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Riding 2-Cents

DICLAIMER:



The following information was compiled from personal riding experiences and is only for reference. The author or BIKEBOLTS.COM is not responsible for any accidents or injuries that are attained by referencing any of the information below. This information was provided only with the intent to promote the safe operation of a motorcycle.

Ride Safe...

Steve
Bikebolts.com






Foreword



I’ve found that riding a motorcycle is an exciting, liberating, and an above all enjoyable experience that demands both physical and mental skills. Regardless of how small, big, or powerful a motorcycle is, they all require an equal amount of respect. Most all of us learn about defensive driving skills early in our middle teenage years and typically don’t learn to habitually execute them until our mid-twenties. All Insurance companies know this the best as a result of proven statistics. (i.e. insurance rate drop at age 25+) Early in my motorcycling experience, I found that operating a motorcycle is almost purely defensive. All of us have heard the story from the rider that had a car pull out in front of them or a car change lane into them, etc. Interestingly enough, according to the rider that got in to the accident it’s always the car or truck drivers fault. Consider this: Next time you’re riding along on the highway and a car starts to change lane into your position, did you put yourself where the driver of the car could see you? Did you make eye contact with that driver to insure that they saw you? Ok – Yes… it’s the car driver’s responsibility to look before they make a move, and legally it’s their fault. But who wants to get into an accident. Nobody I know. When you ride a motorcycle, you need to believe that car & truck drivers are not going to see you on their own without your help. And remember, if you bump them, you might get a scratch or dent, but if they bump you, you’re not likely to recover so easily. So protect yourself, always drive defensively!


Motorcycle Riding 101




THE GOLDEN RULE



Motorcycles accelerate fast, stop fast, and can turn fast, but can never perform a combination of any 2 or more at the same time with out extremely undesirable consequences.


DON'T RIDE SIDE-BY-SIDE



Never ride side by side (or parallel) with another vehicle on the road. Always either pass or stay behind. When around other vehicles, position yourself to them at 45 degrees. Make sure you can see the other drivers around you in their vehicles mirrors. If you can see them in their mirrors, they can see you! Make sure they looked at you. If you are making yourself visible to them and they don’t look at you, get away from them quick, speed-up or slow down. They aren’t paying attention.

Here’s an example: I was riding down a double lane roadway one evening when suddenly the truck next to me started changing lane into my lane. I was directly side by side with the vehicle in plain sight of the driver. (all the driver had to do was look over to me riding next to him, much like he would a passenger in the front seat) The truck just kept changing lane and by this point I was laying on the bikes horn. After no response from the driver, I simply reached over and tapped on the driver’s window. It was then that the driver quickly zipped back in his lane.


WATCH YOUR SPEED



Do not exceed the posted speed limit in rural and congested areas. Because motorcycles are small, it is much more difficult for other drivers to judge their speed. If you are doing 55mph in a 25mph zone, the car pulling out might think there's plenty of time to pull out in front of you.


DON'T TAILGATE



Do not tailgate other vehicles. Ok, motorcycles can stop fast and maneuver quickly (with an attentive operator), but tailgating another vehicle makes you blind to up-coming road obstacles such as: truck tire caps, large dead animals, pot holes, etc. Drive smart, maintain a position far enough back that lets you see what the vehicles ahead of you are about to encounter before it gets to you.


THE BRIGHT SUN



Be aware when the sun is at your 6 o’clock. Having the sun behind you might not bother you, but it might be making it difficult for other vehicles to see you coming. A vehicle entering a roadway might not see you or an on-coming vehicle might not see you before turning in front of you. Likewise, when the sun is glaring in front of you, watch for other motorcycles that may be in front of you. In addition, keep an eagle eye on your rearview mirrors, you could be disappearing in the sun rays from the driver's view behind you. Unfortunately this is a very common accident. The car driver following the motorcyclist didn't see the motorcycle's brake light come on and rear ended the motorcyclist.


