Motorcycle Safety Tips and Information

Safety Tip of the Month:

January 2015 :: February 2015 :: March 2015 :: April 2015 :: May 2015

May 2015 Tip:

Riding in the Wind

As riders, we’ve all had to do this. Depending on where you’re riding, the high winds may be accompanied by sandblasting dust. The idea is to keep the elements off you, reduce risk, and be safe.

High winds can be challenging but they are not impossible, if you know how to handle them. The key is don't overreact. Stay calm, stay relaxed, and don't fight too hard.

In a steady crosswind, if you stay relaxed, don't tighten up, and don't fight it, you can ride along way without hardly noticing. Thing get a bit trickier when a big gust hits you, but the same principles apply. Stay relaxed.

The worst thing you can do is suddenly jerk the handlebar to try to counteract the winds effects. Remember your counter steering principles. When a gust hits you, push on the handlebar in the direction the wind is coming from — but do it gently! Don't jerk. It won't take much to correct your course. Let the weight of the bike and its inertial forces be your anchor in the wind.

Another principle to remember is good lane positioning. When you're riding by yourself, you might want to consider riding more in the center of the lane to give yourself a little more cushion. The wind probably won't move you around as much as you think, but it's always good to have more space to maneuver than less.

This is especially true on two-lane roads. Remember, in the left third of a lane when there are big semi trucks coming in the other direction you may wish to move to the right part of the lane to avoid their big wind wash - which often feels like it wants to suck you into oncoming traffic.

Always keep in mind the road conditions. The center of the lane can be more slippery than the outer two-thirds, especially if it's wet. And if it's windy and rainy, that's probably a good time to find an underpass or someplace to wait it out.

If you're riding in a group or with another rider, give yourself the following distance you need to ride in a manner in which you're comfortable.
More following distance will also give you more time to react to objects or debris that may blow across the road. Be extra alert to this possibility. Constantly scan the area ahead for things that could suddenly appear in your path. Be vigilant.

The kind of motorcycle you're riding - or how it's equipped - can make a difference in how the wind affects you. The larger the profile, the more it will catch the wind. But the same principles apply…..stay relaxed and remember your counter steering and don't overreact.

A fairing or windshield is great for keeping the wind off of you in normal conditions but can also catch more air in a crosswind. And even wheel choice can be a factor, like the solid wheels on the HD Fatboys. These things aren't bad or good, just additional factors to consider. In any of these situations, the key is to know your motorcycle and know what to expect when the wind kicks up. Don't let any of these factors catch you off guard.

Riding position can also make a difference. A more "active" position, with your feet underneath you, your body leaned slightly forward, and your hands comfortably forward, gives you greater control than a more "relaxed" position.

Make sure your chosen eyewear has shatter-resistant lenses. Sunglasses leave lots of opportunity for dirt, dust, sand, or even small pebbles to blow into your eyes from the side. Having a pair of goggles available will alleviate this problem.

In windy conditions, it's often wise to cover your nose and mouth, as well. A simple bandana can do wonders to keep your lips from drying out (or at least slow the process), and keep dust and dirt out of your nose.

Finally, cover your skin completely: long sleeves, over-the-ankle boots, scarf around your neck - anything to keep the wind off, and the dust and dirt out.

As usual, dealing with high winds is about reducing the risks involved not eliminating them. If ever the wind gets so high it puts you outside of your comfort zone, don't ride. It's always better to swallow your pride and be safe than let it put you in a dangerous situation.


 

March 2015 Tip:

Riding Two-Up

Riding two-up can be one of motorcycling's great experiences.  However, whether you're riding with your spouse, your nephew, or the neighbor's kid, riding with a passenger is serious business, for all the obvious reasons.  Remember, it isn't just you that you're responsible for, now.  There's more to it than simply being extra careful.  Making sure your passenger is "on board" psychologically is every bit as important as teaching him or her how to hold on properly. 

The Passenger

It always helps to be sure the person you're about to whisk away is willing and ready--really ready--to be whisked.  Few things are worse than an uncomfortable or petrified passenger hanging on to the back of your bike.  Determine first if they've even been on a bike before.  Then, prior to riding, explain some ground rules and how motorcycles work.  Be sure to cover the following:

• Point out what's hot and what spins.

