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1997 Valkyrie Standard
10,980 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I didn't have a copy on hand but I've cut and pasted this new one.

As asked for by the members of the forum a sticky has been made to consolidate the many riding tips offered up. If you have anything to add please feel free to do so, so we can all benefit by improving our skills, safety and enjoyment.

When riding through an intersection use a car or truck as a 'buddy" and ride right next to their rear bumper (to the side- not tailgating) but only for the few moments you are going through the intersection. As you know there is a better chance the cager turning left will see the car than you.

Do NOT pass on the right!!!

Purchase and install a high beam modulator

Check your blind-spot before changing lanes

Loud Pipes Save Lives!
Nothing says "I'm here, you idiot!!" more than the crack from a throttle of a next to no baffled exhaust. Just a twitch from your right wrist, and that guy drifting into your lane without checking his blind spot will be back in his lane quicker than you can say "freaking' no-mind!".

Take the all the MCSF classes you can possibly take as often as you can. There are multiple levels of class & even retaking the beginner's class can refresh enlightenment long forgotten.

Own the Lane that means that I am always thinking about which lane I'm in & where in that lane I am riding. This is ESPECIALLY true when I'm on the highway (Interstate).

Be as conspicuous as possible when wearing gear. Black is cool, but throw something bright on that might make you more visible

Leave plenty of following distance, at least the 2 second following rule

Watch your mirrors for approaching traffic. Oh, and flash your brake light before you stop to get the attention of the person behind you

If your 1st at a green light always look both ways before going

Never assume the cager sees you. Prepare yourself (mentally and physically) to stop when you see cars at an intersection.

When coming to an intersection, always expect that cage to pull right out in front of you

When coming to an intersection or other place where I may have to stand on the brakes I start saying to myself
over and over till I wouldn't have to do that maneuver anymore - that way I am a split second closer to reaction - I already am covering the front and rear brakes and all that is left is execution, not decision. Then when I am past the point where stopping could help, I start saying SWERVE SWERVE SWERVE over and over as the next possible command to react. This only goes on for a few seconds.

I try to ride closer to the centerline when on a 2 lane road in town. It gives me more time to react if someone pulls out in front of me

Do NOT drink ANY alcohol at all before riding!!!!!

The first 5 minutes of rain are the worst!
During this time, the rain is washing oil off the road. It's 10 times as bad at intersections. This is where cars sit and idle, dripping even more oil on the pavement

When stopped, keep looking in the mirror, keep it in gear & have an escape route planned in case some idiot comes up behind you intent on rear ending you

If you're wearing boots with laces, make sure that the laces are tucked INTO your boot. If not, you run the risk of having your laces get stuck on some part of your bike and falling over

I never go thru a green light at speed. I always reduce speed some and watch both red light lanes

Be as LOUD and OBNOXIOUS as you can be!
For safety’s sake, you want to be seen and heard.....

Get one of these (Air Horn) ASAP or sooner! And USE IT....USE IT OFTEN!

When approaching a side road or intersection watch the wheels on cars waiting to merge it will be the first part of the vehicle to move. And cover your break and clutch when approaching an intersection that way you will already have started defensive maneuver

Pay attention; don't let your mind wonder thinking about things

Always....always....ALWAYS do your pre-ride inspection. It's YOUR life on the line out there. So be prepared.

When riding on the interstate, excluding areas around cities where there are a lot of ramps, it has been well proven that staying in the outside lane is safer, no matter what you are riding/driving. The inside lane is a kill zone

Remember to cancel your turn signals, check them after a turn or lane change

Always scan the road ahead for people that change lanes a lot and I try to stay away from them. Also, keep checking your mirrors. Those people might be behind you also

When I am approaching side roads that intersect the road I'm riding, I am especially cautious of traffic approaching. If it's a two lane, I will always be in the left lane.
Call this foolish, but if I am approaching a traffic signal that has turned yellow, I will check my mirrors for the moron behind me and usually accelerate to get through. I have had them race by me on either side to make the light when it is red and I have stopped.
As a courtesy, when I am in my cage, I always give the rider in front of me at least two car lengths, even at stoplights. Nothing chaps my a## more than the cage on my a## when riding.
When I am in the cagers blind spot, I always accelerate to get even with their window to let them know I am still there.
Be aware of your surroundings. Riding is a full time event

Keep your head up and eyes moving.

Look through the corner (or curve when doing the twisties) at where you want your bike to go, not at the ground five feet in front of you.

Push right, go right and the same thing works for lefts too! Counter steering is a marvel of modern Physics!

I would suggest that new riders have a riding partner for the first few times out. Two bikes are generally a little more identifiable than just one and an experienced partner may see or notice a few finer points that could also help out. I would also suggest that newer riders NOT carry passengers until they are very comfortable with their cornering and balance. A newbie passenger and a new rider make for a dangerous combination


Scan the road around you and ahead of you.

Identify any possible threat, obstacle, etc.

Predict what the possible threats might do

Decide what to do if what you predicted happens

Execute your decision.

Watch people's heads..... I repeat... WATCH PEOPLE'S HEADS......
Before they do something on the highway the head starts jumping around...

When riding in a small group watch lane position when approaching intersections... position yourself so that on coming traffic and the side street people can see you

Don't get into altercations with cagers. If they decide on road rage, you WILL lose. In other words, drive by tonnage. Let the speeder pass, etc. I'm not saying don't get upset when they do things, like take your lane, even when they see you just don't do something to escalate the problem

Avoid sand! When riding down the highway pick the lane that offers the longest view front and rear. This gets you back away from the 2 second and closer to the 12 second count. Practice the count each ride.

