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Archive for May, 2013

It does happen, even if many of us think it’ll never happen to us. Accidents, either your fault or someone else’s, happen and you need to be prepared. Obviously making sure no accidents happen is the best thing you can do, but they do happen.

So what do you need to do after an accident. Imagine a car just ran a red light and bumped you, causing you to crash.

Car_vs_motorcykle_accident

Everyone Okay?

The first thing you need to do is ensure that everyone is okay physically, even the car driver. Take note, that even if you think you’re fine, it might be later that you discover that you are not fine.

It’s advisable to call for medical help, unless of course it was only a small fender bender. But if you have been flung to the ground, your adrenaline is preventing you from knowing that you may have cracked a rib or elbow, or worse. Even if you had on proper riding gear, with jackets, full body armor and helmets, you might still have problems and you just don’t know it yet.

In many cases, it’s wise to call in the cops, but you need to judge the situation. If the police do show up, ask them to fill out an accident report. This will help you with your insurance company.

car-motorcycle-accident-1

Take Many Photos

When you can, take out a camera or better yet, a smartphone that can take photos, and take several photos from different angels. The reason I say smartphone, is because most of them have a built-in GPS that records the exact spot. Handy if things go South afterwards and you end up in court. Take photos from different angels, distances and make sure you get the license plates. It also helps making photos of bystanders.

Now that you have recorded the accident spot from several angels you can ….

Clear The Road

If at all possible, move your motorcycle away from the road, and if possible, help the other vehicle off the road. Obstructions on the road are dangerous for you and other road users. Others might not be pleased with a traffic jam and seek ways to speed through, endangering you and others.

So clear the road as quickly as you can. The photos you took will help prove where all vehicles where and in what shape, so no worries there.

motorcycle-accidentsignExchange Contact and Insurance Info

Make sure you get the other person’s contact details, preferable from something like a driving license or ID card. Get the other person’s insurance details (hoping that they have insurance).

Write down their names, address, phone numbers, license plates and if you have witnesses, their names, addresses and phone numbers.

In many countries, you can fill out an accident form supplied by the insurance company. The form only gets filled in if both parties agree, if not, you fill out your own form.

Draw A Diagram

Whether you use a specially supplied insurance form, or just on paper, make a diagram of the accident, including names of the street. Note where each vehicle was, and where it was going.

If you do end up in court, it’s not going to be the following day, but months from now. Your memory will be hazy, so the more you have written down the better for you.

NEVER, EVER Admit Guilt

Even if it was your faulty, you never, ever, admit to it. If you do, your insurance company may (and probably will) not cover your expenses. You will be out of pocket, and the costs can be very high.

You may think it was your fault, but the insurance company’s lawyers may not. If you admit to the fault, there’s nothing they can do, so they will disown you.

Contact Your Insurance Company

As quickly as you can, preferably right after the accident, or even when you are still there, contact your insurance agent or company. Each insurance company has its own deadlines by when you need to report an accident, but the faster the better.

If you call them while you are still on the scene, they will still be able to give you instructions what you need to do.

After the Accident

If you have been knocked off your motorcycle, you may want to get on one as soon as possible. Even if your bike is badly broken and needs to be repaired, borrow/rent a bike. If you let it rest for a few days you may develop a fear that will prevent you from riding ever again. When you’ve fallen from a horse, best is to get back on one immediately. The same applies to motorcycles.

So let’s hope you never have to follow these instructions, but you never know.

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Often people think what can they do to extend their motorcycle riding fun. Just going for senseless rides is not the way to go. Group rides are fine, but what about volunteering for one of the many local sports events.

Many sports events, like bicycles, marathon, triathlon and other road races require escorts (the motorcycle kind – wink wink), often by motorcycles. The escort duty can be marshaling, in other words having an “official” as pillion who has to ensure that no one cheats and that all rules are respected, or to ride around with a press photographer as pillion, or just as safety motorcycle, making sure that all participants can race in safety.

It’s great fun, and you are actually in the middle of the sports event. A bit like being able to run around the football field during the Superbowl.

But riding your motorcycle in a sports event does require a certain ability and experience. You’ll need to be able to ride real slowly, since often the race participants will be slow (like running), or even when it’s a bicycle race, imagine riding up a steep mountain following a cyclist. You’ll be doing only several miles per hour with a pillion sitting behind you moving around to take photos.

And when you’re not going very slow, you’re going very fast, for example, when following cyclist going down a mountain. Bicycles can go around those corners often faster than motorcycles, so you’ll need all your wits and abilities to do the same, but in this case having a 6.4” 300 pounds gorilla sitting behind you shifting around.

