11 Things You Should Know Before Buying a Used Motorcycle

It’s spring, and you know what that means – motorcycle season is almost upon us! Whether you’re an old pro on two wheels or you’re just starting out, you will want to make sure that you have the perfect motorcycle for your needs.

If you’re in the hunt for a new-to-you motorcycle, here are 11 things you need to know and check out before making this major purchase:

Do Your Research – First and foremost, you will need to read up about what type of motorcycle you will need. Scour magazine articles, website reviews, and online discussion forums to find what might work and what might not be the best for your needs. You can find out a lot by reading what other motorcycle enthusiasts have to say.

Match the VINs – Have you found a bike that you like? Great! Start by matching the VIN on the frame with the VIN on the engine. Both of these should not only match to each other but also to the VIN that is on the title. If they don’t, walk away.

Check out the Maintenance Records – When you’re purchasing a used motorcycle, it’s true that you will need to rely on some level of trust on this front. However, if maintenance records simply don’t exist, you should ask for a verbal account of the vehicle’s maintenance history.

Look for Tire Wear and Tear – Turn your attention now to the tires. You will want to look for cupping and at least 1/16 of an inch of tread. While you’re at it, check the tire pressure; a good owner will take good care of the tires, which can be indicative of the health of the entire vehicle.

Give the Bearings a Test – If you’re able, put the bike on its centerstand. Grab the handles and tug gently on the fork tubes, both front to back and back and forth, to feel for play in the steering head. Feel for movement in the front and rear wheels and also the side-to-side action in the swingarm. Any play that you may feel can be a big safety hazard when you’re on the road.

Check Fluid Levels – You’re going to want to check out the brake fluid, coolant levels, and transmission oil here. If you see any fluids that are dirty or any gray oil, these are signs that the bike has not been well cared for.

Examine the Air Filter – Like a car’s air filter, the motorcycle’s air filter should be clean and properly installed. Don’t be lenient on this; dirt can get in the engine, which can cause several problems for your later on the road.

Test Out All the Controls – Take the time now to test out the brakes, shift the gears, try out the turn signals, honk the horn, and operate the clutch. This can be done on a test ride; however, if the seller is against test rides, just put the bike on the centerstand and test the controls out that way.

Look for Any Big Red Flags – Don’t be afraid to inspect every part of the motorcycle. You will want to keep an eye out for any loose or missing fasteners, chain play, fluid leaks, rust in the fuel tank, cable continuity, cracked wiring insulation, and any pitting in the fork tubes. These are all red flags that can cause you some grief later on.

Start Your Engine – Next, bring the bike to life by starting the engine. You might not be allowed to take it out on a test ride (after all, quite a few motorcycles have disappeared this way), but you can learn quite a bit just from starting the engine. Listen for any odd noises emanating from the engine, look for smoke, and feel for any heavy vibrations. The throttle response should be crisp and clean off the idle and not sluggish.

Get a Good Price – Much like buying a house, you don’t want to meet the asking price without seeing if you can knock it down a bit. If you’ve found anything wrong whatsoever with the bike, use these as negotiating points for a lower price. It can help you save a little bit of money.

Before you take your new ride out on the road, make sure you call your agent here at Madison Mutual Insurance Company to update your auto insurance! Call us at 1-800-766-MMIC to get yourself and your ride covered today!

9 Easy Ways You Can Decorate for Spring

It’s official – on Saturday, March 19, spring will be upon us! If you’re like many other people out there, you’ve probably been feeling an itch to redecorate your space for the season. Whether you’re renting your first apartment, have your own house, or live in a dorm room, there are plenty of ways that you can welcome spring into your space this year.

Read about our 9 tips below to help you welcome spring into your home. Try one, a couple, or all of them!

Create Your Very Own Terrarium – Nothing says spring more than greenery! Place plants that share light and watering needs but vary in texture and color together in a glass terrarium in front of a sunny window to bring some life into the room.

Bright or Pastel Paints – Paint is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to help you totally revitalize a space. Choose a springtime color, pastel, or a bright and happy color to paint an accent wall or even the entire room. This will really help set the mood for the season!

Switch Up Your Pillows – Now is the time to replace your fall and winter throw pillows with lively, brightly colored ones! Feel free to play with patterns and textures to find what works best for you.

Use Fresh White Accents – White accents can brighten up any space right away. Try white bedding, clean white sheets and slipcovers, or even a few white vases to give your home that crisp, clean feeling.

Lighten Up Your Bedding – As cozy as those flannel sheets can be, it’s time to pack them up in favor of light, airy sheets and bedding. For those transitional nights when it’s chilly, keep a warm blanket on the end of your bed to keep you warm.

Refresh With Wallpaper – Wallpaper can work wonders on your walls. Try out the peel-and-stick kind of wallpaper to make the job easier. When you want to put something different on your walls later on, this removable wallpaper can make switching in an out a snap.

Bring in Fresh Flowers – Bring the outdoors inside by finding some of your favorite flowers. Find a handful of pretty wildflowers or buy a bouquet of flowers from the store. These flowers will give your home a seasonal face-lift right away!

