WELCOME

You are probably here because you were/will be in one of my motorcycle riding classes.

Here is a collection of information and tips for new and current riders. Some are reminders of things I covered in your class and the rest are things that might help you grow as a rider. I created this page so I could avoid talking without end during your class and focus on the questions in your workbook. I'm sure you got sick of hearing me talk for two days straight so take your time here.

Lets get started....

Every motorcycle made today will fit in one of three classes. It will be in either STREET, OFF ROAD or DUAL PURPOSE. There are many types of bikes out there. You have more choices than ever to pick from. It is sad that most riders out there ony pick one of the two bike types they are familiar with. It's like eating only two foods all your life. Yawn. I hope you won't let peer pressure pick your bike for you. Did you buy a bike just because you liked the way it looked or be because your friends said only real riders use that kind of bike? That was not a good decision. A wise rider, a true motorcyclist, will find the bike that fits their needs or is right for their experience level or a bike that is part of an overall journey to become a better rider.

I have had many past students who bought a bike first thinking they knew what they wanted only to go through the class, learn about REAL riding and regret what bike they have.

Let's look at some of the kinds of bikes available.


TU 250
This is a STANDARD. It's like the father of all motorcycles. In the history of motorcycling modified standards created several of the other classes of bikes you will learn about. Simple and low cost to own and operate. Can go about anywhere and is great for learning and commuting. Notice the foot pegs are under the rider and not in front or behind. You can expect something like this to also get good fuel mileage and have a low insurance cost.



R1150
ADVENTURE bikes are like dual sports but larger. These are made for long rides in most any environment. Made for comfort and duarability. The kind of bike you would use to cross a river, ride a dirt road, get through traffic around the world and camp next to. Popular for very experienced riders. Notice the hard bags, spoked wheels for durability, belly skid plate, sealed drive system, brush guards for hands, minimal windshield and off road tires.



MV
SUPER SPORTS or SS bikes are the closest thing to a race bike. These are the least forgiving of all bikes. With super sensitive throttle, steering and brakes they are looking for any excuse to spit off the rider. The usual riders that are attracted to this bike are the ones with the least amount of skill and experience though. Comfort is not built into these bikes. They offer superior suspension and ground clearance and have the highest power to weight ratio. A super sport can weigh less than 400lbs and make more than 160 horsepower. A very bad choice for a first bike. Doesn't have handlebars but uses clip-ons. These are squid magnets and the reason insurance is very high.



FJR
A SPORT TOURING bike uses the same type of engine, suspension and brakes found on sportbikes but put together in a far more comfortable package. These bikes are made to go for very long rides. They make great commuting bikes too. Many have large fuel tanks, plush seats and ajustable windshields. This one has hard bags that are suitcases. Many very experienced riders prefer this type.



scooter
You know the SCOOTER. Only in rare cases to these have foot controls. They can be automatic or manual shift. Many have a place for storage under the seat. The short wheelbase and tiny wheels can make them quite twitchy to ride and many people find motorcycles far easier to ride and more stable. These are great for limited parking areas but don't do well with rough roads and holes. It is easy to find a scooter that can get over 100 mpg.



maxi
The MAXISCOOTER is the biggest of the scooters. Larger wheels and longer wheelbase make for a more stable bike. Many have a huge amount of storage under the seat and great wind protection. I have ridden some that could go 110mph so they are fine for highway use while retaining great fuel mileage.



GT
The GT motorcycle is a type of sportbike and not too common. Few people can tell them apart. It is a sportbike with a more plush seat, more upright riding position, far better wind protection and longer range abilities. The Suzuki GSXR1300 is a very powerful sportbike but is also in the GT class. Most owners of the bike don't even know that. I had the same bike as the one in the picture above and in less than two years logged over 40,000 miles on it. I could ride it all day in comfort and even in the rain only my hands got wet. When older riders find supersports too confining they sometimes move to the GT.



dual
DUAL SPORTS are just street legal dirt bikes. They have headlights, mirrors, brake lights and the other things needed to pass inspection. The tires can be like an off road type but should be DOT approved. I have a bike just like this one and it is great for zipping around town. It is cheap to buy and mine only costs $14 a year to insure. I have a bicycle spedometer on it. Gas mileage is very high but the fuel tank is normaly small so be careful. The seats are not great for more than an hour on some but since few can make it on the highway (like mine) that is OK. These things eat potholes! It is great to have so much suspension travel.



sportbike
SPORTBIKES are a little tricky to define. If it gets too cutting edge it becomes a supersport. This one doesn't have bodywork but that isn't a rule.



cruiser
The CRUISER is easy to spot. Over 70% of bikes sold in America are this type. They make great frist bikes. With a low seat height, plush seat, low center of gravity and long wheelbase they are very easy to ride. They can be very forgiving in every way to a new rider also. Small engine sizes like 650 and 750 don't work great for a cruiser out on the open road. They are not high performance bikes and have low horsepower and poor ground clearance however the suspension is where they need the most serious improvement. Overall they are one of the best types of general purpose bikes out there. They can be low cost, easy to maintain and not too bad on insurance. These are great for local riding but not chosen by expert riders for long distance rides because of the riding position. Most every motorcycle company in the world makes a cruiser. The belt drive has been one of the greatest advances in this timeless bike. This is a great bike to start on but more advanced riders tend to move on from here. I think of them as the minivan of motorcycles. It was nice at first but it is time to grow up and move on.



