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Commuting tips..

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' at netrider.net.au started by BulletProof, Mar 16, 2009.

  1. I'm a new rider, and after I build up some experience/confidence on my bike, I intend to commute to work (Point Cook -> CBD). Any n00b tips or gotchas for this route?

  2. Assume you are invisible. If there is heavy traffic on the freeway, you will have impatient and tired people, especially during the evening commute, pulling out with little warning to try to get in the faster moving lane. If someone slightly in front of you puts on their blinker, yield.

    Know how to stop hard and smooth. Defend your lane space. Don't lane split in moving traffic.

    Also, if you are on a faired bike, beware that wind gusts may move you around a tad on the Westgate. Lean the bike slightly into the wind, grip with the legs, remain loose with the arms.
  3. Thanks, demon.. I'm planning on a XVS650 though, would that make a huge difference with the crosswinds?
  4. Have a variety of rider gear at your disposal. Be sure you can dress for all conditions. Rider comfort affects fatigue levels and decision making ability.

    Wear protective gear every ride - don't think familiarity with the route will stop you from having an accident.

    Have a bag / rack or topbox to keep your stuff dry and carry it safely. Things like street clothes, lunch, laptop, work stuff etc. If you're commuting every day you'll get sick of dragging it all around in a backpack.
  5. I imagine so. Heavier bike than most faired sportsbikes, less surface area on the sides for the wind to catch, and a certain degree will flow through gaps between engine and frame. You should be better off than myself!

    Jimmy James is spot on, all the gear all the time.

    Always carry a spare for whatever tshirt or equivalent you wear under your motorcycle jacket, because chances are its going to get sweaty from heat or damp from rain. Because I'm lazy I don't carry spare pants, my Kevlar Jeans dry out in aprox 2 hours.

    I stuff everything (clothes, laptop, lunch) into my backpack and cope OK, but with the more upright seating position on a cruiser all that weight will go on your shoulders, so it could become tiring.

    I also highly recommend ear plugs: four to five days a week of 100kph wind roar and engine noise will have a detrimental effect on your hearing over several weeks, let alone on a permanent basis.
  6. From about 7am onwards the westgate freeway jams up, it only free's up a tiny bit after the bridge. If you want a slightly safer route during that time, find your way through footscray to footscray road or similar area. That road is busy in the morning but less so than the daunting freeway.

    Plus there are heaps of bikes through there and traffic light stops often see 8+ bikes lined up ready to fang off the line :D
  7. I like to always have an escape route. It can be very hard to keep a decent gap in between you and the car in front, and even harder to keep a gap behind you, so I like to have an emergency run-off path in case things get awry. On the Monash (my daily commute) I tend to stick to the right lane for that reason, and also as there's a bit less lane-switching of other vehicles.

    Don't let your mind wander either. Keep your eyes scanning for trouble and try and keep eye-contact with other drivers via their mirrors... this is a good way to spot them buggers who don't bother indicating!
  8. Don't lane split through gaps which are narrower than your bike.

    Try to look through the cars ahead to get a feel for what the traffic is doing (e.g flowing smoothly or stopping suddenly).
  9. As above /\

    Always look as far ahead as possible so you know what is happening well ahead.
    When in the right hand lane you only have to worry about cars merging in from the left. If your in the middle or LHS to you have to watch both sides (& behind of course)
    Watch out for lanes ending as you might have cars merging in on you expectedly. (This is one thing, among many that you need to see in advance and predict what will happen)
  10. If you're a new rider, don't feel you have to split / filter to start with. Pretend you're a car, stick to your lane and then when you get some confidence and get familiar with your chosen route you can begin to filter at certain lights. Then, as you get better, you can eventually do it at most lights under the right circumstances.
  11. i didnt split till i was off L's, but thats cause is till had car L's at the time so didnt want to loose both :p

    sit in the traffic for a while, get the hang of it. eventually, on wider roads, go up stationary traffic.

