Saturday, November 7, 2009

Motorcycle as means of transportation when TSHTF?‏

Just started reading your blog. I really like your down to earth advice. No zombie wacko BS! very refreshing.

I'm trying to downsize my expenses. One way would be to trade in my car that I commute with (honda accord) for a small motorcycle to save on gas. My daily commute goes through what are already some pretty rough areas of Los Angeles, California; but its almost exclusively highway.

I'd probably opt for one that can go off-road but is legal for the street. I'd be giving up a little protection for alot more maneuverability. But since the car I have / can afford isn't bullet-proof anyway, the protection seems psychological at best.

I've been digging around on your site, dont really see you mention the use of a motor bike. What are you thoughts on getting around this way as things start to deteriorate & also surviving after TSHTF?


Hi Richard,
I highly recommend you to stick to your car. Specialy given the areas you move around, I’d firmly recommend you stick to a car that offers much more physical protection.

Cars don’t provide much protection against bullets, even though 22LR may have a hard time going through the windshield in some cases.
But the car does provide better than no protection at all and it does protection against someone that simply would otherwise walk to you, grab you and throw you out of your motorcycle.

Any projectile, bullet, stone or otherwise would impact directly, while with a car t least you have a better chance.
Of course people use motorcycles here but they aren’t nearly as popular as they where, 10 or 20 years ago.

It’s not even as fashionable as it once was among young people, the crime problem being too much of a concern.
Keep the bike for traveling nearby on short trips, that saves you gas too, but when traveling longer distances, and when going through rough neighborhoods I'd stick to the car.



Bones said...

The other problem with motorcycles is the safety factor: if you're in an accident you WILL get seriously injured.

My observations are that people in cars don't respect motorcycles on the road. I personally know several people who where injured, some severely, while riding motorcycles - due to other people's driving mistakes.

A car is basically a big metal box designed to protect you in an accident. Aren't we talking about SURVIVAL after all?

Arthur said...

Motorcycles offer maneuverability, repairability, and unmatched offroadability (coining a word). The disability is cargo capacity and vulnerability.

At rest (say at a stop light) both cars and motorcycles are vulnerable - probably equally so. For the snatch and grab, the only defense in both cases is "Don't let anyone near you". For being shot at stopped, a good marksman will get you either way; on the move, IF you are aware of being shot at, the maneuverability of the motorcycle is a plus. In addition, the acceleration potential could also help, especially if the shooter is used to cars.

Repairability is another strong plus for motorcycles - depending on what you have bought. Being able to repair it yourself is a valuable trait.

Along these lines, I suggest that the Russian URAL fits the desires well. It has a sidecar (and a 2W drive variant) which raises cargo capacity. The sidecar can be dismounted if desired. It is basically an early BMW design strongly designed with home repair in mind.


The Urban Survivalist said...

Any bike with an attachable sidecar is designed to be ridden with the sidecar. Remove it and it can cause problems. Also, just because a bike is easy to repair doesn't make it a good choice. Older bikes may be really easy to fix but they also break a lot. Parts aren't always easy to find, either. More modern bikes are much more reliable and you can expect to find someone who knows how to work on them when you take them to a shop. Take the KLR650 for instance. It's a single cylinder dual sport that was produced for years (15+ if memory serves) with nothing but minor changes. Parts are everywhere. They're easy to work on. You can get one for around $2-3k. They don't die. You can take them anywhere from the highway to single track (there are better suited options for both but you probably won't find many other bikes that can do both better).

Riding a motorcycle is nowhere near as dangerous as non riders (by non riders I mean people who don't put several thousand miles per year on a bike) make it sound. When you're on a bike you can see everything. You're much more engaged. You can react more quickly because your bike accelerates, stops and maneuvers much faster and more easily than a car. Sure other cars may not see you or respect you but if you ride like you're invisible and you take nothing for granted then it doesn't matter. I've "almost" been taken out dozens of times. I can't tell you how many times I could swear that the car was actually trying to take me out. You see everything sooner, you have more time to react and a bike responds immediately so I never have a problem avoiding the situations. I know a lot of ex riders who have been scared away from riding forever by just one similar incident that I run into all the time.

The Urban Survivalist said...

