Texas Cushman Club Inc.

Safety Tips

Richard kesselus


Brake Safety
Here is a question and answer method to describe braking.
1. Which brake is the most effective?
The front brake is the most effective, giving between 60 & 80% of the bike's stopping power in hard stops, depending upon surface conditions. This is because most of the weight of the bike and rider transfers forward onto the front wheel when the brakes are applied.
2. Is the front wheel likely to skid if you apply the front brake hard?
No. The front wheel is likely to skid uncontrollably and bring you down only if you jam the front brake on hard. If you apply the front brake in a staged (progressive) process, the front wheel may skid but that skid is normally quite controllable
3. Is the rear wheel likely to skid if you apply the brakes hard?
With most of the weight being on the front wheel, the rear wheel tends to be light under braking and will therefore lock up and skid very easily
4. How do you control a rear wheel skid?
Control of a rear wheel skid is easy. Just keep your eyes up to the horizon and look where you WANT to go (not necessarily where you are actually going) and the bike will skid in a controllable manner with a minimum of fishtailing
5. Is braking a natural skill?
Braking, as with any riding skill, is a learned skill, not a natural one. This means you must practice the correct braking skills enough to make them an instinctive reaction before you can be sure that you will
do the right things in an emergency.  Research has shown that, because of panic overpowering the rider's conscious reactions, nearly a third of all riders do absolutely nothing in an accident situation: they don't even apply the brakes!
If, however, your high level braking skills are so well learned that they are instinctive, you will do it right, no matter what the situation. However, this requires you to do a lot of high level braking skill practice, the skills will not come with normal everyday riding.
6. Is there a special braking technique that ensures that a rider will get the best out of a motorcycle's brakes?
Yes. The process is called STAGED BRAKING and it involves the rider applying the motorcycle's brakes in a staged process. This gives the rider predictable, progressive braking, and is described in four stages. Stage one being light pressure on the brake to begin slowing the bike down, Two
   Being more force on the brake for a smooth stop, Three being more force to the friction point and
   Four being all the force possible, which will most likely lock a wheel  lock up  causeing  a skid and a need to keep the wheel steering straight ahead as you relax pressure on the sliding brake to allow the wheel to revolve again and regain grip.
7. In an emergency do we concentrate on using staged braking on both front and back brakes?
This is a controversial subject. Some experienced riders reckon that, even in an emergency when research has shown that panic tends to decrease your riding skills, they can apply the back brake perfectly with no loss of braking on the front.
Well, research has shown that the average rider can only properly concentrate on the use of one brake in an emergency so, unless you think you're road motorcycling's equivalent of a top motorcycle racer, we would suggest that you concentrate on getting the best out of one brake.
According to the American Motorcycle Safety Foundation, if you try to get the best out of both brakes in an emergency, you will get the best out of neither. The MSF says you can't concentrate FULLY on both brakes at one time. You know your mother's old nag, "You can't concentrate on two things at one time"!
The American Motorcycle Safety Foundation teaches their instructors that "in an emergency braking situation you should apply the back brake hard and let the back wheel slide if it wants to. This way you can concentrate on what is happening up front; there's enough to think about in the use of the front brake."
8. So how should I apply the rear brake?
Apply it and forget about it. Let the back wheel skid if necessary and steer to maintain a straight line then concentrate on using staged braking to harness the superior power of the front brake.
Now to Cushman brakes.
Starting with older step throughs the speed normally will not be great and the rear brake is all you have. The rear brake  would, in most cases,  stop the rear wheel from turning so the best you can do is apply the staged braking described in the first section.  So, like in the first section in an emergency  get on that rear brake and concentrate on  looking ahead where you want to go and maintain as straight a line as possible.
  Moving on in time, as front brakes were added, we now have the necessary brakes to begin to stop better.  However it has been my experience that the first front brakes on Cushmans were not really good enough to stop the front wheel from turning thus reducing the chance of a front wheel skid , yet good enough to apply the staged braking procedure producing much improved braking.  As Cushman moved through time the old lining in the hub with metal shoes gave way to much improved shoes with lining moved to the shoes and a hub that was thicker much like current automotive brakes.  Still the ability to stop the front wheel from turning was simply not as good as needed but somewhat improved, which made stopping better.  Keep in mind that the speed of the scooters was also improving at the same time so instead of braking from 25 to 30 miles per hour the braking needed to be better to make stops from 45 to 50 miles per hour.  We now can see a need to learn better braking skills and the first section give some guidelines that should be helpful.  At this point you have most likely thought; well I already do all this staged stopping.  If that is true, good but have you really had an experience with a real emergency situation that required action?  How was your concentration?  Would practicing emergency braking procedures to the point of reflex action be beneficial?  I think it would and strongly recommend the practice as well as turning, swerving and general skills practice with your scooter.
Making improvements and the need to do so.
There are several reasons that making brake improvement a good idea.  Beginning with making sure that the brakes you have are good and, as important, that they are set up correctly.  The lining should be good and properly installed.  When putting the hubs back together the shoes should be correctly centered, and properly adjusted.  There are two items that I am aware of that can improve the force applied to the brake.  One is an after marked brake lever which is longer and wider that will allow more force to pull the cable and the second is an extended brake cam arm, both of which will greatly increase the force which can be applied to the brake shoes.  I have both on my 62 Silver and I can stop the front wheel from turning at 30mph and use the staged braking procedure successfully at higher speeds. Both of the items are available from Cushman suppliers or you can just make your own.  Changing the hubs from in hub lining to shoe lining can also help but you need to make sure you use the correct hub designed for the lined shoes.  The next level, which I guess is the ultimate upgrade, is to install disc brakes which are now available from Cushman suppliers.  As we go faster and yes faster still we find the need to increase the ability to slow down and stop.
 Completing my last article on turning and curves and what to do while in a curve or turn and an emergency stops become necessary, the recommended procedure is to bring the scooter upright and then, looking where you want to go, get on the brake(s).  Your skill, practice and concentration will dictate the outcome.  So Practice, Practice, Practice and RIDE SAFE. 
Until next time, Richard





