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Archive for February, 2012

Most of us like riding our motorcycle, even – or maybe only – on long distances. But sometimes it just can’t be helped, you need to put your motorcycle on a truck and pick it up at another part of the world.

For example, many of us like going to Sturgis, it’s an annual pilgrimage, but the ride takes up way too much time to get there, party, and then go back; it eats away at our holiday time. But arriving at Sturgis without a bike is like attending your Prom Night without a date. And shipping a motorcycle is not limited to Sturgis. There are many good reasons to ship a motorcycle.

But if you are going to ship your precious bike, there are a few things you need to take into account before you do so.

Select The Right Transport Company

Getting the right shipping company is important. Your best bet is using one that someone you know has used. There’s nothing better than using references in selecting a service company, and shipping is no exception.

But maybe you know no one who has shipped a motorcycle before, and you just don’t know where to begin to find a trustworthy shipping company.

No worries, there’s a website that can help you. Uship has not only an exhaustive database of motorcycle shipping companies, but they also have user ratings for each. You can find transport companies in your neck of the woods (USA, Canada, most of Europe, Australia and India), find out for how much they are insured (very important), and what recent customers thought of them.

(c) Heritage Motorcycle Shipping

Quotes

Get as many quotes as you can handle. It’s the only way of properly judging not only what it will cost you, but more importantly, what the conditions are.

Check very carefully what the conditions are for delays (imagine that you are heading for Sturgis and the bike gets delayed), and also very important, check what is insured (accidents, fires, etc).

If your motorcycle is immobile, in other words, does not work, you will need to tell the shipping company. Many will drive the bike into a truck, and if the bike doesn’t work, it may raise costs.

uShip detailed shipper information

Preparing Your Transport

You’ll need to do a few things before shipping your bike. It is not a simple matter of putting your bike on a truck.

Photos

Take plenty of photos of your motorcycle before it gets shipped. Make photos from the sides, front, rear and if at all possible, the lower parts of the bike. Specially if there’s existing damage, like scratches, make photos of them.

Print out the photos, and write out a statement of the state of your motorcycle.

Get It Signed

When the transporter comes to pick up your precious bike, make them sign your statement and photos. This way, if your motorcycle is damaged, you have proof what it looked like before it got mauled.

Check List

Here are the things to do and watch for before the bike gets loaded:

  • Remove all personal stuff from your bike, including what may be in your saddlebags, panniers and top case.
  • Check your tire air pressure and make sure it has a proper pressure.
  • Check if there are any oil or fuel leaks. If there are, make sure you mention it to the transporter.
  • Fold your mirrors inwards
  • If you have an anti-theft alarm, deactivate it
  • Set your gear to neutral

Crates

Some companies allow you to ship your motorcycle in a special crate. The advantage of crates, usually a more expensive option, is that your bike is protected from scratches. But to use a crate will mean you will need to drain your fuel tank, and you’ll need to un-hook your battery (you can imagine what happens if the fuel catches fire… you can not move a crate out that quickly from a truck).

(c) Quick Crate

Reception of your motorcycle

When you take delivery of your motorcycle, take a detailed inspection of your bike. Even the smallest scratch is going to be expensive to repair, so pay attention.

Any damage, no matter how small, needs to be reported immediately, in writing, to the shipment company.

Enjoy your ride wherever you sent your motorcycle.

Click here to access uShip

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When most bikers are dreaming about riding their motorcycles but can’t because of icy or snowy road conditions, one set of bikers ride. Not only do they ride, but they race.

In a sleepy beach resort town in France, in a town called Le Touquet, once a year the town hosts a beach race for motorcycle. Called the “Le Touquet Enduropale”, the date is always the first weekend in February, typically when France is at its coldest.

Braving icy cold weather, sea and often strong winds, 1100 motorcycles start the race at the same time. 1100 motorcycles thundering along the first part of the race, a 7.5 kilometer long stretch of deep sandy beach, alternated with sea water pockets. The first biker to reach the first curve wins the holeshot, and a purse of €1500. The motorcycle reach speeds of 200 kph (120 mph) in the sand, and usually the holeshot is won by professionals who have adapted a streetbike to the deep sand. These professionals are not expected to finish the race, since their street racebikes are not meant to be able to race the rest of the circuit.

