Riding Skills Want to improve your skills on or off the track?

Helpful Info for new riders.

Old 09-08-2009, 12:46 PM
RojerLockless's Avatar
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Default Helpful Info for new riders.

While it may not quite be INEVITABLE, it is HIGHLY PROBABLE that any rider will experience some sort of accident the longer they ride. Ironically, a rider is at greatest risk of having an accident when they first begin riding due to inexperience. Conversely, as you gain experience you continually add to your time exposed to risk, meaning that while you have more experience to use to avoid accidents you are increasing number of opportunities for an accident to occur.

The only certain way to guard against having a motorcycle accident is to not ride. Period. If you choose to ride, you must realize that there is always the risk of an accident, be it big or small, serious or minor, your fault or not.

There. Now, that said, you do a lot to avoid accidents. Here are the main things that come to mind:

1) Training: Take ALL that you can find and then take some more. Start with the MSF courses, take them all and then find more courses to take, anything from track classes to dirt classes to advanced street riding classes to wheelie classes. Any serious, guided, organized, safety minded instruction only adds to your experience and skill set and does so in a controlled environment that allows you to be relatively safe while learning, unlike the street where, if you find that you need to do something that you've never done before, you won't get but one chance to get it right without real consequences.

2) Training: See # 1.

3) Follow at a great distance: Leave as much following distance as you can stand when riding behind other vehicles. The more space you leave, the more time you have to react to any issues coming from the vehicles ahead. If you're on their bumper and they drive into an accident, you'll be in the same accident, whereas if you're 12 seconds back, when they drive into an accident you'll calmly pull over to a safe area, call 911 and lend a hand to those in the accident. Riding with greater following distances also allows you to get a good look at the road surface and provides you with plenty of time to avoid those giant potholes or spilled fluids that would otherwise end your ride.

3a) Ride in space: When riding in traffic, create the largest cushion of space possible between you and all other vehicles. Doing so will make it easier for them to see you and give you more time to react to anything unexpected that they might do.

4) Do NOT ride IMPAIRED: If you drink, do drugs, are taking medication, sleep deprived or doing ANYTHING that may affect your mind or body, just don't ride. Riding safely requires that your mind and body both be sharp and healthy. Anything that negatively affects your perception, judgment, reaction time, ability to think, etc. should tell you to stay off the bike until you’re clean and clear. Riding impaired is a GREAT way to find an accident.

5) Avoid riding in the rain: Motorcycles enjoy many advantages over other vehicles including acceleration, maneuverability and vision. In the rain, many of those same advantages become liabilities due to lose of traction and our lack of windshield wipers and protection from the elements. Acceleration and maneuverability are instantly reduced greatly due to lack of traction and our vision is immediately compromised by the rain and fogging on our helmets/windscreens/glasses. In addition, we become much less visible to the other vehicles on the road.

6) Avoid riding at night: Why? One word: Deer. Or whatever critters you have that are local to the area and much more active at night. Animals are the one thing that we really have no good strategy to defend against. They can appear anywhere at anytime and once spotted you cannot reliably predict their movements/behavior. While animals can certainly be encountered even during the height of the daylight hours, between from dusk until dawn there is far more danger posed by the activities of our wilderness friends.

6a) If you get caught riding at night, choose the largest/most heavily travelled roads you can. Those lesser travelled great two lane roads with the twisties that cut through scenic undeveloped lands are MUCH more likely to animals that are out and about after dark. The larger roads with their noisy traffic, lights and fencing have a much lower probability for an animal encounter.

7) Ride slower. Riding motorcycles fast is easy...and dangerous. The faster you go, the less time you have to react to anything in front of you, including cross traffic, unexpected lane changers, red light runners, stop sign runners, arrogant pedestrians, driveway demons, left turners, double parkers, sudden brakers, crossing deer, decreasing radius corners, sand on your line, etc. It sucks, but the faster you go, the less time you have to be safe. As a new rider, it's PARTICULARLY important to keep the speeds down as new riders generally do not have the experience needed to make informed judgments "speed flexibility".

8) Maintain your ride: If doesn't work right/isn't reliable, then it's an accident waiting to happen. It's tough enough to ride safe with a bike in perfect condition, last thing ya need is to give yourself a handicap by riding a questionable machine. Do it yourself or pay to have it done right, but don't ride a sub-standard machine.

9) ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time): Gear up. IF something happens, there is no question that you want to be over-dressed rather than under-dressed. Less than 5% of motorcycle accidents are fatal but over 85% involve injury. If you're not dressed for it, you'll be in that painful 85%. The closer you are to ATGATT, the better your chances are of being in the 15% that walk away with nothing more than a story to share at the next rally or bike night or on your favorite internet forum.

10) Ride for yourself: Ride b/c you love it. Period. Any other reason is missing the point and distracting while riding. Do not ride to impress anyone. EVER. That includes girls. Yes, even the hot girls! It also includes parents, friends, siblings, co-workers, etc. The second you ride to impress, you run the risk of worrying more about how what you're doing looks to others and less about if what you're doing is smart or safe. Do not ride for gas mileage or the low up front cost of bikes. For most folks, in the long run, cars are cheaper and provide greater utility and are safer. The ONLY reason to ride is because you simply love it. Period.

For some interesting info regarding motorcycle accident stats, check this out: Motorcycle Accident Statistics - webBikeWorld

Here are conclusions from the report:
• Helmet use among fatally injured motorcyclists below 50 percent
• More motorcyclist fatalities are occurring on rural roads
• High blood alcohol levels are a major problem among motorcycle operators
• Half of the fatalities are related to negotiating a curve prior to the crash
• Over 80 percent of the fatalities occur off roadway
• Undivided roadways account for a majority of the fatalities
• Almost two thirds of the fatalities were associated with speeding as an operator contributing factor in the crash
• Almost 60 percent of motorcyclist fatalities occur at night
• Collision with a fixed object is a significant factor in over half of the fatalities
• Braking and steering maneuvers possibly contribute for almost 25 percent of the fatalities
• More riders age 40 and over are getting killed
• Almost one third of the fatally injured operators did not have a proper license
Based on the above conclusions, look at what you can EASILY do to lower your odds of being in a fatal accident:

1) Wear a helmet.
2) Don't drink and ride.
3) Treat corners with respect. Better to go in too slow than too fast.
4) Keep speed down.
5) Don't ride at night.
6) Get a license.

Again, the only way to ensure against a motorcycle accident is to simply not ride but if you do ride, there is a LOT you can do to stack the odds in your favor, both in terms of avoiding accidents and surviving them well if they do occur.

Best of luck!
wanna learn to ride www.msf-usa.org

Last edited by RojerLockless; 09-11-2009 at 02:48 PM.
Old 09-13-2009, 12:33 PM
JHouse's Avatar
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If I may add:

First bike? My advice is to stay afraid for a long time. (Or if you prefer, if not fear, then RESPECT.)

Just like when you learned to drive a car, as soon as you get confident, you crash, most of us have, but on a bike you may only get one mistake.

The more powerful the bike, the more likely it is to surprise you, and often it will get you in lethal situations faster than you can react. And I'm not even talking about the added risk of others treating you as if you were invisible.

If you are a daredevil by nature, a guy with no fear, you better learn to exercises a LOT of restraint, which isn't easy for that type of person. http://surfermag.com/magazine/archiv...ear/index.html

But if you make your learning curve slow, steady and safe, and respect the power of your equipment, you might just love it. But it's not for everyone. Good luck.

Last edited by JHouse; 10-18-2009 at 03:48 PM.
Old 01-24-2010, 06:28 PM
CHRIS[CaPWN]'s Avatar
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Location: St. Louis, MO
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I'm new to riding. I just bought my first bike, and reading these forums are so helpful! Thank you so much for helping us new riders to be safe and smart while riding. Even if some of the things I already know, its still good to review them! I hope yall know it isn't underappriciated.

Last edited by CHRIS[CaPWN]; 01-24-2010 at 06:43 PM.
Old 01-24-2010, 07:38 PM
datru's Avatar
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Good tips guys. I'm still shocked to know that in some states/areas Helmets are not required for riders, seriously, cmon.

I always liked the phrase "ride defensively". If it looks like that cager is gonna change lanes, treat it as if he doesn't see you and will do so at the very worse time.
Old 02-07-2010, 04:29 AM
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Location: Greenville, NC
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I'm a novice rider myself but there's something my dad's always said that makes a lot of sense to me, it's "Pretend you're invisible", pretend that no one can see you at all and every single other driver is about to merge into you or slam on his or her brakes at any time.

