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How much does it cost to start riding a motorcycle?

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How much does it cost to start riding a motorcycle?

Riding a motorcycle is a passion for many and a dream for some of us. Many people might even want to get into motorcycling but are pulled back by thinking about the costs involved from getting a license to buying and maintaining a motorcycle. If you are one of such people, and are looking to start motorcycle riding and want to know what would be the cost to start riding, you came to the right place.

Although you will need money to start riding a motorcycle, you don’t need to put all your life savings into it. The exact costs vary owing to a few factors like your location. This guide will give you a clearer picture of how much money you’ll need to invest for one of the best decisions of your life.

Cost to get a license

To get a driving license you need to meet certain minimum age requirements. However, in some European countries, these limits may be higher or lower or there may be some additional requirements. There are no upper age limits for holding a driving license. Starting from the age of 16 you can apply for the class of AM (mopeds), light motorcycles (A1), and quadricycles (B1), whereas at 18 years of age you can switch to more powerful (standard) motorcycles in the so-called A2 class and start riding motorcycles that are limited to a power of up to 23kW (48HP) with a minimum experience of 2 years in A1. Finally, you can join the “big boys club” and start riding heavy motorcycles in the A category from age 21.

Within the UK a CBT (compulsory basic training) test enables you to ride a moped or scooter with L plates on. The best part about this is, that you can get this done in one day and it usually costs between £99-£140. In short, you don’t have to get a full license to start riding. If you want to ride your scooter with a passenger, you might need to qualify further. To get the full A license, the prices change between European countries and also showed quite an increase over the last decades. In Germany, it was quite common to pay around 1500€ around the year 2000, while now you need to face costs of around 2000 to 3250 €. Note, that these numbers only apply in case you pass your test on the first attempt. If you also make your driver’s license for a passenger car at a later stage (starting at 21 years of age) you can get better deals when you apply for both licenses at the same time.

Cost to purchase a motorbike

If you are buying a motorcycle for the first time, we suggest you go for a used bike than a new one. There are many advantages like lower buying costs and less to no regrets about minor scratches to the bike. We all know that second-hand bikes come in cheap and can go a long way too. They’ve once been someone’s first love and still want to give all the love they have. New motorcycles can easily cost between 5000 € to 30000 € while a good condition used motorcycle will cost you around 2500 €.

Cost to get your bike insured

The type of insurance your bike needs basically depends on the type of bike you own, the engine displacement of the bike that correlates to power to some extent, and the place where you live. For young and first-time motorbike riders, the insurance cost can be a serious topic of discussion. After the motorcycle purchasing cost, taking a look at insurance might be the next big thing on your list. If you own a bike with excessive bodywork and luggage, it is recommended to get a comprehensive insurance plan to cover the costs of those rather expensive repairs in case something bad happens like getting kicked over.

Frankly, the cost of insurance can hover around the 400 to 800 € mark for a year. Another way to look at this is by breaking the cost down into monthly payments.

Cost for protective gear

One thing is for sure you need protective gear if you want to start riding a motorcycle. They are truly essential as they can save your life. You can get good quality protective gear for a few hundred Euros and as high as thousands of Euros without finding satisfaction. It depends on what you are looking for. Some people want everything to be ‘cheap and best’ while others want to spend heavily in search of ‘the Best’.

Like many things, also motorcycle riding gear comes in both these forms so it is for you to decide which way you want to go. What you can also do is try a third option of trying what you like and then do some research online. Most of the time, the expensive items can be found much cheaper in retail dealerships or online at the end of the riding season.