If you are riding at night and you don't have enough light to see what you don't know is laying on the road ahead of you- use the headlights of the cage in front of you by riding in the lane next to a cage, slightly behind ( not in their blind spot) and in your lane but closest to them. I try to choose a newer cage - better lighting

When riding on a multilane freeway with "off ramps" - be especially aware of cagers that forgot to move over early and now are making a bee line for the off ramp right through YOUR bike. As you are coming upon each and every off ramp - check your surroundings for any cagers that you are between the ramp and them and adjust your position so even if they make that deadly move, you won't be in their way - each and every ramp you pass - no exceptions. As you know, they could be coming from 6 lanes away at almost a 90 degree angle.

Look where you are planning to turn, your bike will follow your eyes/head. If you're in the middle of a turn to the left and suddenly look to the right for whatever reason your bike will naturally follow without you even realizing it. I saw a guy do that at the safety course during the testing and down he went.
Also when I go through an intersection and I see that a cage wants to turn left in front of me from the other direction I always do a little swerve hoping that the moving light on my bike will help me become visible.

Ride with another rider, reason being, you usually don't have a jerk riding your tail when there are two or more of you. Then you don't feel pushed to go faster than you feel comfortable doing with the surroundings, and you can take your time and enjoy the ride.

Toll booths! Beware of the oil build up at them (right to the left side, not in the center)

Always keep your front wheel straight when stopping. Use your rear brake when turning and stopping at slow speeds

When you have your tires replaced or anytime a tire is off your bike - before you ride away pump the levers - or you may grab a handful of air at the first stop sign

Always leave yourself an OUT !!!!

Ride like your invisible

Wear all your gear all the time. This means:
Helmet – full face is best, I like my chin just the way it is
Jacket – preferably armored with motorcycles in mind
Gloves – ever take a bee between the fingers at 70mph?
Boots – good ones, over the ankle
Pants or chaps – heavy jeans at least, check out Draggin Jeans

When riding down the road and I see someone at a private drive or country intersection I hit the horn, and wave like they're a long lost friend. They might think I'm nuts, but they see me. Oh yeah, they usually wave back

When you are riding and you see your long shadow (real shadow not your bike) in front of you, assume that you are invisible.
That shadow means the sun is behind you and it will dazzle people that should see you approaching in an intersection

Be alert and careful behind ANY type of pickup truck. I've seen crap fly out, and caps and bed liners become airborne

NEVER ride behind a vehicle that is so large you can't see what's going on in front of that vehicle, including vehicles that prevent you from seeing what's going on in front of them because of dark windshields. If you get behind one either move to the other lane or slow down and let someone else in front of you. Part of your ability to scan the road ahead is dependent on being able to SEE the road ahead, and on a bike an SUV, pickup, van or whatever will block you from that

Practice your emergency maneuvers. I try to get to an empty parking lot once a month to refresh my skills at emergency stops, swerves, etc.

If a guy/gal you’re riding with wants to ride side by side, tell him to back off or go ahead of you. If the guy/gal you’re riding with speeds up for a yellow light, don't follow. Use common sense. ANY CAR IS BIGGER AND WILL WIN

Don't rely solely on your mirrors when turning or changing lanes. Use your mirrors to keep track of what's going on behind you, but ALWAYS look before turning or changing lanes, and ALWAYS signal.

if your rear tire skids/ locks up DO NOT let off the brake, especially if the rear steps out left or right, continue the skid and steer straight until the bike comes to a stop. The only time you should let off the brake is if you are certain that the rear tire is in line with the front, or else you will "high side", a.k.a. go flying off the bike usually to the side that the tire skidded to.

If the front tire locks, immediately release and then progressively squeeze again
also don't "grab" the front brake, let the weight transfer before you really start braking in an emergency

Read proficient motorcycling, more proficient motorcycling, street strategies

Make your turn signals act as running lights
flash rear turn signals & brake lights several times when you apply brakes

Get used to your bike and learn its limits (in a safe area, and after you have gotten familiar with your bike). I.e. go into a parking lot and skid the back tire and see what it feels like.

Check tire air pressure.

Loud two tone air horns and a trigger finger.

Now for my 2 cents. If I'm stopped at a light waiting to make a left turn, I always check the road through the intersection for hazards (sand, gravel, debris, etc). I also find the path through the intersection. This is especially important when it's a double lane turn. Once you get the green arrow and everyone behind is hurrying to get through, you don't want any surprises as you are making your way through the intersection.

I'd like to add a little to what Sanoke added...

Around here, we have been having construction on the I-10/Loop 410 intersection, including the access roads, for the past 5+ years & to continue for at least another 2. The access road left turn under I-10 used to be dual left-turn lanes. But, because of construction, it's now a left-turn & straight with the second lane being straight only. But, traffic pi8les up in the left-hand lane & every single day on my way home there is ALWAYS at least one dipstick turns left from the right-hand straight-only lane.

For me, from the left-hand lane, I always stop at the right-hand edge of the lane & I go straight for as long as possible before I turn left. Plus, I turn on my left-turn blinker when I've started moving & not when I'm stopped & waiting on the light to change. I don't want the idiot in the rh lane taking it for granted that I'm turning.

Plus, with all the construction, there's lots of grooves in the pavement. It's kind of hard to turn when your front wheel is going over or thru a groove. Some of the grooves are a foot wide & can really upset the apple cart.

Lots of what we do is how we finesse our position or path. I guess the biggest thing is just to PLAN AHEAD, as far ahead as possible. Anticipate every bad thing that can ruin your day. Dress for the fall, not for the look or comfort.

