If you respect motorbikes, generally speaking, you will be all right, but there is anecdotal evidence of people losing their lives in speed trials and other events. If you push your luck too much for too long, you’re asking for trouble?
If you just can’t wait to see what your new ride can do, and you decide to take it out on public roads you’ll have to contend with other forms of traffic. There is evidence that testers tend to ignore the posted speed limit of the roads. To be fair it’s hard to read the sign when you’re going that fast.
Manufacturers test on a closed loop, but not all new motorbike testing is done on a closed loop. Professionals also conduct road tests, which occasionally get out of hand. Although anecdotal reports of bikers testing their vehicles to 235 mph (in that case on a Vincent style motorbike) seem unlikely, it doesn’t stop motorcycle testers getting a reputation as a terror on the road. (Another report suggests the maximum was actually 150 mph but it doesn’t stop the job being a death trap.)
Motorbike Styles and Types
For the bigger names such as BMW the shaft, chain and belts differs between models. The biggest factor is the type of bike–off-road, sporting or a touring version. For those who like a bit of both, dual purpose bikes are available.
It can be a bit complicated for people to understand the various types but put simply the C series are maxi-scooters, the K series are four cylinder engines for the road and the S series are the sports series.
Working on Bikes
If you wish to rebuild an engine yourself you will need to examine its manual in minute detail, though you might need an extra manual such as those published by Clymer or the OEM service manual to get to the nub of the information.
You can only really know if you need something new, say a carburetor by taking it out and examining it. This is where the problems start as, if it’s fine, you’ll still need to know how to put the gaskets and such back.
Another thing to look out for especially with older motorbikes is rust; does it need to be cleaned off? The next mission is to look at the spark plugs and then after that look at doing an electrical check, it’s all a cerebral challenge for the novice.
There are stories of people moving from testing motorbikes to testing cars. So, promotion through survival?
You may have thought that choppers were bikes but there are a number of chopper motorbike enthusiasts who would argue that having two wheels doesn’t make it a motorcycle. To “chop” meant to strip the bike, get rid of the fenders for example.
Examples can be seen in the 1969 film Easy Rider.
Nowadays you can buy customized choppers which retail for tens of thousands of dollars. Which is one source of road testing instead of closed loop. Small custom shops are more likely to head out to the desert than rent a closed racetrack.
On your way to the desert you’ll need to navigate some regular roads with regular traffic. Of course, the first issue is if other drivers even see you. When you test on the Californian roads you may be looking at taking your life in your hands.
Aside from issues that all bikers face, there are some troubles that you might not think of. The problems may be due to the differences of bike available. Some are hefty Harleys, other are much lighter such as the Honda Fury. You really need to know your engine in order to be safe.
As well as testing new bikes you can test bikes for emissions and so on at garages. This must be a safer job because you aren’t travelling at speed. It probably doesn’t involve the same sense of thrill though.