• Remind them that their feet stay on the pegs/floor boards at all times unless they're getting off or on the bike.

• They only get on or off the bike when you say it's OK.

• Explain how to mount the motorcycle.  Left hand on your shoulder.  At your sign (maybe a nod), they put their left foot on the peg/floor board and swing their right leg over.  Encourage them to try not to pull on you, which will pull both of you over onto the ground, but to get their weight in the middle of the bike by leaning in. You should brace yourself with your left leg and get ready before you give the nod.  Sometimes, a curb makes this easier.  When you stop, have your passenger put their left hand on your shoulder and say something like "ready?" before they get off.  That way, you're ready and they can get off safely.  These two routines, getting off and on, are vitally important to keeping your bike's bodywork off the ground.

• If you don't have intercom, agree on a few signals for the passenger.  It's easy enough to speak with a passenger during around town riding, but it's tougher on the freeway, so work out a few basic hand signals.  A couple of ideas that have worked well in the past are:  "I need a bathroom stop", them touching the inside of your thigh; "too fast" is squeezing you with their legs; and "stop" is putting their right hand over your shoulder and making a chopping motion.

• Remind your passenger that the bike will lean and that failing to lean will make bad things happen.  They need to stick with you, that is, to remain in line with the bike as it leans, even though it feels weird.  Have them look over your right shoulder on right turns and your left shoulder on left turns.  Remind your passenger to look up the road when you're cornering, they'll feel better than if they're staring at the pavement right in front of the bike, which is getting closer every time you go around a turn.

• If you have a backrest, install it.  Passengers love knowing that they won't fall off the back.

• If your passenger is relaxed, they will help you be smooth.  Spend a few minutes with them prior to start-up and give them the scoop on how to sit and hold on securely (and in a manner you're comfortable with).  If the bike you're riding doesn't have grab rails or a backrest/sissy-bar, have them hold onto your waist and not your upper body; doing the latter will be far less secure for them (there is a "Buddy Belt"  that straps on the rider's waist and offers passengers specially designed grab handles is perfect for two-up riding, especially when the passenger is a rookie [www.buddybelt.com]).

The Rider

A passenger's weight can radically change a bike's handling behavior and stopping distance, so be sure you're familiar with the concept before you put someone on the back seat.  Maintain an eagle's eye for errant cars and cellphone toting drivers and practice "your scan and plan."

As the rider, you have a significant responsibility to be as absolutely smooth as possible.  Feed the throttle in small increments and slow the bike using engine braking when possible.  Shifts should be smooth and cornering lines should be the classic arcing line.  You have added a significant amount of load to the bike (even for light passengers) and the bike will want to be treated smoothly.  Shifting should ideally feel like an automatic transmission.

If possible, you should add preload to the rear shock to handle the additional weight.  Be sure to remember how many turns, clicks, whatever you added so you can set it back to solo settings easily.  Tire pressures may need to be increased as well, so be sure to check the bike's recommended inflation rates. 

If you and your passenger are clunking helmets, you need to step up your game as a rider and get smoother.  You'll discover that your ability to ride smoothly with a passenger will bring you enormous benefits when you ride by yourself.  If the bike isn't getting jerked around, up and down, fore and aft, you'll be faster and more in control.

Here are some general tips for riding with passengers (courtesy of MSF): 

   1. Be extra smooth in braking and accelerating (it can be harder for passengers to hold on). 

   2. Take turns slower and use less speed/lean angle.  The extra weight works the suspension much

       harder and diminishes the handling of your bike.

   3. Give yourself extra room for turns, the bike will feel quite different! 

   4. Communicate with your passenger to make sure they are comfortable and okay. 

   5. Take it easy on the speed.  If you ever want the person to speak to you again, don’t exceed your

       passenger’s comfort level.

Above all, strive to give your passenger a good two-up experience; plenty of backseaters become riders themselves, and nothing kills the desire to ride more quickly than a bad backseat experience.

Hope this helps.  Ride Safe.


