Friday, December 18, 2009

Formula One - 2010 Rule Changes

Though not as dramatic as the rule changes introduced for the 2009 season, the revisions for 2010 could still have a significant impact on the teams’ relative performance…

The biggest change for the 2010 season is the banning of refuelling during races for the first time since 1993. Pit stops will not become a thing of the past, however, as drivers still have to use both dry-weather tyre compounds during a Grand Prix. Of course, those stops will now be much quicker, quite possibly under four seconds.

The change requires cars to possess a much larger fuel tank - up from around 80 litres to something nearer 250 - and has a major effect on race strategy, with drivers having to pay more attention to tyre and brake conservation. To accommodate the bigger tank, the cars are likely to feature wider rear bodywork and a longer wheelbase. As a result, the weight distribution will be quite different to that of a 2009 car.

Points system
In place of the previous structure, which saw the top eight drivers scoring 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 point respectively, from 2010 the top ten finishers in a Grand Prix score points. The change has been introduced as a result of the expanded grid of 13 teams. Under the new system, the race winner takes 25 points, with 20 and 15 being awarded for second and third places respectively. The next seven finishers will score 10, 8, 6, 5, 3, 2 and 1 point respectively.

The minimum weight of the car has been raised from 605kg to 620kg. The initial thinking behind this was to offset the disadvantage faced by taller, heavier drivers in KERS-equipped cars (the additional weight of the KERS system meant they were left with less flexibility in terms of weight distribution than their lighter rivals). By mutual agreement, however, teams are now not expected to run KERS in 2010.

Narrower front tyres
When slick tyres returned to Formula One racing in 2009, the tyre size remained unchanged. In terms of contact area, this meant that the fronts gained proportionally more grip than the rears. This has been addressed for 2010, with front tyre width reduced from 270mm to 245mm, thus helping to bring back a better grip balance. Also, the ban on refuelling means cars will be around 100kg heavier at the start of a race than in 2009, so Bridgestone will use slightly harder tyre compounds to compensate.

No wheel fairings
Teams are no longer allowed to use the wheel rim covers that became so commonplace in 2009. Their removal means one less thing to go wrong when pit crews are trying to change of set of tyres in less than four seconds, and could also aid overtaking by making the airflow immediately behind cars less turbulent.

More teams
Thirteen teams - 26 cars - will feature on the grid in 2010. This means a slight alteration to the knockout qualifying session, which will now see eight drivers (as opposed to five) eliminated in Q1 and Q2, leaving ten to fight it out for pole in Q3. The ban on refuelling means that cars will qualify on low fuel in all three phases of the session.

If a team declares that one of their current race drivers is to be substituted by a driver who has not participated in an F1 race in the two previous calendar years, one day of track testing will now be permitted, on an approved circuit not being used for a Grand Prix in the current season. This is to avoid scenarios such as that seen in 2009 when Jaime Alguersuari made his Formula One debut with Toro Rosso having only previously driven an F1 car in straight-line testing.

In another minor change, teams will be allowed six rather than eight days of straight-line aero testing per season. They will also have the option of substituting any of these days for four hours of wind tunnel testing with a full-scale (rather than the normal 60 percent-scale) model.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Yelagiri Road Trip

Chennai – Yelagiri – Chennai: Total Distance – 520Km


  1. Pramod – FZ Orange.
  2. Rajith – Pillion.
  3. Abhilash – FZ Black.
  4. Rajesh – Pillion.
  5. Karthi – Discover 135.
  6. Vetri – Pillion.

The Idea:

Karthi was suggesting going to Yelagiri for a weekend for quite sometime but we never really found time because most of us worked on Saturdays too. So we decided to run-off to that place for the Independence Day weekend. What better way to celebrate freedom other than hitting the open road. We floated the idea to Pramod and Abhilash who didn’t even give it a second thought as both of them owned Yamaha FZ and were eager to test it on the highways. Rajesh and Vetri were also happy to join the ride.

The Plan:

Planning and preparation was down to me and Karthi. The task at hand was to decide on the route which was easy because there was only one obvious route which was the Chennai-Bangalore highway. Then liquor which we got it from TASMAC and Pramod had some Smirnoff and Bacardi. Then came the stay and no one knows what happened except for me and Karthi. We got a list of hotel phone numbers and called one by one but to our dismay we didn’t find any rooms. It seems we had to book atleast 10 days in advance and for this weekend all rooms were full. We had only 2 more days and we decided not to tell the rest of the party about this and head to Yelagiri and see what happens. The only think which helped us was Pramod’s words: “We are all bachelors. We can even sleep on the platform…”

The Ride:

We decided to start on Saturday 5.30am and the meeting point was Menakshi College, Kodambakkam. When I woke up that morning I could here the rain…. Holy Cow! But all of us where very determined to make this happen and surprisingly we started at 5.30am inspite of the rain. The rain slowly subsided into a gentle drizzle. The bikes were prepped and topped up the previous day itself and the only thing left to do was hit the highway. Initially we were very cautious until we get a hold of the road conditions and decided to stop at Sriperambattur (30Kms). The wet weather got our tanks full and we needed to empty it ;) Then I took over from Pramod. I and Karthi were riding at a steady pace. Meanwhile Abhilash was playing yoyo. He would periodically gun the bike and go ahead of us and then drop back way behind us and again do the same thing. We had breakfast and tool several snaps on the way and finally we reached the foot of Yelagiri. The ride up consisted of several hair-pin bends and reached on top a around 12.30pm.

At Yelagiri:

The demon was back and we could not find any place to stay. I and Karthi set-off in search for a place to stay leaving the rest of them. This took us all around Yelagiri and all places were full but on the bright side we got to see Yelagiri. Meanwhile Pramod somehow managed to find a guy who rent out placed and finally we got a place to stay by around 3.00pm. The place was much more than we could ever wish for. We got a full bungalow for ourselves for 4400 per day. The price was little steep but we didn’t have any other choice. We then had a sumptuous lunch and headed to the lake and took a stroll around it. We were all getting ready for the night and bough snacks for us to give company. Back at the house we arranged beds and chairs in the balcony/terrace and began our session which went till 3 in the morning.

The next day we went for some random site seeing and we went were the roads took us. The roads were beautiful and the scenery was even better. We had out lunch and decided to leave by 1.00pm.

