Friday, July 23, 2010

Riding Skills Series: Motorcycle Crashing - It Can Be A Skill

Yes, it can be a skill this is from the April, 2010 issue of Sport Rider 
by Andrew Trevitt, Photography by Gold and Goose

I know you are probably saying this dude is crazy.  Motorcycle crashing being a skill who the heck wants to crash or even think about crashing but we must think about it because it's apart of the ride sometimes, so I rather be prepared than not prepared.  As motorcyclists we need to be pro-active and not re-active. Andrew says it can be a skill, I wish I had read this article before I had my accident.   
One of the sad realities of our sport is that crashes occur more often than we'd like, and those crashes often end with an injury. Rather than avoid thinking about the possibility and what you would do in the event of a tipover, you can help minimize the resultant injuries with some forethought and action during the crash itself. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your viewpoint), the Sport Rider staff has plenty of experience in this area, and has learned the skills associated with crashing a motorcycle.
First, however, it can't be stressed enough that your goal-especially on the street-is to stay upright and on two wheels. There is no "badge of honor" or prize money for crashing, and no judges with scorecards. There are far too many immovable objects to hit and an accordingly higher risk of major injury. Things are different on the track, however. Learning skills and improving as a rider means toeing the line occasionally, and crashing is more likely. You've heard it before, but we can't say it enough: If you're going to be pushing your limits, take it to the track.

Before you even turn a wheel, you should be prepared for an accident. Good gear is a must, as is a motorcycle in proper working order. You definitely don't want to crash because your tire pressures are low, or for any other similarly avoidable reason. And you have to wear your gear (rather than leave it at home) for it to work. Being in good physical shape can help lessen the severity of your injuries in a crash; stretching regularly, and before you ride, can help as well.

Now for the crash itself. Our first instinct in an accident is to tense up and perhaps close our eyes-the completely wrong response. There is plenty to do in a crash, and you want your eyes open to see what's going on. Try to stay alert, and don't simply give up and wait for the sky-ground-sky-ground to stop. That said, one big mistake that many riders make is holding on to the motorcycle well past the point of no return. Racers sometimes get credit for keeping a death grip on the clip-ons, allowing them to get back up and in the race all the more quickly. The reality is that by holding on and staying close to the bike, you are increasing your chances of getting hit or caught up in the flying machinery. Let go once you realize a crash is inevitable, and if possible even push the bike away from you.

With the crash now running its course and the ground rushing up at you, it's important to stay as relaxed as possible and not tense your limbs. In any type of fall, resist the natural urge to try and cushion a fall with your hands; trying to break your fall with an outstretched arm will almost certainly result in a broken wrist. Your gear is padded in strategic places for just this occasion, and it's best to let the padded (and stronger) areas of your body such as the outer portion of your arms, shoulders, and back take the brunt of the impact rather than your hands and wrists-the least-protected (and most fragile) portion of your body. If you can make it past the initial landing without serious injury, chances are good you'll walk away when it's over.

Once you've initially hit the ground, the object is to do whatever possible to avoid starting to tumble. While it's generally good to keep the outer portion of your limbs from flailing about, you need to try and spread yourself out in order to avert tumbling; the more you are tucked into a ball, the more likely you are to tumble-which will almost assuredly result in broken bones and prolonging of the actual fall itself. If possible, orient yourself so you are sliding on your back, hopefully feet first. Your back protector (you are wearing a back protector, aren't you?) makes a nice wide, flat surface to spread the load over, as well as protecting you from localized hot spots and road rash, and the more surface area you can drag on the pavement, the more you'll scrub off speed and the quicker you'll come to a stop. The important part to remember through all this is to remain as relaxed as possible, while still moving parts of your body to avoid additional injury. For instance, curbing at the edge of the racetrack is easy to catch something on, and you want to "surf" over this area as smoothly as you can; by slightly lifting whichever limb is at the forefront of your slide, you can avoid catching something and starting a tumble. Sound impossible? You'd be surprised at what you can accomplish sliding along the asphalt, and how much that effort can save you from pain later on.

Another big mistake made by first-time fallers is to try and get up while they are still moving. This is another recipe for tumbling, and it's worth being certain that you are stopped before attempting to move. A good policy is to count to ten after you think you have stopped, and be sure the crash is over. If you're on the road or racing surface you'll want to extricate yourself if possible; otherwise, take inventory of your body and if anything is unusually painful, wait for help to arrive.  

