Monthly Archives: July 2017

Tips for Motorcycle Commuting

The great thing about motorcycle commuting is that you get to add at least two motorcycle rides to every work day, plus the bonus of occasional head-clearing rides during your lunch hour. But riding to and from work on two wheels is demanding. Riderstaffers commute every day and we deal with rush-hour traffic, gridlocked freeways, frenetic city streets and crowded parking lots, as well as occasional close calls, bouts of bad weather, flat tires, unexpectedly empty gas tanks and—mercifully rare—accidents.

1) Stick Out Like a Sore Thumb

Commuting is not the time to try and look cool in your black leather jacket and matte-black helmet, which makes you all but invisible to today’s distracted, smartphone-addicted drivers. The smart move is to make yourself as conspicuous as possible, and one of the best ways to do that is to wear hi-viz apparel.

2) Dress Like a Spaceman

Road warriors should never go into battle without their armor. Adhere to ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time) and wear a full-face helmet, armored jacket and pants, gloves and boots. Or, instead of a jacket and pants, go with Aerostich’s Roadcrafter, which has been around for more than 30 years and is the go-to one-piece riding suit for many motorcycle commuters. You can zip in and out of a Roadcrafter in seconds, and it’s designed to be worn over regular clothes.

3) Flip Your Lid

Every motorcycle commuter should wear a full-coverage helmet that protects his or her entire head. For added convenience, consider a flip-up or modular helmet, such as the Shoei Neotec. A quick-release button allows you to raise the chinbar so you can talk to a gas station attendant, toll taker or friendly bystander without having to remove your helmet.

4) Be a Middleweight Champ

The best motorcycle to commute on is one you already own. But if you can choose among several motorcycles in your garage, or if you’re considering buying a bike to commute on, we recommend a contemporary machine with modern suspension, tires and ABS-equipped brakes.

5) Be a Hard Ass

As a motorcycle commuter, you’ll want to be able to easily transport stuff to and from work, such as your lunch, a laptop, a pair of work shoes (since you’ll be wearing motorcycle boots on the bike) or groceries you picked up on the way home. Hard-sided, lockable luggage is the way to go.

Motorcycle Gear

Here’s the info you need to make smart decisions, to be more comfortable, safer and, hopefully, save some money in the process. On a motorcycle, you’re going to be traveling much faster. Even around town you’ll be hitting 50 mph or more and, on the highway, you may find yourself exceeding 85 mph. Your skin, bones and organs were not designed to withstand impacts at those speeds.

Then there’s the question of abrasion. As a general rule of thumb, figuring the average road surface, you can expect to lose one millimeter of flesh for every mile per hour you’re going over 30 when you crash. No, we don’t know why the thumb mixed empirical and metric units. So, at the top speed of that horse, you’ll have lost 1.4cm (or more than half an inch) of skin and muscle.  Gear can even help when it’s hot, by better allowing your body’s natural evaporative cooling effect to take place. Under constant wind blast, the sweat is blown off your skin too quickly for it to have a cooling effect. Put on a (summer) jacket, helmet, boots, gloves and pants, however, and your body is free to cool itself as designed. Luckily, mankind has achieved through science what evolution has failed to provide: clothing that protects you from accidents and the elements, and makes riding an easier, more comfortable experience. Helmets typically have a five-year life. After that, the glue and whatnot used to bond layers of the EPS impact absorption material (precisely tailored densities of Styrofoam) may begin to degrade, impacting safety.

Like the crumple zone in a car, helmets are also designed to destroy themselves in a crash, thereby dissipating the energy that would otherwise be transferred to your head. Sometimes a helmet can experience a crash without external signs of damage but still sustain unseen effects. To ensure that your helmet is fully capable of protecting you, always buy a new helmet from a reputable retailer and treat it like a baby. Dirt helmets look like this. You wear them with goggles. Yes, they do protect your face, but that pronounced chin may exaggerate torsional forces in a crash. They’ll also be noisy and unstable at highway speeds. The shape and size of every person’s head is unique. You need to find a helmet that fits you perfectly; sizes and shapes vary heavily between manufacturers and models. To determine your shape and size, visit a large brick-and-mortar retailer and try on every helmet you can. You’ll know one fits when it evenly holds your head all the way around, with no pressure points. Put it on, grasp the chin and try to rotate the helmet while resisting the movement with your head. The helmet shouldn’t be able to rotate independently of your scalp. It should fit snugly, but not be too tight.

A jacket covers the other stuff on your body that’s fragile and important: arms, back, ribs, organs – all that fun stuff. You absolutely must choose a motorcycle-specific jacket for purposes of both safety and comfort. Fashion leather jackets and similar are not made to withstand either the windblast or crashes that real motorcycle jackets are built to deal with. Motorcycle jackets fall into two categories: leather and textile. High-quality textile materials like 1000 denier Cordura are able to resist abrasion as strongly as leather, while typically coming equipped with Gore-Tex or other water-resistant membranes capable of keeping you dry in bad weather. Leather helps you look the way you’d expect a classic “biker” to look, though, and jackets made from it typically last (a lot) longer and fit more closely to the body. Textile jackets are often more affordable.

Reasons Ride a Motorcycle

1. Riding A Motorcycle Makes You Cool

Generally, we like to hide this fact. But, in many ways, it’s at the heart of all other reasons: In some way or another motorcycling will make you cooler than everyone else. And deep in their hearts, everyone else will know it.

2. You’ll Find Your Zen

Part of being cool as a motorcyclist comes when you stop worrying about “embarrassing” things like helmet hair or walking into restaurants wearing base layers; you don’t get upset when it’s hot or cold or raining or windy. Ride regularly (and intelligently) for long enough and you’ll even be less enraged by other road users’ negligence. Because you know centering your anger on one person or thing only results in lost awareness.

