One disadvantage motorcycles have compared to cars is that they’re less visible. Taking steps to increase your visibility is an important step in managing your riding risk.
Black has long been a popular fashion choice among Harley® riders, but sometimes dark colors can be hard to see. If bright, highly visible clothing does not suit your taste, consider adding a few well-placed pieces of reflective tape to your gear, especially at night. Harley-Davidson also offers apparel with reflective taping such as a conspicuity vest, rain gear, jackets, and caps.
Make sure your turn signals are working properly – and use them. In addition, consider using hand signals in situations where you want to make absolutely sure a driver knows your intentions.
If you want to make sure the driver behind you knows what you’re up to, consider flashing your brake light as you prepare to stop.
Use your horn to help draw attention to yourself when necessary. However, don't rely on it or overuse it.
Maintaining the proper lane position is a crucial part of an effective street strategy.
Maintain a space cushion on all sides of your motorcycle. This helps provide adequate reaction time if evasive maneuvers are necessary. It also helps create an "escape route."
In general, when riding alone on a straight road most people prefer to ride in the left third of the lane. It provides you the best line of sight for the road ahead, and makes you most visible to oncoming traffic. However, always be prepared to make adjustments based on road conditions and traffic patterns.
Always leave a minimum of two seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you. The ideal following distance will vary depending on road conditions and other factors. S.E.E. (Search, Evaluate, Execute) Recently, the MSF introduced a simplified version of the mental process for making judgments and taking action in traffic: S.E.E., for Search, Evaluate, and Execute, which is used in the Rider’s Edge® New Rider Course and the MSF Basic Rider Course.
As you ride, scan the area aggressively, including the areas along the road and behind you. Check your mirrors frequently to maintain a constant awareness of your surroundings.
Use that information to evaluate the situation, predict what unexpected hazards and challenges may arise, and actively formulate strategies to deal with them.
Adjust your speed and positioning accordingly, while communicating your intentions to others.
Staying Sharp & Know Your Limits
For some, knowing your skill limits may mean keeping your bike at home when the weather is threatening. For others it may mean choosing a route that avoids congested areas or timing your departure to avoid rush hour traffic. It all depends on your own skill set and comfort level. There are some rules that apply to all riders, no matter the skill level. Riding in an overly aggressive manner is never acceptable. There's no excuse for jeopardizing others by pushing your limits on the street. Riding while tired is another risk that no rider should take. When you're tired, your reflexes are slowed and your judgment is not as strong – a combination that no motorcycle rider can afford. Other, more obvious examples of behavior that should be avoided under any circumstances are talking on a cell phone while riding and looking at a map while you're in the saddle. If you get off course, pull over to a safe area to consult your map. Remember, out on the open road, you must take responsibility for all your actions, and keeping yourself safe should always be your number one concern.
There’s no plainer way to say it: Riding a motorcycle when you’re not in complete control of your mental faculties is not smart. Using alcohol (even a small amount) or other drugs (including even certain prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines) can have a deadly effect on your ride.
Data collected by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation shows that almost 40 percent of riders killed in motorcycle accidents had been drinking. Only about one-third of those were considered legally intoxicated. The rest, though below the “legal limit,” had consumed enough alcohol to diminish their skills and impair their judgment – which ended up costing them their lives. Contrary to popular belief, drinking strong coffee, splashing cold water on your face, or “getting some fresh air” will not help you sober up. These things may help you temporarily feel less impaired, but the only thing that eliminates alcohol from your system is time. That said, there’s only one sure way to keep alcohol from affecting your riding ability: If you’re riding, don’t drink – period.
It's easy to tell yourself, "I'm only going to have one drink." However, after that first drink, it becomes even easier to convince yourself that "one more won’t hurt." With each successive drink, your self-evaluation abilities diminish – not to mention your riding skills and judgment. The best way, therefore, to avoid ending up drinking more than you wanted to is to ask for a soft drink instead of that first serving of alcohol. Better yet, leave the bike at home if you or others are going to be drinking and arrange for a designated driver. Don’t risk your own and others’ safety by putting yourself in a situation where you may lose control of your better judgment. Merry Christmas
Protecting Your Fingers in Cold Weather.
We have all ridden in cold weather and despite having heavy gloves, possibly including extra liners, those fingers get too cold and begin to numb. (By the way, studies have shown that silk liners offer better cold weather protection than heavier cloth liners.)
So, what to do about it? Here is a tip for when it is so cold that your fingers began to get numb. Dig into your first-aid kits. Pull out a set of latex gloves and put them on over the liners, then put your regular gloves on over the latex gloves. It's amazing how effective that simple idea turned out to be. (You do carry latex gloves in your first-aid kit, right?)
Leathers Are Worth The Price!
