Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month: The Road is Ours to Share

Motorcycle RiderJust in time for spring riding season, Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month kicks off in May. As a national initiative encouraging drivers and riders to “share the road” with each other, it not only calls for operators of passenger vehicles to watch out for motorcyclists but also reminds bikers of their responsibility while cruising down America’s roadways.

Driver Safety Tips

As part of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, drivers of cars, trucks and buses are reminded of the following:

  • Remember that motorcyclists have all the same rights and privileges as any motor vehicle driver on the roadway.
  • Avoid sharing the lane, and allow bikers a full lane width. The motorcycle needs room to maneuver safely.
  • Always use a signal before changing lanes or merging with traffic, so that bikers can maintain safe distance and lane position.
  • Likewise, keep in mind that not all motorcycle signals are self-canceling. Wait to ensure the rider is going to turn before you make your move.
  • Allow for extra room between you and the biker; they can stop more quickly than cars in dry conditions. A good rule of thumb is 3-4 seconds.
  • Stay alert and minimize distractions such as texting and talking on the phone.

Motorcyclist Safety Tips

Riders are reminded to obey traffic laws and observe safety guidelines not only during Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month but also throughout the year:

  • Always wear DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets while riding, whether you are the operator or a passenger. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,617 motorcyclists in 2011. If all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 703 lives could have been saved.
  • Wear protective gear, such as motorcycle boots, motorcycle gloves, and apparel that is designed for your riding conditions.
  • Use reflective tape and wear bright colors to stay visible to other motorists.
  • Remember never to share the lane with another vehicle; they may not see you when speeding up, slowing down or changing lanes.

Whether you will be out on the open road this spring or you find yourself cruising through the city streets, keep in mind that Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is for the protection of everyone. Share the road!

Spring Checklist: Or What Price Neglect?

Foolishness and neglect are the best of bedfellows and their moto spawn is all to often a concussion, at the least, and/or an addled and expensive hospital stay at next to worst.

Yesterday I went for what was for me an extended bike ride. On the return loop shifting gears got a bit wonky.  I dropped the chain into the gutter between the big chain ring and its  neighbor. I did it again…. and again. I left it in a medium low gear and made it home none the worse for wear. I laid the bike up and the following day, today, I sprayed up the works with chain lube prior to another ride assuming that the chain was just sticking. Chain lube is not holy water. Two blocks down the road at a light I stood on the topmost pedal and put my weight down on it to get me going. The chain jumped again – same spot and I went sideways over the bars and onto my back as the chain slipped and the pedal went sharply groundward. While I lay there part way into the intersection I was mostly surprised. All too often in an accident everything seems to slow down a bit. Not this one: push on the pedal, crunching noise , on yr. ass. Voila.

When I got the bike to the side of the road I looked it over closely. 4 of 5 bolts that hold the big chain ring on had worked themselves sloppy loose. They must have been a bit loose for a while and yesterday’s extended ride just worked on them and that is why the chain kept popping off. This is a foolish thing to have missed and a simple thing to rectify. I was already working up this post about checking your ride after the winter layup and this little safety vignette delivered itself to me in an awkward aerial ballet along with a bit of a stiff back.

There are some very good places to go on the intertoobz to get a spring checklist of things to attend to before you pull hibernating machine from its cave. I will list a couple at the bottom of this post and I welcome you to add yours. Read through them and then take the time to go through your bike. Cleaning it is often a very good way to start. Look it over.

Bring out the wrenches – tighten up bolts all around. Do you have leaks? Attend to it.  Fuel leaks, dripping oil – attend to it. Now is the best time. When the riding season comes in full bloom to your part of the world you won’t want to devote saddle time to nit-nit repairs. Do it now.

Tires: are they cracked? How much tread depth do you have? Are your wheels balanced and properly aligned in the frame. It doesn’t take much to check that out. Spoked rims? Are all of your spokes tight? Allow rims: any cracks?

