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Pennsylvania does motorcycle safety right

Pennsylvania offers free motorcycle rider courses.

With spring’s arrival, PennDOT reminds motorcyclists of all skill levels that Pennsylvania residents with a motorcycle license or permit can enroll in a free course to enhance their riding skills through the 2012 Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program (PAMSP).

All PAMSP courses are free to Pennsylvania residents who have a motorcycle learner’s permit or motorcycle license. All training courses are conducted on a riding range, under the management of certified rider coaches.

Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program

How to Pick up your bike

How to pick up a motorcycle from on Vimeo.

First, make sure you are out of harms way. Take a few minutes to calm down. Turn off the engine and fuel line. Then follow the simple steps in this video. Picking up a dropped motorcycle is all about working smarter, not harder as motorcycles can weigh between 500 and 800-pounds.

ATGATT – Happy New Year – Be safe out there!

Be safe riding out there this year, hope it’s happy and healthy. Stay safe on the roads! Keep your eyes peeled, the below video shows even while you might be on your game, others aren’t.

Safety Tip – Braking

Braking during a turn is a big no no. If you are leaned over in a corner the first thing that is going to happen is the bike will start to straighten up immediately. If you are past the apex of the turn then you might be able to save it if the road happens to straighten up pretty quick, but if you hit the brakes before the apex…Bad news. The ideal way to take a turn is to brake BEFORE you even get there at all, then once you are leaned over you roll on the throttle and accelerate through the turn.

Courtesy of Motorcycle Training Academy

Ultimate Bike Bonding RiderCourse – Colorado Springs

Had a blast today down in Colorado Springs at the Ultimate Bike Bonding Course. Froze all the way down from Aurora to the Springs but it warmed up nicely, and it was worth the cold ride in. Great time, although the exercises got progressively tougher, and I bombed several at the end. Humbling but fun! Afterward, had a great steak lunch at Saltgrass Steakhouse, man they’re good! The ride home on 83 was much nicer than the ride down, except more traffic. I prefer 83 vs taking I-25.

Ultimate Bike-Bonding RiderCourse is a program patterned after police motorcycle training courses. It consists of drills and skill circuits to improve a rider’s performance. Control operation and body positioning are emphasized to improve smoothness and precision. It stresses motorcycle manipulation skills to maximize low-speed operation and control.

Thanks Greg, Wayne, and Dave, much appreciated.

Motorcycle Training Academy

Specifics on their Bike Bonding Course

Saving Sea Turtles in Panama

Tigre Salvaje website

Tigre Salvaje is a wildlife sanctuary in Panama located on the Pacific Coast at the end of Punta Burica near the border of Costa Rica. We are trying to save several different endangered species. Primarily monkeys, including the Red Backed Squirrel Monkey and 3 types of endangered sea turtles.

Check out the videos and consider donating. Donation link

Seen on

Advanced Training Report: Yamaha Champions Riding School

This article courtesy of the Naval Safety Center Smart Ride 2011 Magazine. Please also check out their website, the Naval Safety Center.

SmartRide Fleet Editor

In March I attended the two-day Yamaha Champions Riding School (YCRS) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This course is led by Nick Ienatch, who formerly instructed at Freddie Spencer’s riding school and assisted the Navy, Marine Corps and Motorcycle Safety Foundation in creating the Military Sportbike Rider Course. Nick is a highly renowned sport riding expert and is the author of Sport Riding Techniques. I knew this was going to be some good training.

My purpose for attending was to improve my skills and become a better, safer, and faster rider. Whether you’re an avid rider, occasional track day guy, or just a weekend warrior, I believe every rider will get something valuable from this type of training. More than that, I think everyone should attend a course like this. If you were a golfer and wanted to improve your swing, wouldn’t you seek out a local professional for help? This is exactly what I did for my motorcycle riding skills and I am glad I did. Money well spent.

YCRS is kept to small numbers of 10 to 12 students. This keeps instructor-to-student ratios very low, allowing for plenty of one-on-one time and feedback from instructors. There was a mixed level of experience, including a first time track rider, repeat students, amateur racers, the owner of Silver Star Clothing Company, and even ESPN X-games BMX Gold Medalist Chad Kagy.

