The Hard, Cold Facts
84,000 motorcycle fatalities from 1990
to 2013?! Could that be right? Hough,
you’re scaring me! You’ve got to give us
some perspective here. Are we all just
plain crazy? I mean, I’m a conservative, mostly fair weather, 10-year rider
(no tickets), ride a very maneuverable,
well-maintained V-Strom, ATGATT,
cover my brakes and horn at most every
intersection, ride my own ride, scan the
road far ahead, don’t drink and ride, learn
from other people’s mistakes by reading
your books (and giving copies to every
aspiring rider that consults me). I know
you can get creamed; this is especially
sensitive to me today as my pal Carlos (also a loyal MCN subscriber) just
got T-boned, and he’s an experienced
rider. But help! What more can we do??
Yes, motorcycling is dangerous.
There’s no way to get around that
uncomfortable truth. The reason why
I’m telling that story is not to scare
MCN readers, but to provide the truth,
so we can make intelligent decisions.
If you want to verify the facts, I suggest searching for NHTSA traffic safety
facts sheets 2013, and then selecting
“motorcycle.” In 2013, there were 4,668
motorcyclist fatalities and an estimated
88,000 injured. Motorcyclists add up to
14% of all traffic fatalities. For years
the motorcycle industry has done its
best to camouflage the danger, because
the reality is bad for business. I’m not
aware of any other motorcycle magazine
that has covered this important issue,
because that would endanger ad dollars.
You are doing all the right things to
manage your personal danger, but motorcycling will always be a lot more dangerous than other sports and vehicles. I
believe it is also very important to hone
your situational awareness skills. Choose
your rides carefully, to reduce your exposure. For instance, it would be unwise to
make a fast early morning ride through
the Pennsylvania (or West Virginia or
Texas) countryside during the deer-rut-ting season. Likewise, you can avoid riding on Friday and Saturday nights (when
drunks are wobbling home from the bars).
You’ll note that in addition to addressing personal danger, I’ve been discussing
issues such as rider training. That’s not to
help experienced riders like yourself, but
to help discourage newbies from taking up
motorcycling without knowing what they
are getting into. Only the very serious
should be encouraged to ride motorcycles.
—David L. Hough
In response to “How They Do It Over
There,” as a former citizen of “
Over-There,” I can agree firsthand that the driver
license test is certainly more difficult to
pass. One example is “the emergency
stop.” The car license test consists of the
examiner instructing the testee to drive
normally along a prescribed road and that
somewhere along said road, the examiner
would slap his hand hard on his clip board
simultaneously shouting, “Stop!” The student at this point has to bring the vehicle
to a fast stop and under control.
However, on a motorcycle, since the
examiner is not in communication with
the rider, the emergency stop section is
a little different. The student has to perform the procedure in the same fashion,
fast stop and under control, but without
warning somewhere along the prescribed
route, a very junior member of the test
team will jump out at you from behind a
parked car. Effective, but it can be noted
that there are not many senior testers in
the driving test department!
More Praise for Yoga
A big thanks to Mark Barnes for covering yoga in the August issue. I shared
the article with my yoga instructor who
gave it an enthusiastic A+. I have been
practicing yoga one to two times weekly
since I retired five years ago. The benefits
Mark described have improved my riding
experience and I expect will help extend
my ability to ride for several more years.
Before yoga, when pulling away
from a foot-down stop, I was frequently
plagued with cramping in my hip flexor.
Now, no more of these, plus my over-the-shoulder head checks while going
down the super slab are silky smooth and
cover a wider range of peripheral vision.
One piece of advice for older riders
like me who want to try yoga: look for
something like the word “gentle” in
the class description. Our local school
district offers gentle yoga in their
adult curriculum and our senior center
offers “Silver Age” yoga. Some yoga
sessions with very flexible 20- and
30-year-olds might sound attractive,
but these can be very discouraging and
quite painful the day after for an older
rider. Even a gentle style of yoga will
build strength and flexibility, keeping
you on the road longer and enjoying it
more with sharper awareness. Kudos
to Mark Barnes and his excellent article encouraging yoga for motorcyclists!
San Diego, CA
Rim Size Riddles
I have read with interest your comments on axle height and wheel sizes.
In the September issue you mention you
have 17", 19", and 21" front wheels for
the DR650, as well as 17" and 18" rear
wheels. It would be interesting to do some
mini tests on various combinations and
have some staff comments (might make
a good article). Maybe even spoon on
some TKC80’s on the supermoto rims
and try it in the dirt or compare the 19"
and 21" fronts with the stock rear, etc.
This would take all the variables out
except the tire and wheel combos (and
attendant rake and trail changes, of
course). For example, folks talk about
how “slow” the DR steering is with a
21" front wheel. I have always found
the opposite, the tall narrow front tends
to oversteer a bit. And it always seemed
logical that a wide front tire would float
on sand better, with more control, but
folks say no, a tall tire is the way to go.
Love for you guys to look into this. I
guess I am just a gearhead. Thanks
for the best M/C magazine around!
I completely agree that we need to do that
and I’m also very interested to try TKC80s
on the wider rims. I also have to imagine
the fatter tire would work better in sand.
I hope we can do this in the near future.
Who Wears the Pants
I am a new subscriber to MCN and
would like to know if you have tested Kevlar jeans and have any recommendations.
Rick W. Thomas
Downers Grove, IL
It has been a long time since we tested
Kevlar jeans, and although they do provide greater abrasion resistance, their
lack of padding (on most types) prevents
them from providing the level of protection we think you should have in a pair
of riding pants. Thankfully, there are a
wide range of options that provide both.
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Editors Of MCN
Irvine, CA 92618