Posts Tagged ‘motorcycle safety’

safety

Spring has sprung across the world (in the northern hemisphere), and riders are starting to come back out in force.  Despite my near-debilitating seasonal allergies this is one of my favorite times of year!  Nothing gets me psyched up like the first Sunday that it’s warm enough to ride after winter where I’m pretty sure every person that owns a motorcycle where I live is out!  (Side note:  motorcycles are out in much greater numbers on Sunday compared to Saturday around me, is that true for anyone else?)  The strong sense of community, camaraderie, and kinship I feel on a warm (or at least not cold!) spring day is part of why I love riding so much.

But motorcycling isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.  As we all come out of our winter cocoons to spread our wings on the road, it is important to remember that motorcycling is not without its fair share of danger.  In many parts of the world, four-wheeled motorists still are not properly trained to accommodate us on the road.

TIPS FOR YOU TO KEEP YOURSELF SAFE

Make Sure Your Bike is Properly Maintained

I will probably do a whole post just on this in the future, but motorcycle maintenance is much more frequent than cars and very, very important.  I’m only going to touch on two items today as I feel they are the most overlooked maintenance tasks, and they both pertain to your chain.

Maintain your chain!  That’s a refrain I’ve heard across the internet in regards to proper bike maintenance.  Chain-driven bikes are the single most common type of bike, and the chain is pivotal in making everything work, yet so many people neglect to take care of it.  If you don’t properly care for your chain you could one day find yourself riding down the road on a sunny afternoon one minute and on the ground the next because your chain jumped off the rear sprocket and locked up the bike.  This is a worst-case scenario, but it does happen.  Here are two simple tasks you can perform to help prevent that:

Regularly monitor your chain’s slack.  Slack allows your motorcycle’s chain to adjust as your back wheel bounces up and down on the road.  Every motorcycle has a recommended chain slack, and it’s usually even printed on the bike’s swing arm (if you have a swing arm bike) or somewhere else near the chain.  You want to keep your bike’s chain slack within the manufacturer recommended specifications so your chain has enough slack to adjust as needed, but not so much that it can fly off the sprocket.

Lube your chain.  I’ve heard many people say “I lube my chain and change my oil at the start of every season” not realizing that while that’s fine for your oil, chains need to be lubed much more frequently.  Most manufacturers I’ve seen recommend lubing your chain every 500 miles, but the usual common accepted practice among owners is about 500-1000 miles.  I commute 450 miles a week for work, so I just lube my chain every weekend regardless.  It takes 5 minutes and could save your life.  Finally, lube your chain EVERY TIME after you ride in the rain.  That’s right, every time, even if you just lubed it before riding that day.  Rain cleans your bike, but it also washes all of that sweet, sweet lube right off the chain!

Wear A Helmet

I personally am an ATGATT type of guy, but I get that some people don’t want to go through the trouble of putting on special pants, boots, gloves, and a jacket every time they go out to ride.  Motorcycling is about managing acceptable risk after all.  One thing that I try my hardest to convince every rider that I meet to do, though, is wear a helmet.  Broken limbs can heal, shorn skin can grow back, but a crushed skull is often motorcycle-helmet-after-accidentpretty permanent.  Once again, I intend to do a whole post on the topic of helmets, but for now I want to leave you with this one thought:

A friend once told me “You buy a $40 helmet for a $40 head, and a $400 helmet for a $400 head.”  I really like this, it makes a lot of sense.  What’s not said is you’re unique and regardless of what you think your head is worth, it’s worth so much more to someone else out there somewhere that cares about you.  Every head is at least a $400 head, please protect it.

Pretend You’re Invisible

I feel this too has been said a lot, but it cannot be stressed enough.  In a fight between a bike and a car / truck / whatever, the bike will lose.  Every time.  While it’s important for other motorists to look out for us, we also need to be looking out for ourselves.  Be proactive, before passing someone consider the likelihood of them wanting to get into your lane assafety you pass.  Assume that they won’t see you when they consider their lane switch.  And in this specific example, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about passing other motorists, do it QUICKLY.  Motorcycles are in part about speed.  Speed is fun.  Speed can also be a lifesaving tool if used appropriately.