At the course, students ride the latest Yamaha R6 and R6Rs and groups are separated based on experience level. Since I had a handful of track days under my belt, I fell into the medium-to-faster paced group. I was comfortable with this pace and on occasion, I had to push to keep up with the faster riders of the group and the instructor’s pace.


We started in the classroom with introductions and then got right to business. We covered braking, reading the circuit and types of corners, levels of risk, non-negotiables (more on that in a sec) and more braking. By the way, if you don’t get a bite to eat at the hotel, YCRS will have a spread laid out for you, with food and drinks and a hot lunch. If you don’t have your own leathers and gear you can rent the latest Alpinestars gear from the school. This is especially helpful if you are flying into Las Vegas and want to save some space and weight in the luggage.

After the classroom brief, students and Nick packed into the passenger van for a few laps on the Las Vegas Infield Circuit. Nick spent plenty time explaining each corner in detail: early apex, late apex, entry, exit and getting the motorcycle pointed for what is next.

“Non-negotiables” were discussed as well. What are they, you ask? These are the basics that form your riding foundation: items that do not change and things you must or must not do. One example is being smooth on the controls. You cannot be jerky in your use of controls; this is non-negotiable. With each lap in the van, the driver increased the speed of the over-loaded passenger van and demonstrated the braking and line that is required. It’s important to know the circuit.

We exited the van at one of the last corners of the circuit, while one of Nick’s instructors rode a few easy laps on his Yamaha to warm his tires. Nick took the opportunity to give us a lesson on braking. Were you taught never to use the brakes while cornering? I was, and this was all about to change. He also taught us about trail braking. YCRS motorcycles’ brake lights are kept functional to show you how far it is possible to brake in corners (trail braking). Students were standing just off the track while instructors were cornering a few feet in front of us—giving the lesson of a lifetime in trail braking. Many drills were conducted based on trail braking and other braking techniques and we learned a ton about improving one of the motorcycle’s most critical—if not the most critical—controls.

I will not tell all the secrets of Nick’s school, because it really has to be experienced. However, I will say this: “Braking, braking and more braking.”

Brakes are a multi-positional control, and not just an on or off switch. When used correctly, you are not only able to adjust your speed, but you also have the ability to change the motorcycle’s geometry and create a better-steering bike. For example, does your front end dip when you apply front brakes? This changes the geometry of your motorcycle to a more easily turning machine. When coming to a stop, does your front end dip dramatically and then rebound back? If so, you aren’t controlling your brakes well. You should have some front end dipping of course, but it should return smoothly. This is practiced each time you bring your motorcycle to a stop.

We put all this and more to the test with day-one drills. A fantastic drill that we worked on was called the “pointy end of the cone.” In several corners of the circuit, instructors placed a traffic cone on its side. We had to adjust our motorcycle in mid-corner, including steering, braking, and lean angle, to negotiate to the pointy side of the cone and then exit the corner to the next challenge. The key to this drill is looking well ahead in the corner. What makes this drill so effective is that the instructors were standing off-track observing our skills, and moving the cone each lap. We never got the same scenario twice, which forced us to constantly adjust to each corner.

To brake and clutch with four fingers or two? That is the question. Many of us are taught to brake and clutch with four, but all you really need is two. You have far better control and feeling when using two fingers on the brakes, with the other two still in control of the throttle. When clutching, you really only need a small amount of lever pull to unload the engine to up-shift. On the down-shift the two fingers provide added control on the left bar and again more precise control than four fingers. This is something that definitely takes some getting used to and a lot of practice.

Body positioning, and hanging off the bike is also covered. This is where the mantra “Look GP to Ride GP” comes in. Hanging off the bike decreases the motorcycle’s lean angle in a corner. This is necessary to increase your lap times on a track and proven by the pros to work. However, motorcycle lean angle also decreases grip and increases your risk. You want to decrease your risk, yet remain fast. Many riders may get their lower body off the bike or their knee down, and increased lean angle and may not even be necessary. This is increasing the risk! Learning and practicing correct body position will definitely decrease your risk and increase your fun.

