As you read articles and road-tests – in magazines and on web-sites like this one – you will come across certain terms, or motorcycle jargon if you like. The particular area of jargon I’m referring to is not terms that refer to the mechanical make-up of the bike (we’ll leave that for another article), but for procedures involved in riding a motorcycle. Now, you might be totally familiar with these words and what they mean, or you might not. However, even if you do know what the various terms mean, you might not be familiar with how to apply them. So this article is much more than just a glossary of terms; it will also help how you ride! It might introduce you to particular words, but it could also introduce you to new techniques that you can apply to your riding. The article is probably aimed more at the beginner / returnee rider, but hopefully there will be a few experienced riders who might pick up something too. So if you think you know it all, just have a look through, maybe you’ll find something you can learn too! Okay, let’s get into it. These terms are listed – for ease of reference – in alphabetical order.
This is a term used to describe the process of creating space around you. Obviously, the more distance or space there is between you and other traffic (yes, even other bikes), the less chance there is of them running into you – or of you running into them. So the safer you are. So when we talk about buffering, it means to create a safe space around you.
Now, how easily you can do this depends on the environment you’re riding in. If you’re riding down the Birdsville Track this is not likely to be a problem. If you’re riding through the centre of a major city it will be almost impossible. If you’re out on the highway, it becomes easier to do. This “buffer-zone” should exist all around you; in front, behind and to the sides. So let's have a look at how we might achieve that for each of those directions. Creating space in front is easy – just drop back from the car in front of you. Leave a 3-second gap. (I’ve written more about this in the article “3 Seconds And Speed Limits”). Of course, in dense traffic that can still be a problem; leave a space between you and the car in front and someone from the next lane will dart across and fill it! (Sydney drivers are especially good at doing this!). But where you can, just drop back and maintain that safe buffer between you and the vehicle in front. Likewise, if you’re riding a multi-lane through the middle of a major city at peak-hour, creating space beside you is going to be difficult; it’s going to be difficult not to have a vehicle beside you. But if you’re out on a multi-lane suburban road or highway it should be easier. In those areas you should never ride directly beside another vehicle. If you absolutely have no choice, make sure that the driver knows you are there, even if that means momentarily riding closer to the car in front (so you are further ahead of the vehicle beside you and the driver can see you), then dropping back again. One type of traffic beside you that you particularly want to avoid is traffic coming towards you. If vehicles travelling in the same direction clobber you, that's bad enough, but you don’t want to be clobbered by a vehicle coming towards you! So get out of their way – just as it shows in the diagram beside this. One bit of advice that is being given to learners at the moment is to ride close to the centre-line, because the road is higher towards the middle and that affords you a better view ahead. But it also puts you closer to on-coming traffic, so I say don’t! Or if you do, then, as shown in the diagram, divert your course to the left, away from traffic when you see it approaching. And if the traffic coming towards you is constant, then ride further to the left so that you are well away from it. Creating a buffer behind you can be difficult, but there are things you can do. Firstly, watch the traffic behind you very closely. If it is following at a safe distance, you’re okay. If there is a car sitting too close then you have to do something to resolve that. One way is to gently slow down, then speed up, creating the gap. If the car catches up to you and maintains the same too-close distance you can try giving the brake a few touches – not enough to slow you, but enough to make the brake-light flash. I’m not sure why, but this seems to work better on a bike than in a car. Usually they get the message. (Maybe they think you are a big tough bikie who’ll rip their arms off if they don’t obey the hint?). However another, and better, solution is to just let them pass. You don’t want drivers like that behind you. Just pulling over and letting the tail-gater past is probably the quickest, easiest and safest thing to do. If I’m in traffic (whether on the highway or in town) I’ll often pick a target to ride in front of. Check the body-language of cars around you – you’ll pick which ones are travelling the safest – and position yourself in front of those.
