Monday, June 20, 2016

Five Riding Secrets From The Experts

Five Riding Secrets From the Experts.  Part One

Story by Jim Foreman

With summertime in full swing, it’s hard not to be inundated with motorcycle articles written by non-riders masquerading as something noteworthy and exciting.  Too often, I regret the obvious click-bait intention of the story, immediately after I click on the link.  

With all the nonsense out there, the time was right for a useful motorcyclist story and to share some secrets from accomplished and professional riders. 

One by one, messages were sent asking friends and acquaintances to share their top five motorcycling secrets.  The requests were intentionally vague to give each person the freedom to write what they cared about most.

The respondents come from all walks of life and all disciplines of riding.  A California Highway Patrol Motorcycle Officer, a Round the World-er, a Latin American Adventurer, and a female, crash free, million-mile rider all gave their thoughts and experiences.

The number and diversity of the responses would have made this into one huge story, so it’s being broken up into two parts. 

The only edits were for grammar and spelling in the following responses.

Please include some of your secrets to motorcycle safety in the comments.

Paul Fox - California Highway Patrol Motor Unit  Santa Ana, CA

Officer Fox is a rider through and through.  Like most officers, he too got a few speeding tickets during his younger days.  Paul regularly meets at community events to talk about motorcycling and motorcycle safety.  With the highly advanced training CHP Motorcycle Officers receive, and having a full-time motorcycle riding career, one is wise to consider his adviceTake a moment to read some information about the CHP Motorcyclist Safety Program.
Point 1: Share the Road
I think this is a common phrase associated with motorcyclists but thought mostly of cars getting out of motorcyclists way.  As riders, we need to not have a sense of entitlement and remember that the road belongs to all motorists.  Yes we can safely split lanes and yes we appreciate the motorist that kindly moves over in his lane to let us by, but if they don’t, do we have the right to get upset?  I have had to respond to too many incidents where motorcyclists are punching mirrors and windows because cars aren’t getting out of their way.  Instead of being upset when they don’t move, we need to appreciate those courteous drivers when they do share their lane with us.  Always remember motorcycles are fun.  When the only reason you ride is to get somewhere faster than other traffic, you lost sight of the experience.

Point 2: Experience Takes Time
Not everyone has the opportunity to ride every day, every week or even every month.  There are a lot of motorcycles collecting dust in peoples garages.  When the day finally comes to knock the dust off and take the bike out for a spin, their skills may have gotten a little rusty.  I would encourage every rider to ride a lot.  Put in the time to gain the experience to make you a safe rider.  Just because you bought a motorcycle 10 years ago doesn’t mean you have 10 years of riding experience.  Ride and ride and ride and ride… As you gain experience, then, you will be able to perform flawlessly.  Don’t fall into the trap of following what you have seen other riders do.  Every rider’s experience and ability is different.  Ride at your ability and comfort level.  Don’t follow the herd because you think that is what motorcyclists are supposed to do.

Point 3: Obey the Law
Simple.  The speed limit is the speed limit.  Double yellow lines are double yellow lines.  Unsafe lanes changes are unsafe lane changes.  The right shoulder is the right shoulder.  Red lights are red lights.  None of this changes because you ride a motorcycle.

Point 4: Look Up
As we dodge mirrors, pot holes, debris, distracted drivers and everything else, it is very easy to have your eyes focused on the road and cars directly in front of you.  We need to keep our eyes up, way up.  Look as far ahead as you can.  Give yourself as much time as you can to react to a hazard by seeing it way ahead of you rather than as you run over it.  Riding a motorcycle is an active job, not a leisure cruse.  Be hyper vigilant and never let your guard down. 

Point 5: Take Responsibility
Law Enforcement is not your enemy, especially those on motorcycles.  We hurt when there is a motorcycle related tragedy.  We love most of the same things you do.  Motorcycle racing, organized stunt performances, and riding with our friends, all over the country, are just some of the activities we enjoy.  If you are pulled over, be cool and human.  Level with us and yourself.  Realize you were doing something that caused the stop.  Your best chances of not receiving a citation are to be honest and professional with us.

Sam Manicom in the Slovenian Mountains

Sam Manicom – Author, World Traveler, Presenter

Sam is a true Round-The Worlder.  Still astride his amazing R 80 G/S named Libby (for Liberty), Sam continues to ride with his partner Birgit throughout the world.  Sam has written four excellent books about his motorcycle travels.  Do yourself a great favor and pick up one of them for some amazing and enjoyable reading.  Additionally, they have been recorded into audio books by Sam, himself.  Find out more about Sam Manicom including where he will be making a presentation at his website,

1. Take the time to stop and see the world along the way. It's too easy to ride past the good stuff.

2. Always wear the gear. There are idiots out there, and your guardian angel may be distracted at the wrong moment.

3. Some of the best adventures begin when something isn't working out as planned. Expect the unexpected and you'll be prepared for anything.

4. Plan time for side turnings. They usually hide gems.

5. You'll need far less 'stuff' on a trip than you think you'll need. Less is more = your bike will be far more fun to ride!

