2004-09-03 / Columnists

Tips For Holiday Motorcycle Rides

With 64 percent of motorcycle fatalities alcohol-related and 50 percent taking place at crowded intersections, both motorcyclists — and the auto drivers who can hit them — need to be particularly cautious during holidays.

So says Keith Code, the world’s top motorcycle instructor, who has trained more than 125,000 motorcyclists at his California Superbike School in 12 countries to date.  His bestseller books are in five languages and recommended reading for all riders enrolling in Norway’s national motorcycle operator’s licensing program with applicants directed to visit his Website, which can be found at www.superbikeschool.com.

During holiday weekend riding Code recommends the following: Booze and bikes don’t mix.

Next to alcohol-related deaths, intersection collisions are still the major source of accidents, when a car makes a left in front of the motorcycle. A motorcyclist has to take safety precautions at an intersection other than eye contact. ‘’A driver may look right at you and not even see you,’’ Code said.

Let a car run interference for you at an intersection. If you have a choice, run off the rear right fender of the car in front of you. Other auto

drivers are geared to look for cars, not motorcycles which have a much

smaller profile to the eye.

Use your front brakes. They provide 90 percent of the stopping power. The tendency in a tight situation is to use your rear brakes only, but they are 20 percent as effective and can actually cause accidents from misuse. Stopping with your front brakes is much more reliable and effective.

Code says that riding defensively can make motorcyclists even more invisible.

“That means you’re going to have to have 360-degree vision, and know

everything that’s going on around you,” said Code, “Assume cars never see bikes because ‘it’s not their job’.” 

He advocates aggressive maneuvers—speeding up and slowing down, moving back and forth within a lane — to create visibility.  “I don’t mean ride illegally, I mean use your advantage of maneuverability to put the bike where you want it and do it in a positive manner that lets drivers know you are there,” he said.

Code also cautions riders not to rely too heavily on wearing bright

colors — or installing loud muffler pipes. “There are too many things in the environment that compete with bright clothes, including brightly colored cars,” he said. “But a rider with a brightly colored top and loud pipes who’s moving around in his lane, is going to improve his chances of recognition.”

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