Other costs

  • Road tax may apply for highways, tolls or certain mountain passes with varying costs depending on your location and the plan.
  • Fuel costs may be something a lot of us do not pay attention to initially, but it is a very important cost considering since it is a recurring cost. Just like the purchasing cost of a motorcycle might be a one-time cost and insurance maybe once a year, fuel costs are continuous costs that showed quite an increase over the last years and are depending on how much you ride your bike. There is no fixed fuel cost, but you can certainly figure out a budget window for your fuel costs by breaking down your average fuel consumption and how many kilometers or miles you want to ride.
  • Your overall cost to start riding a motorcycle will be around 4000 € to 5000 €, with a second-hand motorcycle included. These costs are very reasonable if you just want to start riding a motorcycle. Once you get accustomed to it, you can always upgrade. It is noted that bike costs tend to go down instead of going up once you start riding regularly. This is mainly because you don’t have to pay too many costs after a while. All you will be spending are the running and maintenance costs of the motorcycle. The insurance costs will also go down eventually after a certain point if there are no major incidents.

There is a completely different way to go about the whole ‘starting to ride a motorcycle’ business and the costs involved with it, which is by getting a used dirt bike that will cost you half the cost of any other motorcycle. They are cheaper and offer a different spectrum of fun. You can learn and enjoy off-roading and this experience will not just be cost-friendly, but one to savor for a lifetime. Something you can share with your grandkids with pride in the future. You will need good quality off-road riding gear though and bring along some physical fitness.

The final verdict will be that you go economical by picking your motorcycle as a mean of transport instead of a car wherever you can and save up to get a good motorcycle for yourself at a later stage.

If you are uncertain about picking a motorcycle or a car and the cost question keeps popping up in your mind, then do not worry! A motorcycle is a better option any time of the day, any day of the week, any week of the month, and any month of the year. It is cool, the costs are comparatively cheaper and the sense of freedom and enjoyment that you get while riding a motorcycle is just incomparable with anything else!

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How to ride a motorcycle for the first time

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How to ride a motorcycle for the first time

Alright then! You’ve decided you want to take your motorcycle out for a spin. Hold on for a second though. This might not be as easy or as difficult as it seems. Motorcycling is all about hitting that sweet spot between control and balance!

If you hit that sweet spot right, you can enjoy a smooth and long ride on a motorcycle. For those of you who do need some advice on how to take that bike for a ride for your first time, here are some tips that will surely help you out.

Get the Gear

Before you jump on that bike, the most important point for any rider, be it professional, beginner, or even a first-timer, is to have proper safety gear. For those who are beginning to learn motorcycle riding, it becomes even more important to have protective gear which includes a helmet, gloves, and boots at least. Remember, you are not riding a bicycle. It is a big boy you are thinking of riding and that is why you need big boy gear.

If you get the chance, it is recommended that you get a high-quality jacket with protectors too. All this equipment combined assures a great deal of safety. You don’t need to go for high-end products in the gear department at the beginning. Basic priced items could also fit the bill that could go a long way in adding safety.

Inspect the motorcycle

At this point when you are learning to ride your motorcycle for the first time, everything will be a bit new for you. The riding comes afterward. First comes the motorbike itself! Have you checked it yet? How is the condition? If you haven’t checked it, that should be one of your top priorities before you even think of starting it. A painter checks all the colors, brushes, and canvases first before he paints a single stroke. A musician checks and tunes his instruments first before entering a show.

Likewise, you need to check the condition of your motorcycle before you start it up and ride it for the very first time. Inspect to see if all the basics are okay. Check the condition of the tires and pressure. Change the oil before riding when your bike was in the shed for too long. Even if your motorcycle already has oil, you might not know how old that is and if it is too old, that could pose a problem. Check all the lights, as for a rider, headlights and turn signals play a huge role in a smooth and safe ride. Check the cables as well making sure that the brakes and throttle are working smoothly without getting stuck.

If you’ve decided to ride a motorcycle for the first time, you probably already have a new or used motorcycle. Maybe you are looking to get a new or used one now. When you go to get a motorcycle, it is quite standard to do a walk-around or a test ride. A walk-around would do well if you already know a little bit about the specific bike you’re about to buy and its flaws, but if you do a test ride, it will be best to check the condition of the motorcycle yourself first before you put your hands around it.

