Monday, March 26, 2012

Different ways to Ride

Some people only ride for the thrill, some do it for recreation, others for transportation and some ride professionally.  This post is to address the different kinds of styles or genre's that people tend to partake in.  With these different kinds of styles of riding come different bikes.  Here is a Wiki link describing what we actually see out on the road,  Different types of Motos.  These categories can overlap, I myself belong to the track rider, commuter and recreational rider.

Street Rider/ Commuter-  This is where a majority of people are, people commuting to and from the city and around town riding.  Motorcycles are extremely convenient because they're great on gas and parking is easy no matter where you go. Your going to find all kinds of different motorcycles in this genre: scooters, sportbikes, ratbikes- bikes that were built up from spare parts-, Harleys, Enduros, dual-sports, and supermotos.

I feel that a majority of people fall into this category because it's the most versatile, you can basically ride anything on the street providing it has the correct legal equipment (mirrors, lights, plates, etc).  Now that gas prices are going up I've found that many people are turning their short commutes into short rides on a scooter or small 250cc engine motorcycle.  These scooters and small engine motorcycles are a luxury in the city, not only do we get to park just about anywhere but we get 50 mpg!

The downside to riding these small bikes around the city are things like trunk space and being subjected to the elements.  No matter how you dress i.e. full rain gear, leather and pads, there is no stopping mother nature and we have to take what she gives us.  This "should" make us prepare for the weather, I say "should" because the guy I dubbed "Fraiser" in my previous post was not dressed for the occasion and ended up injuring his ankle.

One thing that I have noticed about living in San Francisco and seeing all the different motorcycles and scooters I've noticed that the owners hardly care about the cosmetics of the bike.  Many are left outdoors to rust in the street and ridden only occasionally on their short trips wherever need be.  I've done a lot of reading and many people suggest to at least keep the chain lubricated every 300 miles to keep the gears inside the engine from rusting over.  This comes down to maintenance and what it means to actually drive one of these bikes.  I like keeping my bikes pretty and clean so leaving the chain to rust is a big "no-no."

On to the track riders: Dirt bikes, dual sports, supermoto, sportbikes fall into this category and I find that these are the bikes that require the most attention from individual owners.  They have to be prepared to go to the track, each track-day sponsor gives riders a checklist about how to prep the bike for the track.
Below is the list taken from Keigwin a California Track-day Sponsor.
Prepared bike:

  • Remove or tape mirrors
  • Disconnect brake light, or remove bulbs/fuse, or completely tape brake light lens (no bleed-through!)
  • If the event is at Laguna Seca you will need a two-digit number on the front and right side of your bike -- 6" tall. This is so the noise-police can identify you to give you a bad time (factory stock mufflers are required for Laguna and NO EXCEPTIONS will be made). Duct tape works fine. Infineon track days do NOT require a number. Sound limits are liberal and very, very few bikes have ever been flagged off the track for a violation.
The following preparation is optional:
  • Taping or removing headlights and/or turn signals
  • Safety wiring (this is welcome but not required)
  • Draining antifreeze and replacing it with pure water (Redline's Water Wetter™ additive is recommended2).

Recreational Rider- This section is for those that like to go on weekend joy rider, for those of us that just like to go out for a cruise when there's nothing else to do.  I've noticed that people that fall in this category are the friendliest of riders, whenever I pass by one they wave the low hand signal saying "Whats Up?!" as if saying "Hey we both ride and that makes you part of the club!"  Everyone likes to say hello to each other from time to time, and it's especially nice when your ride with people of the same genre, meaning sport-bikes or cruisers etc.

Professional Riders have it the easiest in terms of bike maintenance but they are competeing against one another for a championship.  These guys have a team dedicated to fixing their motorcycle to the exact specification that they feel is necessary.  If the suspension feels a bit loose all the have to do is tell the mechanics and boom they dial in the bike to its ideal point.  I feel that there is a whole lot that goes into making a bike work for a particular rider, because they're all different both riders and bikes.  Each rider has their own style and each bike has it's own characteristics, that being said, Casey Stoner said in a video interview that his Ducati tended to slide a bit more then his Honda when riding for them.  Ben Spies- a personal favorite of mine- said that it's not always making the bike work for you but rather working with the bike to gain its full potential.

However no matter which group you belong to, there is a home for every rider.  This being said all riders that are part of one household can be considered a family.  This loosely bonded family extends to wherever there is a road, and this is one of the most amazing parts of motorcycling.  I'll continue my next post with what it means to be apart of our "family."

Johnny 5-

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