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BACK TO BASICS - CRASHES INVOLVING MOTORCYCLES

by Jerry Palladino (MOTORMAN)

Most single vehicle crashes involving motorcycles, occur while negotiating a curve. Accident investigators have found that the crash is almost always the riders fault and was not due to sand or gravel on the road along with other obstacles. Investigators have also found that in most cases, the motorcycle was capable of making the curve at the speed the rider was traveling. So, why did the rider crash????

What generally happens is the rider believes he/she is going too fast to complete the turn so they hit the brake with the bike leaned over, consequently, the bike slides out from under the rider or the rider releases the brake and high sides. Some riders will hear the pegs scrape, panic, and straighten the bike up and run right off the road. Others will simply look at the edge of the road and of course, the bike will go where you are looking and you will ride off the edge of the road. To avoid these situations is very easy. First, become familiar with the maximum lean angle of your bike. Do so in a parking lot at low speeds. You will find that scraping the pegs still allows you to maintain control and is not a reason to panic and straighten up the bike. Second, NEVER brake hard in a turn with the bike leaned over. If you're going to have to brake hard, you must first straighten the bike up even if it means going into the opposing lane. The safest procedure for negotiating a curve is to place the motorcycle in the portion of the lane which gives you the most visibility around the turn. Quite simply, if the road curves to the right, you should be in the left side of your lane looking to the end of the curve and visa versa. You need to look as far to the end of the curve as you possibly can and keep your head level with the horizon.

NEVER look at the line in the road or the vehicles coming in the opposite direction. Your braking should be done before entering the curve. Now, go find a winding road and have some fun practicing this technique.

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More articles by MOTORMAN:
Back to Basics Series:   About Jerry Palladino:
A "Motorman" is the term used in police circles to identify a motorcycle cop, or any law enforcement officer assigned to the motorcycle division. Prior to
becoming a Motor Officer, Jerry rode for enjoyment for about 25 years. Then one day, he saw a 5 minute segment on a television show which depicted motorcycle officers training on their Harley police bikes. The way these officers could maneuver these full size motorcycles around like a child's toy, made it appear as if they were defying gravity. At that moment, he knew that he had a lot to learn about riding a motorcycle. Shortly afterwards, the agency he worked for started a motorcycle unit. he was sent for training to Tallahassee with the highway patrol. The training consisted of 120 hours of intensive motorcycle training, focusing mainly on low speed handling. Jerry says, "When I finished this training, for the first time I really knew how to ride a motorcycle."
Safety Series:  
 

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