Tuesday, August 22, 2017

U-Turns as the Way Forward

When first learning to ride a motorcycle most of us* begin with plenty of slow-speed practice, including U-turns.  It’s a matter of basic bike control.  All too often these key foundation skills are underdeveloped or become rusty.  It’s not sexy to ride slowly…or is it?  (*There are plenty of people whose first-time-on-a-bike antics allow them to forever live in shame on YouTube.)

Slow speed riding comprises a specific set of skills requiring plenty of practice. We should always be able to ride at slow speeds with confidence, especially in urban areas, in order to:

  • travel slowly with prevailing traffic
  • make tight turns in narrow streets 
  • make U-turns
  • manoeuvre in confined spaces, such as garages and parking areas
  • filter – move safely between lanes of stationary traffic

Keys to confident slow-speed riding include: Observation – in particular, road surface and camber; Balance – keeping in mind your bike’s load; and, as ever, Looking where you want to go.

Specific machine control skills include:

  • using the brakes with a bias to the rear.  The rear brake is your best friend in slow-speed manoeuvres
  • slipping or ‘feathering’ the clutch at times to keep revs up and prevent the engine from stalling
  • staying relaxed.  Tension reduces your ability to steer or lean, at any speed.  Breathe 

One of the best ways to look like a numpty on our bike is to display incompetency at low speeds.  Dropping both legs like ‘outriggers’ is a dead giveaway that a rider is not in complete control. (This shameful act has, at times, provoked verbal remonstrance from the writer.)  As with any other riding skill honest self-assessment is the key to moving forward, and regular practice is essential.

Which aspects of low-speed manoeuvring do you find more difficult?  Find a safe environment and take opportunities to practise any manoeuvres at which you feel less confident.  Consider visiting a local learn-to-ride school to observe how these skills are taught or, speak with one of our qualified advanced rider development trainers.

Confidence and competence at low-speeds manifests itself at all speeds.  Be your inner tortoise, before unleashing your outer hare. 

(This missive includes content from Motorcycle Roadcraft)

Mike Moloney ©2017

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