Category Archives: Educational

10 tips on how to be a better night rider

Article written by Motorcycle Writer.

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Night rider

Not many motorcyclists purposely go out for a ride at night, but it’s exhilarating and we should do it more often to brush up on our skills just in case we are caught out still riding after sunset.

One of the joys of riding is isolating yourself in a bubble of mediation. These cocooning feelings of isolation are heightened in the dark where your vision is restricted to a tunnel of headlight-lit road.

However, there are hidden dangers out there in the dark and you need to arm yourself with special skills to survive.

Here are our tips for surviving and enjoying being a night rider:

1 Vision

Obviously your vision is restricted at night. So make sure you clean your visor and/or windshield very carefully. What may look clean in the daylight could be dazzling and blinding when a car’s headlights hit it, so remove all those smears. Clean with a dedicated cleaner, but make sure you wipe it all off. If you can dim your instrument lights, that will prevent distracting glare on your windscreen and visor

Night rider

2 Yellow glasses

Some people swear by yellow-lens glasses, saying they restore the three dimensions that become flat in headlights, reduce glare, improve contrast and give you better depth perception. However, be very careful of adding any tint to an already dark situation! If you wear prescription glasses or wear goggles, you can ask for an AR coating (AR stands for anti-reflective or anti-glare). Otherwise, don’t wear glasses unless you have no visor.

Yellow galsses night riding

3 Lights

Aiding your vision is a decent spread and depth of headlights. If your standard headlights are not up to par (and they too-often aren’t), you can supplement them for more powerful units or even a brighter bulb (halogen, xenon or LED). But be aware that some people don’t see as well with these white lights. Also, be aware of the laws regarding modifying headlights. There are also different laws in varying states about adding auxiliary driving or fog lights. Usually they have to be attached to your high beam switch only and/or be on a separate switch. Fog lights can only be used legally in foggy conditions.

4 Cornering

Headlights are focussed straight ahead, so when you corner, you illuminate the outside of the corner, not the apex where you want to go. The BMW K 1600 has lights that turn into the corners and there are others such as KTM which have LED lights that light up the inside of the corner when you turn. You can also now buy aftermarket lights that illuminate the inside of a corner. But if you don’t have these, be aware that all corners at night are riddled with blind spots. So don’t use all the corner as the apex and exit could be covered in gravel, oil or water.

J.W. Speaker 8790 adaptive cornering headlights                  J.W. Speaker 8790 adaptive cornering headlights

5 Road surface

Which brings us to the road surface. Normally you scan the road surface for gravel, oil and diesel spills, water, sewer covers, potholes, bumps, ruts, etc. At night, you may not see them until it’s too late, so ride as if there are obstacles up ahead.

6 Adjust your speed

Consequently you should slow down to a speed where you can stop within the reach of your headlights. Would you ride with your eyes closed even for a few short seconds? Well, if you ride too fast to stop within your lights’ reach, then that’s exactly what you are doing!

Night rider

7 Be seen

You and your bike will be more difficult to see at night, especially if you wear black leathers and ride a dark bike. We are not advising you wear hi-vis clothes as these can actually dazzle and transfix drivers’ attention. However, a bit of reflective 3M tape and stitched items on your gear and your bike will draw a bit of extra attention. Make sure your fork and tail reflectors are cleaned and that your lights are cleaned and working properly. It’s also important to move around within your lane as your headlight will attract a bit more attention from other traffic. Never ride in another motorist’s blind spot.

8 Riding style

Because you are unaware of what is on the road ahead, you should treat the road surface as if it is wet. Check out our tips for riding in the wet here. The main tip is to be smooth – brakes, throttle and steering.

9 Pillion adjustments

If you have a pillion, it may change the level of your headlights which could dazzle other motorists. You may think that should not concern you, but if an oncoming motorists is dazzled, their natural reaction is to flash their lights at you which dazzles you! If another motorists does flash their lights, don’t look directly at them. Stare down at the road that you can see. You might even like to put your hand up or use your helmet peak (if you have one), to veil their lights.

Night rider

10 Livestock, wildlife, insects and pedestrians

If you think roos are difficult to spot in the daytime, try night time! And it’s not just wildlife you have to watch out for, but also stray stock and stray pedestrians dressed in black and staring at their mobile phones. At least animals will look at your headlights and you will spot the reflections in their retinas, so be on the lookout for those little spots of reflected light. Bugs are another nighttime animal hazard. They are attracted to your headlights and will smear your visor and windscreen, so take some baby wipes or visor cleaner and a clean rag.

 

 

Get Hooked with Helmet Hook Australia

We recently purchased a Helmet Hook from Helmet Hook Australia, so this video is how you go about installing it onto your bike handle so that you can secure your helmet on it when not riding.

 

 

Better roads reduce bike crashes

Article written by Motorbike Writer. If you would like to read more awesome stories then head over here to Motorbike Writer

Austroads Better roads report lane filtering

Roads need to be better designed, funded and maintained to reduce the risk of motorcycle crashes, a 244-page Austroads report has found.

The report, titled “Infrastructure Improvements to Reduce Motorcycle Casualties”, is the result of a two-year study to identify infrastructure improvements to reduce motorcycle crash risk and crash severity.

It says motorcycles should be identified as a separate road user group and considered as a “design vehicle” when planning and maintaining roads.

The report recommends that engineering decisions on roadworks and planning should consider motorcycles, “even if outside of existing design warrants”.

That’s great news for riders as the current trend seems to be to ignore riders when situating and selecting roadside furniture and barriers; using slippery road paint; building roads with odd cambers; and allowing shoddy, patch-up roadworks.

While the report says the road environment accounted for only 2% of motorcycle road deaths in single-vehicle crashes between 1999 and 2003, “certain road elements have the potential to contribute to the actual outcome and severity of the crash”.

It says the first step is to identify roads that pose the highest crash risk to motorcyclists, then perform safety audits.

