Showing posts with label Safety. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Safety. Show all posts

Sunday, December 18, 2011

New Helmet: Skidoo Modular 2 Megatron

Mostly due to Chris Luhman's excellent review of the Skidoo Snow helmet he'd bought last year, and his continued enjoyment of this helmet this year....I went ahead and ordered me a similar one.

I received it a bit over two weeks ago and got a good initial workout with it during my snow riding the next day.

Here's pictures, from the vendor website, of the helmet itself:  LINK

 Here's a series of shots, showing off the helmet in its 
several modular positions.  

 The facemask makes one feel like a fighter jet pilot.  You are
however, completely incomprehensible if you try speaking with it on.

 I was, initially, not that wild about the yellow color scheme but it's 
starting to grow on me.

 Double-walled visor down

The sun visor is actually part of the clear visor, so you can't ride
with the visor up and the sun shield down.  Then again, it's a snow helmet!
Still, being able to drop down the sun visor without engaging the main visor would be nice!

Initial impressions:  Very snug fit, some pressure on the lower cheek bones after an hour of wearing it but I pressed in some of the foam and it should be OK.  Two weeks later, the fit's fit is nice and snug, no pressure points anymore.

I am sure it'll be easier with time and wear, but raising the visor does take distinct effort, as does closing the modular portion of the helmet and locking it into place.  This is especially true when wearing the rubber face mask, you learn to ensure the outlets are lined up correctly and use the thumbs to push them in slightly to ensure a smooth lock down with the chin bar.

It takes a little practice but unlocking the front chin bar is easy enough.  The chin strap ratcheting mechanism is a dream to use!

Once the chin bar is down, you do feel it putting pressure on the face mask, I guess it helps seal it to your face but it is taking some getting used to.  I tried riding in the cold without the face mask and the helmet does pretty good actually.  

With my small nose, I was having some leakage in terms of warm breath up into my glasses which was causing some fogging on my glasses.  To ensure good seal, I always push down a bit on the face mask.  I also added a little bit of weather-stripping foam material around the nose area.  Now, I can ride in sub-freezing temperatures and both the visor and eyeglass lenses remain fog-free.


So, pretty happy with the new helmet so far.  One thing I do different from Chris L is that I didn't bother to replace the paper filter that seats within the mask, I just let the breath condensation drip out of the mask when I arrive at my destination before I put the helmet away.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Updated: Hot weather riding tips and information

I first posted this back in April of 2009.  A recent posting on a blog I follow reminded me of it and  I figured it was a good time to republish it as a reminder and update it with stuff I've learned since then.

Here's some of things I consider, have learned, use or do when riding in hot weather.

Now, what's hot weather? Anytime, when ATGATT of course, that you're feeling hot enough to start sweating. That's my definition anyways. (All The Gear All The Time)

Courtesy of: Motorbyte.com

First off, ATGATT is not an optional thing for me. Sweating beats bleeding I've read, and I can confirm this is true through actual experience.

Vented gear is a must in hot weather, you have to let that heat your body's putting out escape somehow right? My riding jacket and pants are made of air mesh Kevlar, by Motorport, and they vent pretty good. If I choose to ride with just a t-shirt and shorts under my riding gear, it feels (while moving) like I'm just wearing the inner garments (mostly).  (Sitting at a light though, you'll start to sweat, you'll be glad for that sweat, once you get moving again.)  

One thing about the above concept of sweat cooling you off when you start moving....once air temperatures reach blood temperature, there's not much cooling effect at that point.  At that time of day, you may want to consider finding a cool shady place to wait out the heat for a bit, if you've the time of course.

Now, for the longer rides, it's best to wear something that covers your skin so that you don't lose too much water through evaporation as you sweat. Your vented gear allows the wind to cool you through drying of the sweat you are producing, however this means faster water loss too.

I wear, a long sleeved, tight fitting, exercise shirt. It's made of a special material that wicks moisture off your body and keeps you dry; I know it seems counter-intuitive to wear long sleeves under your gear but it does work! Especially if you wet down said long sleeve shirt before you put it on wet, it's rather nice and cooling on those really hot days that we get here in Colorado.

For short rides, like commutes, I don't do this though I have been known to wet down my regular cotton t-shirt before riding home in temperatures in the high 90s with the sun beating down on me.  Update: your mileage may vary but a soaked T-shirt will last you only about 30 minutes in really hot weather, then it's time to stop and soak it down again.

Get one of those neck bandannas that have water absorbing crystals in them, they swell up with water as you soak them before the ride. Wrap it around your neck, you've got major blood vessels going to/from your brain at your neck, it helps cool things down.

Get and carry a camelback-type water bag to wear on your back. I usually half-fill mine with ice and water before the longer rides, and those cooling sips I take while at stops or even while riding do make a difference! If you're doing it right, you'll run out of water in the camelback before your next gas stop, so I carry a gallon jug of water in my side case as well on the longer days of riding. Note: much cheaper to buy a gallon jug of drinking water at gas stations than the pricey "fancy" water bottles.  Update: Be wary of taking in ice cold water too fast, in my case, it causes an upset stomach.  Swish it about your mouth to bring up its temperature a bit before swallowing.

That same water jug is used to wet down the long sleeved shirt under my riding gear when it has become dry from the air passing through your vented gear.

When you go to the bathroom, if your piss comes out a deep yellow, you're not drinking enough. You should really have to go often if you're hydrating correctly. Dehydration is not something you can tough out, it will kill you if you try to gut it out. Headaches are an early sign, if you stop sweating in the heat, heat stroke is not far behind. Drink water, often!

Drink water, not beer or coffee, alcoholic drinks and caffeine are diuretics....meaning that they make you pee and thereby lose more water. I don't drink beer at all if I am riding so that's not an issue though I confess being addicted to my morning cups of coffee. Sodas don't count, water!

I've read somewhere where folks pour water into their helmets to soak into their helmet liner material. I've not tried it but it seems to make sense, just make sure you dry out your helmet at the end of the day, no sense getting mildew and such growing in your helmet!

