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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited by Moderator)
After hearing about others misfortunes, loosing friends and going down I have found myself compelled to catalogue my street riding experience over the last ten years and give what knowledge I have to others in the hope that it helps someone, somewhere somehow.

This is by no means a replacement for formal motorcycle riding safety instruction. This is the culmination of a decades worth of experience from riding in one of the worlds most dangerous city for motorcyclists.

I would like to break down different facets of what it takes to survive urban riding – and be sure that this is truly a survival guide and it starts with taking riding seriously.

The Mental: Making sure you have a clear mind is essential. Too often have I rode with a heavy conscience, anger and grievances that I carried from before the ride began. A breakup, a long night at work that leads you to worry about what may or may not be, a home improvement project or any other form of mental distraction can prove deadly – so take a minute to relax, focus and recognize you are about to put your life in danger and think about only what you must – getting to where you need to go safely. There is a debate as to whether riding while listening to music can be done safely. I have ridden with and without and I can not recommend riding with music in good conscience – its too big of a liability and IMHO it is unnecessary and should be avoided for safety’s sake.

I must say that in writing this I feel like somewhat of a hypocrite because I haven’t always followed these guidelines, but I have also paid dearly for not and have begun to incorporate these principles in many of the ‘dangerous’ activities I enjoy regularly.

For me, taking this extra step of de-stressing is rather enjoyable. Part of the greatness of motorcycle riding is a sense of detachment – revel in it. Let your brain have a ‘break’ from what is bothering you – it will save you from injury and in my experiences will allow you to deal better with whatever the issue is once you are off the bike.

Weather conditions also need to be considered. Sometimes its easier, more comfortable and more enjoyable to park your bike than push through weather unnecessarily. I’ve stumbled into bars, played pool, watched movies and visited many a book store while waiting for weather to pass. More often than not ive met an interesting person, found a new beer, book or story because in the middle of a storm anyone who sees you with your helmet will either crack a joke or dish out a warm dose of empathy. Depending on what she looks like it might not be a bad thing.

Also – as most of you may know – riding after a light rain is by far the most dangerous of wet weather conditions. With just the right amount of water to isolate oil and other solvents but not enough to wash them away roads become extremely slippery. Areas of heavy congestion (read: city) are extremely susceptible to these conditions because of the fact that a leaky car will leak more in a given spot while stuck in traffic. Avoid adverse conditions when possible.


I ALWAYS let me bike warm up, this process allows the bike to reach a maintained engine temperature and consistent lubrication within engine internals. As the bike warms up – focus the journey ahead of you and let everything else go for the moment.

An inspection of the bike is crucial before riding. Inspect your sprockets, brake lines, fuel switch, gas level, clutch feel, brake feel and throttle response. Look for any leaks, tire abrasions and any signs of irregularity. Knock, pings, rattles and whining are bad signs. Try and locate the issue and repair the bike before heading out.

Equipment: All to often we junkies spend to much time worrying about the bike and the ‘mods’ it has / are worth having. Heres the real truth – factory bikes will outperform the great majority of us riders (especially on the street). That isn’t to say modifications are pointless or unnecessary but lets keep it in perspective here.

What angers (maybe angers isn’t the right word) me is when a rider will spend $800 on an exhaust before putting that amount of money into proper riding gear. Im not going to recommend one piece of gear over another or try to claim ‘one must have this or must have that’ because honestly its your body and your life but like I said – keep it real and honest – don’t be a squid!

Another concern is the guy who has the jacket, has the helmet and gloves but wears jeans and sneakers . I know there’s a whole lot of controversy when talking about riding in jeans – I have done it all too often to critique but you owe it to yourself to really know the truth about what jeans will and wont do for you in the event of a lay down. Trust me when I tell you from personal experience that they do less than more and picking pieces of asphalt out of your ass cheeks is far worse than being ogled by a fellow rider for wearing leathers or even sitting in a pile of your own sweat.