A note specific to intersections:  intersections are the most deadly place for motorcyclists.  That person in the SUV crossing the other way may have looked you dead in the eye from your perspective, but odds are good they didn’t even see you.  They’re not trained to.  Proceed into intersections with the utmost caution; make sure you are aware of every car within visible distance of the intersection.  And only proceed through once you’re 100% sure no one is going to cut you off, and do it QUICKLY (see the theme here?)

So those are just a few quick tips to stay safe throughout the riding season, but wait I thought this post was about Motorcycle Awareness Month?  That is a very astute observation, and absolutely correct!  Which brings me to the second part of this post…

Put a “WATCH FOR MOTORCYCLES” Decal on Your Car

Bumper stickers and decals are annoying, I get it, but how many random things have you gotten stuck in your head because you were stuck behind someone with one at a stop light?  If you ride a motorcycle you owe it to yourself to put one of these on your car.  This is one decal that could actually save a life.  In the United States, the MSF gives out these stickers pretty often at the end of their courses, (that’s how I got mine) but if you don’t want to go through that, and don’t want to go through the hassle of looking up where to find one, here’s a couple direct Amazon links to both a high-visibility one depicting a cruiser and a standard black and white one featuring a sport bike.  I recommend getting the high-vis, but if you are the type of person who absolutely can’t stand the idea of having a cruiser stuck on your car, I understand.

Talk to Non-Riders About Riding

Depending on who you are this may either be a no-brainer or easier said than done.  Motorcycle awareness starts with you and the people around you.  For some non-riders talking about riding could be difficult as the fact that you ride worries them, and thinking about it makes it worse.  I am writing this tip for those types of people in your life.  Do your best to let them know that if they truly worry, then the best thing they can do is talk with you about it, and learn better how to share the road with motorcyclists.  Every non-rider that listens and learns is a step toward a safer world for motorcyclists.  With any luck that one person will then educate other people when the topic inevitably comes up among four-wheel motorists every Spring.

This second part is specifically for those of you with kids.  I used to always play a game with my friends called “Yellow Car”, which, as you might expect, is played by saying, “yellow car!” before anyone else when you see a yellow-colored car.  As a kid on long trips, my family would try to find as many different states’ license plates as we could before getting to our destination.  These games are silly, but they also teach very important observation skills.  For example, I can spot yellow cars in my sleep now.  So when you’re on the road with kids, play “Motorcycle” where the first person to yell (or say, but it usually turns into excited yelling) “Motorcycle!” as one goes by gets a point!  This will not only keep them entertained, but will teach them a very important skill once they grow up and become licensed drivers:  they’ll be able to spot a motorcycle from a mile away.

Join SyncRIDE

SyncRIDE is actually the inspiration for this whole article!  EatSleepRIDE is hosting SyncRIDE on May 27th to raise motorcycle awareness.  It’s a worldwide synchronized ride. No matter where you are at 10 AM EDT, just turn on your EatSleepRIDE app, (if you have a smartphone) and go for a ride with thousands of other riders!  As long as they continue it next year, I foresee SyncRIDE becoming a annual event for riders with the ability to create some real awareness.

And if you live in the Lancaster, PA area, hit me up at readysetmoto@gmail.com!  I’m trying to coordinate a group ride around here for the event as well!

What other things do you think we as riders can do to raise awareness and create safer motorways?  Let me know in the comments!

 

Michael Morris is a motorcycle enthusiast living in the middle of Amish Country Pennsylvania.  He runs and owns the motorcycle blog and news site www.ReadySetMoto.com.  When not working on his blog, he loves to interact with fellow motorcyclists on Twitter (@ReadySetMoto) and Facebook (facebook.com/Ready-Set-Moto) as well so drop him a line!

ShareTheRoad-pr  

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness month.  It is important to get the word out to your non-riding friends and family! 

I don’t own any of these photos about motorcycle safety but I have gathered them from across the internet.  I think “Fair Use” is in full operation in regards to their use.   

