Travel Tips | McDermott's Harley-Davidson -

Travel Tips

Thoughts from the desk of Tim Allen
(no, they're not related)

Believe it or not, spring is just around the corner, but no one is saying how big the corner is this year. Do yourself a big favor and go out to your motorcycle and uncover it and just stare at it for two or three beers. Make a list of what you would like to change this year then give us a call and we will make sure it is done when we round that corner.

Ride safe, Ride hard, Ride often. - Tim "Julio" Allen


Travel Tips:

For those lucky ones that are planning a trip to anywhere on two wheels (or three), the oddball things you take with you can make all the difference. You will be spending a lot more time on your butt than usual, so make sure it stays cool and gets air. Nothing worse than a sore monkey butt. Most dressers come with a tool kit, so take yours out and see what fits what. If you don’t have everything, now is the time to load it. If you are on a bike without bags and a tool kit and are traveling with a bagger friend, ask to borrow their kit to see what you may need for your bike. Throw in a clutch lever and kickstand spring, also some duct tape and electrical tape (don’t laugh). Take along something to transfer fuel in case you get low. There is a new tool on the market that plugs into the Delphi fuel injected units tank outlet and allows you to pump fuel into another vehicle. This should be a must-have for any traveler with a Delphi fuel injected bike. It takes seconds to hook up and stows away in a small travel bag. Know where dealers are along your route so you can get assistance if needed. But most of all take your free spirit for adventure with you and keep it right up-front. Happy riding.


A large part of the maintenance bill on motorcycles is replacing the tires. We all have to deal with that more often, mileage-wise than with our four-wheeled vehicles. Mileage is usually the first item discussed when replacing motorcycle tires. Everyone wants a tire that will last longer than the original ones. The first thing I ask customers that are not happy with their mileage from any make of tire is how often you check the tire pressure. Checking and keeping the tire pressure up to the manufacturer's recommendations is very important to extending tire life. The type of road surface you normally ride on and how hard you twist the throttle is the next mitigating factor in extending your tire life. Some owner's manuals will give you a recommended pressure set-point for solo or two-up riding. The '09 and later touring manuals give you just one tire pressure set-point, which is 36 front and 40 rear and they always tell you to check and adjust the pressure when the tire is cold. Adding air to a hot tire is never a good idea due to accuracy. Some shops are even using nitrogen for inflating tires because the pressure is not affected by temperature. However, this is not very practical due to cost and availability. Racers have been using nitrogen for decades.

At McDermott's, we use Dunlop and Metzler tires and various other brands when a customer requests them. The Metzler tire compound is slightly softer than Dunlop, but the tire carcass is constructed to carry more air pressure than Dunlop. If the pressure is kept up to specs the surface will run cooler and the tire will last as long as a Dunlop. Tire temperature is the key to making it last. Most riders would not notice a slightly under-inflated tire, but the temperature of that tire will rise much higher and the hotter it is, the softer the rubber gets and the quicker it wears away. A few reasons why motorcycle tires cost as much or more than some car tires; First, not as many bikes tires are produced as care tires, secondly, there is much more involved in constructing the carcass of a motorcycle tire. Talk to someone that has changed a motorcycle tire and a car tire and ask them which one was easier. Sidewalls on bike tires are much stiffer than car tires to prevent lateral movement. We are seeing more radial tires on new bikes. Never mix a bias-ply tire and a radial tire on your motorcycle. This could be a disaster waiting to happen. Ride safe and ride often!

Correlation of Tire Temperature Increase w/ Lowered Air Pressure:

In my corner, this month I have enclosed a chart generated by an engineer for motorcycle tires. The chart is based on maximum weight for the tire tested. The temperatures shown are for the two-up riding of average weight people with a total weight of 450 lbs. It is interesting to see the correlation between pressure and temperature as pressure decreases. Several things come to mind, first the loss of " good handling" second the cost of a new tire prematurely and last but certainly not least, safety. as your tire heats up it becomes much more susceptible to puncture because it is softer. Most riders would not notice a slight drop in pressure because the sidewall on a motorcycle tire is much stiffer than a car, it has to drop much further to make you aware of the loss of air pressure. As you can see your tire will wear away much faster if you do not keep it inflated to the MAX pressure indicated on the tire carcass. Your tire will last longer, you will have better handling and are less likely to cut the tire.

A graph showing tire temperature increase.