Changes to The Highway Code: hierarchy of road Users – January 2022

You now should give way to people crossing, or waiting to cross, and cycling straight ahead priority when turning in and out of junctions

The Highway Code has been changed to improve safety for people walking, cycling and horse riding. Check the changes, let’s keep each other safe. #HighwayCode

The Highway Code has been changed to introduce a hierarchy of road users. Irrespective of how you travel, those who can do the greatest harm have the greatest
responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others.

How does the master cylinder piston size affect how my motorcycle brakes?

The smaller the bore size, the less effort is required for the same braking force, so you can apply more fluid pressure and brake harder.

However, a certain amount of fluid has to be displaced to bring the brake pads back into contact with the discs, which depends on how many ‘pots’ there are in the brake calipers, and their diameter.

The amount of travel of the lever is key, as you need a good safety margin between the lever and the bar, which reduces with a smaller master cylinder piston size. More lever movement is needed to displace the required amount of fluid.

A smaller master cylinder tends to give more feel as well, a larger cylinder makes the brakes seem ‘wooden’ and solid.

If you’re going to fit a smaller master cylinder, again make sure there is a good safety margin between the lever and the bars. Also make sure that the master cylinder piston retracts enough to allow fluid back into the reservoir, otherwise the brakes will lock on.

Modern motorcycle brakes are very powerful anyway, and capable of easily locking the front wheel on braking (although ABS will stop this happening), so it is probably only some old bikes or racers who would benefit from a smaller master cylinder.

Fitting a larger diameter master cylinder will likely adversely affect the braking.

Always check with a mechanic, if you have any concerns, as a front brake failure can be fatal.

Answer to If motorcycle inverted shocks are so great, why were they not implemented ages ago? by Michael Abbott

Because of cost.

Inverted shocks are more expensive to make, and although they are better by design, as they are more rigid and have less unsprung weight than conventional forks, it’s marginal.

They give a slight advantage on competition bikes against the higher cost, but the vast majority of riders would probably not be able to discern the difference, and tell which type of fork was on the bike without looking.

2022 Yamaha R7

We’re taking bookings for training days for 2022 including an R7 hire bike for £499. See our booking page for details.

We tested the new Yamaha R7 at Blyton Park in November with Bennetts. A really nice bike to ride, works really well at Blyton. We played around with the adjustable front suspension, and found 12 clicks and 3 bands of preload really stiffened up the front end sharpening the handling for the track. I took my old 1999 R6 for comparison, which was an iconic bike in it’s day. Wonder if the R7 will be another classic Yamaha in time? The R7 is really all you need for a fun track bike, and I think despite its modest power, it will embarrass a few 1000cc riders with the right pilot on board on the twistier circuits.

Have you had a motorcycle crash with no injuries?

Yes, but only at low speed or off road, thanks to wearing good quality, full protective gear.

Everytime I’ve crashed at any speed on tarmac I’ve had scratches, bruises, friction burns, dislocations or damaged tendons, some taking many weeks and intensive physiotherapy to repair.

I’ve had two high speed crashes whilst racing, which took a few months to heal.

Very fortunately I’ve never broken any bones.

Motorcycle riding in Winter – UK

Firstly you need good warm riding gear – having suffered from hypothermia in my youth which turned into glandular fever – not good.

The best advice it to wear multiple layers. This worked well in Utah at well below zero. I think I had 6 layers in all – 3 x T shirts. You need a neck tube or two, a balaclava works well, thermal socks over the usual ones, and a thermal midlayer with a long sleeved vest.

Gloves are a problem as very few are warm, and heated grips don’t keep the ends of your fingers warm. I used to use silk inners and thick sking gloves, which are not good to ride in, then found Gerbing heated gloves which plug into your battery. These are relatively thin but so well insulated I found I didn’t usually need to plug them in. And far better to ride in.

The temperature in the UK doesn’t usually get much below freezing although hit -17 degrees C a few years ago.

The real danger is ice, so riding at 3 degrees and below is very risky, unless it is dry. You cannot control a bike on ice, and unless you can keep travelling at constant speed in a straight line you are going to crash. Even shutting the throttle on my KTM 950 SM instantly locks the back wheel, although it might not on some other bikes. All I can do is ease off the throttle and hope to get across the ice to tarmac.

You can’t see black ice, although with experience you get to know where it is likely to occur – exposed road surface typically on bridges or in heavy shadow. But you can never be certain that you have the basic grip you need.

Why do Motogp engines spin backwards?

I’m not certain they all do, but the theory is running the engine in the opposite direction as the wheels counteracts the centrifugal forces generated by the wheels and tyres at speed.

The centrifugal forces on the wheels and tyres act to keep the bike running straight and upright, so have to be counteracted when the bike is turned and banked.

What are the benefits of an electric motorcycle?

The only benefits of an electric motorcycle are that the energy cost is lower using a rechargeable battery, as power from the grid is cheaper than producing it using fossil fuel with a petrol engine due mainly to very high taxation, and lower carbon emmissions if the battery is charged using renewal energy.

Curently they are relatively heavy due to the weight of the battery, and have a very limited operating range between re-charges, which take many hours.

They are also for more expensive.

How do you increase the rake on a motorcycle?

Rake is the angle of the steering head and it can be increased by lowering the rear suspension or lifting the front.

The rear can be lowered by reducing the spring preload, replacing the suspension links or fitting a shorter shock or spring, the front by increasing preload, moving the yokes up the fork on some models where as standard the forks protrude from the top yoke.

You could also fit longer forks.

For a radical change such as seen on some choppers, the frame is modified by tilting the head stock, which requires cutting and welding.

Please be aware that motorcycle suspension is quite complex, and alterations can adversely affect the handling.

Increasing the rake will slow the steering.