RIDING TIPS

The information contained in this publication is offered for the benefit of those who have an interest in riding motorcycles. The information has been compiled from publications, interviews and observations of individuals and organizations familiar with the use of motorcycles and training. Because there are many differences in product design, riding styles, there may be organizations and individuals who hold differing opinions.

VIEW OUR RIDING TIPS BELOW

Consult your local regulatory agencies for information concerning the operation of motorcycles in your area. The purpose of this training is to improving the safety of motorcyclists on the nation's streets and highways. To help reduce motorcycle accidents and injuries. This program is designed for motorcyclists. For the beginner or experienced rider training.

HELMET

Around the block or around the world, it makes sense to leave home with a helmet on your head. IT'S ONE OF THE BEST~ ITEMS OF PROTECTION YOU CAN USE.

Helmets come in all sizes, from extra small (XS) to extra large (XL). There are also helmets for children. When you buy a helmet, make sure it fits properly. Try it on; it should be comfortable to wear, neither too tight nor too loose. Remember, it is going to spend a lot of time on your head.

Always fasten the helmet strap. If the helmet is not secured, it is doing about as much good as if it were on the shelf at home.

Did you know that all adult-sized motorcycle helmets now sold in the world must have a sticker indicating DOT (Department of Transportation) approval which means that the helmet meets certain basic impact standards? Don't buy a helmet without one; it may not live up to standards. Helmets vary greatly in price and style. Buy one that suits you. Wear it. Fasten it every time you ride the motorcycle.

A good helmet makes motorcycling a lot more pleasurable because it cuts down on the wind noise and greatly reduces rider fatigue. The days of heavy or cumbersome helmets are no more; they're made of light new materials with terrific designs and colors to choose from.

If you drop your helmet onto a hard surface, or it receives a heavy blow, it is probably time to buy a new one. A motorcycle helmet is designed to absorb the impact of a blow, and a helmet should only do that once.

If in doubt, get a new one.

EYE PROTECTION

Riding with bare eyeballs is a gamble. Your eyes are precious, and it does not take much to injure one.

A fairing on a motorcycle is not eye protection; a bit of sand or tiny piece of glass can whip in behind it and get in your eye.

Proper eye protection means an approved shield on your helmet, a pair of goggles, or shatterproof glasses. Settling for less just doesn't seem worth the odds.

Make sure your eye protection is clean and unscratched. If you use a tinted lens or shield for riding in the bright sunlight, have a clear one along as well, in case you are riding after dark.

JACKET

Motorcycle jackets are made in many sturdy materials: denim, nylon in its various guises, corduroy, and leather. The hide of a cow, or any other commonly used leather. Offer’s you the most protection when it comes to abrasion. You can buy leather jackets with zippered vents, which are comfortable to wear even in hot weather as they allow a breeze to flow through.

PANTS

These should be made of a thick material, such as denim or corduroy. They resist abrasion and provide protection from the elements. A pair of loose, light cotton pants that flap in the wind is not very good riding gear. A number of companies sell leather riding pants, and you can get pants and jacket combinations that zip together.

GLOVES

Always wear gloves. Even on a hot day. The car in front of you may throw up a stone that hits your fingers. Ouch! Also, bare hands are not designed to withstand abrasion or accidental contact with a hot motorcycle part.

BOOTS

Over-the-ankle boots, please. Preferably made of strong leather. Your ankles are very complicated; protect them. A boot with a slippery sole could prove embarrassing when you put your foot down at a greasy Garage. Rubber soles, with a good tread design offer better gripping possibilities.

RAINGEAR

It rains everywhere in this country, some places more than others. Inevitably you will be caught out in the rain. Why not have a good motorcycle rain suit along, with rain-covers for boots and gloves as well? It's a lot more fun riding in the rain when you're dry.

HIGH-VISIBILITY GEAR

The better people see you the less likely they are to run into you. Bright, light clothing is preferable to wear than dark clothing.

You can buy special vests, which are designed to make it easier for others to see you.

