If you have god forbid been injured in a motorcycle accident anywhere in California, give me a call anytime 7 days a week, 24 hours a day at 800-816-1529 x.1, to discuss your case.
I can get you medical treatment even if you do not have medical insurance,
I will send my investigators to you so you do not have to come into the office.
I will work to get your motorcycle fixed.
I will work to get you all the compensation you are entitled to for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, and more.
I am not some marketing scam that you have seen posting flyers all over motorcycle rallies, or biker rags nationwide. I am not “an association of lawyers” who has attorneys paying me money to advertise for them nationwide, and then farms cases out to them. I don’t pass out trinkets and goodies at motorcycle rallies to make you think that I am something I am not. I am not some generic non-riding personal injury attorney who has designed a fancy website to get you to think that they are biker lawyers, which they are not, I am a real deal biker like you. My firm and I handle the actual cases that come in. We say what we are, and are what we say, experts in motorcycle accident cases.
Read my blog below. I am an expert in motorcycle accidents. Like you I am a real biker who rides, and I am an expert in personal injury cases.
Don’t be suckered into signing up with a firm because of fancy advertising, or who do not ride motorcycles, who says they ride just to get you to sign up with them. Don’t be fooled by fancy ads. I am a top rated attorney who rides in the wind just like you.
Enjoy my articles below, there are hundreds of them!
As part of my thousands of miles of travel each year to various motorcycle rallies all over the nation, I have come to the conclusion that for motorcycle rallies of great distance up to and including 1000 miles or more each way, it is not practical to ride my motorcycle to every event.
I used to be one of those hard core bikers who laughed at “the trailer queens” trailering their motorcycles to rallies. Hell I was so hardcore that I only put on a Windscreen on my motorcycles in the past 10 years.
I remember the good old days of doing 90mph in the deserts of Arizona with the temperature at 120, no helmet on, no windscreen on, holding on for dear life. I have ridden with hundreds and probably thousands of people over the years, who can attest to this.
Well at this point in my life, especially since I acquired a Class A Motorhome, I have decided to join the ranks of those who go for comfort and fun when traveling to motorcycle rallies that are a long distance away.
I have come to the conclusion that many people tow their motorcycles for one reason or another, and it is okay. You will notice many bikers and motorcyclists at the rallies with their RV’s.
I have decided that my firm will also have booths at the rallies. However, instead of being a marketing outfit, we are the real deal. We will prove it at our booth. Let’s see the other guys do that. Anyway……..
Along these lines, I have acquired a 6 foot wide, by 12 foot long, by 7 foot high, brand new enclosed cargo trailer from Carry-All.
My plan is to customize it to not only trailer my motorcycle to events behind my RV, but to make it in to a bad ass trailer that will carry my law firm booth stuff, for when we start appearing at events next year.
You can see the before pictures here in this article.
The phase 1 plan is to surface sand the floor, add a couple of coats of urethane to weather proof the floor, install a 2 by 10 strip of diamond plate metal in the middle for motorcycle traction, install a Biker Bar strapless motorcycle fastening system in the middle, along with a front wheel chock, and to install a wireless camera in the back of the trailer, since with my 35 foot RV, I won’t be able to see squat behind me at 50 feet away. A wireless receiver will also have to be powered and hooked up to my camera monitor in the RV which already has 3 cameras attached to it.
The phase 2 plan is to add a few cabinets, racks, and storage items within the trailer for all my motorcycle cleaning stuff, extra oil, helmets, and motorcycle gear. I am also going to acquire a spare tire.
The phase 3 plan will begin on July 23, 2013, with Monster Graphics of Huntington Beach wrapping the entire trailer with a custom Vinyl advertisement for my law firm. I will unveil it on here first. I will give you a little hint, there are some hot babes on it!
The trailer will be ready for its first big road trip on July 30, 2013, when I travel 1500 miles to Sturgis one way.
I will review all the items being installed into the trailer including the trailer itself in future articles.
I hope my journey helps you to acquire and customize your own motorcycle trailer.
One curious note about the customization so far, the shop that is doing the work is so worried that the Biker Bar strapless trailering system will not work, they made me sign a waiver in case any damage happens to the motorcycle while using the Biker Bar strapless motorcycle trailering system.
I am going to do a full write up on the Biker Bar strapless system, once I have a chance to test it out, but I have all confidence it will work as promised. If I see any reason for concern, I will reinforce the trailer floor. The instructions say for a 3/4″ wood floor, it is all that is necessary.
I am going to have 3/4″, plus diamond plate. Hell, worst case scenario, I will use straps as well. The trailer has 4 recessed D-Rings for strapping if necessary.
This year I plan on taking my 35 foot class A motorhome, and tow my new 6×12’ enclosed trailer, with my Harley Davidson Electra Glide in the back.
The beautiful thing about the enclosed trailer, rather than the open trailer I have been using heretofore, is that my motorcycle will be safe from the elements during the trip, so I do not have to worry about washing and waxing her every time I stop. I will also be able to carry my motorcycle supplies in the trailer instead of the back of the motorhome.
I have already pre-paid for my 10 day stay at the world famous Glencoe camp resort in Sturgis, SD. This place is famous for the ongoing adult party that happens 24 hours a day during the rally, and the major concerts that happen there at night. It is also right next door to the famous Full Throttle Saloon as well.
I will be documenting, videotaping, recording, picture taking, and reporting on all of the debauchery here on the Biker Law Blog, as well as all of the great riding.
I figure I will be back home again around August 15, plus or minus a few days.
This will mark my first major trip in the past 12 years being single, which is a major milestone for me. I look at it more as a major adventure doing it this way, but this is the way it is. My motto for the trip is “It’s on!”
Since I will be leaving on July 30, 2013, exactly 4 weeks from today’s date, I will be reporting on here my preparations for the trip.
As I write this article right now, my RV is in the shop having the In-Motion Satellite Dish and two central air conditioning covers being replaced.
My new enclosed trailer is going to go into the shop to have the floors sanded and a few coats of urethane brushed onto the wood to protect it, then I am going to have diamond plate installed on the trailer floor and swing down back door, a wheel chock installed, and a Biker Bar installed so I will not have to strap the motorcycle down in the trailer, it is a strapless system.
Finally I am going to have the exterior of the trailer wrapped with my law firm advertisement in Vinyl.
Believe it or not this will all be ready before I leave on July 30, 2013 and I will report about it on here.
I expect to be able to share to you, the biker and motorcycle community much information, including product reviews on new stuff.
So there it is, another road trip is almost here again.
You see I have never trailered any of my bikes ever, but when I planned my epic around the country motorhome trip, I needed a trailer so I could bring my motorcycle along.
I researched all different types of trailers. I looked at the Motorcycle Trailer in a Bag, the Kendon Trailers, Enclosed Trailers, and every type of trailer you can possibly imagine. I put a lot of time into finding the right trailer, at the right price.
I was almost set to pull the trigger on a used Motorcycle Trailer in a Bag, when I found the Trinity 3, from theusatrailerstore.com .
I contacted them through their website, they contacted me right back. The head guy gave me his phone number and I gave him a call. As it turns out, this company if located back east in the South, but they had a local distribution center right here in Southern California.
They offered me a brand new Trinity 3 for around $1,375, plus another $75 for a chrome spare tire. After all was said and done, this trailer looked a lot more beefier and safer for my new Electra Glide Ultra Classic than the Motorcycle in a bag, I told him I would come the next day to pick up the trailer.
At this time my motorhome was in the shop getting customized and I had nothing to pull the trailer with, so I rented a pickup truck for $75 plus tax so I could go pick up the trailer and pull it home.
When I went to pick up the trailer, it was literally brand new and just assembled at the distribution center. It was beautiful. To my surprise, the trailer folded up and could be stored upright like a Kendon, but it did not have the casters like the Kendon. This was ok with me since I was saving at least $2,000 right off the bat by getting this trailer.
This trailer was rated at 2,000 pounds, whereas the single Kendon was only rated at 1,000 pounds. My Electra Glide Ultra Classic is almost 1,000 pounds without rider or passenger.
This trailer also came with 3 Wheel Chocks. The owner even offered and shipped to me 3 lowered wheel chocks to accommodate the low fender on my Electra Glide.
The manufacturer says that you can fit 3 small bikes, 2 medium bikes, or 1 bagger on the trailer at the same time. All I cared about was my Electra Glide.
Another issue I had was that on my trip I would need to load and unload my motorcycle from the trailer by myself, and I wanted to be able to ride my motorcycle up onto the trailer, since it was going to be only me, and my now ex on the trip, and I knew she was not going to be able help me getting it on and off.
Like Kendon, the Trinity trailer comes with its own ramp that is secured to the bottom of the folding part of the trailer by wingnuts. However in looking at it, I knew I would need a larger ramp just to make sure I could load and unload my motorcycle onto the trailer.
The owner of theusatrailerstore.com told me that I should take off the rubber caps from the wheel axels and lube them every 5,000 miles, however, in extreme heat, I should lube them every 3,000 miles.
He showed me how to hook up the trailer and the safety cables, and the electrical and I was off.
I learned on my own that when backing up with a trailer if your trailer is going left you need to turn left to straighten it and visa versa. I learned that the speed limit in California for persons hauling trailers is 55.
The owner of theusatrailerstore.com told me to keep my speed down as much as possible.
When I first got home with the trailer, I backed it up my driveway, unhooked it, found a space for it in the garage, then lifted it so that it was upright and not taking up too much space in my garage. When the lowered wheel chocks arrived, I installed them by unbolting the original ones, and bolting on the new ones.