Ever two-up ride with an instructor? This is an amazing learning tool. During most of the day, I struggled with heavy braking, as do many riders, learning how hard I can actually brake. Riding with instructor Ken Hill for a lap as a passenger made me realize the bike can brake much harder than I had ever realized. It felt like I was on the edge of going over the front, yet in full control of the motorcycle.

“What’s next?” is another constant mantra. Successful riders need to be looking and thinking in this manner constantly – in each corner entry, apex and exit. Everything you do on the bike requires thinking several steps ahead. What next? Where do I need to put the bike for the entry, then to the apex and then pointed out of the corner to the next corner. This is repeated to you constantly and asked of you routinely from Nick and staff. “What’s next Clinton?”


We moved from the infield course to the Las Vegas Classic Course that is outside the oval. Again we spent a few laps in the van with Nick to learn the new course. Using what Nick taught us in day one, this was easily accomplished. Then we were on the bikes to take a few sighting laps and warm our tires.

We spent the first day concentrating on the use of our front brakes. Day two we practiced a drill of using only the rear brakes for a few laps and it can be done—not as fast but it can be done—again concentrating on controlling the brakes.

Ever take your left hand off the steering wheel while cornering? Not on the streets I hope. I have only seen this done by the pros and now the instructors showed us how it’s done and told us we were going to do it ourselves. My first thought was “no way.” However, it wasn’t done to look cool, but to teach us control. Once the motorcycle is pointed and turned in the corner, and as long as you maintain a consistent throttle, you can do this. At first I barely let go of the left grip. After a few laps practicing this skill, I was pointing to the apex cones like the instructors and smiling from ear to ear in my helmet.

Next we got to follow the instructors around the course, but they were not taking the racing lines. They would ride erratically, braking and turning in early, running wide in corners, and many other scenarios to see if we would follow them or keep the correct lines. This was a highly effective drill for concentrating on the correct lines. It’s excellent for street riders, teaching them not to get sucked into mistakes that other riders make in front of them.

After that, we got off the bike for a lesson in one of the corners. We watched Ken Hill demonstrate incorrect braking and cornering and were asked to identify the problem. Late braking, early braking, running wide, abrupt throttle control—many different scenarios were demonstrated. Now, what to do to correct them? As a group we discussed what we learned and how to apply the skills to correct these problems. These up close and personal demonstrations made the learning far more effective.

My favorite drill of Day two was a braking competition. Students lined their motorcycles at the top of a small hill. While in neutral, we coasted the bike until we reached a braking marker and there we applied the brakes. Whoever can keep the brake light on and coast the furthest wins! This teaches you the fine art of braking, how little you can apply your brakes and what a useful tool your brakes can be.

Right now, you may be thinking to yourself, “I am not a track day rider and this training pertains to the track.” I disagree. Where are the majority of crashes on the street? In corners right? What if you could train yourself to adjust mid-corner effectively and safely? This is a huge benefit to any motorcycle rider. To accurately control braking and use this as tool to adjust speed and bike geometry, makes the motorcycle turn more effectively and gives any rider an advantage on the track or the street. If you think the latest exhaust or a new ECU is going to make you a faster or better rider, try spending the money on the best training instead. For the cost of the latest upgrades that will only last a few a years, you can invest in training and knowledge from the Yamaha School or other reputable course. For any rider, this knowledge is an investment in skills for a lifetime of riding safely and improvement.

Semper Ride

Semper Ride is a partnership of the United States Marine Corps, Strategic Action Solutions and One Eyed Bird Entertainment. The project was created in response to the increasing number of motorcycle fatalities and accidents by Marines. Drawing from experiences from their popular motorcycle-based television show, The Great Ride Open, producer/director Dirk Collins, along with producers Jim Conway and Jeff Tilton, created Semper Ride as a state of the art, high definition, big screen action that promotes a responsible riding theme. The ongoing campaign combines the film with events, a website, public service announcements and local and regional programs. Since first premiering in 2009 at MCAS Miramar, Semper Ride has been seen by thousands of Marines is proud of its role in decreasing Marine motorcycle fatalities by 44%.

