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Thread: Rider training and advice 1950's style

  1. #1
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    Oct 2005
    Wapping, London

    Rider training and advice 1950's style

    Notice that the wearing of a helmet was not considered necessary, nor ATGATT.... but ogling the ladies was a big no-no.

    My parents found the booklet for me in a junk shop. For those to young to remember or know 2/- (aka two bob) is 10p

  2. #2
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    Jan 2002
    Redditch, Worcs
    "....especially during the sugar beet season" Brilliant!
    2010 BMW R1200GSA
    2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX Touring
    2007 Suzuki Bandit 1250S
    1989 Jaguar XJS 5.3 Convertible

  3. #3
    Deleted account W
    I want a Wooler.

  4. #4
    'When your front tyre shows wear, take it off and use it to replace your rear tyre when the latter has worn out..'


  5. #5
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    Nov 2005
    South Yorkshire
    Quote Originally Posted by giles lamb View Post
    'When your front tyre shows wear, take it off and use it to replace your rear tyre when the latter has worn out..'

    Well that's how it was

    AKA the Vincent for sale thread ... the front and rear wheels were interchangeable ... no 180 section tyres then

    Touring .. pay attention to the following points No 8 Magneto

    The magneto on my old Rocket Gold Star had a very weak spark ... couple of days in the airing cupboard sorted that

    D'ya remember airing cupboards

    Nice find Wapping

    Tours, training or custom made earplugs ... it's all here.

    "If you want the rainbow then you have to put up with a little rain" Dolly Parton

  6. #6
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    Sep 2008
    An event horizon somewhere...
    Great stuff, could you scan the rest of it, it would make a great read

  7. #7
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    Jun 2008
    Here it is, 1960's style.

    Resonates with because my first bike, in 1969, was a 1966 Matchless 250cc G2CSR - which is still in my garage

  8. #8
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    Aug 2008
    The Exotic East
    Just found this. Lovely stuff.

  9. #9
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    Roadcraft Advice: The Motor-Cyclist's Handbook 1951

    Interesting extract from a Pitman's Motor-cyclists' Library publication from 1951.

    Roadcraft – The Technique of Driving

    There is no quick method of gaining the experience essential to safe riding. Intensive riding in all weathers is the best way, but the experience of others can make learning easier and safer. If every motor-cyclist were to comply with the letter and spirit of the Highway Code the accident rate would be greatly reduced.

    Ride with restraint. The real motor-cyclist does not ride for show and showy riding is the hall-mark of the inexpert and inexperienced. It is not smart to take risks and have “close shaves.” Any fool can do that. A fool and his motor-cycle are soon parted. The good motor-cyclist is fast when he wants to be and when the going permits; above all he in unobtrusive and safe.

    Every time you get on your motor-cycle remember you are not in a desert but you are on the road with other people. You share it with them and all your actions concern them as well as yourself. If you always remember this you will not then make those sudden and unexpected movements that cause accidents. You will see many others makes these silly mistakes. They will suddenly realize they are passing the turning they intended to take and stand on the brakes, quite unconscious of the traffic following, or will see a signpost in a country road and suddenly swerve across the road to have a look at it. Try to remember when riding that you are one of a crowd, not an isolated individual. Cultivate a sense of responsibility and if you see others acting stupidly, as you often will, do not be tempted to imitate or to reprove them. They may seem smart and snappy, may impress those who know better – you can well afford to smile. Such people are likely to end up in a hospital through their foolishness and go round afterwards telling everyone that motor-cycles are dangerous.

    NOTES ON THE GEARS. One of the greatest improvements in motor-cycles in recent times is the foot change gear. It is surprising the large number of motor-cyclists who do not know how to use the gearbox correctly. With the high efficiency O.H.V. engine the gearbox must be used correctly to utilize the engine’s performance. Riders and drivers of high powered motor-cyclists and cars can daily be seen crawling up main road hills in top gear which could be taken with far greater ease and speed if the next lowest gear were used. Labouring is never necessary and is bad for both engines and transmission.

    Probably most motor-cyclists shut the throttle to change down – the throttle is closed, the clutch withdrawn, and the throttle opened momentarily to increase the revs, the gear is changed, the clutch engaged and throttle opened again. This is hardly ever necessary. It is nearly always best to change on an open throttle; simple de-clutch and move the gear. The operation of clutch and gears must be perfectly synchronized and rapid. The clutch should just be eased. This gives and quicker and smoother change, especially on hills.

    To obtain maximum power in top gear on a hill it is often necessary to rev the engine hard in third (or second in a three-speed box) before the change. Poor top gear performance is generally due to the inability of the rider to use his gears.

