the eye from your perspective, but odds are good they didn’t even see you.  They’re not trained to.  Proceed into intersections with the utmost caution; make sure you are aware of every car within visible distance of the intersection.  And only proceed through once you’re 100% sure no one is going to cut you off, and do it QUICKLY (see the theme here?)

So those are just a few quick tips to stay safe throughout the riding season, but wait I thought this post was about Motorcycle Awareness Month?  That is a very astute observation, and absolutely correct!  Which brings me to the second part of this post…

Put a “WATCH FOR MOTORCYCLES” Decal on Your Car

Bumper stickers and decals are annoying, I get it, but how many random things have you gotten stuck in your head because you were stuck behind someone with one at a stop light?  If you ride a motorcycle you owe it to yourself to put one of these on your car.  This is one decal that could actually save a life.  In the United States, the MSF gives out these stickers pretty often at the end of their courses, (that’s how I got mine) but if you don’t want to go through that, and don’t want to go through the hassle of looking up where to find one, here’s a couple direct Amazon links to both a high-visibility one depicting a cruiser and a standard black and white one featuring a sport bike.  I recommend getting the high-vis, but if you are the type of person who absolutely can’t stand the idea of having a cruiser stuck on your car, I understand.

Talk to Non-Riders About Riding

Depending on who you are this may either be a no-brainer or easier said than done.  Motorcycle awareness starts with you and the people around you.  For some non-riders talking about riding could be difficult as the fact that you ride worries them, and thinking about it makes it worse.  I am writing this tip for those types of people in your life.  Do your best to let them know that if they truly worry, then the best thing they can do is talk with you about it, and learn better how to share the road with motorcyclists.  Every non-rider that listens and learns is a step toward a safer world for motorcyclists.  With any luck that one person will then educate other people when the topic inevitably comes up among four-wheel motorists every Spring.

This second part is specifically for those of you with kids.  I used to always play a game with my friends called “Yellow Car”, which, as you might expect, is played by saying, “yellow car!” before anyone else when you see a yellow-colored car.  As a kid on long trips, my family would try to find as many different states’ license plates as we could before getting to our destination.  These games are silly, but they also teach very important observation skills.  For example, I can spot yellow cars in my sleep now.  So when you’re on the road with kids, play “Motorcycle” where the first person to yell (or say, but it usually turns into excited yelling) “Motorcycle!” as one goes by gets a point!  This will not only keep them entertained, but will teach them a very important skill once they grow up and become licensed drivers:  they’ll be able to spot a motorcycle from a mile away.

Join SyncRIDE

SyncRIDE is actually the inspiration for this whole article!  EatSleepRIDE is hosting SyncRIDE on May 27th to raise motorcycle awareness.  It’s a worldwide synchronized ride. No matter where you are at 10 AM EDT, just turn on your EatSleepRIDE app, (if you have a smartphone) and go for a ride with thousands of other riders!  As long as they continue it next year, I foresee SyncRIDE becoming a annual event for riders with the ability to create some real awareness.

And if you live in the Lancaster, PA area, hit me up at readysetmoto@gmail.com!  I’m trying to coordinate a group ride around here for the event as well!

What other things do you think we as riders can do to raise awareness and create safer motorways?  Let me know in the comments!

 

Michael Morris is a motorcycle enthusiast living in the middle of Amish Country Pennsylvania.  He runs and owns the motorcycle blog and news site www.ReadySetMoto.com.  When not working on his blog, he loves to interact with fellow motorcyclists on Twitter (@ReadySetMoto) and Facebook (facebook.com/Ready-Set-Moto) as well so drop him a line!

revolutionary ride

I have just completed reading the latest book from Lois Pryce, “Revolutionary Ride”, recording her solo motorcycle expedition to and through Iran.  The book vividly recounts her story of finding the truth about the “real” Iran while also accounting to why some of the stereotypes of the theocratic regime exists.  All in all a well-balanced story of modern Iran while also a great motorcycle adventure story!

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Lois Pryce at Timonium Motorcycle Show 2017

While I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style and prose in her last book, Revolutionary Rides is even more polished.  At many points in the book I could sense Lois’ excitement of the moment and of the people she met. Her story telling ability also allowed me to feel the palpable trepidation and fear when things went askew. 

