Group Riding Rules & Safety Tips
Click on the link below for MSF’s guide to Group Riding. Other links will be added in the future. Ride Safe!
Motorcycle Safety Foundation Pre-Ride Checklist
|T-CLOCK, which stands for Tires, Controls, Lights, Oil, Chassis and Kickstand.
Takes about 5 minutes and it could save your life.Tires and wheels
Since these are what separate you and the road, they’re the most important things to check. A problem here will affect handling, sometimes severely. Since this is one of those critical things you should check often.Check for dings in your rims. Check that your spokes tight and straight. Check pressures in both tires. Manufacturers specify pressures for cold tires, this is the only accurate way to check them, as they heat up quickly on the road, raising the pressure. Consult your owner’s manual or call your tire manufacturer’s hotline for the proper pressures for your particular bike.Check your tread, you should have more than 1/16 of an inch, about the distance between Lincoln’s head and the top of a penny. Remove foreign objects that may have lodged in the treads, and make sure there aren’t any cuts in the tire. Controls and cables
A snapped throttle or clutch cable can leave you on the side of the road, so check them, Operate anything connected to a cable and make sure that levers and cables feel smooth and don’t bind. Apply the front brake and push the bike forward. The brake should feel firm, and the front wheel should not move. Check the rear brake in the same fashion.Lights
Seeing and being seen are the 2 best ways to avoid unwanted incidents on the road, so making sure your lights work is imperative to your safety.Check that your high and low beams are working. Check the taillight. Check the brake light. Check left and right turn signals, front and rear. Remember that the cause of a malfunction here could be a relay or bulb… Lastly, don’t forget to check your horn.Oil and fuel
Fuel up, running out of gas is a drag, and don’t forget to reset the trip-meter every time you fill up. Check the oil level, running out of oil can ruin the engine and may cause your engine to lockup resulting in a accident. Even some new bikes can use enough oil to be down a quart between oil changes, so check it before every ride.Chassis
Sit on the bike and rock it, making sure that everything moves smoothly and relatively slowly. If the front or rear end behaves like a pogo stick, a trip to your mechanic should be in your immediate future. If you have an adjustable suspension, remember to read your owner’s manual and adjust it properly for the load you’ll be carrying and the type of riding you’ll be doing.Kickstand
The kickstand is a handy little item, it’s what keeps your motorcycle off the ground. Check the spring or springs. Check that they have enough tension to keep the kickstand safely up. Don’t forget to look at the engine cut-out switch if so equipped.If everything’s in place and operating properly you’re done, and you’re ready to roll. Enjoy the day!
What Causes Motorcycle Death Wobble, And How Can You Fix It?
The motorcycle death wobble is as bad as it sounds. You don’t throw the word “death” into a bit of terminology just for kicks. This physics phenomenon happens when the bike’s front wheel oscillates from side to side and subsequently causes the handlebars to shake violently.
A bike’s instability can happen anytime and for many reasons, including a motorcycle malfunction or simply from how the bike is being ridden (aka rider error). It can also crop up after hitting a pothole or accelerating too fast, both of which can cause the front wheel to pop off the ground. Regardless of what actually causes it, the feeling is utterly terrifying.
Every type of vehicle has the potential to become unstable, and motorcycles have three fundamental instabilities. First is what’s called “overturn mode,” which is a fancy term for trying to keep a two wheeled beast (bicycle or motorcycle) upright while first learning to ride. The remaining two instabilities are both predicated on and directly tied into what a “cycle” is at its core. Motorcycle
wheels are really just “a pair of casters joined at a common pivot.”
Wobble And What Causes It To Happen
These self-centering caster wheels follow the direction of motion and trail behind a pivot point. Motorcycles have a front and rear section and thus have two different types of caster oscillations. The front caster (wheel) gets “wobble,” a rapid oscillation of 8–10 cycles per second, and can happen at slow speeds between 35 and 40 mph, but more often than not occur at higher speeds over 75 mph. Meanwhile, the rear caster can develop a side-to-side weave (2–3 cycles per second), otherwise known as fishtailing.
Oscillation develops when something knocks the wheel (caster) from its center position. Since adding weight to either section directly affects its wiggle rate, a bike can be disrupted by speed (especially when cornering), uneven tire wear, improperly inflated tires, an incorrectly adjusted swing-arm, or excessive side-to-side or lateral axle movement (sometimes created by bad wheel bearings).
Should the wheel leave the road, this castor/pivot design is supposed to get it back into a straight line even if it hits the ground at an angle, but sometimes getting the forks back in alignment takes so much force that the rider over-corrects and causes the handlebars to flail wildly.
How To Fix A Death Wobble
Riders should always keep their motorcycle finely tuned and in good working order. Mechanical issues can be just as much a cause of a death wobble as bad luck. So be aware of all the tips for motorcycle maintenance. Also, knowing how your motorcycle feels and behaves when it’s empty versus when you’re carrying a passenger (or some other load) is vital.
If you’ve done all those things but still find yourself in a death wobble, you must stay calm and resist the urge to panic. Keep a firm grip on the handlebars (but not too tight), and don’t fight the bike. Remember, the pivot/caster design will auto-correct if nothing upsets its center position or the chassis.
Despite initial instincts, don’t apply the front brake as it will shift more weight to the front wheel, which will only destabilize it more. In fact, some sources claim you shouldn’t even apply the brakes as it will only worsen the issue, but progressively using the rear brake will slow down the bike, and as it slows, the wobble rate will decrease. Other sources say riders who successfully navigated a death wobble hit the throttle slightly to straighten the bike, but sometimes you don’t have the requisite space or mental wherewithal.
Lastly, while this might seem like a no-brainer, riding safely will avoid a death wobble. Popping wheelies, tearing through turns, or anything else that might cause one to lose control is just tempting fate.