Limit_EN

Need for speed – All you need to know about speed limits

Limit_EN

Many of us already know this situation: Everything is ready for the perfect road trip – the bike is packed, the route checked the tank full and the excitement is building up. But when you arrive in the next country at the latest, you often have to ask yourself what maximum speed limit actually applies on the current section of the road or what fine you have to expect if you exceed it. The long-awaited adventure can quickly become a financial debacle, especially if you are traveling on a motorcycle and indulge in your thoughts when you see the new and often impressive surroundings. The annoying thing about it: Even if you own a navigation device that shows the permitted maximum speed, it does not mean that this value also applies. Although it is extremely rare for a country to change its own requirements, there are numerous additional bids that must be observed – bids that differ significantly from country to country. So always keep yourself informed about the current conditions and never blindly trust your navigation system. Everything you need to know for the perfect road trip in Europe can be found here.

Need for speed... Or not?

Admittedly, it is a great asset to discover the most beautiful streets and landscapes in the seat of a motorcycle. So that it stays that way and you are not unnecessarily prevented from doing so by a sudden encounter with the police, you should familiarize yourself sufficiently with the applicable regulations in advance.

Most countries regulate or divide the maximum permissible driving speed based on the section of the route (highway / expressway, country road and local area) on which you are. So far so good. Most European countries levy their own toll or highway fees and the models can vary widely.

In Italy, for example, the toll system or highway toll is mostly based on the distance actually traveled. There are also motorway sections for which a certain lump sum has to be paid. And that can often be expensive. Anyone who drives without a Telepass (automatic system for collecting entries and exits) must take a ticket when entering the motorway, keep it carefully and present it again when calculating the road toll, to pay the amount due by credit card, ViaCard or cash to settle. It is different with the Telepass toll box: the barrier at the toll station opens automatically, both when entering and exiting. This means that Telepass users drive through the toll station non-stop, often on specially reserved lanes that lead past the traffic jams in the other lanes. This is often much faster. While Italy does not offer a flat rate and the price is calculated, among other things, from an annual equipment rental (toll box) and the effective use, numerous European countries offer a lump sum over a certain period of time. You can often choose between daily, weekly or annual use. The amounts that are collected by the countries are calculated on the available road kilometers, sometimes very different. The following European countries levy a toll or motorway fee:

  • Czech Republic
  • Austria
  • France
  • Switzerland
  • Slovenia
  • Hungary
  • Slovakia
  • Croatia
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Belgium
  • Portugal
  • Greece
  • The Netherlands

Often you have to rely on the motorway or expressways if you want to get from A to B as quickly as possible – and not infrequently at the expense of driving pleasure. But now back to the streets that are also interesting for us motorcyclists.

Other countries, other rules?

In short: Yes.
A factor that significantly reduces a motorcycle rider’s driving experience is of course the weather. In addition, sudden rain, for example, is a constant companion and additional risk factor for an extensive and possibly cross-border tour. However, it is often overlooked that the permissible maximum speeds in the event of rain differ significantly from the regular limit in some countries. For example, the permitted limit on French and Italian motorways is significantly reduced – namely from 130 kph to 110 kph. Speed ​​limits are also often the case in underpasses and tunnels: Austria, for example, reduces this to 100 kph, a regulation that is not found in Italy with a few exceptions. Even in good weather, it has recently become law (since July 1, 2018) in France that the speed on country roads does not exceed 80 kph. The vehicle may only be moved at 90 kph on a two-lane country road with a fixed separation such as a guardrail. Who can possibly be aware of that?

Also to be noted is the fact that young drivers with less than 3 years of driving experience in France, Italy and Croatia sometimes have to adjust their speed considerably. In Italy, a maximum speed of 100 kph on motorways and 90 kph on expressways applies in the first three years after obtaining a license on motorways. Young drivers take note: In Croatia, young drivers up to the age of 24 are only allowed to drive 120 kph on motorways, 100 kph on expressways and 80 kph out of town. Not bad either.

Also note the applicable regulations if you are traveling with a sidecar or motorcycle trailer. In Germany, for example, the latter may only be moved on the motorway at 60 kph.

A summary of the permissible maximum speeds (as of 2019) on the different road sections in Europe can be found here:

Country

Motorway

Speedway

Extra urban

Belgium

120 kph

120 kph

90 kph

Denmark

130 kph

80 kph

80 kph

France

130 kph

110 kph

80 kph

Great Britain

112 kph

112 kph

96 kph

Italy

130 kph

110 kph

90 kph

Ireland

120 kph

100 kph

80 kph

Croatia

130 kph

110 kph

90 kph

Luxemburg

130 kph

90 kph

Netherlands

130 kph

100 kph

80 kph

Norway

100 kph

100 kph

80 kph

Austria

130 kph

100 kph

100 kph

Poland

140 kph

100 kph

90 kph

Portugal

120 kph

100 kph

100 kph

Sweden

See signage

See signage

See signage

Switzerland

120 kph

100 kph

80 kph

Slovakia

130 kph

90 kph

Slovenia

130 kph

110 kph

90 kph

Spain

120 kph

100 kph

90 kph

Czech Republic

130 kph

110 kph

90 kph

Hungary

130 kph

110 kph

90 kph

 

What costs do I have to take into account in the travel expenses?

In addition to the classic travel costs such as those for fuel, meals and accommodation, as well as the tolls already paid for the use of the motorway, the toll payment decisions made for pass roads or the directional sections also need to be considered. In most cases, access has to be paid on site, but there is also the possibility to see it in advance in the form of a digital route, as is the case in Austria. The number plate of your bike is usually received at a designated terminal when passing through. Find out in advance about the applicable tariff provisions. When visiting or driving over a pass and a welcome change from the otherwise rather dreary kilometer eating on the highway – all the more under optimal conditions.

