The survey was conducted last month in preparation for the current Motorcycle Awareness Month to gain an insight into how to get the message across to drivers to #lookoutformotorcycles.
It also found that half of NSW motorcyclists have experienced a near-miss in the past three months.
The survey was designed to capture motorcyclists experience of drivers’ behaviour that has affected their safety and what can be done to improve their safety on the road.
While there are numerous statistics and studies completed about motorcycle crashes, there is little information about the number and effect of near misses which can easily turn into a crash.
The survey used three key areas to question motorcyclists:
About their personal riding experience
Details about their last two near misses
How drivers’ behaviour could be improved to reduce near misses.
Respondents riding experience
Most (77%) respondents had over 10 years’ experience riding, with many riding for weekend recreation (86%), 63% enjoying regional NSW riding and29% using their motorcycle to commute.
Driving mistakes happen often with37% of riders correcting their riding or riding defensively to protect themselves from drivers’ mistakes every time they ride, while 36% correct their riding one in five rides.
This shows we need to continue to get the message out to drivers to be extra diligent around motorcycles.
Details about their last two near misses
93% of respondents have had a near miss, and 58% of them were shaken by the experience.
An overwhelming 52% had a near miss in the past three months.
The majority occurred in metropolitan areas and 22% occurred on rural roads.
When did near misses occur?
Most (62%) of the near misses happened during the weekday.With 55% occurred between the hours of 10-3pm, with 24% between 3pm to 7pm and 18% between the morning peak hour times.
Where did near misses occur?
A third occur on suburban roads, 19% at intersection without traffic lights, 20% on main roads/highways and 16% on rural roads.
Where there other factors contributing to near misses?
Excessive speed doesn’t seem to be the problem in motorcycle near misses with 46% riding less than 50km/h and 36% between 50-80km/h.
The majority of near misses were with cars (48%) and 40% SUV vehicles.
According to the rider, 88% of the drivers in a near miss were disobeying the road rules.
Their experience of the near miss could have been avoided had the driver followed the road rules (51%), 49% said for the driver to look in their mirrors, 23% said to slow down, and finally, 14% to not use their mobiles while driving.
How can drivers’ behaviour be improved to reduce motorcycle near misses?
The survey asked motorcyclists what the driver can do to avoid future near misses with the motorcycle.
There was a strong recurring message coming from all riders.Mentions of ‘look’ (143), ‘mirror’ (92), ‘phone’ (47), and ‘blind spots’ (36) in the comments of riders on how drivers can change their driving behaviour to make it safer for motorcycles.
Key survey outcomes
Motorcycle near misses with drivers occur too often and aren’t always a result of traffic and road conditions.
Near misses are happening primarily with cars, on suburban roads, outside of peak hour on weekdays.Mostly, speed isn’t an issue, however the driver was at fault.
Rider experience is key for motorcyclists to avoid near misses.
Drivers need to always be diligent and look out for motorcycles.
Mark from Orange suggests drivers: “Don’t even look at your phone. Stay on your own side of the road especially on blind corners and crests. Look twice.”
“Use your mirrors. Don’t use mobile phones and don’t think just because your vehicle is bigger you have the right of way!” says Trudy from Cessnock.
Windsor motorcyclist Cameron says: “Check your mirrors, turn your head, make sure there is no one beside you when changing lanes. Give more room when following and stop tailgating please”
What would be your message to drivers to keep motorcyclists safe on our roads?
The second edition of their South east Queensland and northern New South Wales guidebook has 29 ride routes.
It comes with maps, directions and navigation waypoints for every ride and beautiful images of the roads and scenery.
“We’re excited to share even more of our favourite rides in this amazing part of the world with other riders,” says Alan.
“We’ve added more videos of rides in Edition 2, so you can view the actual rides by scanning the QR codes in the book – and we have GPX and ITN (TomTom) navigation files for every ride, free for anyone who buys the book.
“We’ve also included a section on preparing for your adventures, with handy information on everything from self-care to packing for weekend rides,” Bridget added.
After selling out of two print runs of the original edition, and with motorcycle sales in Australia surging by 22.2% in 2020, Bridget and Alan know that motorcyclists are keen to explore regional areas.