A little long winded...sorry

Some people don't trust themselves enough to react to a bad situation fast enough. Part of survival is honing those reflexes and perception skills. Motorcycling does that very well. You see everything differently when you're on a bike and it translates to when you're off of it. You learn to identify threats before they become dangerous and you learn to react immediately without hesitating.

As for riding when TSHTF I'll be on my bike more often than I'm behind the wheel of my car. First of all gas will be much more expensive and hard to get. A car that comes anywhere near the kind of mileage that a bike can get won't be any safer if you get into an accident. If you see a problem up ahead you can turn around much more easily or even hop a curb if you're on a bike. If you're in a car you're stuck dealing with the problem. If someone tries to step in front of your bike they're just as likely to jump out of the way when you gun it as if you'd been in a car. If you wear your gear then you're probably better off if you get into a scuffle with someone. They're not going to hurt you much when you're wearing full leathers with armor and a helmet. Have you ever seen the knuckle protection on a good pair of motorcycle gloves? Think brass knuckles but a little lighter. The same goes for a good pair of armored boots.

FerFAL said...

Hey Urban Survivalist;
I love you man but I’m afraid you’re making some assumptions that will give you an unpleasant surprise if/when you apply it to some of the situations you mention.
As I said before the car isn’t bulletproof but it does provide physical protection.

The Urban Survivalist said...
“If you see a problem up ahead you can turn around much more easily or even hop a curb if you're on a bike. If you're in a car you're stuck dealing with the problem. If someone tries to step in front of your bike they're just as likely to jump out of the way when you gun it as if you'd been in a car.”

And they are just as likely to trow a brick at your face. And hill you.
Or set a trap to force you to stop, instead of wrecking your car, they wreck you. If the fall doesn’t kill you they’ll do it soon after.
This is one of the few things that I’m an asshole about because I’ve been in more than enough roadblocks, riots and crappy driving situations to tell you for certain and not a shadow of a doubt that you are MUCH better off with a car than with a bike. Unless your bike somehow turns you into Superman, your not going to beat dozens of guys all around you or a brick to the chest, thrown just to make you stop. I’m telling you this because I’ve been there.
Brick thrown to my windshield, luckily it withstood it. Bike and that brick hits you in the chest, arm, head, you’re screwed.
Mob beating your car? You can slowly keep moving forwards, as a last resort you can drive over people, hurting or killing them and the lawsuit will come fast, but my point is, you can do it.
(by the way, roadblocks are usually done in places where you don’t have an option, such as bridges, that’s the point of them after all)
Bike? If you’re caught, and you’ll eventually run out of luck, they just have to pull you down and beat the crap out of you, steal your bike and cool outfit.
About what you mention regarding driving safety, every single biker I know that spends enough time on one has several near death accidents, and many don’t make it. You crash with your body. Sorry man, but really, its absurd to say that a bike is safer than car.
The extra state of awareness you mention? Lets just soopos it does work that way. Still, it does not compensate for the clearly more vulnerable situation. You’re not fastened to a seat and surrounded by metal, there’s nothing between you and the outside and you can’t shove your way through a crowd.
Check the convoys in Iraq, how many of them prefer to move around on a bike, or if they'd rahter go in a car, any car.


Anonymous said...

I learned things driving a motorcycle that have saved me many times in my car. I really recommend motorcycle training for improving your auto driving abilities. Most car drivers have 1 solution for problems: brakes. Two tons of metal can give you a false sense of security.

Motorcyclists learn GREAT skills. Motorcycling is survivalism every mile, and you learn to really watch the road, looking for problems and planning alternatives. Most people don't watch for motorcycles, motorcycles are hard to see, and some people TRY to crash motorcyclists, so you have to drive as if everyone is out to get you. You learn to swerve, jump the bike over obstacles, and slow down or speed up to get out of trouble.

I wouldn't go carless, but I highly recommend motorcycling to save on gas, learn new defensive driving skills, and have another option if SHTF. If wages aren't enough to cover expenses - a bike is cheap transportation. A car can get boxed in easier than a bike. A bike can use escape routes that are too narrow for a car (including the bad guys' car). So some trips might be safer by bike, others by car. Doesn't hurt to have more options.

I get what you're saying about the motorcyclist's body taking the abuse that a car would deflect. I don't actively ride because I prefer the safety of the car. There are times, though, that a bike offers more maneuverability, and the lessons learned from driving without a 2-ton shell are invaluable.