That Means:

If you’re in a turn and a Semi is coming the other way, and you look at the Semi, you'll most probably go toward where you are looking!!!

If you are in an impending accident situation, LOOK TOWARD THE EXIT (The exit from the situation). If you're looking at the oncoming car, you probably will go toward it! Do a search on "Target Fixation"...

For the same reason... While coming to a stop, if you look down toward the ground, you'll very probably have a shaky stop..

KEEP YOUR HEAD & EYES UP AS YOU APPROACH A STOP!!!! That will make all the difference in the world in the smooth-ness of your stop!!


Your slow speed turns & maneuvers!!

1. Avoid target fixation. You'll go where you look. If you keep staring at the guy's rear bumper you're about to hit, you will.
2. Move around some in your lane so you are a constant reminder in the guy's rear view mirror.

Put the kickstand down before you get off the bike! Ask me how I know.
Use your ears! My second day riding, I was on the freeway, heard a strange flapping noise, and all the sudden a semi's retread was flying all over the place!

Watch out for animals! They are unpredictable and dangerous. Scan the ditches ahead. I didn't get dubbed Road kill for no reason. First week on the bike I almost hit a deer. 2 weeks later I did hit a turkey! Next week after that I got chased by a dog. Now I am always looking for critters and I slow down if I see one.

For those riding at night:

If you’re in an area that's hilly (like PA) and you don't have any "oncoming" traffic...don't relax!!! If you are on the bottom of a hill going up.....take a look at the overhead electrical/cable wires on the telephone poles. You'll "see" the oncoming vehicle lights "highlight" the wires. This can warn you of oncoming traffic.

If on roads with traffic, rear view mirrors can "blind" your vision. Kinda peek at the mirrors to pick-up vehicles behind you...BUT then use the back of the gloved hand to keep track of how "close" they's the increase of light on the glove.

Learn to drive the bike looking around your windshield (if you have one) while in fog/rain/mist or big temperature differences. That way it's not something you have to learn on the spot.

If riding in rain at night (for whatever reason) try to angle your mirrors downward a little. This keeps the flash/glare out of your eyes...still can use the "glove" thingy above.

Following a line of cagers....look thru windows if close...but you should stay back as much a possible. Use the reflective road surface and the "stoplight/brake action" to forewarn you of slowing or stopped traffic. This is learned skill.

On Interstates: I’m talking away from metro areas.

When approaching upcoming on/off ramp(or rest areas) areas be careful from the point of the 1st exit sign. Cagers tend to cut you off or make last second decisions. If everything's good you approach the "on" ramp, look right, right away. You can pick up the on-coming vehicles to the merge area quicker. YOU have more time to move left or maintain speed. This helps if an overpass bridge blocks your earliest view.

Whether 2 or 3 lanes (long stretch to next exits)....pick the right lane and do posted speed. Most traffic will blast by on left. As the pack gets nearly a 1/4 mile away...pick up your speed and kind of "pace" that group. Look in your mirror...the next pack is about 1/4 to 1/2 mile behind you. You can maintain this "pocket of protection" for very long distances on this type road.

how to fool a dog. When you see it coming, slow down and let it think it can catch you. It will angle at you at the slower speed. Just as it gets close, speed up and you will ruin it's timing, and leave it in your exhaust.

On the animal thing. Drive through them if they are in your path. Keep it straight up and let them try to avoid you. Deer are most likely to jump out on you and you never know what they are going to do, you try to avoid them and you may swerve right into them. They have pretty good reflexes, better than ours.

Look at the posture of the drivers in the cars in front of you through the glass (yes you can position yourself to see even if the windows are tinted) ...If their head is ****ed they are talking on their cell phone.

Plan accordingly. (i.e.; they have not seen you and they will not see you!)
When riding in the left lane be where you would be if you were driving your car. when in the right lane ride as if you were the passenger. This will give you an out to go around the car in front of you.
Never get close to the vehicle in front of you at a stop. Constantly check your mirrors and look through the car behind if possible. A few years back while in my car, I was stopped for a lady with a baby buggy and I noticed that the second car back was coming up while its driver was looking to the left. I honked and as she jumped back I launched through the intersection. The second car hit the first which I thought missed me. When I checked my bumper he had left a perfect imprint of his plate in the dust on my bumper. No damage to my car.
When it's raining, the centerline is REALLY slick! Whatever you do don't change lanes in a curve, and be careful stopping on arrows at intersections! The same thing goes for manhole covers. Here in SoCal it rains so rarely the road slime really gets to build up so maybe this isn't as much of a problem where you are.


Your rear wheel could lock momentarily through the friction zone while you're turning, which will make your bike stand up again, causing you to high-side.

There's a reason most bikes don't red-line until at least 6000 RPM - it’s so you can accelerate in a low gear to keep pace until you can shift safely.

-Never park your bike downhill without being in gear.
-Pretend you are invisible to other drivers.
-Ride Your Own Ride: Don't try to keep up with your friends who may be more experienced. Know your personal limits.
- Make SURE your kickstand is all the way down.
-Never leave your petcock on reserve after fueling
-Your helmet will fall off that seat!
- Always leave yourself an "out" whenever you're riding!
- Don't linger in anyone's blind spot.
- Always check over your shoulder when changing lanes.
- Eye contact with the left-turner in front of you don't mean squat.

Someone mentioned swerving a bit to make your headlight more noticeable when approaching an intersection with a someone making a left across your path - but - I think a few flips on and off the high beam will help without moving you off your path, and maybe a few cracks from the exhaust...

