Single vehicle crashes accounted for 39% of all motorcycle crashes in NSW and 39% of all fatal motorcycle crashes. This is a higher rate of single vehicle crashes compared to 23% of car crashes.
Pillions are included in fatals and serious injuries.
This is the EFFECT of various causes. We inspect statistics and this shows us where to look to find the CAUSE. (For lots more on statistics, click on the "Motorcycle Safety" tab, above here.)
Three basic factors emerge.
- Road surface. Issues, like loose gravel, ripples and potholes or slippery stuff.
- Fatigue. The “peak hours” for motorcycle crashes are on Saturday and Sunday afternoons in two peaks – after lunch around 2-3 pm when the big lunch is taking energy for digesting and making the rider sleepy – and from 4pm until just after dark due to fatigue, physical tiredness, when loss of concentration occurs.
- Rider error. **Way too fast on the way in, exceeding lean angle limits or tyre adhesion limits, for whatever the surface was.
- Out of control on entry. Simply put, if you are out of control on entry, you bit off more than you knew how to control. Too fast? Yes, that too, but it just made things worse.
- Being in the wrong position in the curve, leading to errors in correction, or no correction and crash. e.g. head-on
- Undercornering. Didn’t know how to steer around the curve and ran wide, despite adequate grip and adequate cornering clearance on the bike.
All of these are avoidable with a litle forethought. A good rider will manage a risk, but needs to know what the risk is.
It's not Turn 4
Lets deal with these.
A good rider who has entered a curve at the correct speed, is balanced and correctly positioned can ride over some really bad surfaces with no real problems. Riders with low skills or poor judgement will always have trouble AND usually don’t know WHEN to slow down enough to have a good look before entering the curve.
If you see a curve or corner that needs engineering attention, REPORT IT, you may save a less skilled rider from falling. <a href="http://www.roadsafety.mccofnsw.org.au/a/69.html" target="_blank">Roadsafety Hazard Report Page
The road is not the racetrack and will never be perfect. There are no flag marshalls to tell you what is around the curve.
On day rides, have a good breakfast, a light lunch, plenty of water to drink, avoid alcohol. If you had a big night out, make it a short trip for the day. Watch out for when the coffee high suddenly “drops” you into a loss of concentration state. Take plenty of breaks on the return leg of the day ride and pay particular attention when re-entering suburban traffic. Big groups need to be aware that not all have long distance riding fitness. See the "Group Riding" brochures.
There is one thing above all else that binds riders of all ages, racial background, politics, religion, gender, or economic background and that is we all know we are an above average rider.
Ever made an error?
No, not me!
I’m a good rider!
How do you know?
When someone says “stay inside your envelope” do you have any idea of what that is? In essence, it is observation, assessment, decision, proper placement and the skills to actually carry it out. i.e. being able to react and knowing WHEN and having the practiced skill to be able to do it. – making a good judgement call. It’s a mental skill to be able to do this.
A good rider shows judgement AND skill.
This is good riding - all three
What you lack in skill, make up for in judgement.
Don’t take on more than you can handle.
The road is not a racetrack.
Don’t get sucked in.
You are the CAUSE. How you ride is the effect.
crossing in the lane
Look to the top of this page again. See the statistics?
That’s pretty average. It sure ain’t above average.
So WHO is letting down the team? Is it you?
Do you really want to know, or just blame the other riders?
Want to try an exercise to see how you rate yourself?
Here are some riding exercises you can do almost anywhere.
These allow you to test for yourself your own skill in cornering and discover for yourself, some essentials.
If you don’t understand this, sign up for a professional advanced rider training course.
“Car Wheel Tracking”
Approach a curve at a sensible, controlled speed.
You must be able to complete the curve without braking IN the curve.
i.e. have all your braking done well BEFORE you tip in.
Throttle is to be kept just “on” all through the curve, no big handfuls, just steady, don’t shut it, but be ready to open it more as you exit.
(a) Approaching a Left-Hand (LH) curve, cause your motorcycle to track EXACTLY, the line taken through the curve by the right hand wheel of a car. i.e. no fancy “lines”.
(b) Approaching a Right-Hand (RH) curve, cause your motorcycle to track EXACTLY, the line taken through the curve by the left hand wheel of a car.
(c) In between curves, move promptly and decisively from one car wheel track to the other. Be in one or the other, with minimum time in between.