SKILL



Riding a motorcycle demands some physical skills that are not at all instinctive. Save up about $1000.00 and go buy yourself an old motocross bike. Don’t forget to spend a little extra on the proper protective gear (i.e. Helmet and pads). Spend a summer riding around on a dirt bike and you’ll quickly develop some skills that will stick with you the rest of your life. Practice high speed turns, maneuvers, tail sliding, brake lock-ups, everything! There just isn’t a better way to learn how to ride. Taking time to sharpen your skills in the dirt will prove in-valuable on those days when leave the house with a cold tire and find yourself tail sliding around a turn.


TIRE WARMING



YES! When your tires are cold, they are slick. Don’t ever just hop on your motorcycle when the tires are cold and expect to have good tire contact. For the first 5 miles at least, take extra care on turns and expect a tire slide. To warm them up make gentle swerves side to side.


PRE-RIDE INSPECTION



Before you mount your machine, take a minute and observe its condition. Like Aircraft pilots carefully checking their aircrafts out before each flight for safety, please always take care and do the same with your motorcycle. Typical things to check include: Tires (inflated? correct prssure?), fluid leaks/puddles, loose chain, loose fasteners, etc. The motorcycles today are amazing power packed instruments of performance. Taking an extra 5 minutes before every ride to make sure everything is in safe working order might prevent a serious accident or just a serious headache.


#1 KILLER IS HEAD INJURIES



Wearing the right protection is a no-brainer. The bear minimum protection any rider should wear should include a full face helmet with official DOT & SNELL approval. $50 helmet for a $50 head? not anymore, you can get a fully approved helmet for a mere $50 these days for your priceless head. There’s no excuse. Although cheaper helmets don’t offer the dazzle and comfort the more expensive ones do, they do work. Like the turns, speed and the stunts? better be ready to except the consequences when something goes wrong. Get some leather gloves, jacket and pants, it’s worth it. Crashes happen to the best of us. Remember those little road rashes you got when you were a wee kid from wrecking your bicycle, well times that by about 100 to 1000. Some really bad road rash from a motorcycle wreck will make you want to shoot yourself.


WHICH LANE TO RIDE IN



When riding on a single lane road with on-coming traffic, it is best to ride on the far right side of the lane (the side furthest away from the on-coming traffic). This gives a little extra space and time for you to react to on-coming vehicles that suddenly decide to cross over the center line. When riding on a single lane road without on-coming traffic, it is best to ride on the far left side of the lane. This basically puts you near the center of the road giving you the best possible visibility to vehicles entering the roadway. Double lane roads - When riding on a double lane road, in the right lane, it is best to ride on the far right side of the lane. This puts you in the best possible position to be seen in the mirrors of vehicles next too and in front of you. NEVER ride on the left side of this lane unless avoiding obstacles. Riding on the left side of this lane puts you right in a driver’s blind spot. Make sure you can see the other drivers around you in their vehicles mirrors. If you can see them in their mirrors, they can see you! When riding on a double lane road, in the left lane, it is best to ride on the far left side of the lane when other vehicles are around you. This puts you in the best possible position to be seen in the mirrors of vehicles next too and in front of you. DO NOT ride on the right side of this lane unless avoiding obstacles or if there is no other vehicles around you. Riding on the right side of this lane when other vehicles are around puts you right in a driver’s blind spot. Make sure you can see the other drivers around you in their vehicles mirrors. If you can see them in their mirrors, they can see you! If there are no vehicles around you, it is best to ride on the far right side of the lane (the side furthest away from the on-coming traffic). This gives a little extra space and time for you to react to on-coming vehicles that suddenly decide to cross over the center line. Multi lane roads (more than 2 lanes) - When riding on a multi lane road, in the far right lane, it is best to ride on the far right side of the lane. This puts you in the best possible position to be seen in the mirrors of vehicles next too and in front of you. NEVER ride on the left side of this lane unless avoiding obstacles. Riding on the left side of this lane puts you right in a driver’s blind spot. Make sure you can see the other drivers around you in their vehicles mirrors. If you can see them in their mirrors, they can see you! When riding on a multi lane road in any of the center lanes, with other vehicles around you, maintain a position that makes it possible for you to see the other drivers around you in their vehicles mirrors. If you can see them in their mirrors, they can see you! However, try not to ride in these middle lanes when there is a high volume of traffic. Driving in these lanes increases your work load and decreases your attention to the road ahead. Stick to the outer most lanes to be safe and keep things simple. When riding on a double lane road, in the far left lane, it is best to ride on the far left side of the lane when other vehicles are around you. This puts you in the best possible position to be seen in the mirrors of vehicles next too and in front of you. DO NOT ride on the right side of this lane unless avoiding obstacles or if there is no other vehicles around you. Riding on the right side of this lane when other vehicles are around puts you right in a driver’s blind spot. Make sure you can see the other drivers around you in their vehicles mirrors. If you can see them in their mirrors, they can see you! If there are no vehicles around you, it is best to ride on the far right side of the lane (the side furthest away from the on-coming traffic). This gives a little extra space and time for you to react to on-coming vehicles that suddenly decide to cross over the center line.


