Lakewood Harley, The Dealer That Made Me Want A Harley

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That’s the old man, that’s his new V-Star, that’s the window glare from the car as I enjoyed the seat warmer.

Just yesterday, my uncle bought a new bike. Now it isn’t new, it’s a 2009, and although we were at an H-D dealer, the bike was a Yamaha V-Star 1300. While I will go into details about the bike in another article, the point of this is to show how Chris from Lakewood Harley Davidson made that buying experience a pure joy.

The reason this surprised me is the experience I had at Barb’s Harley throughout taking my MSF course there, and being at the dealer for various events/rides. I guess it makes sense to start with Barb’s right? I generally like going to any dealership just because window-shopping is a blast, but also it is nice to feel-out the people that work there. Both me and any given sales rep know that I am not in the market for a $15,000 bike at the moment, and I don’t expect to be treated special for just stepping foot into the dealership. However, I want to be able to talk to someone and LEARN about the bikes, and by having someone casually tell me about the new Milwaukee-Eight 114ci motor makes me want it and the expensive bike it’s bolted to.

While at Barb’s, I was generally ignored or immediately tried to be sold on financing a Street 750…no. It was almost like the saw this young guy without tattoos, for now, and immediately consider I’m just a dingleberry who doesn’t bikes so just get him on this plastic learner and get him out the door. Nobody tried to just be normal and shoot the shit with me and get a relationship built up, because of that, I really never had a desire to consider buying a bike there. My dream of having one of four Harley’s was just that, a nice dream to have years down the road.

That all changed yesterday thanks to a cool dude from Shamong.

My uncle had talked with Chris on the phone before we drove an hour to look at it so he was already set to deal with him. I am like my uncle where if we are going to take the time to see something in person, we are serious about buying it and he made sure Chris knew that. So after a lovely lunch at Whole Hog Cafe and many conversations about the bike, we arrive a Lakewood. The dealership itself it very nice, and like Barb’s, there are plenty of bikes outside to wet your whistle before walking through the door.

We see the V-Star outside and take a quick look before going inside and she looks great, old man is happy thus far. We go inside and meet Chris, as it turns out, I have seen him at Barb’s for some rides and he worked there for awhile too. Without going through a transcript of the entire time with him, Chris did the perfect thing any sales rep should do; ┬áleave the B.S. at the door. H-D dealers don’t like having metric bikes on their lots and all three of us knew it. This was about makes a quick dollar and trying to move it out. There was no attempt to up-sell to an H-D, there was no mention about financing until he physically had to ask during the paperwork, and he even brought the bike into their service department to get the clutch tension inspected at our request.

More importantly, when my uncle did confess to his desire to save and buy his dream Street Glide, Chris didn’t even talk about pricing or new features or anything of the sort. Now you may ask why this is important, so I shall tell you. My uncle (and mostly me) research bikes and cars before buying and know our stuff. He also has me, the walking encyclopedia of motors, to tell him about anything related to bikes and cars. Chris, I assume, picked up on that in various conversations and realized that we know about the Street Glide, we both want a Street Glide, we know about various features and specs on the Street Glide, we know. There was no need to sell us on one since we already are drooling over them and have made it clear that we cannot afford them for ourselves which is why my uncle is buying the V Star.

He is the type salesperson who can read is clients well and is only interested in making us happy while making a quick dollar. We also already know he made his money off the previous owner of the V-Star since he traded this bike in on a brand new H-D and knows him personally. He even called him on his cell to ask a few questions we had about the bike. Once again, you might think this is silly, common sense, why am I still reading? What Chris did, and I am dead serious about this, is ensure that when either my uncle or myself are ready to get our first H-D’s, we will be coming directly to him and Lakewood Harley.