For nighttime, you can buy clothing that reflects light, and put reflective strips on your helmet and the backs of your boots. Every little bit helps.

Don't forget, driving is a privilege, not a right. You have to prove your competence before your license is issued. If you ignore the laws of your province, your license may be taken from you.

Laws are intended to protect you, not to harass you. You may be the best and safest rider in the country, but these laws are to keep incompetent, dangerous drivers off the streets.

Just think of the chaos if we didn't have these laws. Respect them.

LICENSING REQUIREMENTS

Go and get one. Drop by your local department of motor vehicles and ask for licensing information. You put yourself, and your wallet at risk if you choose to violate the law.

Your province requests it. Take the written test. And the riding test. Get your motorcycle license Then you will be a full-fledged member of the motorcycling fraternity.

To be a safe rider, get to know your motorcycle extremely well. It's very different from a car and makes more demands on the rider. The motorcycle goes and turns and stops smoothly according to your degree of skill and knowledge. Get to know your owner's manual; not all motorcycles are exactly alike. Types range from street machines (large touring bikes, cruisers, sport, and standard) to off-road, and dual-purpose bikes. The manual gives you many specifics you will find helpful in understanding and maintaining the bike ~ you’ve chosen.

A close relative to the motorcycle-the scooter- is different from most motorcycles and you'll need to find out its particular features. Some have automatic trans missions, as well as starter interlocks, and (as with other small displacement machines) certain models may not be allowed on highways.

It takes a long time to become properly familiar with a motorcycle, so it is best not to lend or borrow it. Think of your motorcycle as being as personal as a toothbrush

THE CONTROLS

Over the years, the basic controls on motorcycles have been standardized.

Put the bike on the center stand and sit on it. Become familiar with the controls and how to use them. Work the levers and pedals. If something isn't within easy reach of fingers or toes, maybe it can be adjusted to suit you. Check your owner's manual.

Practice with the turn signals. Find the horn button, so you won't have to look for it when somebody starts backing out in front of you. Figure out how the dimmer switch works before it gets dark.

Do become familiar with the RESERVE fuel valve, if there is one on your machine. When you are running along the highway and your engine burbies, indicating it is running out of fuel, you want to be able to turn that reserve on without a second's thought. It is not fun fumbling around when you are in gear and moving.

SHIFTING GEARS

Starting off and changing gears requires coordination of the clutch and throttle and gearshift lever. If you don't do things right, the amount of control you have over the bike is lessened.

To start off, you pull in the clutch, shift into first, roll on the throttle a little, and ease out the clutch. You will become familiar with the friction zone (that's where the clutch begins to take hold and move the bike), and you add a bit more throttle. You don't want to stall the engine, nor do you want to over rev it. There's a sweet spot in there; find it.

Shift while traveling in a straight line. Shifting in a curve is not good practice, and something to be avoided.

Become familiar with the sound of your engine, so you can tell when you should shift without looking at your instruments. When you downshift to a lower gear, you should (in one swift, smooth movement) be able to pull in the clutch, rev the engine a little to let it catch the lower gear smoothly, and shift down.

When you come to a stop in traffic, you might want to leave the bike in first gear with the clutch pulled in just in case you want to accelerate out of there in a hurry). Who knows what may be coming up behind you.

BRAKING

Don't ever forget. The front brake on your motorcycle can supply as much as 70 percent or more of your stopping power The single most important thing you can learn about braking is to use that front brake every single time you want to slow down.

Always apply both the front and the rear brakes at the same time. If necessary, apply them hard, but not so hard that you lock up either wheel. A locked wheel, as well as causing the bike to skid, results in downright inefficient braking.

As you gain familiarity with engine speeds ("Shifting Gears"), leas~ to combine downshifting with braking; it lets your engine help slow you down.

The time to take your left foot off the peg and put it on the ground is just before the hike comes to a complete stop.

When you have the opportunity, practice your braking. You can always get better at it.