This site is an excellent resource that shows Marine PPE and training requirements. It’s well thought out, and I wish every military branch had a site like this.

Here’s a Youtube link to the full Semper Ride movie, all in low-def glory. If I find it in hi-def, I’ll let you know.

Crash Testing – Dress for the Crash

This article courtesy of the Naval Safety Center Smart Ride 2011 Magazine. Please also check out their website, the Naval Safety Center.

By MSgt William Potts

We’ve all had to sit through Safety Stand Downs and many of us have been the subject of ridicule because we choose to ride motorcycles. And we’ve all heard the clichés: Dress for the crash not for the ride. There are only two kinds of motorcyclists: those that have crashed and those who are going to crash. Well there’s a certain amount of truth to the clichés and those of us that choose to ride have a responsibility to do our part to break the mold and not become statistics.

Tuesday January 5, 2010 began just like any other workday for me. I woke up and went about my morning routine to meet my number one priority, which was to be on the I-5 heading south to MCAS Miramar from MCB Camp Pendleton prior to 0545. The reason for this is simple; if you miss the “window” for being on the I-5, traffic builds exponentially and your commute time is significantly increased. However, this was to be no ordinary Tuesday morning. I was about to become the first Marine Corps motorcycle safety statistic of 2010.

My jaunt down the I-5 to the 805 East was uneventful with light to moderate traffic. I exited onto Miramar Road and the traffic was unusually light. It wasn’t until I was less than a mile from MCAS Miramar’s East gate that things got interesting.

I was the third vehicle in line in the center lane stopped at the intersection of Miramar Road and Camino Sante Fe Road waiting for the light to turn green. Once the light changed, traffic proceeded through the intersection and I decided to shift from the center lane to the left hand lane. I checked my mirrors, turned on my turn signals, and performed a head check to ensure there wasn’t a vehicle in my blind spot. The coast was clear so I proceeded to make my lane change. Shortly after I changed lanes I felt a slight pressure on the back of my left arm as if someone were grabbing me. I started to turn my head to the left when all of the sudden my handle bars jerked violently to the full locked right position. A split second later, I was flying through the air trying to figure out what went wrong.

The next thing I knew I was sliding down the road on my back, watching sparks flicker off my “baby,” (that’s what I call my bike), trying to figure out how to get out of the way of the vehicle that was bearing down on me, and thinking that when I got run over it was really going to hurt!

I got lucky. The vehicle bearing down on me, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, evaded me by driving over the left side quarter panel of the car in the center lane to his immediate right.

Once I stopped sliding, I jumped up and got off the road to assess myself. Shocked onlookers tried to get me to sit down, but my only concern was getting my baby off the road out of further harm’s way. Thankfully, the Marine that I collided with helped me get my bike to the side of the road where we waited for the police.

So what went wrong? In short, two vehicles tried to occupy the same piece of pavement at the same time, which didn’t work out so well and we collided. The driver of the Jeep’s story was similar to mine except that he was far enough behind the group of traffic I was in that he never had to stop for the red light. He saw the same open lane I did and proceeded into it just like I did. From my perspective, I think he simply didn’t see me. That is often the case in crashes that are the fault of the four-wheel operator. Of course, there is the other possibility that I failed to see him and that I rode into him causing the crash. The accident investigation ruled us both equally liable. Admittedly, I was riding with my guard down because of the light traffic and my complacency was most likely a contributing factor in this crash.