With the colder weather coming, the odds are that many of you have begun wearing leather chaps and heavier jackets. Though pretty expensive, there's ample proof that these provide far more than protection from the cold. In studies of 'survivability' of various garment materials to a 50 MPH ride on asphalt, for example, denim lasted no more than FOUR FEET before wearing through. Kevlar, on the other hand, lasted EIGHTEEN FEET. But standard motorcycle quality (about three times heavier than fashion jacket material) lasted EIGHTY-SIX FEET. That's more than 20 times as effective as your jeans in protecting your hide. A good HD leather jacket, chaps and a great pair of leather gloves will make a huge difference when you need protection the most. Of course….wearing your helmet may not save your hide….but it can save your life.
Listen To That Inner Voice … Some Call It 'Intuition'
Advice like 'listen to that inner voice and ACT accordingly' is not just vacuous new-age meta-physics crystal-gazing stuff. This rider is deadly serious about it. If you are behind a truck and 'feel' like you should change lanes - change lanes. You may not be aware of why, you may not be aware that you have noticed something wrong, but when part of its load bounces out of its bed and lands on the ground where you would have been had you not changed lanes, you will then appreciate that your subconscious mind plays with details that your conscious mind tends to ignore. If for any reason whatever you feel like you should not ride before you start….don't. If for any reason whatever you feel like you would rather end your ride early, end your ride early.
If for any reason whatever you feel like you might not be able to make that hard right turn to get out of a parking lot and onto the feeder road, STOP and wait for that 'moment' to pass. Wait for your mind to get 'right' before you proceed. How much time have you lost doing that? Not enough to measure. But if you decide to ignore it and then 'freeze' exiting that parking lot, or make an unusually wide turn taking you into an adjacent (busy) lane it will be because you didn't listen to yourself, or (and here is where 'ACT accordingly' comes into play) because you did and it became a self-fulfilling prophesy, very like 'target fixation'.
It's a beautiful day. Weather is perfect, traffic is light, and you are home and need to get someplace ... soon. You are late. The bike is agile and you're sure you can get there faster on the bike than you can by taking the car. Don't.
The last thing in the world you should consider doing is taking the bike in this scenario. That would be a prescription for minimizing the odds of arriving at all. This is the kind of situation that, on the surface, appears to be an ideal time to take a bike, yet it is a perfect example of a situation that can get you in over your head and into an accident in the blink of an eye. When you are running late, you will take chances that are just plain stupid. (Been there. Done that.) You will tend to drive a bit too fast. You will tend to try to make that yellow light that you wouldn't dream of trying at a more rational time. You will pass traffic that need not be passed, and probably follow too closely before you do so. "I can make it" fills your mind - hope, rather than fact that inspires a 'little more' risk taking. T-boning a vehicle in an intersection or getting slammed to the ground after overshooting a curve might inspire a 'Just my luck' thought - possibly your last one. It's anything but luck if you put yourself into the situation. Running late? Take the car. Better, make it a practice to be a little bit early rather than a little bit late. This is one habit that can save you grief - big time.
Helmet…….Or…….No Helmet? “That is the Question”
So that there are no misunderstandings, here are a few of the things that are absolutely true relative to motorcycle helmets:
- More lives have been saved than lost because of wearing helmets.
- More injuries have been minimized than exaggerated because of wearing helmets.
- More injuries have been totally avoided than caused because of wearing helmets.
- Wearing helmets (as opposed to laws that require you to do so) is not a civil rights issue - it is a safety issue.
I am really proud to say that our chapter is one of a kind. When we ride together and see 80% to 90% of the group with helmets, it is a tribute to each of you who are setting a great example.
Keep doing the right things regarding your safety.
You Only Hit That Car If You Don't Quite Stop In Time
It takes most people about 4.5 seconds to read this sentence. 4.5 seconds is not a lot of time - but it could be the rest of your life. 4.5 seconds is also (not really a coincidence) about how long it SHOULD take you to stop your motorcycle after applying your brakes at 60 MPH! Stopping a motorcycle as fast as possible requires that you master only a few fundamentals:
Alertness, reflexes and skill.
Alertness - No matter how fast your reflexes are or how skillful you are with your brakes, if you don't see the need to stop, you won't. Reflexes - First, you need time to recognize a threat and decide to react to it, then your fast reflexes take over and make the difference.
Skill - Under utilizing your brakes is just as dangerous as over-doing it.
Let's get a feel for magnitudes.
It usually takes about .7 seconds to recognize a threat. A person with normal reflexes takes about .3 seconds to start braking from the moment he realizes he has to do so. Combined, that's about 1 full second from the time a threat presents itself to you and you begin to slow down. At 60 MPH, you travel 88 FEET in 1 second! That it takes you about .7 seconds to recognize the threat is a mental reality. But it does not necessarily take .3 seconds to react to it. The simple practice of always covering your front brake can shave a full tenth of a second (1/3!!) of that time away. That's almost 9 FEET! Assuming you have read tips on braking methods, you have a good idea about how to use those brakes. Now let me try to give you a sense of magnitude associated with the skill part of braking. Traffic Engineers have some rules-of-thumb they developed over time. They, for example, have found that if the street surface is dry, the average person can safely decelerate an automobile at the rate of 15 feet per second per second (fpsps). That is, an average person can slow down at this rate without any real likelihood that they will lose control in the process. If the surface is wet, they assume a deceleration rate of 10 fpsps is safely attainable by almost anyone.