So copy and paste these motorcycle safety pictures &, memes.  Post them up to all your favorite sites.  Point them out to non-riders, we already get it! 

Ride safe.

 

safety

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.  

 

As we all know all the safety gear we wear and all the safety tech on our motorcycles are just not enough at times.  Awareness of motorcycles by drivers of cars and trucks is as important as everything we do. 

 

So to help improve the awareness of others (and therefore ourselves) we need to start teaching children to watch for motorcycles.  That is why the idea of teaching kids to count motorcycles instead of “punch bugs” is so important.  If they are watching for motorcycles as kids they will have an easier time seeing them when they start to drive.  Thus our safety as motorcyclist is improved.  The payoff is in the future but let’s invest now. 

 

Make a game that has a small reward when they spot “X” number of motorcycles. Ask your non-riding friends to do this with their children.  Mention it at events and gatherings, just get the word out.  You know when a 6 year old yells “motorcycle” that their parent is going to see it to!!

 

motorcycle-helmet-after-accident

Here in North America and in many other parts of the world, our motorcycles are coming out of their winter hibernation.  Along with the all of our riding accessories including helmets.

So what does that mean to you and me, the average motorcycle rider?

It means that you need to perform the safety checks for your motorcycle (tires, brakes, etc.).  You also need to check the condition of your helmets.  Some ideas on checking your motorcycle helmet:

  • Is the shell all in one piece? No cracks or splits?
  • Are the straps and connectors in good shape, no adverse wear or tear?
  • The internal padding is connected and stays in place?
  • Does the rest of the internals look in good operating condition?
  • Make sure that insects/creatures are not living in your helmet, see the photos below!

While your helmet might look clean and shiny it does not mean that it not ready for replacement. Worse yet, a single drop to the ground might be enough to cause you to consider replacement, according to the manufactures.

Here are some industry guidelines regarding your helmet:

  • Helmet manufacturers recommend replacing your helmet every 3 to 5 years, depending on use, to ensure optimal protection.
  • Over time, UV rays, internal adhesive and component aging can deteriorate a helmet’s protective qualities by degrading the interior protection layer.
  • Exposure to gasoline, insect repellent, cleaning fluids, exhaust fumes and excessive heat can degrade helmet materials.
  • If a helmet has been dropped or suffered an impact, it should be replaced immediately.
  • A helmet is designed for only one impact, even a small one. An impact may fracture its outer shell as well as compress the inner liner, neither of which may be visible.

Now it is your head so you need to make the decision, but you should at least check out your lid to make sure there are no major issues.

You can also go to HelmetCheck.Org to get some additional information.

 

ijustwant2ride.com

Viking Enforcer Motorcycle Jacket by MotorcycleHouse.com

MotorcycleHouse.com  has asked me to review one of their jackets, the Viking Cycle Enforcer Jacket.  Below is the unboxing and first impressions video.  Over the next few weeks I will be wearing the Cycle Enforcer jacket and will provide a full review in the near future.

 

WP_20160423_12_06_42_Rich

I just had new motorcycle tires installed.  This time I chose to go a different route then my normal Dunlop OEM tires.  I bought Pirelli Night Dragons for the Harley Davidson Ultra Limited. 

I did a lot of research on the different tires that are available for my motorcycle.  I looked at Michelin, Metzeler and other brands motorcycle tire stats, reviews etc.  I went with the Night Dragons as it was the only motorcycle tire that seemed to get better reviews in an area that concerned me quite a bit, grip in the wet.  As much as Iijustwant2ride.com love riding, it always seems to rain when we go out and a good “wet tire”, all things equal, got my attention. 

Now I do have concerns about not using the Dunlop OEM tires.  Those motorcycle tires are available at all Harley Davison dealers and would likely be in stock should a worst case scenario occur.  While it would not be optimal to run to different brands of tires on the motorcycle, I am sure worse things occur every day.  

The wife and I will be leaving soon on a 2,000 mile vacation ride so I am sure we will get to try these motorcycle tires in the wet and dry!  I will post a more in-depth review when we return.

