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Thread: When did I learn...? Practical tips for all riders.

  1. #1
    2 Wheeled Troubador oldhway's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005

    When did I learn...? Practical tips for all riders.

    Riding to work today I noticed some of the habits I have developed that make day to day motorcycling more enjoyable.

    I pulled up to the post office to get the mail for the store. Found a parking spot that had the bike pointed very slightly uphill and the side to side fairly flat so the lean angle on the side stand was good. Where did I learn that parking technique?

    Put the bike in neutral and eased out the clutch with the front brake covered just in case the little green light was lying. When did I learn that?

    As I put the bike on the side stand, I pulled gently backward against the stand to be sure it was fully deployed so the bike wouldn't fall over. When did I start doing that?

    Came out, put the mail in the saddle bags, hopped on the bike and put it in gear, side stand up, and covered the front brake before starting it. Then eased out the clutch, rolled on the throttle, and released the front brake simultaneously while I rode away. Was able to do this because I had picked a parking spot that would allow me to ride straight out. What experiences had taught me all this minutiae that made getting in and out so easy?

    For those of us who commute on our bikes, there are little things we have learned over the years that make bike commuting far more practical and enjoyable. New riders who take a safety course learn all the stuff about being safe, but they don't always learn the stuff that makes it easier. Most of the stuff above was probably learned by either dropping a bike on it's side or huffing and puffing to move it around in a parking space. And that's only parking. Think of all the stuff you do everyday that makes riding more enjoyable.

    So how about we share some of those little things we have learned over the years that make riding more fun and practical. Great info for new riders and I'll bet some eye openers and ah ha moments for us veterans as well.

    So what have you learned over the years, and why?
    Steve Marquardt

  2. #2
    It is what it is. Bud's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Long gone
    No matter which religious camp you are in regarding All The Gear, All The Time, buy good gear and use it.

    At 65 MPH, bugs hurt when your face shield is up.

    Don't have your bars turned to the max and then let out the clutch. Darn thing wants to dive right into the ground.

    Don't drink and ride.

    When in doubt, ride it out. The bike is more capable than I am in making turns. DAMHIK

    Always check to be sure your stand is up!

    You can not look over your shoulder too many times.

    When you have decided to pass or change lanes, do it decisively, don't hesitate which gives mixed signals to other drivers.,

    Don't ride next to a semi. Tires can and do explode, rims come off the hubs, the driver has a hard time seeing you and may move over on you.

    Your riding gear can not be too bright or too reflective.

    After six months experience, you are really dangerous. You think you have finally gotten the hang of this riding stuff, but you haven't.

    Trust you instincts when it comes to other traffic. If it seems to you that another driver may do something, most often they will. I don't know how this works, but you would be foolish to ignore that little voice in your head warning you.

    If safe, stop and move trash out of the lane. I emphasize "if safe". I have stopped on the interstate and moved wood blocks, tire treads, pieces of metal etc. Why, because later on, another motorcyclist may be following another vehicle and not see it in time to miss running over it. It is also good karma and we all need more of that.

    Wave at everybody.

    Stop and help any motorcyclist that needs help.

    Stop and change a tire for anyone that looks like they don't have a clue. Makes a good impression on non riders.

    Ride like they are trying to kill you. They are not intentionally trying, but they are trying none the less.

    Read books that give advice on riding better then practice, practice, practice.

    Find an empty road, learn how ABS feels when it kicks in. Do this regularly.

    Check your oil.

    Check your tire pressure.

    Dr. Greg Frazier, who has ridden around the world several times on motorcycles and bicycles, won't ride after dark because of the danger from deer and other stuff. I try not to. But I do have Hella's on the front and reflective tape on the rear of the bags to try to up my odds.

    Think before you park. Are you going to have to try to back up hill to get out of a parking spot? RT's are heavy.

    You won't be in trouble entering a turn too slow, you can enter too fast! If you are a newer rider and someone says they entered a turn "a little hot" they mean their entry speed was too hot. It's not something of which to be proud.

    Other drivers don't see you.

    Riding with someone else can be enjoyable because of the shared experience and memories. You don't have to keep up with your buddy if they are riding faster than your experience. It won't kill them to wait up for you while you may die if you try to rider faster.

    Your horn can not be too loud.

    Want to ride safe? Then learn to ride well.

    We are never too old to learn.

    There are women who can out ride you. Motorcycles don't care about the gender of the rider.

