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Hello everyone-

Here is a short summary of everything that I've learned and exerienced over the last three years/37,200 + accident free miles. Hopefully it will serve to keep you, yours, and your sled in one piece.

1. Religiously check your tire pressure. I have an 07 FLHRC. I keep both tires at 40psi.

2. The only place for your feet to be, anytime the motor is under power is the floor boards or foot pegs. One way to overcome the "flintstone rider/using your feet as landing gear" technique when the motor is traveling under speeds of 5mph is to simply keep your head and eyes UP, looking straight ahead at a fixed object, like the stop light itself, the top of a tree that is 50-100 yards away, or the top of a SUV roof. Mentally, this feels like you're walking a tight rope, on a high wire. You're just riding a motorcycle, at a very slow speed. Of course, feathering the rear brake will help stand the bike up, but your balance comes from keeping your head AND eyes UP, looking straight ahead.

When you get comfortable, try what I like to call the "Stop and Plant". i.e..once the motorcycle begins to travel at a speed less than 5mph, practice coming to a complete stop, using the rear brake ONLY, then, practice supporting the motor with your left foot ONLY. Stop. Then Plant.

In conclusion..
a. Head AND eyes UP!
b. Feather the rear brake until you need to....
c. Stop.
d. Then Plant.

You are now demonstrating to anyone that may be watching you that you are in 100% complete control of the motorcycle.

3. When you're countersteering, remember to also turn your HEAD in the direction you want to go! Sounds silly doesn't it?

4. Get into the front brake habit.

A simple method you can use is to go out to your garage and practice squeezing, not grabbing, the front brake lever, while counting out loud "one, one thousand". If you have squeezed the lever fully closed, before you have counted "one, one thousand" out loud, you are squeezing too much of the lever too fast.

In an emergency, remember to repeat this phrase to yourself, three times.

FRONT BRAKE!
FRONT BRAKE!
FRONT BRAKE!

Should the front tire begin to skid, don't panic. Release the front lever immediately, and then reapply BOTH brakes.

5. If you ride regularly with a passenger, work out some hand signals in advance for things like stopping, passing, and starting. We use right thumb up, after she is safely in the passenger seat, and is ready to go. Right thumb gestering right, for a right turn, or lane change, Left thumb gestering left, for a left turn, or lane change, and right hand into an open left hand for "I need to pee", or/stop sign.

In addition, tell your passenger to try and sit as perfectly still as she can, but to look over your left shoulder when turning/countersteering left, and to look over your right shoulder when turning/countersteering right.

Finally, both of you should know know how to manually signal a left or right turn should you find yourself riding with a group, your turn signals fail, or, are just too small to see.

Left turn- Your left arm full extended with at least one finger of your left hand pointing in the direction you wish to turn.

Right turn- Left hand closed in the form of a fist, your arm up and out, but no higher than parallel to your head...basically, making the capital letter "L."

6. Never, EVER, put the motor in neutral while you're at a complete stop out in the street. Instead, keep the bike in first gear, with either your right hand, or right foot on the front/rear brake in a very defensive position..i.e. with at least 10 feet of available space in front of you. Visually, your eyes should always be scanning your entire surroundings. You should know what/who is directly in front of you, as well as who is directly behind, or approaching you.

The time to relax is always AFTER you put that kickstand down.


7. Less than 40% of the riders on the road today have had ANY type of motor training. Less than 10% of these riders go on the MSF/ERC level. Thus, a very LARGE majority of the general public cannot come to a complete stop at 40mph in less than 72 feet, nor can they negotiate their motor in a figure eight pattern within the parameters of a 20x40 foot box without putting their feet down/dropping the bike, nor are they aware that the vast majority of motorcycle accidents tend to happen like this..a+b+c+d = the rider is going DOWN.

Dumb luck ALWAYS runs out. Depend on your motor skills instead. Believe me when I tell you, one day you WILL need them. If you have not yet mastered these BASIC skills, then you should strongly consider getting some professional instruction. It is well worth the money.

8. Intersections and Curves are where 77% of motorcycle accidents/fatalities occur. This data also revealed that the hours of 3-6pm, and 12-3am are the most dangerous times to be on motorcycle. You now know where, and WHEN you are most vulnerable.

9. When passing, Signal first, then check mirror, if nothing is in your mirror, then check your blind spot. If nothing is in your blind sport, only THEN get over.