The report recommends a raft of motorcycle-specific road modifications including:

–   install flexible but durable materials or shields underneath barriers;

Wire rope barrier better roads austroads report

–  install attenuators or energy dissipaters on posts and poles;
–  relocate trees, poles, signs and other roadside objects;
–  recommended maximums for potholes, ruts and cracks before repair is vital;
–  rapid road repair including quick removal of oil, diesel and other spills;
–  fluoro warning signage at known crash zones;
–  better-designed crash barriers (read the latest Austroads view);
–  improve road surfaces for skid resistance, road camber, badly located drains,            rough edges, etc; and
–  add advance stop lines at intersections with filtering lanes for motorcycles to
reach the front of traffic.

Lane filtering lane splitting stop lines report                                 Advanced motorcycle stop line in Spain

The Austroads report is important because all state and federal road/transport departments in Australian and New Zealand are members. Their reports are used as the basis for government policy and practice on all things related to roads and transport.

Let’s hope the bureaucrats and politicians pay attention to this important report.

However, not all is good.

Riders probably won’t like the fact that Austroads advocates lower speed zones and ABS on motorcycles, the latte possibly leading to mandatory ABS on future bikes as has happened in Europe.

Article written by Motorbike Writer. If you would like to read more awesome stories then head over here to Motorbike Writer

10 reasons why you should travel the world on a motorcycle

WRITTEN BY STEPHAN WECKSCHMIED
Click to take you to Adventurebikerider’s website

So you’ve toured Europe and the Alps extensively, you’ve taken a trip down to Morocco for an extra bit of spice and now you’re contemplating what to do next. The answer? It’s time to head off on an adventure around the world on your motorcycle.

To show you just why you should take the plunge, we teamed up with Stephan Weckschmied from Edelweiss Bike Travel. So scroll down and let us convince you to tour the world on your motorcycle with these 10 compelling reasons

1. It’s an adventure

Round the world motorcycle adventure

Staying at home on your couch is easy. But if you lose your inclination for monotonous security you will see some of the most amazing sights on Earth, meet incredible people and gain new experience. Make each day a new horizon!

2. It leaves you with countless stories

Round the world motorcycle touring

Sharing feelings, experiences and memories of your journey with your friends and family is great. Travelling on a bike creates a tale guaranteed to interest and impress those you meet, both on the road and back home.

3. You travel at the perfect speed

Round the world motorcycle touring

You might be able to walk wherever you like to go. But it will definitely take a while to explore it all. On a motorcycle you are fast enough to see lots of different countries in little time and you are still always outside and closely connected to nature.

4. It gives you the opportunity to travel with your friends

Round the world motorcycle touring

Riding together with your friends is fun and enables you to share the unique moments. You will get to know them even more and your friendship will be stronger than ever before.

5. It helps you grow

Round the world motorcycle adventure

Have you ever changed a tyre on your motorcycle? No? Well, on a big trip you sometimes have to. Being confronted with new situations is challenging but it will help you grow and discover yourself.

6. You get to see all the places in between

Round the world motorcycle touring

When riding a motorcycle you see all the beautiful places besides the famous sights. Each ride is an adventure and the possibilities are endless. You will probably go to places not many people will ever see and discover hidden treasures along the way.

7. It brings you together with like-minded people

Round the world motorcycle adventure

As a biker you will meet other bikers just like you. Motorcycling opens doors and starts conversations no matter where you are. You will never be alone and will make new friends all over the world.

8. You eat food like you’ve never had before

Food on a RTW motorcycle adventure

Burgers and fries are great, but there are so many other good things you‘re missing out on. Try something new and you will be surprised what flavours and delicious things our planet has to offer.

9. It improves your riding skills

Round the world motorcycle adventure

Sandy roads, water crossings and never-ending switchbacks – all this sounds like lots of fun. But when you‘re stuck in a tricky situation this will test your problem solving skills, patience and temper. Once accomplished you may well be exhausted, but you’ll also be proud.

10. It is challenging, both physically and mentally

Round the world motorcycle adventure

Navigating your bike on narrow roads with tight curves can be hard work. Travelling all over the world on two wheels is a challenge for your mind and body. Not many have the perseverance to master this task. It will be a life changing experience that you will never forget.

What to pack for your motorcycle adventure - Moto Adventures

What To Pack For Your Motorcycle Trip - Moto Adventures

By Click here to go to Rideapart’s website

Living off of your motorcycle shouldn’t be stressful. You can pack everything you need for a weekend, week-long, or month-long motorcycle trip right onto your bike.

1. How long is your trip?

Length can be measured in miles, days, or both. A little weekender to the campground 60 miles from home won’t require nearly as much as a 500+ mile, week-long excursion across the country.

For the remainder of this article, let’s pretend this is the 500 mile-plus adventure.

2. When/Where are you going?

Weather is fickle: it’s a pain in the ass and isn’t always predictable. However, wherever your destination takes you, you don’t want to get stranded without proper gear. I’ve been on trips where I leave my house looking like the Michelin Man, with every layer possible on my body trying to stay warm, and the next day I’m taking all the layers off and soaking my clothes in water at the gas station trying to cool off.

Have you ever hit an unexpected rain storm where the temperature drops from 80 and sunny, to 50-something and cold? Yep, bet you wished you had rain gear and thicker gloves that day. Getting sick from trying to look cool without gear isn’t worth it. Learn about riding gear and get into it!

[Note: I’m not an “all the gear all the time” advocate by any means. I do, however, strongly advise you to hit the pavement at a decent speed before you decide if you want to ride in short sleeves and other questionable garments. Road rash hurts. A lot.]

3. What’s up with your bike?

Everyone has their own moto maintenance mumbo jumbo. Here’s my opinion: If you’re like me and are not the biggest fan of being stranded on the side of the road wondering why your bike is broken down, find a mechanic that you trust and GET IT SERVICED BEFORE THE TRIP. Also, STICK TO THAT MECHANIC.

