Safety Thoughts From our Rider Educator
Just think, summer is almost over. It takes too long getting here, and is just here for all too short a time, and is gone again. Of course, if the summer lasted all year, we probably wouldn’t enjoy it so much.
As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, we should make sure we are ready by checking things such as all running and auxiliary lights. Out on a ride isn’t a good time to find out that your headlight bulbs are burnt out. Personally, I try to check all of my lights before and after every ride. It will, of course, be getting colder soon, so it wouldn’t hurt to put an extra layer in the bike, just in case. When the leaves begin to fly, watch out for accumulations of them on the road - they could be quite slick if damp.
At least winter allows us some time to get caught up on some of the things on the bike that we have been meaning to do, but were putting off because the weather was too nice. I will probably at least change my air filter, change the clutch fluid, change the spark plugs, and may even change the tires if I decide they need it. I will of course make sure that my battery is charged and ready at all times. Don’t want to miss ride-able weather in the winter.
One of the more fun things in winter is to look back at all of the riding and joy that was part of the summer. Look back at the things we did right, and the things we did wrong, and strive to do more right in the coming riding season, perhaps that will help make us better and safer riders. Taking safety courses could help, I am sure.
I will pass on any safety information as soon as I get it.
Ride safe, Gus
By Gordon Robinson
On a recent ride through the Black Range I encountered "road rage." We had just come over Emory Pass, and it was a nice day for ride. It was deer season, and we had come across several hunters on the way.
I was leading when a pick-up truck pulled onto the road in front of me. I saw the truck as it started to pull out into traffic so I slowed to let it in. I got suspicious right away because the driver took his time and acted like we weren’t even there. I kept a close eye on them. There was a little girl and an older man in the back. The man kept waving and doing things I didn’t like, so when I got the chance I decided to pass them and put some space between the pick-up and myself. When I looked into my rearview mirrors to see if it was okay to get back into the right lane, I noticed that they must have sped up. Right way I knew this was going to be trouble.
After I got into the right lane, the pick-up pulled out to pass me. When they got even with me, I gently applied the brakes. This let them move in front of me faster then they expected to and put more space between them and me. After that, I saw a beer can come out of the driver’s side. I decided the best thing to do is slow down even more. Finally, they went on down the road and nothing more came of it. Things could have gotten out of hand if I hadn’t kept cool and just let them go.
We have all had our experiences with it in one way or another. It might have been someone reacting to your headlight modulator. I have had them get upset with me over that. According to the American Automobile Association, road rage has been increasing by 7% per year since 1990. An Australian study estimates that about half of all traffic accidents in Australia may be due to road rage. A study by Lex Research in the U.K. indicates that of Britain's some 2.8 million company car drivers, about 83% have been victims of some form of road rage during their working life. About 21% reported having been run off the road and 18% have been physically threatened by another driver!
Some attribute the rise in rage incidents to the recession and social and economic frustration. Gary Fite, Public Relations Manager for the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland, reckons that in many cases the cause of the anger that touches off rage incidents is bad driving. With an estimated 1,800 reported incidents of violent road behavior in the U.S. in 1996, it's a situation to be taken seriously.
The incidents that trigger a Mad Max syndrome in the average driver are usually simple matters of discourtesy—for example, loud music, over-use of the horn, tailgating and changing lanes without signaling. These, of course, are usually just the trigger points. The actual causes can be traced back to all forms of stress, from being called into the boss's office for a friendly 'chat', to having just been dumped by your girlfriend. Pretty much, road warriors are the result of a flashpoint of all the accumulated stresses in one's life. A 1995 study performed by the Road Safety Unit of the Automobile Association of Great Britain found that 90% of the drivers surveyed had experienced "road rage" incidents during the preceding 12 months. In this study,
60% of drivers admitted to losing their tempers behind the wheel during the previous year, and 1% claimed another motorist had physically assaulted them.