Voni Glaves in Red with the late Ardys Kellerman

Voni Glaves - Iron Butt Association Member, Writer and Presenter

Voni has been certified by BMW as having completed over 1,000,000 (One Million) miles on BMW Motorcycles. She's along with her husband Paul are regular contributors to BMW ON magazine. Voni’s Million Mile feat is even more impressive as those have all been crash-free.

1. Be seen. Red has worked for me for over a million sMiles. But, don't depend on being seen.

2. Make sure you have the largest envelope of space around you that you can possibly maintain.

3. Wave at everyone. It keeps your focus in the moment.

4. Goes without saying for me, but not for everyone - All the Gear All the Time. I've never needed the gear but who knows what the next mile holds.

5. Practice. If your learning curve isn't going up, it's declining. Read. Take Classes. Talk to other Riders. And sMile!

Ben Slavin

Ben Slavin – Latin America Riding Presenter, Filmmaker, Adventurer

Ben has ridden extensively through North, Central and South America.  Ben produced a film available from Amazon titled, “Motorcycle Mexico.”  Recently married, Ben continues to talk and meet people at meetups including Horizons Unlimited and Overland Expo.  Ben has a great blog with some excellent insight into traveling in Mexico and also hosts an active Facebook group called Motorcycle Mexico.

1. Take care not to hug the white line on twisty mountain roads. Bicyclists are often slowly slogging up the hill with little to no shoulder.

2. The best investment I ever made for my bike was a little $5 inline fuel filter. After that, I never again had to clean out my carburetor jets.

3. Despite your buddy's advice, "Lean back and twist the throttle" is usually not the best practice for completing difficult sections. Practice slow steep maneuvers with balance and clutch control.

4. Learn how to bump start your bike near your home before you're stuck in the middle of nowhere and need to bump start your bike.

5. Small bursts of throttle will give you stability and help you straighten out the bike when riding through loose gravel or soft sand.

Jim Foreman – Writer, Presenter and World Traveler 

Jim is an avid motorcyclist with over 180,000 miles on two wheels both domestically and internationally since 2010.  That may not seem like a lot of years, compared to those who've been riding 30+ years.  Jim insists that it's not the years, it's the mileage and advanced training that counts. Jim has seen too many accidents involving motorcyclists that were easily preventable.  In nearly every case, Jim says, “Ego of the motorcyclist plays a central role, regardless of who is technically, ‘At Fault.’” 

1.   Be Patient.  Just because you can blast at 160+MPH doesn’t mean that you should.  I’ve avoided countless potential collisions by giving a little extra space and maneuvering distance.  Save the breath-taking speed for places like the track or a desolate highway with tons of visibility. 

2.   Be kind and don’t be a jerk.  Make room for drivers who want to come into your lane.  It's super easy to get past them on a bike, and you will earn a driver's gratitude and respect.  I’ll often make room for a truck to merge into my lane.  They look extra hard for motorcyclists and could use a kind gesture, in return.

3.   Don’t be the fastest one on the road.  If someone wants to blaze at 90+ MPH on the freeway, let them.  They will happily gain the attention of any Highway Patrol or Police vehicle waiting beyond the next bend or crest.  This, in turn, clears the highway for you.

4.   If safe, stop and check if a rider at the side of the road is OK, or needs help.

5.   Wave to cops on the road, preferably with more than one finger! They are human too.  You stand a much greater chance of being ignored or forgiven if you wave and acknowledge them.


Lastly, as a further discussion, when talking about motorcycles to others, listen twice as much as you speak.  You don’t know everything.  People will be more inclined to be your friend if you show an interest in their perspectives.

When you're in Southern California, do make sure to visit Irv Seaver BMW in Orange County, CA.  Irv Seaver Motorcycles is one of the largest and best motorcycle dealers in the nationFor over 100 years, they've been getting riders into the bikes they want.  In addition to new and pre-owned motorcycles, Irv Seaver provides top rated service as well as parts, and apparel.  They're located just 10 minutes from Disneyland on Katella Avenue.

©2016 Jim Foreman  All Rights Reserved.


  1. Primarily in Mexico...
    1. Stay hydrated.
    2. Get off the road in tropical downpours as soon as you can.
    3. Topes (Speedbumps in the road) are everywhere. Topes are always bigger than you think. ;)
    4. Not all gas stations have the premium fuel they advertise.
    5. Come to think of it, they might not even have fuel, period. Don't ignore the guy selling gas out of his truck. Your next fuel may be 100+ Km away.

  2. Where there is an upcoming street on your right, always assume that an oncoming car will make a left-hand turn in front of you – prepare as though that’s a certainty!

    1. Good Thinking! I practice the SMIDSY. I will shift back and forth from left to right in my lane until I'm seen. Then I'll wave to the driver for seeing me. -Jim

  3. Before overtaking another vehicle, ask yourself what advantage you will gain by doing so. Just because your motorcycle can physically get in front of the other vehicle does not mean that it is necessary to do so.

    Group riding can often lead to problems, so always ride your own ride and never let the guy in front suck you into his unsafe action. Just because he can get around a curve at high speed, does not mean you need to as well. It does not even mean that he is a better rider; it may be that his risk sensors are calibrated differently to yours - do what makes you feel comfortable. If you pass a vehicle, wait about 50 yards ahead until your buddy completes the pass - do not disappear off into the distance.