As far as the sneakers go – there is no controversy. Go down with sneakers and your feet will look like they went through a meat grinder. The bones in your feet are very soft and sensitive to fracture. You can be the biggest dude on the block, squat 900lbs, bench 650 and it wouldn’t make a difference. The weakest link will break and all those little piggies that went to the bank, the farm and the market will be left for the street cleaner to eat. At the very least ride with boots that offer ankle support and relative protection.

There is a plethora of information on helmets out there – I will save you from my diatribe but in many cases when helmet shopping you get what you pay for. You pay for name and paint scheme but you also pay for weight considerations, R&D, quality materials and above all a package that works as it should. Take your time in buying the right lid and if you plan on buying that top of the line bucket for yourself plan on getting one for your significant other. Nothing is more repulsing than seeing a rider with a top shelf helmet only to see his girlfriend holding on for dear life wearing a kraut “helmet” that will do noting more than cup your passengers’ brain matter and spinal fluid before it gets transported to a hospitals receptacle.

My bottom line is to advise against cheaping out on the stuff that really counts; i.e your riding gear It looks better, feels better and will work better - get what works for you.

Making sure you are comfortable on the bike is important. The gear you buy will make the experience enjoyable or will become a nuisance. Riding gear should be tight, but not uncomfortable.

The Act: Once on the bike there are a few things I like do – first is turn my highbeam on day or night. Yes I said highbeam. Most of up supermoto bikes have very poor lighting capability and I like to throw as much light as possible, you will not blind anyone. I want everyone and they mother to see me coming.

I maintain an aggressive riding position forward of the seat with my crotch up near the gas tank. Elbows bent in the ready position. I find that the bike is balanced and centered best when in this position and stopping & starting is much more controlled.

One of the most important aspects of riding, especially important in an urban setting, is vision. Often you will hear people saying “you will go where you look” so if you look down youll go down. I generally look quite a bit ahead depending on the speed im traveling. I will say that off the highway I tend to look 40-50-90ft w/ 210 degrees of spectrum. You can still see potholes at that distance and avoid manhole covers etc but it also allows you to see what others are doing around you. Never trust your mirrors, turn your head and look before you switch lanes.

Maintain a defensive position over your lane, I don’t mind honking – it means stay the uckf away from me. I also try to stay away from the dead center of the lane – again because that’s where most of the oil and like seem to be concentrated. Lane splitting is its own subject. I don’t do it anymore because the risk reward is out of balance for me. Ill take the extra five minutes it takes me to get home.

I have found motorists that respect motorcyclists and others that don’t. Some people just don’t understand what happens when a rider goes down – others are so afraid of it that they stay well clear. I prefer the latter. If and when you come across the former do not flick him/her off, smash his mirror, kick his door, throw a chain at his window, dent his roof with a padlock or anything else that will either land you in prison or a hospital bed. Let him go. Think about your girlfriend / boyfriend, wife, kids etc and think about being the bigger man. Again, from personal experience its just never ever worth it (X2 when you have a passenger).

Im not going to tell you to look for every speed sign, obey every traffic law and submit your taxes on time. What you do is for you and yours but know that every action has a reaction and you should be prepared for the repercussions in one or more of the many ways they surface.

I hope everyone who reads this takes something from it and that it helps all of us from loosing any more riders to the street.

Please feel free to comment and share what you think.

Take care,

Lafayette
 

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Very well written Lafayette:clap:

I would add to the new(er,ish) riders to the group, to leave your ego at home. There is no trophy, no ribbon, no cash prize. Do not "compete" on the street. Amongst the people that I ride with I guess I'm considered one of the more "seasoned" riders, and more often than not, I lead. I set a pace that I feel is fair and appropriate as to the company at hand.

A group leader should wait at intersections, stops, transitions, whatever, to make sure that all of the group made it (if you're riding with a leader who doesn't, find a new leader).

If the ride is above your skillset, say so. There is no shame in being slower, less experienced, or more cautious, but I do believe there is shame in riding outside of your abilities, only for the purpose of personal ego boosting, which is more than likely going to end up with a wreck.

