Posted In: Safety Articles
written for Countyline Publications and printed in Wisconsin and Illinois Biker Information Guide Safety Feature By Robert Shelton, Instructor – Woodstock Harley Riding School Whew Doggies – 2011 is here and a new riding season is upon us! One of my absolute riding joys is riding through Sweeping curves. Ahhhhhhhh, there’s nothing like a bit of lean and just cruising through the turns. It is just raw joy going though curves on a motorcycle. However, if a curve is misjudged or not negotiated properly the joy is removed and it can be a down and out raw experience. I would like to provide some thoughts and guidance here to keep the joy in your curves this new season. Curves come in all different shapes and sizes. The same holds true for the roads we ride on. And, if not handled properly trouble can be gotten into. Some of the things that can cause difficulty with curves are critters coming out on you, or coming into a curve too fast and braking improperly, or not using proper head and eye technique, or misjudging a road condition such as debris, sand or gravel on the surface, or any combination of these. Let’s explore these items and minimize their ability to influence our ability to negotiate curves. Typical Curves are sweepers, turns and switchbacks. They can be long and lean. They can be short and stout. The long and lean sweepers are fun because you can glide right through them. The short and stout ones can be dicey because they require you to properly lean, maneuver and throttle through the curve. If there is any doubt regarding speed, debris, sand or critters then slow down. It is always better to slow down before you get to the curve rather than in the curve. Once you are in the curve roll on the throttle and go through the curve. This loads the suspension and allows you to lean the motorcycle into the curve. If you have to brake while in the curve, straighten the motorcycle first and then apply braking. When you apply brakes while in the curve the motorcycle automatically works to straighten upright and you lose your ability to lean and negotiate the turn. When you are moving at speed greater than roughly 15mph you push in the direction you want to go. If you want to go to the left you push on the left handlebar. If you want to go to the right you push on the right handlebar. When you push to the left or right it automatically causes the motorcycle to lean in that direction and consequently go in that direction. Your motorcycle’s lean limit is pretty low. Most folks are sketchy about scraping the pegs. If your pegs or boards scrape it’s ok, don’t panic, keep pressing on your bar, ease through and continue on. Eye and head position are important. Your motorcycle always goes where you look. Look through the curve and drive through it. I tend to look as far through the curve as I can and keep my eys and head level with the horizon. I don’t fixate on lines and objects. If you fixate on an object or line you’ll drive right to it. Therefore, try not to fixate on cars, lines or road shoulders. I hope this segment will bring a bit more joy in safely navigating all those luscious and gracious curves we see out on our rides. Until next time, only you can determine how good you want to be.