Well after reading a few of the peoples thoughts here, I thought it about time to write my own little contribution to what can only be called a motorcyclists bible. I usually just rant these off to my mates, hoping at least one or two of the points will stick. So I thought it would probably serve a higher purpose if I actually wrote it down for everyone's benefit.

I've been riding since I was a little brat, so I'm pretty sure I've seen a lot, but I definitely haven't seen it all. I've lived in the UK for a spel, and the one thing I noticed was that the dangers actually differ from area to area. By this I don't just mean from London to Cape Town, but also Jhb to Cpt. Keeping this in mind, here goes.

Rules to follow for commuting motorcyclists:


  • Lights. Lights on, always. I you're driving into the sun in the late afternoons/evenings, put your brights or high-beams on. Chances are the driver in the car in front of you is already squinting and probably won't see a small little spec of light in his mirror.


  • Mirrors. Watch yours. Watch the car in fronts mirrors as well. If you can't see their faces in it, they can't see you. This includes their rear-view mirror.


  • Never swing into a lane, always drift slowly while indicating.


  • Watch out for objects sticking out of the back of bakies and trucks (especially if you have a tinted visor). Sometimes they will have a pretty little red piece of cloth, and sometime, nothing at all.


  • Watch for manhole covers. More so when wet.


  • When buses and taxi's pull over to drop passengers, passengers for some weird reason, like to walk out in front of the bus, and without looking when they cross.
  • Pedestrians also like crossing between stationary vehicles and almost never expect a motorcyclist between two stationary cars.


  • Watch out for vehicles overtaking other stationary or broken down vehicles in the same lane as them. Most drivers will try to squeeze past the stationary vehicle without leaving their lane, which can only mean your 'middle lane' will become very small, very fast.


  • Don't ride up onto people's asses with your bike, and if you do, stay far enough to one side, so as to swerve to avoid them if they suddenly break hard.


  • Don't ride behind trucks or removal vans which have their rear doors open. Wooden blocks - among other things - used in keeping the future in place sometimes fall out from it.


  • When overtaking a truck traveling at a speed of over 120km/h, once passing it's nose you'll get hit by a serious case of wind sheer which ordinarily will push you off to the right. Expect it and compensate for it. Overtaking between two trucks is not advisable.



To them who call themselves motorists, it's your duty to:

  • Buzz them


  • Inform them they made a mistake


  • Thank them for watching their mirrors


  • Thank them for moving out of the way.

And remember to always help a fellow biker. Unless his big, and ugly and rides a Kwaka. Then no, no, no. Just kidding. :P

If you do decide to travel fast:

  • When exiting the freeway from the fast lane, as you do, don't look for a gap between traffic up ahead. And by gap I mean two cars with a decent enough gap in between them to fit your missile of a bike. You won't believe how often a decent gap one moment becomes a decent trailer the next. Thank you Brembo!


  • Upon opening the throttle... watch for manhole covers. More so on wet days.


Long distances:

  • If you're traveling long distances (Rally's/Touring/etc), carry a can of Tyre Weld in your bag somewhere. It saves you a long walk on a hot day.


  • Clean your visor often. That beetle that hit your visor a minute ago could actually hide a dead cat lying in the road the following day. I keep a small bottle of lens cleaner and cloth, both from my Polaroid sunglasses for these occasions. Some optometrists will give you these for free.


  • If you're riding a naked bike, one without some kind of wind protection, get a neck covering of some kind. Stones and bugs at high speeds on open roads can hurt like a b!tch.


Equipment:
Most people think they're scared of falling. Falling is the easy part, it's 'injuring myself' part you should be more worried about. Buy the best equipment you can afford. It doesn't have to be the most expensive, but sometimes price is a good indicator of good quality, except when your talking replica's.

  • Helmets: they should fit snug, the snugger, the better. Check online if the helmet is ACU approved and Gold accredited and DOT approved. Not just DOT approved.


