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BACK TO BASICS - TURNING FROM A STOP ON A HILL

by Jerry Palladino (MOTORMAN)

Surprisingly, I'm often asked by even experienced riders how to turn when stopped on a hill. Obviously, there's some confusion here. The rider's who ask this question state they know not to use the front brake at low speeds since it will pull them to the ground, but, since they're holding the bike up with both feet, they can't use the rear brake either.

I understand the dilemma. There are actually several things you can do in this situation. One, you can feed a little throttle and let the clutch out just enough to hold the bike from rolling backwards (which is my personal method), but in order to do this, you must be very familiar with the friction zone. Two, you can hold the bike from rolling back using the front brake which will enable you to keep both feet on the ground, just remember to keep the front brake applied as you feed a little throttle and start to let the clutch out. As soon as you feel the bike push against the brake, release the brake, allow the bike to start moving forward then immediately turn your head and eyes in the direction of the turn. The 3rd and last method would be to keep your right foot on the brake, let the clutch out, feed throttle and as you feel the bike push against the brake, release the brake and again quickly turn your head and eyes in the direction you want to go. Of course, this method is only for those who are comfortable with balancing the bike on one foot.

The best thing to do is try all 3 of these methods under controlled conditions. In other words, find a parking lot with a slight incline and practice until it becomes 2nd nature. You should first try taking off on the incline smoothly going straight ahead and little by little, start turning the handlebars after you've released the brake.

The bottom line is, you must become familiar with using the friction zone. Practice duck walking the bike but instead of pushing the bike forward with your legs, let the clutch do the work. Also, practice the slow race. You need to only get down to a quick walking pace. Remember to put a little pressure on the rear brake and keep your head and eyes UP! Just 20 or 30 minutes in a parking lot should get you very good at coordinating that clutch and throttle.

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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."
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