1 Thailand Motorcycle Safety Course Lesson 3 Getting Ready to Ride PREPARING TO RIDE What you do before you start a trip goes a long way toward determining whether or not you ll get where you want to go safely. Before taking off on any trip, a safe rider makes a point to: Wear the right gear Become familiar with the motorcycle Check the motorcycle equipment Be a responsible rider Be in good physical condition. WEAR THE RIGHT GEAR When you ride, your gear is right if it protects you. In any crash, you have a far better chance of avoiding serious injury if you wear: An approved helmet and fasten it properly Face or eye protection Protective clothing HELMET USE
2 Crashes can occur particularly among untrained, beginning riders. And one out of every five motorcycle crashes results in head or neck injuries. Head injuries are just as severe as neck injuries and far more common. Crash analyses show that head and neck injuries account for a majority of serious and fatal injuries to motorcyclists. Research also shows that, with few exceptions, head and neck injuries are reduced by properly wearing an approved helmet. Researchers compared helmeted and un-helmeted motorcycle riders on a per-accident basis for fatality rates, for the frequency of serious (AIS>2) brain injuries among survivors or a disastrous outcome involving either one of the two results. Nine hundred motorcycle crashes in Los Angeles and 969 crashes in Thailand involving 1,082 riders were investigated in detail. In both studies, approximately 20-25% of riders were hospitalized and about 6% were killed. Overall, un-helmeted riders were 2-3 times as likely to be killed, and three times as likely to suffer a disastrous outcome. Helmet use cannot prevent all fatalities because many riders die as the result of below-the-neck injuries that a helmet cannot prevent, but it is extremely effective in preventing death and serious brain injury among riders with survivable below-the-neck injuries. Helmet use and ejection were determined by a variety of means that included examination and disassembly of the helmet to identify and measure collision damage, as well as rider, passenger and eyewitness interview statements. The cause and timing of helmet ejection was determined wherever possible. In Los Angeles, only about 5% of helmets came off during the crash, usually because the rider failed to fasten the chin straps. In Thailand, however, nearly one fourth of helmets came off (again, usually due to poor fit, failure to fasten the retention system properly, or bad helmet design). In fact the statistics in Thailand show that it is riskier to wear a badly designed helmet than to wear no helmet at all. In Thailand, un-helmeted riders were more than three times as likely to be killed, and helmet-ejected riders were more than six times as likely to be killed as riders whose helmet stayed on.
3 Reasons not to wear a helmet: 1. Many motorcyclists say they would rather be killed than survive a crash as a brain injured vegetable. The reasoning is that crashing without a helmet means death, while crashing with a helmet on means survival, but at the cost of a devastating brain injury. Thus, it may seem to be a logical choice to ride without a helmet. The findings, however, make it clear that un-helmeted riders invite the worst of both worlds. Riding without a qualified helmet securely fastened on the head doubles or triples the rider s risk of death, and triples the risk of a debilitating brain injury if the rider survives the crash. There can be no mistaking the message that comes from the experience of nearly 2,000 riders whose crashes have been studied in
4 great detail: No rider should get on a motorcycle without a qualified helmet securely fastened on his or her head. Some riders don t wear helmets because they think helmets will limit their view to the sides. Others wear helmets only on long trips or when riding at high speeds. Here are some facts to consider: a. An approved helmet lets you see as far to the sides as necessary. A study of more than 900 motorcycle crashes, where 40% of the riders wore helmets, did not find even one case in which a helmet kept a rider from spotting danger. b. Most crashes happen on short trips (less than five miles long), just a few minutes after starting out. c. Most riders are riding slower than 30 mph when a crash occurs. At these speeds, helmets can cut both the number and the severity of head injuries by half. No matter what the speed, helmeted riders are three times more likely to survive head injuries than those not wearing helmets at the time of the crash. 3. Some riders only wear helmets when the police are around and enforcing the helmet laws. This is pure stupidity! The likelihood of an accident happening when police are around is very low. The police have absolutely no interest in whether or not a helmet will save your life. Their interest is in collecting a fine for infraction of the rule. Your interest should be in protecting your life, not avoiding a fine. HELMET SELECTION There are two primary types of helmets, providing two different levels of coverage: three quarter and full face. Whichever style you choose, you can get the most protection by making sure that the helmet meets minimum specifications and that it is properly secured to your head: EYE AND FACE PROTECTION Any motorcyclist who has been hit by a stone or an insect while riding can tell you about the benefits of face protection. Windscreens and eyeglasses may not provide adequate face
5 and eye protection. Wind, insects, dust, and pebbles will be blown behind a windscreen. Eyeglasses with shatterproof lenses may protect the eyes, but may not seal out wind and dust that makes eyes water. Helmets providing full-face coverage provide the best protection. FACE SHIELDS Face shields come in a variety of designs to fit most any helmet. Some flip up for convenience. When using a face shield, be sure it is securely fastened to the helmet. It should be impact-resistant and free from scratches. Scratches can refract light and blur vision. Face shields can be cleaned with a mild solution of soap and water or with a quality plastic cleaner. Make sure that the face shield you choose is designed for your helmet and does not interfere with eyeglasses or sunglasses. Tinted shields or sunglasses are for daytime use only. Always wear a clear shield when riding at night or in conditions when illumination is less than ideal. GOGGLES Riders who wear goggles have good eye protection, but they are not protected from possible injuries to other areas of the face. Also, goggles can reduce peripheral vision. Goggles are worn over the helmet and should be securely fastened so they do not blow off. As with face shields, the lenses of goggles should be clear when riding at night or in conditions when illumination is less than ideal.