Pretty obvious really; this means changing gear without using the clutch. Why would you want to do that? Well, in its purest form it’s a racing technique. If you are in a race and accelerating hard you don’t want to diminish that acceleration by backing off the throttle and pulling the clutch in, so you maintain the drive and just click it up to the next gear. Okay, but if you’re not a race-track hero, why would you want to know about this? Well, it can be convenient sometimes to be able to change gear without using the clutch – most commonly if you are in a situation where you’d prefer to leave your left hand having all its little pinkies in full grip of the handlebar. Usually this would be in road conditions that demand full control at the bars. Or you might just be lazy! Now, when I do this I don’t do it as they do on a race-track; I assist the process by momentarily rolling-off the throttle. Release the load on the gearbox and the gears will change more easily. Pretty much operating the throttle as you would if you were using the clutch, but not actually using it. Isn’t this still hard on the gearbox, even if you do roll-off the throttle? It can be, but it depends on how well you do it, and on the characteristics of the gearbox. If, as you change gear, the bike remains totally smooth with no perceptible jolt or snatch as you change then you aren’t placing any sudden strain or impact on the gearbox’s internals, so it’s not really detrimental to the gearbox. If, however, you feel a bit of a jolt as you change then you are putting sudden forces through the gearbox and that isn’t good for it. In either case though, it has to be said that you are kindest to the gearbox when you relieve it of all stress by pulling in the clutch as you change. However it can be useful to be able to do it when the situation might benefit from it. I often mention the term in road-tests and it’s something I do on every bike I test. There are two reasons for this. The first thing is that it’s always good to know how capable the gearbox is of performing this function – for those situations I mentioned when you’d prefer not to have to disturb the left hand. Also, it’s a good indication of how smooth the gearbox is. If it will change smoothly without the clutch, then it’s going to be knife-through-butter with it. One final thing. It’s much easier to change up without the clutch than to change down. I hardly ever change down without the clutch. If I do, I give the throttle a bit of a twist as I click the lever down, to assist in bringing the revs up to meet the lower gear. Basically though, the only changes I do without the clutch are up-changes.
Type that into Google and you could spend a couple of years reading all the articles that come up. Basically it means steering by pushing on the handlebar in the direction in which you want to go. If you want to turn left you push on the left handlebar; if you want to turn right you push on the right handlebar. So you are, in effect, trying to turn the handlebars counter to the direction in which you want to go. So “counter-steering!” (See the diagram below). Now, it’s been said that even if you have no knowledge of this technique, you’ll actually be doing it anyway – to some extent at least. You see, what doesn’t work in steering a bike is to sit up straight and turn the bars in the direction you want to go. You know that though, don’t you. From the first time you wobbled off on a bicycle without trainer-wheels, you learnt to lean in the direction you want to turn. And guess what happens when you lean? You put more weight on the handlebar on that side, which is partly what you’re doing when you counter-steer. Although consciously counter-steering is a more precise and definite operation. Just think for a moment how you make the bike go around corners. It’s hard to describe isn’t it. You might say that you kind of lean over and just try to turn the bars. But it’s not that simple, there’s actually a lot more going on. I’ll see if I can explain it for you without getting too technical. Read the articles on Google for the technicalities of what is actually happening and why this works; I’ll just try to explain how you are actually counter-steering even when you don’t know you are. Firstly, go back to what I said doesn’t work – just sitting up straight and turning the bars in the direction you want to go. For example, assume you want to go left; if you just sit up straight and turn the bars to the left what will happen? The bike (and you!) will fall over to the right. You’ve got to lean over haven’t you; everyone knows that! And by leaning over to the left you are placing more of your body weight on the left side of the bike, including on the left handlebar. Because of your position on the bike, and because of the rake of the forks, that weight translates to a forward force on the bar as well as a downward one. Now, when you counter-steer you make this a definite conscious movement – you consciously push on the handlebar; which in effect, is like trying to turn the bars in the opposite direction to what you want to go. Here’s a little experiment you can try that will demonstrate this counter-steering principle. (Preferably do this on a deserted