Treading Water in the Deep End

By Marilyn Stemp

I know what you’re thinking; what does swimming have to do with biking? Well, it’s just a metaphor that popped into my head as I gathered some new articles for Iron Trader News and if you’re willing to read along and give me a few minutes, I’ll explain.

marilynEven if you don’t swim very much, everyone gets the concept of treading water. It’s the equivalent of expending effort just to stay in the same place; an innocuous sounding activity that can quickly become quite frightfully dangerous if it persists too long and you don’t take it seriously. Yes, treading water is nothing to scoff at.

And I’m here to tell you, I’ve lately wondered: is that what I’m doing, thinking I can stay where I am by starting up Iron Trader News? I’d like to say I’ve grasped the reins with gusto, taken on the moniker deservedly, and especially that I felt completely comfortable here, doing this. But to be frank, that would be overstating the truth.

The opportunity to edit IronWorks presented itself several times in the 24 year history of that title, and I demurred several times, feeling that maybe I hadn’t accumulated the credibility or traction to do a proper job of it. So, you might ask, why did I start Iron Trader News when IronWorks came to an end? What makes me think I can do this now? Well, that’s a good question.

I’d like to say that I’m a more accomplished rider. I’d like to think I’ve more thoroughly absorbed the culture and experienced the rigors of the road. I’d really like to think that after hanging around with bike people for this many years, I’ve learned to recognize authenticity. But the short answer, the one that’s closer to the truth, is this: being in the motorcycle industry is fun and I don’t want to give it up.

When bike people gather it always turns into a good time. Big event, small event, or no event at all; motorcycles equal fun. Anytime I’m in a group of riders there are people to meet, bikes to look at and stories to hear.

People who ride have the audacity to pursue something they love, even if it’s viewed as impractical or frivolous by the mainstream. Bike riders can come up with many factors to justify having a motorcycle, most of them smoke screens that mask the truth. We say riding is more fuel efficient than driving a car—but it’s really just more fun. We say upgrading our bike’s engine ensures there’s enough power to get out of a jam—but we’re actually after that torque-enabled grin produced by awesome throttle response. We say we modify our bikes for practicality—but we simply want to be distinctive and pump the cool factor. These things might go generally unspoken, but we know them among ourselves – and we’re loving every bit of it.

The same is true for the people who work in this business. The ones who are here for the long haul started as regular motorcycle riders and decided to try and earn a living (if not necessarily a fortune) doing something they loved. What a great compromise. And though my retirement account has undoubtedly suffered because of it, I’ve never had any regrets about working in motorcycling.

In the final analysis, the timing was just right for Iron Trader News. On reflection, I see its resurgence as akin to life as a motorcycle rider. Maybe you start out riding with a mentor or a few friends. Then you kick it up to riding with a group, embracing the security of a planned destination led by a road captain. Then one day, without any seeming instigation, you just go for a ride—by yourself, with no set route. That’s where I am, I guess. Taking ITN for a spin, with no definite plan or destination, just the inner confidence that it will be a good ride. I have a map but I’m not setting the route. I also have a safety net in the form of the talented writers, photographers and editors who gave IW its solid personality and are willing to ride along with Iron Trader News. It’s good to have friends.

It’s a sense of adventure that’s propelling this trip. Is it challenging? Yes. Unpredictable? Yes, that too. But am I afraid? No, not at all. Because even if I tread water now and then, I know now that I can swim in these waters. And that—plus someone on shore to toss out a life preserver—is all anybody needs to survive.

Garage Girls Ultimate Biker Makeover

Ladies do you think you need, or are due a makeover? How would you like to score a HUGE list of parts and accessories for you and your bike? You can by entering the 2014 edition of the  Garage-Girls Ultimate Biker Makeover (brought to you by GEICO powersports). Contestants (sorry guys, ladies only this year) must submit a 600 words or less essay describing why they are most in need of a biker makeover as well as a photo to by July 18th 2014. Submissions will be narrowed down to the final 4 by selected judges from the Garage-Girls. The judges will then read over the entries and decide who they feel most deserves the Ultimate Biker Makeover and thereby gets to take home all the prizes which include; a wardrobe of shoes from Harley-Davidson Footwear, a case of full synthetic oil from Spectro Oils, A new Mustang motorcycle seat, a set of tires from AVON Tyres, a cool kit cleaning kit from Wizards, motorcycle helmet, jacket AND gloves by J&P Cycles and Roland Sands Designs, clothing by Hinjinx Apparel and much, much more! On August 29th the winner will be announced online at For more information, rules, eligibility and submission procedures, visit