    All of the above reflects my personal experience as a recent re-entry rider and bias. Feel free to ignore some or all.

  3. #3
    Registered User godzilla's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Ride, then ride some more. The more riding, the better you get. I don't understand how people ever get 'in the zone' when they only ride on nice weekends or only rarely to work.

    Get some good wet weather gear and keep in on your bike. This time of year, you never know when a pop-up storm might, well, pop-up.

    Wear earplugs and save your hearing.

    Buy a cover, keep in the saddlebag just in case a storm does pop-up. Keeps hail off the bike, the seat dry and for those with older K-bikes, the instrument cluster dry.

    Mind your following distances. 2-seconds (one motorcycle, two motorcycle) on dry pavement. Increase your distance when it is wet.

    Use lane positioning to make yourself more visible to traffic.

    Avoid road rage. You'll lose.

    I always start out every ride with what I call a Threat Assessment. I rate these factors from A+ (perfect) to E (don't ride or stop):
    Road Condition & hazards
    PPE (Personal equipment: Gear, boots, gloves, visor, glasses...)
    Mechanical condition of my bike (Old K and she does sometimes have problems)
    Possibility of animals (never better than a B)

    Doing this puts me in the frame of mind to ride. For example, when I rate the Road, that makes me remember that there is a higher possibility of debris after a bad storm the night before. This method seems to work really well for me, anyway.

    I also do a reassessment periodically during my ride. For example, if there is more traffic or I actually see a deer or a turkey in a field nearby.

    Choose gear appropriate for the weather conditions. I have a First Gear Kilamanjaro with HT Overpants for cooler or cold days, along with heavier gloves. When it is warm in the morning, I put on my Mesh-Tec jacket and use mesh riding gloves. I try not to be too hot, too cold or too wet. I always consider what the weather forecast is for that day and make sure i have the gear at hand just in case. I might be a little chilly in the morning to avoid being way too hot in the afternoon on the way home.

    Even if you are not an ATTGATT kind of rider, don't be fooled into wearing a short-sleeve T-shirt on hot, sunny days. You will be much cooler with long sleeves. I get a kick out of seeing guys trying to be cool wearing a wife beater sleevless T Shirt and sporting a horrible sun burn.

    And by all means: ride as much as you can.
    '85 K100 "ZoomZoomZoom"
    '71 R75/5 "Zippy"

  4. #4
    3 Red Bricks
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Pleasanton, Ca.
    YouTube is a never ending example of what NOT to do:


    Ride Safe, Ride Far, Ride Often

    Lee Fulton Forum Moderator
    3 Marakesh Red K75Ss
    Mine, Hers, Spare

  5. #5
    Minnesota Nice! braddog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Twin Cities - MN

    The hard way...

    As stated, many of us learned the kickstand routine by dropping a motorcycle at one time or another.

    Here are some of the things that seem to make my riding easier.

    - Routines. Getting your gear on, checking the oil, etc. Get into a decent pre-ride routine.

    - Comfort. Make sure your gear fits and is comfortable. Make sure the ergos on your ride both fit you and offer you the proper level of comfort as well.

    - Ride your own ride. Don't try to do what others do, go where you want to go and ride the way you want to.

    - Experience. Accept that the fact that you'll NEVER quit learning to be a better rider. Ride on a variety of roads in a variety of places as your comfort level allows. This will continue to prepare you to be ready for anything.

    Maybe this is kind of high level, but just sharing...
    Brad D. - Member #105766
    '77 R100RS - Black Beauty (big pipe, baby!)
    '94 R1100RS - Sylvia

  6. #6

    Good idea

    Lower the screen if the road is bad, you want to see all the damage in front of the bike.

    Ride at 6/10 not 8/10. I was pushing some turns on my commute home and realized that I was being stupid. Dropping the speed 5 MPH made for a less stressful ride, I was still in the traffic flow and my reaction time just increased. You don't have to push the envelope all the time.

    If someone wants to pass, let them pass.

    Gear up before starting the bike. I have the bike off the stand when I start it.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Oldhway View Post
    So what have you learned over the years, and why?
    Locking your front brake on the slightest bit of sand or gravel can take you down faster than you can even imagine ...

  8. #8
    When parking in a lot or parking garage, there's usually a sweet spot between "Dang, your bike is parked so deeply in the spot that I didn't see it, I thought this parking spot was empty and roared in to claim it; sorry!" and "Dang, I was pulling out from the opposite row and backed into this spot to make the turn and I didn't see your bike!" There's also a sweet spot between the rear door swing of the cars next to you and the room you leave for the passengers to get out and walk alongside the bike without bumping into it.

