Riding Skills: An Exit Strategy

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

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Crazy (in a good way) Bikers and Chili Peppers

Today is a heavy traffic day. And it’s hot… And there are a lot more trucks than usual. And did I mention the temperature? But every time I think it’s too hot to wear a jacket or too difficult riding a sportbike I think of this guy… See video.

There’s another guy, Nick Sanders, who’s going around the world (for the 7th time!) on a motorcycle, and I think he’s doing it on a R1. But Sjaak (“shock”) Lucassen was probably the first to try and make a trip like this on a sportbike…and he wears full leathers…in the jungle…on an R1. Now I think he’s crazy, but this has got to be the epitome of motorcycling. The sense of freedom. The sense that you can, quite literally, go anywhere.

Mastering the Mental Game

Yogi Berra put it well when he said “Ninety percent of baseball is all mental (the other half is physical)!” You can apply this to motorcycling… The difference between a safe fast ride and a slow dangerous one is not just a matter of skill, but of mindset…

I linked the MCN video here – you don’t have to watch it if you’re not into this sort of thing – but what’s interesting is on the laps where the rider was able to go faster, he actually felt like he was going slower. And along with that he felt more relaxed and less on edge, but he was actually going faster! Now this doesn’t mean if you relax you will automatically go faster around a track – but what it does point out the mindset of effective motorcycling… Motorcycling is like poetry in motion. It forces you to be relaxed (tension in the arms works against you on a motorcycle), to think ahead, and be fluid (stop and go and sudden throttle movements don’t help you on a motorcycle).

So relax. Don’t rush into turns or poorly planned positions in traffic. Think ahead. Be aware of your surroundings. Feeling rushed just works against you. Instead focus on effective throttle control (rolling on smoothly whenever you crack the throttle open), body position(s), braking (smoothly yet quickly) and your position in the traffic around you. A good ride won’t feel fast – it’ll feel relaxed and fluid.

Free Subscription to Motorcyclist Magazine

Roadgear is one of the newer motorcycle apparel companies specializing in gear for urban and commuter bikers.  Now they want to give you a free one year “no strings attached” subscription of Motorcyclist Magazine — of course they get your email and address info in return, and will probably send you catalogs – but what’s so bad about getting motorcycle gear catalogs?  It’s a limited time offer so you can sign up right now, or check out the Roadgear site.  Cheers!

Riding Tips: Which Leg?

Here’s a quickie that applies to all types of street riding, but is especially effective on lighter motorcycles and scooters… When you’re making a turn the right way (figure B), where should you put your weight? In the inner foot (the right foot in the diagram) or the outer foot?

Most people put their weight on the inner leg… But the key to bike stability (for light bikes) and proper riding position is to put your weight on the outer leg.

How come?  Two reasons.  One, in terms of handling it puts more of the weight in a spot where the suspension can handle bumps and lack of traction…  I don’t know exactly why this is the case…but you can try it out on spots like where the Grand Central goes to the Triboro Bridge – the grooves in the ground make lighter bikes and scooters chatter at speed.  But if you shift your weight to the outside, viola!  You probably won’t notice the difference on heavier bikes with better suspensions.

And in terms of posture it allows you to find the correct position A or B (in the first diagram) and not C.  Most people do C (a little bit) without realizing it.  Even sport riders who are aggressively trying to hang off (figure A) are surprised to see pictures of themselves on the track “crossed-up” (doing figure C).  Because when you put your weight on the inside leg, you will naturally push up against the turn.  But if you look at professional motorcycle (and scooter) racers, their outside legs are clamped onto the tank, while the inside leg is free of weight (this might also be why it’s so hard to get your knee down at first – you don’t want to drag your knee when all your weight is on it…)

So how do you do this?  It feels funny at first.  But try doing your regular turns while just keeping your toes lightly on inner peg…  So make right turns with your right toe lightly on the peg, and your weight on the left.  Make left turns with your weight on the right foot and your left toe just lightly on the peg – making sure you are straight in line with your bike (and not doing figure C).  It helps to realize that the actual turn (no most turns in the street) only last for a second or two…  You won’t be able to do this as well with slow lazy turns – but that’s a discussion for another time…

So that’s the tip – take it for what it’s worth.  Cheers!

Let’s Talk Motorcycle Jackets

[Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and Orlando Bloom in their leather jacket glory…]

Okay so here’s the truth about leather motorcycle jackets… And this is directed mainly at the men – women already have a good handle on this… Hey buddy, I know you THINK you look really cool in your motorcycle jacket – or you think you WOULD look cool walking around in that jacket – but you’d actually look like a dork (or an a**hole or scumbag, or like you’re going through a midlife crisis). There I said it. Even rock stars and movie stars look like that way – it’s just that they (sometimes) have enough cool to overcome it. Leather jackets don’t t actually make you look cool – I know you think it does, which is why your friends have asked me to tell you. It’s kind of sad. So thanks for understanding.

Now with that out of the way we can talk about motorcycle jackets. They’re for safety, not glamour. So you might want to spend the money on the parts of the jacket that are really worth it…

Comfort

Usually, the lighter and more comfortable something is, the less abrasion resistance it has… So mesh jackets (generally) have the least abrasion resistance, thicker textiles a little more, and leather even more depending on the thickness. But the best protection won’t be any good if it’s too hot and uncomfortable to wear… And safety gear isn’t very safe if it gives you heat exhaustion sitting in traffic.

Read the Full Article at our new site!

Space Bikers

They’re a little far from the city, but of interest to us nonetheless… Most of you have seen this already on Gawker or biker blogs: Tricia Helfer and Katee Sackoff (Number Six, and Starbuck) are avid bikers. But since I’m such a big BSG fan…allow me to repost… You can watch the full interview from LATimes