After the police released us from the scene of the accident, I rode my battered motorcycle into work, garnering strange looks from the gate guard as I entered the base. Then I informed my chain of command and went to medical to get checked out. Once I returned to work with a relatively clean bill of health, the phone calls and emails started. You see, I wasn’t supposed to have a motorcycle crash. At the time I was 39 years old with 30 years of riding under my belt. I’ve attended the MSF’s Basic Rider Course (BRC), the Experienced Rider Course (ERC), the Military Sportbike Rider Course (MSRC), The Dirt Bike Rider Course as well as the ATV Safety Course. Oh yeah, I’m a certified MSF Rider coach for the BRC, ERC and the MSRC courses. It was incomprehensible to others that someone as “qualified” as I was to ride a motorcycle could be involved in any type of motorcycle altercation. The reality of my mishap is that training and experience will not prevent all crashes but it can stack the odds in your favor.

All in all my injuries were relatively minor compared to what could have happened; I most likely would have died if I had been run over! I was fortunate. I received a small abrasion on my left forearm caused by friction between my long sleeved shirt and the liner of my leather jacket. I had a bruised left heel caused by the right rear wheel of the Jeep driving up onto my left floor board which pressed my heel into my shifter and left engine case. Lastly, I had a massive bruise on my left hip/ thigh, measuring roughly 9 inches by 5 inches, sustained when I impacted the road. My baby, a 2005 Harley Fatboy, needed all of its sheet metal minus the tank replaced, plus other odds and ins totaling a little over $5,000. My new helmet, which only had 90 miles worth of ride time, was destroyed. My leather jacket, leather boots, leather gloves and chaps took the brunt of the fall and sustained only minor abrasions. Thank goodness for great gear!

THE BOTTOM LINE is that there is a steep learning curve involved with motorcycle riding and those of us who choose to ride must take responsibility for ourselves. We can do this by getting educated through rider’s courses and taking refresher courses from time to time; you might learn something new or break a bad habit that you have developed. Ride a motorcycle the fits you as well as your skill level. Don’t let others persuade you to ride beyond your comfort zone. If you feel the desire to push the limits, take it to the track. There you’ll be able to legally push the boundaries in a closed course environment with medical personnel on sight should they be needed. Always wear your PPE: (1) DOT/ SNELL rated helmet, (2) eye encapsulating shatter resistant glasses or face shield, (3) riding jacket, (4) full-fingered riding gloves and (5) over-the-ankle riding boots. Perform a pre ride check of yourself, making sure you’re mentally prepared to ride, of your PPE, ensuring that it is serviceable, and of your motorcycle, (remember T-CLOCS). Don’t ride distracted. Never ride complacent as I did. And never ride impaired by alcohol or other mind altering drugs.

My intentions here were not to get philosophical; they were to try to convey the lessons relearned from my accident and 30+ years of experience. There are inherent risks involved in riding a motorcycle and we’re all vulnerable, although we can mitigate the risks through education and training. Wear your PPE, but don’t just wear it because you have to. Wear it because it has a purpose; it helps to lessen the severity of injuries and it has the ability to save your life. No it won’t prevent all injuries or death but it will drastically reduce the severity of most injuries. Helmets in particular are the most important piece of PPE we can wear. Treat it as if your life depends upon it because it does!

Master Sergeant Potts is currently serving as the Avionics Chief at HMLA 469, MAG 3, MCAS Camp Pendleton.

Motorcycle safety: Tips to stay safe on 2 wheels

Check the full article at Fox23

Crash factors–Speed and Inexperience…

“Veteran riders and instructors we spoke with say keeping your speed down, and taking the right training courses are the keys to staying alive. …excessive speed and inexperience are the top two most common factors that contribute to crashes.”

Drivers also need to be aware of their surroundings…

“Archambault said, “The problems that we have with people driving, and being distracted through texting, cell phones and GPS and all the other things that they do, you know they just don’t see that motorcycle.”

Having the right mental attitude…

“Mike Roth of Clifton Park said, “I ride pretty cautiously. Basically, whenever I come to an intersection, I figure somebody is going to come out. It doesn’t matter whether there’s somebody there or not, (I assume) they’re going to come out.”

When you go down, not if…

“Protective gear becomes the only line of defense. Hmiel said, “We always recommend full coverage helmets, jackets, good quality boot, gloves, pants.” Seymour says new trend in protective gear is “textiles over leather.” Hmiel said, “Textiles are lighter weight, they’re more versatile, they can be made waterproof.”