When I went through the MSF Course, we were specifically advised not to do this. Flipping your high beam on and off as you approach an intersection lets the other driver know you're giving them the right of way. Get a headlight modulator and add a light bar.

Always before I get on my bike, I walk around it and give it a quick glance. In my many years riding I have noticed a few things that stopped me from immediately getting on my bike and riding off (one drunken fool convinced it was his bike locked it with a chain before he went home, that would have hurt). Also, I wash my bike once a week whether it needs it or not, not only to keep it looking good, but it doubles as one of the closest inspections of the machine that one would do. I cover every part of my bike and have never failed to notice a problem before it became dangerous.

Cornering can be the most challenging and enjoyable aspect of motorcycle riding. If done correctly you will feel confident, in control of your machine, able to make good progress and get a clear view of the road ahead. If done badly you will have some of the scariest moments of your riding career. Poor cornering ability is responsible for most bike accidents which do not involve other vehicles. Enter a corner too fast, grab the brakes mid corner when you realize you can't make it and you're well on your way to a visit to the ditch and possibly the local Emergency Room. What makes a good corner? Ideally you should be able to take the line you want, make smooth progress without braking and be able to react to any potential hazards.
What makes a bad corner? Braking mid corner, running wide, deviating from your preferred line or braking traction are all symptoms of poor cornering technique.

Maintaining Traction
Before going into the techniques you can use to improve your cornering ability, it is worth going over the basics of traction (grip). It is essential that you maintain grip throughout your cornering maneuver as it highly likely that that a skid or slide will result in a spill.
Any moving object carries momentum, when you change the direction of an object, its momentum will want to carry it in the direction it was traveling. On your motorcycle the force of the engine and the grip of your tires is the only thing making you turn. Too much momentum against too little grip will result in a slide. The following lists some factors which will affect your grip:

Surface conditions - Rain, grease, ice, paint, mud, oil etc., will all reduce tire grip, as will a poor road surface or worn out tires.
Balance - Changing the balance of your bike during the corner will cause the force to shift on your tires. Braking will cause the force to move towards the front, accelerating will move it to the rear. Too much of either will result in a slide.
Angle - The camber of the road and the amount you lean the bike over will determine the area of the tire you use and ultimately how much grip you will get.

Your tires are only capable of providing a limited amount of grip; you have to decide how you want to use it. If you need too much for braking, you'll have less available for Accelerating and Cornering. If you are running out of cornering grip, braking will increase your chances of loosing traction. Also too much braking will compress the forks and make it harder to steer.

Judging the severity of the turn
The severity of the turn will ultimately determine your approach speed, but it is not always obvious from the entry point how severe the turn is. Here are some points which will help you decide: Road Signs - Most roads will have some sort of warning sign indicating the severity of the turn look for this and any warnings painted on the road. These will give the most obvious indication of the severity. Vanishing Point - As you approach the bend find the point where, according to your eye, the two sides of the road join ‘the vanishing point’ if this seems to be getting closer to you, the turn is tightening up, if it is moving away from you, the turn is opening out.

Other Vehicles - Are vehicles ahead of you braking hard as they enter the corner? Are vehicles coming the other way moving slowly? If the answer is yes, the corner may be more severe than you think.

You should also understand the vertical factors such as cambers and hills which affect a turn. A banked bend and an incline has the effect of reducing the severity, while adverse camber or decline increases it.

The basic approach
Throughout the cornering maneuver you should constantly seek information about the changing situation which may require you to react. At each stage think about the potential hazards that can occur and how you might manage them. Constantly ask yourself ‘can I stop safely if I need to?’ - Always expect an oncoming car with two wheels in your lane, just around the turn.

As you approach the corner adopt the most appropriate position. When choosing your position, consider in order your safety, stability and information (view) needs, when determining the best position. Resist the temptation to smooth the bend too early as this will impact your view and limit your options.

Speed - Aim to settle your entry speed in good time, remember slow in = fast out. This will allow you to gather information as you prepare to round the bend and keep the power on around the bend, which will improve your stability. Use the vanishing point to check that your speed remains appropriate, if it moves within your safe stopping distance, you'll need to slow down; if it moves away you may speed up.

Gear - Selecting the appropriate gear will have a huge impact on your control as you take the bend. Choose an appropriate gear that will allow you to adapt. If the bend tightens, you'll need to slow down. If you have selected a low gear you'll be able to engine brake to wash off speed. This will affect the stability of your bike much less than applying the brakes.

Accelerate - As you reach the end of the corner (vanishing point moves away) and providing it is safe, smoothly roll the power back on as you bring your bike upright continue to accelerate until you reach the desired speed or other conditions apply. As soon as the bend hazards have past, start searching for the next hazard; resist the temptation to power out of the bend, as there may be a speed limit change or another bend ahead.

Key Tips:
Keep the power on slightly as you round the turn, to counter the effect of the turn and maintain your bike's stability. Keep your head up and physically look where you want to go, this will help you put the bike where you want it to be and the position will feel more natural. If you stare at the edge of the road, that's where you'll end up.

Avoid using the brakes when cornering If you need to slow down use engine braking, if that is not enough then apply brakes with caution, you do not want to exceed the traction limit.

Keep your arms loose and your weight off the bars, as this will increase your control. If you press down slightly on the pegs you'll find the steering becomes a lot lighter and the bike will be more responsive.

Use Counter Steering to initiate the turn - Counter Steering is steering the bike in the opposite direction.

Coming into the winter rains be reminded that the painted stripes and tar snakes on the road are very slippery when wet- especially when you come to a stop using your normal front braking. That fat limit line at the intersection will slide your wheel causing it to lock up when only a moment before the same brake pressure was only slowing you down. Watch those painted stripes and tar snakes carefully when they are wet.