Every bike and every motor has it’s own weird tendencies. If you constantly go to different people to have your bike looked at, there’s a good chance they won’t notice something that the other guy (or gal!) did. You wouldn’t switch up your personal doctor with every visit would you? Don’t do it with your bike.

Get it serviced by a trained professional, and eliminate the chance of something happening that could have been easily prevented. If you have a friend who knows the ropes, watch them service it, or better yet, let them shadow you and do the service yourself. Seriously, learning how your bike works is the most useful tool of all.

4. Speaking of Tools— Bring Tools

Bring tools on the road. I personally carry tools that I can easily pack, such as specific Torx bits, Allen Wrenches, Vise Grips, Wire Cutters, Phillips and Flathead screwdrivers, etc. My buddy Dave over at the CVRST Project makes really great handmade tool rolls, as well as travel bags for your clothes and other junk.

Good ol’ Google can also tell you what tools your bike needs if you still have all the stock/factory hardware on it. (I’ve tried to switch most of my hardware to use screws with allen heads. Makes carrying tools a little bit easier.)

Also, Blue Loctite is your friend! I carry a tube of it in my tool bag at all times. And zip ties, carry them with you all the time. Stash a few in your tool bag, you never know when you’re going to have to rig something back together. A tire plug kit is handy too. They’re pretty tiny and can save you a ton of time if you get a flat tire.

In all of my travels, I’ve only been “stranded” twice. The first time my stator went out on my 2011 XL, the second time my ignition started having issues on my 2003 XL. Both of these things are a little hard to predetermine the time they decide to go, but out of all the problems I could have dealt with on the side of the road, I’d say I’ve had it pretty easy in the 70,000 miles I’ve ridden in the last four years.

If you ride a newer model Harley, and you’re not mechanically inclined, look into the Extended Service Plans being offered by the Motor Company. They’re worth the dough if you plan to ride your bike all over the place.

What to Pack on a Motorcycle Trip

The must haves for every trip: Leather Jacket, Sleeping Bag, Hammock, Raingear, Phone Charger, Gloves, Gasoline Reserve Bottles & Tools
(We have removed the handgun from this list as obviously not applicable to Australia)

5. What to Pack

The quickest advice I can give you is to learn a little about the backpacking culture and the importance of packing light and efficiently. I can pack everything I need for a two week trip into my 28-Liter Herschel Supply Duffel Bag and have space left over.

If you’re on a budget, army surplus stores have good quality top loading bags for under $20. Any way you pack, make sure it’s easy to get to your tools, jacket, etc. if you need them in a pinch.

CLOTHING
Pro Tip: Learn to roll your clothes into little- adorable -burritos. If you aren’t using a dry sack to keep your stuff dry, I highly suggest packing important items in Ziploc bags just in case you hit some rain.

  • DO always pack: jacket, hoodie, gloves, rain gear (mine doubles as my pillow when I’m camping), extra shoes (if you don’t wear boots, its nice to have a dry pair of shoes in case it rains). Always pack extra socks and undies— take it from someone who packed one pair of socks with them to Mexico. Long story short: I sacrificed my moto insurance papers over my one pair of socks at the gas station when I realized there was no toilet paper. Lesson learned. We all have those “last leg” undergarments. They have a purpose and this is it. They aren’t always meant to make it back home. (And for the sake of running into a bathroom emergency like I did in Mexico, perhaps pack a tiny bag of wet wipes!)
  • MAYBE pack: climate-sensitive items, such as thermals (real ones— not the ones that you buy for five bucks at the mall), gauntlet-style gloves with built in Gore-Tex, thick socks, etc. You can always add clothes on to feel warm— unless you don’t pack them, like a dummy. If you’re headed to warmer climates or places where the sun is a little overbearing, think about some lighter colored clothing options that still protect your skin.
  • DON’T pack more than four T-shirts, regardless of how long your trip is. You’re more than likely going to buy one or two, or you’re going to find a friend along the way with a washer and dryer. (PS: When you’re on the road, you smell, even if you change shirts every day. Just sacrifice one shirt and save the others for when you get to a stopping point.)

Girls are known for making 20 outfits out of five articles of clothing. Work it out!

LADY ITEMS

  • DO always pack: travel sized everything. Seriously, it saves a ton of room. Buy the itty-bitty tooth brush and the itty-bitty razor, tooth paste, deodorant, hair brush, and anything else you can find. If you plan to stay with friends along the way, keep that in mind. I normally don’t pack shampoo and conditioner since my friends will normally donate theirs to the cause. Yay, friends!
  • MAYBE Pack: tampons and other hygiene-necessary items if needed. You’re an adult. I’ll leave this part up to you.
  • DON’T Pack: Your entire makeup collection. You’ve already got bugs in your teeth anyway. Put the makeup away until you get to your destination. Pack only what you need for a typical night out if you absolutely feel the need to bring it.