The Ride Back:

The ride down was a Blitzkrieg. I decided to take lead and wanted to test out FZ ability to break and turn. I was literally scraping the foot-peg at every turn and was the first to reach down a good 5mins ahead of others. We decided not to see the waterfalls as the locals said there wouldn’t be any water because there was no rain. We headed back home and as we hit the Bangalore-Chennai highway the heavens opened. We took that as blessing and ripped through the highway. One thing I found out was never tail a FZ when the roads are wet and never be a pillion when it rains. The rear tire picks up hell a lot of water. We were doing 90+ consistently and also 100+ at some sections. Atleast that’s what the speedo said. The only think that overtook us were big cars. We took a break at Vellore to have snacks and get some medicines for the hangover which me and Abhilash was having from morning. After that the ripping ritual started. Abhilash fell behind as he had to refuel. I and Karthi decided to maintain 90kmph because 100+ put a lot of stress on man and machine. We reached Chennai by 7.00pm and by 8.00pm all of us parted ways to rest our sore butts on our beloved beds.

Lessons learnt:

Always arrange for the stay before you start your journey if that is possible.

  1. Never tail behind a FZ on wet roads.
  2. Riding with a pillion is not a good idea. Avoid it if possible.
  3. On busy highways with centre medians it is safer to ride on the right side.
  4. DO NOT RIDE in the night.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My review on Yamaha FZ

It’s about an year now since I got on to my FZ... So far it’s an exciting drive.

The idea of this blog is to share my good and bad (not many though) experience with you.

As I am writing this, I am as excited as I was, when I bought this bike. But there are still few points which are to be noted to keep the speedy ride going good.

FZ Design – This was my first consideration to purchase a bike and all I have to say is, Amazing Design... Believe me, while riding (or) on halt at any signal, most of the heads turn to you and no wonder if someone asks you about the bike’s performance. That explains everything. You will realize that all of a sudden you start feeling like you are the brand ambassador of FZ.

FZ Mileage – The next obvious question which comes to our mind while taking a decision on purchase. Guys, this is Yamaha and I see these new FZ series and Fazer are next generation of RX 100 (thought RX100 is the king of the roads and you can never get the sound effect similar) and if you are riding one these bikes for pride and passion, mileage should be the 3rd priority in your consideration of purchase decision after price factor. Still you can gain better mileage if you managed to maintain the bike just by giving it to regular services. I manage to get 40+ KM/L and I don’t see a reason why you can’t get it.

Caution: In the few cases that I saw, FZ front disk break holds the tire and thus it produces friction while the bike is on move. To verify this, you have to make the bike stand on center stand and try rotating the front wheel or take a small drive without applying front break and touch the front tire disk, you can feel It is warm. This happens when the disk is applied at a very minute level by default. You can get this adjusted to some extent which could help you on a smooth ride and also helps in mileage factor.

FZ Safety (Crash Guard) – You normally don’t see a crash guard for FZ series. But as far as I noticed, for FZ16 & FZS bike’s handle bar would act as crash guard. I believed this only when I fell from bike twice. But having a crash guard would help the bike not getting damaged.

First time when I was down with FZ, it was a strange experience. I wanted to avoid a speed breaker and I went to the corner of the road which has lot of dry sand. As we know the bile skids slightly on dry sand, I was cautious and slowed down. When the rear wheel was passing through sand, it got stuck in it due to its weight and width which made me lose my balance and the next min I was on the ground with the bike with a blinking face realizing what happened. The good part was, I was under the impression of leg getting hurt if I met with an accident, before buying the bike. But this was the first time I was proven wrong.

In the second instance when I was grounded again by some nasty situation, I was safe without any hurts. But had a crash guard been there, I would have saved Rs 3500/- and time for the damages caused as my indicator holder got broken which would require headlight doom to be changed, there was a fork bend and silencer was having pretty bad scratches.

You can fix a crash guard as few dealers provide it, which would be in the shape of butterfly (similar to Splendor). But, it’s the question of bike look and feel.

That’s all for now folks. Keep monitoring the blog regularly as my next one would be about my FZ long drive experience.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Art of Safe Riding - Long Distance Riding

To most riders, 700 kilometers in a day seems like too much. For some riders, even 200 sound like too much. It shouldn't. If you are in reasonable shape, covering 500 to 600 kilometers in a day of riding on the open road or 300 odd kilometers in the hills should not be too strenuous. Riding long distance entails a re-calibration of your fatigue threshold. Like the 'second wind' experienced by a marathon runner, long hours in the saddle reveal similar reserves that exist within us. Usually, after 5 hours on the road, nearly every rider feels tired. Yet, pushing oneself even an hour beyond this apparent tiredness shows quite clearly that it will not get any worse. The body may feel a need to rest but the mind can push it on for twice that time without damage. The trick is in keeping your eyes on the target and paying attention to details.

1. Keep your bike in top mechanical condition. A failure 2 days into the tour and in the middle of nowhere is a thoroughly avoidable event. The engine tuning, control cables, brake pads and fluid, tyres, electricals, drive chain and even the frame need periodic checks.

2. Carry all the relevant documents in original, with a photocopy placed elsewhere. The R/C Book, Pollution certificate and Insurance policy (even the cover note will suffice).

3. Being in a reasonably fit physical shape helps the rider stay alert even at the end of a 10-hour ride. Fitness stretches one's fatigue threshold.

4. Plan your route, along with any alternatives, and calculate equipment and financial requirements according to the longest probable route. Good road maps are a must. Especially the ones that show distances (with heights in case of hills) accurately and mark petrol pumps that actually exist. Being stranded without fuel is depressing at the best and life threatening at worst if you get caught at high altitude late in the day and without equipment to spend the night in the open.

5. On highways within our country, doing about 200 kms stretches between breaks is usually the limit.

6. Carry only as much luggage as is totally essential, but never skimp on tools and repair equipment. Carry all that you would need, short of towing another similar bike behind you. Tie the luggage securely on the bike. If riding one-up, tie it on the seat behind as it gives your back some added support and stops the wind from getting in from behind you.

7. Tie the bag so tight that it cannot be moved sideways or up and down at all. A loosely tied bag will keep sliding this way or that and apart from distracting you, could act as a pendulous mass in case of a rear wheel slide during panic stops. Being well behind the centre of gravity of the bike, even a 15kg bag could exert enough leverage to make the otherwise controllable slide totally wild.

8. Prefer a bag with side pockets that are not covered by the tie-down straps. Keep the frequently needed stuff like the water bottle, small tool kit, the first aid kit, spare goggles etc in them. Pack the bag such that the heavier things are at the bottom and the lighter ones on top. Keep extra clothes and rain gear outside the bag. Secure it on top with bungee cords or elastic net. Don't forget to wrap these things in a polythene bag first or the dust and grime enroute would not leave them worth wearing.

9. Keep a separate helmet at home for exclusive use during the long tours. Make sure its visor is clean, scratch-free and seals out the dust effectively. Following a truck or bus on a narrow and dusty mountain road at slow speed will prove you its real worth.

