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TRAVEL Hints and Tips Post your TIPS to travellers - all the interesting little tidbits you learned on the road about packing, where to get stuff, and how to cope with problems. Please make sure the subject describes the tip clearly!
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  #1  
Old 4 Jun 2010
*Touring Ted*'s Avatar
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SET UP YOUR BIKE FOR YOU !!!!! A newbie guide.

After doing some work on some friends bikes today, I struck me just have poorly people have their bikes set up for themselves.

How many people actually spend the time to adjust the bike to fit them properly ?? I adjusted their bikes and they're much happier and comfortable on them.

The amount of people you see riding around with brakes they cant reach, bars that give them sore wrists or brake pedals that drag is beyond belief..

Of course, most old hands on here can go back to their tea, but if you've just bought a bike, new or second hand and you're new to biking, spend some time to set it up properly.

Most new bikes from a dealership are thrown together out of a box in a hurry. When I used to sell bikes, I used to have the new owner sit on it and try and get a technician to move the controls to suit the rider. Was that done for you ?? Probably not.

Second hand bikes are set up for the previous owner... NOT YOU !!!!

Brake & clutch Levers.

Unless you're riding a 1940's boneshaker with drum brakes, you should be using 2 fingers (usually index and middle) for clutch and brake operation. This gives you more grip and control on the bars.

Losen off the clamps and move the controls inwards on the handle bars so you grip the lever near the very end of it with these 2 fingers. This will give you more "leverage" and therefore more power. Who doesnt want more braking power on a heavy bike ??? It also reduced fatigue on your clutch hand in traffic. Foam lever cushions are also nice as they reduce the sharp force on your fingers. Rotate the lever controls until you can grab them in a hurry without having to move your wrist off the bars.

Rear Brake pedal

Usually almost always forgotten about ! Is your back brake rubbish ? Do you find yourself wondering why your new pads and clean disc still doesnt stop you ??

Adjust the pedal using the rear master cylinder nut. Raise the lever so your foot (with the boots you ride in) just sits ontop of the lever. You should be able to just rotate your foot left and right and feel drag on the sole of your boot from the pedal. Many people have their pedal too low, reducing the effective distance they can push the pedal in stiff riding boots and in affect, giving them little stopping power.

If you cant almost lock your back wheel with fast, hard stomp on the pedal, it's not right !! (please dont try this on a wet road, fully loaded lol)

If you're pushing the pedal all the time while cruising, this is called "dragging" and will prematurely wear your disc and pads and cause poor braking as the disc is always hot.

Remember to adjust the rear brake switch to match the pedal.

Handle bars & Risers

Bad back ?? Aching wrists ?? Try rotating your bars forward and backwards until you get a position that doesnt put stress on your joints or aukward bends on your wrists.

Higher, wider bars give you more slow speed control as you can utilise your shoulder and back muscles more.

Don't be afraid to swap your cheap factory bars. "Renthal Dakar High" bars work wonderfully on almost all overland bikes.

If you need even more height, you can swap you "Risers" or "clamps" to get more height.

CONTROLS

Can you reach your indicator while riding slowly feathering the clutch ?? If not , its in the wrong place !! Rotate and slide it on the bars until you can... You may need to remove the control and grind off the plastic locater to allow movement. Dont worry though, a little electrical tape wrapped around the bar will stop it rotating when it's retightened.

Suspension.


Very few people set up their suspension even though its one of the MOST important way to how your bike feels and handles. It's too detailed to go into here but spend the time and DO IT !! It will TRANSFORM your bike and your comfort.

There are plenty of online guides and even detailed threads on the hubb. Use the seach function and find them.



Hope i've helped. Feel free to add your own advice and comments !
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Last edited by *Touring Ted*; 5 Jun 2010 at 09:44.
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  #2  
Old 4 Jun 2010
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This E-Book is one of the best suspension set up guides I have ever read. Dualsport Riding
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  #3  
Old 4 Jun 2010
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Another tip especially with regards the controls on the handlebars, don't tighten them up too tight once the correct position has been found, tight but not lock tight. This is so, when(not if) the bike tips over, they will rotate on the bars and most liklely not damage the levers or switches.

Cheers
TS
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Old 5 Jun 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TravellingStrom View Post
Another tip especially with regards the controls on the handlebars, don't tighten them up too tight once the correct position has been found, tight but not lock tight. This is so, when(not if) the bike tips over, they will rotate on the bars and most liklely not damage the levers or switches.