As for avoiding the Mad Max syndrome, here are a few tips from Dr Ricardo Martinez, Administrator of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to help you through your journey
- Don’t take traffic problems personally
- Avoid eye contact with an aggressive driver
- Don’t make obscene gestures ("that makes you a player and suddenly it begins to escalate")
- Don’t tailgate
- Use your horn sparingly (the polite honk can be misinterpreted)
- Don’t block the passing lane (some drivers think you're doing something to them when you do this)
- Don't block the right hand turn lane
Let’s dive into what the Official Honda Shop Manual says should be done on your suspension. Now, since I own a ‘94 GL1500 Aspencade, this is out of the appropriate year’s book. But this would apply to most 1500's, and the principles can apply to anything on two wheels. Now, for trikes, I haven’t a clue. I guess it is specific to whatever brand of trike you have, since the suspension will be unique to the kit. And I don’t know about the front end, whether it is any different than the two wheel version.
First off, there is a WARNING! printed;
• Do not ride a vehicle with faulty suspension. Loose, worn, or damaged suspension parts impair vehicle stability and control.
Then we get to the front end. Check the action of the front forks by compressing them several times. Check the entire fork assembly for leaks or damage. Replace damaged components which cannot be repaired. Tighten all nuts and bolts. Simple enough.
Now to the rear end. Put bike on the center stand. Vigorously push and pull the rear wheel from side to side. If there is any free play or looseness, inspect the swing arm bearings for damage. Check the swing arm for damage. Check the shock absorbers for leaks or damage. If you have an SE or Aspencade, check the air hoses for deterioration and cracks. Replace parts as required.
Tighten all nuts and bolts.
If you have an SE or Aspencade, inspect the air pressure of the right shock absorber with the instrument panel gauge. (If you have Progressive or another brand of aftermarket shocks, then both shocks will be adjusted by the panel gauge.) Turn ignition switch to ON, P, or ACC. Push the P.Check button on the right fairing panel to display air pressure on the dash. Increase or decrease air pressure by pushing the appropriately marked button while still pushing the P.Check button.
• Never check or decrease air pressure while riding. Keep both hands on the handlebars while riding. It doesn’t say anything about increasing pressure while riding, but I bet it’s a bad idea too.
And a CAUTION:
• Always use the center stand when adjusting air pressures. Do not use the side stand when adjusting the air pressure, as you will get false pressure readings.
The usable air pressure range under normal conditions (stock shock absorbers) is 0-57 psi.
Now, for the GL1500 Interstate, it says to place the bike on it’s center stand on firm level ground. Open right saddlebag. Remove the air valve cap (at the end of the short hose towards the front). Check air pressure using a pressure gauge. Note: Some pressure will be lost when removing the gauge from the valve. Determine the amount of loss and compensate accordingly. Do not exceed the recommended air pressure of the ride will be harsh and uncomfortable. A small amount of the suspension oil may be released when the air valve is opened to reduce pressure. To prevent getting any oil on the saddlebag, remove the valve from the holder (on saddlebag) and point it away from the saddlebag before reducing pressure.
Robin Koontz Chapter Educator
Winter Riding for Those Lucky Enough to Ride
As winter approaches, falling temperatures will ground a lot of motorcycles till spring.
But plummeting mercury doesn’t have to confine you to four wheels. When we ride, we’re exposed to the elements. When it’s colder or rain threatens, we can’t switch on the heater or turn on the windshield wipers. Jumping into the car or truck is an easy solution, but there goes our chance to ride. Some of the best rides have been in cooler weather when there is less traffic on the road, the air is crisp and clean and there are fewer bugs.
Riding in cooler weather means recognizing first and foremost it is the wind that causes your body to become chilled. It is the flow of wind or "wind chill factor" that removes the heat from the body, so a rider’s first line of defense is a layer of warm clothing underneath an outer layer that does a good job at blocking the wind. Keep in mind that our bodies are all different, so what works for one person may not work the same for you.