When it was time for my trip on July 16, 2012, I hooked up my beefy ramp to my new trailer and rode my motorcycle up onto the trailer. When my front tire engaged the wheel chock, the motorcycle was locked in place. I was now able to get off and strap my motorcycle down.
I did my research before the trip so I knew exactly what to do. I purchased some Kuryakyn tie down brackets and installed them onto my front forks where the front fairing mounts to the forks. They are custom made for Electra Glides and give you place on each side to strap you bike down with.
I strapped the back two straps onto each hard luggage bag guard.
I had previously purchased the most expensive and heavy duty straps I could find, hell I was driving around the country, not just across country, so I only wanted the best. I got the 440 lb. 2” wide by 6’ long Ratchet with snap hook kit. The kit also came with soft covers and soft loop straps. I paid around $100 for the whole kit which came in its own plastic case.
The first few times I strapped the motorcycle on and off of the trailer it took a while, but after my almost 2 month trip I became a pro and could do it real fast.
I had one major snafu in New Orleans when I was putting the motorcycle on the trailer. I was on a wet lawn, I had basic thongs on which become real slippery when wet. When I went to put the motorcycle on the trailer my thongs slipped and I dropped the bike halfway on the trailer and the ramp.
Thank god the bike did not fall off of the trailer or there would have been some real damage. After getting the motorcycle upright, I was shaken, but shocked to find literally no damage whatsoever on the motorcycle, the engine and luggage guards did their job.
The next few times putting the motorcycle on the trailers I was much more cautious.
The trailer did exactly what it was supposed to do with no problems whatsoever for over 8,600 miles on the trip. The tires held up, the trailer help up, no problem whatsoever.
The only real issues I had was because Camping World installed my new infrared back camera on the RV behind the stock Plexiglas housing, I became blind at night because the infrared reflected off of the Plexiglas.
This became a major problem on a couple of areas on the trip because there was no way to see my small trailer at night without the camera behind a 35 ft. motorhome. My ex and I had walkie talkies and did our best when we had to.
I used the trailer on a few other major trips to the Las Vegas Bikerfest, the Laughlin River Run, etc. The trailer gave me no problems whatsoever, and was solid.
I give the Trinity 3 trailer and solid 10 out of 10 and highly recommend it to anyone who has a need to tow up to three motorcycles, and has limited space. The trailer folds and can be stored upright so it can be put into a small place in the garage.
Let it be known that I was not compensated, comped or paid anything for my review of this trailer.
POSTSCRIPT – I recently sold my Trinity 3 trailer for $1250, because I decided to get an enclosed trailer for the upcoming Sturgis Motorcycle rally. So in the end I basically paid $200 for my trailer and got around 10,000 miles out of her.
I also sold my beefy motorcycle ramp for $150 since my new enclosed trailer has a ramp door on the back and I did not need it.
I have been a serious long distance motorcycle rider for many years now. You may ask what is a long distance motorcycle rider. To me a long distance motorcycle rider is someone who rides 800 or more miles on a motorcycle trip multiple times a year.
So according to my definition, even a first time rider who does a few 800 mile or more motorcycle trips per year would qualify as a long distance motorcycle rider.
I regularly do trips of 1000 miles or more like they are no big deal.
I know many guys who are bikers, and what some would consider to be hardcore bikers, that literally do nothing but bar hop on their motorcycles. To them doing 300 miles in a day is unheard of. Further, many of these guys have motorcycles that are in no way set up to do any serious mileage.
Most of these guys do not have saddle bags, and brag about how they do not need wind screens.
I am not going to knock these guys that are basically local bikers, but they really have no clue what it is like to be a long distance biker.
There are also what I call your ubiquitous trailer queens. These are guys that trailer their motorcycle to events, and then unhook them and ride at the actual event, making it appear that they rode to the event. This article not about packing up your car, it is about packing up your motorcycle.
Unless you are doing an Iron Butt Ride which is 1000 miles in a 24 hour period, (basically nonstop riding except to stop for gas and quick meals) a 1000 mile or more motorcycle trip will be a trip that is at least a 2 days or more.
I have done runs that last a week or more.
The big issue for me on long distance motorcycle trips is; what should I carry on the trip, and how should I carry what I need on the trip.
For me what to carry with on long distance motorcycle runs is almost automatic. I carry:
Small Tool Kit
1 Quart of Oil
Sunglasses, and clear night glasses
Warm weather and cold weather gloves.
Emergency Contact Form
Fine cotton cloths
Plexus windshield cleaner
And whatever else I may need.
When I go on long distance motorcycle runs at least for the past 11 years or so, Elizabeth has been with me. Therefore inevitably, I also have to carry her purse, gloves, jacket, chaps, and whatever else she might want to bring as well which always includes her makeup and cloths.
In the past when I just had a softail or regular large cruiser motorcycle and no bagger, (see the picture above, the motorcycle is packed up to the brim, with tents, chairs, and everything for a full motorcycle rally.) my solution to accommodate all of the stuff that I like to carry, was to first to buy soft saddlebags, or a locking rigid saddlebag system, install a luggage rack behind the sissy bar, and buy a T-Bag soft luggage system that sat on the luggage rack behind the sissy bar, and then secured around the sissy bar.
The locking saddlebag system, called Leatherlykes Bags, was better than soft saddle bags, because they were bigger, and I could lock the bags and walk away without worrying about being ripped off.
I used the soft T-Bag motorcycle luggage system on a couple of my motorcycles. After a few years, I switched from the T-Bags, to something called the Kuryakyn Full Dresser Bag, when they first came out. This bag had a rigid plastic shelving system in it, held more stuff then the T-Bags, and actually looked better as well. Not only that, but it had a wheel system on it like conventional luggage so when I got to a destination, I could lift it off, and wheel it in.
I used this system a few times on my FLHT Electra Glide Standard when I got her, but once I put the removable Tour Pak on; there was no room for the Full Dresser Bag.
For 6 years with the Electra Glide we would use plastic bags to fill up the side hard Harley Davidson Saddle bags, and the Tour Pak. We would also utilize the luggage rack on top of the tour pak to bungee tie our leathers as necessary.
I eventually went back to T-Bags and got a Dakota bag which is specifically designed to fit the premium luggage rack on a Harley Davidson Electra Glide Tour Pak.
The Dakota Bag is so big, that it pretty much holds everything we need. Obviously there are some items that will not fit in the Dakota, so we continue to keep small plastic bags in the hard side saddle bags.
Liz and I are talking about riding cross country this summer. I figure on a cross country run we are not going to want to have to constantly lift the Dakota Bag off everytime we stop, and we are not going to want to have to park in a place where we can see the bike everytime we stop so someone does not rip off our Dakota bag.
I can get a cargo trailer that holds anywhere from 18 cubic feet of stuff, up to 25-26 cubic feet depending upon how much I want to spend, or how big I want the trailer to be.
I would need to install a motorcycle ball hitch onto my motorcycle for the trailer to hook onto, and rig up a wiring harness for brake and signal lights on the trailer.
It looks like there are many off the shelf trailer solutions for my Harley Davidson Electra Glide.
A cargo trailer at least to me would be the optimum way to travel cross country on a motorcycle, because we can just throw everything we want to take in the trailer, plus there will be room to store souvenirs if we decide to buy any along the way.
The trailer will take away the fun of trying to cram everything into a few small spaces on the motorcycle.
Even with a full Harley Davidson Electra Glide Custom Ultra, things can get tight real quick.
On a cross country trip I want to be able to enjoy the ride and the sights, without worrying about having to wash clothes every couple of days on the road.
There are many out there that say towing a cargo trailer behind a motorcycle is dangerous. Based upon my research, it can be done safely so long as you get used to it and take it easy just like anything else.
In closing, I have found that rigid saddlebags, a nice luggage rack mounted soft or rigid motorcycle luggage system, tour paks, and cargo trailers, all will allow you to carry the things you need on a long distance motorcycle run. What you do is really up to you.
See below for a video demonstrating how the mufflers sound.
Many of my friends have aftermarket exhaust systems on their motorcycles which sound great and are not too obnoxious. Some have exhausts which are so obnoxious, that they would cause strain on long rides.
Through the years I have tried many different types of mufflers on many different types of motorcycles.
For about 5 years, I have run Screaming Eagle slip on mufflers on my Harley Davidson Electra Glide, with a stage 1 setup on my carb. and air filter. It is basically a Screaming Eagle stage 1 setup. Other than that, I am running a stock Harley Davidson 88 c.i. Twincam engine.
My right muffler developed bluing where the head pipe met the slip on muffler, very soon after I put the Screaming Eagle mufflers on the motorcycle.
I recently decided to try out some new slip on mufflers. My criterion was that I wanted my mufflers to have some bark, but not be too obnoxious.
As I have said many times before, I am a Biker Lawyer and Attorney, not a mechanic.
In the past, I have had my slip-on’s put on by the dealer. However, now there are many dealers who will not install slip-on’s due to E.P.A. regulations.
I almost pulled the trigger on some slip-on’s at the Laughlin River Run, but they were gouging the prices a bit, plus I did not want to wait any longer than I had already waited to get repairs done to my motorcycle.
After doing research on the internet, including watching some YouTube videos of guys installing slip-on’s, I decided that I could do the install myself this time which would save both time and money.
Some guys are running mufflers with no baffles. This is not only obnoxious and loud as hell, it is illegal. Further, unless you have some serious engine modifications, and/or carb. jetting, or fuel injector mapping modifications, running with no baffles will make your engine run too lean, and can burn your engine out.
