- GO TAKE A RIDER SAFETY
COURSE, EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR IT!!!
It will teach things about controlling your bike that will take you years to learn otherwise. If you can't control your bike
you are bumper bait. If you are an old rider, it will give you a brush up on skills you may have forgotten
- Kiss Your Mirrors! Too many riders crash their bikes going around curves and it's because they don't understand how to manage the physics of the process (see the next bullet.) Countersteering is a process pretty widely known, but there is also a more advanced but simple technique that all should eventually learn, called "kissing the mirrors." Learn this and you will become a better, safer rider, far less likely to dump your bike or go off the side of the road in a turn.
- An accident is a moving violation of the laws of physics.
- Two things are universal: gravity, and stupidity. Both will kill you quick.
- Keep the shiny side up.
- If you can't keep the shiny
side up, at least try to fall down under control and pick the softest
spot you can get to.
- Don't carry potato chips in your pocket. (Just wanted to see if you're paying attention, 'cause we're getting to the hard part.>
- Never, ever, ever assume someone sees you! The eye sees but the
brain often does not perceive, so act as though you are absolutely
invisible, 'cause some people just aren't looking and others just
Assume that if they could see you, they'd try to kill you. Then, anyway, use whatever tricks you can to make yourself visible. Ride with headlight on and don't be shy about flicking the high beam at someone as you approach an intersection. Animals (including humans) see motion best, before they even see color, shape or size. A rider coming straight at a car shows no apparent motion to the driver, so shift from one track in your lane to the other, or even shift lanes to show him some lateral motion.
- Be aware of blind spots;
they come in all shapes and sizes. If you can't see the other driver's
eyes, he can't see you. Even if he is cycle-aware, he may only see a
piece of you, and that may not register in his mind as a bike.
- On a road that has multiple lanes, more than 2 going one way, never try to move into a hole in the center lane in the blind spot of a car in the far lane. Even if he checks his mirrors and glances over his shoulder he will likely not see you. He'll move into that hole just as you do, never even knowing you are there.
- Always be ready to evade,
because no matter who's at fault you're the one who'll break and bleed
- If you don't look where you're going, you're gonna wind up where you're headed. (Also applies as a rule to live by.)
- Always look where you want
to be; the bike will follow.
- Never go around a blind
curve faster than you are willing fall down or run into something.
- Ride like everybody really
is out to get you. They may not be, but it's the way the smart money
- Any time you approach an
intersection you've got more potential trouble on your hands than Custer
at the Little Big Horn. You are approaching one of the statistically
most dangerous places in the United States. Someday, when you least
expect it, the guy in the oncoming lane who wants to turn left in front
of you will. And if he doesn't, while you are watching him, the OTHER
guy waiting to pull out from the right will. WATCH EVERYBODY ALL THE
- Make sure you always have
someplace picked out to go when the idiot does it.
- Don't stay behind anybody longer than you have to, there's lots of bad stuff going on there.
- It makes you blind - you can't see what's ahead worth a damn, not traffic, and not the road surface.
- It hides you from oncoming traffic
- Stuff falls off or out of vehicles
- Stuff gets thrown up off the road
- Tires blow and shed chunks of rubber in your face
- People throw crap out the car window (including one time, no joke, a cup full of piss!)
- Drivers lose control
turbulence bats you around
Get out and get around! There's about eight things that can happen to
you while you're following someone. Only one of them is good, and that's
if the Swedish Bikini Team decides to moon you out the back of a motor
home. It ain't likely; don't stay back there. And staying behind big
trucks is REALLY stupid.
- When you start seeing
little chunks of rubber in the road, big chunks aren't far ahead even if
you can't see 'em yet.
- If you are behind a semi
and smell hot rubber, or hear a tire singing, look out! He's about to
create BIG chunks of rubber. You haven't had a thrill until he throws a
5 foot chunk of his outside left rear dual up over your head. Or into
your lap. I've had the first and been close to the second - it has a way
of raising your consciousness about trucks.
Watch the road surface like a hawk - you live (or die) by your eyes. There are obstructions there, from runaway missiles (yeah, I saw it in the paper one day; a truck dumped a small load of Sidewinder missiles somewhere in Colorado) to dead skunks. All will complicate the shit out of your life if you hit 'em.