Companies in the motorcycle industry who are interested in getting their company involved in the Garage-Girls Ultimate Biker Makeover please contact Sara Liberte at

Source: Garage-Girls

Posted by Sam Kanish


Those Stupid “Squids”


By Brittany Morrow,



BR1There’s a term amongst motorcyclists that describes a rider who is either extremely wet behind the ears, rides beyond his/her skill level, wears little to no gear, or is extremely reckless by nature. We call these riders “squids” and the origin is actually somewhat of a controversial subject.  Many will tell you it originated as a slightly derogatory term to define riders who were also in the Navy. Some say it originated on a SoCal racetrack, where the less-skilled and less-experienced riders were called “squirrelly kids”. It later was shortened to just “squids”. Other say it’s an acronym for many different things, one of which being Stupid Quick Underdressed and Imminently Dead. The attitude the motorcycle community has about “squids” is evident when visiting and reading the definitions. If you are labeled as a squid, it could be for many different reasons – but the most common reason is for doing things that more experienced riders would call STUPID.


The next time you see a motorcyclist riding down the road without a helmet, or in shorts and flip-flops – remember my story. Before you write the rider off as an idiot and someone who is destined to be the victim of their own actions, remember that person is someone’s son or daughter, someone’s brother or sister, someone’s mom or dad, someone’s husband or wife, someone’s aunt or uncle, someone’s cousin, someone’s coworker, someone’s true love, someone’s high school crush, someone’s best friend, someone’s neighbor, someone’s only hope for happiness…


I was one of those “stupid people” who didn’t wear all of my gear. I was worse than a squid, I was the squidly pillion of a squid, but I was also someone’s daughter, sister, wife, cousin, best friend, coworker, high school crush, and neighbor. Don’t be so quick to think that I didn’t wear my gear because I knew what could happen. On the contrary, only a few very unlucky people know the true consequences, the reality of the situation, and the weight that this decision actually carries.  I didn’t wear all of my gear because no one had ever shaken me by the shoulders and told me this:


“If you don’t wear your gear, you will rip off all of your skin. It will hurt like hell for a long time… pain you cannot even imagine. You will rack up over half a million dollars worth of medical bills. You will put your family through the worst experience of their entire lives. Your amazing father, your daddy, will have to leave the hospital room on several occasions because of your screams in pain. Your husband will never come to visit you in the hospital, nor will he call or write to see how you are doing. You will know what it is like to be truly alone for the first time in your life. Your parents will be forced to miss work, lose sleep, drive to the hospital, and fear for your life every day for nearly 2 months. The financial burden on yourself and your family for the next several years will be large. You will lose your job. You will lose your ability to join the military and serve your country. You will lose the ability to walk and move on your own. You will never have beautiful skin again. You will lose all of your beautiful hair. You will spend your mother’s birthday in a hospital gown and a wheelchair. The emotional stress from this accident will affect you until the day you die. You will lose full motion in your knees for the rest of your life and they will be in constant pain. People will stare at you in the gym, in restaurants… hell, people will stare at you everywhere. You will never be fully free of the consequences of this decision. And all of this is what you are choosing when you choose not to wear gear.”


So, no, I had no idea what I was getting myself into… and neither do many of the riders out there today. This is not common sense, many people never even hear this message. This is where we have failed in the past – we have ALL failed.  We shake our heads and move along instead of taking the time to educate the public on the truth.  It is so easy to call someone stupid and look the other way, but what would you want someone to do for that rider if they were your son, your daughter, your best friend, your husband or wife, your sister or brother? The list of people you would hope hear this message goes on and on, and yet you choose not to help educate a perfect stranger. Where is the sense in that? When did we become so knowledgeable and special that we didn’t have the responsibility to pass along the all-important message?  I sense a great lack of willingness to not only improve ourselves as riders, but to help others improve as well. Get this through your head – our need for learning is never finished.


BR2I am hell-bent on changing the way riders receive TRUE education about the consequences of riding without proper gear, proper training and proper attitude.  By all means, I understand that it’s not just about the gear.  However, the subject of gear is where I have a God-given ability to pull back the curtain and show people what the rest of the world is too scared, lazy, or “important” to show riders.  Sadly enough, there are more out there who have also been through what I have. I hope you are fortunate enough to have never experienced a crash like mine. Help me keep it that way for yourself, your families, and the riders who you otherwise would shake your head at. If you want things to change, it MUST start with us. I can tell you now that it makes a huge difference, even when you feel as if you’re the only one doing it. Spread the message, lead by example, and change someone’s life. – Brittany


About Rock The Gear:

At, we are dedicated to producing a community for current and prospective motorcyclists where information on personal protective apparel is available, positive influence from current riders is abundant, and the choice to ROCK THE GEAR is supported and rewarded.


