9. Be sure your bike is ready to go

Motorcycle Petcock

I was taking a DR-Z400 back to Suzuki the other day, bombing along in the carpool lane, when she started to sputter. In the carburetor days, kids, that meant time to reach down with your left hand and switch the “petcock” to “reserve” – where there’s supposed to be another gallon or so. Whoopsie! She was already on reserve. Luckily traffic wasn’t too heavy. I put on my blinker and using my mirror(!) and eyeballs and left arm to signal, made it across about three lanes of traffic, losing groundspeed the whole time. Unluckily for me, the shoulder was closed, nothing but right lane and concrete barrier right next to it. An 18-wheeler was getting bigger and bigger in my mirrors. Maybe he was going to stop, as I coasted down below 30 mph… just when it was feeling serious, the concrete barrier ended and I was able to coast onto the shoulder at last.

I’d like to blame the last guy that rode the DR-Z. But this one was on me for not checking. You need gas, air in your tires, and everything functioning as it should before you head into traffic. Better to think of your bike as an airplane if you ride in heavy traffic. And especially if you ride after dark. One of the things that sticks in my mind from the famous Hurt report is that the worst thing you can do is have a problem on the freeway at night. The first couple of cars following you will avoid you. Good luck with the cars follwing them. When you get your vintage CB all restored and on the road, do not neglect your vintage taillight.