SURVIVAL SKILLS

Do…

  • Pack heat, if you’re okay with that sort of thing. I’ve never met a single sketchy person on my travels that made me feel the need to grab hold of a weapon, but that doesn’t mean I trust everyone I meet in the middle of nowhere, either. If you’re traveling across state lines, be sure to know the laws. The last thing you need is to get heat for packin’ it. Knives aren’t so bad to have either. I typically travel with at least one of each. (Shameless plug goes out to my friend Matt Farris who makes some killer knives!)
  • Bring snacks (the Burger King dollar menu isn’t always your best option). Bring Cliff Bars, trail mix, or any other sort of food a backpacker would bring. Keep your energy up and STAY HYDRATED. Seriously, it can make or break how many miles you can accomplish in a day. Either buy a bottle of water and refill at every gas stop, or invest in a Camelbak. Drop the sodas, Gatorades and monsters— they’re all just going to dehydrate you. If you need a pick-me-up, grab a bottle of orange juice or something.
  • If your bike doesn’t have one yet, look into getting a battery tender/pigtail installed. Phones die, but you can keep them charged while you’re riding just in case you need to reach someone in an emergency situation. Zootfresh is out of Austin, TX and makes some adapters that can charge your phone on the go. As for heated gear, you can also use these adapters in the winter time— simply plug it in to your bike and stay cozy. Yay, technology!
  • Gasoline reserve bottles are the cheapest insurance you can get. Sometimes there’s long stretches without gas, and the worst thing to hear is your motor sputter to a stop without a gas station in sight. If you have a peanut tank (2.5 gallons or less), or you’re averaging 100 miles or less to a tank, I highly suggest carrying at least a liter of gas on you. Lowbrow Customs and Biltwell both carry fuel bottles; however, if you want to make sure you don’t lose your bottle to the road gremlins, buy one from REI that has a built-in locking mechanism so it can’t unscrew from the cap (again, speaking from experience). A little baby bottle of Octane booster isn’t a bad idea either. You can pick these up at AutoZone or any other auto parts store.
  • If you’re going to use bungees to strap your stuff to your bike, pack at least two ratchet straps in your bag somewhere just in case something happens and you need a tow. Also, know how to use them. You’d be surprised how many people can’t properly tie down motorcycles.

CAMPING GEAR
I’m going to go ahead and say this is where things get a little expensive if you want to save space. But here’s my two cents.

DO…

  • Invest in a good mummy style sleeping bag with a temperature rating for at least 30°F. I purchased one from REI along with a membership and it’s been the best idea I’ve had yet. Ditch the Mexican blankets/serape rolls. Sure, they look cool in photos, but they don’t keep you warm on cold desert nights. Remember: Function over fashion and more importantly, get one that packs up to be fairly small. You can also purchase compression sacks and make super fluffy, warm sleeping bags the size of a spaghetti squash or smaller.
  • One-person tent? Two-person tent? Hammock? Or straight up on the ground with a sleeping bag? That’s up to you. One person tents are perfect for you and only you. But if you plan to share the road with a friend, perhaps share a tent. This also can free up space on both of your bikes. No need to double pack (again, this is backpacking 101.) If you want to be extra comfy and know there will be trees or sturdy stuff around to hang a hammock, I highly suggest purchasing the ENO two-person hammock & straps from REI. Don’t share it though, keep that big cozy hammock to yourself (you’re welcome in advance). These also have optional rain and mosquito/bug tarps that you can buy if you really want to go all out.

6. Pack it up!

This part really depends on how your bike is set up. If you’re on a sport bike or a bike of similar stature, look into having a sissy bar made that has various hooking points for bungee cords and whatnot. The Haifley Brothers and Slims Fab both make some great sissy bars that can be quickly installed on your bike.

If you’re on a Dyna, Softtail, or if your bike is equipped with saddlebags, you probably have plenty of room and storage figured out by now. I have LeatherPro’s retro FXDXT bags on my FXDL and I highly recommend them. If you’re on a rigid…I’m going to assume you’re a packing pro by now and have the five-foot tall sissy bar with the monkey hanging out at the top.

Shake down runs are important. Go do a little test run and see if your pack shifts around before you set off on your trip. I still do this every time I change my packing set up.

HUZZA!

All the “hard” stuff is over and it’s now time to boogie!

It’s all in your head at this point. If you tell yourself you’ve got this, you’ll do 700 miles with a smile on your face. If you don’t…well….bummer. But here are some final tips for the long haul:

  • Try not to stop too long. Get the blood flow back to your booty and go. If I’m on my Sportster, which is damn near rigid, I try to keep gas stops under 15 minutes: gas, chug water, eat a snack, use the bathroom, and jam outta there to the next stop. If you’re with a group, this will probably end up being a 30 minute stop. It is what it is.
  • When planning your trip, I would say the ideal amount of miles in a day is 300-400. However, 600 is totally doable. Look at a map and get your route planned. If there’s stuff you want to stop and see along the way, keep the miles low.
  • When camping, I typically stop in whatever little town is close by and eat at a mom and pop restaurant for dinner. I don’t sit and make smores and roasted weenies at my camp spots. I’ve lucked out a few times and have been invited to share meals with families and other campers staying in the same park. Use your best judgement, but most people are friendly and just want to hear about your trip.
  • Ride hard, ride fast, and have fun!

 

10 Motorcycle Riding Tricks you don't know yet

10 Motorcycle Riding Tricks You Don’t Know, Yet

By

Click here to go to Rideapart’s website

Here’s 10 handy little motorcycle riding tricks that will make you smoother, safer and, in some cases, faster. They’ll work on any bike, any time, whether you’re cruising, tearing up a mountain road or heading out around the world.

Photo by Bok-Choy

1. In Traffic, Drag Your Back Brake For Better Balance

Picking your way through traffic at low speed is one of the hardest things we have to do as riders. Managing a heavy, unwieldy motorcycle while watching out for drivers and trying to figure out if your bars are going to fit between those mirrors requires complete attention, strong situational awareness, good hand-eye coordination and, sometimes, an extraordinary sense of balance. We can’t help you with the first three, but here’s a trick that’ll help make threading through cars less like walking a tight rope: drag a little back brake.

Doing so smooths out power delivery and preps you for emergency stops of course, but by pushing the front end down as you accelerate and eliminating the bounciness that occurs as you move between acceleration and deceleration, it also seems to help with lateral balance. Maybe that’s because it allows you to focus on only side-to-side movements, without backwards and forwards heaves or simply the added smoothness, but it really will help you eliminate wobbles and uncertainty at walking-pace speeds.

To do it, don’t just stomp on the brake lever and hold it there, just graze it with your toe and keep a minimal amount of pressure. Barely enough to provide a little friction, just enough so you won’t coast if you were to pull in your clutch. Go try it, it works.