What makes this extra warm and fuzzy is that people like Chris are exactly the type of people we need in motorcycle dealerships in order to get more people buying and riding bikes! If you do a little research, you will find that while more people are currently buying motorcycles in the U.S. of A, they are buying used bikes. That is simply due to people my age who want to ride but cannot logically afford a new bike thanks to student loan debt, higher cost of living, and Candy Crush. I say logically because that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t buy a new bike, there is just little reason to since we aren’t seeing the benefit and that is the fault of every dealer out there.

When I was at Barb’s H-D, I felt like I was ignored for a variety of reasons and I partially get it, but at the same time I have no connection and reason to spend my money at a dealership 20 minutes from my house. At Lakewood H-D, Chris made me feel welcome. The way he helped my uncle buy a relatively cheap metric bike told me that I should really try and get my savings in order so I can buy one of the many H-D’s I want from him.

So to Chris, thank you. In about a year or two, expect my call about a flat white Street Glide or 114 Heritage Classic. You are my H-D hero and thank you for getting me excited about buying an H-D…eventually….someday…we’ll talk.

NEVER TEXT AND DRIVE…Except to Look at Doggo Memes

Trying to be a fancy photographer...

Let’s just clarify that it is not okay to text and drive no matter how sick that fire meme is, but to be honest, a lot of us do it. Yes, us crusaders of road safety, riding with our helmet-mounted GoPros capturing every mistake four-wheeled drivers make, we also text and drive.

There will inevitably be people who read this and disagree profusely, but don’t lie to you and me in the same sentence. I cannot think of a single person whom I have driven with that refuses to respond to a text while behind the wheel. The line I will draw however is the way they do it.

Before I go into detail, I AM NOT ADVOCATING TEXT WHILE DRIVING. I am simply being realistic and understanding that it does happen and that many of us can be safer while doing it.

Recently I was driving home from the gym to Pancheros to obtain a delicious burrito bowl. While in-route, a Honda Accord Coupe came next to me and as I look into the vehicle, I notice the woman texting/ using her phone. Now, something you must understand is that I always look at the cars around me to judge the driver. It allows me to determine if they are paying attention or hopefully an attractive woman that I will immediately rev-bomb, judge me all you want. I am observant, not mature people. ANYWAY, I see her texting but the phone it essentially in front of her face, while traveling at roughly 45mph. Not only that, but it is night-time so the light from that massive iPhone effectively blinds your from the darkness outside. Tis was a dangerous situation, coupled with the fact that I could not get around her due to the car in front.

SO, I honked my horn a couple times to get her attention, no response. I honk a few more times, no response except the phone get lowered a little, then I unleash an unholy rev bomb. The Cobra pipes on my bike are quite loud and yet she still does nothing and at this point I am very much annoyed. The reason why myself and other bikers will do this is to try and knock some sense into the dangerous drivers. This girl just didn’t care. The reason I got mad and was inspired to write this is that it wasn’t the fact she had used her phone that was stupid, it was the way she went about it.

I will be the first to admit that I check my phone while I’m driving and respond to texts mostly while stopped. I will also admit that if I am stuck in traffic I will send out short responses if needed. What I don’t do is hold the phone up to my face and type the sequal  to Hamlet to my boys while at a high rate of speed.

I know some bikers will rage at the sight of a phone near a drivers hand, but we need to look in the mirror sometimes and realize that we can contradict ourselves a lot. For instance, do we always check our mirrors intensely while driving our cars? I try to all the time, but sometimes I know I slip up and only take a quick glance. Do we always follow people at the appropriate distance while in our cars? Honestly, I probably follow closer than I should because I drive quickly. This is why I don’t really freak out at people for doing that, unless you are a car-length behind me while doing 50mph Mr.  late-model black Dodge Charger last night. In that case, you will hear my rage.

I wrote this not to give drivers an excuse for being idiots sometimes, but rather to point out to my fellow biker bros broettes that maybe we should collectively calm our temper. Unless you are the world’s safest driver and lock your phone away for an entire car journey, yelling at teenager for glancing at their phone isn’t the best idea. If anything, it can further the assumption that bikers are just a**holes who like to hooligan around and cause trouble.