10. Limit your speed to your sight distance. Obviously, if you can see 10-12 seconds ahead, you can throttle pretty hard. On the flip side of the coin, when it's completely dark, and you're on some winding state road in the middle of Tenn, slow down to the posted speed limit, and flip your brights on ( if conditions warrant, of course) so that you have another 2-3 seconds of sight distance.

Hope this helps,

good luck and safe motorcycling!
David
 

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David, excellent summary and I agree with all of the topics on the list. In spring, when I get on the bike again, first couple of hours is low speed practice and braking at speed, just to get back in the game
 

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How about using front brake only unless it is some type of panic stop and then onto the left foot? I guess it depends on skill level and and how you were taught to ride and how heavy your bike is. I prefer front brake only while stopping but also have aftermarket calipers. Obviously I learned on rice rockets.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
" How about using front brake only unless it is some type of panic stop and then onto the left foot? I guess it depends on skill level and and how you were taught to ride and how heavy your bike is. I prefer front brake only while stopping but also have aftermarket calipers. Obviously I learned on rice rockets."

The answer to your question is that it can be done, ( using the the front brake only), but it is certainly not nearly as efficient as the rear brake would be.

When you apply the front brake only, even at a low speed, and esp. when caught by surprise, the front end of the motorcycle tends to "pitch forward", which naturally draws the rider's eyes to the ground. What happens when we begin to look down at the ground? we instantly begin to lose our balance. What do we do when we begin to lose our balance? ..We naturally extend our legs OFF of the boards/pegs, and unto the ground to create support. This is precisely the habit that one should be trying to break when traveling at low speeds.

I see things like this all the time. It often looks like the rider has just "jack-knifed" the motorcycle, which in turn causes him to immediately take his right foot OFF of the rear brake altogether, and use it instead to "duck walk" the bike to a compete stop.

Hell, we've all been there and done that.

Converesly, when you apply the rear brake only, at a very slow speed, and esp in an emergency situation, the motorcycle tends to "stand up", creating even more stability. Thus, if one needed to make a "panic stop", in, say, a parking lot, at 3mph, because a car suddenly pulled out in front of him, the rear brake would not only do just as good of a job as the front, It would instantly help the rider maintain his balance at the same time.

As I said at the outset, talking about these things on the internet, and experiencing them in real life, is like night, and day.

good luck!
David
 

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Good posting, thank you.

I'm curious as to where you got this data:

7. Less than 40% of the riders on the road today have had ANY type of motor training. Less than 10% of these riders go on the MSF/ERC level. Thus, a very LARGE majority of the general public cannot come to a complete stop at 40mph in less than 72 feet, nor can they negotiate their motor in a figure eight pattern within the parameters of a 20x40 foot box without putting their feet down/dropping the bike, nor are they aware that the vast majority of motorcycle accidents tend to happen like this..a+b+c+d = the rider is going DOWN.

I'm NOT picking a fight, stirring the pot, or causing trouble. I'm just looking for the souces so I can properly attribute it them when I teach MSF and Ride Like A Pro.

I am always amazed that people will spend tens of thousands of dollars on a motorcycle, thousands more on performance and appearance, and thousands more on boots, helmets, and clothing. Yet these are the same folks that have second thoughts about signing up for a motorcycle riding course because it "costs too much".

The other thing I find is that whenever I mention to other riders that I teach motorcycling, most of them say "Oh, I already know how to ride". As soon as I hear that, it tells me that their brain is closed to further learning. And sadly, these are the very same people that probably need to take some kind of course. The grave yards, junk yards, and ERs are filled with bikes and bikers who "already know how to ride".

I taught Ride Like A Pro this weekend, and had quite a few veteran riders in class, folks with between 10-25 years of riding experience. And there they were, dragging their feet, walking the dog, and making W-I-D-E u-turns. For some of them I would say that while their aggregate saddle time came to 20 plus years, what they really had was one years worth of riding, experienced over and over for 20 plus years.

Next weekend I'll be teaching the MSF BRC, classroom and range, and would love to have those statistics on hand to refer to.​
 

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Paniolo said:


The other thing I find is that whenever I mention to other riders that I teach motorcycling, most of them say "Oh, I already know how to ride". As soon as I hear that, it tells me that their brain is closed to further learning. And sadly, these are the very same people that probably need to take some kind of course. The grave yards, junk yards, and ERs are filled with bikes and bikers who "already know how to ride".
I think that a better answer to this statement is to say it's not that you don't know who to ride, it is that Increasingly, we have to ride around people that do not know how to drive there cars, and you need new strategy to deal with today's drivers.

