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Above Average

How many of you would say that you are above average riders? I'm sure that most of you consider yourselves to have above average riding skills. When I ask this question at a riding group meeting, almost every hand goes up. But what does it mean to be above average? If everyone is above average, who is average or even below average?

Most studies consider average as the median or middle value and then apply a bell curve with half the data above and half below this center point. The bell curve covers the majority of the data in the middle, labeling it as average with the data points on the upper and lower edges as above and below average respectively. Applying these criteria to motorcycling suggests that most riders have average skills with a few below average and a few above average.

So why would most people consider themselves to be above average when statistically speaking that's an impossibility? Maybe they base it on the fact that they've been riding for a long time. With the number of miles and years of experience they have on a motorcycle, they certainly must be an above average rider. Perhaps they use the fact that they've never had a crash or at least one that was their fault as the reason that they are an above average biker.

The fact is that people often overestimate their strengths and abilities and underestimate their shortcomings. In one study, 93% of students surveyed rated their own driving skills as above the median. In other words, almost all thought they were in the top half of the group. This supremacy bias causes people to place more weight and value on their own abilities than those of others.

Those who ride a motorcycle are no different and are also susceptible to this leniency error. That's why we often overrate our own skill level. We tend to think we're better than most other riders and develop a sense of relative superiority. In reality, only those who continually work at it can develop above average skills. Although the tools are available to all riders, only a few use them to improve their riding abilities.

Many riders, once they learn how to ride, tend to feel they know everything they need to survive on the road. As they rack up the miles, the experience they gain builds this illusory superiority attitude. The truly good riders approach riding as a continuous learning activity and they seek opportunities to improve their skills. So what can you do to become an even better rider?

Formal learning activities like experienced rider, advanced control skill, and police training for civilian courses can be used to enhance riding abilities. You might participate in track day activities to improve your cornering skills. Many motorcycle magazines and the internet have riding tips and techniques that can expand your repertoire of riding skills.

There are also a variety of books and videos that detail advanced procedures for maintaining better control of a motorcycle. Even asking friends to critique and evaluate your riding style and methods can provide you feedback to help enhance your riding enjoyment. The bottom line is that you have to keep learning. Only those who keep getting better are really above average.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!