Archive for February, 2011

No IMS in Denver? Now I Understand

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

International Motorcycle Show in Greenville, SC

I’ve wondered for a long time why the (previously Cycle World, now Progressive) International Motorcycle Shows don’t come to Denver, and yet they go to a small town like Greenville, S.C. Now I understand.

I’m in Greenville at this moment, at the show, and it’s actually kind of small. The Colorado Motorcycle Show & Swap that takes place in Denver each January is a much larger show. I’m guessing that’s why the IMS doesn’t come to Denver, they can’t compete. The Show & Swap has it all sewed up.

so OK, question answered. I’ll try to make the best of things here anyhow.

I came down here because I wanted to come to this show that I’ve read so much about for so many years, and my mother lives just out of town. So it was a natural for me to come here, rather than, say, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, or wherever.

And of course there are lots of motorcycles and parts and accessories. The show hasn’t quite opened yet so with my press pass I’m able to get a lot of good photos of some of these bikes without having to deal with crowds and trying to get a clear shot.

I’m also running into people I know. I just spent about an hour and a half with Sue Slate and Gin Shear, who run the Women’s Motorcyclist Foundation, which raises funds to fight breast cancer. I met them in 2009 when they ran the Adventures for the Cures Dirty Dozen dual-sport ride, taking off from Keystone. And then just a couple minutes after I left them I ran into Alisa Clickenger, aka MotoAdventureGal. We had a lot to talk about, too. So now there’s one more person I think I might run into here. We’ll see.

And hopefully I’ll get a lot of good material for several stories out of this. That is, of course, the reason I wanted to come. But I have to say I’m a little disappointed. I figured it was going to be a huge thing, and it isn’t. Now, the Show & Swap, in Denver in January. That’s huge!

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Progressive International Motorcycle Show kicks off in Greenville

Biker Quote for Today

Warning: If this bike is on a trailer it is being stolen.

Skepticism Hits Immediately on Harley’s Sponsorship of 2011 Hoka Hey

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Harleys on the pier

As I reported on, Harley-Davidson has signed on to be the chief sponsor of the 2011 Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge. What I didn’t mention in that report was the wave of skepticism that immediately followed that announcement.

For instance, Todd8080 has been to several such reports with his comment saying:

Have traffic laws in all of the lower 48 states suddenly changed overnight? Up until now it’s been illegal to race any vehicle for money on public roads in every single state.

You can call Hoka Hey an “endurance challenge” or anything else you choose, but the fact remains whoever gets to the finish line first wins the cash, and that’s called racing in any language.

No one has the right to jeopardize the driving public (in 48 states no less) by conducting an illegal race on public roads. Last year’s Hoka Hey was fraught with death and serious injuries, and not just to the race participants.

Over on Cyril Huze’s blog, Grayhawk offered this:

One might surmise that this sponsorship might put HD at the top of the grief list and the deepest pocket if the 2011 event repeats itself in confusion, issues, deaths, publicity, etc. from their 2010 effort no matter the assurances it will be different, your words from an excerpt above specifically, “stretching the boundaries”, may be deemed by some as encouragement to extend man and machine past it/their capability to reap monetary rewards. Event insurance alone may not suffice the negative impacts if this event goes south, just asking.

Now, with Harley as the sponsor, it would not be surprising if competition was limited to H-D riders, and that may be the case but it may not. The Hoka Hey home page says “The Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge is open to riders of Harley-Davidson motorcycles” but on the Entry page it says “This year’s event will be open to riders of V-twin, air-cooled motorcycles.”

The general opinion on that limitation, if it is in fact the case, is just fine: He who pays the piper calls the tune. Again over at Cyril Huze, TommyBoy remarked:

So, the Hoka Hey is now supported by Harley and only Harley motorcycles can participate!!!!!! Surely, the boys Harley & Davidson are looking down and smiling as once again The Motor Company eliminates Indian from what could have been a tremendous advertising/growth opportunity.

Some of the objections to the Hoka Hey right from the start have come from members of the Iron Butt Association, many of whom consider the Hoka Hey to be dangerous and badly conceived. I suspect they also fear it may have repercussions that will damage their own events. A commenter on my Examiner page, who oddly chose to identify himself by the name “IBA,” had this to say:

I knew it wouldn’t take long before the IBA whiners started chiming in. You have your rally, so go away already. If IBA was so great you would be the one with the big sponsors and prize money events rather than making your riders do all the documentation and work then pay too much for a patch they can get made for $2. IBA is a great idea in the hands of the wrong people.

