TOTW: Go in slow to come out fast

The riding tips on these pages are my personal opinion about matters related to motorcycle riding. They are not the official position of any organization, and are for your consideration only. They are not hard and fast rules, they should not necessarily be applied in all circumstances, and they should not be applied without thinking. Always use your judgement and take all current safety factors into account while riding. You are responsible for your riding, not anyone else (especially me). These tips were originally published by a motorcycle riding course, called “Tip of the Week” (the reason for the TOTW in the titles).

What’s the problem?

Most single-vehicle motorcycle accidents occur in curves. Many are the result of entering the curve too fast. The excess speed can cause you to run off the road or into the oncoming lane. If you try to correct by braking while turning, it is easy to lose control and crash.

Even if you maintain lane position and control, entering a curve too fast is not fun. You will experience a moment of panic and have to correct either by adjusting your steering or braking. Braking causes the bike to try to stand upright and straighten its path which may lead to further lane problems. All of this throws you off your stride. You’ll probably find yourself slowing down or stopping to recover your wits, and your ride will be less enjoyable for a while.

Solution

Recovering control (by slowing or steering) in a curve is an important skill that you should certainly practice. However, you’ll enjoy your ride much more if you avoid the problem entirely. Enter the curve at an appropriate speed by slowing, if necessary, before you begin the turn. By slowing before the curve you can enter under complete control, then, once you are far enough through to see a clear path to the curve exit, accelerate out.

Try this the next time you’re on a twisty country road. Slow down to a very comfortable turning speed before you get to the turn, and accelerate out of the turn, back to your cruising speed. Experiment with different corner entry speeds and braking points, and you’ll find yourself enjoying cornering more. You’ll be riding more safely and, because you aren’t wasting time correcting from errors, you will actually make better time on your overall trip.

Don’t Doddle

Don’t mis-interpret this tip.  This is not about holding up traffic by slowing down to below traffic speed when there is a line of cars behind you.  Holding up a line of traffic will frustrate the other drivers and eventually someone will make an unsafe pass.  Driving too slowly does not increase your safety.  If you’re not comfortable riding at normal traffic speeds, you are not ready to be out riding on the roads.

This tip is about riding on a track, or on winding country roads when you are alone on the highway, or at least when there is no one immediately behind you, and when you are in a situation where you are free to choose your speed without the influence of other traffic.


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