GROUP RIDING HAND SIGNALS
Motorcycle hand signals are important for all riders to know and understand but especially when riding in a group so that everyone knows what is going on. (When riding in a group the signals should be relayed back through the group.) By the way, point to the gas tank if you need gas or your stomach if you are hungry.
I have noticed on some of our rides a few guys don't seem to know about the correct spacing for staggered formation riding.
When riding in a group in a lane that's wide enough a staggered formation is the safest. When the road and traffic conditions permit this pattern has the lead bike in the right third of the lane, while the next rider stays at least one second behind in the left third of the lane; the rest of the group follows the same pattern. The Road Captain riding in the lead position determines if staggered formation or single file is best and signals this as appropriate. Single file is indicated by the left arm and index finger extended straight up and staggered formation (double file) by the left arm with index finger and middle finger extended straight up. For Staggered Formation see the diagram:
On the road, motorcyclists should have at least a 2-second cushion in front and behind them, this leaves enough room so each rider can manoeuvre side-to-side if needed. Avoid side-by-side formations as they shrink your safety cushion. A single-file formation is preferred on a curvy road, under conditions of poor visibility or poor road surfaces, or other situations where an increased space cushion or maneuvering room is needed.
At intersections where you've come to a stop, tighten the formation to side-by-side to take up less space. As the lights turn green the bike on the right (ie.. the Road Captain leading the ride) proceeds through first with each subsequent rider keeping in their original position reforming into the staggered formation.
Remember that riding in a group does not mean you surrender any decision making when it comes to your safety. Ride your own ride, and don't go any faster than you feel comfortable going.
Also note that when cornering the corner is yours and to take it safely is more important than trying to stay in staggered formation. You can reform the pattern after exiting the corner safely.
If the group is riding faster than you are comfortable with, let the sweep rider know you're dropping out and ride at your own pace. So what if you reach your destination a few seconds behind the others as long as you get there safely and in one piece, that's what's important. Keep in mind, it's all about enjoying your ride and having fun.
Road conditions can also dictate if you stay in the pattern. If it's shiny or black, ride a different track. Just because you are in staggered formation does NOT mean that you have to stay in your track. There is a whole lane at your disposal without encroaching on the traffic rights of other riders. You ride staggered to give you maneuvering room in case you need it. Rather than ride over a patch of shiny or unusually black surface use your safety cushion and avoid these sometimes slippery surfaces.
Ride safe and have fun.... Safety Officer
Riding in the Rain
(Modified extract from Motorcops.com Training Article)
“Even rode my motorcycle in the rain,
And you told me not to drive,
But, I made it home alive
So you said that only proves that I’m insane”
Excerpt from “You May be Right” by Billy Joel
Insane may be the way most motorcycle riders would describe motorcyclists who ride in the rain on purpose. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not it is inevitable that we will find ourselves riding in the rain.
Rain and bad weather produce low light conditions and other vehicles produce road spray all combining to limit your visibility to other road users. Waterproof boots and gloves are also a must. Throttle, clutch and brake controls on a motorcycle all require feeling and dexterity of your hands and feet. Once your hands and feet get wet, it will only be a short time before they get cold and you reduce or lose your ability to manipulate your motorcycle controls.
Also, being wet and cold will distract you from your attention to riding, something you don’t want to happen while you are riding in the rain. You want to maintain your mental edge. You should have clear lenses for your glasses or a clear face shield to permit clear vision. Be aware of fogging of your glasses or visor in rain conditions. Opening your visor open a bit or moving your glasses further away from your eyes will permit air to flow on the inner side of the lenses and keep them clear.
The first 10 to 15 minutes of rain is the most dangerous with the rain water mixing with the oil, dirt and road debris that has been sitting on the surface to create a greasy, slippery coating on the road. This usually washes away within this time so if you can, pull off under a bridge or other dry spot and use this initial raining time to put on your rain gear and adjust your riding attitude and style to suit these new conditions, by the time your ready to go again the road will be less slippery.
Note that your bike set up is more critical in these conditions and you should always be checking your lights and tires prior to riding so you are prepared. The condition and traction ability of your tire’s contact area can make the difference between the weather being a minor inconvenience to taking a ride in the back of an ambulance. Check your tire pressure and your tread depth prior to all rides. Your tire pressure should be at the manufacturer’s recommended rating and your tires should have enough tread to channel away water from under your bike’s tires.