Regardless of your affinity for motorcycles this is a good adventure story.  You will be doing yourself a disservice should you not purchase and read Lois Pryce’s latest effort.  I am giving Revolutionary Ride five stars.

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This is the second of her books that I have read.  Check out my review of “Red Tape & White Knuckles”.

Struggling to decide where to ride or tour on your motorcycle in the coming season?  How about the two following websites to help generate some ideas. 

The first site is a repeat of one from an earlier post. A few years ago I wrote about a website that could help you plan some cool motorcycle tours.  This site by the Federal Highway Administration (can you believe that the federal government got a website right?) is called the American Byways.  America’s Byways is an interactive, map based, website that will provide you a listing of each of the 150 different roads.  Those roads are comprised of the National Scenic Byways and All-American Roads. You can select the road from a national or state map to see basic information on the road (length, average time to travel the road and historical background) as well as route maps, directions and photos. 

american byway

Interactive map of American Byways

The second website to help you pick some motorcycle rides or destinations is “Only in Your State”. With this website you can find some out of the way or quirky places that you may never even heard or read about near your home.  For example, here in Virginia, this website recommends the “Southern Virginia’s Donut Trail Is Everything You’ve Dreamed Of And More”.  So the saying “Ride to eat. Eat to ride” fits in well.

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There are a lot of other websites like this out on the ‘ole interwebs.   If you have one that you like to use when it comes to finding a destination for motorcycle ride, tour or destination please share in the comments below!!!

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Most years the wife and I take a long motorcycle trip or tour to somewhere.  Last year we went to New Orleans via the Harley Owners Group Rolling Rally.  The year before we went on a long ride that passed through Myrtle Beach, SC then through the mountains of Tennessee. At other times we have rode the motorcycle to Atlantic City and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

So one would think we would have this the planning process for motorcycle trips and tours down by now.  Well we do, step one we decide on a destination.  This year is being a bit problematic, we really can’t agree on where or what to do.  We have had a dozen ideas but none have really hit a cord.  The northeast, Niagara Falls, Canada, Harley Davidson HQ… who knows.  And that indecision is the peril as I have to schedule vacation and if we what to see anything that requires preplanning time is running short.

I am sure we will do something… I just do not know what yet!

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The first really great motorcycle riding weekend of the year and we got to take advantage of it!   It was a bit cool when we started, something just under 50F.  But, Saturday, a little before noon, the sun was out, the temperature was rising, the sky was blue and the motorcycle was calling.  

I threw on my chaps, Debbie put on her electric jacket liner and we were ready for a motorcycle ride to the US Marine Corp Museum.  We had not been there before but had seen its structure many, many time.  Anyone who travels north or south on Interstate 95 in the Washington, DC metro area has seen the spire of the museum rising above the tree line.  

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Iwo Jima flag rising… in Legos!

We rode out, going the long way to avoid the DC highway system, and a couple hours later we were pulling the motorcycle into the parking lot of the museum.  The building itself is quite imposing, it was built to give an artistic representation to the Marines rising the flag on Iwo Jima.  

It is quite amazing when you walk into the atrium of the building. Hanging from the ceiling are multiple Marine Corp aircraft from WWII as well as a Harrier jump jet.  The museum itself is well laid out walking you through the founding of the Corp at Tun Tavern through their current deployments in the Middle East.

If you are in the area of Quantico, VA riding your motorcycle or in your car, you should stop a check out this free museum.  It would be worth your time to learn a little more about one part of the American armed services.  

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So why 9?  Because everyone does 10 and 11 is too much work.

First of all this list is not for one of those around the globe motorcycle adventure trips.  I will not be mentioning things like lion repellant, spare tires or satellite phones.  These tips are more for that multi-day to couple week trips via normal roads/interstates motorcycle trips.

These tips are primarily based on our own experiences and may or may not be fully applicable to you.  However, Debbie and I are not any different then you guys so I hope that the tips get you to at least think about a particular item.