10. Wear a cotton or silk balaclava before putting on the helmet, whatever the weather. It protects the inside of your helmet from oily perspiration and stops insects from getting into your ears and nose if you need to ride with the visor open. Two thin cotton balaclavas inside a well fitting helmet can see you through the coldest ride.

11. Wear a cotton inner in summer (a cotton track suit is ideal), and preferably a wool one in winter. Au outer windproof jacket with a closed collar is useful, whatever the season. Even 20degC summer mornings can be uncomfortably cold when doing a 100-kmph for hours together. (Remember the wind-chill factor). Also, when riding in those hot summers, contrary to instinct, cover yourself well, leaving as little skin exposed as possible. The dry hot wind blows away perspiration before it can cool you and since every bit of liquid near the skin gets dried up almost immediately, you get dehydrated pretty soon. Clothes help retain this water. And keep drinking water or cold drinks frequently.
12. For cold weather riding, dress in layers comprising of wool, cotton and wind-proofs. A layer of cotton inners followed by a wool tracksuit, then a thin windproof jacket, which in turn is covered, by a heavier quilted windproof jacket can take you through sub-zero riding conditions. Gloves are a must but of the kind that don't compromise on feel and grip, whether wet or dry. To avoid wind-chilled hands in winters, wear latex rubber surgical gloves over woolen ones. Leather though, is ideal. Improvise a nape cover for the gloves using a non-slip type polythene bag.

13. Dress your lower extremities the same way as the top. Two layers, one cotton and the other wool followed by good windproof pants that close around the ankles are sufficient. Boots should have thick non-slip rubber soles, a metal reinforced toe cap and should reach above the ankles.

14. A set of dark glasses for bright sunlight and clear one's for night riding, are important. Needless to say, they should be scratch-free and a good fit.

15. The rain suit should be made of rubberised cloth and its seams must be double sealed, pasted together and not stitched. The stitch-holes will leak, no matter what the manufacturer claims.

16. However far or near the destination, try to leave early in the morning, pre dawn preferably. The sight of a new day breaking, while you ride, is somehow very rejuvenating. And the added benefit is of very little traffic so early in the day.

17. Take frequent breaks, at least every 2 hours, when on a long ride. After 10 hrs on the saddle, you might need to stop even more frequently, to fight fatigue. When riding in the cold, take frequent breaks for warm food and drinks. Do not keep riding until you get numb. You could be closer to hypothermia than you realise and could crash from delayed reactions.

18. Drink lots of water on the way. The wind rushing past carries away more water from the rider's body than he would loose if walking or travelling in a covered vehicle. In cold weather, tea and coffee are good substitutes but for the frequent toilet breaks, since both of these are diuretics.

19. Keep a fuel log. It helps you monitor the mileage your bike is giving apart from keeping the fuel expenses in the picture. In areas where fuel stations are far and apart, you can easily assess whether you can make the distance or not.

20. Maintain a steady fast pace for long stretches. Rushing along for sometime and then stopping every hour will actually reduce the ultimate distance you cover in a given time span. Remember the Hare and the Tortoise!

21. Wrap sandwiches or paranthas in aluminum foil and clamp it somewhere on the engine casing. You get hot food whenever you stop for a tea break! A real treat in those chilling winter rides.

22. Ride the long road with the attitude of someone on a holiday. Leave that poisonous urban rush behind. Set a target for the day but don't keep chasing it all day. Relax! You are out for fun.

23. When in the hills, keep to your side and watch out for gravel, oil, water or pine needles on the inside of blind curves. In winter, during frosting conditions, watch out for the treacherous 'black ice'. Water or even moisture on the road gets frozen into clear ice and it is very-very slippery. This happens even on a bright sunny afternoon on the shady side of the mountain.

24. With snow or a crust of crunchy ice on the road, a bike ridden two up is more stable than with a single rider. Due to the added weight, the wheels an cut through the ice to grip the road.

25. If there's a stream flowing across the road, watch for slippery moss covered rocks underneath. Keep the bike upright and avoid sudden direction changes.

26. Night riding in the hills is, in a sense, safer than during daytime. You can see the approaching vehicle's lights beyond a curve. Also, you are more focussed since all you can see is what gets lit up by the headlight. There are no distracting views to see around. Prefer a headlamp that gives a wide beam spread as it enables you to see which way the road goes beyond a curve. A narrow focus beam lets you see straight ahead but not where the road is heading beyond the turn.

27. Night riding in the plains is a different ball-game. Follow a fast 4 wheeler at a safe distance and use its lights to see ahead. A bike is not the king of the road at night.

28. Practice doing minor repairs, in darkness, or with your eyes closed. Things like changing the control cables, the headlight bulb or the spark plug. You could get stuck with any of these failures in total darkness.

29. Always carry a spare tube even if you have puncture patches. And, before hitting the road, check the expiry of those puncture patches and adhesive. In case of sudden deflation of a tyre while riding at speed, never brake the punctured wheel. The tyre will jump the rim and you get thrown off the bike.

30. A couple of meters length of insulated wire and insulation tape are indispensable for on the spot electrical repairs.

31. Carry a 12ft X 16ft plastic sheet. It works as an emergency rain shelter. Put it across the seats of two bikes parked parallel with a 5ft gap in between for you to sit. You get an instant roof and the luggage gets added protection from rain. Keep a stout rope, about 15ft long, for emergency towing.

32. As a ritual, check engine oil, brakes, control cables, chain tension and lights each day before starting. Keeps you in touch with the bike and you are not easily caught by a surprising failure.

33. Intersections are popular places for spills. Keep that head on the swivel and preferably let another vehicle run interference between you and the cross traffic. Let him take the hit if some moron jumps the light. Any larger vehicle is far better equipped to take on impacts than an exposed motorcyclist.

34. Passing a bus that has pulled over at a stop, look at the road ahead of its front tyre from under its bumper for brave pedestrians who believe in crossing in front of a parked bus!

35. With disc brakes common, the increased braking power could get translated into a rear end collision if you brake hard and surprise a tailgating motorist. So watch those mirrors before dropping anchor.

36. Alcohol is a great deluder. It makes you feel strong when you are weak, capable when your abilities are diminished. Maybe that's the attraction behind it. Don't, please don't mix alcohol with 2-wheeler riding. Since the 'robot skills' of starting, stopping and steering are not much affected, the drinker is deluded into believing that all his reflexes and riding faculties are intact. Not so. Even ½ a bottle of beer (that’s just 5% blood alcohol level, half of the legal limit) just takes away the rider's ability to cope with the unexpected. And mishaps are unexpected.

37. Stitch a piece of chamois leather to the back of your left glove's fore finger. A quick wipe across the visor in rain improves vision substantially.