What are the consequences of speeding?

Even if it can often go fast on a motorcycle in particular: keep an eye on the choice of driving speed, because the penalties for exceeding the applicable speed limits can differ drastically in the various European countries and can sometimes lead to the confiscation of your own vehicle. You should always keep an eye on the speedometer needle, no matter which country you are traveling in.

You have to dig deep into your pocket, for example, in northern Europe, such as Norway or in car-loving Sweden if you exceed the top speed by 20 kph. Here fines are threatened from € 375 or € 250. Exceeding is also very expensive in Italy (from € 170), in Switzerland (from € 155) and in Great Britain (from € 115). In countries like Lithuania you can get away relatively cheaply from around € 12 and Latvia from € 20.

As already mentioned, there are differences on expressways, motorways and out of town, the speed limit in Europe is largely the same within cities and municipalities. As in Austria, a speed limit of 50 kph applies here in most countries in Europe and applies to all vehicle classes in Europe.

If you get caught too much at 20 or more than 50 kph, you can expect the following fines:

 

Country

Until 20 kph

Above 50 kph

Belgium

From 100 Euro

From 300 Euro

Bosnia and Herzegowina

From 50 Euro

From 200 Euro

Bulgaria

From 25 Euro

From 120 Euro

Denmark

From 135 Euro

From 300 Euro

Germany

Till 35 Euro

From 240 Euro

Estland

Till 120 Euro

Till 800 Euro

Finnland

200 Euro

From 14 daily rates

France

From 135 Euro

1.500 Euro

Greece

100 Euro

350 Euro

Great Britain

From 115 Euro

Till 2850 Euro

Ireland

From 80 Euro

From 80 Euro

Island

From 120 Euro

From 400 Euro

Italy

From 170 Euro

From 530 Euro

Croatia

From 65 Euro

From 400 Euro

Lettland

From 20 Euro

From 240 Euro

Lithuania

From 12 Euro

From 450 Euro

Luxemburg

From 50 Euro

From 145 Euro

Malta

From 70 Euro

From 70 Euro

Mazedonia

From 20 Euro

From 300 Euro

Montenegro

From 40 Euro

From 100 Euro

Netherlands

From 165 Euro

From 660 Euro

Norway

From 375 Euro

From 900 Euro

Austria

From 30 Euro

Till 2.180 Euro

Poland

From 25 Euro

From 120 Euro

Portugal

From 60 Euro

From 120 Euro

Romania

From 60 Euro

From 280 Euro

Sweden

From 250 Euro

From 420 Euro

Switzerland

From 155 Euro

From 60 daily rates

Serbia

From 25 Euro

From 50 Euro

Slovakia

From 35 Euro

From 350 Euro

Slovenia

From 80 Euro

From 500 Euro

Spain

From 100 Euro

From 600 Euro

Czech Republic

From 40 Euro

From 195 Euro

Turkey

From 50 Euro

From 100 Euro

Hungary

Till 95 Euro

From 195 Euro

Cyprus

From 35 Euro

From 85 Euro

What else do I have to carry with me?

Many are of the opinion as motorcyclists that it is enough to carry the same items as a bandage abroad as well as domestically, but that’s far from it. Here you can find out why you should keep a little more space in your luggage:

  • Bandages

Motorcyclists must have bandages on board in Albania, Montenegro, Austria, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Hungary. In Latvia only if the motorcycle has a sidecar.

  • Obigation to carry bandages

France, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Hungary.

  • Obligation to wear a vest

In Belgium, Bosnia / Herzegovina, Bulgaria, France, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, the Czech Republic and Hungary, you have to wear a safety vest when getting off your motorcycle in the event of a breakdown or accident . In Finland, the obligation to carry also applies to passengers, but there is no obligation to carry one.

  • Warning triangle

In Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine and Malta, a warning triangle is a mandatory basic equipment for all motorcyclists. In Hungary this only has to be on board a motorcycle with a sidecar.

  • Replacement lamps

Replacement lamps must be carried in France and Croatia if the motorcycle does not have xenon or LED lights.

  • Green insurance card

It is compulsory to take it with you in Albania, Bosnia / Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro (a validity for Montenegro must be listed on the card), Romania and Ukraine.

  • Duty to wear gloves

Hard to believe: Only in France do motorcyclists and co-drivers have to wear gloves with a CE standard and the corresponding CE mark, as is also known from helmets.

ABS_EN

ABS – Compactly condensed

Who doesn't know these 3 letters - ABS.

A system that has long been part of the basic equipment in the car sector has also been on board in the motorcycle sector for a few years, the reason for this is the legislation increasingly becoming more stringent. Although this very regulation was introduced in 2016 within Europe for all newly registered motorcycles, the German manufacturer BMW already offered such a ABS system almost 30 years earlier, namely in 1988 for the K-100 models. One of the main reasons why it took such a long time in comparison to passenger cars, is more technical such as its weight and a higher complexity, as well as financial reasons in the form of costs. Quite plain and simple. Is it really?

The mankind has and will always try to push the boundaries. A fallacy among many riders if they are of the opinion that a braking maneuver is suddenly subject to different laws of physics: Indeed, anti-lock braking systems help, but they do not relieve you of the responsibility to brake properly. One thing you always have to be aware of: a full braking manouvre on a motorcycle is always a compromise between the shortest possible braking distance and a non-blocking front wheel.

But... How do I brake properly?

The braking process – with or without ABS – is basically the same, namely below the control range. If you brake properly, you can take full advantage of the strengths of the system. In order to brake properly, every driver should master the following points.

