Tag Archives: Motorcycle Safety

The Why Behind Arai Helmets

The Why Behind Arai Helmets
Akihito Arai pictured at the Arai factory in Japan.

In 1914, a doctor practicing near the Brooklands racetrack in England first correlated the relationship between motorcycle accidents and serious head injuries. Dr. Eric Gardner went on to invent the first purpose-built motorcycle helmet. It wasn’t until two decades later, when a head injury resulting from a motorcycle accident took the life of Thomas Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, that the first serious studies were conducted into the efficacy of motorcycle helmets in reducing the severity of head injuries. Hugh Cairns, Lawrence’s attending doctor and a leading neurosurgeon, used his findings and influence to ensure that helmets would become obligatory equipment for British Army Signal Corps riders going forward.

Early helmets were mostly constructed from cork, leather, and sometimes wood, and remained so until post-war developments in synthetic materials lead innovators such as Hirotake Arai to develop an entirely new design. Arai, a keen motorcyclist, had retooled his family hat business to produce safety helmets for construction workers. Applying the same manufacturing techniques, he began making and selling the first Japanese motorcycle helmets in 1952. They were made from a fiberglass resin outer shell lined initially with cork, and later, expanded polystyrene (EPS).

Seven decades on, motorcycle helmets, along with a multitude of international standards, have evolved exponentially, as has our understanding of science. Nonetheless, the infinite number of variables existing in a real-world crash ensure that even the most sophisticated models used to gauge a helmet’s ability to absorb an impact will remain controversial. While tests aimed at appraising shell penetration, peripheral vision, and the strength of chin straps lend themselves more readily to laboratory observation, governing bodies are forced to compromise in the face of producing practical, repeatable tests that accurately simulate impact absorption.

The Why Behind Arai Helmets
An Arai factory engineer utilizing an ‘anvil test’ rig on a helmet shell.

An effective helmet design aims to minimize the energy reaching the wearer in a crash, and since much of the testing involves dropping helmets from a given height onto an anvil, passing the resulting standards can be as simple as thickening the EPS layer in all the right places. Arai argues that the resulting helmet would no longer possess the overall strength and durability afforded by a sphere and ignores the role a helmet plays in redirecting and absorbing energy. In the same way a stone can be made to skim across a pond, a round, smooth helmet will glance off a surface, redirecting energy away from the wearer.

Arai’s design philosophy first accepts that practical limitations on a helmet’s size and weight restrict the volume of protective EPS foam it can contain. Inevitably, helmets can’t prevent all head injuries. But, with the understanding that safeguarding a rider’s head goes far beyond meeting the demands of governing bodies, Arai applies the “glancing off” philosophy to design helmets that reduce the effect of impacts on riders’ heads. Given that most impacts are likely to occur at an oblique angle because motorcyclists are moving at speed, Arai’s design aims to maximize the ability of a helmet to redirect energy by glancing off an object. The design is a function of shape, shell strength, and deformation characteristics that absorb energy along with EPS.

The Why Behind Arai Helmets

Arai collects crashed helmets for analysis and data collection, and uses the information to continually refine their helmet design.

Arai has developed and refined its approach through decades of evaluation and experimentation. Its helmets are round and smooth, and any protruding vents or airfoils are designed to detach on impact. The shell itself must be strong and flexible, but it must not deform too quickly or it will dig in rather than glance off. Arai uses multiple laminated layers combining glass and composite fiber to produce a very strong but lightweight material, and areas of potential weakness at the helmet’s edge and eyeport are reinforced with an additional belt of “super fiber.” Arai says its shells can withstand much higher abrasion than what is mandated by standards tests, and in doing so, can retain its energy absorption properties for a second or third impact.

The Why Behind Arai Helmets
Every Arai helmet is still made and inspected by hand at the family-owned factory in Japan

While glancing off can redirect energy from the impact, a high-velocity crash may also require a helmet to absorb and distribute impact energy. Arai’s proprietary one-piece, multi-density EPS liner is made up of different sections of varying densities corresponding to the adjacent shell surface. This helps maintain the helmet’s spherical form and enhances its ability to glance off. In the case of a crash involving a slide along the ground and into an object, such as a curb or barrier, Arai’s helmets are designed to deflect the initial impacts with the ground with minimal shell deformation, saving its absorption properties for the rapid deceleration caused by impacting the object.

While glancing off can redirect energy from the impact, a high-velocity crash may also require a helmet to absorb and distribute impact energy. Arai’s proprietary one-piece, multi-density EPS liner is made up of different sections of varying densities corresponding to the adjacent shell surface. This helps maintain the helmet’s spherical form and enhances its ability to glance off. In the case of a crash involving a slide along the ground and into an object, such as a curb or barrier, Arai’s helmets are designed to deflect the initial impacts with the ground with minimal shell deformation, saving its absorption properties for the rapid deceleration caused by impacting the object.