38. At night, deflect the angle of your rear view mirrors a little to avoid the glare from vehicles following you. Adjust the angle so that you have to lean forwards a little to look into them

39. When riding in a strong crosswind, crouch to make yourself as small a target for the wind as possible. Tuck in your arms, narrow your shoulders, bend your back, slide back on the seat to get your head close to the tank and grab the tank with your knees. In short, shrink. And turn into putty. Relax your body and retain a firm yet resilient relationship with the bike. Let your body move a bit with every gust and absorb its energy on its own without shaking up the bike. And watch for sudden changes in the wind force due to static (trees, houses) and moving (cars, trucks, buses) windbreaks. They stop the wind as you pass them and it comes back in force suddenly when you are past them.

40. Fatigue is one major factor that can result in lax reflexes and diminished ability of the eyes to focus. Rest, if possible. If not, then concentrate on focussing on distant objects to avoid falling into the trap of focussing on 'nothing' in front of you, the 'seeing yet not seeing' syndrome. And keep those eyes moving. Take a short break or a nap when sleepy. Driving drunk or drowsy is the same.

41. Develop peripheral vision, that ability to be aware of what's going on in the far edges of your sight while looking straight ahead. While riding, fix your eyes on the road and traffic ahead and without moving your head, try to monitor the traffic on either side of you. We usually sacrifice side vision when we concentrate on what's ahead.

42. Braking performance is degraded when carrying a passenger, mainly because the added weight lengthens the stopping distance. Same with cornering. The extra weight takes up suspension travel and makes the bike less responsive to steering inputs. So take it easy when tow-up and extend those safety margins.

43. The passenger should hold on to the riders waist or lower chest. Grab rails leave the passengers wobbly, making the bike unsteady. Tell the passenger to look over your inside shoulder, stay in line with the bike, hold on to you and relax.

44. To cover long distances in a day, the first rule is to keep moving. Don't dawdle over lunch and tea breaks. Minimize your stops by combining tasks. Take a leak, drink water, change your jacket and tighten the luggage in one go. The second rule is to keep the stops short. Maintain a steady fast pace balancing the time gained against the risk factors. At the end of 100 kms, doing 95 instead of 85 makes you gain some 15 odd minutes. Which is about an hour less on a 400km ride. See if it is worth pushing yourself and your bike so close to the limits to gain just an hour in 8 hours of riding.

45. When riding through deep water that submerges the exhaust pipe, keep the bike in first gear and those RPM's up. If the engine stops, water will enter the tailpipe and maybe enter the engine. Do not attempt to re-start the engine as the water inside can severely damage it.

46. When riding through sand, drop tyre pressures by upto 40% (The idea here is to improve tyre floatation i.e. its ability to ride on top of the sand through increasing the contact patch), keep the bike in low gears and steer straight. In sand, always remember that the wheels have a tendency to dig in, so when coming to a halt, do so gently or the sand piles up ahead of the front wheel making the subsequent pick-up difficult.

47. Keep a 2-mtr long piece of fuel pipe for emergency fuel transfers from one vehicle to another. Also, have a flat board of wood, about 12"X8" handy, to put under the main stand if you need to park your bike on soft ground. Otherwise, use only the side-stand, with a small flat rock placed under it, for parking on soft ground. Note: What appears to be hard ground now could become soft after even a short rain shower. Even hard tarmac becomes unusually soft on a very hot afternoon.

Travel the high road on a motorcycle for the fun of travelling. The highways are not proving grounds for speed and tricks. They are means of getting to far off places. Respect and be considerate for other road users, especially the villagers who were there before the highways came into being. Leave 'Mr. Hurry' and 'Miss Speeding' behind when you tie those bags. Wear your helmet, eye protection and proper safety gear. Just savour the freedom your mechanical steed provides you with and ride so that you can ride again and again.

The Art of Safe Riding - Riding Gear

Motorcycle riding gear is as much a necessary and intrinsic part of motorcycling as are good riding skills and a well-maintained motorcycle. Riding on two-wheels while being exposed to weather and sans any protection from contact with either the road or other objects in case of a fall or an accident, his riding gear becomes the last line of defense for the rider.


Let’s begin with the helmet. The human skull protects the brain inside but it has its limitations to the amount of forces it can handle before getting damaged itself. And of course ‘damaging the skull to save the brain’ is not an option in any case. The helmet is a prime protector. Its hard outer shell (which can be made of propriety plastics, strong polymers or even fiber-glass) is there to protect the head from any object that can penetrate the helmet on impact and hit the skull inside. Also, a hard, non-deformable outer protects the head inside better. A light, hard and strong shell that resists deformation makes for a good helmet.

An energy absorbing liner forms the inside shell of the helmet. Made of high-density thermocole, polystyrene etc, this liner absorbs the energy of impact and does not allow it to get to the skull. This inner shell gets compressed and deforms in absorbing the forces of impact and so protects the head from injury. Ideally the thicker this inside shell, the safer is the helmet though there are limits to how thick it can be considering the size, bulk and weight limitations imposed by an equally large shell that would be needed.

Inside the inner shell is a padded liner that provides a comfortable and soft layer next to the riders head and face. This contributes to comfort, provides for a snug fit and forms a cleanable inside for the helmet.

In choosing a helmet, first and foremost look for either BIS (in case of Indian make helmets) or DOT approval (in case of imported ones). These ‘certification’ marks ensure that the helmet meets with certain rigorous and standardized safety standards and shall perform as expected and promised. Prefer a full face helmet to an open face one as the former obviously provides better protection. Look for as wide and eye-port as you can get, especially in the peripheral region. Prefer a clear visor and look for scratch-resistant hard plastic ones. A double-D ring fastener is far better than a ‘click’ type fastener for the chin strap. To check for fit, wear the helmet, hold it from outside and try to move your head inside side to side. A well-fitting helmet should allow very little head movement inside it. One that allows the head to move is loose and will not protect the skull well on impact.


Not a mandatory part of safety gear, it nevertheless helps in a number of ways, especially the cotton variety. It helps in snugly fitting the helmet. Absorbs sweat before it gets to the inside liner of the helmet. Helps keep the nose and ears warm during a cold weather ride. And stops insects from getting between the helmet and the riders ears if he needs to ride with the visor open for a while.