  Impact of speed change of the Leader


After I did a study of the Rubber-Band or Yo-yo effect in group ridding I have a much better understanding of the reasons for problems we encounter on most group rides.  In the pre-ride meeting, we always emphasis, that we should attempt to follow the 2 second rule.  That is maintaining a two second space between you and the rider in your track (directly in front of you) and a 1 second space between the rider on your right or left. Riders in a group find that they must accelerate after a stop or a turn has been encountered and then all of a sudden they find it necessary to brake to avoid over running the scooter ahead.  A good leader can minimize this effect but it would be good for all riders to understand what is happening and anticipate what they should do to keep the formation as tight as possible.


 Reaction Time


Reaction time for a motorcyclist when confronted with an unexpected threat is, on average, about one second and ½ second for anticipated moves. When a group of riders change speeds very gradually, however, it usually takes two or three seconds for a rider to recognize this and begin to change his speed to maintain his position in the group. This doesn’t sound like much time, but experienced group riders manage their risks reasonably well with a minimum one-second interval between each bike and a minimum two-second interval between bikes that are traveling in the same track.  The study pointed out that when the group has more than six bikes in it, gradual changes in speed within the group can become tricky. When a Lead Bike begins to accelerate, the second bike doesn’t instantly start to travel at the faster rate. Instead, a gap grows between them while the second bike is reacting -- and it continues to grow until the second bike is fully up to the increased, stable speed of the Lead Bike. Now we have a situation where the space interval has changed due to the reaction time if the leader does not accelerate slowly. Clearly, once the speeds are the same, the gap will remain the same size. However, since most groups prefer to keep a one-second minimum interval between bikes (two seconds between bikes in the same track), the new gap caused by the Lead Bike’s acceleration may be larger than is desired. When this occurs, the second bike must go faster than the first one for a brief time in order to “catch up.”  I have heard many leaders say they never got over 30 mph when someone complained they had to run 50 mph (sometime faster) to catch up and maintain the 2 second interval and when he did catch up he had to slam on the brakes to avoid over running the scooter ahead.  What happened?  The leader did not take into account he/she should have accelerated at a much slower rate until the formation was all moving at the same speed  and then slowly accelerate to the announced speed in order to minimize the rubber band effect.  The study was done using highway speeds but the same effect applies equally to our ridding speed just not as dynamic.  Here is what the motorcycle study said, “If we assume that the Lead Bike speeds up from 60 to 70 mph over a period of two seconds, the second bike will have to ride at 75 mph for two seconds (after his reaction time passes) in order to close the gap. Then he will take another one second to decelerate back to 70 mph to create a gap of the proper size. If there were only two bikes in the group, this example is easy to follow. But when the group is larger, and the bikes involved are riding further back in the pack, the “rubber band” effect can be especially dangerous to all bikes from the middle of the group to the Drag Bike.”  To better understand the example, we could say that the speed gap and speed interval multiplies with each successive scooter back to the drag scooter.  And that fellow scooter rider is why we get such large gaps in our formations.  The study went on to say that groups should never exceed 6 to 8 bikes.  I am not too sure I agree with that but I do agree that when we do a ride that has 100 or more scooters in one formation it is just flat dangerous and very difficult to control. All that said, we can all pat each other on the shoulder and say how good a job we did keeping together, given all that can go wrong.