    i started splitting a heap then had my small off, not traffic related but i went back to basics till i got up to scratch again... now i split most traffic, and have quite a few times now done so whilst moving (but that is while im moving up when it starts :D )

    atgatt, take care, pick your gaps carefully. even on my small gpx i sometimes walk it through some gaps just to make sure ;)
  12. I do Werribee to CBD and back every day. I don't bother with the freeway anymore and now go via Kororoit Creek Road through Williams town then Footscray Road. It's about 10 minutes slower but much easier and more relaxing. There are a few thick points, Millers Road is one, but easy to split.

    If traffic is backed up to Werribee (which it is at least 1-2 times a week) go through Altona Meadows under the train line past the Baseball stadium and up to Kororoit.

    On the return trip I take the freeway and generally have to split through the Western Ring Road interchange often to Kororoit but its wide end easy enough. If I’m really lazy I use the emergency lane but it’s already cost me two tickets :)
  13. My n00b commuting tips (as a n00b commuter myself)...

    1. Get a tank bag - it allows you to have things at easy reach. I have sunglasses and thermal gloves in my tank bag and I can swap glasses at a set of lights if I see it turn red (thus know how long I have).

    2. +1 to change of shirt. I bring my shirt to work (in the tank bag) and wear a tee while I'm riding. Tee smells!!! (I also keep deoderant in the tank bag!)

    3. Don't trust anybody's brake light until you've seen it works. Judge your braking by keeping a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front.

    4. If you can't see through, around or over a vehicle, don't travel behind it for any longer than you need to.

    5. If you're filtering between stopped traffic and see a big truck or bus etc that you aren't going to fit past, don't ride right up to it before you realise you won't fit. Buses roll backwards a bit when they start to move on even the smallest incline, and you don't want to be behind that when it happens!

    6. Talk to lots of people about the type of bike they commute on. I was dead set on getting a cruiser (same one you're looking at as it happens) as I thought it would be the only comfortable bike for me to ride on. I wound up getting a naked, and I'm really grateful that I got something that's so easy to maneuver around... there's a couple of cruisers who park where I work, and they seem to have more trouble than most finding a spot to get their bike into... they don't seem to keen on swinging a u-turn up to the edge of the footpath.

    7. If you find yourself wondering 'should I put on my wet weather gear?' stop and put it on. I don't mind my top half getting wet as I have a dry shirt in the bag, but wearing the kevlar chinos all day, it's nicer if they stay dry.

    8a. Put the plastic cover on your tank bag when it rains, or
    8b. Choose a tee-shirt that you could get away with wearing at work if you had to, if you're too stoopid to put the plastic cover on your tank bag and your shirt gets wringing wet on the trip in!

    9. Choose the route that's more fun to ride, rather than the one that is necessarily the fastest. Do you really want to get to work that badly when you could spend an extra 15 mins on the bike?

    This is all on about 6 weeks commuting experience, so you experienced riders feel free to jump in and correct me!!
  14. What i found most important on the commute is to just read the traffic like you would in a car. There is no different to the way the rest of the traffic moves from car to bike, but there are a few things you can do assist yourself.

    I filter/split when i can... i dont try and push the limits. Some guys come past me and push the limits (size of the gaps) and thats fine with me.. when i get my confidence up more ill do the same. If you cant fit, whats another 2 or 3 minutes?

    Dont filter in front of someone, pull in front of the lane, and then leave them stuck in an intersection... they'll get rather annoyed.

    Look for the "smart" drivers... some people hold lane position in their cars really well, others are all over the place. Ill happily sit near someone who's smart enough to move over a tad in the lane so they can see you in 2 mirrors.

    Thats about all i've picked up in my commute (out east via the eastern)
  15. * Watch your relative speed. Gives you more time to react.
  16. Stay calm. Relax. It too easy to get angry at things that happen (and they will happen), but it not good to ride when your angry.