8. Know how to make your bike ready to go

Motorcycle Cable Maintenance

Your throttle should snap back to the stop when you let go of it, and the engine it’s connected to should respond to it and run reliably 99.999-percent of the time. Your brake lever should be firm. Your clutch should work smooth and easy and your shifter should go click-click-click like a well-oiled machine. Your suspension should suspend, not just bounce. Go into a dealership and work the controls on a new bike. That’s how yours should feel no matter how old your bike is.

Befriend somebody with tools if you don’t have any (these things can all be done with very few simple ones), and learn the basics. Lube your cables and controls. You can even buy new ones! In the age of YouTube, there is no excuse not to know how to do this stuff. Riding a motorcycle well is largely all about fine hand movements – and you can’t execute them if your throttle cable’s all dry and stictiony or if your brake lever’s half frozen and hasn’t been lubed since 1988.

  • fastfreddie
  • octodad

    10-4 good buddy. make sure that helmet is full face w/ visor…

    • Bo Guss

      Doesn’t need to be full face. Just make sure you have one, and wear protective eyewear. Ones with polycarbonate lens. I used to ride with a full face for years. Then about 12 years ago, my friend convinced me to try a shorty. The wind in the face got me hooked. But I do wear my Bobsters all the time. I wear a full face in early motorcycle season or late, when it’s too cold to wear an open face helmet.

  • Wererat

    #3, Gloves: Even if you are a martial artist and practice ukemi frequently, guess what hits the ground … your hands (good falling just means you hit on all the parts your glove has its best protection, instead of slamming your palms straight into pavement and snapping your wrist).
    Oh, and like visors on helmets, that bit of glove helps when pinged by thrown road gravel, rocks, or bugs.

    • I agree, My the sister the RN, who thinks I am a nut for riding a MC, says that broken hands, strained and twisted and broken wrists are one of the most common injuries for the rider when the bike goes down. Also that it takes a REALLY LONG time for the palm of the hand to heal from road rash. SO wear the gloves

  • Chris_in_Kalifornia

    Heh that last one is funny. People have different constitutions and drugs effect them differently. I get so stupidly drunk on half a glass of rum & coke that it’s hard for me to hit the floor, but taking a 10mg hydrocodone (an opiate painkiller) cuts my reaction times by about 1/3. I’ve had this confirmed by tests. So, KNOW what they do to you. There’s no way I’d consider having ANY alcohol and then riding, taking a single 10mg dose of painkiller darned right. I’ve been riding for about 48 years and the last time I crashed without gloves was in 1972. I commuted thru LA traffic on the 405 for over 10 years and the only accident (?) was an idiot who started across the double yellow from the carpool lane while I was lane splitting and I took off his mirror on the right side of his car. I stopped on the inner shoulder (legally my fault) looked back and he was gone. I went on to work not even bruised. Good coat. My worst injury ever happened at a 4 way stop where I had no option to go if something happened. cars were crossing ahead of my and I HAD to stop. The guy behind me in a pickup hit me, bumper to tire and it snapped the bike forward along with my shoulders and my head snapped back and I have 3 damaged discs in my neck. Probably exacerbated by the weight of the helmet and you know what? I bought a brand new, bright yellow full face helmet to wear when my bike was fixed. Never ride without one. My old one? Cracked where it bounced off the pavement but no concussion.

  • 80sDweeb

    I like to watch motorcycle crash compilation videos on YouTube sometimes, like before I start riding again after a long winter. You see a lot of crazy riders who are asking for trouble, like wheelie-riding stunters, who seem to be asking for it. Most crashes worldwide seem to be caused by motorcyclists who don’t think lane rules apply to them at all. However, you also see responsible riders who get taken out by red light runners, or left turners, sudden lane changers, or debris or oil on the roadway. Reminds you to keep on your toes, watch drivers’ heads for signs they’re planning to turn, slow down for intersections even when you have the green, your safety is in your hands alone.

  • Carey Mogdan

    I really question the wisdom of flashing your high beams at oncoming traffic. I was taught that in motorcycle school eons ago, and had an experience where I did just that and was nearly killed by the oncoming car. Upon chasing him down to explain to him the error of his ways – he communicated that he thought the “flash” meant it was okay for him to go. I have subsequently queried a number of non motorcycle riding people and have had this confirmed that they would understand the flash to mean “go for it” so I would really thing about that.

    2013 BMW S1000RR & 2010 Triumph Street Triple

    • fastfreddie

      Heard this differs in different countries.Here in norway when I flash someone either trying to cross the lane or enter it,it means go ahead.

      • john burns

        good to know, thanks. I had no idea.

  • Best advice given to me “Ride as if 98% of people can’t see you, and the other 2% are trying to kill you”. The last number increases rapidly if you ride like an a**hole!