Riding Jacket

Road rash or abrasion of unprotected skin that comes in contact with the road when a rider falls from a moving bike is the commonest of all injuries for a motorcyclist. And very painful at that, for the entire duration of its treatment and healing. Riding jackets, with protective hard re-enforcements at specific places (like elbow joints, shoulders, back and chest areas) protect these areas from abrasion and injury. No, the riding jacket will not be able to save a bone from breaking if the fall is that bad but the skin nevertheless gets protected very well. Jackets also protect the rider from the weather (warm liners for cold weather, water-proof outers for rain and mesh construction for warm weather for example). When choosing a jacket, again look for the safety standards that it meets with. Look for good ventilation in case most of your riding is in warm weather. Vice-versa, look for a fabric/materiel that prevents water and wind penetration if cold weather is expected. Zippered fronts, all the better with a flap over the zipper, are far more effective wind protectors that buttoned ones. Leather, unequivocally, is the best materiel for riding jackets though expensive to buy and maintain. Modern textiles offer a wide choice of equally good and presentable materiels to choose from. A good fit means a snug fit for a jacket too. Too loose and it will neither protect well (the paddings will rotate under impact) and will disconcertingly flap in the wind at high speed. Too tight and it will impede movement, restrict free blood circulation in certain areas of the body and these two factors can adversely affect the riders ability to tide well.

Riding Pants

Again they majorly protect from abrasion and save the joints especially from injury through impact with small hard objects. Riding pants are also best made of leather but other fabrics are also up to the mark these days. And as in jackets, buy them according to the temperatures and humidity you expect for most of your rides. Fitting is again important and almost critical for pants cause the lower body gets the most contorted when riding a motorcycle. Look for comfort, esp. around the crotch and the knee areas. A riding pant that too tight here is not worth wearing.

A relatively cheaper alternate to full riding pants are knee-guards or knee protectors. The knee and ankle joints suffer the most in case of a fall from a moving motorcycle and the knee-guards provide strategic protection to the vulnerable knee joint area. Made of hard polymers, either with a flexible hinge or pivoted to provide for knee rotation, these should be a tight fit around the leg to be useful. The tight fit endures that they do not rotate out of alignment on impact with the ground during a fall. The advantage with knee-guards is that they can be worn over or under regular jeans and can be taken off when the rider needs to walk around.


The human hand is a delicate contraption. Thin and numerous bones form a multi-jointed framework that’s covered with a thin layer of flesh, except in the palm area. Protecting the hands, both from injury and weather, is a prime concern for any rider. And providing protection to a limb that is so flexible, tactile and delicate is quite a challenge. There is nevertheless a mind boggling choice of gloves available though admittedly the real good ones are a trifle expensive. Full fingered gloves are the best. Look for a good fit here too. And one that provides the best ‘feel’ of the controls through it. A glove too large for the fingers will interfere with fine operation of motorcycle controls. Too short in fingers and the nails and fingertips get painful from the pressure on them. Inner seams should also be well bound. Seam-lines that get inside the finger nails and under the palm are very annoying and get painful during long rides. Leather again is the best but good synthetics with re-enforcing inserts over knuckles and finger joints protect equally well. Double stitched seams provide for greater durability and better sealing in case of water-proofing. The inside of the glove should be of a non-slip materiel to provide good grip over the handle-bar mounted controls. And it should not slip even when wet. A gauntlet (or wrist cover) type glove is in fact the best design as it gives the best fit for the glove.


Human feet are almost as delicate and flexible as the hand. And equally important role players in motorcycling where at least two major controls (gears and rear brake) are foot operated. They need to be protected not just from abrasion but also from potential injury when caught under a heavy fallen motorcycle with some parts that would be searingly hot. Boots need to be at least ankle high with a heavy sole and a re-enforced toe and heel area. Thick padded materiel for the upper and a strong and thick sole are mandatory for a good riding shoe. The sole should also provide good grip over the footrests even when wet. Whatever the means of fastening (laces, zipper or Velcro) the fastener should not come loose under any circumstances. Laces are dicey if they foul with the foot-rest, brake lever or gear lever while the rider is putting his foot down or raising it. So laces should be of just the required length and no more. The shoe should also provide some resistance to lateral rotation of the ankle joint. In fact, a good protective riding boot will not be all that comfortable for walking as it restricts flexion at the extreme angles to protect the foot from damage during a bad fall.

Rain Suits

Rain is an ever-present companion for any motorcyclist. In fact, riding in the rain has its own charm for a rider, probably owing to a heightened risk element there. Primary to safe riding in the rain, apart from good tyres , is being protected from the falling water. Wetness, even during a hot summer day, is a bedfellow of ‘coldness’. A wet rider is a cold rider. And also, a wet rider is a distracted rider. So wear rain protection. Usually, good riding jackets and pants come with water-proofing (except of course the mesh variety). But otherwise, rain over-suits are the best bet. Buy ones that are bright in colour, preferable with a reflective coating for better visibility and are a comfortable fit over and above your regular riding gear. Remember, riding in the wet means all the more need for protection in case of a slide and a fall. Silicone rubber coated fabrics are cheap and good and last enough to provide one their money’s worth. The only downside of most rain-gear is that it doesn’t breathe and you get wet inside owing to sweat and condensation of trapped moisture. But since rain suits are usually required for relatively short durations, one can live with this and carry on. Breathable water-proof fabrics are expensive but a far more comfortable option though.

The Art of Safe Riding - Group Riding

Remember, you cannot enjoy tomorrow's ride unless you live through today's. And it is the responsibility of each person in the group to ensure that everyone does just that. Safety is of paramount importance and the most significant commandment being 'Thou shalt not hit the bike in front of you'. Riding at a safe distance means following the '2 second rule'. Each bike follows the one in front separated by a distance it would cover in 2 seconds at that speed and under the road conditions the group is riding in.

For example, in rain either the whole group slows down or the individual riders increase their separation to compensate for increased braking distances need in the wet. The average rider takes almost 1 full second to recognize and then to react to an UNEXPECTED threat. (About 1/2 second if the threat is anticipated.) The '2-second Rule', in other words, provides 1 full second of distance between bikes in order to provide sufficient time for following bikers to recognize and react to unexpected threats. So, if all the riders in the group have roughly similar skill levels, no matter what the rider in front does, the one following should be able to avoid hitting him. Since gravity either aids or detracts from the ability of your brakes to stop your bike based on whether you are on an incline or a decline, following distances must be significantly increased to maintain the safety margin if you are riding downhill - and the steeper the slope, the wider those distances should be.

Also, the distances between bikes should be nearly doubled when riding twisty roads. Remember, The '2-second rule' means that, in staggered formation, there is a ONE second spacing between each bike, thus a TWO second spacing between bikes in the same track. A larger gap usually results in a group that is spread so far out that it introduces new safety problems - like it encourages other vehicles to dart into the gaps between bikes. To avoid undue inadvertent spread-out, the group can adopt these measures.

Lead bikes should change speed more gradually. All bikes in a group can react to changes in speed of bikes that are farther ahead of them than just the one immediately ahead. The members of a group should not crank their throttles up to excessive speeds just to keep the group spacing 'correct'.

