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Rodent Of Unusual Size
Date Joined Sep 2003
Total Posts : 1054
| Posted 3/28/2004 11:02 AM (GMT -7) |
Spring is a nasty season for motorcyclists. Motorcycle crashes and deaths always spike in spring as riding increases when the weather warms up. But there’s more to it than that: Spring is a time of new riders, new bikes, and rusty skills.
Harry Hurt found that newbies (less than 6 months of experience) are 40% more likely to crash than more experienced riders, and spring is the time that many take up the sport. He also found that 48% of crashes among more experienced riders (over 6 months) were on new-to-the-rider bikes, and, of course, spring is when the latest and greatest new motorcycles become available.
If you just got a new bike, or if you haven’t ridden much recently, consider taking extra precautions for the next few weeks. I’m not suggesting you do everything listed below—think about your riding and try ones that you’d benefit from most.
Read a book, watch a video. The MSF's Motorcycling Excellence—Second Edition augments basic teaching on riding skills and protective gear with additional articles on advanced topics by Nick Ienatsch, Kevin Schwantz, suspension guru Paul Thede of Race Tech, Freddie Spencer, and more. David Hough's books, Proficient Motorcycling and More Proficient Motorcycling, are must-reads on street riding technique for beginners and veterans alike. Ken Condon's book Riding in the Zone offers a unique perspective on safer street riding, and it includes a DVD illustrating his ideas. From Jerry Palladino's Ride Like a Pro DVD you'll learn motorcop secrets for maneuvering even the biggest bike in tight spaces.
For sport riders, Nick Ienatsch’s Sport Riding Techniques and Lee Parks’ Total Control stress safety, emphasize real-world technique rather than track skills, and include drills that can produce noticeable improvement in your riding. Keith Code's book A Twist of the Wrist II details a cornering method that will help you to take turns more safely and confidently on the street and faster on the track. Code's recent video, A Twist of the Wrist II DVD, brings his method to life in demonstrations of the techniques and their benefits.
- Ask a question. Got something that's been puzzling you about riding--maybe a nasty traffic situation or a road you can't quite figure out? Post a question in the Motorcycle Safety forum. Chances are someone else has had the same problem and can help you figure it out.
- Practice fundamentals. Can you brake hard enough to make the front tire "howl at you" as Nick Ienatsch describes it? If not, you could use some practice. Nick also writes: "If you ride at 120mph, you had better practice braking from 120mph." Of course, there's only one place to practice braking from 120: the race track. You should also be able to whip the bike quickly and smoothly through a cone slalom. Practice will help develop the countersteering instinct and build confidence in the bike’s ability to change direction quickly with forceful steering input. I visit a local dead-end street where the city's motorcops have marked a weave course for their own use with 35-foot cone spacing, and I try to build up to 35mph.
- Do a "skills ride" once in a while. When I’m having a bad riding day—no confidence, not hitting reference points, etc.—I turn it in to a "skills ride" and work on technique at moderate speed. You can concentrate on just a few things at a time, so pick one or two skills before you ride. Things I focus on at one time or another include: sitting on the motorcycle correctly (keep upper body relaxed to prevent extraneous control inputs); visual skill (plan ahead, focus on aim points when steering); line variation (quick steering vs. slow steering); steering style (Code’s "pivot" steering vs. push/pull); smooth throttle control; trail braking.
- Take a class. If you’ve never taken it, or if it’s been a while, do the MSF’s Experienced Rider Course. It’s only one day, you ride your own bike, and you’ll get great coaching on fundamental skills. The class is especially valuable if you have a new bike. It’s the perfect opportunity to get the feel for the machine under maximum braking and swerving, but at low speed. If you're looking for something more advanced, consider a track course geared to improving street riding skills such as Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic, Bob Reichenberg's Streetmasters, or Reg Pridmore's CLASS.
- Set a speed limit for yourself. Rather than blitzing all the straights at triple-digit speed, keep it down. Resolve to observe, say, a 60mph limit on twisty roads. Take slower turns as fast as you want and accelerate out hard, but roll off at 60. And if a sweeper is no fun under 70, just let it be no fun this week. On a new bike or with neglected skills, too much speed can easily end your ride on a helicopter headed to the hospital.