  • Clothing - at the very least, always wear a leather jacket - the padded kind! Not the fake Marlboro or BMW Racing replica jackets either.Gloves are always important and will save you a lot of stitches and possibly a few fingers. Leather pants as above. Boots, if and when you spend the cash, spend it well, cause they're pricey.


Emergencies:

  • Have at least two emergency numbers stored on your phone. Learn how to use speed-dial on your phone.


  1. the Ambulance service in your area.
  2. a close friend who won't let you down no matter what time it is.

I think there is a thread somewhere around here about what to do in case of an emergency. If not, PM me and I'll write one up.


Personal driving style: Or the Zen of Motorcycling:
Everyone has their own driving style and each area one drives in is different. You'll need to find your own driving style to suit your own area.

For myself I cross lanes a lot and rarely just ride in between lanes. Crossing lanes from left to the right of the dotted line ensures the driver ahead always sees your headlights moving from left to right in his mirror. He needs to know you're there, so you need to make him aware.


  • If you see someone with a broken mirror:


  1. they cannot reverse or parralel park to save their lives and shouldn't be driving in the first place or
  2. the last driver was kind enough to leave you a warning you of impending danger when approaching this person's vehicle.


  • Watch out for Mercedes drivers. They're either old or rich people, but either way, the car must be really really really comfortable, as they don't seem to want to move their necks from the headrests. *** this may be a Cape Town only problem, however I doubt it.


  • I noticed that when riding up onto someone's ass, even unintentionally, they sometimes spontaneously break. This usually happens when they're trailing you in their mirror, like they should be, and see you coming too close to their car than they are comfortable with. A person's first instinct when something goes wrong, in a car anyway, is to apply the break.Watch for this, you rarely expect it.


  • If I see someone sleeping behind the wheel I buzz them. Basically you want to accelerate slightly, pull in your clutch and drop it as you pass them. This usually gives them the wake up call of their lives and if they have their windows open, all the better. Its been done to me before, and I should have been paying more attention, so I appreciate the gesture. "Keeps me sharp, on the edge, where I got to be." Al Pacino - HEAT.


Loosing your cool:
Only two excuses for loosing your cool

  • He makes you lock you front end due either a sudden braking for no apparent reason, unexpectedly swerving out from behind another car, changing lanes ignorantly or any other clearly blatant lack of judgment in controlling of one's vehicle.
  • He swerves or gestures towards you, as if to say what it. This is not attempted murder per say, but he can go to jail for this. Pulling a gun on someone and not pulling the trigger doesn't mean you're a good citizen. But then neither does it mean your a killer. Always get bystanders to report what they saw in their own words to the Police.

The rest of the time there is no excuse and the same rules apply as when on the track:
You should always pay attention to those in front of you.

  • Don't try talking with a helmet on. You won't sound like Darth Vader and it's hilarious to those your trying to intimidate. :P


  • Hand gestures are the best, but be prepared to back up your bark with some bite if necessary. Bikers don't ride tail between the legs. If that's you, get a luminous scooter, so I can spot you a mile away.


  • Taxi's need to know their limits. Drive aggressively and indicate your intentions clearly. Don't wait to see what they're going to do or they'll just take the gap and cut you off like you predicted. Also remember that while you're only commuting to work, that person in the taxi is trying to earn his bread and butter. Let him through if it's going to save him (and his passengers time). It took me less than 4 months and now taxi's on my route to work are a lot more biker friendly. No broken mirror's or windows even and only 1 incident in the two years since.


I liked the Bonehead's sticker Idea mentioned earlier. I'd pay to have a couple of those shipped down to Cape Town. Please make the gloo extra strength, I want that guy to think hard about cutting me off again. Bonehead PM me if you can wouldn't mind sending me some.

Suggestion: I'm sure there are those out there with a few more tips. Maybe we should sticky it all somewhere?

Laters!

Griff