A good group leader does NOT accelerate within 15 seconds of entering a curve (assuming he has to then slow down before actually entering that curve. Remember, fast in and slow out of a turn!) The '1-second between bikes' rule should be abandoned whenever the group is riding on twisty roads - it makes sense only when traveling in a straight line on open highway.

Never allow a group to become larger than SIX bikes if even one of the riders is inexperienced with group riding. Never larger than EIGHT bikes even if all are familiar with the riding habits of each other.

Here are some of the hand signals to be used by a group on the road:

1. These T-hands imply 'I need help'. For someone stranded by the road-side, maybe with some mechanical failure or even a puncture, this sign indicates the need for help.

2. This thumbs up is the universal okay sign. For the group, when this comes from the leader, it is a signal to get moving. 'Everything is okay. Lets go.'

3. The pointing finger is used for just what it is. To point the way we are supposed to be heading. Used at intersections, forks in the road and possible diversion points to indicate the road to take.

4. The thumbs down says I need to stop for some reason right now. Get behind me, move to the side of the road and stop behind me when I do. A vigorous up and down 'thumbs down' means I need to stop immediately (I got a wasp trapped in my helmet!!).

5. The universal 'looking good' sign. Used as an expression of appreciation that could be for anything (a well executed maneuver, a great stretch of twisty road, beautiful scenery, the bike running well etc. etc.)

Being in a group means some new responsibilities and behaviors apply. You ride at the speed the group rides, you stay in the lanes chosen by the lead bike, You stop when and where the group stops. When riding in a group there is certainly some team work going on, but each and every person in that group is expected to 'ride their own ride'. Some in the group have more stamina, some have better night vision, some have better navigation skills, some have better familiarity with the surroundings, some are better diplomats and so each 'specialist' has his own role to play at the appropriate time. Strategic decisions (destination) remain the leader's responsibility while tactical decisions (how) might well come from the members.

Note: At the least the leaders should keep their headlight on for easy visibility.
Note: Group riding also means stopping at roadsides where there is a lot shoulder space availaible.

The Art of Safe Riding - Riding in Rains

Liquid sunshine brings out the best and worst of all riders. Riding in the wet requires you to be aware of the low friction conditions that exist between the tyres and the road. This can be dangerous but if you are cautious and aware of the hazards, it is no more dangerous than any other normal day. And it is only through riding in the rain that you become aware of your own capabilities and limitations and those of your bike and its tyres in such weather. Tyres have grooves in their tread and their purpose is to remove water from under the contact patch. Obviously, if the tyre is worn smooth with no grooves left, water on the road stays trapped under the tyre and it slips. Tyres in good condition inflated to the recommended pressure go a long way in improving the grip.

Apart from good tyres, the trick to maintaining traction when riding is smoothness. All transitions i.e. acceleration, braking, gear shifting and turning should be accomplished smoothly. Be gentle in braking and acceleration and follow the widest possible arcs during cornering. Remember road grip is already fighting a loosing battle with slippery conditions. Your tire traction is cut by as much as TWO-THIRDS on wet roads. Don't make it worse for the tyres by demanding too much from them and in too short a time. Retaining your traction in the wet is far easier than regaining it. a slide that can be corrected in the dry will almost certainly take you down in the wet.

Brake gently, using more of the rear brake than the front (just the opposite of what you would do in the dry). Keep checking your brakes for effectivity when riding in heavy rain or through deep water. Drum brakes, though difficult to get wet from inside, take time in drying and become effective again. If wet, ride a while with the brake applied partially. The heat generated due to friction between the brake shoes and the drum will soon dry it out. Discs usually work fine though there may be a tiny delay before full effectivity as the pads wipe water from the disc surface.

The roads are at their slipperiest after a light shower. Rubber powder from tyres along with dust and oil, when mixed with water, forms a very slippery concoction. Let consistent heavy rain wash off the roads clean before expecting respectable amounts of traction. Oil droppings from four-wheelers are concentrated around the middle of the road, at stoplights, near petrol stations and toll collection booths. Large trees, whose inviting shade is a great stopping zone for vehicles are also virtual oil reservoirs. Take it easy with the brakes and the throttle when passing through any of these. Painted strips, old metal manhole covers, wet leaves and railroad tracks at crossings are very slippery customers even in the dry and more so when wet. Avoid abrupt changes in direction, braking and accelerating over these.

Hydroplaning is the result of your tires moving fast across a wet surface - so fast that they do not have sufficient time to channel that moisture away from the center of the tire. The result is that the tire is lifted by the water away from the road and all traction is thus lost. Skimming stones across a pond or water skiing are great examples. The tyres on the bike work like skis and the rider has no control over direction. Tread design, tread depth, weight of motorcycle, tire pressure and depth of water all play a part in determining at what speed the tire will begin to hydroplane.

In the event of hydroplaning, do not apply your brakes or try to steer the bike in any direction but the straight-ahead. If you know that you are going to be riding in the rain, add some 3-5 psi of pressure in your tires. Increasing the tire pressure makes its contact patch smaller. In other words, it increases the weight per square inch of the contact patch so that it takes more 'uplift' by water to cause hydroplaning. And just as increasing pressure makes the contact patch smaller, it also tends to spread out the tread grooves which, in turn, makes it easier to squeeze out water away from the contact patch.

Wear a proper rain suit and helmet while riding in the rain. The discomfort of being wet distracts the rider from paying full attention to his riding. Also, raindrops can be very painful when they hit an unprotected face. A good clean visor keeps this unnecessary pain away and you don't have to squint your eyes against the rainy onslaught. Squinting the eyes cuts down the much-needed peripheral vision. Use reflections on a wet road to your advantage. Walls, electric poles, overhead cables and parked vehicles all work as reflecting surfaces that can enable you to see around corners. But avoid all shiny spots on the road like plague. They could mean either a puddle, slippery paint or oil.

The Art of Safe Riding - Blind Spot

Ever seen a blind spot? It's about 10 feet long and can be found on either side of any car, truck or bus in the world. This invisible, deadly area kills or injures hundreds of motorcycle riders a year. When you master the blind spot, you take an enormous step towards staying out of the hospital and becoming a veteran motorcyclist. The blind spot exists because most automotive mirrors don't give the driver more than a few degrees of vision in the rearward direction. If you ride ignorant of other car's blind spots, you won't be riding for long.

Given that the car in your lane, on your right, left or ahead of you, has an inside mirror and a right side mirror, you are visible to the car driver any time you can see his head in the car's mirrors. Let's say that straight ahead of the car driver is 12 o'clock; following at a distance of three car lengths, a motorcyclist is usually visible anywhere from 5 o'clock to 8 o'clock. As the bike pulls closer, the blind spot increases since the mirrors don't project a wide enough image to the driver; when you can no longer see the driver's head in the mirrors, you are invisible to him. Watch out.