Ask another rider to ride with you and watch you do this. The observer may help point where you strayed from the wheel track, so you can self-correct. With a group of friends, this is an excellent non-competitive way to build steering control skill.
This can be done in one lane on a multi-lane carriageway, just as it can on a single lane road. In each case, the lane is about 3 meters wide.
WHAT can I learn from this?
- To see if you can, or to see if you are prepared to ask that question of yourself.
- If you can’t do this easily and accurately for every single curve on a short ride, then you need to learn and practice more about countersteering
WHAT if you can’t do this?
Then learn HOW. You are probably a danger to yourself, your pillion or a rider coming the opposite direction.
WHY do this “tracking”?
(a) In case you hadn’t noticed, your motorcycle leans over in a curve.
(b) Your head is the furthest point from the tyre contact patch.
(c) At a good lean angle, your head is about 1 meter to the side of the tyre contact patch
(d) A typical lane width is 3 meters
(e) Tracking like this contains you within the road boundaries
(f) It teaches countersteering within the curve
Many modern bikes have really good steering and suspension set-ups. So good, they do a lot of the “work” for the rider and the rider may not be fully aware of this.
Specifically, they are “look-there-go-there” setups, so wherever the rider sights, the bike follows.
In a greater than 90 degree curve, from the tip-in point, the rider will sight across the apex of the corner and the bike will follow this sightline, crossing the center line, or at least leaving the tyres on the correct side and having the bike and rider leaning across the centreline. The riders body will then be blocking up to one-third of the lane carrying on-coming traffic around the curve
i.e. the skill to learn is countersteering.
(a) outwards of the curve, to correctly place the bike and riders body within the lane as well as
(b) countersteering in to tighten a line in a reducing radius curve or avoid an obstacle and actually come out the other side.
SO, how did it go?
What will you look like on camera up the Old road or on Macquarie Pass or on the Alpine way?
Camera shots on here - are set-ups.
They are just examples of how to and how not to.
Thanks to Detour Photos
- Posture helps control, a lot
- Many people have the wrong posture, or the wrong bike for them.
- Relax, get your weight off the ‘bars
- Try flapping your elbows to check your wrists, elbows and shoulders are loose
- Lean forward slightly
- Ensure your forearms are parallel with the road surface, so you push or pull in the horizontal plane, not down onto the bars
If your wrists, elbows and shoulders are rigid (“stiff-arm”) your body weight will force steering inputs to the bars when going over bumps in curves. This may be disconcerting and can make you tense and struggle for control. It's you, fighting steering inputs of your own. The front end will always move about a little over bumps, get used to it and don’t strangle it. The bike will go around the corner, as long as you don’t do something to foul it up. All you have to do is steer it correctly.
If you have been riding for hours and are just tired you may find yourself leaning on the 'bars and with stiff joints. This is a serious problem, as you need to be flexible and supple when entering curves after a long transport section.
Your physical fitness must be factored into your risk management. Weekend warriors take note.
Smooth through curves is a combination of a lot of little things.
It shows a rider has skill, understanding and judgement.
It has at its core, a PLAN for the corner, then a plan for the next one and while you are executing the first plan, you are making the next plan, from one tip-in point to the next and adding in all the other observations, factoring for likely and low-incidence, but deadly hazards (such as head-on crash on curve). You are risk managing from one curve to the next and using skills to make the transitions from curve to curve as seamless as your braking and acceleration. Your tyres are able to deliver their best for you, with no abrupt shocks at the contact patch.
When you are clear about what you want to do, follow the plan. Taking care of details is essential, otherwise, smoothness will elude you.
Smoothness is almost a religion to some riders. It is perfection at work, with the next corner more perfect than the one before.
It is harmony, it is heaven on earth and pure joy. It is not about being the fastest, it is about the sheer pleasure of riding well, with ample margins for safety and mental space to really enjoy the experience. Mind you, a smooth rider is quick and safe.
Those who lack smoothness have a crowded mind, without the spare mental space to use on safety or enjoyment. They are just working hard and wear themselves out with stress, becoming tired and a risk to themselves and others.
The right place on the road at all times. Seeking good sight lines, spotting and appropriately dealing with road surface imperfections with plenty of margin for the unexpected.