Check the full article at Fox23


Full protective gear is the way to go!

Installing a Headlight Modulator for Safety

This article courtesy of the Naval Safety Center Smart Ride 2011 Magazine. Please also check out their website, the Naval Safety Center.

BY PETE HILL, CMC Safety Division Safety Engineer

Recently, I decided to add a headlight modulator to my bike. For those not aware of this technology, a headlight modulator is installed in the power supply to your headlight and makes the intensity of the light fluctuate during daylight hours.

The reason to install a modulator is that it increases the visibility of the bike to car drivers. Having your headlights on during the day used to mean you were either a motorcycle, or in a funeral procession. Since the advent of daytime running lights on cars, the single motorcycle headlight does not stand out like it once did. The modulator is a game changer in this area. This device improves visibility any time the motorist has a frontal view of the motorcycle – for instance, the driver in oncoming traffic who is making a left hand turn, a driver pulling into traffic, or a driver moving in the same direction who may potentially change lanes into the path of a motorcycle. In the latter situation, riders should consider a lane position that maximizes the motorists’ probability of seeing the headlight in their side mirrors.

Modulators are a legal lighting accessory in all 50 states. While it may appear that they are alternating between high and low beam, they are actually only alternating the intensity between about half to full intensity of the high or low beam setting.

There are different features and configurations that are offered with modulators. All modulators include a photocell that turns the modulation feature off at dusk, which is a DOT requirement. You cannot change the setting of the photocell but can influence its operation by where you place it on the motorcycle. The instructions for mine recommended placement in a position pointing downward to protect the cell from the elements. I installed it pointing downward in the cowl above the speedometer/tachometer cluster. Because it does not receive direct sunlight, it turns modulation off earlier than if it were aimed at the sky.

Another feature the user can control is whether the modulation operates on high beam, low beam, or both. I set mine to both, which means during daylight, the headlight modulates regardless of whether the beam is set on high or low. Some riders may prefer to limit modulation to the low beam only or high beam only. My modulator allows the rider to toggle the modulation on or off by rapidly switching between high and low beam, returning the headlight to non-modulated operation. This feature is helpful if you need to aim the headlight or measure its normal operating intensity. Another feature is an interconnection to the bike’s horn that causes a rapid modulation of the light when the horn button is pressed.

The advertising and literature on modulators do not hype this aspect, but I believe one characteristic of headlight modulation that helps get the attention of motorists is that it mimics the modulation of headlights installed on many law enforcement vehicles. The fluctuating intensity gets the motorist’s attention and the first association may be that there is law enforcement following. It may prompt him or her to put down the Big Mac and hang up the phone. Regardless, anything that helps motorists see a bike is a good thing.

The module I bought costs about $60. These can be obtained on the internet or from your local bike shop. Bike shops may charge $100 or more to install, depending on the size and complexity of the hookup. Soldering connections costs more in labor but is preferred over using crimp connections that come with the kit.






















Installation is a fairly easy process for the rider, and step by step instructions are included. If you do not want a certain feature (like the horn-triggered modulation or high beam modulation) you simply do not connect those wires. Some modulators are larger than others. My unit is about the size of a matchbox with six twelve-inch wire leads. I mounted it up and under the console cover of my Pacific Coast 800. I did the installation in conjunction with replacing the windshield. Getting behind the plastic can be a challenge. Cruiser riders may want to select smaller modules if they want to install them inside the headlight housing.

Amazon link to Headlight Modulators

Loosen Up!

This article courtesy of the Naval Safety Center Smart Ride 2011 Magazine. Please also check out their website, the Naval Safety Center.


You want a smooth ride, but instead, you feel every bump, crack, pot-hole and rock! Shouldn’t the suspension absorb more of that rough ride? Your arms get tired from fighting your motorcycle, even on the smooth roads. Sound like you? Don’t worry. There is a cure for some of your riding ailment, and it doesn’t cost a thing! That’s right, the problem isn’t your bike, it’s you. You likely have something called “stiff arm syndrome.” You got it; all this time the faulty component on your machine was the “engineering nullifier hanging on to the handlebars.” YOU! So what is the treatment?

