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.
Many motorcycles come with suspension that is non-adjustable or only has minor adjustment such as rear preload to compensate for luggage and/or a pillion.
Bikes with suspension that has separate adjustment for compression and rebound are usually more expensive.
But all bikes — no matter how much they cost — come from the factory set up for a rider weighing about 70kg, so they really are a compromise on ride, handling and even braking, steering and acceleration.
Setting up your bike for optimum performance in all these facets is difficult and can be expensive.
So here are my five suggestions for improving your bike’s handling that won’t cost you a single cent.
If you are buying the bike new or second hand from a dealer, strike a deal that includes suspension adjustment for your weight as part of the purchase package. The dealership should have a mechanic who knows what they are doing with suspension. They should ask your weight and get you to sit on the bike and maybe even bounce up and down on it while they adjust the various clickers and springs.
If you weigh more than 70kg, try to lose some weight. The biggest inhibitor of any motorcycle’s performance is the weight of the rider.
Adjust your riding style. Learn how your suspension copes with various types of road and riding. Some suspension works better if you slow down for the bumps, while some works better if you go faster. For example, the Ohlins suspension on my Ducati Scrambler 1100 Sport actually tackles corrugations better at high speed. So adjust your speed and riding style to suit the suspension and the terrain.
Loosen up. Suspension has a lot of work to do, coping with both the bumps in the road and the weight of the bike and rider. By loosening your grip, bending your elbows and maybe even lifting your backside out of the saddle over rough bumps you are taking some of the load off the suspension.
If you have a bike with adjustable suspension, you can make your own adjustments for free. However, be careful you don’t make matters worse as it is easy to get it all wrong.
Suspension is a black art and there are many variables, so it is best left to the professionals to tweak it to your riding requirements, load and weight.
If you do want to experiment, first thing to do is note down the current factory settings by turning the clickers clockwise as far as they will go counting the clicks so you can return it to the factory setting.
Then check the rider’s manual which will give you basic instructions on which way to turn the clickers for a desired effect.
Only ever change the compression or rebound settings by one or two clicks at a time, then go for a ride and see how it affects the handling, braking and ride.
If you adjust compression, the rebound will then need attention, so do them separately, going for a ride over the same section of road after each adjustment.
Riding a motorcycle is an activity that comes with a fair amount of risk. That risk is rewarded by the unparalleled experience of tossing a leg over a bike and going for a ride, but it’s there nonetheless.
In many areas of the world, local governments have decided it’s in the rider’s (and the community’s) best interests to enact helmet laws and enforce them. With helmets being such an important part of motorcycling in general, I thought I’d take a closer look at motorcycle helmet laws and identify some things that every rider should know.
You Should Always Wear A Helmet Regardless Of The Law
The first thing I want to touch on is the fact that you should always wear a helmet no matter what the law says. Personally, I’m a bit of an ATGATT (all the gear, all the time) fan, but if you’re not, at the very least, you should put on a helmet each and every time you get on a motorcycle.
You’ll hear people ask, “Are motorcycle helmet laws effective?” The simple fact of the matter is that motorcycle helmets save lives. The number of studies that show the effectiveness of helmets on reducing injury and death are too numerous to list here.
With that said, I will point you towards this handy list of studies compiled by the Skilled Motorcyclist Association organization, which shows how effective helmets really are.
According to the association, motorcycle helmets actually reduce the risk of death by 42 percent and head injury by 69 percent. With all of the data available to motorcyclists, the real question is why the heck would you even ride without a helmet?
Not All Helmets Will Satisfy The Law
Now that I’ve reiterated how important motorcycle helmets are to rider safety, I want to talk about the fact that not all helmets are created equal, and not all helmets are treated equally in the eyes of the law.
When you ride in the United States, for example, only helmets that have Department of Transportation (DOT) approval will satisfy the law in the states that have motorcycle helmet laws on the books. It’s worth noting that not all states have helmet laws on the books either. This means that you won’t be required by law to wear one, but I still strongly recommend that you do.
Alternatively, DOT-approved helmets are not legal in places like the UK and Australia, which call for Economic Commission for Europe (ECE)-approved motorcycle helmets.
ECE and DOT are different standards. They’re the two that matter the most in terms of helmet laws, though there are other helmet standards like Snell and Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) that take helmet safety even further than ECE and DOT do.
The best advice I can give here is to get a helmet that will satisfy your local laws. Look them up wherever you live. If you can’t find them, then contact the authorities to find out what type of helmet will satisfy the laws in your area. It should be an easy thing to do and will help keep you legal and safe on the road.
A Helmet Can’t Guarantee You Won’t Get Hurt In A Motorcycle Accident
A motorcycle helmet will greatly reduce the risk of death or injury due to you hitting your head in a motorcycle accident. However, it cannot guarantee that you won’t sustain a head injury. As I discussed at the beginning of this article, motorcycling comes with risks involved. Even if you wear all of the protective gear you can, there’s still a risk.
A lot can go into determining whether or not you will sustain an injury or be killed in an accident. The number of variables is endless. There’s your position on the road, your speed, the terrain and landscape around, the road surface, the other motorists on the road, and so, so much more. No helmet can protect you from every scenario.
With that said, I would say that buying a high-quality motorcycle helmet from a reputable company that is modern and up-to-date in terms of construction and features will help give you the best chance at surviving a motorcycle accident unscathed.
If you need to find yourself a good motorcycle helmet. Our sister site Web Bike World has some of the most comprehensive helmet information available anywhere in the world. The reviews you’ll find there are in-depth and thorough, and you should be able to find a helmet that satisfies your needs.