Motorcyclists are generous, too. “Motorcycle tourism makes an important contribution to regional economies because we travel light and spend money locally on food, fuel and accommodation,” Bridget explained.
About the authors
Avid motorcyclists and adventurers, Alan and Bridget ride two-up on Beauty, their 2008 model BMW 1200 GS.
“Beauty has over 120,000km on her odometer and we’re just getting started,” says Alan.
“We’ve ridden many roads in Australia and Europe on her and when the world opens up again, we’ll ride many more.”
Alan navigates the routes and Bridget videos and photographs from the pillion position.
The second edition of Throw Your Leg Over South East Queensland & Northern New South Wales and Throw Your Leg Over Tasmania plus their Throw Your Leg Over Europe are available online at throwyourlegover.com.au and 60+ stockists throughout Australia (see website for locations).
The world’s first pay-as-you-ride insurance scheme has launched in America allowing leisure and seasonal riders and those who own more tan one motorcycle to reduce their insurance costs.
It makes a lot of sense and we hope it takes off in Australia where you have limited options to reducing your very hefty insurance premiums.
We would also like to see something similar for registration fees. After all, why should we pay full registration for a motorcycle that may sit in the garage for weeks on end?
Riders are already used to pay-as-you-go road tolls and there are several cities in the world where you pay to enter CBD zones.
There is also talk of such systems in Australia to reduce peak-hour congestion.
So it makes sense t ave insurance and eras registration tied to distance travelled.
The pay-per-mile scheme launched in the USA by insurtech company is called VOOM.
It allows riders to accurately tailor their insurance premium to the number of kilometres (or lies in the States) that they ride.
So if you are snowed in for several months or only get out on the weekend or have several bikes, you could substantially reduce your premiums.
It will be launched first in Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio and is underwritten by Markel American Insurance Company.
VOOM says its research shows that the risks associated with low-mileage riding can be more than 80% lower than that of high-mileage motorcycling.
Some other products do allow riders to stall their insurance during winter months, but this is the first pay-as-you-go system in the world, the company claims.
VOOMdoes not require a physical device or mobile app to track mileage or behaviour. Instead, riders simply submit a photo of their odometers every month.
Coverage is accompanied by online policy management, and varied other coverage options available to qualified riders, including liability, comprehensive, medical payments, collision, uninsured motorists, and accessory coverage.
The UK Highway Code is being revised to incorporate a hierarchy of vehicles where bigger vehicles have to look out for smaller, more vulnerable, road users such as motorcyclists.
Sounds like fair deal, right?
After all, big vehicles such as trucks have huge blind spots and drivers need to take care to ensure that small vehicles such as motorcycles, scooters and bicycles are not in the way before taking a turn or other manoeuvre.
And most riders would like to see road safety messages include an education component to make drivers more aware of them.
However, we are not so sure that legislating a hierarchy of vehicles is such a good idea, especially in Australia where our roads are shared by everything from bicycles t 50+m road trains.
For a start, how would police patrol for offences?
And if a law can’t be policed, it shouldn’t exist.
The only use for such a rule would be in the wake of a crash where the onus of driving innocence would then fall on the larger of the vehicles involved.
However, this onus of proof runs contrary to our justice system where people are innocent until proven guilty.
It would also apply to motorcyclists if they were involved in a crash with a cyclist.
It’s quite ridiculous and an example of safety Nazis getting in the way of a commonsense approach.
The Australian bicycle lobby has been arguing for something similar for some years.
However, road safety signalling should be about sharing the road, taking responsibility for your own actions and penalising those who operate outside the road rules.
The UK Highway Code does require drivers and riders of all vehicles to be responsible for looking out for more vulnerable road users, but the concern is the implied guilt simply because a vehicle is simply bigger.
What started out as a leisurely ride from Brisbane to Tenterfield and back over a couple of days with three friends and family turned into a bit of an adventure simply because one of our riders hadn’t checked his tyre pressures.
You should check your tyre pressures every time you go out for a ride or it can result in bad handling, increased wear, fatigue cracking, increased chance of a puncture, decreased grip and lower braking performance.”
I probably should add that it is also important to check your mates’ tyres, particularly important when heading off on a longer ride over multiple days with several others.