TURNING

When you are riding along the road, you lean a motorcycle into a turn. Learning to lean is an essential part of riding a motorcycle. It is a normal function of the bike when you are changing its path of travel-and quite, quite different from turning the steering wheel of your car.

To get the motorcycle to lean in a normal turn, press the handlebar in the direction of the turn and maintain slight pressure on that handlebar enough to take you smoothly through that particular turn. In other words: push right to go right; push left to go left. Your instincts to keep the motorcycle on a smooth path while keeping it from falling over, usually take care of this without your even noticing it. (Demonstrate to yourself how a motorcycle moves by pressing a handlebar slightly while traveling in a straight line. You will notice the motorcycle move in the direction of the handlebar you pushed.)

Slow down before you get into the turn; look as far ahead as possible in the direction of the turn.

Keep your feet on the pegs, and grip the petrol tank with your knees.

Lean with the motorcycle; don't try to Sit straight up perpendicular to the road while the motorcycle is leaning over.

Keep an even throttle through the turn, or even accelerate a little bit.

CHECKING OVER THE BIKE BEFORE THE RIDE

Who knows when Murphy's Law may strike or what nail your tyre might have picked up just before you pulled in the other evening. It's not fun at all to have things go wrong on a motorcycle, but if you spend a minute before you go off on a ride, you can increase the chances that nothing will go wrong.

Any information you'll need, such as correct tyre pressures or chain adjustment, you'll find in your owner's manual. As soon as you finish this booklet, read the manual thoroughly. You will be much more acquainted with all the specifics of your motorcycle, since it might be slightly different from some other make or model.

First, check the tyres. They are one the most important parts of your bike. If your engine quits, you roll to a stop. If a tyre quits-trouble! Make the effort to check the surface of the tyres; looking for cuts in the rubber or foreign objects-like a nail. Check the tyre pressures with a good gauge. If a tyre is low every time you check it, even though you have added the proper amount of air each time, you have a slow leak. It needs repairing becomes a fast leak.

Second check the controls. Cables are quite strong in this day and age, and rarely break, but look for kinking or stiffness or anything unusual in their operation.

Third check your lights, including brake light, headlights, and turn signals to make sure everything works. Also check your horn and adjust the mirrors.

Fourth check the oil and fuel and, if the bike is liquid-cooled, the coolant levels.

Fifth if your motorcycle has chain-drive to the rear wheel, make sure that the chain is properly tensioned and in good shape. Chains do need an occasional cleaning and dose of lubrication.

Sixth, make sure the side stand and center stand fold up properly, and stay up. If one of the retraction springs is weak or broken or missing, replace it.

Seventh, as you roll off, check your brakes. Just to make sure they haven't gone away. Now, go enjoy yourself.

MAINTENANCE

There's not much to maintain on a day-to-day basis on most modern motorcycles, but do what you can do, including your pre-ride checks.

Your bike has a regular service schedule, listed in the owner's manual. Unless you are an accomplished mechanic, we recommend that an authorized dealer do these services.

Keeping your bike clean is a good idea. It's astounding how dirt can cover up something that is about to go wrong.

Check your battery every month. Make sure the fluid level is where it should be. If it is low, top it up with distilled water.

Always take your tool kit along when you go for a ride. You never can tell when it will come in handy. Use the tools to go over the bike occasionally and make sure no screws or bolts are loose.

You should always have your owner's manual with the bike. It tells you where the fuse box is, in the unlikely chance a fuse blows. It tells you how to get a wheel off, should you have the misfortune of a flat tyre.

Flat tyres are pretty rare occurrences on motorcycles, but they can happen. In this case, you can either get on the phone to the dealer, or fix it yourself. If you want to know how to do it, we recommend you practice at home, rather than have your first shot at fixing a flat alongside a deserted road in the middle of the night.

TROUBLESHOOTING

Little things may happen to the bike, which are cause for concern. Don't panic until you check out the obvious.

