This won’t be news for most of my readers, so…if you want to read it anyway…what you can do with this post is [a] try to guess what bike the above picture is of, and [b] post any other tips you might give to a new citybiker on basic chain maintenance.
Some people really like getting their hands dirty with motorcycle maintenance. I don’t particularly enjoy it, but there are some things you just have to do: and if you have a chain driven motorcycle (which is most motorcycles except BMW’s and some Harley’s) you have to clean and lubricate the chain. The truth is modern o-ring chains hold on to lubrication so well that they really don’t require too much fuss. Nevertheless we want to keep our bikes in top shape, and the only thing that’s more of a pain than cleaning and lubing a chain is replacing one. So here’s a quickie step by step you can do every couple of weeks or (if you’re riding long distances) every thousand miles or so… Continue reading
One of the joys of driving a nice car is looking out at the road over a cool fighter-pilot inspired dashboard. Of course your eyes are on the road, but you can see the speedometer in your lower field of vision – always ready for a quick glance at the speed or rpms or navigation system. The problem is, this perfectly good practice of having the instrument panel in your field of vision when driving a car encourages a really bad habit for motorcyclists… In a car, you can see the instrument panel while seated in the proper driving position looking out at the road; but in a motorcycle, the only way to see the instrument panel is if you’re head is down looking at the front wheel.
This is why full race bikes do not have speedometers and many racing schools tape over the speedos of their school bikes. Because when you’re riding properly there’s no time to look down at the gauges… In the same way when you’re looking into a corner while turning, if you’re looking in the right place, you won’t be able to see the front of the bike: you shouldn’t be able to see the front wheel, or the gauges, or the mirrors (check your mirrors before you begin a turn) because you’ll be looking in a different direction entirely.
One of the reason people have trouble with sharp turns is because they’re not used to looking away from the bike deep into the turns. And one of the main causes of crashes is a rider being unable to turn the bike sharply (even though the bike is more than capable of the turn). Because the only way you’ll be able to (really) lean a bike over on its side is if you turn your head and look in that direction.
So here’s the tip: Eyes up here buddy! If you can see your speedo by just looking down with your eyes, then your head is probably in the wrong position. Learn to judge your speed with your eyes rather than using your gauges (that’s what the pros do)… Cheers!
On the one hand CityBiker is a regular blog for people who love to ride motorcycles – with a slight inclination toward people who live and ride in cities – but the other way people come to the site is through Google search looking common riding topics… So here are the top 5 posts that many people jump to – in case you missed it.
#1 Riding Tips: Finding the Right Position
Most people can get by with bad riding habits…but what the proper riding position offers is direct control over the motorcycle… When you are locked in the correct position on a motorcycle you can swerve left or right or make emergency maneuvers without having to brace yourself or change your body position… Steering becomes a simple matter of pushing left, to go left, pushing right to go right…this way you can focus on your driving without struggling with your weight or balance.
#2 How to Park your Motorcycle on the Street
It’s a strange feeling, the first time you leave your bike unattended on the streets of New York. Someone could just go sit on it and start messing around. A car could knock it over while parking. Anyone could come over and steal it. But the remarkable thing is…you CAN park on the streets, and it CAN be safe! Of course there are real “dangers” to worry about, but there are some simple things you can do to minimize the chances of it. First let’s talk about WHERE you can park in NYC…
#3 What Makes a Good Starter Bike?
…On congested city streets, a person who lacks the sense to learn safely on a 600 will not be safe on a 250. However there are principles and needs that can be understood and addressed to benefit new riders while increasing chances of safety developing motorcycle skills. So here’s a quick rundown of some basic needs new riders have along with some principles to apply in choosing a first motorcycle…
#4 Riding Tips: Taking a Passenger
Everyone who aspires to ride a motorcycle dreams of riding off into the sunset – or at least a nice dinner and a movie – with a friend or a date riding on the back.
#5 How to Buy a Used Motorcycle
With a few simple checks you will have a sense of the bike’s “Story.” If you have a bad feeling about something, simply walk away. There will always be another “perfect” “great deal” bike on Craigslist…
Two Runners Up:
Let’s Talk Motorcycle Jackets
Safety & Style
Are automatic (shift-less clutch-less) motorcycles the way of the future? Newer sporty/motorcycle/scooter crossover bikes like the Aprilia Mana and Honda DN-01 bring the convenience of automatic scooters and the performance (not to mention the looks) of motorcycles together. But here’s the question: would you ditch your shifter for an automatic if it could offer comparable performance (as these bikes claim)?
It has become more important than ever for the general public to realize that motorcyclists are not just Hell’s Angels Biker types, or Nazi Helmet wearing sportbike guys…with loud pipes and even louder personalities. There are many of those (perhaps a few too many). But motorcyclists come in all shapes and sizes and all walks of life. Not only that, for some reason people on motorcycles are usually friendly and helpful (bikers usually help out other bikers) and the kind of people you’d generally want in your neighborhood… This is so contrary to what people think (from television and movies) bikers are like that it’s going to take a lot of work to break the stereotypes.
I think it’s more important than ever because both the environment and gas prices make motorcycles a great alternative to automobiles… If you’re too far to bicycle, and don’t need to carry large amounts of gear, a motorcycle can get you anywhere a car can get you, faster, safely (once you learn to manage your risks), and with more fun. But the key to having more motorcycles on the road and more motorcycle friendly cities is changing the public perception. So here’s your chance! Wednesday July 16 is the annual “Ride to Work Day.” I don’t know anything more about these guys than what’s on the web site here. But the weather should be great here in NY tomorrow… Cheers!
I (like a lot of people my age) grew up with a slight bias against Japanese cars and bikes, but when I grew up I put my childish ways behind me and saw the light… A nice shiny Honda headlight.
Most of you have already seen this – but just in case you missed it…here’s a hint: this bike gets 168 miles per gallon…and can run on used vegetable oil rather than that pretentious 10W40 stuff…
Riding in and around NY is probably not quite like riding in other motorcycle towns. You don’t have windy roads with scenic outlooks, you have windy cabs with aggressive drivers on cell phones. The apex of a canyon turn never changes, but the proper line between an SUV, a cab and a delivery truck is constantly in flux. All the traditional advice holds true here: “ride like no one sees you”, “ride like they’re trying to kill you.” To which we can add one more: Always have an exit strategy! A VIABLE exit strategy…
How do you define a viable exit strategy? If any of the cars or trucks near you decided to suddenly come into your path, a viable exit strategy = having someplace to go and the time to get there. So if there’s a car ahead of you in your right lane, a possible exit strategies might include: [a] brake hard (if there’s no one behind you and you’re going at a reasonable speed); [b] swerve left (if there’s no one to the left or rear of you); [c] swerve to the right (to where the offending car came from). The point is that you should ALWAYS have an exit strategy should a driver decide to become inadvertently homicidal toward bikers. And it should be a VIABLE exit strategy meaning: Can you actually brake in time if that car decided to swerve (or are you going too fast)? Can you actually turn in time (or are you too close)? Can you actually get into that space if this truck decided to swerve for a pothole? Continue reading