  • Posture Correct posture with your arms bent enables better control
  • Braking power Bring 80% front wheel brake, 20% rear wheel brake and as close as possible in the (wheel) blocking limit
  • Direction of view The right gaze technique decides, because you subconsciously always drive where the gaze is directed
  • Knee closure Allows optimal weight distribution by supporting on the tank

How does ABS actually work?

Only when the blocking limit that was already mentioned is exceeded, a braking maneuver with ABS differs from a braking maneuver without ABS. No matter whether in an emergency situation or when accidentally braking over a slippery area – the vehicle stability, which the driver himself has to restore without ABS by releasing the brake and reapplying, is guaranteed by ABS technology. All well and good – but how does ABS actually work in a motorcycle?

During a braking maneuver, the system acts particularly on non-adhesive road surfaces by counteracting the blocking of the wheels by reducing the brake pressure until the wheels can turn again, after which the pressure is built up again. But where’s the difference to a car then?

The main difference is not necessarily to be found in the technology, but rather in the purpose: The decisive criterion for a car is clearly the reduction of the braking distance, whereas the motorcycle is more about reducing the risk of falling, especially if the front wheel tends to lock during the braking manouvre.

If you have already taken a closer look at the brake system on the fork of your (ABS) bike, you may have wondered why the manufacturer implements kind of fan-shaped recesses or holes near the brake disc. You guessed it – there is a reason for this: The wheel speed is measured using an induction sensor on each wheel and in the event of an impending wheel blockage (the wheel comes to a brief standstill), a steep drop in the circumferential speed of the wheel is detected. The brake pressure is then reduced until the wheel rolls again. After the wheel starts to roll again, the brake pressure increases until it locks again – a process (also known as the control frequency) that can be repeated up to 15 times per second. The extensive signal processing that is necessary is performed in a central control unit with up to 3000 pulses per second. When the ignition is activated, a kind of self-test is carried out after exceeding the minimum speed, whereby detected faults – similar to those in a car – are stored in an electronic fault memory.

How can I check if ABS is active when braking?

In the control range of the ABS you can feel the activity of the ABS as pulsations in the hand or foot brake lever. In addition to the wheel speeds, modern systems also take inclination angles and rotational accelerations into account, so that the response of the systems when braking in curves has massively improved – a huge weak point of early generations. With modern systems, a pulsation in the lever can often no longer be recognized.

In the event of full braking, you are forced to operate the clutch at the same time as the brake is applied. Sure thing. During the actual braking phase with high decelerations, tire reactions (such as tread noises or scratching noises on gravel) can provide valuable information about the grip limit. Because: Full braking on a motorcycle is always a tightrope walk, so it is important to reduce the braking pressure even at the slightest sign of a locking wheel.

Which variants and generations are available?

As with many other technical solutions on and around the motorcycle, ABS has been continuously developed over the years. The systems available today, slightly differ from manufacturer to manufacturer.

The control frequencies, that was already mentioned in the beginning, and the control quality are far apart depending on the system development. The early generations, which were often referred to as ABS-I, had a maximum of seven control processes per second, whereas the latest and newest systems available are characterized by having up to 15 control processes per second. Believe it or not, the first systems were already available in 1988 and had a total system weight of approx. 11k (!) Current 6th generation systems (from approx. 2013 onwards) are equipped with an inclined position sensor featuring three acceleration and three yaw rate sensors and can measure the declination and the pitch angle of the bike up to 100 times per second. Pretty impressive. By the way, they have significantly slimmed down to a total system weight of about 1kg – not unimportant for a motorcycle. In technical jargon, this type of ABS is often reffered to as cornering or curve ABS. Nevertheless: Bosch, a well-known manufacturer who is significantly involved in the development of ABS systems, does not  explicitly speak of curve or cornering ABS, even with the latest generation (Bosch MSC).

But where’s the limit for ABS?

Well, motorcycle ABS is designed to maintain the driving stability when braking on a straight road – by implication, cornering is more problematic – especially for older systems. However, the physical and systemic difficulty of the braking torque that is applied when during this braking event when cornering, remains an existing challenge even for newer systems.

Furthermore, a high slip control of up to 30% (of 2nd generations of ABS) can, in extreme cases, lead to a rollover (so-called stopies) in the event of a very grippy road just before standstill. The brake pressure (on the front wheel) may open briefly on uneven, extremely undulating roads, which, when the suspension is rebounded, results in a steep drop in the circumferential speed of the wheel, even though the tire has not yet reached the grip limit. In order to avoid panic attacks, it is essential to take a sufficient braking distance into account here.

How should I behave if there’s no ABS and a blocked tire occurs?

Since each turning wheel must be equipped with a braking system, both the rear wheel and the front wheel can lock up when braking – in the worst case, both. If the rear wheel locks when braking, the rear of your bike can break out, which usually has no worse consequences. In this situation, the motorcycle should return to a stable position when the brake is released immediately. With a blocked front wheel, an inexperienced motorcyclist can fall very quickly and be seriously injured. Even experienced motorcyclists often do not know how to deal with a blocked front wheel.

In any case, the following applies: If the front wheel locks, the brake should be released immediately.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of ABS?

The EU regulation (168/2013 / EU) on the type approval of motorcycles enacted on January 1st in 2016, stipulated that all newly registered motorcycles with an engine displacement bigger or equal to 125 ccm (as well as with a power rating above 11kW) need to be equipped with have such a system. Only exceptions apply to the class  of certain competition and trial motorcycles which – often due to their design – are rarely used on public roads. During the initial registration of a bike that is factory new, this regulation became active 1 year later, namely on January 1, 2017. So if you want to buy a motorcycle of the mentioned performance or displacement class, you don’t even need to ask yourself the question: ABS? Yes, No, Maybe? …Definitely!

