While STN has a lot of solid info regarding skills improvement, I subscribe to another newsletter that arrives every so often. An issue just arrived and I thought it reasonable to advertise it here. It's from the New Zealand Motorcycle Safety Consultants. Their web site is: www.megarider.com
The body of the newsletter is below to give an idea if you'd find signing up of value.
The MegaRider E-Newsletter,
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Published by the:
New Zealand Motorcycle Safety Consultants.
P O Box 2080,
CEO: Allan Kirk
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Controlling Your Pillion
- Bike Bias Bad
- GPS Tracking Unit
- Talking Terms
- Good Vibrations?
- Avoiding That Head-On-Crash
- Crash Survival Exercise
- Creaming It
THE GARBAGE TRUCK THEORY
How many riders do you see giving errant drivers a rude hand signal? As we
say to trainee Megariders - never shove one finger in the air at an idiot
driver. He may assume that the single digit means, "Sorry mate, but you
missed that first time".
But there is a place for using one finger in a situation where another
driver did something silly - wag your finger at them admonishingly while
sadly shaking your head.
It's very subtle, but psychologically you become the teacher and they
become the child and it mentally puts them into a no-win situation. If they
respond rudely, deep down they know that they are being "naughty" and they
feel bad. So usually they just bury their head and drive on.
However, in these days of road rage, the professionals use the Garbage
Truck theory. This seems to have originated from a New York taxi driver and
they see a lot of life in their job!
Many years ago I used to drive big red buses in Wellington, a city with
winding narrow roads and lots of less-than-competent drivers, so I saw a
bit of life. Ah, the stories I could tell.
The Garbage Truck theory is that everyone has garbage in their life and
some people, for a variety of reasons, accumulate and carry around an extra
large lot. Sometimes you, the rider, are just in the wrong place at the
wrong time - the time when a driver wants/needs to dump his/her garbage.
So, when the other driver perceives that you have done something wrong,
however slight or imagined (becausee you ride a motorc ycle, even) s/he
dumps his/her garbage onto you.
But the main thing to remember is that this is the other driver's garbage,
so you just smile and wave nicely in a "There! Does that feel better?" type
of way. Again, it completely non-pluses the other driver who, as the song
goes, therefore cain't get no satisfaction.
Don't think the Garbage Truck technique is an easy one to use. It isn't.
You have to have the maximum self control. But, if you want to be a
megarider, that's what you have to have. Or maybe you can just let your
hair down a bit and wag your finger instead.
CONTROLLING YOUR PILLION
Something we always say to riders when we are teaching the tips and tricks
of carrying a pillion passenger is that you not only have to control
yourself and the bike, you also have to control your passengers.
Because bad reactions by a pillion can cause major handling problems.
And it can be more subtle. If an action by your female pillion annoys a
large gang member, you have a problem, because the gang member tends to
seek retribution from the rider, rather than the female passenger.
This targeting of the male seems to be something that comes from the gang
members' caveman ancestors (and who is more caveman than a gang member?).
The caveman thing is that the male is responsible for controlling the
female. Of course, sadly, this doesn't apply these days of emancipation but
irate gang members don't tend to worry about niceties when they want to
bash you, knife you, or shoot you.
I got to thinking about that recently when I encountered a car annoyingly
double parked in one town not too long ago. I stopped to avoid a young
woman walking out behind the car and, as she opened the rear door of the
double parked car into what would have been my path, I tapped on the horn
(just a very short blip- not a blast).
The woman promptly gave me the fingers.
I found myself wondering whether the driver had seen that and had said
something to her. But, if he was stupid enough to double park on a busy
street, then I guess he wasn't a good enough driver to know about
controlling what passengers do.
Ah, he will so richly deserve the day his passenger flips the bird at a bad
tempered Hells Angel...
BIKE BIAS BAD
Too many riders have a bias based on bike size, bike type, bike brand or
just anything that is not the bike they are riding.
