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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.

The short answer to the first question; none. The long answer is different, but in the terms of the law, a scooter is a motorcycle, just the same way a cruiser is a motorcycle, a sports bike is a motorcycle, etc.

Motorcycles-scooters

Both are known as Powered Two Wheelers (PTW), in other words, two wheels and an engine. There are some differences though;

  • Most scooters are automatic: Scooters are automatic, there is no gearbox. But then, there are some motorcycles nowadays that have no gearbox either.
  • Scooters normally have no foot brake: Since there is no gearbox, the left handle is the rear brake.
  • Scooters have a step-through frame: the gas tank is under the rider and the rider’s feet don’t need to go over the bike when getting on, much like a female bicycle.
  • Scooters often have a cargo platform: the space between the rider and the handlebars is open and can be used to store stuff, like shopping bags. Often there is even a hook to secure the bag in-between the legs of the rider.
  • Scooters often have smaller wheels: Wheels are usually smaller because speeds are lower, and need to maneuver in the city, the “normal” habitat where you will find scooters.
  • Scooters often have small displacement engines: traditionally scooters have smaller engines, typically 125 to 200 cc, but nowadays you’ll find then with even 650 cc.

For the rest, they are like any normal motorcycle, they behave the same way, use counter steering, and usually have a place for a pillion.

So in essence, there is no real difference between both types; they are motorcycles in all terms of the word. In most states, you need the same license to ride one, and the same protection.

Bad Blood

So why the bad blood. You will often hear motorcycle riders say that scooters are not like normal motorcycles, that the riders are less, etc. Scooters are looked down on.

Mods-vs-Rockers-Poster

Personally, I think it’s because of old movies, particularly British ones that highlighted the Mods against the Rockers; scooter riders against motorcycle riders. That set the tone, and has carried on ever since. In riding skills, you can ride either vehicle without any adaptation, you face the same dangers and you get the same emotional feeling when riding either. Both are fun and dangerous.

Some motorcycles are far faster than scooters – particularly sports bikes, but most normal motorcycles are as fast as their equivalent scooter.

Do you wave at scooters when you ride a motorcycle, and vice versa? I do.

Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave somewhere in the mountains, you will know that there is a group of extremists fighting in the Middle East that is extremely violent and blood thirsty – ISIS (aka Da’esh). Beheading many of their occidental hostages seems to be the main headline grabbing theme for these radical muslim groups.

In Syria the Kurds have been living under oppression for centuries, and now to make their lives even more miserable the ISIS is striking at this group as well. So they are being attacked by the Syrian government, the Turkish and now the terrorist group.

Many impressionable youngsters have gone to that part of the Middle East to join up with the terror group. It’s been in all the newspapers and TV news stations. Youngsters from all over the world have been motivated by some misguided muslim clergy and have gone to help decapitate prisoners.

But on the other side, several members of the Dutch 1%-er biker gang “No Surrender” went to Syria to help the Kurds in their struggle against the ISIS. They were shortly followed by gang members from the German Median Empire motorcycle gang.

Dutch "No Surrender" member Ron in Syria

Dutch “No Surrender” member Ron in Syria

Both gangs are violent in their own right, often in turf wars with neighboring gangs. So they know all about shooting and violence, except now they are joining the fight for the good guys. The German gang even started a funding page to try to fund the Kurds’ war, looking at raising €1 million. Unfortunately their effort how fell very short from their target.

The Dutch Minister of Justice and prosecutors had announced that since the Dutch biker gang was fighting against terrorists and not with them, they were entitled to do so legally (The Dutch are fighting alongside the USA against ISIS). They would not be prosecuted when they returned, in sharp contrast will all the people who went to fight for ISIS.

But after the initial publicity died down, the reactions turned. The Kurds in Syria are saying “please don’t come”. Maybe they are afraid what will happen afterwards. Or are the Kurds afraid that an extremely violent group of people will make things even tougher for them?

Dutch "No Surrender" member Ron in Syria

Dutch “No Surrender” member Ron in Syria

The Kurds aren’t set up to host foreign fighters. No translators, no housing, no weapons and no strategy, while the ISIS are not only welcoming foreigners, they have all the tools to do so.

But whatever the real situation, it shows that biker gangs can take the side of the good guys in the fight against terror. They may have a lot of negative publicity when things go wrong, a little publicity when they do the right thing (like toy runs), this move has given them some positive publicity.

You can see a video interview with one of the Dutch bikers in Syria:

As you probably all know after your first few weeks riding a motorcycle, it’s a mental game. You need to stay sharp and focussed when riding. You need your traffic sense alert: what is that car doing in front of you, why is that car behind you changing lanes the whole time, do you see that car racing up to the intersection in front of you????

A lot of things happen, and you need to stay on top of them. A few moments of inattention could be the difference between finishing your ride or ending up in the hospital or worse.

That is why if I have problems I stay away from my bike, no matter how much I prefer to be riding. Riding with problems, be it work, marriage, legal or whatever issue you may be facing that is big or critical, will mean that your mind is not with the ride.

Distractions-while-riding

I’ve seen over the years several of my friends have a motorcycle accident while they were all going through a nasty divorce. In fact, these friends, four in total, had all been in a heavily contested divorce, and all four decided to go for a ride to “think about something else”. But it’s very difficult to do this. While riding, you mind will return to your big problem and you will not be able to remove the thoughts from your mind. Before you know it, you’ll be playing scenarios out in your mind, or what else you should have said in a conversation ….

What that means is that with all the best intentions, your mind is going to wander and before you know it, you’ll no longer be paying attention to traffic. And that is when accidents happen.

So leave bad thoughts out of the equation. If you have them, better not ride. Being mentally distracted is a killer.

When Is Much, Too Much?

After the plethora of new motorcycle announcements at the German Intermot and the Italian Eicma motorcycle exhibitions, you have got to ask yourself “why”.

It’s not the amount of new motorcycles that is making me ask this deep thought-provoking question, but what is happening at the top-end of the super sportsbikes; the search for more and more power.

Ducati 1299 Panigale S

Ducati 1299 Panigale S

If you consider that many sportscars have around 200 hp, a motorcycle weighs 2 or 3 times less. So the performance these bikes have nowadays is impressive, that’s for sure, but they are also incredibly high. Maybe too high.

Apart from some German motorways, there are no places on earth where you can use the power these bikes have, legally that is. So unless you spend most of your time on tracks, you would not be using the power these bikes generate. But you will have paid for it.

So the question remains, why? Why would manufacturers start a race to who has the most power. And it’s exactly what it has become; a marketing race for the manufacturers so that they can say their motorcycle is the most powerful one; bragging rights.

Some countries have limited the amount of power a motorcycle is allowed to have. France for example, power is limited to 100 hp. Granted, it’s a stupid law, since as we know, hp is nice but torque is far more important. Obviously a higher horsepower equates in general to a higher torque, but still….

If you had all the money in the world and your name is Jay Leno, would you still buy a motorcycle that has 200+ hp? Knowing that you can’t really use it (legally). Would you?

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