Clutch and brake fluids topped off? Is this the year to flush the systems, bleed them and install new fluid? Are your electrics in order? All the lights and switches work? No frayed wires in the harness? Pull off the tank – take a look around.

In an upcoming post I am going to have a go at what tools and sundries are best to carry under the seat in the limited room available there. If you have tips and ideas for that post let me know. A CO2 cartridge tire filler device is already on my list.

Ok, try these links for spring cleaning and checkup ideas:

http://www.allaboutbikes.com/feature-articles/motorcycle-maintenance/6771-get-your-motorcycle-ready-for-spring

http://www.insurancehotline.com/spring-motorcycle-preparation-checklist/

 

Gerde Applethwaite

You Look Hot! Ready for some ventilation?

Soon you will be feeling the warmth of the sun beating on your back as you’re waiting for the light to change. But that doesn’t mean that a few weeks from now you have to sit at the same light in a pool of your own sweat. Not cool.

Fortunately, our friends at Scorpion have added to your options. This stuff takes motorcycle gear to new fashion heights. The new Savannah 2 line is not just gorgeous;  it has CE approved armor and is vented and lightweight.


And for the guys, Scorpion’s poly mesh Ventech 2. Looks great in hi viz neon.

Scorpion Ventech II Jacket – Neon

Icon has been busy too. They got some great choices that will let you idle with pleasure. The Hooligan Street Jersey is made with a Fighter Mesh Chassis for maximum venting.

Icon Hooligan Street Jersey – Red

So stop worrying about looking cool and be cool. Upgrade your riding gear collection to include some of this mesh apparel today!

 

 

 

 

Le Sneezola Du Printemps: Riding in Allergy Season

I live in California and we have, for the most part, had a pretty benign winter. The riding season is about eleven months and three weeks long here. In other parts of the country they are still playing hide and seek with the cold and the wetness while the motorcycles remain under wraps. Spring has yet to arrive for them  but when it does they will be going through, once again, what I am going through with this rain of pollen.

My sister isn’t  bugged by allergies. I most certainly am, its genetic roulette.  When riding a bicycle, scooter or motorcycle during springtime you are in essence turbo-injecting pollen into your sinuses. There are two conventional ways to lessen the effects of  pollen Rhinitus. One is to wear a filter mask over your mouth and nose while the other is the resort to chemistry.

There is guy in my neighborhood who rides a black Sportster; he dons a beanie helmet and a skull face mask on his head. Whenever I catch him out of the corner of my eye I am always slightly startled. Yeah, I know, that’s the idea. If you wear an open face helmet or a beanie helmet you can wear a face mask that will act as a filter to keep the pollen from your mouth and nose. A Freddie Kruger All Hallow’s Eve party mask is not gonna do it – you need a filter.

There is a company that makes a mask for motorcyclists which has a replaceable charcoal filter inside. Clever.  They come in all flavors from a shade of delicate pink to a Halloweenesque skull mask. I have forgotten where this company is but if you know about them please post a link. When I ride a bicycle during that period when the gods of hay fever are in high dudgeon I wear a standard 3M (or substitute) H95 dust mask. It works pretty well but doesn’t help the itchy eyes much – more about that in a minute. I cannot wear a mask with my full face helmet because the fit is pretty tight so I resort to chemicals when on the moto.

If you don’t want to go the face mask route you can try the chemical regimen. There are anti-histamines and anti-allergens out there that do not make you drowsy. Before you go riding you should absolutely know how any of these products will affect you. Needless to say do not take anything that will make you drowsy or in any way disoriented. I leave it to you to do the research on this because there is a lot of good information out there. Here is an excellent start: http://www.webmd.com/allergies/living-with-allergies-11/rhinitis

My personal tea is a generic version of Flonase for the sinuses and Patanol eyedrops for the itchy eyes. It works reasonably well for me. YMMV. Once again, if you know who makes those masks with the filters let me know. I want to try one out on the bicycle rides – and soon.

Gerde Applethwaite