Read the rest of the review below the video.
On top of that running open pipes without mods. will actually decrease your power output.
Baffles are encasing’s in the mufflers which decrease or muffle the sound of your exhaust/motorcycle. The smaller the baffle diameter, the less sound that is supposed to come out of the muffler.
Conversely, the smaller the baffle diameter in the muffler, the less exhaust flow you will have through the muffler, and the less power you will get out of your motorcycle engine.
Although in the past, I would just buy a set of mufflers for my other motorcycles, and just go with whatever I bought, this time, I decided to do a significant amount of research on the internet to determine which set of mufflers I would put on my Electra Glide.
One thing I have learned with Harley Davidson’s as opposed to other types of cruiser motorcycles is that you have a huge selection of options. Further, the sky is the limit as to how much money you can spend as well.
There are slip on mufflers out there such as the Vance & Hine wide ovals that run around $700.00, or you can get a set of LaRosa Design mufflers on EBay for $99.00.
It is reported that each of the above mufflers sound great.
After doing a bunch of research, I decided the best bet would be to get some muffles on eBay, because I could save money on used mufflers, and if I did not like the mufflers I could simply sell them again without taking a loss.
I also did not want to spend $400-600 dollars on new mufflers that could be a hit or miss with respect to being too loud, or that had an exhaust note that I did not like.
Many guys on the internet forums recommended Rush Mufflers as being a good sounding muffler, and not too expensive. I also read good things about LaRosa Design Mufflers, which were also supposed to have a great sound at a low price.
I decided to buy a set of Rush Mufflers with 2 inch baffles, and a set of LaRosa Design Mufflers with 1 7/8 baffles to test out.
I saw many guys bidding away on almost the exact mufflers in other auctions. Hell some guys were paying about $300.00 for the same used mufflers in other auctions. I just got lucky in my auction. The secret was to go with someone who was not too savvy with their auction design on eBay so that it was not too flashy!
Another excellent feature of these mufflers is that the Rush mufflers feature removable baffles, and you can buy different size baffles from them at their website here. I am running the 2 inch baffles. If I want to quiet it down a bit I can buy smaller diameter baffles.
The baffles can be removed and replaced with one bolt on the bottom.
When I received the mufflers you could tell they were used by looking inside of the pipes and seeing the grit, but the Chrome on the outside was in surprisingly good condition, they were basically new. The mufflers were heavy duty, and actually heavier than the Screaming Eagles. They appear to be longer than the Screaming Eagle mufflers as well, and protrude further out of the back than my Screaming Eagles did.
Now I could see why the guys on the forums were recommending them, these are top quality mufflers for a better price. But did they sound good?
The slash-up design fits the taper and shape of the back of the Harley Davidson hard saddlebags, I like the look. My Screaming Eagles were slash downs.
The install was kind of a bitch to say the least.
The easy part was removing the hard saddlebags on each side to get to the mufflers, which I did.
I decided that the install would be easier if I removed the heat shields on each side, so that is what I did, I removed the right and left heat shields which butt up next to the mufflers for easier access.
I then unbolted the muffler on the right hand side from the clamp at the head pipe, and the two bolts below the saddlebag bar, no problem.
I then tried removing the Screaming Eagle muffler on the right hand side; it would not budge. I tried twisting and pulling, it would not budge; it was stuck on real good. This is the muffler that blued so I was worried that the damm thing was welded on to the head pipe.
I decided to take a break and do the left side pipe. This one came off easy.
After trying everything to get the muffler off and failing, I in the end, went to Home Depot, and purchased a strap wrench to get the right muffler off. It worked like a charm, but I still had to use some heavy elbow grease. It finally came off.
The strap wrench is basically a rubber strap that wraps around the muffler and attaches to a special handle which allows you to get rotational torque around the muffler without damaging or scratching the chrome.
The install of the left muffler was no problem at all, it slipped right on; the right muffler did not seem to fit. It would not slip on!
Hell, I had my wife hold the front of the motorcycle, as I tried to force the muffler onto the head pipe. I sprayed WD-40 and Silicon lubricant onto the damm thing, but it was a no go. The muffler simply would not fit onto the head pipe. I pushed and twisted so hard, I was worried that I would damage the head pipe or the connection between the head pipe and the cylinder.
I went on the forums to see if I could find a solution. As usual there were many good solutions from buying a tool to expand the muffler pipe, to using other creative methods.
I decided that the best solution would be to take the muffler to an automotive muffler shop the next day, and have them expand the muffler pipe where it slips onto the head pipe.
I found a place close by. They charged me $10 bucks to expand the muffler pipe. This solution was cheaper and faster than buying a tool to do it, and it took no time whatsoever other than driving down there.
When in doubt, use professionals who know what they are doing.
I decided to run by the Harley dealership to buy a new muffler clamp for the right side as well. These are supposed to be single use items. They only had one left. I reused my old clamp on the left hand side and have no problems with it.
When I got home the muffler slipped on very easily, probably too easily. I was worried that the muffler guy may have expanded the muffler pipe too much.
My worries were unfounded. Once I tightened up the clamps and bolts on the slip-on’s, and checked very carefully, everything was great, with no apparent leaks.
After I started my Electra Glide, I first felt that the mufflers kind of sounded like my Screaming Eagles or just a tad deeper and louder.
When I did my ubiquitous test ride down my block with no helmet on, it sounded a bit louder and deeper. However, when I got back in the garage, my wife said they were much louder and deeper. I could not tell.
However, I then went on two day riding binge and discovered that these pipes are much louder and deeper than the Screaming Eagles, no doubt about that. I am quite satisfied.
Hell with ear plugs in; my ears were ringing pretty well after the two day jaunt. I do have tinnitus or ringing in my ears that gets worse at times with loud sounds.
I have decided to keep the Rush slip-on’s, and to sell the LaRosa mufflers that I purchased brand new without installing them. Why play around if I am satisfied.
As of right now I have a pair of stock mufflers, a pair of Screaming Eagles, and the LaRosa’s.
I give the Rush slip-on mufflers a big thumbs up and would recommend them above all.
I am a long distance motorcycle rider. This summer I am not only planning on riding to the Sturgis motorcycle rally which is a 2700 mile round trip plus ride, I am also planning on doing other rides, not to mention the 2000 miles I have already put on in the last couple of months. I wanted a state of the art stereo on my motorcycle with built in MP3 for my music collection, a built in High Definition receiver, and the ability to have built in Satellite reception for when I am in the middle of no where. I want to listen to CNN in the middle of the Western Desert!
In 2005 I switched to a Harley Davidson Electra Glide motorcycle from a traditional cruiser motorcycle. Before 2005, I had never ridden with a stereo system built into a motorcycle before, hell a windscreen was luxury to me back then. Since 2005, I have become spoiled. I will probably always ride baggers from here on out. Once you get used to luxury it is hard to turn back.
My Harley Davidson Electra Glide came with the Harley Davidson Advanced Sound system installed in the bat wing fairing, which in of itself has done its job quite well over the last 5 years, but the technology is outdated, even on the new units.
On my unit, there was a built in CD player, minimal AM/FM presets, built in weather band, and a sensor which increased volume as I would increase speed on the motorcycle. There was also an auxiliary input which allowed me to plug in an external MP3 player so I could listen to my music collection. The system worked with my OEM hand controls so that I could virtually control the entire stereo via my OEM handlebar mounted hand controls on the Electra Glide. The unit is great, but it is old technology. If all you want is a standard CD, a few AM/FM presets, and weather band, this unit is perfect for you. I am a tech geek, I wanted more!
Over the years I have plugged in an I-Pod, a smaller MP3 player, and I have also used my Garmin GPS to serve music to the Harley Davidson Advanced Sound System via a cable plugged from the device to the auxiliary input of the Harley Davidson Advanced Sound System. It worked, but to be frank, there was no real control of the tunes being played unless I dangerously tried to skip tracks while I was riding because the external device was controlling what was being played rather than the head unit. There were issues with the volume of my MP3 device having to be cranked up to full volume to sound good through the auxiliary input, and each device sounded different through the stock stereo.
Furthermore, the cable plugged in from my GPS, or a device in my pocket looked like crap, it flutters in the wind, and the quality of having an external connection is not as good as it could be. Not only that, but everytime I got off the motorcycle, I would have to unplug my external MP3 player, turn off the external MP3 Players, etc. If the battery wore out on my external MP3 Player, I was shit out of luck. Lately using the GPS solved many of the problems, but I had no real control of the tunes being served to the Harley Davidson Advanced Sound System. When I got back on the motorcycle, I would have to plug everything back in, and start the MP3 player before I started riding, a real hassle; I am sure you get the picture, because many of you are doing this right now!
For short trips, rather than plugging in my external MP3 player, I used one of my home burned CD’s in the OEM system, which I have probably listened to over a 100 times now. It gets old if you know what I mean.
Let’s face it, with MP3, standard CD’s are obsolete, even CD units which read MP3’s, and other digital formats are obsolete because you can only fit so much on a disk, and most of these units have a limit as to how many tracks can be on a disk even if you buy the more expensive DVD format units.
Modern technology allows you to literally have every song ever made on one thumb drive, or standard USB disk drive now. There is no reason to ever have to switch CD’s anymore. Most of you including me don’t have every song ever made on disk, but my collection is almost 4GB and growing weekly.