Let's assume a wet street surface and that you are moving at 60 MPH. At a 10 fps deceleration rate, it will take you 8.8 seconds to stop after you begin applying your brakes. (A total of 9.8 seconds from the time the threat we earlier talked about presents itself.) The distance you would travel before coming to a complete stop is 475 feet. If, however, the road is dry, it would take you only a total of 6.9 seconds to stop, (including the 1-second recognition/reaction delay.) and the distance traveled until you came to rest would be 346 feet. Clearly the more effective your braking is, the less time it takes to stop, and the less distance traveled. I think most of you know that your motorcycles can stop more quickly than can an automobile. Indeed, a professional motorcycle racer can obtain a 1g deceleration rate, or more, on his motorcycle. (1g deceleration is 32 fpsps.) With practice, your braking skills should easily allow you to attain deceleration rates in excess of 20 fpsps. What would that mean in our example threat scenario? It would mean that you could stop your motorcycle in a total of 5.4 seconds (including the 1-second delay.) and your total stopping distance would be only 281.5 feet! By enhancing your braking skills with practice, you can shave 64.5 feet and 1.5 seconds off 'normal' results. And you could shave off another nearly 9 feet just by covering your brakes. That brings the distance traveled before stopping down by about 73.5 feet. 73.5 feet is about four car-lengths!
The message is clear: You only hit that car if you don't quite stop in time. You might not hit it at all, if you cover your brakes and practice your braking skills. Best bet… be aware and alert at all times. Do not tailgate under any circumstances. Practice your scanning methods. Expect the unexpected. Get good at breaking and slowing your bike. Hope this helps. Ride safe!
I was looking at just a few of the findings that allow us to see the essential things we can do to avoid an accident. Who hits us? Most accidents involve a car violating our right-of-way. Most frequently, the car turns left in front of the motorcycle.
Where do we get hit? Intersections are the most likely place for the motorcycle accident, with the car not only violating our right-of-way, but often traffic controls as well. Most accidents are on short trips such as shopping, errands, visiting friends, entertainment or recreation. Most accidents happen close to the trip origin. More than three-fourths of the hazards are within 45° of straight ahead. Why do we get hit? The main reason is that the driver of the other vehicle does not see us in time to avoid the collision. Alcohol is involved in almost half of the fatal accidents. Most motorcyclists are smart enough to separate riding and drinking. Unfortunately, too many car drivers on the road are more mentally challenged. Why aren’t we seen? Conspicuity of the motorcycle is the most critical factor. Conspicuity is most critical from the front. How can we be seen? Accident involvement is significantly reduced by the wearing of high visibility yellow, orange or bright red jackets. It looks as though we need to take extra care to make sure that we are seen. This means both the helmet (white or bright colors in the day and reflective material at night) and jacket should be highly visible. It also means positioning our motorcycles where we can be seen in traffic. How else can we avoid accidents? Just paying attention to our driving improves our odds. We should use extra care on any motorcycle on which we have less than five months experience. Motorcycle rider courses reduce accidents and injuries in accidents. The courses teach the braking and swerving skills found to be lacking in many accident-involved riders. In many states, the Basic Rider Course also allows us to omit the on-street exam when we obtain our motorcycle license. Proper eye protection prevents the impaired vision, which delays hazard detection.
How can we prevent injuries in an accident? Heavy boots, jackets, and gloves reduce or prevent road rash. Full coverage helmets increase protection and reduce face and head injuries. Knowledge is power. Now we know where and why we get hit. We know how to make ourselves seen and how to avoid both accidents and injury. It is up to us to put this knowledge to use.
Keep Your Cool in Hot Weather!
Riding when the temperature is well in excess of 90 degrees can be dangerous to your health. Unless you take care to keep your body temperature under control even rides as short as an hour can result in heat-prostration or even sun-stroke. Many riders know that if you keep your neck cool, because the large veins that feed your brain are so close to the surface, you greatly diminish these health risks. There are two very popular devices that are simple and effective in this regard. One is called a 'cool collar' and is made from a tube of bandana material that contains some water absorbing beads sewn into it. The beads increase in size about 50 TIMES over when they are dry. Thus, when dry, these collars store easily and take up very little room. But getting them wet is not as easy as it sounds. That is, you have to take a dry collar and submerge it in water for up to 1 hour before it has absorbed all the water it can. That hour is often not available to you when you need it. The reason the collar works to cool you off is that it takes even longer for the beads to dry out than it did to get them wet. That is, water will evaporate from them over a several hour period. Any evaporation activity cools - but only marginally so from the wearer's point of view. That is, within half an hour of putting one of these collars around your neck, even if it had been in a freezer before you put it on, the collar will be very nearly at the temperature of the air around it. Far better than these 'cool collars', I have found, is the original design of them (sometimes called 'Kool Kollars'). These are usually made of terry-cloth sewn together in such a way as to contain a pocket into which a zip-lock bag is placed. These are filled with ice! This type of collar REALLY cools your neck as the ice melts, AND they drip cool water. That dripping leaves the front and back of your shirt sopping wet over time which provides a huge source of evaporation - i.e., it helps to COOL! At every pit stop you make you can refill the 'Kollar' with ice (just pour in a glass of ice water, ice and all). The bead-filled collar cannot be rapidly cooled again, once it has gotten warm. Thus, you usually find that people that use them have two - one of which is always sitting in an ice-chest. One more way to handle high heat for those of you that wear skull-caps (helmet liners), simply saturate them with water before putting them on. This works very well indeed, for about half an hour. Further, of course, simply pouring water on your shirt helps a great deal - again, because it provides a huge area over which evaporation takes place. While on the subject let me remind you that your wet shirt is not the only large area that evaporates - all of your exposed skin does the same. Thus, you NEED to DRINK lots of fluids too!!! Keep Cool and
10 Ways to Be Safe on a Motorcycle
- Assume Drivers Can't See You: Ride assuming that you and your motorcycle are totally invisible to motorists. That means you must never assume that drivers can see you. The odds are, they can't so believe it yourself and always have an "out" for dangerous traffic situations. Motorcycle Safety depends on you.