Be visible:

• Remember that motorists often have trouble seeing motorcycles and reacting in time.

• Make sure your headlight works and is on day and night.

• Use reflective strips or decals on your clothing and on your motorcycle.

• Be aware of the blind spots cars and trucks have.

• Flash your brake light when you are slowing down and before stopping.

• If a motorist doesn’t see you, don’t be afraid to use your horn.

Apply effective mental strategies:

• Constantly search the road for changing conditions.

• Give yourself space and time to respond to other motorists’ actions.

• Give other motorists time and space to respond to you.

• Use lane positioning to be seen; ride in the part of a lane where you are most visible.

• Watch for turning vehicles.

• Signal your next move in advance.

• Avoid weaving between lanes.

• Pretend you’re invisible, and ride extra defensively.

• Don't ride when you are tired or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

• Know and follow the rules of the road.

• Stick to the speed limit

"Never ride where your mind hasn't already been five seconds earlier."

My tip is that we should go back to review them every once in awhile as a refresher, especially as we become MORE confident and experienced.


Always watch your kickstand touch the ground before getting off the bike. That helps prevent the embarrassing situation of getting off without putting down the stand and just having it fall over with you half on it.

When the pavement is wet, painted surfaces such as arrows, crosswalks, and yellow/white lines are very slick.

Don't just be a spectator when you are riding, be active. The difference between life and death might be you having practiced "taking action". When you see a different colored patch of ground ahead - take evasive action- don't assume it is "nothing". 999 times it might be nothing and if you took evasive action 999 times then that 0001 time it just might be spilled tranny fluid in a turn. Same with intersections - if you see a movement where there shouldn't be movement - even a flash of light off a windshield - DO SOMETHING! - hit the brakes, take a second look, do something, don't just observe until it might be too late. This is why dirt bike riders are underrepresented in street accidents - because they are accustomed and practiced in see and avoid- like every few moments - after all that is what dirt biking is all about -avoiding ruts, trees, holes, pinecones, rocks, fellow riders who didn't avoid those things just ahead of you. Don't just be extra vigilant when on your bike be vigilant and proactive.

Don't ride with a full bladder. If you have to go, go. Don't hold it and wait until you get home.

It is distracting but more importantly, if you fall, you can rupture your

bladder easily.

DO NOT grab the front brake when in a slow turn! You will go slam boom bang to the pavement in a hurry! When in a slow turn, I *concentrate* on keeping my right hand off that lever. In a split-second (bad) decesion-making moment, I have grabbed the front brake to try and regain control. Down I went before I could think or even have time to put my foot out.

What Hough calls edge traps. Like when they have milled the pavement and have only installed one lane of new pavement so the new stuff is 3 or 4 inches higher than the real bumby stuff you are riding on. That smooth stuff looks real good, does it not? Be careful crossing that ridge. Take as perpendicular to it as you can and roll some throttle when the front wheel is near the ridge. You want to go perpendicular to the road. How fast are you doing this? Not very. Don't turn until the rear wheel is over the ridge.
Don't worry the folks waiting for you will wait. Better than dumping the bike.
If you take that ridge at an acute angle that front wheel with be sideways before you know it and you will be on the road probably over the bars of the bike (high side). It is easier to go down off of them but still a good idea to run as perpendicular as you can. Real bad RR tracks any stuff like that, same thing.

In areas like Portland, Or where we have bridges that raise and lower they use steel grates for the pavement there. These are treacherous in the dry and super treacherous in the rain. I knew a very experienced rider who went down on the grates and nearly lost his leg which will be messed up for life.

I just bought a 22 year old bike and think that most more modern bikes have a kickstand safety. If you have an older bike like me be careful to not take off with your kickstand down as obviously a left turn would have you kissing pavement.

It is important to repeat in my mind: Assume nobody sees you. Please believe this. I've had people look right at me and then try to kill me even when riding with other bikes! These incidences happen over and over, people flat out sometimes don't see you at all even on a perfectly clear day.

A friend cleaned his gold wing and then decided to pretty up the sides of his tires. He used tire cleaner that makes your tires look wet. What happened was he went out on a ride and knew he got some of the tire cleaner on the tread and was cautious. He was at a stop sign, went to turn right and the bike slipped out from under him. The bike slid 20 feet and he ended up with a broken leg. The bike suffered minor damage, the crash bars saved it. He did loose a mirror. So, don't pretty up your tires! It can make a hazardous situation.

Always brake with the rear brake 1st ... back then front .. this stops the bike "diving" and transference of weight to the front ... You will not control a front wheel skid to often.

Don’t shut the throttle in a corner it will unsettle the suspension and sit the bike up

When stopped ALWAYS keep your rear brake covered and observing your mirrors OR just keep it ON until you pull off ... a friend of mine got hit in the a*s and had the back covered .. it broke his tail light and smashed the car to pieces ... 100% TRUE !!

always look where your going ... silly one maybe ... if you THINK your going to crash and your looking at the place you think your going to crash into ... that’s the place you will hit .... look around the corner... where you want to go ... you'll be suprised just how low and sharp/fast your bike will get round ... YOU are the limiting factor ...

Read Keith Codes Twist of the Wrist TWO ...

For beginners and Advanced ... some brilliant points to be gleamed.

Having been in a head on wreck in a car when the other person was passing 4 cars on a hill and I was the one topping the hill.......

I find that on blind hills (lots of them in Ga lol) I always drift the bike to the right side by the line and when I top the hill and can see, I move back to the middle, this would give me time to go into the grass if someone was passing on a hill.