Sadly, one of our riders had never checked his tyre pressures since he bought his bike and got his licence about eight months ago!
We were unaware of this before our ride. In fact, I only became aware after the inevitable happened.
I had charted a course that took us over some notoriously bumpy country roads on the NSW/Queensland border ranges and recent floods in the area had made the roads even worse with plenty of unprepared potholes.
My crew didn’t hold back in criticism of the route, either.
So, as lead rider, I kept the pace down on known bumpy sections and unleashed on sections which I knew had been repaired in recent years.
With 20/20 hindsight, I should have kept the pace down everywhere.
Just south of Old Bonalbo where the Clarence Way has been resurfaced in recent years, we went through a lefthand sweeper shaded by a big old gum tree.
Right in the middle of the corner were two massive ruts in the bitumen with jagged edges. It looked like a truck had hit the skids when the tar was still hot and wet!
I didn’t see the ruts because of the shade, but as I went through I noticed I had luckily ridden right through the middle.
Not so lucky was my riding partner whose back wheel hit a rut which immediately ripped a gaping wound in the sidewall of his KTM 390 Duke’s rear tyre.
“No matter what bike you buy, you’ll drop it at least once.” We’ve all heard the saying, and being honest (come on guys and girls!), we’ve all done it at least once. Parking lot practice, coming to a stop at a red light, getting a sudden gust of wind when you’re setting off, the bike and you have gone down at least once. Often, these drops are the source of some good-natured laughs, a little bit of embarrassment, and a lesson in humility learned.
Yet, not all drops happen at low or no speed. What happens when you come across, or witness, a drop when going 100 KPH? What if you are doing a long-distance tour and come across someone that has cut their hand trying to fix the battery lead under the hood of their car? Having first aid knowledge is definitely a plus, but having a ready-to-go first aid kit is the best kind of preparation for these scenarios.
First Aid Kit Limitations
In a car, you can realistically carry a full aid kit, with everything and anything you could possibly need in an emergency or aid situation. On a motorcycle, unless you have a dedicated top box or pannier for a kit, there is a significant size limitation. Often, a motorcycle first aid kit is the kind you can fit into a pocket of your jacket, in your backpack, as a pack around your waist, or sometimes strapped down over your pillion seat.
It also means that you have to be prepared for the most common types of injuries that may require first aid. You cannot realistically carry a spinal board on a motorcycle, and while spinal concerns may be common in accidents, it’s often more important to stop bleeding and help the patient through shock setting in.
Injuries You Expect To Encounter
The most common types of injuries experienced by motorcyclists are not major traumatic injuries like broken bones and major cuts. In fact, the most common type of injury is either a burn, via sunburn, accidental contact with the exhaust pipe, et al, or an eye injury, from riding with the visor cracked open or fully open with sunglasses that are not road protection rated.
You can also expect scrapes and cuts from quite literally hitting the road, although the severity is often dictated by the road surface and the speed of travel. In the worst cases, you can expect to encounter fractures, breaks, and lacerations.
With this in mind, let us examine what really should be in your motorcycle first aid and/or trauma kit.
First Aid Kit Contents
Image courtesy of Road Guardians. The Basic Kickstart Kit, including almost all of the items listed below in a small pack you can wear around your waist
Firstly, we at MotorBike Writer must give our heartfelt thanks to Road Guardians First Aid Training For Motorcyclists for their invaluable assistance in helping build out this list. We highly recommend checking to see if a similar first aid for motorcyclists course is available in your area.
The first thing in any first aid kit, no matter the size, is at least two pairs of nitrile gloves. Protecting yourself from bloodborne diseases, as well as having a somewhat sterile field of treatment, is priority one. If you cannot safely perform first aid, it may be an extremely tough call, but you have to look after yourself first.
On the subject of sterility, having a small squeeze bottle of hand sanitizer that carries an anti-microbial rating is key. Make sure it is at least 60% alcohol, and if possible, be waterless so it cleans quickly and doesn’t stick around on the hands.