Starting it up

You probably learned motorcycle riding in a driving school or your friend or relative in a more private environment. That is how a lot of riders start. The most recommended way of learning after getting your license is to take a proper motorcycle training course. It helps you learn everything in a step-by-step way, with full protective gear, ensuring better safety.

No matter which way you’ve learned it, the time has come for you to start and ride it. Here is a small step-by-step guide to start and ride a motorcycle:

  1. Inset the key to the ignition and rotate it to the on position to turn the motorcycle on.
  2. Turn on the choke and also the fuel petcock in some bikes.
  3. Make sure the bike is in neutral and set the killswitch.
  4. Squeeze and hold the clutch while you press the ignition button. With old bikes having a kickstarter, pull it out and push it down swiftly to generate a kick enough to start the engine
  5. In both ways, once your engine fires, congratulations, you’ve started your motorcycle successfully.
  6. Once the engine is up and running, slowly push down the choke if there is one and you are good to go.

Once you are riding it and you want to stop, let go of the throttle to turn it off and pull the clutch lever in. Squeeze the rear and front brake simultaneously and gradually with a focus on the front while you’re pulling the clutch. This will slowly activate the brakes and bring the motorcycle to a smooth stop.

Controls are the key

Balancing a motorcycle is probably the most important aspect of riding a motorcycle. Balance is actually the biggest difference between riding a motorcycle and a car. A car is already balanced on the road while being still or even moving as it stands as it moves on four wheels. A motorcycle on the other hand is sleek and has two wheels less, making it difficult to stand still with balance. Riding it means balancing it at all times on 2 wheels, which may be quite a challenge for new riders.

However, it is not so difficult once you get used to it. Surprisingly, getting used to it has more to do with controls than balancing. You never learn to balance it. You learn to control it and the balance comes along. Remember when you started learning to ride your bicycle. How you always wanted to stay aware to hit the brakes and paddles at the correct time and maintaining balance while doing so. Riding a motorcycle is similar, the only difference it can go a lot faster very quickly. This is also one of the reasons why people who’ve had bicycle riding experience learn motorcycle riding easily and quickly.

Learn the controls quickly and thoroughly

Every motorcycle manufacturer has its own set of controls. Still, few controls are commonly found on all types of motorcycles. The controls of most bikes include:

  • Throttle, located on the ride side of the handlebar to speed up and down your bike.
  • The front brake, located in front of the handle, activating the front brake, generally but not necessarily used in an emergency braking situation.
  • The clutch lever located on the left side of the handlebar plays a pivotal role in controlling the motorcycle.
  • Rear brake, located near the right foot to activate the rear brake.
  • Shift Lever, located near the left foot to shift gears.

Please note: Some older motorbikes have a mirror-inverted gear and rear brake arrangement.

Getting familiarized with these 5 basic controls is essential in learning to ride a motorcycle. There are other controls as well like the buttons and the dashboard which you can and should get to know. Learning and practicing is the best way to go, and the road ahead should not be too difficult.

You cannot learn to ride a motorcycle after reading about it on the internet alone. (Touché!) However, if you’re already learning it, practicing it, and want to ride it independently for the first time, the above tips will come in handy. Once you have learned how to ride it successfully, keep practicing and improving!

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How to ride a motorcycle with a passenger

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How to ride a motorcycle with a passenger

For those of us who don’t want to ride or are more interested in just sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the ride, the passenger or pillion seat is the best place to be. Those of us who want to ride a motorcycle and share the fun and enjoyment with the passenger while doing so might prefer the front seat. Riding with a passenger is not the same as riding solo. When you are riding solo, all you need to focus is mainly on balance and control. If you are riding with a passenger, the weight on the bike changes and it causes the center of gravity to change. This in turn makes you change the way you handle your bike. All of a sudden, you are needed to exhibit different skills you know about motorcycle riding.

Here are a few pointers you can take to make sure a smooth and safe ride for you and the passenger. Not to forget, when you are riding with someone, they are putting their life in your hands.

