Rapid Technical Series information sheet
The easy answer is to say ‘check everything’. But no-one’s going to do that. Rapid Training’s boss Gary Baldwin tells John Westlake what the sensible minimum is.
John Westlake is one of the UK’s most experienced motorcycle journalists. The former editor of Bike and Ride has road tested almost every bike made since 1991 and is a contributing editor for Bike and Classic Bike.
Gary Baldwin is a crash investigator, ex-motorcycle cop, former racer and director of Rapid Training. He’s a blisteringly fast road rider and the man behind Rapid’s no-nonsense approach to fast, safe road riding.
As a crash investigator do you see crashes where a pre-ride check would have saved the day?
Yes. After all major accidents we strip the bike to its component parts to try and determine what happened, and if a defect played any part in what happened. We’ve seen plenty of brake-related accidents, where the pads are so worn it’s metal to metal. The worst one I’ve seen is someone who was suffering from binding front brakes, so he took them off. If you imagine what might happen, it did.
So keep an eye on your brake pads then?
That would be a start. We see some bad accidents due to basics like tyre pressures too – we had a scooter rider take his bike out for the first time last spring, he was doing 30mph or so, tried to take a gentle left hand bend through a housing estate – the first bend he’d taken – tips it in, can’t hold it, hits a bollard and dies. He’d got 10psi in both tyres. That’s not an unusual crash in spring – we get rusty riders and rusty bikes.
So I’m meant to check my tyre pressures before every ride? Really?
Well, that’s what any IAM book will say. But in the real world no-one does that – we give them a look over and assume they’ll be alright. But when a bike’s been laid up over a period of time, pressures really do need checking. To die for not checking tyre pressures is such a waste. I agree that sometimes we [the police] can overdo the tread thing, because a lot of riders don’t go out in the wet, in which case tread is irrelevant, but riders do need to make sure they’re inflated to the right amount. If you have an accident, it will get picked up, because we really do measure all this shit.
It sounds like the beginning of the season is the critical time?
Yes, if you’re not an all year commuter, you need to check the bike over when the weather improves. It’s not rocket science. Check the lights, especially the rear ones that you can’t see from the saddle. I know we’re all lazy about this kind of stuff, but even if we just did it at the beginning of the season that would be something.