    Adjust the gear pedal well down so that it can be operated either way by a waggle of the toe. Do not hook the heel under the pedal to make a change, as is sometimes done by careless drivers. This is an exceedingly reprehensible and clumsy method as it prevents a fine degree of machine control ever being achieved. It is also very dangerous as the toe may catch the road.

    A polished rider would despise such methods. In the same class of riding we find trailing the feet. Anyone who can really ride puts his feet on the rests as soon as the machine commences to move, others trail the feet for the first ten or twenty yards when starting and plank then down at every opportunity. They lack their confidence in their ability to handle the machine. Ability to handle the motor-cycle when it is moving very slowly is proof of ability to handle it at speed.

    BRAKING. Learn to use your brakes properly – few motor-cyclists know how to do this. Make a habit of using your front brake. Some people seem to think that, as with a pedal-cycle, one would gyrate round the front wheel by using the front brake, but in fact this does not happen on a motor-cycle. The only time when a front brake should not be used is when rounding a bend or at any time when the machine is banked over. Only the back break should be gently used in such circumstances. Braking either wheel when the machine is banked is liable to produce a skid, and will certainly on a slippery surface, especially a front wheel skid. It is for this reason that many motor-cyclists do not like coupled brakes. On dangerous surfaces the front brake is safest. When you apply the front brake the wheel is pressed more firmly on the road and therefore grips better, and will grip when the rear wheel will only slide. On dangerous surfaces you must avoid locking your wheel at all costs and it is easier to tell when the front wheel is about to lock then it is the rear one, but a front wheel skid is more serious. For this reason always have at least a front tyre with a good sharp treas. Worn tyres are poor economy.

    The importance of using both brakes cannot be emphasized too strongly. By applying both front brake and rear brake lightly it is possible to stop just as quickly as when the rear wheel is locked. In any case in an emergency it is absolutely vital to use both brake. The front brake is more powerful of the two and if you do not make a habit of using it you will not think about it soon enough if an emergency crops up. Many serious and otherwise avoidable motor-cycling accidents are due to this. Another point about braking is that it is better to use the brakes gently for some distance then to use them hard just before you want to slow or stop.

    Most of the braking in normal riding can be done by means of the engine and all of it should done this way when the roads are at all dangerous. When you want to slow, change down, slip out of top into the next lowest hear, an lower still if necessary. Indeed the machine can be brought smoothly to a standstill by coming down through the gears without touching the brakes, save perhaps to hold the motor-cycle after it has stopped. Engine braking is safe braking and it is sound riding to use it, especially when the roads are bad. Do not ever use the heel on the brake pedal.

    DANGEROU SURFACES – SKIDDING. The old advice to steer into a skid holds good, but generally it is all over before you can do much about it. Band braking on bad roads is the usual cause of skidding. You must reduce your speed when roads are bad; that is the only way you can reduce your braking. You can go just as fast on a bad road as you can on a good one but you cannot nearly so quickly. Obviously, bends must be negotiated with more care on bad surfaces. The experienced motor-cyclist invariably looks at the road before braking, to see how much braking he can do. Skidding and braking are very much related. Always accelerate carefully when on a bad surface especially when banked over and on a powerful machine. You can come off as quickly in a “power slide” as in any other way.

    Next we come to dangerous surfaces. The worst surface of all is ice or hard pressed and frozen snow. Ice is particularly bad because you are not always aware that it is there, especially at night, and there may be very little of it, perhaps just in patches. If you have any suspicion that the road may be icy by day or by night, slide one foot along it and make sure. Wet wood blocks can almost be as bad as ice, so can fresh mud dragged out of a field on to the road by some farm vehicles. These can be very dangerous. Next come smooth but wet and dirty roads such as they are after a little rain; continuous heavy rain washes the roads and makes them much safer. Main roads can be particularly treacherous in the summer when the accumulated deposits are wetted by a shower. All smooth and shiny roads are suspect. In wet weather beware of leaf mould on the road under trees in country lanes – it is very dangerous.

    Dusty and pebbled surfaces, even when quite dry, can be as dangerous as ice and make a fall much more painful. Beware of grit at roadsides and especially at bends, or roads newly surfaced with chippings, but there are not so troublesome as pebbles. Steel studs, as used at pedestrian crossings, and steel slips let into the road to form slow and stop signs and other traffic indications, are dangerously slippery when wet and can throw a cyclist or motor-cyclist. The only advice that can be given is to try and avoid running over these menaces.

