Here's a few tips regarding general motorcycle operation and safety. Now,
pretend to be an authority on any of these items, nor do I expect you to accept
them as gospel. They are just some useful tips I've learned from others and
some I've discovered on my own. Use them as little or as much as you wish.
This one's simple, and the most important you can use. It refers to the
physical position of your bike down the road in that number of seconds.
- 12 seconds - Overall scan of the road ahead, looking for potential problems in
the road ahead. Also scanning for peripheral movement and general hidden dangers
(parked cars that can open doors, kids in the yard that can dart into the street,
blind alleys from which cars can emerge, etc.) There is plenty of time to react
and avoid most situations at this distance
- 4 seconds - Closer observance of items noticed at 12 seconds. Still plenty
of time to avoid hazards that appear for the first time at this point
- 2 seconds - Immediate threats and/or obstacles that require instant
decision making. Ideally, these are things you already saw at 12 or 4
seconds and are now prepared to properly deal with. Worst case, they are
hazzards that appear for the first time, requiring you to take drastic
measures. The 2-second interval is what I like to call sustained concentration,
and it helps you always stay attuned to the road you are riding and everything
associated with it
Always bring a basic first aid kit with you including at least the following
- Bandage materials (bandages, tape, gauze)
- Antibiotic cream
- Water (a couple small, unopened bottles - opened ones could spoil)
- A sufficient supply of any prescription drugs you take
And some other items that are nice to include if you have room...
- Heat blanket (very thin thermal blanket to help prevent shock)
- Pain relievers (Motrin, Tylenol, etc.)
- Instant heat pack(s)
- Instant cold pack(s)
Steering on a motorcycle is very different from a car, in that you never really
turn the handlebars to steer, instead you lean. Now, you already know this, but
it's also important to know that your instincts take over when riding a bike,
including the instinct to follow your vision. It's in your nature to direct
the bike wherever you are looking,
so use that to your advantage. Look for
the path you want to take and follow through with the bike.
Related to the Visual Steering, if you see something in the road (potholes,
a dead animal, rocks, etc.) look not at the obstacle, but instead
look at a point in the clear path around the obstacle. The human
brain is attuned to handle distinct, positive goals better than negative ones,
so this technique will help you smoothly deal with most hazards you encounter.
The best way to understand countersteering is to experience it. Take your
bike onto a long straight road. Now when the bike is traveling smoothly,
slightly push forward on the right handlebar. Normally you'd expect the
bike to turn left, because you're effectively turning the handlebars to
the left. What actually happens, however, is that the bike turns right.
This is due to the action of your body weight shifting to the right
instinctively to counteract the push on the handlebar. This results in
you leaning the bike to the right, which in turn steers the bike to the right.
Practice the smooth application of countersteering and you will find
it to be very useful in curves to help you gain more control in both
the approach and the follow-through. Also, if you find yourself not
being able to complete a turn (i.e. it was a bit sharper than you expected),
countersteering will help give you the added control to get through it.
Always pull the clutch the full amount, every time you shift. This ensures
that the gears will disengage completely when you do. If you don't, you
run the risk of the teeth crunching into each other as you change the gears.
Every bit of stress you save your transmission from, the longer it will last.
Commonly found in temperate zones, the tar snake is a sneaky beast that
also appears in warm climates. Not an actual animal, this refers to the
liquid tar used to patch up cracks in concrete, preventing water from seeping
into the crack and causing more damage when it freezes. When it
solidifies, the rubbery tar resembles (and feels like) a snake in
the road. The problem for motorcyclists is twofold, both when the
tar is heated up from the hot sun, and the other when there's a bit
of rain to wet the snake. Either way, the snake becomes a slick strip
on the road that your bike will slip on should your tires hit it at
the right angle. The best way to deal with the snakes is to simply
avoid them. If that's not possible, do what you would normally do
with every other bump, crack or defect in the road - accept it straight
on and prepare to counteract the impact that it will have on your
momentum or velocity. For the most part, you're probably not going
to wipe out, but you will freak out a bit when you lose
control of your bike for that fraction of a second.
A relative of the tar snake, the paint snake is any kind of paint on the
road. The paint can be accidental, such as a can falling off the back of
a truck and spilling onto the road, or it can be deliberate, like direction
arrows or crosswalk hash marks. Either way, beware the paint when it's
wet, because it'll be much slicker than the road it's on. If you hit the
paint on an angle in the rain, there's a chance your bike can slip out
from under you. Always be aware of your speed and the road conditions
and you should be ok.
Yeah, it's getting silly now. Regardless, avoid ice. Don't even ride
when there's ice out. I know there are many who will disagree with me
on this, but it's just not worth it. If you do plan to ride when there's
ice on the roads, just please dress appropriately warm as well as armored.