February 2015 Tip:

Group Riding
Proper Spacing While Riding In A Group

There are three formations for riding: Wheel to wheel, Staggered, and Single File. Most of the time, we utilize the staggered set-up, but single file is usually used for freeway on and off ramps as well as for riding through a series of tighter curves. In the staggered formation, the goal is to maintain a two-second interval on the rider in front of you, the one ahead in your third of the lane.

Divide the lane into thirds. The Lead rider should be in the left third of the lane, the second rider should be in the right third, the third in the left third, and so on, and no two-wheel motorcycle should be in the center. Trikes and sidecars should ride in the center, near the back of the group in front of the Sweep rider. As a side note, realize that the center of the lane tends to be in worse shape than the left and right thirds. Why? Less cleaning action by tire treads and more oil and other fluid leaks there.

The goal is to be two seconds behind the rider ahead of you in your section of the lane. Since we cover more ground in two seconds at faster speeds than at slower speeds, the distance varies from city to highway: Closer in town, further apart on the highway.

Perhaps the best example of beautiful formation keeping are the displays put on by our military precision flight teams, the Thunderbirds or the Blue Angels, for example. Now, why do you suppose these teams work so hard at formation flying. Is it just for show? No, it is also for safety in combat. There is strength in numbers, there is safety in having a wingman to cover your six.

Not as dramatic, but in a similar light, there is safety in group riding when the group maintains consistent, tight, formation. Other vehicles are much less likely to pass part-way and dive into the group when no big gaps are apparent. The group is more visible as a coordinated entity when the speed and spacing are consistent.
Some days, it’s not to be. Sometimes, we are all going to find ourselves in a biorhythm funk. Our concentration just isn’t there. Our throttle control is all messed up. Maybe it’s obvious why, maybe it’s not, but the problem is there. What do to? Drop back.

When you see that you have dropped well back and the spacing has gone to pot, with a much larger than desired gap ahead of you, wave the next rider around…and the next, and the next, etc. You will gravitate to the back of the group, still ahead of the patient Sweep rider and still a part of the group. But now the pressure is off. You get to ride at the pace that is right for you right now. Later in the day, probably the biorhythms will improve and you’ll be back up in the pack.

Please hear this, this is important: Each group rider has both the authority and the duty to pass the rider who is allowing a big gap to develop, even when you are not signaled around! When a group gets all strung out, the fault is not with the rider immediately behind the gap alone. No, all of the riders – except the Sweep – behind that person are also at fault for not passing and reforming the proper spacing ahead of the lagging rider. Harsh? No! It’s for the safety of the group.
Riders, you cannot control the spacing that goes on behind you. All you can control is how well you are spacing on the rider immediately ahead of you. If, in fact, you are spacing properly and a large gap does develop behind you, it’s the duty and responsibility of successive riders to pass so as to fill in the gap.

If the inability to keep spacing develops after you are already near the front or middle of the pack, then wave the following rider or riders around. If you don’t signal, and he or she does a safe pass anyway, please realize that they are not being discourteous to you but are merely doing what’s expected of them right out of the ALR Riders' Handbook

Finally, let’s suppose that it’s really not your day and you realize that you probably should be riding alone on this ride, not sharing in the group. Now what? Well, as you wave people by and gravitate to the rear, and now only the Sweep remains behind, go ahead and wave that person by but give the Thumbs-Up, “I’m OK,” signal so that they know you are making a personal decision to drop out on this leg. Yes, it would be even better to have done this at a previous gas/bio break where you can talk face-to-face, but if you missed that opportunity, an acceptable alternative is to do it as I’ve described.

Let’s work to always keep improving both as individuals and as a group.

Speaking for myself – and probably a few others, too – I know that I feel pleasure and pride when Chapter 58 group rides cohesively and presents a sharp, unified, appearance to those who see them on the road. And when that doesn’t happen? Yuck! It’s embarrassing and frustrating. When you ride with Chapter 58, you ride with the Best! Let’s show that to the world!

Ken Couture


SAFETY TIP 1

Riding In the Rain Requires Preparation

  • Getting the right gear, making sure the bike is ready for action, and ensuring you have the proper skills will make your rain riding experience safer and more enjoyable.
     
  • It is best to avoid riding in the rain for the first 15 minutes, that is when all the oils that are left behind by car tires rises to the surface and is most slick.
     