So on behalf of me, slow your roll, unless you see that Accord or Charger, then go crazy. Cheers!

 

 

My Bike Didn’t Belong, I Didn’t Care.

 

To be fair, I should have expected this before pulling up at the start point. The Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride as been around since 2012 and was founded in Sydney, Australia. The idea behind it was to challenge the stereotype that motorcycle riders are either hooligans on supersport bikes or Hell’s Angels on Harley’s. So every year, men around the world don their dapper attire, saddle up, and raise money for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and suicide awareness. Okay, background over.

I wasn’t actually sure if I was going to participate in this ride until the night before. My uncle was at a wedding with our two other friends who wanted to go, and let’s just say they were not sure if waking up at 6:00AM would be possible. Well it was and at 7:30AM we lifted our kickstands to head to the meet and as always, the excitement for going on a big ride had completely taken over. 

As we pulled up to Gorshin Trading Post & Supplies in Haddonfield, I realized that this ride is going to be different then most. The street in front of the shop was full of classic and European bikes. This was especially challenging for me to not have a trouser accident considering I just revisited in my love for Ducati’s in a previous post…here

As I park Selene (my 2005 Suzuki M50 Black) besides a mid-70’s Honda 750 and a tasty modified Ducati 821, I get the feeling I brought her to the wrong ball. My uncle and his friend are feeling even more sheepish with their near-matching V-Star 1100’s. Also, I felt bad for drooling over so many bikes with poor Selene sitting right right there. It was just like the meme with the guy walking down the street with his girl while looking at someone else. Every Thruxton I walked by resulted in a ever-longing glance back towards my beauty in black. I swear I said sorry a few times. 

Realistically it didn’t matter, we were all out to support a great cause and what bike you rode in on isn’t as important. 

The ride itself was pretty great. The weather was beautiful, the planned route kept us on b-roads, and we had an awesome mid-way stop at Nixon’s General Store in Tabernacle for one of the better breakfast sandwiches I’ve had in a long time. Now since I wasn’t vlogging the ride, I enjoyed being at the front of the pack. I was leading this convoy unique bikes and somehow it was even better that I was on a more normal ride. A little over an hour later, we reached what would be the chocolate covered cherry on my amazing cake; New Jersey Motorsports Park

We were allowed to do five parade laps around the circuit and I could not be more excited. Even though my 805cc cruiser was not meant for this, I was going to get a taste of sporty riding on two-wheels. As my group lined up, I made sure I got in front of the elderly gentleman on a Honda 360T and right behind a newer Yamaha R1 and Triumph Speed Triple so I could have my fun. 

As we entered the track and preformed the sighting lap, I was an odd mix of nervous and comfortable. While I was using the wrong bike and had never been on a track before, all of the tips and lessons I had learned from riding, and other Motovloggers, were starting to build together and it was not long before I was tipping my 500lb sweetie deep into the corners. I was finding the brake balance, proper lean angles, and fastest gears through turns. While the sport bikes in front of me were barely goosing it, I was able to ring out the potential of my baby muscle cruiser. It was like a perfect date.

Our front group was actually going so…briskly, that we caught up to the rear safety car guarding a vintage trike pootling around the bends. As we exited the track, every rider was acting like a child who had just met Spongebob for the first time. We were giddy, sweaty, and in pure bliss. What did stink a bit was I had to leave the track right after the laps and drive back to my neck of the woods for the Eagles game. However, I did have a long ride to really think about the experience I just had. 

First, I had come to the determination that at some point I want to try track riding again, on an appropriate bike of course. The sensation of being able to fully use every aspect of your machine is unlike any other. Second, while Selene certainly wasn’t as vintage or “cool” as some of the other bikes on the ride, she still had me grinning ear to ear the entire time. Not only that, a few guys had even said that they were impressed that she was my first. A little ego boost never hurt. The last point was rather a surprise though. I truly have no intention of “upgrading” Selene. While she doesn’t have the biggest engine or the best performance, I am going to get a second bike of a different variety rather then just get another cruiser. 

