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Motorcycle Safety

Discussion in 'Motorcycles & Boats' started by Texas Forever, Mar 20, 2021.

  1. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Apr 28, 2003
    47,461
    Texas!
    The number one cause of motorcycle deaths is a car pulling out in front of you and turning left (going right to left) or turning left in from of you (going left to right). If you ride enough, sooner or later, this is going to happen to you.

    What should you do?

    1. Assume you are invisible. Trying to get the killer's attention is worthless. Assume they can't see you. Alternatively, assume they can see you, and they want to kill you.

    2. Learn how to brake - HARD!. Practice, practice, practice. Laying down a bike is counter productive. Once you stop braking and hit the ground, you will start going faster. You also have no control over the bike. Worse case, you'll get tangled up in it.

    3. Learn how to countersteer. Sounds counter intuitive, but to go left, you push on the left handlebar. Doing so causes the bike to "fall." If you get good at, you will literally be able to jump the bike in the direction you want.

    4. Look where you want to go. DON'T LOOK AT THE CAR! If you do, you will hit it. If you see daylight behind the car, look there and pray.

    5. Always, always, have a plan. I watch tires. The second I see tires move or turn, I'm on to Plan Z.

    6. In the worst case, you can try to do a Mighty Mouse. Stand up on the pegs and try to jump over the car as you hit. Your knees will hit the handlebar, but that is better than your head hitting the car.

    You're number one safety tool is your eyes. LOOK. Always be searching for threats.

    The number two tool is your brain. You should always have a plan for the worst case.
     
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  3. jag-oo-r

    jag-oo-r Formula Junior

    May 27, 2015
    375
    You had me until #6. ;-)

    I've taught Motorcycle schools all over the country, and consider myself to be a 'very experienced' rider. All of these ideas (save #6) you've suggested are spot-on. (I'll take issue with # 6 later).

    I'll add some more to:
    #2 - when learning to brake, do it RIGHT. If you are relying on your rear brake, you're dead already. if you brake CORRECTLY, 90% of the braking is done by the front tire. The rear tire needs to remain on the ground for stability, and as such can add that last 10% . If you don;t know how to use the front brake, consider a school to teach you.

    #5 - Especially watch the front tires of cars around you. Those front tires will move first, then the weight of the vehicle transfers, then the change of direction occurs. Watching the front tires will give you crucial "early-notification" of a car's movement.

    I always like to have a car as a blocker. If I'm approaching an intersection, even if there's a green light, I look for a car to roll-through with, just in case someone is coming the other way and doesn't stop. Likewise; I never jack-rabbit out of the hole when a light turns green; somebody burning through a yellow will hurt a lot; let a car lead-out and take the brunt.

    My issue with #6:
    I feel particularly qualified to nit-pick this, because I've DONE just what you've described. My knees will never be the same after folding-up the handlebars with them. But if I had known how to do your #2 correctly, #6 would never have happened. You're NEVER better-off abandoning the brakes, except in the unlikely instance that they fail. Stay on the brakes.

    Finally: The first and most important rule, because it is the Number One indicator of a rider's likelihood to escape serious injury in an accident, is WEAR a HELMET. Personally I wouldn't ride without ALL other riding gear, but a helmet should be mandatory for every rider. (I mean a mandatory choice, not compelled by legislation). All of the arguments against helmet use have been debunked and are simply ludicrous. There is ZERO argument against helmet use except personal ego.
     
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  4. GTHill

    GTHill Moderator
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    Jul 1, 2006
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    I feel compelled to mention this one... :)

    You don't go faster, you just decelerate much slower.
     
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  5. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Apr 28, 2003
    47,461
    Texas!
    Yeah, #6 is not a plan.

    Thinking back to the times somebody has pulled out in front of me (going right to left), I avoided it by getting hard on the front brake and then counterstreeting hard right to daylight as they kept moving.

    Seconds later, after pulling over, and the adrenaline hits, I realized I would have been toast if the idiot had stopped.

    Right on about a helmet. I’ve been riding for 54 years, always with a helmet.


    Sent from my iPhone using FerrariChat.com mobile app
     
  6. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Texas!
    True.


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  8. BoulderFCar

    BoulderFCar F1 Veteran
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    Dec 16, 2004
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    This is obviously a very loaded and opinionated subject but I was reminded again today when someone turned left in front of me and I almost got attacked by a bear within a 30 minute period.

