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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

I currently have 400 of my own miles on my "new" 96 Adventurer. As a new rider I am trying to learn as much as I can to keep me safe on the road. I live near LA and currently do at least 500 miles each week in my car all over Southern California. I would like to start doing much of this on the bike but to be honest it is a little intimidating considering how big suvs become when you are on a bike. So what are some tips that those of you who fight this kind of battle each day have learned?

Any times that are best avoided?

Lane placement?

Fast or slow lane?

Any advice would be appreciated, especially from LA Warriors. I am 45 and can't believe some of the crazy things I see bikers do everyday, so I wanted to learn from the very skilled and experienced riders on this forum. Thanks for your help.

Dave
 

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Good luck with your new Adventurer! Those are great-looking bikes.

I'm not from LA but I commute often on NJ roads with crazy drivers from PA, NJ & NY. If you're only 400 miles into your new riding experience, I'd humbly suggest you get a few more miles under your belt before venturing onto busy highways. You might want to work your way up to the freeways.

Just my 2 cents, I avoid middle lanes because to me it increases the risk. I prefer to ride in the fast lane so you don't have traffic to your left. Until you're ready for that, you may want to start in the slow lane. The downside to the slow lane is you have to be cautious of people merging onto and exiting from the highway.

By all means, use lane placement to your advantage. Avoid riding in truck air wash and stay out of blind spots.

And get a Stebel horn.

And consider a Hi-Viz vest.

Have fun & ride safe.
 

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Dave you might already do this, but one thing you can do to predict what might happen next is to look in to the cagers mirrors, you can see their head move to glance in their mirror an you know that they will follow this with an un-signaled lane change (possibly into your lane)

Obviously, if you can avoid it, do not ride alongside someone, just in case they do something stupid or they themselves are forced to swerve into your lane. Difficult to do in heavy traffic but worth trying.

Just try to stay focused, I really do think its easier on a bike to focus on riding. no stereo, no cell phones, no passengers talking, but on a long stretch the mind can wander!

Also on city highways, you *will* get tailgated, just let them pass, its not worth it to do anything about it.

Traffic sucks, plain and simple, head for the hills whenever you can!

(im a new rider too, so I hope I am not giving bad advice)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
These are great suggestions. I appreciate them all. I did spend some time on the freeway today and spent some time about 20 feet behind a semi and I understood what Silverado meant by truck wash. I have some nice roads that I am praticing on and then I am putting in 5 mile freeway trips. I agree that I need to get some more miles under my belt. Thanks everyone for your help. Let me know any other tips you guys might have.

Thanks again,

Dave
 

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I'm going to get on my soapbox here (which I am going to temporarily borrow from HiDesert :D)

:angrysoapbox:

Worldspeaker get yourself off to a MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation I believe) class VERY fast.
There is a lot to be learned about staying alive on a motorcycle, and that is the best place to learn the essential basics.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Stanegoli, I have already been through the MSF which was taught by a CHP officer and was very informative. He gave us all the information and training that he could in the few hours of the class.

I believe most Triumph guys are RIDERS and really know what they are doing which is why I am asking the question here on this forum. Actually if I had 100,000 miles of experience I know there are still a million things I can learn from people on this forum.

Thanks for the soapbox but you are preaching to the choir. I am an absolute MSF supporter and an agatt kinda guy. I just know that in the traffic I have to ride in all the time that I can never learn enough.

The more info we share the safer we all are.

Thanks to all of you for your willingness to share your insight.

Dave
 

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If you are ever on the westside, the 90 is a pretty decent freeway to break yourself in on. People tend to go pretty fast on it but its wide open compared to most of the other freeways out here.

One area that I dont think I will ever go on my bike is over where the 10 meets the 110 meets the 101. That whole area has got to be the highest concentration in America of terrible drivers in a hurry willing to kill anyone in their way. Its like 10 lanes wide at one point and none of the signs correspond to what lane you should really be in. A complete and total clusterpuck.

Good luck with adjusting to the highways. I just started riding back in May and have been breaking myself in with the PCH and the 90.
 

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Don't be timid.
 

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Dave you might already do this, but one thing you can do to predict what might happen next is to look in to the cagers mirrors, you can see their head move to glance in their mirror an you know that they will follow this with an un-signaled lane change (possibly into your lane)
Peter got it right on!!

I've been working on the road for the passed 20 years and the other vehicle's mirrors speak volumes. Don't focus on their tail-lights. Look through their windows to see what's in front of them and watch their mirrors.

It has saved me many a times.
 

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OK worldspeaker so considering your response above I would add:

Lane placement is critical.
Always ride in a "blocking" lane (except when circumstances totally prevent this, for example in some locations the right hand "blocking" lane is a turning lane, and you do not want to turn).
If you are in the left blocking lane position yourself to the left of the lane.
If you are in the right blocking lane position yourself to the right of the lane.
Never be in the blind spot of a car to your left or right. Accelerate or slow down as needed to ensure this.
Expect cars to change lanes suddenly and without signalling. This WILL happen frequently.
Wear a white helmet (tests have indicated this is the most visible color).
When passing an onramp, especially if you are in the right "blocking" lane, be aware of cars entering freeway. Often these cars will cut across lanes to get in the fast lane and may not see you. Do a headcheck as you approach the onramp.
Be wary when approaching a cloverleaf of motorists who suddenly realize they are about to take the wrong freeway and swerve across lanes to get in the correct lane.

