Winter Riding

Doug Westly | Safety EditorIMPORTANT NOTICE: Ultimately, the safety of motorcycle riders and their passengers is their own responsibility. Nothing presented in the column supersedes, negates or relieves a motorcyclist and/or passenger from assumption of personal responsibility for their actions and safety.

Doug Westly | Safety Editor

“Wait a minute,” you’re thinking! How is it that a guy in Florida is going to talk to the rest of us about winter riding? Well, I do have some bona fides:

I lived in Montana for 2 ½ years, riding there all year, at least when the roads allowed. I commuted on my bike for 5 years, year round, in Washington, DC. If there wasn’t ice on the roads, I rode to and from work, 50+ miles each way, every day. I lived in Alaska for two years and managed at least 6 months of riding up there on my 1980 CB750F. Oh, and in the middle of Dec 2013 I was up at Big Bear Lake, CA, above 7,000 feet, riding past the open ski resorts. We did have to be careful in the hairpin turns, as the ones in the shadows still had ice on them! So I do know a little bit about riding when it is cold. I’ve been on two wheels at 5 degrees F (that’s before the wind chill is factored in…). Anyway, bona fides established. Let’s talk cold weather riding!

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ABS

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Ultimately, the safety of motorcycle riders and their passengers is their own responsibility. Nothing presented in the column supersedes, negates or relieves a motorcyclist and/or passenger from assumption of personal responsibility for their actions and safety.

Doug Westly | Safety Editor

absJust last month I had a discussion with my nephew, who is looking to get back into motorcycling after a layoff of a couple of years from the sport. He visited us while we were at the track, getting in some laps for the day. After discussing potential bike options (he is a very experienced motorcyclist), he startled me with “So, do you think ABS is worth it?” To say I was stunned was an understatement. As a rider with probably 20 years under his belt, I had just assumed he would understand the safety factor that ABS brings to our sport. In retrospect, you know what they say about assumptions. Anyway, we had a long discussion about ABS and in the end, he was a convert.

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Corners

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Ultimately, the safety of motorcycle riders and their passengers is their own responsibility. Nothing presented in the column supersedes, negates or relieves a motorcyclist and/or passenger from assumption of personal responsibility for their actions and safety.

Doug Westly | Safety Editor

cornersStatistics tell us that about 37% of all motorcycle fatalities occur as a single vehicle crash, in a curve. (Source: MSF) The single overriding cause of the crash tends to be too much entry speed in executing the corner path of travel. So how do we fix this?

First off, motorcyclists have to recognize that corners or curves represent an entirely different set of challenges than riding in a straight line. Let’s start with some of the basics:

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Motorcycle Crash Statistics

Doug Westly | Safety EditorDoug Westly | Safety Editor

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Ultimately, the safety of motorcycle riders and their passengers is their own responsibility. Nothing presented in the column supersedes, negates or relieves a motorcyclist and/or passenger from assumption of personal responsibility for their actions and safety.

This month I thought I would throw out some of the latest statistics. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) usually runs about a year or two behind on releasing crash information. Here are the statistics and information for 2011. There is some preliminary data available for 2012, but the 2011 information is more complete.

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Touring Tip: Just A Ridin’ In The Rain

James T. Parks | Contributing Editor

Many, if not most, of us consider riding in the rain a necessary inconvenience when we’re caught out in it while going from point A to point B. The experience is frequently made more burdensome, because of: inadequate riding gear, reduced vision of scenery and road hazards, loss of traction, increased navigational challenges and fogged glasses and face shield, just to name a few. Often we discover too late that we forgot to pack defogger, rain mittens or some other item critical to reducing the discomfort and increased risk of riding in the rain.

It’s my contention, however, that riding in the rain is often less pleasant than it really has to be, partially because we avoid doing it unless forced to ride in the wet. But like most of motorcycling’s other acquired skills, practice almost always leads to a better riding experience. In that vein, here are my top 10 tips for improving your rain riding proficiency and, yes, even enjoyment:

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Felix, the 2014 Yamaha FJR 1300 ES

Norm Kern | Ohio

I enjoyed my ‘03 Honda ST1300 for 7 years and over 100k miles, but I wanted a bike that was lighter, with more air flow in hot weather, better suspension and cruise control. I rode most of the sport-touring and even some adventure bikes last fall. I was shocked that the clear winner of my comparison was an inline four, which has been my least favorite configuration over the years.

On January 30th, I took delivery of a 2014 Yamaha FJR 1300 ES motorcycle. I named him ‘Felix’ after Felix the Cat, a popular cartoon character from my youth. Felix the Cat had a round head, big eyes and a big smile. The front of the fairing on Felix the FJR has a similar round shape and the relatively large headlights look like eyes. One difference- the big smile is on the face of the rider rather than Felix himself!

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