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Lessons/Rules I have learned from 30 years of riding.

  • Oct 03 00:32 AM GTM
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I have been riding all sorts of motorcycles for 30 years, off-road, on road, superbikes, cruisers, choppers, dual sport, tourers you name it. And here are a few lessons I have learned through the years. Some of them I learned myself the hard way, some was taught to me by other riders, some I read somewhere and some I learned during rider training or track school. You are never too old or experienced to learn. The moment you think you know everything about riding a motorcycle you are a danger to yourself and other people. Always keep learning.
1. You are invisible! (NOT invincible!)

The first piece of advice I give to any new rider is always this. When you get on a motorcycle, you are invisible! Drivers look for other cars, they aren’t conditioned to look for something smaller like a motorcycle unless they ride themselves or have friends or family with motorcycles. Drivers are also bad at judging the approach speed of motorcycles. They will take a glance and see you are still far away without realizing you are approaching much faster than anticipated. Never assume a driver has seen you. Always assume that car is going to pull out in front of you and prepare an appropriate response. The day will come when it will save you.

2. ATGATT!!!!!!

All the gear all the time! Dress for the slide, not the ride. Do you want to sweat, or do you want to bleed? I have had a few slides and always got up without a scratch thanks to protective gear. Doesn’t matter if you are shooting to the shop 2 blocks away or going cross country. Wear protective gear! You never know when an accident happens, and your skull is not harder than asphalt or another car no matter how tough you think you are. Google for some pics of people who fell without gear if you think you don’t need gear. And wear a full-face helmet preferably if you don’t want to eat tar. I can’t understand people who don’t want to wear helmets. That brain is so stupid, it doesn’t want to protect the container it is in. And a good helmet will help protect you against hearing damage as well. I personally always ride with earplugs.

3. Don’t skimp!

Don’t skimp on protective gear, helmets, brakes and tires. These items can literally mean the difference between getting into an accident or avoiding one, or surviving a crash or not. Don’t skimp on anything that goes between you and the tar. If you can afford a motorcycle but not proper gear, then you can’t afford a motorcycle. Also don’t skimp on regular maintenance of your bike. Make sure it is serviced regularly and the chain and sprockets are properly adjusted and lubed. Brake pads still have enough meat and that the tires are still good. Check your tire pressure regularly. They lose pressure much faster than cars. A few Psi can make the difference between an apex carving razor or a wallowing butter knife. There are enough risks on a motorcycle, no need to add to it with a poorly maintained bike.

4. Get rider training or do a track day.

Track days are not just for wannabe racers on superbikes. You can take any road bike to the track. They normally have different classes to cater for all skill sets, even beginners. On a track you don’t have to worry about cars and potholes and speed limits. You can concentrate on your riding. You won’t believe how much you will learn and how much confidence you will gain from a single day at the track. You will learn more at the track in one day than 2 months on the road. Even better if you have an instructor helping you. And 9 times out of 10 you can talk to any of the experienced riders at a track and ask questions and for help and they will be happy to assist.

5. You need to know how to ride before tackling rush hour traffic.

If you were ever stuck in your car in traffic and thought to get a bike and start commuting, good idea, but first learn to ride. When you are riding in rush hour traffic your full attention needs to be on the road and traffic. You can’t still be thinking about how to change gears and where the brake is. You need to be riding on muscle memory alone. You need to know what it feels like to suddenly swerve on your bike and what an emergency brake feels like and how quickly your bike can stop. You need to practice these things in a safe environment before taking on heavy traffic. Your first emergency stop can’t be in an emergency.

6. Watch the gaps.

When you are filtering through traffic, watch for the gaps opening big enough for a car and then watch the car next to it. A car can’t change lane in front of you if there is no gap to go into.

7. Own your lane.

Don’t ride all over to the edge of the lane. If there is a gap big enough for a car you can bet some idiot in a car is going to drive into it next to you putting you in danger. You have just as much right to be there as any car, so own your lane.

8. Stop on the side of a lane.

When you stop at a traffic light is the one time you don’t own your lane. Stop over to the side of the lane. This is so that an inattentive driver on his cellphone doesn’t slam into the back of you and squash you between two cars.

9. Ride in the same groove as the car’s tires.

Don’t ride in the middle of a lane, ride in the same groove as the car tires. Cars that leak oil will drop it in the middle of the lane and if there are any debris in the road then hopefully the cars in front have already picked it up.

10. Stay calm.

A lot of us have shown signs or smacked the mirrors of someone cutting us off. But we are all human and make mistakes. If it wasn’t intentional, let it go. Motorcycle can be hard to see, especially when we’re weaving between traffic and appear out of nowhere. When we ride, we carry the flag for all bikers. If you have road rage and take it out on a car, that driver won’t get home and say you’re a jerk. He will say all bikers are jerks. And maybe next time he retaliates against another innocent rider because of something you have done. Be kind and forgive. We are all facing an uphill battle. And any car can take you out so just stay calm.

11. The road is not a racetrack.

Few things come close to pinning the throttle on a superbike. But do it where it’s safe. Don’t go doing Mach 2 in a residential area. Also, you never know where there’s an oil patch or loose dirt in a corner.

12. Don’t go for the holeshot.

If you don’t know what a holeshot is, it’s getting into the first corner first during a race. I know it’s fun to sit at a traffic light and wait for green and then blast of like a scolded cat. Especially with launch control. But don’t get so focused on the lights that you don’t spot the truck blasting through the red at the last moment. Look both ways before going. Green doesn’t mean you’re safe.

13. Don’t travel a lot faster than traffic.

When moving in between cars don’t travel faster than 15 – 20mph than the flow of traffic. This also applies when moving past stationary vehicles. If you go faster, you won’t be able to react in time when someone suddenly changes lanes or opens a door in standing traffic.

14. Beware of turning cars when overtaking a row of cars.

Always watch out for cars turning into sideroads or driveways when overtaking. They won’t always indicate. And especially if you’re overtaking a row of cars and the front car wants to turn, he’s not looking for you in his mirror.

I am not perfect and can honestly say I have broken all these rules at one time or another, and sometimes paid the price. Maybe you have gotten away without proper gear for years, but that is no guarantee that you won’t have an accident tomorrow. The time will come to pay the piper. Have respect for other riders and your motorcycle, no matter what you ride, it’s the same wind. Stay safe and most of all have fun riding.

TLDR;

1. You are invisible! (NOT invincible!)

2. All the gear all the time!!!!!!

3. Don’t skimp on proper gear and maintenance!

4. Get rider training or do a track day.

5. You need to know how to ride properly before tackling rush hour traffic.

6. Watch the gaps in traffic that cars can dive into.

7. Own your lane.

8. Stop on the side of a lane.

9. Ride in the same groove as the car’s tires.

10. Stay calm.

11. The road is not a racetrack.

12. Don’t go for the holeshot – look before blasting off from a green light.

13. Travel only 20mph faster than traffic.

14. Beware of turning cars when overtaking a row of cars.

Posted by @IIstroke
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Comments
  • Shelly Michelle Oct 15 22:35 GTM
    Can you make this shareable so I can share it to my Facebook group Riding & Why We Love It? Its good information for new riders. I saw it posted on Lloyd'z Uncensored but it wouldn't let me share.
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