I will say to do this you need to know the road tho...
When you know there is a blind driveway right over the hill I do not hug the right side in case there is a car pulling out of those driveways

I would add that riders need to think about which part of the lane they should be in and change accordingly when conditions change. My basic rule is to keep as much distance as possible between me and traffic in other lanes but also be aware of where my escape routes are - it is easier to swerve around a stopped car in your lane if you are not right in the middle of the lane, for example. My favorite place to ride is in the far left part of the far left lane on a multi lane highway - unless I have a lot of speeding cars coming up behind me - then I like to be in the right side of that lane so I can quickly get out of their way when I see them bearing down on me. I make it a general rule to never speed up to stay ahead of cars/trucks coming up from behind if I am already going at the speed I am comfortable with. If I can't move over I get right in the middle of the lane and hold my own until I can safely move over to the right and let them by. If they get too aggressive I will signal and pull over unto the left shoulder to let them by. As someone else pointed out, bike riders lose in bike/car or truck confrontations. I would rather be meek and alive and well rather than aggressive and dead or banged up.

Lane position is also important at traffic lights - particularly if I get behind a truck or suv. To see the traffic light sometimes it is necessary to be on the outer third or the lane. Seeing the light allows me to put it in neutral and relax a bit (assuming I have a "buffer" vehicle behind me - otherwise I like to keep it in first to be ready to bail unto the shoulder if I am about to get rear-ended) and still have time to shift into first when the light changes or is about to change. Left turn signal cycles often tell you when you are about to get the green light

In motorcycle safety training we were taught to ride with the right hand fully on the throttle - not covering the front brake - partly for better throttle control (which is critical in turns) but also to avoid tapping the front brake in the middle of a turn. The only time I "cover" the front brake is when I am anticipating the possibility of a panic stop, such as at a grade level intersection.

if you get new tires on your bike to take it easy the first 100 miles or so till there broke in some what

23,171 Posts
Ok newbies, particularly those who have no dirt bike experience prior to owning your first bike. Regardless of where you stand on some issues that we will not get into here, Go back..READ the first post..then READ it some more there is a combined wealth of info here

7,541 Posts
Let me just say if you can follow and execute all of these rules…you will be as safe as you can possibly be. I agree with crazy dave…newbies need to read this over and over again. Excellent information. Life saving. I would like to add a few things.
Gravel. Gravel/dirt roads are a different ball game altogether. If you end up on gravel on a cruiser…think about some of these rules.

Never go too fast OR too slow on gravel. You are just as likely to fall (probably more likely) going too slow as you are going too fast. (I run between 25 and 30 mph in third)

First and second gears on gravel will give you too much acceleration on your back tire and will result in “spinning” your back tire. Your back end will fish and you will more than likely go down.

Gravel will move your bike side to side. On gravel…your bike is in a state of constant adjustment. You need to not respond to these small adjustments your bike is making. Allow your bike to do most of its own adjustments. (I tell Susan, my bike, “alright Honey…it’s all you.” Just concentrate on your balance.

Ride toward the edge of the road. Particularly a road with hills and curves. “Country people” drive down the middle of their roads at 60mph. YOU CAN NOT STOP or MAKE QUICK ADJUSTMENTS ON GRAVEL!!!!! You can not “power stop” on gravel.

If your bike begins “fishing” too much…do not brake or suddenly let off of the throttle. Rather…(in third gear) accelerate just a bit(a learned touch) and the bike will straighten itself out.

Most of you reading this ride cruisers. Cruisers are for sitting…not standing. A cruiser is not a dirt bike or street/crossover bike. The center of gravity and position of the pegs are for sitting. If you find yourself on a gravel/dirt road…do not try and stand up and ride like you’re on a dirt bike. It won’t work out well for you.

I ride eight miles of gravel a day. I never “play” on gravel. Gravel is unpredictable at best. Try and avoid gravel and dirt roads as much as possible. Ride safe.

39 Posts
When I took the MSF Experienced Rider course, the instructor said to get an air horn instead of loud pipes. The major advantage of the pipes is that they're loud _all_the_time_ You can't just lay on the horn all the time.

A fine point that I survived to point out: If you like to carve corners, make sure you've done the road before in slow motion. I was carving corners in Virginia early in my riding career and hit a patch of bad pavement. Barely kept out of a ditch on the other side of the other lane. If a car had been coming around the turn...

75 Posts

Thanks to all of the riders that know and are sharing. I have learnd a few new things. I will be using when I get to ride this spring.