Inspiration for came from the similar visions and joint efforts of Brittany Morrow and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. The MSF has been a long standing pillar in the industry and is synonymous with the brands we ride and wear. The efforts of the MSF date back to 1973 when the non-profit organization was formed, and has been internationally recognized and embraced ever since. Brittany’s vision began quite some time later after an unfortunate and extreme motorcycle accident in 2005. started as a collaboration between the “Gurus of Safety” and the “Queen of Road RasH.


Tire Tech, Straight from the Top!

If you’ve ever worked on your own bike, you know the value of good technical information from the people built the machine. And Harley-Davidson has offered up this info to help enthusiasts and mechanics alike. We’re happy to share the following tips from The Motor Company on keeping your tires happy and lasting as long as possible. -ed.

Authorized H-D Dealer Tire Service

A patch of tire rubber no larger than a credit card is what connects a motorcycle to the road, and maintaining those tires is critical to motorcycle performance and to the safety of your ride. The motorcycle tire experts at Harley-Davidson have put together the following tire-care tips for all riders.

A number of factors can influence the rate of motorcycle tire wear. One of the most critical is also frequently overlooked by riders: maintaining proper tire inflation pressure.

“Checking tire pressure is one of the most important tire-maintenance functions a rider can perform,” says Steve Bindl, H-D Product Portfolio Manager. “Properly inflated tires wear longer, and correct pressure promotes better braking, better fuel economy, maximizes traction, and reduces the risk of tire damage or failure.”

Tire pressure should be checked before every ride as a part of the pre-riding checklist in the motorcycle owner’s manual. Pressure should be checked when the tires are cold (before riding), and adjusted to the pressure listed in the motorcycle owner’s manual or on the tire information sticker located on the motorcycle. Use a high-quality gauge intended for motorcycle use when checking your tires. The Harley-Davidson Digital Tire Pressure Gauge provides accurate pressure readings in 0.50 psi increments up to 60 psi, and features a 12-inch braided line and 90 degree angle chuck for easy access to valve stems.

Check Tire Pressure with an Accurate Gauge

SERVICE TIP: Pressure gauges can become inaccurate over time due to wear and tear and should be replaced or checked against a gauge with known accuracy.

Exceeding the load capacity of any motorcycle can lead to loss of control and sudden tire failure, either of which could result in an accident. The load capacity of the motorcycle should always be considered when adding accessories, a passenger, or luggage to the bike. Check the motorcycle owner’s manual or the information label on the motorcycle’s frame down tube for the load capacity and never exceed the maximum load.

Another factor that can greatly impact load capacity is trailers and sidecars. Trailers should never be used with a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Pulling a trailer will void both the motorcycle and the tire warranty. Sidecars are appropriate for some motorcycles but should not be fitted unless approved by Harley-Davidson.

SERVICE TIP: For every 4 psi a tire is underinflated, you could lose up to 80 pounds of load-carrying capacity.

After checking and adjusting the pressure, give each tire a careful inspection for cuts, gouges, or foreign objects that may cause punctures and loss of air pressure. If any damage or excessive wear is noticed, contact an authorized Harley-Davidson dealer immediately, says Bindl.

Worn tires can adversely affect motorcycle control and traction, and are more prone to road damage. Most tires have tread wear indicator bars that will appear between the tread block when tire tread depth reaches 1/32 of an inch, which is the legal limit. It is best not to wait until the tread is at the bare minimum. Once a tire gets to 2/32 of an inch or below, tires should be replaced. The pocket-size Harley-Davidson Tire Gauge Tread Depth Indicator Tool provides a precise tread depth measurement, and also has an air-pressure gauge.

Motorcycle tires are integral to the dynamics of the bike, so choosing a replacement tire is an important decision. Harley-Davidson has partnered with Dunlop and Michelin – two of the premier tire brands in the world – to create Harley-Davidson co-branded tires which are exclusively designed, tested and approved to deliver optimal performance on each Harley-Davidson motorcycle model. These tires can be identified by the bold “Harley-Davidson” script on the sidewall and are available through authorized Harley-Davidson retailers. Harley-Davidson advises its customers that it is essential to use only Harley-Davidson tires that are the approved fitment for each individual year and model motorcycle. Using non-approved tires or mixing approved tires from different manufacturers on the same motorcycle can adversely affect stability, which could result in death or serious injury.