2. Blip The Throttle To Make Downshifts Smoother

Grab a lower gear as you’re braking, let the clutch out quickly, and revs temporarily spike as the engine struggles to catch up to the rear tire’s speed. Downshift too quickly and you’ll lock up the rear tire due to the engine’s compression. This limits how hot you can come into a corner, since you need to manage decreased rear wheel traction as you begin to turn. The solution? Rev matching. By blipping revs to match rear wheel speed, the engine doesn’t need to catch up all of a sudden.

Simple to explain, but takes some practice to get right because it’s all about timing and feel. You’re braking with two fingers, right? Good, use the others to quickly blip the throttle after you pull in the clutch and downshift, spiking revs to where you think they’ll be in the lower gear. If you get that right, you can just let that clutch spring back out to seamlessly engage that lower gear. You should be able to maintain consistent brake force while blipping. That, plus knowing the amount of throttle to apply and the right revs to reach is where the practice comes in. So go do that and you’ll be rewarded with smoother riding, everywhere, but especially when flying into corners.

3. Trail Brake For Faster, Safer Cornering

Whoa, whoa, whoa? You mean you brake in a corner? Yep, and it’ll make you both faster and safer. Here’s how and why.

Applying a motorcycle’s front brake will slow you down. Of course. And, in doing so, it’ll compress the front suspension and shift the weight onto the front tire, expanding its contact patch and increasing its grip. That has the dual effect of making the bike steer quicker and making it so you can push the front end harder. Together, that adds miles per hour.

You should really learn how to do this in the safe environment of a race track, where there’s no cars around, where vision is good and where falling down won’t kill you.

Just brake a little later into a corner so you’ll still be on the brakes a little as you begin to turn. Feel good? Brake a little later the next time and a little later after that. Eventually, after much practice, you’ll get to the point where you’re hitting the apex at pace, just as you let go of the last little bit of front brake and begin to apply a little throttle. That’s right, no coasting, you swap brake for throttle at the apex.

Later braking means more time spent accelerating on the straights means faster lap times.

It also helps with safety. Because the front suspension will already be compressed, the front tire’s contact patch already maximized, you’ll be able to use that brake lever to tighten or widen your line, without upsetting the bike. That pays huge dividends on the road, where you often come around a blind corner to spot a patch of gravel or similar. Trail braking will help you avoid that obstacle in a safe, fluid, smooth manner.

Be aware of the grip a tire has available. Leaning and braking both require grip from the same, finite source. The more you lean, the less you can brake and vice versa. As you near max lean, you near max grip. As you near max brake, you also near max grip. Cross the two and you’ll be laying on the ground, watching your bike cartwheel through a gravel trap.

4. Is This Corner Tightening Or Opening Up?

You’re in a blind corner, wondering when you can start getting on the throttle. In the absence of other visual references, simply look at the horizon point where the two sides of the road appear to meet. If that point is holding a steady distance from you, the corner is continuing at a constant radius. If it’s moving towards you, the corner is tightening. If it’s moving away from you, the corner opens up and you can begin accelerating. Sound like magic? It works like it too.

5. Forget The Clutch For Upshifts

Forgive me if this sounds a little remedial, but I see a lot of guys out on the road who don’t know how to do this. Works on any bike, be it crotch rocket, assless chaps mobile or two-wheeled Hummer H2.

The benefit is smoother, faster shifts and slightly lower clutch wear. It’s just easier and will better enable you to work shifting into the rest of your riding.

Super easy to do. As you accelerate and are approaching the point where you want to shift up, sneak your toe under the lever and apply a little upwards pressure. Now, quickly close the throttle a little while keeping that upward pressure on the shift liver, feel the gear slip home, and open it back up.

Takes a little practice to make it smooth, but once you’ve nailed it, you’ll be surprised at how little time it took. Doesn’t work so well if you’re cruising along at constant speed or decelerating (then why are you upshifting?), you’ll eventually just learn to get all your shifts out of the way as you increase speed, then be in the right gear for cruising along the highway or whatever. On some bikes, I still use the clutch between 1st and 2nd, just because going through neutral occasionally requires that in order to maintain smoothness. You’ll figure it out.

6. Steer Left To Go Right

Countersteering. It’s the most often misunderstood, but most commonly practiced riding skill out there. If you ride a motorcycle or bicycle you already do it.

It’s way more simple than its counterintuitive nature sounds. Go out to your bike, sit on it with both legs firmly on the ground. Now, turn the bars to the left. Which way does the bike want to fall? Yes, to the right. Look at the front wheel, you’re creating a point, with it on one side and the bike’s main body on the other. The bike wants to fall towards that point.

Out on the road, if you’re successfully managing to not bounce off every tree, car and building, you’re already doing it, just subconsciously. Consciously practicing it will enhance your control over the bike and the speed at which you’re able to turn.

To do it, go practice in a big, empty parking lot. Ride along at 25mph hour or so and give the bar on the inside of the direction you want to turn a little nudge. You’ll turn. Next time, nudge it a little harder. Then go out on the road and start incorporating that into your riding. There you go, you’ve mastered the art of the countersteer.

Works on a bicycle too, so feel free to practice it there first.

7. Look Where You Want To Go

Car veering into your lane? Tight corner catch you out? Obstacle in the road? Lane splitting? Look at the gap, where you want to be, the spot on the track you want to reach, not at the hazard or car or obstruction. Your body and the bike will follow. Consciously think about this, force yourself to do it if necessary, it works. Practice doing it, this will save your life.

8. Save Your Balls, Use Your Knees

You’ve likely heard or read somewhere that, for better control, you should keep your weight off your hands while riding. But, when you’re braking heavily, it can be hard to keep that weight off your hands. The solution? Grip the tank firmly between your knees, then relax your upper body. Stomp Grip or a similar product that gives your legs better purchase on the tank can be a huge help here. Bonus: no more crushed testicles (well for the guys anyway!)