Loosen Up!

That’s all there is to it. Loosen your grip and relax your arms, especially on the bumpy roads. Yes, your natural reaction is to hold on tighter as more and more road bumps feel like they are trying to fight you. Or maybe you think something is wrong with the bike, because even when you are holding on that tight, the problem seems to get worse.

Well, it will get worse if your arms are stiff. The tighter you hold on, the more you are fighting the motorcycle from making the hundreds of minute corrections it was designed to make. Your motorcycle is an engineering marvel. At least five things affect your bike’s ability to absorb and correct for road surface irregularities. Four are engineered into the machine, and the fifth is the most unreliable, but most correctable system.

1. Front End Rake-The rake (caster) on your fork helps keep your bike riding straight. Because of this steering stabilizing rake, every time you hit bumps, even in turns, the wheel may turn slightly but will return to its center balanced position because the rake makes the wheel want to stay straight. The more rake, the more stable the bike will be. Keep in mind that more stable means more input is required to turn.

2. The suspension system-Your suspension system is made up of shocks. A shock is an input (bump or hole) dampening system made up of two major components. 1. Large weight bearing springs stretch to fill holes in the road and compress on bumps and rocks. 2. Dampeners are hydraulic cylinders that work with the springs to keep them from overshooting center. When a spring overshoots the center at decreasing amplitudes, it’s called the pogo effect. The Dampeners reduce the pogo effect by internally leaking at an adjusted rate. That dampening effect takes place in both directions of movement. When the shock is returning from being over extended, it is called compression. When the shock is returning from being compressed back to center, the state it is called rebound. On many motorcycles, especially sport bikes, there are adjustments for both. In simple terms, your shocks move up and down to compensate for the road irregularities.

3. The steering system-Steering, independent of the rake or suspension system, also corrects for irregularities in the road surface. On a large scale, you can steer away from big bumps or holes in the road. On a smaller scale, the handlebars steer a little each time you hit road irregularities. This affect is even greater the more lean angle you have on the bike. (Note: some motorcycles, primarily sport bikes, have steering dampeners. These dampeners are needed to compensate for the lack of rake on the front forks. With so little rake, the steering overcompensates and can cause wobble.)

4. Tires system-Tires are less noticeable because they are so obvious. The tire acts exactly like an independent suspension system. The rubber acts as the dampener and the air in the tires acts as the spring. Additionally, the traction the rubber provides on the surface controls the tires’ movement through steering. If you have ever ridden on a bicycle with solid tires (no air) you know exactly what we’re talking about. On a solid tire, you feel every bump and the over-responsive steering can provide for a pretty wild ride.

5. The nut behind the handlebars-The most variable component on your bike that influences the ability to correct for road surface irregularities is you, the guy or gal behind the handlebars. The engineering features included in items one through four can be overcome simply by you preventing the machine from making millions of minute corrections. You are fighting your motorcycle if you are holding on too tightly and not allowing the corrections to take place.

From now on, let the bike work for you. Remember that your job is to control the direction and speed of the bike. Let your bike do its job of making all of those road irregularity corrections. You simply need to loosen up!

Remembering A Friend – A1C Dustin Pierce

In late 2006, the Air Force lost a new member, due to a motorcycle accident. His name was Dustin, and he was my student at his career field technical school. He was only beginning his career in the Air Force, when it was cut short, way too soon.

An article about the accident
His Dad has a memorial site where you can learn more about Dustin.

Dustin is the 3rd from left

My bike blog has always had a focus on safety and education. I believe in ATGATT (All the gear, all the time), taking all the MSF courses you can handle, and doing all you can to remain safe.

I dedicate every mention of motorcycle safety and education to A1C Dustin Pierce, 1984-2006.