Keep your skin covered, exposed skin will sunburn and lead to your sweat evaporating that much faster, causing faster water loss. Don't forget the back of your neck when applying suntan lotion.

Hot weather usually means lots of sun exposure, get some good sunglasses or a darkened visor for your helmet. It helps prevent headaches from your eyes being in the permanent squinting mode due to the brightness of your surroundings.

If your ride an air-cooled motorcycle, beware of your engine temperatures getting too high in prolonged stop and go traffic. Even oil-cooled motorcycles will overheat, especially the ones with fairings that tend to trap air in slow moving traffic. Brigitta, my 1987 R80 is air-cooled and gets pretty hot in heavy traffic. Maria, my 2004 R1150RT, though oil-cooled did once in a while get pretty close to overheating as well. Be prepared to pull over and let things cool down if you have to.  The jury is still out on my newest ride, the Suzuki V-Strom with it's large radiator and secondary oil cooler setup.

Hot weather on asphalt, causes said asphalt to become soft. If your motorcycle's parking spot is black asphalt or similar, make sure you've a wide footprint side stand base or you'll find your motorcycle on its side when the side stand digs into the asphalt in the heat and your poor motorcycle topples over! I carry a small plastic disk, about three inches in diameter, that I place under the base of the side stand. Worse comes to worse, find an old soda can, crush it down vertically and use that!

I carry a motorcycle cover which folds up pretty compactly on the days when I have to leave my motorcycle out in the hot sun.  It's large enough to cover the gas tank and most importantly, that black leather seat for when I return to the motorcycle, no sense sitting on a hot seat!

Courtesy of: Motorbyte.com

Beware "tar snakes", many states use asphalt-like material to fill in cracks on the pavement, these become quite slippery sometimes when its hot!

Courtesy of: Motorbyte.com

Carry drops for your eyes, they're going to dry out, especially in the drier climes.

That's all that comes to mind for now, please leave a comment if you've tips I've not mentioned.

Harry Martin's Site: LINK

Friday, February 19, 2010

Update: d3o now moving into motorcycle riding gear armor market

Back in September of 2007, I first ran across an article on a company called d3olab.com and blogged about it.  It sure sounded like just the ticket for slim yet protective armor pads to wear in one's riding gear:  LINK

A year went by, nothing for us motorcyclists yet but d3o then made the news on the blogsphere again when they came out with versions of their armor for the police and some really expensive riding gear:  LINK

Today, I spotted this report (with video) on the gizmag.com tech blog:

 
source: gizmag.com
 
Gizmag:  d3o's body armour claims to be soft and flexible throughout the day, but to harden up instantly under impact. As such it's been a big hit in the snowboarding market, where it can make clothing protective and impact-resistant without it looking like you're wearing armour. But now d3o are branching out into the motorcycle armour market - so how does this thin, bright orange wonder armour compare against the traditional thick foam CE armour pads you find in motorcycle leathers? Editor Noel  McKeegan attacks Loz Blain with a heavy frying pan to find out.  Read the whole article

Long story short, the above author is impressed with the thinness and flexibility of the d3o armor but finds it's not quite as "protective" the conventional armor that was tested at the same time by the "frying pan" method.  Then again, in a crash, frying pans are rarely involved, not to mention repeated impacts to the same area while one is coming to a stop.

The armor is presently in use by the athletes on the US Olympic Team and apparently doing great by them.

Great potential is seen of the armor offerings by d30 and I for one look forward to trying their stuff out with my Cycleport Gear.  Assuming the cost is not too high of course!  For instance, to upgrade the trilaminate armor to the four layer laminate armor (claimed to offer 50% more protection by them) offered by Cycleport, the cost was $300 more I dimly recall.  So if the cost of the d3o stuff is less......

Oh, and the trilaminate armor that is standard fare with my Cycleport gear did just fine in my one and only lowside crash back in June of 2008:  LINK.

First of course, I have to find work.  Details!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Be Unhittable!

One of the bloggers I follow diligently is Irondad's "Musings of an Intrepid Commuter". His latest post reminded me of one of the key concepts I've adopted for safe motorcycle riding: Be Unhittable.

Apparently I'd chimed in on a previous posting by Irondad and it had made sense to him as a highly experienced and proficient motorcycle safety instructor.

Here's the original "letter to the editor" where I found the concept of being unhittable:  Click Here.

In my opinion, the stuff in the letter are words to live by......

Here's the contents of the letter to the editor in the above link:  The stuff in italics is what resonates with this blogger.

June 2009 – Angry Letters
JUNE 30, 2009   TAMMY WANCHENA   NO COMMENTS
These letters printed as sent, without edits or corrections. Ed.

Dear MMM,

Since the start of the new GO High-Viz campaign from our Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center, this letter has been building up in me like acid reflux. With the recent tragic death of Anita Zaffke, it can no longer be contained.

6:30pm, May 2nd, Anita Zaffke was pronounced dead. An hour earlier, Anita stopped her motorcycle at a traffic light in a Chicago suburb and was fatally injured by a moron painting her fingernails while piloting her multi-ton weapon of death; the Chevrolet Impala. Yet another example of why it doesn’t matter how visible you are when you share the road with idiots who don’t look where they are going.

There is nothing wrong with being visible, just don’t count on it for anything. Put on all the fluorescent/reflective clothes you want, but the second you think that is keeping you safe, stop riding or expect death.

The MMSC High-Viz campaign is based on the wrong premise. They state “As a rider, the burden is unfortunately on you to do something about being visible.” No! Your burden is NOT to be visible. Your burden is to be unhittable.

Counting on visibility is counting on the other guy to notice you and take proper action. Are you counting on the sleep deprived, food spilling, cell phone dropping driver yelling at his kids in the back seat to notice you? Are you counting on the drunk, the 16 year old first time driver, the not waiting to see how new medication effects them to make proper decisions about a left hand turn, merge or street crossing? If you are, you have no business being on a motorcycle.