How’s the current legislative situation in Europe?

Braking with ABS in no way requires less practice than without, but it brings a significant increase in safety and an even higher driving and operating comfort. The best way to get to know the forces that occur and the special features of your own motorcycle is through safety training. One thing’s for sure: Today’s systems are already that technically advanced, that even the most experienced drivers cannot keep up with them and achieve better braking values.

How can I check if the system is working properly?

Like many other technical systems, also ABS consists of several components. Understandably, all components must be fully functional in order to make the entire system ready for use. A first indicator of an overall functionality is, you guessed it, the indicator light on the dashboard. It is advisable to take a quick look at the operating instructions in order to interpret the light correctly. A defective (ABS) sensor can quickly lead to a total syste failure, which means your bike is no longer roadworthy (for the legislator) and the bike needs to go to the workshop. In order not to blindly rely on the lighting (or non-lighting) of this indicator light, you should regularly check the function of the ABS system at regular intervals – even a light bulb has a limited life span. Of course you should take care not to test the functionality of your ABS system  by braking on a public road intendendly.

Incidentally, a shorter braking distance is not the only argument for driving with the ABS anti-lock device. The increasing interest of drivers in more driving safety will inevitably have an impact on the (rest) value of a motorcycle and make such models all the more attractive for beginners or the large group of returners.

Helmet_EN

The motorcycle helmet – A little FAQ

Helmet_EN

The motorcycle helmet

A short FAQ

A helmet is the main safety equipment when it comes to protective gear for motorcycling. Not only will it protect your head and reduce injuries, but also improves your riding experience; it stops wind, keeps you dry and deflects bugs, dirt and other outer possible intruders. This item is your most important piece of equipment, so choose wisely.

Unfortunately, it is not very easy to quickly find the perfectly fitting helmet, because it’s more than choosing size and color. With a lot of different brand and systems, it’s very hard to see through – especially with an enormous selection that is available online. This is an important point since you definitely need to try your helmet first and seek for advice in a shop, NEVER rely on your friend’s opinion on what’s good or what’s in line with the trend. Choosing the right helmet is about YOU only.

What’s the right recipe to create a good helmet?

Firstly, it is important to know what a helmet actually consists of and how it’s built – basically, every helmet consists of four main components: the outer shell, the impact absorbing liner, the comfort padding and the retention system better known as the strap.

While the outer shell mostly uses fiber-reinforced composites or thermoplastics to disperse the impact energy, the impact liner absorbs the shock using a dense layered cushion. As the name already implies that you should feel comfortable with the comfort padding, whereas the retention system is responsible to keep the helmet on your head in a case of crash. A fiberglass shell is the go-to for strength and it’s lightweight too. Carbon fiber is also very lightweight and a popular choice for racers.

What to look for?

Another very important thing to look for is to ensure you’re buying a certified helmet that complies with the safety standards and regulations. In Europe, all motorcycle helmets should meet the minimum safety requirements for the European standard ECE22.05 which covers both the helmet and the visor. ECE stands for Economic community of Europe, 22 for the number of regulations for testing and 05 gives information about the year of amendment, which was in the year 2005. So make sure it’s 100% street legal.

Which model should I consider to buy?

The give you the most direct answer: One that fits you best. This advice is crucial, because even the safest helmet on the market won’t be able to protect you if it is too loose or too tight. From this reason you should always try it before you buy it.

How to take measure?

The key or most significant measure to take is the circumference of your head from the forehead, since this is the important measure that manufacturers base their sizing on. This basic measure gives you a first shot on how the helmet may suit your head, but there’s more than that since most helmets can be characterized as generally having a neutral, oval or round shaped (internal) profile. While the basic (outer) size of the helmet follows the already mentioned scheme sizes, the internal fit can be modified by changing cheek pads or crown liner of some helmets.

How do I know the helmet fits?

Well, besides being comfortable as a first step your cheeks should always remain in contact with the helmet as you turn your head from side to side. Secondly, these pads should push on your cheeks, but not so much that you bite down on them. Another very important fact is that the helmet should under no circumstance push too much on the front or the top of your head. This is often neglected, but may become very painful during a long trip and can even cause headaches.

Which helmet is best for me?

When trying a helmet which is factory new it should fit tightly to begin with, because the padding will compress over time making it fit just a little loser. However, it should never be too constrictive or give you a claustrophobic feeling. Comfort and safety are equally important which means that any protection that a helmet could offer is of no value if it is too uncomfortable to wear.

Which types are available?

Mainly there are three main types of helmet categories available on the market: full-face helmets, open-face helmets and flip-front helmets.
A full-face helmet always gives you the highest level of safety there is. Most models are usually equipped with a movable visor to protect your eyes which makes them the most popular type.
Open-face helmets are constructed in a similar way but don’t offer the face and chin protection. Since they’re easier to handle (especially with sunglasses) and are less claustrophobic, they’re more popular among scooter riders and cruisers.
Last but not least there’s flip-front helmets which represent a kind of mixed type and have become more and more popular over the time. They offer a high level of safety such as full-face models, but also are more comfortable in case you’re about to take a little snack.

Does a new helmet need a break-in time?

Yes, all new helmets need a little break-in time. Mostly this depends on how often you ride and how long. The average rule of thumb is around 2-3 weeks when used every day.

How often should I replace my helmet?

Your helmet should be replaced every five years on average. However, after any kind of crash you should replace your helmet immediately, no matter what since a slight deformation can already affect the helmet’s structural strength.

Which factors are also noteworthy to consider?