  • Put your gear on BEFORE you get wet.
     
  • Is my gear ready?
    • High Quality Rain Gear (Waterproof, Highly Visible, Motorcycle Specific)
    • Boots (Waterproof)
    • Gloves (Waterproof, Squeegee on left thumb for wiping visor)
    • Helmet (Full-face preferred; consider using anti-fogging product or soaking the visor in warm water with liquid soap)
       
  • Is my motorcycle ready?
    • Perform a pre ride inspection. (Click for T-CLOCSSM Inspection Checklist in PDF Format)
    • How is the tire tread? Air pressure? (See Figure 2) Make sure the grooves in the tread are deep enough to be able to channel away the water. Excessively worn tires are more susceptible to penetrations and road hazards. Always remove a tire from service once the tire tread is even with the tread wear indicator bars (indicating 1/32 of an inch of tread depth) located in the sipes of the tire.

                      
                                                                                                                      Figure 2
       

    • Regular Maintenance: Make sure to follow the maintenance schedule according to your owner's manual.
       
  • Am I ready?
    • Be prepared to ride when there is less than perfect traction available
    • Increase safety margin and following distance.
    • Try to keep the bike upright and use less lean angle when cornering
    • More than anything, your skills should meet or preferably exceed the riding scenario.

SAFETY TIP 2

ABS: Stopping Quickly with Technology

Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS) for motorcycles appeared for the first time in 1981 on BMW motorcycles. Systems vary, but in general ABS use computers to monitor wheel spin to determine when a wheel is on the verge of locking up. Instant instructions are given to the braking components to release and reapply braking pressure to prevent skidding even though steady pressure is applied at the brake lever or pedal. The end result is slowing or stopping without losing traction; a big advantage for motorcyclists.

ABS systems are easy to use from a rider's perspective: BRAKE HARD! Aggressive braking will initiate the ABS system immediately allowing the rider to concentrate on the immediate threat versus possible loss of traction.

ARE WE SAFER? WHAT'S NEXT?

A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) revealed that motorcycles equipped with antilock brakes are 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash than models without ABS. California Highway Patrol, concluded after testing that ABS reduced the number and severity of accidents and now mandate them on their police motorcycles.

Domestically, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking seriously at making ABS mandatory for all new motorcycles sold in the United States. Internationally, the European Union will approve later this year a mandate requiring all motorcycles greater than 125cc to come with ABS as standard piece of equipment sold by motorcycle manufacturers after 2016.

Pieter de Waal, Vice President, BMW Motorrad USA, says "It's time for all of us in the motorcycle industry to embrace the benefits of ABS. Extensive testing by safety experts, law enforcement authorities and journalists around the world consistently demonstrates that ABS reduces overall crashes and saves lives." BMW will be the first to offer all models with ABS as standard as early as 2012.

SAFETY TIP 3

Brake Fluid: Key Ingredient to Stopping Well

Riding a motorcycle well includes not only going fast, but stopping with control and precision. Motorcycles offer high performance in an affordable package with some motorcycles capable of going from 0-60 in just over 2 seconds. With all that go power, we need to make sure we can stop quickly to avoid a hazard. To be safe we should understand how brake fluid works and when it needs to be replaced.

How Brake Fluid Works

Brake fluid resides in a chamber called a master cylinder and within the brake lines (series of hoses, braided lines, connections, and/or metal tubing). When a rider actuates the brake lever or pedal, typically a piston presses the brake fluid on one end of the system. The brake fluid presses on the pistons within the caliper on the other end of the system causing the pistons to squeeze the brake pads to the rotor. The resulting friction from the brake pads to the rotor helps to stop us. (See Figure 3)

                          
                                                                                  Figure 3

When to Replace Brake Fluid

Brake fluid is one key ingredient to our braking system on a motorcycle, but it often gets overlooked at designated service intervals. Of course we should check with the Motorcycle Owner's Manual to determine when to replace our brake fluid and what type (e.g., DOT 4) is necessary for replacement. Here's some insight into brake fluid:

DOT 3/4/5.1 fluids have some benefits:

  • Glycol ether based, thus it doesn't compress creating a firm brake lever feel
  • Recommended for high performance applications
  • Color changes helping user to understand when to replace
  • The higher the DOT rating, the higher the boiling point

DOT 3/4/5.1 fluids have some negatives:

  • Hygroscopic
  • Strips Paint

DOT 5 has some benefits:

  • Silicone Based
  • High DOT Rating
  • Don't absorb water
  • Doesn't strip paint

DOT 5 has some negatives:

  • Absorbs air
  • Higher Viscosity for slower reaction
  • NOT recommended for high performance applications
  • NOT compatible with the other traditional brake fluids

Why should we change brake fluid every one to two years? Brake fluid rated DOT 3/4/5.1 are all considered "hygroscopic". Meaning, the fluid absorbs water which can cause corrosion within the brake system from the inside out. It can also create boiling within the system causing the brake lever to feel "spongy" and resulting in a loss of effectiveness.

DOT 5 Brake fluid is a bit different as it is silicone based versus glycol based, and requires changing slightly more frequently. Its major drawback is that it absorbs air and causes compression over time. It is for this reason that it must be changed often to ensure safe operation of your braking system.

Due to the fact that our braking system may be our greatest asset to avoiding a crash, we recommend that your brake system is maintained by a professional.

SAFETY TIP 4

Riding 2 Up

The passenger should be aware of the risks of motorcycling before they even consider riding as a passenger. If they are under 18, we should consider getting parent/guardian approval before riding. Keep in mind, it is mandatory for riders under 18 to have a DOT approved helmet and they must be able to reach their own set of foot pegs. Riding that niece or nephew around the block on the tank may look cute to some, but law enforcement regards this as Felony Child Endangerment.

Here's a quick checklist of items to discuss with your passenger:

  • How to mount the motorcycle, especially how to avoid the hot exhausts
  • Where to hold onto the bike/rider
  • How to position the body when stopping and taking off, including keeping the feet on the footrests at all times (no sudden movements)
  • Proper attire before mounting the motorcycle
  • Where to look during turns and cornering
  • When crossing over an obstacle, rising slightly off the seat

SAFETY TIP 5

Motorcycling is a complex psychomotor task that includes mental, physical and social competencies
and abilities. Motorcycling is a mental task because a rider must process information and make decisions; motorcycling
is a physical task because it requires simple and complex motor skills; and motorcycling is a social task because
it requires interaction with other highway users. Safe motorcycling is more a skill of the eyes and mind than of the
hands and feet. Having a superior mental strategy reduces the need for superior handing skills. Although having the
superior handling skills for that "Oh S_t!" moment is a great tool to have in your tool case, safety on the road is more
about using the eyes well and using the brain to sort, organize and prioritize factors in the traffic environment.

SAFETY TIP 6

Improper searching for hazards and inattention were the two leading causes of traffic accidents. Today, it is important
for motorcyclists to be more vigilant and perceptive than ever. Devices that distract other drivers are on the increase,
from cell phones that can be used for talking or texting to video devices and navigation systems that create inattention to
the driving task.

SAFETY TIP 7

SEE (Search-Evaluate-Execute)

Use SEE (Search-Evaluate-Execute) as a personal riding strategy (see Figure 4). Search, a visual function, means to actively scan and identify factors that could create increased risk; Evaluate, a cognitive function, means to consider potential problems from the interaction of those factors; and Execute, a motor skills function, refers to physical, manipulative actions required for communication as well as time and space adjustments. SEE is an active, thinking strategy that places responsibility on the motorcyclist to reduce risk by creating time and space in order to control a personal margin of safety. Look ahead. Look to the side. Look in your mirrors. Look over your shoulders. Keep looking! Anticipate the oncoming, left-turning driver, the reckless fool coming up behind you, the car poking its nose out of the driveway, the guy beside and a little behind you who’s moving across the lane divider. Never let your eyes fix on an object for more than two seconds. Keep looking around.

                                  
                                                                                                                                  Figure 4

SAFETY TIP 8

Successfully piloting a motorcycle is a much more involved task than driving a car. Motorcycling requires a fine sense
of balance and a heightened sense of awareness and position amidst other roadway users (See Fig 5). A motorcycle responds
more quickly to rider inputs than a car, but is also more sensitive to outside forces, like irregular road surfaces or
crosswinds. A motorcycle is also less visible than a car due to its narrower profile, and offers far less protection by
exposing its rider to other traffic and the elements.

