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Disco Man
11-08-2007, 05:55 AM
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Ten Simple Motorcycling Tips to Keep Safety First

By Pete Dunton

http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=244&Itemid=10261


There?s a certain freedom that a motorcycle gives a rider. In recent years the numbers of motorcyclists have grown. This is great news for the motorcycling hobby however it comes at a cost. Motorcycle accidents have increased, since many new motorcycle purchases are by newbie riders who have less than a few years of riding under their belts. Any frequent visitor to youtube.com can attest to the fact that there are too many motorcycling accidents and many of them could have been easy avoided. So with that in mind, here are ten tips to keep motorcycling safe:


1. Always Wear a Helmet and Full Safety Gear

This should be a no-brainer, however the appeal of wind in your face and hair while motorcycling is an over 100-year-old enticement that for some riders is hard to resist. The helmet may seem like a small bite into that freedom, however it?s a necessary one. During an accident the only thing keeping your head protected is your trusty helmet.

It?s important not to skimp when buying a helmet. There are many different types of helmets, find a helmet that is best suited for your type of riding. Generally you will want to go with the strongest (constructed) strength helmets because the stronger a helmet is, the better it will protect your head in an accident.

And not to be forgotten, it?s also very important to wear safety gear - protective jackets, gloves, pants, boots, etc., which include extra reinforcement and padding that in the event of an accident will lessen the impact to the different body parts.


2. Expect the Unexpected

As in any situation it always pays to be prepared by expecting the unexpected. In motorcycling this is also true. Translated - this means don?t take any unnecessary risks. For instance it may look like fun flying up a hill at full throttle far exceeding the speed limit, but if you can?t see what?s on the other side of the hill, it?s not a good idea. There may be a broken down truck (blocking your lane) and when you see it, it may be too late since you were speeding. Use your best judgment and don?t take any gambles, because it may be your life you are gambling with in the end ? and that?s always a bad gamble.


3. Never Tailgate

In order to have ample time to come to a complete stop in a panic situation, it is imperative to give the distant between your bike and the vehicle in front of you, one car length per 10 mph. As an example if you are traveling at 60 mph you should be at least 6 car lengths behind the vehicle in front of you. If you follow this rule you will lessen greatly the chances of ramming into the back of another vehicle while making a panic stop.


4. Don?t Ride Your Bike in a Car or Truck?s Blind Spot

This is a big mistake a lot of new riders make. New riders tend to have driven cars or trucks before getting on a motorcycle, so they are accustomed to other vehicles on the road being able to see them. However in a motorcycle you take up less space and it?s very easy to be completely out of view when you are in a car or truck?s blind spot. By riding in a car or truck?s blind spot you increase greatly the chance of being in an accident. A lot of accidents where drivers of cars and trucks hit motorcycles happen when these drivers don?t see a motorcycle until it?s too late. Make sure when riding next to a car or truck that you are in an area where a driver can see you in his/her field of vision or through his/her rear view mirror and not blocked by his/her car or truck?s support pillar or other obstructions. As a general rule if you are in a driver?s field of vision, which is generally a few car lengths behind or in front of a car or truck, you are much safer.


5. Be Aware of Road Conditions

Keeping a close eye on road conditions is important for the drivers of cars and trucks but even more import to a motorcyclist. Something as minor as a pothole, that would be a minor annoyance in a car or truck, could be the cause of a major accident for a motorcycle. While riding, make it a point to carefully scan the road for potholes, obstructions, debris, wet leaves (which can be as slippery as ice), etc. Also be aware of the weather conditions such as rain, snow, ice, etc. And it?s usually a good idea if the weather is bad, leave the motorcycle at home and drive another safer vehicle or take public transportation to your destination if possible.


6. Don?t Be Afraid to Use Your Horn

When you are riding on your motorcycle you will notice a little device called the horn. It?s there for a reason. And there may come a time when it?s the only tool you have that keeps a car or truck from hitting you, while riding your bike. Most bike accidents happen when a driver of a car or truck does not see a motorcycle. The horn allows you to let a car or truck know you are there when they begin to move over to the space your motorcycle is occupying on the road. So don?t be afraid to use your horn, if it appears that a car or truck is about to make a move that could endanger you while on your bike, use the horn. Better to be safe than sorry, don?t assume the driver of the car or truck next to you who is wandering towards your lane sees you. The horn will let them know you are there, and will in a lot of cases prevent you from getting into a accident.

And if your horn is not very audible, replace it with a louder horn.