    When roads are very bad you must be wary of other vehicles. These are probably a greater menace to the experienced rider than the bad road itself. Few car drivers have a really good knowledge of skiddy surfaces and how to brake on them, so give cars and other vehicles as wide a berth as possible, otherwise you may very easily have something skid into you.

    Though not so common now, tram-lines are still found in many towns. The only think to do is keep off them as much as possible. They are not so bothersome when dry. When they must be crossed, cross them at as great an angle as possible. Many riders disengage the clutch as the back wheel crosses the line and this is a good plan. It allows the rear wheel to run quite freely and without any drag. Tram-lines are worse when they are worn and sunk between risen sets so that they are in a sort of channel. Be very careful of trams and their lines; though rarely involved in an accident themselves, which to the uninitiated gives them a false reputation of safety, they are, in fact, a danger to all other traffic, and to pedestrians.

    Wheel alignment and good tyre treads are important factors in skidding. Keep your wheels in alignment and, once again, do not run on smooth tyres. Keep a well-traded tyre on the front wheel; a back-wheel slide is much less important than a front-wheel slide. When the back wheel slides, the front wheel tends to pull it back into line, when the front wheel slides there is no such correction. A front-wheel skid cannot be corrected, and in a bad front skid the only thing to do is to get off as quickly as possible and let the cycle so the crashing alone.
    There is no danger in speed provided it is backed be real experience. The other kind of speed kills.

    GENERAL NOTES ON RIDING. Many accidents occur when motor vehicles are passing each other. Only overtake the vehicle ahead of you if you want to go faster, do not overtake for the pleasure of it. If the fellow ahead of you is going fast enough for you, keep behind them at a fair distance. Only close up when you intend to pass; before you commence to pass make sure you have plenty of time, be quite sure. Your passing should not inconvenience any on-coming vehicle. If you should find that you have run things a little finer than you intended, drop back. Many people in this situation, who have badly under-estimated the position, open the throttle and clamp a thumb on the horn push, scare themselves stiff and hope for the best. This is madness. If you ever even have the slightest doubt about what you are doing, you should not be doing it. A good driver is distinguished be the calmness and ease with which he drives. A driver who has a strained or scared appearance cannot be good. Though mentally alert you should be as much at ease as when sitting in an armchair at home. Bad temper stamps the bad driver. Bad temper means frayed nerves and frayed nerves mean incompetence.

    Another sign of a good driver is that he will never do things which, though reasonably safe to him, may fluster or annoy other road users. Slowly overtaking, especially in traffic, is a typical instance of this. If other people are flustered or frightened they may lose their heads.

    Do not overtake at bends or overtake another vehicle when it is one the brow of a hill. In both positions you can easily meet someone else head on and at speed. Do not overtake at road junctions, unless all the roads ahead can be seen for a considerable distance across the fields. Be careful when overtaking in narrow lanes where there are farm tracks. Farm vehicles are apt to appear unexpectedly and do unusual things.

    A very common error is “cutting in.” When you have just over-taken a vehicle do not at once swerve in, but pass it for some distance first. As you swerve, your straight ahead speed is reduced, the following vehicle tends to catch up, and the driver may have to brake suddenly. Possibly you will never know anything about it. It is better not to swerve at all in passing, but to come out in an easy sweep over some distance and to go back to the left in the same way. Violent swerving and banking are the mark of a showy rider who lacks experience. Do not look behind when you are following another vehicle. It may slow down during the instant you take your eyes off it. Remember, wet roads demand a great reduction in speed and more care all round.

    When coming up to an approaching vehicle keep a look out for any other vehicles trying to pass it. Many drivers are not reliable when passing another vehicle. Adjust your speed so that you can, if need be, keep clear, whatever they may do or compel you to do. Many drivers who drive mostly in traffic are apt to use up a lot of road when manoeuvring at unaccustomed speed in the country.

    Never round a blind bend fast; you cannot be sure what is round the corner until you get there, and then it is too late if you are going fast.
    Take special care at all road junctions, adjusting your speed so that you can stop if necessary, even if you are on a major road and have the right of way.
    Be careful when you see a car ahead apparently about to come out of a side road; you cannot be sure the driver will wait. In fact, in any situation in which your actions depend upon the actions of the drivers of other vehicles, assume that the drivers concerned will do the wrong thing. If you assume otherwise it is often too late when you find you have made a mistake. Many otherwise sensible people seem to leave their sensible selves outside when they get into a car.

    Beware of cars driven by women. Many women tend to do peculiar things in car, such as making very sudden stops or turns without any apparent reason. It may be all due to inexperience or something else, but the effects are the same as far as you are concerned so look out.

