Kawasaki Vulcan 750 Forum : Kawasaki VN750 Forums - View Single Post - Crazy safe, a realistic perspective from a contrarian view
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post #1 of (permalink) Old 02-28-2016, 02:23 PM Thread Starter
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Crazy safe, a realistic perspective from a contrarian view

Right up front here i just want to say that my opinions below are in no way to be construed as "correct", or supported by anyone else except myself, so if you do take the time to read this through, just remember to blame me only and not the other good people that provide and contribute to this most excellent website.

The one thing you can rely on as a certainty in any accident event is that instead of having the luxury of being a cop with a calculator measuring skid marks on the pavement, or an arm-chair quarterback watching a YouTube video is that it's YOU that are riding on your machine and you just happen to be human. During any such event, from the simple skidding on oil or ice to the outright head-on logging truck that just popped over the other side of the hill in your lane, you will only have time to react if you intend to survive. This is beyond the ability of decision. This is the simple facts that occur. Within those one or two seconds of control that you have, you will only do what you have habitually trained yourself to do, or you will rely on your natural instincts.

Your natural instincts are practically useless and even dangerous in such situations. Your instincts in hard steers will be to put your foot onto the pavement. Your instincts to avoid anything up front will probably be to rear back, and slide the bike on its side. Your instincts will predict the other vehicles to continue along their present courses or remain stationary where they are even though they are being driven by humans that change their minds at the drop of a hat. And your instincts will be to over-compensate in your reactions, such as slamming full forces in your pedals and/or riding the clutch, etc.

That only leaves you with one option of the two if you intend to actually survive what the Insurance companies statistically rely upon to stay in business. Natural instincts must be discarded and the only way to do that for us humans is to replace them with habits. The good news about this is that regardless of whom you are, and given that any of your physical deficiencies are compensated ( yes, we ALL have those and the increase with age every single day ), we are literally wired for learning new habits, therefore, ANYONE that puts forth enough hours at any endeavor will eventually develop their own unique set of habits that fit the skills they practice.

So in my opinion, the BEST Safety tip of them all is to ride at all times under the auspice that you are practicing for that eventual collision event.

Some things that i do that most people will probably disagree with:

I always pull to the center line on stops on two+ lane roads. Regardless of which lane the cars behind me that have lost their brakes choose, they will more than likely consider me instinctively to be a stationary object ( which i am at least until the light turns green ), and choose one or the other lane to go around me without breaking lanes. A bad habit they develop on their own is to have a "fear" of changing lanes. Lanes are guides at best, and breaking that lane habit is essential to survival. I would much prefer to live and get a traffic ticket for failing to signal than have that habit "ruling" me in an accident situation. Hand signals are essential. They are fast, clean, and understood by other drivers. There are times, however, when a "move" in heavy traffic is essential, and these make the best of times for practice as well. The worst of cage-drivers are those that ride their break. Every 20 to 30 yards, there it is, another pair of red brake lights, then it lifts up. IMHO these sorts of drivers are dangerous to follow and passing them becomes a priority regardless of the thickness of traffic. There is a certain window of speed which our bikes are fully capable of taking advantage of. While on one hand, it is true that a car can veer to the side while driving forward, while it is also true that two cars can both veer to the side while parallel and close the gap between them, it is also true that this is the one situation that both drivers have habitually trained themselves to avoid from the very first day they ever turned a key on. It is also true that the time required to pass a pair of vehicles between them is less time than required for them to somehow close that gap. The point of this, however, is beyond simply getting ahead, beyond passing the brake-riding driver, and beyond having some fun or taunting cops that are sleeping on the side of the road. No, the point of this sort of behavior is PRACTICE and to develop the habits and skills of knowing your speed, your acceleration, your width, etc., so that in a situation of survival, your habits will already be there when there is no time to think.

There is an old rule of thumb that when one is driving speed limit, the yellow signal lamp will be timed such that if one is already within the "solid" lane lines of the intersection, that it will be yellow as one goes through the intersection. That's fine for people that want to die from their instincts. I have two better rules of thumb to replace that one. 1) Lights cannot stop vehicles regardless of how bright they are or what shade of the spectrum they happen to be. Lights are ( at best ) an agreed upon way for people to cooperate in traffic. 2) Yellow lights give one an opportunity to PRACTICE hard stopping. Hard stopping is a crucial skill to develop. As a simple method, one might start with the original rule of thumb, and practice until one can stop at a yellow from speed-limit at shorter and shorter distances using the solid lines of intersections as a gauge. Hard stopping is not as fun as lane-splitting but according to statistics, it is the one skill that would prevent upwards of 80% of all motorcycle insurance claims. There are a lot of bikers that can smoothly shift up their gears for maximum acceleration. The point of learning to stop hard though develops the opposite habit as well. Using the brakes correctly, both of them always, and always tapping them is something i always see in safety guides. That's only 50% of the exercise, in my opinion. The engine is the best breaking mechanism there is. Operating all three controls in tandem is necessary for good practice of efficient stopping and practicing hard stopping is a survival skill.

Hopefully, everyone and their grandmother can turn their bike left or right at an intersection. The occasion arises to infrequently, though, to use it as any sort of habit training practice. There are two extents of turning that should be practiced, though. The high-speed turning at 40+mph, and the low-speed turn at 10 or less mph. These both require pre-selected areas to practice, but when it comes time to make a U-Turn at an inopportune moment, you will certainly be glad you did. Picking roads for practicing high-speed turns is going to depend on your area. Learning to lean the bike instead of yourself and the advantages of using yourself as a counter-balance is important. For U-turns though, you will need a private street with little if any traffic. The exercise i do is to ride a counter-clockwise coil path up the street as fast as possible ( which is slow ) and then reverse the action going clockwise back to the other end of the street. The clockwise will rarely if ever be used and you might find that when speaking of habits and humans i am more than just crazy, but correct. You will notice a distinct difference in your abilities between riding clockwise and counter-clockwise. How did that habit get there?

Hope this helps
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