The Why Behind Arai Helmets
Each helmet shell undergoes a series of quality control checks before continuing through the production process.

Many other helmet manufacturers and philosophies exist, and riders must make their own conclusions in the knowledge that certification requirements mandated by bodies such as the DOT and ECE only guarantee a minimum standard. Every Arai helmet is still made and inspected by hand at the family-owned factory in Japan; the only automated process is the laser cutting of the eyeports. Over its history Arai has built an enviable reputation for quality and attention to detail. As the saying goes, it is expensive for a reason.

For more information on Arai helmets, visit araiamericas.com.

The post The Why Behind Arai Helmets first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Spaniards Don’t Want Mandatory Airbag Systems

After the hullabaloo with Klim’s airbag vest, you’d think that the consensus surrounding motorist airbag systems would remain controversial. 

The Spanish Dirección General de Tráfico (DGT) begs to differ – and riders aren’t happy. 

a motorist on. ducati scrambler

According to an article from FemaMotorcycling, the Spanish Directorate-General for Traffic – a government-run department responsible for the Spanish road transport network – wants to make motorist airbag systems mandatory. 

While the actual law wouldn’t come into effect for several years, the motorcycle community is already pushing back, arguing that the safety doesn’t necessarily outweigh the unfortunate fact that motorist airbag systems are expensive – and Spain’s Value-Added Tax (VAT) on safety gear would push the price even higher. 

Other arguments include why the government won’t focus on higher priority problems on the docket, such as the legalization of intercoms and updating old infrastructure – and a man by the name of Juan Manuel Reyes has the answer.

a full disclose on whether motorists want mandatory airbag systems

Reyes is the President of Asociación Mutua Motera (AMM), which recently released a survey on whether or not airbags should be mandatory. 65.49% of the motorcyclists surveyed did not agree with the mandatory use of airbags, with a scant 21.08% promoting compulsory use at all times.

Reyes released in a statement that, “The problem we have is that, when a European country legislates something in relation to motorcyclists, other [countries] follow. This is what happened with gloves in France. When gloves became mandatory in our neighboring country, the Spanish government wanted to imitate the measure immediately.”

Juan Manuel Reyes, AMM President, in front of a motorcycle

CFMoto-650 Vicroads online Survey motorcycle safety levy Victoria Yarra Black Spur country

Reyes explains how motorists should be monitoring any measure approved in a European country, especially if the same measure is extended to others. 

AMM plans on a meeting with the DGT to discuss further details on mandatory airbag systems.

As Reyes predicted, DGT presented and passed the necessity for mandatory motorcycle gloves. 

Touché, France.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

New Bill Filed To Protect Filipino Motorists

As riders, I’m sure we can all attest to the fact that motorcycles aren’t for everybody.

It could be the loud rumble of an inline-four, the younger squidlings on their Suzuki GSX-R600s squirting around town making short work of statistics, or the general aesthetic of motorcycle culture.

Whichever the reason, uneasiness can turn into downright dislike – and dislike can be dangerous.

According to a report from MotoPinas, a Filipino senator and boxer by the name of Manny Paquiao has just filed a bill that will protect 17,000,000 motorists across the country from discrimination in the Philippines.

SB 2263, a new bill filed for the Philippines that protects motorists' rights

The bill, also known as SB 2263, or “the Motorcycle Rights and Safety Act of 2021”, was created to increase awareness of the unfairness motorcycle riders have to tolerate – specifically, regulations surrounding buying, owning, and riding a motorcycle, as well as regulations of the trades and towns supporting the rider.

The unhealthy prejudice against motorcycle riding has made Filipino moto laws brutal for years now, with riders having to deal with motorcycle-only checkpoints, bans on expressways for bikes under 400cc, and a questionable ‘doble plaka’ law, which puts a motorist in danger of a jail sentence if the bike is missing a license plate. 

SB 2263, a new bill filed for the Philippines that protects motorists' rights

This combined with aftermarket monopolies, small-town restrictions that forbid motorists from wearing helmets in certain areas, and companies’ misuse of power to create subjective interpretations for bikers have created a need for equality, respect, and safety on the road. 

front-side view of the 2021 MV Agusta F3 Rosso

A man by the name of Jobert Bolanos, with ties to the Motorcycle Rights Organization (MRO), has disclosed that it took 13 years for SB 2263 to become a reality, for a lawmaker to step up and sponsor the bill.

SB 2263, a new bill filed for the Philippines that protects motorists' rights

With rights being a larger priority on the docket, Bolanos has high hopes for the country. He says, “There will be no more subjective apprehensions, no more violation of our property rights, no more harassment for stupid ordinances, local enforcement will be properly trained and screened by the LTO on traffic rules and regulations, legal and legitimate aftermarket parts will no longer get us wrongfully apprehended, motorcycle taxies will be legalized, proper rider’s training shall be provided, an objective and proper noise regulation shall be implemented, the right safety requirements shall be properly defined and enforced, and we shall be recognized as who we truly are, AN INTEGRAL PART OF SOCIETY…”

Fingers crossed that the bill is passed, and motorists can experience consistent laws and regulations across the Philippines.