7. Obey the Posted Speed Limits and Traffic Signs

Not only is a good idea to obey the posted speed limits and traffic signs to keep out of the crosshairs of ?the fuzz?, but it may also keep you from a serious accident. For instance if you are traveling down a road, and you notice a sign warning of a sharp road curve ahead, and you see a sign that denotes the speed limit dropping to 25 mph. It?s probably a very good idea to abide by these signs since doing so may save you from a serious accident. Though you may get to a destination slower if you abide by the road warning and speed limit signs, you will have a much safer journey.


8. Keep Your Bike Mechanically Sound

This is probably the most overlooked area in motorcycle safety. A bike that is not mechanically sound can be a dangerous bike. For instance if a bike you are riding has faulty brakes, it may get ugly when you really need those brakes to work and they don?t. Do a through inspection of your bike before you take it out for a ride. Make sure there are no fluid leaks. Also listen to your bike, if you notice any strange new noises ? squealing, thumping, whinny, etc. sounds. The sudden onset of these sounds may be a warning sign that a part is about to fail or malfunction.

Perform regular maintenance on your bike. If you are not very mechanically inclined than it will be wise to take your bike to a motorcycle repair shop on a regular basis for servicing. If you decide to go this route make sure you follow the advice of the shop mechanic or service advisor concerning the regular service intervals for the different parts and components on your bike.


9. Take a Motorcycle Safety Class

Very few riders spend the majority of their road time on a motorcycle. Most motorcycle owners use a car or another vehicle as their primary vehicle. Taking a motorcycle class will teach you motorcycle safety tips and techniques as taught by the experts. Some of the safety tips and techniques covered in the class, you may already know, however there will probably be some that you don?t know. These new tips and techniques will help you to be a safer rider.

Most cities and decent size towns have motorcycle safety classes available, and the majority are fairly reasonably priced. Local government related entities, colleges, universities, and training centers usually provide these safety classes. Some of these classes even include behind the wheel training for the novice with a makeshift parking lot obstacle course.


10. Don?t Take Fast Turns or Make Erratic Lane Changes

I have witnessed in the last five years too many motorcyclists taking turns at too high a speed and performing erratic lane changes. Not only do these maneuvers put the culpable motorcyclist in serious danger, they also put other innocent motorists in danger. The pervasive attitude among the riders who perform these crazy maneuvers is - the road is their personal racetrack where they have no regard for anyone but themselves.

As the old motorcycle campaign (used to educated non-motorcyclist motorists) used to say ? ?share the road?, this also applies to motorcyclists who must share the road with others. So be considerate of the other motorists and refrain from crazy maneuvers for their sake as well as yours. If you feel the need to race your motorcycle, take it to the track ? it is a great environment to test the limits of your bike in a safer more isolated environment.


These tips should provide you with a good guideline on how to play it safe when you are on your bike. And when you are not sure about a given situation, it is good policy to always err on the side of caution (being too careful). Remember if you keep safety first every time you ride your bike, you should have many years of motorcycling enjoyment. Keep it safe, and enjoy the many pleasures motorcycling has to offer.

DonTom
11-08-2007, 06:29 AM
"Obey the Posted Speed Limits and Traffic Signs "

For safety reasons? Try explaining that to Eric and Gail!!!

-Don-

Eric
11-08-2007, 07:56 AM
"Obey the Posted Speed Limits and Traffic Signs "

For safety reasons? Try explaining that to Eric and Gail!!!

-Don-




You dog! 8)

It's a subjective thing, to be brutally honest; I bet you agree with me. Skills, training/experience vary considerably. Some riders are marginal at any speed - accidents waiting to happen. Then there are guys with very high skills, track time, etc. who can safely operate a bike at much higher speeds than the average rider. That's pretty self-evident, I think. If you need an example, consider the following two types of riders: One, a 40-something "newbie" on a heavy cruiser who rides (and often crosses over) the double yellow because he doesn't know how to lean. The second rider is a long-time sport bike rider with track time (perhaps even a WERA license) who has mastered high-speed cornering on a motorcycle. Which of the two is more likely to have an accident on a curvy road?

Speed limits, moreover, are set at a "least common denominator" level; that's also pretty self-evident. While it's a violation of the law to exceed it, doing so may have no bearing on safety, as such.

Eric
11-08-2007, 08:04 AM
Pete,

Good stuff!

Especially the recommendation in re the MSF class. These are very worthwhile. I'd also add that anyone who rides (or wants to ride) a high-performance sport bike should consider taking a more advanced road racing course, such as those offered by Cornerspeed, etc.

