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Some tips that us noobs need to know and the vets may need to be reminded of...

Discussion in 'Motorcycle Talk' started by Lia, Jul 15, 2005.

  1. As you all know I am fairly new to motorcycling, I have had some spare time to look up helpful information on the internet recently that I think may help me some time in the future. Besides, this prevents me from pestering you vets with questions 24/7. So, anyway, I didn't want to be stingy with the information so here it is.

    What Lia has learned today...

    Kiss it Goodbye

    Tens of thousands of motorcycles are stolen every year; here are strategies to help ensure that your bike is not among them

    By Jeff Karr , John Breakey

    Anyone who has had a motorcycle stolen knows there is no place in the universe more empty than the spot where your motorcycle used to be. After the wave of initial disorientation comes denial, swiftly followed by rage (exhibited in the spasmodic clenching of the fists), and the overwhelming urge to find the guilty party and bludgeon their head in with an old KZ550 fork leg. (Maybe even run a cylinder hone up their fundament.) And that's just for starters.

    But it's too late. All of your mental and emotional energy is worthless now. The chances of seeing your bike again (at least in its original pristine condition) are slim to none. And your insurance company (assuming you have insurance) probably won't cover the full replacement cost of your bike, your various accessories and lovingly executed modifications; not to mention the grief and downtime you'll endure before you're rolling on a replacement machine. Obviously, the time to get revved up about motorcycle theft is not after it happens, but before it ever does.

    Everybody's doin' it

    Even the lowest estimates suggest that in excess of 26,000 motorcycles are stolen every year in America. The actual figure is likely far higher, somewhere around 100,000 units. Nobody knows for sure, due to the fact that the figures are based on thefts reported to law enforcement and insurance companies. An unknown number of thefts aren't reported to either type of agency (probably because of owners grabbing the aforementioned KZ550 fork leg and taking matters into their own hands). In the motorcycle thefts that are recorded, significant errors are often introduced into the statistics due to sloppy reporting. A despondent exowner or groggy clerk gets a digit or three wrong when they're listing the Vehicle Identification Number of a stolen Honda VFR750F, and voil†-it gets entered into the vast crime database as a Honda Accord. Big difference. So we don't know precisely how many bikes are stolen, but we know it's a lot. And the trend is rising with approximately 10 percent more pilfered units every year.

    When it comes right down to it, the precise scope of the motorcycle theft problem is a minor issue. What matters is keeping the motorcycle you own from joining the ranks of the missing. Step one: Don't feed the monster by buying stolen bikes and parts. Step two: Make a relatively modest investment in security gear to reduce the likelihood of theft. Step three: Learn to think like a bike-nabber and alter your behavior to make your machine less of a target.

    You can stop the bad guys, it all comes down to a test of who is more determined-you or them. Luckily you have a lot of resources at your disposal, and with a little forethought you'll never have a lonely ignition key as the only reminder of the motorcycle you once owned.

    How the sleazeballs do it

    The vast majority of motorcycle thieves aren't interested in joyriding on your swell scooter-they simply want to make a buck with it as quickly and safely as possible. Some lone wolves work solo, with nothing more than a slide-hammer (about the cost of a few six-packs) to pop your ignition/steering lock out. Next they turn the remains of the ignition switch on with a screwdriver, hit the starter button, and simply ride away. They might sell the machine to a bigger fish in the criminal sea (probably a pre-arranged deal), which could lead to its swift export or resale. Or it might be stripped of unmarked, easy-to-sell parts and dumped in some ravine. These ride-away thieves can often be encouraged to look elsewhere by security devices like disc locks, cable locks, or U-locks that bind up the wheels; or alarms-particularly the ones that kill the ignition or starter. They'll have to defeat all of this stuff on-site, and that takes time. Flailing around on the ground with bolt cutters, pry bars and jacks is not the way to lead a long and happy criminal career, so they'll look for an easier target.