For more Filipino-related content, head over to this article from MotorBikeWriter.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Potential Off-Road Motorbike Registration Falls Thru for the UK

With Motorcycle theft on the rise and many desperate to curb crimes at the source, questions were brought up to the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) on whether a registration method could be created for off-road motorcycles.

The registration could potentially protect motorcycles by making it harder for rubber robbers to ride, thereby also bringing down the number of bikes per annum that go missing.

According to a report from TMXNews, this proposition resulted from a posit made almost 26 years ago by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), who submitted a voluntary registration scheme for off-road motorcycles in 1994.

These plans were never realized, but Graham Stringer MP introduced a Private Members Bill in 2007, highlighting the DVLA’s concerns. Unfortunately, this Bill was eventually withdrawn, with the Auto-Cycle Union (ACU) being the largest force to petition against the registration. 

Recently, similar plans were brought to the DfT, with a general focus on whether the DfT could put this registration concept forward at little to no cost to the rider. However, MP Rachel MacLean confirmed in a Parliamentary Questions event that the DfT would make no such plans – and that off-road motorcycles are under no such legal obligation from the government. 

ACU Chairman Roy Humphrey hands out medal of honour to Alan Penny
From Left To Right: Roy Humphrey, Alan Penny

ACU Chairman Roy Humphrey seems rather happy about this, commenting the following: “As we gradually get back to normal after the last year or so, the confirmation that there are no plans to make the registration of off-road vehicles mandatory is welcomed.” 

Call to challenge exhaust noise fines sign noise cameras

Humphrey says that they do experience troubles with motorists that ride off-road illegally and tarnish the sport. Still, license suspension is mandated by the ACU and regularly enforced by the relevant boys in blue.

Click here to be redirected to MotorBikeWriter’s article on the current state of the UK’s illegal bike chop shops.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

UK’s Illegal Bike Chop Shops: Motorcycle Theft and Prevention in 2021

The UK has seen a dramatic drop in motorcycle theft since the start of the pandemic.

A report from MCN  stated a 35% drop in general crime for the 2020 lockdowns, and Police National Computer (PCN) figures suggest as much as a 45% decrease in motorcycle theft in the same period.

While lockdowns have led to many placing their beloved bikes into the safety of pandemic hibernation, the decrease in theft has galvanized people like Bill Taylor from BikeTrac to look a little closer at the current systems used to turn stolen motorcycles into a profitable statistic. 

a motorcycle in danger of being stolen

“When BikeTrac first started ten years ago, we saw more bikes heading towards the ports after they were taken. We either found them in shipping containers or boxed up ready to be shipped, so we knew where they were headed. That route has become much rarer now…We normally recover a bike very quickly after it has been stolen. The thieves will store a stolen machine for a period of time to see if anyone comes for it, and we generally recover it at this stage. But on the odd occasion that the bike is moved on before we get to it, they don’t seem to be heading straight out of the country.”

Bill mentions that they tracked a customer’s bike to a container that, when opened, also contained parts from other bikes that had been stripped – some of which still sported identification and proof that authorities could trace back to other stolen motorcycle cases.

security footage of a motorcycle being stolen

Dr. Ken German, an expert in vehicle crime, also added this useful bit of information: 

“Some bikes certainly make it out in containers, but it’s far more lucrative to strip a bike and sell the parts. There’s much less risk in handling parts than there is if you’re caught with a whole bike.”

A technician checks the possible remaining voltage of a completely burned Lithium-ion car battery before its dismantling by the German recycling firm Accurec in Krefeld

What can you do about it?

Dr. German highlights the benefit of forensic marking systems such as Datatag and how useful they can be in retrieving and tracing a stolen bike. 

“…they can help police identify stripped parts from a specific bike and build up a picture of who has been handling them or selling them on. If the police enter premises and find a seat and mudguard, they will have a hell of a job proving anything. But if they carry covert markings that link those parts to a specific stolen bike, it goes a long way to helping them build a case.”

WebBikeWorld has formulated a list of anti-theft device reviews that you can peruse for bike compatibility. Check them out, and stay safe!

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Motorcycle Safety: Avoiding Motorcycle Collisions and Accidents

Motorcycling can never be done risk-free. With that said, you can decrease your chance of experiencing an accident or getting into a motorcycle collision if you make an effort to do so. While some things will always be beyond your control, you should always do everything within your power to stay safe. 

With that in mind, I wanted to take a closer look at some of the things you can do to stay safe while riding your motorcycle. These tips and techniques won’t ensure you’ll avoid a collision, but they should help. 