Gear up as a team

Your pillion rider should use protective gear with a similar quality as you. If they are not wearing a helmet, jacket, or any protective gear, and god forbid you to get into an accident; you might walk away without a scratch while your passenger might have to pay a heavy price just to sit behind you on a motorcycle. When you think about all the adventurers when riding together, you need to think about the risks and safety together too.

Start with a small briefing

It is always recommended to have a briefing with your bike partner. If it is the very first time you are taking a ride with a passenger, it would be great for you if your riding companion is an experienced motorcyclist. Knowing that the pillion knows a thing or two about riding safely with a passenger behind, will certainly give your confidence a boost. Moreover, during the initial part of the ride when you are still learning your way to ride with a pillion, they can anticipate the way you ride and support you better than an inexperienced pillion rider.

Hand signals or taps are better than calling out if you want to communicate while riding. There will be instances when they want you to pull over for different reasons. Having 2 variations of hand signals is more than enough to start with. One could be to get down and the other to slow down. A Helmet-to-helmet intercom system is another great way to communicate when riding, especially on longer tours.

If the passenger is not a rider themselves, you should brief the passenger to keep their feet on the footpegs or floorboards at all times instead of hanging them in the air, touching the ground, or touching anywhere else on the motorcycle. Brief them about sitting close to you and hanging on to you by the waist tightly as it would make it easier for you to steer the motorcycle. Once you get a bit of experience you can have the pillion hold on to seat grips if available. Such a briefing significantly eradicates the chances of an accident or injury.

Master the turns

When you start learning to ride a motorcycle, ‘the last hurdle’ as you would call it is the turning. With a passenger sitting behind you, turning becomes even more difficult. To safely navigate and control your motorcycle while turning you can consider adding a few skills to your skillset and a few more pointers for your passenger.

For instance, when you turn left, an inexperienced pillion would tend to lean towards the right due to the nature of gravity. This makes it difficult for you to corner the bike safely. Instructing the pillion to keep their eyes on the back of your helmet might certainly help to keep both your bodies in line while cornering. The pillion can even keep looking over your shoulder to know which way you are going to turn and adjust accordingly.

Brake like a pro

When you know how to stop a bike while riding solo is great, but when riding with a passenger, it is not that simple. With the extra weight on top, the motorcycle might need a little more distance, time, and effort to brake. Immediate braking is not recommended if you’re a beginner. When stopping the bike, you should immediately put your foot down to find balance for your stationery motorcycle.

Some pillion riders might want to do the same by nature, as they might tend to find supportive balance too. You can make this clear with the pillion that they don’t need to put their feet down unless they want to get off the bike, that too after letting you know. The reason for this is that it could disturb the balance of the motorcycle immediately, and if you are about the start the motorbike again just after stopping, the pillions grounded foot can cause a lot of misbalance if not pulled back up at the right time.

Make sure there is clear communication when pulling over, as well as getting on or off the bike. There should be no sudden movements from you or the pillion whatsoever.

Important tips to remember

Some important tips to remember while riding with a passenger:

  • Avoid going fast and leaning too much on angles.
  • Developing comprehensive cornering skills first may be very useful to ensure safety and comfort to both you and the passenger.
  • Brief your pillion and define a clear communication strategy.
  • Make sure the passenger is following all the safety procedures and instructions.
  • Strong wind can affect your riding, so be prepared to encounter any weather conditions.
  • Do not make any sudden movements and ask the pillion as well. Sudden movements can disrupt your balance and cause safety concerns.

All in all, keep it slow, simple, and safe. Having said that, enjoy the fun of riding together and share the experience with as many people as possible and let them become a part of motorcycling as well. Ride safe!

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Am I too old to ride a motorcycle?

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Am I too old to ride a motorcycle?

Am I too old to ride a motorcycle? Have you been asking yourself this question? No worries! No rider in this world hasn’t at some point asked himself some tough questions like these. Even though the questions seem to be tough, the answers don’t need to be!

