BMB Rockets Motorcycle Club

Alabama's Premiere Sportbike Club



Preparing for the ride of the season.....


With the riding season bearing down on us, the time is ripe for some preventive maintenance. A little time and effort expended now can ensure your riding season won't be interrupted by mechanical or other problems so get your bike just the way you want it for maximum enjoyment for this summer's riding season.

To steer you in the right direction, here are some general tips for getting ready:

  1.  Change the oil and filter. Many manufacturers recommend changing the oil and filter before storing a bike for any extended period of time and again when you bring it back out for riding season. Be sure to first start up the motorcycle to warm the engine and then shut it off before changing the oil and filter.
  2. Check the belt or chain. Make sure it is set to the manufacturer's recommended tension. And if you have a chain, lubricate it.
  3. Check nuts and bolts. Start off the riding season with a solid bike. Make sure everything is tight. "A well-maintained motorcycle not only assures a fun time, it can save you money by avoiding accidents, which helps to keep your insurance rates down,
  4. Inspect tires. Look for any damage and also make sure each tire is inflated to the correct pressure. You've only got two tires, so for maximum stability it is very important to avoid under-inflation as well as over-inflation.
  5. Look for fluid leaks. The easiest way to check for this is to look at the floor under the motorcycle. Leaking oil or brake, radiator or clutch fluid can cause their own special problems. For example, being low on brake fluid could make it hard to stop your motorcycle. You don't want to find that out after you're already on the road.
  6. Check all lights. Make sure headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are all functioning properly.
  7. Brush up on your riding skills. Find a safe place to practice riding skills such as fast stops, figure eights, U-turns, etc., so you're ready for the season. You'll be glad you did.
  8. Update your policy. Perhaps one of the most important things you can do at the start of the season is review your insurance coverage to be certain you, and your bike, are covered. Talk to your local independent insurance agent.



The "Pre-Ride" Motorcycle Inspection


Motorcycles have become so reliable that it's easy to take them for granted. It is therefore prudent to pay attention to the mechanics of your motorcycle. Check those things that you can see or get a wrench on. Feel or measure for proper adjustment. And, most of all, be sure that your last ride didn't do some damage that will spoil your next one. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has developed a simple checklist, outlined below, summarized with the acronym T-CLOCK, for the headings of each section.



                     T-CLOCK Inspection

  • T - Tires & Wheels
  • C - Controls
  • L - Lights & Electrics
  • O - Oil
  • C - Chassis
  • K - kickstand

                    CLICK here for full description of T-CLOCK




Although this is described as a "pre-ride" inspection, the best time to preform an inspection is right after a ride. This helps to ensure that the motorcycle will be ready for your next ride because it gives time to correct any discrepancies you find. A nail lodged in a tire will, if discovered on Sunday morning, probably scrub your ride that day. But if you find it after riding home on Friday night, you can get it repaired on Saturday.

One time to be extra scrupulous is after maintenance has been performed. Keep an eye on things that have been removed or replaced recently. Pay extra attention to the seal of a new oil filter and double-check a recently installed fastener to be sure it isn't loosening up. Rechecking recently serviced maintenance points avoids such problems, for example as an adjusted chain and shortly thereafter getting on the road losing rear axlenuts.












1. Formation 
Riding will be in a standard formation unless the leader calls for single file. In stagged formation, the bikes form two columns, with the leader at the head of either the right or the left column, as he chooses. The second bike will head the second column and will ride approximatly 1 second behind the leader (and in the opposite side of the lane). The other riders will position their bikes 2 seconds behind the bike directly in front of them, which puts them 1 second behind the diagonal bike.

This formation allows each rider suffient safety space and discourags other vehicles from cutting into the line. The last rider or Sweep may ride on whichever side of the lane he prefers. He will have to change sides during the ride, based on the situation at the moment.

Depending on the number of participants on a ride, we will break into smaller groups of up to 8 riders, each with its own Ride Leader and Sweep. All groups will follow the same route and make the same stops. Each group will stay together during the entire ride, meeting up with the other groups at the designated stops. If an individual rider is planning to leave the ride at any time, he must inform his Ride Leader when and where he plans to do so.

