Insurance for Young Motorcycle Riders

OP-ED by P. Wimsett

(Note: the following contains information about insurance pricing from the customer point of view. It has not been evaluated by insurance professionals nor is it meant as insurance advice.)

For those who wish lower fuel prices and road tax a motorbike is preferable to a car, but if you are under 25 you can lose what you save in increased insurance premiums. Most people know that insurance for young motorcycle riders is expensive because they don’t have years of experience on the roads, or in life.

Age is not the only thing that means you will have to pay more for your insurance. Other factors include the make of the bike, the engine power (also known as the CC, the measurement between the bore and the stroke). The stroke refers to the rotating motion, or cycle of cylinders, which draw in fuel air mix and exhale exhaust. Engines tend to be either two stroke or four-stroke. The bore is the length of the cylinder. You will also have to pay more if you break the no claims bonus. 

A biker may ride any size of bike after passing his test. Moped users do not need any test at all, but it helps in terms in insurance.

So, ways to keep costs down include having a bike with a small engine, driving as safely as possible, keeping the bike safe and secure, and gaining advanced qualifications (check out the state laws).

Of course, wearing a helmet used to factor in insurance price, but now it’s the law pretty much everywhere. It is best to not modify your bike (which might be described as “keeping a sensible bike” – rare is the motorcyclist who doesn’t wish to change things).

Also, be certain you added yourself as a named driver; because if you don’t state yourself as a main driver the insurer can refuse to pay up if you have an accident as they have no idea if it is your bike or not.

It is debatable whether it is worth increasing your deductible. Although payments are reduced, it does mean that if you do need to claim you will pay a higher share of it.

If you carry a passenger, you will need pinion coverage, so they are covered in the event of injury. As with any insurance peace of mind is everything.

When obtaining a quote make sure you have all the details to hand, including your license number and in addition the number of your motorbike.

It is vital that you only pay for the coverage you need: should you only drive on holiday for example or alternately for test drives, you should attempt to get temporary cover–there are specialist insurers who can do this for you. It’s advisable to look at comparison websites too.

Before you attempt driving another person’s motorbike make certain that you’re covered to do so, many people do not check these things. You don’t want to fork out for a new motorcycle hoping to save money and that may be the least of your problems.


Registration Plates – Possible Problems.

Number plates differ from state to state. Colorado for instance shows the Rockies while Nevada shows the Sierra Nevadas. Many states show rural scenes. In exceptional circumstances the old plates become invalid and requiring a mass replating of the state in order to keep within the letter of the law.

You may also need validation stickers in certain states; sometimes it is shown on the plate, such as North Carolina, sometimes in the front windshield like in Texas and sometimes in rear window, such as Pennsylvania. It’s important to know how your state organizes these things.

Hawaii is a novelty as through the additional letter you can see which island the car was registered in; M means Maui, K is Kaua’i and H is Hawai’i meaning the big island.

Arkansas is especially interesting as it has a diamond logo. The state is famed for its diamond mines. Other symbols could be guessed–Florida plates have oranges for instance.

Not all states require you to have plates on both the front and the rear. These include Alabama and Arizona.

Moving to a New State:

When a person moves to a new state, they are required by law to register all their personal vehicles. One of the exceptions is if you are with the US military who often move personnel excessively.

Foreign cars can only keep a foreign number plate for a year before it requires an alteration. This is due to a number of foreign green card workers who can legally remain in the US for a year at a time.

Exactly what happens when it comes to selling the car can vary. Sometimes the ownership of the plate goes to the new owner, the rest of the time you need a new plate.

Buying a Car:

A temporary registration is allocated to a buyer of a vehicle which lets them use the vehicle while the proper registration plate is released. This may be a form in the vehicle’s window, or a plate made of cardboard, paper or a light plastic material. It may even look exactly like a regular number plate but still needs to be removed after a few days.

In order to register the car, you will need of proof of ownership as well as proof of your identity and date of birth. You may need an emission certificate and safety inspection certificate and completed registration application form. In addition to this there is a fee to pay.

