There’s one thing common between all the crashes you saw above, all of them could’ve been avoided. Some of the people in this video were inexperienced, others were experienced but not enough, while some just found themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time. There always will be situations that you can’t control, but there’s always something you can do to minimise their existence.
If you’d like to die an old, smelly, fat biker, telling stories of your conquests to grandkids who couldn’t give a shit, or that nurse in the hospital giving you an enema, or that imaginary best friend you make in that mental institution, here are some ideas that might help.
1. Upgrade bikes slowly:
This is one of the biggest reason why people find themselves face down in a ditch by the side of the highway. I know it’s hard, especially when you have money to burn, but spending time with smaller capacity motorcycles and slowly graduating to bigger ones is an experience that should never be missed.
It’s the same reason why racers, even as talented as Rossi or Marquez, have to go through Moto3 and Moto2 before they can get their hands on the big monsters. It’s the same reason why some countries simply don’t allow you to ride a big bike unless you have ridden small ones.
There’s no rule to follow, I can’t tell you this many kilometres or this many years is enough, it’s something you have to decide for yourself. One of the reasons why I haven’t upgraded from the Duke 390, apart from the fact that I can’t because I have no money, is that every time I ride a 600, especially something like a Daytona, I realise how easily I could kill myself on one. I’ve spent more than 2 years and 50,000 kms with the Duke, but I still feel I need more. More talented riders than me could move on in less than a year, but you need to have the brains and the self-control to understand that.
If you don’t, RIP.
2. Upgrade gears quickly:
I’ve seen people who start from Probiker/Studds shit when they ride 150s, but even when they upgrade to liter-class, the gear remains at the same level. Nobody should need to explain to you how bad an idea that is, but if you do happen to own a big bike, and your entire riding gear set cost less than your phone, you really need to get your fucking priorities right.
As far as riding gear upgrades go, there are 2 schools of thought. One believes that gear must be upgraded often, even if the step from one level to the next is not too big. For example, buying an 11,000 Rupee Spartan jacket after using a 7,000 Rupee DSG one. The other believes that gear does not need to be upgraded too often, but when it is upgraded, it should be a real upgrade. Like buying a 50,000 Rupee Arai after using a 5,000 Rupee MT.
What system you follow is completely up to you, the point here is to be happy with the level of safety you have, depending on your bike, riding style, and the type of conditions you ride in. Someone attempting to do the Raid de Himalayas can’t think in the same way as someone attempting to do a breakfast ride.
3. Ride in total comfort:
Feeling safe is important, which is why people on the track wear full leather suits, even though they can cook you from the inside and make it hard to pee. However, unless you are in a high-risk situation, comfort and safety are more or less equally important, and for a very simple reason.
If you are too irritated of that back protector digging into your buttcrack, or that neck brace biting into your neck, or those knee guards waxing your hair off, you’ll probably end up being more unsafe than a Roadside Rossi in chaddi and chappals.
It’s not easy to be comfortable while riding, but it’s not too hard either. Spend time while purchasing gear, research, ask, test. One of my biggest irritation over the years has been a badly fitting helmet, nothing frustrates you more than adjusting the damn thing every time you hit a slight bump. It’s easy to buy stuff online, but there’s no alternative for trying something before buying it.
The point is this, when you are on the road, your mind should be there too, and not distracted by pain emanating from various parts of the body.
4. Try your best to follow all the rules:
I know the title should be “Follow all the rules”, but that’s neither possible, nor safe. When you’re on the highway and there are people on your tail doing 145, you doing 60 is only going to push them straight into your ass. Indian roads are far too complicated to follow every rule in the book, but it helps to be a decent human being and do the right thing at the right time.
The first thing to do is rather easy, and helps a lot in making a ride stress-free. Carry all your bike documents. It’s pretty simple, since there are only 4 things:
- Registration certificate
- Pollution certificate
End of the story.
When you’re in the city, don’t ride like an asshole. When you’re on the highway, try and stay in the middle of the road to give you space on both sides if a cow spawns in front of you. Be nice to the locals, you don’t know what kind of dicks they’ve faced in the past. And if you do happen to get caught by the Police, be polite, most of them just want to click a selfie with you and talk a while.
5. Secure your luggage:
First off, if you are one of those people who thinks the answer to any problem in life is “Bungee Cords”, just know that you are a terrible person and everyone hates you. The amount of money you spend on the duffel bags and the bungees and that hideous blue tarpaulin would be far better spent in buying proper motorcycle luggage, which also has a unique side-effect of making you look like a non-idiot, even if you are one.