2. Road Captain 
The Road Captain is responsible for the overall organization of the ride. He will route the ride, distribute route maps, and designate gas stops and stopping points. He will assign Ride Leaders and Sweeps to each individual group and assist in staging the bikes into groups. He will lead the first group, launch the ride and communicate any information to the riders necessary to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride



3. Ride Leader 
The Ride Leader is responsible for the safety of the entire formation of his group. He must be aware of the length of the columns, and must gauge the passing of merges, highway entrances and exits, etc., to allow for maximum safety and keeping the group together. He must make sure that he leaves enough time/space for the formation to get into the appropriate lanes before exits, etc. All directions come from the Ride Leader. The Ride Leader makes all decisions regarding lane changes, closing of gaps, turning off at exits, any concerns of what lies ahead, and so on. No individual will assert himself independently without direction from the Ride Leader to do so. If his group gets split up for any reason, he will pull off at the next available safe place and wait for the remainder of his group to catch up.

4. Sweep 
The Sweep serves as the eyes of the Ride Leader. He watches the formation, and signals the Ride Leader of any potential problems within the group. He watches other vehicles, will watch for merging lanes, and will move into a merging lane (or stay in a merging lane just vacated by the group) in order to “close the door” on other vehicles that may otherwise find themselves trying to merge into the formation. He will also assist in any emergency situations that may develop.




5. New Riders
The position of new (inexperienced with GROUP riding) riders whitin the group is significant. New riders should be positioned as close to the front as possible.

6. Lane Changes
All lane changing starts with a signal frm the Ride Leader. The Ride Leader will put on his signal as an indication that he is about to order a lane change. As each rider sees the directional signal, he also turns his on, so the riders following him get the signal. The leader then initiates the change. All other riders change lanes too. The important concept is that NO ONE moves until the bike in front of him has started moving.




7. Emergencies
In the unlikely event of an emergency condition, the Ride Leader will make every attempt to move the formation to the shoulder in an orderly manner. If a bike breaks down, let the rider move to the right. DO NOT STOP. The Sweep will stop with the problem bike. The Ride Leader will lead the rest of his group to a safe stopping place. If another group comes along and sees that a group is stopped, it should continue on to the next scheduled stopping point. If a group comes along a rider in an emergency situation and that rider is not being assisted, then the Ride Leader should stop his group at the next available safe stopping point and offer assistance.

8. Hand Signals
Each rider (or passenger) should duplicate all hand signals given by the rider in front of him, so that the signals get passed all the way to the back of the formation. The following signals are used in addition to the standard (right turn, left turn slow /stop) hand signals. Hand Signals 




Group Riding

Riding with a group of friends appeals to many riders and is an activity that can enhance your motorcycling experience. However, riding with a group that has not developed any group guidelines can be a most unpleasant experience. Riding a motorcycle by nature is a solitary activity, but riding with others will bring some benefits, such as: someone to be aware of you if you have trouble, someone to help with routes, and someone to socialize with at stops.

  • Establish guidelines for safety and cooperation


General Group Riding Guidelines

 Arrive at the starting point early and with a full tank of gas. Communicate your gas/mileage range with the ride coordinator so stops can be planned ahead of time. If you decide to leave the group, inform the ride coordinator at one of the stops.

 The ride coordinator, or ride leader, should be experienced and have good vision, perceptual, and decision-making ability.

 Each rider is responsible for the safe operating condition of his/her motorcycle. Carry appropriate riding gear for the conditions you expect to encounter and carry a first aid (trauma) kit and know how to use it. Ride within your limits, as a typical ride will be in remote areas without emergency services. Don’t allow peer pressure, pride, or stupidity push you beyond your comfort level. Expect to carry a map or a route sheet and know where the planned stops are if you need to fall back.

  • Arrive early
  • Have a full tank of gas
  • Be certain your bike is in safe, reliable operating condition
  • Know your mileage/fatigue limit
  • Communicate your intentions
  • Be prepared for any weather
  • Be prepared for an emergency
  • Ride your own ride


Planning Considerations for a Group Ride (Group Coordinator)

 Get to know your group by having a pre-ride meeting and meeting individually with newer riders beforehand. Try to find out about other’s riding experience and expectations.