6 THE RIGHT MOTORCYCLE CLOTHING CLOTHING The right clothing protects you in a collision. It also provides comfort, as well as protection from heat, cold, debris and hot and moving parts of the motorcycle. However, it is not common in Thailand for motorcyclists to wear anything other than their normal street clothing,
7 which offers little protection in the event of a fall or an accident. If possible, jacket and pants should cover arms and legs completely. They should fit snugly enough to keep from flapping in the wind, yet loosely enough to move freely. But clothing should not interfere with the operation of the motorcycle. While leather offers the most protection and sturdy synthetic materials provide a lot of protection as well, such materials may not prove to be practical for most riders in Thailand. If you are riding a lot you should wear a jacket even in warm weather to prevent dehydration. Find a jacket that is designed to protect without getting you overheated, even on the hottest days. Many riders in Thailand will wear slippers or light weight sport shoes. These shoes offer very little protection to the feet and legs. Studies have shown that injury to the legs is very common in most accidents. If possible the rider should use boots or shoes that are high and sturdy enough to cover your ankles and give them support. Soles should be made of hard, durable, slip resistant material. Keep heels short so they do not catch on rough surfaces. Tuck in laces so they won t catch on your motorcycle. Gloves allow a better grip and help protect your hands in a crash. Your gloves should be made of leather or similar durable material. KNOW YOUR MOTORCYCLE There are plenty of things on the highway that can cause you trouble. Your motorcycle should not be one of them. Pre-ride inspections help ensure a trouble-free ride and provide confidence that your motorcycle will respond properly. The primary source of Information about how a motorcycle should be inspected and maintained is its owner s manual. Be sure to absorb all of its important information. A motorcycle will continue to ride like new if it is properly maintained and routine inspections become part of its maintenance cycle. To make sure that your motorcycle won t let you down:
8 Read the owner s manual first Start with the right motorcycle for you Be familiar with the motorcycle controls Check the motorcycle before every ride Keep it in safe riding condition between rides Avoid modifications that make your motorcycle less safe and harder to handle A pre-ride inspection of the motorcycle should be as routine and automatic as checking the weather forecast before heading out for the day. It s quick and easy to check the critical components, and a convenient reminder is T-CLOCS. Here is a chart of a T-CLOCS inspection, all of which should be checked before every ride: T Tires and Wheels Air pressure Tread Cracks, dents, loose spokes Bearings Brakes C Controls Levers and mirrors Switches Cables Hoses Throttle L Lights and Electrics Working condition Turn signals, head lamp, brake lights
9 O Oil and Other Fluids (coolant, hydraulic fluid, fuel) Levels Leaks -- Look under the motorcycle for signs of an oil or gas leak C Chassis Suspension Drive components (chain, belt, or driveshaft) S Stands Side stand Center stand A pre-ride inspection should not take more than a few minutes. If done before every ride, it can help you identify changes before they become a problem. Routine maintenance goes beyond a pre-ride inspection. Regular maintenance is as important for a motorcycle as routine checkups by your doctor are for you. Wear and tear is normal with use, and routine maintenance will help prevent more costly corrective maintenance that occurs when there is improper attention given to the routine checks. The schedule for regular upkeep for motorcycle parts and controls is contained in your motorcycle s owner s manual. Remember, a mechanical failure caused by neglect in an automobile may only be an inconvenience. The same failure on a motorcycle may result in having to leave your motorcycle parked on the side of the road. If you are using a borrowed motorcycle make all the checks you would on your own motorcycle. Find out where everything is, particularly the turn signals, horn, headlight switch, fuel supply valve and engine cut off switch. Find and operate these items without having to look for them.