So the Hoka Hey is back for 2011, and whatever its merits or deficits, it’s getting a lot of attention. I see this first hand when I check my Google Analytics statistics for the three days since I posted that sponsorship article. In that time fully one-third of my readers have been to that story, and its readership outstrips the No. 2 story 15 to 1. Yikes!

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Ohio’s Iron Pony named 2011 Dealer of the Year

Biker Quote for Today

As I get older and more fragile, my bikes get bigger, heavier, and more powerful….Another beer please!

Guest Post: Have You Ever Thought About Becoming a Motorcycle Mechanic?

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

OK, I don’t make a regular practice of it, but I was actually approached twice recently about running guest posts here. The first had to do with motorcycle insurance and this second one is about a career as a motorcycle mechanic. I just want to note that I’m not getting anything for running these, and I wouldn’t run them if I didn’t think they contained information that might be useful to readers. I’m assuming there won’t be any more any time soon.

Have You Ever Thought About Becoming a Motorcycle Mechanic?

Which state has the highest concentration of its work force in the motorcycle mechanics field? If you think it’s Wyoming, you’re correct! Fortunately, there are plenty of job opportunities across the country for qualified motorcycle mechanics. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 18,800 motorcycle mechanics in the United States in 2008. However, only 5 of them knew what they were doing! Just kidding, of course. But nevertheless, there is some demand out there for well-trained, knowledgeable, hard-working mechanics.

The median wage for motorcycle mechanics in 2008 was $15.08 per hour. The highest paid 10 percent earned over $24.27 per hour. The lowest paid 10 percent made less than $9.76 per hour. With any luck, you’ll be at the higher end of this range if you decide to enter this field.

Dealerships typically pay the most and employ the largest number of motorcycle mechanics. Some of the higher-paying jobs require the skills necessary to install the newest specialized components and computerized equipment on high-end bikes.

Due to harsh winter weather conditions, location matters for steady employment. Even the courageous moped crowd finds alternative forms of transportation during the winter.

Here’s a list of the metropolitan areas with the highest concentration of motorcycle mechanics:

  • Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Florida
  • Grand Junction, Colorado
  • Winchester Virginia-West Virginia
  • Yuma, Arizona
  • Altoona, Pennsylvania

Here are the top paying states for motorcycle mechanics along with their average annual salaries:

  • California: $41,590
  • Maryland: $39,940
  • Connecticut: $38,860
  • Nevada: $38,630
  • Massachusetts: $38,470

Employment Outlook

The number of people riding motorcycles has steadily increased in recent years, leading to a greater demand for motorcycle technicians. Most of the new jobs will continue to be in the motorcycle dealer sector. The increasing complexity of motorcycles will also provide job opportunities for specialists in independent repair shops.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 9 percent employment growth for motorcycle mechanics from 2008 to 2018. Job prospects should be good for people who have formal training.

Besides repairing and restoring motorcycles, some motorcycle mechanics also work on mopeds, motor scooters, all-terrain vehicles, and dirt bikes. And no, mechanics that work on mopeds are not necessarily wimps. Some motorcycle mechanics also make minor body repairs. Besides repair work, many mechanics add aftermarket components and make modifications to meet an owner’s appetite for speed.

A growing number of mechanics graduate from accredited motorcycle postsecondary degree programs. Many employers prefer these mechanics due to their advanced knowledge. These folks also require less on-the-job training.

Career Options

According to the book “Best Jobs for the 21st Century” (by Michael Farr and Laurence Shatkin), motorcycle mechanic ranked 493 out of the Best 500 Jobs Overall. Whoever put together that list probably wears an ascot, because some of the higher ranking jobs seem EXTREMELY boring.

Motorcycle dealerships: Motorcycle mechanics working at dealerships usually need specialized training from a formal education program. However, some dealers do provide on-the-job training. Steady pay and dependable hours are additional benefits of working for a dealership.