- Maintain Safe Spacing: Leave plenty of space in front and back and to the sides from all other vehicles. Be an island. Stay away from traffic as much as possible. This gives you more visibility and more time to react to situations.
- Anticipate Trouble: Anticipate trouble situations and know what to do when you see them. Analyze what vehicles are doing and try to predict the outcome. Then make sure you're ready to avoid a bad traffic situation.
- Beware of Oncoming Left Turners: Beware of oncoming motorists turning left in front of you at intersections. This is the leading cause of death of motorcycle riders. I'm deadly serious here. I have personally lost many friends to this accident. If you only remember one tip here, let it be this one. Slow down before you enter an intersection. Have an escape route planned. Stay visible. Don't travel too close to cars in front of you. Position your bike so it can be seen by the left turner. Eye contact is not enough.
- Ride Your Own Ride: Don't try to keep up with your friends who may be more experienced. Know your personal limits. Ride your own ride.
- Watch Out for Curves: Beware of taking curves that you can't see around. A parked truck or a patch of sand may be awaiting you.
- Don't Give In to Road Rage: Do not give in to road rage and try to "get even" with another rider or motorist. If you follow these tips, most likely you won't fall victim to road rage. It's better to calm down, slow down, and collect your thoughts first. Then continue on and enjoy the ride. That's what we're all out there for in the first place.
- Don't allow Tailgating: If someone is tailgating you, either speed up to open more space or pull over and let them pass. Life is too short. Remember that a bike can stop faster than a car so you don't want a truck on your tail when you find yourself trying to brake to avoid an accident. Also, don't tailgate the vehicle in front of you. Oncoming drivers can't see you.
- Don't Be Blinded by Sun glare: Beware of riding your motorcycle into sun glare. All it takes is turning a corner and finding the sun either directly in your face or passing straight through your windshield. Some helmets have shields to block the sun. Face shields help somewhat. But sometimes you just find yourself blinded by the light. Slow down, pull over, shield your eyes and look for a way to change direction.
- Avoid Riding at Night: Avoid riding at night, especially late Saturday night and early Sunday when drunken drivers may be on the road. It goes without saying that you shouldn't drink and ride. Going bar hopping? Leave the bike at home and find a designated driver.
Braking is one of the most difficult skills for motorcyclists to master and one of the most critical. Even though technology has improved motorcycle design and braking enhancements, we are still observing the same crash causes. Have you been taught to apply front and rear brake together in an emergency stop? And if you lock up the rear wheel, ride it out until the end? Let's hope not, so what you're about to read will just be a refresher and another repetition in training. Depending on rider skill, the front brake will provide 70-85% of the stopping power; therefore, covering the front brake while riding is an accepted task. However, if you are covering the rear brake while operating, you need to change this bad habit or panic braking may occur. Studies consistently identify the same number one cause of crashes, Improper Braking by over use of the rear brake and under use of the front brake. It should be stressed that good posture and looking at the horizon will assist in traction and stability on the motorcycle and do not attempt to turn while in a braking mode. Also, do not rely on the mechanics during scheduled service to maintain the recommended air pressure in your tires. Check the pressure on a weekly basis.
Recommended Braking Technique:
You should apply the front brake first, then follow by applying the rear brake. Take the front brake to maximum use, and you will hear what is referred to as "wheel whine". If you lock the front brake, release immediately and reapply. If you lock the rear brake, do not release, reapply and simultaneously apply more front brake. While conducting this reapplication of the rear brake you regain control of the motorcycle and are able to make a safe stop. If you remain in a locked mode, you will travel a greater distance with no control and may crash into the threat you're attempting to avoid. Do not release the rear brake in a locked mode or you may be a victim of a High Side. A High Side occurs when the rider locks the rear brake and the motorcycle has lost traction and the rider has lost control. In a panic situation, the rider then releases the brake, the tire regains traction, the motorcycle snaps back into position with the rear tire tracking the front. And with the motorcycle being an articulated vehicle, it may throw the operator from the saddle. There may be doubt in your mind as you read this recommended technique, however, before discarding it, try it. I will not tell you that this is the only way to safely stop a motorcycle, but it is a very safe way.