Holding onto your body heat is difficult if you can’t block the wind. A windshield greatly reduces the airflow to your torso, so you stay warmer longer. The next essential is proper-fitting riding gear, protective garments that are neither too tight nor too loose. Leather is one of the better choices, but not just any leather will do. True riding garments are tightly stitched for riding, unlike fashion leather which may allow heat loss through stitching holes. Along with your leather riding boots and jacket, consider leather chaps or pants to keep cold away from your legs. Always dress in layers so as the day warms up you don’t overheat.
Next, keeping the hands warm can be challenging. When we ride, we place our hands in the full force of the wind and keeping them warm is not easy. But it’s a lot easier today than, say twenty years ago. There are excellent riding gloves and gauntleted models which keep wind out of the sleeves and are recommended for cooler and winter riding. Another solution to keeping hands warm during winter rides is installing heated grips. There’s no doubt that correct gear can enjoyably extend your riding season.
Riding in colder temperatures means being constantly aware of how your body is handling changing temperatures. Let the cold weather get the better of you, and your ability to handle your motorcycle can be seriously impaired. When out on a late season group ride, it’s a good idea to keep in mind how much protective winter gear your fellow riders have. When cold becomes intolerable due to lack of proper protection, reaction times will be seriously compromised. Talk to members of your group about cold weather riding gear that will enhance their experiences as well.
Winter safety does not end with personal gear. Any discussion of cold weather riding must include amps and viscosity. Cold weather impairs a battery’s ability to turn over an engine. Most internal motorcycle charging systems are marginal at best-and usually will not fully charge a drained battery very well. Some charging systems can’t recharge a battery once it falls below the 70% charge level. When caring for your battery, double check all the connections to be sure they are corrosion-free and tight. And for preventive maintenance, clean each connection and place a dab of electro-static
grease on each one to help prevent corrosion and oxidation.
The next consideration is oil viscosity or "weight". Engine oil comes in different weights and the rating system of oil viscosity measures how it flows at ambient or running temperatures. Take a look at your owner’s manual and you’ll find which viscosity to use at which operating temperature. An oil that is formulated for the higher temperatures of summer cruising may run like refrigerated honey in winter thereby denying your moving internal parts the lubrication they need when you start your bike.
Still not interested in extending your riding season? That’s perfectly OK. Just don’t forget to hook up your battery to a Battery Tender and pour some fuel stabilizer in the gas tank before you cover your bike for the winter. These two simple steps will help insure that your bike will be ready to go next spring when you are. So if you are one of those who prefer your car in the winter, please keep an eye out for those of us who enjoy a little cold-weather riding. Or gear up and join us!
Larry & Rhonda Stiles
From the GWRRA National Rider Ed Newsletter
Members in GWRRA are always exposed to loss of traction, for various reasons in various climates. Perhaps the current season presents the greatest risk. Depending on geographic location, the cause of the phenomenon might be rain, fallen leaves, sand, oil, or even ice forming on bridges or in dark/shaded areas. We have all heard
the routine warnings. Here is one that isn’t so well known.
What do you predict would be the response of an engaged cruise control system on two (or even four wheels) to a hydroplaning situation? Chances are that it would worsen the situation. Actual road speed may be 10-15 mph (or more!) greater than the speed being maintained by the cruise control system.
Even the best intention to use a relative constant lower speed for the observed conditions with your cruise control could spell trouble. The unsuspecting rider or driver finds out too late that the brakes are far less capable than expected as the vehicle hydroplanes well beyond the predicted stopping distance.
Even though most cruise control systems won’t operate at very low speeds, this rider can personally attest to surviving a trip though a busy intersection against a red light at only 5 mph! This all assumes you have not low-sided from the loss of traction on the front tire.
How do you avoid it? The natural response to slow down in low traction situations is a start. Common sense should tell us that turning the cruise control off is the best way to manage this particular risk. Save it for better road conditions. Pass it on!
From the October 2006 National Rider Education Newsletter
Slowing down a little can reduce braking distance a lot. Motorcycles that stop really well are capable of braking to a stop from 60
mph in a distance of about 110 feet. So how long would it take the same bike to brake from 30 mph to zero? It’s half the speed… so it must take half the distance, right?
