A follow up from last month's safety tip on Group Riding. Click the link for more details about Closing the Door, Tap Out, and Missing Man Formation. CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE SAFETY TIP
When a rider decides to drop out from the middle of the pack it creates a 'rider gap' in the stagger.
Some Chapters follow the 'line-up' philosophy where bikes on the side of the lane from where the rider dropped out, simply move ahead, pass the adjacent bikes and fill the gap back to stagger formation.
Some Chapters do a 'crisscross' maneuver and would signal a lane position change and move left or right to fill the gaps ahead.....this works its way to the back so that the stagger formation is once again 'whole'.
During our pre-ride chats, we must express to all riders that they own the space they occupy on the road, left or right side of a lane, and have full use of the entire width of the lane if they need it.
In general, we want to stay in a staggered position as much as possible and stay clear of riding in the middle or swerving left and right.
However, they can stay to the inside on a corner, or move out if they need the space in the lane....without fear of another bike coming up beside them taking that 'extra' safe space away.
They can swerve left or right to miss road kill or that big pot-hole.
To prevent the 'take away' of that extra lane width from any rider, I prefer the 'crisscross' method, it is something to mention to the group before the ride takes place.
Taking your bike out of winter storage:
Before riding check list - click HERE.
Checklist of things to do:
1) Find a place to store it, get the tools you'll need sheltered from the elements, away from chemical fumes and ozone.
Get the chemicals you need - gas stabilizer, any cleaning supplies.
2) Run the bike, fill the tank, stabilize the gas, take the bike out for a ride, and swing by a gas station on your way home.
3) Change the oil, do this while the engine is still hot - it gets more junk out.
4) Put bike on stands - if you can, take the weight off the tires.
5) Spray fogging oil in cylinder(s) - used to keep the rings and cylinder walls from rusting.
6) Cover intake/exhaust with bags while the bike is warm, cover the air box snorkels and exhaust pipe.
7) Final fuel system checks - if your bike has one, switch the petcock off.
8) Remove and charge the battery - take the battery out of the bike for charging.
9) Wash, dry, and wax dry the bike - wash and wax the bike. Get all the corrosive road salt and chemicals off it.
10) Protect the bike's exposed metal - spray the bike's exposed metal parts (but not the brakes!!) to prevent rust/corrosion.
11) Cover it - cover the bike with a breathable material that will keep dust off.
12) Wait for the new riding season.
This is the time of year when we become invisible – cagers seem to think we don’t ride after the summer months - keep an extra eye out for them and make yourself visible and use your hand signals.
It gets dark earlier – make sure you have clear glasses for night driving
As the sun goes down, so does the temperature – make sure you are dressed for the weather, warm gloves, face protection, and a couple of layers, windproof outer wear or leather - the last thing you want is frostbite or hypothermia
Check your tire pressure. Rule of thumb is for every 10*F change in air temperature, you tire’s pressure will change by about 1 PSI (UP w/higher temperatures and DOWN w/lower temperatures)
Watch for fallen leaves, driving through stacks of leaves (wet or dry) can reduce traction making it difficult to stop.
Frost……….in the early morning hours, pay attention for frost on bridges, elevated surfaces, railroad crossings and in shady areas where the morning sun might not have melted the frost yet.
And last but not lease…..
Watch out for moose and deer. It is breeding season and they will be running more actively than normal. With hunters on the hunt and farmers running their equipment, this will push these animals in other areas and in many cases, closer to the road.
The best defense is to stay aware, scan the roadway and just off the shoulders, watch for deer crossings.
Carrying a Passenger on Your Motorcycle
•Make sure the motorcycle is designed to carry a passenger.
•If you decide to carry a child, make sure the child is mature enough to handle the responsibilities, can reach the footrests, wears a helmet and other protective gear, and holds onto you or the passenger hand-holds.
•Instruct your passenger to keep his or her legs away from the muffler to avoid burns.
•Instruct your passenger to limit movement and talking.
•Remember that the extra weight from carrying a passenger can affect braking procedures, starting from a stop, and riding through a corner.
•Exercise caution in quick stops, as a passenger can move forward and bump your helmet with theirs.
•Passing will require more time and space.
•The effects of the wind will be more distinct.
•Review the motorcycle owner’s manual for tips on preparing for riding with a passenger.
•Do not exceed the weight limitations specified in the manual.
•Before riding, practice low-speed clutch/throttle control and normal and emergency braking in an open area, like a parking lot, with a passenger.
•Allow the passenger time to adjust to the speed of riding and the feeling of leaning.
•Make sure the passenger keeps all hands and feet away from hot or moving parts.
•When in a corner, the passenger should look over the operator’s shoulder in the direction of the corner.
•The passenger should not make any sudden movements or turns.
•When crossing an obstacle, the passenger should stand on the motorcycle pegs with knees slightly bent, allowing the legs to absorb the shock upon impact.