Collector Plates:

There are collector plates, such as those connected to specific universities. In addition, antique vehicles have registrations marked with “horseless carriage” or similar. Exactly what terms are used vary from state to state and it’s always best to check out the regulations!

Novelty number plates give some prestige to their owners, but some may need to be changed, such as the “NULL” plate. Unfortunately, the registration website seemed to no longer accept the novelty name and so a new registration number had to be applied for. So, beware the more confusing names!

When in doubt, do your research and hopefully your registration will go without a hitch.

Vans and Van-like Vehicles

From the UK Desk

There are many types of vans, but it can be differentiated into small, medium and large vans, pickups, tippers, combis and minibuses. It comes down to how much space is required and whether you need load space or passenger space. Although coolness is not the first thing you think about with vans, some of them do indeed give a certain sparkle to your business or allow a strong vehicle for your large brood.

Citroen Berlingo

Small vans have a short wheelbase, an example is the Citroen Berlingo. The medium vans tend to more popular, like the Ford Transit. Large vans have, not unsurprisingly, a large wheelbase such as the Merc Sprinter.

The pickups may also be called trucks, they either have a two- or four-wheel drive. A tipper is a certain type of pickup which allows the content to be spilled or “tipped out.” (US we call them dump trucks).

Combi Van

Combi vans are designed to be multi-purpose, whether transporting cargo or people. Lastly the Minibus or MPV sometimes the seats can be removed as with the smaller models.

The Chevrolet Express, a full-size van is for a maximum of eight people and has a standard trim. Note too the cloth bench seats and the manual air conditioning. The platform shape is similar to the GMC Savana. In 2003 Cargo doors were added “to the mix”; in 2004 electronic stability control (also called StabilTrak).

The stability control improves the stability of the vehicle by detecting when the traction is lost-meaning that the brake has been applied. This can be fixed by oversteering or understeering and as a result reduces fatal accidents.

The Honda Odyssey can be described as roomy, whether we’re talking about cabin or cargo. To switch to cargo though you will need to remove the second row of seats. With a powerful V6 engine of 280 horsepower along with a 10 speed automatic transmission, and as far as the 2021 version is concerned an enhanced exterior and interior.

A special feature of the Odyssey is an in-cabin PA allowing everyone to hear the driver, even up to third row. In sorting out the aerodynamics the latest model has an interior which has shrunk slightly, but can still fit eight people in the back, so no great loss here.

Kia Sedona has many tech features but is not as big as the Honda. It has seating for eight. The miles per gallon may not however be as good as its rivals, but it has a comfortable, stylish interior, according to reviews. Its sales website speaks of a “stylish cockpit,” by which the mean bucket seats. But there’s not that much difference between the front and the back in terms of design.

Ford Transit Connect

The Ford Transit Connect offers more than the usual Ford Transit, having a whoshy four-cylinder engine and is designed to maneuver through large scale traffic. There are a few driver-assists here too. However, if you were a fan of the bright orange seatbelts there is bad news; these no longer feature in the 2020 model. Maybe you can live without them?

Is Your Car Ready For Fall Driving?

Cooler weather is finally here. You’ve brought out your sweaters and jackets and stored your summer attire. Your wardrobe is all set to enjoy the crisp, cool days but what about your vehicle? Is your car ready for cooler-weather driving?

If you’re not sure if your vehicle’s ready or aren’t sure what needs to be done, here are a few things you’ll want to take care of before you hit the open roads this fall.

How to Get Your Car Ready for Fall Driving

1. Give Your Car a Bath

Chances are your summer driving routes took you to a beach, at least once. Whether it’s sand from a freshwater lake or salt from the ocean air, you’ll want to rinse it off before you start any fall road trips. The salt, sand, and other grime from summer drives can collect on the vehicle’s undercarriage. If left on too long, it can cause corrosion.

To prevent this from happening, rinse all of the salt and other grime off your car. A garden hose can be just as effective as a car wash.

2. Check Tire Pressure

Did you know that every time the temperature fluctuates 10 degrees your tire pressure changes as much as one pound per square inch? This means that when the temperature changes you want to check tire pressure.

If you’re not sure what is recommended for your vehicle, optimal tire pressure will be listed in the owner’s manual. You can also look your vehicle up online or ask a mechanic if the manual is lost.

