Motor Scooters: The oily path of safety



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The Oily Path of Safety

RoadRunner 250cc Touring
RoadRunner 250cc Touring
See Roadrunner I-scooters

One does not wear seat belts on a motorscooter. One of the great dangers of scooter-riding is that hitting a bump or pothole that would simply shake one up in a car and perhaps bottom out the springs, when encountered at speed on a scooter is likely to unseat the driver or passenger and very possibly result in injury. The scooter rider must always be prepared to slow for bumps, dips, holes, sacks of chicken feed, badgers, and other random flotsam that present a substantial mass. It's not always easy to see that all-important vertical contour of the road ahead, but one interesting property of well-traveled roads does give one a series if clear clues.

The gravitational force whose standard unit (the G force) is based on the strength of the Earth's gravitational field, exerts a constant downward pull on a stationary vehicle. Should that vehicle experience upward or downward acceleration however, that G force will increase and decrease accordingly when traversing past a hump in the road, the G force is vastly reduced, possibly to less than 0 temporarily if the vehicle hits the bump with enough speed to leave the ground briefly. When bottoming out in a dip, however, the G force can be much greater than 1, as shocks and springs are compressed to take the jolt. Okay, you already knew all that.

Scooter with cargo trailer
A scooter trailer for pizza delivery.
See cargo issues.

Cars drip oil some more than others but that is not the point here. If there is a drip forming below the crankcase, being pulled down by gravity, it is statistically more likely to drop when the G force is at its greatest and least likely when that force is minimal. We have all learnt to avoid driving in the oil path down the middle of the lane for obvious safety reasons, but if we pay close attention to that oil path, it can tell us a great deal about the vertical contour of the road ahead far more than we can clearly see from simply looking at the road itself. Areas where the oil-path sprawl into a large dark spot are points in the road where a great deal of oil has dripped, where the gravitational pull on vehicles is high, where you may bottom out your springs. Those points where the oil-path is thin, indistinct, or even nonexistent, indicate places in your path where your vehicle (and you) may become temporarily and perhaps dangerously weightless and airborne. The oil-path ahead provides an extremely accurate measure of the upcoming vertical dynamic of your vehicle and can thus often be used to anticipate and avert untoward occurrences. [illustration to come] Note that some asphalt and other surfaces do no always show the oil-path while the concrete shows it nicely.


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