5 Things Every Motorcyclist Should Do in 2011

//5 Things Every Motorcyclist Should Do in 2011

5 Things Every Motorcyclist Should Do in 2011

In my continuing efforts to better myself as a motorcyclist, I’ve come up with five things to do this year that will not only help development as a motorcyclist but help promote motorcycling in general.  So I thought I’d share with the class and maybe get a few of you to take part as well.  I wouldn’t call these New Year’s resolutions, exactly.

  1. Install something on your bike: I’m not talking about taking your bike to the mechanic down the road, I’m talking about doing it yourself. Doesn’t have to be a big job, either. Maybe put some new grips or install a new piece of chrome. The point is to get out to the garage and get your hands dirty. Hell, if you’re feeling froggy, go ahead and change your oil or tires. Maybe put in a big bore kit — go nuts. Working on your own machine is very therapeutic. It’s like bonding with your motorcycle. And it saves you money to boot.
  2. Learn how to ride your bike: It sounds funny, but this could be the most important of the five. Most people (especially if they have been riding for a while) consider themselves good riders — experts even — but this isn’t always the case. This doesn’t mean you have to take the typical safety course. Instead, go do a track day, read a book, watch a DVD. Do anything to gain better confidence and control of your machine. Besides, practicing is fun…
  3. Visit a motorcycle museum: I’m lucky enough to have the National Motorcycle Museum just a stone’s throw away from my house, but there are other such museums scattered around the country as well. Do yourself a favor and take the time to visit one. This is a great way to educate yourself with some motorcycle history, while at the same time gaining some knowledge about the innovation and engineering that brought motorcycling to where it is today.
  4. Attend a motorcycle event or rally: This one’s easy. Find a local rally or race and just go have fun — even make mini-vacation out of it. Besides the big ones like Sturgis, Daytona, Laconia, etc, there are hundreds of smaller local rally all across the country. You won’t find better people to hang out with anywhere and there are always great bikes to gawk at. And I’ll bet if you look hard enough, you can even rustle up a cold drink. I prefer to find a road race, flat track race or a hill climb because I like to watch the guys and girls duke it out on the track. Gives me goose bumps just thinking about it (Winter sucks.)
  5. Take time to share motorcycling with someone younger than yourself: It might be your son or daughter, niece, nephew or the kid next door. Doesn’t matter. Just take the time to introduce them to our culture. Show them some old pictures, tell them a story or just let them sit on your bike. And they don’t have to be little ones either. Take a minute to have chat with the 19-yeur-old who just scored his first bike and maybe give them a few tips on where to buy the best parts *cough* J&P *cough* or tell them where the best roads are. And if you’re one of the young ones, take a minute from your busy schedule and listen up. Some of you can learn a lot from us old guys.

So, you have all year but don’t procrastinate — get out there and get to it. It ain’t like I’m asking you to go to the gym or give up cookies.

About the Author:

Patrick Garvin began his stint with J&P Cycles at the start of 2008 after doing some installs for us at Daytona and Sturgis for two years. Currently, Patrick splits his time between the eCommerce team and purchasing, finding new and exciting products for our website and catalog. When he’s not at his desk, he’s zigzagging across the country with J&P’s event crew. Patrick has an obsession with going fast on just about anything, a trait he shares with his 6-year-old son Race. You can usually find both of them wrenching in the garage or ripping through the fields on dirt bikes. Emma, his beautiful wife of 7-plus years, puts up with his antics and keeps his head screwed on because he certainly wouldn’t be able to find it without her.


  1. Tony.fxrp February 16, 2011 at 10:03 am

    I live in the north and winters are too long. I’m getting ready for a road trip this spring.
    If I’m not refurbishing my 1991 fxrp, I at least go down to the garage and light up a cigar and sip on a whiskey and remember last summer’s rides.

  2. John January 23, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Great ideas,I just put a light bar,a sissy bar,and a luggage rack on my 90 FXR.I made them myself in my shop.Saved me a lot of money,and i very much injoy doing stuff like that.Its been so cold here i got cabin fever so i went riding the other day and it was 28 outside,didn’t go far but i just had to straddle by baby one more time before spring.Ride safe,ride often.

  3. Bill Noyes January 16, 2011 at 12:44 am

    I was always advised to change the way your Bike handled, that way you never got in truble by showing off etc. By learning your machine too well could get you in BIG trouble, on or off the street.

  4. Ric Folkers January 14, 2011 at 10:38 am

    I would like to add another todo:
    6. Support your local racers! Skip the bar scene and attend a flattrack, motocross, hillclimb, trials, road race, you get the idea.

    These kids (Seen a 72 years young throwing an xr750 around a dirt track for 3rd place!), build some sweet scooter and put on a great show.

  5. Steve Metzen January 13, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Great list, introduce, take your parents or someone older for ride.

  6. Steve Metzen January 13, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Great list, introduce, take someone older on a ride parents, gand parents, etc. ride safe ride often.

  7. Doug Haas January 12, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    I’ve got two young guy’s I work with that both got their first bikes this past year . It’s been fun talking to them and giving them tip’s for their bikes and telling them about things to do and places to go on their bikes ( once Illinois thaws ). I look forward to riding with them this spring and summer.