The one thing you left off the list that I would have included myself is this:

* If you are new to riding, spend at least six months riding a smaller, lightweight bike in the 250 cc range. Dual-sports (street legal but can also go off road) are perfect first bikes - and have several advantages over a "full street" 250 cc bike (such as Honda Rebel or Ninja 250). One, you can drop a dual sport without causing major cosmetic damage. (And you will drop your first bike.) Two, you won't outgrow the thing; a dual sport is always fun - newbie or expert rider. You can always buy a larger street bike; but you don't want a bike muchbigger than 250 ccs for off-road use. (Side note: When I say 250 cc; I mean a 4-stroke machine; do NOT get a two-stroke bike as a first bike. These are very peaky and not for the inexperienced.)

The larger point, though, is that a 250 cc bike is lighter and easier to learn basic skills on. And most importantly, more forgiving. You do not want a powerful bike for your first bike. Today's sport bikes not only have power to weight ratios that are beyond those of most ultra-elite exotic sports cars - they are very unforgiving of error. Some have power curves that are so abrupt (esp. in the 600 cc class) that a new rider can lose control before he even realizes what happened.

Just as you'd be foolish to try to learn to drive for the first time in a Ferarri F430, it's very dumb to try to learn to ride on a sport bike capable of 10 second quarter miles and 180 mph on top. Such a bike has limits well beyond those of a first-time rider - and you can get into trouble quickly and easily.

By the same token, if you prefer cruiser-type bikes, it's not smart to choose a 600-800 pound "dresser" as your first ride. These bikes are extremely heavy and they can and do get away from inexperienced riders; indeed, the "over 40/new cruiser rider" is the demographic most likely to be in an accident and killed. (Not my opinion - fact. Check the current stats.)

Be smart - and learn the basics of riding wellbefore you try to ride a bike that's several levels above your own!

DonTom
11-08-2007, 10:06 AM
"and you notice a sign warning of a sharp road curve ahead, and you see a sign that denotes the speed limit dropping to 25 mph. "

Do you mean a yellow sign with a black number?

IOW, an "ADVISORY SPEED SIGN" ?

These are NOT "speed limit" signs and you may LEGALLY go faster than these signs when safe, if under the last REAL speed limit, which is always on a black on white or white on black sign.

The black and white signs are always law, no exceptions.

But the yellow signs are only a safety suggestion and a motorcycle may go faster there than a truck or somebody who is towing, etc.

BTW, those "ADVISORY SPEED SIGNS" are more safety related than a real speed limit sign. For an example, when you see a yellow "15 MPH" sign on a freeway exit!
-Don-

Disco Man
11-09-2007, 01:18 AM
Don,

Thanks for the information on the signs. Eric does drive fast, however he's a good driver. There are situations were it is completely safe to speed but that takes a skilled driver or rider to figure out those times. Most people on the road never reach this level of expertise, in my opinion. I like you tend to do around the speed limit when driving, for me speeding is not worth the risk of a ticket.


Eric,

The article is geared to the newbie crowd, it's best that they and most cyclists keep it at or around the speed limit.

Eric
11-09-2007, 07:31 AM
"The article is geared to the newbie crowd, it's best that they and most cyclists keep it at or around the speed limit."

Agreed... though I would argue that we have a real problem with under-posted (and thus, meaningless as safety dervices) speed limits. A speed limit should be just that - the fastest safe speed for a given road. It should be obvious that exceeding it is to "push it."

Yet we all know that many, if not most, posted speed limits are well below even the normal flow of traffic (which corresponds to the so-called "85th percentile" speed that traffic safety engineers and the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices - the "bible" of traffic safety engineers - say should be the basis for establishing lawful maxes, etc.). Some speed limits are set absurdly low. 60-65 mph on a highway, for example. (The Interstate system was designed for safe travel at average speeds in the 70 mph range - and that assumed 1950s-era cars and 1950s-era tires/brakes/suspensions and safety technology, etc. Surely if it was considered "safe" to drive a 1955 Chevy at 70 it's safe to drive an '08 Chevy at that same speed - or faster - on the very same road?)

Etc.

Instead, our contrived and politicized system radiates mixed signals - and cynicism. Example: We all know that driving the speed limit on most any major highway (and many roads) is itself dangerous because you will thenbe driving well below the speed of traffic. This creates a hazard via speed disparity, among other things. So most of us (rightly, sensibly - and safely) )ignore the posted speed limit and drive faster, keeping up with the flow. Yet we all "play the game" of pretending to believe the speed limit is proper - despite the fact that virtually everyone ignores it. If you think about it, you have to question any law that is ignored/flouted by virtually everyone. We're not all "reckless crazies." We just ignore stupid laws. Proper/sensible laws are usually obeyed by most people - who acknowledge the intrinsic "rightness" of the law without even needing the external stimulus of punishment to keep them in line. With speed limits (like Prohibition, another dumb law) most of us know it's crap - and we behave accordingly.