             
                                                                                                                                        Figure 5

SAFETY TIP 9

Check Your Motorcycle

A motorcycle needs more frequent attention than a car. A minor technical failure on a car is seldom more than an
inconvenience for the driver. The same failure on a motorcycle may result in a crash or having to leave your motorcycle
parked on the side of the road. If anything’s wrong with your motorcycle, you’ll want to find out about it before
you get in traffic. The primary source of information about how a motorcycle should be inspected and maintained is
its owner’s manual. Be sure to absorb all of its important information. A motorcycle will continue to ride like new if it is properly
maintained and routine inspections become part of its maintenance cycle. A pre-ride inspection only takes
a few minutes and should be done before every ride to prevent problems. It’s quick and easy to check the critical
components and should be as routine and automatic as checking the weather forecast before heading out for the day.
A convenient reminder developed by MSF is T-CLOCS. (See T-CLOCS Inspection Checklist.pdf)

SAFETY TIP 10

A motorcycle crash is usually caused by a combination of factors that accumulate and come together in such a way as to
cause a crash. A good rider chooses to reduce these factors. Each factor can be viewed as a rung on a ladder. The more
factors that are accumulating the higher you will climb up the ladder. A reasonable person would not choose to climb to
the top of a 24' ladder and jump. Be aware of your risk factors. (See Fig 6)

                    
                                                                                                                             Figure 6

SAFETY TIP 11

Braking

Improper braking technique remains a significant contributing factor in many motorcycle crashes. Your motorcycle has two brake controls: one for the front wheel and one for the rear wheel. Some motorcycles have braking systems that will apply pressure to one or both brakes for you. Always use both brakes every time you slow or stop. The front brake will provide at least 70% of your total stopping power due to weigh transfer during the stopping process. As the motorcycle’s weight transfers forward, more traction becomes available at the front wheel, so the front brake can be applied progressively harder after braking begins. Using both brakes for even “normal” stops will permit you to develop the proper habit or skill of using both brakes properly in an emergency. When you have the opportunity, practice your braking. You can always get better at it.

SAFETY TIP 12

Braking in a Corner

Any time a motorcycle is leaned over, the amount of traction available for braking is reduced. The greater the lean angle, the more the possibility of the tires losing traction. A motorcycle's tires have a finite amount of traction available. Some of this traction reserve is being used in a curve to prevent the motorcycle from slipping off the curve. In order to stop a motorcycle quickly in a curve and not exceed the motorcycle's traction reserve.

SAFETY TIP 13

Rider Perception

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Our eyes don’t necessarily tell our brain what we see;
rather our brain tells our eyes what to look for. Look quickly at Fig 7 and Fig 8, what do you see?


                                              Figure 7                                                                                                  Figure 8
 

SAFETY TIP 14

Since a motorcycle is smaller than a car we can divide a lane into 3 parts. We need to choose a lane and position ourselves within that lane to provide the best opportunity for searching ahead and gives us the greatest probability of being seen by other traffic. Additionally, keep a large a time and space cushion as possible to provide room to respond to other traffic. Lane position should not be static but dynamic. A motorcycle moving side to side is easier to spot than a motorcycle that is static and blends with traffic. (See Fig 9 and Fig 9a)

              
 


                     Figure 9                                                                                                                                                     Figure 9a

SAFETY TIP 15

Do not ride in peoples blind spots. Tractor trailer truck have huge blind spots. Minimize the amount of time you are near large trucks. Stay out of the No-Zone (See Fig 10)

                          
                                                                                                                                 Figure 10

SAFETY TIP 16

Intersections

It probably surprises no one to know that the majority of accidents involving collisions between a motorcycle and another vehicle happens at intersections – the most frequent situation being that of a vehicle turning left in front of a motorcycle. Wiggle your handlebars and therefore your headlight when approaching an intersection where other vehicles have the possibility of entering your right of way.