183 Posts
Initiating a lean

I very often run across riders that say they don't need the MSF classes. "I have been riding for 75 years" or some other bull malarkey as that.
As a MSF instructor one of the things that I like to ask these supposedly "Experienced" riders is explain to me how you, yourself go about initiation a lean in a turn. One of the responses that I love is "I just do it", or "I lean my body and the bike follows". :shock:
I am going to try and explain COUNTER-STEERING in simple terms and keep it relatively short.
Say you are approaching a curve that is new to you, you have no idea as to what is on the other side. First I find it necessary to define ENTRY SPEED.
ENTRY SPEED: A speed at which you can enter a curve, at which you can either maintain or roll on throttle. CRUCIAL: You never want to be decelerating or braking in a turn if at all possible.
When approaching a curve you need to set up an ENTRY SPEED. This is done by applying BOTH brakes at the same time and downshifting to the appropriate gear. Having all this done before entering the curve, you should look as far through the curve as possible. Maintaining an upright position of your body, begin PRESSING forward on the handlebar grip IN THE DIRECTION that you want to go. PRESS RIGHT-- GO RIGHT, PRESS LEFT--- GO LEFT. MORE PRESS=MORE LEAN, LESS PRESS=LESS LEAN. MAINTAIN or ROLL ON throttle throughout the turn. This will effectively stabilize the bike's suspension. (If you roll off the throttle or brake while in the turn, this will upset your suspension causing the bike to become unstable and needless to say, greater skill is needed to keep control).
Upon completing the curve it is a simple matter to press in the opposite direction and the bike will upright itself. The wheels of the motorcycle have a gyroscopic effect that try to keep the bike upright. By pressing the handlebars in the direction of the turn, you are actually turning the handlebars in the opposite direction of the turn. I don't like to say this in class because it freaks some people out.
Not wanting to get too deep in this, the next time you are on an open road with no traffic around and at a comfortable highway speed, try turning the handlebars ever so gently to one side or another while keeping your body upright with NO body lean. Be one with the bike. Those of you that expect the bike to turn left when you gently press forward on the right side grip are in for a surprise. This is NOT going to send you flying across the road. I said to do it while no traffic was around so that others would not think you were drunk.
COUNTER-STEERING is NOT accomplished by pressing or pushing down on the handlebar grip. By pushing down, the bike will turn, but there is as much difference between pressing forward and pushing down as there is in driving cars with manual and power steering.

183 Posts
Braking in a curve

Sooner or later in your riding experience you will more than likely come across a time where you will have to brake in a turn. Crash studies show that running off the road, usually in a curve accounts for about 37% of total motorcycle fatalities. This is the primary situation in which motorcycles have single vehicle crashes. First of all let's define a SWERVE. A swerve is nothing more than two consecutive COUNTER-STEERS. One to initiate a turn, the other to recover, or straighten.
For instance you are in the midst of a curve (counter-steer) to the right and you need to execute maximum braking. The thing to do would be to immediately counter-steer to the left by pressing forward on the left hand grip, square the handlebars to the level position and apply maximum braking to stop in the shortest distance possible.
It is very important to not apply the brake until the handle bars are level and the bike is going straight. By applying the brakes before the bike is going straight the rear of the bike will get out of line with the front wheel, more than likely causing a low side fall. If this happens, once the rear wheel sliding the rear brake should not be released. If it is released on a surface with good traction, the rear wheel can again regain traction, whip the rear of the bike back in line with the front wheel and throw you over the bike resulting on what is called a high side fall. In a situation such as this you are left tumbling down the road and the motorcycle tumbling right behind you. You are much more likely to be seriously injured in a high side fall than a low side fall.
Now, should you find yourself with a rear wheel skid because of a locked brake it is extremely important to keep your head and eyes up and looking at where you want to go. You WILL go where you look, even in a rear wheel skid. If the rear wheel is on a surface with LESS than good traction such as dirt, you can release the rear brake gently and re-apply as necessary.
It is common practice for instructors to teach students to NOT apply brakes in a curve as this can be disasterous. Should you find yourself in a situation where you can not perform maximum braking, you can gently apply both brakes very lightly so as to not brake traction and slow as best you can. This may or may not be effective for any particular circumstance.

398 Posts
Above is all good advice, I am fairly new at riding with only about a year on a street bike. I have constantly heard "imagine you are invisible" which is always good advice. My expericence has been more like pretend they can see you and you have a giant target on your chest and back that everyone wants to hit.

Taking the saftey course didnt teach me to do things differently as much as it made me more comfortable with riding. It did make me more aware of mistakes I made from time to time. I personally think the course is about 80 percent or more of things that should be common sense and enforcing things you know you should do and why you should do them. With that being said I think they should make everyone take it even if they will never ride a motorcycle. If everyone would drive like they are on motorcycles the roads would be alot safer! Besides I know and have seen some people who haven ridden for many years and still dont drive safley! I think those people are more dangerous than noobs because they think they are doing everything right!

158 Posts
I agree this is all very good advice and I plan to read it all several times over before I get back in the saddle after 30+ years. I am still trying to get my head around this "countersteer" stuff. "Push on the left handgrip to go left". I'm really trying to understand this and I'm sure I must before I get out on the road - in traffic, no less. I will definitely be taking the MSC but I imagine they would expect you to already have that technique down pat.

86 Posts
orange750 said:
I will definitely be taking the MSC but I imagine they would expect you to already have that technique (counter steering) down pat.
Nope - they don't expect you to know it. It helps if you have some experience, but it really starts at the basics and builds up. Make sure to talk to the instructor and ask for extra help if you need it - there's plenty of extra time during breaks and lunch to ensure you get everything you need from the class.

158 Posts
SactoEJ said:
orange750 said:
I will definitely be taking the MSC but I imagine they would expect you to already have that technique (counter steering) down pat.
Nope - they don't expect you to know it. It helps if you have some experience, but it really starts at the basics and builds up. Make sure to talk to the instructor and ask for extra help if you need it - there's plenty of extra time during breaks and lunch to ensure you get everything you need from the class.
Thanks, that gives me a little relief. I'm scheduled to take the class May 8 - 10. They provide a Honda 250 for the course so that should help, too. I am definitely getting psyched up.

46 Posts
orange750 said:
I agree this is all very good advice and I plan to read it all several times over before I get back in the saddle after 30+ years. I am still trying to get my head around this "countersteer" stuff. "Push on the left handgrip to go left". I'm really trying to understand this and I'm sure I must before I get out on the road - in traffic, no less. I will definitely be taking the MSC but I imagine they would expect you to already have that technique down pat.
Its much simpler than it sounds- so when in doubt, go to youtube!