There was an MP3 option for the Harley Davidson Advanced Sound System, but it is an external unit that mounts to the handlebars and it is ridiculously expensive for what they give you. Plus you are severely limited to memory on Harley Davidsons MP3 option. On top of that, the new Harley Davidson Advanced Sound Systems need to be programmed at the dealer. If the unit goes dead, it can only be revived by a dealer reprogramming it. How much would that cost everytime? No thanks, I love Harley Davidson, but the reason I am upgrading is to go state of the art. Their solution is not state of the art.
The Biketronics Article and Review Continues below the two videos.
One good thing about the Harley Davidson Unit is that it was as reliable as a beast. It is basically waterproof. I have ridden through rain storms, and washed my motorcycle many times, and the stereo kept working no problem.
Well recently, I decided to upgrade my stereo to an aftermarket non OEM stereo so that I could have modern electronics on my motorcycle the way I wanted it, and not the way Harley Davidson wanted it.
My first dilemma was to find a stereo system (head unit) that would work with the existing hand controls on my Harley Davidson Electra Glide, and that would mount in the faring without having to modify the OEM wiring. I wanted a plug and play solution.
I found two companies which allow you to adapt aftermarket stereo systems to the motorcycle, using the OEM wiring, and your existing Harley Davidson Hand Controls. One of the companies is called Biketronics, and the other one is called Hawg Wired. Each of these companies sells adapters and units which allow you to mount an aftermarket stereo into a Harley Davidson Cruiser without having to change any of the wiring, and let’s you use your hand controls, just like you would with a Harley Davidson Stereo.
A negative note with upgrading the stereo unit with an aftermarket solution is that replacing the head unit will disable your built in CB, and intercom if you have it on your motorcycle. I myself have an FLHT Electra Glide Standard that had the Advanced Sound System installed by the dealer upon pickup of the motorcycle. I did not have the CB or intercom option installed because I don’t use them.
Let’s be frank, at highway speed on a Harley Davidson, a CB or intercom are virtually useless because of the wind noise anyway, so it is a feature I did not waste my money on.
Furthermore, even if I did have the CB or intercom installed on my Electra Glide, I would willingly disable them anyway in order to have a turnkey state of the art stereo on my motorcycle, that I could upgrade in the future for a nominal cost, as technology advances. There are Bluetooth headsets out there now that mount to your helmet that can be used to replace the CB or intercom if you absolutely have to have those options. The tradeoff depends on you. For me the decision was a no brainer.
After much research, and a lengthy telephone call, I opted to go with the Biketronics setup, because of the good reviews I read about them on the internet, (their units have a lifetime warranty) and their units seemed to be more straightforward to me. I must note that many guys said good things about Hawg Wired as well.
A Biketronics tech support guru spent at least a half an hour on the phone with me before and after my purchase. You can tell that they are bikers themselves, and are really into their product. They know what they are talking about.
The guy from Biketronics highly recommended a Sony Marine Unit that they sell because they are waterproof. However, my Internet research showed that guys without the Marine Units who wash their motorcycles, and ride through rain, have ridden for years with a standard unit with no problems at all. Furthermore, the Sony Marine Unit did not have all of the features that I wanted, which was the whole reason for upgrading anyway. I wanted my stereo to be state of the art, the way I wanted it to be!
Another factor that was a deal maker for me was that Biketronics stated that if you use a Sony head unit, their adapters were plug and play, including the mounting unit they sell, and the clear plastic cover they sell for their mount as well to protect the unit from rain or water. This is what I wanted; plug and play, no hassles.
My next issue was which stereo system to buy. Biketronics sells a complete kit including Sony Stereo, Hog Tunes speakers, all of their adapters, a clear plastic splash cover, and a powered in fairing antenna. The cost of this package which includes the basic Sony CDX-GT640UI was $509.88 with free shipping. Biketronics also sells a couple of other Sony Head Units, including a waterproof marine version. The other Sony Head Units will add an additional $10-$40 dollars to the cost of the package I mentioned above.
To put this in prospective, a Harley Davidson Advanced Sound System is around $1,000.00 and does not include the Hog Tunes Speakers or the powered in fairing antenna, and the Harley Davidson Stereo is obsolete compared to the Sony Stereo.
Further, I wanted to be able to buy the Head Unit that I wanted rather than going with only the head units that Biketronics sells, plus I did not want to put all of my eggs into one basket.
For Stereo (head unit) research online, there is one vendor that I know and trust, and that is Crutchfield Electronics. They are the car and home stereo experts online. They have a huge selection of stereos, they have all of the features, specs, pictures, and options, online, and they are reputable. You can speak to them 24 hours a day and they honor warranties and have a generous return policy. I previously purchased my powered in fairing antenna from them for $19.00 which is around $20.00 cheaper than the Biketronics version, and it appears to be the same thing!
I went one step further; I wanted to look at all car stereos and not just the Sony’s.
Biketronics and Hawg Wired both sell kits to adapt to non Sony units that work with your OEM wiring, and OEM hand controls, but based upon what I read, the install might be a bit more dicey for non Sony systems, rather than just settling for a Sony which is guaranteed to work with the Biketronics. The caveat is that whatever stereo I chose must have a plug in for the steering wheel controls, which is how both Biketronics and Hawg Wired adapt the Harley Davidson Hand Controls to the stereo system.
I looked at many different stereo systems. I spent days looking at systems. I finally found the Sony CDX-GT700HD which you can see by clicking here, for $179.00 with free shipping. This unit is only $20.00 more than the base unit that comes with the Biketronics Kit, and the biggest difference is that it has a built in High Definition Digital Receiver on top of the standard Analog AM/FM receiver. None of the other stereos I looked at had the built in HD receiver. On the others you need to buy an HD Receiver Adapter for an additional $150 or so. This included the Pioneer’s, the Alpine’s, the JVC’s, and other stereo’s I looked at.
Another big feature is that this unit has a front slide covered plug in USB port, and auxiliary port. I realized that I could plug in a thumb drive into the front with my entire music collection on it, and that the stereo would control it digitally without having to convert from Analog to Digital like I used to have to do with my Harley Davidson Advanced Sound System with the auxiliary port.
The Sony CDX-GT700 HD also has a XM or Sirius direct Satellite radio tuner option that installs right into the unit, so that I would not have to worry about having an external satellite receiver plugging into the Auxiliary port of the stereo, or using FM from a separate Satellite receiver to transmit to the head unit. I could control the Satellite directly from the Head Unit while on the road. This is what I am talking about!
Another feature for a stereo that I was going to mount on my motorcycle is that I wanted a removable face plate that I could make non removable if I wanted, and I wanted the CD plug in to be behind the faceplate to prevent dust and dirt from going into it.
Now the Sony stereo which has unparalleled sound quality, has so many features and specs that there is no way that I can cover them here. All I can say is that it is like having an iPod with full control right from the head unit with all of the features of a State of the Art Stereo.
I could not find any other stereo that surpassed the built in features of the $179.00 Sony CDX-GT700 HD, not even the real expensive ones. Many of the high end units require an external HD tuner, most had the CD slot open in the front, (more appropriate for cars) and many had the USB, and Auxiliary ports in the back of the unit rather than the front. This kind of setup would require you to open the faring and run wires everytime you wanted to change what was plugged in the darn thing, or run a live wire to somewhere on your motorcycle such as your saddlebags, etc. No thanks! I wonder what would happen if those live wires get wet.
I even looked at the units which have actual motorized screens that pop out of the unit, and allow you to have GPS on the Screen, and be able to Watch DVD’s, and even have a rear mounted camera view on the screen from your motorcycle.
These systems seem fantastic, but the guy from Biketronics told me that anytime you have a unit with a moving motor, such as these units which have a motor to drive the screen out, that the vibration on a motorcycle usually make them go bad quickly. Not only that, but the units I looked at were in the $1,000 range, and they also did not have the front USB and Auxiliary connections that I wanted, plus they did not seem practical for a motorcycle solution.
Although I have seen some guys with these units installed on their motorcycles, they look cool and the bling value is there, I need turnkey functionality, not bling!
I was again brought back to the Sony CDX-GT700 HD again and again, no matter what I looked at, so there it was, I decided on the Sony CDX-GT700 HD from Crutchfield Electronics, this is what I wanted. Here is a link to the actual system I purchased.
Now going back to the Biketronics kit which would allow me to install the system, I decided to buy the components I needed, rather then the complete kits they sell. I got the best Sony stereo that I could find, plus the whole thing would be cheaper for me than buying their whole kit.
I purchased the following from Biketronics to install my Sony CDX-GT700 HD into my Harley Davison Electra Glide:
(1) BT 1000 – 1998-2005 Sony Radio Install Kit, $199.95 (free shipping)
(2) Sony Harness w/Connector, $14.95 (free shipping)
(3) BT Splashcover, $19.95 (free shipping)
Total Price from Biketronics = $234.85, (free shipping), No tax.
I purchased the following from Crutchfield Electronics:
(1) Sony CDX-GT700 HD, $179.95 (free shipping)
(2) SoundKase DFC1X Black, $9.99 (free shipping) This is a case you put the faceplate into when you take it off of the motorcycle.
Total Price from Crutchfield Electronics = $189.90, (free shipping), No tax.
Total Price of Radio Upgrade Project: $424.75
The total price of my radio upgrade project was around $45.18 cheaper than buying the complete retro radio kit from Biketronics with their stereo included, and I got a much better stereo than comes with their kit. As stated above, I already previously purchased the Hog Tunes speakers, and a powered in fairing antenna. Now for guys that have an FLHT without a stereo, and are installing the stereo from scratch the Biketronics kit is just a tad more expensive.
