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Discussion Starter #1
I'm fairly new to the road, 6 months and counting. ;)

So my question is, what's your best safety tip? What helped you out when you first started riding?

I feel like I've learned a lot just from the experience but I'm sure I've got a long way to go before I know more than the average bear! I did take the MSF course, if that counts for anything. :p
 

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MANIC MECHANIC
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pay attention to everything
 

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Rogue Warrior
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Basics! Take a safety course.

And of course, stay alert, like Joe said...ALWAYS pay attention.
 

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Get David Hough's book, Proficient Motorcycling. Read it before every riding season. Go online and search for motorcycle safety tips, there are hundreds of very good ones, like this site: http://www.motorcyclecruiser.com/streetsurvival/0702_crup_motorcycle_safety/index.html

The single best tip I have to offer is one I picked up online for tailgaters. Extend your left arm down and slowly "wave" the tailgater back a couple of times. If they back off, give them a thumbs up to thank them. If they don't, when it is safe to do so, pull over and let them by. Do not give them the "alternate biker's wave" as they pass, no matter how much you feel they deserve it!
 

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Cruisin' through my 50's
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1) Expect the vehicles around you to not see you, and think about what you'll do if they do their worst.

2) Don't ride faster than you feel is safe. Lots of new riders get involved with group rides or have friends that have much more experience riding. New riders go out and ride with others and feel like they need to ride faster or closer together to keep up.

3) And everything else that people have said
 

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Always have an escape route planned
 

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Best one I've found: when watching a car stopped on a side street, watch their front wheel, not the car. You'll see the wheel start to turn before you ever notice the car moving. Gives you that extra partial second to make a move.
 

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The Reanimater
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When I ride I always ride by 3 simple rules:

1. This Bike can & Will turn on Me either Hurt Me or Kill Me -- So Don't Let it.
2. Don't start too or Put Myself into any Dangerous Situations -- Like Weaving through Traffic.
3. All other Drivers are Idiots, They're Not Watching Out for You -- So Watch out for Them....

I'm fairly new to the road, 6 months and counting. ;)

So my question is, what's your best safety tip? What helped you out when you first started riding?

I feel like I've learned a lot just from the experience but I'm sure I've got a long way to go before I know more than the average bear! I did take the MSF course, if that counts for anything. :p
 

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MANIC MECHANIC
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respect your machine and know its and your limits.
 

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3. All other Drivers are Idiots, They're Not Watching Out for You -- So Watch out for Them...

X2 especially drivers in cages!

Just go easy and don't over drive yourself or try doing things too soon until you know you are ready. I used to go into empty parking lots and do different menouvers like panic stops, quick turns, figure 8s, quick acceleration, etc..

Most of all know that the front brakes on these bikes are pretty touchy so use the back brake more and just feather the front. I've seen quite a few go down just by grabbing the front brakes hard and locking up the front tire.
 

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I've only been riding for 2 years now, so I know where you're at. There are lots of good tips already posted and surely more to follow, as well as a host of books, videos, etc. Here are a few demons that I fought starting out, and tips that I'm still learning from.

  • 'Target Fixation' - Basically, you stare at it and you will hit it. I use the aggressive scanning technique that they explained in MSF class to avoid this situation. Head up, don't look at the bike or the road directly in front, instead look where you want the bike to go. I also use what I call 'snap vision'; in a tight or distracting situation (i.e., bike in front of you goes off the road), snap your focus to the safe exit point. I practice it in turns all the time so that it becomes automatic.
  • Poor throttle control in turns - I would come off throttle in turns, causing the bike to drift to the outside of the turn. A Doc Wong Clinic instructor pointed it out and Keith Codes book, A Twist of The Throttle II gave me the science behind it. I use Keith Code's throttle techniques in turns now. No more drifting.
  • Tight grip and arms - This will cause too much input in steering, fatigue, etc. Again a Doc Wong Clinic helped. When approaching challenging road (i.e., tight turns), take a deep breath and verify that you're not too tight by flapping your arms like a chicken. Sounds funny, but that's what motorcycle racers do and it works.
  • Practice, practice, practice - I practice low speed maneuvers in a large parking lot using garbage for cones and the parking lines for reference. You can easily set up the offset cone weave course using the painted lines and trash found on the lot. Here is a video from Crash on how to set it up (he's has lots of good instructional videos).
  • Read, listen, watch, practice and keep learning. Keith Codes been a professional racer, instructor and author for most of his life and even he admit that he's still learning.
 

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Best safety tips:

- Wear all the safety gear all the time.