WHERE TO RIDE IN THE LANE



When riding in any lane, its best to remain on either the right or left side of the lane (depending on the type of road). The center lane is typically where vehicles drip any grease, oil, other fluids, or rough debris. Therefore the center of the lane can be a slick place. Be especially cautious of this zone when coming to stop signs, stop lights, or any place a vehicle might stop frequently. Tire contact with the road is key to any motorcycle. These spots are usually visually obvious and are recognizable by a blackish stain on the road. In addition, watch where you put those feet down when coming to a stop. Although you might be keeping clear of the center where the oil is, you might still be putting your feet in it. A little oil on your shoes can cause you to loose your footing when coming to a stop, which will may end up causing you to fall over. A little oil on your shoes can also cause you to loose your footing on your foot peg causing you to slip off your bike. On heavily traveled roads, the center of the lane can tend to be very rough due to the asphalt being squeezed to this portion of the lane; and causing valleys in the portions of the lane where the vehicles tires track. These valleys are often the smoothest, but also tend to puddle water. When a tire hits a puddle at a high rate of speed, the tire will often skim across the top of the puddle, better known as hydroplaning. If you get caught out in the rain, try to watch carefully for puddles and drive close to but not on top of the lines of the roadway to help avoid them. When performing rapid lane changes on roads with multiple lanes, be aware of the valleys and hills of the lanes. These non-uniform surfaces can greatly upset your motorcycle's suspension and send you into an uncontrollable steering head shake and/or high side.


RIDING WITH OTHER MOTORCYCLES



When riding among other motorcycles maintain a single-file and staggered position. No matter what you see the California State Highway Patrol do. Never ride side by side in a lane. By riding single-file and staggered, you are able to maintain emergency space for maneuvering and stopping, whether it’s for avoiding obstacles or avoiding each other. Position yourself to the other motorcycles in the lane at 45 degrees. Make sure you can see the other riders around you in their vehicles mirrors. If you can see them in their mirrors, they can see you! Remember, bikes stop and turn fast, so be alert!!! Its always a good idea to allow for extra space between you and the motorcycle ahead. Unfortunately there are a high volume of motorcycle accidents each year that result from two or more riders colliding.


CAREFULLY EXAMINE THE UP COMING ROAD SURFACE



While riding a motorcycle, it is imperative that you maintain a careful watch for road debris. Sand, gravel, leaves, grass clippings, dirt, oil, trash, etc. can all cause your motorcycle to quickly lose contact with the pavement. Loss of contact can cause situations to numerous to mention and will largely result in some type of accident. NEVER make a sudden move when encountering road debris unless the debris is far enough ahead to make a safely planned maneuver. If you see debris coming up and it is un-avoidable, just let off the throttle, maintain your present direction, run over the debris and maintain directional control of the motorcycle. Making a sudden move prior to running over road debris will just simply put your tires at a large traction disadvantage and typically results in a loss of control. It's not worth trying to zigzag away from that pesky possum, you will likely be sacrificing your self and your bike. IF YOU CAN AVOID THE DEBRIS SAFELY - THEN BY ALL MEANS - DO IT!!!