motard
MOTARD. Growing in popularity around the world these neat bikes place street tires on a dual sport and make for a serious city rider. More street than dirt oriented. Notice the street tires on spoked wheels. Wicked fun!!!



spyder
A TRIKE comes from the factory like this. Having two wheels in the front is nice and some have the extra wheel in the back. In this case the bike does not lean to turn. Although this is a nice machine I have had many students buy these before they take a class only to really regret it once they learn how easy it is to fide a regular motorcycle.



conversion
This is a TRIKE CONVERSION. A stock, two wheel motorcycle is taken to a third party to have the rear wheel removed and replaced with a new back end. There have been many cases where the rear frame wasn't able to handle the new stress and crack. These can also void any warranty from the original bike maker. These are good for someone with balance issues like inner ear problems.



chopper
You get a CHOPPER when everything positive about a motorcycle like ground clearance, braking ability, handling, comfort, smoothness, turning ability, wheelbase, rake and trail, economy, traction and more are thrown out the window. All you are left with is eye candy and the ultimate poser vehicle. These are crap. A poser machine and dangerous on the street.



V
Here we have the MUSCLE BIKE. A special type where the engine is the real intended focus.



fighter
The STREEFIGHTER probably started when people crashed their sportbikes and couldn't afford to replace the bodywork. They liked the primal look of the stuff under the body and decided to make it the main feature. Now motorcycle companies make these. They can be very creative and still be practical to ride.



FZ1
The SPORT STANDARD is a combination of, well, the sport and the standard bikes. I have one of these and it is my favorite. It is the best of everything like comfort, power and handling. You can ride to work on it, take it to the track and also ride across the country. I have done all three on mine. Because it has hadlebars and not clip-ons it offers a nice upright riding position. These give the performance of a sportbike without the financial burden or sore body. These are often overlooked because less experienced riders think this is a sportbike. Look at my travel pictures and see all the places I have been on this type of bike.



YSR
Yes, this is street legal. It is almost a POCKETBIKE but isn't quite small enough. Yamaha made these for a few years and many collectors have the remaining ones. I remember when these were on the showroom floor mixed in with all the other sportbikes.



pocket
POCKETBIKE. Not street legal.



under
UNDERBONE. You really wont see something like this in America.



moped
MOPED's retain their bicycle pedals.



wing
TOURING motorcycles have it all. Wind protection, cruise control, intercom, plush seats, storage, smooth engines, large fuel tank, and more. Set the cruise control, climb into the back seat for a nap and wake up in another state. Mine even has a hitch for a trailer. Often have shaft drive and hard compound tires for mileage. These offer the most comfort for a passenger. Bikes like this can be over 800lbs. By moving the fuel down low on this bike the center of gravity change makes this a very easy bike to ride slow.



cafe
CAFE RACER's reflect a time when basic standard bikes were modified for high performance street riding. You can see the remnants of the standard and the bits that would also be on a sportbike today. Notice the spoked wheels, "racing" number, long fuel tank, lack of bodywork and clip-on handlebars.



THUMPER - Single cylinder motorcycle

UJM - Universal Japanese Motorcycle

Duc - Ducati

PITBIKE - small dirtbike used by racers to get around the track area when not racing

RAT BIKE - A bike with just enough life left in it to be road worthy. Minimal bike.






Ok. Let us move on to random bits of information you might like to know. These are things that can make your riding life much better.



BT
This is a great device that you keep your bike plugged into when not riding. I find that they greatly extend the overall life of my motorcycle batteries. It is not a common trickle charger. I own about 10 of these things and even have my riding lawnmower hooked to one. I bought a few of the cable extensions so no matter where I place a bike in the garage it can be plugged in. Everyone should have one of these. It will save you tons of money on new bateries because they will last much longer than without.




RW
Rider Wearhouse is the perfect source for things any serious rider. Contact them and have them send you their free catalog every year. Many of the things I use for daily riding and even touring come out of here. Rider Wearhouse is famous for their Aerostich suit. Many of the best riders in the world think it is the best riding suit made anywhere. I like that you can wear regular clothes like shorts under it and get in and out of it with only two zippers. It is not cheap but it will last many years. I bought mine in 1995 and have only worn out some of the zippers. When riding across a desert some riders fill the many pockets with ice.


This is a really cool item I bought from Aerostich years ago. It is a portable air compressor that is smaller than your hand and is powered by your bike. The Aerostich catalog is full of items like this. I keep this thing with me when riding and use it often to update the tire pressure on training bikes.




Here I am in the 2011 Aerostich catalog wearing my suit while standing with a car from the Green Hornet movie.