1. If the engine doesn't start: Is the key on? Is there petrol? Is the battery too weak? Or a battery leads loose? Have spark plug wires fallen off'? Is the ignition cut-off switch in the OFF position? Do you have the choke in the appropriate position?

2. If the engine stops when you don't want it to: Did you accidentally hit the cut-off switch? Did you run out of petrol? Did a fuse burn out?

3. If the bike begins to feel funny as you go down the road, especially in a curve, stop as soon as it is safe to pull over and check your tyres. You may have a flat. Check your suspension. You may have it adjusted incorrectly. Your owner's manual is the best reference for proper settings and adjustments.

4. If you detect any problems with the motorcycle doesn’t feel right, doesn't handle right, doesn't sound right that you can't figure out yourself, take it to your dealer. Think about the problem a little, so you can describe it to the service manager. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth about a ton of cure. Pushing a motorcycle can get old very fast.

STREET AND HIGHWAY RIDING

This is what it all comes down to: you and the road. There are millions and millions of miles of roads in this country, from one-lane dirt to a 2-lane highway.

When you ride, the surface conditions, traffic, and the weather can be changing. You have to be constantly aware of a lot of things. Daydreaming when you're riding a motorcycle isn't a good idea. Things happen fast out there on the road, and you have to he prepared for them.

STREET AND HIGHWAY RIDING THE S.I.P.D.E SYSTEM

Here is a good five-point reminder for riding safely in traffic.

S - Search

around you for potential problems.

I - Identify

any possible hazards, such as turning cars, railroad tracks, etc.

P - Predict

whether this hazard will or will not endanger you.

D - Decide

how to avoid the hazard.

E - Execute

the proper action to carry out your decision. This S.I.P.D.E system is a basic key to safe motorcycling. Use it effectively and you'll be on your way, covering many safer, happy miles on your motorcycle.

INCREASING YOUR VISIBILITY TO OTHERS

What's the most usual explanation from the automobile driver who just turned in front of a motorcyclist? "Gee, officer, I didn't see him." It's a sad truth. We're not as big as a Mack truck, but we are visible. However, too often motorists don't see us because they aren't looking for motorcycles.

You have to attract their attention. All motorcycle headlamps in recent years are hard-wired, which means that the headlight goes on whenever the engine goes on. If you have an earlier model turn that headlight on every time you go out. It helps - even on a bright, sunny day!

We've said it before, we'll say it again: wear bright clothing and utilize retro reflective material (it shines when a beam of light hits it) whenever appropriate. The biggest thing that a following driver usually sees is your back. Make it stand out. Always signal your intentions. Change lanes or make a turn using your turn signals. You want to be sure that the people around you know what you are about to do. And it helps to assist your turn signals with hand signals at times. Remember to cancel your signals when you've completed your maneuver, otherwise drivers are getting false information from you and you could cause yourself trouble.

Don't be shy about using your horn in some situations. If a driver is dozing, or about to pull an unthinking maneuver, give him a BEEP. You want to make him aware of what he is doing. And of your presence.

Position your motorcycle where it can be seen. Don't put yourself behind a large truck or ride in the blind spot of a vehicle near you. Get out there, take up a whole lane, make yourself seen.

HELPING YOU TO SEE OTHERS

The other half of the visibility battle is being alert and seeing everything around you. Use your eyes effectively. Keep them moving. Don't get fascinated by that Porches off to your right. Or go rubber-necking at an accident scene. If your eyes are locked on one thing, you may be ignoring some situation that could affect your ride.

Look ahead. Look to the side. Look in your mirrors. Look over your shoulders. Keep looking Anticipate the oncoming, left-turning driver, the reckless fool coming up behind you, the car poking its nose out of the driveway, the guy beside and a little behind you who's moving across the lane divider.

Never let your eyes fix on an object for more than two seconds. Keep looking around.

It's one thing to see, another to have the time to react. No tailgating.

When you're riding in town, at speeds under 60 kph, always keep at least a two-second gap between you and the car in front. For example, when he goes by a phone pole, you count "one-¬thousand-one, one-thousand-two" and then you should pass that pole.

