6 things to do to NOT DIE on your motorcycle!

By | January 22, 2015

So, what’s up? I don’t know about you, but the last weekend was pretty awesome for me. That CS Santosh article went viral, and at one point I was kinda concerned the site will crash because of the traffic. A lot of people thought I had finally turned the page and become a “good” person, someone who doesn’t use “bad” language and writes nice and sweet and cute and cuddly articles.

LOL.

Anyway, now that the dust is settled, it’s time to get back on the horse and piss on everyone again. RiderZone has and will always be my personal space. In more than one ways, I’m writing all of this shit only for myself. Not even ONE single automotive website in India produces ANY interesting content.

Autocar has this ability to convert even the most interesting topics into words that’ll put you to sleep, forever. Motorbeam knows of only 2 things, pointless rumors, and useless wheelies, I mean seriously, they just can’t review ANYTHING with 2 wheels without throwing at least one into the air, because that’s obviously the most important job of any motorcycle. Don’t even get me started on BikeAdvice, their idea of “important” news is new color scheme on a scooty. Overdrive, Zigwheels, Drivespark, IndianCarsBikes, Motoroids, all are just news factories that vomit pre-packaged crap onto the internet on a daily basis.

But I digress. Today’s article is about surviving the catastrophe that we call our roads. What can you do to make sure that there’s a slight chance you’ll return back home in one piece every time you swing a leg over a bike? Here are the 6 things that I think you should do to NOT DIE on Indian roads:

1. Ride fast, do everything else slow:

I’m sure plenty of people are going to froth out their mouths and get all Rambo on my ass, but the good thing is that I’ve completely lost my ability to give a fuck. I would like to clarify that riding “fast” does not mean riding like an asshole by any standard.

Riding fast means riding at a reasonably good pace that is somewhere near to the speeds that other people on that road are doing.

I don’t care for speed limits, definitely not for our country where they are nothing more than arbitrary numbers on a rusty board that no one cares about. Speed limits in India have not been able to keep up with the road infrastructure, and they hold no importance whatsoever to our practical riding conditions.

I would like you to read about the Solomon Curve, and then ask yourself if you believe that is true. Have you felt that terror of riding too fast and not being sure what monsters are waiting for you at the next corner? Have you felt the panic of riding too slow and not being sure what demon will ram you from behind? If you have, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, carry on. I have always found it to be more comfortable, safe, and enjoyable to ride at speeds slightly higher than what cars are doing on that stretch, and that’s what I’ll continue to do in the future.

Which brings us to the second part, DO EVERYTHING ELSE SLOW. There’s something very important that you have to understand about us, something that’ll make sense of why we behave on the road the way we do.

If there’s a chance that you’ll crash and there’s something an Indian can do to help, he’ll not do it. If there’s a chance that an Indian will crash INTO YOU and scratch HIS car, he’ll move hell and earth to stop it from happening. 

Human life holds no value on Indian roads, inanimate objects do. There are far too many of us, and it doesn’t really matter if a few million out of 1.25 billion perish while trying to get somewhere. What does matter is paint, dents, scratches, bumpers, and lights and metal and plastic and fiber. And this is where doing everything else slow comes into the picture.

Imagine you are riding at 120, on the left side of the road, minding your own business. There’s a rash driver following up on you, doing 140-150 and overtaking everyone like it’s Formula 1. Suddenly, you see a giant speed breaker in front of you, and you are too fast to not panic brake. There are 2 possible scenarios here:

  1. You slow down suddenly, the rash driver doesn’t have the time to react and he smashes into your butt.
  2. You slow down gradually, and then jump off the bump because you couldn’t decelerate enough. The driver notices you, then notices the bump, slows down and doesn’t crash into you.

In the first case, the driver wanted to stop, not because he cares about you, but because his car will get damaged. However, because you decelerated too quick, he couldn’t do it. In the second scenario you slowed down slower, giving him a chance to duck and save his car, and as an inconsequential byproduct your life.

If you want to change lanes, do it slow. If you want to accelerate or decelerate, do it slow. If there’s a pothole in the middle of the road, it might be a better idea to just jump through it and have the possibility of staying with your bike, rather than change direction too quickly to avoid it and hitting some random vehicle overtaking you. Speed is OK, sudden moments are not.