A few times I've had the displeasure of making "that" call. It's not fun.:headshake

I was mistaken, there is an award, a trophy if you will......surviving and getting home to ride another day.:thumbup:
 

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Well done Lafayette, thanks for taking the time to write that up. :clap:

And, I'll add a couple to the list.

With spring time rapidly approaching, and a vast number of us here have been stuck inside all winter long just waiting for the weather to break. When it finally does, resist that temptation to get an entire winters worth of pent up riding aggression out due to the left over salt / chat / sand residue that will still be present for many until enough rain / wind / traffic cleans the roads off thoroughly. Nothing's worse than waiting out winter, only to miss the entire riding season because you pushed too hard, and went down due to one of the above in a blind corner.

For roads you like to make multiple passes on in a day (aka Deals Gap), make an inspection run at a slower pace first before going at your normal pace, and look for debris, gravel, crap that blew out of a tuck (mulch, building materials, etc; yes it has happened). Not only does it give you time to verify that your favorite stretch of road is clean and ready, it gives your tires plenty of time to get up to operating temps.
 

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Well done. May I add that there is always going to be someone faster and more skilled no matter who you are. Don't push yourself to keep up. Especially on the street. Take it to the track where you will be much safer and can learn a lot more there.
 

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Well said!:thumbup: It's always cool to read threads like this.

HPI, good point about all that salt/grit stuff. The roads are still a bit bad around here.

I'd also like to add that If you get the odd warm day in the middle of winter, like we did here a few weeks ago(in the sixties), even if you feel warm enough the road surface might not be, especially in the shade, and your tyres will take longer to get up to temp(if at all).
 

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You put a lot of thought and time into that post Lafayette and it was valuable.

I'm thinking there was a percentage of personal theraputic value goin on.

Good job.
 

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I TOTALLY AGREE 100% + NEVER take forgranted that the oncoming vehicle will stay in there lane or not turn in front trying to beat you into a parking lot/road or store etc...teenagers/old people = UNpredictable period.
 

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Thanks for the post Lafayette. As a daily driver, I don't mind rain.
I might add a few;
When stopped at a light or stop sign watch your 6. Have the bike in gear clutch in, plan a way out if the vehicle behind you is not stopping.
If I ride my SMR at night I hang a LED red cyclist's light on my back pack, jacket tail or collar.
When going through an intersection scan left and right for vehicles which may run a light or stop sign.

God Bless
 

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I went down hard on February 12 wearing full gear. HJC helmet, Joe Rocket armored textile jacket, Fieldsheer textile commuter overpants with armor, heavy duty boots, good gloves. Still ended up in the ER with a broken femur and tibia plus that other bone in the shin. Boots kept the ankle damage to just a bad sprain. The ER staff couldnt believe I was in as good condition as I was. I was aware of where I was, I was talking coherently, could hold a conversation, and wasnt in shock. The gear I had on literally saved me from who knows how much more injurys. After surgery that fixed my leg, the doc came by a day later and asked if I always wear the gear I have on. I said of course, I like my skin and its saved me in the past from trips here. He then said "Thank you, even though it was difficult to cut off it totally saved you from further injury. Also we have never had a moto victim come in as geared up as you were and we were surprised on how few injuries you had." So lesson learned: ALWAYS GEAR UP, you may still end up broken but it could be way worse! I plan on having a separate thread about my incident but am still waiting on a few things before I do.

Everything said so far in this thread is absolutely correct. I hope people read this and take something away from it. You never know, it could save your life one day. When I was researching bikes I kept reading about how gear saves you from injury which is why I spent money on that before any mods on my bike. I am now glad I did that instead of installing a carb/exhaust on my dizzer. The hundreds in gear saved me thousands in medical :thumbup:
 

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I always buy the helmet that has the painted naked woman on it. That way I can stare at my helmet in the mirror when I'm on the interstate. :infrandom

But I would add seriously,
..we've all heard the phrase(or similar) "to consider that every vehicle is aiming to hit you." That way you're prepared to take evasive action if needed.