Don’t count on the other guy for anything. Take responsibility for your own safety in every encounter. Expect every car to violate your right of way. If you get in an accident with another vehicle, it is your own fault. The situation does not matter. You can have right of way, the other driver can be intoxicated, you can be dressed like a huge yellow banana and flashing red and green lights, but if you hit the Dodge Caravan that turns left in front of you, it’s your own damn fault for not anticipating and avoiding the crash.

That is not to say you stand up at court (make that wheelchair up) and state “It was my fault the Camaro swerved into my lane breaking my hip and right femur.” No, sue that bastard for everything he is worth. Just make sure you have the attitude that allowing someone to hit you or put you down is your fault. It is your responsibility to stay safe, not the other driver’s.

All conspicuous visibility does for you is reduce the number of times you will be violated and need to take evasive action. It does not in the slightest reduce the need for diligent, hyper-aware, defensive riding. Being High-Viz may make you safer by reducing these encounters, but if you start to count on High-Viz over diligent riding, you are more at risk, not less.

If high visibility avoided all accidents, there would be no need for the big crash bumpers on the back of the huge, bright yellow road work trucks. If being noticeable worked well, firemen wouldn’t see the frequent shocked swerves and last second braking during full lights and siren runs.

The MMSC needs to stop encouraging riders to count on other drivers for safety. The High-Viz campaign should be pulled or replaced with “Go High-Viz, but DON’T COUNT ON IT FOR ANYTHING.” All this stress about being visible without any emphasis on what happens when you are not seen anyway, is detrimental to rider safety.   Kill “Go High-Viz” and start “Be Unhittable”   Sincerely, Kent Larson via email

Dear Kent, For a response to to your letter we went to the source. Here is the response from Pat Hahn from Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center. -Ed.

Channelling C. Montgomery Burns: Eeexcellent–I see the additional fees we paid the ad agency for subliminal messaging in the Go High-Viz! campaign materials are bearing fruit. (Smithers, I owe you a Coke.) But seriously, thank you Mr. Larson for your comments. If every rider had your attitude, I’d be out of a job!

Pat Hahn MMSC

Monday, November 23, 2009

Beemer R90S Safety Videos

The R90S Beemer Airhead motorcycle was instantly an icon of the 70's when it first came out. Take a look at these safety videos put out originally by BMW and placed on youtube for your viewing pleasure by beemergarage.com.

Check out the guy's riding outfit, I am thinking the color of his leathers was more red than pink in real life and it was just the crude state of color film technology perhaps? Then again, his rain gear is even more flamboyantly pinkish! He rides though like I wish I would ride all the time.

Some of the stuff he's shown doing though, like passing cars while going up a mountain, is not what's done around here. Apparently it's all one way traffic in Germany up the particular mountains that the films were shot in but even it that were the case here, I doubt cagers would take kindly to motorcycles zooming past them while on the way up or down the mountain!


Part 1 of the safety video. Direct link here.


Part 2 of the safety video. Direct link here.

99% of the rider's actions and the narrator's advice holds true today as it did the day the film was shot. I invite Irondad's feedback of course in light of modern day traffic patterns and his experience as a motorcycle safety instructor.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Increasing Brigitta's Tailight's Lumen Output

Brigitta, my 1987 R80 Beemer, came into my possession with a 5 watt tail light bulb. It was dim, it's light hardly visible in bright sunlight, at least to me while standing 10-20 feet to the rear of the motorcycle.

The tail light with the 5W Bulb, afternoon sun hitting the rear of the motorcycle directly

As a stopgap, I mounted an 12 LED stoplight, wired to be on continuously while the ignition was on. I felt safer.

Recently, half of the LEDs quit working and so I revisited the light output limitations on the R80.

Yesterday, I replaced the taillight bulb with a Sylvania Type 97 13.5V 9.3W bulb from the auto parts store. The light was yellower but seemed to be a bit brighter with the red plastic taillight housing back on.

Today, I rolled Brigitta out on the cul-de-sac, walked back about 20 ft and was disappointed with the perceived light output of the new bulb. Off to the auto parts store again, did some more looking around and found a Sylvania Type 105 12.8V 12.8W bulb.

I replaced the 9.3W with the 12.8W and was pleased to see I could actually see the tail light illuminated from 20 feet away. My only remaining concern now is heat output from this new bulb, will have to monitor over time.

The tail light with the 12.8w bulb, I could see a difference with my eyes, my camera...not so much

Did some research to validate my assumption that more wattage = more light output.

I found the following excerpt on ehow.com: Wattage is the amount of electricity needed to light the bulb. The higher the wattage is, the brighter the light will be. LINK

Another link stated incandescent bulbs put out 7-24 Lumens per Watt. Which if you do the math, it boils down to more watts = more lumens = more perceived light.

So, taking the arbitrary value of 7 from the above statement, my original 5W bulb was putting out 35 Lumens, my new 12.8W bulb is probably putting out 89.6 Lumens. So about 2.56 times more light!

No computers, local area networks or fancy electronics on the airhead, so I don't think introducing this higher wattage bulb will affect anything on Brigitta except a bit more power drain which I'll monitor via the voltmeter.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Crash Anniversary

One year ago today, I was riding at around 07:15 AM, just past the Loveland Pass exit heading towards the Eisenhower Tunnel on westbound I-70.

The roads had been steadily getting wetter and the temperatures dropping as I neared the tunnel where I-70 crosses the Continental Divide. I remember seeing a car with a boat in tow nearly jack-knife up ahead and started to slow down.

At that point, I looked down at my onboard thermometer and it read 37°F. At that point, I felt the front wheel start to turn sideways to the left, this while I was holding the handlebars in the straight ahead position. The back wheel started to slide out to my right and before I knew it, I was down and sliding along the pavement. The link describing the accident in full: LINK

Some notes that come immediately to mind as I think about that day, one year ago.

1. I tend to be more skittish when the temperatures approach 37 degrees Fahrenheit, I guess because that's what I saw before going down. It used to be that I'd start worrying at 32 or below, now the threshold is higher.