But, for the megarider, a motorcycle is a vehicle for transport and
recreation more than an object of unthinking adoration.
Any powered two wheeler can give you lots of dun … and save your neck
One weekend, megarider Helen Medlyn was on a ride with a Harley-worshipping
friend when the switch to the reserve fuel tank of the guy's Harley failed,
leaving them stranded in the middle of nowhere.
After a short wait, a guy on a scooter putt-putted to a stop beside them
and asked if they needed help. He was an Irish guy, named Paul, who offered
to take one of them to a petrol station.
"Because my friend is very tall and muscled, I thought it best that I go,"
Helen told us. "I was laughing at the sight we must have made ... me
wearing my black leathers, clinging to Paul's pale blue anorak. Bless that
man. He had to take me quite a distance before we found the nearest petrol
station, then he waited while I got some fuel, and then rode me and a huge
petrol canister back. Paul wouldn't accept anything for his random act of
kindness, so we could only thank him verbally ... He was a star."
GPS TRACKING UNIT
Although GPS tracking technology has been around for several years and has
been widely used to track automobiles, motorcycle tracking via GPS is
Now, a US$199 GPS Tracker unit can be used to provide GPS tracking for
motorcycles, can aid the rider in theft recovery, crash detection and with
24-hour EMS dispatch services.
To allow for its use on a motorcycle, the MotoTraq, as it is called, is
water, dust and shock resistant; the GPS and cellular antennas are internal
and completely self-contained; and the unit is so small and unobtrusive
that it can easily be concealed and kept out of view.
To us, this sounds like useful modern technology.
Let's put some common motorcycle terms in common motorcycling language:
"Understeer" is when you hit the fence with the front of the bike.
"Oversteer" is when you hit the fence with the rear of the bike.
"Horsepower" is how fast you hit the fence.
"Torque" is how far you take the fence with you.
Because about 22% of all road accident fatalities involve bike riders and
it is the only mode of transport which is seeing a rise in the number of
deaths, the researchers decided that “something had to be done”.
So, in a great exhibition of ignoring the complexity of riding a
motorcycle, the next push is to fit motorcycles with collision detectors.
According to a report from the BBC, tests are being completed to bring the
latest technologies found on cars to two-wheels and the first bike-based
safety systems are planned to be on motorcycles within two years.
The main problem the researchers have had, other than their lack of
understanding the complexity of riding a motorcycle, is that traffic noise
and noise-insulating crash helmets can prevent riders hearing the
traditional audible alarms found on car collision systems.
One of the most difficult things is getting the rider's attention," the
developers have said. "There's a high level of ambient noise and vibration
to deal with and we really don't want motorcycle riders looking down at the
handlebars any more than they need to."
So researchers looked for other ways to alert bikers of pending danger.
They put a motor in the cheek pad of the helmet so, if the rider does not
notice an object, it will vibrate and give a tactile warning that there's
something to the right or left, they say. They didn’t say what the motor in
the helmet would do to your face in a crash or explain how the system would
know that you haven’t noticed the object or whether they had taken into
account the fact that motorcyclists often purposefully travel close to
other objects, such as when lane splitting.
So, with making noticeable noise a problem, they settled on tactile warning
systems, including vibrating seats and special gloves.
Of course, the dangers inherent in fitting wires and objects into the
gloves that hit the road in a motorcycle crash appear to have been
And it’s not just the other road-users they reckon that technology can help
riders with. New systems, they say, could protect the rider from
themselves. One system tested works out if riders are travelling too fast
to negotiate upcoming bends.
Is it a surprise that this doesn’t take into account that most corner
crashes are not caused by the rider travelling at a speed he cannot round
the corner at but because of target fixation and freezing.
Instead, the brilliant researchers have developed software that acts as a
"co-pilot" which, with the help of a digital map, knows what speed they
should be travelling to make it round a corner. I wonder if it can be
adjusted for skill level…?
