While everyone should be looking out for motorcyclists, May is the "official" month for Motorcycle Awareness. Click the button below to read some additional safety tips and guidance as well as finding opportunities to improve your riding skills...for free!
The day started off like any other. Kris and I were meeting a friend to go out for a nice relaxing ride around the area. With the route planned and laid out on my Rever (you know me and how often I get lost even with GPS and maps!), we set out. Around Bear Creek Road, I looked down and saw my battery light on. "Oh great..." I thought. Easing into a corner, rolling off the throttle, the bike died.
Pulling over to as safe a spot as we could find at the time, it was then that I realized...I left ALL of my normal tools back in the other bike (we were on our Heritages). So, this would be a good lesson in the importance of carrying tools with you! What you see above is typically what we carry with us at all times; this assortment can pretty much help you mechanically for all sorts of issues and, with some creative thinking, even allow you to make quick repairs on the fly to at least get you back somewhere to get the real work done. So, what do we normally carry?
Everyone should have heard of T-CLOCS when taking their basic rider course. Proper pre-ride inspections can save you time, maintenance costs, and, most importantly, your life! While there are quite a few items that are covered in the official MSF T-CLOCS Safety Inspection Checklist (provided below), checking your tires (pressure and tread), brakes (pads and grab), oil level, lights (including your turning indicators), and controls should be the bare minimum.
Heat cramps are painful, involuntary muscle spasms that usually occur during heavy exercise in hot environments. The spasms may be more intense and more prolonged than are typical nighttime leg cramps. Fluid and electrolyte loss often contribute to heat cramps. Muscles most often affected include those of your calves, arms, abdominal wall and back, although heat cramps may involve any muscle group involved in exercise.
If you suspect heat cramps:
Heat exhaustion is a condition whose symptoms may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, a result of your body overheating. Causes of heat exhaustion include exposure to high temperatures, particularly when combined with high humidity, and strenuous physical activity. Without prompt treatment, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
If you suspect heat exhaustion:
If you are with someone showing signs of heat exhaustion, seek immediate medical attention if he or she becomes confused or agitated, loses consciousness, or is unable to drink. You will need immediate cooling and urgent medical attention if your core body temperature or higher.
Heatstroke is a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. This can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher. Heatstroke requires emergency treatment. Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles.
Symptoms of heatstroke include:
If you suspect heat exhaustion:
"I didn't see them!"
How often have those words been uttered after a motorcycle-car incident? How often have you been riding down the road at night and not seen something in the road, or have something "pop" up on you from the sides?
One of the most important things you can easily do yourself is upgrade your lights. The image above shows a general comparison between stock lighting (on the right) and LED lighting (on the left).
In the past, this upgrade could get quite costly, especially for touring bikes with auxiliary or passing lights. Replacing all three front lights could cost you over $800...in the past. With recent advancements and mass production (due to increased demand), this upgrade is now a LOT more reasonable and you can easily pick up all three for under $150. And the majority of these setups are a plug-and-play installation.
I can attest to the effectiveness of these. Coming back from a trip to Austin, and riding at night, Kris and I went thru some iffy roads, including hitting a pothole - a LARGE pothole - that "snuck" up me because I couldn't see it with the stock lights. It was at that point that I decided to upgrade our lights, no matter the cost. And we've never been disappointed. As a matter of fact, the first thing we have done on all of the bikes in our garage is to buy LED headlights and passing lamps (if needed).
The difference is literally night and day, and the LEDs punch through the dark as well as providing excellent visibility during the day and the tricky sunrise/sunset situations.