Cars Vs Cyclists – but who’s missing?

Cars Vs Cyclists – but who’s missing?

Image result for car vs bike

It’s the age old argument of who has more rights and who should have more rights – a car or bicycle.

They hate each other, and if one ever posts criticizing the other, within the first few comments you will see things get personal or even violent.

A Facebook friend recently posted a satirical blog about things cyclists do that annoy car drivers, and literally got a death threat from a cyclist for it!

Some of my most viewed YouTube videos, with hundreds of thousands of views, are ones that feature a cyclist or even just that ‘c’ word in the title. To read the comments you’d think I hate cyclists myself – and very few will ever know or bother to watch the videos where I’ve stood up and even protected cyclists.

Hell, some of my best friends are cyclists. Personally, the thought of cycling on modern roads scares the shit out of me and it’s a disaster waiting to happen, but I digress…

There’s someone missing from these road wars.

Image result for filtering motorcycle

Motorcycles.

Whenever legislation is passed, new rules created or road markings laidd, they NEVER think about motorbikes.

Never.

How else do you explain Advanced Stop Lines (ASL’s)? These are the boxes you’ll find at traffic lights as a refuge for cyclists, so they can safely filter through and safely set off first when the lights turn green to keep cyclists safe from cars. No other vehicles are allowed to stop within the ASL.

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Wait – what?

So a motorbike, that has filtered to the front, is not offered the same safety? Even though the biker is just as vulnerable? Even though that motorbike will out-accelerate very easily any car or cyclist, so it makes even more sense for them to be at the front?

Clearly, when they set the ASL laws they’d forgotten about motorbikes, and it was all car vs cycle as usual.

Birmingham is quite good, but a lot of other cities won’t let motorbikes use bus lanes, which makes no sense at all if cyclists can.

There’s never any talk of special motorcycle only roads or paths, despite everyone having a cry that motorbikes account for 99.4% of road fatalities or whatever. Why?

Oh the Government will give you money off a new cycle to save the environment and cut congestion, and celebrate you, and give you lots of free, secure parking – but not if you want a motorcycle! And you’re going to give thousands of cars cheap road tax (yeah I know it’s not road tax – I just wanted you to have THAT rant again!) but motorbikes still pay full, and quite often more than car fees.

WTF is all that about?

All we do get is signs put up by the side of the road saying esoteric things like “THINK BIKE!” that nobody really knows what it means or who it’s there for? I mean, are they to get cars to look out for bikers or are they to get bikers to stop riding like idiots?

How about you remember the other group out there cutting congestion on our over-crowded roads chock-full of single-occupancy steel boxes?

Remember traffic jams are a car problem – not a bike one. And that means BOTH lots of bikes.

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Which Motorcycle Chain Is Best?

Which Motorcycle Chain Is Best?

This isn’t going to get very technical – you can find that stuff from elsewhere – but this will be about my experiences with different types of chain on my bikes over the years.

I’m sure you’ll find it riveting! *groans*

First off – don’t pay someone else to do it!

It can be a bit fiddly to fit some types of chain, but you’ll soon get the hang of it.  Get a good quality chain rivet/splitter tool (about £40), and it will save you as much as a hundred pounds each time to replace a chain!

So you’ve got your tool (an angle grinder to cut through the old chain is a massive help, too), and now you need to source your own parts.  What’s on offer?

Standard or Heavy Duty chains
These are the most basic chains you can get.  They’re lighter than the others, and narrower as they don’t have o/x rings to help lubricate the links.  They’re cheap, and can be stupidly cheap if they’re made from crap metal.  I wouldn’t even think about using one on anything with more than about 60hp.  You’re looking at getting one for under £20, and should see them for half that on Ebay.

O Ring chains
These have rubber rings helping keep each link lubricated.  They last well.  These are the benchmark chains and a half-decent one will last around 12,000-20,000 miles. Price shopping around will be £40-60.

X Ring Chains
Like an O Ring,  but the X rings produce less friction and keep the lubrication in the links even better, so consequently a better chain life (claimed) of 40% plus.  You might scrape one for £50 to about £80.

Renthal SRS Chains
With these, they spring-load the rings, so they work even better, and allegedly show longer life than an X-ring.

The bottom line is that in my experience, even the cheapest X ring chain will be better than a good quality O Ring one, and the cheapest O Ring will be a massive improvement over a HD chain. 

You’ll notice I didn’t put a mileage down for the standard/HD.  This is because most people I know will say they broke or seized up.  I recently had one on my GPZ for a few weeks and maybe 200 miles.  I barely lubed it, and it was on Winter roads in bad conditions, and I had bearing issues – so it had about the toughest job possible.  Even so, a lot of links had stiffened A LOT.  It went in the bin when I decided it was false economy, and I splashed out for an O ring chain.  Some say a HD chain will see 13,000 miles – I’d say more likely less than half that.

The jury is still out on the Renthal SRS.  I have one on my ZX9R and noticed straight away that I have to adjust it far less than other chains, but I haven’t put enough miles on it yet to give a conclusion.  It does look very good at this stage, though!