piece of road somewhere – and not at high speed!). Try riding with one hand – which will be your right hand, of course, otherwise you’ll just slow down and stop! Now, for a right turn push on the bar with your right hand. Okay, I've been saying that. But what do you do for a left turn? You pull gently on the right bar (which is basically trying to turn the bar to the right). In both cases it’s a graphic demonstration of trying to turn the bars in the opposite direction to the way you want to go. Try it – it seems illogical, but it works! Okay, now that probably all sounds terribly confusing! (It sounds confusing to me, and I wrote it!). So let’s cut to the chase and describe exactly what to do. Counter-steering, as I’ve mentioned, means pushing on the bar on the side you want to go; push on the left bar to turn left and the right bar to turn right. There, that isn’t so difficult is it! If you aren’t used to doing this it can take a bit of getting used to, because the brain is shouting at you that it’s wrong! But you will get used to it. Now, I should say that this technique works better on some bikes than others. Well, okay, the laws of physics dictate that it’s happening with all bikes, but the conscious motion of counter-steering works better on some than it does on others. Cruisers and adventure-bikes I’ve found don’t respond as well to counter-steering; you’ve got to use a bit more body-English to make them turn. Sports-bikes respond best of all. When those articles you’ll find on Google talk about counter-steering they often do so in the context of obstacle avoidance. Say you’re riding along and suddenly a dog runs out from your left. By the time you see it, it’s right in front of you, still running across the road to your right. You need to steer around it; more than that, you need to steer to the left so you go behind it. So you counter-steer – push on the left bar to swerve left around behind it. Oh, one final thing; there is a minimum speed at which this works. For example, if you are crawling along and want to do a U-turn, pushing on the opposite bar won’t work. You’ll probably wobble around, fall over and call me an idiot for telling you about this counter-steering stuff! Do a right-hand U-turn at walking speed and you’ll be turning the bars to the right. So, you might ask, at what speed does counter-steering start to work? Well, I don’t know exactly, in terms of kph – look it up on Google for more detailed information and explanation. The answer has to do with gyroscopic forces created by the wheel spinning and all that sort of stuff. What I can say is that here we’re talking about road-speed – from slow suburban speeds to racetrack screaming.
There is another term, “Lane-Splitting,” which I’ve mentioned below. I know some people will disagree, but I’m going to treat these terms as having the same meaning. Technically they don’t, but I reckon they do. Does that make sense? Probably not. Anyway, what it basically means is riding beside or in between lines of traffic. For example, if you are approaching a set of traffic-lights on a multi-lane road and all lanes are stopped and full of traffic, you ride up between the lines of traffic, positioning yourself at the front of the queue, in between the front vehicles at the lights. When the lights go green, you take advantage of your superior acceleration and shoot up the road ahead of them. City commuters save a heap of time betwixt home and work-place by doing this. (The photo here shows a traffic scene in Bangkok. It looks like they are more than familiar with the principle of filtering!). Now, it has to be said that car drivers generally don’t like it (especially if you wobble and scratch their car with your mirrors!), but you’ll quickly pass them by and probably not notice too much. Unless some particularly objectionable motorist sees you coming and opens his door just as you arrive beside his car. You will then stop very suddenly and unexpectedly, probably fall off and get a damaged bike. He’ll get a bent door, but also the satisfaction of having wiped-out “one of those cheeky bloody bikers!” That’s just one reason I don’t do it, but there are other reasons. The main reason is that I don’t commute to work, so I’m never in that much of a hurry. If I’m in traffic I prefer to stay in the line. I’d rather do this and avoid the aggravation it can (I emphasise “can” because certainly not all motorists object!) cause to motorists, and also the dangers inherent in the practice. Then there is the legal issue. Ah, now we really get to the can-of-worms! Is it legal? Some say it is, some say it isn’t. So, for the benefit of this article, I thought I’d clarify it by asking the local (NSW) constabulary. But even there I got two different answers! At first I was told it was legal, providing no-one was turning left. But when I began asking about specific situations I was put through to a senior highway-patrol officer (who, as it happened, was also a motorcyclist) and he said it wasn’t legal. Well, what he actually said (while flipping through his rule-book!) was, while there is no specific law relating to lane-splitting, there are laws that could be applied to it that would result in it being classed as a traffic-offence