10 Know the gear pattern. Work the throttle, clutch and brakes a few times before you start riding. All controls react a little differently. Ride very cautiously and be aware of surroundings. Accelerate gently, take turns more slowly and leave extra room for stopping. THE RIGHT MOTORCYCLE FOR YOU First, make sure your motorcycle is right for you. It should fit you. Your feet should reach the ground while you are seated on the motorcycle. In Thailand the most often used motorcycle models are Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki. The step through motorcycle type and standard street cycles predominate. However, a number of sports (race replica design) are used. Most motorcycles will be in the 125 cc class or 150 cc. Get familiar with the Controls Both hands and both feet are used in operating and controlling a motorcycle. It is important to know the location and operation of all of your motorcycle s controls, and to develop and practice smooth and precise coordination when using them. The handlebars are an important component of any motorcycle because it is the most common way to initiate and control motorcycle lean. stop: Here are other primary controls found on a motorcycle, the ones that make it go and Throttle -- It is the right handgrip and it controls engine speed. To increase engine speed, roll the throttle toward you. To decrease engine speed, roll the throttle away from you. The throttle should rotate back to the idle position when released. Clutch Lever -- The clutch lever is located in front of the left handgrip. It is operated with the fingers of the left hand. The clutch connects power from the engine to the rear wheel. The lever is squeezed in to disengage and eased out to engage.
11 Gearshift Lever -- It is found on the left side of the motorcycle in front of the left footrest and is operated with the left foot. Lift up fully to go to a higher gear; press down fully to go to a lower gear. It shifts one gear with each lift or press. When the lever is released, it returns to center where the mechanism resets for the next shift up or down. A typical gear pattern is 1-N The N is for neutral, which is selected by either a half lift from 1st gear or a half press from 2nd gear. Most motorcycles have five gears, but some have four or six gears. Front Brake Lever -- It is found in front of the right handgrip and is operated with the right hand. Squeeze it in to operate. Rear Brake Pedal -- It is found in front of the right footrest and is operated with the right foot. Press it down to operate. The location and operation of many of these other controls/equipment vary from motorcycle to motorcycle. The best source of information for your motorcycle is its owner s manual. Fuel Supply Valve -- If your motorcycle has one, it is usually under the fuel tank and is operated with the left hand. It controls the flow of gasoline to the engine. Most motorcycles have one, but some are fully automatic and not accessible to the rider. For manually operated valves, the positions are ON, OFF, and RESERVE. The RESERVE position permits access to a small amount of fuel, which can be used to ride a short distance to a filling station after the main supply has been exhausted. Check your owner s manual for specific information. Ignition Switch -- It is usually located near the instrument cluster. Its positions usually include ON, OFF and LOCK, and some include a PARK position. The LOCK position allows the key to be removed and engages a steering-lock mechanism. The PARK position is a LOCK position that also sends power to the taillight to provide visibility when parked on a roadway at night. The switch may also have an accessory position.
12 Choke Control -- It is located either on or near the handlebars, or on or near the engine. It provides an enriched fuel mixture to assist in starting a cold engine, and provides a fast idle to permit the engine to warm quickly. It should be turned OFF as soon as the engine is warmed. Engine Cut-off Switch -- It is near the right handgrip and is operated with the right thumb. It allows you to shut off the engine without removing your hand from the handlebar. Turn Signal Switch -- It is usually located near the left handgrip and is operated with your left thumb; most must be manually turned off after a turn or lane change, but some turn off automatically after a turn. High/Low Beam Switch -- It is used to select high or low beam for the headlight. Horn Button -- It is usually located near the left handgrip and is operated with your left thumb. Starter Button -- It is usually located near the right handgrip, and is operated with your right thumb. Speedometer -- It is part of the instrument cluster and shows the motorcycle s road speed. An odometer shows miles ridden, and a re-settable trip meter is often included. Tachometer -- If there is one, it is part of the instrument cluster and indicates engine speed. It has a red line that should never be exceeded. Indicator Lights -- These can include neutral, high beam, turn signal indicators, oil pressure, side stand down, and possibly others.
13 Side & Center Stands -- They support the motorcycle when parked. Not all motorcycles have both stands. They are usually spring-loaded.
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