For more information, visit Harley-Davidson’s website at

Charge Up for the Spring Riding Season

Depending on where you call home, spring is likely right around the
corner…or already on top of you! That means longer days, warmer
weather and a better excuse than ever to get out on the road.
Lead Image Horizontal H-D Technician Services a BatteryUnfortunately, months of waiting are rarely good for our motorcycles.
Especially the batteries! Even with top-quality batteries and
carefully sorted electrical systems, a little neglect can go a long
way towards ruining that first beautiful riding day. Thankfully, we’ve
got some great tips straight from the source for you. Dig into this
literature from The Motor Company, and see if they can’t shed a little
light on keeping those little lead heads charged and eager:

Harley-Davidson Advice on Avoiding Battery Abuse

A motorcycle battery never gets a day off. The service experts at
Harley-Davidson® point out that even when a motorcycle is parked the
battery discharges continuously in small internal loads called
“self-discharge.” Self-discharge speeds up drastically as the
temperature rises – for example in a hot garage in the summer – and
accessories like alarm systems will further increase the rate of
discharge. If a battery is discharged too deeply, for too long, it may
be permanently damaged. Instead of a V-Twin rumble, a push on the
starter button produces … silence. And there goes a Saturday ride.

Which is why a motorcycle, that may often be parked for some time
between rides, is especially prone to battery damage from deep
self-discharge, even during the riding season. The best way to prevent
premature battery death, according to Harley-Davidson, is by keeping a
parked motorcycle plugged into a maintenance-type battery charger like
a Harley-Davidson Battery Tender. Unlike a standard battery charger,
Harley-Davidson Battery Charger products feature internal circuitry
that charges a motorcycle battery at the proper rate and then changes
modes to protect the battery from over-charging.

Cutaway H-D AGM Battery

Chargers for Long Life

The Harley-Davidson 800mA Waterproof Battery Tender (P/N 66000004,
$49.95) features a three-step charging system that constantly monitors
battery voltage to bring the battery up to full charge and switches to
float mode to maintain the charge over extended periods. Its
waterproof case protects the charger from damp floors and outdoor
elements, and the charger is reverse-polarity protected and
spark-proof, even when the leads touch.

The very compact Harley-Davidson 750mA SuperSmart Battery Tender (P/N
66000038, $39.95) is an ideal take-along for touring riders. Its
built-in circuitry cycles the charger to turn itself on and off as
needed to prevent overcharging.

Both of these charges are sold with a fused alligator-clip harness
that’s handy for charging the battery when it’s removed from the
motorcycle for long-term storage, and with a fused ring-terminal
harness that can be connected directly to the battery terminals and
left on the motorcycle. It’s then easy to plug the charger into the
on-bike harness whenever it’s parked. Responding to customer input
gathered through Project RUSHMORE, Harley-Davidson has equipped all
2014 Touring-model motorcycles with a factory-installed battery
charger wiring harness.

Another option is the Harley-Davidson LED Indicator Battery Charging
Harness, (P/N 66000005, $14.95) which features ring terminals and an
integrated LED indicator light that glows when battery voltage drops
to a level that requires charging. It’s a reminder to “please plug me
in!” It’s compatible with all Harley-Davidson battery chargers and

Battery Life and Replacement

While the ultimate life of a motorcycle battery is determined by many
factors, according to Harley-Davidson a well-maintained battery should
deliver at least five years of service. When it’s time to replace a
battery, an authorized Harley-Davidson dealer can supply the exact
replacement battery that’s specified for each Harley-Davidson model.

New Harley-Davidson motorcycles are equipped with an AGM (Advanced
Glass Mat) battery engineered specifically for use in Harley-Davidson
bikes. These sealed batteries never need added electrolyte, and won’t
leak even if the case is punctured because the electrolyte is absorbed
in glass mats placed between the positive and negative plates. Genuine
Harley-Davidson batteries are specifically engineered and built as
part of the vehicle’s electrical system, and meet strict
Harley-Davidson design and test standards. Internal components are
designed to meet the Harley-Davidson electrical and vibration profile,
which provides superior, long-lasting durability. The patented
flush-mounted terminal design provides superior cable contact, and
stainless steel terminal bolts resist corrosion. A genuine
Harley-Davidson battery works better and lasts longer than
less-expensive, off-the-shelf batteries.

Service Tips for Battery Safety

Always exercise caution when working with batteries!

Wear eye protection.

Keep sparks, flames and cigarettes away from batteries at all times.

Never lean on a battery when jump-starting a bike.

Never store a battery in a sealed container; always allow for proper

Harley-Davidson Motor Company produces custom, cruiser and touring
motorcycles and offers a complete line of Harley-Davidson motorcycle
parts, accessories, riding gear and apparel, and general merchandise.
For more information, visit Harley-Davidson’s website at