If you always pretend no one can see you, you'll spend as much, if not more time worrying about other peoples' driving as you do about your own.
Old 02-07-2010, 10:48 AM
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Good post. We should all keep these things in mind every time we ride, and we can't be reminded too often. And I agree with about 99% of what you wrote, especially the need to get training, only ride when you're mentally able to focus, and never lose sight of the fact that you're doing something that is potentially very dangerous.

But I disagree that the only reason to ride is because we love doing it. Bikes are a practical way to get around since you can maneuver through traffic, and always find room to park. In crowded areas like where I live, these are real considerations. If you can resist launching from intersections and endoing every time you stop, your tires will last a lot longer, and the main thing that costs more on bikes than cars is that we go through tires quicker. And if you use your bike for transportation, not just recreation, you will sometimes have to ride in the rain or after dark. That's where things like not outrunning your headlight, leaning off the bike to conserve lean angle, leaving a cushion of space between you and other vehicles, and SLOWING DOWN are essential.

Regarding deer, they're most active at dawn and dusk, so during those times if I'm out in areas where they are, I slow way down, and scan the sides of the roads. Their eyes are highly reflective, so if you look for them, you'll see them. And if you do, just keep it very slow, and be prepared to come to a quick stop if they jump out in front of you.
Old 02-07-2010, 12:42 PM
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Believe that every other road user is
1 A complete idiot
2 They are all trying to kill you........................
You'll live longer
Try to think for the "other guy" - those of us who have spent years on the road on bikes, have developed a sort of 6th sense - the longer you ride, the more you will learn.
Don't ride to close to parked cars - people open the doors
Watch driveways - people pull out without seeing you, especially in reverse.
Where you look is where the bike will go - don't get fixated on a barrier/road edge etc - you will hit it.

Use your mirrors
Trucks drop tyre casings which will kill you (one nearly got me last Monday)
Watch for "rainbows" on the road in wet weather - it's a diesel/petrol spill which will dump you on your *** no matter how good you are.........If you are unlucky enough to run into a big rainbow stay off the brakes and run straight - don't try to turn - see dumped on your *** again....
Keep your tyres pumped at the right pressures.
Look after your bike and it will look after you. Maintenance is critical
Watch painted lines in the rain - see "dump you on your ***" above, Same result
Never be complacent.........or start to think you're Valentino Rossi or Nori Haga - you aren't and you never will be.(Neither of them ride street bikes, nor did Fogarty or Doohan, they all figure it's too dangerous)
It's amazing how hard you can brake in the rain/wet IF you do it in a straight line, but not too much on the rear brake until you've had more practice................

There are so many thinks to think about you'd wonder why we do it - You'll get the hang of it, and it'll start to become automatic.

Guys please jump in here with other tips..........let's help to keep our newer riders upright and smiling

Last edited by Shadow; 02-07-2010 at 12:49 PM.
Old 03-13-2010, 10:33 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: cali
Posts: 50

Great info. A rider went down today on the freeway in my city and it just gave me a reality check on how dangerous riding can be. I just got so comfortable that I forgot a lot about what has been keeping me safe this whole time, including God's mercy since I rode pretty stupid as a new rider. Anyway, I hope that guy is alright and thanks again! Also, I like that you wrote about maintaining the bike!! It can be very dangerous riding with a questionable bike. As a matter of fact, I lost my pipe on the freeway a few weeks ago. The vibration loosened up the little thin bolts on the shorty and I was riding on the freeway and it just fell off. Luckily, no one was behind, except for a big truck that went over it without crushing it, and I got it back on. So now I'm being more cautious on inspecting things before I hop on.
Old 03-20-2010, 04:47 AM
Junior Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 20

Just wanted to add how high winds can also be dangerous.

Everyone talks about rain, but I was out in some pretty windy conditions last week (30mph+)and while negotiating a low speed turn on a narrow street, with lots of cars parked on the sidewalk, I was blown into a curb. I was too close to the curb to begin with, but I had no idea how much wind can push your sport bike around. I'm fine, bike needed a new mirrow/blinker and will need a new fairing. I didn't check the weather before I went out riding either, because it started out a beautiful day. Once the wind started up I wanted to get home, but I couldn't get home soon enough.

Just remember to check the weather and when the wind kicks up take it easy.

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