Saddlebags, tailbags, tankbags, mix and match based on what you like and how much stuff you have. It always helps to carry as little as possible, but I know that’s not always the way things work. Learn how to properly tie your bags to the bike, learn which mounting points are the safest, spend time and thought before the ride begins so that you don’t have to scratch your head standing by the side of the road, with straps wound around your chain.
Also, take things easy with a fully loaded bike, especially at the start. The riding dynamics change, so does the width of the bike. That overtaking move between two slow-moving trucks might not work so well when you have 2 fat pieces of fabric hanging off the sides.
6. Push 50% on the road:
If you’ve read the latest Road Accident report for 2015, I think you might have noticed one very interesting fact. Yes more than 5 million accidents happened on our streets last year, yes that meant 17 deaths an hour, but the thing that caught my attention was this little beauty:
The reason for 47.9% of accidents and 44.2% of deaths was overspeeding.
I understand this statistic can’t be truly trusted. Some of our beautiful roads have speed limits of 45 kmph, so basically any accident that happens there might get blamed on overspeeding. But even if you tone down the results, nothing even comes close to being the leading cause of death and destruction on our streets like overspeeding does.
And I totally get that. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, it doesn’t matter how safe you are, it doesn’t matter what bike you are on, if you push too much, you are going to die sooner or later. Everyone has an internal system that prevents them from going beyond the limits, it’s a small side-effect of the thing most dear to us all, survival. More often than not, shit happens when you ignore the warnings from this system.
On the roads, I rarely ever use even 50% of what my bike is capable of. Pushing harder is of no use, helps nobody, and creates too much mental stress for no discernible reward. When you slow down a little you’ll have this realisation that riding in India still can be a bit of fun, even with all the carnage and fucktardery around.
7. Push 100% on the track:
Give it your all, crash as much as you like, do stupid shit on the track, that’s what it is for.
Find out what happens if you switch off the ABS and lock that front wheel for the first time. Find out what happens when you lean and accelerate together. Find out your limits, and your motorcycle’s.
The good thing is that no track would allow you to ride without proper riding gear, which means that I’ve never heard of a single instance of someone losing their life at the BIC, Kari, or MMRT. A lot of bones have been broken, blood spilled too, but then again if you didn’t want that, you should probably have stayed away from 2-wheelers to begin with.
I’m quite tired of repeating myself, but if you’ve never experienced track riding before, go do it. There are plenty of places in India where you can do it now, rather cheap too. Or come to Hyderabad, I’ll take you to one.
8. Stay calm:
In the first video many of those crashes could have been avoided, if only they had stayed calm. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have your mind under control when you’re riding. When the shit hits the fan, which it always does, panicking and freezing yourself on the handlebar is the most instinctive reaction, and yet it doesn’t help, at all.
The problem with staying calm is this, it takes years to develop this reflex, and to subdue the brain’s natural ones. Everything that I’ve told you in the last 7 points is actually just a way to reach this point.
You’ll be calm on a 1000cc bike if you are used to a 1000cc bike.
You’ll be calm when that aunty runs down the middle of the road if you have confidence in your gear.
You will be calm when you take the wrong line into a turn because you will be focused on the road, and not on that mega itch on your balls.
You will be calm when that cop flags you down on the highway, because you know you’ve done nothing wrong.
You’ll be calm when that dickhead comes too close to you while overtaking someone else, because you know how wide your bike is and where it’ll fit.
You’ll be calm when that cute adorable puppy runs to the middle of the expressway, because you know you’ll be able to swerve in time to avoid him.
You’ll be calm when you lose the rear on that hairpin under slush and rain, because you’ve done that and recovered a thousand times on the track.
If you are smooth, confident, serene, nothing can kill you, except that rouge juvenile driver hopped up on drugs and showing off to his girlfriend, nobody can save you from him. But then again, the fun of riding is in the inherent risks, if it was as safe as driving or flying, you probably won’t be reading this article, because it won’t exist, because RiderZone won’t.
In the end, there’s one more thing that I could tell you, but I feel it’s something so basic that needing to tell it to someone is an affront to basic human intelligence. Nevertheless, here it is, DON’T BE A FUCKING MORON. Don’t race on public roads, don’t do stupid stuff just for the heck of it, always try to find some reward for the risks that you take, if there are none, don’t do it.
Here’s a video that probably should be titled “Everything that shouldn’t be done on a motorcycle for dummies”