Survival tips????

Ray Sanders /

Hey all....

After quite a few fabulous riding days I've been saddened by unnecessary deaths of three people in the last two weeks, two on motorcycles, and one on a moped.

The moped rider was an older guy, who was wearing his helmet. Neither of the motorcyclists were wearing helmets, and one was a passenger. All thre deaths were the result of a car driver either not seeing them, or not paying attention when the bikes were stopped, or stopping.

It seems in my area (Davneport Iowa / Moline Illinois) there is an epedemic of people getting killed while on anything with two wheels.

I was wondering if anyone would like to share any "survival" tips? I think that the survival tips would be just as important, if not more important than Fred's Guide to fixing a moped.

Reep, I know you have a very interesting story on here, any other tips you'd like to share?

I know for one, I'm picking up a helmet this weekend, I imagine some protection is better than none, plus a hemlet helps dampen the noise of a motobecane without a muffler baffle ( I think I want people to HEAR me before they see me. :-) Plus My moped doesn't have the great stop light, and I have to use hand signals, which most people don't have a clue about.

Thanks all. Happy Mopedding, and be safe!

Re: Survival tips????

I had a motorcycle when I was in the service and I rode it for about a month when I got back to the states but gave it to my brother. People here are just not as aware of two-wheeled vehicles as they are overseas, I just didn't feel safe. I ride my moped the same way as I do my bicycle, very defensively, and usually on the side walk if possible.

Re: Survival tips????

Jamie Leonard /

Well you've taken the first step... ALWAYS wear a helmet. Your chances of getting away alive on a two wheeled vehicle in a collision are VERY VERY much higher with a helmet (anything motorized with two wheels and no helmet is asking for brain damage.. but then again if you ask me anyone without a helmet probably already has some...) Also I have a rule of always wearing leather jacket/jean jacket and jeans or reasonably heavy khaki pants (depending on the speed you travel at on your moped, I go at lower speeds so can get away with khaki pants)

Loss of skin is painful at the least. A good pair of gloves with reinforced palms is handy as well - if you go down your instinct is usually to catch yourself on your hands and that can do nasty things to your palms.

Next step is attitude... assume every driver out there is completely incompetent, or homocidal, or both. Give them a bit of extra space if possible, try and anticipate any bonehead moves they may make to get around, through, or over you. Having a good awareness of your own vehicle helps, make sure you know your braking distance and try and keep that in mind when following any other vehicle - on a moped your only crumple zone is usually just you. You can't afford road rage or offensive driving techniques when the worst you'll do to them in a collision is a dent on the side.

All in all if you keep a good awareness around you, and also drive reasonably its not that bad (here at least) - most of the stories I hear involving fatal accidents involve at least some fault on the motorcyclists/mopeders fault (most not all mind you) - things like riding double on a vehicle not designed for it, going at insane speeds downtown in traffic, riding without a helmet, etc.

Personally I also have a rule - give myself an extra few minutes and take side roads. Might add a bit of travel time but if you plan for it, don't rush yourself, you can have a safer and more enjoyable ride by choosing the right route. (some streets here in toronto have a combination of narrow lanes, streetcar tracks, dense traffic and frequently speeding drivers... I'd save myself 5 minutes maybe by taking those streets but on the other hand I'd be a nervous wreck by the time I got where I was going :)

Just my two cents


Re: Survival tips????

Reeperette /

Well...where to start ?..Equipment, I guess.

Gloves, I use weightlifters gloves for summer, and some heavy goretex cycle gloves when it gets cold....believe me, if you ever intend to ride in -20 and below, you will NOT ride twice without em.

Like someone else just said, road rash sucks, and gloves are a good way to keep it off yer hands.

Boots, combat preferably, but workboots will do, not only do they protect you, but are also great for kicking the everlivin shit of of people trying to make off with your wheels.

For cold weather, I highly reccommend a snowmobile suit...they make some fullbody cycle suits but they are more expensive, even tho they offer a little more protection - The snowmobile suit's a good check against road rash, and nice and comfy when it gets nippy out there.

ARMOR PLATE - I cannot stress enough the value of a decent set of body armor, motorcross a wreck, if you're wearing it, you more than triple your survival chances, and while you may lose one or more extremities...all the REAL important stuff is in your main body protect that as best you can...good armor is light, fits well, and really does give you a more "secure" feeling on the road...not to mention stopping the occasional brick or bottle thrown at you.

My personal gear is a set of light armor with a field jacket liner under it, and either the jacket over it, or the snowmobile suit...I prefer it under cause it's not so obvious, especially to punks who might take it as an invite to throw things.

Helmet...goes without sayin, I use a 3/4 open face, cause I hate that head-in-a-bucket feel, and face shields distort...I don't care how good they are....but use as much protection as you can get without sensory deprivation, some folks like full-face, but I've owned expensive Shoei "Fog Free" helmets that fogged up the same as $40.00 cheapies, and I don't care for not being able to see - cause that's REAL important.

If you do go open face/no shield, use some eye protection...paintball or motorcross goggles are effective, and style an effectively "agressive" look as well.

Attitude - I know some folks might not wanna hear this, but one of the keys to survival in the urban environs on a moped is a singularly vicious and hostile "presence" want folks not only to see you, but to actively consider AVOIDING you, and looking like you'd like nothing better than to slam a chain through their windshield does do this, even tho that has it's drawbacks as well.

In the Burbs, now you wanna do bright colors and a bit of flash, enough to attract notice and attention, but down in da' hood, go dark and's all in where you are.