3. Replace Windshield Wiper Blades

You might not have to replace the windshield wiper blades if they weren’t used during heavy spring and summer downpours. However, if you spent a lot of time parked at the beach the salt air can corrode the rubber blades.

It is recommended that you change the blades every six months. Drivers in colder climates may want to plan on replacing them every fall. The last thing you want is to find out your windshield wipers aren’t effective in the middle of a rain or snowstorm.

4. Check the Oil and Filter

Checking your oil levels should be a part of your regular car maintenance. Depending on the type of oil used, mileage, and driving conditions, it might not need to be changed. If it’s measuring low and still looks clear, it’s okay to just add to the existing oil.

If it’s time to change the oil, often to a lighter-weight one, you also want to replace the filter. Lighter oils are often recommended for fall driving since it can help the engine perform more efficiently in cooler temperatures. A new filter can do what a dirty one can’t; keep the oil clean and debris out of the engine.

5. Change the Air Filter

The air filter is an important component and it’s often overlooked. It prevents dust and other small impurities from entering the cylinders’ combustion chambers. This can lower fuel efficiency and reduce engine performance. Like your oil filter, it should be changed every six months.

6. Flush the Cooling System

Your vehicle’s cooling system should be flushed and refilled every 2-years or 24,000 miles. It’s part of good car maintenance and an easy item to add to your spring car maintenance checklist.

You will need a radiator cleaning product to flush away oil, grease, and collected sediment. After flushing the radiator, refill with a mixture of water and coolant. The percentage of water and coolant will depend on the climate. Severe climates require a higher mixture of coolant than water.

7. Check the Spark Plugs and Battery

This is something you should already be doing regularly. Checking the battery and connections helps ensure that you won’t be stranded. Make sure that the connections are tight and that there aren’t any signs of corrosion. You also want to make sure that the battery housing is solid.

The final thing you want to do before heading off on your first fall drive of the season is to clean out the car’s interior.

A Curvaceous Road?

To negotiate a curve, you must be aware that you can lose traction and begin to slide. The difficulty with commercial and other top-heavy vehicles is the possibility of rolling over… Yes, that’s why you need to be a bit cautious.

The reason why hairpin bends are so called is because their inner angle is acute meaning you have to turn about 180o. A series of hairpin bends is known as a switchback. You’ll often see a caution sign with a picture that looks like a black snake on a field of yellow to warn you its coming.

But why are there hairpin bends on roads? For one thing it’s easier and cheaper to build following the topography of the land instead of a tunnel. As a bonus the bends cause people to slow down instead of making a direct route that could be dangerous.

Famous examples of hairpin bends include Vermont Street and Lombard Street. Both involve a deep curve to negotiate.

Vermont Street, CA

Some curves have been christened “Dead Man’s Curves” most notably the one-off Sunset Boulevard. This is the one that was featured in the song by Jan & Dean, a Californian rock group.

Should you be negotiating a curve using a motorcycle, you should be especially be aware of hazards when driving to the left. An article published by the Institute of Advanced Motorists in 2012 would suggest a blind spot, where you tend to notice hazards more when driving to the right.

Is the road correctly maintained?

If the road has potholes the curve become more dangerous. Beware too, a lack of warning signs. For this reason, road repairs should be dealt with quickly. Without the warning, traffic is less likely to take evasive action.

It’s important to take the foot off the gas pedal and the brake. Keep both your hands on the steering wheel, don’t make sudden motions. Only apply the brake when it is time to do so and when it is, don’t apply it too strongly.

To help you the traffic safety people add turn arrow signs or “chevrons” just beyond each severe curve. To avoid swerving, it is vital to keep to the speed limit or just below it. A word of warning: Don’t turn the steering wheel too far when you adjust the speed otherwise you may lose control of the vehicle as discussed above.

The rule of thumb is to break going into the curve and give it a little gas coming out of the curve. With a front wheel drive car this will actually pull you into the curve.

It’s hard to regain control if the vehicle skids as the steering wheel doesn’t work as normal. Fortunately, you will be able to cope after a bit of practice.