- Don't ever run over
anything you can avoid, even if you think you know what it is. And
don't, for cryin' out loud, try to kick stuff like empty beer can or
rags. Even an aluminum beer can hurts like a sonofabitch when you kick
it at 60 mph, and that "empty" box or rag might have a small anvil or
some other surprise in it.
Some day you're gonna hit a bump, a big one. It might be a hole in the road, or a construction lip, or a 4x4 that fell outta somebody's truck. Doesn't matter what it is, there's one major thing you want very much NOT to do, and it will be your immediate reaction to do exactly that. DO NOT SLAM ON YOUR BRAKES, especially not the front. There are a couple reasons for that.
Click here to read more about handling bumps.
- Cut your speed by 20 - 30% in the rain or on a wet road. You lose traction because water is a lubricant. Look at all the things you have to contend with: basic surface, asphalt, tar, rock chips, water oil loose gravel steel plates and grates stripes and markings wet leaves missing manhole covers mung shape crown camber. It's a wonder anybody wants to ride even when it's dry.
You can go 100+ mph on a wet road in straight line with no problem. You will have a big problem if you have to stop or turn quickly at any normal highway speed.
Traction loss on wet pavement is right now with very little warning.
Puddles can make you hydroplane, and they show up frequently in heavy rain.
You lose initial braking effectiveness due to wet disks and pads. You first think they aren't working and squeeze harder. Then the water will scrub off; the brakes will grab normally and will override the wheel's traction. Slow is better: slowly and gently are best.
You lose vision, lots of it. Rain and mist in the air. Drops on windshields and glasses or goggles. Fog on inside of face shields (especially full-coverage helmets.)
In a heavy rain on a crowded freeway you may not be able to see anything useful.
Yeah, I know, you're not some newby
just started riding, and you can ride fast and safe on a wet road when
you can't hardly see because of the water and fog on the inside of your
glasses or goggles, and even if the cages and trucks are throwing up
such a slurry that Superman himself couldn't see through it with x-ray vision.. Sure you can,
for while, but gravity works even in the rain, only quicker. Some day
you'll have to perform an evasive maneuver and you'll wonder where the
traction went as your wheels slide out from under you and the road rises
up to smite you, and some car's bumper is the last thing you see as you
go under it. Slow down, give yourself a little margin for mistakes,
yours and other's.
- "Own" your lane. When you
ride alone keep to the left-hand track in your lane. If you keep to the
right people behind you, and some oncoming, will try to use the left
- Watch where your head is.
In a hard left curve, if you are on the left edge of your "track", your
head will be over the center stripe. Crowd the stripe hard and it will
be in the other lane. You can lose it on some guy's mirror if he's
crowding the centerline too.
- On mountain roads going
downhill, don't pass trucks on the outside of a curve, even on four-lane
roads. They have both gravity and centrifugal force working against
them, and if the driver has misjudged the curve, or if his load is
shakey and slips loose, anything bad that happens is gonna happen on the
outside of the curve. The driver may be muttering "Awww shit, I'm sorry
guy" to himself as he looks at you in his mirror as he drifts helplessly
into your lane, but all you'll be saying is "Awww shit!"
- Stay out of sucker holes. A
sucker hole is any place you ride where you are inviting disaster and
have no options. For instance, approaching an intersection in the slot
between two cars going your way (or behind a truck) while someone in the
oncoming lane is waiting to turn left. Or riding the freeway while boxed
in on all sides, or riding in the outside lane beside a semi going
around a curve. You'll discover others; if you're lucky, you'll survive.
- Think and ride like a
biker, not a driver. You are far more vulnerable than in a car. Exploit
your advantages, which are small size, acceleration, and speed, but
don't take them for granted. And oh yeah, no matter what you may think,
you probably can't stop much quicker than a modern car, or even maneuver
better than many of them.
There's a difference
between taking risks, and taking chances. A miscalculation in a car may
dent a fender. It can break your back on a bike. Evaluate risks
- Don't piss people off
gratuitously. You are a soft target, so think carefully before you flip
somebody off or whatever.
- The next time you're standing beside the road with your scoot broke down, or somebody elses', look around at the tire tracks running right through your space. Somebody drove through there once, and will again. GET OFF THE SHOULDER! Don't hang around. And if you're gonna hang around (and I know you will) get somebody to go flag traffic. It's terrifying how many drunks and idiots enter the national demolition derby and ditch driving contest on America's roads. People will run right over you while they're
looking to see what you're doing.