2. Don’t race, don’t follow:

The first part should be pretty obvious, don’t race! Public roads are not controlled environments like a track, not to mention the fact that winning a red light to red light race doesn’t prove anything apart from letting everyone know how small your dick really is. I know it’s easier said than done, especially with the insane people you find on our roads, but you have to believe it’s in your control.

You have to understand that no matter what the other person does, he can’t really race you until you let him.

Carrying a GoPro in such situations is really awesome. Imagine there’s a douche on an Activa, going up and down and side to side all around you, enticing you to race. Just start recording, and then share it with the whole world to see! If you are even slightly lucky, that dickhead will most likely crash and die, at which point you’ll have a viral video in your hands. Good family fun.

The second part isn’t all that obvious. I, for a very long time, believed that following another slightly faster vehicle was safer and faster than riding on your own. I used to follow cars, thinking they would assist me to cover distances faster, while helping me in overtaking and avoiding potholes. While there is some merit in this approach, the fact is rather simple to understand.

Following anyone is NEVER safer than riding on your own.

And the reason for that is rather obvious. When you follow someone, you are depending 100% on their judgement and skills. You are placing your life in their hands. When is that ever a good idea? On top of that, following anyone perfectly over a long distance is impossible. You have to completely shadow their tire line, which means you’ll sometimes have to do dangerous maneuvers just to keep up with them. You have no idea what’s going on in front of them, so if there’s an emergency situation you’ll only know when you become a part of it. The most important reason why it’s unsafe to follow anyone is because you can get hit by stuff!

A high speed car or bike can catch stones or debris in their rear wheel and then launch it at you, I’m sure most of you must have faced such a situation. All the person in front of you has to do is lift it up slightly over the road, and you’ll catch it at speed. I have been hit by numerous stones, a water bottle, and once a tree in this fashion. Will tell you the tree story some other time. Don’t follow anyone, it’s not worth it.

3. Don’t ride at night:

Just don’t. I don’t need to say anything, you don’t need to hear anything. Just for fun, here’s what a foreigner has to say about riding at night in India.

4. Use your horn, use your 6th sense:

Indians either abuse the horn, or just don’t use it at all, but it’s a really important tool to prevent SMIDSY accidents. SMIDSY translates to “Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You” situations where a car just rams into you because he didn’t expect you to be there. If you don’t want to be blamed for every crash that you are a part of, a skill that we are Ninjas of, you have to make sure you do everything possible from your side to let others know what you are doing. Here are some ways that help:

  • Wear bright helmet and clothing, and preferably get a non-black motorcycle. People can’t avoid what they can’t see.
  • Always keep your headlights switched on while doing highways, and pilot lamp in city, it REALLY helps others notice you better.
  • Whenever possible, use your indicators to tell others what your future plans are. Hand signals are awesome too.
  • Always blow horn before overtaking someone, or at an intersection, or any other place where your brain tells you to.

Even after you do everything humanly possible to tell others of your presence, you still should never trust them completely. Always keep a backup plan, anticipate, use your 6th sense to predict the future. If you see a truck parked on the left of the road, and a car going from the right lane, be careful while overtaking from the right, since there’s a distinct possibility the truck will pull onto the road, pushing the car into your path.

Everyone knows their limits, it’s a natural survival instinct. When you are under the limit, everything is rosy and calm, you feel confident and safe. When you are over it, you know the fear, the tension, the risk. The brain will always tell you what’s right, but it’s your choice to follow it or not. You can foresee the future, you can change it, you can create it. All you have to do is listen, and develop your 6th sense over the years, I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve been saved by mine.

5. Get ABS:

Just get it. Many people will tell you “Oh ABS is for pussies” or “You don’t need ABS if you are careful” or “I love sucking cocks because it helps me connect with my feminine side even though I am a dude”. Fuck all of them.

ABS is a life saver, ABS is the most important invention since the wheel. ABS should be mandatory. 

I know the government has said ABS will be made compulsory in the next few years, but you know you can’t trust their bullshit. In any case, you shouldn’t need a bunch of soulless retards to tell you how to save your own life. Unfortunately there are still a very few number of bikes in India that come with ABS, but fortunately they are spread over a wide array of price and power ranges.

If you want to commute, go for the TVS Apache 180 ABS. If you want to tour, go for the CBR250R ABS. If you want to do everything, go for the Duke 390 ABS. In superbikes ABS starts from the Z800. There’s no possible excuse in the world that can justify not having ABS on your machine, and there’s no possible scenario (except hardcore off-roading) where not having ABS can result in a better crash outcome.