For the everyday riding mixed with longish hauls, Selene is fantastic. Light, good on gas ,very reliable, sounds fantastic, oh and she looks mean as hell. I realized just how much I have fallen in love with my cheap first bike and I really can’t imagine her leaving me any time soon. I am not going to be foolish and say I will keep her until my last breath, but I really hope I do somehow. Even if the frame rots away and I cannot afford to keep the motor running, I almost want to take her fuel tank and mount it somewhere as dedication to long long life (I hope) she has had. 

The point of that misty-eyed rant was to show just how much my bike has become a part of me. I know that most other riders, besides Vespa people maybe, can relate.

To wrap this up, I will be putting a short video of the ride up eventually but I need to get my editing down a little more before it goes public. Hopefully that doesn’t take too long!

So I Wet My Pants on Monday

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I swear I was having this much fun.

To be fair, I didn’t lose control of my bladder, but I did have to ride home in the rain for the first time.

When it comes to my love of being on two wheels, there are few things that will make me question taking a ride. One is the constant fear of someone Snapchatting their latest in-car concert and running into me, and the other, until Monday, was getting caught in the rain.

I knew from the moment I started riding that it would eventually happen. While my M50 is not the only form of transportation I have, I still ride as much as possible no matter what the reason. I accepted that getting rained on will happen, and I just needed to not make a big deal about it.

Weeks ago, I had rode to the gym at night since my LOVELY weather app was positive it would not rain until my bedtime…adults have bedtime too. Well the app was wrong and I received a very frantic phone call from my uncle while working out saying he was ready to arrange a convoy of trailers to drive my bike ten minutes home in the shower. I, however, was not ready to call the National Guard and waited for the rain to stop before driving home.

I did not die and had learned a great deal about wet-weather riding from that quick jaunt home. I felt comfortable, the fear was gone, and also had a sense of truly joining the club from that. Little did I know I was wrong, so wrong.

This past Monday, I checked the same app while eating breakfast and noticed that while it was going to be a cloudy day, I should still be able to ride to work. Luckily for me, my commute is ten minutes from home which made it an even easier decision. Later that day I was at my desk, and I noticed that darker clouds are starting to form. It wasn’t too long before the drizzle started, which then turned to a light shower, which then turned to full on rain.

As 5:30 inched closer and closer, I started to realize that I was going to have to actually ride in the rain. A little fear came back, and all my confidence I gained just weeks before was slowly fading away. It was time to leave work and since I didn’t have Jeremy Clarkson’s brave pills, I took a deep breath and geared up. This is how the ride home went:

  1. (Sitting on the bike before leaving work)
    1. Sweet baby Jesus I don’t want to low-side Selene (my bikes name, sue me). If it is going to happen to me, it is bound to happen today.
    2. What if some dingleberry rear ends me while checking the weather?
    3. Just go low and slow Mike.
    4. DEAR GOD I AM THE WETTEST PERSON IN THE WORLD ALREADY
  2. (Leaving the office parking lot)
    1. Okay, we can do this, just ride that clutch and rear brake.
    2. Wow, that car behind me is actually keeping their distance, cheers to you buddy.
    3. Actually this is kinda fun, why am I laughing?
    4. SO WET, GLASSES STEAMING, LOSING VISION, MUST OPEN VISOR….RAIN IN THE EYEEEEEEEEEEE.
  3. (At the light before entering my neighborhood)
    1. I still can’t stop laughing, am I going crazy or was this fun?
    2. So glad there wasn’t a cop around to see me lane split around that Prius, nobody can crash into my poo-shute!
    3. Pause internal thoughts since the guy next to me rides and is talking to me about his experience getting caught in the rain. Bikelife frieeeeeeeends!
    4. It’s official, my lower body could only be more wet if was standing in a pool.
    5. I’M BIKER RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICK….why’d I shout that into my helmet.
  4. (Pulling into garage)
    1. I’m not dead!
    2. Nobody (except that Prius) drove like a wienie near me!
    3. Somehow that was fun!
    4. I feel like an actual biker now.