2. I will tend to turn back more readily now if things get "iffy" in terms of ice/snow than I did before the accident. This does not mean that I've given up on snow-chasing, just a bit more "aware" of the risks shall we say.

3. I trust my riding gear implicitly, the stuff from Motoport is top notch and I credit it with me only sustaining a separated AC joint after hitting the pavement at over 40mph. Needless to say, having a helmet is a good thing too. I'd be missing my right ear had I not been wearing one, and that probably would be the least of my worries.

4. Waiting for Maria to be assessed and repaired took so long that my loving wife granted permission to obtain a "spare" motorcycle, and so Brigitta, my 1987 R80 came into our lives. She was definitely the silver lining to this incident.

5. I know now to pay a bit extra on the motorcycle insurance to get the $5k medical cost coverage since my personal health benefits plan has such a high deductible since I am self-employed. Something to think about if your insurance provider offers it!

6. I still ride every day when possible, doing pretty good so far this year. You can see my riding log on the right side of the blog page.

7. Last but not least, I'm lucky to have the understanding and supportive wife that I have. She understands my motorcycling addiction and though I know it worries her, she still lets me have plenty of time on the weekends usually to ride.

17,617 miles since the accident, give or take a few miles, and I still enjoy the heck out of riding for pleasure. Commute riding is OK, I tend to follow the same routes now, and its definitely better to ride to/from work than doing it in my cage.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Some long distance riding tips

I thought I'd write down some of the tips I've learned, discovered, re-learned and put to good use as I've ridden both my motorcycles up and down Colorado's roads and the roads of several other states.

First and foremost, take care of your motorcycle and it'll get you home. I do my own services where I can, not only to save money but to get to know my motorcycle more closely in case it ever breaks down. Not only that, but when I do a service, I know it was done and done as right as I can possibly do it.

Speaking of working on your motorcycle, try and do the work with just the tools you normally carry on your motorcycle. You obviously won't have that fully stocked tool chest in your garage with you when riding, will you? If I find my onboard toolkit does not have a tool, I buy it and carry it from that point on when riding. I've accumulated quite a bit more tools/materials than what the motorcycle came with! LINK

Buy a good service manual, check your basic stuff at least once a week: Tire pressure, loose or missing fasteners, check the oil and brake fluid reservoirs, your lights and signals, the horn and lastly check for leaks. Keep your motorcycle clean so you can spot the leaks early! Buy your motorcycle the high octane gas, she deserves it.

Carry a tire puncture kit and know how to use it, heck, practice using it on an old tire. The side of the road, in the rain and late at night is not the time to try and read the instructions that came with the kit! Invest in a small air compressor, those CO2 tubes really aren't up to the job.

Carry a cellphone, along with a charger for the longer trips, more often than not, you'll have coverage and can call for a tow truck.

Now, for on the road:

Read up on and practice the Master Yoda Riding Position. Sound weird but it works! I've done many a 10-12 hour day, 600+ miles at a stretch, and still not hurt too badly at the end of the day, and this is with stock seats on both my motorcycles! If the link above is broken, just google the phrase!

Your feet are not meant to just be in one position on the pegs, move them around once in a while! Point your toes down a bit if your knees are starting to feel sore, it really helps. When I first started motorcycling, I thought you were supposed to keep your feet still and in the same spot on the pegs, wrong!

Move your butt back towards the rear of your seat if your knees are getting sore, I sometimes slide back onto the pillion seat to allow my legs to stretch out a bit during the straight runs.

If your motorcycle's clearance allows it, and you can get up on the pillion seat while still holding the grips, then you can let your feet dangle free for a few moments. You can also try resting the back of your booted ankle on the top of the pegs as well to give your knees some relief. Remember, be careful and do this when there's little traffic and no curves!

On the same line of long straight stretches of road with little traffic, invest in some kind of "wrist rest" device, sometimes referred to as cruise control for motorcycles. There's many types and brands but they all do one thing: They allow you to lock the throttle in place, letting your free your throttle hand for a few moments to stretch your fingers, wiggle your wrist and whatever else hurts from holding the throttle for long periods of time.

Personally, and I am not saying to try it, but sometimes with the throttle locked and going straight where I can see very far ahead, I'll lean back and rest one arm on the respective side case for a minute or so, it helps stretch the back and shoulder muscles.

Get a kidney or back support belt and wear it nice and tight under your outer riding gear. Speaking for myself and my bad posture, having some lower back support is a wonderful thing on the day long rides!

Consciously avoid using the death grip on your handlebar grips, a light touch is plenty most of the time. If your wrists are bent downwards, you're not doing it right. Try to form and keep a V shape with your thumb and index finger when gripping the throttle and left hand grips. Keep your elbows up and your back straight!

The cruiser riders like to stretch out their legs and rest them on top of their engine guards or on highway pegs they've mounted on their engine guards or frame. I like to sometimes rest, for a just about 30 secs or so, my boots on the engine guards that I mounted on my R80 airhead. No such luck with Maria, my 2004 R1150RT due to her fairing. Yes, they do make pegs that one secures to the valve covers but its not in my future.

Sometimes, if the road is really empty and straight, try standing up on the pegs, while securely holding onto the handlebar! Don't go blaming me if you crash for doing something this risky without at least giving it some thought! Just standing while riding, for 15 seconds or so, makes the world of difference for me and allows me to ride further on.

Note: You may attract unwanted attention from the local law enforcement, apparently they believe your standing is a prelude to popping a wheelie or a mark of being a squid up to no good.

Standing on the pegs, it's been floated on the Internet, is also a way to get that idiot cager who's been tailgating you to back off as you're exhibiting unexpected and possibly dangerous behaviour. I don't know how effective this is, just be careful.

Invest in good riding gear, use the layers concept to stay warm in hot or cold weather. Pack rain gear, because you will get rained on if you ride enough. Wear a helmet!