You also need to keep in control of your motorcycle, since often you’ll be inches away from the race participants who are jockeying to get into a better position.

But despite the challenges, it’s fun to ride as an escort service for race events. It gives a feeling of accomplishment; 1) from helping people compete in a sports event and 2) for riding your motorcycle for a good reason.

To find out where you can volunteer for escort duty, check your local bicycle race or running organizations. They usually subcontract to a local group that escorts their races. Or you can check with the Purple Wing organization in the USA who organize many race escorts. There’s a calendar of events on their site, so you can quickly see which races are of interest to you.

tour_de_france_crashes_18

Do make sure that the organization you select will evaluate you, or even train you for the event, and always ask what the insurance issues are. Usually the organization is insured in case of an accident. If not, check your insurer if you are insured. Imagine the financial consequences of crashing into participants, with a TV camera operator with full $100,000 equipment sitting behind you.

Make sure that the organization will give you the appropriate clothing, like safety-vests.

Also make sure your bike is appropriate for escorting events. For example, they’ll never accept a motorcycle with loud pipes (for obvious reasons).

Who knows, maybe you’ll become a professional, escorting races like the Tour de France bicycle race?

Click here to access the Purple Wing web site.

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Time for some riding, and a review of the fabulous Icon Field Armor Stryker Vest. Although I remain quite fanatic about wearing safety gear all the time (the famous ATGATT), I at times feel stifled with my heavy leather jacket, armor, gloves, boots etc. The Top Gear term of Power Ranger comes to mind. For a nice spring ride, with pleasant temperatures, no rain forecasted, a slight wind, there’s nothing more comfortable and easy going than going for a motorcycle ride wearing a hoodie. But if you do fall from your bike, a hoodie is not going to protect you whatsoever. You might as well ride naked.

So what I do is wear some armor under my hoodie (or summer jacket). This way I don’t feel like a giant rubber man but I’m still protected.

Icon Field Armor Stryker Vest

Icon Field Armor Stryker Vest

My armor of choice for this is the above mentioned Icon Stryker Vest. It’s a vest that’s thin enough to slip under your normal street clothing, but with some real protection.

The Stryker vest protects your back and front, and what I love about the product is the liquid metal d3o insert for your back. I love that d3o material since it’s soft, it takes any shape, and when subjected to a sudden impact, it becomes as hard as metal.

IconStrykerVest-back

Mind you, the Stryker Vest is not a t-shirt, so do accept that even under a hoodie it’ll show, but it’s not enormous, and more important, it’s not heavy.

Air flows quite good through the vest, although I’d prefer to have a bit more air since when the sun is hitting you in full force I start to sweat. It’s not a biggie, but it would be nice to have a few more vents.

I can’t tell you about the Stryker protection since I haven’t crashed, and I’m not planning to. If I do, I’ll let you know how I faired.

I do recommend that you complement the vest with some elbow protection, since if you’re going to go down, your elbows will for sure be hit. Try the Icon Stryker Elbow Field Armor.

Have a look at the video below about the Icon Stryker range of protection:

Click here to buy or learn more about the Icon Field Armor Stryker Vest

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Many riders love riding and discovering new places. Often we love riding our motorcycle to exotic places, marveling at the sights. But many haven’t even discovered our own country. Here is an idea for a motorcycling holiday; ride the Four Corners Motorcycle Tour.

The Four Corners Motorcycle Tour is a long distance motorcycle ride, a bit like the Iron Butt rides but without the forced daily long distances you need to accomplish. You need to ride your motorcycle to the four corners of the USA, and you have 21 days to do it. So it’s not extreme riding, you can turn it into a real holiday event.

USA-Four-Corner-Motorcycle-Tour-Map

(c) jimsmotorcycletrips.blogspot.com

The Four Corners are San Ysidro in California, Blaine in Washington, Madawaska in Maine and Key West in Florida. There is no mandatory sequence or itinerary, as long as you visit the four cities within 21 days.

The Four Corners Motorcycle Tour is run by the Southern California Motorcycling Association, and you need to not only register, but also pay a small administrative fee. The Association sends you a towel with your participation number and a form (and a hat).

(c) jimsmotorcycletrips.blogspot.com

(c) imsmotorcycletrips.blogspot.com

Once you’ve done your mileage and been to these four places, you need to send the Association proof that you have been there. The proof consists of:

  1. A gas receipt from each Four Corner city
  2. The Association form, filled in and completed
  3. A photo taken with your motorcycle, your registration towel and as background the city’s post office, police station or another main landmark.