DVD players, nav. screens, wireless computers and the dreaded Cell phones and black berries just weren't all that much of an Issue 10 years ago.
Drivers today get less education, and far too many distraction, and it is us, the riding public that usually end up paying the price.:yes:

Training is the only Legal recourse we have until we can get these Items banned from use in cars.
 

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Jeffytune said:
Training is the only Legal recourse we have until we can get these Items banned from use in cars.
Jeffytune,

I'm inclined to agree with you that electronics are causing a large percentage of the driving population to be distracted. I will add that according to MSF Data (gathered by people paid by the MSF), the number one cause of ALL motorcycle accidents is failure to negotiate a curve. And of those accidents, the majority of them were single vehicle accidents, meaning the bike was alone, no other vehicles present. This tells me either something (debris, animals, road condtions, hazards, etc....), or someone (the rider) caused the accident. In most cases, the rider just ran off the road. Of those, the one area we as riders do have a part in, is how safely, or unsafely we operate our motorcycles. And that is where safety training, and PRACTICE come in.

I too would like to see less motorists distracted by electronics. And while it is important for us to be aware of the drivers around us who may be distracted, I believe that it is equally important that we as motorcyclists be able to ride safely, corner properly, and brake efficiently. It's kind of sobering when you stop and think that those single motorcycle accidents, may have been preventable. Riding a motorcycle is like any other sport. Proper training and regular practice is required.

Todays Ride Like A Pro Class was a perfect example in the braking exercise. Everyone of the students could ride their bikes, and stop without problem. Then in the threshold combination braking excercise, I added a simulated emergency quick stop with a downshift. Riders were locking the rear brake and releasing it even AFTER I told them that locking the rear brake and RELEASING it could cause a high side. Some forgot to squeeze in the clutch and stalled the bike. Others forgot to downshift, and rode away from the stop in 2nd or 3rd gear. Folks were still braking with less than four fingers on the lever, or releasing the brakes before coming to a complete stop. So I worked with them correcting these bad habits, and was able to show just how fast and short these bikes can stop with good braking technique.

I guess what I am saying is that aside from the actions of the distracted drivers on the road, there is still a lot we as motorcyclists can do ourselves to lower our risks out there. It's one thing if a rider gets into an accident that was precipitated by a distracted driver. It's another thing if a rider runs off the road on his own. And good training, any kind of good training, followed by regular practice is an excellent place to start.

Mark​
 

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Hi Mark.

You are very much preaching to the choir in my case, I believe in training.

But in the same breath, I am the guy you speak of, wile I have read many books on riding, and I have and do practice, I have not taken a riding class, even though I know I should, even after 14 years of riding I am sure i will learn things that will help my riding.

This spring, once we get back to riding, I will make the time to do so.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm curious as to where you got this data:

7. Less than 40% of the riders on the road today have had ANY type of motor training. Less than 10% of these riders go on the MSF/ERC level. Thus, a very LARGE majority of the general public cannot come to a complete stop at 40mph in less than 72 feet, nor can they negotiate their motor in a figure eight pattern within the parameters of a 20x40 foot box without putting their feet down/dropping the bike, nor are they aware that the vast majority of motorcycle accidents tend to happen like this..a+b+c+d = the rider is going DOWN.

I got that most of that information from the MSF/BRC/ERC classes that I took in the summer and fall of 2005. In fact, this is what motivated me to take the ERC course. For I knew most of my BRC classmates would not go on to the next level. The local website address is www.abateofindiana.org. in case anyone is interested. I took Harris' self taught motor training course after ERC, which is even more intense. The 40mph/under 72 feet benchmark is set up esp. for Motor Officers. I believe ERC was only 20-25mph/under 32 feet.

I too, have never bought into the statement of "I don't need any motor training, I've been riding for 20 years" Truth be told, what most of these people really mean is that they have one year of riding experience, repeated 20 times.

David
 

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Yesterday as usuall I was riding to work {about 20 miles away} going
the same way I always go and I turn at the gas station and there I spy the Caddy and the driver pulling out looking the other way. I'm shifiting into 3rd
wondering if he's gonna look and then out he comes.When he decides to turn
his head and look my way he sees he is going to kill me and stops right in the middle of the lane. I brake HARD whip right behind him thru the gas station driveway and back around him into the road, I look over my shoulder flip him off and go on my way.If I was not riding to protect myself I would have t-boned his door scared the shi* out of him and killed myself. Bottom line here is you gotta pay attention all the time and be ready to take action if possible, I lucked out this time. I hope everybody thinks ahead b/c I really
believe the cages want to kill us.
 