There are many questions you should ask yourself, such as “Is the helmet for touring or shorter rides?”, “Which weather situation will I be exposed?”, “Will I also ride at night?”, “Would a dark visor for sun protection be useful?”.
Sure, it’s not always easy to navigate through or answer these questions with a specific model in mind, but at least it gives you an idea on how to find your perfect fit. For example, your main priority may be a quiet and lightweight helmet in case you’re planning to do long trips or a Bluetooth connection for audio in case you’re riding in a group. Also choose a bright color since it’s easier to be recognized in heavy traffic.
Here are some bullet points on what to consider too:

  • Weight (1.5kg is about average)
  • Noise level
  • Replaceable inner material (fit and hygiene)
  • Vents for cooling
  • Visor specs (Anti-glare, UV protection, Easy removal)
SecondSkin_EN

Like a second skin – Finding the perfectly matching motorcycle gear

Like a second skin

Finding the perfectly matching motorcycle gear

When looking for a perfectly fitting protective motorcycle apparel you can chose from a lot of models using various materials ranging from more classic leather to synthetics that offer excellent protection, style, and function. In case you just started motorcycling, you might want to know what your options in terms of types of protective clothing.

Leather may look great with your rugged cruiser or flashy with your sports model, but a well-designed synthetic may suit your long touring motorcycle better over thousands of kilometers on the open road. Moreover, the apparel should fit comfortably without being too big and fluttery, and offer all the functions you need. Pockets, both internal and external, may or may not be what you need (or even want), so choose wisely on what level of function you need to ride.

When we’re talking about clothing suitable for (actually) riding a motorcycle, we’re mainly considering topics such as safety and protection. Sure, a jacket should fit like a glove and (ideally) look good too, but you should always remember the following: “Dress for the slide, not for the ride!

What to consider

Besides the topic of safety in mind, let’s also consider what a good piece of clothing should cover too. So, what to look for?

  • Ventilation options – Nothing worse than to stew in one’s own juice. When you’re on a long tour you may know what is meant here. Always look for potential ventilation options on the jacket (or pants) you’re about to buy. Most gear is designed to catch the wind and let it pass through while riding. This means that you can easily adjust the cooling effect on your own and on the fly.
  • Pockets & storage – Since storage options are widely limited when riding a motorcycle, you’ll be happy about extra storage. Look for gear with pockets that have a dedicated purpose. Many models offer special pockets for mobile phones (often close to the body for an easy recognition) or your purse. Sitting on a motorbike with your full trouser pockets might get uncomfortable quickly
  • Visibility – Most people who aim for a leather jacket (naturally) select a black model. Always keep in mind how your gear is performing in being visible. Sure, you won’t find a neon-colored leather jacket, but always keep in mind that it is useful to own at least one item that sticks out like a super bright helmet color.
  • Covering – If you have already experienced what it means to play catch with a bug while riding or (even worse) a bee, you know what’s meant here: Make sure you cover your collar, ankles or wrists sufficiently. This impression on your skin will keep you busy for quite some time for sure. Also, look for solid and good storm flaps over your gear’s zippers. They might look unsuspicious when wearing but may be quite permeable while riding.
  • Protectors & armor  – Most importantly, your gear should be able to protect you in a critical situation. In Europe it is required by law to use equipment that is marked with CE Marking standard. The US has unofficially adopted these standards, but it is not required for street use. For North America, the only time you need EC-rated apparel is on the race track. Most important for you is to look for the CE level (1 = lower protection, 2 = higher protection) when you consider buying a jacket, pants or a suit. While many models have already padded and reinforced areas (e.g. Shoulders, knees and waist) for basic protection, most apparels have dedicated pockets for removable protectors. Always check both the size of your pockets and protectors first since you don’t want to waste money for armor that does not fit into the designated pockets.

The jacket

Basically, you need to decide if you’re aiming for a two-piece setup consisting of separate pieces like a jacket and pants or if you’re feeling more comfortable wearing a suit. Suits come in one and two-piece sets that offer the same level of protection, ventilation, material selection as a combination of a jacket and pants. Essentially a suit may offer better waterproofing, whereas a two-piece setup gives you more flexibility and a better possibility to cool down if you’re taking a short break from riding. Both variants should fit comfortable without being bulky or limiting your mobility since it’s very important that you’re still able to move and remain agile when riding a motorcycle. Many models offer special stretch panels at the elbows, knees or around the waist to improve flexibility and are using either textile/denim, leather or hybrid materials.

The pants

As a consequence of owning a good jacket it is important to rely on a supplementary and good piece of pants. Mostly pants are an overlooked piece of gear because many people think it’s enough to wear thick jeans. But with protection in mind, actual motorcycle riding pants are designed to give you the best possible level of safety in case of an accident as well as other features such as a higher visibility (which of course is beneficial too) and important ventilation. Just like jackets, pants are complementary in the respect of material and different styles. While most textile models can be worn as a second layer over your regular pants or a set of shorts, they might also offer removable linings to add an extra layer of warmth or (if detachable) a cooler option for hot summer days. On your daily commute from or to the office, this might be your best fit.

Denim pants usually use interwoven fabric (such as Kevlar) into other materials to ensure a higher abrasive resistance. Additionally, you can also find padded sections and pockets for additional armor and protectors in many models.

With leather pants you mostly pick the sportier style that involves abrasive knee pucks for touching the ground. If you’re riding closer to the edge (or even go to a race track) you should definitely go for this option since you’ll get maximum protection in knees, hips and your behind.