Just get it. There is no worse feeling than riding with fear, and if you are not confident enough on our roads, everybody will just walk all over you, quite literally.

6. Get riding gear:

If all else goes to shit, if you are just an unlucky SOB, if you somehow do end up in a situation where nothing can stop a crash, your riding gear will save you from death, unless of course if you are just too stupid. A good quality helmet, jacket, pant, boots and gloves can do wonders. Ever seen a MotoGP rider wipe out at 300 kmph and then get up and kick the bike? Yeah, try doing that when you’re dead.

ATGATT

All The Gear All The Time. ATGATT is a very simple concept which brings so much more peace and comfort in your riding. All you have to do is be fully geared no matter how short the distance you are traveling. I understand it may not be possible to follow it 100% of the time, all I expect of you is to try.

In a country where even a helmet is a rarity, it may look like asking for too much to expect everyone to follow ATGATT. Well, I do it, I know a lot of other who do, and this is my fucking article, so I can expect whatever the hell I want to expect. In the end, it’s your life, your limbs, your intestines, your brain, your scrotum. I would hate to see your insides spilled on the road, but you always have the free will to make that happen.

********************

Feels good to get back to the old ways again! A lot of people tell me to write nice stuff and not use bad words, and I sometimes take them too seriously. Everyone talks the way I write, everyone hides it when they write themselves. I don’t understand why, but that’s OK. I don’t understand a lot of things. What I do understand is surviving the weird things that happen to Indian bikers, and that’s what this article is about. If you have something to add, fire away.

  • gr av

    hahaha dont listen to haters, you have the funniest articles and writing skills. keep’em coming man !!

  • Nandkumar Nair

    Really??? Hit by a tree while tailing someone else?? Now i am really curious and want to know more about that story….

  • Rr

    Who is this nut cracker!!!!. Im sure he does not know how to ride

  • Pingback: 6 ways to ride cheap like a real Indian! - RiderZone()

  • Pingback: Which is the best tire for KTM Duke 390? - RiderZone()

  • sushil tomar

    i cant agree more on watever points u have covered here. Personally, i have always tried to maintain a similar biker discipline. Can’t do anything for ABS, my avenger220 got none.
    Few things I wud like to add from my little experience:

    1. At intersections use plenty of horn, dipper, look at direction of tires of 4 wheelers to judge dere next move, look drivers in there eyes (if possible)so they know you are coming.

    2.NEVER FOLLOW A VEHICLE: but sometimes traffic behind/beside you leaves you no other option and you have to follow a 4 wheeler for some distance. In such a case never follow a car with your bikefront tyre in middle of rear tyres of 4 wheeler. cars generally avoid potholes/obstacles by going over them but you on 2 wheels wont find yourself so lucky if u catch such a pothole/obstacle. so if you r forced to follow a 4wheeler then follow its right rear wheel. Shifting in left lane is common but not so common in speedlane.

    3. ALL GEAR ALL THE TIME: its in your best interest to follow it but sometimes its not possible. even in such cases try to wear atleast some protective gear. from my experience what ever your scenario might be, you can always wear a good helmet, protective gloves and some sturdy boots(even casual like woodland/redchief etc are better than canvas/slippers/sandals) . even if you crash your head wud taken care of my helmet, skin and small bones of hands and foot wud have some protection and wud prevent a lifelong disability and dysfunctionality . Large bones generally dont touch asphalt first and even if they do they can take lot force widout fracture and even if they fracture there have better prognosis but small bones in hand and foot are generally not so lucky.

    • Thanks for your inputs mate! All of your points are correct in every way, especially following car tire lines rather than their center 🙂

  • Mayank Pratap

    Great lifesaving tips Akhil !!
    On point 5 about ABS,How efficient that mechanical ABS thing is?

    • Thanks Mayank.

      Not much. Mechanical ABS doesn’t have a good reputation at all. It would be a good idea to stay with factory fitted systems 🙂

  • Hemant

    Hey, I read your articles only because of the number of and the way you use expletives. They make me laugh and I just love reading them. Seriously. I first came to know about you from the Triumph article about Simal Vumbly 😉 Please continue to use expletives. Don’t change your style.

  • I don’t completely agree with some of the point mentioned above, and here are a few random but related experiences that I recollected while going through your posts, which would justify why.