First thing—–   I looked at your website and if there is a link for a motorcycle rider to report unsafe conditions it sure does not stand out.  If you really support motorcycle safety, add a link for us to quickly alert you to conditions that affect us.

NOW my problem —— This past Memorial Day (2016) I was out for a nice morning ride on one of the favorite roads of motorcyclist in the area (MD, WV, VA), Harpers Ferry Road. Always a classic, always a go to road to enjoy the ride, the view and road.  NOT SO MUCH NOW!

A very large (10+ miles) of this formally nice, paved road is now covered in GRAVEL. Small, pea sized gravel.  While there may be a study somewhere about how putting TONS OF GRAVEL on a paved road will improve conditions it DOES NOT IMPROVE SAFTY FOR MOTORCYCLIST.

Every turn I had to concentrate on my approach to ensure I was in the wheel path with the least amount of gravel.  Every oncoming car I had to worry about taking a face full of gravel.  Every time I came to a stop I had to slow well ahead and make sure my feet were firmly placed.  Harpers Ferry road is (was) supposed to be a great relaxing ride through the Maryland countryside.  Instead it became a gruesome exercise on how to torture the safety of motorcyclist.  I can only imagine how terrible this road will become in the rain!

Leaving this to nature to resolve will result in no resolution.  There is simply too much gravel splayed across this paved surface.  The turns, of which there is a lot, will never be completely safe for motorcyclist without mechanical intervention.  The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration must get this road cleaned up before someone is killed!!!  I typed that properly … BEFORE SOMEONE IS KILLED!

While I am at it—- The round-about at the intersection of Route 15 and 464 is now unsafe to motorcycles as well.  Not nearly as bad Harpers Ferry road but just as unsafe. One of your road crews used tar to seal road cracks, motorcyclist call these “tar snakes”.  Tar snakes are mostly just a pain in the backside type of road repair as they are easily ridden over.  Not so in a round-about, the slow speed, coupled with the higher lean angle, combined with cross traffic and cars to the left and right this is another area where road conditions will result in an accident.  At this particular intersection, the VERY high traffic volume will result in a gruesome accident.

fail

With May nationally recognized, in the US, as Motorcycle Safety Month I thought it might be an interesting idea to look at the future.  What are some of the safety features that might be appearing for motorcyclists in the near future?   

One place to look is the safety features in the automotive industry.  A lot of safety features have already crossed over from cars to high end motorcycles, think ABS, and those features are working their way into becoming standard features in most bikes.  So what is the next big safety feature to cross over?  It might be one, or all, of these: 

Honda-blind-spot-detector-patent-1Blind Spot Monitoring – Honda, BMW and others are working on migrating the technology to motorcycles.  Honda recently requested a patent for a system of camera and millimeter microwave transceivers to help the rider know what is in the blind spot.   

Heads Up Displays (HUDS) – Multiple developers are working on this technology.  One of the more famous is Skully and their smart helmet. Some of these products are already out there but at higher end price points.  In a year or three I expect these costs to go down. 

BMW-Motorcycle-SOS-Intelligent-Emergency-Call-01Emergency Accident Notification – Think “On Star” here in North America. BMW has a big push to introduce their “SOS System” which, similar to a car, is made up of multiple sensors and a mobile phone connection. There is also several other products that connect to your phone via a fob or other device, but I think the BMW system is the first one I have seen integrated into the bike itself. 

Additionally, I think we can expect more trickle down technology to get to the average person’s price point.  As I mentioned above ABS is appearing on more and more motorcycles and in some parts of the world will even be mandatory.  So what other safety features or items might make to the point of ubiquity and reasonable cost for motorcycles?  How about:

LED lights – Yes they have been around for a while, but they are not yet on a majority of bikes.  In a few more years I think all new bikes will come with LED lights. I recently put all LEDs on the back of my bike.

Adaptive headlights – These are the headlights that move a bit to help you see while cornering. BMW, KTM and a few others are experimenting with these lights but I do not think they are coming as original equipment on any motorcycle yet.  BUT if you want it now you can buy aftermarket and install adaptive headlights yourself.