The third most vital thing in your first aid kit is a set of trauma shears. You can find these at most medical supply stores, where they may also be labeled as paramedic shears. You want ones that are at least inches long. They are designed with a flat bottom to be slipped under clothing, leathers, and the like, to cut away said clothing or leathers to allow access to potential injury and trauma.
A first aid field guide, a small first aid book, or even a cheat sheet that is laminated to protect against the weather is always helpful. In the heat of the moment, while you may be remaining calm externally, your mind might be racing, and having a quick lookup can ensure that you apply first aid correctly.
Having a syringe of sterile saline is recommended, but not fully necessary, to wash out (irrigate) any deeper cuts or surface abrasions, getting rid of the dirt, and cleaning the wound for treatment
Heavy-duty ziploc or even freezer bags are extremely useful for putting biohazardous material such as used gauze, used gloves, et al in to keep them separate from sterile areas or as part of the post-aid cleanup.
A collapsible rescue breathing mask is important in today’s world, especially with the pandemic. These masks will cover the mouth and nose, and often will have a one-way flutter valve in them to allow your breath to pass through, but not allow any return breath to prevent contamination.
Cuts & Abrasions
Since abrasions and cuts may be encountered anywhere, the first thing to really take care of is having a variety of bandages. Along with an antibiotic ointment either in a small tube or single-dose tear packs, everything from some regular bandaids, at least four butterfly bandages/steri-strips/adhesive sutures, and four large 4×4 packaged, sterile gauze pads are the priority.
It is also recommended that you carry a few folded paper towels in a ziplock bag, as these can be used to wipe away blood or other fluids to get to the site of the bleeding. Once the cut or site of bleeding is identified, then using the gauze pads to put pressure on the cut is advised.
If there is room in your kit, a tourniquet is recommended as well, one made of a strong strap with some kind of handle to turn the tourniquet tight. This is to be used for the most serious of blood injuries such as an open amputation, and it’s always better to have one and never need it, than to need it and not have it. It’s better to prevent someone bleeding out and they lose a limb than for them to die. Harsh truth, but the truth nonetheless.
Burns & Insect Bites
Believe us, you’ve never pulled over and parked by the side of the road as fast as when a wasp gets in your helmet. Even then, you’re probably going to get stung a few times, so here are some items you should carry.
Most importantly, if there is room in your kit, an EpiPen is highly recommended, and it should be changed out when it is close to expiring. Many people who have major allergies or anaphylactic reactions will have an EpiPen on their person, but if you identify such a reaction, having an easily accessible EpiPen, instead of searching that person for theirs, can quite literally mean life and death.
Due to how commonly people get a sunburn, an accidental heat burn from touching a hot part of their bike, or even an insect sting, some burn gel and/or sting relief gel in your kit is one of those things you will use more often than not. A small tip, aloe vera-based gels, or those fortified with aloe vera extract, work extremely well here.
As well, having some instant cold packs designed for first aid kits will be immensely useful. These are the little folded packages that you squeeze one side to break open a vial inside, and due to the chemical reaction taking place, it gets very cold, very quickly. One of these applied to a minor burn or major sting will bring quick relief, as well as reducing the stress the patient is experiencing.
Breaks, Fractures, and Sprains
It is human nature to extend the hands in front of us when falling or flying through the air, so that the “least important” part of us, the arms, take the brunt of an impact, protecting the head and torso, the so-called “life box.” As part of this natural instinct, arm, wrist, and hand fractures are quite common non-life-threatening injuries, as are collarbone breaks.
In terms of first aid, having a few triangle bandages can be extremely helpful. These bandages can be used as slings, can be wadded up to be padding, can be rolled quickly to form bindings for splints, can be used to tighten gauze, can be used as tourniquets in extreme situations, and are generally just damned useful. While air splints are a bit too large to carry in a motorcycle first aid kit, if the patient’s motorcycle has suffered severe damage, a triangle bandage wadded up inside a front fairing, with two more bandages tying an arm down to that fairing means you have a makeshift split. Triangle bandages are literally the Swiss Army Knife of a first aid kit.
As breaks and fractures are the most common type of injury that can send someone into shock, having an emergency blanket or two in your kit is vital. These can be used as makeshift rain covers, are designed to reflect body heat back into a body with the shiny side, and can also be used as a treatment blanket if you need to sit someone down on the ground and prevent them losing body heat to cold or damp grass/mud/etc.
