Hey all, I took some stuff I learned on my own, and a lot of things shared and wrapped it up in an Article. Here is the first draft of it so far. Suggestions/corrections welcome.
After we go through a few revisions, and cover as much as possible, I guess the next step would be to get Simon to put it up in the resources section. :-)
Swarm and Destroy!!!!
Moped Survival Guide ( Or, urban two-wheeled warfare)
Ray Sanders, with a lot of help from Reeperette, Brian, Jaimie Leonard, Peggy, Ron Brown, and Jimmy.... Thanks Guys and Gal.
First a little back story.
I'd always wanted a moped or scooter since I was about 5 years old.
Basically it semmed from riding around on the back of my uncle's (closer in age to a big brother) honda trailbike (ct70?), and eventually riding on the back of my dad's Kawasaki Street Bike.
My uncle used to taunt me all the time by leaving the key in the ignition of the bike,
and telling me I could take it for a ride any time I wanted to.
(although my feet couln't reach the ground when I sat on the seat)
Then tradgedy strikes 6 or 7 years later, and my Dan nearly dies in a motorcycle wreck. (He took the bike "around the block" in shorts, no helmet, no shirt, and wearing sandals the throttle cable got jammed, and he had to ditch to the curb at 30+ mph and flatlined twice in the e.r from blood loss)
I was forbidden to even be on the back of a motorcycle after that,
and my Dad spent several months recovering from a smashed hip, and a nearly destroyed left foot. My Dad was very diligent about wearing his boots, jeans, leather jacket, and helmet, and the one time he thought he would be okay without them was the one time he needed them the most.
So fast forward about 12 years, and I'm on my own and have a moped,
(yes, Dad got over it fairly quickly, just at the understanding that I don't do what he did. ) I came across mopedarmy.com, and some valuable information on how to get my moped running.
I've searched high and low for SAFETY tips, and motorcycle safety comes close,
but mopeds are a much different creature, much smaller than a motorcycle, and much slower acceleration. The plus is a much quicker stopping distance, and easier control of the bike. Downside is that people don't pay attention to motorcycles, let alone mopeds.
Almost daily I read in our local paper about motorcyle riders being killed in accidents, most of them were the car drivers fault, and the motorcycle riders who die, usually have died from head injuries, either instantly, or after holding on
for dear life in the intensive care unit.
I posted a simple question to the general discussion a few days back.... the subject? Moped Survival Tips.
Here is some information to keep in mind. Some I've learned on my own, much of the rest is from people who have been lucky enough to own a moped far longer than I, and were good enough to share a few things they have learned along the way, or from others.
Here we go.....
Helmet! Helmet! Helmet! Some people prefer open faced versus a full helmet with visor. The advantages of an open faced helmet is better visibility, at the expense of possibly still damaging your face in an accident. Full helmets sacrifice peripheral vision for maximum head protection, and often times the visors fog up.
Riding goggles or some sort of eye protection if you do not have a helmet with a visor, as bugs in the eyes tend to really sting at 20-30 miles an hour.
Riding Gloves! It's a natural tendency when falling to attempt to use one's hands to stop/slow the fall, at even 10 MPH your hands can get ripped to shreds. (remember some of your first bicycle wrecks?)
Jeans, or denim. No shorts!!!! I know sometimes it sucks being in jeans on a 90 degree day, but try living a few weeks with a bad case of road rash.
Boots, combat boots, jump boots, etc. Anything with good ankle support, thick soles, and good laces.
Bright riding jacket, if you don't have a leather jacket, denim will work.
If you don't have either try wearing if possible a BRIGHTLY colored shirt.
A wallet chain can come in handy for self defense, although I do consider it slightly militant. Some people also have an air horn mounted on their moped, which works considerably better than a usual moped buzzer horn.
Some moped riders even wear "Motocross Armor" such as the style that the motorcycle stuntment wear. good light armor, with a riding jacket, or snowmobile suit (in winter or cold weather) thrown over it to make it less obvious.
Did I mention a helmet earlier? I'll mention a helmet again just in case I didn't.
Make sure your moped is in as good of condition as possible. check your brake cables, throttle cable, and make sure any kill switches work.
Check your headlights, brake lights, horn and turn signals if you have them.
Consider mounting an air horn on the moped if you can. Usually you can pick up
an air horn that uses disposable cans of air fairly inexpensively.
Always run with your headlight on, anything you can do to improve your visibility is a plus. Here in Iowa it still is law that mopeds run with a dippy neon flag, most people dont, but it's not that BAD of an idea. Someone in a car may chuckle at you, but at least they know you are on the road.
Always run with the idea in your mind that you are "invisible" , and always have an "out" (preferably not the nearest curb or telephone pole)
Attitude! most people in the urban parts of the U.S are impatient, cell phone yakking while driving, yelling at the kids, trying to eat a meal while driving jerks. Seriously.... I ride my moped as if I were driving my pickup truck in an ICE storm during winter. I pay attention to EVERY intersection, even if I have a green light, or the right of way.
Be careful of your attitude, as one person points out, the only crumple zone on a moped is YOU, so don't be on the offensive, when the worst you'll do to a car is dent it, or get your blood smeared on it and possibly be beaten by the car driver while suffering in agony from your wounds.
Planning your trip:
As I mentioned earlier, I ride my moped as if I were driving in a BAD winter ice storm.
Try taking the path less traveled if you can, stay away from the roads that are hectic during rush hour. Give yourself 10-15 extra minutes to get to where you are going. When you are in a hurry, you tend to pay less attention to the road, and more attention to the clock. Slow it down a little bit, and enjoy good weather while you can, I usually find myself much more relaxed when I ride my moped to/from work versus my truck.
Pay attention to every intersection, and one thing I try to do is make eye contact with people in the intersection, especially when turning LEFT I'm usually very good about my hand signals for left and right turns, although there have been a could of 'close calls" probably due to the ignorant people not knowing what I was doing.
(maybe I'll use my middle finger to singal turns.... just kidding....)
If somone is yelling rude comments, or hassling you while you are riding, try if you can to get to a parking lot with other people. Do not try to take on someone in a car or truck (or even a larger motorcycle for that matter) They have the advantage of 2000+ pounds of steel, and you don't. Sadly enough it is us, the moped riders who have to look out for the cars.
Some people have hooked up an oil jet to their bikes to dump oil into the carb,
or muffler to produce a stinky smoke screen, and provide a deterrent to people creeping up on the back of their bike.
I've heard of some moped riders carrying tacks or nails in their saddlebags to throw
down behind them in case they are being chased by a car.
A few moped riders I know carry a chain with them and give in a few spins if someone is pulling to far behind them.
Rude comments? yeah, you'll piss someone off by doing 32 in a 35 zone... it will happen... trust me. Try to ride in the right hand lane if you can, or if you have a backlog of traffic behind you, carefully edge over to the right
to help pass you in a safer manner.
Try to avoid riding at night at all costs, I've nearly biffed out on my moped at top speed beacause I couldn't see some potholes.(those damn potholes seem to disappear at night.) Plus a moped is difficult enough to see during the day.
Unless you have like some sort of a baja 1 million candle power floodlight installed as your headlight (chances are your ped won't have enough electircal power to produce that kind of light anyway) stay off the road at night if you can.
Last but not least, have fun, and enjoy your moped, and be proud to drive 3-4 days on what gas most vehicles use to get the the grocery store.