In this guide, we will cover important questions concerning the old-age factor when it comes to motorcycle riding. These questions have clouded a lot of riders’ minds when they reach a certain age.

What is the last age to ride a motorcycle?

To be honest, there is no specific last age to retire as a motorcycle rider. People in their 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s ride without any problems. The only difference is that they don’t ride to compete, but just to have some fun and go from point A to point B. The only thing which can probably stop someone from riding in old age is if they have any physical disability of any sort. We have even seen physically disabled people go out for a ride as motorcycles don’t require a lot of effort from the body.

However, it is highly advisable to seek safety before fun. Consult a doctor if you have any problems physically or mentally.

Is there a different range of motorcycles for older people?

Yes. If you are a motorcycle rider and have been for some time, you might know that there is a bike for everyone. One bike-fits-all has never been a thing and will never be. The weight handling, controls, and the balance of each bike suit a certain type of rider. Be it a woman rider, a male rider, a first-time rider, a beginner, an experienced, a commuter, or an older rider, there is a different type of motorcycle for every type of rider.

Adults and especially adults above the age of 60 often do not need to go fast. They have probably lived the young years of their lives they wanted, and if they are still riding at this age, it is better to just sit back, hit the throttle but not that hard, and enjoy the soft breeze hitting their faces. There can be physical and mental problems that can hinder their sense of control over the motorcycle. That is the reason some motorcycles suit them better than most bikes. These motorcycles are light, easy to balance and control, and also the controls are not that complicated, ensuring a safe and simple ride for the older motorcyclists. We also recommend that these motorcyclists better ride motorcycles with engine displacement in the range of 100cc to 500cc or a lower center of gravity.

Recommended motorcycles for elderly bike riders are for instance:

  • Honda CBF600
  • Suzuki SV650
  • Kawasaki Versys 650 LT
  • Yamaha Tracer 900 GT
  • BMW F650, F800

What are the dangers of riding a motorcycle at an old age?

Common sense applies here! Older people are more susceptible to injuries and accidents and in case they do get into one, they will take a relatively longer time than a younger rider to recover. This is because people above 60 have weaker bones, and poorer vision and they are more vulnerable to physical disabilities. So, yes there are several dangers concerned if you are aged and riding. But that doesn’t mean you should not do it. There are different types of adults. Some are even stronger than others when it comes to vision, strength, and endurance.

At the end of the day, it depends on how you feel about yourself and how confident you are about riding that motorcycle.

Can an old age rider race or go wherever they like?

You can participate in a race at any age between 50-90 but only if you have a good amount of experience to back you up. If you don’t have racing or motorcycle riding experience and still want to participate, you can go for a race with a speed limit. The reason we say you should not qualify for a proper race if you aren’t an experience holder is that you will have to go fast and that is not at all recommended at your age. Lastly, you need to wear complete safety gear first before taking on any race or ride.

Generally speaking: An adult rider should never go wherever they like. Period. They might want to go to the mountains, dunes, snowy places, rocky or muddy places, but all these places are a huge no-no for adult riders. As mentioned before, aged riders do not have the reflexes as young riders. The above-mentioned places are great to ride motorcycles but only for young motorcyclists who can be in full control riding on such tough and uneven terrains. For older riders, places like paved roads, grasslands, forests, and parks are the go-to places for a lovely ride.

What is the importance of safety for adults and how to ride safely?

The above questions and answers have mostly covered the many safety aspects an older rider must follow. If you are aging and still want to ride, there is no harm in it. But we would suggest you get high-quality safety gear which you should wear at all times while riding. It is worth pointing out, that you should pick only gear that truly fits you to have the needed flexibility to control your motorcycle at all times. Driving slowly goes without saying at your age.

Taking a safety course will be a great help as it may eradicate any common mistake you might make.

Am I too old to ride a motorcycle?

So, to answer the big question, no person is too old to ride a motorcycle, given that he believes in himself and his riding. Also, if you are following all the safety protocols, there is no need to hang up those riding boots just yet! Make sure you ride in stable places and also invest some time in exercising to keep you fit and ready for a ride at any time. If you feel unsure about exploring new and unfamiliar roads, it is very helpful to plan the route first.