  8. Chuck Palm Coast January 12, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    I like all of the ideas. We should never go through a day without learning something new. I will try to get my wife to ride with me. I plan on taking a road trip this spring mostlikely by myself. Thats okay! I will get my hands dirty and put somthing new on my ride. All Be Safe!

  9. George A. Pelissier January 12, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    1. Install new parts on the Ultra Classic Electra
    2. Take at least three weekend trips with my
    bride of 39 years and stop on the coast of
    Maine or NH for the weekend
    3. Go to Laconia Rally
    4. Ride with two of my best friends who just like to
    ride and never care where we end up. Always
    good for 600 to 700 miles with a call.
    5. Introduce riding to a young person.

  10. Ernie Pilgrim January 12, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Finally got my wife interested in riding. She went to one of the MSF courses. Went to Harley for the free hotdogs on a Sunday — she was supposed to be in class. Found her sitting on a new Deluxe. Asked her what she was doing and she told me “I just bought my first bike”. We ride 2 to 3 times a week now. Live in Tampa. Went to Sturgis last year and she rode like a pro. She reminds me everytime we ride that it’s better to ride safe than to ride like you know how to ride. We had a blast. Am riding to Sturgis from Tampa this year by myself — it’s on my bucket list — Will be camping at the military family campgrounds along the way. Anyone want to tag along??

  11. Clyde Montgomery January 12, 2011 at 11:08 am

    1. Things are in boxes just waiting

    2. I went thru the experienced rider course in VT I was suprised how many bad/stupid habits I had picked up over the years.

    3. The trolly museum on the coast of Maine is good. good riding you can fill an SD card in a heartbeat a picture on every corner, stay on old RT 1 (goes from tip of Maine to Key West) finding it is hard at times.

    4. Being in VT I am within an hour an ahalf of Americade and Laconia, that fills out the first half of june.

    5. Being 61 it’s not hard to find younger riders. I just try to slow them to slow down and smell the roses.

  12. Hammer January 12, 2011 at 9:06 am

    This spring will be a good time to freshen up on the slow riding skills. If you haven’t mastered a 20″ U-turn yet just search up a couple of Motormans ‘Ride like a Pro’ video’s on You-Tube and change the way you look at riding.

  13. Sybil January 11, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Jeff and I take his 10 (soon to be 11) year old grand daughter, Rylee, riding. Last year we bought a tiny “Harley” for the then 5 year old grand daughter Macey. (It is battery operated sit-on bike.) We also bought a small electric scooter capable of 15 mph for the 10 year old. Both girls have helmets, boots, “motorcycle jackets” and more.
    I know that within the next few years Rylee will be riding for real. At 16 we will buy her lessons at m/c safety class.
    The generational love for bikes continues….

  14. Denis Almeida January 11, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    Just installed my stereo and alarm on the bike today so I guess # 1 is done

  15. Larry (Flattop)Burnett January 11, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Bought my rear brake pads from J&P…. just got them in last week and how ironic is that,that i put them on today….these 5 tips are going to make for safer bikes and that means safe operators.

  16. Emmett Johnson Jr. January 11, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Great ideas! 1. I have a chopper project that’s about 70% done. Good year to get it done. 2. our chapter of the Goldwing Road Riders has training classes every year, I guess I should make the extra effort to take them. 3. It’s not a museum as such, but I have a friend who has a collection of museum quality bikes, maybe I should call him and see if I can visit. 4. The GWRRA has the New England district rally held in July every year (Maine this year). 5. This is the MOST important of all. I will be teaching a new rider, my youngest daughter. I won a Honda Rebel 250 at a fundraiser event, and she can’t wait to ride in the same event herself, on her own bike.

  17. Sky January 11, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Hi All ! I like to get on the bike and be gone for 1 to 7 days or like my Alaska trip for a month. You all watch out for the other guy!

  18. Mike Smith January 11, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    All five are great ideas and I am on my way to completing my five. Changed my battery, signed up for an Expert Rider Course at the local Community College and am planning a Poker Run in March for a local veteran’s charity. I will ride in it of course. Just got to find a museum and talk my daughter-in-law into letting my son buy a bike!!!!!

  19. Blake Asher January 11, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Great ideas! The National Motorcycle Museum is on my early summer list. Replacing stator assembly at the moment, and hope to have my custom seat stitched up before spring. My three sons & youngest daughter ride. For inspiration I keep an old snap shot of my grand uncle on his 1926 HD. He’s on a rutted up dirt/mud road (the old military road in SE MO) in front of his dad’s barn and mule pasture, with two mules checking out his bike through the fence.

  20. Terry January 11, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    I ride an 88 Honda VT1100C, and the ‘ol Lady rides a 99 Yamaha VStar 650 and we do all those things every year. Every Spring we change something on the bikes….Never do they leave the garage in the spring, the same way they went in there before winter. Ride On!

  21. Joern Thiele January 11, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Hey, great things to do in summer – and I’ll work out every point…
    I’m in standby position, waiting for better weather conditions – at the moment it’s still winter with cold temperatures and snow here in Lueneburg / Germany!
    But the biker season will come back – let’s count the days!