After my order, the Biketronics kit arrived within a couple of days. The Crutchfield order took about a week to arrive.
First off, I got my tools out, unpacked the Biketronics Kit, and the Sony Stereo. I read the instructions for each before I began. It looked like it would be a very easy installation.
First, I removed the Sony stereo from the mounting cage that it comes with out of the box, and discarded the cage because it is not used in this application.
Then, I took the heavy vinyl that comes with the Biketronics kit. I removed the backing to expose the sticky surface, and placed it on the top of the Sony Stereo where indicated, and down the sides. I trimmed off the excess from the sides and back. It is obvious that this vinyl is stuck on to protect the stereo from dirt, debris, and water. No problem at all with this process.
I than removed the seat from my motorcycle, and disconnected the battery, negative first. The last thing you want to do is install something like this with the motorcycle battery connected. You could cause a short and do serious damage to your electrical system. Don’t be a fool; take a few minutes to disconnect your battery.
Then, I removed the outer Bat Wing Fairing. I am not going to describe how to remove the fairing here. If you are interested in how to remove the outer Bat Wing fairing, I previously wrote an article about removing the faring when I installed the Hog Tunes speakers which you can read here.
I then unplugged the Antenna from the Harley Stereo, and the two large connectors that plugged into the back of the stereo.
I proceeded to unbolt the 4 hex bolts which hold the stock Harley Davidson into the bracket where it mounts. I used a basic hex wrench squeezing it in inside the bracket to get the bolts off. My fingers were too big for this process but I got them out. It was a bitch.
I knew there must be a better way to remove and install these bolts, and realized it would be almost impossible to get the bolts back in if I used the reverse method of how I removed them. I decided to look in my factory service manual. The manual recommends using a long socket hex attachment that goes in through holes on each side of the bracket. Damm some times looking at the factory service manual helps. I could have got the damm attachment from Wal-Mart and had the stereo unbolted in seconds, but instead, I found a long standard hex wrench in my tool kit, put it in through the holes on the side of each bracket, and it worked like a charm. It took a few more seconds than using a socket attachment, but I saved a few bucks and time driving to Wal-Mart. If you are doing this install and you don’t have longer hex wrenches, just go to Wal-Mart and buy the socket attachment for $10.00. You can return it when you are done!
The instructions then said to lift the back end of the Harley Davidson system up, and pull out. Well I did this a few times, and the Stereo was not coming out. I was pissed off. I got on the internet and went on a few forums to confirm that you were supposed to just be able to pull the stereo out from the front. (Not the tank side of the stereo, but the front headlight side) Everyone responded that it should come right out.
One guy recommended that I remove the bolts from the vertical fairing stabilizer bracket to give more room for the stereo to come out. When I went to remove the bolts I discovered that I had the dreaded broken vertical fairing stabilizer bracket on the left hand side, and my horizontal bracket under the speaker was also broken. I was truly pissed off at this time. (This is a known bug on this motorcycle; I will discuss this issue on another article.)
My stereo was not coming out and as I tried, it was bending the inner fairing. I was worried that I would crack or break the inner fairing that is how bad this was. Here I am looking at my motorcycle all taken apart, and I could not get the damm stock stereo out. I decided to try again, and to use more pressure. Either the stereo was going to come out or I was going to break something.
I finally felt a bit of a pop and the stereo came out. It turns out that I got lucky; the asshole that installed the stereo in my motorcycle thought it would be a good idea to put what looked like rubber cement on the top and bottom of the front of my stereo where the front bezel meets the fairing, when he installed it. This is not standard. I guess he thought that it would stay in my solid that way. It sure did stay in solid, even when unbolted it would not budge. I almost destroyed the fairing getting it off.
Now I could finally install the new stereo.
First, I slid on the front black mounting piece that comes with the Sony Stereo and snapped it in place on the front of the unit. I then slid on the black bezel that comes with the Biketronics kit. The bezel is what goes against the fairing to seal the stereo from the inside of the fairing.
I then bolted on the two blocks that mount to each side of the Sony stereo which allow the stereo to be bolted into the Harley Davidson stereo bracket inside of the fairing. I did not over tighten the bolts as indicated.
I then lifted the back of the stereo and pushed it in and down into the fairing so the bezel was flush with the front of the fairing, and then bolted the stereo into the fairing bracket using the same screws that I took off of the stock stereo. It was easy to bolt on because I went through the sides as described in the service manual. You do not need the service manual to do this but it helps. All you need is the long hex wrench and then bolt in through the holes in the bracket on each side.
At this point I was not sure if the front bezel was flush with the front of the fairing, so I removed the Sony and reinstalled it. I discovered that I had it right the first time, but it was no big deal.
The Sony is much smaller and lighter than the stock unit which took some time to get used to. It is newer technology.
Now that I had the Sony mounted, I plugged in the Antenna. I then took the Harley Davidson wiring harness, and plugged it into the Biketronics retro radio kit. I then took the Sony wiring harness and plugged one end into the Biketronics retro radio kit, and took the other side and plugged it into the back of the Sony Stereo. I plugged in the connector for the hand controls into the stereo making sure that the plug was facing up as stated in the instructions.
Everything was ready to be tested per the Biketronics instructions. I installed the battery, and put the starter into the auxiliary mode. The stereo powered up, but there was no sound at all. I tried to fidget with the sound controls but nothing. I could tell that the speakers were not getting any juice at all. The Sony Stereo has a feature where when power is turned off, it beeps a few times to remind you to remove the faceplate. There was no beeping.
I went into the fairing and discovered that my speaker’s wires routed to a separate plug, and that there were also speakers wires routed to the back of the bike under the seat which went to the same plug. My stock stereo had two big plugs, one for the power and hand controls, and one for the speakers. The Biketronics kit only had one plug which was supposed to accommodate everything so they say.
At this point after all of the above hassles I went through I was pissed off. I thought Biketronics sent me the wrong adapter. I had to wait for the next day to talk to them. Their tech support told me that I had a unique setup on my motorcycle. It looks like it was set up for an amplifier on my motorcycle. They told me my wiring was non standard and they had only seen this issue once before.
To be frank, my Harley stereo had two big plugs, one of which was for the speakers. I cannot see how this is non standard if the stereo had the separate plug. The guy from Biketronics insisted that I had a non-standard setup.
We mutually agreed that the easiest and best solution would be for me to manually wire the speakers to the Biketronics Sony Adaptor. This would prevent me from having to cut into the Harley stereo plug harness. All I would have to do is unplug the stereo speakers, and run separate wires to the Biketronics Sony Adaptor Plug. It was basically 1 2 wire connection for each speaker. It sounds like a bitch but it is really no big deal. Any of you who have wired up a home stereo know that is real easy to wire up two speakers.
My only complaint was that this thing was supposed to be plug and play, and now I would have to manually wire the speakers to their harness.
I went to Wal-Mart and got a universal wiring kit with spade lugs and a crimper so I could do the job right, plus I got some wire. Turns out the spade lugs in the kit did not fit on the Hogtunes speakers, and the wire was too large of a gauge to work with. I went to Auto Zone to get thinner wire. To make a long story short I spend I significant amount of time trying to make my own spade lug wires, etc. but the connections were no good. I then tried to solder the wires directly onto the speaker lugs but they would not stay on.
Finally, I opted to just use the factory wires which I cut half way down and connected to the Biketronics Sony Harness and then wrapped real well with electrical tape. Again, it sounds like a nightmare, but it was only 4 wires total.
I then put the starter switch on Auxiliary, and wholla, I had tunes. However, I had to fix the broken fairing stabilization brackets before I could button the motorcycle up. I will discuss this in a later article.
I then buttoned everything up. I did have a minor issue while tie-wrapping the Biketronics module into the fairing. The kit did make my fairing tighter than before. I am sure that I could have done a better job tie-wrapping the unit into the fairing, but I had done some other work to the motorcycle and I was tired. I got it in, and the fairing buttoned back up.
First I tested the AM/FM/HD reception; it works and sounds fantastic. Local HD stations tune in just fine, and give you a display on the radio face of what artist is playing, etc. This is the first time that I have heard my favorite station in Los Angeles; 95.5 KLOS in HD sound. There is absolutely no sound or static at all. The stations transmit in digital HD. HD reception never has static like FM- Frequency Modulation (Analog), or AM-Amplitude Modulation (Analog) stations. I am going to have more fun with HD as I ride with the motorcycle more.
I burned a CD on my computer with about 300 MP3’s on it. This would be a backup music option in case I did not have my thumb drive music collection, my I-Pod, or another MP3 player with me. The CD worked flawlessly and sounded great. The stereo does have to be turned on to feed a disk into it. The artist and song info displays on the face of the radio like it is supposed to while playing.
It was then time for the biggest test of all, my entire music collection copied onto a USB thumb drive.
I copied my entire MP3 music collection, excluding full albums onto a 4GB thumb drive and plugged it into the front USB port on the stereo.
I was kind of worried beforehand that the vibration and wind of a motorcycle ride on the road would cause the thumb drive to dislodge and fall out on the road. One of the reasons I got the stereo in the first place was so that I could simply plug a thumb drive in without any cable, and that I could have my entire music collection play on the stereo without any cables or external players.
My worry was not a problem. I have now ridden at speed for many miles with the thumb drive plugged in, and it has not come loose at all, nor has it come out, or even come close to falling out. Believe me; I have ridden at speed on the freeway as well.
