Dedicated to the women who RIDE THEIR OWN motorcycles  


by Jerry Palladino (MOTORMAN)

Question #1
My motorcycle has linked brakes. You advise people to feather or drag the rear brake during low speed maneuvers, but also say to never use the front brake at low speeds as it will pull you down. Does the technique still work if you have linked brakes?

Yes. You can still put pressure on the rear brake to help stabilize your motorcycle at low speeds, while at the same time using the friction zone. I show this on my "Ride Like a Pro II" video on a Goldwing, Honda VTX and a BMW LT1200. For those of you not familiar with linked brakes, what that means is when you apply the rear brake, a portion of the front brake is being applied as well even if you don't pull the brake in with your hand. The fact is, that only a tiny portion of the front brake is being used when applying light pressure to the rear brake. It has little or no affect on the technique I describe. Don't even think about it.

Question #2
Why do I have problems making U-turns? I've taken the MSF course and I know about head and eyes, but I still can't seem to turn my bike without duck walking it around a U-turn.

Though you've taken the MSF course and they've told you about head and eyes, the friction zone and using the rear brake, they haven't told you how to apply those techniques properly. Here's the U-turn drill. Assuming you're going to make a left hand U-turn. Decide exactly where you are going to start your turn, put your foot on the rear brake, get in the friction zone, dip your bike to the right so that your front tire is heading towards the right side of the edge of the street. As soon as you reach that point, turn your HEAD AND EYES as far as you can to the left. Never, ever look at the opposite edge of the road where you don't want the bike to go. The further you lean the bike, the tighter the turn you can make. There is no production bike I know of that cannot make a turn in less than 24 feet. In the deepest part of the lean, bring the revs up a little, slip the clutch a little more and put a little more pressure on the rear brake. All the time, keeping your head and eyes focused on where you want the bike to go. Think of how an owl turns his head completely around, that's what you should look like when executing a U-turn properly.

Question #3
I frequently ride with a passenger. Should I be doing anything different at low speeds that would help me to control my motorcycle better?

No. The techniques of head and eyes, the friction zone and feathering the rear brake are exactly the same with a passenger on board. You may have to limit your lean angle slightly because of the extra weight of a passenger will lessen your lean clearance slightly. In other words, your pegs or boards will scrape sooner with the extra weight on board. Also, keep in mind if the pegs or boards do scrape, it's not a reason to panic, it just means you're reaching the limit of the lean angle. A good rider should still be able to make full lock turns on the floorboards with a passenger on board. Once you master the 3 techniques, practice with a passenger on board in an empty parking lot.

And, the most frequently asked question:
What kind of bike should I buy? Unfortunately, there are way too many variables for me to answer this question. All I can tell you is, buy the bike that fits your wants, needs, desires and of course, your bank account.

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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:  

WHAT YOU NEED to Know! Cyclechex Motorcycle History Report.
Motorcycle History Report - What You Need to Know Before You Buy a Used Motorcycle.

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