101 Steps to Motorcycle Safety - Skills You Should Know

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101 STEPS TO MOTORCYCLE SAFETY

-::- SKILLS YOU SHOULD PRACTICE -::-

There was a boy named Clem whose parents sent him to French boarding school and later to Harvard. But he never learned a useful skill and wound up a broken-down motojournalist. Education cannot help you if you don't hone practical skills. Here are some to work on:

 
74. Stopping on a Line - You should be able, with one smooth brake application, to stop the bike where you want -- hard or gently -- at low speeds or high.
75. Emergency Stops - Don't call them "panic" stops. Learn to calmly stop in the shortest possible distance. Research shows that 30 mph is the most common pre-crash speed.
76. Countersteerlng - Push left/Go left. Push right/Go right. It sounds counterintuitive, but you can handle it. And you don't push down; it's forward.
77. Counterbalanclng - Lean your body out as you lean your bike in. This useful skill will add stability to low speed turns. Offset weaves are a good practice drill.
78. Swerving - Vigorous countersteering combined with a loose riding position that enables the bike to work independently of your body.
79. Weaving - A good way to relieve boredom on empty stretches of road. Use your hips as well as countersteering.
80. U-Turns - Exaggerate your head turns and try to turn in one quick motion.
81. 140-Degree Curbside Pull Outs - Back your bike to the curb at a 40-degree angle. Lean and turn handlebars as far as you're comfortable. Plant your inside foot and place your outside foot on the peg. Look back over your shoulder and pull away with out dabbing or hesitating.
82. "Swooplng" - Pick a curvy, hilly stretch of road and set your entry speed using only your throttle, not your brakes.
83. Riding Slowly - "Balance" actually comes from deft manipulation of clutch, throttle, brakes and steering... skills that will serve you well at all speeds.
84. Throttle Steering - Use throttle roll-on to straighten your bike and guide it to the proper exit position on the outside of the turn.
85. Rear Brake to Control Chassis In Turns - Instead of snapping the throttle shut for tight turns, try holding it open partially and applying a little rear brake.
86. Mid-turn Connections - If you're in too hot, turn your head more, push harder on the handlebar, and apply No. 86, but don't close the throttle.
87. "Feathering" the Clutch - The dirt rider's trick for controlling power surges and driveline lash. The key is "pressure," not "motion."
88. Brake/Throttle Transitions - To keep your chassis stable, smoothly begin one as you're trailing off the other. Grip the throttle lightly and glide your fingers around the brake lever "camlike" instead of squeezing directly.
89. Upshifting - Don't squeeze your clutch lever so far. You only need to squeeze it to the friction point. In fact, smooth, quick upshifts don't require clutching at all on most bikes. Try it.
90. Downshifting - By "blipping" the throttle‹quickly raising the rpms to the correct engine speed for the lower gear‹you eliminate the need for a slow burn on the clutch.
91. Brake and Downshift Simultaneously - This one is tricky -- requires combining Nos. 89 and 91 (and maybe 52).
92. Accelerate - Changing speed and direction are your only physical defenses. Can you upshift without "bobbing" the fork during max acceleration?
93. Stop on a Curve - You must straighten quickly to stop quickly... but you cannot fully straighten before braking (you'd be off the road). Trick is to smoothly increase brake pressure as you decrease lean angle.
94. Impending Skid - Learn the signs: faint chirping or squirminess of the front tire. It's possible to ease off slightly... but if it actually locks, you'll have to release (you can keep the rear brake locked). Try various surfaces and remember: hard braking on the front lightens the rear.
95. ABS Stops - Slam them on; it feels weird, so you'd better get used to it. Try it on all types of surfaces... but -- uh -- first make sure you actually have antilock brakes, and you're not cornering.
96. Slide Down a Hill - You can learn to control a locked rear brake by slowly sliding down a wet, grassy hill or other slippery surface. Of course you can also learn a more valuable lesson... how not to lock it.
97. Integrated Braking Yamaha Venture - 1983 and later Honda Gold Wing and most Moto Guzzi riders -- use both the hand lever and foot pedal every time you brake. Otherwise you won't have the necessary skills when you need to stop quickly.
98. Practice Switchlng the Fuel Petcock to Reserve - So there I was in lane four of the San Diego Freeway on this weird Ducati, traffic on my right doing about 80 mph and traffic on the left doing 90 when....
99. Throttle Baby - If the rear wheel slides in a turn (from gravel, oil, over acceleration, etc.), don't snap the throttle shut! Stay on it until you regain traction. See No. 55.
101 Buy a New Bike Well - it's not technically a "skill," but it will motivate you to ride more and to perfect your skills. It will help your dealer pay his rent and keep food on a motojournalist's table. Short of world peace, what more could you ask for?
[These tips are the brainchild of Mr Lawrence Grodosky and was originally published in the Feb 1996 issue of Rider Magazine]

 

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