It is highly recommended to carry a ziploc bag that is nicknamed “the small pharmacy.” In this bag, clearly identified, should be anti-diarrhea tablets, antihistamines, antacids, regular or extra-strength over-the-counter painkillers, and a few packs of water-soluble electrolytes you can mix in with water or take straight from the package. Not all first aid is direct and dealing with broken bones and cuts. On a long, multi-day motorcycle ride, diarrhea can dehydrate you very quickly, and having electrolytes to replace the ones lost is vital.
If you can squeeze it into your kit, having a couple of 2 inch wide rolls of gauze is another one of those “you never know” types of items. They can be used to wrap burns, hold gauze pads in place, help tie splints, and generally just be useful.
A few glowsticks are extremely useful, especially in multiple colors. These can be used for everything from emergency light to work by at night, to signaling traffic away from an accident scene. If you have multiple colors, having green, yellow, and red as those colors can help with triage, with green as OK, yellow as a concern, and red as emergency aid needed.
Especially in Australia, having a good pair or two of tweezers in your kit is important. Stings, bites, and nasty plants abound, so being able to pull plant spikes, spider mandibles, stingers, or even the odd splinter from your skin quickly is important.
Image provided by Road Guardians. The Rebel Kit, which has everything you could possibly need in a first aid kit that will fit in a backpack or pannier/top box on your bike
While this may sound like a hell of a lot of stuff to fit into a small bag, you will be surprised at how many items can be folded flat, naturally lay flat, or can fit around each other in such a kit. In fact, all of these items will slide into a kit small enough to be slid down the outside of a camelback, or tucked into the front pocket of an adventure riding jacket.
Two (2) pairs of Nitrile Gloves
Anti-microbial, >=60% alcohol hand sanitizer
First aid guide book/field guide/cheat sheet
Syringe of sterile saline for irrigation (if possible)
Collapsible rescue breathing mask (with one way valve if available)
Four (4) butterfly bandages (can substitute adhesive sutures or steri-strips)
Four (4) sealed, sterile gauze pads, at least 4 inches square
Paper towels folded flat in a ziploc bag (for wiping/fluid cleanup)
Burn and/or sting relief gel (Aloe vera based or infused highly recommended)
Instant cold packs (we recommend at least two or more, as space allows)
Three (3) or more triangle bandages. The most useful multitool in your kit
Two (2) emergency blankets if possible, one (1) if not
Really Nice To Have
In-date and sealed EpiPen
Tourniquet with handle and strong strap (if possible)
Heavy-duty ziploc/freezer bags for biohazardous waste and post-aid cleanup
Most motorcycle road craft courses are only as good as the training on the day, but Riders Academy by motoDNA also provides riders with the tools to improve long after their street skills day-course has finished.
I recently sent our casual reviewer James Wawne for a day course in road craft at Riders Academy held at Brisbane’s historic Lakeside Driver Training Centre.
It’s a $350 full-day course on the tight asphalt course with alternating classroom sessions followed by practical skills tests on the course.
James says the day was well run, “with an emphasis on safety balanced well with providing enough breathing room and practice iterations to push boundaries and provide real learning & tangible skill development in a safe environment”.
“The guys talked about sports psychology and their interpretation of being in a state of flow and increasing boundaries in safe increments which was useful.” he says.
Riders Academy was started by Mark “Irish” McVeigh who has been a Racer, MotoGP Engineer and a V8 Supercars Engineer.
“I’ve seen a lot of my Irish racing friends die,” he laments, giving seem credence to the adage “ride like everyone is trying to kill you.
Furthermore, Mark bases all his training courses on science and statistics, not gut feel or conspiracy theories.
So when Mark speaks, the 25 riders at the street skills course listen intently, nod in agreement and soak it in.
“The classroom sessions were instructive,” James says.
“Irish struck a nice balance between covering important elements of theory but relating it to its application and the bringing the various elements together in the real world.
“The on-track coach also pitched in with useful, practical pointers, which he then emphasised during the on-track practice sessions.”
Mark pointed out early on that 50% of all motorcycle accidents are single vehicle and that riders underestimate available grip.