Actually, no. Through the magic of physics, the braking distance from half the speed would be about one-fourth the distance, or 28 feet. It turns out that slowing down by only 18 mph (to 42) is all that is required in this case to halve your stopping distance. So how can we use this information to enhance our safety while riding?
When you find yourself in one of those all-too-common situations where you might need to stop suddenly, like urban streets with lots of intersections or when approaching a potential left-turner, keep in mind that even a relatively moderate reduction in speed will allow you to reduce your stopping distance considerably.
Speaking of stopping - rather than my motorcycle’s ability, it’s the guy behind me I have more concern about. It’s not unusual to develop tunnel vision driving behind a motorcycle, or actually viewing past the motorcycle to the point they may actually ignore it. They are accustomed to getting in sync with the larger vehicle ahead. The motorcyclist should be aware of this and utilize precautions such as not braking too quickly and allowing more room behind the vehicle ahead of them. In essence, compensating for the vehicle behind’s lack of safety margin in their own braking.
An old saying: Sometimes a motorcyclist needs the skill of a sheep farmer or cow rancher to keep the herd at bay.
From the GWRRA National Rider Ed Newsletter
WHAT A HELMET DOES FOR YOU
First, it is the best protective gear you can wear while riding a motorcycle. Think of it at the same time you think of your ignition key: pick up the key; pick up the helmet. They go together. Helmet use is not a cure-all for motorcycle safety, but in a crash, a helmet can help protect your brain, your face, and your life.
Combined with other protective gear,
rider-education courses, proper licensing and public awareness, the use of helmets and protective gear is one way to reduce injury. You hope you never have to use your helmet, just like you hope you won’t ever need to use the seatbelt in your car. But crashes do happen. We can’t predict when or what kind they will be. You should not say to yourself, I’m just running down to the store, and not wear your helmet. In any given year, a lot of people make good use of seatbelts, and a lot of riders give thanks that they were wearing helmets.
Second, a good helmet makes riding a motorcycle more fun, due to the comfort factor: another truth. It cuts down on wind noise roaring by your ears; on windblast on your face and eyes, and deflects bugs and other objects flying through the air. It even contributes to comfort from changing weather conditions and reduces rider fatigue.
Third, wearing a helmet shows that motorcyclists are responsible people; we take ourselves and motorcycling seriously. Wearing a helmet, no matter what the law says, is a projection of your attitude toward riding. And that attitude is plain to see by other riders and non-riders alike.
CHOOSING A HELMET
While color, design and price may be a part of your decision about which helmet to buy, think first about protection and comfort. A full-face helmet gives the most protection since it covers more of your face. It usually has a moveable face shield that protects the eyes when it is closed. What you must know when choosing a helmet is that it meets minimum safety standards. The way to find a well-made, reliable helmet is to look for the DOT and/or Snell sticker on the inside or outside of the helmet. The sticker means the helmet meets the safety test standards of the U.S. Department of Transportation and/or the Snell Memorial Foundation. Each organization has rigid procedures for testing.
Impact - the shock-absorbing capacity of the helmet.
Penetration - the helmet’s ability to withstand a blow from a sharp object.
Retention - the chin strap’s ability to stay fastened without stretching or breaking.
Road characteristics are not discussed as much as I would like. What are they?
One can be a change of color of the road way, which could mean road repair, a new road surface or something on the road such as water, oil or dirt. Another characteristic about the road is the types of surfaces from
old road pavements. Heavy trucks run the same path which creates the pavement to be lower where they drive and higher in the center of the lane. If you pull a trailer you
know what I am referring to.
You need to think about the road camber or lean. Are the lines paint or the new white rubber? What are tar snakes? This is the tar that is put on cracks in the roadway to seal the cracks. Some of it is applied too thick or too wide and is not a good place for a motorcycle to travel. Keep a look out for any strange or uncommon characteristic you may find.