and you being fined. So it probably comes down to interpretation by the officer who sees you doing it. If it’s a situation like the one I described above – multiple lanes stopped at traffic lights – then they probably won’t bother you. However, if you’re travelling along a multi-lane road at 50kph and go whizzing up between the lanes of traffic then they’ll be onto you like the proverbial ton of building-material. Riding the centre-line between a lane going in your direction and a lane of on-coming traffic is not only illegal (they won’t take long to find a law to apply to it anyway), but is downright stupid! Another type of filtering is to ride up the left of a line of traffic that is stopped, or almost stopped. I’m not talking about traffic-lights, but where traffic is stopped or almost stopped due to some sort of traffic-jam. This I will do; mostly because my bike has an air-cooled engine, so spending long periods of time stationary or at crawling speed is not good for it. So I pull left and ride up beside the traffic. I always ride slowly though. Don’t go whizzing up at 80kph, just trickle up in 2nd gear – slow enough so that you can stop in time if that objectionable motorists I mentioned tells his passenger to open their door and wipe you out! Although I have to say that generally, motorists don’t seem to mind this too much. They might envy your progress, but they generally don’t hate you for it – especially if you give them a courteous wave when you pull back into the traffic in front of them. But, tecnically, this is illegal too! There are laws on “undertaking” as it is called, and not staying within marked lanes and so on, that can be applied to this. Like lane-splitting in stationary traffic, generally the police will be fairly tolerant, provided you are going slowly and carefully. However, one objection they can and will raise, is that you are taking up the emergency thoroughfare. For example, say the traffic is at a standstill because of an accident. When the police and ambulance come whizzing up the left of the traffic they’re going to be pretty peeved at a motorcyclist impeding their progress by trickling along in their space. So if you do ride up the left, be prepared to pull back into the line of traffic; always have an “escape route” so that you can get out of the way of emergency vehicles that might come up behind you. (See below for an up-date).
As I mentioned above, I interpret this – rightly or wrongly, technically there can be a difference – as being the same as “Filtering”, which I’ve just covered. And I referred to lane-splitting a lot in that section. So see that.
MODULATE YOUR BRAKING.
Let’s begin with a simple fact; a locked wheel does not provide the best braking. Optimum braking is achieved with the wheel just on the point of locking or braking traction with the road surface, but not actually braking traction with it. If you lock the wheels in a car, you’ll slide further down the road before you come to a stop. On a bike, if you lock the wheels you’ll probably slide down the road too – although not necessarily in an upright position! Locking the wheels is easy to do in an emergency. If something happens requiring you to stop quickly, then the natural reaction is to grab-and-stab! Grab the front brake lever with all your strength and stab your foot down hard on the rear brake lever. Screeech – the wheels lock up! (Or alternately, the tyre grips really well and you end up like the bloke in the photo here!). And you will have just potentially made a dangerous situation a whole lot worse! Almost all modern cars, and many modern bikes, are fitted with ABS. This system detects when a wheel is about to lock and releases some brake pressure, thereby preventing the lock-up and providing optimum braking by keeping the wheels at that just-about-to-lock-up state. When you modulate your braking you become the ABS. It means releasing the brakes just as they begin to lock the wheels, then re-applying. This isn’t easy to do, because if you need to stop in a hurry the last thing you’ll feel like doing is to ease up on the brakes! It’s when your brain fights with your gut-instinct. Your brain – provided it knows that simple fact I began with – says, “Release the brakes a bit!” But your gut instinct says, “Are you crazy?! I need to stop! Brake harder, harder!” “No, ease off!” “No, no, harder!” It’s something you should practice. Ideally, you should find a nice quiet place and practice emergency stopping. That way, when a real emergency happens you’ll know what to do and be able to do it. You’ll also have a better feel for just when that point is, when the wheels are about to lock. So, optimum braking begins by avoiding the “grab-and-stab” reaction. This is something you can practice almost every time you apply the brakes. Train yourself to begin braking by applying the brakes gently, with a squeezing motion. In short, squeeze the levers, don’t grab-and-stab them! Squeeze as hard as you need to, to achieve the level of braking required though. In an emergency squeeze hard. If the wheels begin to lock, release the pressure slightly and then squeeze again; repeating the process, if necessary, to keep the wheels at that just-before-lock-up state.