- Know yourself. Each of us messes up in ways that we tend to repeat. Maybe you over-ride sight lines and are rewarded with unpleasant surprises around blind turns. Maybe you just can’t say no to Mr. Throttle and experience oh-crap! moments when the straightaway isn’t as long as you hoped. Maybe riding with a certain group makes you stupid. Whatever. Think about how you screw up and what you can do correct it.
You have months of great riding ahead of you. To get the most out of it--and to make sure you're not sidelined waiting for bones to heal and an insurance check to arrive--start out right by sharpening your skills and judgment.
edit 4/3/2006--updated 2-year-old post with the recent books and training programs
edit 3/1/2010--updated again; added new books, fixed stale links
A superior rider uses superior judgment to avoid problems that would demand his superior skill.
Post Edited (DataDan) : 3/1/2010 9:00:09 PM GMT
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Date Joined Jun 2003
Total Posts : 10791
| Posted 3/28/2004 11:26 AM (GMT -7) |
OK, my PowerBall numbers HAVE to be coming up ...
Date Joined Mar 2003
Total Posts : 723
| Posted 3/28/2004 7:58 PM (GMT -7) |
|I'd add practice at low speeds and in tight quarters as well. I'm always amazed at how many people hurt themselves in parking lots, driveways, manuevering in traffic at 10MPH, etc. We all focus so often on going as fast as we dare that a lot of us forget that the bike needs a little different touch in the slow stuff.|
Also, don't forget to get some riding time in to build skills on wet pavement. Sure, not everyone rides in the rain and not everyone lives in the Northwest like I do and rides all winter, but almost everyone gets caught in a summer shower from time to time. Wet surface riding can be nerve wracking, but it's the panic over DOING it that gets most people in trouble, not the actual wet surface.
And I can attest to the "new-to-the-rider" bike issues. I learned first hand two years ago how easy it is to forget that you're not riding the "old" bike and that the "new" bike behaves differently. I paid for that one by spending a lot of that summer in a cast...
As an old and wise rider said once:
"I'm not afraid to go fast, it's the crash & burn part that sucks."
US Motorcycle Academy "...Master the Machine"
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Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 17674
| Posted 3/29/2004 8:39 AM (GMT -7) |
|Great advice Dan, and may I also add:
Do a spring tune-up.
Even though modern bikes don't get plugs and points, there's still a lot of things that need to be checked, adjusted and lubed before you take it out for the first spring ride. Make sure every bolt is tight, and all the controls, brakes etc. are working smoothly. Change the oil. flush the carbs.get some fresh gas. Check the tires, chain, etc.
The whole nine yards.
A panic stop is no time to find out that a rat chewed up your brake hose.
Use good judgement here. If you have to postpone a ride with your friends to do your Spring tune-up they might complain, but you'll feel better and ride better
with the peace of mind that comes from KNOWING that everything is in A-1 shape.
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Date Joined Mar 2003
Total Posts : 4130
| Posted 3/29/2004 11:31 AM (GMT -7) |
|Just got the bike out its winter nap. I remember this being a big deal with my old carbureted bikes. With this moder FI bike, it was amazingly easy! I had stored the battery indoors over the winter, and gave it a quick charge a few days back. Took the cover off, put the battery in, checked chain tension and applied some lube, adjusted tire pressures and peered at the brake pads, checked all the lights and signals were working, checked the oil level, and just looked the bike over quickly. Little sweetheart started right up.. Thumpity thumpity thumpity... I missed her.|
Spring has sprung.
And yes, I did notice a little rust on the old riding skills. I'll be taking it easy for the first 500 km or so. Or until all the sand and salt is gone.
I am running on the full tank I stored it with. I guess some folks would recommend draining the tank, but I can't be bothered. I doubt changing the oil is really needed either, unless it was due anyway.
Cheers. Be safe!
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Date Joined Sep 2008
Total Posts : 4
| Posted 8/29/2010 8:11 PM (GMT -7) |
|How can my family be a MSF instructor? What are the steps to being an MSF instructor, cost and where? Near GUAM?|
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