Final tips

Finding your perfect set might take some time since it involves consideration for what you plan to ride in such as the weather, the riding duration and of course your type of motorcycle. Leather is excellent for protection, but it may become less and less comfortable throughout a long ride. Textiles offer excellent protection, visibility and ventilation, but aren’t the perfect pants for every occasion either. You will also need to consider if you prefer wearing clothes underneath (what are your plans?), as they above need to fit comfortably in your normal riding position. They shouldn’t be too tight or expose the tops of your boots, nor be too bulky that makes riding, shifting, or stopping painful. When you’re trying on some models at a shop don’t just take a few steps and make some stretches, ask if they have a motorcycle around (many shops have it) to sit and check how it feels when actually sitting on a motorbike.

Tires_EN

Motorcycle tires – A short FAQ

Motorcycle tires - A short FAQ

How do I choose the best motorcycle tire?

Most importantly you should choose a tire which “fits” your bike, which means you should check the dimensions as well as both speed and load index that are suggested by you motorbike manufacturer. Don’t aim for a type of tires if you riding behavior does not match. (e.g.: sticky sport tires if you never manage to heat them up properly) Choosing the right type gives you a higher level of safety, not only performance. Also consider durability, all-weather capability, road profile (i.e.: gravel road, bitumen, etc.) as well as the luggage you carry into account.

Should I choose a radial or a cross-ply tire?

A cross-ply (or bias) tire are designed in a simpler way with more sturdy sidewalls which makes them perfect for off-road riding, whereas the speed indices are lower. With radial tires we’re looking at a different chasing that sits 90° to the rolling direction and a belt which is approx. 0° to 25° off to it. While the belt sits under the tread, it adds more stability and makes the tire capable of higher speeds which is made possible due to lower centripetal forces. Once again: Consider the intended purpose when buying.

How do I run in new tires?

You may notice that new tires act a little slippery. The reason behind is, that during the last manufacturing process (most manufacturers do this) the new tire is run through a so-called curing process. When the tire is released from the very hot mold during manufacturing, a small amount of release agent is applied to ensure an easier removal from the mold. This thin layer which remains on the tire (and sometimes gives it a nice shiny gloss to it) is the reason why you should pay attention when riding your new tires the first time. Better safe than sorry!

Is there anything I can buy for an emergency repair?

Suffering from a punctured tire is always bad, mostly when you’re on a long tour. Fortunately, there are some tools available to keep you going. In case you’re using a tire with a tube on your bike you can get a fully equipped roadside repair kit. While for tubeless tires you can choose from plug, cord, and canned fix-a-flat options. Although it might appear practical, the success rate with the canned fix is quite bad. Besides, your mechanic will thank you later – because it makes a mess inside. Generally, never ride too long with a fixed tire unless you have to. Carrying a repair kit is a no-brainer!

Is it safe to repair a motorcycle tire after a puncture?

Yes, for a certain amount of (riding) time it is. Sometimes it’s the only option on a tour. In case you’re wondering if you can even repair a tire twice: There’s a recommendation from the British Standards on how to proceed. Until a speed rating of J (the equivalent of 100kph), you can repair twice, whereas above J until V (until 240kph) you should consider doing so only once. If you’re riding a superbike just be safe and don’t. (above V) Always keep in mind that only the central 50% of a tire’s width can be repaired, never the sidewall. A worn tire (less than 0.8mm) is also not safe to perform a repair on.

What tire pressures should I use on my motorcycle?

The best recommendation here is to orientate towards your bike’s owner’s manual. You should always keep within this ranges since the bike you’re riding was designed and tested with those values. A wrong pressure might even reduce the life of your tires. Is it too low, the contact patch (area between you and the road) can be even reduced because the tire deforms by lifting the middle section away from the road. Moreover, they also easily overheat. If you over-inflate, they’ll (again) wear unevenly, show worse handling and give you an uncomfortable ride. Check the recommendations also if you’re carrying higher loads. In case the manual is not available, check the manufacturers’ website.

What is the minimum tread depth on motorcycle tires?

In Europe, the legal minimum tread depth for a motorcycle tire is 1.6mm around the whole circumference. The different riding style compared to passenger cars leads to different wear of the profile, which has the effect that the pattern of the tread needs to be visible across three-quarters of the width too. It is always good to rely on a good “amount” of thread since it is responsible to push the water aside during a rainy day. It’s time to think about a change at around 2-3mm since a lower depth also affects your bike’s handling a lot. For checking it’s always good to have a tread-depth gauge to make sure you’re on the safe side.

Can I use unmounted tires that are a few years old?

Yes and no. It is key that the tire you want to purchase was stored properly. Which sometimes can be difficult. The reason (or mechanism) why tires can age is called outgassing. This basically happens all the time heat is absorbed or given by the compound. This effect of outgassing causes some of the chemicals that give the tire its pliability actually to turn into gasses and escape with the consequence of making the tire harder and less grippy. Make sure you store your bike (and your tires) indoors in a cool and stable climate. A worst-case scenario would be to store them in the bright sun or a hot warehouse. Always check the DOT code for the manufacturing age: A three-year-old tire that’s been properly stored can be in better shape than a one-year-old tire that hasn’t. A neat trick of making sure you get the good and fresh stuff is by choosing a dealer who turns over a big volume.

Can I run different tire sizes on my bike?

Since every tire is designed to meet a certain profile for certain handling characteristics (e.g.: specific tread patterns for certain terrains) you should always pick matched sets. At worst it can adversely affect your bike’s handling in unpredictable or even dangerous ways. We know, good tires are pricey and – especially when compared to passenger cars – you need a whole lot more of them, but it’s really not about trying to save money.

How do I maintain my tires for a long-life during off-season?