9.  Carry a few tools.  Yes, this is dependent on the type of motorcycle you ride.  A sport bike is not going to carry as much as a touring bike.  At a minimum get a multi-tool that is appropriate to your bike.  By that I mean, if your multi-tool has a hex tool but your bike has Torx screws, it is not going to be of much use.   Here is what I carry on the Harley Davidson Ultra Limited:

Multi-tool that came with the motorcycle, which turns out is quite limited based on our summer 2015 trip.

Mini screwdriver and ratchet sets with Torx, hex and standard bits in the sizes I need for my motorcycle.

Stop n Go tire Repair kit.

8. The weather is going to change, be prepared.  No matter what you think is going to happen, plan on getting wet or cold or both.  Again what you can carry is dependent on the motorcycle you ride.  At a minimum you should carry rain gear.  You need to stop and put on the rain gear as soon as you know that it is not a tiny little shower, especially if you are in the mountains.  It sucks to put on your rain gear after you are soaking and then the temp drops.b1

7. ATGATT  All The Gear All The Time – Every time I see or hear this I can’t help but think of the green Martians from the cult classic movie “Mars Attacks” (ack ack).  But what it should mean is good boots, motorcycle pants and jackets that are armored and abrasion resistant and a full face helmet.  I know that I do not do this all the time myself, it is something that we all know we should do!

6. Start Early End Early – This one is more from personal experiences with longer motorcycle trips.  After so many years in the army I still wake up early.  Because of that I get on the road early and, depending on where you are riding, that can get us out before traffic gets heavy.  It also allows you to beat the heat in the summer months, for a while anyway.  By ending early you have time to get your motorcycle unloaded and prepared for the next day, give you time for a shower and a bit of rest before dinner.  I like to be kickstand up no later than 7AM and stopped for the evening no later than 5PM.  This also helps with any bickering or sniping with your passenger because you are both tired or hot or cold.

5. Get in a Routine – Load and unload your motorcycle the same way in the same order.  Do your post ride checks in the same way at the same time (after diner). A routine of this nature will help ensure you do not forget anything while loading and unloading.  It will help to ensure that you perform your ride checks and preparation.b4

4. Inspect your bike at night – As part of your routine, do your T-CLOCS before you close down for the evening.  Wipe down the grime on your windshield/faring and if you have room to carry one, cover your bike.  Performing these activities on your motorcycle each night, I like to do mine after dinner, will allow you to be on the road little quicker in each morning. Do it in the evening or in the morning, but on all long motorcycle trips you need to do it every day.  Things become loose or need attention, better to find out when you are parked.

3. Snack Smart – Eating a big turkey leg at noon and then riding on the interstate might cause you get a bit sleepy.  Snack smart is just a tip to make sure that you can operate your motorcycle in the best manner possible.  Drinking soda or coffee might not be the best option over water or a sports drink on those days where heat might be a concern.  If you are on one of those rides where you only stop for gas consider adding a cup holder or hydration pack to your ride kit. Additionally, consider what you eat, would a banana be better for your riding or do you really, really want that turkey leg!!!

2. Tweak don’t Twerk –  Move around on the seat to stay comfortable and avoid saddle sores on a long motorcycle trip.  This is easy on a touring bike, with larger seats, highway pegs and large footboards the touring motorcyclist has it easy over the sport bike riders.  But, either way, you have to remain a comfortable as possible.  If you plan on lots of long distance riding, look into getting a seat that really fits your seat.

1. Stop and smell the roses! – Yes we all know we need frequent breaks but, if your breaks are only gas stations you are likely missing out.  If you see something that peaks your interest check it out!  Even if you have to turn around and go back to get the picture with the giant roller skate do it.  You might never know what you are missing…. maybe dinosaurs! b-2

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Motorcycles are one of the most sought after vehicles, not only for those great people that want to purchase one of their own to ride and enjoy, but also for those that lean towards the darker side of life and seek bikes out to steal. Yes, motorcycles are a huge commodity for thieves and other unscrupulous souls who enjoy taking what they can get and making a profit off it even when it does not belong to them. As a legal bike owner, there are a few things you may want to consider to keep your bike safe from thieves and ready for you to ride when you need to unwind with a little solitude down a long and winding road.