Repair shops: Secondary education, such as an associate’s degree or diploma in motorcycle mechanics, makes it easier to find employment at repair shops. However, apprenticeships are also common. Typically, large shops provide better benefits than small shops.

Self-employment: An associate’s degree, diploma, or certificate can help a self-employed mechanic attract customers.

MotorcycleIndustryJobs has a web page with an extensive amount of job listings. Check it out to get a better idea of what’s out there.


Associate’s of Applied Science degrees in motorcycle service technology are available, as are diplomas and certification courses. These education programs can last anywhere from six months to two years. Some of them include an apprenticeship as a requirement for graduation. Any one of these programs can really enhance a resume.

Professional certification is available through motorcycle manufacturers. This training is provided by technical schools. Some of these schools have partnered with motorcycle manufacturers to provide training for specific brands of motorcycles. Some schools allow you to specialize in Harley-Davidson, European, or Asian motorcycles.

Motorcycle mechanics who perform warranty work for insurance companies or manufacturers usually need to complete courses offered by motorcycle manufacturers. has an extensive list of schools that offer motorcycle technician training.


By the way, William Harley and Arthur Davidson first built motorcycles for the public in 1903 in a 10×15 foot wooden shed. Harley-Davidson Motor Company was scrawled on the door. That’s just another lesson that proves that even the most successful people in our country have to start somewhere.

Harley-Davidson mechanics need a formal education in core motorcycle mechanics. The company has partnerships with several colleges to provide specific training for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. These schools are as follows:

  • Pittsburgh State University (Kansas)
  • Fort Scott Community College (Kansas)
  • Lake Washington Tech (Washington State)
  • Central Carolina Community College (North Carolina)
  • Motorcycle Mechanics Institute (Arizona and Florida)

If you want to work on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, then try getting an internship with a participating Harley-Davidson dealer.

Technician and related jobs at Harley-Davidson dealerships include:

  • Service staff
  • Service technician
  • Service technician expert
  • Master service technician
  • Service writer
  • Master of service technology
  • Shop foreman

Harley-Davidson technicians can find job opportunities at dealerships, with race teams, and at shops that restore old bikes.

By the way, Harley-Davidson no longer uses the term “mechanic.” They instead go with “Harley-Davidson technician.”

If you decide to enroll in a motorcycle education program, do thorough research on the schools you’re considering. Ask representatives of local motorcycle dealerships and repair shops which schools they recommend. Admissions representatives at private, technical schools are usually sales people, so make sure they provide actual data to support any claims about employment for their graduates.

Brady Daniels writes about a variety of topics related to motorcycles for Motorcycle Insurance Quote.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Harley-Davidson to sponsor 2011 Hoka Hey

Biker Quote for Today

Above Ground, and on a Harley, Life is Good!!

More Fun at the Elephant Ride

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Elephant Ride 2011

I didn’t intend to ride in the Elephant Ride this year but we all know about the best laid plans.

I did head up to Grant Saturday evening to partake in the joviality around the campfire, and to identify the guys riding Rokons so I could do a story on those moto-tractors for

It turned out there was only one Rokon in attendance this year, but that was enough for me to get a story. And then Psycho Steve, who hosts this shindig each year, asked me if I’d like to ride a Kawasaki quad he had. Cool. Sure. You bet.

So Sunday morning came and everyone headed out. I was one of the early starters but was quickly passed by the bat-out-of-hell riders who blasted past me like this was a racetrack, and then a few more, then the Ural sidecar guys, and everyone else. That quad’s not real fast.

I didn’t get very far on it either. The first spot I came to where the road was drifted I just turned around. The quad is only two-wheel-drive and with everyone in front of me I didn’t want to get stuck with no one following after to stop and help me out. Besides, I got the interview and the photos I needed.

Next time, though, I’m going to take all my gear with me even if I’m not planning to ride. I didn’t have a helmet so Steve got one for me. It didn’t fit very well but it fit better than the only other one he had. Plus, it didn’t have a visor and I didn’t have any glasses or goggles, and when that wind started blowing fine little ice crystals in my face it was pretty hard going. I held my hand over my face with just a crack separating two fingers, which is where I peeked through.

Once again, the Elephant Ride was a fun time. Doesn’t everybody go riding their motorcycles in the snow?

