Saturday, October 2, 2010

Motorcycle Stunt Girls- Graceful Perfection

The girls are doing it real big in motorcycle stunts.  WOW!!!  Much respect to these ladies.  And they look good.  They are gorgeous.  Team Rebella proves that stunting isn't just a game for the guys...

...One group of female riders has carved out its own niche within the freestyle genre, and has since made a lot of guys go gaga for more than their stunts...

...So how did Team Rebella, a group of three young ladies, think they were going to make any sort of impact whatsoever and infiltrate this male-dominated, somewhat reclusive stunt clique? Lipstick and eyeliner doesn't mix with wheelies and burnouts after all...

...It turns out that makeup, teddy bears and nail polish are the farthest things from the minds of Jessica Maine, Brandy Valdez and Alicia Speck. It was fate that gave them their collective good looks alongside natural riding ability, but the blend has gained them widespread popularity...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

How To Handle A Fall (Assuming It's Inevitable) By: James R. Davis

Of all the Tips I have posted here, this one is clearly the least credible in the sense that I have no experience in the matter, nor can I imagine a way to practice that makes any sense to me (nor would I want to.)

Still, I will post the thoughts in the hope that the reader will not take them as advice, but purely my opinions on the matter. Further, I suspect that in real life one does not have time to do anything deliberate until after the first impact, and then there may be no decisions possible. On the other hand, since I have personally witnessed a deliberate and life-saving maneuver by a woman who had just suffered a highside accident, I know that at least some people retain enough presence of mind in an accident that the following couple of ideas just might help.
  • The objective should always be NOT to fall - even if the bike is going down. That is why I teach my friends how to dismount their bikes (at slow speeds) if it is dumping, or to stay with it until after first impact at higher speeds, if possible.
  • DO NOT TRY TO BREAK YOUR FALL WITH YOUR HANDS!!! In other words, try to impact with as much of your body at the same time as possible.
  • If you are doing a lowside the bike is ahead of you and you want it to stay that way. Since the coefficient of friction between you and the ground/asphalt is higher than of a metal motorcycle, you want to get as much of your body on the ground at the same time as you can to slow you as quickly as possible so the bike will slide away from you. In other words, arms over head, feet first, butt down. Stay LOOSE (relaxed, in as large a configuration as possible.) LET GO OF THE MOTORCYCLE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!
  • If you are doing a highside you will be in front of the bike when you hit the ground. You want to move as fast as possible - in the same direction you were going and for as long as you can - in order to try to avoid getting crushed. In other words, you want to 'tuck' and roll as soon as you can after you hit the ground. Stay TIGHT (in as small a configuration as possible.)
Before you try to get up after taking a spill you must be sure that you have come to a stop first! Wait a couple of seconds until you are sure.

I don't think most people will have time to do anything deliberate at all by way of falling. But perhaps I'm wrong and the above thoughts can in some way be of assistance.
Following the posting of this Tip I received many e-mail messages which argued that a person simply does not have time to do anything that could affect the outcome of a fall. I responded with the following:


My comments had very little to do with how you hit the ground following a 'get off' as I don't think there is sufficient time to do anything very deliberate until after the first impact, and then there may be no decisions possible. Rather, I was trying to suggest that as you are coming to rest (assuming you can function at all) then you should try to END UP either loose (as much body contact as possible with the ground) or tight (as little body contact as possible with the ground - tuck and roll posture) depending on if you went down on the low side or the highside.

Despite the fact that I don't think most people would have either the time nor the presence of mind to do much 'thinking' during a 'get off', some do. I have personally seen, for example, a woman in her late fifties do a 50 MPH highside and when she landed, because (I believe - she can't remember) she was so afraid that the bike would land on top of her, began a rapid rolling maneuver that saved her life (the motorcycle stopped 1 foot short of where she did.) I have personally witnessed this same woman (honest) respond to a huge wind gust that knocked her bike over just as we were coming to a stop at a pullout on the top of a mountain and she was thrown over her bike, this time at about 5 MPH.

During this latter 'highside' she actually did a summersault before hitting the ground - a clearly deliberate move on her part (we all watched as she tucked her head down and 'kicked' away from her bike which allowed her to land on her curved back and then she 'unwound' and stopped her roll by spreading her legs. (She had gotten away from the bike that was following her, but wanted to stop rather than keep going.) Good thing, because had she gone another five feet she would have had a SEVENTY FOOT fall off the mountain. (There was no fence or guard rail that would have stopped it.) Incidentally, Elaine saw both of these 'highsides' , too.

Anyway, I mention these events because they left a very strong impression on me that some people DO have the presence of mind to determine how to END a fall, despite how fast things are happening to them. I'm not at all sure I'm one of those people, but at least I have thought about it and know that if I'm in front of my motorcycle I want to keep moving until I can't move any more - and I want as small an exposed profile as possible, just in case that bike catches up with me.