As you approach the vehicle, monitor the driver's head in the mirror, looking for the tell-tale twitch of an impending lane change. Pay attention to what is happening ahead of the car also, and look for any reason why it would want to move into your lane, such as slowed traffic or a stopped bus. As you ride into the heart of the blind spot, use your peripheral vision to alert you if the car begins to move towards you and cover the horn button with your thumb. To maximize your time in the car's mirrors and minimize it in the blind spot, you need to approach the car from behind and to its right and stay in its lane till about two car lengths away (you remain in his mirrors longer this way). Then make a swift lane change to the right, being visible in his door mirror, pass him by as quickly as possible and regain your lane in front of him. This smooth 'S' motion becomes second nature as you become more aware of blind spots. With enough miles, you develop a blind spot warning buzzer, a mental clanging that sounds whenever you are in a hazardous position. Getting caught between a car and an exit as the driver ahead makes a violent last moment swerve to the right usually sends the unsuspecting rider flying over the bonnet of that car. Alertness is the name of the game all the time. As your awareness develops, you will feel uncomfortable every time you find yourself at the rear quarter of the cars, buses or trucks near you. Auto rickshaws, tempos, buses and trucks have huge blind spots.

Check in the rear view mirror for objects, before moving off from standstill.

Tackling the blind spot of a car by staying behind it in the correct position and line so that the driver can spot you in his rear view mirror before making sudden turns.

The Art of Safe Riding - Braking

Few riders realise that the front brake is the most effective in a two wheeler. Just using the rear brake allows you to barely use some 30% of the total braking force possible. Using the front brake is like pushing the bike from its front against its direction of motion and this is far more effective that trying to pull it to a stop by hanging from behind it. Moreover, using the front brake throws a lot of weight on the front tyre and this allows it to grip the road better. Grade your braking so that some 70% of the braking effort comes from the front brake while the remaining 30% from the rear wheel. The rear brake is primarily to stabilize the bike and preventing a violent weight transfer onto the front wheel. Too much rear brake will lock up the rear wheel and the bike slides out of control. The only precautions while making full use of the front brake is to keep the bike upright and avoid its full application on wet or gravel roads. In slippery conditions, use the rear brake sparingly while making the most of the available engine braking. And while in a turn, try and straighten up the bike as much as possible before applying the brakes. Stop turning before you start braking.

Get used to the front fork dive on applying the front brakes. Be smooth but firm in the brake application (squeeze the lever as if it is the trigger of a gun, don't grab it). The harder you learn to apply the front brake and the sooner you can get it to its full power, the shorter will be your stopping distance.

Tips about braking:

1. Roll off the throttle.
2. Apply the brakes simultaneously to settle the bike.
3. Increase front lever pressure as you decrease rear pedal pressure.
4. As you near a stop, decrease front lever pressure and increase rear pedal pressure, if necessary.
5. Ride with two fingers covering the front brake lever. In case of an emergency the natural reflex of clenching the fist automatically applies the brake. (By the way, almost all of the power in your fingers is in the first two.) To come to a smooth halt, bring the rear brake alone into action while releasing the front one just before coming to a full stop. The jolt that arises on stopping, from the front forks dive, does not happen this way.

The Art of Safe Riding - Night Riding

Nighttime is not for motorcycles. Ideally, that is. But we must ride after dark usually out of necessity. And vision or lack of it lies behind it all. The very things that make a motorcycle so competitive during daytime, like being able to weave and bank through traffic and turns, destroy it at night. The headlights that normally permit fair vision upto hundreds of feet when straight and upright, suddenly dive into the ground as you bank into a turn, providing no more than a dangerous 30 feet or so of vision. During a turn, a bike leans and so the light has to dip and you loose vision in front when you need it the most.

At night, always concentrate on the inside line. If turning left, focus your attention on the left edge of the road; if there is a boundary marker at the edge, concentrate on the white line. When turning right, fix your attention on the center dividing line; if you are on a multi-lane road, your attention must be fixed on the white line denoting the right boundary of your lane. Generally speaking, nighttime riding is good for taking it easy, so slow down and pay more attention to the road in front of you. Riding at night also requires a greater degree of concentration, and that means fatigue sets in earlier. Blinding lights from the front will obliterate anything from your sight in your path. Going slow allows you more time to scan the scene, as well as makes for softer landings in case of a mishap. Never look directly into the headlights of the oncoming traffic. This prevents you from being blinded by the glare, as well as overcomes the human frailty of being drawn towards it like a moth to a flame. Look to just the side of the light, then down directly to its side, at the road in front of you, then ahead of the spot and then down the road. Follow the same routine while returning to the side of the light, only do it in reverse, i.e. up ahead the road in front of you, then the road at the side of the light. That is the triangle. Finally, always make it a habit to slow down to a comfortable speed, treating every condition as a blind one.

Moreover at night, depth perception is all but lost. The visual factor of perception is lessened because what we see is often reduced to a silhouetted contrast rather than layers of subjects in depth. Silhouettes are always flat, thereby losing the valuable factor of the third dimension. Hills that are miles away merge with the trees nearby to become one. On a curving road, a short bush on the side and a dog in the middle confusingly merge to become one. So, the rider usually hits what he doesn't see.

Strangely though, riding in the mountains at night is easier than during daytime. Oncoming lights do not blind the rider; the traffic shows up from a good distance away and blind corners no longer remain blind for vehicles with working lights. And the surrounding scenery is no longer a distraction as it was during daytime since at night it is simply not visible. In the hills, a headlight that has a wide spread is anytime preferable to one that is bright but highly focussed.

But whatever the conditions, never try to outpace your headlights. Ride at a speed from which you can stop within the distance that your lights show up. Remember to keep your headlight lens clean, it's surprising how restricting a dirty lens is for the beam. When passing opposing traffic resist the temptation to look at the other vehicles lights, just gaze down to the near-side of the road.

The Art of Safe Riding - Target Fixation

'Fixating' on something means not being able to take your attention (your eyes, for example) away from it. In the case of riding motorcycles, this leads to the phenomena wherein we tend to take our motorcycles in the direction we are looking. This is usually described with an example familiar to all -- that if you see a pothole in the street ahead of you and don't take your eyes off it, you are likely to hit it. Things actually get a lot more serious than hitting potholes when on the road. An oncoming truck, a crashed car, a fallen tree or a dog lying dead on the road could replace the pothole. Don't look at the oncoming truck/tree/pothole; work out your escape route to the left or right of the danger and fixate on this path instead.