HIGH SPEED TURNS AND LEANING



OK – If you’re new to riding street bikes or even just sport bikes, you should know that turning is not at all very intuitive. If you came from riding bicycles or even dirt bikes, you may be surprised to know that turning a street bike above 25-30mph is different than turning at or below 25-30mph. You wouldn’t believe how many people don’t know how to turn they’re bikes above the 25-30mph speed range! Seriously! Why? Well if you think about it, what kind of riding do you actually do every day? Assuming you’re not a canyon carving freak, most motorcyclist do very basic riding. They ride to and from work, or from one location to another. Or mainly just cruise up and down the strip. On a typical ride, hard sharp turns are typically executed below 20mph, and sweeping leaning turns are done at around the legal speed limit of the roadway. Then one day you venture out with some guys all dressed in leathers riding on some country back roads and the first fast turn that comes up totally scares the hell out of you (assuming you made it through in one piece). Are these guys’ crazy pro-riders? Maybe…. Or they just know how to turn they’re motorcycle and you don’t. So here’s the how too. First of all… you know that in order to turn left or right, you turn the handle bars and point the front wheel left or right to go in that direction. That’s true for going slow, it’s the exact opposite for going fast. No shit. Read it again, you read it right, you turn the handle bars in the opposite direction to go a direction. Why? Well without getting real technical, it’s a little thing known as counter steering. Counter steering allows the bike to drop or lean into the direction of the turn. The second part done simultaneously with the counter steer is shifting your body into the turn. How far do you shift your body, well that’s where experience comes in to play. You will find your comfort zone with this as you practice it. The purpose of shifting your weight is to maintain balance through the turn. What are you balancing? Well to be exact you are balancing the weight of the bike on its 2 tires as you change its direction. If you don’t do this, the centrifugal force of the turn will try to eject you from the bike to keep you moving in the original linear direction. Consider this… you are basically changing the linear direction of a moving object. That object consists of mass (you and the bike) and therefore has force. When you change the direction of any moving object, the object will attempt to maintain its original direction because of its linear force. Therefore to change the objects direction, you have to apply force into the new direction. So you use your body’s weight as force with the combination of the force from the front tire to help move the bike into the direction you want to go. Lean is just some what of a side effect. As you direct your body into the turn and counter steer the bike, the bike will automatically lean into the turn. When leaning, the bike is actually shifting its weight into the turn and therefore applying force into the new direction as well. This will seem like power steering with your first try it. OK – now you know how it works, so give it a try. Find a nice sweeping turn, push into the turn with your right hand for right turns, and left hand for left turns. To shift your weight, lean your head past the center of the bike into the turn and point your shoulder into the turn. Be careful, this is very addicting!!! Be sure to maintain focus on the road ahead and look into the turn (keep your focus at least 100ft ahead and watch for debris). You should know that every bike has a maximum lean angle and the bigger the bike – usually the smaller the angle. What is maximum lean angle? Maximum lean angle is the point at which the bike cannot lean any further without touching some part of the bike to the ground. This is usually a foot peg, exhaust or kickstand. Touching something to the ground besides the tires is something you want to avoid and can have very-very bad results. So don’t do it! The point is not to lean the bike over as far as it will go. The point is to keep the bike balanced through the turn and on 2 wheels. To overcome lots of lean on the bike, you can literally hang your body off and into the turn. Think of it with respect to body part weights. Your heavy ass head will do a lot for balancing into a turn by shifting it well past the bikes center line. You butt is connected to your upper torso, lots of weight there… move it past the bikes center line. You legs are heavy too, hang one out in the direction of the turn, just be ready to drag it if you’re really into the turn. That’s why most leather pants and suits have knee sliders. The next question you might have is how fast to enter the turn. Well, that’s all about experience. Start practicing at the legal limit of the road, then as you get the hang of it speed up. You want to set your entry speed before you execute the turn, so find the right gear and throttle position. My rule of thumb to newer riders is to set your speed and the gear you think you want to be in, shift one gear up, then turn. Usually, you’re preparing for a turn by breaking and downshifting. Well often the gear you down shifted in to is for slowing your self down, and will offer a little too much torque through out the turn if you stay in the gear through the turn. So up shift one to lessen the torque and even out throttle response. Turning at high speeds takes a good deal of concentration and practice, and will keep you on a fine line of sheer excitement and sheer terror. Don’t take this maneuvering lightly; you will get rusty if you get out of practice, so warm up to it if you’re coming off the non-riding season. There’s a little more to it than just what I’ve described, but this should be enough info to make you dangerous. Going into the turn is only part of the battle, balancing the bike, maintaining cornering speed and knowing when to roll on power out of the exit is an art. Remember, when leaning a tire over on its side, you will often be on its smallest area of contact, and therefore decreasing the amount of grip the tire has with the road. However, higher end sport bike tires tend to offer even areas of contact with the road beyond the maximum lean capability of the bike, so if you’re into turns, don’t get cheap on tires. Well… get out there, try some turns, wear some protective gear and enjoy!