    ABS:
    This happened during my ZMA days, I wanted to do a 1.5k run cause the magic number i.e 1k had lost its charm. So it was mid night and me and my companion a newbie with a RTR ABS was riding through Tenkasi-Rajapalayam stretch at a decent triple digit speed, the RTR ABS was in front and I was following, a Indica was coming in the opp. direction at a considerably high speed, there was another road going parallel to the road we were on, the guy coming opp. us immediate made a sharp turn and cut through our path to take that road, everything happened so soon, and we both out of instinct went for the brakes, I went with the usual panic braking method and slowed down in time, where as my co-rider jammed the brakes with the hope that the ABS would save him, and what happened next was shocking, the dude went into a spin before safely coming to a halt beneath a tree.
    If the same thing had happened during day time, he would’ve been roadkill.

    Group Riding:
    Depends on the group you’re riding with, and I’ve rode with all kinda biker groups, some(mostly consisting of classmates) were such a pain in the ass that I had to go WFO till they vanished from my RVM, and the funny part was that I did so because “MY” safety was my main concern.
    But there were some really good groups, one of them namely being the Trivandrum Xbhpians, on one ride I was on my D100 and many a times they ensured that I was safe and not left out, nearing the end I went super conservative because it was pitch black and raining and was doing embarrassingly low speeds, hence waved everyone to go on without me as they had a long way to go, but a little while later one of them returned and slowly guided me with the help of his indicators till we reached the point were we had to go separate paths, me barely 20~30kms and them around 100kms, and to be frank I’ve never seen such levels of responsibility displayed by any motorcycle group I’ve run with.
    They even had a moto ‘You ride only as fast as the slowest rider in the group’.

    Following:
    Again depends on the person, in one instance I remember being on my ZMA and riding really fast, following a senior rider from Xbhp, I was a newbie biker at the time and that was my first 500 km run and I was a little too excited. Due to road work going on there was a huge bump on the road ahead which we failed to notice until the last moment, the senior rider bounced off it and was airborne but even midst that he turned back and pointed to the bump, myself and another rider on a CBR250R was able to safely follow his lead and maneuver accordingly. if it weren’t for his immediate response it would’ve ended really bad for me cause I was inexperienced and had no idea how to counter something like that at high speeds.

    But thats when experienced riders are in front, a couple of months back while riding to Bangalore from Kollam, had 2 accidents on the same night following an inexperienced friend who tagged along from Salem. The reason I decided to follow was because it got really late and dark and one of those heavy thunder storms were also going on, hence I couldn’t see shit. First accident, I hit a semi-constructed unmarked divider head on an was thrown off the bike, but luckily escaped with no bruises, but the second time it was a slip and I ended up with my knee between the edge of a pavement and my bike, which has left me with an irrecoverable injury accompanied by random shots of pain, but the upside was that I learn’t a valuable lesson that day.

    Whoop! now that was some long recollections huh?

    But coming back to the point, you’ve done an awesome job on this piece, and am sure it would be of great help to someone whose considering riding, I know because an informative article like this backed up by experience would’ve seriously been of help in during my initial days.

    • Hey Ashwin!

      I have no explanation for your ABS incident 🙂 No idea how that happened. I guess you ride a 390 now right? Faced any such problem with the Duke’s ABS?

      Your group riding experience is cool mate. However I am quite certain you ended up riding in rain and night because of that large group in the first place 😛 It was their moral responsibility to stay with you till the end.

      Yes there are good people everywhere. My point is that following even the best people in the world doesn’t help you in any way. If you stay under your own limits, you’ll never need anyone else to point out speed bumps for you!

      Bad luck with your crashes mate. Night riding is a bitch.

      Thanks for your appreciation and sharing your opinion 😀

      • No clue, though when mentioned to the SVC they did upgrade the ABS software.

        A few weeks back I traded the D100 for a P220, not that displacement was the only reason for the shift, the lack of proper lighting was what really got me. And regarding Duke’s, nope!, not a fan of them, though have ridden both of them for a few hundred meters at the most, and shockingly I did not know that the D390 came with ABS.

        True, have done the same trip on the same bike, after an internship run, and even then managed to get back home before the sun went down. But it was really monotonous, used to hate group rides but after too much solo’ing I’m a sucker for company.