Types of motorcycles can sometime give the leader a clue about riding styles, but not always. High performance sport bikes tend to have riders who are looking for corners to carve, while cruisers and touring bikes riders may be out to enjoy the day. Dirt bike or dual-sport riders may enjoy everything and not mind riding on un-paved or rustic roads.


You may end up with a mix of riders and machines with a variety of experience and expectations (depending upon how you advertise your ride), or if someone brings a co-worker or roommate along. If you emphasize riding your own ride, and provide information about the route and planned stops, the groups will migrate to a variety of sub-groups based on friendship, speed, or mood. Stick with your planned route.

  • Know who you’re riding with
  • Make sure they ride THEIR own ride
  • Hand out maps or route sheets



 Maintain the following formation for normal group riding. On narrow roads, curvy or mountainous roads, areas where visibility is limited, construction areas, loose surfaces, and when there is an obstacle in the roadway, ride single file.

 It is inadvisable to ride side-by-side. Riding side-by-side looks cool on that old TV show, "CHiPs," but is not safe—it decreases your space cushion and reduces your possible paths of travel and escape routes if there is a hazard.  


When coming to a stop, consider lining up side-by-side to take up less room in traffic, and to proceed more efficiently: two at a time.


Adjust your lane position to deal with hazards and invasions of your space cushion. Use at least 2-second spacing when riding single file, such as in twisty sections. Above all, use common sense.

 Remember that two seconds is a MINIMUM space cushion, and more room is needed at high speeds, in heavy traffic, in the rain, or at night.

  • Allow as much space for yourself and others as you would riding alone
  • Don’t follow any rider closer than the distance that rider is following the vehicle in front of them


Even if your group is large, break up into smaller groups of no more than 3-5 riders. Smaller groups are less likely to cause disruptions in traffic flow, and the spaces between the groups allow other vehicles to merge, exit, or pass safely. 

  • Break up into small groups




Passing cars or other riders in the group is fine, as long as passing is done on the left, and adequate room is given the vehicle being passed. Each rider passing is responsible for making sure that they have enough room to pass. Although lead riders may pass aggressively to make sure they leave enough room for other riders to also pass, it is the responsibility of following riders to make sure they have enough room before pulling out to pass. If you are being crowded by a rider following you, move to the right and slow down, wave them forward, and let the following rider pass.





  • Pass only on the left
  • Pass only when you are certain you have enough room
  • Allow other riders to pass you
  • Respect the space of others


Group Behavior


No drinking alcohol and riding. If the ride includes an overnight stay, responsible drinking is permitted after the motorcycles are parked for the night. If you are taking medications make sure someone in the group is aware of any special needs you may have.

  • Alcohol and motorcycles are a stupid combination that impresses no one. Even one drink can seriously affect your judgment and timing. If you’re going to bar-hop, drink root beer. If you like drinking and riding, stay home. You’re not welcome.


Route Sheets



Everyone on the ride should know where it begins, goes, stops, and ends. Many groups use a traditional map (right).


However, a simple route sheet, handed out before the ride, can help ensure everyone has fun and no one gets left behind. A tank bag is a perfect place for a route sheet while riding. A back pocket is not. Not everyone can easily carry a route sheet, so make sure at least one rider in every subgroup has one.

  • Be aware of who has a route sheet and who does not
  • Route sheets should be simple, clear (with large type), and small. Alternate lines of text with different (bold) font or use different (white/gray) backgrounds to ease readability


Below is a sample from an imaginary route sheet:



R North0.9MN 1010.9
L West1.2CR 144 (141st Ave.)2.1
R North3.1CR 1165.2
S North7.7CR 12112.9
R East4.9CR B17.8



* Incremental mileage on this road

** Direction R = "Right," L = "Left," S = "Straight”

***Cumulative mileage can be used, but most riders prefer the incremental method for long rides, where vehicle differences and other errors can add up significantly.



How to read this route sheet:



Leave on MN 101 heading North for 0.9 miles. Turn left and head west on County Road 144 (also marked as 141st Avenue.) At 3.1 miles, look for your right turn on County Road 116, which will change to County Road 121 at the county line. Follow 116/121 for a total of 18.1 miles, then turn right and go east on County Road B for 17.8 miles.



An Alternative


If you don’t want to use a route sheet, there is an alternative. Some groups make it a practice to wait at turns for the next rider.