Hope this helps. Ride safe and always (no exceptions) wear all of your protective gear.
Don’t be the invisible man…or woman!
Black, far from being the friendly identifying color of the motorcycle community, is a rider’s major enemy. The majority of the time, especially when contrast is poor, such as dawn, dusk, dappled shade, or darkness, black disappears into the environment. Dress a rider in black from head to toe, put him on a black bike, especially one with a small, low taillight, and he is the Invisible Man. He cannot be seen until the very last moment, and that is sometimes too late. The typical car driver is not motorcycle-aware, and a bike suddenly appearing seemingly out of nowhere may slow the driver’s reaction time or cause him to make the wrong decision. When there’s a collision of this type, is it the driver’s fault, or the rider’s? Both were culpable, but it is the rider who must bear more of the blame. He made himself nearly impossible to see, and it worked. He chose to be the Invisible Man. Choose to wear proper motorcycle attire at all times and give yourself every opportunity to be seen by every motorist. It just might make a huge difference. Thanks everyone! Jim
December 2005: Motorcycles: Increasing Driver Awareness
More than two-thirds of the time when cars and motorcycles crash, the driver causes the wreck, not the motorcyclist. Most of the time, the driver didn't see the motorcycle. Here are some tips for motorcyclists to help them stay visible.
- Don't assume a driver can see you. The primary precautions are: helmets with retro-reflective materials; bright, contrasting clothing; fluorescent vests.
- In 23 states, motorcyclists must keep their headlight on at all times. It is a good idea everywhere.
- If you can't see a driver's face in his rear-view mirror, he can't see you, either. Be aware when you are in a blind spot.
- Use your turn signals and don't make any sudden moves.
- The most likely situations for a wreck:
- A car turning left in front of you.
- A driver changing lanes or turning when you are in his blind spot.
- Road hazards (potholes, standing water, railroad tracks) that make drivers do something sudden or unexpected.
A Heartfelt Safety Message
Rather than the traditional monthly safety message, I would like to speak from the heart and perhaps give some insight that would be valuable to everyone. We ride our HD Motorcycles because we love the feeling it gives to each of us. It may be different for each person, but the result is usually the same. A feeling of freedom. A feeling of individuality. Letting that adventurous kid come out in you. Whatever it is… it is right for you. None of us wants that feeling to ever go away. I certainly don’t. How about you?
So…..why not enjoy the great feeling of riding and combine it with the ultimate in safety? It would only make sense. Take it from me or anyone else… it only takes going down one time to test your will to come back. As you know, Joyce and I had a fairy tale trip to Europe. We saw some of the most beautiful places on earth and had the opportunity to do it on a Harley with some awesome people. Unfortunately, a momentary lack of better judgment put us in harms way. We got into an accident that put Joyce in a German hospital for 6 days. Fortunately, it was one of the best trauma centers in Germany. If you are going to get hurt, do it in Germany. They were wonderful in their caring for Joyce. Joyce ended up with a serious concussion, and slight fractures of her collarbone and pelvis. I somehow walked away without a scratch. Just sore all over. It could have been so much worse. I guess our time here on earth isn’t quite finished.
Here’s the message:
We never expected this to happen. I assume most people involved in accidents feel the same. We were, however, dressed properly. Helmets with face shields Good leather gloves. Boots. Great leather jackets. As a result, would you believe… not a scratch? Joyce’s most serious injury was to her head. Most of you have seen her helmet and how it was cracked. No doubt, that it saved her life. Therefore, I guess what I am saying is all that helmet and leather stuff that I’ve been reading and writing about is true. It can make a huge difference and in many cases, a life and death difference. As Safety Director, I see my job in a dual role. I endeavor to give you good information to keep you from being involved in an accident and to let you know what will make the difference, if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I will continue to do that. It was good to see all the helmets on the pumpkin run. As usual, there was great communication throughout the ride by the leaders who are primarily concerned for the group’s safety. Kudos to them and to all of you who participated and rode so well. It was good to be back on the bike. It was a nice way to get going again and I am looking forward to more great rides with all of you.
Please always remember… no peer pressure. Your safety comes first. Wear the right equipment all the time and have a blast! Hope this helps in some little way.
Live to Ride, Jim
Scanning…...get good at it!
