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When bikers get together there always seems to be a consensus about the dangers we face from the foolishness of other road users - the cager who turns left in front of us, the semi that cuts you off on the freeway, the farm truck that dumps manure on the highway, etc. But I have heard very little discussion of one of the greatest potential dangers we face - ourselves, and our lack of skill at handling our machines.

I can't tell you how many stories I've heard about riders who, in clear weather and at semi-legal speeds, manage to dump their bikes in corners. Sure, there may have been gravel or a spot of oil on the roadway, but at the speeds we operate our bikes (and we are talking Harleys here -not litre-class sportbikes) I question whether the accidents could not have been avoided if the riders had more skill.

I took the MSF class more than 15 years ago, and I thought it did a great job of giving you the basics of recognizing and avoiding traffic hazards, and at laying a foundation for safe operating of the bike. But I don't remember a lot of discussion of the dangers of chopping the throttle when you find yourself slipping in a turn.

A lot of the techniques for getting through a turn quickly and safely are counterintuitive. In other words, what might "make sense" to the unskilled rider is precisely the worst thing you can do. The first time I encountered rain grooves and felt the bike wandering I gripped the bars harder to help "control" the bike - with predictable and unsettling results. It wasn't until a more experienced rider suggested I relax and let the bike do its job that I was able to handle these common roadway hazards with confidence.

I once had a golf professional who told me: "A lot of people think Practice Makes Perfect. This is nonsense. Perfect Practice Makes Perfect." I think this is good advice for any skill-based activity. It is only with instruction, and a thorough understanding of the dynamics of what makes a bike do what it does that the average rider can help to improve his (or her) handling skills. And improved bike handling skills will not only reduce the likelihood of having a "single-vehicle" bike crash, but will also better prepare the rider to avoid the other vehicle that turns left in front of him, etc.

There are a lot of resources out there for people looking to improve their bike handling skills. One book I can definitely recommend is Keith Code's A Twist of The Wrist , but there are a lot of other courses, videos, etc. that have a lot of the same information.
 

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True to a large extent.

Over the last few years forums like this have helped to make many old time self thought riders consider additional training, and they all down to the last man admitted they learned things they never knew.

There are of course other factors that will take much longer to resolve.
 

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Cool thread. Thanks !
 
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