Saturday, January 30, 2010

Amusing British public service announcement about motorcycle safety

The British sense of humour sometimes leads them to create the sort of PSAs you never see in the US - like this one done in the style of a classic silent film. As renting a tank is not all that practical, better to keep a lookout for the kind of motorist shown in this film and your hand on the brake when in their natural environment. Which is anywhere there's an intersection of any sort...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Winter Woes

With the chill hand of winter on our backs, not many people are riding too many miles right now. The coldest I have ridden in is the mid-30's and that made me realize two things, the gear I have isn't warm enough for those temperatures and cold can be very dangerous.

The rule of thumb I grew up with about windchill on motorcycles is the 30/30/30 rule. At 30 degrees and 30 miles per hour, exposed skin will freeze in 30 seconds. Now, that isn't saying that the rider will get frostbite at that time (see the NOAA Winchill chart I've copied at the end of the post for that particular information), but it does mean that the nerves will go numb. I don't think I need to go into why that is an unpleasant sensation for a rider to get. Another reason I find cold to be dangerous to a rider is that it makes the rider less mentally sharp. When I get very cold, the way one can on a bike in the winter, I find I concentrate more on getting warm or how cold I feel than on what I am doing. That is a distinctly dangerous mental state to be in on a motorcycle, especially when added to the slowed muscle reactions and clumsy nerves.

So, what can a rider do to combat all this? Layer. It allows you to adjust the amount of warmth you have on to fit the changing temperatures over the course of a day and the air in between the layers helps to insulate you further. When it comes down to the outer layer, I of course recommend a padded motorcycle jacket and in this instance highly recommend one that is both insulated and water-proofed. The water-proofing on the zippers will help to keep the wind out. Finally, don't forget the feet. Cold feet are just as bad as cold hands on a ride, unless you have linked brakes and an automatic transmission, of course.

Ride safe, and ride warm.