SAFETY TIP 17

Night Riding

Quite often you’ll have to ride at night. After all, it is dark 50 percent of the time. Dusk is really the worst time, when people’s eyes are adjusting from daylight to headlights. Be especially careful just after sunset. Usually it is advisable to slow down a little when riding at night, especially on any sort of winding road. Use your own headlight and those of other traffic to keep an eye on the road surface. It is more difficult at night to see the patch of sand or something that fell out of a pickup. Your peripheral vision is greatly reduced when riding a night so be hyper alert for animals.

SAFETY TIP 18

3 Components of Stopping Distance

As you are riding down the road, real estate is constantly moving beneath your wheels. You will ride a certain distance before you perceive an object you see as being a threat to you. That is the Perception Distance. Then you will travel a certain distance before you can actually cover your controls and start applying the brakes. This is the Reaction Distance. Finally, you will travel a certain distance before you can physically get the motorcycle stopped. This is Braking Distance. Combine the three distances and you have your Total Stopping Distance. (See Fig 11) This is a skill that should be practiced.

       
                                                                                                                                Figure 11

SAFETY TIP 19

Over riding your headlight

When riding at night you have reduced visibility. You need to ensure that your sight distance is not exceeded by your Total Stopping distance. If it takes you farther to stop than you are able to see down the road you are overriding your headlight.
(See Fig 12)

                          
                                                                                                                               Figure 12

SAFETY TIP 20

Passengers and Cargo

Carrying passengers and cargo will affect the way the motorcycle handles. It takes longer to accelerate, stop, and may decrease ground clearance when cornering. Carrying cargo can affect the motorcycles performance as well. The motorcycle wants the weight to be distributed between the axis of the two wheels and the crown of the Rider's head. This is called the load triangle. (See Fig 13)
                                          
                                                                                                                            Figure 13

SAFETY TIP 21

Animals

Dogs love to chase motorcycles. What they will do with the motorcycle if they catch it is beyond me. However, if a dog
is coming at you, the danger is not so much with being bitten as it is with the dog getting caught under your motorcycle and
causing you to fall. Disrupt the dog's timing, The dog will approach you in a straight line, slow down, maybe even downshift,
and accelerate past the point of interception. Avoid attempting to kick at the dog as this could destabilize your motorcycle.

SAFETY TIP 22

Sand in curves

In a sand in the corner skid, steer slightly in the direction of the skid. (If you’re leaned to the left and skidding to the
right, turn those handlebars a bit towards the right.) Chances are you will clear the patch of sand, the tires will grip the
pavement again, the bike will stand up, and you’ll continue on your way. Always try to minimize your lean angle in a curve if
there is a possibility of lose debris such as after a monsoon storm.

SAFETY TIP 23

Group Riding - Size Matters

At 70 MPH the motorcycle is traveling approximately 105 feet per second. When a change is speed occurs it may take a second for other riders to notice the change in speed. This increases following distance for the other riders who will the speed up to maintain their following distance from the riders in front of them. This accordion effect is more pronounced the larger the group becomes. Try to limit the size of groups to 6 - 8 riders depending on the rider's skill level.

SAFETY TIP 24

Running off the road, usually in a curve, often involving alcohol, accounts for almost 40 percent of the total single vehicle motorcycle crashes resulting in fatalities. This is more than twice the percentage of any other cause.

SAFETY TIP 25

Intersections

The greatest potential for conflict between you and another vehicle will be at intersections. The most common cause of crashes at intersections are other drivers entering your right of way.

SAFETY TIP 26

Use your head (to look where you're going.)

This may sound slightly remedial but it is an under-appreciated habit of a skilled rider. It becomes even more important in corners where riders tend to be mesmerized by the area of pavement directly in front of their bike. As you round the turn, keep your head and eyes up, looking through the corner as far as you safely can, at least three to four seconds ahead. (If you can't see that far ahead, you need to slow down until you CAN see three to four seconds ahead.) You'll be surprised by what you may see. Couple this new-found vigilance with an escape route (should something wicked come your way) and your chances of getting intimately familiar with the pavement are cut dramatically. Often a good game to play is the What if game. Try to anticipate that car turning left in front of you and have an escape plan if it does. Look as for through a corner as you can, that way you have more time and distance to respond to anything that may make you take a tumble.




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