3. Commuting is Easier and More Fun

It seems a lot of people suffer a mental block when it comes to honestly considering motorcycles as viable everyday transportation, but the fact is, they make a lot of sense. If you live in one of the majority of places in the world that allow lane splitting, riding a motorcycle means you will get to work sooner and with less frustration. If you don’t live in one of those places, you should be writing your representatives and throwing eggs at ABATE members in an effort to get things changed. But there’s still plenty of advantage to getting to work on two wheels.

4. Mother Earth Will Thank You

As a knock-on effect of fuel efficiency, motorcycles are a greener choice of transportation. Maybe not so much if you’re still thrashing around on a two-stroke, but any modern bike will have to meet increasingly strict environmental standards. If you’re lane splitting on the way to work, you’re also decreasing your environmental impact by not sitting at idle for long stretches. If your engine is running for less time, it spends less time putting crap in the air.

5. You’re Less of a Drain on the System

Along with putting fewer pollutants into the air they breathe, you’re helping out your fellow citizens by placing less stress on the roads their taxes pay for. Because you and the bike weigh less than someone else and a car, you’re causing less strain. That means the road lasts longer, and that also means the need for repair is less frequent.

6. A Motorcycle Can’t be Hacked 

One of the more terrifying Skynet-like things to happen last year was hackers remotely controlling a Jeep Cherokee. Last I checked, this sort of thing isn’t yet—yet—possible with a motorcycle. Though, considering Ducati (and most electric bikes) offer the ability to make adjustments via smartphone, it probably won’t be long. If you’re truly concerned about the machines taking over though, a motorcycle remains a good bet. Especially if you choose a Royal-Enfield or Ural.

7. More Humans Are Involved

Related to the above, it’s generally the case that far more human hands will have been involved in the making of your motorcycle than in the average car. This is especially true if you buy boutique motorcycles, like the Ariel Ace, and obviously with any custom. But even with major manufacturers like Honda, people play an important role, performing tricky tasks a robot simply can’t manage.

8. Your Health Will Improve

When motorcycle proponents are scraping the barrel they drag out the claim that motorcycles help you lose weight. Ostensibly this is true: A 180-pound man will burn 40 more calories in an hour riding a motorcycle than he will driving a car. If he sings the whole time he’ll scorch an additional 100 calories. But take a gander at those attending Sturgis or Daytona rallies and it’s clear riding a bike isn’t a miracle weight-loss technique.

9. You Meet the Nicest People

Using terms like “brotherhood” or “sisterhood” in applying the connection between motorcyclists quickly sends one down the rabbit hole of self-aggrandizing BS. The idea of there being a special bond between the purchasers of a mass-produced item is silly. I am no more spiritually linked to other motorcyclists than I am other consumers of Kraft macaroni and cheese. And yet, and yet… there is something.

10. Because Freedom

On a motorcycle, it’s just your little head inside that helmet. You are in control of you, totally and completely. You feel the immediacy of your actions and decisions. The zen state pushes away anxiety about deadlines and bills to pay, and whether that girl at Starbucks was flirting when she told you to have a nice day. It’s not selfishness, but simply the realization of the fullness of yourself. On a bike you feel like a complete human being, not an insignificant part of something else. And with this knowledge you’ll find your interactions with your partner, kids, family, job, ambitions and so on, will improve.

Machine

A machine is a tool containing one or more parts that transforms energy. Machines are usually powered by chemical, thermal, or electrical means, and are often motorized. Historically, a power tool also required moving parts to classify as a machine. However, the advent of electronics has led to the development of power tools without moving parts that are considered machines. A simple machine is a device that simply transforms the direction or magnitude of a force, but a large number of more complex machines exist. Examples include vehicles, electronic systems, molecular machines, computers, television, and radio.

Perhaps the first example of a human made device designed to manage power is the hand axe, made by chipping flint to form a wedge. A wedge is a simple machine that transforms lateral force and movement of the tool into a transverse splitting force and movement of the workpiece. The idea of a simple machine originated with the Greek philosopher Archimedes around the 3rd century BC, who studied the Archimedean simple machines: lever, pulley, and screw. He discovered the principle of mechanical advantage in the lever. Later Greek philosophers defined the classic five simple machines (excluding the inclined plane) and were able to roughly calculate their mechanical advantage. Heron of Alexandria (ca. 10–75 AD) in his work Mechanics lists five mechanisms that can “set a load in motion”; lever, windlass, pulley, wedge, and screw, and describes their fabrication and uses. However the Greeks’ understanding was limited to statics (the balance of forces) and did not include dynamics (the tradeoff between force and distance) or the concept of work.

During the Renaissance the dynamics of the Mechanical Powers, as the simple machines were called, began to be studied from the standpoint of how much useful work they could perform, leading eventually to the new concept of mechanical work. In 1586 Flemish engineer Simon Stevin derived the mechanical advantage of the inclined plane, and it was included with the other simple machines. The complete dynamic theory of simple machines was worked out by Italian scientist Galileo Galilei in 1600 in Le Meccaniche (“On Mechanics”). He was the first to understand that simple machines do not create energy, they merely transform it. The classic rules of sliding friction in machines were discovered by Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), but remained unpublished in his notebooks. They were rediscovered by Guillaume Amontons (1699) and were further developed by Charles-Augustin de Coulomb (1785).

Machines are assembled from standardized types of components. These elements consist of mechanisms that control movement in various ways such as gear trains, transistorswitches, belt or chain drives, linkages, cam and follower systems, brakes and clutches, and structural components such as frame members and fasteners. Modern machines include sensors, actuators and computer controllers. The shape, texture and color of covers provide a styling and operational interface between the mechanical components of a machine and its users.