MCN
This is my favorite magazine. Motorcycle Consumer News is like Consumer Reports for motorcyclists. They test and evaluate products and bikes and give an honest opinion. There is no advertising in any issue and is only available through a subscription. I like how the destroy riding gear to see how it will hold up. I like how they find the real horsepower of a bike and not print the overrated number from the bike makers. I like the safety tips in every issue and some of the super detailed acticles on how motorcycles really work. Amazon has a discounted subscription rate. Remember, this mag is never in book stores.





scorpio
This is the alarm system I like best. I find it super easy to install and when I sell a bike I make sure to remove it and place it in the new one. It has prevented my bike from being stolen and allowed me to catch people messing with my other bikes. It will even protect another bike parked next to it. I like that it lets me know what is going on with the bike and the person messing with it has no clue the alarm is going off.



indian
I think The World's Fastest Indian is the best motorcycle related movie ever. It is a true story. Nothing flashy like you normaly see in the movies but a good, solid story about an incredible man.




long
This is the best television show ever made about motorcycling. It shows what riding is all about. Not the stupid and clueless crap you normally see in movies and TV. Congrats to Charlie and Ewan for not only recording their ride but for making a second trip and making it available to show the best side of motorcycling to the world.



tt
This is a snapshot of the greatest motorcycle race in the world. It is called The Isle of Mann TT. Go ahead and untie your shoes because this will knock your socks off. They even race sidecar motorcycles but they aren't the kind you see on the street. The race is over 100 years old and started when England banned bikes from going over 20mph. So everyone took the ferry to the island and got permission to race there. The locals like the race because it kills all the nasty flying insects. This is a very dangerous race. Over 230 racers have died since the early years. A sidecar team was killed during practice for the 2011 event.




Here is a list of things that can affect your traction while riding. It is your job as a rider to manage traction. Most riders who crash blame the road for their loss of traction but they are mostly wrong. If a rider lowsides or highsides the cause needs to be figured out so they don't repeat the incident. It is easy to miss the true reason for a lowside so here is a list of things to learn about to help you understand what is going on.

1. Suspension - This affect how your tire stays in contact with the road at all times. It affects the downforce your tire has during braking and if your suspension is low quality or set wrong in could actually be the cause of a crash. Many riders think they crashed because their tire slipped on something in the road when it was really a suspension issue. Be aware that most cruisers have very poor suspension. It is very often too soft and will greatly limit the performance of the bike. Suspension is far more complex than I will write about here but if you are interested the book Total Control is a great place to start.

2. Tire pressure - This affects how much of your tire comes in contact with the road and has an effect on tire temperature. If the pressure is too high it reduces the amount of tire in contact with the road. Too low can overheat the tire.

3. Road surface - We ride on lots of changing surfaces. Old and new roads, painted surfaces, cracks and metal surfaces all require us to adapt how we ride for best traction.

4. Tire compound - This refers to the hardness of a tire. Did you buy a sportbike? If you did it probably came with a softer tire. Did you buy a touring bike? That may have come with a harder compound tire for high mileage. Some sport-touring bikes have dual compount tires so that the edges are soft for cornering grip and the center of the tire is harder for mileage.

5. Tire age - As a tire gets older it gets harder. Learn how to read the code on tires so you can keep track of tire age. Sometimes when you buy tires that are on sale they are very old. There is a code of four numbers on the tire that tells you how old it is. A code of 2309 means the tire was made in the 23rd week of 2009. I even had some new bikes out of a crate from the factory that had 4 year old tires installed.

6. Wheelbase - A long bike can use more rear brake in a quick stop because less weight transfers to the front under hard braking than a shorter bike that depends more on the front brakes. This may sound simple but it is key to understanding how much front and rear brake to use and how it changes under hard braking. I hear squids telling me how they never use the rear brake on their sportbike because it keeps locking the wheel. That's not the fault of the bike. The problem is with the operator not managing the weight transfer during braking.

7. Chicken strip - This is a slippery coating that new tires have that needs to be worn off carefuly. If you never lean your bike much for turns then you will have a shiny coating on the outer edge of your tire tread. You could crash because of these. Look at the back tire on other bikes and you may notice the shiny outer edges. Feel how slick it is. If that rider had to lean hard in an emergency they could hit that area and lowside or worse. Figure out a way to rub it off.

8. Tire profile - This is the size and shape of a tire. Fat back tires are not better for bikes. They hurt the turning ability so fight the misguided urge to ruin your performance with them.

9. Tire temperature - Warm tires grip the road better. If you are riding on a cold day or the road is wet then you can be losing any heat your tire generates and be riding on cold tires all day. Tire pressure also affects temperature.

10. Ground clearance of the bike - Bikes that have been lowered, have large floorboards or have large engine guards are at a great disadvantage in turns. Find the picture on this site of the poor guy crashing because of a stupid engine guard preventing him from leaning in a curve. Please don't do things to your bike to ruin their performance. Big engine guards are dangerous.

11. Tire heat cycles - This won't affect you too much but find out how it works.

12. Tire tread - Tire wear changes the profile of the tire and can give you less grip. Fools let their tires get bald. Notice how your tires will wear faster on the left side.



RFK
The Houston Ride for Kids is my favorite yearly charity ride. It raises money for treatment of childrens brain tumors. For over 15 years I have been part of this event and would like to see you there too. Notice the magnetic bag on the gas tank.



