Author Archives: Dave Fisher

Winter Safety

It’s hard to believe that we’re in the “Thanksgiving” season and for the most part, we’ve still been riding with our warm weather gear!  What a great place to ride motorcycles.

Hate to tell you, that’s going to change soon…probably already has!  This month, I’m going to reiterate what Don said at the November General Meeting and add a few thoughts of my own.

Let’s talk tires again!!!  Here in Bakersfield, it’s not uncommon to have a 40 degree difference between the afternoon high and the midnight low.  Since I’m like most of you, I keep my ride in the garage so it too experiences the temperature difference.  With this much change in temperature, the air inside your tires is continually expanding and contracting over and over again.  Consequently, it’s imperative that we maintain vigilance over our tires in the winter…much more important than summer riding!

So, why is it more important in winter?  We all know that if you ride a motorcycle long enough, sooner or later, you’re gonna get wet!  In a car, you have 4 contact points with the road surface.  For most of us, we only have two.  (I know, some of you have three but stay with me on this!)  The amount of surface contact on a car’s tires is much greater than what we get on our Harleys.  Now decrease that by more than half and you see what I mean.  Add a poorly maintained tire with worn tread into the “wet” equation and it’s easy to see that an accident is just waiting for a place to happen.

As I’ve said before, I keep a good quality bicycle floor pump near my ride.  It has a built in gauge that is very accurate.  I can perform a tire pressure check on both tires in less than 5 minutes…probably under 3!  When you think about this, it’s easier than hooking up a compressor and dragging a hose around to check the pressure.  Generally, it takes less than 6 pumps to get the tires back up to operating pressure for my Ultra.

In continuing with this “weather” stuff, I just read an article in the HOG magazine on one of those $100 rides.  Sounds like a great idea…I think I’ll give it a try.  I figure if I sleep under overpasses and eat bread and water, I can be gone for about 10 days!!!

Anyway, the rider I was reading about left the Los Angeles basin in 85 degree weather.  He ended up at the 8,000 foot elevation saying he was glad he brought “all three sets of gloves.”  Therein lies my hint (or suggestion…however you want to take it!)

We know that when riding from beautiful Bakersfield over to that Central California Coastline, we’re likely to experience a difference in temperature.  Y’all know if it’s warm here, it’s cold over there and vice versa!

I always try and bring an extra coat, chaps and all 3 sets of gloves.  That’s right, a light weight set, a medium weight set and some cold weather gloves to keep my hands comfortable.  After all, your hands are pretty important when it comes to riding so make them comfortable.  Now would be a good time to get on down to our sponsor, Bakersfield Harley Davidson, and pick up on some gloves for the riding season.  (Ladies…if your hubby is a rider, get the size from his gloves and get him a new pair for his stocking on Ladies Night!  Men, you can do the same if your lady is a rider!)  Keeping your hands comfortable and warm is vital to a successful ride.

The last piece of clothing I’ll talk about this month is our shoes.  I constantly see guys riding around in tennis shoes.  At accident scenes I’ve responded to over my career, I always see a shoe or two lying around in the rubble.  Just so you’ll know, these were on someone’s feet and the force of the impact tore them off leaving the feet unprotected.  I’ve never seen a lace up boot lying around at an accident scene.  Get the picture???  Nuff said!

Winter is not a time to put it away and quit riding.  It’s a time to bundle up, prepare and get out on the road.  It’s always fun to talk about one of those rides that went a little awry but ended up with a good laugh.

As ever…ride safe.


Mileage Marker Program

Well fellow HOG members, it’s getting toward the end of the 2010 and that means our new Mileage Marker Program is coming due.  For those of you who entered the program, it will soon be time to get your ride over the Bakersfield Harley Davidson to have your odometer read and tally the miles you rode this year.

There are some things you need to know concerning the Mileage Marker Program.  First of all, it will be the responsibility of each participant to ensure the mileage on his/her motorcycle is read before the ending date.  Secondly, your HOG officers decided recently to give at least one ticket to everyone who entered the Mileage Marker Program regardless of the number of miles ridden.  This way, if someone doesn’t get their mileage read, at least they will receive one ticket for getting involved in the program.

Bakersfield HOG will be awarding a $100 gift certificate to a male rider a female rider

whose entry was chosen.  Here’s how it’s going to work.

We’ll subtract your starting mileage from your ending mileage.   As each form comes in, I’ll compile the mileage and award one number for each 1,000 miles the rider traveled during 2010.  For example, if the rider rode 15,000 miles, he/she will receive a block of 15 numbers.  When I have all of the entries in and numbers assigned, I’ll use a random number generator to determine the winner of the $100 gift certificate.  The numbers for men and women will be kept separate so there will be two awards.

With this in mind, if you’ve entered the Mileage Marker Program, bring your motorcycle to the November general meeting to have your mileage read.  If you can’t make it to the meeting, bring your motorcycle to Bakersfield Harley Davidson before 4:00pm on November 21st.  This coincidentally, is the last day you can purchase your Bakersfield HOG Christmas Party tickets.  Tickets for this annual event are still $20 each.