If You Do Get Hurt While Riding, Seek Advice From A Professional
One of the most common questions I get from riders is: what do you do if you’re injured as a result of a motorcycle accident? The first thing I’d say is to reach out to a motorcycle collision lawyer.
The next question I get is: what can the lawyer really do for me? That question is a lot harder to answer because just about every motorcycle accident is different. However, in many cases, having a lawyer on your side can help.
I’ll let Heidi Wickstrom of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. explain from the point of view of a lawyer in the video below:
This is especially true with a head injury. You’ll have medical bills to pay, likely have a busted-up motorcycle to deal with, and who knows what else. You could even have repercussions for the rest of your life. Having someone there like a medical malpractice lawyer to help you understand everything and ensure you get the correct compensation can really make a difference.
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
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:
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
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
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
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.
Motorcycle accidents have been one of the major problems on the road in California. Motorcyclists don’t have a steel or sturdy material to protect them when accidents happen- as cars do. Hence, there’s a high chance they’ll be thrown away during any vehicular collision.
Motorcyclists are less visible and conspicuous to other vehicle drivers and pedestrians. The two-wheel vehicles are also less stable than the land vehicles with four or more wheels. The driver must be both mentally and physically aware when driving a motorcycle.
Many factors affect the drivers’ safety and focus while on the road. It could be because of a problem with the motorcycle, bad weather, or something wrong with the driver themselves. However, most motorcycle accidents occur because of road violations committed by these drivers. Here are some of the most common violations committed by motorcyclists in California.
The speed limit in California varies. Most highways have a maximum speed of 65 mph, while some have 55 mph. Hence, driving beyond these speed limits is considered “speeding,” which is against the law. Drivers must slow down their speed depending on essential contributory factors.
All drivers should maintain a safe driving speed when the weather is bad, or the road is poor. Heavy traffic and pedestrians are also contributing factors. However, despite these, many drivers still exceed posted speed limits while on the streets.
You might have been driving a motorcycle for many years, but others haven’t. Hence, you tend to drive at high speed because you’re equipped with excellent driving skills. However, some inexperienced drivers don’t have the skills you have.
Most of the time, these experienced drivers lane split. All states in the US consider lane splitting illegal. However, the California Vehicle Code doesn’t explicitly express if it’s illegal in the state of California.
Technically, vehicle drivers in California can split lanes, but they must not exceed 30 mph. If the traffic is heavy, speeding and lane splitting, at the same time, aren’t allowed to avoid a serious accident.
Under the Influence of Alcohol
Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal. Many have already died because of this, and the law in California upholds penalties for violators. If it’s your first time getting caught with this violation, you might end up with a suspended driver’s license, pay fines in thousands, and, worse, end up in jail.
If motorcyclists continue violating this California Vehicle Code, penalties will also continue to increase. California gives the violator up to ten years to cleanse their record from prior violations. However, many vehicle drivers, including the motorcyclists, continue to disobey the law resulting in numerous cases of road accidents.
At the end of the day, it’s always better to be safe at all times than to be sorry. If you got involved in a DUI-caused vehicular accident, say in San Diego, you should find a San Diego personal injury lawyer right away to help you with your case. However, if you got in trouble while in Los Angeles, it’s best to find a lawyer in that area. That way, it would be easier to access your attorney.
The state of California provided a California Motorcycle Handbook for the motorcyclists to know the do’s and don’ts while driving on the road. One important thing included in the handbook is the proper motorcyclist attire while driving.
The United States Department of Transportation implemented the use of compliant safety helmets. Manufacturers should follow the guidelines set in producing helmets to comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. Helmets with this certification are high-quality and durable.
With the quality and durability of these helmets, your chance of survival will increase when involved in an accident. Moreover, the handbook suggests that the riders and passengers of a motorcycle should put on face and eye protection.
Motorcyclists shouldn’t cover both of their ears with headsets, earplugs, or earphones unless due to a medical condition. This is so a driver can hear if an emergency vehicle is near or other drivers are calling their attention using horns.
These are just some of the simple guidelines stated in the handbook about what a motorcyclist should wear while driving. However, many drivers aren’t still following it. A motorcyclist might get involved in a severe accident simply because of not wearing eye protection.
Incomplete Motorcycle Equipment
The California Motorcycle Handbook also includes guidelines of what the motorcycle should have before a driver can use it. There are specific equipment requirements needed to be met. The tires should have enough tread and air pressure for safe driving. Brakes for both front and rear parts of the motorcycle should be functional.
The same goes for the horns and side mirrors. These should be present and in good condition. Moreover, motorcyclists should turn the headlight both day and night, especially for vehicles manufactured in or after the year of 1978. The front and rear turn signal lights must be working at all times. The motorcycle should also have a muffler and footrest.
Additionally, when you’re holding the handlebars, your hands shouldn’t be six inches above your shoulders. It’ll be difficult to maneuver the handlebars if it’s too high, and swerving will be hard for your arms and shoulders to keep the balance. Secure one handbook to check that you’re not missing anything when using your motorcycle.
These are the guidelines in the handbook about what your motorcycle should have before driving it. However, many drivers still don’t follow these guidelines. They still use their motorcycles when the signal lights aren’t functional.
Many accidents occur because of signal light malfunction or not using the signal lights at all. That’s something that you don’t want to happen. Hence, remember what’s stated in the handbook to avoid getting involved in an accident in the future.
Driving a motorcycle is fun, but, keep in mind the things discussed above to avoid any possible accident in the future. Although a motorcycle offers convenience, especially in heavy traffic, it’s also very dangerous if you’re reckless. Hence, simply follow the road rules and guidelines for your safety.