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It doesn’t matter how long you have been riding, and on what kind of terrain, you will eventually end up riding your motorcycle towards a sudden obstacle. Riding on a blacktop, minding your own business, and suddenly there’s an object in front of you. A shredded truck tire, wooden plank, roadkill, a refrigerator. Okay, forget about encountering a fridge; if that happens, you are the roadkill.

Road-Obstacle

But when you suddenly encounter a (small) object, you need to be prepared. Your automatic reaction will be to serve around it. But that can be a dangerous maneuver, since you will not have had the time to see what’s driving up next to you. Also, your reactions might not dictate that you serve; many bikers will roll right into the object – it’s called fixation.

Another reaction would be to hit the brakes hard. On its own, this could work, but you’ll need to check your rear; if there’s an 18-wheeler close behind you, it will never be able to stop in the distance you stop, so you’ll be toast. But if there’s nothing behind you, and you have the time to stop; great. But if not, here are a few pointers:

  1. Line up as much as you can to hit the object straight on. If you hit it at an angle, you’ll most certainly crash. If you encounter an object while in a curve, straighten your bike.
  2. Hold on firmly to the handlebar. Use all your fingers to grip the handlebar. If you, like many bikers, ride with 2 or 3 fingers covering the brake lever, your fingers during the impact might just action the brakes, which at that stage is bad news.
  3. Depending on your motorcycle type, just before hitting the object, lower your center of gravity by standing on your foot pegs. Obviously if your bike is one with pegs way at the front or rear, it will be more problematic.
  4. Don’t stand fully on your pegs, but raise yourself enough to have your knees bent so they can absorb much of the impact energy.
  5. Just before hitting the object, open the throttle. You don’t need to go full throttle, but enough to accelerate. By doing this, weight will transfer to the rear wheel, and your front wheel will lift (even if it’s very slightly).
  6. Shift your weight to the front when you cross the object with your front wheel. This will make it easier for your rear wheel to go over the object.

If you went over a hard object, and you had a real bump, better pull over and check your bike for damages. But wait until the motorcycle is back in a straight line, stabilized.

It sounds like a lot, but it’s quite a natural process. Repeat the steps in your mind, and if possible try the process a few times on a quite road or parking lot. You don’t need to ride over a shredded tire, you can image something lying there when you see a crack or a line on the road.

Practice makes perfect.

Sturgis Main Street (c) Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Sturgis Main Street (c) Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

The famous and world’s biggest motorcycle event, Sturgis, is celebrating 75 years. The iconic event is not 75 years old, but 75 years young, since younger and younger bikers attend the rally and subsequent parties.

3rd, even 4th generations of bikers have attended, or will be attending the gathering. Grand parent, parents, children and even grand children have been here, so we’ll maybe see 5th generation bikers attend the 75 year celebrations.

Officially the events start on July 30th, ending on the 15th of August, but already on the 28th you ‘ll find activities at the Buffalo Chip and the following day will see many parties at the main saloons and bars. The rally starts on the 3rd of August, ending on the 9th.

Because the magic number “75”, a vast number of bikers and fans are expected this year, with many campings and hotels already showing the “full” sign. But with a little bit of luck, you might find a space to squeeze into.

Needless to say, a ton of music groups will be playing all over Sturgis, too many to list here. Click here to see all events in Sturgis, listed by date. Of course Buffalo Chip have their own thing going, with some rock legends like Alice Cooper and Nazareth playing. Click here to see their schedules.

Remember, if you are riding to Sturgis, pack your motorcycle smartly, and for sure, ride safely. Better arrive a bit late, then never. Below you’ll find a few links to articles we’ve written about riding safely.

Enjoy if you are attending.

Jafrum-Logo-new-siteYou may have noticed it, but the Jafrum site has been totally revamped. More modern and up-to-date, it is now much easier to shop for your motorcycle gear, with not only easier navigation, but also a more intuitive way of getting information. Because let’s face it; we’re not only shopping for gear based on price. That would be too easy. You generally are looking for the most information, even comparing similar product.

There are now several ways of getting to what you are looking for. One easy is to shop by type of motorcycle; just click on the top icons.

Motorcycle Type Selector

Motorcycle Type Selector

If you are looking for a specific type of gear, for example a helmet, just hover your mouse over the menu bar below the motorcycle icons. You’ll see, in the case of the helmet menu, all helmet types appear. Click on the type of helmet, and you’ll be brought straight to those types of helmet.

One of the new and interesting functions of the new Jafrum site is the ability to specify the price range. Often bikers go looking for new motorcycle gear with a price budget, for example, they are looking for a helmet between $100 and $200.

Price range selector

Price range selector

The new site has a slider. Slide the left slider to set the minimum price, and the right slider to set the maximum price. This way, only helmet fitting to the price range are displayed.

Jafrum-Price-Selector-2

You can also specify the type of helmet, riding style, color, gender and even brand. These are inclusive options, so each time you select one of the entries, your list is narrowed down even further.

The same selection functions exist for all other types of gear. So an easy way of finding what you are looking for in 1000’s and 1000’s of items in the store.