Moments That Mark Your Biking History

Moments That Mark Your Biking History

The best thing it’s possible to buy is a motorcycle.

Since that first iconic moment 15 years ago, where I took my CBT test and bought a scrappy little Yamaha TZR125, there have been a few moments that have been milestones in my biking history, for whatever reasons.

On the fourth day of riding, I was following a mate towards an island, and went in a little too hot.

I don’t know if I locked the rear, or it hit something slippery, but either way it ended up highsiding me big-time as I tried to get slowed down on the curve entering the roundabout.

I still remember quite vividly flying through the air several feet up, and looking at the shocked faces of two Police Officers who were driving towards me around the island.

Considering this was my first ever crash, I did well to be thinking about trying my best not to roll as I hit the floor (grass, luckily) so it didn’t snap my back or pull my limbs off, but the bigger thought as I slid along on my back was that I had to get up and back to my bike before the Police closed the road off.

I hurt my shoulder a bit, but was fine to ride the bike away from the scene.  I actually dropped that bike a few times, and always rode it away.

I put many miles on the bike after that, and loved every one.

A few months later I was filtering (badly) through some very heavy traffic in Worcester.  Two ZX7R’s came past me with ease, and I tagged onto the back of them.  It taught me so much watching them – I don’t think they put their feet down once as they carved through the gridlocked roads.  I don’t think I’d enjoyed filtering until then, but that all changed when I saw the skill needed to do it this well.

Having got a bit more experience, of course it was time to learn how to get my knee down.  I raced around as fast as I could, hanging off the bike like a drunk monkey as I did my best to get my sliders to touch down, to no avail…

A big bike came past me on a local road one day, and even though he wasn’t even exceeding the speed limit, he was sweeping the road on every corner with his knee.  I couldn’t believe how that was even possible?!

I upgraded to a Kawasaki ZXR400, which is just an awesome bike for learning to ride fast on.  The front end was like it was on rails and inspired masses of confidence.  Despite this, I still couldn’t quite get my knee down.

Alongside the ZXR, I bought an old 1988 Honda VFR750 FG for courier work.  At first I was terrified to lean it over in case the centre stand bottomed out.  So different to the ZXR it felt like trying to ride a big old skyscraper!

I soon settled in with that bike, and one day I was having a spirited ride around The Cloverleaf, and it was just starting to rain.  I leant it over and hung off and *SCRRRTCH!*!

I nearly jumped off the damned bike until I realised this was my kneeslider touching down!  Even today it amazes me how loud it is when you scrape your knee!

Jumping back on the ZXR after this, I’d crossed a barrier, and could get my knee down on any corner, at any speed.

My mates all got bigger bikes, but the little ZXR had no problems keeping up because of it’s cornering ability.  I still remember my mate trying to get his knee down on a Bandit 1200, and me going around the outside of him about 30mph faster with knee, toes, pegs and damned nearly my elbow touching down!

Life was good – riding was great.

One Sunday morning I left my girlfriend in bed and jumped on the ZXR to grab some food for us.

Before pulling out of my road, I let a Land Rover pass me.  I followed behind, and started to cover my brakes as the Land Rover slowed randomly in the road.

It was about then that something hit my visor, and suddenly I felt a wire across my throat.

Thinking of recent stories of kids tying wires and rope across road to get bikers, I slammed on my brakes, expecting the wire to tighten at any second and take my head off… By some miracle I got the bike stopped before the fallen telephone cable could decapitate me.  That Land Rover driver in front, who had stopped realising I was behind after he hit the wire himself, undoubtedly saved my life.

It was a stark reminder that I wasn’t invincible – and also that however skilled a rider you are, something totally random and beyond your control can take you out in a split second.

It took a while to get over The Fear from that one – I ducked every time I passed that spot for a long time…

Still, my biking continued with a growing love.  I could get my knee down on anything, and as well as being a fast road rider, I was also a safe one.

It was years later that I finally got around to booking my first track day at Donington Park.  I still have no idea why I left it so long, as I have been around racing all my life!

Pulling out of the pits onto that famous tarmac, I rounded the first two bends and nearly shot my beans as I got my first view down the Craner Curves!

So awesome it was almost spiritual!  I had a similar experience around Oulton Park a few weeks later… then a few other tracks as the trackday bug bit me hard!

I have had a couple of crashes during my time, but I’m alive and well.

More alive for riding bikes, I reckon.

And every time I swing my leg over a bike, even today, it still moves my soul.

How To Deal With A Crash

How To Deal With A Crash

When you ride a bike, it happens.  At some point you’ll either lose it all on your own, hit a filthy great slick of deisel, or some cock-rag will drive their car into you.

Someone (mrtommygunwhite) from the motovlog.com forum asked for advice on what really happens during the whole crashing process, and so I did my best to answer:

At the time:

Enjoy it!  Seriously.  Crashing is a Hell of a lot of fun!  I remember my first ever crash (highsided my TZR going towards a roundabout), and when I was flying in mid-air I saw the astonished faces of two Policemen in their car coming towards me!

Or sliding down the road at high speed once you’ve come off.