By maintaining an awareness of lead times and constantly practicing your ability to scan ahead, you can detect and deal with the majority of potential hazards that create “close calls” long before they become imminent threats. The first lead-time is the two-second following distance. When the vehicle ahead of you passes a stationary landmark such as a painted marking on the pavement, begin counting to yourself…”one one-thousand, two one-thousand.” If you finish counting before you get to the andmark, then you are following by at least two-seconds. The two-second following time generally is not intended to give you the distance required to stop, but under ideal conditions, it does give you time and space to begin to react. For less than ideal conditions, you should lengthen the lead-time. The next lead-time is the four-second immediate path of travel. Focus the majority of your aggressive scanning in an area between where you are and where you will be in four seconds. Search aggressively, looking for potential hazards that are in or that may enter your path of travel. This four-second lead-time provides adequate time and distance to stop or swerve if necessary. Finally, there is the 12-second anticipated path of travel. The practice of scanning ahead 12 seconds is what separates proficient riders from novices. This is where you can really realize the power and benefits of this strategy. By maintaining an awareness of traffic and road conditions that fall within your next 12 seconds of travel, you have tremendous ability to make relatively minor adjustments to your speed and/or lane position to prevent hazards from developing into those “close calls” that you probably remember occurring altogether too frequently during your early days of motorcycling. And as part of your scanning, do not forget to maintain an awareness of what is behind you by frequently shifting your gaze to your mirrors. It is probably hard to think of examples of where the 12-second scan has prevented a close call. That is pretty much the point. By identifying the hazard and reacting well in advance, the close call seldom, if ever, happened. So what about the opposite? Can you think of any instances in your own riding where a close call could have been avoided had the 12-second scan been employed? No doubt about it. Please apply these simple rules of scanning. Get good at it. Teach it whenever you can. Hope this helps! Wear your protective gear. Helmets, gloves, long sleeves or leathers, boots and eye wear. Live to Ride…..Ride to live!
Greetings everyone! It looks like everything is shaping up to be a wonderful summer riding season. Mother Nature certainly has been cooperating! The Studettes (Ladies of Harley) are getting ready to roll up to Michigan. Some are getting ready for their annual trek to Sturgis. Others are planning a dream trip to Europe. Best of all, our HOG Chapter has done an outstanding job staying safe and out of harms way on the roads. Congrats to all of you and the Road Captains for taking your personal and group riding safety seriously. Every once-in-a-while, however, the unexpected can happen. Best wishes to Joe and Evie as they heal from their unfortunate encounter with a deer in Pennsylvania. Continue to keep them in your thoughts and prayers. This is one wonderful couple that has always set a great example and kept their safety measures first and foremost when riding.
Just a couple of reminders:
- Stay fresh and alert at all times.
- Scan a good distance in front of you and always anticipate the unexpected.
- Be sure to make yourself visible in all situations and at all times.
- Wear your helmet, gloves, leathers, eye wear, and boots without exception every time you ride.
- Pack your rain gear.
- Ride within your limits. Peer pressure should not exist in your mind.
- Don’t drink and ride your motorcycle. Period!
- Plan to take the Riders Edge or Abate Motorcycle Safety Course in the near future.
- Maintain your bike so it’s always ready when you are.
- Be a great example of motorcycle safety.
Could go on and on…….but won’t!
Ride Safe! Jim Mercon
Cloths Make the Man!
OK…….Clothes may, or may not make the man…or the woman. But I’m not talking about clothes. I’m talking about cloths. You know……fabrics. In reading the title of this article you probably thought I spelled clothes wrong. But it is the fabric were talking about and it’s the type of fabric that certainly helps protect you. Covering yourself with leather or another thick material such as Kevlar or Cordura can offer a very high level of protection.
Cycle magazine tested materials for their abrasion resistance. Did you know that wearing a tee shirt while riding offers virtually no protection. OK….Very, very little. In fact, it’s not even worthy of a discussion. Wear denim and lightweight leather for minimum protection, Cordura Nylon and Kevlar for five times the protection, and competition weight leather for twenty times the protection.
Road Rash is serious. Most people with severe road rash end up in the burn unit of the local hospital. Ouch!!!!!!! So…..what should you choose? The answer is obvious. Go for the 20 times the protection! It only makes perfect sense. You should know that the better materials do give you something for your money besides a flatter billfold.
As a rule, most riders buy non-specialized clothing such as denim and then wear it for a very specialized purpose. The best material for abrasion-resistance should combine a smooth texture in a thick layer to promote sliding, some rigidity to discourage adhesion, a flexible internal structure to stretch under abrasion, and enough thickness to withstand sustained abrasion. A deficiency in even one element can spell injury.
However, even the best materials won't prevent injury if the garment is not well made and properly fitted. And, even if those criteria are met, if the garment isn't fastened, it can't do its job of keeping the rider unharmed. Speaking of properly fastened…..be sure not to forget to fasten your helmet on your head.
It's worthwhile to put as much money into the clothes we wear as we do into the accessories we put on our bikes.
Don’t look back someday and say…I shoulda, coulda, but didn’t! Ride safe…..Ride smart! Jim
PS……..Don’t forget your full fingered gloves.
Motorcycles and Alcohol.