Even if you avoid serious injury in a crash, there is always the stiffness and soreness to deal with during the days after. Alternate ice and heat on especially hurtful bits, and stretch regularly to avoid having your muscles tighten up. Of course, go to the hospital or see your doctor if something seems amiss. Most importantly, learn from your experience-hopefully you won't have to put that knowledge to use again, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared.
Some iron-man riders can seem to wrestle a crashing bike into submission, but for most of us the best option is to let go and get away from the motorcycle as quickly as possible to avoid getting hit by it.

The initial ground impact during a crash can cause the most injury. Keep your arms and legs as tucked in as possible to protect them, and relax your body as much as possible to prepare for landing.
Once you are on the ground and sliding, try to orient yourself on your back, traveling feet-first. This will let you see where you are going as well as spread the weight of your body over as much an area as possible.

Once the crash is over, evaluate what happened. Not only do you want to consider the cause of the fall, but also what you could have done differently during the crash.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dr. Ray's Safety Tips For Motorcycle Riding

Make your first ride your best ride. Take the MSF Basic RiderCourse. Find a course at or call (800) 446-9227.

If you are a new rider or a veteran motorcycle rider, Dr. Ray has a wonderful guide called "You and Your Motorcycle - Riding Tips".  Dr. Raymond J. Ochs is the director of training systems for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Ochs has more than 30 years of experience in education, training and leadership functions. Ochs joined the MSF in 2002 where he develops and maintains national curriculum and training functions related to the MSF Rider Education and Training System. Ochs has owned multiple motorcycles in his 35-plus years on the road and currently rides a touring bike. He became an MSF-certified instructor in 1973 and a chief instructor in 1980, and has conducted motorcycle safety training programs and presented papers and presentations all over the country and overseas including Germany and Japan.  

Dr. Ray's guide is in PDF form so you can download it and print it for free. Share it with your club members, friends, family or any one that rides a motorcycle.  It has a lot of helpful tips and insights.  We all can learn something cause no one knows it all.

Here is a brief description of some of the tips you will read in his guide:

  • Learn to smoothly squeeze your front brake lever. Practice smooth braking even while rolling your bike out of the garage, so the skill is there in an emergency. 
  • The best riders control their bikes to within six inches of their desire line, every mile and every curve of every ride.
  • All the levers and pedals should be adjusted so they're easy to reach and operate.
  • Practice hard stops when and where it's safe. If you ride with passengers, tell them to hold on and practice some hard stops with them. Just do it with care. 
  • Don't tense up. Keep your elbows relaxed and slightly bent. Use a light grip on the bars. You need to control the bike, but you also need to let the steering do its job, not fight it. 
  • The front tire of a sport bike can handle braking loads even when leaned over, but not abrupt braking loads. Words to live by: Load the tire before you work the tire. 
  • Sport bike riders: Get used to holding yourself up with your core muscles and legs, gripping the tank with your thighs. This takes the pressure off the handlebars. 
  • Your front brake has most of the stopping power. But develop a good feel for using your rear brake as well, to further shorten stopping distances. 
  • Sport bike riders: Forget tucking in and hanging way off to drag your knee UNLESS you're on a racetrack, where you can safely explore your limits.
  • Be smooth whenever you are moving around on the bike. Aggressive, abrupt body movements can be just as wrong as grabbing the brakes or stabbing the throttle. 
  • Whichever line you are using through a corner, use all your vision and think and plan. Scan side to side and near to far, keeping eyes up and looking through the entire curve. 
  • Remember: Weighting the inside axle of the gyro (aka the foot peg) helps turn your bike into the corner.
  • When cornering, don't let your eyes linger.  Jump them to what's next and any possible hazards. 


Monday, July 19, 2010

How To Avoid Dry Rot Tires

Happy Monday Morning

Keeping your tires in good shape includes constant attention to them, maintaining proper inflation at all times, and avoiding street hazards as much as possible, which is definitely impossible living in NYC.  

But dry rot is a problem some tires seem to experience, particularly if our motorcycles are not ridden year round.

There are a few simple things that you can do to minimize dry rot:

Do not store your motorcycle near electrical appliances. Ozone is generated around electrical appliances and is primarily responsible for the cracks in your tire rubber.

Do not use anything like Armor All on your tires. These products make the rubber look nice and clean and  bright black, but they also rob the rubber of the chemicals they were manufactured with which are  designed to minimize the effect of ozone.
Do not park your bike with the tires sitting on oil spots. The oil will deteriorate the tire rubber over time.

If you found this information to be informative and helpful please forward 
it on to a family or friend who rides.  
Remember knowledge is key.   Ride to Live~~Live to Ride