Anonymous said...

In the city where crime rampant, and as FerFal has recommended, a 4WD with a massive front bumper would be the best choice for the reasons already stated. I have such a truck.

In the country where hopefully crime won't be so serious, or in the city when only necessary, a good used motorcycle can be an inexpensive backup for a primary vehicle. It is dangerous to store gasoline and in the case of fuel shortages or high prices, it might be your only option. My choice is a old 1969 Honda CT90 (Trail 90) with 1,700 miles. It is like new and the breed is as reliable and durable as this class of motorcycles get. New and used parts are widely available. New production Honda CT110/90's are being made for Australia for the farm (CT110AG) and Postal service, CT110. They are simple to work on, and as versatile as it gets. With a high/low transmission they climb steep hills and tow lighter loads(yes, they can tow a trailer) and have large carrying rack in the back. These are good for hunting and shopping. Fuel consumption is right up there with a scooter at 80 to 100 per gallon, and top speed is about 45mph. Another choice might be a 49cc scooter, such as the Honda C70, as no insurance or license is required in most states.

A car is much safer if you can afford one. Having a small motorcycle as an option, could however prove to be invaluable. And in the case when the Honda breaks down, a used bike cycle or two from garage sales and thrift stores, is a very cheap way to go.


Ryan said...

Motorcycles are really fuel sippers. As noted in Rambo it is pretty easy to closeline and rob someone on a bike. Not what I would want to move around on in a crime ridden area. However if your area is pretty safe and you just need a way to get to work that is easy on expensive fuel a bike could have some value.

Anonymous said...

Ive rode motorcycles for a very long time now. Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki, all of those are good brands. The newer the type, the better. They are more fuel efficient too. I've actually laughed when some recommended old motorcycles. The practical one in where I lived always go for the new one unless they dont have enough money.
One of the benefits of using motorcycles is you can use them to go to rural areas where the road is very rough. Heck Ive even used a Honda scooter to go near the mountains and besides the rivers with no problem at all.
The problem with motorcycles though are there are some accidents especially at night. There are a lot of speeding cars that dont care for others safety. They can easily make a hit and run, and nobody will know. Remember, a very small delicate hit to a running motorcycle can result to a deadly crash. Things like this happen. Ive seen them. A very fast moving truck or bus passing at a running motorcycle at very close proximity can even cause an accident especially to an inexperienced rider, one who doesnt have years of experience.
Sadly, Ive also read of a motorcyclist who was stabbed while on the road. He was waiting for the traffic to run when he had an argument with someone.
Motorcycles are rarely used in cities where people dont know each other. They are mostly used in rural areas where there are almost no crime. Neighbors even like to borrow them. They just replace the fuel the used.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"The newer the type, the better. They are more fuel efficient too. I've actually laughed when some recommended old motorcycles. The practical one in where I lived always go for the new one unless they dont have enough money."

Sorry if this is incomplete, but there's isn't time for a thorough reply. Here are some of the reasons why I would choose an old Honda ct90/110.

-Very low mileage and in excellent condition bikes can be found for $750 to $1,000.

-Famous for it's reliability. It is time tested.

- Design is utilitarian. Example, has large study luggage rack that can accept modification for saddle bags and large box. A front rack can be purchased and added. Can pull a light wieght trailer full of whatever.

- Designed for rugged conditions, off road as well as street use. The low range gives the bike power of a 180cc motor, abeit at slow speed.

- Designed for third world conditions. Example, runs fine on old and new low octane gasoline (60 octane rating as reported from Mexico.)

- Mechanically simple. Easy enough to work on that even a caveman can do it.

- Good technical support on the web for Do it Yourselfer's.

-Good supply of affordable use and new parts. Inexpensive parts bikes are easy to find.

These are some of the important attributes I would look for in any vehicle platform or tool for the tough times we face. Yes, they are slow and better fuel economy can be had with a newer bike, but not much better. It's slow speed does limit the bike to a town or city and off road. Slow speed may also limit the extent of injury due to accident and insure durability of the bike . There is a reason the bike remains popular today and new production for the Austrialians began in 2000 for first, it's postal service, and now generally. It is everywhere is Austrialia. Austrialia provides us with real world and modern testing ground. We can then say that the bike is both old and new and certainly time tested and in many environments. Modern is good, but timeless is priceless.