How To Corner Faster On A Motorcycle
Many riders get themselves into a lot of trouble by not planning ahead properly. This is not because they are bad riders, it;s because they’ve had limited education and have not been taught how to look at the road ahead for clues and hazards.
The biggest factor affecting motorcycle riders is that they do not look far ahead at all, in many cases riders look just in front of the motorcycle’s front wheel and get target fixation when things start to go wrong.
There is an easy way to fix the problem, and that is to slow things down until you are looking ahead correctly and then the speed will return with better planning.
You will become a quicker rider (and safer too)
In fact, your riding speed will probably be quicker once you learn how to observe and plan properly. This is because nothing will catch you or cause you to have one of those scary moments that most motorcyclists have. I am not exempt from this comment as I have had many problems in my early years of riding.
Most of my problems came from a lack of forward vision and planning, in particular, the Information Phase was non-existent because of a lack of education! This meant I had issues because of excessive speed for my personal ability and a lack of knowledge and training at a higher level.
The Information Phase is the most important and critical part of the riding plan. It is the weakest area of most riders, as they find the process difficult to change when they have been riding the way they do for years.
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Linking hazards is key
To improve the information phase you must improve your vision, as there is far more going on ahead of you than you can physically see. Learn to link hazards, where you see something but recognise there could be a hidden danger.
Once you see a hazard you must start to process the Information phase as you observe. You are only able to make a plan if you are aware of what is happening by looking ahead, the plan must be flexible. Most motorcyclists have not yet developed the technique of good forward observation. This can be achieved with education and professional guidance.
You must use The System of Motorcycle Control as a foundation and framework to build and develop your ability. You can do this by using experience and memory of similar situations.
How to use your brain
Your long-term memory is like a hard drive on a computer and your short-term memory is like the RAM. The long term memory can be used to develop a way of dealing with similar recurring hazard types, as it will be similar to previous experiences.
The short term memory deals with quick-moving information that you need to deal with and process right now but not necessarily store (eg the vehicle registration of a car).
TUG will help
As part of the Information phase, use the mnemonic TUG. It stands for Take, Use, and Give.
By using a methodical system you can create more time for your response when dealing with hazards. By reading the road ahead you can see information in front of you and you should anticipate what might happen next.
Take on board and process the Information you can see by using effective vision. Use your other senses too, such as smell, and hearing, and don’t forget to listen to your sixth sense.
If approaching a bend, you will need to observe and assess the bend severity by using a combination of visual aids, such as hedgerows/tree lines and telegraph poles.
You must also look at the road surface ahead for a clean dry line as well as be aware of the type of camber.
Use the Information you have taken to create a flexible plan. As you look ahead you will need to assess and prioritise the danger before you decide and act.
The initial plan must be flexible and achievable because if the situation ahead changes, you must start a new riding plan. Always stay within 80% of your personal ability to ensure you have enough in reserve to deal with the unexpected.
Give Information to other road users when and where necessary
You may give a head movement by checking your mirrors or taking a look over the shoulder. This will alert the vehicle behind you that you may be about to do something.
You could then move into a better road position, the movement will grab the attention of the driver behind you. Consider using your brakes to show you are slowing down, an indication if you intend to turn, or use the horn to warn others of your presence if it will help you get noticed.
Learning new skills is not a quick fix. You will find it very difficult to use a DIY approach to improve your own riding skills. This is probably the most important learning point on your journey to success.
Most riders are content to continue riding as they are, mainly because it is their hobby and enjoyment.
I played golf with a friend recently, who is also a motorcycle rider. He hasn’t ridden much in the last 6 months and is going away on one of our advanced training tours to France. Our golf wasn’t that good as we haven’t played much this year at all but his comment resonated with me as he said “God I’m glad my riding skills aren’t as bad as my golf!”
By that, he meant that without practising his golf becomes poor over a period of time when not playing. The reality is, his riding also has skill fade but he doesn’t recognise it or feel the effects of poor decision-making. He will have lost his sharpness on the bike, but he just chooses to ignore it.
Further training and education is necessary, whatever level of ability you have. This is why practice makes perfect and skill fade really does exist and causes many problems, especially after a winter off the bike.
Learning to develop better forward observations takes time, slow your speed down to practice and perfect the skill.