It’s not too late to get out there and ride, ride, ride.
Okay, the days are getting a bit shorter, and you’re already thinking about fall, but the riding season ain't over till the fat lady rides her trike, or something like that. The tail end of the summer is a great time to ride, as you’re more confident than you were in the spring, your buddies have their bikes sorted out, and the weather is still great. Here’s a list of things you can do before it’s time to park for winter.
Get new riding gear
It’s a great time to buy new riding apparel, since retailers are trying to move excess inventory to make room for the new stuff coming in the fall. Look for lightweight gear made for hot weather, as September can be one of the hottest months of the year.
Are you stocked with motorcycle earplugs? Earplugs are an often overlooked part of your motorcycle gear. They reduce the effect of wind noise on long rides. You’ve probably done some longer rides by now, so you understand the value of good hearing protection. Make sure you check out Motorcycle Safety Course 201 for more.
Buy a new bike
A lot of riders buy new motorcycles at the beginning of the season, and a lot of them decide that either the bike isn’t for them, or maybe even riding isn’t for them. In any case, that means there are a lot of lightly-used, low-mile dream bikes out there for good prices.
Most dealers are sold out of hottest, best-selling models by late summer, so they're left pushing the more basic, less flashy bikes left on the lot. If you're looking to buy new at this point in the season, prepare for some negotiation. That said, if we’ve learned one thing from 2020, it’s that life is short. If you can swing it, who are we to keep you from making your dreams come true?
Take a motorcycle repair course for DIY maintenance
First thing's first - if you ride a motorcycle, you should have some basic understanding of how it works. You don't have to be an expert, but you have to know some things.
This is even more important if you're interested in making repairs by yourself. For example, the front and rear motorcycle brakes are entirely separate systems, so servicing the front brakes don't do anything for the back. Motorcycle maintenance classes can also help save money for smaller things that shops charge way too much for, like adjusting chains or changing tires.
Make a moto friend
Riding is one of those contradictory activities that is both solitary and collaborative, so you can ride solo, with a buddy or in a big group. Whether you meet at a local bike night, a gas station or a campsite, making a new motorcycle friendship can make a good ride even better. Motorcycles are a great way to meet like-minded people on and off the road - try it!
Adventure Touring bikes – ADV for short – are the hot new thing. But sometimes we wonder how many riders buy ADVs for their long-distance, off-road prowess and how many buy them because they’re comfortable for commuters and sunny Sunday riders. All of these reasons make sense, but if you haven’t used your Adventure Touring Bike on a motorcycle camping trip, you owe it to yourself to get out there.
Ride in the rain
If you’re a fair-weather rider, we don’t blame you. But you’re missing out on valuable training, as well as that key bonding element all committed riders share - being completely miserable.
Riding in the rain forces you to learn smooth braking, throttle control, and other control movements. It's also a great teacher for learning about what proper riding attire can do to improve your life. The next time you see raindrops falling, put down the iPad and pick up your helmet and keys!
Try a trackday
Racetracks? Aren’t those for…racers? Well, sure, but 90% of the time they’re being used by sports car and motorcycle enthusiasts for practice days. and there’s probably one near you. Twenty years ago, track days weren't as common - they occurred less frequently, bike standards were more stringent, and track-specific tires were pricey.
Things are different now. Trackdays happen a lot more often, sometimes even weekly, and cater to all skill levels, from trackday novice to pro-racer. You can even rent a fully prepped bike and avoid the hassle of prepping your own.
Once you’re out on track - and comfortable with the experience - you’ll most likely get hooked. Riding your motorcycle with no legal limits in a controlled environment lets you test your bike's - and your own - limits more safely than on the streets.
Do an Iron Butt Event
Iron Butt? What’s that? Founded in 1982, the Iron Butt Riders Association sanctions and records long-distance riding events.
How long? Well, that’s up to you: start small with a self-certified 1000-mile ride in 24 hours (the "Saddlesore 1000”) and work your way up to the legendary Iron Butt Rally, a coast-to-coast slog that requires a minimum of 11,000 miles in 11 days. You can do Iron Butt events alone or with friends. Instructions for how to record your rides are written into the IBRA rulebook.
Complete an advanced skills course
If you’re not ready to commit to a full-on track day, there are other opportunities for advanced skills training. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation, through its privately-owned schools, offers advanced street-riding courses that touch on topics like limited-space maneuvers, throttle and brake control, and crash-avoidance technique. The MSF also offers online-only classes, as well as scooter and three-wheeler courses. Availability of these classes is very limited, so check the MSF website for classes near you.
You can also check out Total Control Training’s series of riding clinics. Offered all around the United States, students can choose from Intermediate, Advanced, Advanced Level 2 and even closed-circuit racetrack instruction. Founder Lee Parks set up his classes to teach fundamental, fact-based riding skills in controlled, safe environments, and each course builds on skills learned in prior ones.
Another option is private motorcycle coaching. There may be a few independent operators in your area, and working with these folks is usually a good experience. These guys are great because they offer flexible, tailored coaching for every level. Since there is no national organization for independent coaches, you may have to fire up the Google to find them. Here are a couple in California: Monkey Moto and Learn2Ride.
Check out Motorcycle Safety Course 301: Training is a Journey, Not a Destination for more.
Take a newbie under your wing
Think back to a time - maybe way way back - to when motorcycles were a new experience. You had so many questions, and you probably got a lot of bad answers (or made up your own, with predictable consequences). But now, as a seasoned rider, you can make a difference by befriending and looking out for someone just starting out.
Not only can you help bring a new rider into the sport, you might find the mentor-mentee relationship reignites your passion and enthusiasm for riding. From your new pal's first overnight trip, first group trip, first trackday, first oil change, you're witnessing these milestones through a beginner's eyes again. Sometimes we need a reminder that no matter how confident we are that we've mastered a skill or activity, there is always more to learn.
Got more ideas of new things to do on your motorcycle? Tell us in the comments below!