The_Instructor

48 months ago

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Be a better motorcycle rider in 5 days: Day 2

Time for the serious and practical stuff. How to deal with trouble (and avoiding it in the first place).

Meet your brakes!

Brakes are not on/off switches. They're capable of being used as subtly as your throttle. When most riders try going faster, there's a temptation to do it by braking later and harder. You don't want to do that, often the result is an unsettled bike going into a turn too fast, and the terrified conviction that there's absolutely no way you could go quicker. Which is, of course, cobblers.

Think: do I need my brakes at all when approaching a corner? We've been conditioned to brake, turn, go -- but it should be -- stabilize speed, turn, go! The crucial thing is to arrive at the turn-in point as the right speed -- whether you've had to brake, accelerate or keep a steady speed.

Front brake? Back brake? That's up to you to decide.

Don't panic. Always look for the escape route an try to ride around trouble.

Don't panic. Always look for the escape route an try to ride around trouble.

Emergency Stops

Emergency stops on a motorcycle are lottery unless they're second nature. Emergency braking is described as going hard on the brakes to the point you just about lock them up. Most people spot trouble, hit the brakes hard and pray. If they lock up, that's it -- down they go. Not really good enough.

Although 75 - 90 percent of braking is done by the front tire, every bike's front/rear balance is different and changes with weather, pillions and so on.

Without ABS, you're searching for the point just before lockup (or stoppie if it's a ZXR or old GSX-R). You can only get that from long time practice. Practice, practice, practice. Whenever you try extreme braking, plunge your head into a state of concentration where you focus on nothing else.

Defensive Riding

Basically, assume everybody and everything is trying to maim you and ride accordingly. Try to cultivate a state of mind where every accident would secretly be your fault for not seeing it coming. On a bike, there's no point being in the right if you've got no legs.

Two main emergencies catch bikers out.

Nightmare #1 Going into a corner too fast, or corner tightens unexpectedly. You want to brake, but you'll either lock the front and crash, or sit up and plough straight on. Not good, especially on left-handers. Instead, you lose what speed you can with the rear brake and take the only sensible choice you have -- try to make the corner.

Nightmare #2 Car pulls out, piano lands in road, leaving you a split second to deal with it. If this has happened before, why didn't you anticipate it this time (See Defensive Driving above)? Where you going so fast the driver saw you but thought you were far away?

Wake up! OK, got that? Fortunately, even this desperate situation has a possible way out…

You go where you look

Whether it be a car pulling out or a deer in the road, if you look at it, you will instinctively steer straight at it as if pulled by the USS Enterprise's tractor beam.

It's partially because you're starting at what looks like inevitable disaster and partly because it's impossible to steer away with the brakes on hard. So drag your eyes off the danger (and your hand off the brake, until you're sure you really want to commit yourself to stopping) and actively look for the gap. Once your eyes find the route, your body and the bike will follow.

If you look at it, you'll hit it. If you don't, you won't. It really is that easy.

If you look at it, you will hit it. If you don't, you won't. It's that easy.

If you look at it, you will hit it. If you don't, you won't. It's that easy.

Try these skills & drills

① Find yourself a big parking lot or a nice stretch of road with no one behind you. Grab the front brake hard for the shortest possible time, then release. Build speed and repeat. Again. And again. It's possible to leave a little dotted black line on the tarmac. Keep trying and come a real emergency, you'll automatically let the brake off and reapply it at the first lockup. It works!

② On a corner you know, prove to yourself it's possible to lose loads of speed very quickly on the way into a corner. Then, if you come up against the situation for real, you'll stay cool.

③ On another corner, go into the turn but leave the front brake alone, keep the throttle neutral, don't close it. Gently use the back brake all the way to the turn-in point to bleed another 10% off your speed and the act of turning loses a bit more speed and bring yourself back on the throttle to ride through the corner normally.

④ Pick a road you know well. Try to brake -- by not braking! This is a great way to train your mental awareness because you're forced into planning your stop without grabbing a fist full of brake. You'll probably find after a couple of runs that anything less than a tight corner doesn't need the brakes as much as you would think.

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Coolbrz80

47 months ago

Sorry I'm late to the party. I'm lovin the beginner to advance info. I live in the midwest for now. Came up in the RSS and taught the for the State of Illinois. These tips would have been great to use when I was an instructor. 👍👍

R100S-1978

48 months ago

Simple, clear, concise 👍👍👍 from me

The_Instructor

48 months ago

@MillionMark Here's Day 3

MillionMark

48 months ago

Great info...Day 3?

The_Instructor

48 months ago

@Can Thank you. I'm still working on it.

Can

48 months ago

👍👏