Check the Weather Before You Ride

bad weather

Weather can play a significant role in your safety when riding. If you’re out during heavy precipitation, then visibility for both you and other motorists decreases dramatically. This can greatly increase your likelihood of getting into an accident or collision. 

A simple check of the weather before you ride is all you need. If there’s a chance of rain, it doesn’t mean you can’t ride, but it might impact the gear you wear on that ride. 

If, however, you see some severe weather conditions coming up, then it would be in your best interest to stay home. 

Scan for Potential Hazards

Hazards are everywhere on the road. Even things that might not seem like hazards for any other motorist can spell disaster for motorcyclists. Here’s a look at some of the most common road hazards for motorcycle riders:

  • Railroad crossings
  • Loose gravel
  • Potholes
  • Oil slicks
  • Wet surfaces
  • Animals
  • Road debris

One type of road debris that has received a lot of attention lately is grass clippings. It might seem silly, but freshly cut grass clippings can wreak havoc on your motorcycle’s tires’ ability to get proper grip on the road. This can lead to you going down when you least expect it. 

Usually, grass clippings are just left by a careless homeowner or lawn-care service, but that doesn’t stop these grass clippings from being a serious hazard. This has led a lot of motorcyclists to ask, “Is it illegal to leave grass clippings on the road?” The answer depends on the laws in your particular area. I’ll let a member of Spaulding Injury Law describe how this pertains to the law in the video below:

In short, some places have laws that prohibit homeowners and law service personnel from depositing grass clippings on the road. Other places don’t. I urge you to check your local laws so you know for sure. 

Make Sure You’re Seen

Most motorcycle accidents aren’t the rider’s fault. Quite often, a driver of a car, SUV, or truck simply doesn’t see the motorcyclist. While this is their fault, there are also some things a motorcycle rider can do about it.

Focus on being seen. This can start with your gear and your bike itself. You want your bike to get noticed. Lights and reflectors are very good things. When it comes to gear, you need to have reflective material on your gear and preferably bright, easy-to-see colors. Neon colors work best. 

Also, when riding, think about your lane position. There is no one lane position that is right all of the time. You need to choose the correct lane position for the situation, and the correct lane position is the one where other motorists can easily see you.  

Ride Responsibly and Appropriately

Riding responsibly

This one is a bit obvious, but never, ever under any circumstance, ride while intoxicated or under the influence. It’s a recipe for disaster and could lead to your death or the death of others. 

Riding responsibly is not just about not riding under the influence. It’s also about riding within the speed limit, avoiding silly stunts, or generally acting like an idiot on the road.

Also, make sure to ride appropriately for a specific situation. If it’s raining or traffic is heavy, avoid any aggressive maneuvers. Take things slow and easy while you’re out there. Assess the roads and your surroundings, and then respond appropriately. 

Always Have an Escape Route

One thing you should always do no matter where you ride is to always have an escape route. This means you should be able to exit your lane or position at a moment’s notice. It’s your go-to if a car cuts you off or brakes unexpectedly. 

Plan your escape routes as you ride. Look for wide shoulders or a middle lane that you could pull into if needed. Also, keep an eye on gaps between cars and between other bikes. These can be how you can get to your escape routes when things are tight. 

Keep a Cushion

keep a cushion when riding a motorcycle

Having a cushion when riding is key. This applies not only to the car in front of you but the vehicles and obstacles on all sides of you. It’s best to have at least a two-second cushion in front of you (usually a little longer). 

When it comes to either side of your bike, just make sure you’re not pinned in by motorists on either side of you. Remember, you want to keep your escape routes open. Sometimes, this will mean speeding up. Other times this will mean you need to slow down.

By keeping your distance and always having a cushion between you and the cars and motorcycles around you, you’ll have time to react quickly to the unexpected. 

Keep Up on Your Riding Skills

I’d advise every single person on a motorcycle to take a motorcycle safety course. In these courses, professionals teach you the best tricks they’ve learned over thousands of miles traveled. 

While an initial safety course is important, it’s equally important to keep up on your riding skills. I’d urge you to take an intermediate or advanced rider’s course. These courses go beyond what instructors can teach you in a beginner class, and the tips and techniques you’ll learn will help you not only to be safe but become a better and smoother rider overall. 

Finally, nothing makes up for practice. The issue with a lot of riders is that they never practice their panic stops or tight cornering or obstacle avoidance. If you don’t practice your skills, you’ll never perfect them. 

Get Help If You Need It

motorcycle injury xray

If you do have a motorcycle collision or an accident of some kind when riding, then you may need legal representation. 

Spaulding Injury Law notes that it’s always a good idea to consult with a lawyer if you’re involved in a motorcycle accident. This is especially true if you or someone else was injured in the accident. 

Consultations with lawyers are often free, and that means you can find out if you need a lawyer without much of a hassle at all. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to motorcycle collisions and accidents.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Group Riding Best Practices

motorcycle group riding
Riding in a group, especially in busy urban areas, can be either fun and empowering or stressful and even dangerous. Follow the guidelines in this story, and hopefully your next group ride will be an enjoyable and safe experience.