As to the lowside concept of trying to end up on your back, arms over your head, feet first - this was originally told to me by a motorcycle 'stunt man' in LA a couple of decades ago about how he tries to stop after a dismount. (Not that any of us are into that sort of thing, of course. )

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


In the current economic downturn, cash-strapped states across the U.S. are charging huge fines for speeding violations and other traffic infractions. All across America, legislators have one eye on road safety and the other on depleted coffers, and depending on where you live a speeding ticket can cost from under a hundred dollars to a couple thousand or more, reports AOL Autos.
Drivers caught speeding in the states of Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Nevada and New Hampshire all are liable to be fined up to $1000, at a judge's discretion, for a first-time speeding offense, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The severity of the financial penalty also may depend upon the number of miles above the speed limit when clocked and the number of points on a driver's license, or if the offense occurred near a school or road works. A driver's license may also be suspended, their vehicle impounded, or they may face jail time. 

Some states including Michigan, Texas and New Jersey, operate under so-called "driver responsibility" laws, which, in some cases, can result in a further fine of up to $1000 leveled a year after the conviction. Virginia, which until 2008 had some of the strictest penalties for speeders, repealed its driver-responsibility laws last year after a public outcry. Georgia, meanwhile, has just voted to add $200 to the fine of what it terms "superspeeders," who travel more than 10 mph over the speed limit. Other states with fines of up to $500 -- which in many cases is then compounded with additional court fees -- include Maryland, Missouri and Oregon.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hydroplaning Issues What is it? What to do about it? Are they making new tires less safe? By: James R. Davis

Hydroplaning is the result of your tires moving FAST across a wet surface - so fast that they do not have sufficient time to channel that moisture away from the center of the tire. The result is that the tire is lifted by the water away from the road and all traction is thus lost.

Of course the word 'fast' is a relative term. Tread design, tread depth, weight of motorcycle, tire pressure, depth of water and even the consistency of that water - (whether it is highly aerated or not, for example) - all play a part in determining at what speed the tire will begin to hydroplane. It is a pretty safe bet to assume that any speed in excess of 60 MPH is fast enough to support hydroplaning regardless of the other variables. This is not to say that at 55 MPH you are safe, however. (A formula that comes close to predicting the speed at which you will hydroplane, assuming at least .2" of water on the ground, is: 10.27 * Sqrt(tire pressure) which shows that if your tires hold 35 psi, hydroplaning can be expected at 60.76 MPH, while tires with 41 psi of air in them should expect hydroplaning at about 65.75 MPH. 

Another formula that is somewhat more accurate, though much harder to calculate, is: 7.95 * Sqrt(tire pressure * contact patch width / contact patch length). This formula shows that the wider the contact patch is relative to its length, the higher the speed required to support hydroplaning. I bring this to your attention because it is contrary to my understanding that a wider tire is more susceptible to hydroplaning than is a narrower tire, yet this particular formula seems to yield a closer approximation of the threshold hydroplaning speed. In other words, I cannot explain why the formula seems to work.

In any event, there are two absolutely essential NO-NO's to remember should you experience the beginning of hydroplaning:

  • Do NOT apply your brakes
  • Do NOT try to steer in any direction but straight ahead
Though I am not formally trained in the matter I would suggest that the only thing you can possibly do to help the situation is to feather your clutch to moderate your speed without the possibility of drive train 'snap' that would result from an abrupt change of the accelerator.

Hope there is an idea in there that you can work with. Frankly, I think if you start to hydroplane the odds are that you are going to go down unless you keep the front wheel pointed absolutely dead ahead and it is of the briefest of durations.

While on this subject I would like to make another observation about our tires. If you look at the stock front tire on all new GoldWings you will see a Dunlop K177.

If you look at the tire tread pattern you will also see that the grooves are cut in such a way as to tend to channel water away from the center of the tire if it is rotating in accord with the arrow stamped on the side of the tire. This seems to be consistent with what the Dunlop factory rep advised in his latest message to me on the subject.

However, if you look at the front tire tread pattern of the new Dunlop Elite II's (K491) they are aligned in exactly the opposite way. That is, they tend to channel water towards the center of the tire. This CANNOT be the most effective way to diminish the odds of hydroplaning! Either the K177 or the K491 is safer on wet streets based on those tread patterns. (I believe that most new street bikes (other than Honda) come with tires treaded like the K491's.)

If anyone knows why I sure would like to hear about it. Thanks.

I, of course, tried to find out the answer for myself. I wrote to the company that manufactures these tires and in my letter I explained my concerns, just as I did above.