WHEELIES



Ok, so you want to ride wheelies. Not a problem. Save up about $1000.00 and go buy yourself an old motocross bike. Don’t forget to spend a little extra on the proper protective gear (i.e. Helmet and pads). The street is absolutely no place to learn how to ride a wheelie. To get the correct level of comfort riding wheelies, find it on a motocross bike in the dirt. On a motocross bike, travel along at a steady pace in the first gear. (about as fast as you can run – no more) Place your foot on the rear brake lever and prepare to press. Holding on with both hands firmly around the handle bar grips (specifically using your left index finger, pinky, and thumb to grasp the left grip while using your ring & middle finger to move the clutch lever), pull the clutch lever in, wrap the throttle with your right hand, and let go of the clutch lever. BE READY FOR THE BIKES FRONT WHEEL TO POP UP OFF THE GROUND!!! As soon as the bikes front tire leaves the ground, quickly depress the rear brake lever, release the throttle and the wheel will quickly settle back down to earth. You need to perfect the smoothness of this transition, dropping the front wheel of your street bike to quickly can result in damage to your street bikes front forks. Practice this procedure until you get comfortable with obtaining a repeatable and desired height. If you flip the bike, don’t forget to let go and expect your pride to get hurt. (Be aware that flipping any bike over can cause the rider to attain serious or permanent spinal injury)
Riding long wheelies is a function of balance and throttle control. Part of mastering the procedure above will include these functions. Perfect it in the dirt before you take to the street!


ENDOS / NOSE WHEELIES



Ok, so you want to do endos. Not a problem. Save up about $1000.00 and go buy yourself an old motocross bike. Don’t forget to spend a little extra on the proper protective gear (i.e. Helmet and pads). The street is absolutely no place to learn how to do endos. To get the correct level of comfort performing endos, find it on a motocross bike in the dirt. On a motocross bike, travel along at a steady pace in the first gear. (about as fast as you can run – no more) Holding on with both hands firmly around the handle bar grips, use your right ring and middle finger to pull the front brake. Evenly, firmly, and aggressively apply pressure to the front brake taking care not to stop or break the front tire loose. Stopping or breaking the tire loose will likely make you loose control of the front end and you may find yourself quickly slammed down on the ground. Simultaneously while the bike comes to a quick stop, shift your body forward, almost onto the fuel tank, and grasp the tank with your knees. BE READY FOR THE BACK WHEEL TO LIFT OFF THE GROUND!!! Keep the bike straight when the rear wheel leaves the ground and prevent the rear end from twisting around to the left or right. If the rear starts to twist, quickly release the brake lever and let the rear tire settle back to the ground. While the rear tire is in the air, just prior to the bike coming to a complete stop, release the lever (allowing the rear end to settle back down to the ground). Do not let the front wheel stop and do not let the back wheel get too high or the bike will flip on top of you. (Be aware that flipping any bike over can cause the rider to attain serious or permanent spinal injury). Practice this procedure until you get comfortable with obtaining a repeatable and desired height. Height control is maintained by the even force held on the brake lever. Riding long rolling endos is a function of balance and front brake control. Part of mastering the procedure above will include these functions. Perfect it in the dirt before you take to the street!


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