Out on the open road, with higher speeds, you should adjust your gap to three or four seconds or more, depending on your speed. Use the same reference-point technique to determine how many seconds you are behind.

THE HIGHWAY, STREET AND ALLEY

INTERSECTIONS

It probably surprises no one to know that the majority of accidents involving collisions between a motorcycle and a car happen at intersections-the most frequent situation being that of a vehicle turning right in front of a motorcycle.

Any intersection is potentially hazardous, whether it has stoplights, or stop signs, or is unmarked.

Always check for traffic coming from the side, left and or right.

Check for traffic behind you, to make sure no one is about to run up your exhaust.

PASSING OTHER VEHICLES

The technique for passing another vehicle is the same whether you are riding a motorcycle or driving a car.

First, before passing, you should be two (or more) seconds behind the vehicle you want to pass, and have positioned yourself in the right-hand side of your lane.

From this position, you have to check oncoming traffic and the road to make sure you have enough distance to pass safely. Don't even think about overtaking if a corner is coming up.

If you have room ahead to make the pass, look in your mirrors, turn the signal on, and always look over your shoulder. That head check is essential; somebody in a car might have just pulled into your blind spot, intent on overtaking you. Always remember the head check.

Everything clear? Move into the right lane and pass the car truck/buggy/whatever. Do not crowd close to the vehicle you are passing; you should be more or less in the center of the lane you are passing in. Get by this vehicle as quickly as possible, without exceeding the speed limit. If it is a slow moving truck in front, you might want to shift down a gear so you can accelerate more rapidly as you go around it.

Before returning to your original lane, signal your intention and do a head check to make sure that there is enough room between you and the vehicle you just passed. Ever have someone speed up just after you've overtaken him?

Return to your lane, cancel your signal, and proceed merrily along...with care.

NIGHT RIDING

Quite often we're going to have to ride at night. After all, it is dark 50 percent of the time.

Dusk is really the worst time, when people's eyes are adjusting from daylight to headlights. Be especially careful just after sunset.

Usually it is advisable to slow down a little when riding at night, especially on any sort of winding road.

Use your own headlight and those of other traffic to keep an eye on the road surface. It is more difficult at night to see the patch of sand or something that fell out of a bakkie.

The distance between you and the vehicle in front becomes even more important at night Give yourself room to react.

Have a clear face shield without scratches. A scratched shield can create light reflection, which might confuse you; two headlights can look like four, and you don't know who is coming from where. One of the biggest hazards at night may be a "who" that is someone coming from a few hours of drinking. Be especially alert for drivers and vehicles doing odd things, like weaving in and out of traffic, and give them lots of room.

HANDLING SPECIAL SITUATIONS

In the best of all worlds the temperature would always be 24 degrees, the wind would be at our backs, and no emergencies would arise Since it is a slightly imperfect world we live in, we should be prepared for whatever happens.

EMERGENCY BRAKING

Sometimes you have to stop as quickly as possible. Here are some tips on how to get you and your motorcycle halted pronto:

Apply both brakes to their maximum, just short of locking them up. Practice in an open, good-surfaced place, such as a clean parking lot. Keep the motorcycle upright and traveling in a straight line; and look where you're going, not where you've just been. You don't want to lock the front brake. If the wheel does chirp, release the brake for a split second, then immediately re-apply without locking it up.

If your rear wheel locks up, do not release the brake. If your handlebars are straight, you will skid in a straight line, which is all right. You've got a more important priority and that is to get stopped! Read on and we will talk more about "slides".

BRAKING WHILE LEANED INTO A CURVE

You should try to avoid this, but sometimes it might be necessary.