From the National Rider Ed Newsletter
Comments from your Chapter CD:
In addition to the items mentioned above, we here in Amish country need to add “buggy ruts” to our list of road hazards. Those metal wheels wear grooves in the pavement that can be wide and deep enough to trap a motorcycle wheel and even throw a rider off the bike.
Those riding in the right track need to be extra careful, as those ruts tend to be deeper and longer than usual. If it becomes a distraction to avoid the ruts, just move to the left and ride single file through the area. Be sure to communicate your intention and add some extra space between bikes.
Planes vs. Motorcycles
Would you feel safe flying on a plane if you heard this conversation between the pilot and co-pilot:
“Lets skip on the checklist today, the plane looks good enough.
Tires – “They don’t look flat so the pressure is probably OK”
Lights – “The ones I can see from here work”
Oil – “It was fine last week”
Brakes – “We have two-I’m sure at least one works”
Windshield – “Its not all that dirty”
“I slept only four hours last night so let’s not waste any more time here. Let’s fly this baby”!
You might think twice about going on the trip at all if your pilot were not interested enough in safety to do a proper checklist.
Is piloting a bike that’s carrying you spouse any less important? You know the answer.
Tires need the correct pressure to prevent overheating and excessive wear.
Lights are something we don’t think about until one goes out that we can see from the rider’s seat. Yet the taillight is what lets the car behind you see you before they run over you. The co-rider can easily check the brake lights, use the brake pedal switch and brake lever switch, tail lights and turn signals while you sit on the bike and push a few buttons.
How important is your oil? No, you don’t check the oil by looking at the engine oil gauge. There is a convenient dipstick made just for that purpose. Don’t be a dipstick, check the one on the bike.
Always using both brakes to stop or slow is the proper way to use brakes but the wrong way to check them. If one of three brakes starts getting weak, the other two will hide this fact. Try using only the brake lever to check the one front brake that the lever operates. (for those motorcycle who do not have linked brakes) Then you will have an idea how that brake is working. Using only the brake pedal with an integrated braking system uses two brakes-one front and the rear. Testing the brake pedal this way
makes it easier to know whether one of these two brakes is not up to par. Of course the best way to check out all three brakes is during the bike’s regular service.
Perhaps the windshield is the easiest of all to check. You can look at it as you are walking up to the bike. Are those bug spots you see? It takes only a minute or so to clean them off. They may be only an annoyance in the daytime, but you need all the visibility you can get at night.
Another time a dirty windshield really shows up is when you head directly into the sun. That’s when you’ll really wish you’d taken an extra minute or two to clean your windshield. When you have your cleaner out to clean your windshield, you might also clean your mirrors, instrument panel, face shield and your glasses. Then you will be able to see clearly now. I think there is a song like that.
Your bike checklist should be something you use before every ride, just as a pilot uses his before every flight. Where are we the most likely to skip a lot of our checks? Traveling and at rallies. It all worked yesterday why check it today? This is the time you need to inspect your bike closer than usual.
From the GWRRA National Rider Ed Newsletter April 2005
Taking Care of Your Trailer
We park our Gold Wing with TLC for storage, how did you park the cargo/camper trailer? Washed and covered it? Well that’s the way most do.
Trailer tires are not the same as tires for cars or motorcycles. Many have the statement on them “for trailers only”. It would help the tires from getting flat spots if you block the trailer up with the wheels off the ground. The flat spots will run off after some miles down the road, but it would be better to start with nice round tires. To get the tires round again it takes heat and centrifugal force. So keeping them off the ground could add life to the tire.
While the trailer wheels are up, you could check the wheel bearings and repack them if necessary. While the tires are off look over the body bolts and suspension bolts. Also check your trailer tongue bolts and hitch shoe for wear.
From the GWRRA National Rider Ed Newsletter March 2005
Do I Change the Oil?
Are “Oil Changes” prior to a lay up a good or bad idea? As we all know oil changes after so many miles are important. As you run your engine the oil gets contaminated from the gases that sneak by the pistons and create acid deposits in the oil. These deposits are not good especially for aluminum parts. Since we have aluminum parts we should change the oil before any lay up.