Cheers
TS
Yup !! Forgot to mention that.. Good tip
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India 2012
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Old 6 Jun 2010
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The problem with this old gem (and a lot of race based ideas) is that it can involve you needing to constantly fiddle with the bike. Personally I'd take a look at handguards and leave the levers alone if they look survivable. Loose bits get looser until they drop off, so you need to check again and again.

On the same tack, lets have all the new guys only carry one spare 21-inch tube (they get double the practice changing 'em but it saves gramme after gramme of weight) and route new cables alongside the old ones where they can sieze up before you need them

Honestly guys, don't worry about this micro-detail stuff, just do a little preparation and ride the ride

Andy
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Old 6 Jun 2010
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Get a good seat as well nothing worse than a numb bum
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Old 23 Jun 2010
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Grant covers some of these same things in the Gear Up video. Very nice.
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Old 23 Jun 2010
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He sure does, I would reccommend the DVD to anyone
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Old 25 Jun 2010
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Thanks Ted, great advice for a newby like me!
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Old 25 Jun 2010
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Quote:
Unless you're riding a 1940's boneshaker with drum brakes, you should be using 2 fingers (usually index and middle) for clutch and brake operation. This gives you more grip and control on the bars
I think it's important to note that when emergency braking you should definitely use all four fingers.
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Old 29 Jun 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PocketHead View Post
I think it's important to note that when emergency braking you should definitely use all four fingers.
If you need 4 fingers, it's probably too late anyway !!

I could lock up my front brake on any bike i've owned bike with 2 fingers. If you can't, you should probably have your brakes serviced !

You lose too much bar control and body support just by resting your wrists on the bar while grabbing the lever with 4 fingers. Especially if your arse is out of the saddle at the time.

Many enduro/mx bike levers are only long enough for 2 fingers ! Maybe for this reason ??

I suppose it's all personal choice/riding style/what you feel comfortable with....
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  #12  
Old 29 Jun 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by *Touring Ted* View Post
If you need 4 fingers, it's probably too late anyway !!

I could lock up my front brake on any bike i've owned bike with 2 fingers. If you can't, you should probably have your brakes serviced !

You lose too much bar control and body support just by resting your wrists on the bar while grabbing the lever with 4 fingers. Especially if your arse is out of the saddle at the time.

Many enduro/mx bike levers are only long enough for 2 fingers ! Maybe for this reason ??

I suppose it's all personal choice/riding style/what you feel comfortable with....
In motorcycle safety a few years back we were taught that it's not only about squeezing the lever but rolling all four fingers over the brake in a fluid motion followed by a tight squeeze which stops the front wheel from locking up and to practice this as much as possible.

There was a special name for this maneuver but now I have forgotten what it was called. Also I don't think it would apply to mx or enduro, moreso a situation such as a child running out on the road or car pulling out in front of you.
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Old 29 Jun 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PocketHead View Post
In motorcycle safety a few years back we were taught that it's not only about squeezing the lever but rolling all four fingers over the brake in a fluid motion followed by a tight squeeze which stops the front wheel from locking up and to practice this as much as possible.

There was a special name for this maneuver but now I have forgotten what it was called. Also I don't think it would apply to mx or enduro, moreso a situation such as a child running out on the road or car pulling out in front of you.
That's really interesting ! It was a very experienced/qualified Police instructor that told me never to use 4 fingers due to the lack of control and grip on the bars !! He noticed me doing it on one of those safety ride outs.

Just goes to show the difference in "the law" depending who you talk to lol.

If you're still a 4 finger braker, I do urge you to at least try just using 2 fingers. It takes a bit of mental unlearning/re learning but its soooo much nicer now
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India 2012
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Old 3 Jul 2010
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Under ideal conditions, using 2 fingers to brake is sufficient and maybe even preferable. Just a gentle pressure on the brake lever will get you to a safe and quick stop.

On the other hand, when you're descending that big mountain on an overloaded bike -- with your brakes overheating and fading -- you may need to use the full available travel from the brake lever to successfully stop before that cliff.

Yet you can't use all available braking power with 2 fingers, because the other two fingers get in the way of the lever. Hence safety courses tend to teach you to (smoothly) use 4 fingers for "panic braking" situations. You want to ensure that you can use full available braking power from your bike should you need it -- squeezing that brake lever right against the throttle if necessary (while simultaneously squeezing the clutch lever as well.)

Your brakes might seem very powerful, until mud gets into your brakes from that last get off, or when the pads become soaked from heavy rain.

Bottom line I guess is learn to use 2 fingers for normal riding, but train / condition yourself to use full 4-finger-panic-braking for emergency situations.
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Old 5 Jul 2010
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As a ROSPA Silver & IAM I have never been told not to use my 4 fingers or to only use 2 fingers.
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