I’ve heard all this before, but there is a difference in how Riders Academy courses are taught.
It’s called “flow”.
Mark learnt the theories of “flow” when he was working with the Triple 8 Red Bull V8 Supercars team in Brisbane.
Basically, it’s a learning program where you take small steps at a time, pushing yourself about 5% beyond your limits. It’s also evidence driven with science and data.
The street skills course not only takes this approach during the duration of the day, but also arms the participants with the skills to continue to stretch their goals and improve as riders long afterwards.
“The course reviewed a number of useful fundamentals and then went further than you would during the process of getting your licence,” James says.
“It underscored the importance of using reference points and using them to optimise line in terms of entry, hitting the apex and exiting corners.
“A few items that we practised of particular use which I will continue to practice included emergency braking, steering with your eyes and using peripheral vision.
“I also plan on experimenting with my position on the bike; gripping the tank with my knees while keeping core engaged and arms relaxed while shifting my weight on the bike to increase turning efficiency.”
Riders Academy by motoDNA’s street skills course teaches cornering lines, emergency braking, hazard avoidance, slow speed control, scanning for hazards and body position.
Here’s a video showing the street skills course in action at Lakeside.
While the emphasis is on safety, it’s also fun and the skills learnt can be taken to their trackSKILLS days.
Mark says their training business ground to a halt under the pandemic, but since coming back in June, they have been busier than ever.
Whether you are working in a small shop or a big factory, welding safety is going to be of the highest importance when working. But when it comes to welding in a small garage, the safety conditions might become even more dangerous due to a cramped space. Accidents can happen in a spur of a moment and everything could go ablaze just like that.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 500,000 welders suffer some type of a welding injury on a yearly basis. The most common type of injuries is caused by arc flashes, fire hazards, or due to toxic fumes that are created during the welding process.
Riders perhaps know this best as a single slip can cause you to hurt yourself and end up in a hospital. So properly securing your working area when welding is a must and the first thing that you have to think about if you are working from your garage. According to WeldingPros, a large number of welding accidents happen in an improperly secured welding garage.
Luckily, all of that can be avoided just by following some basic safety tips. Always think about safety first before starting your work.
Set Your Working Area Properly
The starting point that leads to safe welding is creating a safe working environment. It starts with properly setting and storing your equipment.
So, for instance, if you are not using your welder, keep it on a flat and dry surface and as far as you can from any flammable materials. Speaking of flammable materials, things like wood or cloth or anything else that can catch on fire quickly should be stored away in a safe place far away from the welding arc and welding area in general.
Electrical Installations and Electric Hazard
Make sure to have quality grounded installation and you can get an electrician to check all of that for you before you start doing any work to prevent any electrical hazards that may take place. Do not attempt to do this yourself if you are not a trained electrician!
What you can do is to check the work clamp, in particular, it needs to have a good metal-on-metal connection that is unimpeded by paint or any other unwanted materials. If not it will heat up and get damaged (you will also have poor weld quality).
Other simple things you can do to prevent these types of accidents:
Keep your hands and welding gloves dry.
Make sure the electrode holder and a welding gun are properly insulated.
Welding and power cables can present a tripping hazard, they should not be all over the place but out of the way in the corners of the shop or hanging from the walls. Hoses from cylinders that hold protective gases or hoses from cutting torch kit can catch fire from welding sparks or hot metal should be in a safe distance and not in a direction of the welding or cutting sparks.
Be sure to store them in a safe way once you are done with them or find ways to tie the cables up once you are done. You can go to a hardware store and get a cable storage organizer to keep all of them in check.
Finally, handling gas cylinders is probably the most overlooked part. Make sure to keep them in an upright position at all times in a cart and secured by a chain. The protector cap should always be fastened to the top of the cylinder when moving it. Also, only hoses that are designed for welding should be used and always check for leakage.
It is also important to say that gas cylinders should also be stored away from the welding area just in case a welding arc sparks. You can even cover them with some inflammable asbestos cloth for added safety.
Keep a fire extinguisher close by at all times, close enough to the welding area so you can act quickly. But not just any kind of an extinguisher, get a CO2 extinguisher or a type that puts out electrical fires.