You can brake (with both brakes) while leaned over, but you must do it gradually and with less force than if the bike is standing up straight. For maximum braking efficiency in an emergency (when traffic and roadway conditions permit), stand the bike up straight; brake hard. COPING WITH A SLIDE / SKID

A slide that's when your heart leaps up to your throat because your wheels have lost traction! You might hit a patch of sand on a mountain curve, or a puddle of oil as you're slowing for a stoplight. It's a frightening experience on a motorcycle, but you can handle it. On a fast road, sand-in the-corner slide, steer slightly in the direction of the slide. (If you're leaned to the left and sliding to the right, turn those handlebars a bit towards the right.) Chances are you will clear the patch of sand, the tyres will grip the road again, the bike will stand up, and you'll continue on your way. Should you hit a slippery bit while you're braking for a stop sign, and one or both wheels lock up, you want to get those wheels rolling right away. Release the brakes for an instant, then re-apply a little more gently. You want those tyres to have traction.

At higher speeds, when traction is good and the rear wheel slides when braking hard, do not release the rear brake. If your back end is sliding sideways because the tyre is on a slick spot and simply spinning, ease off on the throttle. A spinning wheel provides no more control than a locked wheel. You might be in one of those 10 kph parking lot scenarios, a mild, low-speed slide when your front wheel starts to go out from under you. A foot on the ground may keep the bike upright and the rubber side down. This is not an easy thing to do, and should only be done if all else fails.

RIDING ACROSS POOR ROAD SURFACES

Here are a few simple rules you should follow when you anticipate coping with sand, mud, water or any loose surface or obstruction in the road: 1. Down shift and slow your speed before you reach the problem area.

2. If there is traffic in the area, make sure that the drivers are aware you are slowing. 3. Try to cross the bad surface in a straight line, or at least do not change direction or speed abruptly. 4. Stay ready to maintain the balance of the motorcycle.

5. If you are moving along and have to go over an obstruction that is lying across the road, like a piece of wood, rise up on the foot pegs and shift your weight to the back of the saddle as your front wheel comes up to the obstacle. This will make it easier for the front wheel to bounce up and over. Then move your weight forward to help your rear wheel get over. 6. Do not accelerate until your bike is completely over the obstacle.

STEEL BRIDGE GRATINGS AND RAIN GROOVES

Steel-mesh bridges can be extremely unnerving. Keep an even throttle and keep the bike straight. Have steady hands on the bars without gripping them too hard. If there is a vibration in the handlebars, do not fight it. This is a natural feedback from your tyres going over these thousands of little squares. Some parts of the country have rain grooves in the highways. They're not very popular among motorcyclists. This is when the road surface, usually concrete, has several dozen grooves running lengthwise down each lane. The purpose of the grooves is to prevent cars and trucks from losing traction when it rains. The reaction of the bike to these grooves often has to do with the tread pattern on the tyres. Sometimes it feels as though the motorcycle is getting a fiat tyre, with a squishy back-and-forth sideways motion. Don't worry, just keep going straight. Don't fight the handlebars. There is nothing dangerous about these rain grooves-it just feels funny to ride on them.

RAIN

Take out the raingear you've put in a handy spot. Make sure your rain gloves and rain boots fit properly. Poorly fitted ones can lessen your ability to brake and shift. Be most cautious when it first starts to rain. That is when the water goes into all the dimples in the road, and the oil residue from passing vehicles floats to the top. That gets slippery A wise motorcyclist will stop for a cup of coffee when it starts to rain; who knows, it could all be over in 15 minutes, and he won't even have to put on his rain suit. After awhile, the oil will be washed off to the side of the road. However, traction on a wet surface may not be as good as on a dry road. Be careful.



WIND Strong winds can create problems for a motorcyclist. A constant 30 Kph wind from the side can make for some less than happy riding. Gusty wind is the worst. You might have to lean a bit into the wind to maintain your position. Keep the motorcycle on the side of the lane that the wind is coming from. This is in case a big blast moves you over a bit. Expect it and be ready to react.