    Test your brakes at intervals to make sure they are really good. You can get on quite well with indifferent brakes and never notice anything very much wrong until, in an emergency, you simply find you cannot stop soon enough. First-rate brakes are vital at all times.

    Watch any busy city crossing as you will see people who want to turn right, across following traffic, edge into the left as if they were going to stop. Following vehicles immediately begin to pass. The driver, having signalled, hesitates to pass or, on seeing no turn being made, sound the horn vigorously and do pass which adds to the confusion of the driver who wants to turn. He flusters himself and impedes others. When you want to turn right in such a case, approach the crown of the road over some distance. When approaching the turn, signal with military precision. Following drivers will mostly have seen from your direction what you are going to do and will pass on your left. As you have not cut across in front of anyone, you can turn easily and without obstructing other. It is astonishing how many people who have driven for years never learn this.

    Traffic driving can be a pleasure. Don’t try to be smart. Be courteous, be careful, and use your judgment and discretion. Watch out for pedestrians, dogs and cats. Of these three the last two are the most intelligent and if they do happen to get in the way they will often get out of it quickly. Stationary tram cars, buses or parked cars are especial danger spots for pedestrians. Try and see underneath all standing vehicles before you come to them; this way you often have warning of pedestrians about to emerge. When they run out it may be very difficult t o avoid them unless you are going slowly. Never make more than a very mild swerve to miss anything unless you are bound to hit it otherwise. A swerve usually ends in worse trouble.

    Do not make sudden and unexpected movements for they are likely to catch someone else napping and are a basic cause of accidents. Give parked vehicles as wide a berth as possible, for people in cars have a nasty habit of opening their doors without looking first. Always be on the alert for the unexpected. If nothing unexpected happened there would be few accidents. Don’t get annoyed with other driver who do foolish things. We all so foolish things sometimes, even the best of us. The really dangerous fellow is the one who takes the risks and doesn’t know it.

    It is a good idea to try and visualize what may happen. If you are rounding a corner with little room to spare, imagine that there is an articulated lorry coming the other way and taking up all the road on the turns, then if there is something like this, you will not receive the mental shock that slows up reaction. When there is doubt about the situation ahead assume, and picture in your mind, the worst, It is a good plan. Remember on a motor-cycle you can do a lot to avoid an accident that cannot be done in a car.
    If you ever see that you are going to hit something, get off the machine. Fall off, anyhow, but get off. If you come off by hitting anything you are liable to get badly hurt. To come off through a skid is not so serious, and as long as you do not hit anything it does not usually hurt much. If you see the machine is going to go down let it go; you do not want to get entangled with 300 to 400lb of motor-cycle as it hits and slides along the road. A good method to provoke a deliberate fall when something unavoidable looms ahead is to bank sharply and lock the back wheel, but anyhow will do so long as you are not there when the crash takes place. This is another advantage the motor-cyclist has over the car driver, who cannot get out unless they are thrown out.

    THE ESSENCE OF IT ALL. Develop your judgment and use it with restraint. Be tolerant wit other who make mistakes. Be observant and anticipate the situation ahead. Notice all the details of what is happening on the pavement and the road. A large number of accidents would never have happened if the drivers concerned had only used their eyes. Driving requires undivided attention from the motor-cyclist, 100 per cent of the time. Never fail to signal your intentions to other drivers. Give your signals plainly a little before you act; it is no use indicating what you intend to do when you are already doing it. This is a common fault. Do not rely upon signals of any kind from other road users. Try always to see what they are going to do.

    Be sensible. Be responsible: what you do affects other people as well as yourself.
    "You haven't really traveled until you've gone back home"

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Oct 2011
    Basingstoke, England
    fit A new plug?
    so i only need to replace one of the plugs in my bike when i service it? that'll save a few pennies

  11. #11
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    Dublin, Ireland
    Thanks Clem,
    Some wonderful snippets in that - "Roadcraft Advice: The Motor-Cyclist's Handbook 1951"

    i love this;
    "Watch out for pedestrians, dogs and cats. Of these three the last two are the most intelligent and if they do happen to get in the way they will often get out of it quickly."

    and this is often forgotten;
    "Remember on a motor-cycle you can do a lot to avoid an accident that cannot be done in a car."

    Somehow i dont think this would be acceptable today though;
    "Beware of cars driven by women. Many women tend to do peculiar things in car, such as making very sudden stops or turns without any apparent reason. It may be all due to inexperience or something else, but the effects are the same as far as you are concerned so look out. "
    appears bright from a distance / dim up close

  12. #12
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    Just thought I'd add this to this old thread,

    All my old haunts, but before my time

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