SETTING-UP YOUR BRAKES
In an emergency, part of the time it takes you to stop is taken up by the time taken to move your hand and foot onto the brake levers. So, when you are approaching any situation that has potential for emergency, it’s a good idea to set-up the brakes. The photo on the left shows a typical situation. Although the bike has “right-of-way”, there is potential danger here. The bike is approaching a side-street that is partly obscured by a house with a big bushy tree. The car parked on the roadside would obscure a lot of vision too – for both the rider and the driver of any car that might happen to be exiting that road. The photo above is a close-up of the bike. The rider is looking towards the road, checking for any cars, and as I mentioned above, is also “covering the brake” – fingers and foot on the levers ready to brake if some unseeing (or unseen) car does come out of the road. This means getting your hand and foot onto the levers ready to apply the brakes if you have to. In cars it’s called, “covering the brake pedal”. You were probably taught to do that by your driving instructor (if you had one!) back when you learnt to drive. It’s the same principle on a bike. If you look closely at the photo on the left you'll see that the rider has a couple of fingers of his right hand on the brake lever and his right foot resting on the rear brake lever. So he's all set-up and ready to brake if he has to. Perhaps we should define the sort of situations that have a “potential for emergency”. You could argue that as soon as you leave the driveway on a motorcycle you are in a situation that has a potential for emergency. And that’s pretty true. But you can’t ride with your hand and foot on the brake all the time! No, I’m talking about more obvious situations. A good example would be when approaching an intersection – especially if there is a car waiting to exit the adjoining road. That car might have seen you, but there’s a chance it might not have and just pull out in front of you. If it does, you’ll have your hand and foot on the levers ready to brake and avoid the crash. Just as an aside, you might also note the position of the bike on the road. He's out wide, which affords the best view into the side-street and also places him further away from any vehicle that might potentially be coming out of the street. But he is still far enough left of the centre-line to not be vulnerable to on-coming traffic. This setting-up of the brakes is one reason why I use the two-finger braking method. I like to still have control of the throttle while my hand is on the brake. By doing this I don’t necessarily have to reduce speed while I have the brakes set-up. Doing this, you can maintain your speed while at the same time having both front and rear brakes ready to apply if the need arises.