Yes, being ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time) can be a PITA, can make you sweat on hot days but you damn sure won't have time to put it all on when you go down! Let the others make jokes, or try and tell you that you don't need all that gear. I am here to tell you, it's saved my butt a couple of times. Gear can be replaced....your body parts tend to be sensitive to pavement when contacting it at anything above say 5 mph!

Plan your meals around the traditional meal times, otherwise you get caught in the "lunch rush" and lose valuable riding time. I tend to not eat a big lunch when riding, it I eat at all....I get "food comma" where one feels sleepy after a big meal, not a good thing when riding a motor vehicle!

Spare key, carried somewhere independent of your regular motorcycle key.

Known how long you have, in terms of mileage, when either you have to switch to final reserve on your older motorcycle or the fuel low warning light comes on in your newer motorcycle. These things are a pain to push even for a short distance. It will, most times, pay off to top off when you reach the midpoint in your range, sometimes the planned for gas stop is not there or its closed.....

Keep hydrated, even in cold weather, you lose a lot of water through perspiration of course in hot weather, but you lose water as well in cold weather. I am bad about this but working on it, I do travel with a water bottle now, even for day trips. The cognoscenti say: "if you pee is a dark yellow, you're not drinking enough water". Signs of dehydration are headaches, sore throat, and impacts on your reactions and reasoning abilities. Be careful, if you stop sweating in hot weather, that's bad. There's more to riding in hot weather, I might do a posting on what works for me, later on.

Keep exposed skin to a minimum, to avoid sunburn, windburn, excessive evaporation due to wind. If you're doing ATGATT, this should not be an issue except for the back of you neck.

That's all that comes to mind for now, please leave a comment if you've tips I've not mentioned.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Snow Day Filler: Riding in Hot Weather

A bit of spring snow falling on us today, I missed a two hour window when things were just rainy with mostly clear roads. Now, it's about two inches in the last hour and falling thickly....oh well.

So, on to the filler:

Here's some of things I consider, have learned, use or do when riding in hot weather.

Now, what's hot weather? Anytime, when ATGATT of course, that you're feeling hot enough to start sweating. That's my definition anyways.

Courtesy of: Motorbyte.com

First off, ATGATT is not an optional thing for me. Sweating beats bleeding I've read, and I can confirm this is true through actual experience.

Vented gear is a must in hot weather, you have to let that heat your body's putting out escape somehow right? My riding jacket and pants are made of air mesh Kevlar, by Motorport, and they vent pretty good. If I choose to ride with just a t-shirt and shorts under my riding gear, it feels (while moving) like I'm just wearing the inner garments (mostly).

Now, for the longer rides, it's best to wear something that covers your skin so that you don't lose too much water through evaporation as you sweat. Your vented gear allows the wind to cool you through drying of the sweat you are producing, however this means faster water loss too.

I wear, a long sleeved, tight fitting, exercise shirt. It's made of a special material that wicks moisture off your body and keeps you dry; I know it seems counter-intuitive to wear long sleeves under your gear but it does work! Especially if you wet down said long sleeve shirt before you put it on wet, it's rather nice and cooling on those really hot days that we get here in Colorado. For short rides, like commutes, I don't do this though I have been known to wet down my regular cotton t-shirt before riding home in temperatures in the high 90s with the sun beating down on me.

Get one of those neck bandannas that have water absorbing crystals in them, they swell up with water as you soak them before the ride. Wrap it around your neck, you've got major blood vessels going to/from your brain at your neck, it helps cool things down.

Get and carry a camelback-type water bag to wear on your back. I usually half-fill mine with ice and water before the longer rides, and those cooling sips I take while at stops or even while riding do make a difference! If you're doing it right, you'll run out of water in the camelback before your next gas stop, so I carry a gallon jug of water in my side case as well on the longer days of riding. Note: much cheaper to buy a gallon jug of drinking water at gas stations than the pricey "fancy" water bottles.

That same water jug is used to wet down the long sleeved shirt under my riding gear when it has become dry from the air passing through your vented gear.

When you go to the bathroom, if your piss comes out a deep yellow, you're not drinking enough. You should really have to go often if you're hydrating correctly. Dehydration is not something you can tough out, it will kill you if you try to gut it out. Headaches are an early sign, if you stop sweating in the heat, heat stroke is not far behind. Drink water, often!

Drink water, not beer or coffee, alcoholic drinks and caffeine are diuretics....meaning that they make you pee and thereby lose more water. I don't drink beer at all if I am riding so that's not an issue though I confess being addicted to my morning cups of coffee. Sodas don't count, water!

I've read somewhere where folks pour water into their helmets to soak into their helmet liner material. I've not tried it but it seems to make sense, just make sure you dry out your helmet at the end of the day, no sense getting mildew and such growing in your helmet!

Keep your skin covered, exposed skin will sunburn and lead to your sweat evaporating that much faster, causing faster water loss. Don't forget the back of your neck when applying suntan lotion.

Hot weather usually means lots of sun exposure, get some good sunglasses or a darkened visor for your helmet. It helps prevent headaches from your eyes being in the permanent squinting mode due to the brightness of your surroundings.

If your ride an air-cooled motorcycle, beware of your engine temperatures getting too high in prolonged stop and go traffic. Even oil-cooled motorcycles will overheat, specially the ones with fairings that tend to trap air in slow moving traffic. Brigitta, my 1987 R80 is air-cooled and gets pretty hot in heavy traffic. Maria, my 2004 R1150RT, though oil-cooled has gotten pretty close to overheating as well. Be prepared to pull over and let things cool down if you have to.

Hot weather on asphalt, causes said asphalt to become soft. If your motorcycle's parking spot is black asphalt or similar, make sure you've a wide footprint side stand base or you'll find your motorcycle on its side when the side stand digs into the asphalt in the heat and your poor motorcycle topples over! I carry a small plastic disk, about three inches in diameter, that I place under the base of the side stand. Worse comes to worse, find an old soda can, crush it down vertically and use that!

Courtesy of: Motorbyte.com

Beware "tar snakes", many states use asphalt-like material to fill in cracks on the pavement, these become quite slippery sometimes when its hot!