Many of the items not only have high resolution photos, but also you will often find videos explaining more about the product. We highly recommend you to look at any of the videos (if there is one for an item). They usually give you much more information then what you can find written.

So you not only have all the wonderful, high quality items available for competitive prices at the Jafrum, but now you can find them much more easy, and fully informed.

Happy shopping!

Click here to go see the Jafrum site

This little news item has been hitting the motorcycle web sites and magazines for a while now. The issue is that the Federal Bureau of Investigations, also known as the FBI (and also known under a few not so flattering names) likes to profile people. Profiles help them focus on who to go after. For example, if you have an Arabic sounding name, flown to Yemen for the last 3 times, then to Afghanistan and attended some training activities in those countries, you are “profiled” as a terrorist. Even if you are just a business person trying to make an honest buck. But maybe you are a terrorist.

But how far should these profiles go. According to the US government, it can’t go far enough. For example, if you buy a motorcycle, or even just get your motorcycle endorsement, the FBI automatically flags you as a gang member. You know .. like the Hells Angels, Bandidos, etc.

According to Wikipedia, a gang is defined as “A gang is a group of recurrently associating individuals or close friends or family with identifiable leadership and internal organization, identifying with or claiming control over territory in a community, and engaging either individually or collectively in violent or illegal behavior.

So it doesn’t matter if you are an 80-year old who only rides to church on Sundays on her Harley. The fact that you have a motorcycle license, and you happen to have a bike, you are defacto profiled as a gang member.

So when you get pulled over by some state trooper, after a quick radio verification, they get a warning that you are a gang member. Crazy is a word that doesn’t even describe it.

Police-gang-Members

Now let’s think about this differently. Law Enforcement also use motorcycles. They have cops who have a motorcycle license and ride a bike. Does this mean they are also classified as a gang member? Granted, we all do belong to an enormous gang, the gang of motorcycle riders. But it’s not a gang as such, it’s a brotherhood. Nothing wrong with that. The motorcycle cops are indeed part of a gang, especially if you read the definition of a gang above.

Let’s hope someone in the government has enough intelligence to stop senseless profiling. It has its uses, but limited only. Common sense should be the thought of the day, not a profile.

Do you feel you are part of a gang? Would you be offended by that, or do you think it’s normal?

Source: Washington Post

At times it just can’t be helped; you need to transport your motorcycle on a trailer instead of riding it. Either you have great distances to go with multiple people, you have a need to have a car and a motorcycle at your destination, or your motorcycle is not roadworthy and needs to be transported on a trailer – or all of the above.

There are a couple of points you need to take into consideration, especially if it’s the first time you trailer your bike.

First point is the actual loading of the motorcycle onto the trailer. The best is always with the help of another person. But riding the bike up is usually going to require a nice repair bill:

If you are alone, and the bike is too heavy to push up, you can use the engine like so;

Having a second ramp for the biker to walk on is a much better and safer idea.

  1. Stupid point, but I’ve seen this happen. Make sure you trailer can hold your motorcycle, i.e., it’s big enough. Whether a standard trailer or a pick-up truck, you don’t want the bike overhanging the trailer. Imagine all the nasty things that can happen to your ride while it’s sticking out.
  2. Bring up the bike and make sure the sidestand is down. It should be off the ground once you have properly secured the motorcycle. I tend to keep the sidestand down, just in case, but others are totally against the idea.
  3. Get good solid straps/tie downs. You’ll need at least 4 of them. Buying cheap is going to cost you more, trust me. From the different types of straps, my own preferences goes for ratchet type. Once the strap is on, all you need to do is activate the ratchet to tighten, so much easier and you have a better control of the strength.Tie-Down-strap
  4. A wheel chock IMHO is a must. I know several bikers who don’t use them, but I also know a few who have had their bike tilt over and faced interesting repair bills. Once the bike is on the trailer, move it into the wheel chock. That will hold nicely.
  5. Attaching the frame is one of the better parts to hold on to. A common attachment point is the handlebar, but you need to be sure that the handlebar is not mounted on a rubber ring. If that is the case, do not tie down via the handlebars, since the rubber is going to compress during the trip and that’s bad news for your bike.
  6. WATCH OUT that you don’t pass the straps over hydraulic lines or any cables. The stress the straps will face, will crush the lines. Stay away from them.
  7. Compress as much as you can the front suspension, but never to a maximum. Leave some play. During your trip, the trailer is going to hit a few potholes or bumps in the road. That will make your motorcycle go up in the air (by a few notches), and on its return the suspension is going to compress and that will loosen the straps.
  8. Don’t strap down the mirrors, pannier bags, top case, exhaust or even a sissy bar. Unless of course you don’t mind them being ripped off the bike.
  9. The straps should go in the front around a 45° angle, and the same at the back. It is this angle that gives you the best possible grip.Trailering-Motorcycle-Straps
  10. Once strapped in and secure, walk around the trailer/pick up truck and with your hand, shake the motorcycle. If it moves, it’s not secure.

There, now all you need to do is drive carefully and not go too fast through the curves. Remember, the motorcycle is behind you, not under you.