The ability to plug in a thumbdrive direclty into the Sony Stereo from the front, is the biggest feature of the stereo by far in my opinion. The feature gives me the ability to have my entire music collection on a miniture thumbdrive, plugged directly into the head unit, with pure digital music going directly into the stereo by way of the USB, and then having the Sony’s electronics convert it into excellent sound.
As I stated above, by plugging into the Aux port on the old Harley Davidson Advanced Sound System, you are using an external MP3 device to convert the digital to analog for you, and then the headphone jack is used to plug into the Harley system with a cable. With this method there is some signal loss at the Aux jack no matter what you do, plus there is no real safe way to control the tunes while riding.
I was able to hear some of my songs (my music collection is so big that it would take about 3 days to hear every song) as clear and as good as can be. Plus I was able to read the artist and song info on the faceplate which is something I could not do before with the Harley system. On top of that, I could also toggle through my collection while riding using the Harley Davidson stock right Hand Control.
There is another feature in the stereo that makes finding tunes much easier when riding, it is called the Quick-BrowZer Mode. When the button for this feature is pushed it basically plays about 15 seconds of each song in your collection, when you reach a song you want to hear you just push the big select button, and the stereo then starts the song from the beginning.
I have used the stereo for many hours now and the sound quality blows away the stock Harley Davidson stereo system.
Although the Sony stock head unit only puts out around 17 watts per channel, for 4 channels without an amplifier, which is around the same output as the Harley Davidson Advanced Sound System, this stereo is better sounding and louder than the stock Harley Davidson stereo.
Since I am already running Hogtunes speakers on my motorcycle, I get no distortion at all when the stereo is cranked up.
This stereo is setup to accept XM or Sirius satellite with a quick plug and play option. I did not order this option initially because I wanted to make sure that I was going to keep this new setup. I am probably going to get the satellite option for this stereo in the very near future, especially before I go to Sturgis.
I am also contemplating getting an amplifier for my system. Although the stereo is already loud now, I do not want to really have to crank it up at highway speeds. Let’s face it, when you are rolling at 80mph with a full face modular helmet on, and ear plugs, any stock stereo system will be very difficult to hear, even if it is cranked up. I know that with a nominal amplifier, I can get the stereo loud enough to hear even at highway speeds.
I am sure that if I removed my ear plugs, or if I only wore a beanie helmet or no helmet, I would be able to hear the stereo just fine, even at highway speeds. However, due to my tinnitus which has been caused by many years of riding without hearing protection, I do not want to damage my already damaged ears.
Biketronics and Hawg Wired each sell amplifiers; however I feel that each of their solutions is too expensive. I think the minimum price of their solutions is $399 plus. I can get a cheap two channel amplifier from Crutchfield for around $99 that will probably do the trick.
Why pay $399 plus if I can do the same thing for $99?
One big issue for me will be to get an amplifier that is small enough to mount in the fairing above the Sony stereo that does not generate too much heat and one that does not drain too much power. A motorcycle electrical system is not as strong as a car electrical system, so any amplifier I get will need to work on the Harley Davidson.
If I find that the Crutchfield cheapo solution does not work to my satisfaction, I will buy an amplifier from either Biketronics or Hawg Wired.
Bottom line, I cannot believe I waited so long to upgrade my system. I can think of countless trips I have taken that would have been much better had I been able to have a system like this on my motorcycle.
Like you I wanted to keep everything OEM. However, I got sick of using obsolete technology, or being extorted into paying Harley Davidson’s high prices to not get everything I wanted.
Now I have almost everything I want. I would recommend that everyone upgrade their Harley Davidson Sound System to the latest and greatest aftermarket solutions. There is no need to stick with obsolete technology anymore.
Just a side note, none of the vendors mentioned on here provided me with any product or compensation in return for this review. I wrote this review because I know that many of you out there are contemplating this type of upgrade or installation.
Through the open door at Central Florida Choppers near downtown Orlando, Allen Dixon can hear the rumble and roar of motorcycles traveling up and down Interstate 4.
It is, after all, Bike Week, and Dixon makes his living building motorcycles.
But right now, he isn’t building many. The recession has sent the market for choppers — long, raked-out custom cycles with Harley-Davidson-style engines and tall “ape hanger” handlebars — straight into the Dumpster.
“The $40,000 and $50,000 bikes are gone for now,” said Dixon. 46. “If anyone is buying, its bikes in the $20,000 to $30,000 range, and there’s very little of that right now.”
The downturn has also affected the used market. “Most guys are trying to sell their bikes. I can’t build you one for what they’re selling theirs for. I’ve got one in here right now — the guy probably paid $25,000 for it, and he said if I can get $10,000 for it, sell it.
“A lot of shops — a lot of shops — have fallen by the wayside. But we’re still here, still have the lights on. We’re struggling, but we’re still here.”
Many of us got an introduction to choppers 40 years ago with the release of the film Easy Rider, which had stars Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper biking across the country, for a while with Jack Nicholson squeezed on the back of Fonda’s bike.
Those bikes were built by California customizer Ben Hardy from retired Harley-Davidson police cycles. Hardy also built some of the bikes used several years earlier in The Wild Angels, one of a series of drive-in movies based loosely on the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang that helped cement the idea that chopper riders were nonconformists at best, and trouble at worst.
This was also when Japanese-built motorcycles began to make major strides in the business of building large motorcycles. As owners sought to customize their motorcycles, the chopper industry grew, but promptly receded to the point where only dedicated chopper owners kept the business going.
A major resurgence came in 2002 when American Chopper debuted on the Discovery Channel, featuring the bike-building Teutul family from New York. Television also made stars of other chopper builders, including Jesse James, who founded West Coast Choppers in his mother’s garage in 1992 and is now a major personality married to actress Sandra Bullock.
Now, American Chopper has been canceled, the Teutuls are involved in million-dollar interfamily lawsuits, and Dixon feels the pain.
“The motorcycle market is flooded,” he says. “That’s the honest truth. But there are still a few guys out there who want to ride something special.”
That’s where Dixon comes in. He and the customer design the bike in advance.
“It’s something we create together and make it one of a kind. Sure, you can go down to the store and buy a motorcycle, but if you ride it to Daytona this week, you’ll probably see hundreds of bikes just like yours. The only difference is the rider and paint.”
Owning something no one else has appeals to John Argall, a cabinetmaker and chopper rider: “To design something myself and see it built, and know that no one else has a bike like it — that’s what I like.”
Argall’s bike, which Dixon built, is red with black trim — skulls, mostly — and is powered by a V-Twin S&S engine.
And unlike a lot of chopper riders, Argall rides his regularly, not just on weekends. “It’s comfortable. After all, it was built especially for me, so everything fits just right.”
Central Florida Choppers is obviously good at what it does: Trophies from motorcycle shows line the walls of the office.
Likely adding to the challenge for chopper builders such as Dixon is that Honda and Harley-Davidson have entered the chopper market — sort of, at least.
Two years ago, Harley introduced the Rocker, a raked-out, chopper-looking motorcycle that started at $17,295. And in 2009, Honda introduced the 2010 Fury, which has the V-Twin engine that looks like a Harley motor, plus lengthened front forks. The Fury starts at $12,995, and Honda offers about $3,000 worth of options and accessories.
Bikes like those, Dixon says, are merely amusing to dedicated chopper riders. “[They've] been trying to look like us for years, copying the look, the sound, everything. Honda will sell as many Furys that all look alike to anyone who buys them.”
And they are selling, says Kirby Mullins, owner of Seminole PowerSports, a Honda dealer.
“Its heck of a buy for $12,995,” he says, “and you have Honda reliability and a warranty backing it up.”
Also, the wheelbase of the Fury — the distance from the center of the rear wheel to the center of the front wheel — is just short enough so that many insurance companies don’t consider it a true chopper. Insuring a chopper, Mullins says, can get expensive, largely because many of them can’t be repaired easily with off-the-shelf parts.
Mullins agreed that the motorcycle market in general — the chopper market in particular — is going through some tough times.
“I’ve never really understood the chopper market,” Mullins says. “It seems like a lot of people have spent $30,000 or $40,000 on a custom chopper, then a year later, they’re trying to sell them for $15,000.”
“It’s like the boat market,” Dixon says. “No one really has to have a boat, unless you make your living fishing. And no one really has to have a chopper.”
But some people want one anyway, and for those customers, the door is still open, the lights are still on at Central Florida Choppers.
I am sure that motorcycle security is a hot trigger type of issues with all bikers and motorcycle riders.
Writing this article has elicited some severe anger on my part. Luckily I myself have not been the victim of someone stealing my motorcycle. Although back in the day when I lived in Hollywood, California, I had someone vandalize my motorcycle by cutting the straps of my saddlebags to open them instead of just unhooking the fasteners. The car that my motorcycle was parked next to was torn apart by the vandals.
God help the person that I catch fucking with my motorcycle; anyway……….
I have heard many reports of motorcycle thefts from friends, clients, and readers of the Biker Law Blog. I have also heard of reports of excessive motorcycle theft at specific biker hangouts, rallies, bars, etc., but I will not name these places here for legal reasons.
Another trend in motorcycle theft is scumbags stealing parts off of your motorcycle while it is parked somewhere. There are scumbags who will steal your seat, and bolt on items as it is sitting somewhere.
There are many types of motorcycle safety devices; alarms, locks, chains, cables, disk locks, immobilizers, motion sensor alarms, GPS tracking devices, ground anchors, etc. that are presently on the market.