Courtesy of: Motorbyte.com

Carry drops for your eyes, they're going to dry out, specially in the drier climes.

That's all that comes to mind for now, please leave a comment if you've tips I've not mentioned.

Harry Martin's Site: LINK

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

More Helmet Ratings by SHARP


Got an email update from the folks at SHARP, kind of like the British version of the DOT, who've published ratings on helmets, including flip-ups, on how they perform when impacted.

Excerpts from the email:

An extra 28 motorcycle helmets have been rated by SHARP - the Department for Transport’s Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme – taking the total number of ratings published to 125.

All helmets must meet minimum legal safety standards but the SHARP scheme uses a wider range of tests to provide riders with more information on how much protection a helmet can provide in a crash. The objective advice, which includes important guidance on how to select a good fitting helmet, will help riders to choose the safest helmet suitable for them. The SHARP tests - which award ratings of between one and five stars - showed that the safety performance of helmets can vary by as much as 70%. With helmets across a wide price range scoring highly all riders should be able to find a high performing helmet in a size and style that fits them and at a price they want to pay.

For more information about the SHARP programme, visit the SHARP website at http://www.direct.gov.uk/sharp.

Here's a LINK to the ratings as of today. CLICK HERE.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Riding in Cold Weather

Here's some of things I've learned to do/use when planning a ride in cold weather. If you don't ride when it's not warm and sunny, don't bother reading further.

What's cold weather? For me, it's anything from 50°F and below. What follows has worked for me through almost three winters of riding. I ride any day where the roads are clear or close to being clear.

Courtesy of: Motorbyte.com

Layers. This is key, one layer, no matter how insulated and windproof won't do it. Layers trap heat and keep you warm. Not to mention, when things warm up, you can shed layers.

Your outer layer must be windproof. My Air Mesh Kevlar riding gear vents so well that I make sure my first "inner" layer is a windproof insulated liner. In a pinch, wear your rain gear to keep the wind off you!

I ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time) anyways, but I see folks who sometimes don't wear a helmet, wear one in cold weather. It really helps keep you warmer and protects your noggin! I've no comments re the bikers who wear a wool cap, face mask or ski masks instead of a helmet in cold weather.

Heated grips are really nice. Get some if you motorcycle does not have them. Some folks prefer electric gloves, some prefer hand guards and heated grips. Find something that works for you in terms of maintaining warm hands since cold fingers and hands mean slow and stiff manipulation of your hand controls. Your hands, will usually get cold first.

What I've found best to keep my hands warm? Hippo Hands (google it) or a reasonable facsimile thereof. Basically, it's windproof cloth covers that go over your grip, you slide your lightly gloved hands into them and they keep the wind off your hands. If you've heated grips, your hands are nice and toasty as well. LINK.

Courtesy of: Motorbyte.com

Keep your body core warm, and your extremities will stay warm too. The body, when it senses its core temperature dropping, tries to save itself by shutting down warmth to your arms and legs, and of course your hands and feet. This is why you'll feel the cold at your hands and feet first.

If your motorcycle can handle it in terms of power output, install a power socket for an electric vest. These things are great when riding in sub-freezing temperatures. I use the voltmeter on Brigitta, my 1987 R80, to monitor the charge state of my battery since this model of motorcycle has a pretty "weak" alternator. If you're not careful, you will drain your battery and you will come to a stop, not good.

Don't forget, ambient temperatures may be above freezing but add in the windchill factor when riding and things get cold quick! Google the term "windchill factor" and you'll find charts to help you calculate how cold things are going to get.

If you're trapped out riding by unexpected cold weather, and you don't have your stuff with you, you can in a pinch just put on your raingear (which you should carry all the time). As your insulating inside layers, get some newspaper, wad it up and stuff it inside your riding jacket, to help keep the heat from your body from escaping. The key is to keep the wind off you with the rain gear and the heat next to your body with whatever insulating material you can find.

Courtesy of: Motorbyte.com

Get a neck cover such as the Maxit Headgator. I can say enough good things about this simple clothing item, you can make it into a hat, cover your face almost entirely, use it to shield your neck from the cold/wind.

Black ice can form when the ambient temperature is above freezing. I found this out the hard way. If the road looks wet, and the temperatures are below 40 with no sunshine, I'd turn around back to drier roads. Waiting an hour can make all the difference sometimes. I now carry a small infrared thermometer to quickly measure the temperature of the road when I'm stopped at a light, it can alleviate some worry, but use your own judgement!


Use dish soap, or one of the many anti-fog solutions on the market to keep your helmet visor and/or your eyeglass lenses from fogging up. Not being able to see is not good thing! I use something called cat-crap on my glasses and plain old dish soap on my helmet visors. Put some one, wipe it all over, let dry and buff off. Use a microfiber cloth to prevent scratches! There's also anti-fog inserts that you can buy.

If you're going to ride long distances in cold weather, get a good windshield for your motorcycle, you will think it money well spent on those cold days. Motorcycles with fairings are better than naked bikes for the same reason. Maria, my 2004 R1150RT tends to be my motorcycle of choice on cold days due to the great wind protection her fairing and windshield give me. Not to mention her alternator can handle the loads imposed by my electric vest and heated grips!

Remember to hydrate, you will lose water through evaporation even in cold weather.

Hypothermia is no fun, can lead to fingers and toes being lost and eventually kill you because you lose the ability to think clearly, this is kind of key when riding a motorcycle. Be prepared and you'll enjoy riding year-round with little or no issues when it comes to cold.

That's all that comes to mind for now, please leave a comment if you've tips I've not mentioned.

Harry Martin's Site: LINK

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Ride Home in Light Snow

The forecast was for a slight chance of snow, more towards the evening today. So I rode to work on Maria, my 2004 R1140RT since the forecast high was only 40°F.

Things started looking a bit iffy on the radar on or about noon and it started flurrying around 1330 or so. I decided it was time to go home before the snow started sticking.