Reducing the Problem


1. Break the ride up into smaller groups.

Great idea if we have enough helpers such as Leaders, Guides and other support people.


2. Lead scooter accelerates at more gradual rate.

             All leaders should understand and practice.

3. All riders watch farther ahead than just the bike immediately in front of them in order to    notice   and to react quicker to changes in speed.

4. All slower scooters should be at the front of the ride with faster scooter in the back.

5. Communication during the ride between the lead scooter and the drag scooter and chase vehicle.*

In Abilene we will try a couple of different approaches to the large ride but these will not work if you do not understand the way the ride will happen.  Don’t miss the General Safety Meeting scheduled at the beginning of the meet and if you miss the meeting for good reason make sure you contact me to get the information.  

West Texas can be hot but not uncomfortable as the humidity can and usually is low.  With that said I would suggest that you give some prior thought to making sure you have a way to carry a bottle of water with you when you ride.  We will have water available but to be on the safe side give consideration to having your own available when you ride.  

Look forward to seeing all in Abilene and thanks to all you contacted me since the last article. 

Ride Safe,  Richard

* Note:

So far we have not been able to come up with a scooter to scooter communication system that will work for us.  The best idea yet has been cell phones with blue tooth capabilities. Problem with the cell phones are wind noise and no service areas where we ride.  So if you have a possible solution, contact me.





Vehicles Making Left Hand Turns

      The single most dangerous situation for motorcyclists occurs when cars are making left-hand turns. These collisions account for 42% of all accidents involving a motorcycle and car. Usually, the turning car strikes the motorcycle when the motorcycle is going straight through an intersection.   In this scenario we need to explore what the motorcyclist can do to maximize his/her safety.

AT Intersections

     Just for grins assume you’re invisible,  because to a lot of drivers, you are.  Never make a move based on the assumption that another driver sees you, even if you think you have just made eye contact. You should never be sure the driver sees you.  You can counter such a situation by positioning yourself to be as visible as possible, and by dressing conspicuously.  Here is where we are coming from with the move to wear distinctive vest while riding, Make Yourself Visible!  Position yourself on the roadway to be as visible as possible, be aware of your surrounding so as to not be hidden.  For example , if the situations is  an intersection and there are people  gathered to your right waiting to cross the street position yourself away from them so you don’t  blend into the crowd.  If you think the oncoming traffic is going to turn left across your path flash your headlight or blow your horn.  After all the, horn is there for such a purpose, not just a little honk to say I to someone you see.


Across Your Path


     When it happens, your speed and visibility bears on how well you can perform when a threat arises.  The faster you are approaching the threat, the less time you have to recognize it, anticipate what will happen and take appropriate action.  And, whether you swerve, brake, or simply pray, it will consume more distance than if you were going slower.  In other words, when things go wrong, speed is not likely to be your friend.  Just as in the intersection situation, distinctive clothing and anything you can do to attract attention, is helpful.  Defensive thinking will be a key here, and in the case of the kamikaze driver who is going to beat you to the crossing point come hell or high water your action will play the most important part of avoiding a collision.  Depending on your speed, when the potential hazard is recognized, being in a lower gear, when you have that choice on a Cushman,  and ready to brake hard, accelerate away , swerve hard or line up a potential escape route are all considerations.  All of the afore mentioned don’t  just come naturally.  Practice braking hard , using both brakes remembering that  your  front brake will do more to slow you down than the rear take into account  your capabilities and the road condition. Practice swerving at different speeds.  Learn to recognize escape routes.  Mental preparedness goes a long way here.  You must have a plan in place to react to the threat when it presents itself.  Turn some of these skills into games that you can play with your local group meets and informally with friends,




The MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) has developed an acronym for the mental process required to anticipate and deal with threats. It’s SIPDE ( pronounced sip-dee), and stands for:

Scan - Constantly scan the environment around you. If you focus on only one thing, like a pedestrian crossing the street, you may miss other hazards like the person getting ready to open their car door next to you.