The summer months between July and September are the months with the highest risk for bike theft while the months between November and March have the least risk. This means that right now is the perfect time of year to get your bike geared up for the upcoming spring and summertime. If you live in states including California, Texas or Florida, you may benefit from knowing that these states have the highest risk of theft in the U.S. for motorcycles and being diligent when it comes to security is a wise decision to make. When you own a great motorcycle, keeping it safe should be a top priority.

Averting Bike Theft

There are numerous ways to avert bike theft and help keep your motorcycle safe and sound from thieves. A few of these ideas for security include:

  • Install an alarm
  • Lock the ignition
  • Lock the motorcycle to a building
  • Keep the bike in a locked garage
  • Install a remote engine kill switch

Something that many bikers try is to have large chains to hold the bike in place securely. While this is something that may cause thieves think twice before they approach a bike they may be attempting to steal, it also makes it a bit arduous for the bike owner to have to carry around a large, and usually heavy, chain or to find somewhere to store it when parking in public. Another drawback to a large chain is that on many bikes, chains simply will not fit on a modern bike in any area that would prevent theft. So, if a bulky chain is out of the question, what type of locks work the best when trying to prevent motorcycle theft?

Locks That Work

Bulky chains aside, there are a few great locks that work well when you need to keep the bike safe whether it is parked at home or in the middle of a crowded parking lot. Here are just a few of the better locks available on the market today:

Ground Anchors with Locks

The Immobiliser Self Fit Defiant Ground Anchor, made in Britain by Almax Security Chains, attaches into concrete or brick and has a 15 ton pull resistance. It is a very solid anchor system and with its roller construction it is impenetrable to hacksaws and other common tools that thieves will try to use.

Disc Locks

Disc Locks have been found to be an exceptional way to keep a bike locked safely to prevent theft. One great disc lock, the Xena XX15 Disc Lock produced by Revzilla, includes a maximum security barrel and key, a double locking system and an alarm that is triggered by motion and shock to produce a very loud, piercing squeal that is sure to garner a great deal of attention.

Standard Locks

While large, bulky chains may be out of the but Kryptonite, an action sports security supplier, manufactures locks and chains that are secure, simple to use and easy to carry when riding. With a simple lock and key, you can chain your bike to a post or wall with an anchor where the bike will be safe while you are away.

Home Security for Bikes

A great deal of bikers think about keeping their bikes safe when they are traveling or when they need to park for an extended time, but some fail to consider the one place that needs to be secure. Your home. Whether your motorcycle is parked in the driveway, on the street in front of the house or even safely tucked away in the garage, security should be a top concern, especially at home.

Thieves will watch a home to see what your habits are. They will learn when you leave the house, when you return and even what time the lights go out which signals to them that you have retired for the night. Hiring a top notch security firm to come out and install security cameras on your property is the perfect way to deter a thief because when they see a camera, they know they will risk being caught by the police if they steal the bike. If the bike is garaged, having an alarm installed is a good idea to prevent break-ins and to keep the bike safe while indoors. Having adequate home security when you own a motorcycle, whether the bike is valued at $5000 or $50,000, is the best way to keep your bike as well as you and your family, safe from thieves and other crime.

*** Neither Jason or IJUSTWANT2RIDE are endorsing any of the mentioned products.  The intent of this article is to give you ideas on products that you should research for yourself. ***

Jason Mueller is an entrepreneur living in Costa Rica with family from Canada.  After graduating from high school and getting his pilot’s licence he lived to travel the world looking for adventure.  He is currently working with A-1 Auto and is the owner of Jaco Ropes.

Jason has also provided two additional guest posts to this blog.  Shipping Your Bike Overseas? Things to consider!  and Motorcycle Riding in Paradise; Costa Rica.  Check them out when you have some time!

ijustwant2ride.com

The DawgHouse Motorcycle Radio…The #1 Motorcycle Show in the USf

This week on DawgHouse Motorcycle News Rants & Racing show #383

10 Awesome roads to ride from around the world!  These are not the normal rehashed and rehashed set of roads (well mostly).  The #4 road on the list is the Iroha-Zaka in Japan which looks just unbelievable. Check out this map view of the road….d1

In an earlier show (DawgHouse 373) I discussed the possibility that motorcycles may not be allowed on the road as to dangerous to the riders. The framework that is working in Europe now is called “Vision Zero”, the Zero is for zero deaths.