I geared up while heavy flurries fell on Maria and I in the parking lot. A bit unnerving but the snowflakes would melt immediately upon hitting the pavement so I kept going.

The ride home was in heavy flurries and wet looking but heavily traveled roads, till I got to the intersection of Arapahoe Rd and Parker Rd, then the sun which had been hidden behind dark gray clouds started peeking out. The flurries lessened at this point.

I must have hit every single red light on the way home, giving me plenty of time while stopped at them to ponder how much colder the pavement was getting as I waited there and the snow continued to fall.

Once I got on Orchard Road, which is a main artery neighborhood road to my home neighborhood, the roads started looking wet again since they was less traffic on the road. No problems though, since I was riding in "rain mode" and being very very smooth on braking and turning into curves slowly.

I got home with no problems and got the following pictures to give you an idea of the flurries I mentioned.



Really though, I shouldn't have worried so much since:

A. I've been stuck riding in worse weather.
B. The snow was melting as it hit the ground so the ground had retained enough heat. In fact, I took some temperature readings with a touchless thermometer when I got home and the lowest reading I found was 42°F!

Still, after my accident in June, I did feel a bit more stressed than usual. : )

Ironically, as I am typing this, the skies are clearing, the sun is out and the roads look bone dry. I should have just stayed at work an hour longer, waited for the snow to stop and then come home. Oh well, that's Colorado for ya....

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cruise Control for my Airhead

Did some initial testing of the throttle friction screw from BMW, it provides tension on the throttle handgrip so one can lock the throttle in position while doing a carburetor sync during tuneups and such. You can also use it to "rest" one's throttle hand on the long rides, though I am sure BMW does not advertise that as a function.

It's promising and works on same principle as the Kaoko "cruise control" I use on Maria.

It's not that easy to get to while moving, so you have to be careful

Both pics from Google

I've been trying it out on long straightaways with no traffic around me and while it's not "easy" to adjust it on the fly; it's doable. Just get it where it's barely slowing the throttle grip's spring assisted return to idle while at a stop, then when you want to adjust it, it's slow enough that you can tighten it more while moving.

After that, its just a matter of putting the throttle where you want it, and tighten it down a bit more till it holds the throttle in the position/speed you want. Make damn sure you've not tightened it so much that you can force the throttle to idle with your hand! Both this and the Kaoko Cruise Control I use on Maria allow me to cut the throttle easily.

Remember to loosen this screw when in city/heavy traffic or you'll be expending more effort than usual actuating the throttle. Not to mention, if you have a get off, the dang throttle will be held open which could it make it interesting trying to engage the kill switch on a motorcycle that's spinning around on its jug because the rear wheel is still spinning!

Read here for snowbum's story and warnings re using this and other similar devices! LINK


Monday, January 26, 2009

Safety Gear: Leatt Brace

I read this webbikeworld article and became intrigued as to the protection potential of this motorcycling neck brace, their Adventure model is currently offered at quite the reasonable price of $225 per their website: LINK

Photo from webbikeworld

Here's the summary from the webbikeworld review:
Summary:
Modern motorcyclists have a great range of choices when it comes to helmets, body armor, back protectors and the like, but choices in neck protection systems have so far been limited.

The Leatt Brace offers a comfortable, flexible neck protection solution created by a motorbiking neurosurgeon.

Please follow this link for their full review. I checked out the manufacturer's website after reading the review and that's how I found out about their new model, the Adventure, which is probably the one I'd buy if I was to be convinced it's usable/comfortable as a daily wear article when I ride. More research is in order.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Future Training

One of the things I'd planned on doing this year was taking the Experienced Rider training course to see what they could teach me, and to probably re-learn some of the stuff from the Basic Rider Course I took back in May of 2006.

Since that fateful day when I first swung a leg over a motorcycle, I've racked up over 49K miles on my motorcycles, mostly on Maria the R1150RT Beemer, so I think I qualify for the experienced part of the requirements. They actually just require the Motorcycle endorsement on one's driver's license and a year's experience riding.

Cost is $100 for Colorado residents, $125 for non-residents. It's done under the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) auspices by ABATE of Colorado. LINK.

While researching folks that offered the above training, I found out that ABATE also offers Sidecar Rider training! It's a bit pricey at $275 for residents but I figure its cheaper than wrecking one's sidecar rig while trying to learn how to safely ride it on one's own. So if I ever find and buy a sidecar rig, this training will be part of the admission price for me.


Somewhere in my future, is a sidecar similar to the one above. This one is made by Texas Sidecars. LINK

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Caberg Trip Helmet Arrived Today

Ordered on 21DEC and arrived here from Belfast, Ireland on 30DEC. Pretty fast, considering it had to sit in customs for a while.

The helmet fits me pretty good, at first my chin was slightly touching the chin bar (I thought), but its actually touching a rubber flap that goes below the chin to keep air out I believe. Good fit otherwise, snug but not too tight around the cheeks and temples.

The New and the Old, you can see how much more chin space the KBC offers

A View of the Sun Shade


The new helmet is 1lb 7oz lighter than my old helmet! LINK
Took me a while to figure out the fastening device the helmet uses instead of the traditional D-clip but after a few tries, easy enough. I am sure I'll get used to it.

Went out for a short ride to try it out, felt pretty good in the wind though it seemed to me to have more wind noise than my KBC FFR helmet. However, on the return half of the trip, I wore earplugs and wind noise was not an issue. I should, but sometimes don't, wear earplugs each time I ride; so this may help remind me to put the darn things in before riding.

No turbulence that I could feel at 80mph which is fast enough when on Brigitta, my 1987 R80 Beemer. On the return trip I hit some pretty strong headwinds that buffetted me a bit but I think any helmet would be hard pressed to deal with such winds.

The sun shade/visor slides into position easily enough and holds its position at points in between full up and full down. It leaves a space between the lower edge of the helmet opening and the bottom edge of the shade. I'd like it to go a little bit lower, say about an inch but it's something I'll have to get used to as well, still, it's better than it hitting my glasses!