So it’s a turn of the wheel but not by much; if it’s the curve is to the left move slightly to the left. You should pay attention and don’t attempt to change lanes. If you make a “wide” turn this could put you in danger with cars heading in the opposite direction.

It’s possible that you might start to worry you are traveling too slowly, but you shouldn’t as all vehicles are different. If there are any other vehicles nearby make sure they have enough space so that they can negotiate the curves too.

Once you have dealt with the curve you should be able to accelerate, making sure there isn’t another curve just on the horizon.

Once you have experienced enough curves coping with them becomes second nature, which is just as well.

VWs – US and Europe

The last Polo was on sale in the 2016. To the outsider it might not seem like the end of an era. This was after all the fifth generation Polo and it was declared World Car of the Year at the New York International Auto Show in April 2010. But no more Polos made their way across the Atlantic.

It does seem a bit of a pattern. The vehicles available in Europe differ both in style and quality to those in the US. VW gets tax credits for manufacturing cars in the US yet there’s still that differentiation between the two markets.

There are models like the Golf Estate and the VW van California which although it might evoke the Californian spirit is not available in the state, indeed not elsewhere either.

There are some interesting features to the California camper such as the self-leveling system and a number of swivelling captain’s chairs. But VW doesn’t think there’s a profit in them stateside.

The European Passat is midsize, just below luxury quality. The US version however is more like an Audi (at half the cost of the Audi A6).

European Passat 2019

But is it all that different? There is an increase in torque and an improved interior but that’s ultimately it.

The Passat GT with the diesel or hybrid engine is not available in the US, so you will have to make do with other GT models.

Other European VWs include:

The VW Mk7 GTi had a Porsche style about it. The 2019 GTi is slightly similar, but not quite.

Mk2 Golf Rallye was used in the World Rally championship in 1986. It had a 1.8 liter engine and noticeable box-fenders.

VWs haven’t sold Coupes in the US since 1994; so more than 25 years. The Scirocco was based on Italian design. It was revived in 2006 and you might have thought it was for sale in the US, only it wasn’t.

What about the Rabbit Pickup? You may think anything pickup is a sure thing in the US market, but it’s hard to keep up with models like the Silverado. The Rabbit Pickup is a small front wheel drive; it’s not exactly an off-road vehicle. So, it’s not in available over here.

The ID3 is another example of a VW not being launched in the US, which is especially a shame as a new generation electric power. Because it is a hatchback it’s not considered that marketable, though there are some US customers who have been crying out for an electric VW.

If it was an SUV not a hatchback it would be a different matter. But all cars need to find their feet and Europe is the best place to experiment as far as Volkswagen is concerned.

It’s a global brand but make no mistake, the European style of VWs are nothing like the American VWs. But then again, all brands vary from country to country. It keeps the money flowing even if the product is not exactly the best.

See also

What Is A Rocket Bike?

There are two types of rocket bike: a manual cycle with added rocket power (or what appears to be rocket power) and a motorbike with additional power. They are often thought of as stunt bikes, because they lack deceleration and are impractical for the highway, but stunt bikes is its own category, which just happens to also not be street legal. While most stunt bikes you won’t see on the road, it’s definitely just as well that you will not see a rocket bike of any description on the road.

Early Rocket Bikes:

Early versions of the Rocket bike include Germans Fritz von Hopel, and Richter. Fritz von Hopel bolted six booster rockets to what was a 22hp (horsepower) motorcycle called “The Monster,” but he was stalled by the German government. He finally created a rocket powered motorcycle in 1929. Richter in 1931 had a less than successful test run; his bike exploded. This was also in Germany.

Rocket Bikes Today:

You might expect that we have mastered the skill by now, but the thing about being a stuntman is that things can always go wrong. It’s best to always be prepared. Names currently associated with rocket bikes include Eric Teboul, Francois Gissy, Fred Rombelberg, Rick Jojatt and the most famous, Evel Knievel.

So, let’s take these doers of daring-do one by one.

Eric Teboul who gained the nickname “Rocketman” by achieving speeds of 220mph. The bike ran on hydrogen peroxide which is broken down into oxygen and a massive cloud of steam, coming out of its exhaust nozzle. It will accelerate until it runs out of fuel.