I wish I could say this was exaggerated but I actually talk like this, especially when nobody is listening. The moral of the story is that even though I am still a new rider with only a few thousand miles under my gloves, I managed to get through one of the most challenging things we face as riders. It was the most nerve-racking and satisfying moment I have yet to have as a rider, followed by my first large group riding experience, dear lord side-by-side riding.

If you are a newer rider, don’t think you are unable to ride through certain situations simply because you are new. Obviously know your limits and don’t go riding into a thunderstorm because you want to challenge yourself. What I mean is don’t let something like a surprise rain shower or crappy road surface freak you out! It’s not like these type of riding techniques can be taught in the classroom, you have to experience them first-hand in order to learn. So get a little wet, phrasing, and ride on. It might be the most satisfying experience you have yet to have on two wheels.

Say Yes To Lane Splitting

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Watching someone drive erratically with a phone attached to their face will always piss me off.
Coming from a rider who sometimes rides fast on open roads, I promise I don’t want to split between cars to race around. If anything, I recognize that there is an inherent danger to riding between people applying eye-liner and eating a burger. However, I’d rather have the option to get around and away from those beautiful and full motorists rather then squished between them and the car in front of them.

One of the most surprising things I’ve discovered as a newer rider, was just how much more observant I’ve become over drivers driving habits. You begin to predict what people will do before their vehicle moves and it has already saved my life a few times. For all this newly discovered intuition, one situation continues to make me sweat inside my helmet; approaching or being stuck at intersections.

While moving, it is very easy to keep track of the drivers around me and make adjustments to avoid being smushed by lawyer in his Audi screaming vigorously into his phone. While coming up to an intersection or stopped, my exit strategy is cut down and I’m sorry to say this, but on bike I really don’t trust others driving. I’ve noticed that motorists seem to relax their attention when approaching an intersection. It’s almost as if they think the hardest part of the drive is over and they can read that email now or reach for a Cliff Bar while slowing for a stop. Also, I don’t understand the how so many people forgot what lane they need to be in and jump over last minute, usually without a turn signal.

For these reasons, I wish New Jersey, as well as all other states, legalized lane-splitting. I know that many motorists will rage that riders will just rip between them at 100mph if you legalize this, but to be fair, the guys who choose to do that don’t care if it is legal or not. I would even be happy if the police officers have digression to determine whether a rider is splitting safely or dangerously. From what I can tell, that is currently the practice in California and hopefully their tweaking of the law will deter newer riders from scaring the crap out of motorists (For more info on Cali’s practices read this article). Trust me, I don’t want to sneak between cars at triple digit speeds and have someone accidentally veer into me so it isn’t about simply going fast.

Being able to just move to front on an intersection at stopped light means that all the four-wheeled lunatics are behind me and stopped. So long as I don’t blow past motorists revving the nuts off my bike, I would hope they appreciate I am getting away from them as well. Many people get nervous around bikes and that adds to them making poor decisions. Perhaps the most beneficial purpose of lane splitting is in traffic jams though. We all know that no matter how much you love Jesus or how much yoga you do, traffic brings out the inner yeti in all of us. You become angry, inpatient, and forget how to drive safely. I will admit to letting the yeti out myself prior to getting a motorcycle, but I have since realized just how dangerous that mentality is. Having the ability to SLOWLY move between the traffic and getting by all the shouty yetis keeps the motorcyclists safe…and cool…oh so cool.

All this being said, I am curious what other riders think. My uncle, who also rides, does not like splitting since he feels as if he is in greater danger. Many of our other friends who ride cruisers are also nervous about motorists giving them enough room to pass between since a bagger with highway bars isn’t exactly skinny like a Triumph Daytona.

Comment below to split the hairs about lane splitting…see what I did there, I’m so punny.