I scanned several of the videos and while I wouldn't do alot of the stuff this guy does about 1:45 into the video is a great demonstration of what the whole press left- go left; press right- go right idea is-

2 Posts

"Be as LOUD and OBNOXIOUS as you can be!"

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with this. Being loud and obnoxious changes the average driver's attitude toward bikers from apathy to hatred. People who are driving several tons of metal nearby are not people you want hating you.

Whether or not "loud pipes save lives" is debatable, anyway. When a driver has the AC on and is thumping whatever passes for music these days out of a bass cannon, they wouldn't hear a brass band if it were in the back seat. And the little old ladies are on another planet, and wouldn't notice a dinosaur in the middle of the road much less a bike.

And, after a couple hundred miles non-stop miles, loud pipes start to annoy you as much as the other drivers.

My pipes are fairly loud, but myself, I want to be able to hear what the engine is doing, and I get a second or two more reaction time if I hear it before it gets to the pipes. I've been riding for 25 years and what saves lives is this: drive for everybody on the road, and treat everybody in a car like a dangerous idiot. Assume they are going to pull out in front of you or change lanes suddenly. Assume they can't see you. Assume they are homicidal. Stay as far away from them as you can, and stay hyper-alert at all times.

233 Posts
Wonderful information in all the above posts. Can't read them enough.
Situations that will happen to all motorcylists:
A vehicle coming in the opposite direction will turn left in front of you.
Debris on the road will require some real quick reaction time to avoid.
At night the stuff that is blown out of pickup truck beds will test your ability to survive. Just be very cautious 100% of the time you are on your bike.

599 Posts
Taking a MSC myself in the next few weeks, this post definitely offers a lot of knowledge, both MSC learned and experience learned.

I have ridden dirt bikes and motorcycles(my dad and neighbor are both insane over anything with more or less than 4 wheels) and have learned a lot.

When my sister got her license I gave her what I believe to be the most important piece of information I know of driving ANYTHING, and that is do not trust anybody when driving. This applies to cars, trucks, motorcycles, anything. Always assume that the worst decision will be made and prepare for it.

One instance comes to mind when thinking of this, I was driving down a back road(I live in the country, all roads are back roads) and saw a car at a stop sign. There were four people in the car, the driver was currently checking the other direction. I noted the car was pointed in my direction so they were probably turning towards me, crossing my lane.

Not knowing whether the driver had looked in my direction before I topped the hill, I assumed the driver would not look and would pull out, so I slowed down and moved to the outside of the lane.

Most people, when pulling out and realizing they are cutting someone off or pulling out in front of someone naturally slam on the brakes, so I wanted to be able to swerve around them, but slowed enough that I could stop/go the other way. Sure enough, the driver pulled out, saw me, stopped in the middle of my lane and I was able to go around the car. not trust anyone, they will never do the right thing. This is my mind set when driving. Even when riding in a car I do not listen to someone saying"clear my way" as this is assuredly the easiest way to get hit.

Again, thanks for the post, a lot of good information.

110 Posts
In cool weather, even if temps. are above freezing, any moisture on the road
will be cooler than the normal road due to the cold air under the bridge. This
will be more slick than what any moisture normally is. I had an experience with BLACK ICE when the outside air temp. was above 40 degrees. I was in a my car, bike had dead battery, I slid right into the oncomming lane. If I would have been on my bike that early morning, who knows.

22 Posts
This is GREAT stuff!!! Having just gotten into riding about 4 years ago (I'm 53 yo) after taking the basic rider's course, I must have "bypassed" that stage of my life that wants loud and fast! I drive my car and ride my bike like a p***y!! LOL And I'm ok with that because I definitely don't want to be in an accident.

For you experienced riders out there, I want you to know that I am listening to what you have to say. So please explain what happened to me the other day (other than the obvious) and what I should do the next time it happens.

I was at a stop light waiting to turn (a fairly tight) right onto a street. When the light turned green, I accelerated smoothly into first and while turning right going about 10 mph, my right foot rest contacted the street (causing me quite the [email protected]!!). My first reaction was to pull my foot up and lessen the bank of my turn which caused me to head towards the centerline where another car was approaching. Because I was going so slow, I was able to complete my turn just shy of the centerline.

Thinking back, I probably should have completed the turn as planned and simply allowed the footrest (and my foot) to hinge up as required while contacting the road until the turn was complete enough that the footrest stopped touching the road.

The funny thing is, I don't think I was banking that much and I'm not a speed demon!!

Any ideas folks? Thanks so much!!! : ) Happy Riding!


183 Posts

I am sure that you were going slow or the foot peg would not have dragged the pavement. It is always a surprise to drag a foot peg like that. I am just figuring that when it starting dragging you probably looked down a bit because of the surprise, and believe me, it IS a surprise. Ask me how I know.
Do your best to keep your eyes on your path of travel and regardless whether it drags or not you will be the better for it. From the way you describe it, you were probably doing a bit of counter-balancing. It all comes with practice. I am sure that you heard in your MSF class that you will go where you look. In tight turns if you look down you will surely put your foot down of even worse, go down with the bike.
For instance, if you are doing cone weaves and look down at one of the cones while you are going around one, you will surely hit it. I have found this to be true regardless of your experience. I have occasionally been demonstrating an exercise of cone weave and looked down at one if I was fairly close and it is almost impossible to miss it. You will go where you look.
This is especially useful to know when you are on curvy roads and find yourself looking at the guard rail. Bad thing to do. Keep your eyes on your intended path of travel. You will go where you look.
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