The greatest hazard for a small welding garage is the fumes. The process of fusion welding creates harmful gasses that can create serious health problems. The gases involved may contain dangerous byproducts that include aluminum, arsenic, magnesium, beryllium, and even lead.
Short term exposure can cause you to have more than throat irritation but can lead to nausea and dizziness. Long term exposure can have much more devastating effects as it may potentially lead to cancer, kidney damage, liver damage, respiratory issues, and urinary tract problems.
The best way would be that there is no gas at all in your lungs and that your working area is well ventilated. That can be ensured with the addition of a quality welding aspirator placed directly above the welding area. Keeping a window or the garage door open is also good, but at the same time, the aspirator ensures that all the hazardous welding fumes are drawn out.
In order to achieve complete safety, clean all the welding surfaces after you finish working. Always stay upwind from welding fumes when working in an open area or in the outdoors. Use any local exhaust ventilation systems for indoor welding. But be sure to keep the exhaust ports away from yourself or other workers. If you notice that the ventilation system does not reduce the number of fumes, wearing respiratory protection.
Never weld in a confined space that isn’t properly ventilated.
Getting the Proper Personal Protective Equipment
The process of welding emits a lot of high-intensity radiation and spatter. When arc welding, there are going to be a lot of sparks flying around everywhere so you have to protect yourself from burns.
Wearing flame-resistant clothing is the way to start. We don’t mean a rider’s jacket but a proper flame-resistant welder’s jacket made out of leather that can protect your skin from burns. Long-sleeve shirts are desirable with buttoned-up cuffs and collars all the time as sparks can fly inside your suit and burn you.
The welding process actually emits X-rays, infra-red rays, and UV rays. Ultraviolet rays in particular can be damaging as they can cause skin burns and even lead to skin cancer in some drastic situations. Long-sleeve shirts and full-body protection is the only way to prevent these rays from getting to your skin.
Shoes are also important. Welding in your Nikes is not a good idea. You need some high-top leather boots that are resistant to high-intensity heat. If a spark catches your regular shoes they can either burn off or even melt and stick to your skin.
Finding some good gloves is also necessary. Get a pair of quality leather welding gloves, cowhide ones are the most appropriate. 1.2mm of thickness is the best way to go as they are both durable and provide flexibility for work at the same time.
Finally, the eyes are what you need to protect the most. Not having the proper welding mask can lead to thermal burns of your eyes or small particles that fly off striking your eye. So don’t even think of using a full-face helmet with a built-in visor. Get a proper welding helmet, perhaps an auto-darkening one. They not only provide the best protection but ensure quality work as well.
This helps avoid arc flashes that tend to happen all the time and a lot of welders suffer from a condition called “welder’s eye.” So when choosing your welding helmet make sure to go for one that has a certain protection standard. The price tag is not as important as your health.
Go for welding masks with ANSI Z87+ standards as they are tested for high-velocity impacts, so spatter cannot damage your eyes.
In most cases, I would encourage you to ride your motorcycle or drive your ATV or UTV to your destination, but sometimes, you can’t.
Whether you have a designated off-road powersports vehicle and you need to get it out to where you can use it or you just need to bring your motorcycle along with you for some reason, having a trailer and being able to tow your bikes or other powersports equipment around is a serious convenience.
Having the right vehicle for this is a must. Too often, folks have a great idea to tow a trailer with them only to find out that they don’t own the right vehicle for it. With this in mind, I wanted to take a moment to discuss towing a powersports trailer and what vehicles you should look for when you’re thinking about towing a trailer. Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Get the Proper Tow Rating
Towing a trailer isn’t always an easy feat, but if you have a vehicle that can handle the weight of that trailer, then you’re off to a good start. You need to get a vehicle with the right towing capacity.
This is going to be more than your typical passenger car or many of the smaller crossovers out there. Think about it like this: the trailer you pull is going to weigh somewhere between 500 pounds and 1,000 pounds at a minimum. Add to that your motorcycle which can weigh anywhere from 300 pounds to 500 pounds or more, and you’re looking at needing a towing rating of at least 1,200 pounds or 1,500 to be on the safe side.
