Suit up, stay alive, have fun.

Old guy on a fast bike…..

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If you’re a motorcycle enthusiast one of the best things about living in Florida is being able to ride year round.

The pic above was taken this morning, on my Honda CB1000r. Rode it to church!

I’ve been riding on and off since 1995, when I rode a much slower bike through the streets of Taipei on my way to teaching gigs! I crashed frequently while living in Taiwan,  low speed crashes that left me bruised up and a little bit wiser.

They say there are 2 types of bikers: “Those who’ve crashed, and those who are going to crash….” I’d like to think that I’ve gotten all my mishaps behind me!

There is no way to totally eliminate the danger that goes with motorcycles, but it makes sense to suit up and mitigate some of that risk:

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My helmet and gloves are not pictured, what you see above is a leather jacket that weighs 12 pounds, canvas riding pants (with a Kevlar lining) and leather boots. If I go off my bike at high speed my protective gear will get torn up before my skin does.

Heavy duty gear and a full face helmet blocks wind, sand from the road, and huge flying insects! These three factors make riding unpleasant at speeds over 50 mph. Ever had a bug fly up your nose at highway speeds? Not fun, possibly dangerous.

Another factor that will keep you alive is keeping your bike maintained; not riding on old tires, making sure the brakes work…. that type of thing. This is the main reason why I don’t believe in riding old vintage bikes. Old bikes have crappy drum brakes, modern bikes have amazing disc brakes, normally with hydraulic assist and ABS!

I have 2 motorcycles, and they both stay in my garage out of the rain. I only ride on sunny / dry days.  Rain makes the roads slippery, rusts machinery, and is NOT fun to ride in.  I had to ride a motorcycle everyday when I lived in Asia. Not fun. Cars do better in the rain.

If you’re thinking about learning how to ride I’d recommend that you start with a slow, inexpensive, lightweight bike (maybe 300cc engine?) and ride the wheels off it. If you buy something that goes 150 mph and you don’t know what you’re doing you’ll die. A slow bike allows you to make mistakes at low speed, without cracking up a more expensive machine, or yourself.

My girlfriend is learning to ride on a little 250cc Yamaha that I bought used for $2,000. She’s dropped it twice, I’ve dropped the damn thing once… (bonehead mistake)…. but the bike is cheap to fix, especially those dang turn signals…..

If you’re new to motorcycling get a full face helmet, wear a leather jacket, heavy jeans, decent gloves, and leather boots that cover the ankle. Don’t ride down the road in shorts, a tank top and flip flops, that’s just silly.

Ben Alexander

January 2020