The Motobit App can help you find out if there are any challenging curves or obstacles along your route. For the best possible support, Motobit Sentinel will inform you if there is a road hazard on the route ahead. So make sure you always have both Curve Assist and Hazard Notification enabled in the Motobit App, so you can be alerted via your Sentinel or headset to what you should be paying extra attention to.

Last but not least: Invest in a motorbike that suits you and your riding style, and you’ll be able to enjoy your hobby well into old age!

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Airbags for motorcyclists: Nothing but hot air?

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As there are numerous articles that are aiming to help you find the perfect airbag-based riding gear that fits all your needs and fulfills expectations, but we want to have a different approach and that is to shine a light on the history and development process that led to what we now can find in all those different solutions offered by a wide bandwidth of manufacturers.

Companies such as Held, Ixon, Dainese, Alpinestars, Furygan, Klim, RST and Helite are doing an excellent job in protecting riders all around the world with different riding backgrounds.

In general, airbags have been credited with being the biggest lifesaver since the invention of the seatbelt and now they are slowly coming to motorcycles and riders.

Once upon a time…

The general idea of a device with the potential of reducing the severity of an injury or the likelihood of being fatally injured is dating back to the early 1950. In 1953, John HETRICK received a U.S. patent for a “safety cushion assembly for automotive vehicles.” Around the same time, Walter LINDERER received a German patent for a similar device that was comparable to what now refer to as an airbag. But HETRICK and LINDERER’s airbag designs both lacked a major and critical component which were sensors that could detect crashes and tell the airbags when to actually deploy. A technical obstacle that was hard to overcome back then.

While the invention of an airbag was widely implemented in passenger cars due to various reasons such as way higher production volumes, better placement conditions in terms of space and most important federal safety regulations, airbag technology had a rather rough start when it comes to being suitable and – literally – make it fit for motorcycling purposes.

There are many ways to put it

One might be surprised that motorbike airbags have been tested in the UK already during the mid-1970s quite extensively. Nevertheless, it took about 35 years until the first motorcycle actually received an airbag unit, and that was the big 2006 Honda Goldwing. There is still much debate on the matter, and there are a lot of issues to be considered with airbag-equipped motorcycles. It is a rather easy task for Honda engineers to fit an airbag into a big Goldwing with plenty of available room, but what about a streamlined and lightweight superbike? Sure, it is a good idea to reduce the (primary) collision energy to the rider, but what happens when the rider gets unsaddled from the motorbike?

Over time it became more and more obvious that it may be better and more effective to mount the actual inflating element, the airbag itself as close as possible to the rider. This being said the industry came up with the idea to place them inside the very safety apparel in order to provide an additional layer of protection in case of a crash.

Finding the most suitable place to install inflatable, airbag chambers was not that hard since a lot of crash-related data has provided extensive information over time as of what zones are expected to be hurt the most when falling off or crashing into an obstacle. With the rider’s head being one of the most hazardous parts of the body, a shoulder-mounted inflatable element was an obvious choice.

What was the main driver in development?

The mission is clear, but what is the missing link that really kickstarted the development and the growing popularity of numerous products and systems that you can choose from today? You might have already guessed it where it all started, and that is… Motorsports.

As we all know, motorcycle championships are fast and brutal races. And who goes fast needs to have snap like reactions. Owning this quality is vital and key for a racing motorcyclist since the rider clearly wants to win a race. Understandably it is important to have a system that is also able to keep up with the speed of the rider’s movement in order to enable the highest level of protection.

What is actually happening?

So, coming back to what actually happens when it happens: During the inflation phase, the shoulder airbag aims to limit the movement of the rider’s head both to either side and backwards, helping to reduce neck injuries. Next, it is key to protect the back and the ribs: while a broken spine needs no further details in terms of how bad things may go for any human being, many riders often overlook the threat of being hit hard in the ribs. Aside from the truly awful pain of broken ribs or injuries to the respective torso muscle areas, fractured ribs can penetrate the lungs and even the heart in case of a violent crash. Being able to limit damage to the ribs and the side of the rider’s body has indicated the next possible placement of inflatable airbag elements.

