Wednesday, April 6, 2011

10 Great Motorcycle Habits to Maximize Your Riding Enjoyment and Minimize Your Risk of Death

So, now that the gremlins lurking about the Triumph are all taken care of, perhaps I can spend a bit of time writing about things other than annoying oil leaks. I found a search for "great motorcycle habits" in my stats, and I thought that sounded like a good post to write. Here goes.

1. Ride Every Day - Riding every day keeps your skills honed. If you only ride once or twice a month, you're probably spending about as much time remembering how to operate the motorcycle as you are paying attention to traffic. Operating your motorcycle should be almost reflexive, so you can focus on avoiding dangerous situations.

2. Always Try Ride Better Than You Did Yesterday - Have you got five years of riding experience, or one month's worth repeated 60 times? Try to pick better lines. Break some of your bad habits. Work on being smooth.

3. Learn How To Sit At A Stoplight Without Blipping Your Throttle - Seriously. Quit playing with that thing.

4. Minimize Your Chicken Strips - In day to day riding, it's best to have a margin of safety, so you shouldn't be riding at the limits of your bike or ability. On the other hand, it is important to know how to handle your bike at extreme angles. You should be able to ride better than you usually need to so you can handle unusual circumstances. So find a safe place and wear down the edges of your tires now and then. It's fun.

5. Stay In The Power Band - Most people ride in a higher gear than they should. If your power band starts at 7,000 RPM, try to stay around there when you're cruising. When you need power, you'll be glad to have it right there waiting for you. You'll get used to the extra racket.

6. Unless You Have Loud Pipes - OK, maybe this is habit 5.1. Whatever. If you've got crazy loud pipes, consider getting rid of them. Or just leave the bike parked, since you probably don't ride it but twice a year. And if you're not going to follow that advice, then consider not being a douche in residential areas or out where people are walking around trying to live their lives. The only person who thinks your bike sounds awesome when you're causing hearing damage is you. (Also, the only accident loud pipes MIGHT prevent is getting rear-ended. Even that is unlikely.)

Yes, some asshat with loud pipes DID wake me up this weekend. Why?

7. All The Gear, All The Time - You're not going to crash on your epic road trip through Alaska five years from now. You're going to crash a mile from your house on your way home from the gas station. It's true. Embrace your inner warrior and put that gear on.

8. Pay Attention - Situational Awareness for bikers is defined as knowing what's going on around you so you don't get creamed by an SUV. Don't space out when you're on the bike.

9. Think Ahead - Pilots call it staying in front of the airplane. Know what you're going to do next. Act, don't react. You're a rider, not a passenger.

10. Remember that riding should be totally awesome - I don't think much of riding through rain, wind, cold, or heat, on the whole. All the same, it's important to remember that despite our cozy helmets, we are out in the elements and being exposed can still be dangerous in this day and age. So if you're thinking "this sucks," instead of, "this is totally awesome," get off the road for a while until the situation is back to being totally awesome.