Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Art of motorcycling

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(Honda CBR600 used to be my dream bike ever since I saw it for the 1st time in an UK Bike Magazine. However the nearest Honda that I could ride on was a Honda cub. Picture source: www.motoforum.cz)

Aren’t you just amazed on how someone can balance themselves on 2 wheels at 90 km/h? Ya, there is the law of physics and all that but really, try sitting on a bike and take the feet up. Unless you already know use the bicycle, the chances are you will be leaning to one side and fall.

I used to love bikes – when I was riding on one. These days, I just hate them – the riders, not the machine. There have been few close calls between them and me. My brother & my cousin is still riding a bike to work and I am praying for the day when they can finally sell off their bikes & drive a car. It’s safer.

I have nothing against bikes. I was using a bike for almost 15 years before I switch to a car when I got married. Riding a bike was fun then – riding in the elements (rain or shine) and more importantly getting to office without being stuck in traffic jam. It was cheap too (free parking and very, very low maintenance cost).

So when a friend of mine was talking about riding a bike correctly (after he almost hit a moron on a bike), I had to share some my own pointers – pointers that kept me from any injuries in 15 years of motorcycling.

1. Buy the right bike

I once had a friend who travels everyday from Mantin in Negeri Sembilan to KL on a 2 stroke Yamaha RXZ. Not surprisingly the bike gave up somewhere along North South Highway in the middle of the night after only 2 months in use. So, use a 4 stroke for longer distance and heavier load (note how the roti-man always uses the Honda Cub and not a Yamaha sports moped?). Match the capability with the use.

2. Service the bike

This one no need to tell lah. No matter what vehicle we are using, there is always a period for servicing. Some had trusted the bike so well that they did not service the bike for months until it broke down. Their reason: No time to service.

Checking tires must be periodically checked because unlike a car tires, motorcycle tires only has nylon barrier to protect it from sharp objects on the road. Wonder why changing tire tube is the main business in all motorbike shop?

3. Wear the right attire

Unfortunately, wearing the right attire on a bike is a big taboo to Malaysians. Many Malaysian don’t like to wear helmet too. The right attire should be at the minimum, a good helmet, tear-proof jacket (not the sports, paper thin wind-breakers), leather gloves and good shoes.

I wore a water-proof & tear-proof jacket (cost me more than my helmet), AGV helmet with a clean visor and a leather gloves when riding on my Yamaha 110S. I often get “are you out of your mind” look at the traffic lights and my friends always laugh at me, asking me whether I am riding a “superbike”? Ya sound funny indeed but the point is when we fall, irrespective of falling off a superbike or kapchai, we will still get the same injuries. So, why take chances?

4. Obey the rules

Ok, I am talking Greek here for some of you – skip this and see no.5 below. Beating the red-light is a common thing that bikers often do. I lost count of how many accidents happened at the traffic light, just because one idiot was lazy enough to press the brakes or wait for the green light

5. Look around

A bike has an advantage over a car in that it does not have a blind spot. The rider is sitting right in the middle and nothing obstructing his view. A perfect 360 degree view right? Not really. There was once when I was rushing for an appointment and I was waiting at the traffic light. I kept looking at the red light and the moment it turned green, I accelerated without looking to my right. I was almost run over by a lorry that had beaten the red light. That incident woke me up – I could have died due to my carelessness.

6. Always remember the word “ikan bilis

That right! Bikes are the “bilis” of the road ("bilis" = small fish), so don’t try to challenge a car or bus or lorry. I had seen idiots - young couples and old man riding bike on the fast lane and they are riding like 50 km/h. I have horn them before but nothing moves them from the fast lane. The young couples are busy “chatting” whilst the old man is in a world on his own. Those impatient drivers often overtake them in a very dangerous manner – often almost grazing the bike. Follow the traffic or move over.

See TV Smith’s Malaysia Truly Malaysia and Motor Psychos for the darker side of motorcycling
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(Filed under Del.icio.us Tag: Driving_Skills)
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