ANIMALS

The biggest problem is with domestic animals: i.e. the dog. Most seem to have an urge to chase motorcycles. Those that don't chase often are known to blunder into the path of moving vehicles. Don't let one distract you and cause a fall. Here are three rules: 1. Slow down well before you reach the animal. 2. Do not-repeat-do not kick at the animal. 3. If the animal looks like he's going to intercept you, speed up just as you are about to reach him. It will throw his timing off. If a sheep/buck jumps out in front of you on a open road, but is far enough ahead not to be worried about - watch out for its mate. They tend to travel in pairs.

EQUIPMENT FAILURES

If your motorcycle is properly maintained, you greatly reduce the possibility of any equipment failure. However, just in case...

BLOWOUTS

If you run tyres of good quality, keep them at the proper pressure, and change them when the tread is worn, the chances of having a blowout are incredibly small. However, should it happen to either of your tyres, you must act quickly and properly. Do not use the brakes; to brake hard will only make things worse. If you must use some brake, apply gradual pressure to the brake on the good tyre and ease over to a safe spot to stop. Ease off on the throttle and slow down gradually; rapid deceleration could throw the bike Out of control. Hold those handlebars firmly; a great shuddering may take place as the out-of-round tyre flops against the pavement, but you are concerned only with keeping that front wheel pointed ahead until you stop.

STUCK THROTTLE

Most riders have had bad dreams about this, but few riders have experienced the problem. But that is why all contemporary motorcycles have a cut-off switch by the right thumb. Just in case. Practice flipping the cut-off switch. Chances are you will never have a throttle stick, but if you do, you'll know how to deal with it. As you hit the cut-off switch, pull in the clutch (chances are you will be in gear); then look for a safe place to coast to a stop.

BROKEN CLUTCH CABLE

Imagine you are cruising along in fifth gear; you want to shift down; you pull in the clutch lever and there is no return action. It just lies up against the handgrip. No fun, but not dangerous. You can shift the bike without a clutch. This is not advisable unless necessary, but it can be done. Back off on the throttle and shift down a gear. If you have a sensitive foot, you can probably find neutral before coming to a complete stop. If not, get set for a jerky halt.

GROUP RIDING AND PASSENGERS

As we said earlier, motorcycling is a sociable sport, so chances are very good you'll soon be riding with friends on their motorcycles, and have others who want to be passengers.

As with any sport it's nice if the participants all have a general idea of what to do.

RIDING IN A GROUP

It is useful if, before taking off on a group ride, you get two or three hand signals organized amongst the participants: "let's stop; need petrol; I'm hungry." A few rules for the group:

Riding in a group of more than four motorcycles can become confusing both for the group and other traffic around you. If there are too many people, break it up into smaller groups.
Bide in a staggered formation, with first bike on the left side of the lane, second on the right side, etc., but not side by side.
Always keep at least a two second following distance from the motorcycle directly in front of you.
At a stoplight or stop sign, wait in pairs.
Pass other vehicles individually, when safe not in pairs or groups.

CARRYING A PASSENGER

Company is always nice. Some company weighs 50 kilo’s; other company weighs 75 kilo’s. Putting that weight on the back will affect the handling. Adjust your shock absorber(s) to compensate for the amount of company you've brought along. (Check your owner's manual.)

Also realize that your braking capabilities have changed; take that into account. The more weight you have on the motorcycle, the longer it takes to stop. The passenger should be instructed to always mount from the same side, and to warn you before he or she climbs on. This goes a long way to preventing a motorcycle lying on the ground.

A passenger needs the same protection that you do - proper clothes and helmet. Two meter scarves flapping in the wind may look dashing, but not on a motorcycle. You don't want shoelaces or loose pants catching on rear-wheel or chain parts. Never carry anyone sidesaddle. A passenger should always sit across the bike with his feet securely planted on his footrests; make sure he knows where they are. Tell the passenger not to put a foot down when you come to a stop.

Show him where the hot things are-like header pipes and mufflers. Caution the passenger against coming in contact with the hot parts to prevent any injuries. Also, rubber soles can melt and leave a mess. Instruct the passenger to hold onto you at your waist or hips. Ask him to lean forward slightly when you leave from a stop or accelerate along the highway.