The Wiktionary (link) defines a “Bucket List” as “A list of things to accomplish before one’s death”, and it first became a public occurrence in Justin Zackham’s screenplay for the 2007 movie “The Bucket List”.

In other words, things you want to do, things you want to see before you kick the bucket. Many people have bucket lists, and it wouldn’t surprise you to know that many of them are motorcyclists, and their bucket list is centered around motorcycles.

Personally, I have one, and I have been crossing off items every year. What’s left is attainable, but it will take time. Here are a few of the items on my list:

  • Attend Sturgis

    Sturgis Main Street (c) Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

    Sturgis Main Street (c) Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

  • Ride Paris to Cape Town (though that is becoming more and more difficult)
  • Ride Deadman Valley
  • Ride in Alaska (not necessarily in the winter)
  • Attend the Isle of Man TT race
  • Go to the original Ace Cafe in London
    Ace-Cafe-London
  • Ride Route 66
  • Cross Australia on a motorcycle
  • Cross Scotland on a motorcycle
  • Attend the Baja 1000 race
  • Follow Che Guevara’s ride through South America
  • Ride as pillion on the Ducati MotoGP bike with Randy Mamola
    Randy-Mamola-Ducati-2006-MotoGP

Some of the items I have crossed from my list are:

  • Ride the Dolomites/Alps (1999, 2002, 2003)

    Dolomites-Stelvio-Pass

    Dolomites-Stelvio-Pass

  • Go to a MotoGP race (2010 Le Mans, 2013 San Marino)
  • Follow the Dakar race on my motorcycle (2005)
  • Ride the Sahara desert on my motorcycle (2005)
  • Ride from the top of Chile to the bottom of Chile (1978)
  • Ride an electric motorcycle (2013)
  • Visit world’s biggest motorcycle exhibition, Milan’s Eicma (2013)
  • Go to the 24 Hours of Le Mans motorcycle race (2009)

As you can see, my (motorcycle) items on the list are becoming less and less. It’s interesting to see that once you have a list, you can actually work towards doing as many as you can; in a “if it’s written down, it gets done” theory.

Have you got a bucket list? And if you do, are you striving towards doing as many as you can?

Let us know what you bucket list contains. I’d really like to know. Obviously the items should be feasible, not like “race Valentino Rossi”.

Many bikers try to avoid riding at night, and that’s for a good reason. While we are small and not that visible during the daytime, at night we are insignificant for cars and trucks. Even with our single rear light, on a road at night, it is easy to overlook us.

But it’s not only the fact that we are close to invisible to other road users; we also have problems seeing the road up ahead. With only one light bulb illuminating the road, it’s easy not to see that pothole or wet patch in the road. That’s probably why high-tech motorcycle manufacturers are now putting adaptive headlights on their premium motorcycles; headlights that turn into the curve so we can see better where our bike is going.

BMW Motorrad Adaptive Lights

BMW Motorrad Adaptive Lights

But for safer riding at night, there are a few things you can do to stay safe.

  1. Wear reflective clothing. This way if a car’s lights are aimed at you, it’s not just the bike’s rear lights they will see, but also you back (and helmet if it has reflective elements on it).Standout at night; been seen!
  2. Clean your lights. Make sure your headlights and rear lights are clean from smudges and bugs. Any bit will diminish the light projected, so the cleaner, the more light.100% light so you can see 100%.
  3. Clean your visor. Again, the better you can see, the more you can see. And at night, that small bug splatter on your visor can turn into an 18-wheeler truck barreling towards you. It goes without saying that tinted visors (and sunglasses) are out of the question.100% visibility.
  4. Use high beam. There is no shame in using your high beam, but use it wisely. Do not turn it on if there’s upcoming traffic, but when there is no traffic, turn it on, even on a long straight line. The high beam gives you much more visibility.Shine the way as much as you can.
  5. Follow the vehicle in front. If there is traffic in front of you, keep a safe distance and use the vehicle in front as a scout; follow it so you can see when there’s a curve or intersection. But do keep a safe distance, and don’t fixate on the vehicle.Use a scout to open the road.
  6. Don’t look into upcoming headlights. When there’s opposing traffic, best is to look to the side of the road instead of into the headlights of the vehicles. This way your night vision remains clearer. Another thing I do is close my right eye (for the “normal” driving position, in the United Kingdom it would be the left eye) while the cars passes. This way, at least one eye still has good night vision.Keep your night vision clear.
  7. Ride Slower. Nighttime means less visibility and less reaction time, so slow down.Slower is better at night.
  8. Be more watchful. Nighttime attracts strange animals to the roads, four legged who are drawn to the lights and 2 legged ones who think nothing of driving a car while intoxicated.Be very watchful for these animals.
  9. Light up the brake lights to be seen. When you see another vehicle coming up fast behind you, touch your brakes once or twice to be sure that they see you.Be seen by approaching cars.
  10. Extra lights. An obvious one, but an expensive one. Put extra lights on your motorcycle so that you can see more.Motorcycle-many-lights

Keep these tips in mind, and enjoy the ride. Just be safe when riding.

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