Ken now has to admit I might be right!  Recently the US government has introduced a discussion of a version of Vision Zero and guess what was left out of that discussion…. MOTORCYCLES!  The AMA is worried that the reason the Federal Government left out motorcycles from it future planning is that they want to ban motorcycles.

In racing news…. MotoAmerica’s 2017 season schedule is out and there are some new tracks!!!! They have added Pittsburgh International Race Complex and Sonoma Raceway (and Ken again has to admit Warren was right). AND… Phil likes the change!!!!

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Debbie and I had a, nearly, 200 mile motorcycle ride this past Sunday.  We left quite early in the morning as it was supposed to be over well over 95F by early afternoon.  Our plan worked as it was 94F as we made it back to the house about 1PM. Hot and muggy, but we beat the worse of it.

Pulling out that morning we really did not have a true destination in mind other than to ride through the towns of Lisbon and Damascus.  We wanted to hit those locations to add to our “Great Cities” motorcycle tour! With no real plan this was just going to be one of those “it’s the journey not the destination” rides.

After rolling through Lisbon we decided to just ride north.  Riding through small towns and rolling farmland made for a wonderful morning.  Toss in some light fog here and there it was just one of those rides were you just love the fact that you ride a motorcycle!

After about an hour we turned the motorcycle towards the west until we ran into US Route 15 which runs right by our home. Heading south we rode the motorcycle into Frederick, MD to stop for lunch and a quick stop at the Frederick Harley-Davidson shop.  The stop at the dealership was to take a quick peek at the new 2017 motorcycles and see for myself how the new engine looks.

A bit later we pulled the bike into our garage with about 192 miles on the trip meter.  All in all just another good day behind bars (motorcycle handlebars)!

(This is the 2nd post by Jason. Check out his other post Motorcycle Riding in Paradise!)

You can chose to ship your motorcycle overseas. This can be an excellent choice if you do it right.j1

Before you get your bike crated and ready to ship (the photo is an example of a typical shipping crate) there are some steps you must first take. You must determine where and how you will ship your bike. Additionally, you must go through a process to ready your bike for its boat its trip.  In the sections below, we’ll go over some of the details of what you need to know before shipping your bike overseas.

Having your bike transported by boat is more cost effective than air freight, though both are relatively affordable. Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when having your bike shipped to another country are the laws and regulations of that region.

Depending on where you’re shipping to, prepping your motorcycle to ship overseas can be tricky. In certain Latin American Countries like Brazil, Bolivia and Chile you can expect steep import taxes and tariffs, while shipping your bike to Nepal will require an import license.

To learn more about these laws and taxes, and how they will affect vehicle imports in particular countries, this PDF has some helpful information.

Crating & Insurance | Overseas Shipping Considerations

After you determine the specifics for where you would like to ship your bike, you have some options as to how you ship your bike. The most cost effective method is to have it crated and shipped in the cargo area of the ship. Some transport carriers are equipped with a special docking area for bikes that keeps them secure during shipping, but crating is the most typical method.

You are encouraged to consider purchasing marine insurance to assure that any damages to your motorcycle are covered. Insurance does come included as part of any transport agreement, but if you have a high-value or vintage bike, it’s a consideration worth making. It should be noted that your current insurance may also offer some coverage during shipment–check with them to see.

Now that you’ve determined where and how, you must start getting your bike ready.

  • First you must clean your bike, making sure the wheels and tires are spic and span.
  • Next, take inventory of any previous damage to the body. It’s a good idea to document any preexisting damage with pictures.
  • Reduce gas level to a quarter tank. Most shippers will require it.
  • Locate the battery and disconnect it. Remove negative cable first, then the positive cable.
  • Check your fluid levels and tire pressure.
  • Remove anything that is not attached and store them safely as items may come loose during shipping.

Check with your international shipping company for any company specific requirements. Once you’ve crated and strapped down your bike, take a picture of it before leaving it in the care of the shipping company to prove that you in fact did deliver the motorcycle should damage or theft take place.

 

Jason Mueller is an entrepreneur living in Costa Rica with family from Canada.  After graduating from high school and getting his pilot’s licence he lived to travel the world looking for adventure.  He is currently working with A-1 Auto and is the owner of Jaco Ropes.