So far so good one might say; having the rider well-cushioned between inflated bags looks like a true lifesaver. But who actually decides when a situation is that critical, that the deployment of an airbag and when? There are a few ways in doing so.

But… who pulls the plug?

With full airbag jackets, there are several trigger options to consider. Depending on the system itself, it is either the rider himself or an automatic process that pulls the plug.

The most common system trigger is by basically wiring a CO2 tank within the rider’s airbag system to the bike itself with the effect, that when the rider gets separated from the motorcycle and the pull force exceeds a certain threshold, the gas canister is being opened causing the airbag(s) to inflate. This triggering method may look a bit flawed because having the rider already flying towards the obstacle while still being hooked to the system may not lead to a high safety effect or even a failure in a worst-case scenario.

Another triggering principle is tethering, which means having two sensors that work on the proximity principle by having them separated and thus severing the connection between them, eventually activating the trigger. Aside from having a load of sensors and the central processing unit (CPU) in the very design of the bike as well as the seat and clothes, the tether-triggering method comes with a significant drawback: in most motorcycle crashes, the rider is not separated too far away from the bike giving roughly similar sensor values during the event of a crash leaving the system untriggered. Hence, finding the optimal trigger distance has proven yet fruitless. Even this would be solved, when not hitting an obstacle directly but rather getting thrown off the bike by a low-side or high-side crash would give the tether-based airbag system enough time to properly work.

Finally, there’s the multi-sensor triggering as the cream of the crop which represents the most comprehensive crash detection technology up to date. Guess what: This tech has its origin in racing since a low price is of secondary importance – but performance which means a high level of protection is. Highly renowned bike wear manufacturers Alpinestars and Dainese are spearheading the research in this field showing very promising results so far.

Things are getting serious with serious tech

This multi-sensor triggering method is quite complex and involves the need to process a lot of data fast received from many sensors. With detection units placed on the bike as well as on the rider, a dedicated processing unit analyzes all data streams and filters the information, trying to determine whether the bike is going to slide out of control or just leaning very close to the road in real-time. Think back to the rather simple application of ABS we posted some time ago where the rotational speed of the considered wheel is always compared against a reference value in order to determine if the wheel is blocked or rolling of freely.

Multiple detection patterns are also used to find out if the vibrations are the result of wobbling past the capabilities of the rider in order to maintain further control over the motorbike or are just caused by driving at 300 kph over a rougher part of the track. Many more factors such as G-forces, the rider’s posture, and body orientation are also considered. Alpinestars’ proprietary system even sports a deflation feature and two nitrogen canisters, allowing the airbags to deploy twice if necessary. This system is widely used and state of the art in MotoGP racing and involves approximately 7 sensors and a 5-level trigger-decision routine that takes only 8 milliseconds to trigger.

So far, we’re looking at the most advanced rider airbag rig, but with yet unknown pricing and designed to fit in the aero hump of the racing leather suits. Now think back of your ABS considering a few parameters only. That’s some quite impressive tech, don’t you think? Who knows, maybe one day this tech may be transposed into mass production goods that can be purchased at an affordable price for everyone to buy.

So… What’s next?

The development that went into motorcycle airbags really went a long way and there’s still a lot of research to be done, while new ideas are sure to follow. Considering the progress done in mobile computing and constantly increasing performance in the field of embedded devices in general, it seems like CPU processing power is one of the key elements when it comes to being able to compete with the speed of a rider and vast amount of data.

Some might even say that the good old motorcycle is getting too much digital already just like passenger cars and that it’s becoming more and more distant from the raw form of transportation and all its purity it started with, but modern traffic or even racing challenges and the associated dangers might find a reasonable solution with it.

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

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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.