9. Brake! Right.

The front brake is the most powerful component on your motorcycle. It’s capable of altering your bike’s velocity far quicker than then engine. It’s a far sharper tool than that found in even the most expensive performance cars and, as such, is also more difficult to use. Name one Porsche or Ferrari that can loop itself over its front wheels with an accidental brush of the brake pedal.

The sheer power of the front brake on performance motorcycles is one of the main reasons we advise new riders to begin on something small and light; mastering a motorcycle’s brakes takes years of experience. Here’s a short cut:

1. Use two fingers only; your index and middle finger. Keep the others wrapped around the throttle.

2. Anytime you may need to brake in a hurry, such as riding through traffic, rest those two fingers on the lever, ready to go. This is called “covering” the brake. Doing so will help you actuate it smoothly and respond more quickly.

3. Load the front tire to increase grip. To give yourself the maximum possible braking ability, you need to maximize the front tire’s grip. Anytime you start braking, even in a panic situation, start by gently pulling in the lever, compressing the front suspension and pushing the front tire into the ground. Only once that tire’s had a chance to compress and spread out, increasing its contact patch and accepting the bike’s weight, can you begin to apply full braking force.

4. Progressively squeeze harder and harder, until you’ve achieved the desired level of deceleration. Once the rear wheel starts coming off the ground, or you feel the front tire beginning to lose traction, you’ve reached the maximum possible amount of braking for those conditions. Hold lever pressure steady or back off slightly to a level you’re comfortable with.

Above all, be smooth and progressive with your inputs. Grabbing a fist full of brake will just make you crash.

Rear brake? It’s great for low-speed control, but on non-chopper-style motorcycles, contributes little to outright braking power; under deceleration, the rear tire becomes unweighted.

10. The Best Performance Upgrade

Loud exhausts, flashy chrome, fancy tires and tacky paint jobs won’t make you fast, proficient or safe. Practice will. The best use of your time and money is putting miles under your wheels. Pick up a copy of Twist of the Wrist or Sport Riding Techniques, read them through, then pick out individual skills and go practice each until you’re an expert. Start combining them when you’re ready, never stop trying to get better and you’ll be an expert rider before you know it.

 

10 things you need to know about motorcycle body position for sport riding

10 Things You Need To Know About Motorcycle Body Position For Sport Riding

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Click here to go to Rideapart’s website

Is body position the new knee down? Not only does it look better in photos, but it actually makes you faster and, believe it or not, safer. Here’s 10 things you need to know about motorcycle body position.

1. There’s a reason all GP riders look the same right now.
Compare a picture of Marc Marquez on his RC213V to Jorge Lorenzo to Dani Pedrosa, to Nicky Hayden, to Valentino Rossi to anyone else on the grid right now. With the exception of the colors on their gear and bikes, they look identical. That’s because an accepted form has developed; think of it as a best practices for the sport of motorcycle riding. And, the thing is, you, me and everyone else can benefit from looking like this too.

Motorcycle Body Position

2. It’s not about elbow down.
It’s actually about safety. The reason GP riders hang off like this isn’t to show off; it’s to remove as much lean angle from the bike, at a given speed, as possible. Less lean angle means a larger tire contact patch, a greater margin for error and the ability to brake later and accelerate sooner. While you and I aren’t achieving the same level of performance or lean on the street or track, we can benefit from that too.

Motorcycle Body Position

3. Mick Doohan had it wrong.
Well, maybe not for his time. But, with modern tires, it’s no longer ideal to drop your butt way off the seat, crossing your torso across the tank to keep your head high. In fact, the opposite is true. To achieve correct, contemporary BP, you actually only want to drop half your butt off, then drop your torso and helmet down to a position parallel with the road.

Motorcycle Body Position

4. Why it works.
From a front-on view, draw an imaginary line straight up through the center of the front tire. In order for your body weight to have the greatest possible influence on the bike’s lean angle, you want as much of your body as possible to be between that line and the ground, on the inside of a corner. The further in that direction you go, the less the bike will need to lean at a given speed. Say, at 45 mph, you have to lean the bike at 45 degrees to take a certain corner while sitting bolt upright on top of it. Using body position, you can decrease that lean at 45 mph to (again, hypothetically) to 35 degrees. That’s safer; you’ll have more tire in contact with the road and more grip. If you suddenly have to alter your line, you can add that 10 degrees back in, no problem. Or, for the purposes of going fast, your 45 degrees suddenly becomes more miles per hour.

Motorcycle Body Position

5. How you can get there.
Honestly, your best bet is simply studying photos of racers, journalists and other fast riders, then trying to emulate their BP. There’s a basic formula that seems to work though. We’re going to assume you’re already riding with the balls of your feet on the pegs and without putting weight through the handlebars. First, scoot one butt cheek off the seat, on the inside. The corner of the seat should be up your crack. Then, open your shoulder and chest towards the corner and try and “kiss” the inside mirror. This should drop your torso down parallel with the road, but a good reference point is to touch the top of the tank with your fully extended outside arm. Remember to look where you want to go, and voila, good BP.

Motorcycle Body Position

6. What to do with your weight.
Lock your outside thigh and knee into the groove in the tank designed to hold them; it’s called “hanging off” for a reason. The rest of your weight can go through the balls of your feet, into the footpegs, but keep the inside foot free enough that you can pivot your leg. That way, as your knee touches down, your leg can fold up and not impede your ability to lean further. Never put weight through your knee as it’s dragging, that’ll remove weight from the tires and could cause a lowside. Also keep your weight off the bars. Doing so leaves steering unobstructed and allows the bike to move around a little and correct itself and also makes it easier for you to make steering inputs.