Research tells us that a motorcycle will have 75 to 80% of maximum traction in wet weather. If you have been applying good riding techniques in our motorcycle riding style in the dry, apart from the reduced traction, nothing else should change when it rains. What wet riding does require is good smooth application of your clutch, throttle and brakes. Wet riding is to be a lot less forgiving than dry weather riding when it comes to errors of under or over application of the bikes controls. Do your accelerating and braking in a straight line, set your corner speed in advance, smooth application of your clutch, throttle and brakes will keep the wheels of your motor from breaking free from the traction of your tire’s contact area. Keep your eyes up and identify hazards well ahead of time so you can make smooth adjustments. Remember to look where you want to go.
Hydroplaning occurs when a tire cannot channel all the water out from under the tire and the tire rides up on top of a thin layer of water and removes all of your traction. You might get away with this on a four wheel vehicle but a crash is almost inevitable on a motorcycle. Many factors affect when a motorcycle will hydroplane; water depth, speed, weight, width of tire, tire tread depth and tread pattern. All tires will hydroplane when presented with the right combination of these factors. The experts say keeping your speed below 90km/h will reduce most of this risk, but there are no guarantees. If you do hydroplane, do not steer, lean or apply any braking but maintain your direction, look ahead where you want to go and PRAY. Scan the road surface for hazards such as puddles and smooth black tarseal can help avoid potential hydroplaning situations. Riding in the track of the vehicles ahead may also help avoid these situations as the tires of that vehicle will disperse the water on the road so your tire won’t have to work as hard. Also, when the vehicle ahead hits a puddle the spray from the puddle will indicate a hazardous situation for you to avoid.
Along with the risk of hydroplaning in pooling or ponding water, you must also be aware of varying road surfaces reacting differently to rain. Steel plates, earth, painted road markings, and railway tracks all change their coefficient of friction (grip) to differing degrees when wet.
Rain + Night (a double whammy). Every drop of rain lying on the road, in puddles, on your windshield, on your glasses or visor, refracts light given off by headlights, tail lights and street lights into your straining eyes. Add flashing emergency lights to this equation and you may overload your optical inputs. Remember to focus on the the outside white line on the left your lane of the roadway to avoid being dazzled by oncoming lights.
Good luck, you know you are going to ride in the rain in Auckland sometime!!
Ride safe and have fun
5 Safe Riding Tips
5 Ways to a Safer Ride
The following is a list of very good ideas gathered from various sources, that are worth remembering every time you get out on your Harley.
1. Lane Check
When changing lanes don't just check your mirrors, do a full head turn, left and right. How many times have you checked your mirrors only to find someone in that blind spot once you started to switch lanes?
2. Riding the Line
A fluid, efficient turn begins with taking the proper line. The proper line is the quickest, easiest and safest way to negotiate a turn. Approach turns wide, meaning you start a right turn from the left part of your lane, or a left turn from the right part. This gives you the best view of a blind turn and requires the least amount of braking and lean. Use your whole lane as needed, but be sure you do not cross the center line!
Practice hard braking from 50 kilometers an hour. During a hard brake, momentum makes the bike want to continue forward. This puts weight on the fork and compresses it as the rear lightens and rises, making the rear brake easier to lock. That is why the front brake is designed to handle 75 to 80 percent of the braking load. Practice hard stops on a quiet but well maintained road using mostly your bike's front brakes. If you tend to lock the rear during hard brakes, try leaving the clutch lever out and the bike in gear when braking, and pull the clutch in just before coming to a complete stop.
Two people on one bike make for potential problems. Avoid surprises by giving passengers some basic guidelines: 1) Do not get on or off the bike until instructed to do so; 2) Do not suddenly talk into my ear unless first squeezing my arm; 3) When approaching turns, stay neutral except to look over the driver's shoulder in the direction of the turn (right turn, right shoulder, etc).
5. Obstacle Fixation
Have you ever rounded a corner, seen a pot hole or stone you could have easily avoided and run right over it? That is obstacle fixation. You tend to steer your bike where you look. Focus on a pot hole or stone, and that is where your tires will go. Try looking where you want to go versus at the obstacle. Do not look at the pot hole, look at the path around the pot hole.
Practice maneuvers in a quiet car park. Practice very tight turns with your feet up, the real key to this maneuver is to look where you want the bike to go, with a bit of practice, you should be able to turn on any street whenever you feel like it with total confidence. There are many different road situations you can recreate in a car park. It is better to encounter areas you need to work on in a quite car park than a busy city street. Remember u-turns are a common on some of our rides!
