THE BOOMER BIKER
WHAT EVERY OVER-50 RIDER SHOULD KNOW


Be patient, it is still a work in progress. - Gene

Introduction

More and more people in the baby boomer generation (those born in late 40's to early 60's) are getting into motorcycling either for the first time, or after a long period of motorcycle inactivity. I like to refer to those folks as the Boomer Bikers. This term isn't an insult as I myself am a baby boomer who got back on a bike at age 54 after 20 years of not riding at all. I got my motorcycle license at age 17, owned a number of motorcycles and loved riding. Then suddenly, at the age of 35, I just quit. Maybe I quit when I became a father and realized my own mortality, or maybe I just didn’t have the time, but for whatever reason, I quit. I missed it, and now I’m back.

After a 20 year hiatus, and after envying other bikers over that period of time, I decided to jump back in. When I did jump back in, I learned very quickly that things had changed. The motorcycle world of the 21st century was nothing like what I remembered it being in the 1980’s. Motorcycles had evolved into entirely new species. There were new brands, new styles, options and modifications available that I didn’t even know existed. Being the totally anal person that I am, I made an exhausting study of everything that the boomer biker needed to know before getting back in the saddle. One thing I learned quickly was that there is an incredible number of us dying out there on the highways. I thought, "OK",maybe I need to take a motorcycle safety course.

The MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) offers two safety courses, a basic two-day course for beginners and an advanced, one day course for experienced riders. ( for approximately $180 and $100 respectively) I have heard some wonderful things about the Basic MSF course. People who have taken it say it is invaluable. I would definitely recommend it for all new riders ,however, I have heard a lot of negative comments about the advanced course. Some of those negative comments have even been from the advanced MSF instructors themselves. If you want to become proficient at turning slowly through parking lots without putting your foot down, then maybe the advanced MSF course is what you're looking for, because the only positive comments I've heard about the course pertain to slow turning. If you want to become an expert at parking lot maneuvers, you can practice that at home in your driveway.

When I think of advanced motorcycle training, I think of high-speed cornering, emergency braking and swerving avoidance maneuvers. I have read through much of literature that is put out by the MSF and have found it to contain some valuable information, some weak information, and sometimes questionable information. You can find these books used on line for little more than the postage to send them, and I would venture to say that they are not even worth that much. In fact, some of the information put out by the MSF is either very misleading or just plain wrong. Then again, some of what they put out is pretty good. You might even find some of the good stuff contained here.

The MSF doesn't offer anything for a rider like me, so what’s a biker to do? I'm not new to riding; in fact I've safely ridden many thousands of miles on several types of motorcycles. The problem is, I've been away from riding for 20 or more years and a lot out there has changed. My reflexes have slowed somewhat, my vision and hearing have degraded, my body weight has been redistributed, bikes have gotten bigger, heavier and more powerful, and lets face it, a 50 year old isn't going to fall down and bounce back up like a 20 year old. Even though I may be older, fatter and slower these days, my judgment and mental faculties are more mature, and since motorcycle riding is only 10% physical and 90% mental, I just might have an advantage at my older age.

The best thing that old fart bikers like me can do is to start right here. Educate yourself on what has changed about motorcycling and motorcycles over the years, realize and accept your shortcomings, practice using good, safe, judgment out on the roads, and find safe places to practice your braking, swerving, and cornering techniques.

The following is a compilation of my own work and information I have located on line. There is a wealth of information out there, but is found in a number of different places. I have tried to gather together a complete curriculum of my idea of what information a truly advanced motorcycle course should contain. Spend some time absorbing the information here and then get out on the road and put it to practice. The key word here being "practice". Practice, practice, practice!

What I have gathered together here really isn't for the beginning motorcyclist. For that person, I recommend the MSF Basic rider course. After completing that course and acquiring some experience, I think you'll find this site useful, but what I've tried to put together here is for the rider that has already got a number of miles under his belt.

Hopefully, you will find this helpful. - Gene

CONTENTS:

Chapter 1. Let's Look at Some Data

Chapter 2. Risk Management

Chapter 3. Two Wheeled Physics

Chapter 4. Countersteering: Cornering Techniques

Chapter 5. Gravity Is a Good Thing

Chapter 6. Gyroscopic Precession: Nature's Power Steering

Chapter 7. Braking: Weight Transfer and Maximum Performance

Chapter 8. Controlling Slides and Tank Slappers: Mind Over Matter

Chapter 9. Group Riding

Chapter 10. Rider Etiquette

Chapter 11. MSF Courses- Editorial