Some riding tips from the Safety Officer's forum...
Watch driver's heads and mirrors
Watching the head movements of drivers through their windows and mirrors is an excellent way to anticipate sudden moves. Most drivers won't lunge left or right without first moving their heads one way or another (even if they don't check their mirrors).
Trust your mirrors, but not totally
Your bike's mirrors can be lifesavers, but they don't always tell the entire story even if they're adjusted properly. In traffic, always glance over the appropriate shoulder to enhance what you may see in your mirrors. Do it quickly and you'll add an extra measure of rear-view and blind-spot knowledge to your info gathering task.
Never get between a vehicle and an off ramp
This sounds almost too simple, but drivers who exit at the last second kill plenty of riders each year. The simple rule, then, is to never position yourself between a vehicle and an off ramp. Passing on the right is generally a no-no, but sometimes necessary, so if you do it, do so between exists or cross streets.
Cover your brakes
In traffic you must often react quickly, which means not fumbling for the brake lever or pedal. To minimize the reach time, always keep a finger or two on the brake lever and your toe close to the rear brake pedal. When that cell phone-yakking dork cuts across your path trying to get to the Taco Bell for a burrito, you'll be ready.
Make sure drivers and pedestrians can see you, even from a distance. Ride with your high beam on during the day (as a courtesy, turn it off when sitting behind someone at a light) and wear brightly coloured gear if you have it. A white helmet for example, really stands out). Using hand signals for turns and lane changes also alerts a driver as your arm movement should catch their eye.
Be ready with the power
In traffic, ride in a gear lower than you normally would so your bike is ready to jump forward instantly if needed. Doing so gives you the option of leaping ahead instead of being limited to just using the brakes when that pick-up suddenly moves over. The higher revs might also alert more cagers to your presence. Loud pipes do save lives so don't be shy to give 'er when needed.
Traffic slowing? Stay left or right
When traffic slows suddenly, stay to the left or right of the car in front of you. This will give you an escape route if needed. It will also help keep you from becoming a hood ornament if the car behind you fails to stop in time. Yes, you need to check your mirrors when braking in this situation especially. Once you've stopped, be ready - clutch in, your bike in gear and your eyes on the mirrors. You never know. Look through the windows of the cars ahead, and that will give you an early confirmation of what lays ahead as well.
Practice the Scan
Constantly scanning your entire environment while riding - from your instruments to mirrors to the road ahead to blind spots to your left and right rear - keeps you aware and in touch with your situation, and therefore better able to react. Dwelling on one area too long - watching only ahead of you or only behind you for instance, is just begging for trouble. Look all around, all the time. You don't always have to brake when trouble comes along, as you usually always have an escape route. Swerving onto Mrs. Smith's front yard could be a lot better than center punching the Buick that turned left in front of you. Always scan for that escape route.
Left-turn treachery / Intersection treachery
When approaching an oncoming car that's stopped and about to turn left, be ready. Your high beam should be on so the driver can see you (during the day) but don't rely on this to save you. Watch the cars wheels or the driver's hands on the wheel. If you see movement, be ready to brake, swerve or accelerate, whichever seems best for the situation. When that light changes, also look for dipping headlights on that oncoming car or the lack of this downward movement....it'll tell you if they are stopping in a hurry or trucking on thru.
Study the surface
Add asphalt conditions to your scan. Be on the lookout for spilled oil, antifreeze or fuel. It'll usually show up as shiny pavement. Also keep an eye out for gravel and or sand. Use your sense of smell as well...often you can smell spilled fuel before your tires discover how slippery the stuff is.
Watch for 'tar snakes' during any weather but especially in the wet and in the heat...avoid them as much as possible. Your tires can slip on these all too easily.
Ride in open spaces
Use your bike's power and maneuverability to ride in open zones in traffic. In any grouping of vehicles there are always some gaps; find these and ride in them. Doing so will separate you from four-wheelers, give you additional room to maneuver and allow you to keep away from dangerous blind spots. And vary your speed occasionally. Riding along with the flow can make you invisible to other drivers, especially in heavy traffic. It's the difference in motion that becomes noticed.
Use that Thumb
Get into the habit of cancelling your turn signals often, regardless of the traffic situation. A blinking signal might tell drivers waiting to pull into the road or turning left in front of you that you're about to turn when you aren't. So push that switch a few times every few minutes. Better to wear out that switch than eat a Hummer's hood right ? Too many riders wait for the auto shut off or simply forget to turn off that signal, so make it a 'good' habit and use that thumb.
This one's easy, and I bet most of you already do it. Let larger vehicles run interference for you when negotiating intersections. If the bonehead coming toward you from the left or right is going to blow the light, better they hit the box van next to you, right ? For the same reasons, don't lunge through an intersection as soon as the light turns green. Be patient, look twice and save your life and use the vehicles next to you as cover.