Have you mileage read and come to the Christmas Party where we’ll announce the winners.

In January, we’ll start again with a Mileage Marker Program for 2011.  Hope to see you soon at Bakersfield Harley Davidson, a general meeting or the Christmas Party.

As ever, ride safe…


Best Ways to Dump a Bike

Well, before you know it, the rain will be over and summer riding season will be on us hot and heavy. No pun intended on the “hot” remark!!!

I thought this month I would do something different. Instead of telling you how to be safe and avoid dumping your bike, I thought I’d give you some pointers on how to dump your bike. Maybe if you know how, you’ll think to avoid these things when they creep up. So here they are, 25 ways on how to dump your bike!!! Now, let me keep you informed. I stole these from an article of 128 ways to dump you bike but I don’t think we need that much education. Take a look, some of these are funny.

  1. Putting your foot into a hole when stopping.
  2. Putting your foot down on something slippery when stopping.
  3. Locking the front wheel during overenthusiastic braking.
  4. Missing the driveway and sliding on the grass.
  5. Not putting the kickstand down when getting off.
  6. Make a turn from stop in gravel or sand at high throttle.
  7. Not putting a board (‘foot’)under the kickstand on asphalt on a hot day.
  8. Letting overenthusiastic people sit on your bike who have never been on a bike.
  9. Forgetting the bike’s in gear when you jump on the kickstarter.
  10. Revving the engine, releasing clutch, and putting feet on pegs when the light turns green, but the bike’s in neutral.
  11. Not putting your foot down when stopping at red light.
  12. Losing balance when putting it on the centerstand.
  13. Take an hour ride in 30 degree weather with no gloves, stop at a stop sign and pop the clutch when you start because you’ve lost feeling in your hands.
  14. Putting your foot down at a toll booth on the thick layer of grease that builds up when cars stop.
  15. Using too much power when you pull out of a greasy toll booth.
  16. Ignoring the sand that builds up in the spring at the side of the road (in places where roads are sanded and salted in inter.)
  17. Kicking your kickstand in a cool fashion and having it bounce back up instead of staying down.
  18. Getting off your bike while it is running and forgetting that is in gear.
  19. Trying to kick start your first bike over and over because you didn’t realize that it was really out of fuel, and getting the goofy metal ring on the side of your boot caught in the kickstarter, causing you (and the bike) to go over on the right side.
  20. Starting your brand-new electric-start trail-bike, riding around an ornamental shrub on full left lock, throwing it to the right and accelerating to wheelie over the curb onto the street and _then_ discovering that you hadn’t unlocked the steering-lock…
  21. On same bike, getting the dual-range lever caught inside your jeans as you come to a stop…
  22. Having your boot/jeans catch the gear-lever and putting your running bike into first gear whilst reaching for the side-stand (which is why I now automatically pull in the clutch whenever deploying or retracting the stand.)
  23. Having “green” racing linings which have much higher coefficient of friction on the slight rust that forms on the polished drum when you’ve not ridden for a few hours, and lose the front-end holding the brakes on against the throttle to wear off the rust.
  24. Having a three-cylinder two-stroke that’s so smooth you think you’re in second when you’re actually in first, so you spin out when the undercarriage touches down in a tight corner passing a car and you think, “just a bit more throttle will help here…”
  25. Revving bike in impressive squidly fashion at red light, thinking it’s in neutral; dropping clutch and standing in place while bike wheelies and backflips into intersection.

Don’t forget, the hot weather is just around the corner. Take plenty of water and sports drinks to keep well hydrated. Plan on a quart for every hour you’re out riding. A note here, beer actually forces your body to expel water (like we didn’t know that already!!!)

As always, ride safe and ride often…

Dave Fisher, Safety Officer

Safety Comes First

Something we don’t think about very often until we’re standing on the side of the road with a broken motorcycle. What??? You never thought about checking _______(fill in the blank) on a regular basis??? Well, here’s an idea that may prevent you from wasting time waiting for a ride and an expensive repair bill.

It’s simple…it’s called “Preventive Maintenance.” We all know by now that every time the time changes here in California, we should change the batteries in our smoke detectors. I do because invariably, the battery goes out at 3am and starts chirping. To make matters worse, it’s always the smoke detector in the living room on the 14’ ceiling!!!

I’ve decided to take this concept over to the preventive maintenance I do on my Harley. I have a second job and payday for that job is on the 15th of each month. Since this is my “fun money” job, I’m usually looking forward to the 15th because there’s always something I want to buy!

Since the 15th is easily remembered for me, I’m going to make it a point to take an hour or two and go over all those little details on the bike that make life much easier when they work. Here’s some of the things I will be looking for…

Tire Pressure: With all the temperature changes, it’s a good idea to watch that tire pressure. This is one of those items that need constant checking to ensure your safety while on the bike.

Oil Level: You really should get in the habit of checking this every other time you fill your gas tank. If you’re like me, I know I don’t burn oil but I check it anyways cuz it’s pretty important.