  22. Phil Seybert January 11, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Yes – i do agree
    This last year – was my first – Long Ride/Large Group Ride; (Wow was it fun)
    #2 Yes my bike does – want more AT&T – so yes both a new back tire, and sum new exhausts are jumpin aboard – for 2011 (Not sure about the wrenchin just yet – To keep – both me and other riders safe – It safer If – I give my Father in Law, or a Bike Shop – A gift and help get-r-done
    #3 Yes I enjoy watchin the younger – folks ride them 4 Wheelers,etc, just so they are safe – and riding something I help them along – thats my own kids – 9 an soon 16, as well as (Legion Jr Sons Advisor) talk about bike safety too – ABATE) and of course ALR/Patriot Guard member too as well as Freedom Cruiser Rider, lookin forward to at least 5 long rides this summer – Roolin Thunder – To the Wall – Legacy Ride, our Return to Black Hills – and a few Southern Jonts to fillin the summer Tours.

    #4 – Nothin feels better – Then to take time for You – Remember to – Let go of the bike for a Day – Get a tent or Watch her from a nice Hotel along the Beach – but let your own butt – seat a spell – And remember We – Are The Riders – And Take Care of You.

    PMCS _ Please Make – careful – and Safe – Decisions, and always Be Safe First – The other stuff can and will take care of itself.

    appreciate – both Ohio HOGs, and Legion Members, Hope to hear from Ohio State Troopers, and I will – be thru both Columbus Ohio., and tornoto Ontario – To See My Biker Brothers – Who R – So Very Special – to This ALR – and – Road Glide Owner

    Phil Seybert
    US Army, Retired

  23. Joern Thiele January 11, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Great! I’ll do everthing on the list this summer! But at the moment waiting for better weather conditions! Here in Germany / Lueneburg it’s still winter!
    But the year is going on – bikers time will come…

  24. Greg Phillips January 11, 2011 at 10:49 am

    All 5 things are great Ideas, I do all my own work, last winter new tank, paint, gauges, wiring, bars etc.etc. etc………..
    Motor, head work, pistons, cams. This winter new 41mm front end and new wheels, and I’m still married
    Its like creating your own art work. And its much more satisfing then having someone else do it for you. Then ride with all the great people who love motorcycling.
    Riding 30 years and if I can another 30

  25. Chunk January 11, 2011 at 9:59 am

    I couldn’t agree more! Just bought an old Road King right before winter. Needed a lot of TLC to make it road worthy again. Hope to have it all ready for the spring for the wife and I to ride. Plus my four sons either help me work on it or just love going for rides. Maybe the Family and I will have to take the time to go to the MC museum this winter.

  26. mark Swimm January 11, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Lets see, installed 41/2 pullback risers, turn signals have been moved from bars to forks, got all the fluids and filters to get changed..I agree it is kinda of a bonding time and if you get you kids or old lady( sorry baby) out there its family time! Love to do my own work, maybe not a big bore kit, but small things, external things are easier than most think. Buy a teardown book and just start reading and follow the steps and it goes great with the right tools. 2000 fatboy here!

  27. Gary Buchman January 11, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Need to come up with the best method and reasonably priced options for a reduced reach on my H-D 2009 V-Rod Muscle so I do it before spring…any ideas?

  28. Viking January 11, 2011 at 8:25 am

    I work on my Harley continuously. If it ain’t maintained, it ain’t right. Put a new carb on it in November, changing the ignition switch this month and overall winter go over will start in a month or so. The rest is just downtime relaxation, museums/bikeshows/talk about bikes that we do all winter up here in the frozen north……

  29. Mikey Two times January 11, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Iliked them all as
    the comments as well and would like to add be safe inspect your bike everytime before you get on it then take a nice winter ride this might mean you need to gear up at J&P for winter gear but get out as long as no snow is on the ground

  30. rudy fuentes January 11, 2011 at 5:28 am

    i like the 5 things to do/ i’ll be changing the oil & tranny fulids as soos as i can, just to bond w my bike.

  31. Larry Hutchinson January 11, 2011 at 5:16 am

    Hello: I agree with all 5. I still go out and fire mine up once a week through the winter even if it’s too bad to ride. Making plans to do some modifications myself. By the way, What would be the results of changing the stock cam to a second stage cam on a 750 v twin?

  32. don frank January 2, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    working on your MC is something that will draw one close to his/ her bike…hog in my case. Fab repalce items or do some work on it; just great! No one is bothering me and I am in my own world. Cigars helps too. Just fun…bonding with ya gal!!

  33. Don Larson January 1, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Try to get your girlfriend or wife to share the pleasure and freedom on a motorcycle.

  34. Elaine December 30, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Great list, I’ve already changed my handle bars and cables, great confidence boost. I now have many other new pieces to put on during the winter. Love rally’s with friends and meeting new people. cant wait till spring and riding again.

  35. Mitchell Dubose December 30, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I like all five, learn to handle your bike better real cool,
    go to a motorcycle museum, a bike rally i like it all.peace

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