If you’re putting more than one bike on the trailer, then you’re only going to add to this need for a high towing capacity. Personally, I’d advise you to find something that can tow over 3,000 pounds at least. That way, you should be in the clear. Even with a couple of bikes on a small trailer. If you have ATVs or UTVs, make sure you calculate the weight properly and have a vehicle that’s equipped accordingly.
Think About Tongue Weight, Too
The towing capacity isn’t the only figure you need to think about. You should also figure out the tongue weight capacity. The tongue weight is the downward force that’s exerted where the trailer connects to the vehicle. Usually, this is a simple ball hitch. Your hitch will be rated for a specific amount of weight, and you need to be sure not to exceed that weight.
The best way to do this is to use a commercial vehicle scale. However, you don’t have to use one, especially if you’re pretty sure you’ll be far below the capabilities of your vehicle. Tongue weight should be between 9 and 15 percent of the gross trailer weight.
So, if you have a 1,500-pound trailer when laden down with motorcycles or ATVs, you’ll have a tongue weight of about 225 pounds.
Of course, how you load the trailer matters, too. If the trailer is loaded down with everything at the front, it will have a heavier tongue weight than if everything is loaded at the back. Generally, you want a bit more weight on the hitch, because it helps you avoid trailer sway.
Below is a great demonstration of trailer sway and how tongue weight plays a role.
As you can see in the video, the more weight you load towards the front of the trailer, the less trailer sway occurs. Make sure to load the trailer evenly, and also ensure you’ll be within the vehicle’s tongue weight capacity, and you should do just fine.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the best vehicles for towing a motorcycle or powersports trailer.
Trucks are going to be most driver’s go-to vehicle type when towing. These machines are designed with towing in mind, and that means that you’ll have trucks of all sizes that can easily tow over 5,000 pounds, sometimes they can tow far, far more.
There are generally four different sizes of trucks: compact, midsize, full-size, and heavy-duty. All of them will be able to handle a small trailer with some motorcycles or ATVs on them. However, a word of caution. Don’t just assume every truck for sale can tow the weight you need to tow.
It’s still important to do the math and cross-check that against your particular vehicles’ towing capacity and tongue weight. If you’re shopping for a new truck, then you should talk with the salesperson about your specific needs. Tell them what you want to tow, and they should be able to help you out.
SUVs and CUVs
SUVs and CUVs, or crossovers as they’re commonly known, are extremely popular vehicles right now, and for good reason. These vehicles are the true do-it-all machines. They have generous cargo areas, plenty of seating, all-wheel drive in many cases, and they sit up a little higher providing a good view of the road and some off-road capability.
SUVs and CUVs are also good towing machines in many respects. Not every single one on the road is going to be right, but for mild towing duties, you’ll find that even many crossovers do just fine.
“Many late-model vehicles including numerous small CUV’s and SUV’s, are capable of towing a small trailer easily.” The team at EchoPark Automotive told me. “They’re also great everyday vehicles for when you’re not towing a trailer.” The spokesperson for EchoPark went on to say that many people looking for a good tow vehicle use an SUV without ever experiencing any issues.
While some are better than others, pretty much all of them will be able to tow at least 1,500 pounds. However, I’d look for a CUV or SUV that’s capable of towing at least 5,000 pounds. The Toyota 4Runner (shown above), for example, can tow that much and is a great option.
Generally, the bigger the SUV, the higher its towing capacity will be. It’s also worth noting that the body-on-frame SUVs that are based on truck chassis will have the highest towing capacity while the smaller car-based CUVs will have lower towing capacities.
Last but certainly not least are vans and minivans. Full-size vans will have the highest towing capacity and generally be the best towing option. However, you might be surprised to learn that even most minivans can tow 3,500 pounds or so.
Full-size vans will be able to tow far more. The Ford Transit Cargo (shown above) is able to tow between 5,000 and 5,800 pounds depending on how it’s equipped. In most cases, that’s more than motorcycle-and-powersports enthusiasts actually need.
Also, the nice thing about vans is you can take a lot of gear and passengers with you as well very easily. While pickup trucks will beat out vans in terms of outright towing capacity. Vans are sometimes the more versatile vehicle overall.