    These sweet spots vary from parking lot to parking lot. You need the eye of a surveyor to assess the dimensions and park accordingly. You'll get better at it, over time.

    When parking next to other bikes, there is a sweet spot between where the bikes won't hit yours as they all fall over like dominos from a high wind, and the position that is too close to the bike next to yours, which means you prevent the bike next to yours from being uprighted without conflicting with yours or their mirrors/grips/bags or perhaps you are preventing it from being uprighted at all. This means: all you RT owners, stop parking so close to cruisers, our bikes lean farther and need more room to upright so we can leave!

    Oh, wait, those are "parking" not "riding" aren't they? Here...

    Loose, flappy things should not be secured to a bike if they are still loose and flappy. Roll them up, use a cargo bungie, get a bag. Even if it doesn't fall off and get tangled in your wheel, it might fall off and get tangled in the bike behind you. That's not nice.

    Ride staggered when you are with others, or when you join other bikes while on the road. This does not mean side-by-side, this means create the illusion that the lights are side-by-side and oncoming traffic will be fooled into thinking you are a car and will be less likely to pull out in front of you.

  9. #9
    On the road again! R80RTJohnny's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    On really hot days watch out for cars with open windows. It's one of two things: no AC or they are about to send a cigarette butt your way.

    Turn signals do not mean a thing until the turn is initiated and even then.

    Cell phones are bad all around.

    It's easier to follow an idiot then having one behind you.

    Taxi drivers - well 'nuff said.

    Red lights and Stop signs are suggestions. Full stop and wait for others to stop before proceeding.

    Give some room when stopped behind a vehicle. Never know when you will have to get out of the QUICK! Been there done that.
    2008 R12RT (Blue)
    1986 R80RT (Silver)

    Member of the Loonie-Tics. MOA 292.

  10. #10
    2 Wheeled Troubador oldhway's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005

    Great stuff

    great stuff, keep it coming.

    The big one for me is to take your time so that you can enjoy the ride. I can't tell you how much gorgeous country I missed because I thought I had to ride to the motorcycles ability. Just cause the bike can doesn't mean you have to.

    Like I said, good stuff from everybody. If one rider doesn't have to learn a lesson the hard way because he saw this, how cool is that?
    Steve Marquardt

  11. #11
    Registered User rmarkr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007


    I have "THINK" in big letters on top of the screens on my bikes - for me to see.
    Its a reminder to think about:
    What I am about to do, the potential risk.........
    My mental attitude, physical condition..........
    Roadworthiness of the bike.......
    and all the related issues.


    "Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most" Mark Twain

  12. #12
    Registered User R100RS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    North Florida
    Unlock your steering lock before trying to roll the bike off centerstand.

    '02 R1150R
    '88 R100RS

  13. #13
    Rally Rat WildBlue's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Boiling Springs, SC
    Quote Originally Posted by R100RS View Post
    Unlock your steering lock before trying to roll the bike off centerstand.
    Why would you want to do that?

    My bike is usually started before its ever off the center stand.

  14. #14
    On the Blue Roads RevWillie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Hillsborough, NC


    Back in the 90's, I was a MSF instructor. One of the best things that we taught new riders was SIPDE:
    Search for any possible problems ahead.
    Does that car see me? Is that car coming out?
    Identify possible problems around you
    I bet this turkey is on the phone and out of touch
    Predict what the possible "problem" will do.
    I expect them to pull out on me
    Decide on your course of action.
    If they come out, I will slow and get in the left lane
    Execute your escape
    I went safely around them and they were clueless!

    I think MSF has come out with a new version of this, but I find myself doing SIPDE all the time when riding and it has saved me from numerous calamities! A good practice for all riders all the time--high-mileage or around-town commuter needs these skills to survive the American road.
    Last edited by RevWillie; 06-20-2008 at 10:11 PM. Reason: making it fit and look right
    Onward, through the fog!

  15. #15
    Rally Rat
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Sheboygan, WI

    Thumbs up

    Hey Oldhway.....Nice review of important habits to develop.

    What you actually did was outline elements of the BRC I teach every week for MSF (You know....those dreaded, evil purveyors of unusable motorcycle ideas!).

    Keep up the good habits and ride safe!
    Last edited by Greenwald; 06-21-2008 at 04:11 AM.

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