For fear of being ridiculed by your riding buddies you’ve chosen to keep your mouth shut while they discuss corner apexes, burnt clutches and gearing options. But you don’t have to survive on bits of misinformation from Web forums and ill-informed bike nighters any longer. SSB answers some of the most common misconceptions and questions to help set you straight on your path to biking enlightenment.
How do I know if a helmet “fits?”
“First, make sure your size is correctly measured. Put the helmet on and close your eyes, concentrating on feeling that the crown liner is contacting your head snugly—but not tightly—all the way around your head. There should be no pressure points (“hot spots”), like in the forehead or elsewhere. These will only get magnified (and more painful) the longer you ride. If the helmet doesn’t feel right, don’t go to a larger size. Instead, try on a different helmet brand to see if the interior shape fits your head better.
A helmet should feel snug but not tight. We’re not talking semantics here, because one person’s “snug” can be another’s “tight.” A motorcycle helmet isn’t a baseball cap or casual headwear—it’s an energy management system; repeat those words over and over to yourself on the way to the store. Its job is to manage the energy of an impact it can’t predict. To do so, it must firmly cradle that gelatinous mass of cerebral cortex while it manages the sometimes-rapid deceleration caused by one or more impacts. “
-Rick Menapace, Arai
What are DOT, SNELL and ECE all about? Is one better than the other?
Oh boy, here we go. Numerous marketing managers, PR reps and journalists have lost their jobs over this very touchy topic. For US riders, the Department of Transportation stamp must be present for a helmet to be street legal. That doesn’t necessarily mean it offers any better protection than, say, a watermelon. That’s where SNELL and ECE come into play. These two organizations have very specific protocols for safety testing helmets, and it’s these varying procedures that are at the heart of the controversy. Some believe SNELL’s procedure is more thorough, while others claim that ECE is more realistic to real riding conditions. Either way, they’re both preferable to a DOT-only certified lid.
I’m looking for a jacket with maximum venting, something that will be cool enough to wear on hot and humid days.
It seems hard to believe, but wearing the proper jacket can actually keep you cooler than a wife beater or T-shirt during hot weather rides. Large mesh construction allows air to flow freely yet keeps the boiling sun from directly blasting down upon exposed skin, thus keeping you cool and protected.
Why do people say blue jeans are not protective?
Unless they are built specifically for motorcyclists, denim jeans are a bad idea and offer very little in terms of protection because they’ll simply disintegrate the moment they touch pavement. There are numerous brands that offer fashionable jeans with Kevlar reinforcement and optional padding inserts. Don’t assume that long pants and bike specific gear are one and the same.
“The benefit of Kevlar is that it has abrasion resistance that denim does not. When you line a set of jeans with Kevlar you can still look like you’re wearing normal clothing and be protected. Other benefits of Kevlar are that it’s lightweight and breathable—perfect for bike riders looking to escape leather. One thing riders need to be aware of is the type of Kevlar they are purchasing as there are a lot of cheap imitations out there!”
-Ben Kelly, Sartso
When I open the throttle, the revs rise but I don’t pick up any speed. Is this a “slipping clutch?”
“Basically, the clutch is unable to efficiently engage and transfer the power to the rear wheel because the clutch drive plates are spinning faster than the driven plates. Clutch plate wear (from botched burnouts, hard starts and wheelies), loss of adequate spring pressure, and improper adjustment are common causes for a “slipping clutch.”
-Chris Taylor at Barnett
I’ve got an FI light showing on my dash. What’s the problem?
“When the FI light comes on your bike logs a code. Each manufacturer has a different way of accessing that code, but your service manual will help determine how to read the code. The code will reference the problem, such as a bad injector or faulty sensor, and that would be a starting place for diagnosing the problem. A simple Google search will sometimes offer insight in to the code if there isn’t a manual immediately available. “
-Josef Buxton, Bazzaz Performance