Attention - very important...if yer tired, if you have a headache, if you don't feel so hot...stay off the damn thing, a moments lapse is all it takes to die, especially in high risk traffic situations - take the road less travelled, not only is it safer, but you tend to enjoy your ride more.

The three main culprits of moped wrecks order, the clueless dorks behind the wheels of cars, mechanical failure...and punks throwing things.

I kid you not about #3 there, I've seen more moped/cycle wipeouts due to that than I care to remember.

Mech Failure is obvious, take good care of the wheels, they'll take care of you.

As for #2 - driving tips....

Leave yourself a little room on the throttle, that's hard for throttle jockeys like me who like to bang it to the stops and keep her there, but leave some room for that extra little never know when even 1mph can mean the difference between a close call and an ER visit...I should know.

Yeah, the accident that nearly totalled me ? I saw em comin...and at that angle the brakes wouldn't have helped, so I slammed the juice and dumped the exhaust cutout in a vain attempt blast out of the path....which yes, means THEY had time to stop if they were payin any attention, but you know how car-pushers are.

I know cause the position of the cables when they were crushed into the bikes frame indicates where they were...1mph more, and they woulda missed.

On being passed...I know there's the temptation to be polite and move over as far as you can...but do NOT do this, if you channel yourself into a 12-inch wide area of pavement, and just as he passes there's a pothole in your's a disaster.

On being NOT ALLOW this...flash your brake lights, and if they don't back off, you can either get out of their way (smart), or choose to discourage depends on the situation, and being these are SAFETY tips, I won't go into...umm.."discouragement".

Your stopping distance is like, nil compared to a you wanna be at LEAST 30 feet ahead...and cause of this, if you spot a yellow light, and there's a car behind you...RUN the damn thing, it's all well and good to obey traffic law, but I've been bumped and dumped twice for stopping at a yellow the guy behind me had no intent to stop for, and one of em got into a fight with me over it - it ain't worth the hassle, just run it.

On being directly and intentionally harrassed ?

Pull off to the side of the road, into a parking lot...etc, and step off the bike...therefore "inviting" them to 'discuss' it OUTSIDE his damn 2000lb chunk of iron, instead of chasing you all over the road with a hella advantage.

A parking lot with many witnesses is a good place to do this, they'll generally think better of it, and if they don't, what you have to...I really doubt even the worst road rager is going to chase you up the curb in front of the walmart entrance doors..(or even inside!, it's been done, once.)

That's about it, there's prolly more, but I'd hafta think on it, and I gotta take the roomie to work.

Hope alla that helps,


Re: Survival tips????

gimmyjimmy /

ALWAYS ride with headlight on. Motorcyclists are very difficult to see, here's an example:

Sit in your car and extend your arm towards the windshield with your index finger raised, that finger will block out a motorcyclist coming at you.

Car drivers are usually looking for other cars (bigger objects) and a biker can be easily overlooked at a quick glance. Defensive driving!, there is no protection on a bike other than what you wear. When you're on the road, drive like you are INVISIBLE.

swim and deploy


Re: Survival tips????

I agree that it's really important to have your headlight on as well as a taillight. My lights are always on when my moped is running; it's automatic.

Also wear brightly colored clothing that is easily seen. Flourescents are good.

I wear a bright reddish/maroon helmet, and that helps. Try not to "blend" in with the street.

Try and make eye contact with drivers nearby.

Assume that none of the drivers can see you and plan an "escape" route should they do something stupid, like turn in front of you.

I pull over if cars tailgate me. Just last night, I pulled over to the side of a bridge so that 3 cars could get past me. My moped can only do 30mph and it was a 35mph zone, so I can understand their lack of patience.

Try to stay off of busy roads, and if you can, avoid "rush" hour traffic.

I don't ride my moped in the dark. You can't see the street well enough to avoid potholes and such.

Re: Survival tips????

Ron Brown /

gimmyjimmy wrote:


> Sit in your car and extend your arm towards the windshield

> with your index finger raised, that finger will block out a

> motorcyclist coming at you.



I thought they were telling me I was number one when they did that. Now I know they were making me go away. : )


Re: Survival tips????

gimmyjimmy /

They can't make us go away, Ron, I reply to the bad driving cagers with a raised middle finger! :p

(to the pacifists, I am not an advocate of road rage, but if you endanger me, I will give you a very bad day.)


Re: Survival tips????

Ray,I ride a lot at night,but probably shouldn't.I wear a bright colored jacket in cold weather and I clip a red laser flasher to my hat.I'm beginning to believe,to my dismay,that Iowa(I think that's the state)may have a decent idea with their requirement of a flag on a stick that's bolted to the bike.I hate to admit that but I know from experience that people in general are poor at observation,and need their vision disrupted by an unusual means.It's kinda like the Amish farmers in my area.They are on roads which are legally 55-60 mph,and you're on them before you know it,in their horsedrawn wagons.The deer warning devices on my vehicles actually bother their horses,too.NOW ,ONE THING THE AMISH HAVE THAT WE DON'T IS: There are road signs before you get close to their community area with a picture of the Amish buggy to warn you to slow down.MAYBE we ought to apply for some `road-sign recognition ' from local and state authorities,eh?

Re: Survival tips????

This might already have been mentioned,

but i always try to avoid hazardous roads on Friday and Saturday

night, since that's when the amateur drunks are out. If you can hear lot's of peeling out in the distance, then think twice about where you're going to be riding.

Also, I agree with Ree about holding about 5 mph in reserve in the throttle. Sometimes a little extra zip can get go out of a jam better than braking.

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