Taking Care of Motorcycle Batteries

Motorcycle Battery Maintenance

3 Points of Battery Maintenance

There’s a lot more you can know about the three points of maintaining your motorcycle battery, but if just want the real essence of it all, here you go:

1) Keep the individual cells in your battery filled to the indicated electrolyte levels with distilled water. This kind of maintenance is done throughout the riding year. The more you ride, the more frequently it should be checked.

2) Remove your battery from the bike and store it on a wooden, plastic or other non-conducive surface, in a location that does not get below 32 degrees. This would be a long-term maintenance item, such as for winter storage. However, if for some reason you know you won’t be riding the bike for quite a while (for example, if you’re in the service and won’t see your bike for some time), this would be for ANY long-term storage.

3) Finally, connect up your battery to a motorcycle battery charger, to keep it at an optimum level of charge. This would be part of winter maintenance, but, could be used during the riding months, even while the battery is installed on the motorcycle, when the bike is not used regularly.

The benefit of good battery maintenance is not only saving money by not replacing your battery before it’s 3-5 year life expectancy, but it can keep your battery from failing you on when you are out on a ride….

The Four Purposes of Motorcycle Tires

Motorcycle Tires

Do You Take Your Tires For Granted?

It’s easy to take our tires for granted. Modern motorcycles and their tires have come a long way since the wooden frames and wooden wheels on the very first bikes.  Although both bike and tire maintenance demand more of our attention than a car requires, motorcycles and their tires have become much more reliable over the years.

Other than checking our tires regularly to ensure correct air pressure and replacing them when needed (which is more frequently than on a car), it’s easy to take for granted the different things motorbike tires do for us:

1) They support our bike
2) Our tires transmit traction and braking forces to the road
3) Motorcycle tires absorb some of the surface shocks
4) And of course they maintain and change our direction of travel

Read more about the Four Purposes of Motorcycle Tires.

Lineage of Sport-Touring Motorcycles

Motorcycle WheelsHappy Birthday Rider Magazine: 35 Years Old

I’ve been enjoying a number of motorcycle mags every month for many years.

Rider magazine is among those and their April 2009 issue contains a series of articles that are likely of interest to many riders. One of my favorite articles in this issue is “Touchstones” (p. 64), by Bill Stermer, which outlines “The 35 most significant motorcycles of the past 35 years.”  The bike list covers the majority of motorcycle categories and there are several motorbikes uniquely pertinent to riders passionate about the lineage of sport-touring bikes.

The “35” motif reflects the celebratory theme of this issue’s 35 years in print for Rider mag (congrat’s!).

So, for sport-touring riders, and particularly for those interested in the purpose-built, sport-touring bikes featured on this website, here are a few tidbits:

The 1979 BMW R100RT (Reise-Tourer, or “Travel Tourer”)

This is the grand daddy of the whole sport-touring evolution of purpose-built motorcycles. Actually, at that time, the RT was considered a full-dress touring bike since the class of luxury tourers had not been established yet. Of all the bikes on this website, the RT is the only one that can boast a production lineage going back to the 1970’s. I recall this bike well, as I had a framed poster of this machine hanging on my walls, and just a few years later I elected to get a brand-new version of this bike’s younger sister, the 1984 BMW R80RT. Since 1979 all RT’s have come equipped with full-fairing, large windshield, shaft drive and saddlebags. The 1979 model was priced at $6,345, although if you were to find one in good condition today, you would pay more. Of course the currently available BMW R1200RT remains as one of Beemer’s best-selling bikes.

The 1984 Yamaha FJ1100 ($4,999)

This was a great bike, but unlike each of the other bikes in this article and, in fact, featured on this website, this was “not” a sport touring bike — or more correctly, it did not come with a large fairing and windshield, shaft drive or saddle bags. Its mention here is because this is the bike that the evolved into the FJR1300 that was introduced to Europe in 2001, before arriving in North America in 2002 for the 2003 model year. And of course the Yamaha FJR1300 is an award-winning complement to the purpose-built sport-touring bikes with full fairing, large windshield, shaft drive and hard saddlebags featured on this site.