Once you’ve sent in the data, the Association will send you a commemorative plaque with your name, honoring you for having completed this trip. It’s something to be proud of, since not that many have done it, usually 100 or so per year.

Depending on your planned itinerary, expect to ride some 7,000 miles, and obviously that does not include the ride to the first Four Corner city and the ride home. On average, you’ll be riding a little over 300 miles per day, so not very unrealistic or tough.

If you really want to go hardcore, you can ride the Four Corners Motorcycle Tour “True X”, which requires riding to the Four Corner cities, and then to the center, namely Lebanon in Kansas. For that, you have 26 days to ride the some 11,000 miles (average 420 miles per day).

If you want to see how it goes, head on over to Jim’s Motorcycle Trips blog. He’s going for the tour around May 29th, and you can follow his trip on his blog. Click here to follow the trip. He is using a SPOT GPS tracker, so you can see where he is at any moment.

Click here to go to the Southern California Motorcycling Association for more information, or to register for the Four Corners Motorcycle Tour.

Make sure you’ve got a good GPS.

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Although gasoline prices are playing roller-coaster, up and down, on average there is no doubt fuel prices are increasing. Big bad SUV cars suffer the most but even motorcycles use fuel, and over time this can hurt your bank account.

Many of us bikers need to start paying attention to our fuel consumption. One way is to buy the latest motorcycle, since the newer the bike, the more fuel efficient it will be. Technology is changing and newer technology makes our bikes more fuel efficient. But it’s not enough, we need to change our riding behavior if we want to spend less money at the fuel pump.

Right Hand Reduction

Obviously one of the easiest ways to reduce fuel consumption is to take it easy with your right hand. Don’t accelerate like a dragster, increase throttle very gently. The more you open the throttle, the more fuel you’ll be using.

It’s no fun accelerating slowly, but it’s not fun having to take a second mortgage to pay for gasoline.

Be Switzerland When Possible

Coasting is one very big way of reducing fuel. Coming up to a red light or a stop sign, going down a hill? Pull in the clutch and put your gear in neutral (or just keep the clutch in, though it’s not recommended to do this all the time). Let your bike coast to a stop.

(c) Southbayriders.com

(c) Southbayriders.com

Hypermilling: You can hypermill, though you might feel a bit anxious, just kill the bike by pressing the kill switch. It stops gasoline from getting into the engine. If you’re going down a hill, once you get to the bottom, turn the engine back on. If you arrive at a red light or intersection, wait until you can continue before starting the engine.

This kind of hypermilling does have dangers. If you suddenly need to get yourself out of a jam, you’ll not have the time to start and engage your gears. Also, turning of the electricity means that you’ll no longer have ABS nor linked braking.

Idle Mind Is The Devil’s Playground, But Not With Motorcycles

Never idle your engine. When at a stop light or intersection, kill the engine. The gasoline that is used to start your engine is nothing compared to what is needed to idle.

It will cool down your engine, and a cooler engine is less fuel-efficient than a warmer one, but overall you’ll be using less fuel.

Delated-tirePressure, Pressure, Pressure

Tire pressure is essential. Badly inflated tires will make you ride to the pumps more frequently, and they also represent a danger to you and others.

Buy a tire pressure meter and check your tires regularly, like daily.

A Weighty Matter

Weight on your motorcycle means more fuel is needed to transport everything. Check your top case and dump what you really don’t need.

It would be nice to dump your pillion, but I don’t think that is going to fly.

Let The air Flow

Proper air flow on a bike is essential. If you’re riding a sportsbike, no problem, your body will not catch any wind, but if you’re riding a cruiser or touring bike, you will be upright and therefore catch a maximum of air, slowing down the bike, and therefore using up a lot of fuel. Bend you body forward to minimize aerodynamic drag.

Do you really need those saddle bags? No? Remove them for your trip, they’re only catching wind.

Have you got a jet helmet? Change it for a full face helmet, they are far more aerodynamic.

Be Pulled Is Better Than Push

Dangerous but very good for fuel-economy: ride behind a big 18 wheeler truck. The truck will “suck” you along, like it is pulling you. It’s a trick most car racers use on the circuits, using the car’s draft air in front of them to pull them along, giving them a sudden acceleration. If you stay behind a truck, you will be using up a lot less fuel. But you need to keep a sharp eye for the truck’s lights (hoping that they actually work).

Behind-a-truck

To reduce your fuel consumption, you need to do all those things we bikers love doing. Stop riding the twisties, stop accelerating, don’t gun your engine, etc. No fun, but if money is tight, you’ll not have any other options except walk. Or buy an electric motorcycle.

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