        As for tailgating and night riding, guess the new ride would bring an end to either one, or even both! Though am yet to do a solo night run using it. Wish me luck! 😀

        And BTW when can we expect an article on the shitty service provided by SVC’s and what ‘NOT’ to do to keep the motorcycle well maintained. 😉

      • my companion a newbie with a RTR ABS …. where as my co-rider jammed the brakes with the hope that the ABS would save him, and what happened next was shocking, the dude went into a spin before safely coming to a halt beneath a tree.

        [Q1]This happens often with RTR ABS? or one of kind?

        [Q2] I heard there is a knob to turn ABS on and off. And also I read some where when braking in ABS you should take a full stop so that it resets. Is it correct?

        • No idea how that happened man! Haven’t heard any similar incidents though. Did you guys check with the service center?

          Nopes there’s no such rule to make full stop to reset the system, no need for that at all.

  • ‘When you follow someone, you are depending 100% on their judgement and skills.’

    This.Mothafuckin’ this.(Thats me pumping and waving around my arms like a black man).

    I have another grouse similar to this.

    I just dont understand this logic followed by a number of rider’s clubs who insist on riding together in a straight line,one after another,ass to nose,everybody-do-75kmph-6th gear-4,000rpm-or-you-will-be-spanked formation.The first time i ever went out in such a formation,it totally screwed up my judgement skills.Now,i believe the greatest skill any person who intends to venture out into Indian streets,be that in a car,bike or a bicycle is spatial awareness.

    You have to aware of the shit around you!.There should be a constant process of judging and evaluation of all moving things on road piloted by brain-dead idiots.We can do that by keep our own bike,throttle input,intentions the known factor and the rest variables.

    This,atleast for me,gets totally screwed up when riding in an ultra-rigid formation.Your brain keeps jumping from the your bike as the known factor,to the one in the front and starts getting complacent.The rest of the shit on road is still there but you start ignoring it because you go from becoming the guy who is alert and confident in your decisions,to a guy who decides to let the guy in front to do the riding for you while you think back about the blowjob you received last.Till you plow into the guys butt in front of you when he panic brakes!

    Ah yes.Thinking about boobs/present gfs/the ex you broke up with while riding/driving.Most dangerous thing ever!

    • Absolute truth Avishar. Group riding is inherently more dangerous than solo, adding formations to that doesn’t help anybody.

      Boobs are awesome man, I love’em 😀

  • mewtwoisthenewgod

    Also, do not, under any circumstances, try to be a Roadside Rossi.

    • That should never be required to be stated mate!

  • deepak

    I may not agree with all that you write, but, one thing I will give you credit for…And that is a flair for writing!!

    Go on, don’t stop and hopefully no one’s gonna ride you done…

    • Thanks Deepak! I like that you don’t agree with all that I write. That would be really weird 🙂

  • Welcome back in the evil version AK!!! Ofcourse, also to your affinity to ‘6’. 😉

    #1 is something which I have been asking some of fellow biker brothers to follow. Hope sharing your article among them will see some change to it.
    #2 and #4 are sensible stuffs an Indian SHOULD follow if he doesnt want to DIE on his motorcycle.
    #3 sounds to me very much like something which a Tourer should follow (after a long day ride) and not a Commuter (debatable point).
    #5 I repeat what you said “Just get it”.
    #6 ATGATT, if you value your life.

    Keep writing your thoughts, we are loving it. (Y)

    • Christofer

      Celebrity is right. 🙂

    • Thanks guys!

      Yeah riding at night may be unavoidable for city, but just because you are a commuter or a tourer doesn’t really affect much how fucked up your experience would be in my opinion 🙂

  • Deepak Kulkarni

    Another couplebof tips :
    1. keep an eye a few vehicles ahead of you to see whats happening and be ready.
    2. Try and read the “body language” of other vehicles on the road. That biker in front of you who has that slight glance behind him may be turning straight into your path 🙂

    • Yep, that’s part of the 6th sense! You gotta read other people’s minds and bodies 🙂

  • yash

    I totally agree with u bro…i always wear my riding gear even while going to office or meetings… People find it funny but I really don’t care…

    Keep up the good work

    Cheers!

  • Akhi i am also of the belief in speed lending maneuverability – it is so if speeds are sensible according to the vehicles/conditions. As for the rest of your article – good advise for newbies. Keep up the good work!

    • True Manu, bike is more flickable at higher speeds! Of course you gotta be sensible with it 🙂

      Thanks mate!