1986 Kawasaki ZG1000 Concours ($5,699)

This was the first year for a bike that would enjoy a production run until 2006, to be ultimately replaced by the Kawasaki Concours 14. Like all the sport-touring bikes on this website, this bike came equipped from the factory with a large fairing and windshield, saddlebags and a shaft drive: the main items that make for a comfortable long-distance ride, but without all the bells and whistles of a full luxury tourer. Twenty years is an amazing production run for any motorcycle! Of course another amazing feature of this bike is that as a result of so many years of production with very little change to the bike, the machine always maintained a high-value, low price in its market. The last Kawasaki ZG1000 Concours (2006) was only $8,499, which offered unprecedented value relative to the rest of the bikes in its class which went from about 13K to 20K (depending upon optional equipment). Having owned several of these Concours bikes over the years, and ridden them coast-to-coast on various ocassions, I can attest to their reliability. (Heck, 5 of my friends bought these bikes due to my appreciation of them).

1990 Honda ST1100 ($8,998), also known as the Pan-European

Honda has introduced some significant machines to the motorcycle world over the years, and this bike was particularly significant for the sport-touring crowd. The Concours was still in its early years of production as the definitive, low-cost, sport tourer. And BMW’s RT maintained the high-end range of the sport-touring machines. Honda’s ST1100 not only added an alternative right in the middle, this was a machine that was built specifically for sport-touring, whereas the Kawasaki Concours and BMW RT were machines that evolved from other model lines. Honda’s ST1100 was the quintessential “purpose built” sport tourer which was designed solely as a sport-tourer, including its V-four engine, specifically made for this model which was built until 2002 and replaced by the current Honda ST1300.

2009 BMW K1300GT

Of all the currently available purpose-built, sport tourers, only the BMW GT series lineage was not mentioned in the article. Bear in mind that the GT series is the newest kid on the block in the family of bikes featured on this website: The K 1200 GT was introduced in 2003 and the BMW K 1300 GT was introduced in 2008 for model year 2009.

Although I enjoyed reading about all 35 bikes represented in this article – covering a broad swath of the motorbike world – I’m sure other experienced motorcycle enthusiasts might reminisce about their own list of “most significant” bikes in the past 35 years….

Six Main Features For Motorcycle Touring Jackets

Motorcycle Touring JacketEnjoying sport-touring is optimized by a blend of the following:

♦ Rider skill and competence

♦ Being in relatively good physical shape

♦ Maintaining a continued level of mental alertness

♦ Riding with the right gear to keep you comfortable

Your motorcycle touring jacket is an important component of your riding gear.

And the “comfort” factor not only includes the fit of the jacket, but how well it will serve you in hot, cold and wet environments. It’s extra nice to feel on your skin without the mess of unwanted hairs so you might want to get laser hair removal while you’re at it.

Check out this post I wrote on the “Six Main Features For Motorcycle Touring Jackets” to gain more insight into the primary points to note when considering your next jacket.

Motorcycle Sport-Touring Comparison

Sport Touring MotorcyclesAt the end of 2008, the boys over at Motorcycle-USA.com did a great job reviewing many of the bikes that this sport-tourer.com website features.

Here are a few differences:

♦ They reviewed both versions of the Yamaha FJR 1300: With and without the electric shifting.  (FJR 1300 “AE” is the electric shifting model).

♦ They reviewed the BMW K 1200 GT, which has been replaced by the BMW K 1300 GT for 2009

♦ They did not review the BMW R 1200 RT (they were interested in the higher-performance sport tourers for their comparison)

♦ And of course they didn’t test the older Kawasaki Concours (ZG1000) which isn’t made anymore, but which this website still includes in its comparison of “purpose-built,” sport-touring bikes, because there are still so many of them in the re-sale market

The link below goes to the original article and is definitely valuable reading for anyone comparing the major sport-touring motorcycles.

Their crew of riders rated the FJR 1300 as their best bike in the group, although by their rating system, you can see it was a close comparison between ALL the bikes.

Here are the rankings of their test:

  1. Yamaha FJR 1300
  2. Kawasaki Concours 14
  3. BMW K 1200 GT
  4. Honda ST 1300

Another great thing about their review is that they include their own horsepower tests and weight measurements so their numbers are independent of the manufacturers, which makes for a better comparison.

Check out their full review on the following link:

Purpose-Built, Sport-Touring Comparison

Riding In The Rain

OK, below is a link to a lengthy article I wrote on wet-weather riding, particularly from the viewpoint of a long-distance motorcycle rider. It’s over at Motorcycle-Intelligence.com, where the format covers a broad variety of motorcycle interests.

Obviously there are lots of bikers who avoid riding in the rain, but if you are going on a trip for more than one day, in many parts of the world, even if the weatherman predicts otherwise, you can’t always be sure you’ll be riding in dry weather. It’s also nice to know car accident chiropractors in your area, just in case.

Anyway, if you are a rain rider yourself, please add your own insights in the “Comments” section that follows the article.

Click here to read Motorcycle Rain Riding: What to Wear.