This is the late Dr. Harry Hurt. An expert on motorcycle crashes and their causes. He rode motorcycles all of his life and lived to be 81. He never crashed, ever. This proves wrong all the fools who say all riders crash sooner or later.


mad
Not every great motorcycle is well known or even looks like all the others out there. Consider something like this if you don't need to ride on the highway. Low cost, easy to ride, cheap to own and maintain. Wicked fun to ride! With a name like that is must be cool. Houston had a dealer in these bikes but I don't know where you can get one now.



ram
RAM Mounts come in many sizes and versions that allow me to mount things like GPS, cameras, iPods and video cameras on my motorcycles. I have found them at sporting goods stores and boating stores and well as online and use them on all my bikes.


fixate
This is what happens when you fixate on the wrong thing during a curve. This rider has more than enough ground clearance on their bike to avoid drifting into oncoming traffic but now two people are about to suffer because of such a basic mistake. Silly bikers. See how the guy is sticking his leg out like that will help? That just means he isn't even using the rear brake. What would you do to avoid this collision? Their poor choices in riding gear will be a factor when they hit the pavement. There is alot of information you can learn from this picture. Again, what is this rider doing wrong? he is not braking, he isn't leaning enough, by looking at the other bike he is making his bike crash into it.

Look where you want to go, not for a place to crash. BTW this picture came from Deals Gap. A place that attracts the best and worst riders in America.




Here is another biker that did not understand traction and the things that take it away. This guy found out the hard way why real motorcyclists wear motorcycle gear. Notice his lack of real gloves and jacket and the fake helmet. A major reason he is going to crash is because of the very limited ground clearance his bike offers. Notice how the front wheel is already starting to tuck in to the right? Those stupid "crash bars" aren't going to help either. In fact, the crash bar on the right side is the real cause of the whole accident. As the rider leaned into the turn the bar hit the ground and lifted the front tire off the road causing the whole bike and rider to LOWSIDE. This is 100% rider error. Only the operator of a motorcycle can manage these factors. It is YOUR job to manage the limitations your are delt and the limitations you create.

This fool isn't wearing a real pair of gloves, no jacket either. That is a novelty helmet on his head also so that serves no purpose. How about real eye protection? Don't see any. Makes you wonder why someone would spend tons of money on a bike and zero on gear to help them ride better. Well, that's how they earn the name BIKER. Not something you should ever stoop to be.



RT
A great local magazine that covers roads and events in Texas for real riders. Get out there! Many large book stores cary this one in stock.




337
The best road in Texas for riding is Ranch Road 337. It goes from Vanderpool to Leakey. Not for new riders though. Curves, blind curves, more curves, up down and lots of dangerous stuff to fixate on. If you are nearing a curve and see a crowd watching you, slow down. They are watching for riders to go off the road.


HIGHSIDE

We talked about how to manage a rear wheel lock by not releasing the rear brake. This is done to prevent a HIGHSIDE. There are other reasons a bike can highside and this gives a great view of one. It is very common for the rider to be thrown in front of their bike. This can add to any injury or even be a fatal blow. Notice how many times the riders helmet hit the pavement. Imagine what would have happened if the rider was wearing a half helmet. Watch the rear tire during the slow motion part of this video. By having his body more inside the lean and lower, the bike would have been more upright at the same speed and might not have lost traction.



jup
A great book to read when you aren't riding. Ted Simon also has a few other related books that follow this original. Look at his website . He was born in 1931 and still rides and has been around the world twice.




fd
FAKE




fdd
ALSO FAKE




rd
REAL




fdv
FAKE




rdv
REAL




fb
FAKE (Biker)




squid
FAKE (Squid)




rr
REAL (Motorcyclist)



In every profession there are fakes and the real deal. You can look like a doctor and talk like a doctor but it is your conduct in your chosen profession that tells how serious and dedicated you are. To be a real motorcyclist there is a certain uniform we wear. Our uniform shows that we understand how gear serves us while we ride in an ever changing environment. It helps us stay alert and quick to respond while it reduces physical and mental fatigue. A motorcyclist uses gear for many more reasons than just crashing. Since we aren't crashing very often, if at all, I consider crashing the second reason for wearing gear. In fact, gear is worn by serious riders to reduce the factors that cause many accidents.

In the picture above a man and his daughter enjoy a day out riding. They are professional riders. The pictures above that show two riders just trying to conform to the rest of the fake riders (bikers and squids) who are more concerned about what they ride when what is really important is HOW you ride.




FIRST MOTORCYLE

first
The very first motorcycle. Sylvester Roper, an American, invented this in 1869. Speed was controled by twisting the handlebar and could reach 40mph. It also had front wheel brakes. Estimates say it would produce about 8 horsepower. He made several versions of this bike and traveled around the East Coast showing it off. He continued to ride into his 70's and also invented the shotgun choke. An 1869 model is on display at the Smithsonian.



scout
The first American motorcycle company was named the Hendee Manufacturing Company and started in 1901. As their popularity rose and sales increased they changed their name to Indian Motorcycle Company. Today they are made in North Carolina and are owned by the parent company of Victory.

