Riders Safety News

Safety Officer’s Article: MARCH SAFETY ARTICLE


Hello to my fellow Blue Knight DE1 members. Spring is rapidly approaching so I thought it’s time to go over some important safety pointers. Many of you may put your bikes away for the winter back in October or November and haven’t ridden since. As soon as the salt, sand and rind get washed off our roadways and the weather breaks many of you will be getting back out on your bikes. Remember, it’s now been four or five months since you may have last ridden. Just like in shooting our firearms, our skills deteriorate fairly quickly when we haven’t been practicing them. Please don’t just get right back out there on your bike and start riding the same way you last rode months ago. Most motorcycle accidents happen in the spring and I believe it’s due to riding skills deterioration. I would suggest you practice the below skills in the nearest empty parking lot as soon as you begin to ride.

(Remember, just because it’s sunny and 60 degrees some days there are many left over hazards waiting for us from this past winter. Be on the lookout for loose salt and sand on the roadways especially in turns and corners. It can be as dangerous as ice. Until we get some more heavy rains and the street sweepers out cleaning up you can expect to find salt and sand on the roads. Plus, don’t forget to be on the lookout for all the POTHOLES that seem to be appearing on all the roads. If you can’t swerve to avoid a pothole then hold on tight to the handlebars and don’t apply your brakes or accelerate while riding across the pothole.)

Before you decide to take your bike out for a ride, especially if it’s been sitting all winter check for the following:

Tire inflation – This is one of the primary causes of many motorcycle accidents especially when cornering. Proper tire inflation on a motorcycle is critical. Motorcycle tires tend to need to have their tire pressure checked more often than car tires. Improperly inflated bike tires don’t corner or stop as well, or funnel rain water away as well as properly inflated tires. Plus the tires will wear out quicker and we all know how expensive tires are. Also, don’t forget to check the side walls of the tires for cracks, gouges or bubbles.

Check all your lights, especially brake lights, to make sure they are all working.

Check all your primary and secondary controls to make sure they are working: Clutch lever, shifter lever, front brake lever and rear brake pedal, throttle, make sure the throttle automatically rolls back to the idle position when released and all the secondary controls such as the engine cut off switch, turn signals, etc.

Check your fluid levels even if you haven’t noticed any leaks under the bike.

Check all your cables for any fraying or areas where they may be rubbing against a part of your bike.

If you haven’t had your bike serviced for a while it might be time. The fluids, especially oil, are like the blood in our bodies. Remember, take care of your equipment, motorcycle, and your equipment will take care of you.

I would recommend you practice the below skills in a nearby “empty” parking lot as soon as you begin to ride.
Practice riding around the lot to get the feel of your bike again.

Practice some low speed riding, circles, figure eights, 90 degree turns and weaving. Cut tennis balls in half to use as guides for practicing weaves and other techniques.

Practice Quick Stops at different speeds. Don’t try to be too quick the first couple of times as you get use to stopping quickly again. Do not lock up your front brake. If you do “Immediately Release” the front brake to get the tire rolling again to regain stability, then reapply the brake appropriately. (You will stop much quicker if you don’t lock up either tire. You’ve lost traction once the tire locks up.) Being able to stop quickly and in control is extremely important.

Practice Swerving around an obstacle such as a car door suddenly being opened in front of you on a narrow street or an obstacle on the roadway, pothole.

Practice riding two up in the parking lot first if you plan on riding with a passenger.

As I’m sure you all know, riding with a passenger on the back affects all your motorcycle handling techniques drastically. Get comfortable riding by yourself again before putting a loved one on the back.

If you’re afraid of dropping and damaging your bike in the parking lot while practicing I suggest the following: You can use something like foam pipe insulation tubes or swimming pool noodles to put on your handlebars and other areas like saddlebag guards to protect them. You can even take your hard bags off if you like as this won’t affect how your bike handles very much. You can use bubble wrap to cover your fenders. Ideas are endless. Rider’s sometimes drop their bikes while practicing low speed drills. This can easily happen as you may have experienced. I know I have. (One word of advice I have is if you happen to realize you are losing your balance and tipping over, keep your feet on the foot pegs/floorboards and your hands on the handlebars. Don’t try to hold your bike up using your legs or hands especially if it is a heavy bagger. Doing that is when most riders suffer broken hands/arms, ankles/feet or injured knees. Just let the highway bars take the brunt of the tip over.) You might be able to keep a smaller bike from falling over, but if you’re not sure don’t try. I had a good friend break his ankle in three places trying to keep his Electra Glide Bagger from falling over. See the attachment I’ve included on “How To Properly Pick Up A Dropped Motorcycle.” I hope these suggestions help in getting the rust off your riding skills.

Ride Safe, Ride Smart and Enjoy the Ride.

Bruce Taylor / Safety Officer / Blue Knights DE 1 March 5, 2018


Team Oregon is a cooperative partnership with the Oregon Department of Transportation and Oregon State University.