    Better organized theft rings favor what the lock companies call lift-away theft. Here's the drill: A few unsavory individuals drive around in a truck or van until they spot a likely target. When the coast is reasonably clear they quietly roll up and several brawny lads spring out and quickly lift the motorcycle into the vehicle. How it lands inside isn't very important. Everyone piles back in, and they drive back to their den of iniquity. Total time at the scene of the crime: one minute, tops. The best way to stop these brutes is with a beefy lock that ties your bike to an immobile object, and a bleating alarm that draws attention should they stick around and try to bust the lock.

    As for when bike-nabbers are most active, the cover of darkness is always preferred (midnight to 6 a.m. is particularly good for rampant evil) but far from mandatory. These guys work so fast, broad daylight isn't a problem as long as they can find a moment of relative privacy.

    You choose the playing field

    Given the number of dirt bags out there trying to ruin your day, you need to take advantage of one of your most powerful weapons against theft: location. As you approach restaurant X, you probably have many options as to where to park your loyal steed. A well-lit, highly visible location is ideal; so is a place without easy access to lift-away theft. If multiple bikes are parked in the immediate area, do your best to make yours one of the hardest to reach.

    Top 10 most stolen models
    Honda CBR600 (15.8%)
    H-D FLS series (13.4%)
    Honda CBR900 (8.8%)
    Suzuki GSX-R750 (8.1%)
    H-D FXS series (7.8%)
    Kawasaki ZX-600 (5.6%)
    Kawasaki ZX-750 (5.2%)
    Suzuki GSX-600 (4.9%)
    H-D FLH series (4.5%)
    Yamaha FZR600 (4.5%)

    Levels of security

    Depending on the threat, it's up to you to outfit your machine with the level of protection required to make your bike an unappealing target.

    If you've got enough protection to make the bad guys look elsewhere, you've won-at least for the moment.

    Mob scenes, like big-event parking lots, might require nothing more than poor access and a disc lock to make your bike less attractive than the unprotected one next to it. If you've got to park in a more dangerous locale-particularly one without other motorcycles around-you'll have to get more serious. Lacing a chain or cable lock through the wheels might be enough to demoralize a ride-away thief, but it won't slow down the lift-away guys a bit. To have any real measure of security, you've got to lock your machine to something substantial-something so immovable, the only way to steal your bike is to cut the chain or engage in some other time-consuming process. Streetlight poles and parking meters work well, whatever you can find that won't tear loose. If you're parking with your pals, lock all the bikes together so they make an ungainly lump that can't be thrown into a truck en masse.

    Top 10 worst states for motorcycle theft
    California (15.3%)
    Florida (9.6%)
    New York (7.0%)
    Illinois (5.3%)
    N. Carolina (4.9%)
    Michigan (4.8%)
    Texas (4.7%)
    Ohio (4.2%)
    Pennsylvania (4.1%)
    Georgia (3.9%)

    No place is truly safe

    Even your own garage is vulnerable to thieves. That's why it's important to keep a low profile in your neighborhood. This will prevent window-shoppers from discovering the two-wheeled treasure that sits in your garage. Make sure you're not being followed on your way home, and be selective about who you bring by the house. Bike-nabbers like nothing more than enjoying your hospitality while being given a guided tour of your facilities and lax security measures. Even if you manage to maintain a discrete presence in your neighborhood, you can be sure that any number of bad people know that a nice shiny motorcycle is based at your home. A garage-door opener or cheesy padlock won't deter them, particularly if they know your daily pattern and the windows of opportunity.

    Therefore it's wise to put your security to work even on the homefront. Lock your bike to an immobile object, and if nothing like that is available, install something like a Boltdown unit from Maximum Security Lockdown. Bolted into a concrete floor, it gives you an almost undefeatable method of securing your bike to planet Earth.

    Gary Taaffe, the colorful Australian who invented the Boltdown, is full of homegrown strategies for scaring off thugs who want to have their way with your motorcycle. He sees theft prevention as sort of a demented game where the opponents try to outsmart each other-the winner getting the bike. His creative, off-beat approach turns the dreaded topic of motorcycle theft into an (almost) enjoyable mind game.