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Elephant Ride again tackles the snowy pass

Biker Quote for Today

Don’t mess with old bikers. They don’t just look crazy.

Guest Post: Q&A for Cheaper Motorcycle Insurance

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

wrecked motorcycle / CC BY-ND 2.0

How can you save money on motorcycle insurance? Pam King, who writes about such things for Direct General, a company dealing in motorcycle insurance, contacted me to ask if she could do a guest post here discussing that question. After reading her piece I told her yes, but that I would be adding my own comments in a few spots where I take a different view of the matter.

10 Simple Questions for Cheaper Motorcycle Insurance

Whether you’ve just purchased your first motorcycle or have been riding for years, motorcycle insurance can make a HUGE impact on your budget. As with auto insurance, your rates will depend on things like your age, the type of bike you own, your driving record, and your geographic location.

Aside from these factors, there are several other ways you can save money on your motorcycle insurance. All it takes is knowing the right questions to ask! Here are 10 questions to ask your insurance agent and potentially save yourself quite a bit of money on your policy.

1) Do you have a detailed copy of your current policy? If you currently have a motorcycle insurance policy, having it in front of you when talking to your agent can be a big help. The agent will want to know the specifics of your current coverage and how much you pay for each portion. This can help them determine the best rate – and hopefully save you money in the end.

2) Does your state require bodily injury coverage? Many locations require you to have bodily injury coverage, which pays for injury to others if the accident is your fault. In most states, the legal minimum is $10,000 per person, per accident. However, insurance companies recommend you carry as much as three times the minimum in case of litigation or a lawsuit.

Ask your insurance agent for the specifics of their policy, but as a rule, bodily injury coverage pays for the medical bills incurred by injured parties and their guests, the cost of repairing or replacing damaged property, the lost wages of the injured party, and more.

3) Can you afford to increase your deductible? Increasing your deductible, the amount you pay for a claim before insurance kicks in, is a great way to lower your monthly payments. Having a higher deductible will cost more if you get into an accident, but it can save you quite a bit of money from month-to-month. If you do increase your deductible, you may want to consider putting part of the money you save each month into a savings account. Then, this can be saved in case of a future accident.

Ken says: I hear this all the time and I personally take a different approach. Yes, you can reduce your monthly premium if you take a higher deductible, but if you have a single claim in 5 years or even more, what you save with the lower deductible can easily more than pay the extra premium amount. I can deal with paying a few dollars extra each month. I don’t want to get hit with that BIG expense all at once in case I have a claim.

4) Do you plan to ride with a guest? Unlike auto insurance, passengers aren’t automatically covered under a policy. If you plan on riding with guest – and this means ever – you’ll want to add guest passenger liability coverage to your policy. This will pay for any injuries your passenger gets while riding with you.

5) Do I need collision coverage? Take a look at the following factors. If any apply to you, you may want to consider dropping your collision coverage:

• Your bike is more than five years old
• Your bike is valued at less than $3,000
• You’re a safe driver and haven’t had an accident in the last years
• You’ve saved enough money to pay for repairs if needed

Talk with your insurance agent before you decide to drop it completely. They can help you determine if this is a good choice based on your deductibles and the value of your motorcycle.

Ken says: Both my bikes are more than 5 years old and I say yes to the other points except that my Concours is worth more than $3,000. I carry only liability on my Honda CB750 but I have collision on my Connie. The reason is the bodywork on the Connie. That stuff is expensive. Coupled with my low deductible, an accident that does not total the bike but causes serious damage would not cost me much, and it would more than justify my choices for a lot of years.

6) Do you need all the “extras”? Motorcycle insurance plans sometimes include things like roadside assistance, extra medical coverage, and towing. Sit down and consider whether or not you can live without these items, or if the money you’ll save by dropping them is worth it.

Ken says: This should be a no-brainer. Don’t pay extra for roadside assistance or towing: join the American Motorcyclist Association and get these at no extra charge as part of your membership, provided that you sign up for automatic renewal each year via credit card.

7) Do you want accessory or custom parts coverage? Some policies don’t cover the “extras” you add to your bike, even if they are damaged or destroyed in an accident. This includes things like highway pegs, radios, CBs, custom seats, a luggage rack, safety guards, and more. If you want coverage for these, be sure to add it to your policy. If you can live without it, don’t opt for the coverage and save yourself some money each month.