Here is a partial list of various other American motorcycle companies. Just to give you an idea that there has been more than two of three like many of my students think.

Indian, Buell, Victory, Iron Horse, ATK, Moto Czysz, Titan, Ridley, Whizzer, Falcon, Henderson, Confederate, Big Dog, Boss Hoss, Ace, Arrow, Crocker, Cushman, Emblem, Excelsior, Hodaka, Marsh, Mustang, Merkel, Pierce, Pope, Sears, Yankee, Thor, Yale, Reading Standard, Rokon, Excelsior-Henderson, CMC, Simplex, Harley-Davidson, Whipple, Reliance, Morgan, Marvel, Knox, Marsh-Metz, Jonas, Harverford, Curtiss, Cyclemotor, Clark, Crosley, A O Smith, Autoped, Aurora and many, many more.

Add to that, hundreds more motorcycle companies in other countries that have or currently produce bikes.



vest
This is an electric vest. One of my favorite pieces of riding gear. Several companies make them and they are powered by the bike. Wear it if it is a little cold or turn it on when it gets colder outside. Mine is 15 years old and still working great even when soaking wet. You can also buy matching gloves, suits, seat covers, grip covers and more. I found that paying extra for a thermostat was a waste of money. If it needs to be on then it will be on the highest setting.



disk
A disk lock is a great little device you can keep with your bike. It is very easy to forget you put one one and then fall over as you try to ride away. I tie a string on mine and the other end has a loop I place on the throttle so I never forget it is there. Or you can buy a Xena disk lock that has a built in alarm.



Never leave your helmet on your bike even if it is locked. Take it with you or lock it in your bag. They are easy to steal, fall off the bike or fill with water if it rains. Carry it with you so you can meet other riders and start conversations with people who are interested in riding. It could also be fun to wear it, run into a bank screaming and then run out. Let me know how that goes for ya.


If you want to make sure it rains while you are riding then don't pack your rain gear. Use rain gear as an extra layer whe you get caught in very cold weather.


Join a national riding club even if you don't own the brand of bike they promote. Any club of quality doesn't mind what you ride. I used to get insurance discounts for club membership. A good club (like Gold Wing Riders) will promote safety training to all members through positive peer pressure.


If you have an O ring chain on your bike don't be fooled into using chain wax or chain lube. If you read your owners manual and follow the cleaning and lube rules then you can get over 40,000 miles from your chains like I do. If you do like everyone on the internet (use WD-40 to clean it) expect less than 10,000 miles from your chain. Glad you have money to waste. Buy me a new set of tires. I find that chain lube attracts dirt that wears out the chain quickly.


Riding in the rain is not a big problem as long as you do everything smoothly! Sudden changes in speed and direction can cause a loss of traction. Riding in the wind can wear out a rider and can be very unpredictable. Remember...ride smooth.


So you think you know it all? Nothing left to learn about motorcycles? Hahahahaha. Yeah, right. Do you know the difference between low and high speed damping? No, it's not related to how fast you are riding. Take time to learn about the most important part of a motorcycle....SUSPENSION!!!! Your life depends on it. If you ride a sportbike you could crash because you set your suspension wrong as most every rider does. Remember, "plush" is a code word for poor or cheap. It isn't hard to improve on stock suspension but few places know what to do and how to set it right.


A GPS is great to have on a bike but don't crash trying to adjust it while riding. A large screen help and it can be hard to work them with gloves on. A RAM mount can help locate one in the best viewing spot on your bike. I find it cheap and easy to add a 12 volt plug on a bike to power the GPS or even charge your phone while riding.


This is called a LOWSIDE. It is caused when a tire loses traction (usually during a turn) and drops on the side it is leaning. In many cases it becomes a mild crash allowing the rider to get back on the bike and continue the ride. In this video the rear tire is the one to lose traction causing the bike to rotate with the back first while sliding. If it rotated front wheel first then the front lost traction. Many times the bike slides much farther than the rider. Because of his gear he had no injury and was able to push start the bike, pass the other riders and WIN the race. I bet that hurt their pride.


Wear earplugs when on long rides or on the highway. It will help you hear traffic better and reduce mental and physical fatigue. That's a fact! When they get dirty I run mine through the laundry and set them out to dry. I keep spares in the pockets of all my jackets and tank bags.


Look into buying a taillight (yes, that is how you spell it) modulator for your bike. They flash your brake light a few times and then go steady each time you brake. It can get attention without causing a driver to fixate on you and run you down. Please avoid the headlight modulator. This is a device that makes your headlight go from high to low several times a second the whole time you are riding. I notice that they anger or confuse drivers in front of them. I watched several drivers hit their brakes in anger when someone with a headlight modulator was riding behind them. I hate having someone ride behind me with those things during a group ride. There are far better ways to be visible to others.