Hope this helps.
Ride safe.
 

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Funny that you bought a bike so appropriately named for riding on LA freeways. :D

If you eventually work your way up to lane-splitting (some people just don't like to do it) remember that the car width should be gauged by the reach of the mirrors and not the sides of the cars. Learning to gauge where you safely fit, including escape room comes with time so always look for more room than you need.

One thing that I use - and some may not agree with this - is when I'm passing a car on my right, assuming I'm in the left lane, I move towards the center right of the lane until I'm about 8 to 10 ft behind the car. Then I move back to the left. The reason for this is it gives the driver of that car a chance to clearly see me in his side-view mirror as I approach and the movement from right to left may help to catch his attention long enough to ensure he knows I'm there.

Also, if you are riding in an outside lane and someone cuts over then brakes suddenly causing you to swerve onto a soft shoulder, remember not to grab a handful of brake lest you lock up the front end and slide into a guard rail or something. Rather, roll off throttle and brake smoothly until you come to a stop. Be prepared to roll on again if you see another car behind you doing the same thing to avoid a rear-ender.
 

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First it's my kids, and now stanegoli is stealing my soap box. I'm going to have to lock the darn thing up!

I don't suppose it's realistic to put off highway riding for a few thousand miles, but can you at least avoid peak traffic times? Are there any non-peak traffic times in greater LA?

The key to safety in traffic is awareness; don't let anything distract you from the job at hand. Scan, plan, act, repeat. Don't use an ipod, don't think about what's for dinner, just ride.

P.S, Tbirdnz, I have no idea what you're talking about. :D

P.P.S, can anyone think of a synonym for 'act' that rhymes with 'plan'?
 

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Freeway riding requires experience which comes from freeway riding. I don't know what else to say except be observant and carefull as if they are all out to get you. When riding it is OK to be paranoid. ;)
 

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Situational awarenes!

Know what is around you: Can you see the driver easily? If not move to where you can or move away.

Plan your escape route constantly. What if? What if that truck doesn't see me and jerks into my lane ?

Be visible. If your gear isn't bright, get one of those Icon dayglow yellow vests.

Watch the traffic through the car windows ahead. When they start breaking in mass, flash your brake lights so the car behind you will hopefully see you before the panic starts. ( Hyper lites help with this as well )

Don't exceed your comfort level at any time! If things are too crazy or it doesn't feel right, get off the freeway onto side streets. Just remember that brings in a whole new set of concerns at high traffic times.
 

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All good advice, and I'll add my personal primary rule: Maintain your following distance, as much as that is possible. It's your buffer against all sorts of bad things.

Stay alert. Don't drive like a fool. Use the left lane, especially if it has a good shoulder (for escape). Stay calm. Assume that the other drivers don't see you.
 

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worldspeaker said:
Any times that are best avoided?
I would have just avoided L.A. altogether :D

worldspeaker said:
Lane placement? Fast or slow lane?
The safest place on earth for any motorcyclist is the inside of a passing lane on a highway. For you that means riding on the right side of the furthest left lane. This position protects your left flank, allows you to see around the traffic in front of you, allows traffic to your right to see you better, and gives you an out that doesn’t involve the trash strewn shoulder. The only trouble with this position is those maroons coming up from behind may not mentally calculate your existence. Always good practice to move to the left in front of their eyes, make sure they see you, then slide back to the right side of the lane.

Lane Position:

Left Lane: ride on the right (unless sliding over to cause visibility to an oncoming cager)

Right Lane: ride on the left.

Middle lane(s): ride on the side that will allow you the greatest visibility to the side with the most possible idiots.


Despite the fear (of which is understandable) the highway is the safest place for you to be. The key is to be aware of what is going on behind you, beside you, and in front of you. The benefit is not having to worry someone turning left in front of you, someone running a red lamp, someone pulling out of a side street right into you.

Highways have considerably less dangers than surface streets, but they are there and they can be dealt with easily.

Danger 1) Someone merging into you (or changing lanes into you).

Solution 1) Anticipate it. Always assume that a cager will do the most idiotic thing possible (because they will). Always assume they don’t see you (they don’t). Always assume they can’t hear you (despite your loud pipes they have no idea you are farting away). And if the worst happens, don’t panic, just slide over onto the line and split between the cage to your left and the fargin idiot that just merged into your lane, or gas it and get the frack outta there.

Danger 2) ) Someone, oblivious to the world, comes up from behind you.

Solution 2) ) Anticipate it. Flash your brake lamp at them. Move your bike to the driver’s side of the road. Always have an escape plan, just in case.

Danger 3) ) A spike strip fell out of the back of a LAPD squad car.

Solution 3) ) What’s the problem? You had positioned yourself in the lane so that you could have the best possible view ahead, behind, and to the sides, you use your mirrors like a Beverly Hills teen, your swiveled your head about like Linda Blair, and your eyes were like greased marbles in your head-You saw it coming and you avoided it handedly. Yeah, I can’t explain how important it is to remain completely aware in traffic (especially heavy traffic). Lane position means putting yourself in a place that increases your visibility to where the dangers are (look in mirrors, you can see the driver’s face sooner if you are on the correct side of the lane; don’t ride in the bloody centre of the lane, you won’t see crap up ahead).
 

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All of this isn't exactly a burden. I frequent I-66 out of DC. It's like a huge 3-D video game with stereo sound and "vibroseat". It's exciting to stay on top of it. :)
 

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