Here is a video from the UK that shows just how fast a thief can get through a chain or cable.
Here is a video from the UK shows how to secure your motorcycle.
I myself use a Harley Davidson security system on my Electra Glide, alarm disk lock, and the stock fork lock when I park my motorcycle. If my motorcycle is moved, the alarm will go off.
In the end, a determined thief and scumbag will take your motorcycle if they want it. The most important thing that you can do is to make sure that you have adequate insurance to cover your motorcycle in case of theft or loss. Make sure that you have accessory coverage that insures not only the fair market value of your motorcycle, but all of the aftermarket accessories and customization you have done to your motorcycle.
If any of you have some motorcycle theft prevention tips that you would like to share with our readers, feel free to post your comments below.
The first V4 concept was seen at the Cologne Motorcycle Show in 2008 with yesterday’s latest model the resulting bike. The 2010 VFR1200F promises the next generation of motorcycle technology, aimed at older riders who are looking for the thrills of back road curves rather than the adrenaline rush of track day.
The latest in Honda MotoGP engine technology and architecture features a light and compact 1237cc liquid-cooled 76-degree V-4, mind-boggling Throttle By Wire, smaller cylinder heads and the latest innovation of optional Dual Clutch Automatic Transmission with manual mode and automatic mode with two D/S modes and paddle-style shifters.
The new model promises GP technology layer-concept aero fairing and next-generation shaft drive system with offset pivot point and sliding constant-velocity joint for a new level of shaft-drive performance and control.
The VFR1200F’s four-valve-per-cylinder engine offers an offset crankpin to eliminate primary engine vibration and an electronic throttle system named ‘Throttle By Wire’ features linked ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) brakes.
“This is one of the most exciting motorcycles in Honda’s history,” said Powersports Press Manager Bill Savino.
“The VFR1200F establishes a whole new definition of performance motorcycling, one that taps into Honda’s rich V-4 VFR heritage and extends it into the future of Honda motorcycling. The new technology within this motorcycle is flat-out amazing and it all works together in a manner that takes the VFR1200F strides forward in how a high-end machine looks, works and feels. This is a sport motorcycle that will leave you smiling and ready for more even after you’ve been riding for hours on end.”
This motorcycle looks to me like it will be a fun motorcycle to ride in the twisties, especially with the automatic transmission. I cannot wait to see more viable options in the cruiser market with respect to automatic transmissions.
I installed these grips on my Harley Davidson Electra Glide back in May of 2007. I am just now finally getting around to writing my review over two years later. It has been two years of great riding, and the grips are no worse for wear.
First off I have used Kuryakyn Premium ISO Grips on various motorcycles that I have owned for the last decade. I have used these grips not only on my Harley Davidson Electra Glide, but also on some Japanese cruisers I have owned as well.
As far as I am concerned, there is no other more comfortable and good looking grip on the market from any company, and for any motorcycle. No, I am not a paid spokesman for Kuryakyn. These grips to me are a mandatory upgrade.
I have used stock grips, Buffalo grips, and other types of grips. Nothing compares to the Kuryakyn ISO grips. They are wider than most stock grips which make them easier to hang on to, and the rubber pads on the grips really help out on long runs. With respect to aesthetics, they look awesome.
I have seen some guys with totally chrome grips. All I can say is that they must not ride far. Without good soft grips your hands will be going numb and hurting in no time at all. The Buffalo grips literally chewed my hands up, even with gloves on.
With respect to installation of these grips, I am only going to discuss the installation on my Harley Davidson Electra Glide in this article.
I am a biker lawyer and a motorcycle accident attorney here in California. I am no mechanic by any means. If you read through the Biker Law Blog, you can see that I am a proficient bolt on accessory type of guy to a certain extent, but I sure am no wrench head. What I am trying to say is that if I can do the install, anyone should be able to do the install.
I ordered and installed the Kuryakyn Premium ISO Grips for the Harley Davidson with the dual throttle cable controls, part number 6212. There are also Kuryakyn Premium ISO Grips for metric bikes, and the new Harley Davidson wire guided (electronic) system. Click here to see the grips that I ordered.
Rather than re-write the installation instructions for these babies, you can read them by clicking here now.
Now I must admit the installation of these babies was much worse than the installation of the Kuryakyn Premium ISO Grips on my metric cruisers. On the Harley Davidson, you first have to loosen the throttle cable, the throttle housing is kind of a bitch to open enough to get the two throttle cables out, and there are brass ferrule’s which connect the end of the throttle cables into the housing which are a real bitch to work with. I dropped one and almost could not find it.
After you get everything together, you have to remove your air cleaner to adjust the throttle cable.
On top of everything else, you have to pull open the brake lever a bit, and put a shim into the slot on the back of the lever that opens otherwise you can do damage to the switch inside.
I will tell you one thing, I was so excited to get these things installed, that I did not fully realize how difficult the installation would be on a Harley Davidson as opposed to the metric cruisers.
Unless you are a mechanic, I strongly suggest that for this installation, you take the motorcycle to a Harley Davidson dealer, or a 3rd party Harley Davidson mechanic, and let them do the install. It took me quite a bit of time, whereas a trained mechanic could probably get these things on in a half hour or less.
Suffice is to say, I got the grips on. I did however have a hard time adjusting the throttle. I even got to a point where the throttle return was not adjusted correctly and the throttle started sticking. I have long since fixed the problem.
The throttle boss is a device that connects towards the end of the grip and allows you to either use your fingers or palm to throttle up rather than constantly having to hold the grip. You can see what it looks like in the top picture above. It is the piece at the end of the grip that sticks out. I have been riding with the throttle boss for so long now that I probably would have to get used to a motorcycle without it.
I give these grips a huge thumbs up! I recommend them for anyone that wants a comfortable ride, and good looks to boot.
Just when you thought the infamous cash for clunkers program was dead, Indian Motorcycle has just announced their own version of the cash for clunkers program. Indian will offer $3,000 for your old clunker when you trade-in an old bike towards a new 2009 Indian Chief.
What is the catch? The trade in must be street legal, 100cc or larger motorcycle in running and ride-able condition; NO mopeds, scooters, or dirt bikes are eligible. Trade-in must have a clear title.
This program cannot be used in conjunction with any other program. Indian Motorcycle reserves the right to alter or terminate this program at anytime at their sole discretion and without notice.
All I can say about this program is wow! Imagine getting $3,000.00 for your old motorcycle on a new Indian Chief!
Head to the nearest Indian dealer and check out the Chief.
Best Buy may begin selling motorcycles at five West Coast stores this spring.
According to a report in Greentech Media, the CE chain will carry a $12,000 electric motorcycle in select West Coast stores starting in May, with Geek Squad workers possibly providing repair services in empty car A/V installation bays.
The bike, called Enertia, was developed by Brammo, an Oregon business that Best Buy’s venture capital arm invested in last year. The 7-year-old company said it designs and manufactures sustainable specialty vehicles and “performance products for the next generation of transportation.”
CEO Craig Bramscher told attendees at the Pacific Crest Clean Technology Conference last week in San Francisco that Geek Squad agents will perform “level one” repairs on the bikes’ brakes, tires and electronics components, Greentech said. The latter include a built-in Web server, open-platform software applications and possible add-ons like on board cameras that could download images to travel blogs.
“What we’re selling is a lot closer to consumer electronics than to transportation,” Bramscher said.
The Enertia uses six lithium-phosphate battery modules that take about three hours to charge using a standard electrical outlet. The bike is highway legal with a 45-mile range and a maximum speed of 53 miles per hour, and the company is working on a two-seater model with a range of about 100 miles and a cruising speed of 75 miles per hour that may also be sold through Best Buy, Bramscher said.
I must admit, although I love to ride my Harley Davidson, I am intrigued by the thought of riding an electric motorcycle. I am sure it is super quiet, (which may be a negative safety issue) and should accelerate fast.
This particular model is probably intended as an around town motorcycle because it only has a range of 45 miles at a maximum of 53 miles per hour. I am sure in the future motorcycles such as this will get much more range, and go much faster.
What blows me away is that “The Geek Squad” will be servicing this thing? They are going to be doing brakes and tires? Well, it is what it is.
I look forward to hopefully testing one of these babies out. You can check out the Brammo website by clicking here.
My friend Ed from Blawg Review recently sent me an article about a wearable motorcycle. You can see a picture of the design on the upper left.
When I read the article, I thought to myself, wow, this would be a cool thing to ride. The design of the wearable motorcycle may not be practical, but it sure is cool.
The designer of the wearable motorcycle states that you would simply step into the wearable motorcycle, and strap it on to your body. The design would run off lithium ion batteries, and would be capable of speeds up to 75 mph.
Could you imagine riding this wearable motorcycle through the canyons?
You can check out the article Ed sent me, along with a video animation showing the design of the wearable motorcycle by clicking here now.
I like to lighten it up from time to time here on the Biker Law Blog. This is one of those times.
I recently read an article on hubpages.com that lists their top 10 ugliest motorcycles of all time.
The writer of the article who has spent lots of time in the saddle since the 1970’s list the following motorcycles as being the top 10 ugliest in his opinion. At the end of the list, I will give you a link to the list along with pictures of the top 10 ugliest motorcycles.
Please note that I think that the new Victory Vision Touring Motorcycle should be on the list as well. To me it has got to be amongst the top 10 butt ugly motorcycles of all time. I have tried and tried to look at it in new ways, however, no matter how I look at it, it is butt ugly.