Also, when you brake, the passenger should be firmly braced against your waist and should lean back slightly. You don't want his weight to shift forward.

Advise the passenger not to lean unless you do. You do not want the person behind hanging off the bike at 30 degrees; that will do funny things to the steering. However, when you lean going around a corner, the passenger should definitely lean as well. So have him look over your downside shoulder into the direction of the turn when you go through a corner; that will put the weight where you want it.

LOADING THE MOTORCYCLE

Whether it is a carton of milk from the convenience store, or camping gear for a three-week trip, you will end up carrying more than people on your motorcycle.

All loads should be securely tied to the machine. Do not balance a bag of groceries between your legs for a short ride home. Strap it to the back seat with bungee cords or an elasticized cargo net.

A great carrying device is the tank bag. It puts the weight where it should be - near the bike's center of gravity. Make sure it is properly secured and remember never to carry anything so large on the petrol tank or inside the fairing that might interfere with the steering of the bike. Just imagine if you are turning the bars and they won't turn far enough - big trouble.

There are appropriate places to carry loads on a motorcycle, but that is not on your front forks or fenders. If your machine comes with saddlebags and a travel trunk, you're set. If you have none of this, you can always buy a luggage rack or throw-over bags; they are very useful items.

When you load saddlebags, have equal weight on both sides. This is even more important when you are using soft throw-over bags, as an imbalance can cause one side to drop down and rest on the muffler. A blazing saddlebag is no joke.

Keep the weight relatively light in your travel trunk or on your luggage rack. Being aft of the rear axle, this is the worst place on the motorcycle to carry much weight. It can turn a good-handling motorcycle into a poor-handling terror. Sleeping bags go great back there; a 25 kilo bag of dog food does not.

Check the security of the load frequently, and make sure nothing is dangling. It is one thing to lose part of your luggage, quite another to get it tangled up in a wheel.

Above all, DO NOT EXCEED THE OVERHAUL WEIGHT of your motorcycle You might find that figure on the plate attached to your steering head; sometimes it is found on the frame; but the best place to look is in the owner's manual. It is written in kilo’s, and it includes the weight of the motorcycle, all petrol, oil and coolant, the rider (s) and the luggage.

DRUGS, DRINKING, AND RIDING

IN ONE WORD: DON'T

We kid you not. Mixing alcohol or drugs and motorcycles is like putting nitro with glycerin there's a bad reaction.

Alcohol is a depressant. The first thing to go is your judgment-and good judgment is essential. Bad judgment gets you into trouble. Drinking riders tend to run off the road more often, have a high percentage of rider error~ and use excessive speed for conditions around them. Those are the statistics - and that spells trouble.

It takes a long time for the effects of alcohol to be cleared from your body, roughly one hour for each bottle of beer, glass of wine, or shot of liquor. Nothing but time will shed you of that alcohol - not showers, coffee, or other so-called remedies.

Alcohol is not the only drug that affects your ability to ride safely. Whether it is an over¬ the counter, prescription, or illegal drug, many have side effects that increase the risk of riding. Even common cold medicines could make you drowsy - too drowsy to ride - and mixing alcohol and drugs is even more dangerous than either is alone.

CONCLUSION

There is no conclusion.

Motorcycling is a constant learning experience.

You'll never know all there is to know about riding. But a year from now you'll know a lot more than you know now and ten years from now. Fifty years from now ……

If Methuselah had been a motorcyclist, he'd have learned Quite a bit in his 969 years - but not everything.

Go forth, have a good time, don't do anything foolish, and we'll see you on the road. It's going to be a great ride.

ANY QUESTIONS?

For any questions, please use our contact details below, or alternatively send us an email on our contact page.

Contact Address

De Villiers Straat Sunray Bellville, Western Cape, 7540

Call Us Today!

(M) +27 82 742 4836
(O) +27 21 906 6620

Working Hours

M to T: 09:00 AM to 17:00 PM
Sat: 08:00 AM to 14:00 PM
Sun: 09:00 AM to 13:00 PM