IMO....Don't do that! Every vehicle is not aiming to hit you, and most folks actually do see you. If you constantly ride super-defensive you'll become a paranoid schizo that see's the worst in everyone even when it's not there. You'll tense up, grit teeth, your focus will narrow and reduce your peripheal awareness. Now of course don't be complacent. But I like to practice "respect the potential of everything". Far more relaxing approach, and keeps you encompassed in the big picture.

And another thing; Don't be a bad-ass. :rolleyes: Wave to people, be nice. We especially, are funny lookin guys in funny lookin gear riding funny lookin bikes. People are going to look at you. When they do, give em a nod or a wave. They always smile and wave back, and you've converted another cage driver into motorcycle friendly. And huge bonus points when there's kids in the car all plastered against the window checking out your cool bike.
You will never be a "bad-ass" riding a Supermoto bike. Never. Let the biker crowd have that...along with the increased attention from the cops and insurance companies.
Being cool to car drivers just going about their daily business is of huge benefit to you, don't under-estimate it.
 

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^^Well put Chase. We always do the wave / nod around here, partly I guess just from being raised in the south, everybody waves at everybody here anyway. :D But, you'd be surprised at how accommodating the local cagers are with us, waving us by on our favorite roads and such, and I like to think this plays a big part in it.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
You put a lot of thought and time into that post Lafayette and it was valuable.

I'm thinking there was a percentage of personal theraputic value goin on.

Good job.
Thanks JS - and yes very therapeutic. Im tired of hearing about guys dying.
 

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Yes Very good write up, I find myself guilty of quite a few no-no's on that list, but i'm working on it... leathers are just so expensive these days, and whenever i just go for a ride, no destination in mind, just looking for a fun/new road i do usually pop in my head phones and rock out while i ride, but it's never too loud to the point where i can't hear my engine/other cars and whats going on around me, i find it more relaxing than distracting if anything, sorta helps me get to that mind cleared, only focused on the road kinda thing, all too often i'll find myself sitting at a red light just bobbing my head to the tunes surrounded by cagers who i assume think i'm insane and have imaginary music playing in my head :rolleyes:
 

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Yes Very good write up, I find myself guilty of quite a few no-no's on that list, but i'm working on it... leathers are just so expensive these days, and whenever i just go for a ride, no destination in mind, just looking for a fun/new road i do usually pop in my head phones and rock out while i ride, but it's never too loud to the point where i can't hear my engine/other cars and whats going on around me, i find it more relaxing than distracting if anything, sorta helps me get to that mind cleared, only focused on the road kinda thing, all too often i'll find myself sitting at a red light just bobbing my head to the tunes surrounded by cagers who i assume think i'm insane and have imaginary music playing in my head :rolleyes:
+1
 

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lafayette, that was a really good post. There's a few up re the recent bad news that has been here recently. It really sucks to hear anyone getting knocked off or worse. ALWAYS where poss get some decent gear on. Ride strong. Don't ever hug the gutter. Watch for the blind idiots. A lot of drivers are in cars by some f**king fluke of the road test. Don't assume anything. You've only got this one life to live and enjoy.
 

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In the last few weeks I have seen two really scary things.

One was a guy in a fullsize truck crossing the double yellow, and passing the car in front of me over the crest of a blind hill while rounding a blind right hand turn. The car in front of me was at least doing the speed limit of 40 on the very twisty rural two lane.

The second was another guy in a fullsize truck crossing the double yellow passing an 18 wheeler in front of me around a blind left hand turn. The 18 wheeler was at least doing the speed limit of 55 on the rural state highway.

In both cases if anyone was coming the other way there would have been a major accident, at best.

As a bike rider it makes me shudder to see stuff like this.

Something to think about when contemplating rounding a blind corner or hill crest balls out on a public road.
 
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