Updated: Oct 4, 2019
Thanks to Ian Gibbons, his wife Karen who first asked me to get involved and the staff at the British Consulate for there initiative in getting us all together around this very important topic. Lets hope the other consulates follow their lead. Too many expats of all nationalities don’t get to leave this country at a time of their choosing be it injury or worse so lets hope tonight we lay some foundations toward building positive improvement around motorcycle safe practice.
I’m Trevor Long. I own and manage Saigon Motorcycles and have ridden, raced and generally surrounded myself with bikes all my life.
Some in the audience will also be long time riders and here more out of support than to be lectured too. Thanks for coming. I hope I’m not too boring for you guys.
For the new people to motorcycles I hope you can take away just a few things to enhance your motorcycling experience while your here and indeed back in your own countries.
There is so much that is out of our control when we are out on the road. We would need hours to delve into that minefield. What I would like to do is use my time to discuss the things that are in our control.
Two main things really;
How we maintain our bikes and what we choose to wear to protect ourselves!
The only thing between you and the road are your tyres. It doesn’t matter how nice your bike is if the tyres are not properly maintained. Most scooters have a centre stand. Once a week on the stand inspect your tyres for wear and any damage often sustained here due to our less than perfect roads. Equally important at this point check your tyre pressures.
Every bike should have a gauge under the seat. For most scooters 33psi front 36psi rear is around the mark measured cold. This is most important for maximizing handling and breaking efficiency. Most inexperienced riders wont realise the tyre pressures are low until safety is
Once realised the rider will pull up to a kerbside compressor and have the tyres reinflated. This is where the major risk is in my opinion. I believe the major cause of avoidable accidents here is over inflation.
The kerbside guys don’t have gauges so they inflate to basically the pressure of their compressor. For your sake you better hope they have an old one. When you ride off the bike feels amazing compared to the soft doughy tires you had been on BUT with hard tyres braking in an emergency situation which happens a lot here can and does result in loss of grip and an accident quite likely. If you could see a tyre in slow motion under braking you would understand. As the brakes are applied, which we call loading the tyre, the tyre flattens out on the road surface giving us a large contact patch thus improving grip and braking efficiency. An over inflated tyre can’t flatten out and the result is front wheel washout and down you go. Almost all accidents here are front wheel washout!
This is a no brainer.
Have them regularly adjusted and checked. Just because you dropped the bike to greasy Joe for a service don’t assume the brakes have been adjusted and checked. Most likely unless instructed otherwise they’ve just changed the oil.
This is another important area of handling and braking efficiency so if your tyres and brakes are right and you still feel something isn’t have someone competant check your suspension.
The only other thing regarding your bike and safety I’d say is for those with older carbureted scooters taking a minute or so to warm them up is good practice.
When cold they can stall which in the wrong situation is far from ideal and unfortunately to set the idle high enough that this never happens means they are idling way too high when warm.
Anyone who knows me knows this is my focus when it comes to rider safety. When you’ve had a mate pass away for no other reason than an inferior helmet it stays with you. Serious life changing head injuries and fatalities as a result of inadequate helmets happen every hour of everyday in this country. When asked what helmet is best? Responsibly I have to say a full face but I do understand this is a bit of overkill in low speed local commuting situations though I most often choose to wear one myself.
A decent helmet with a screen should be considered minimum though and they really aren't expensive and once your used to them quite comfortable. If you are taking Grab bikes you should definitely still have your own correctly fitted helmet. Just an open face bucket helmet is for sure better than a silly little Vietnamese hat but for the rider when everyone else is looking down with the rain in their eyes it’s a great time for you to have your head up watching where you are going with good visibility.
For sure long pants and sleeves, covered shoes and gloves are all recommended but again are not always seen as practical and I get that. At the end of the day skin left on the road or even broken bones are looked back on as painful memories. You only have one head and its a hard bit to fix. Look after your life and quality of life and please if you don’t have one get a decent helmet and wear it each and every time on the bike. Accidents are exactly that and you never know when its your turn to have one.
If you are one of the many expats around Thao Dien not wearing a helmet at all please think of the example you are displaying to our kids. ALL KIDS. I’ve heard all the bullshit excuses and quite simply they are all just that.
Thanks for having me. Thanks again to the consulate and thank you all for coming along to listen to us. Enjoy the wonder of motorcycling, we’re in a great country for it and remember to always keep the rubber side down.