I remember as a young teenager (yes, I have a long memory!) riding my pushbike home from school with some mates. As we came up to a friend’s house one of my mates up front decided he’d call in and swung into the driveway. I was pedaling pretty quickly behind him and had to hit the brakes and turn quickly to make the driveway. But I was in trouble. My mates had stopped in the driveway and I was going too fast to stop behind them. I aimed to the left of them where there was a wide grass area. The only thing in that wide grass area was a small tree, maybe a couple of inches thick at the base. All I had to do was miss the tree and there’d be plenty of room to stop. I whizzed into the driveway behind my mates, headed for the grass … and hit the tree! I couldn’t believe it! The tree was so thin that if I’d tried to hit it I would probably have missed! So why did I hit it? It’s called “target fixation”. Target fixation is the term for a basic principle that dictates that you tend to go where you are looking. I was looking straight at the tree (hoping to miss it!), and target-fixation meant that I hit what I was looking at. You may have experienced this yourself. For example, you might be riding along and see a pot-hole up ahead. You stare at it, hoping to miss it, and what happens? You hit the pot-hole! You’ve gone exactly where you’ve been looking! This issue of target-fixation has a wide range of applications to riding. The first is the situation I’ve just mentioned – avoiding obstacles. Let's talk about that. If there is a pot-hole up ahead, don’t look at the pot-hole thinking “Gee I hope I don’t hit that!” because you will! In the photo on the left there is a pot-hole with a lot of messy broken road around it; you wouldn't want to hit that! So don't look at it! Instead, look at the area of road where you want to go – in this case, the smooth surface beside the pot-hole. And use counter-steering (which I’ve explained above) to initiate the required avoiding action. Hitting things is what we might call the negative aspect of target-fixation, but there is a positive aspect too. For example, this looking-where-you-want-to-go thing can have a positive effect in cornering. If you go into a corner looking at the area of road immediately in front of you, you’ll probably end up having to adjust your line and get all wobbly. Instead, look further ahead – specifically, at where you want to end up. This principle of tending to go where you are looking means that you’ll end up where you want to be on the exit of the corner. That can be a help at normal cornering speeds, but also in situations where you go into a corner a bit too fast. Instead of looking at the section of road where you think you might end up crashing, look ahead at where you want to end up – obviously, at the exit of the corner in an upright position. Target fixation will pull you through the corner in the right position. Well, hopefully it will anyway – unless you went in way too hot, then you might still crash! But you’ll have a far better chance of ending up in the right place if you look at the right place. To summarise the application of this, the rule is: Look where you want to go, not where you don’t want to go. And now you’ll know why that is such a good rule to follow.
TRAILING THE BRAKE.
This means riding along with the brake applied; specifically, the rear brake. Why would you want to do that? Well, the rear brake can be useful for other than just helping the bike to stop; it can also help to stabilise the bike. Now, you wouldn’t want to do this while you are riding straight, but it can be useful when you’re turning corners. Let’s start with the tightest of turns, a U-turn. Performing a U-turn can be a tricky manouvre on a bike. The problem is that you’ll be in low gear and the bike will be super-responsive to the throttle. A small movement of the throttle, intended to drive it through the U-turn, will often result in the bike jerking ahead. So you back off, which produces another jerk. And basically, you’ll look like a right jerk as you do it! You might even fall off! (Which would make you look an even bigger jerk!). What you want to do is make the bike less responsive. You want to be able to wind on the throttle enough to drive it through the turn without the bike surging forward. So you lightly apply the back brake. That makes the bike less responsive to the throttle, so you’ll perform the manouvre much more smoothly and feel more in control. There’s actually a bit more happening with this though. When you try to drive it with the back brake applied, the bike is fighting against the brake, which causes it to squat in the rear. Squatting in the rear will alter the angle of the front forks; they’ll be pointing forwards at a greater angle. And the more stretched-out the front forks are, the more stable the bike is. So by applying the back brake you alter, slightly, the steering geometry; causing it be slower-turning and more stable. Okay, it’s only a subtle change, but a change none-the-less. This change in steering geometry can be useful for higher-speed cornering too. If the bike begins to feel a bit unstable, perhaps flighty and wanting to dart around, then by applying some rear brake you’ll slow the steering and thereby increase the stability, just like in the U-turn. It will feel less flighty and more stable. Trailing the brake is a very useful technique for making the bike settle and feel more stable in open-road type corners, such as the one pictured on the left here. It should be obvious from what I've written already, but I'll say it anyway; you don’t have to be on a closed throttle to do this; in fact shutting the throttle will add to the flighty feel because more weight will be transferred to the front of the bike, causing the forks to compress, thereby making the fork-angle becoming steeper and the steering quicker. So the idea is to maintain the drive (you might even need to slightly increase the throttle), and apply the back brake slightly to get this extra stability thing happening. The other thing that tends to happen when you apply some back brake in a corner is that the bike tends to steer around the back wheel more. I think of it this way: If the back wheel wants to slow down, and the front wheel wants to keep going at the same speed, the only way it can is by turning more sharply. If it went more towards the straight ahead it would slow down; because the distance in a straight line is less than the distance in a circle. So it tends to turn more in a circle; in other words turn more tightly into the corner. This is very handy if you feel yourself running a bit wide in a corner. If you apply a bit of back brake you’ll feel the bike tighten its line through the corner. I should stress that when you employ this trailing the brake technique, you do so gently. Don’t stomp down on the peddle, just apply gentle pressure. In either U-turns or faster corners, if you suddenly stomp down on the back brake you’ll probably fall off! Yes, it should be obvious, but just in case someone ends up on their backside after stomping the brakes and then says, “That Old Bloke said to do this!” I’ll make a point of stating the obvious!