Since your tires are the only thing between you and the road you should treat them right, even more when you don’t actively use them during the off-season. Always make a visual inspection (under well-lit conditions) and look for punctures or nails. Tires really need to go through a lot, so make sure you even check for small pieces of glass that might be trapped. When your set is already a bit older, make sure to check for cracks. Also go for the full inspection, so let them roll and look around the whole wheel. As already mentioned, you should make sure to store your tires in a stable climate.

RidingSafe_EN

Riding fast and safe, the MotoGP way

Riding fast and safe, the MotoGP way!

MotoGP riders need more than just a motorcycle for a race. They need specially designed suits, boots, and gloves. Many protective elements go in making these highly protective racing gears such as knee sliders, elbow pads, etc. But, another very important factor to be considered when it comes to their suits and helmets is the comfort level the rider needs.

Weather also plays a big role in determining the type of equipment a MotoGP rider needs. For example, rain can add several levels of extra risk for a MotoGP rider. In case of a fall, you need the suit to be able to resist abrasion and protect the rider. If you also ride a sports bike and follow MotoGP racing, you need to know what goes into the safety elements of a rider. MotoGP riding gears are made keeping the riders’ safety in mind, whether they are professional racers or everyday bike riders like you and me.
Of course, you don’t need to be in a MotoGP pilot’s outfit every time you go out, but you can always take a leaf out of their book to ride extra safely.

Being fit is an advantage for anybody riding a heavy bike and an insight in a MotoGP rider’s physical training might be the inspiration you need. Lastly, modern motorcycle technology such as traction control can also help you in intense situations. So here we go…

Riding Gear- Striking a balance between protection and comfort

Helmet

The basic purpose of a motorcycle helmet is to protect the rider’s head during impact. The color and designs of a MotoGP helmet can be very attractive. Riders wear a full-face helmet made of carbon fiber in order to be as light as possible.
Helmets can be customized to achieve maximum protection and comfort. The air intake determines the comfort of the rider and it can be adjusted as per his needs. In order to offer maximum comfort, the helmets can weigh as less as 0,5 kg.

Airbag Suits

Starting in 2018, it is now mandatory for all MotoGP riders to wear an approved airbag system inside their leather racing suits for extra protection. These have to be functional when the rider is on track. The airbag system is actually a protective element that will inflate when it detects that the rider is about to fall or has fallen. It hardly takes a few milliseconds for the different parts of the suit to inflate.
The chest and arms are the major parts and once inflated, they work really well in softening the impact. Even if the rider decides to continue racing again after a fall, there is a second charge as well in the system, which will be ready to go again with the rider and protect him again if needed. This is the most advanced protective technology available to riders currently and it is so accurate, it can gauge the difference between a proper fall and a close shave.

Armour

There are protective pieces in the suit that can slip into the inner pockets. These pieces help to protect vulnerable areas against abrasion and also absorb the impact after a fall. These elements are designed in a way to keep them lightweight and also provides maximum absorption abilities. This helps to keep the rider comfortable as well as protected.

Boots and Gloves

MotoGP riders’ boots and gloves need to have extra protection in certain areas and also be comfortable for the rider to wear. A rider must be able to feel his hands and feet easily as those are the two parts he uses the most to control his motorcycle. They should be lightweight and the gloves generally have extra protection at the knuckles, fingers, and the base of the palm. These are the most vulnerable areas in case of impact. Protective gloves also feature a protective plate near the wrists.

Racing suit

The most important part of a MotoGP rider’s protective gear is the suit. They are highly customizable to be able to resist abrasion and impacts and also be lightweight and comfortable for the rider to wear.

Elbow pads and knee sliders

Elbows and needs are highly sensitive areas for a MotoGP rider. In fact, the riders use knee sliders to come in direct contact with the track. These surfaces are extremely abrasive and hot. So basically while taking turns, the rider has to depend on the protective abilities of their knee sliders.
The same way as knee sliders, we see riders’ elbow pads also coming in contact with the asphalt on many occasions. This has encouraged makers to keep improving the protective qualities of elbow pads.

Physical training

MotoGP is the top motorcycle sport in the world. Due to huge competition, riders have to be on top of their game at all times, not just on the track, but also in the gym. Like any other sportsperson, MotoGP racers need to be fit in a way to be able to control bikes weighing more than 150 Kgs, at constant speeds of over 250kph, maintaining lean angles and doing this for over an hour. And, this was just race time, not to forget the training time riders have to ride on track for hours and hours again.
The riders start their physical training cycle with a pre-season in December. It usually consists of cardio and full-body workout, 6 hours a day and 6 days a week. These 6 hours are divided into cycling, gym and some time in the pool.
During the racing period, which starts in March, riders do exercises they think they need, of course under the guidance of expert trainers. They usually want to maintain strength and the exercises undertaken are also for the same.
During summer breaks, the training is mostly the same as pre-season training. After the end of the season, riders generally take a month’s break but also indulge in recreational exercises and sports like football, badminton, etc. to keep fit and stay fresh ahead of a new season and a new training cycle.

Motorcycle safety system – Traction control

The worst nightmare of a MotoGP racer is to lose traction while on track and go flying into the sidelines. But, fortunately, with modern motorcycle safety systems and electronics, it is much easier for MotoGP riders to control traction than we think.
Traction control is basically a system that uses throttle opening or the engine spark advance as input variables to regulate the slip of the rear wheel.
It makes use of sensors mounted in different places on the bike, like the rear and front wheel mountings. It helps to monitor the speed of the wheel. It also manages to monitor roll pitch using an Inertial Management System. This system can also monitor a rider’s slides, turns, and wheelies. There are sensors that can also monitor engine speed. There is a big electronic control unit which monitors and relays information to the pit boxes.
Simply put, this technology helps to monitor every parameter of the bike. If the front wheel is off the ground for a few seconds or the rear wheel slips, the ECU will cut down the power delivery. The electronics are so advanced today, that there are traction control settings available in bikes for every turn a rider takes.
Being a MotoGP rider requires a lot of practice and strength. All riders have to work extra hard to compete in the biggest bike racing competition in the world. In order to protect themselves in a race and come out winning, safely, they need the help of special clothing, fitness, and technology.