Some fast reading for you. Summer is upon us. Fun, fun, and more fun. Some great motorcycle riding too! Let’s all do our very best to make it safe for each other by acting responsibly when getting on our bikes. First cardinal rule: Avoid alcohol and motorcycling at all costs! Here are some sobering facts: Motorcycling is a complex task requiring excellent coordination and motor skills. Alcohol greatly diminishes the coordination and motor skills needed to maneuver a motorcycle. Motorcyclists with blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) below legal limits can be impaired, which in turn affects riding and decision-making skills necessary to handle complex traffic situations. Even after a motorcyclist (or a driver) has stopped drinking, research has shown that performance errors and reaction time may increase while operators are “sobering up.” This leaves both the rider and innocent parties at risk for disaster. Data clearly shows that drinking alcohol and riding a motorcycle is a deadly combination. In recent years, 27.9 percent of motorcycle operators involved in fatal motorcycle crashes had a BAC of .10 or higher. Also, this trend continued as motorcycle operators in fatal crashes had higher intoxication rates than any other types of drivers.
All statistics clearly show that mixing riding with alcohol puts all the wrong odds in your favor. Something is bound to go wrong and usually does. So…..just say no. Encourage others to do the same. Set the proper example for all other Chapter members and friends to follow. We encourage all of our members to pass on the alcohol at our Chapter meetings and events whenever riding your bikes. We certainly don’t want to see any one of our friends ending up an unfortunate statistic. Ride safe and enjoy your summer!
Two Heads Up!
The person who occupies the back seat of a motorcycle has always been called the passenger. Now they're called co-riders and it isn't simply to be politically correct. The word passenger suggests a person who has no responsibilities for the operation of the machine; one who is simply along for the ride. A co-rider, on the other hand, shares some of the responsibilities for the safe operation of the motorcycle. Sitting in the back seat means a lot more freedom to enjoy the scenery without worrying about the technical part of the ride. But with the freedom comes the responsibility. A co-rider does not have the right to bury herself in a book or to take a nap. A blanked out person on the back seat is of absolutely no help and may even be an additional danger if the ride has to brake or swerve suddenly. Her reflexive actions (such as to grab the rider wherever she can or to lean away) will probably be exactly the wrong ones. The co-rider should ride as exactly that, a co-rider. Not a passenger, but a second rider. While it is always preferable that the co-rider has had a motorcycle safety course, even the normal street skills used in everyday driving will help in spotting hazards. Being an extra pair of eyes for the rider doesn't mean being a back-seat nag. It means spotting hazards and knowing how the rider normally reacts and being ready to help in that effort. If the rider does not show that reaction, the co-rider should speak up. An experienced co-rider knows how hard her rider brakes during normal braking, and whether hard-line braking will be necessary. She prepares herself by holding the grab rails and bracing her feet. She does not slide forward, banging helmets and pushing the rider onto the tank. When she spots a pot hole or a large piece of rubber, she knows her rider will soon swerve, and she is prepared to let the bike move under her. She knows when it's OK to move around, and lets her rider know when she will make a move, such as scratching her ankle, which will affect the balance of the bike.
The rider also has the responsibility to communicate with his co-rider. He should let her know when a nasty bump is coming or if he wants to counterweight a turn. He shouldn't play "surprise" just because he finds her reactions funny.
Two-up riding is a team sport; as is group riding. And that means working together to make the ride fun and safe for everyone.
Continue to ride safe,
What do you think?
Sometimes our words and our actions are in direct contradiction to each other. This is especially true in many of the ways we ride. When we fail to wear our helmets in parking lots, we're saying it's only possible to have an accident or a fall on the highway, probably at high speeds. Yet, parking lots are some of the most dangerous places we ride. They're often crowded, with limited visibility and uneven surfaces. The people in them are usually in a hurry and certainly not looking for motorcycles.
When we fail to put on full protective gear, we're telling ourselves and our co-riders we are so good we can't possibly have an accident, and all the other drivers out there are excellent, skillful, and always alert, too. When we encourage our co-riders to wear shorts, sandals, and sleeveless shirts, we may speak the words, "I love you," but the unspoken message is "I don't care if a large area of your skin is scraped off and you must have endless plastic surgeries and are covered with deep, ugly scars." We may also be saying, "I don't care if you sunburn so badly your legs, arms, chest and back are covered with huge watery blisters." When we wear clothing made of synthetic materials, we are saying we're tough enough not to cry when that melted material is peeled out of our road rash. When we ride at excessive speeds, we may be convinced we're able to handle them. What we're not reminding ourselves is that we've used up our margin for error and the unexpected can happen at any moment.
When we do something we know to be dangerous "just this once" we're saying "it can't happen to me. "Do you believe that?
Live to ride……Ride safe……
Many people use a check list to prepare for a trip. It might include gas, tire pressure, first aid kit, lights, etc. One item often missing is the condition of the rider himself. Yet the rider’s condition is at least as important as the condition of the bike. There is a checklist which allows the rider to check out himself before every trip. Easy to remember, the list is called “I’m Safe”. It stands for illness, medication, stress, alcohol, fatigue and emotion. Let’s take a look at how each of these factors affects us. Illness: Many illnesses such as diarrhea, headache or fever can blunt our senses and affect our ability to scan aggressively for hazards or our ability to react to these hazards quickly. Recovering from an illness can do the same. Medication: Medication such as sleeping pills, even taken the night before, or antihistamines can make us drowsy. Antibiotics do a good job of fighting infections but also leave us fatigued for several days.