As you begin to accelerate out of a corner, deliberately hold your body down while pushing the bike up. Less lean angle means you can use more throttle, accelerating harder. Then, as you prepare for the next corner, put your weight through your legs and slide your butt across to the opposite side without bouncing on the seat or bars; it should simply be a smooth transition.

Motorcycle Body Position

7. Ergonomics help.
Our buddy Garret is, by anyone’s standards, huge. But, he rides an 848 Evo with a fairly compact rider triangle. For the longest time, he’s struggled with BP, getting a little better with practice, but has been frustrated with his progress. I suggested he call up SpeedyMoto and get a custom set of clip-ons made that would be higher, further forward and wider, creating more room for his upper body. Look at the result; this could be Marquez, just 10 years into a Paella binge. As a tall guy riding stock bikes, this is something I struggle with, too. Give me something spacious and I have no problem (see Guzzi shot below). You should consider stock ergonomics a starting point, swap rearsets and handlebars until your bike actually fits you.

Motorcycle Body Position

8. Your bike doesn’t matter.
Just your body position. The same basic principals apply whether you’re riding a tourer, standard or even an ADV bike. Heck, hanging off can even keep a dual sports’ knobbies happy. Less lean angle at a given speed makes any type of bike safer and faster.

Motorcycle Body Position

9. It helps in bad weather too.
Hanging off with correct body position doesn’t just help GP riders go faster around a track. It works in the city, on highway exit ramps, in the rain and pretty much anywhere that you want to be safer. By taking lean angle away from a given speed, it keeps the bike more upright and more of the tire on the road. It helped me on Tuesday, while I was riding the 2014 Ducati 899 Panigaleat a soaked Imola. By hanging way off, I was able to keep more of the tires’ grooves on the pavement.

Motorcycle Body Position

10. But it’s not everything.
The basic principals and advantages always apply, of course, but just because you can’t get your torso parallel with the ground doesn’t mean you’re a bad or slow rider. Think of the ideal BP as a direction to work in, then try to do so while focusing primarily on smooth control inputs, good lines and safe riding. Proficient motorcycling is the whole package; it’s not just about looking good in photos.

Click here to go to Rideapart’s website

 

10 Things they never told you about becoming a biker

10 Things They Never Told You About Becoming a Biker

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Click here to go to Rideapart’s website

So, after months of nothing but Ramen Noodles, you’ve saved up enough loose change to put down a deposit on your first motorcycle. An exciting new world with leather jackets and without traffic, right? Sure, but there some other…stuff, too. Stuff no one else has told you about becoming a biker.

 Photo: Kynan Tait

1. Bees & Animals
Bees are a pretty innocuous creature, so long as they’re in the backyard. Sure, if you hassle them, you might get stung, but in general, they leave you alone if you leave them alone. Get on a motorcycle, though, and the humble bee is transformed into a weapon of mass destruction.

At anything over 10mph, a bee in the face/neck/any exposed body part will feel — and this isn’t an exaggeration at all — like you’ve just been shot with a rubber bullet. And, in its final throes, the bee will sting you. Probably in the face, because it’s trapped inside your helmet.

All of that takes place while you’re attempting to operate a relatively complex machine in busy traffic with absolutely nowhere to pull over safely.

Bees have also evolved the extraordinary ability to find gaps in your waterproof, hermetically sealed riding suit that nothing else, not even a drop of water, can penetrate. The bee will always find a way. Normally, it’s around your neck, plunging down your chest and stinging you as many times as possible before your frantic self flagellation manages to squash it. But sometimes, it’ll find its way in around your waistband, then proceed to sting you on the genitalia. Really, this does happen and likely will happen at some point in your riding career. Car drivers will pass by flummoxed by the odd, leather-clad man frantically stripping on the roadside while hopping around with a swollen face.

Animals, too, have been put on this planet for the specific purpose of performing Kamikaze missions on passing motorcyclists. In rural areas, deer will wait in the roadside undergrowth, listening for the approach of a bike. At the very last second, when it’s far too late for you to take evasive action, they’ll fling themselves into your path, or maybe just leap straight for your head.

Even domestic animals like to get in on the act. Cats will test your reflexes by bolting from underneath cars to underneath your wheels. Dogs will feel it’s their duty to hunt you down.

2. You’re Now An Expert Meteorologist
Forget the TV weatherman, you’re going to develop a better ability to read weather radar maps, cloud formations and wind patterns than anyone with an actual degree in the field. And that’s because the weather is now absolutely critical to your day-to-day life.

Can you make it home from work before the storm hits? If so, what’s your latest time of departure, chosen route and necessary average speed to make that possible?

Will it dip below freezing on your commute tonight? If so, should you pack your heated gloves or is the ride short enough for simply your heavy duty winter ones?

Is the rain today going to be light, meaning you can get away with leather or heavy, meaning you need that Bibendum suit?

Slicks, road tires, intermediates or full wets at the track day next week? You’d better know for sure, because that deposit is non refundable and it takes four days for tires to arrive.

3. Say Goodbye To A and B
Before you had a motorcycle, you always tried to find the quickest and most direct way to get around. In a car or truck, it was efficient and practical to do so. Now that you have a bike, you’ll be willing to go 100 miles out of your way to visit a store or restaurant that has the same stuff as the one in your neighborhood. You’ll find yourself with entire States between you and home, amongst strangers and in strange places that you never knew existed, just because. You’ll tell your family you’re just going out for a quick ride, then return hours, sometimes days later, not entirely sure where you have been. And it won’t matter, because you were riding.

4. Manholes, Paint and Tar Snakes
Utility companies go around placing large, slick metal plates in the road, precisely where motorcyclists need to ride or, in intersections, put their foot down. In the dry, that’s no big deal. But, in the rain? A wet manhole (no sniggering, please) becomes a deadly skating rink. Put a foot on one and your boot instantly slips, meaning you’ll drop your bike. Hit one while turning and you’ll be laying on the ground.

