Prepare Your Mind, Body & Bike
by MMM Staff
Living in the far northern climes, many of us look forward to the return of Spring. When it finally descends upon us, we need to be ready to take advantage of our glorious but short riding season.
How should you get ready? We asked James Duncan, owner of Twin Cities-based Rider Academy motorcycle rider training centers, what a safe rider should be focusing on now that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. His straightforward advice: “Prepare the mind, prepare the body, and prepare the bike.”
Read some riding technique books or check out the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s (MSF) website. “Watching training or race videos is a great way to start thinking again about the special dynamics of riding,” Duncan says. “Start thinking like a rider again. Try driving your car like a rider would.”
While you are driving your car, try to consciously and continuously apply the motorcycle-specific mental strategies that you will be using for the rest of the summer.
In anticipation of the unique physical demands required for the upcoming riding season, our hibernating bodies can benefit by implementing a stretching program, with special focus on the back and lower body. To combat the winter forearm atrophy that inevitably causes ‘first ride of the year’ hand cramps, start using a hand exerciser/doing tennis ball squeezes. Use the time leading up to riding season to try some of the peripheral vision eye drills found on the internet.
If we put the effort into proper winter storage, everything should be smooth sailing when the warm winds start to blow. “Clean your bike stem to stern,” Duncan suggests. “It’s a good way to find problems before they become dangerous.” Check your gear, too. Do your gloves have holes forming? Could your jacket use some waterproofing?
Since riding is a perishable skill, as riding season starts, “Continue the mind/body preparation by taking it to a higher level. Improve your riding skills.” Duncan’s Rider Academy and the MSF offer a full spectrum of motorcycle/scooter training, from novice to advanced. Classes for individuals and groups start in April and are available weekdays and weekends throughout the summer. To learn more, visit Rideracademy.com and Msf-usa.org.
First Rule to First Aid
by Catten Ely
The driver never even sees the motorcyclist, who lands hard in the middle of the road – and doesn’t get up immediately. You grab your first aid kit from your own bike and open it.
Do you have any idea what is inside?
Most off-the-shelf kits are very basic and designed for minor injuries, not road rash, not a wasp up a sleeve, not a 65 mph get-off. Considering that the most likely injuries in a motorcycle crash involve blunt trauma, broken bones, dislocations, and head and spine damage, a Band-aid and a Tylenol are probably not going to be enough.
There are decent “adventure kits” available that contain extras such as sutures and chemical cold packs, but those are only useful if you know when and how to use them. So how do you decide what to carry? Well, it depends.
Are you packing for just yourself or you expect to assist other riders? A CPR mask might be useful if it’s the latter, but not so much if it’s the former.
How much room can you dedicate to carrying first aid supplies? While it’s nice to pack everything, that’s not always practical. It’s likely that you can fit more in a pannier than in the pockets of your CamelBak, but will you be able to get to your kit if you need it?
What is your level of training? A trauma nurse will probably carry more sophisticated supplies than someone who took a community CPR class six years ago. Good Samaritan laws only protect you up to your level of training, so even if you have a pen and pocketknife handy, performing a field tracheostomy is not advised.
Where are you going? Depending on your route, you’ll want to prepare for sun/wind exposure, dehydration, cold injuries, bites and stings, blisters, burns, and gastrointestinal issues. Response time in a city is as short as a few minutes, in which case you probably won’t need to apply a tourniquet. In remote areas, however, response could take more than an hour — if you’re able to contact 9-1-1 and provide your exact location.
It’s not a bad idea to add to or subtract from your kit as needed. One benefit to doing this is that you are more likely to notice if anything is expired (ointments or medications, for example), missing or damaged.
One last thing: I strongly encourage all motorcyclists to take at least a basic first aid class. You never know when you’re going to need it. I hope you never do.
This is the first of three articles devoted to First Aid tips specific to motorcyclists. Look for the next articles in April & June. MMM writer Catten Ely has been an EMT since 1997 and is certified as an ASMI lead instructor.
Know Your Insurance, Ride with Confidence
by Rick Schroeder
With first rides just around the corner, now is the best time to think about your insurance coverage, its limits and how other policies impact it.
A big reason why I advocate so strongly for safety and use of common sense when you’re on a bike or behind the wheel is this: the insurance world is complicated. If you aren’t already familiar with the current coverage for you and your vehicles, protect yourself. Read your policies’ fine print, ask your agent or seek legal advice. Most attorneys should provide free advice on insurance issues.
Motorcycle Medpay Coverage
Motorcycle insurance policies include Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage, which covers necessary medical care required following a motorcycle accident and can be used regardless of who is at fault. Your automobile No-Fault insurance (MN) won’t cover you for motorcycle-related injuries. MedPay often is limited to medical treatment received within the first year after an accident and is capped by a specific dollar amount. In some states, MedPay only applies after other medical insurance is exhausted. Whether you have health insurance or not, you should get all the MedPay coverage your motorcycle insurance company/agent will sell you. Personal bankruptcy due to medical expenses is most often the result of inadequate coverage.
If your employer provides your health insurance coverage, you’re covered for claims stemming from a motorcycle accident. Individual policies written in Minnesota and Wisconsin will factor into your premium the risk associated with motorcycle riding. In some states, health insurance may deny coverage, if you didn’t disclose that you ride, excluding motorcycle-related injuries altogether. Beware, in the event of a settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, your insurance providers will seek re-payment for all medical bills paid.