4Smart helmets – Although they typically include HUD, smart helmets are a lot more.  Some offer dynamic noise cancelation, rear facing video, connections to phones, bike to bike communication, etc., etc. You just have to decide how much “connectivity” you want while riding, how much before it become a distraction to you.  I like the concept of a smart helmet but I have not yet had the opportunity to test one out.  

giorgi1Airbags – A few years ago Honda came out with airbags for their Goldwing. I really have not heard much about bike mounted airbags since. But airbags embedded in jackets has started to take hold in the market place.  First introduced for racing, you can now buy, for a bunch of money, for normal street riding.

Traction Control – Or launch control, or one of several other names.  This is on a lot of higher end sport bikes now and some large touring bikes.  It would be a safe bet that in a few years it will be extremely widespread and maybe even mandated.

Automatic tire pressure gauge – Harley Davidson, BMW, Honda and others all have these built into their higher end bikes.  So there is no reason to think that we will not see them on a lot more bikes in the future.

Cornering ABS – Smarter ABS, a system that knows you are in a turn and adjusts the braking to maximize its impact without affecting your turn.

Smart Helmets/HUD            Adaptive Headlights

BMW HUDS                       JW Speaker Adaptive Headlight 

Skully

Intelligent Cranium              Airbags

Sena Smart Helmet              Alpinestars Tech Air Street

Samsung                              Dainese D-Air Street

“Baby got back” and I cannot lie that it fits the Ultra Limited and I want to try to get drivers to see my motorcycle’s rear end. OK.. that is Ultra Bad.

In the age of distracted driving I want folks to have a better chance at seeing me when I am stopped, breaking, or slowing.  So I looked around for a device that would cause my rear lights to flash when the breaks are applied.  There are more than a few of these devices for nearly any motorcycle on the market but I went with the Custom Dynamics Magic Brake Light Flasher.WP_20160417_11_44_23_Rich

I will admit that my section of the Custom Dynamic product was influenced by my earlier purchase of their  LED Turn Signals .  That product was easy to install and has worked well.

The installation of the break light flasher was easier than I expected.  Once the seat was off and you can see the Tour Pak wiring it was almost a no brainer.  Once the device was installed we had to choose the flash pattern.  It comes with 10 patterns of varying complexity.  The video shows you all the patterns, and while it might be less than evident on the video the lights are quite bright. We went with the “Blaster X Consistent” pattern.

When I showed our upgrade to my daughter, as she pulled into the driveway, she stated “that’s distracting”.  I took that as a job well done!

Now it is hard to review whether or not this is a good safety product, if I never get rear ended did the flasher help or did I just get lucky.  But I can review it on ease of installation and my subjective thoughts.  This product does what it says it is going to do, it was easy to install, and I think it is going to help draw attention (thank you daughter).  Based on that I am giving the Custom Dynamics HD LED Tour Pak GEN2 Magic Brake Light Flasher for Harley Davidson Motorcycles 5 out of 5 stars.

5 star

 

 

***This is a repost from the last Check Your Helmet Month..with a few new pictures***

So what does that mean to you and me, the average motorcycle rider?

While your helmet might look clean and shiny it does not mean that it not ready for replacement. Worse yet, a single drop to the ground might be enough to cause you to consider replacement, according to the manufactures.

Here are some industry guidelines regarding your helmet:

  • Helmet manufacturers recommend replacing your helmet every 3 to 5 years, depending on use, to ensure optimal protection.
  • Over time, UV rays, internal adhesive and component aging can deteriorate a helmet’s protective qualities by degrading the interior protection layer.
  • Exposure to gasoline, insect repellent, cleaning fluids, exhaust fumes and excessive heat can degrade helmet materials.
  • If a helmet has been dropped or suffered an impact, it should be replaced immediately.
  • A helmet is designed for only one impact, even a small one. An impact may fracture its outer shell as well as compress the inner liner, neither of which may be visible.

Now it is your head so you need to make the decision, but you should at least check out your lid to make sure there are no major issues.

You can also go to HelmetCheck.Org to get some additional information.