Lifting a Fallen Motorcycle

Most motorcycle riders will have to pick up their bike at least once in their lifetime. Many riders, such as those who have more confidence than skill or those who do not learn from mistakes, have to pick their bikes up all the time.

When faced with a motorcycle lying on its side, there are several factors a rider should consider before picking it up. A motorcycle is a heavy machine that requires a bit of planning and forethought to get it off the ground. There are also specific techniques for lifting a bike safely.

You should not try to lift a fallen motorcycle by yourself until you’ve seen the technique demonstrated by a qualified instructor. Lifting a heavy machine like a motorcycle can be dangerous work. If it falls, you could get hurt. If your hands or feet slip, you could get hurt. If you don’t lift properly, you could get hurt.
Take time to plan your attack. Just like riding, lifting a motorcycle is mostly mental.

Use your head:
If you needed to move a 350-pound refrigerator, would you think it through first? Or would you just run up, grab it and start wrestling it down the stairs? What if it was a 700-pound refrigerator?
Before laying a hand on your fallen motorcycle, think it through. Visualize how you’ll do it first.

Assess Yourself:
Seeing your bike on the ground for the first time can be a traumatic experience. Your first instinct will be to grab it and pick it up before anyone sees you. Don’t rush into it. Take a minute to calm down. Collect yourself. The bike isn’t going anywhere. Ask yourself these questions:

Am I able to pick up my bike on my best day?

Am I able to pick my bike up today?

Am I injured? Will lifting my bike aggravate an old injury?

Am I charged with adrenaline? Panic? Anxiety?

Am I wearing sturdy boots or shoes with good grip?

Do I need gloves?

Assess the Area:
From a safe position, take stock of the situation. Don’t make the situation even worse by disregarding your own safety.

Is your bike in the road?

Would picking it up put you in danger from roadway traffic?

Let law enforcement respond, or wait until traffic is stopped around you, before trying to lift the bike.

Do you have a good surface to work with?

How is the footing?

Is it wet?

Is your bike in a ditch or on a downslope?

Inclined surfaces can be dangerous. You don’t want to slip and get pinned beneath your motorcycle!

Can you ask for help?

Onlookers are almost always willing to help a fallen rider. Remember to warn non-riders about the hot, sharp, or breakable parts of the bike. You’ll need to show them clearly and specifically how you want them to help and where you want them to lift. Be careful that they don’t lift improperly and injure themselves.

Assess the Motorcycle:
Shut off the motorcycle using the engine cut-off switch and/or ignition switch. Turn off the fuel supply valve if the bike has one. Give the bike a once-over: Is it damaged? Will the damage interfere with lifting it?

Spilled fuel is common, often dripping steadily from the gas cap. Don’t panic. It’s common for a little gasoline to drip out of the tank. Use caution, but as long as you don’t throw a match on it, a little gas on the ground is no big deal. If there’s a large amount of fuel spilling on the ground creating a slippery surface or serious fire hazard, it’s best to move away from the bike and wait for help.

If the bike is lying on its right side, put the side stand down and place the bike in gear. If it’s on its left side, make a mental note that you couldn’t put the side stand down first, and that the bike may roll on you as you lift.

The Technique:
Like lifting any heavy object, the key is to use the strongest muscles in your body – your legs. If you try to bend down and lift using your back muscles, you’re risking a
serious, lifetime injury. The following technique is recommended because it uses mostly leg muscles and poses limited risk of a back injury.

Turn the handlebars to full-lock with the front wheel pointed into the ground. One handgrip ends up close to the gas tank – right where you want it.

“Sit” gently with your butt/lower back on the motorcycle seat. The bike may rock/pivot a bit underneath you.

With one hand, grab the handgrip closest to the bike. An underhand grip works best.

With the other hand, grab a hard part of the bike (frame, sub-frame, luggage bracket, etc.) Be careful to avoid hot parts and soft parts (plastic, turn signals, hoses, wires). Use gloves if necessary.

Now get your feet out in front of you, solidly on the ground, about a foot apart, with your knees bent slightly.

It’s time to lift the bike. Use your leg muscles. Lock your arms and take very small (baby steps) backward, keeping your back straight. Maintain control of the bike and
do not twist your body while lifting.

If the bike was on its left side … be careful not to lift too much and flip it onto its other side! Once it’s upright, carefully put the side stand down with one foot.

Lean the bike safely onto its side stand. Check for damage before you ride it again. The motorcycle may be difficult to start until the fuel gets flowing again.

Assess the Fall:
Before you ride the bike again, take a moment to assess the reason you had to pick your bike up in the first place. Making mistakes is part of learning. And even experienced riders make mistakes. Analyze the mistake you made and devise a plan so it doesn’t happen again.

If your bike was on its side because your riding skill didn’t match up to the situation, or because you made a judgment error, maybe it’s time to head back to school. Contact Team Oregon and get signed up for a rider training course. Remember, your skill level should always be greater than your comfort level.