8) Do you plan to drive your bike to work? If not, let your insurance agent know. Some companies give discounts for putting less than a certain number of miles on your bike each year. Quite the opposite, others give discounts for using your bike for transportation to and from work. Of course, this will be something you’ll have to bring up with your agent to get the appropriate discount.

9) Do you live in a low-cost or high-cost area? If you plan to move in the near future or garage your bike in a different area than you live (For example, a vacation home), make sure to tell your agent this. Generally, the more urban the area you live, the higher your premium. And, rates can vary significantly from state to state. If your winters are spent in Arizona, but your bike is stored at home in South Dakota, your rates may be significantly different.

10) Do all drivers on your policy use the motorcycle? This is particularly important for young drivers. If you have a student who’s moved away to college and no longer drives the motorcycle, drop them from your policy. Why? Because the insurance rates are much higher for teens. However, be cautious – if you take a driver off your policy but they eventually take your bike out for a joy ride and have an accident, you’ll be liable for everything.

There you go, my friends. Consider the above questions before talking with your insurance agent about motorcycle insurance coverage. It will not only help you be well-informed, but will also help negotiate the best rates and save money in the long run.

About the Author:
Pam King writes on frugality, safety and insurance literacy for Direct General, a motorcycle insurance provider. When not saving money on her insurance, Pam enjoys knitting, NASCAR, family and watching rollerderby! :)

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Helmets reduce cervical spine injury in crashes, study says

Biker Quote for Today

Sweat wipes off. Road-rash doesn’t.

Elephant Ride Is Next Weekend

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Elephant Ride 2010

It’s that time of year again: time to go camping and ride motorcycles.

Yeah, I know. You’re looking at me like I’m crazy, but I’m serious. Next weekend, on Sunday Feb. 13 to exact, is the Elephant Ride.

I did the Elephant Ride last year and it was one heck of a lot of fun. (That’s a picture from last year up above.) This is an event put on through Adventure Riders and the objective is to ride up Guanella Pass from Grant over to Georgetown on motorcycles. Never mind that the pass is closed and choked with snow. That’s the adventure part!

And of course, nobody made it to Georgetown last year but again, who cares? We tried. And had a heck of a lot of fun in the process.

So here’s the scoop. To really enjoy this thing you need to go up to Grant the night before. Camp, sleep in your car or your camper, or whatever, but hang out around the campfire eating and drinking and having a great time the night before. Then get up in the morning and give it a go. Here’s the thread in case you want more info.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Shining a light on goodness

Biker Quote for Today

Rode to hell and back and have the T-shirt to prove it!!! It’s not as bad as I thought and now I know why it’s in Michigan.

Yes, That’s My Mug In Rider Magazine

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

If you read Rider magazine you may have gotten a bit of a shock when you opened the latest issue (March 2011) that arrived this past week: There’s a picture of me in it, and it ain’t pretty.

section from a page of Rider magazineYou can see it in this section of one page that I scanned and have included here. That’s me and Klaus Herder, who is with Motorrad magazine, at dinner on the last night of the EagleRider media tour we went on in October out in California.

We were sitting across the table from Donya Carlson, who is an editor at Rider, and who had been on the tour as well. She shot this picture and later sent it to me, with no hint that she actually planned to use it with her article. What a surprise when I saw the article!

Of course, we both made it into another picture as well, because it’s a group shot and we’re all in it. And then there’s the matter of one of my pictures also being used in the article. The day we rode along Big Sur I went ahead and waited for others in the group to come along so I could get pictures. I was waiting on the far side of a bridge and Donya came along with Simon Weir, who writes for RiDE magazine in England. I got a good shot of them on the bridge and sent it to both of them later. Donya contacted me to ask if they could use it with her article, so at least I knew about this one.

So anyway, it’s a silly picture of us but that’s OK. Everybody gets a laugh. And thank you, Donya, for the fun. Not to mention the opportunity to get published in a major national magazine. I usually pass my magazines along to my friends after I read them but in this case they’re going to have to buy their own copies–I’m hanging on to this one.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Delay of lead law enforcement gives kids’ bikes a breather

Biker Quote for Today

You want me to go where??? On that???? OOOOKKKKKAAAYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!