Stress: Just before a trip is not the best time to air out problems. We will be in a much better mood after a good trip. Take time to relax before starting. Anticipate having a great time. Visualize your trip and the outcome.
Alcohol: Alcohol can be summed up in a single phrase. Don’t even consider drinking and getting on a motorcycle. You don’t need it. Be responsible and disciplined. It is a MAJOR contributor in most motorcycle accidents.
Fatigue: Working long hours at physical labor before a trip is a sure way to start your trip fatigued. Make sure you have had plenty of rest and are mentally and physically ready to take your trip.
Emotion: We are all aware that being angry or sad at can be a big distraction and will take your mind in the wrong direction when riding. This is not what you want. You want to thoroughly enjoy your ride. Be mentally and emotionally ready for your trip.
These are just a few tips to remember. Be sure to check yourself out just as thoroughly as you would check your bike out.
Hope this helps! Ride Safe!
You Must Be Crazy to Ride a Motorcycle!
“You have to be completely crazy to ride a motorcycle. Those things are dangerous!”
How often have you heard that? Zealous four-wheelers are bent on saving us from our own stupidity. Of course our bulbs are dim. Anyone bright wouldn’t go near one of those two-wheeled death machines. “It’s too risky,” they intone piously. In a small part, they are right. This is risk involved in operating a motorcycle. There’s also a risk involved in driving a car on a freeway, even a tank. And it’s purely insane to sleep on a waterbed if we have cats. The trick is to manage the risks and not to take dumb risks.
One of the main keys to managing risks is to take a motorcycle rider course and to keep the mental and physical skills we learn sharp. Many skills are lost in six months if they are not practiced. Knowing good cornering and curve riding techniques doesn’t do us any good if we don’t practice them. Knowing our limits, the limits of our bikes, and the limits of our environment and riding within those limits is also critical. We must remember that those limits change constantly and adapt our riding style to conform to them. Superior riders never get themselves into situations requiring superior skills. Taking dumb risks is asking for trouble. If we keep pushing our limits, we will eventually exceed them, and the consequences can be devastating or even fatal. Riding faster and faster through a familiar curve can spell disaster when we’ve pushed our traction to the limits and there’s something unexpected in the road halfway through the curve. Riding fast in the rain just because we’re in a hurry makes no sense when we know we can’t stop quickly. Slowing down and putting distance between us and a hazard is sensible risk management. Replacing worn tires helps keep us safely stuck to the road. Part of the challenge of motorcycling is risk management, and the sport wouldn’t be very enjoyable if we wrapped ourselves in cotton and surrounded ourselves with a cocoon of safety devices. However, the sport is more fun if we don’t have to worry about dangers we create for ourselves. There will be more information to come on the Abate rider course for this Spring and Summer. For a private rider course exclusive to our group, we will need a minimum of twelve participants. Everyone could always use a refresher to shore up those old skills, as well as, learn new techniques.
Looking forward to a great year of riding!
“Did you see that car? He came from behind that 18 wheeler and ran the red. I almost hit him.”
Has this ever happened to you? Ever wonder just how fast you can stop your bike? With a few good techniques and a little practice the answer is a lot faster than you think. The two techniques are squeezing the front brake rapidly instead of grabbing it, and taking advantage of the weight shift to use even more front brake. The practice takes just a few minutes in a parking lot about three times a year. As you start braking, about half your weight is on each wheel. If you apply both brakes hard without grabbing the front brake, your weight will shift forward and you can squeeze the front brake even harder, while you let up on the rear. It takes only half a second for your weight to shift so you can add more front brake. It is because of this weight change that about 70% of your braking power is on the front. When all the extra weight shifts forward, the front tire gets harder to lock, while the rear gets easier to lock. If you ever lock the front tire, release the front brake and come right back down on it. This is exactly the opposite of what you what to do with the rear brake if it locks. You can release a locked rear if you are perfectly straight. However, if you are sideways and you unlock the rear wheel, you can do a highside---not something you do for fun! A parking lot is the perfect place to practice. Make sure the parking lot is empty. Not need to terrorize the populace while trying to use the lot. Start out at 10 to 15 mph. The techniques are the same for any speed, but you don’t need as much room to practice in if your speed is lower When you go back to the streets, you need to add only one more technique. That’s looking out for the other guy. If you are braking hard, this means checking your mirrors before you start to make sure you’re not being tailgated. If you’re in a situation where you might have to brake suddenly, cover both brakes to cut your reaction time to about half. This shaves a few feet off what by now is your already impressive stopping distance. Rain can affect your stopping distance more than it affects your technique. You can’t stop as quickly in the rain. Because you can’t brake as hard, not as much of your weight shifts forward. That means braking less hard overall and using a smaller percentage of front brake. Otherwise, techniques are the same.
Having someone pull out in front of you when turning produces another problem. If this happens, just be sure to straighten the handlebars and the bike. Then stop. Do not try to mix the two. These few techniques and a little practice should get your stopping off to a good start.
Hope this is helpful! Ride safe!