Or locking both wheels of my RGV250R for the 4th time, totally sideways, as I tried to avoid the huge spikey truck that had pulled out and stalled in the road ahead, and then getting flipped off and between the wheels of the truck.

Sure, it hurts, but in that moment, and looking back afterwards, it’s a unique experience.  WHEEEEEEEE!!! 

The only worry I’ve had is to try and keep my helmet from smashing against the road (they’re expensive!), and if you know you’re going to flip or roll get your limbs in so they don’t flail about and come off.

Just after:

Yeah, it’s not so brilliant from here on in.  My first thought is normally “Nooooo – not my bike!!!” and getting to is ASAP to pick it up and assess the damage.

Next it’ll be what’s missing from me.  If it’s a bad one (actually, you should ALWAYS do this first) just stay the fk down.  Have a nice lie down for a while and see if you’re still breathing.  Have a little bit of a gentle wiggle to see if anything hurts.  Then have a look and hope your toes aren’t in front of your visor, or anything daft.

If you’re not hurt, then try and control any rage so you don’t rip someone out of their car window and beat them to death with their own gouged-out eyeballs. 

A car pulled out on me on an island, and I banked it over and thudded into the side of her, somehow staying upright and still on the bike (which was written off for front suspension damage).  I was -ing livid, and have absolutely no doubt I’d have pounded the dumb bints face so badly she’d look like a dropped pasty.  Luckily, she only stopped about 50 yards down the road, and I’d have looked pretty damned stupid running all that way just to get to her.  I shouted lots, though.

Dealing with the fear, i.e. the nightmares

This can be bad, but remember they ARE just nightmares!  Afterwards I’d often jump off the bloody bed thinking I’d crashed again, or locked the front etc.

I do think it’s good to get back on a bike ASAP, but when you do you should take it easy, rather than going at it full-on straight away.  It’ll take a while to build up your confidence again.

Weirdly, BEFORE a few of my crashes I’ve had dreams for a few weeks before it happened.  Like dreams of losing the front on the brakes before someone did a U-turn and I did indeed lock up the front and go down.

In that crash, back in January 2008, that is all I remember.  I was filtering, saw a cars wheels turn before he immediatley floored it and pulled out.  I hit the brakes HARD, remember losing the front (not that I had a chance of stopping at that distance)…. and then I was sliding down the road on my back.  I even remember trying to hold my head up (it was a Shoei!) and just giving up, letting my head drop because I figured I was probably an ambulance case.

How did I get through a solid car?  Did my body actually hit the car?  I have no idea, and to be honest I’m not sure I really want to have that memory come back…

Oh, and remember your adrenaline will be through the roof after a crash, and you may not notice broken ribs and stuff for hours afterwards.  Get theeself to hospital if there’s any doubt (a chest impact could do heart damage that will kill you hours or days later etc).  And remember you WILL be in serious pain the next day, even if you think you feel fine at the time.

And finally the people who are out to get us – the trolls:

They’re not!  They’re all just regular people who have brain-dead moments.

Take a walk around a supermarket and note how people park their trolleys in the most stupid and selfish places, or push them without any kind of awareness of their surroundings.  That’s pretty much how most people drive.

Braindead Car Drivers With Aids

Braindead Car Drivers With Aids

I went out for a good long ride the other day along the scenic and fun roads around Shropshire, but almost didn’t make it that far because of this incident just a few minutes into my journey:

Now, firstly I need to stress to you how important it is to make sure you’re ‘switched on’ whenever you’re on the bike.  It’s easy to get complacent when you’re only just setting out, and even more so when you’re close to home on your return.

In the video, you see the car ahead of me is positioned over to the right hand side of the road approaching the roundabout.  He is actually up against the right hand curb as he’s going around the roundabout, before suddenly and without indicating he cuts across to take the left exit.  Almost taking me out.

His road positioning and percieved intention to turn right is exagerated even more because the car ahead of him took the correct positioning and line, making his actions even more deceptive.

I had plenty of room to go around the left hand side of the car, but to be honest I was expecting such a stupid move, so hung back.  You could say my Spidey Sense was tingling, and it saved me.

You’ll notice that afterwards I overtake the car.  There are several reasons for this – firstly what you can’t see is that I was gesticulating to the driver as I was alongside.  When I pulled in front I was switching my indicators on and off and pointing at them.  Do you think he learnt anything?  Doubtful.

Secondly, I believe that it’s better to have the idiots as far behind you as possible, where they can’t cause you any damage.  If they’re still in front they’re still dangerous, as they can brake and reverse or do other mental stuff.

What exactly are we doing to educate drivers?  Other than the million to one chance of them getting caught being Nobbers by the Police, we’re creating hundreds of driver aids to make the cars safer.

Sorry?

We’re making the CARS safer, taking even more responsibility away from the driver?!  Meaning they have even less need to concentrate, because the cars will brake, stabilise themselves, keep within the road markings and protect the dumbass occupants when they do end up upside down in a ditch?

Maybe we should be taking all the driver aids away and surrounding the driver with sharpened metal spikes facing inwards, so they might start to learn that their pissing about behind the wheel has CONSEQUENCES.