Francois Gissy sped up to 207mph, the bike was made to be lightweight, looking more than an e-bike rather than a motorbike. Silver powder provides the “secret ingredient” to the thrust. He also developed a bike which had a speed of 249mph called “The Spine Crusher” though it is difficult to maintain such speeds.

Fred Rompelberg reached a speed of 286mph, though it had to be towed by a racecar for a bit. He achieved 0-60 in 11 seconds in a home-built rocket bike.

Most infamous is definitely Evel Knievel whose rocket bike was developed by experts including US Robert Truax. The goal was to jump the Snake River Canyon. The jump took place September 8, 1974. It’s a little hard to think of a rocket bikes taking off at a trajectory, but not flying as such. As long as there is no wings it’s a power assisted jump—not a flight.

Technically the bike cleared the canyon, but a parachute was deployed too early; the high winds affected the trajectory causing a technical fall. The bike reached speeds of 250mph; he was lucky to have survived.

Rick Jojatt known as The Human Fly used rocket power to jump 27 buses. He may not have appreciated the fame as he disappeared soon after achieving the stunt.

What is the fastest speed of anyone on rocket bike?

The leader has changed hands several times. In 1999, The Mach 3 Challenger (sponsored by Gillette) piloted by Richard Brown achieved a speed of 365mph. Then along comes Rocky Robinson with a bike called “Jet reaction” which was powered by a gas turbine achieved a speed of 376 mph.

Several bikes are lined up with over 425 pounds of torque to make attempts at breaking the 400 mph mark, we’ll soon see.

Is it about the records? Francois Gissy says that when he gets old he may settle down to the comfort of a motorcycle. This is the kind of people we are dealing with; those who think the speed of a motorbike is too geriatric.

Power Steering

Power steering helps a vehicle turn or maneuver. If it becomes disabled, you will need a great deal of muscle to steer. It is certainly widespread-90% of all cars on the road use power steering. It is easier to turn if you go over 25mph.

The power steering works by hydraulics, so if the fluid runs out you’re in trouble. Fluid issues include (a leak, a contamination or corrosion).

Power steering uses a rotary (or round) pump which works on a belt and pulley system. A series of gates or “vanes” turn, which forces the hydraulic fluid through an outlet at high speed. It is designed only to give assistance when the driver is placing pressure on the wheel and the car is in motion.

We are aware of the power assistance to steering, but technically what we experience is a quicker steering response and a steering wheel that returns to its original position more swiftly.

Potential changes to power steering:

Hy-wire by General Motors could be the latest upgrade to power steering. It is still based around hydraulic power but works on a fuel cell stack. To put it simply a computer decides how much pressure you need to drive and does the work for you. If this seems a bit like a fighter jet, there’s a good reason for that; such planes also use the technology.

But back to talking about hydraulic fluid…

Hydraulic fluid is a bright, maybe even a shocking pink in color so it very recognizable, pushing the piston and then the steering rack. It is helped by the ECU or Electric Control Unit which monitors direction, speed and effort of the steering wheel, factoring in your actual speed to change the direction of your wheels. So, there is a good reason to change the fluid regularly, if you regularly service your vehicle then there’s no sweat.

If you think there’s a problem with the power steering then check the fluid with a dipstick. It should be pink with a light smell to it. If it goes black that is due to an increase in O 2. If you discover a full reservoir after finding you have a steering problem, there’s not much you can do apart from calling a repair truck! Let them diagnose the problem.

How do you know you have a problem?

The most obvious sign is that it’s suddenly really hard to steer. Another sign of a power steering failure is a whining noise.

There is a liability issue if you don’t fix the problem you are likely to be sued. Unfortunately, the insurance company will not be able to cover the damage. This is why checking your engine is so vital.

What to do when there is a power steering problem:

So, what happens if the fluid does run out suddenly while you’re on the road? Well if you are having difficulty you shouldn’t be afraid to honk your horn or turn on your blinkers to tell other drivers. If you can it’s advisable to drive to a mechanic. Try not to slam on your brakes unless it’s a real emergency.