Identify - As you’re scanning, identify all the potential hazards. “Filter out the noise”, and identify what’s important. Don’t forget to identify potential problems approaching from the rear as well!

Predict - You’ve identified the potential hazards, now predict what the outcomes will be if certain scenarios play out. Focus on the worst case scenarios. You may be able to swerve around a pedestrian, but probably won’t survive tangling with a garbage truck. Prioritize accordingly.

Decide - Decide on a course of action that you would follow, should one of the scenarios you predicted plays out.

Execute - Execute the course of action you decided on. 

Ride Safe, Richard

Some Call it SIPDE

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has developed an acronym for the mental process required to anticipate and deal with threats. It's SIPDE (pronounced sip-dee), and it stands for:

Read more:

Read more:

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This information was taken from the national motorcycle foundation
information.  Richard K.
No matter how many precautions a motorcyclist takes, and no matter how much
skill a rider has, there will inevitably come a time when they have to respond
to an emergency situation. This article will discuss a few possible emergency
situations, and how to react to them.
A motorcycle tire has exactly 100% traction. The things that require portions
out of that 100% are acceleration, braking and turning. What causes a tire to
skid is exceeding that 100%. For example, a rider approaches a curve at 40 miles
per hour. Upon entering the curve the rider realizes he is going to fast to
complete the turn. So he/she squeezes the brakes mid turn to slow down. The
rider has now used more than 100% of the tires traction. Both tires will now
skid out, and the bike and rider slide off the road. What the rider should have
done was slowed down enough before the turn to complete the turn without using
the brakes. However, since the rider was going too fast, they should have
leveled the motorcycle before squeezing the brakes. This would allow more
traction for braking and less for turning. Therefore, the tire would remain
within its allotted 100% traction level. In the same way, a rider should not
over accelerate while turning. The ideal turn is performed as follows. The rider
slows down before the turn enough so that they can slowly accelerate through the
In any situation, the goal is to maintain control of the motorcycle. There are a
few things that can cause a rider to lose control. Obviously, one of those
things would be running into an object or another vehicle. So to avoid doing
this a motorcyclist should master the ability to swerve to avoid obstacles.
Swerving is the same thing as turning, only with a lot more haste. To swerve,
you press down hard on the handlebars in the direction you want to go. Then you
quickly level the motorcycle by releasing pressure on the handlebars. This will
get the bike moving straight again. Finally, you put pressure on the handlebars
in the other direction to move back into place. The amount of pressure placed on
the handlebars will determine how quickly the motorcycle will swerve. It is very
important to not grab the brakes while swerving. Doing so will cause the
motorcycle to skid, and you could easily lose control.
In the unfortunate case that a motorcycle goes into a skid, there are ways for
the rider to correct it without crashing. If the rear tire goes into a skid, the
rider should immediately release pressure off of the rear brake. At the same
time, the rider should make sure and hold the front tire steady and straight.
Doing this should cause the rear tire to snap back into place and continue
rolling. The harder skid to control is a skidding front tire. Once again, this
is because it’s the lead tire and guides the entire motorcycle. A motorcyclist
doesn’t have very much time to react to a skidding front tire before crashing.
If experiencing a front tire skid, the rider should immediately release the
front brake and stand the bike as level as possible. If done quickly enough, the
front tire will begin rolling forward again and the rider can regain control.
Some other emergency situations can occur that are highly unusual such as an
animal running in out in front of your motorcycle. However, knowing how to
control the motorcycle in an emergency can prevent many accidents from
happening. However, the saying goes, “There are two kinds of riders, those who
have crashed in the past… and those who will in the future.” That is why it is
important to always wear proper equipment including a helmet, gloves, long pants
and boots





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