Okay, here is draft #3 with the latest comments and additions,
Thanks Simon, Jaimie and don-ohio, along with everyone else. :-)
Moped Army 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.
Other contributions by Simon King, and don-ohio
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.
ALWAYS CARRY PICTURE I.D!!!!! If something happens, (we will discuss that later) at least you won't be a Jane/John Doe
laying in a hospital room that no one knows about.
Handling a flat - rear tire:
Do NOT manuver - let off the gas, do NOT hit the brakes,
or if you must , tap the front brake verrrry gently, but don't dare touch the rear...
keep it straight and steady, and let the speed roll off, and dismount and get it off the road -
if you try to turn, in any way...with a flat rear tire she'll slide out from under you like butter on a pancake griddle.
If you need to slow down fast, hit the kill switch,
but remember that dumping that much speed with a flat can cause a little slide.
Handling a flat - front tire:
Same basic principles, but apply rear brakes, and you can apply them a bit stronger,
most of your weight is to the rear, so this one isn't quite as dangerous,
although you would think it would be the other way around.
Handling a skid:
Mopeds don't generally skid, unless you drive like I do, and in that case - the only skid you are likely to face is a rear-wheel skid from overcornering.
Immediately get your opposite leg down and let off the throttle, while throwing as much of your weight as you can to the OTHER side of the frame, this will yank the moped back upright and hopefully restore traction...and the much lighter weight of a moped allows you to "muscle" it, a trick not known or useable on motorcycles.
I would practice this a bit in the driveway, but safer to simply not overcorner, this is a just-in-case bit here.
Rain, and other nasty conditions:
Light sprinkles are the worst! much like what they teach you in drivers ed, a light rain does NOT wash
the oil and junk off the road, so it is like being on ice. Remember,
some mopeds may not stop as well when the brakes are wet.
Gravel, Sand, Mud, Etc....
Use extra caution when riding on loose gravel, sand, mud or dirt. More or less you can
expect to slip around just as bad if not worse than a wet road.
Emergency Dismounts or not so Emergency Dismounts:
Well, sometimes it may be necessary to ditch your moped in order to save yourself.
There are a few things you can do on a moped that you CANNOT do on a motorcycle.
If you have a martial arts instructor teach you how to perform a "break fall roll"
it could help you not be injured, or be injured less in case you are thrown from your bike.
One trick that is also feasable is kind of a skid/slide stop.
Crash stop aka "45-slide".
This is also a moped-only trick, although I have seen it done with motorcycles by the insanely brave.
Reserve this for occasions most dire, but remember it, some day you might need it.
Basically you slam your left leg down and drag the heel as you lock up both brakes solid and lean in behind your moped,
putting the entirely of it's weight and mass between you and what you are about to hit.
Properly done, the moped should be at a 45 degree angle to your original travel direction once the brakes lock.
What this does, is put maximum rubber to the road and an otherwise impossible amount of friction and
braking power at your use - but it also puts the entirety of your moped between you and what you are about to hit...
the moped is more replacable/repairable than you are, and if you do impact something,
you are far less likely to sustain dire injury -because the moped itself becomes your "crumple zone".
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....)
Some states require mopeds/scooters to be insured, others do not. regardless, get it.
Full coverage if you can afford it (usually $100-$200 per year depending on location)
Do not get the 1-800 discount insurance. get insurance from a local agent that you can get your hands on if need be.
(I mean that last statement in more than one way, although I'll leave that up to you and your circumstances)
Make sure to read the policy and keep a copy with your lawyer too.
Insurance...folks who take tons of your money, and then when you have an accident use your money to hire legal goons,
to sic on you...in order to avoid having to pay up.
A good policy will cover theft, personal injury, and collision, if you can get them to insure a moped,
best bet on that is go with the insurance you have for car/home/etc and get them to "bundle" the policy.
Reason is, that's usually cheaper, and since you're dealing with people you know,
and you can perhaps hold responsible for any chicanery, there's a lot less inclination to stick it to you.
If possible, put a few tools in your saddle bag, or backpack, or storage compartment if you have one.