Ride safe and have fun.... Cheers Safety Officer
Cornering and the Vanishing Point
Cornering can be the most challenging and enjoyable aspect of riding your Harley. If done correctly you will feel confident, in control and have a blast. If done badly you will have some of the scariest moments of your riding career. Poor cornering ability is responsible for most bike accidents that do not involve other vehicles. Enter a corner too fast, grab the brakes mid corner when you realise you can't make it and you're well on your way to an unplanned off road experience and possibly a ride in an ambulance. Worse still you may scratch you paint work!! The stats say around 50% of bike accidents occur whilst cornering.
Throughout the cornering manoeuvre you should constantly thinking about any changing situations that may require you to react. At each stage think about the potential hazards that can occur and how you might manage them. Constantly ask yourself "can I stop safely if I need to?" - Always expect an oncoming car with two wheels in your lane, just around the bend.
As you approach the corner think about the following points:
1. Position on the road - Move towards the position on the road that gives you the best line of sight through the corner and the longest view ahead. Generally this is the left side of the road when going around a right hander or the close to the middle of the road when going around a left hander.
2. Speed - Get your entry speed set before you enter the corner, remember slow in = fast out. Keep the power on around the bend, this will improve your stability and encourages the rear wheel to track outwards, which will increase the tightness of the turn. Use the vanishing point to check if the corner is tightening up or opening out.
3. Gear - Selecting the appropriate gear will have a huge impact on your control as you take the bend. If the bend tightens, you'll need to slow down. If you have selected a low gear you'll be able to engine brake to slow down. This will affect the stability of your bike much less than applying the brakes.
4. Accelerate - As you reach the end of the corner vanishing point moves away meaning the corner is opening up, providing it is safe, smoothly roll the power back on as you bring your bike upright continue to accelerate until you reach the desired speed, within the speed limit of course!
- Keep the power on slightly as you round the bend. Closing the throttle will encourage the bike to stand up and run wide.
- Where you look is where you go. Keep your head up and physically look where you want to go, this will help you put the bike where you want it to be.
- Avoid using the brakes when cornering. If you need to slow down use engine braking, if that is not enough only use the rear brake but with extreme caution. In 9 out of 10 situations applying the brakes will not improve things and is likely to make the steering heavier and encourage the bike to sit up and run wide.
- Keep your arms loose and your weight off the bars, as this will increase your control.
- Press down on the outside plate/peg, you'll find the steering becomes a lot lighter and the bike will be more responsive.
- Use Counter Steering to initiate the turn - explained in more detail in another article.
- Ensure your tyre pressures are correct and are checked regularly. Everything a moving motorcycle does relies on those two little hand-print-sized patches, where the rubber meets the road.
Vanishing Point - The Vanishing Point provides your earliest warning that the curve is changing radius. As you approach the bend find the point where the centre line and the left hand side of the road join, this is the 'Vanishing Point'. If the vanishing point is moving towards you, then the corner is tightening up and you need to roll off the throttle. If it is moving away from you, the bend is opening out and you can open the throttle and accelerate smoothly out. Since you 'go where you look' monitoring the Vanishing Point will help guide you through the corner.
You should be able to stop prior to the vanishing point in a corner. Otherwise you are overdriving your vision. Many people have no idea what speed they need to match a given vanishing point.
PRACTICE. Find a suitable corner on a deserted road and practice stopping within the Vanishing Point. You might be surprised. Stopping distances in a corner (which you've probably never practiced) are much different than stopping distances on the straights (which I know you have practiced heaps ...
Ride safe and have fun, Cheers Saftey Officer
Leather versus Textile Debate
A very common question among motoryclists is, "what kind of riding gear should I get?" It's a really good question but unfortunately, it's also hard to answer well, because everyone will have a different set of requirements for their gear.
If a motorcycle goes down at highway speed, or even moderate speed, the rider can slide for a considerable distance on the road surface before coming to a stop. This sliding and or tumbling causes damaging friction, much like exposing your skin to sandpaper or a grinding wheel (not a pleasant thought at all). Exposed skin can suffer devastating damage from exposure to the road surface, cotton shirts and jeans also offer very little protection before being torn away or shredded.
What happens when you're sliding along the road? If your gear isn't up to it, you will feel a great deal of pain in the places where it doesn't cover sufficiently. Think about how much actual control you'd have in a slide: Will those leather chaps really help? How will you keep your bum off the asphalt? If you have fingerless gloves, how will you move your hand when it's trapped under your chest as you slide? If you have any exposed skin, there's an excellent chance that you'll lose it in a crash. Remember a crash can happen at any time, and without your control. The gear you wear every time you ride will determine what happens in a crash.