For some, group riding is a quintessential part of the motorcycling experience, a rolling social gathering that happens as naturally as a family party. It’s a fun way to keep a group together when traveling, and modern communication technology has only made it easier. Yet even seasoned riders, if they spend most of their time solo or don’t know the others in the group well, can feel a bit unsure about the rules, expectations and etiquette of group riding. So to help you navigate the dos and don’ts of riding in a group and become the person everyone likes to ride with, we’ve put together this handy primer.

The Basics

Staggered formation. You’ve probably noticed how groups of riders space themselves out within their lane; we call this “staggered formation.” The purpose is pretty simple: it allows each rider a clear view ahead, along with space to the side for any quick or sudden maneuvering in the case of road hazards like potholes, rocks, critters, debris, etc. The leader is typically in the left portion of the lane, rider No. 2 is in the right portion, rider No. 3 in the left and so on. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation recommends spacing yourself so that there is a two-second gap between you and the rider directly in front of you (see graphic below). As speeds increase, that means a longer distance, and at slow speeds (especially in heavy traffic areas) that means closing ranks and tightening up the formation.

Who rides where? Put an experienced, responsible rider in the lead position. The leader should obviously know the route you’re taking. The least experienced rider in the group goes next, in the No. 2 position behind and to the right of the leader. The last position, also called the “sweep,” should be another highly experienced rider. The sweeper should carry a first aid kit and tools, and should also know the route in case the group gets separated.

MSF staggered formation
Staggered formation is fundamental to group riding. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation recommends maintaining a two-second gap between you and the rider directly in front of you, and roughly a one-second gap between you and the next rider in the formation. At slower speeds, that means tightening the ranks. Graphic courtesy the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

Group size. Try to keep your group manageable — between five and seven riders is a good size. If necessary, break up large groups into smaller ones. 

Lane changes. Good leaders will be watching their mirrors, and will wait until there is a large enough space for the whole group to move over. Sometimes that’s just not possible, in which case the riders make individual lane changes, returning to their positions within the new lane. Maintain your speed when changing lanes! Remember that there are riders behind you who need to move over as well.

Communication. This is especially important in a group. The leader will often activate his or her turn signals early; following riders should also use their signals, essentially passing the message back. Some groups also like to use hand signals for upcoming turns: left arm straight out to the side for a left turn, left arm raised at a 90-degree angle for a right turn. There are a few other “universal” hand signals in the moto world: extending a hand down and opening and closing your fist tells another rider their turn signal is still on, and sticking a foot or hand out indicates a hazard in the road on either the left or right side. Below is a chart from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation showing some other common hand signals. Each group has their own way of communicating, so don’t be afraid to ask before you leave!

MSF hand signals
This chart from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation shows common hand signals used in group riding. Still, you should always check with your group to see if they use any special signals or ways of communicating.

Curves. When the road gets twisty, throw the staggered formation out the window. Forming a single file line gives you the space you need to lean and adjust your line if necessary. Remember this might also mean giving the rider ahead of you some extra space. 

Passing. Never blindly follow riders ahead of you when they pull out to pass a car. Move over to the left portion of the lane and wait until you have a clear view of the road ahead. That may mean waiting until the rider in front of you is safely back in the lane ahead of the vehicle you’re passing. Then check your mirror to make sure another speed demon isn’t trying to make the pass from behind you.

Being passed. Being passed by a single vehicle is easy: just let them go. There may be times when the vehicle doesn’t have the room to get around the whole group in one go. Don’t take offense, even if they’re obviously just being impatient. Open up a space and let them back in. There’s no sense in riding too close and putting yourself and the rest of your group in danger. 

But what if it’s another group of riders passing yours? Well, first off get in the habit of watching your mirrors (see Advanced Course below). That way you won’t be startled when riders start blasting past you. As the sweep rider, if you see another group approaching from behind, move to the right and wave them past. This lets them know that a) you see them, and b) you’re going to maintain your position to the right to safely allow them to pass. As a mid-pack or lead rider, keep an eye on your mirrors. If the headlight of the bike behind you moves to the right, look for passing riders and move right as well, waving them by. This can take time as the second group filters past, but just hold your right-side line and give your fellow riders a wave as they move on.

Staying together and on-track. Each group has its own procedure for this, and it’s something that should be discussed before you leave. Some groups prefer to stay in a pack at all times, with the leader pulling over immediately if you get separated, for example at a red light. Others, especially on long trips or when riding off-road, use the buddy system or back-marker technique. When approaching a turn or confusing intersection, check your mirrors. If you don’t see the rider behind you, pull over and wait. Basically you’re making sure that each turn is marked, and the sweep rider can pick up any stragglers.