Here is what I carry:
1 New Plug
1 3 oz. bottle of two stroke oil
Spark plug socket and wrench to fit.
Black Electical tape
10 feet of wire. (eletrical wire)
Stick on blinker light (if you are out at night they come in handy)
Some people also suggest a Leatherman with vice grips. Since mopeds do suffer from vibration,
you may need to pull over and tighten a bolt or nut before you lose a part.
Some people have also suggested carrying a small first aid kit as well, in case of a minor spill,
at least you can patch yourself up so you do not have to deal with the pain of removing clothing that has stuck to a wound.
At least carry a few bandages suitable for hands, elbows and knees.
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 it 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. Some people discourage this practice, and prefer to just take the nearest right turn,
pull over and take a few minute break. Riding on the right hand side of the lane narrows your options, and can make avoiding
pothols, or older style storm grates (you know, the dumb ones where the grates run parallel to the traffic direction) impossible.
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.
Yes, accidents can happen to ANYONE here are a few tips shared by one moped rider who knows first hand.
While the common philosophy is take care of the mess first, and worry about fault later...
You really need to be concerned about yourself if you are ever involved in an accident.
At the scene:
The police or EMT's will likely move your moped, maybe you as well,
and the cop usually winds up having "what happened" dictated to them by the driver of the auto,
who with rare exception will lie their butt off to keep from getting a ticket, or sued.
YOU talk to the cop, unless you happen to be on deaths door,
you make DAMN sure he takes your version of events down in the official report,
and gives you a written copy of the report number. Make EMT crew bring him over insist on it, throw a fit if you must
some hospitals can deny you care if they are privately funded, even in part....
and if the cop decides it's your fault and slams you with a ticket, and you don't have heavy medical coverage - they can and will do this.
This may sound crazy, but if you have a cell phone or can convince someone to make a phone call on the spot,
do it - call someone you trust, and get em out there with a camera NOW, photo you, the other car, the scene, and your moped...ASAP.
Use a real camera, not digital. Insurance companies have a habit of discrediting digital camera photos,
citing that they can be altered easier than film. Use two or more rolls of film, if you can, in separate cameras.
(If possible, have the person grab the moped, too !)
Legal / Financial:
Call a lawyer instantly - don't talk to ANYONE about it, at all, not even family,
some insurance agencies may go lower than you would ever believe,
acting immediately...up to and including calling you in the hospital on your deathbed when you're all doped up and trying to get you to admit fault.
Get a lawyer, and use him to keep em off your back, and do it the instant you can possibly do so.
Get your bike back - asap.
Most police departments have some kind of kickback-deal with a towing company or auto shop.
Instead of towing it locally, you could find your moped remains being towed 40 miles away at insane mileage charges,
and storage charges bordering on extortion - get it back, BEFORE you owe $2,000 in storage.
Something similar happened to me when I was 17 and wrecked my fisrt car, so getting your vehicle back ASAP is a must.
Some towing/salvage shops will get the idea that if the moped is trashed enough you'll
just give it to them in lieu of storage, or maybe pay them to fix it for you, and will take it upon themselves to trash it a little more,
or even strip it and try to tell you those parts tore off in the wreck - another reason to have photos.
The auto drivers insurance company may try to "adjust" the amount of damage you did to the car when you hit it,
which is another good idea to have pictures.
No matter how ridiculous or minor, you may need it, if you suddenly find yourself sued by an insurance company,
denied medical care, etc - you might need to fight a legal fight from that hospital bed,you had best be prepared to do so.
Ask any motorcyclist who's been in a near-fatal wreck just how damn true that is..you will see.
Have a backup, have a plan.
Get together with a buddy or family member who you can trust implicitly,
and work up a plan to handle things should it come down to it,
being prepared may well just save your life one day - it's not just accidents that destroy people,
it's aftermaths that can too.
Your bank and creditors, the auto drivers insurance company, the hospital, your own health plan,
you-name-it...they will come down on you like a ton of bricks, and if the accident didn't wreck your life,
they'll try to do so.
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.