This debate is all about tradeoffs. Choosing which material to use to cover your skin with and spend your hard earned dollars on depends on how much you value individual tradeoffs between the two materials, your intended use and riding conditions. Sounds easy enough, but deciding between textiles versus leathers is confusing and increasingly so because over the last couple of years the quality and versatility of both materials has improved so much.
Let's look at various attributes of the two materials:
Tests are conducted all the time to compare the abrasion resistance of motorcycle riding gear materials and leather always comes out on top as the most durable material. Also, leather does not melt from friction, it will cushion your fall more than motorcycle textiles would and it offers the best protection against a road rash. The fact that leather also lasts through multiple crashes whilst textiles will probably only last through one, says a lot about the difference in protection and impact between the two materials.
The textiles versus leathers debate basically comes down to protection versus everything else. Leather is not "better" than textile for street use however if you are into extreme riding, then it is unquestionable that leathers are what you need. For use in street riding, either leather or textile gear will work very well.
My personal preference when it comes to textiles versus leathers is that skin takes a lot longer to heal than discomfort - but then again I don't commute to work every day, I am no longer on a budget and have seen enough to put my safety first - always! Also, in my opinion leather looks better! Nobody ever climbs on their bike planning to be involved in an accident before reaching their destination or returning home, but accidents do happen - and if it happens to you, I guarantee you will be thankful you were wearing leather.
Ride safe and have fun.... Cheers Safety Officer
Can You Hear Me?
Extract from an article by Andy Norrie - Staff Sergeant- Toronto Police Service - over 25 years experience on police motorcycle duty.
When we get off our bikes and decide to hang up our helmets the sign language above is not how we want to be communicating!!!
HEARING LOSS - the facts:
Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is the number one occupational disability. It is painless, progresses over time, and it is permanent and irreversible. We are all exposed to sources of noise everyday in our lives; television, radio, household appliances and even traffic. Most of the noise we hear everyday are at a safe level, however, when we are exposed to loud sounds that last a long time sensitive structures in our inner ear can be damaged, causing NIHL. Noise is measured in decibels. On the decibel scale, an increase of 10 means that a sound is ten times more intense, or powerful. A humming refrigerator emits 45 decibels and normal conversation is around 60 decibels (unless you're talking to Doc of course!!). Extended or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause NIHL.
NIHL will sneak up on you over a long period of time with the severity increasing gradually. Over time, your hearing may become distorted or muffled or you may develop Tinnitus. Tinnitus is derived from a Latin word that means, 'ringing'. Tinnitus is not a disease, but a symptom resulting from a number of causes, the most common of which is NIHL. Being afflicted with Tinnitus is common, affecting up to ten percent of the population. It is usually described as a ringing noise, but in some people it takes the form of a high-pitched whine, buzzing, hissing, tingling, whistling, roaring or a steady tone. It can range from mild to severe and can interfere with sleep, quiet activities like reading and even normal daily activity. (Sound familiar guys??)
In general, the noise from motorcycle engines is not any louder than other automobiles (Yeah right!! - but in the case of our HD's they are MUCH louder, but
All of the studies undertaken on this subject (and there have been several) show that the wind noise around a helmet of a rider travelling at 60 km/h creates 90 decibels of noise and goes up when plotted against increasing speed. Remember, 85 decibels is the damage threshold for NIHL! So every day that we ride our motors without defending against wind noise we are damaging our hearing.
Fighting back. NIHL is preventable! Different helmet and fairing designs, handlebar positioning and modified riding posture/positions have all been tested to see if they can reduce wind noise, unfortunately none have any substantial effect. The most successful method of reducing wind noise is also the cheapest. A simple pair of earplugs can prevent wind noise from reaching damaging levels.
I can hear you saying "but I don't want to yell like the Safety Officer."
The solution to this problem is filtered earplugs. They allow you to hear outside sounds but still maintain a safe level of protection. There are several different options of this solution available. Acoustic Filtered Earplugs can filter out noise above 80 decibels but allow safe sounds like normal conversation to pass virtually unattenuated (..I must get some of these...). These are used in industrial settings and for shotgun sports. Sonic Valve Earplugs are designed to allow low level sounds to pass through but offer protection against high level, high impulse noise. These are generally used in aviation and sound engineer environments. Also available are Musician Filtered Earplugs that filter out high levels of sound.
I hope you found this small article interesting, I did so I thought I'd share it. A special thanks to Andy for allowing me to use an extract from his article.
As you read what he says think about the time you will be sitting on your porch remembering those good old days cruising, wouldn't it be great to still be able to hear the distant rumble of a HOG and let out a howl??
Ride safe and have fun.... Cheers Safety Officer