3. Doing Lines


Remember that Shiny Stuff from earlier? Yeah, well it goes double for painted lines and tar snakes (black asphalt used to fill cracks in the road). Life as a motorcyclist would be grand if we only rode on FIM-approved race tracks and FIA paint lines. Those substances are super-grippy, even when wet. However, we ride in the real world and chances are that any line you encounter on your ride will offer significantly less grip that the pavement next to it. If that painted line or tar snake happens to be wet (or very hot in the case of a tar snake) then it is guaranteed to offer almost zero traction. This means about the same as antifreeze or motor oil … DON’T TRUST IT! Try to cross the lines at an angle, as close to straight-up as you can, and by all means, relax those brakes right before you cross.

  • fastfreddie

    I associated morning wood with something entirely different…

    • Mike B

      yeah…that was the joke.

    • Kevin

      Riding with high “T” levels in place has gotten as many riders in trouble as anything here.

  • Ben Flaxman

    good valid 10 points that really do come up in nearly every ride!

  • unixfool

    #8 would freak me the hell out…whether in a car or on a bike!

    • That’s an actual photo from a recent MO multi-bike test. Clear roads all-around, no snow on the ground, everything seems copacetic. It’s gotten cold and we’re just trying to get to the freeway and beeline it home. SURPRISE! Then we enter this corner and half way through as we reach the “shady” side of the hill… sphincters tighten.

  • John A. Stockman

    Great points. I’m sure we all could add in and make it a top-20, from personal experiences. Shady side of the corner is one I’ve had before, more than once. It wasn’t from frost/ice, it was the dark spots that are under trees that overhand the road. Hmm, no sun, then it isn’t shade. It’s the tree sap that has accumulated under those overhanging branches/limbs! Sure, you’d think “yeah, it’s sticky sap…”, but put it between your tires and asphalt and you have an excellent recipe for a low/no traction situation. Pay attention to those dark spots under overhanging trees, especially in a corner. You’ll think it’ll be sticky, until you low-side or worse. My grandfather (on his Indian w/Vard forks in my avatar pic) used to tell me “24 hours between the bottle and throttle”. I see way too many Harleys down at the local small-town tavern, since it’s the only one around for 40-50 miles, swilling down a beer or two before getting back on their bikes to go another 40 miles to the next tavern stop. I’ve ridden with these folks (not for very long after that), and while nice people, they tell me when I say “WTF are you doing?”, “I ride better after a couple beers.” Right. Maybe just a local thing. I’d add in #11: loud pipes save lives. When, oh when are riders going to realize basic physics and how sound waves are propagated? Still not enough when I see the on the right side of my FB page “click ‘like’ if you think loud pipes save lives”. Who still believes this?

    • Mor Deth

      Loud pipes DO save lives. Don’t believe it? Try riding an electric motorcycle with no additional sound add-ons around the city for a few weeks without someone stepping in front of you. Try it…I dare yah.

      • John A. Stockman

        Tape your horn button down then if you still think loud sounds will keep you safe. Try it…I dare yah. The only thing that will keep you “safe” is improving your riding skills and awareness, not your loud exhausts. Anecdotal evidence once again, not supported by any facts or studies. Talk to people that have been in the industry for years, like moto-journalists, training course instructors and professional racers that run and operate training/track-day courses and they’ll tell you the same thing. And I have ridden electric bikes and pedal bicycles, and people still don’t pay attention either way. I’ve rode with many guys that have loud pipes and people would still pull out in front of them or try to merge into the space they’re in.