Both Visors down

Just the sun visor down

Another inch would be perfect....

The sun visor, though a bit short when view from outside, works pretty good when seen from the inside of the helmet. The edge lines up just below the road/horizon line, giving one a clear unshaded view of the motorcycle's instruments.

My major worry had been how it'd fit me and it fits me well. I'll post more feedback as I get more riding time with this new helmet. There's a full review of it here: LINK with better pictures of the helmet itself.

I bought it from Kickstart Motorcycles in the UK. LINK. The Euro-Dollar exchange rate is favorable to US residents right now so you might want to take a look. The Caberg Trip is, as of today according to SHARP (LINK) one of only 12 helmets to achieve the 5 rating from a current total of 77 flip-up type helmets.

My old helmet, the KBC FFR only got 1 out of 5 in the SHARP ratings, which got me started on replacing it with this Caberg.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Just ordered myself a New Helmet

Not sure why I dithered so long after seeing the results published by the British version of DOT. They'd issued an initial list of flip-front helmets, only ones to do so in the world as far as I know, and my current helmet had come in as 1 of 5! Not good. LINK

I wrote an email to KBC, the makers of my current helmet and so far, no answer. I guess they did not want to defend themselves. I wonder if all this has any relation to the fact the price of the KBC FFR has dropped so rapidly since my insurance company paid to replace mine.

Today, I re-read the review on Webbikeworld.com (LINK) and given the current favorable currency exchange rates; I decided to buy a silver version of the Caberg TRIP flip-front helmet as my Christmas present to myself.

In Europe, it's called the Rhyno, in GB where I bought it from it's the TRIP



The sun shade moved up and down as needed

All Photos from Seller or Manufacturer's websites

I hope it fits me well, I used the measurement guides on the seller's site and came up with a size L. They've a return policy if it does not fit of course but still, I'd be out the shipping which was $35. The helmet is not available here, and is not DOT certified yet. However, it meets the more stringent ECE requirements so it'll be fine. Colorado, where I live, does not even require a helmet for riders so I doubt a police officer with be checking my helmet for a DOT sticker! It scored 5 out of 5 in the SHARP tests vice my KBC's score of 1 out of 5!

It's got a different securing mechanism for a chin strap but I'm sure I'll get used to it. It's lighter, comes with a built-in sun shade which will be really nice and got a nice review from webbikeworld.com who has a great reputation when it comes to gear reviews. I would have preferred white but the silver color will do fine I am sure.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

LINK: SHARP Now Testing Flip-up Motorcycle Helmets

Mike Werner's excellent site has a posting today on the ratings being earned by various helmet manufacturers who make "flip up" helmets. If you wear one, be sure to check out this posting to see how your helmet did. Mine apparently sucks! LINK

Looks like its time to look for a new helmet even though my KBC FFR did fine during my accident back in June of this year. The fact though that it its chin portion only stayed locked in place 43% of time time during SHARP's testing is very worrisome though.

The above is for my helmet!

From the SHARP site:
SHARP is the Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme - it's the new helmet safety scheme for motorcyclists.

SHARP enables riders to more easily select a helmet which matches their needs. It provides consumers with an independent assessment of the safety performance of helmets sold in the UK. The SHARP RATING reflects the performance of each helmet model following a series of advanced laboratory tests and rates helmets from 1-5 stars.


More from Mike Werner's posting:

The first 20 have been entered in their extensive database:

Make Model
Rating
AGV Longway
4
Airoh Matisse RS
2
BMW System 5
5
Caberg Trip
5
Justissimo GT
4
Duchinni D601
1
G-MAC Concept
3
Grex RF2
4
KBC FFR
1
Lazer Granville
4
Revolution
4
Nolan N103
4
N102
4
ROOF Boxer
4
Schuberth C2
4
Shark Openline
3
Evoline
4
Shoei Multitech
3
Viper RS V121
3
RS RS101
4


Update: There's apparently some "debate" as to SHARP's criteria and use of test data and testing protocol creation. Unsurprisingly, some helmet manufacturers are not happy with the results published on their products. More details here on webbikeworld.com: LINK

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's Progress I guess

Back in September of 2007, I found out about and blogged about D30 and their "reactive" armor product. See LINK.

It's been a year now and finally a couple of manufacturers, one is French and the other markets only to Law Enforcement, are coming out with rider gear which incorporates this wonderful D30 armor for rider protection in the event of a crash.

I've high hopes that more manufacturers will start incorporating this stuff into their gear selection. While I do ride presently with Cycleport's highly protective Kevlar Mesh jacket and pants, if I can replace their armor pads with this D30 stuff, I'll be even better protected!

I plan to check out the French site: LINK in the coming weeks and see if they also sell the armor pads separate from their line of rider clothing. I took a brief look at their current offerings, the stuff is not cheap, on par with the stuff from Cycleport but I guess quality comes at a price. You can also buy elbow/knee pad armor from these guys: LINK, perhaps I could then remove the armor and place it into my Cycleport gear? Hmmm....

Go here to see the D30 newsletter in full: LINK

Here's an excerpt:


cost: 589 Euros or $830 at today's exchange rate.....not cheap

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Riding through a Prairie Dog Gauntlet

There's a neighborhood road on my regular commute to work that takes me to Havana road and the back way to the United Airlines training facility I work at as a contractor. I use this road because its got very little traffic, its only two lane and fairly safe.

Not today! Apparently, there's quite the bustling/growling prairie dog colony all along this stretch of my commute now.

from google images

I had to hit the brakes pretty good to avoid running over three of these varmints who decided to dash from one side of the street to the other as I approached doing perhaps 30mph.

After that I swear there must have been at least 15 more eating or watching me go by from both sides of the road as I prepared to hit the brakes just in case!

There's plenty of evidence on the road itself of previous varmints who were not quick enough to avoid being run over.

I get to run the gauntlet again this afternoon on the way home.......it's usually deer that motorcyclists need to worry about in terms of animal hazards, now I get to add prairie dogs to the list.