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Laying It Down

What we hear from students in classes is interesting at times. We often get asked if they will learn how to lay their bike down. Occasionally a student will ask when you should jump off your bike. Normally these questions come from new riders who have little or no motorcycling experience. Once we even had an experienced rider in class who said he jumped off his bike because it was the only thing he could do

Our curriculum does not include learning such maneuvers. There may be a few courses out there that teach these skills, but we are not aware of them. We don’t believe it makes much sense to intentionally crash a motorcycle to avoid a crash. There must be a better way of escaping a crash than by giving up and purposely dumping the bike.

"Does it make much sense to intentionally crash a motorcycle to avoid a crash? There must be a better way."

Crash prevention seems to be a better answer to sidestepping a wrecked bike and a broken body. Research continues to show that there is seldom a single cause of any crash. Rather it is always a number of factors coming together to create a situation resulting in a crash. Most often a crash can be prevented by removing one of these factors.

To eliminate any of these crash causing ingredients, a rider must recognize their presence. Reducing the number of factors that can lead to a crash requires learning to see what is happening on the road. Aggressively looking for potential hazards on the road is the first step to removing their effect.

What is the condition of the road surface ahead? Is there anything that could affect the traction needed for maneuvering the motorcycle? What highway signs and markings are present that might foretell of a change in traffic conditions? What is the slope and radius of the approaching curve? What are other drivers doing on the road? What are they doing besides driving that might divert their attention?

Once probable factors are identified, the rider must determine how these factors might impact the situation. To achieve this, a rider might play "What if?" while riding down the road. What if that SUV pulls out of the shopping center driveway? How does the setting sun affect visibility? What can be done to reduce the effect of these conditions?

Finally a rider needs to have the ability to deal with any combination of factors encountered on the street or highway. If something went unseen and wasn’t factored in to the determination of a situation’s impact, effective braking and swerving skills may be necessary to avoid a crash. Crash data indicates that many riders are not able to stop their motorcycles quickly or to swerve around an obstacle in their way. Becoming proficient in these skills and practicing them regularly provides another layer of defense against a crash.

Being prepared for the unexpected can help avoid getting caught in a situation with limited options. A good riding strategy the includes identifying possible problems that could lead to a crash, determining their impact on the situation at hand and taking the necessary action to reduce these factors can help circumvent a crash. And that includes an intentional crash. Employing strong mental skills, supported by finely tuned physical skills, can eliminate the need to lay it down or jump off.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!