        • Kassie Dreaneai

          Any moron who does not believe in the benefit of a moderately loud motorcycle exhaust (as opposed to no mufflers, too stupidly loud) greatly reducing road incidence by careless car drivers who fail to “see” you is either not a motorcycle rider or lives in fairyland where everyone is perfect. Rave all you want about improving the skills of the rider. I am 60 & never had an accident in my life in while driving a car or riding a motorcycle.
          But the amount of times people failed to notice me either travelling beside them or overtaking them and just blindly drive into my lane causing me to have to evade them was incredibly reduced on every motorcycle to which I added a more noisy exhaust. Being seen is great. But tell me the excuse for not seeing a person riding a bike such as a Goldwing or Nomad and similar. They are as big almost as a small car. (900mm wide & 2500 mm long more or less) When they were near silent (which I loved) I was dodging an average 3 errant drivers per week on my daily commute to work.
          I will not go into my riding habits. I did not lane split, bike too wide, & never raced up behind or passed vehicles. with excessive speed compared to traffic movement. But people of all ages will not “see” you & letting them “hear” you is just giving them one more of their senses to use to help them not create another incident for you (me) the rider to avoid. I have an exhaust sound I can keep decently not too loud for suburban & night use but touch the accelerator just a touch more like when overtaking is enough to intrude into most cars so they know I am there.
          Drivers have only sight and sound to detect another vehicle/motorcycle with. Touch is fine for a 4WD or a work ute with a bulbar but my motorcycles have never had a bulbar to let people know they have come too close to me so I let them hear me. And in the country with roos & wallabies, and even a few errant cattle to worry about, getting their attention while you are still at a distance is way better than startling them when you are more or less on top of them. It gives you and them time to sort out a direction to evade if necessary. & I have ridden with Large motorcycle clubs & talked with them over the years & no one disagrees that being heard saves you time and time again.
          Oh & Doc584 in the post below this one; Cars should remain quiet. They have more protection around the driver and a side bump will not be as devastating to them as it is to a cycle. The “rider” is much more vulnerable and & does not have airbags & a seatbelt, and if the car skids in his panic to avoid he will not fall over, and his “skid” noise will alert to his presence whereas even if the rear wheel of a bike skids it will not be heard. Nothing gets the attention of drivers like skidding tyres. Suddenly everyone is looking.
          See noise helps get peoples attention. Be heard if you want to stay safer riding; Just don’t be over the top about how loud you are. Keep it reasonable and be able to & willing to keep it subdued in residential areas & most intelligent people will not be unhappy with bikes making a little noise. And for those who do not agree with all of this, I don’t care. You either do not ride a motorbike, live in fairyland, have never shared the road with a car, or only ride a bike in computer games.

      • Doc584

        How come cars don’t have loud pipes? Is better to be seen or herd, I rather be seen

  • jng1226

    All excellent points, and well written. As an early MO-adopter, it’s so good to have Sean back.

    • Thank you very much jng! I’m not going to be contributing much editorially, but will pop-in every now and then to lend a hand. MO’s current staff isn’t going anywhere, but the attitude and irreverence ought to be ratcheting-up a notch or three as they become infected with some of “old” MO’s attitude.

  • Batch

    This is the worse article related to riding a motorcycle I’ve ever read. If any of these points come as a surprise to you then you really shouldn’t be riding a bike on the road, or any other form of transport for that matter.

    • Because everyone already knows all of this stuff, even brand-new riders? I’m not sure how you or I already knowing these things equates to it being useless for all other riders. Am I missing something?

      • Don Stanley

        I started riding again about 2 years ago. Now have a big heavy Kawasaki voyager 1200 Biggest bike I have ever ridden. Way to heavy to use as a cornering rocket. Whew. tried to do the catchup thing and decided quickly to just let em go I would get there eventually and not via ambulance. So all these points are welcome to me. As had realized some of them already But that High T level was saying “hey man you can do that” ahhh well no I can’t so yes it is and was a good bit of input for me Thanks


  • David

    I am guilty of #7. Sloppy Seconds, On a group ride through the canyons,
    pushing my skill set on unfamiliar roads and corners, trying to keep up,
    blind corner, late on the brakes, hair pin turn, not enough road…
    BAM! I crossed the double yellow, low sided into a chain link fence on the
    opposite side of the road. Luckily, there wasn’t oncoming traffic or a
    cliff. Unfortunately, a rider behind me me had laid down his bike too,
    trying to avoid me. My bike was relatively undamaged, mostly cosmetic with exception of the rear brake that was bent backwards but who uses that anyways. I continued riding.and only got a half mile down the road before coming across one of the 5 lead riders that high sided on a 90 degree turn. I fared much better than he did. His bike was totaled, he appeared to be unharmed but definitely dazed. Lesson learned that day, ride within your skill set and don’t push them on roads you don’t know.

    • George Erhard

      Been there as well. Was running with a group of riders over a couple of the Sierra passes one weekend afternoon. We got caught in a rainstorm outside of Walker CA, so the trip back was considerably more sedate (me especially, I’d pulled the FZ-700 off the road into some DEEP pebble gravel and laid it down trying to get it back on the pavement). The lead rider was going like a bat out of hell until he found a spot where the recent rain had washed sand across the road… in a turn. His TL1000 didn’t get too banged up, fairing and lever damage, but he got his bell rung when he slid headfirst into a power pole.

      He got to ride pillion the rest of the way, while our sole pillion rider got her own saddle time… shepherding a big sport-tour bike she’d never ridden before, with half a clutch lever. Not fun.

  • madasl

    Transission lenses especially the ones that turn blue. I found this out one bright sunny morning when I came into a shaded corner a little heavy on the go juice very good exercise for the pucker muscle.