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10 tips to start the motorcycle season safely – Part 2

10 tips to start the motorcycle season safely - part two

Whoever said that “You haven’t truly lived until you have ridden a motorcycle” couldn’t have been truer. However, there is no denying the fact that motorcycling has this stigma attached to it, quite incorrectly, that it is an extremely dangerous way to utilise your time. Most of this stems from the higher than the normal number of accidents people tend to have on motorcycles. The truth of the matter though is that lot of these accidents can be chalked down to poor preparation and overlooking basic riding etiquette. As the motorcycle season is about to step into high-gear, here are 5 tips to keep you safe so you can enjoy the motorcycling to the fullest without putting your health and life at risk.

Pack first-aid kits for emergencies

You could ride in the safest manner possible and still end up in an unfortunate situation due to someone else’s fault. Even if you yourself might never have to use it, a first-aid kit can come in handy and even be life-saving for a fellow rider. Most motorcycle kits will have a first-aid kit. Just check and ensure that all the components of the first-aid kit are still there and can still be used throughout the entirety of the motorcycle season.

Take a class to learn new riding techniques

While the fundamentals of motorcycle riding are quite intuitive and consists of things you can pick-up just through experience, there are some skills that you have to actively learn. These can include off-roading techniques, mountain-riding, riding on different surfaces, better ways of cornering and so on. Get in touch with your local riding club or institute and enrol for classes that would instruct you on new, fun and safe ways of riding your motorcycle during this riding season.

Start off easy

It is understandable that you would be excited to enjoy the freedom of motorcycling this riding season. However, it is important to note that you will be slightly out of practice and your senses wouldn’t be as keenly tuned to your motorcycle as you want them to be. Start off at a gradual pace and keep the rides short so you can get up to speed and get in tune with your motorcycle first. True enjoyment of motorcycle riding can only be achieved when your motorcycle acts as an extension of your body and it takes a little bit of time to get there.

Check weather and road conditions

The starting of this season will still be witness to some changing weather conditions and poor road conditions. Check the local weather before setting off and account for lower traction that will be encountered at the beginning of the motorcycle season. Do not push the motorcycle to its limits right away and do not ride if the conditions are too bad.

Know your limits and stay within it

Many feel that you have to be constantly on the edge to enjoy the motorcycle season. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Even riding along at a gentle pace can be quite fun as you get to lap in the beauty of nature in all its glory and the general sense of freedom that comes with motorcycle riding. Manage your expectations accordingly and do not push yourself and the motorcycle too far. Never ride when you are very tired or the conditions are too bad. Minimise the amount of night-time riding as well. When you are faced with a tough decision, always think with your head rather than your heart. There will always be another motorcycle season to try out new things.

Enjoy your ride and stay safe!

10Tips_One_EN

10 tips to start the motorcycle season safely – Part 1

10 tips to start the motorcycle season safely - part one

Whoever said that “You haven’t truly lived until you have ridden a motorcycle” couldn’t have been truer. However, there is no denying the fact that motorcycling has this stigma attached to it, quite incorrectly, that it is an extremely dangerous way to utilise your time. Most of this stems from the higher than the normal number of accidents people tend to have on motorcycles. The truth of the matter though is that lot of these accidents can be chalked down to poor preparation and overlooking basic riding etiquette. As the motorcycle season is about to step into high-gear, here are 5 tips to keep you safe so you can enjoy the motorcycling to the fullest without putting your health and life at risk.

Get back in riding shape

The holidays weren’t too long ago which means that you would be carrying a few extra pounds. This can be detrimental to your enjoyment especially on long rides. Get back in shape by doing basic exercises with a good amount of cardio thrown in. Contrary to popular belief, motorcycle riding isn’t easy even though it gives the appearance of just sitting and riding along. Also, do plenty of stretching so your body can bear the strains of riding a motorcycle without causing much discomfort so you can concentrate on completely on the fun aspects of the ride.

Get your motorcycle in shape

Just a small percentage of motorcycle related road mishaps are due to poorly maintained motorcycles, but you do not want be in this group, right? In all probability, your motorcycle would have been sitting for months. Check the fluid levels first and then the play on the brake and clutch levers. If everything seems all right then start the engine in neutral and let it warm up. Once warmed up, rev the engine and listen to ensure that everything is normal. Check the tyres for punctures and the chassis of the motorcycle for any issues. If you run into issues at any point then get the motorcycle fixed properly. Even if everything is all right, it is a good idea to have the motorcycle serviced so that it is in the best shape possible for the riding season.

Check your gear

It can never be emphasised enough how important riding gear is to safety. It should be comfortable without compromising on safety. It should also be visible even in low light conditions. If your gear has been sitting in a corner like your motorcycle then check it thoroughly to ensure it is all right. Also, wear it and stretch around in it to ensure there won’t be any problems mid-ride.

Plan your trips beforehand

Like pretty much every other important thing in life, riding a motorcycle requires planning as well. Plan your motorcycle season well in advance allotting plenty of time to exercise beforehand. Fix a date for all the checks on the motorcycle and then plan out your rides. These plans do not have to be concrete but they should give you a fair idea as to what you will be doing in your motorcycle season

Ensure your insurance is up to date

This is pretty self-explanatory. Ensure that your motorcycle’s insurance is up to date so you are covered in the unfortunate event of a crash

Enjoy your ride and stay safe!