Advanced Course

Now that you’ve got the basics down, let’s talk about being a better group rider. Instead of blindly following the tail of the rider in front of you like a bored packhorse, being aware and proactive will make you a more proficient, safer rider with whom others want to ride!

Awareness. This is something you should be practicing anytime you’re on the bike, not just in a group. You’re always scanning ahead, checking your mirrors and watching the patterns of other drivers, right? Don’t get lazy just because you’re surrounded by your “pack!” Watch your leader. If your group is stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle and the leader starts to peer around them, you can guess that a pass is imminent. Be ready to change lanes or pass quickly, safely and efficiently, keeping the whole group moving. If you’re on a multi-lane highway, the sweep rider could move over early and “set a pick” for the riders ahead, keeping the lane open for them to easily slide over.

Look farther than 20 feet ahead of you. See that “stale” green traffic light that could be getting ready to turn yellow? Be prepared for the rider in front of you to hit the brakes if the light changes. See the guy in the SUV in the next lane over, slowing down and looking over his shoulder? He likely wants to change lanes — keep an eye on him, and consider slowing to let him in, especially if your group is a large one.

Go with the flow. Group riding rules are not always black and white. For example, on long highway stretches it’s common for the group to spread out as everyone finds their own pace. Just be sure that you follow your group’s established procedure for back marking at turns. In areas of heavy traffic and slow speeds, try to keep your formation tight. Don’t be “that rider,” who dawdles and allows large gaps to form between you and the rider(s) ahead, then bolts through yellow lights at the last second, leaving those behind high and dry or forced to attempt to make the light. If your group hits some twisties and you find that you can’t keep up, don’t worry, just ride at your own pace. Wave the rider(s) behind you past if they want to go faster; at minimum, the sweep rider will stay with you and the rest of the group will wait for you to catch up ahead. This is part of the fun of group riding: you know your “pack” will take care of you.

Try to be consistent. It’s a lot easier to ride with people who are predictable. Hold your line, be smooth and steady with your speed and pay attention to your surroundings. Your fellow riders will thank you!

Final Exam

No, there isn’t actually a final exam, but I do want to leave you with this parting advice, and it’s the most important: ride your own ride.

Ultimately, we are all responsible for ourselves and only ourselves. Even though you’re in a group of other riders, you alone are in control of your bike and are therefore on a solo ride. If the group is doing stuff that makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it. Ride your own pace, don’t run the red light even though the two riders ahead of you did, and if you need to take a break, signal to your group and pull over. And don’t attempt an unsafe pass — your group won’t leave you behind.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Before Help Arrives: Being Prepared in the Event of a Motorcycle Accident

During the first few minutes after TJ’s crash, he was woozy and in some pain. Once the adrenaline wore off, his condition became more serious. But without first aid training all we knew to do was call for help.

Like it or not, accidents happen. Fortunately, they tend to be rare events, and when they do happen they’re often minor, such as a parking lot tip over that does more harm to our pride than our body or bike. But sometimes accidents are more serious. Sand or gravel may cause us to lose traction. We may overcook a decreasing-radius corner. Or we may have a close encounter with a car or a leaping deer.

As responsible motorcyclists, we owe it to ourselves, our friends and our loved ones to be prepared in case an accident happens. If we’re riding in or near an urban area, then we can usually count on having a cell signal, the ability of first responders to access the scene quickly and the proximity of a hospital. But even in urban areas it could take up to 30 minutes or longer for an ambulance to arrive on the scene.

What should you do until help arrives? And what if the accident happens when you’re riding out in the country or other remote area? Those are exactly the sort of places we love to ride, where we can escape from the city or suburbia to enjoy winding roads and off-the-beaten-path scenery. How would you call for help? And even if you can call for help, how long will it take for an ambulance or helicopter to arrive?

A few years ago, during a dual-sport ride with friends, our buddy TJ crashed his GS on a downhill, landing on his right shoulder. He was woozy and in pain, but he was able to get up, remove his helmet and speak coherently. After a few minutes, TJ told us his fingers were numb, his arm felt cold and he had a history of heart problems. We were lucky. We had a weak cell signal and were able to use my GPS to provide precise coordinates to the 911 dispatcher, and an off-duty paramedic and a nurse happened to be in the area and attended to TJ while we waited for a helicopter. TJ was airlifted to a hospital where he was treated for a dislocated shoulder, a chipped bone in his upper arm and a bruised collarbone. 

We were relieved that first responders were able to provide assistance and evacuation so quickly, but what struck me about that incident was my ignorance of what to do other than dial 911. Recently I completed a weekend-long Wilderness First Aid course put on by NOLS, the National Outdoor Leadership School. Aimed at those who recreate outdoors where emergency medical response can be expected in less than eight hours, the course teaches the Patient Assessment System, basic first aid and how to make evacuation decisions.