Le Touquet Enduropale Beach race start

Le Touquet Enduropale Beach race start

After the holeshot curve, there is a narrow hill which the riders need to take. Already on its own, the narrow but steep hill with very deep sand is a difficult obstacle to take, but in the first lap, you are competing with 1100 other bikers, most have never ridden in deep sand before. So the traffic jam is so enormous that when the first riders have done a complete lap of the 15 kilometers long circuit (which takes about 10-15 minutes), they often have to wait a few minutes for the traffic to clear. It’s an assured obstacle entertainment.

Le Touquet Enduropale traffic jam on the first hill

Le Touquet Enduropale traffic jam on the first hill

What makes the race the most interesting to watch are the professionals, often big names like David Knight, Cyril Despres (this year’s Dakar winner) and others, needing not to compete with all the curves, hills, jumps and other man-made obstacles, but needing to circumnavigate the Sunday riders. These Sunday riders have often never raced a motorcycle on a beach before, and since it requires a tremendous physical effort, they stop on the circuit to catch their breath, or, as often is the case, crash and fall from their bike. The professionals need to speed past these obstacles at high speeds, sidestepping a fallen rider.

The race is free to the public, and you can see some 300,000 spectators amassed alongside the dunes to see this incredible race.

Competitors and spectators come from all over the world for this race, and during the weekend the village of Le Touquet is turned into one big motorcycle party. With motorcycle shops setting up tents selling you bikerwares, to hot food and drink sold anywhere, live music blasting everywhere, it’s a bit like Sturgis, but in the winter. People pitch up their tents everywhere or just sleep in the streets.

The beach race was dreamt up by Thierry Sabine, the same person who dreamed up the famous Dakar race. For years, famous races like the Dakar and the bicycle race the Tour de France, and the Touquet Enduro were run by the same person and organization, ASO. It is only recently that the Le Touquet Enduropale is run by the French motorcycle federation.

Le Touquet Enduropale Finish

Le Touquet Enduropale Finish

The 2012 edition was won by Jean-Claude Mousse on a Yamaha.

If you are ever in Europe during the first week of February, it’s one event you would have to put in your agenda to see.

Click here to see the Le Touquet web site.

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We have seen what kind of clothing you should wear, and we have looked at what kind of precautions you need to take in order to ride your motorcycle during the winter months.

Now, let us look at the actual ride itself.

Once autumn is in full swing, and then the long winter months have come, roads will have become slippery. At its best, rain will have made them wet, and its worst, black ice will have presented itself, making roads treacherous.

1. Take your Time

The main rule, rule #1, is take your time. Respect the roads! Just because you are riding in a nice part of twisties in the forest, with no ice or humidity, does not mean that in the next curve there will be none. Anywhere where there are shadows, the temperature can be much lower, resulting in ice. If a part of the road is in the shadows (of trees or buildings), while the rest of the road is in the sunshine, chances are that the roads appears to be rideable, when it’s not. So ride carefully.

2. Increase your distance

Roads have become slippery, no matter what the weather conditions are. Keep more distance with the next vehicle.

3. Do Not Take Too Long

Although riding in the winter is nice, especially when you are dressed for it, do not be fooled. If it is really cold out there, no matter what you have got on, your body will start getting colder and colder. So take pauses regularly to heat up.

4. Bring Sunglasses

Sunglasses are great in the summer, and they make you look cool. But in the winter they are often a life saving necessity. Daytime during winter months are short, meaning that the sun is at its lowest. Chances are that you will be blinded faster during winter months than during summer.

5. Unsure? Feet on the ground!

If you are hitting a spot on the road which looks slippery, do not take any risks. Put down your feet to balance the bike. This serves two purposes; 1) in case you start slipping, you can redress the bike, and 2) your center of gravity is lowered, making it easier to correct your movements.

But…..

6. If you drop the bike, let it go!

If you do drop the motorcycle because it slips, and your immediate efforts do not reestablish the position of your bike, LET IT DROP! If you try to keep your motorcycle upright while it is going down, you will hurt yourself. At the very least, you will sprain your back muscles, and the worst, .. you do not even want to think about it. So let it drop.

7. Enjoy

Despite the dangers, you should enjoy yourself. Just remember that car drivers behave differently in the winter as well. They may not see you since the sun is low, and they are mindful of the road conditions. So be visible, pay attention, and just enjoy a winter ride.


If you have taken a liking to riding in the winter, then maybe you would like to participate in the Elephant Rally, or as it is known, the Elefantentreffen, This is a German organized motorcycle event in the Alps, during the winter, and involves camping in the snow, and to get there, you must arrive on a motorcycle.




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