Proof of concept tests on the Saferider systems, as they are known, have
been carried out in simulators and on road bikes by Mira (formerly known as
the Motor Industry Research Association), which acts as a testing and
innovation centre for carmakers.
Mira does admit that making useful safety systems for motorbikes useful is
"challenging" because of all the distractions the riders is subjected to.
So, in future, when you are countersteering past some dipstick in a car who
has just pulled across your path at an intersection, that vibration you
feel in your seat may not be a warning that you may have to go home to
change. It may be a Saferider warning vibration.
Isn’t that a nice thought?
AVOIDING THAT HEAD-ON CRASH
In the last newsletter I asked what reactions you would make in the
not-uncommon crash situation where a motorcycle comes wide around a corner
and is heading straight towardsyou.
You are about to have a head-on collision with another rider! What do you
I received many submissions and many riders nailed the answer quite well.
But many had forgotten the two essential facts that apply in this crash
1. The phenomenon of target fixation
2. The size of the motorcycles involved.
This head-on crash situation rarely arises solely from the fact that the
oncoming rider has swung wide on a corner. In just about all cases, the
oncoming rider could get back onto his side of the road relatively easily.
The problem lies in the fact that the oncoming rider target fixates on you
coming towards him … and his bike goes where he looks.
So the first thing you have to do is avoid target fixation yourself. If you
both target fixate on each other, you will go head-on - with likely fatal
How do you avoid target fixation? Look for the escape route. Get your eyes
looking for a way around the oncoming rider and don't lock them onto him
and his bike.
And then what do you do? Move away from him? Yes, you can move away (and
should) but don't forget that he's in target fixation mode and his machine
may well alter its path to keep on heading toward you.
This is where the second fact comes in. The average motorcycle is quite
narrow and, head-on, a bit of hard countersteering will take you around one
coming head-on at you.
So, if you move out of the path of the oncoming bike early, but he target
fixates towards you again, your best option is to wait until he gets a few
metres away, then countersteer *hard*. Even though he's in target fixation
mode, he won't countersteer hard to hit you again, unless he actually
*wants* to run into you.
Once you have countersteered hard away from him, you will probably have to
countersteer hard to get back on path again. This isn't difficult if you
have learnt how to consciously countersteer. If you haven't, get someone to
take you through some countersteering exercises. It will probably save your
life, sooner or later.
Remember, because of the narrow size of a motorcycle, avoiding one coming
head-on at you isn't all that hard.
The most important thing you have to remember is not to target fixate on
the oncoming bike … or you're done for!
CRASH SURVIVAL EXERCISE
Recently, a man and a toddler were critically injured after a car was
forced into the path of a motorcycle near Huntly.
The 3-year-old was due to be transferred from Waikato Hospital's intensive
care unit to the Starship hospital in Auckland last night and the
52-year-old male motorcyclist was in a serious condition, and to undergo
Initial analysis by the Waikato police serious crash unit indicated the
southbound car had tried to turn across State Highway 1 about 3pm and was
shunted in the rear, forcing it into the path of the motorcycle.
Emergency services closed the highway to analyse and clear the scene and
did not reopen it until just before 6pm.
Put yourself in the rider's position. What should you have done? And when?
Maybe it's a unique road surface hazard to New Zealand, but recently a
leaking milk tanker left a 500m long strip of cream along State Highway 1
in Northland one morning, leading police to warn motorists to take care on
an extremely slippery road.
The tanker leaked the cream onto the road south of the Brynderwyn summit,
south of Whangarei about 1.30am, a police northern communications spokesman
“A short detour was put in place for northbound traffic and the cream was
cleaned up and the road open shortly after,” he said.
If you fell off on it, I wonder if your insurance company would believe you
when you submitted the claim...?
Would any of your friends like to get the Megarider e-newsletter?
Just get them to email us at email@example.com
with a request to go
on the mailing list and telling us their name and country they ride in and
we? be pleased to oblige.
Keep the rubber side down.
New Zealand Motorcycle Safety Consultantshttp://www.megarider.com