As luck would have it, members of the Pathfinders militia were training in the area, and a nurse and a paramedic from the group attended to TJ until a helicopter arrived. Since help is rarely available in remote areas, it’s good to be prepared with first aid training, a first aid kit and a reliable way to contact first responders.

One of the teachers was Dave Craig, a Senior Instructor at NOLS who is a Wilderness EMT as well as a motorcyclist. He enjoys long, exploratory rides on his Suzuki DR650S throughout Arizona and down into Mexico. When I asked Craig how wilderness first aid applies to motorcycling, he said, “When it comes to first response to a motorcycle accident, whether in remote areas or not, there are several important elements. First, secure the scene to prevent further injuries.” This is the first step in the Patient Assessment System (see sidebar below). If the accident occurs on the road or a popular trail, enlist friends or bystanders to control oncoming traffic, and beware of other potential hazards. If the injured rider is trapped under his or her motorcycle, make sure the bike is picked up safely without putting you or others at risk.

“Second, you should be prepared with training and materials to attend to threats to life,” said Craig. “Take a first aid/CPR course and always carry a first aid kit with medical gloves. For the injured rider, first assess the ABCs — Airway, Breathing and Circulation, and check for serious bleeding. Next, evaluate D — Disability; in particular, do you need to protect the spine? And E — Expose any injuries so they can be examined.” This is part of the initial assessment in the Patient Assessment System, which is the first priority after the scene has been secured.

Many believe you should never remove a motorcyclist’s helmet if he or she has been in an accident. However, a full-face helmet’s chinbar covers the rider’s mouth, making it difficult to check airway and breathing. (A flip-up or modular helmet allows a rider’s face to be exposed without removing the helmet.) Also, if the accident occurs in a remote area where it could be an hour or longer until help arrives, removing the helmet allows the rider’s head to be examined for injury and helps keep them cool and comfortable. Whether or not the helmet is removed, ensure that the rider’s head is supported to protect the spine. 

“And third, after completing a thorough patient assessment, you need to have a way to contact emergency services in the areas in which you ride,” Craig said. At a minimum you should carry a cell phone, but a satellite communicator, such as those made by Garmin or SPOT (see Resources), is a great backup because they work anywhere and transmit precise location coordinates to first responders. Be sure to keep your phone and/or communicator in your pocket rather than on your bike in case you and your bike go separate ways in an accident, particularly if you’re riding solo.

Accidents are emotionally charged situations — for the rider(s) involved and for bystanders. If you witness an accident or are one of the first to arrive on the scene, it’s important to stay calm and help keep others calm. Assess the situation before diving in; help secure the scene and act in a thorough, deliberate manner. Just as motorcycle skills training prepares us to be better riders, hands-on first aid training prepares us to act with confidence so we can assist the injured as well as first responders. Always have emergency contact and personal medical information on your person in an easy-to-find location, as well as a first aid kit, a cell phone and, if traveling in remote areas, a satellite communicator.

Roadguardians.org offers an 8-hour Accident Scene Management Bystander Assistance Program for motorcyclists.

Patient Assessment System

Scene Size-up

Identify hazards to self, other rescuers, bystanders, patient.

Determine mechanism of injury.

Form a general impression of seriousness.

Determine the number of patients.

Protect yourself with body substance isolation (e.g., wear gloves).

Initial Assessment

Obtain consent, assess for responsiveness and protect the spine.

A – Airway: Open the airway; look in the mouth and clear obvious obstructions.

B – Breathing: Look, listen and feel.

C – Circulation: Check pulse at the neck; look and sweep body for severe bleeding.

D – Disability: Decide if further spine protection is needed.

E – Expose and examine major injuries.

Secondary Assessment

Head-to-toe examination (look, listen, feel, smell, ask)

Measurement of vital signs (responsiveness, heart rate, skin, respiration, temperature, pupils)

Medical history (chief complaint; SAMPLE — Symptoms, Allergies, Medications, Past history, Last intake/output, Events)

Source: “NOLS Wilderness Medicine, 6th Edition” (see Resources below)

Resources

Training

Accident Scene Management Bystander Assistance Program for motorcyclists; 8-hour course; visit roadguardians.org 

American Red Cross Adult First Aid/CPR/AED Course; 6-hour course (certification valid for two years); visit redcross.org 

NOLS Wilderness First Aid Course; 16 hours over two days (certification valid for two years); visit nols.edu

“NOLS Wilderness Medicine, 6th Edition,” by Ted Schimelpfenig (Chapter 1 covers the Patient Assessment System in detail); $16.95, visit store.nols.edu

First Aid Kits/Supplies

American Red Cross’ online store sells a variety of first aid kits, supplies and instructional books; visit redcross.org/store

NOLS Med Kits are made by Adventure Medical Kits and range from the basic, 3.7-ounce Med Kit 1.0 ($16.95) to the well-stocked, 25-ounce Med Kit 5.0 ($84.99); resupply packs and individual supplies also available; add a NOLS Wilderness Medicine Pocket Guide for $4.99; visit store.nols.edu

Personal Medical Information

Smartphones typically have easily accessible medical information and an emergency contact, as well as the ability to dial 911, directly from the home or lock screen. Look up the details for your device and fill in the forms as completely as possible.