Before you lower a bike and mess it up. Try shaving the seat so your feet set on the ground better. To lower a bike reduces the ground clearance it will have in a turn and often changes the angle of the forks and that can affect handling in a negative way.





grand
Tips for packing a motorcycle. I use a magnetic tank bag. Because soft saddle bags often droop and burn on the exhaust I like to fold a large towel and use it on the back seat to raise the bags. Put the heavy stuff as low to the road as you can. Waterproof bags from the sporting goods store can hold a tent and sleeping bag. I only pack 3 days of clothes and wash them after I get to a campsite. Any cool things you buy or don't need on a trip can be mailed back home. Make the stuff on the back seat into a backrest. It helps. Always have something for rain and cold weather. On hot rides wet your shirt and let the evaporation help cool you. You can even put ice in your jacket pockets. Wear earplugs and take aspirin to help circulation while sitting for long rides. Don't carry anything you can't find at a gas station.

Overpacking is too easy to do. Eliminate anything you can. A good flashlight and backup is really valuable. Pack your gear with good straps not bungee cords and then after a short ride stop and check for anything that shifted making a strap loose. A bungee net is a cheap way to attach light objects like a tarp. Have everything in ziplock bags to keep them dry and sorted. A heavy duty trash bag makes a nice sadlebag liner. Have emergency information about yourself in various pockets and on the bike.

The best ride is where you just go a direction and see where you end up. It is foolish and dangerous to stick to a schedule. BE FLEXIBLE in your plans. Don't crash because you are forced to ride through a storm to make a hotel reservation. Don't crash because you are riding when you have had very little sleep. At some point you must recognize when fatigue is making your riding dangerous and it is time to stop for the day. It's OK if you don't get as far as you had planned. The act of riding is the reward.

I prefer to travel on smaller bikes. Sure, I could use my really big touring bike with matching trailer but where is the satisfation in that? A long ride on a small bike pays off big in achievement. I would rather spent $1000 on a week long ride that the same amount on some add-on to my bike. To me, custom paint is a trip of a lifetime gone to waste. An aftermarket pipe is a few days on the road that never happened. Custom wheels are great memories never made. You think grandchildren are going to interested in some junk you put on a bike because you thought it was cool back then? No, get out there and ride so you will have REAL stories to tell them. Take your camera!



One way to get used to a full face helmet is to wear it at home while you watch tv. It allows you to be in a stress free environment while you wear it. If the helmet doesn't fit just right then it is better to find out at home than to find out 4 hours away from home while riding. The full face is the best type but it isn't common for a dealership to take one back once you buy it. Returning a used helmet is like returning a used bandage. I have worked with a few places that were willing to exchange one that was too tight for the next size up but only when it looked like it had not been worn outside.


A helmet can be cleaned quickly with baby wipes.


When you can't seem to get a left turn light, try jumping up and down on the sensor in the ground.....hehe. Ok, sorry. It's just really funny when I see someone do that. It has nothing to do with weight. It is more like a metal detector. Magnets on your bike won't work either. Texas does not have a law yet allowing you to deal with a turn light that won't work on a motorcycle. You can change that if you are up to the challenge.


Why are you still reading this page? Get out there and ride.


Be nice and wave at other riders. We are a minority and need to look out for each other. Only the fake riders refuse to wave because you are on a bike they don't like. Losers. Expect some Gold Wing riders to get crazy with their wave. It's just the way they are. They like everyone.


Please dont use the term "crotch rocket". It's called a sportbike. Or if you really know your stuff then you can call them by their real names like super sport or sport touring or GT. I didn't spend $11,000 on a machine to transport my crotch from one place to another really fast.


A tire has a code on it that tells you the week and year it was made. 4508 means the 45th week of 2008.


When stopping at an intersection use the left side of the lane. Notice how untrained riders stop in the middle where all the grease, oil and water have built up. Keep that stuff off your tires and feet. Use the left side because your left foot is the one that comes down when you stop. Sometimes I have moved to the right to make a right turn only to have a car zoom by in my lane and almost hit my mirror or handlebar. I seriously doubt they would stop if they did cause me to crash. Now I stay right at the edge of the grease to offer the least temptation to a car when I have to turn right without stopping.


Any hitchhiker of the galaxy knows to always have a towel. I find it very usefull to have a small one with me every time I ride and a large towel when I tour. Use it to dry off the bike seat and controls in the morning. Use it to clean bugs off of your visor. Keep the hot sun off the bike seat while you are away by covering with your towel.


I hate looking through a motorcycle windshield. It distorts the view but even worse, if it gets dirty you cant see through it. Imagine riding at night and there is a light fog or mist in the air. All the little water drops stick to the windshield and you can barely see through it. Not cool. Now imagine an oncoming car with their headlights on. As soon as the light hits those water drops it becomes impossible to see the road. Very dangerous. To me, the purpose of a windshield is to take the wind blast off of my torso and reduce fatigue. It doesnt have to be very tall for that. I like to look right over the top of it. Look at Harley Davidsons big touring bike with the really short windshield. I think that is perfect for real riding.


This is a tankslapper.


If you have a motorcycle that does not have a spedometer on the gas tank try using a tank bag. You can see one on my bike on this page. It is magnetic and has never blown off. It comes with a waterproof cover and backpack straps hidden inside. They come in many sizes and are great for short and long rides. I carry rain gear, clear helmet visor, tire pressure guage, tiny Aerostich air compressor, luggage straps and much more in it. They usually have a clear plastic top pocket to hold a map. Be careful not to let credit cards get close to the powerful magnets in the bottom.