Motorcycle Expo – Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colorado – August 13th

Next Saturday August 13th, 2011
10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colorado

ABATE’s link

Sponsored by ABATE of Colorado
The expo will be held at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City. The gates open at 10:00 am. The ride in motorcycle show and motorcycle games start at 11:00 am The admission is free. There will also be a swap meet, live music, food vendors and more. For more information call (303) 789-3264.

ABATE of Colorado is hosting a Motorcycle Expo August 13th, 2011 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, 6000 Victory Way, Commerce City. What is it and why? This family friendly event is to educate and expose all facets of motorcycling to riders and non-riders alike. Safety and education is the focus. Listed below are activities we have planned for the event:

• MSF introduction to motorcycling information
• 3 wheeled vendors displaying bikes
• Motorcycle dealerships displaying cruisers and sportbikes
• Dealer demos
• Rider Education booth with information about classes and demos
• Rider groups booth
• Smart Trainer
• Dirt bike school booth
• Vendors selling riding gear
• Operation Save A Life – Motorcycle Awareness for drivers
• MRA Track racing booth
• Dyno testing
• Noise testing
• Motorcycle games set up by Don Gunn
• MOST booth
• Stunt Riding demo
• CSP booth and trailer
• Colorado Sportbike Club Booth
• Swap meet style vending for folks to sell their used parts
• Ride in bike show
• Westminster Police demo
• Live music
• Kids play area
• Food, soda and water booth

Our goal is to get folks interested in education and motorcycling. Have a fun day!!

Close the Gap On Training

This article courtesy of the Naval Safety Center Smart Ride 2011 Magazine. Please also check out their website, the Naval Safety Center.


Opinions are like, well … you know the old saying. And when it comes to motorcycle training, the old saying is true, because everyone has an opinion on it: why it’s required, how it should be conducted, and who should be made to attend. In a perfect world, training would be individually tailored to each and every rider’s needs, but practically speaking, this is impossible.

Three years ago, the Navy and Marine Corps tried to do the next best thing with a major restructuring of motorcycle training in an effort to provide the most relevant training to the largest possible group of riders. Current requirements mandate that all Sailors and Marines who ride attend the MSF Basic Rider Course, and then attend follow-on training through the Experienced Rider Course (for cruiser riders) or the Military Sportbike Rider Course (for sportbike riders.) Because statistics showed that some previously-licensed riders were getting back into biking after a long absence (and with considerably diminished skills) there is also a requirement for recurring training every five years.

“The statistics don’t lie,” said Don Borkoski, the Navy’s motorcycle safety manager at the Naval Safety Center. “Fatalities and injuries are way down, and this isn’t a coincidence.”

In fiscal year 2010, 13 Sailors and nine Marines lost their lives on motorcycles. Tragic, certainly, but down from 14 Sailors and 14 Marines in FY2009, and a high of 33 Sailors and 25 Marines in FY2008. Borkoski credits the decrease in motorcycle crashes to a change in the culture. Riders are taking responsibility for themselves and for mentoring younger riders. Leaders are learning not to treat riders like problem children, and are instead encouraging training on command time and proper use of PPE. However, he said the positive trend depends on riders doing the right thing to keep the mishap numbers moving in the right direction. “Most people have done a great job complying with the requirements, but we still have to close the gap with a few non-believers out there. Almost all of the sportbike riders who were killed on their bikes last year did not complete the MSRC. That’s huge,” he said.

The MSRC is conducted on a range like the other courses, but it does incorporate higher speeds, taking into account the racing characteristics of modern sportbikes. It also delves into the mental aspects of sportbike riding, which are different from that of cruisers. It’s been three years since the new course was unveiled, and the other changes to the instruction took place. That means it’s time for a lot of riders who took the courses previously to retake ERC or MSRC. Borkoski said it’s important that riders who are due for refresher training to remember this requirement and schedule a course.

“I know that some people who have been riding continuously for the last five years think there’s no reason they should have to take a training class again, but even the best riders can learn something new, or pick up on something they may not have caught the first time around,” he said. “Besides, it’s a day spent outside on your motorcycle. What’s wrong with that?”

Riders can schedule new or recurring training by visiting