Rescue Facts Emergency Pack, which attaches to apparel or helmet with hook-and-loop, contains a rewritable medical information form so it is easily accessible by first responders; $10, visit aerostich.com

Satellite Communicators

Garmin makes several products with inReach technology that allows two-way text messaging and S.O.S. signals via the global Iridium satellite network; starting at $349.99 plus required service plan; visit garmin.com 

SPOT makes one-way (Gen3) and two-way (SPOT X) satellite communicators for sending text messages and S.O.S. signals; starting at $149.99 plus required service plan; visit findmespot.com

Source: RiderMagazine.com

The Importance of Hydration on Your Motorcycle

Stayed properly hydrated while riding your motorcycle is vitally important. Ideally you’ll avoid dehydration, but if it occurs re-hydrating isn’t as simple as pounding a bunch of water.

The first step to addressing a problem is to first acknowledge that you have a problem. With that, I openly admit to all of you that I have a serious non-drinking problem. Despite years as a professional motorcycling safety expert, I habitually fail to hydrate before, during and after a ride. In excess, I don’t drink.

If you are one of the many riders like me who forgets to drink enough water, here are some indicators of dehydration and a handful of steps you can take to break your non-drinking habit.

Recognize the warning signs

If you ride for long periods without urgency to stop at a rest area to relieve yourself, you may be dehydrated. When you do go, if your pee is dark yellow, that’s a warning sign as well. If you drink a lot of coffee instead of water, you may have to go more frequently but are actually flushing out vital water reserves since coffee acts as a mild diuretic.

If your skin, mouth, lips and eyes are dry, you may be low on H2O. Similarly, if you find yourself becoming fatigued or achy, or are beginning to experience headaches, don’t wait; you’re overdue to rehydrate.

In extreme dehydration, you may become dizzy, experience elevated heartbeat and rapid breathing, or even become confused and disoriented. At that point, consider it an emergency; it’s time to get help as soon as possible.

Avoiding dehydration

Begin to drink water in the hours before you hit the road. Don’t think you can just down a large bottle of water minutes before hopping on the bike. It doesn’t work that way. Drink smaller amounts more often so your body can absorb instead of pass the vital fluid.

Pack bottles of water and make a point to refill yourself each time you refill your gas tank or stop to stretch your legs. One of the easiest ways to stay hydrated en route is to take a water bladder with you (such as those made by Camelbak). They are typically wearable and include a hose that you can sip from as you ride. Add ice to keep that water cool and refreshing.

Keep the drinking habit going after the sidestand is down for the day to continue to replenish your body and prepare for the next day’s journey.

By being more conscious of the issue and following these guidelines, I’ve begun to control my own non-drinking problem. As I do, I can ride for hours and still feel fresh at the end of the day. Hopefully these steps will help you as well. Now drink up! 

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Stayin’ Safe: Countersteering

countersteering
This exaggerated static demonstration illustrates the countersteering effect. The rider presses forward on the right end of the handlebar to make the bike lean right and go right. He presses left to make the bike lean and turn to the left.

Conversations about steering a motorcycle inevitably come around to “countersteering.” You may have even taken a rider course where they taught, “press left, go left” and “press right, go right.” Even so, you may be among the population of riders who still don’t quite get the left and right of it all. Countersteering remains, well, counterintuitive.

Without getting into a physics lesson, the thing to know is when a motorcycle travels at any speed above a walking pace, if the handlebar is turned, the chassis will react with a counter response. In other words, the handlebars, fork and front wheel will be pointed slightly “counter” to the direction the bike is leaning and turning.

I find that riders get a better understanding of how countersteering works when they try a throttle-hand-only exercise. In an open parking lot, establish a straight line and steady speed of about 15 mph. Remove your left hand from the handlebar while keeping your right hand on the throttle. With throttle steady, press forward and pull back slightly a few times. Notice how the bike responds. Press forward and the bike immediately leans and turns to the right. Pull back on that throttle side (equivalent to pressing forward on the left end of the handlebar with your other hand) and the bike leans and turns left. Experiment with different amounts of pressure. Got it?

Now repeat the same straight-line exercise with both hands lightly on the handlebars. Take turns pressing forward on each end of the bar independently with the palm or heel of your hand. The bike will always lean and turn toward the side that you pressed. The more firmly you press, the more pronounced the turn will be.

Continue to practice until the behavior becomes comfortable and you can execute it with confidence, knowing exactly how the bike will respond. You’ll soon join the riders who’ve come to view countersteering as something they count on during every ride.

Source: RiderMagazine.com