If speed limits were set more realistically - for example, most highway limits should probably be set around 75-80 mph - then we'd have a system that could be respected (and obeyed).

But the current system is hardly worth respecting - and thus, obeyed only in the breach! (Or when a cop is around.)

DonTom
11-09-2007, 07:46 AM
"for example, most highway limits should probably be set around 75-"

I think most interstate freeway speed limits are set at 75 MPH. During our RV trip, we had 75 MPH speed limits in Eastern NV, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and South Dakota. Every state we visited except for KS. But here in CA is also 70 MPH max.

-Don- (SF)

Eric
11-09-2007, 07:50 AM
"for example, most highway limits should probably be set around 75-"

I think most interstate freeway speed limits are set at 75 MPH. During our RV trip, we had 75 MPH speed limits in Eastern NV, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and South Dakota. Every state we visited except for KS. But here in CA is also 70 MPH max.

-Don- (SF)



Out West there are higher highway limits; east of the Mississipi, 65 is more prevalent. In your area - desert of Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, etc. - highway maxes could probably be considerably higher; around 85-90 mph.

Disco Man
11-09-2007, 06:23 PM
"The article is geared to the newbie crowd, it's best that they and most cyclists keep it at or around the speed limit."

Agreed... though I would argue that we have a real problem with under-posted (and thus, meaningless as safety dervices) speed limits. A speed limit should be just that - the fastest safe speed for a given road. It should be obvious that exceeding it is to "push it."

Yet we all know that many, if not most, posted speed limits are well below even the normal flow of traffic (which corresponds to the so-called "85th percentile" speed that traffic safety engineers and the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices - the "bible" of traffic safety engineers - say should be the basis for establishing lawful maxes, etc.). Some speed limits are set absurdly low. 60-65 mph on a highway, for example. (The Interstate system was designed for safe travel at average speeds in the 70 mph range - and that assumed 1950s-era cars and 1950s-era tires/brakes/suspensions and safety technology, etc. Surely if it was considered "safe" to drive a 1955 Chevy at 70 it's safe to drive an '08 Chevy at that same speed - or faster - on the very same road?)

Etc.

Instead, our contrived and politicized system radiates mixed signals - and cynicism. Example: We all know that driving the speed limit on most any major highway (and many roads) is itself dangerous because you will thenbe driving well below the speed of traffic. This creates a hazard via speed disparity, among other things. So most of us (rightly, sensibly - and safely) )ignore the posted speed limit and drive faster, keeping up with the flow. Yet we all "play the game" of pretending to believe the speed limit is proper - despite the fact that virtually everyone ignores it. If you think about it, you have to question any law that is ignored/flouted by virtually everyone. We're not all "reckless crazies." We just ignore stupid laws. Proper/sensible laws are usually obeyed by most people - who acknowledge the intrinsic "rightness" of the law without even needing the external stimulus of punishment to keep them in line. With speed limits (like Prohibition, another dumb law) most of us know it's crap - and we behave accordingly.

If speed limits were set more realistically - for example, most highway limits should probably be set around 75-80 mph - then we'd have a system that could be respected (and obeyed).

But the current system is hardly worth respecting - and thus, obeyed only in the breach! (Or when a cop is around.)



Excellent points... One of the reasons I believe that speed limits are set artificially low is for revenue generation. The modern cop has become more of a money generator for the state than the peace office of yesteryear.

I agree when the speed limits are artificially low, and the flow of the traffic is 10 mph or more over the speed limit, going the speed limit is a dangerous proposition.

Kwozzie1
12-30-2007, 12:46 AM
Very few riders spend the majority of their road time on a motorcycle. Most motorcycle owners use a car or another vehicle as their primary vehicle.
Nowadays I spend most of my working day on a small work motorcycle, then rind my scooter to and from work, and use my own motorcycle for fun.
Each has it's own quirks to be aware of.

Motorcycling requires full concentration at all times!

Eric
12-30-2007, 07:24 AM
Very few riders spend the majority of their road time on a motorcycle. Most motorcycle owners use a car or another vehicle as their primary vehicle.
Nowadays I spend most of my working day on a small work motorcycle, then rind my scooter to and from work, and use my own motorcycle for fun.
Each has it's own quirks to be aware of.

Motorcycling requires full concentration at all times!


It does!

In the off season (winter) I try to ride my dual sport as often as possible; I think doing so keeps my "sea legs" functional, so to speak. I have even been thinking about a beater bike for use in poor weather. (I do not take either my restored Kz900 or my ZRX out in either rain or - Elvis forbid - snow/road salt.)