Some prefer to occasionally start the engines in cold weather. I personally don’t think it is good idea; since you put in fresh oil to preserve the parts why pollute it by running you engine. When you start a cold engine the clearance is larger between the piston and cylinder walls, plus you have the choke on, more raw fuel in the cylinder, more chance to pollute the oil. All these factors are for those who put their motorcycles up for 3 or 4 months. If you ride every chance
you get, then oil changes will be done at regular intervals.
From the GWRRA National Rider Ed December 2004 Newsletter
Autumn Riding Hazard Reminder
As we enter the fall riding season, lets be more alert for some of the safety hazards that come with this time of the year. Do tire pressure checks before each ride as the cooler temps will change the pressure. Keep clean your windshield, visor, goggles or glasses, to reduce the glare from the fall setting sun. It seems we always take the Chapter dinner rides toward the west in
The animals are on the move mating, storing food, and just plain restless. I rode 25 miles to a training class last weekend and I observed 20 road kills. My ride was not through the countryside.
Leaves on the road can have hidden hazards. Out riding you encounter leaves on the road, even if they are dry as can be, give yourself more following distance from anything in front of you. The dry leaves fly around, although it is an impressive sight to watch, but the smaller pieces you do not see will be headed for your eyes. Yes they can swirl around the windshield and fairing to find your eyes.
Layers can give comfort in riding gear. More layers in the AM and less as the temperature increase. If you are lucky enough to still be out riding as evening comes, you might need to add layers. If you add enough, when you stop for the ice cream on the way home, you will not be too cold to eat a scoop or two.
If you happen to encounter some morning dew, be extra alert to the temperature, as 34 degrees and below the dew becomes black ice. Black ice is not easy to recognize, but is as it says ICE. Many roads have been resurfaced during the warm months. These roads can also be a hazard with a fall rain. It takes more time for the rains to wash off the oil that is on top of “fresh” blacktop. Along with new pavement is newly painted road markings.
This last road hazard really gets me excited, “repairing of cracks in the pavement”. The material that is used is supposed to be done to specification, according to ODOT. This is what raises my blood pressure, the State contracts the repairs to a vendor whom they have no control of. The State guidelines are the patch can only be 2 or 3 inches wide and not to run a constant long distance, which you know they don’t follow. The problem is you can have a 2 or 3 inch wide patch then a one inch of pavement and another 2 or 3 inch patch and so on. There is no check to ensure they are following specs.
Taken from the GWRRA National Rider Education October Newsletter
Do You Know Your Tires – Deciphering Sidewalls
Have you tried to read those hieroglyphics on the sidewall of your car's tires? If you are replacing your tires, do you know what size
tire to ask for? Deciphering the information from a tire's sidewall can be a confusing exercise. For most of us, it ranks right up there with decoding the Egyptian markings on a mummy's tomb.
Let's take a look at the markings on a tire and break them down.
The U.S. Department of Transportation markings signify that the tire meets DOT tire-safety standards. The DOT markings help track the tire in the same way a lot
number tracks a food product.
· The first two characters designate the tire manufacturer and plant code. This could be
important if the tire receives a safety recall.
· Characters three and four denote tire size.
· The fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth (optional) characters identify the brand as well as other characteristics important to the manufacturer
· The final three numbers (four beginning in 2000) denote the date the tire was produced. The first two indicate the week, and the last numbers specify the year.
The most important part of the tire is AIR PRESSURE. You must maintain proper air pressure. Low pressure will cause excessive wear, improper handling and creates drag on the tire as if you had the brake applied on that wheel with the low tire. This causes overheating and expansion of the tire cords with the possibility of a blow out. Many motorcycles have a decal of air inflation pressures with and without loads. If you do not have a decal, check your owner’s manual. If you do not have an owner’s manual look on the sidewall of the tire it is located there also. However, the tire pressure on the sidewall references the
MAXIMUM allowable tire pressure for the MAXIMUM rated load. This pressure would typically be too high for normal operation.
From the National Rider Education September 2004 newsletter