Road markings take on a new life in the wet, too. Nearly as slippery as manhole covers, they can make the back end of your bike weave around as the tire hunts for traction. Even under the gentlest of acceleration.

And then there are tar snakes: cracks in the road filled with liquid tar. In the winter, that tar freezes and becomes strips of black ice. In the summer, it melts and feels pretty much the same. The cracks they’re installed to patch tend to be in the heaviest sections of wear on the road. You know, like the apex of a corner or downhill, approaching a corner, where you want to be braking. They couldn’t have been designed to catch you by surprise any better.

5. Friends & Strangers
So scrimped and saved to buy your first bike, and now your friends are going to want in on the action too. No, not by going out and buying their own, but using your new pride and joy. Most are just going to want to pose for a new Facebook profile picture on it, but some are going to swear riding competency and want to take it around the block. Don’t let them, they’ll inevitably return holding only a par of (now detached) handlebars and a story about how it’s not their fault.

Complete strangers will start approaching you, too. Normally old men, who will want to recount stories of the old Triumph or Norton they once rode. They’ll tell how your bike reminds them of it. Well, until they realize your bike is Japanese, at which point they’ll look shocked and walk away.

6. You Become A Better Car Driver
Before you bought your bike, you were content to be a sheep. You’d complain, of course, other people’s driving was never as good as your own, but you were seemingly powerless to do anything about it. You just say stuck in the flow, merrily texting and tailgating away.

But now that you’ve ridden a bike? You’re suddenly hyper aware. Not just of the risks and the bad driving and that nasty pothole six corners ahead, requiring a specific line begun now to avoid, but of the utter ridiculousness of it all. That guy in the $100,000 Porsche? What a poseur, that thing is slow. That guy driving the eight-passenger SUV all by himself? How unnecessary. All these thousands of people sitting in a traffic jam? That’s it, this car’s going on Craigslist.

7. Waving Etiquette
Visit any forum and you’ll find novel-length screeds on the rights and wrongs of whome you should acknowledge while out on your motorcycle, and how. Should you wave at people on scooters? Will that thug on the sportsbike come chasing after you should you fail to salute? Do cruiser riders count?

You could spend every moment of your ride waving at anyone and everything, which is just mental. It’s probably best just to get on with the task in hand and ride your bike. Unless you see another riding unwittingly approaching a speeding trap, in which case it’s your sacred duty to tap the top of your helmet. Got that?

8. Working On Your Bike
Your new motorcycle likely came with an owner’s manual, full of specifications, technical drawing and suggestions on how to not end up with a worthless pile of parts stacked up in your driveway. You can see engine and all of the important bits and how hard can changing your oil be, anyways?

Take the time to read up about any work you want to do online, talk to knowledgeable friends and spend some money on acquiring the correct tools. And yeah, it’s not that hard.

There’s no obligation to take your bike to an authorized dealer and working on it yourself won’t invalidate your warranty, provided you don’t screw it up. If you don’t, you’ll end up with an enormous sense of accomplishment, along with fresh oil.

9. Your Bike Is Stronger Than You Think
Oh my god, you hit the rev limiter! Forgot to adjust the chain! Your tires are 2psi off! Relax. Your motorcycle is a lot tougher than you would think. It’s a highly capable feat of modern engineering and, part of its design process is devoted to making it stand up to your ham fisted abuses. Yes, you can take your bike on a trackday. Yes, you can take it on that weekend road trip. Yes, you can ride it fast and hard and put it away dirty. Your bike’s not going to melt in the rain.

10. The Boogers
Probably the least glamorous part of riding a motorcycle is the stuff that’s going to start coming out of your face. Live in a city? You’ll be inhaling so many carbon particulates that your nose will quickly clog up with black goo, then start leaking it down your face. Ride in the cold? Your nose will run the entire time. Kicking the snot off your upper lip will keep it from spreading across the rest of your face, then drying into a crusty mess. After every ride, you’ll blow your nose and it will come out black, brown, yellow and, if you’ve been riding anywhere dusty or around a nasty chemical plant, likely red too. You need to carry a hanky and you’ll need to wash that hanky every couple of days, because you will be using it, heavily.

Click here to go to Rideapart’s website

Become an MRAWA Member

Let those who ride decide

Contribute to and benefit from MRA WA membership

Be part of the peak motorcycle and scooter body in Western Australia working with Federal and State Government agencies as well as local councils on behalf of all riders in Western Australia.

  • ♦  Raise issues effecting your safety and rights as a rider through your MRAWA Committee.
  • ♦  Free motorcycle skills enhancement course (Ride Right)
  • ♦  Receive discounts from many motorcycle related businesses in WA including some insurance companies.
  • ♦  Receive reduced cost for some overnight rides (Numbat Rally, Xmas in July etc.)
  • ♦  Access to all MRA day rides
  • ♦  Monthly updates on our rides via email
  • ♦  Receive our bi monthly newsletter (The Razors Edge)

Click here to find our how you can become a member of MRAWA

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Motorcycle pre ride safety checks on your Tyres

MRAWA


The Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia has some great educational videos to assist you with safer riding including pre ride safety checks of your tyres.

Membership

Contribute to and benefit from MRA WA membership

Be part of the peak motorcycle and scooter body in Western Australia working with Federal and State Government agencies as well as local councils on behalf of all riders in Western Australia.

  • Raise issues effecting your safety and rights as a rider through your MRAWA Committee.
  • Free motorcycle skills enhancement course (Ride Right)
  • Receive discounts from many motorcycle related businesses in WA including some insurance companies.
  • Receive reduced cost for some overnight rides (Numbat Rally, Xmas in July etc.)
  • Access to all MRA day rides
  • Monthly updates on our rides via email
  • Receive our bi monthly newsletter (The Razors Edge)

Click here to find our how you can become a member of MRAWA

For more great videos from The Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia check out their You Tube Channel.

Click here to go to the MRAWA You Tube Channel