Category Archives: Advice

Why do motorcycles crash?

This infographic highlights the main findings from the 2009 MAIDS (Motorcycle Accident In Depth Study) report which collected data from over 900 motorcycle accidents in 5 different countries. The report is an extensive, highly detailed analysis of the causes of motorcycle accidents and, let’s be honest, you probably don’t want to read it. Fortunately, Reddit user Shooey put the effort into summarising the most important information into this much easier to digest infographic. Click to embiggen…

Why are we crashing?

How to prepare your motorcycle for a long journey

If you are planning your first motorcycle trip, your might be prepared but it is important that your bike is also ready for the journey. Regardless of whether you are going abroad or just wanting to see another part of the country you need to ensure your bike is in good shape.

You might be up to date with your bike maintenance already, but just incase it is important to make sure that you have had a recent service. For a long trip it would be wise to ensure that you have had an oil change. This will ensure that your engine is running smoothly, remember a happy bike means a happy trip. Next, check that your brakes are up to the task if you are taking a major trip it would pay to bleed those brakes ahead any expedition.

If you have been using the bike for daily commute check those tires ahead of any trip. Take a good look not just the pressures but the tread depth. If they are looking pretty worn and approaching the tread depth it would pay to change them. Remember that when tires start to get the minimum tread they wear faster, a lot faster. Most touring tires give a great mileage without sacrificing performance.

Of course check cables, lights and everything else. It is often a good idea to wash your machine, not just so it looks good for the trip but it is the best time to spot any obvious faults or damage to the machine.

If you are taking your bike overseas you need documentation. Take original copies of your documents, especially the registration papers. It would also be wise to check for any regulations that would apply. If you are going to be driving on the opposite side of the road then you are going to need headlight deflectors for your machine. This is a legal requirement as without these you will be dazzling incoming traffic.

Finally, check everything and then take your machine on a test ride with the luggage that you are going to be carrying. This is to get used to the machine with extra load (this will certainly change the handling a little), and check your luggage. Make sure those panniers aren’t damaged.

Once you are happy, you and your bike are ready for a trip of a lifetime!

Photo Credit: Tomasz Kustrzynski

Charity motorcycle rides

Bikers are a good natured bunch and one of the ways bike clubs around the world contribute to their community is by organizing charity motorcycle rides. While many charity rides are designed purely to raise money for a particular cause, some clubs organise ‘toy runs’ to collect toys for underprivileged children. Generally speaking charity rides are organised by motorcycle clubs, so if you want to get involved it’s a good idea to get in touch with your local club to find out if they’re planning such an event.

If you want to organise your own event, you’ll need to publicise it to encourage other bikers to get involved so, again, getting in touch with a local motorcycle club is usually going to be the best way to do this. The events raise money in different ways, but usually participating rides will ask people to sponsor them for every mile they ride, and some sort of event with entertainment and refreshments is often organised to mark the end of the run, where further money can be raised by inviting members of the public to participate and donate.

World’s largest charity motorcycle ride

Charity motorcycle rides are a great way to have fun and help a good cause

The largest of the charity motorcycle rides on record is the Annual SFPC (South Florida President’s Council of Motorcycle Clubs and Oranizations) Christmas Toy Run in the Sun, which takes place in Fort Lauderdale every year and sees over 30,000 motorcycles completing a 26 mile parade which takes over 3 hours. The event has been running for twenty years and raised over $7million for sick children as well as thousands of toys for needy kids.

There are thousands of similar events taking place all over the world every year, although for obvious reasons most of them take place in the summer. And you don’t need to round up 30,000 bikers to organise your own charity ride – just getting started with a dozen or so participants will be enough to generate some interest from your local newspaper and start raising some donations for whatever charity you decide to support.

Some bikers go one step further and organise epic charity motorcycle rides across entire continents to raise money for good causes, like one rider who recently rode all the way from London to Bangkok in aid of rare diseases. While organising such a trip by yourself isn’t impossible, it does take a lot of work, planning and logistical support, which is why most people who decide to do this will instead work with one of the many companies which arrange these trips for a fee, leaving you to focus on enjoying the ride and earning the money.

How to find a cheap motorcycle

In these tough economic times lots of people are having to make sacrifices and while a shiny new ride may now be out of the question for many bikers on a budget, it’s still possible to have some fun with a cheap motorcycle. The first, and most important point to bear in mind is that you’ll almost certainly be looking at a used bike rather than a brand new one. Like most vehicles, brand new motorcycles lose a large chunk of their resale value the moment you ride it out of the showroom, so you’ll always get a lot more bike for your money if you buy used.

One of the best places to find a cheap motorcycle is eBay, although you will often have to spend a bit of time researching and digging around the site for a bargain. The first rule of buying a motorcycle through eBay is to decide on the maximum amount you are prepared to pay for the bike and never be tempted to bid over that amount – a lot of people get caught up in the excitement of the auction and will talk themselves into bidding more than they planned to, which can mean that a bike that would have been a bargain eventually ends up being quite expensive.

Buying cheap motorcycles

Buying a cheap motorcycle might mean you have a little work to do on the bike

For most people a cheap motorcycle means an old motorcycle, so it’s more important than ever to pay attention to how well the bike has been looked after by previous owners and what kind of condition it seems to be in. Take a good overall look at the bike to find out what kind of physical condition it’s in – does it look as though it’s been regularly maintained and cleaned? Is there a full service history or any other documentation to demonstrate that the owner has taken proper care of the machine?

If the bike has lots of aftermarket parts and the engine has been tuned, this is often a sign that it will have been ridden hard in the past and will almost certainly be in more delicate condition that a bike which is still in standard condition. Remember, modifications (especially engine tuning) almost always decrease the resale value of a bike and very rarely add to its value. Look for signs that the bike may have been raced – things like the sump-plug and oil cap may have been drilled and lockwired, the fairing panels may be in very good condition but the frame and other parts will look tattier (racers often take the original plastics off and use cheap race fairings, replacing the originals when they want to sell).

If you’re going to buy an old cheap motorcycle, it’s a good idea to pick a popular model that sold well when it was launched as this should mean that there are plenty of spare parts available. It’s also worth trying to find a servicing and repair manual for whichever model you buy, although the internet is always a useful resource when trying to find information about working on older bikes since there are usually plenty of forums dedicated to the more popular bikes, where experts will be happy to share their wisdom.

When you’re buying a cheap motorcycle remember to factor in the cost of repairs into your budget, which could cover anything from a basic service to a complete overhaul. If you’re not confident that the engine is in good running order and you’re not able to repair it yourself, the bike may not be the bargain you think it is.