This is sometimes called “late entry”, or “late apex”. Basically it is a different line, recommended by safety authorities to enable you to see further around corners. Corners are dangerous, right? The thing is, you don’t know what’s around them. There might be obstacles on the road, or slippery stuff like gravel or oil etc. There might also be vehicles coming the other way that aren’t doing the right thing. Lots of dangerous stuff! So the further you can see around corners as you approach and turn into them, the safer you will be. Now, there is a principle here. The road is not a race-track! Yes, you’ve heard that before, haven’t you. Usually it is said in the context of not riding at race-track speeds on the road, but here it means taking different lines through corners on the road to what you would on a racetrack. For many people, it will mean taking different lines than you normally do on the road. It probably means un-learning years of what has come naturally. But it’s worth it. When I was teaching my daughter to drive, I remember one day we were approaching the start of a winding mountain road. I stopped, got her out of the car, found a piece of stick and commenced to draw diagrams in the gravel beside the road. I showed her how to drive through corners; how taking the proper line through a corner would result in the least amount of turning and the smoothest progress through the turn. (It would also allow the corner to be taken at the highest speed, but I didn’t tell her that!). The line I drew was the typical “racing line,” the line that resulted in the straightest path through the corner. The line I drew was wrong. Well, not “wrong” so much as not the safest line to take. This image, from the Motorcycle Council of NSW (which has some great articles and safety videos), shows the concept and reasons for it pretty well. It gives you much better vision around the corner, as well as putting you further away from the potential danger of on-coming traffic. If you’re not familiar with this “Wide Entry” line for cornering, when you look at that image the line will seem wrong. And, let me tell you, it feels wrong when you first try it – especially after decades of using the traditional line through corners! I have to admit that I still have to think about using this line; and I often don’t, going back to the usual straightest-line instead. But at other times I’ve got into a rhythm of using it on a narrow winding mountain road and appreciated the greater range of vision and greater sense of security in being able to see further around the corner. It’s becoming more natural now, but it took (or is still taking!) a while. As I said, it might take some learning, but it's worth it! The entry is, of course, the part that feels wrong. You hang out wide when you think you should be turning in. Tightening into the turn on the exit feels okay; you don’t feel like you’re going to run off the outside of the corner then. You do feel this at the start though, if you’re not familiar with the line. Obviously this is not the straightest line through the corner. So it also isn’t fastest. But it is the safest! Okay, well there it is – quite a marathon! Hopefully though, this has explained a few terms that you might not have been familiar with, and also explained how to put them into practice. If it has helped you ride better, and safer, then it has done its job!
Update: In July 2014 lane-filtering became legal in NSW. Here is what the law now says: “Under the scheme, fully-licensed riders will be able to ride through stationary or slow-moving traffic at speeds up to 30 km/h; but not in school zones, beside kerbs or next to trucks and buses.” Note that it is for “experienced riders” only: L and P plate riders are not allowed to do this.
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