    From a safety standpoint, the first thing I do is avoid areas that suck and the night time. In FTL, the only time my bike went in and out of the driveway was on a trailer. I did ride a scooter almost daily which does more to keep skills sharp than you may think. I have a set routine- no phone, no music, specific riding boots with the right soles and heels. I run generally under the speed limit with plenty of spacing. If someone isn't looking right at me, I assume they will turn in front of me. The lady today turned in front of me but because I had distance and was 5MPH under it wasn't a big deal. if you're going fast enough that counter steering comes into play as an avoidance you're probably F'd. A high step maneuver over a car? Definitely F'd.

    On the highway I keep spacing and I think years of off road experience helps as I don't over react if the bike hits a pothole or rut. I've never had a drink and ride a bike and I always wear all the safety gear just like a seat belt except I'll wear jeans around town.

    I actually do figure 8's in parking lots and hard braking pulls downs fairly often. One of the main things for me is to stay very current. I know how my boots and gloves feel on the controls and how each bike reacts. Not a lot different than running different kinds of boats.

    All this sounds like it couldn't be that much fun if it takes that much discipline but to me it's worth it. Some day it won't be.

    I'm damn lucky the bear didn't get me today but that was just because I was stopped nose down on the bike and could back up, turn around or go forward into her. It wasn't my day today
     
  9. schwoo

    schwoo Formula Junior

    Jun 22, 2013
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    Marquette
    I’m 59 years old, never been on a motorcycle. I’ve been thinking about taking the riding course through the local Harley Davidson dealer. I’m very cautious, safe. Would you guys say go for it or to old to learn new tricks? Thanks in advance for the advice.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  10. absostone

    absostone F1 Veteran
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    Jul 28, 2008
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    And make sure you cancel a turn signal. Following cars will eventually ignore it.
     
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  11. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Texas!
    Besides learning how to brake hard and countersteer, knowing when and where to ride is perhaps the number one safety tip. For example, never, ever, ride at night. Yeah, it's cool, but the odds of this being your last ride are high. My sweet spot is early Sunday morning. The drunks are either in bed or jail. The cops are eating breakfast before they head to church duty. Even deer (the most evil, vicious killer on the planet. We should immediately kill all of them) seem to be sleeping it off. The best place to ride is a country back road. Stay off highways and interstates. You don't want to go when it is still dark because the rising sun can cause a strobe effect as it comes up. You don't want to go too late because the radical bicyclists will be riding two abreast on blind turns.
     
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  13. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Apr 28, 2003
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    Texas!
    Definitely take a MSR course. Maybe a couple of them. Then find a spot where you can safely go 40 mph and slam on the front brake, then do 50, 60, 70. You need to learn a modern motorcycle is much better than you are. Also practice countersteering at speed. (Countersteering is how you turn a motorcycle. You may not realize it, but to turn right, you are actually pushing on the right handlebar.)

    I may get some heat for this, but don't start on a big Harley. You want a standard motorcycle that weighs around 500 pounds. The physics of riding a 900 pound motorcycle are completely different.

    Ride in YOUR comfort zone. If you're riding with a group and feel they are going too fast, slow down. You can call them on your cell later.

    Finally, here is your biggest problem. Maybe it is an urban myth, but I've told you need to start physical activities, and riding a motorcycle is physical, before you are 18. For example, I can shift right or left without even thinking about it, but I started riding at 14. So to catch up, you need to start slow to build up your automatic reactions. Say you come into a turn too fast, instead of freezing, your instincts will kick in and have you lean and lean even further.

    Good luck. Let us know what you do.
     
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  14. BoulderFCar

    BoulderFCar F1 Veteran
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    I'd take the class and see how you feel about it. If it makes you nervous or you don't feel like you've got the right skills don't go forward. I agree that starting with a smaller bike is a good idea. The great news is that there are a bunch of fun middleweight bikes that you can actually go somewhere on.
    Lastly, strong vote on doing what is comfortable for YOU not what other buddies may be doing. If you can find a couple of guys to ride with that are like minded it can really help too.
    I took hunter and firearm safety classes, boating classes, golf lessons, and on an on. In all cases I learned something. Great place to start.
     
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  15. Innovativethinker

    Innovativethinker F1 Veteran
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    I’ve had to throw the bike down on two occasions. Which is why I always wear protective clothing and boots.

