Well, I’ve had my chance to rant on a bit about rider safety. Of course any time you open your mouth you’d better back it up by practicing what you preach or the payback is a bitch. I ride a 2005 Suzuki DL 650 V-Strom.
The week before the holidays began, I was wrapping up a painting job. The project came out great and I was stoked to have it finished in a timely manner. I was packing out the last of the equipment and finishing the punch list. With saddlebags bulging, top box maxed out, toolbox on the passenger seat and tank bag bursting at the seams – well, it was a little much for any bike without a sidecar. As luck would have it, I had to make a
u-turn on a one -lane road with a 20% grade, something I have done before. Due to the extra weight, however, I wound up undercompensating for it, then overcompensating, and went down. It was a slow 10 MPH drop that sent me tumbling away from the bike into the rocks at the roadside.
Had I dressed for the weather instead of safety, it would have been a holiday in a hospital for me. My Aerostitch one piece took the hit instead of my flesh and my helmet bounced off the roadway and rocks instead of my skull. By looking at the suit, you would hardly know it just took a beating. Now my helmet, though only moderately scratched will be replaced as it took its hit. Gloves kept my hands from looking like they were in a meat grinder and boots did what they do best. I walked away from it.
If you ride, there is always the chance you will go down. It happens. Not all crashes are from being hit by a car that didn’t see you. My accident was caused by pilot error, all the more embarrassing, I suppose. The trick is being ready every time you get on the bike. I really don’t think there is a time you should ride naked, or close to it. Bikes go down all the time and all too fast. Even a standing drop, where you try and ease her down can get you thumped.
What did I learn from this? Well, for one, never overload. Take two trips. Hell, that’s twice as much riding, therefore twice as much fun. What do you have to lose? Nothing, from my new point of view. Also, that sharing this bit of embarrassing bike experience may help to give a ‘heads up’ to another rider or two, that will undoubtedly have the chance to make the same mistake I did. We’re just human. We make mistakes. All the better reason to be prepared. At the dinner table we protect ourselves with a napkin. It’s a no brainer. There is not much of a chance that you will get bashed in the head or dragged down the road. Of course, that depends on whom you are eating with. So what kind of protection do you think you need for sitting on a potential meat grinder instead of a dinner chair? Maybe worth putting something on, ya think?
Experience is great teacher and sometimes the best. Motorcycling, at the very least, is experiential. But there are few things we don’t have to learn the hard way. Here I take a tip from my riding partner, Kale, and professional riders. Personal protection equipment is on before you get on the bike. It is the rule not the exception. Shit happens.
On the nickel and dime side, let it be said that plastic is expensive, especially those molded fairings and side panels. I had installed engine crash bars a few months ago never expecting to use them. But I knew that the fancy plastic that gives the V-Strom it’s looks, costs a lot more than the pipe work crash bars. They worked excellently by the way and recommend them for any motorcycle. A few bucks saved many. A turn signal, bent but functional brake lever; something is always going to break besides your ego. Small potatoes, considering the dark side.
Ride protected, ride safely, be considerate.
Happy New Year!
Aloha, john g