More in section on "Cornering Lines"
(meanwhile, get the RTA booklet "Braking Habits" and check out Page 9)
The tip-in point of any corner is near the point where you can see the most of the corner. This is where race-track and road are very different. On the road, the surface is not perfect and there are vehicles coming the other way, so you only have part of the road width to use. Also, there may be a slow moving mob of pushbikes or a clapped out farm truck or bouncing furry things around the blind curve, so never travel faster than you can see to react and stop in time.
Set your entry speed appropriately.
Set yourself up, so that you will only increase your speed FROM the tip-in point. This makes for smooth riding if your braking is good and your observations are good.
i.e. keep braking until your speed is as slow as the tip-in point requires, but allow space for the suspension to settle after coming off brakes and before tipping in.
Do your braking then tip in - it's two separate actions.
Get yourself sorted on these things, then learn to ride downhill, where in-corner speed corrections and steering with a loaded up front end can complicate things.
Slow in, stable, accurate and smooth through, fast out.
Fast in, you may not come out all.
At 60km/hr, with fantastic reactions of 0.7 of a second, you will travel over 12 meters before you even get on the brake.
At 80km/h its nearly 16 meters.
Then you have to actually get the brakes working and stop without falling off.
Most people take about 1.5 seconds to react, but you are more clever, right? First, you have to identify it is a hazard, then react, so there's two things there.
Do you have any idea of how much road you will use up to stop?
Start paying attention to how long it takes you to react to any traffic situation, at various times of the day.
Buy a box of chalk and a tape measure
Go pace out these distances and look at them.
Then go and see how far it takes you to stop from either speed.
Pace it out. Walk the entire length up and back and absorb just how much road length is consumed by the process of see-react-brake-stop.
Incorporate this in your riding strategy.
If you reckon you are better than average, then the distances at the top of the page must be for you. The rest of us will double them.
It’s also the mathematics and physics that give a good reason not to tailgate and also keeps things smooth to have the buffer space. You can always speed up on exit.
In studies comparing younger and older car drivers, the older drivers outperformed the young drivers and had less crashes.
The young had better reactions, but the older drivers simply made better decisions and used better judgement skills about distances and situations.
Can you stop in a curve? At a goodly lean angle? What distance does it take? What part does countersteering play?
From the tip-in point, keep the throttle just open. This maintains the bike in a balanced attitude, with the weight evenly distributed across both wheels.
WHY is this important? Because tyres only have a limited amount of grip, which can used for cornering, OR for braking. To share tyre grip between cornering AND braking, places the tyres at their maximum stress and you may pass their limits of grip. Don’t gripe if grip gives up in this situation - you made it happen.
Also, when leaning over, the rolling radius of the tyres reduces, as the contact patch moves toward the tyre edge. This makes the bike slow down a touch, throwing a little weight forward, so you need to compensate for this by making the engine speed up a little and take that slight extra weight off the front end. You can develop a fine edge of feel for grip and suspension if you do this. You can’t if you don’t.
Tipping in and then backing off the throttle, causes the bike to “dive” on its front-end, applying large forces to the tyre contact
If the tyre is already fully loaded trying to turn the bike (especially if going in “hot”), then you may exceed the limit and the tyre may slide, particularly if the road surface is damaged, with bumps in the curve or tar waves from trucks braking or turning. Beware the curve in the bottom of a dip. The answer is in balancing the front and rear end tyre loads, smooth throttle, correct road position and of course, an appropriate speed for the vision distance available.
On exit, light up the throttle as much as the grip on the rear and the distance in front allows. (oh yeah, and your license)
This all applies equally to wet weather riding. Same skill set. Its just that the total grip of the tyres is now less than in the dry. Also applies to riding on gravel. In all cases, lumps n bumps must be factored into the corner plan.
A good rider, by using the throttle well, can balance the loads on the their tyre contact patches and can ride across some pretty ugly road surface without a problem, as they are allowing both tyres and suspension to work at their optimum.
Suspension movements are important here. We are not looking at the gross movements and have made an assumption that your bike is correctly adjusted, so it doesn't dive or squat unduly.
Incorrect suspension adjustment can lead to changes in steering geometry in mid corner, as one end is not balanced with the other. Ths may be a soggy front end leading to the bike oversteering, or a soggy rear causing understeer or reduced cornering clearance (often with a pillion).
If you aren't sure, seek professional advice.
No, not from the bloke at the pub.