    Gary recommends conventional stuff (like motion-sensitive lighting for your overnight parking area), and the not so obvious-like working out a way to shut off power (other than security lighting) to the garage overnight, so thugs can't use your own tools and equipment to bust through the locks on your bike. Depending on the setting, low-tech measures can be effective too. His favorite low-life countermeasure is a trip-wire system of beer bottles and fishing line that will pull a dozen or so empty bottles off a high shelf in fast succession before the crook even has a chance to lay a mitt on your motorcycle. Neighbors tend to ignore alarms these days, but most will respond to the sound of breaking glass. The bad guys will respond too.

    Besides scaring off the thief, a home-built beer bottle trap also gives you and your buddies a perfectly good reason to get "pissed," as they say in Australia. Where is it written that stamping out crime can't be fun?

    Statistics courtesy of the national insurance crime bureau.

    This article was originally published in the December 1998 issue of Sport Rider.

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  2. Good info...I actually remember reading this article in Sport Rider when it was sitting on the newstands.

    The only thing that has changed their are the models of high interest being stolen...

    Last year, those liberals over at Performance Bikes in the United Kingdom did a really in-depth bar-none article on stealing motorcycles. They found with 4 people and a van, they could realistically steal a motorcycle in under ten seconds!

    I would sound like a broken record just telling all the people I have known in the past who have had their moto stolen. Gotta be careful out there!!

  3. Vision Quest

    The biggest trap inexperienced motorcyclists fall into is not practicing good visual skills. This is probably the single largest cause of accidents for novice riders, yet it is also the most basic skill that forms the foundation for every control action you perform while riding. If you aren't looking where you want to go, how do you expect to get there? We see way too many riders caught up in two major traps involving visual skills: "riding the front wheel" (not looking far enough ahead of the motorcycle), and target fixation. These two traps are often interrelated; when the rider doesn't look far enough ahead and becomes surprised by an obstacle, he panics, which leads to target fixation.

    We can't emphasize enough how important it is to look far ahead of your bike while riding. This applies not only to riding in the canyons or on the racetrack, but to city/urban riding as well. Scanning far ahead allows you ample time to formulate a plan for navigating that particular piece of road, whether it be carving the perfect line through a curve, or preparing for and avoiding a hazardous traffic situation. This is especially crucial for novice riders, who usually require a lot more concentration and time to devise riding strategies that experienced riders can perform with little or no effort. If your riding plan is rushed, the chances are good that it will have mistakes. We have also found that looking far ahead helps novice riders overcome their initial fear of using lots of lean angle.

    Looking far enough ahead of your motorcycle also helps your ability to scan your peripheral vision for visual clues, whether they are hazards or turn reference points. You don't have to stare at something in order to "see" it; honing this visual skill will allow you to "hit" your turn apexes while already focusing on the next one up ahead. We see a lot of novice riders concentrating so much on trying to hit their apexes "just right," that they end up staring at them nearly to the point where they are upon them; by then, it's too late. If you're still staring at the apex 20 feet before you reach it, by the time you start looking for your next apex, you'll be upon it, and your riding plan will be rushed. Learn to hit your points without actually looking at them.

    A rushed riding plan can result in a common problem for novice (and expert) riders: target fixation. When riders go into panic mode, they often end up staring at the most threatening object or area up ahead. This is often either a wayward car entering your path, or the outside of a turn when you enter it a little too hot. The oft-used phrase "you go where you look" is never truer in this situation. We can practically guarantee that if you continue to stare at something you are trying to avoid, you will hit it. Although easier said than done, this is why you need to build your visual scanning techniques so that you will instinctively look beyond an approaching hazard. If a car turns into your path, immediately look for an escape route while getting on the brakes; if you exceed your comfort speed entering a corner, look at where you want to go. Staring at a hazard won't help you avoid it-look where you want to go, and you'll get there.