Play With Color – Spring is the time for color, color, and more color. Experiment with pops of color around the home. Try adding a large white bowl full of lemons or bring in pots of daffodils. Brightly colored dishtowels work to breathe life into the kitchen as well!

Keep It Light and Airy – Take down those heavy drapes and replace them with sheer materials to let in the light. Think voile and lace drapes. If you don’t want to purchase all new drapes, you can find affordable materials at your local fabric store. Just pin up the fabric or sew a rod pocket at either end.

How do you get ready for spring? We hope that once the decorating is over that you call up your friendly Madison Mutual agent at 1-800-766-MMIC to be sure that your home is protected from spring storms and other incidents. After all, anything can happen!

4 Havoc-Wreaking Springtime Storms and How You Can Stay Safe and Minimize Damage

There’s no doubt about it – spring is finally here! As the temperatures seesaw back and forth between deliciously warm to chilly throughout the coming weeks, we will also see an increase in unpredictable weather. Since the temperatures fluctuate more frequently during this time of year, there is a greater potential for us to experience severe weather.

While it’s practically impossible for us to completely avoid damage from storms, there are several steps you can take to ensure that you are prepared. Read on below about the 4 most frequent springtime storms and how you can protect yourself, your loved ones, and everything that matters to you!

Thunderstorms and Tornadoes
Thunderstorms pop up frequently in the spring when warm and cold air collide together. Sometimes, tornados can be a product of a thunderstorm as well. Whenever severe thunderstorms or tornadoes break out, go to the basement or the lowest part of your home and cover yourself with a layer of padding by using pillows, blankets, or cushions. Stay away from the windows, and unplug electrical appliances. If you’re in a mobile home and a tornado is on the way, move to a safe structure. If you happen to be outside or driving and can’t get to shelter, pull over, find the lowest ground you can, and lay flat. Make sure you stay far away from trees and cars as well.

During a severe storm, hail will sometimes form. These ice pellets, which vary in size from a dime to a softball, will plummet from the sky and can cause extensive damage to vehicles, homes, and anything that happens to be left outside. While you can’t always protect yourself from the sudden outburst of hail, do your best to park your vehicle and store your furniture and bikes inside a garage. Stay indoors and keep away from the windows until the storm blows over. If you’re outside, cover your body and your head as best as you can. Stuck on the road? Pull off to the side or in a parking ramp and wait for the storm to pass.

Floods are unfortunately one of the most devastating and most frequent natural disasters that occur during the spring. If you know that a flood is imminent, seal off the basement of your home to avoid water leaks. Avoid walking through floodwaters, but if you do have to trek through them, use a pole or something sturdy to give you leverage. As always, never drive through flooded areas. It’s so easy for floodwaters to carry off a vehicle, and it can be very difficult to estimate the depths of the water on the road. It’s always your safest bet to turn around and find a different way to go instead.

Make sure you’re totally protected and prepared for spring and all that the season brings by chatting with your agent at Madison Mutual Insurance Company! Call 1-800-766-MMIC to get started today!

5 Favorite Springtime Recipes You Should Definitely Try This Season

It may only be early March, but spring really feels like it’s in the air lately! Temperatures are getting warmer, snow has vanished overall, and the grass is slowly starting to get greener. What better way to celebrate the arrival of the season than trying out some fun recipes?

Here are 5 of our favorite springtime recipes. Try them out and enjoy them with your friends and family or even by yourself!

Chicken and Strawberry Salad – Strawberries don’t just belong in desserts. They can be included in several main dishes, especially in salads! This is a no-cook, easy recipe that you can make in mere minutes. Combine sweet strawberries with tangy vinaigrette, savory chicken, and rich blue cheese to create a salad that will be the envy of everyone. Check out the recipe here!

Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Penne Salad with Goat Cheese – This swanky-looking dish is both delicious and easy to make. Impress your guests by combining penne pasta with roasted asparagus, arugula, tomato, goat cheese, and herbes de Provence. Toss these ingredients with a lemony vinaigrette and serve either immediately or cover and chill for 2 hours for a cold pasta salad. Warm or cold, this recipe will be unforgettable! Get started here!

Chicken-Lemon-Broccoli Alfredo – Fans of pasta will rejoice this spring when they try this tasty dish. Dress up simple stove-top chicken and delectable mushrooms with light Alfredo pasta sauce. Toss in broccoli cooked with fresh slices of lemon to make this even more flavorful and healthy. Get the recipe here!

Honey Teriyaki Salmon – One of the most savory fish recipes that we’ve encountered is so very easy to make it isn’t even funny! Combine honey, soy sauce, mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine), and a little bit of sake inside a re-sealable bag, add in the salmon, and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 8 hours. Cooking time takes less than 10 minutes, leaving you with a savory meal you won’t soon forget! This goes great with jasmine rice and cooked asparagus. Try it out here!

Peeps Sunflower Cake – Indulge your sweet tooth this spring and try your hand at making this beautiful cake! The yellow peeps ringing the outer edge of the circle cake give the illusion of a sunflower, and the chocolate chips resemble the seeds that are found in the center of a sunflower. Try making this delicious cake by following the recipe here!

Which recipe is your favorite? Do you have a few favorite springtime recipes that you like to make every spring? Tell us in the comments below!