  • Mark

    (I try to minimize this by going slightly faster than the general flow) – So you’re another D-bag on a donor bike that the speed limit doesn’t apply to you, because you have a fast bike, and you “know how to ride it”? There are speed limits, which are LAWS. I am so sick of watching you D-bags flying down the road faster than everyone because you’re an organ donor and think you look cool.

    • john burns

      wow, who rocked your Tercel, Mark?

    • kevin

      If you ride exactly the same speed as traffic, you start to blend in and frequently cars forget you are there. If you ride slower than traffic, you risk getting hit on a blind side or pissing off the car drivers. Riding slightly faster than the traffic flow tends to produces less lane incursions.

  • bdemaree1 .

    Nine Toe’s Safety Riding Rules

    1) If you’re in a hurry, take the car.

    2) Never ride next to a vehicle, either be passing or behind. Always leave room for them to make sudden movements.

    3) If you can’t see them, they can’t see you. Approaching an intersection? Can you see the left turn lane? Are you hidden from view behind the side of some vehicle, or from the person pulling out making a right turn? Is someone pulling out of a Burger King driveway or bank drive-thru?

    4) Don’t ride faster than you can see to stop. When cresting a hill, is there some kind of an obstruction in the road, does it curve? When rounding a corner, does sand/gravel all of the sudden appear? If the vehicle in front of you quickly changes lanes, can you stop before hitting what he was avoiding, or was he speeding so he could lane change before having to slow behind the vehicle in front?

    5) Sand and gravel are not your friends, whether moving or stopped.

    6) If your lane is traveling faster, or has a shorter line than the one next to you, somebody will pull out in front of you.

    7) Inattention to the road will kill you. The biker you didn’t wave to will get over it. You won’t have to worry about your GPS once you have crashed.

    8) Never ride faster than what you are comfortable with, even when riding with others. Predetermine the next stopping place and get there at your leisure.

    9) Pressure on the handlebars for turning these heavy bikes really works. They are much more responsive with this technique.

    10) Contrary to what you may have been told, they are out to get you.

    • philbowie.blogspot.com

      We bikers complain that vehicle drivers don’t see us, then get on our black bikes wearing black chaps, black jackets, and black helmets. At twilight, we’re nearly invisible, especially from the side. Just wearing a white jacket and a white helmet (which are much cooler on warm days, anyway, because white doesn’t absorb heat like black does) increases our visibility tremendously at all times.
      Other helps are back-off tail lights and additional forward lighting. Many bikes are woefully under-lighted from the factory.

      • Phil Marleau

        Hi-vis is a good option. High beams during the daylight also helps.
        Loud pipes can be good if there are pointed forward and don’t deafen the rider so he can hear sirens and somebody saying ” the bridge is out”.

    • Butch Lester

      You might also keep in mind that a large percentage of bikes hit by cars, the cage came from the bikes left side. Drivers changing lanes from left to right have a large blind spot and many don’t see bikes under the best conditions let alone in their mirror.

  • Bo Guss

    One of my rule of thumbs, is to keep a safe distance away from the vehicle your riding behind. The more distance, the more time you have to react to anything going on. This also comes in very handy when stopped at the lights behind a vehicle. I always leave at least another bike length between me and the vehicle in front of me. Gives space just in case you have to split lanes, because some jackass is speeding behind you, and does not see you till the last minute. I have avoided getting rear ended a couple of times doing this.

    Also, as #9 states, keep pride in check. There is no point in playing chicken with a 2 tonne car. You will always lose. If the douche bag is trying to squeeze in, let him/her. You can always pass him further up ahead. The way I see it, one of my biggest enjoyments and pleasures in life, is riding. Why would I want to ruin my ride, by succumbing to road rage. I’m at a disadvantage on my bike. However, it’s not to say I would let some arse hole get away of blatantly putting my life in jeopardy. 😉

    Wear the proper gear. On top of helmets, and gloves. DON’T wear shorts, tank tops, and flip flops. I have known enough people who do this, and many aren’t riding anymore. Either because they spilled and lost their nerve, literally scarred for life, or dead. Let’s face it, when we were younger, we got bikes to look cool. As we got older, it’s all about the ride. If people think you look cool, cool. If they don’t, who cares. They have no idea what it’s like to ride.

  • wacobob56

    “Burn bright in daylight”. I still remember this slogan to ride with my high beams on during the day, turn them off at night.

    • Not really so true anymore, MC headlamps are a lot brighter than were just a decade or so ago. High beams during the day are not needed so much.

  • Butch Lester

    I have to say any substance that slows or alters your reflexes needs to wait until your off the road! That said I want to bring up 18 wheelers. I was hit by a peeling tire from one, fortunately it was while I was in a big motor home. However, since then as I approach one from the rear on my bike, I jam the throttle and go by as fast as possible. Just think of that huge tire peel smacking into you on your scooter. Remember everything out there is out to nail your butt.

  • Eccles

    I have left

  • Guest

    Never Ride Faster than your Guardian Angel can Fly!!!