Radiator Fluid: Oops…wrong vehicle!!! Just making sure you’re paying attention!

Brake Fluid: Probably don’t need to check it too often but keep an eye on it. Remember, you have two cylinders with fluid. Make sure you use the proper fluid as noted in your maintenance manual.

Miscellaneous nuts and bolts: You don’t need me to tell you but these things vibrate a lot. Carry some common sizes of wrenches (7/16, 1/2, 9/16, ect.) as you crawl around your ride and give a check to all those little nuts and bolts that keep it together. You’d be surprised how some of them loosen up!!!

Cables: Some new bikes don’t have as many but it’s always a good idea to lube the clutch and throttle cables if you have them. I loosen the clutch (opposite of tightening it) and spray some good quality lubricant and let it run down the cable. Do the same with the throttle cables and they will last a lot longer.

While you’re doing this, keep your eyes open for anything that “just doesn’t look right.” If you have a question, take your ride to our Sponsors, Bakersfield Harley Davidson and check with the Service Manager, Rob. Rob has been around a few bikes and knows what “looks right” and what “looks wrong.” At least you will become more familiar with your motorcycle or you’ll avert a potential problem before it leaves you stranded on the road.

One last thing before I close…it’s going to get hot pretty soon. Don’t rely on someone else to bring you some water on your ventures out into the country. Make sure you bring plenty of water and even a snack or two on those treks to the coast or up into the mountains. I learned a long time ago to pack for the worst case scenario so it won’t happen!

See you at the next HOG event…Don’t forget, Casa De Fruta is coming up soon. Check out the flyer in this newsletter and rest up for the first weekend in June. Flyers are also available at Bakersfield Harley Davidson. Hope to see you there.




Winter Hazards


We all ride throughout the year here so “winterizing” our rides consists of dusting them off and putting on some leather and a heavy jacket before we ride.  We are fortunate to be able to ride all year round but we often forget those little winter hazards that can crop up at a moment’s notice.  Here’s a little reminder for us all in regards to those nasty little road hazards…


ANY painted surface on a roadway can be extremely slick during the winter.  A small amount of moisture can turn these lines into an experience you won’t soon forget!  Be very cautious when it’s foggy as the moisture collects on the painted surfaces and is not visible to the rider.  Watch those lines on the curvy roads because you won’t have time to react if you happen to cut a corner a little and get that front wheel on the wet line!


It’s not like you haven’t seen these before.  These can catch you front wheel and dump your bike.  Pay attention to the angle the tracks cross the road.  Use as much of the road as necessary to get a safe attack angle.  Be aware that occasionally tracks cross roads at a weird angle (Highway 43 near Poso) and this can ruin an otherwise great day of riding.  Also watch the crossing areas as some have metal or wood instead of asphalt between the tracks.  If you’re crossing one of these in a turn, you’re in for a surprise.


We have a few of these in our area.  Always try to cross these at a 90 degree angle and be very cautious if they might be wet.


If you encounter any of these on the road, chances are you’ll have an issue before you can react.  Always scan the road ahead for spots that look wet or different from the rest of the pavement.  I once hit diesel fuel as I was approaching a stop sign.  The bike slid through the stop sign and across 2 lanes of traffic onto road side.  This happened at Lerdo Hwy and Porterville Hwy.  Yeah, I know, it wasn’t my time.


This can turn the roads into a skating rink.  Let the rain wash the roads clear before you ride them.  A half hour can make a huge difference.


This can be deadly.  Gravel is more common as the road becomes twisties.  It seems cars have a hard time staying on the pavement when there are corners.  Gravel problems tend to be worse in spring due to winter rains.  A little bit of gravel should be avoidable if you’re not riding too fast.  Unavoidable gravel covering the entire corner can be taken in stride if there is plenty of asphalt showing and you are prepared to let the bike slide around a bit. The key is to relax, don’t over-react and keep steering towards the exit line. Bikes are surprisingly stable and will usually ride it out. The real problem is a heavy gravel patch in a corner. Surviving that is mainly luck given you were already going too fast to stop or go around it…my best advice is to treat it like light gravel and hope the bike rides it out. If the back-end washes out, steer like a dirt bike and hope the rear tire doesn’t suddenly get traction!

Having said all that, most “gravel crashes” were unnecessary. Usually the rider is lacking in fundamental skills. Common physical errors are not looking far enough into a corner so not picking up the gravel soon enough, not being able to brake at the bike’s capabilities, not being able to turn at the bike’s capabilities and over-reacting when hitting the gravel (a one inch slide feels like a mile so people panic). Common mental errors are missing signs of probable gravel (tight corners, earlier history, gravel shoulders or embankments, hills that might have been washed out etc) and riding without regard for suitable error margins.


They look innocent but are worse than gravel…ESPECIALLY IF WET!


Don’t just charge through water like you would in a car.  Depending on tires you can hydroplane which will make the bike feel like it’s on ice.  If you are unlucky enough to experience this, make no steering inputs and ride straight through.