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  4. Riding Skills Series: Braking and Downshifting

    Shifting gears smoothly is one of the hallmarks of a competent rider. Downshifting properly poses the greatest challenge for novices because miscues lead to an unsettled chassis at inopportune times-like entering a corner. What makes the task difficult is the right hand must manage to brake and blip the throttle to match the engine speed to the road speed. Having your hand in the proper position will make the process easier. When the throttle is completely closed, your wrist should still have a slight downward bend (right)-not choked-up drag-racer style (left). Now practice maintaining constant pressure on the brake lever, while quickly rolling the throttle on and off. This is how you'll match the engine speed to the lower gear, and prevent the front end from bobbing up and down due to uneven brake lever pressure.

    While you're braking and blipping the throttle, the left side of your body is busy shifting gears and modulating the clutch. Almost simultaneously, slightly preload the shifter (to get slack out of the linkage) by lightly pressing down on it, pull in the clutch, make the downshift and release the clutch when you blip the throttle. You only need to pull in the lever far enough to disengage the clutch plates. Pulling the lever all the way in is wasted effort and makes it more difficult to shift smoothly. One way to make this slight movement easier is to only cover the lever with two fingers. Your other fingers will remind you when you pull it in too far as you become accustomed to the technique.

    When combining braking and downshifting through multiple gears, follow the above steps for each gear. Let the clutch out fairly quickly between each shift. Never change more than one gear at a time. If the rpm drops and then rises as you let the clutch out, you need to give a little more throttle before each shift. If the bike surges forward, give less throttle. When downshifting while decelerating at partial throttle (instead of braking), you can use an alternate shifting method. Simply keep the throttle constant while you pull in the clutch, snick the downshift and ease the clutch out. Of course, use all four fingers to pull in the clutch at a stop.

    Since mastering downshifting while braking is challenging enough, don't make it more difficult than it needs to be by having the clutch lever and shifter improperly adjusted. The clutch lever should be adjusted so that the point of full engagement is as far out from the bar as possible, while making sure that it has 2mm-3mm of free play at the end of the lever. This allows you to disengage the clutch with a minimum of finger movement. Similarly, you should not need to lift your foot off the peg to press down on the shifter. Once you have the shifter height tailored to your riding position, make sure that you haven't adversely affected your upshifts. Eliminating unnecessary movement from gear changes will help downshifts go much smoother.

    This article was originally published in the December 2001 issue of Sport Rider.

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  5. Missed a couple of locking points... at least I did not see this:

    Use a Kryptonite type cable with the interwoven strands that are very difficult to cut one at a time. Run it thru both your wheels and the frame. Sometimes they will just steal your front end, or front wheel. Still a nasty surprise when you get to the parking lot..

    Use a Masterlock or other heat treated steel lock. They cannot be cut with bolt cutters. Lesser locks are easy to cut with a bolt cutter. Be sure to lock your bike to something solid as stated in the article. Note that sometimes bad tow truck operators or criminals with an old or stolen tow truck will grab your bike with the sling and drive away.. takes mere seconds and most people won't pay much attention to a tow truck..

    If you really care, park it in the locked garage at home or when out, where you can watch it. I also follow this rule with my cobra. I never leave it out of sight and I'm armed at all times so if a thief does not run when I respond he's got real trouble. I am fully able to respond with lesser force as well if it's just one unarmed punk. Donna messa wit ma stuff.

    Also consider a fuel and or electrical system cutoff. It's easy to install them and it will usually stop "Bennie the body puller-screwdriver expert" from riding your machine away.. install them in a hidden spot and it'll leave you with a slightly damaged bike if Bennie tries your bike but at least you can repair it cheap and you still have the bike.

    Lock it or lose it. I once lost a beautiful Honda 750 Supersport to meth makers. They stole it in the night from my apartment complex. According to the DA in the subsequent trial (they were caught trafficking meth and my bike frame was found in their backyard..grrr) they were armed with .44 magnums when they went prowling for bikes, they were doing this to finance their cooking operations each time. Not a nice feeling to lose your nice, paid for and uninsured bike, I was 21 and a poor college student. My dad had pity and gave me a 1969 Camaro SS so I would have something to drive. Still kicking myself for selling it a few years later..
  6. My best friend and I repo'd a bike from a customer who didn't pay his bills. All it took was a mini-van, a ramp, and 7 seconds. In, out, gone.