5 Bad riding habits and how to fix them
Like it or not, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been riding, you probably have (at least) a few bad riding habits! Any of these sound familiar?
Bad habit 1 Not looking far enough down the road
Did you know that at 110 k’s per hour you travel about 33 metres per second? This means that if you’re only looking at the vehicle close in front of you, you only have one or two seconds to react if they do something unexpected. It simply isn’t long enough to react to many things that can and do happen.
The fix for this is simple.
Look as far up they road as possible, preferably 12 – 15 seconds. When your focus is 12 seconds ahead of you it gives you time and space (about 400 metres) to react and adjust to that unexpected incident rather than react at the last second. In a line of traffic this means you should be continually scanning 4, 5 or 6 vehicles ahead.
Bad habit 2 Not wearing the right gear
I’m writing this in summer in South Australia. Some days it’s hot – bloody hot! Just yesterday, in the space of 45 minutes I saw 11 motorcyclists – 7 had shorts and t-shirts on, 2 had jeans and t-shirt and only 2 had what I’d call “proper riding gear” – and no one was wearing an airbag vest or jacket. And it was only 30 degrees which around here, isn’t that hot!
If it’s too hot to wear good gear, don’t go out on your bike. Simple. If you’re on the bike, wear decent gear – helmet, gloves, jacket, riding jeans and boots – PLUS a Helite Airvest or Jacket (see https://motosmart.com.au/collections/all-products).
If you live somewhere that’s pretty warm most of the year consider investing in a Helite Vented summer jacket (https://motosmart.com.au/collections/all-products/products/helite-vented-airbag-jacket). I’ve sold quite a few to riders that have it as there only jacket as it has the rain proof inner liner for those damp or cooler days.
Bad habit 3 Believing that you’re a better rider than what you are.
Seems to me that most riders I’ve spoken to over the past few decades (which is a lot of people) think they are an above average rider. Just because you’ve been riding a motorcycle for (many) years, doesn’t mean that you’re that good at it. Just because you can ride a motorcycle at (say) 130+kph in a straight line, doesn’t mean that you have complete control of the bike. It doesn’t mean you know how to negotiate that set of bends coming up or how not to hit that kangaroo that is about to bounce out unexpectedly from the side of the road. Or how to react to that event that you might only experience once or twice a year on your bike.
The fix for this is to never stop learning! Have a CANI attitude – constant and never ending improvement! Attend a rider training program or at least regularly practice emergency braking and practice slow speed manoeuvring in a car park for instance.
Bad habit 4 Not looking through the corner
We all know that it’s harder to stop a bike once you’re leaning over riding through a bend. So why enter a bend when you can’t see around the end of that curve? The solution is to LOOK before you lean your motorbike into a corner. Remember your bike will go where you’re looking, so looking through the bend helps your bike go that way plus you see any obstacles that might be there or that idiot slightly on your side of the road. And don’t just look with your eyes. Turn your head. Point your nose in the direction you want to go.
It might sound a little strange, but many riders need to practice looking through the corner and noticing how the bike naturally goes where you’re looking. (This sometimes explains why you see those black crosses on the side of the road indicating a fatality at the only tree in the next 50 metres. The rider could easily have been looking at it and become fixated on the tree and whack!!).
Bad habit 5 Riding at the limits
Remember the road is not the track. A day’s ride with mates is not a race. It only takes one four-wheel drive taking a bend too wide, a child running out unexpectedly or one bit or gravel or oil on the road to change your whole life! Always ride within your limits and the limits of your bike – but the truth is that with most modern bikes, you’ll run out of skill before the bike runs out of handing capacity!
The truth is that sometimes on a motorcycle, you don’t get a second chance. Be honest about which of these bad habits effect you and do something about retraining yourself. The tragedy is that many (some would argue most) motorcycle accidents come down to rider error. Always improving your skills and working on your bad habits might just save you!