    What is also popular are very bright yellow led lights in the front, reflective tape on the back, and very bright red led stop lights on the rear of the bike (and adding them to the license plate frame)

    The standard rear lights on most bikes is not adequate, at least IMHO.
     
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  16. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Texas!
    Next bike I buy I'm putting flashing lights front and rear. I don't care if they are illegal.
     
  17. blkfxstc

    blkfxstc Formula Junior
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    As others said, take a course first and decide if you like it. If you do, buy something less than 600 cc that is easy to ride. After a year or so, switch to the HD if you enjoy it.

    Personally, I would not recommend it at your age and the attention span of the general population these days. I rode from 18-33 years old putting well over 100k miles on motorcycles, finally got off around 2007 due to a large increase in near misses. If I wasn't young with good riding skills and reaction times, someone would have gotten me even back then. Today's society is much worse. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
     
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  18. Innovativethinker

    Innovativethinker F1 Veteran
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    Or, keep your rides in areas with little traffic or rural areas.
     
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  19. Innovativethinker

    Innovativethinker F1 Veteran
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    You could a rotating beacon on the top of your helmet, there are no current laws that address that option.

    If you do, please post a pic here.
     
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  20. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Texas!
    Can you see me now?


    Sent from my iPhone using FerrariChat.com mobile app
     
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  21. absostone

    absostone F1 Veteran
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    I would think the rotating beacon would fixate drivers and they would crash into you. Like a moth to a flame
     
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  22. Tegethoff

    Tegethoff Karting
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    Every single person on the road wants to kill you at all times.

    Dress and ride appropriately.
     
  23. BoulderFCar

    BoulderFCar F1 Veteran
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    I was thinking about the "where you ride" factor today. I'm going for a 4 or 5 day ride with a friend of mine in Western NC in two weeks. He's had bikes forever, very careful and all that but lives in Ft Lauderdale so he doesn't ride much there. He's coming to Asheville and picking up a BMW GS1250. From my house we can get on the Blue Ridge with one simple traffic light. We'll ride the first 4 hours with no side traffic or commercial traffic. Really a nice way for him to get up to speed vs. starting in Atlanta rush hour. An abundance of caution but still a nice way to start.
     
  24. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Texas!
    But I have heard you have to watch out for bears.
     
  25. BoulderFCar

    BoulderFCar F1 Veteran
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  26. jag-oo-r

    jag-oo-r Formula Junior

    May 27, 2015
    375
    "had to throw the bike down twice....". ?? Really? I'd love to hear the "WHY" behind this. In ALL of my years, I've never heard of a time when "throwing the bike down" was the right choice, (except one guy who failed to put the pins in his new brake pads.... and they fell-out, haha), perhaps your story will be the first for me.

    Should you start riding at 59 yrs old? I would no longer even recommend someone start riding (on the street) at 18 yrs old. I decided mid-90's that motorcycles are meant for the racetrack. I watched four (FOUR!!) of my close friends and riding buddies die in a single summer from idiots on the street. This was before texting & driving became a thing! I packed-up my street gear and sent it to the landfill. I raced and taught track schools for another 15 years or so after that, before everything that I thought had healed started to hurt again.

    Motorcycles used to provide a thrill that was worth the risk, but as the risk increased, the ratio moved and it was no longer worth it. Drivers are FAAAAR too distracted now, and worse: angry and entitled. If you DO decide to ride on the street, start with a lighter bike, as some have mentioned.
     
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  27. Island Time

    Island Time F1 Veteran
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    This happened to me. (I just assumed he saw me). My bike and legs hit his front bumper. I flew over the car and landed 30 feet later in a ditch. It caused me to be home-schooled during my junior year of H.S.

    Confidence lost. 20 years later I wanted to ride again so I took a MSF riding course. That’s the best money I ever spent.

    Riding bikes on the street is one of the most dangerous things anyone will ever do.

    Lots of good advice and suggestions in this thread.
     
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  28. msdesignltd

    msdesignltd F1 World Champ
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    Practice is the greatest teacher.
    Practice on a smaller bike.
    The greatest rider defense is learned from the style of Motocross.
    You learn to get comfortable in any condition of traction and any position a bike might take.
    How to safely lay down a bike is mandatory.
    That said , I Rode off road for 15 years and really miss it.
    It lended everything to street riding, and saved my ass many a time.
    Anyone starting out now should learn on dirt...
     
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