Bungee cords are a dangerous way to hold things on your bike. They are not secure and could allow a load to fall in your back wheel during leaning. Find solid straps with metal buckles. Look at Aerostich or a sporting goods store.


Never pass another bike in the same lane. If they make a sudden move you can collide and both go down. One lane, one bike. Only unskilled riders and TV cops ride side by side. The rest of us stagger so we can go around hazzards in the road or avoid getting blown into each other.


National Ride to Work Day is in June each year.


If you really want to listen to music while you ride try the flat speakers that fit in your helmet from Rider Wearhouse. Avoid anything that goes in your ear other than earplugs. A Boosteroo is a device that will amplify and split your music to two headsets.


Skulls and Flames - The last thing I want to see painted on the 10,000,000th "custom" bike parked in front of a bar. Borrrrring!!!! How about something actually original? It's nice to see an original custom painted helmet or bike but it is rare. Seems to be nothing but flames making the shape of a skull or a skull on fire. Yawn...




curve 2

OK, you see this sign while you are riding. The question is...what speed do you enter the turn at?

Did you say 40mph? hahaha, sucker!

Did you say a number under 40mph? hahahha, noob!

Did you say any number? hehehehhahahaha, you are still wrong!

The answer is not some number. Based on many factors like skill level, training, tire traction, line chosen, road surface, road camber and slope, bike ground clearance, suspension settings and more, in the end the proper entry speed for any turn is whatever speed allows you to gradually accelerate through the entire turn. If you feel the need to chop the throttle, pull in the clutch and coast or use the brakes, then you messed up the entry speed. Could you enter at 60mph? Sure you can if all the factors allow you to accelerate through the turn. You could also be on a bike that physicaly could NOT make the turn at 40mph because it is too low to the ground. If you crash because of that don't blame the sign. Only you can make this decision of entry speed selection. Don't let a stupid sign think for you.

Many years ago I was in a sportbike club that would always go double the posted entry speed. Most all of us had an actual racing license for the track and we were used to triple digit speeds on a motorcycle. Not legal of course but everyone would exit the turn a little faster than their entry speed. It also was a bad idea for us to treat a public road like a race track but that is true for many other things about riding. BTW, don't email me about trail braking because that is something used on the track. I am talking about riding on the street and all the very unpredictable factors that go along with it. When I teach high performance riding like at the track then we can talk about another type of riding all together like body position, dragging a knee in a curve and trail braking. Don't treat the street like the dirt or the track. Those that do usually end up as short term riders.




Many, many years ago someone told me to always ride withing my comfort zone. I thought that was good advice until one of my instructors said that was the best way to never improve as a rider. To get to the next level of skill you have to push yourself. Too much and you crash and too little you never learn. It isn't easy to make time to learn. When I used to sell new motorcycles there were always young squids who would come in looking for a high cc sportbike. When I asked why they didn't want to start on a smaller sportbike they would always say the same thing. They believed they would "outgrow" a smaller bike. Right now I have over 200,000 miles of seat time just on 600cc sportbikes and I can tell you for sure that if you ever "outgrow" a high performance bike then that is YOUR fault not the bikes! Learn a new skill and then get better at it. Can a better rider on a 600 go around a track faster than a less skilled rider on a 1000? You bet your sweet asphalt! Skill is very important to riding. It is easy to be fooled into thinking you need a "faster" bike to progress as a rider.

Now, don't think you should never get a bigger, "faster" bike. I didn't say that. My R1 was one of my favorite bikes but I bought it for the same reason I buy other bikes. Just as part of the overall experience of motorcycling. However, I am not fooled into thinking I am soooo good on a 600 that I deserve the next larger bike. Faster bikes won't make a faster rider. In fact I believe a smaller bike will force a rider to use more skill to get the most out of it and in the end become a superior rider. Try doing a track day on a "slower" 650cc twin. After a few years on that you could be a force to deal with out there.





"There are two types of riders. Those that have gone down and those that will" (This is pure B.S.)

To me this is like saying EVERY police office will be shot while on duty or that every person who flies will die in a crash or every diver will drown at some point. Riding is a risk but it is not a guarantee that you will crash. Most people that have told me the old saying were not very good riders to begin with. Many of them never even owned a motorcycle. So, maybe with their limited skill, lack of knowlege and poor attitude it does apply to them. Please don't include me in your lousy view. There are many professional riders out there who have already proven this wrong by riding a whole lifetime without a crash. There are also very good riders who have crashed. It sure isn't easy but avoiding an accident IS possible. In all my years of riding and after hundreds of thousands of accident free miles I will do everything in my power to make sure I never go down on the street. I think that is a far better attitude to have. Notice how most of the riders who believe they will go down are also the worst dressed for riding and how they are the most resistant to improving their skill.