Following is the terse response I received from the Dunlop Tire Corporation to those concerns. I think you can draw a few conclusions from this 'hedge" - at least one of which is that hydroplaning and braking compete with each other from a tread design point of view. It might also be concluded that if you start using these newer designs you should lower your speeds in the future when the roads are wet, below what used to work just fine for you (I will!).


Our development and testing during the design of the Elite II front tire determined optimum overall performance was achieved with this pattern which includes wet traction and braking.

Dunlop Tire Corporation

(This response was signed by a person named Tom Daley.)

Mind you that I am not of the opinion that Dunlop has made a mistake with this design! In fact, I think braking performance is FAR MORE IMPORTANT than hydroplaning resistance. This is particularly true since we can usually choose how fast we drive on wet streets but often cannot choose when it is necessary to stop quickly. I would have liked a little more candor from them on the issue, however.

For example, (because it is left to me to interpret their response), I do not know if they were actually saying that they had determined that the old design (such as IS being shipped on the front tires of new Wings) is better or not than the K491 design from an hydroplaning point of view.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Glad-Handling those Bad Landings Tips on the Perfect Motorcycle Gloves by Gary IIminen

For many of us, gloves are gloves. If they fit fairly comfortably and prevent blisters or keep our hands warm in cold weather, we’re pretty much good with whatever we happen to have at hand—pun intended.
But, where power sports are concerned, selecting the right gloves can make a big difference in our enjoyment, comfort and safety.

Sizing seems pretty basic, but it makes the difference between day-long comfort and “can’t wait to take ‘em off” discomfort. Checking out the size of your favorite current gloves is a pretty good guide and manufacturers have handy sizing charts, as well for buying online.

One trick I’ve learned for riding in a climate that can be finger-numbing cold in the morning and toasty in the afternoon is to double glove. Wear a light, snug-fitting riding motorcycle glove with thin leather palm and mesh or stretch fabric back inside a heavier leather and/or insulated glove. As the temps rise, take off the outer glove leaving the lighter, cooler glove to provide protection without being too warm. Some snowmobile gloves feature a removable glove liner, but that may not be designed to act as a lightweight glove in itself.

I’ve found that tactic is particularly good for off-road ATV and motorcycle riding and for snowmobile riding, improving protection when trailside branches whack your hands. The thin gloves are also very good for handling tools in sub-zero cold when exposing bare skin can cause frost-bite in a matter of minutes and handling steel tools can literally cause them to freeze to the skin. It can be very difficult to use tools with the bulkier insulated gloves or mitts on. Getting the outer glove in a size or two larger than usual makes this work pretty well.

Depending on your sport and season, you may want motorcycle gloves that keep your hands warm, dry and protected, or cool, dry and protected.

A variety of approaches exist to meet both goals. Perhaps the most dizzying aspect of glove design these days is the variety of materials used in glove construction. Even basic leather gloves have variations: goat skin, lamb skin, buck skin, pigskin, full-grain cowhide, suede and combinations of more than one type. Solid, perforated, fingerless, non-lined, lined, insulated, non-insulated, gel-pad palms, you name it.

Leather has a natural beauty to it, tends to be supple and provides reasonably good weather and abrasion protection. Add some treatment to the surface and you have a waterproof, tough, comfortable basic glove that easily mashes down to fit into your pockets. These types of gloves tend to be reasonably priced, too, generally ranging from as little as about $20 for your basic styles to the $60-$70 range depending on the options.

But the real revolution in glove design is in the use of synthetic materials. Stretch mesh for the back and sides of the gloves allow near-total ventilation, which may be augmented by finger vents, while providing abrasion protection and second-skin fit. High-tack silicone rubber and similar materials added to palm and fingers prevents slippage on the hand-grips and levers, supple finger materials allow maximum “touch” for fine control, pre-curved fingers and palms virtually eliminate “break-in” for the grip. Add Kevlar® fiber in back, wrist and gauntlet with hard knuckle and finger armor and you’ve got a competition-grade protection package.

Speaking of competition, if you intend to use the gloves for racing, check the rules for the sanctioning body; some types of racing won’t allow some types of gloves. For example, in land speed racing no synthetic materials are allowed—leather only, a minimum three inch gauntlet is required and wrist closures are mandatory. European (CE) standards exist for professional motorcycle gloves: EN 13594:2002. No equivalent U.S. standards exist. Fully appointed racing gloves can range from $50 to about $200, depending on the required equipment.

Adjustable wrist closures with Velcro® or snaps assure the gloves will stay on when you need their protection most. They are a good feature to have for leisure riding gloves and are essential for competition. Elastic bands are ok for some applications, but to be effective in some situations, they’d generally have to be so snug, they may be uncomfortable.

Other features like battery-operated heaters, finger-mounted face shield wipers, reflective piping or panels, gel padding in the fingers or palms, or key pockets are all items to consider, depending on your riding plans.