It works like this: you are responsible only for the rider behind you. The leader is the one who knows the route and waits for the next rider at every turn. When the second rider has seen and acknowledged the leader, the leader continues. The second rider then waits at that turn until the third rider sees and acknowledges them, then continues. And so on.




This is a great method for an informal group outing. You will find that keeping a consistent pace and distance from other riders will allow you to conduct a group ride without ever stopping to wait at a turn.


Final Note



These are just rough guidelines for a successful group ride. Every group has their own objective, style, and personality. Take these ideas and adapt them to make them work for you.





Above all, have fun. Riding alone or with a passenger is the most enjoyable activity I can think of. Riding in a group can take that enjoyment and double it.


Back to Safety Tips



Motorcycle Spring Focus

 Spring is upon us. The birds are returning north, flowers are beginning to blossom, and motorcyclists are pulling their motorcycles out of the garage after a long winter’s nap. A study of motorcycle mishaps from 2008 - 2009 determined motorcycle fatal mishaps doubled in the spring over the winter season numbers. With this in mind, ask Presidents or Road Captains to have a  Spring Focus for all motorcyclists and their leadership. March began the ―Spring Focus on motorcycle mishaps. Past fatal spring motorcycle mishaps indicate: 

- The average fatal motorcycle mishap involved a male between the average age of 28

 - Mishaps primarily occurred during the day, while operating a sport bike and speeding

 - Another significant factor was limited experience due to no training or license, or training and licensing for less than a year

 Riders can protect themselves by:

 - Preparing yourself for getting back on the motorcycle; know that your skills aren’t what they were when you put the bike in storage

 - Preparing your bike; pre-check your equipment before you ride

 - Preparing your personal safety equipment; make sure you are protected against the unexpected

 - Realizing that car drivers are not use to seeing you—they will see you late or not at all

 Presidents, Road Captains, and members can help prepare riders by:

 - Asking riders if they have pre-checked themselves and their bike.

 - Talking to them about the hazards of the road

 - Helping inexperienced riders prepare for the season

 We can help reduce motorcycle mishaps through concerted efforts of all motorcyclists.  Presidents and Road Captains lead the way. 

Enjoy the ride, but make sure you and your bike are up for the new riding season.


Buying a Used Bike | Buyer Beware

Buying used can be a minefield. Here’s the SSB guide to avoiding a lemon.
From the May, 2011 issue of Super Streetbike
By Alan Dowds
Photography by Andy Hartmark
Buyer Beware Altered Frame Numbers
Is It Stolen?
Here’s a nightmare scenario: you drop $5000 on a bike and a few months later the cops come knocking. It turns out the bike’s stolen, the title’s been forged and you’re left with nothing. This can easily happen if you’re not careful, so be sure the paperwork for the motorcycle is genuine—watch for forgeries and any altered details. Is the bike registered at the house where you’re viewing it? If not, why? Always ask the seller for ID and get a photocopy if possible. Finally, make sure the engine and frame numbers haven’t been altered and match the title. Restamping frame numbers to match a legitimate set of papers is an old trick, but easily identifiable.


Buyer Beware Certificate Of Title
Salvage vs. Clean Title
Imagine you’re an immoral man. You crash your bike so badly it gets written off as salvage by the insurance company. What do you do? Cash your check and leave the scrap for the wrecker’s yard or patch it up as best you can and sell it to some newbie on Craigslist?


Buyer Beware Chains
The tires, brake pads and chain will all be given a hard time when you get ahold of your new ride and start enthusiastically ragging it. But you don’t want to be replacing these consumable high-wear items right off the bat. Dropping top dollar on a bike, then having to find the cash for a new rear tire, front pads, a new chain and sprockets is a real downer. Check them all for wear and subtract any replacements from the asking price.


Buyer Beware Engine Checklist
Engine Checklist
Before you view the bike, ask the owner if the engine can be totally cold when you arrive. Check by feeling the header pipes and engine covers before first starting it. Sometimes a tired engine won’t start without a lot of turning over, and when it does fire up there could be excessive cam chain or valvetrain noise that goes away once up to temperature. If the owner warmed it up just before you arrived, it may start easily. But worn piston rings and a dying battery mean it’ll take forever to fire upespecially on a cold morning.