I posted a picture of the Victory Vision on the upper left even though it is not on the list of top 10 ugliest motorcycles of all time. However it is on my ugliest list.
Here are the top 10 ugly motorcycles from hubpages.com:
Number 10: Honda CB400F
Number 9: Suzuki SV1000
Number 8: Yamaha Roadliner
Number 7: Kawasaki KZ1300
Number 6: Triumph Rocket 3
Number 5: BSA Rocket 3
Number 4: Honda Rune
Number 3: Honda V45 Magna
Number 2: KTM 690
The Number 1 Ugliest Motorcycle of All Time: Buell Lightning
First off, anyone that rides a Harley Davidson Touring Motorcycle will notice that on a stock setup either with the detachable back rest, or standard or detachable tour pak, that it can become very cramped when you have a back seat passenger behind you.
I myself am not fat, nor is my old lady. As a matter of fact my old lady is skinny. Nonetheless we were cramped on my Electra Glide with the detachable sissy bar or the detachable tour pak installed.
I for one don’t mind feeling my old lady behind me on rides, however when you are on a long run doing 500 mile plus days, it is nice to be able to stretch out if you want to. As for her it is nice to not have me using her as a back rest if you get the drift!
I went looking for some way to move her back so that I could stretch out, and to make it comfortable for both of us on long motorcycle runs.
I found 3 after market solutions to relocate the tour pak back.
Kuryakyn makes a 2 inch tour pak relocation kit You can see it by clicking here. They state that it is not compatible with the Harley Davidson Detachable Tour Pak Rack so the Kuryakyn solution was not for me. Besides, I cannot see spending $199.00 for only 2 inches of room!
Another after market solution that I found for relocation of the Tour Pak back, and that was compatible with the Harley Davidson Detachable Tour Pak Rack, or permanent mounted tour paks is made by a gentleman named George Anderson. He designed a mount that looked heavy duty to me, and that many guys have raved about, that relocates the tour pak back either 1.25 inches, or 2.5 inches. George Anderson’s Tour Pak relocation kit also raises the tour pak up 5/8 inches. George Anderson is an individual who designed this kit and manufactures it himself. I have heard that he charges about $145.00 for the kit. You will have to call himself if you want to get current pricing for his kit, and/or to order one. I do not believe he has a website.
Here is his information:
2925 12th Ave.
Moline, IL 61265
I was almost about to go with the George Anderson tour pak relocation kit, but I wanted more room then a measly 2.5 inches. I figured that if I was going to go through the hassle of installing a tour pak relocation kit, I wanted more than just 2.5 inches!
I then found a company called Harley Comforts that was founded by a gentleman named Jeff Erkel. Their website is located www.harleycomforts.com. He designed and manufactures a Tour Pak Relocation Kit that is compatible with the Harley Davidson Detachable Tour Pak Rack that moves that Tour Pak back either 2.5 inches or 4.25 inches. He has a patent pending on his design.
My first impression was that 4.25 inches may do the trick! My thinking was that a 4.25 inch setback relocation was a heck of a lot better then 2.5 inches. Jeff Erkel states that he designed his relocation kit to save his wife from being squashed in between the back of his tour pak and riders backrest on long trips. His website states that the Relocation Kit is made of 3/16″ high quality aluminum that is powder coated in a matte black finish. The 2.5″ setback requires a new mounting bracket that is supplied. You will need to remove the two plastic plugs that your current bracket has, and install them on the new one provided. The new mounting bracket is made of the same (or better) quality steel than provided by Harley. It is powder coated black with new holes already drilled that is required for the 2.5″ setback. The 4.25″ setback requires no new mounting bracket.
The passenger portion of the Mustang seat seems much bigger then stock which the old lady loves. The back portion of the mustang seat is actually so big that putting on the detachable tour pak was more difficult because the padding on the back compressed onto the back of the tour pak. There was at least ¾ of an inch of wasted seat.
After doing a lot of research on the internet forums, and after talking to Jeff Erkel who designed the relocation kit, I decided to go with the 4.25 inch tour pak relocation kit. Jeff states that “for legal reasons I have to say that you should only load the tour pak with the maximum allowable weight recommended by Harley Davidson, however I myself have put much more weight on the tour pak for 1000’s of miles with no problems whatsoever.”
At the time I ordered the kit I paid $85.00 dollars with shipping. I am not sure what it cost now. You can contact Jeff Erkel at the Harley Comforts website, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 916-660-0321.
My 4.25 inch kit was shipped very fast after I made the order. As a matter of fact I think he sent it to me by next day mail. It contained instructions, an aluminum plate, and new longer screws and bolts where needed. It was very simple to install to the detachable Harley Davidson Tour Pak rack.
It was kind of unusual mounting the detachable rack to the motorcycle with the 4.25 inch relocation kit on the first time, but I quickly got used to it. Another thing I noticed immediately was that the stock detachable rack with the tour pak installed could be set on the floor or a level hard surface, and it would stand up on its own. Now with the 4.25 inch relocation kit the tour pak would not stand up on its own on the floor or a hard level surface, but it would tilt back because the tour pak is now back 4.25 inches towards the rear, thus causing the weight to shift back. This was not a big deal to me whatsoever, because to be quite frank, I mostly ride with the tour pak on, even in local city traffic. The tour pak has become so convenient for putting things in, that I cannot believe I ever went without one; anyway. The only time this would ever be an issue would be when I take the tour pak off and set it down somewhere. I will just have to put a soft cloth, or something else underneath it to prop it up.
Now for the good part; the 4.25 inch tour pack relocation kit kicks ass! Not only does it work as advertised, but it has made my riding experience with my old lady truly pleasurable. I cannot feel her behind me anymore! We just did an 800 mile plus weekend road trip and it was an absolute pleasure for both of us. She is not crushed up against the back of the tour pak pad and me anymore. I had lots of stuff in the tour pak and did not notice any difference whatsoever in motorcycle handling. I give this 4.25 inch tour pak relocation kit the big thumbs up! I cannot believe I waited so long to install it!
There is one issue which some may not like. The 4.25 inch relocation kit does create a gap between the back of the passenger pillion and the front of the tour pak. In my case with the big Mustang Saddle it is more like 3.75 inches. Some may not like the look of the gap. On my motorcycle I got used to looking at the gap shortly because I have a vivid black Electra Glide and the relocation kit is vivid black.
I will tell you, if you are a true motorcycle rider like me, you are not going to give a hoot about the gap. The comfort that my old lady and I experienced with this kit greatly outweighs any esthetic issues which are minimal anyway. If you ride a touring motorcycle like the Electra Glide you are probably more into a comfortable ride anyway.
Aluminum Docking Mounts to Replace the Stock Harley Davidson Plastic Docking Mounts
When you purchase detachable hardware for a Harley Davidson motorcycle such as the detachable tour pak rack, passenger backrest, or luggage rack, you basically get docking mounts that are made of some kind of metal, with a plastic ring. The plastic ring is where the actual metal part of your detachable accessory makes contact with, and secures to the docking mount on the motorcycle.
There is a known bug with Harley Davidson stock docking mounts, the plastic ring that is used on the bushings is known to wear down and break off! This is a known bug. When this happens your detachable tour pak will not fall off, but it will shake, rattle and roll. Not a very good experience when you are in the middle of no where. I have heard of guys who have had to replace the docking mounts (bushings) after every long road trip, or every few thousand miles.
With respect to my bushings, I caused deep scratched on the plastic the very first time I installed the detachable tour pak!
Luckily I have found an after market solution for the stock Harley Davidson bushings that do not have the plastic rings, but are made of solid aluminum and that should last forever. Another innovative gentleman named Bobby got sick and tired of the problem, and designed the solid aluminum bushings. He also makes a great Apple iPod mount for the Harley Davidson as well You can check out his simple website by clicking here now.
When you get to his website, you will see links on the left for the Bushings and the iPod mount.
I opted to purchase the set of 4 bushings for the front and back. The cost was around $50.00 for the bushings. Some may think that this is too much of a cost to pay, but I will tell you, if you ever had the plastic ring on the stock Harley bushings break or get rubbed down, you will be glad to pay $50.00 for a solution that last forever!
Another great feature with respect to the bushings is that there is no vibration or play in the tour pak when riding hard at speed. Your tour pak goes on solid and the fit is much better then the stock Harley bushings. This was surprising to me because I think the plastic was meant to be a buffer to vibration and shock. As it turns out, the plastic causes too much vibration and play, whereas the new aluminum bushings do not at all!
These new bushings are a simple install. All I had to do was remove my hard saddlebags from my Electra Glide, unscrew the old ones with a hex wrench, and screw the new ones on. I then put the hard saddle bags back on. The first time I put the tour pak on, I noticed that the fit is a bit tighter then the stock Harley Davidson bushings. I actually became alarmed. However the fit is actually perfect and tight which is precisely what you want! The reason why the stock bushings make the detachable tour pak go on easier, is the same reason why they wear out and make lots of noise on the road; the plastic!
Now that I am used to the aluminum bushings, taking the tour pak on and off is no big deal.
I highly recommend the aluminum bushings from Bobby as a direct replacement for the Harley Davidson stock bushings. You will not be disappointed and you should never have to worry about replacing them again.
Now as for me, I am a simple Biker who also happens to be a Biker and Motorcycle Lawyer. I am not a mechanic by any means. I was able to install all of the hardware mentioned in this article on my own. I also want you all to know, I was not compensated by anyone for these reviews. I just thought I would throw out some simple solutions for those of you with detachable tour paks.
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