In most cases, you can simply steer around it with little or no braking. Braking usually is and should be the last option. Accelerating and steering out of trouble is a lot easier. If you are following someone that you want to pass, don’t look at him. Look at that little piece of track that he has left open and go to it. When moving through traffic, don't look at and fixate in the vehicles. Look at the gaps between them; imagine these gaps as pulsating spaces that keep changing shape according to the traffic. Ride through these spaces, searching out the next before you pass through the previous one. But use your peripheral vision to keep aware of the vehicle you are passing changing direction. Constantly scan the area around you, and continually provide yourself with escape routes. If something suddenly appears in front of you, simply look to your escape route, and counter-steer towards it.

Note: Avoid following other bikes at close gaps and always keep your eyes on the road ahead instead of getting fixated to the tail of the vehicle in front of you.

The Art of Safe Riding - Turning

The real fun and thrill of motorcycling lies in taking fast turns. For a true blue motorcyclist, the straight portions of the roads exist just to take him from one turn to the next! Here, the main aim is to get across these turns safely and quickly. The less time you spend going around a corner, the more you enjoy doing it!

The rider's body position during the turn has a great effect on how smooth and steady he is during the turn. His weight should be distributed between the handlebars, the seat and the foot-pegs. Elbows should be slightly bent to absorb the road shocks and counter braking forces, and the legs should be kept ready to shift the body weight and take an active role in controlling the bike. An upright body position helps keep you alert and gives a higher line of sight in traffic. While leaned into a turn, keep your body in the same plane as the bike, although you may prefer to keep your head vertical. In short, keep the angle of your body parallel to the angle of the bike and your head upright. When you corner, there is a balance point where your body weight will seems to disappear from the bike, making you and your bike as one single entity.

Basically, all corners can be sub-divided into three parts: the entry, the mid-turn and the exit. For a fast and a quick turn, all these three need to be integrated into one fluid movement. The start of your corner is from the moment you can see it. From this time on, you should start planning your braking, estimate the speed and the gear at which you will enter and the type of line you would take through the entry. Set yourself up to enter the turn at its extreme outside. If it were a left hander, you would be on the extreme right of the road (or lane) and vice versa for a right hander. Finish braking just as you begin to lean your bike in and your eyes should be looking ahead hunting out the apex. The apex of a corner is the point where you are closest to the interior of the corner. If on an unfamiliar road and the exit is not visible, try to stay out as wide as possible. Match your speed to the curvature of the turn that is visible. Going towards the inside too soon, you may find that if the turn tightens up, you would exit far out into the opposite lane (or into the divider) with injurious results.

As you tighten your line towards the apex of the turn, your eyes leave the apex and hunt out the exit. Sweep towards the apex on a partial throttle (engine not accelerating, but not giving any engine braking either) to balance the bike. At this point, you will be at maximum lean. On an unfamiliar road, look at where the point where the two opposite edges of the road converge. If this point appears to come closer to you - the turn is tightening up. If the point goes away from you - you're getting to the exit and it's opening out. If it stays constant then the turn is continuing at a constant radius. Once past the apex, start straightening up the bike and feed in power progressively, smoothly accelerating out of the turn towards the next.

Remember: slow in and fast out. Complete all your braking and gear changing before leaning the bike into the turn. Hold constant throttle while turning and increase power while straightening up and exiting.

The perceived safest area of a turn is on the inside and this is where the problems begin. The rider steers in too early leading to an early apex. This then leaves most of the actual steering for late in the turn and often results in inadvertently drifting wide at the exit. A proper cornering line for a constant radius turn begins with a wide entrance from the outside of the turn. This is followed by a definite turn-in that gets most of the steering done early and sets up for a late apex (somewhere around the mid-point of the curve) and a straighter line at the exit. By using a late apex (see figure above and photo below) on the street, you get to do more braking while straight up, you get a better view of the exit of the corner, and you minimize the amount of time you are near the edge of the road (or the centerline). Along with all this, make yourself look farther into the turn and you will end up feeling more in control. By placing your attention farther ahead, you give yourself more time to prepare for whatever comes up and you get fewer surprises.

Now that you have learnt about the best cornering line through turn, the way to go faster is to get more weight transfer without more lean. Remember that leaning is just a method of transferring weight to the inside as you hurtle through a corner. The farther you can lean, the more weight you can transfer and the faster you can go through the corner.

Transferring weight without increasing lean is called 'hanging off', and involves sliding your body off the seat towards the inside of the turn. To start with, try sticking your knee out towards the inside of the turn. That is a little weight transfer. See if it helps. But be sure to make all such weight shifts while the bike is upright. Once comfortable with the knee out, try sliding your butt towards the inside of the seat, along with the knee sticking out. You will have reached the limits of hanging off, and the cornering speed, when your butt is completely off the inside edge of the seat and your knee, along with whatever is on the bike that drags, is skimming the pavement around the turn. Obviously, you shouldn't be attempting such riding on normal public roads. This riding on the limit is strictly for the racetracks.

The Art of Safe Riding - Mind Riding

While buckling your helmet and pulling on your gloves, take the time to visualize your ride ahead. Get into the rider's frame of mind, all focused. Run a mental equivalent of a video recording of the ride ahead if the route is familiar or just visualize yourself going through the motions of riding through the anticipated conditions. For example, if it is raining, imagine yourself braking and accelerating gently and steering your bike around obstacles deliberately. This mental previewing of actions primes your mind into focusing on the ride that follows. You are already in it, mentally. Don't wait for a near collision to shock you into paying attention. Start your mind early. On the road, concentration is your lifeline. Being skilled and not concentrating is the same as lacking skills.

In the majority of cases, the danger a rider faces, both within the city and on the high road comes from directly in front or to a side. And that’s the direction the rider should concentrate on. The potentially dangerous situations need to be prioritized, the scene rapidly scanned to assess exactly what's happening, predict what could happen and identify escape routes. Being mentally primed reduces the time the brain needs to start assessing and prioritizing the scenario.

Develop the sixth sense of a motorcyclist. It has rained last night in the hills you are riding through and you watch for mud or rubble on the corners. You see a dark blotch on the road ahead, could be a harmless patch of extra tar or might be the dangerously slippery oil from some failed engine. You are watchful and slow down. It was oil! A dog lurks in the tall grass and your fingers cover the front brake lever. On a quiet tree shaded street, you note a car stationary in a driveway with someone at the wheel. Two fingers slide over the front brake lever. Mr. Tuttoonwala backs out without looking, and is surprised and apologetic as you stop within a foot of his door. Become an active participant in your surroundings. You have to work at developing this motorcyclist's "sixth sense", his personal danger sensing radar! But once developed, it takes you unscathed through situations that could spell an injury for most that lack this awareness.

Step 1: Wear a balaclava and other initial gears
Step 2: Wear your helmet
Step 3: Wear your gloves, jacket and knee guards.
Step 4: Get ready to ride, create your mindset, all your attention should be on the road and your should be ready for any delays.

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