- Always look where you want the bike to go, the bike will follow your eyes. Look down = fall down. Look through the turn = go through the turn. Look where it's safe to go = go where it's safe to go.

- Understand the "press" to initiate motorcycle lean for getting the bike to change direction. Many people have no idea about this and their riding is truly scary as a result. Google "counter steering videos" if you need to see this in action to believe it.

- Re-read the workbook that you got when you took your MSF BRC. There were lots of things that were presented to you during that course that you may have been too overwhelmed at the time to absorb fully. Now that you have a few months of riding, go re-read the workbook.

- Next season sign up for the MSF ERC course. You never stop learning.

- Occasionally practice doing quick-stops in a quiet parking lot.

- Know the limits of yourself, your motorcycle and your environment and stay within them. Never let anyone else push you beyond those limits.

- Always assume that other people can't see you. Try to make yourself as visible as possible. Choose lane positions that increase your visibility, wear brightly colored clothing and helmets, avoid other people's blind spots.

- Watch out for on coming cars making left hand turns in front of you (or right turns in the UK). That is the #1 most common accident involving motorcycles and other vehicles.

- Keep up with your bike's routine maintenance. This will prevent little problems from becoming big ones when you least expect it.

(Been riding for 18 years and been teaching the MSF course longer than I care to admit.) -Sloppy
 

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MANIC MECHANIC
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check out the ride like a pro series of dvds for some instruction on low speed manuvering.
 

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...Shiny Side Up? :beerchug:

These are all great tips, seeing as how I'm a noob myself. Definitely take these to heart.
 

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Oh and if you "grab" your front brakes in a "panic stop" you are going to fall down. Period.

If you want to properly stop the bike quickly the technique is to squeeze the front brake. A firm progressive squeeeeeze, tighter and tighter on the front brake with light to lighter pressure on the rear brake.

If you "panic" you're not thinking. If you "grab" your front brake you can over brake and stop the front wheel from spinning, causing the front wheel to skid which will result in a low-side kind of accident.

When you squeeeeeze the front brake firmly and progressively tighter and tighter you allow time for the weight of the motorcycle to shift forward and load up the front suspension. As more and more the weight transfers forward, you can apply more and more brake pressure, resulting in a shorter stopping distance (a.k.a. quick stop). This has nothing to do with how fast you can grab the lever in a panic. This has everything to do with keeping your head focused and squeezing the lever firmly and progressively tighter.

You want "light" to lighter pressure on the rear brake because too much pressure can cause a rear wheel skid. Skidding isn't stopping, it's sliding. You want the "to lighter pressure" part because as the weight shifts forwards there's less weight on the rear of the bike, which will make it even easier to lock the rear wheel. (Never let go of a rear wheel skid on dry pavement.)

People who use the phrases, "hit the brakes", "grab the brake lever", "panic stop" are doing themselves a disservice since they are going to start incorrectly thinking that those are the proper things do to. Get those words out of your vocabulary.

-Sloppy
 

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Oh and while we're at it...

Braking while swerving = falling.

Forgive me, I'm passionate about these subjects.

-Sloppy
 

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Oh and while we're at it...

Braking while swerving = falling.

Forgive me, I'm passionate about these subjects.
This is something I've done TWICE, from someone cutting me off by doing an abrupt lane change on a city street. The only solution is parking lot practice, which alas I don't do enough, nor is it really a substitute for The Real Thing unless you do the proper mental imagination of an emergency stop situation.

Practice this scenario and EITHER roll off off the throttle and pull in the clutch while swerving (don't just release the throttle or you'll get a jolt of engine braking), OR keep in a straight line while doing a panic stop braking. Doing both will result in you going over the handlebars.
 

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You may have the right of way, but having that will NOT unbreak your bones if the other guy does something stupid, hence the saying, "There's a wrong time to be right."

So, always assume that the cagers will make the wrong move at the wrong time even if there's every reason in the world they shouldn't. That way you won't be surprised when they do.

This idea animates a lot of the more practical tips above, like watching tires instead of the body of the cars.
 

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You want steady throttle while swerving, no sudden inputs of acceleration or braking. You can brake and then swerve, or swerve and then brake, but never ever do them both together. Make them two separate activities.

Of course you also want to look where it's safe to go. If you look at the very thing you are trying to swerve around you are going to hit it anyway.

Braking uses up a lot of your tires' available traction. Swerving also uses up a lot of your tires' available traction. Doing both at the same time it's very easy to exceed their limits of traction, resulting in skidding and falling.

Braking while swerving results in very abrupt falls.

-Sloppy
 
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