Review your insurance policies and coverages yearly. Document bike upgrades and accessories with your insurance agent. Should your bike get stolen, be prepared to answer a lot of questions about the circumstances and its condition. Having filed my own stolen bike claim with my long-trusted insurance agent, I was suspect #1 and was told this right from the beginning. Again, laws reducing minimum coverage (like Wisconsin’s) mean the insurance company pays out less. While liability insurance coverage is important, you need to protect yourself and your family with high limits of underinsured (UIM) and uninsured (UM) motorist coverage. Do not skimp on these coverages.
Wisdom From Rick
It’s spring, the time we re-learn to share the road with everyone. Remember that all who ride (or drive) aren’t necessarily properly insured. In fact, most aren’t. Now’s the time to see if you and your family are.
Rick Schroeder is a partner at the law firm of Schroeder & Mandel, PA, White Bear Lake, Minn. Schroeder & Mandel serve Minnesota and Wisconsin residents with accident & injury law.
Rules of On-Road Riding in Minnesota
The operation of on-road motorcycles and scooters in Minnesota is regulated by dozens of intricately worded codes of practice. To offer you a refresher on the legal and illegal, MMM simplified all of that terminology into an easy-to-read collection of key laws and guidelines.
All motorcycle operators must:
– Have a motorcycle instruction permit or endorsement.
– Register their motorcycle and display a valid license plate.
– Carry liability insurance.
– Carry proof of insurance when riding.
– Wear eye protection: face shield, goggles, or glasses. Windshields do not meet legal requirements.
Motorcycle permit operators:
– Must wear a DOT-approved helmet.
– May not carry passengers.
– May not ride on Interstate freeways.
– May not ride at night.
Operators under the age of 18:
– Must wear a DOT-approved helmet.
Trike and sidecar operators:
-Must have a motorcycle instruction permit, motorcycle endorsement, or “also valid for 3 wheel motorcycle” under restrictions.
• Motorcyclists are entitled to the full use of their lanes and have all the rights and duties of other drivers.
• Motorcyclists are permitted to travel in high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) carpool lanes.
• Passengers under the age of 18 must wear a DOT-approved helmet.
• Passengers must be able to reach both footrests while seated on the passenger seat.
• Motorcyclists must not carry anything that interferes with holding onto the handlebars.
• “Lane-splitting” is illegal. However, it is legal for two motorcyclists to ride side-by-side if both riders agree to it.
• Motorcyclists may proceed through an unchanging red light that has shown red for an unreasonable time if no vehicle or pedestrian is approaching the street.
• Headphones/earphones: one ear only.
• Careless and reckless driving 169.13 applies to motorcyclists and includes “wheelies,” “stoppies,” standing on the seat, etc.
Should You Ride a Motorcycle?
If you’re reading this, you’re either an existing motorcyclist or someone interested in two-wheeling for sport, as a pastime, or as a fuel-efficient and affordable mode of transportation. Congratulations.
But should you be riding a motorcycle?
Take the following self-assessment provided by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and learn whether you have the physical capabilities and mental attitude required to safely navigate a motorcycle on the street.
1. Are you a higher risk-taker than others you know? If you tend to need a thrill while driving a car and have aggressive or risky tendencies, motorcycling may not be for you.
2. Can you ride a bicycle? This is generally a good gauge of your ability to maneuver a motorcycle.
3. Can you drive a stick-shift car? If you can’t get the hang of shifting gears but still want to enjoy a powered two-wheeler, you might want to start out on a scooter.
4. Do you see well? Riding a motorcycle requires special perceptual skills that rely on good vision.
5. Are you mechanically inclined? Today’s motorcycles are very reliable machines, but you’ll need to be able to inspect your equipment and make the occasional minor adjustment.
6. Are you safety-minded? Riders can control their situation only if safety is a high priority.
7. Do you respect machinery and other equipment that has risk? Successful riders know that safety isn’t a matter of luck, but a matter of doing the right things to minimize risk.
8. Can you focus? Safe motorcycling requires dedicated attention to the immediate task and a keen awareness of everything going on 360 degrees around you.
9. Can you control a vehicle when braking hard or swerving? On a motorcycle, having these types of skills is essential because other highway users tend not to see motorcyclists in traffic, especially around intersections.
10. Are you willing to invest some time in learning to ride the right way before hopping on a bike? Take a training course, if only to help you better understand the dynamics of good riding and to determine if motorcycling is right for you.
What’s ‘Street-Legal’ in Minnesota?
Motorcyclists are a decidedly unique blend of individuals who often tend to use their bikes as a platform for modification.
If you have spent any time among a crowd of two-wheelers you have likely seen some bizarre mods – impossibly high ape-hangar handlebars, headsets festooned with spikes, ridiculously fat tires, gas tanks adorned with figurines, exhaust pipes that rattle the eardrums, long grip whips, chains that precariously span extended swingarms, license plates that flip up, wonky side hacks, etc.
So what is and isn’t legal on motorcycles in Minnesota? The list of requirements is far shorter than the list of what is outlawed.
In Minnesota, basic motorcycle requirements include:
• A headlight on at all times when riding (modulators are legal).
• At least one, but not more than two, headlights with both high and low beam.
• A red or yellow tail light and stop lamp (a blue dot on the tail light of up to one inch is legal).
• At least one brake, either front or rear, which may be operated by hand or foot.
• A rear-view mirror and horn.
• Passenger footrests along with any passenger seat.
• A muffler that blends the exhaust noise into the overall vehicle noise and does not emit or produce a sharp popping or crackling sound.
• A license plate securely fastened to prevent swinging; displayed horizontally or vertically with letters and numbers facing outward from the vehicle; and in an upright position.
• Turn signals that are visible 100 feet to the front and rear during daytime and nighttime (hand signals are legal).