I know that luck is not my friend while riding so I make sure to do whatever it takes to make sure to get home in one piece at the end of the day. If that means to practice braking often or improving my swerving skills then that is what I will do. If it also means to stow away pride and take lessons from better riders at a cost of time and money then sign me up. Through time and training develop great habits that will serve you well and keep working for perfection. That will keep you busy forever. When you decide to stop learning then that is the time to find another hobby.



"It's OK to get a super sport for a first bike as long as you respect the bike"

Respect is NOT a skill. The extra sensitive throttle of a super sport isn't any less dangerous with respect. The hyper sensitive steering isn't going to give you a break because of respect. Nobody says "That car pulled out in front of me but my respect for the bike kept me from hitting it." We are human and all make mistakes when learning something new. However, making mistakes while learning to play the piano won't hurt or kill you. Why make a risky activity even worse by buying the most unforgiving type of bike in the world as a learning bike. A super sport makes an OK second bike but many riders didn't live long enough to learn that lesson. Even a rider who might have experience may still not be able to deal with a highly sensitive bike.




ned

"Ride like you are invisible"

That doesn't help either. Being invisible won't help me avoid a pothole or slick road. It won't prevent someone from running a red light and hitting you. Plus, wouldn't you be naked to be invisible? haha. I do however position myself on the road to offer the most visibilty to others on the road. Thats a better skill for survival. BTW, watch the movie "Waking Ned Devine."




tc
Here is a great book for getting to the next level. I have been a fan of this guy for many years and a few years ago became one of his instructors. This can help any rider understand how suspension is such an important part of riding and touch on the mental aspect of riding better. This book isn't just for sportbike riders either.



Motorcyclist - Anyone with the motivation and desire to be better rider no matter what they ride. Even with little experience you can show the qualities of a motorcyclist. Motorcyclist don't mind what kind of bike you own and often own many types themselves. The group least likely to make the news.


Squid - (squirly kid) Anyone who rides a sportbike like a fool, is self-taught, doesn't care if they are dangerous to others around them, is more concerned about their bike than their riding skill, does not know the true purpose of riding gear, attention whore, can only go fast in a straight line (which takes NO skill to do), not concerned about getting a licence or insurance, ect. The person who makes my sportbike insurance so high. Here is why serious riders hate these fools. They never last long as riders. Again, they have no concern that they put others on the street in danger.


Biker - A squid on a cruiser. Never call me a biker. When they stop at a light notice that they look around to see who is looking at them. If nobody is looking then they rev the piss out of the bike to force them to look. Bikers never seem to smile for pictures. It seems they are all trying to conform to some tough-guy image and try too hard to look the part. They arent bikes because of what they ride, but because how they ride. Bikers make the majority of fatal accidents. They just seem to try too hard to conform to a unflattering image. I hope that with time, the term biker won't be thrown around to mean everyone who rides.

One day I was riding and it started to rain really heavy. I parked under an overpass and intended to wait for 10 minutes for the road to be washed clean and then finish my ride in the rain. While sitting there, two Harleys park behind my bike and the four riders go and sit away from me without even saying or looking at me. They didn't have rain gear but they shure had a load of Harley clothes. Shirts, boots, doo rags, vests, belt buckels and even a zippo lighter all with HD logos on them. They must have spent a fortune on all that poser gear because they didn't have any money left to buy an actual HD motorcycle. Both their bikes were Suzuki Intruders. I put on my rain gear and left. Hahahaha.


Winger - A motorcyclist who rides a Gold Wing. Nice people but they dress really funny sometimes.


Poser - The guy who wears lame riding gear, drives their KIA to a rally, parks it out of view and then spends the day walking around in their riding gear like they rode there and actually own a bike. Beer in hand optional. Sometimes actually owns a bike like a Suzuki Intruder but wears nothing but Harley clothes. Has gigantic Harley Davidson sticker on the back of their Ford truck and still doesn't ride on a nice day. Many people want to be in the "biker" lifstyle so they put a lot of effort into pretending to be one. Sad.


Stunter - Someone who uses a motorcycle to perform stunts. They do not stunt on public roads though. That is what seperates them from a squid. Fun to watch in competition.


RUB - Rich Urban Biker. The middle aged guy who sinks $30,000 into a bike they never ride but wash every week so everyone knows they have a bike. Common to see the bike on Craigslist with low miles and many $$$ extras.


Crusty Biker - A dying breed. Has a limp. Wears a leather vest that can't be buttoned because of large gut. Vest is covered with patches that say things like "Helmet laws suck" and "Loud pipes save lives". Can't be trusted to say anything true about good street riding. Often a good example of bad riding habbits to avoid.


One percenter - A member of a bike gang. In an interview a cop once said "Most motorcycle riders are decent folk. It is just that one percent that cause trouble." Close enough.


Self-taught - Here is why it is a very bad idea to teach yourself to ride or have someone who isn't qualified try to teach.


THE THREE LIFE SAVING SKILLS

These are the most important skills you need to master to improve your ability to deal with trouble while you ride. Swerving, braking and riding through turns are the big three.

In a major accident study they found that many riders would not have crashed had they been better at one of these three skills. It is worth your time to learn how to do them well and then stay proficient even when you have been riding a long time.