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" 3. When you're countersteering, remember to also turn your HEAD in the direction you want to go! Sounds silly doesn't it? "

Thanks for this post. And #3 sounds nuts at first but after a moment of thought I like it much! I've read about riders trying to countersteer in a panic, and actually turning into the danger instead of away from it because coutersteering takes you the opposite direction than you might intuitively think.
Getting into the habit of turning your head should solve this. I'm gonna start when I leave work today. Seems like this idea would "sync" your head and hands. I like it. Thanks again!:thumbsup:
 

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Another technique that I consistantly use is:

Always apply brakes to slow down, even if letting off the gas will suffice use your brakes so vehicles behind you can see you are attempting to slow down.

This was a hard habit for me to learn because I grew up riding 4 stroke dirt bikes and always used engine breaking to control deceleration, which is great for the dirt but with a tractor trailer bearing down on you backside it's nice to telegraph your intent with your brake lights.

Cheers!-2$en#e-
 

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rtb said:
Seems like this idea would "sync" your head and hands. I like it. Thanks again!
That's it! That is the base essence of motorcycling. I am constantly telling my student riders, "Turn your head". This is all magnified as SLOW riding, and FAST riding.

Mark​
 

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Paniolo said:


That's it! That is the base essence of motorcycling. I am constantly telling my student riders, "Turn your head". This is all magnified as SLOW riding, and FAST riding.

Mark​
could someone tell me what courses are generally available and perhaps the diffferences among them (durration, type of course etc.). I am in the northern California (Bay Area).

thanks

Free
 

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freefxrs said:
could someone tell me what courses are generally available and perhaps the diffferences among them (durration, type of course etc.). I am in the northern California (Bay Area).

thanks

Free
Hi Free-

If you're relatively new to riding, my suggestion would be to enroll into the MSF ( Motorcycle Safety Foundation) basic riding course. try looking it up at www.abateofcalifornia.org. This is set up mainly for beginners. They provide the motorcycles, practice facility and course instructors. The course usually runs over a three day period of time and is well worth the money.

The cost is typically between 50-100 dollars.

Next up, I would enroll into an MSF- ERC training class. Same thing as the BRC, only you're riding your own bike.

if you make this far, look me up at [email protected], and I'll hook you up with Yoda.

take care,
David
 

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freefxrs said:
could someone tell me what courses are generally available and perhaps the diffferences among them (durration, type of course etc.). I am in the northern California (Bay Area).

thanks

Free
After the MSF, try the Alameda Sheriffs Course.

http://sheriffacademy.org/

Look for EVOC and try the links.
Or come on down to SoCal and take the Ride Like A Pro course.​
 

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Many excellent tips have already been covered but if I may add a few tips I like:

1. When slowing or stopping, I always cycle/tap my brake lever to flash my brake lights. It helps get folks attention behind you (you don't "blend in" as bad) and is especially good when simply slowing in traffic to help get folks off your arse.

2. It may be a throw-back to the older bikes I rode at one point, but I always use hand signals along with my turn signals/flashers (no, not the single-digit type salute). Since nobody uses hand signals now, people notice this "odd" behavior and tend to take note of your intentions. It's especially helpful on the highway when changing lanes, I notice folks see the hand signal and tend to let you over more often than not.

3. I always make a point to come to a stop and only put my left foot down (initially). This forces better balance, forces you to keep your foot on the rear brake pedal and actually helps you keep your head and eyes up as you stop. That may sound odd but if you are looking around or at the ground vice keeping head and eyes up, you will have more trouble balancing the bike with only the one foot down. I put my right foot down after fully stopped (and after a check of my mirrors) just to plant a little more securely but only after the full stop.

4. I intentionally make sharp (tight) left and right turns like from a stop sign every time. This will help to maintain low speed feel and forces you to really TURN YOUR HEAD. It also helps you get a better feel of what the bike is doing (and will do) so that if you need to adjust your line (think gravel or sand in the turn) you are comfortable with the turns and can compensate without panic.

That is just a few that anyone can do every time they ride.

Also as stated, take an MSF course! I became a RiderCoach because I enjoy the hell out of it and I honestly learn something new and refine the skills needed to stay alive with every class.
 
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