RoadRUNNER Zen Motorcyclist

I Read It Online

Sep 05, 2012 View Comments by

Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet” -Abraham Lincoln.

The Internet is a tremendous source of information for motorcyclists. I’ve learned most of what I know about repair and maintenance and a lot about riding online; but I’ve also learned to be careful about what advice and instruction I take to heart since there is just as much (and maybe more) bad advice to be found as there is good.

I used to take part in a lot of forums, reading, asking questions, and occasionally offering my two-cents. Lately I’ve done so much less, since I’ve been noticing more and more posts with really bad advice and heated arguments developing for no apparent reason. Some respondents seem more interested in post counts and ego inflation than in actually exchanging ideas.

A while back I offered my advice to new riders in a forum discussion. I tend not to be overly technical since I think that does a new rider very little good and should be left to experts anyway. Techniques have to be learned over time and practiced. My advice was that a motorcycle is not a car and that certain learned driving behaviors that work well in a car don’t translate well into motorcycle riding, in particular I mentioned following and stopping distance. It seemed to me like solid advice; new riders take a long time to learn panic stops and effective braking so I suggested leaving more room while you gain experience. What followed was a debate over car vs. bike stopping distances. I was even told I was “parroting” because I mentioned stopping distance twice. I sat back scratching my head thinking I thought we were talking about new riders here?

In another forum with the same question one of the first responses to a new rider was that “steering with the handlebars will get you killed and the only way to steer a bike is to lean”. Now, anyone who’s taken a safety course knows one of the first things you’re taught is “push left, go left, push right, go right” and, while leaning is crucial to cornering effectively and smoothly, it isn’t the way to initiate a turn or to avoid an obstacle which we all know is counter-steering. So the discussion started off with bad advice and degenerated into a body-steering vs. counter-steering argument, which I’m sure left the rider who asked the question more confused than he was before.

The first time I took the leap of replacing a worn out chain I took to YouTube to research how it’s done and what tools I’d need. I found a lot of videos, some of which used hacksaws, hammers, and two people to get the job done. Eventually, of course, I found the right tool for around $40, and through research learned the critical elements of chain replacement. I also had a mechanic check it for me to be sure it was safe and that I’d done it correctly.

The sheer amount of information online can be daunting and it can be hard to figure out what to believe; but if you do enough homework and consider other sources like books, videos, and magazines, you can be safe and effective in both riding and maintenance. In my opinion two of the best sources are Keith Code (look up his “no B.S. bike”) and a little book called Sport Riding Techniques: How To Develop Real World Skills for Speed, Safety, and Confidence on the Street and Track by Nick Ienatsch (I have a dog-eared copy sitting on my coffee table). Both are excellent sources and well worth reading, trust me. Then again, you are reading this online. 😉


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About the author

I have been motorcycle commuting since 1998. I created Zen Motorcyclist (formerly Commuting Motorcyclist) in 2011 and work as a motojournalist, software developer, CAD designer and IT/CAD manager in the Surveying and Civil Engineering field.