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Old 08-21-2006, 03:56 PM   #1
speedismo
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The mantras of street riding

Too many summertime crashes, mostly by new riders made me write this article. I have read some really good articles about riding on the street. Most of these talk about techniques and technicalities of good street riding/group riding. I have never come across an article which talks about the non-technical street survival skills. The ‘street-smartness’ skills of riding. So I thought I will put together one.

Now, let me accept beforehand, I am far from being the best of riders. However, I have been riding for more than 10 years. Most of it, on treacherous Indian roads, in a VERY, VERY treacherous traffic. Traffic that hardly follows any rules, I am sorry to accept. Where ANYBODY, at any moment, will do ANYTHING! And when you ride as crazy as I did in that traffic, riding twice, even thrice the speed of traffic, you learn a few lessons even if you don’t want to. I am sharing those lessons in this article.

However, let me warn you beforehand, some of these mantras I am going to talk about are unorthodox. So read, and learn at your own will. You can choose to stop reading here or not to learn anything even after reading it. Also, I am not suggesting you go fast. It is ALWAYS better to go slow. But if you are on of those who are not going to take the 'slow down' advice, then you might at least try this advice.

Anyway, here are my mantras:
-It is good to be predictable yourself, but it is better to predict about others. Everybody else on the road except you is a fool wanting to get you.

-Speed is not your enemy, it is your friend.

-One lane is usually too small a playground. Make your playground as big as feasible.

-Proximity to another object is your enemy.

-New roads are your enemy.

-Group riding is not just fun, it is dangerous too.


Predict other people’s behavior. Every 30 seconds or so, do a wide scan, and develop a rough plan based on that. Notice which vehicle is going slow, which is going fast, which one is slowing down, which one is accelerating, which one is changing lanes. It seems like too many things to do, but it comes pretty easy once you start doing it. Most of what you should notice should be those vehicles making some kind of changes. These are the ones that will possibly get you. The ones that are not making any change to their plan are not that big a risk.

Speed is your friend. When out of the corner your eye, you see that guy pulling into your lane and you know you have fast traffic behind you, quickly drop a gear and get ahead of him. On any sportbike, you will be able to do it before he has fully occupied your lane. Go to the outmost edge of your lane while doing it. Point is, get away from this guy. And get into a safe spot.
When this same guy pulls out right in front of you, don’t panic and get on brakes. Also, don’t run off the road, or ‘wide’ into another lane. Even if there is a vehicle in the parallel lane, you will easily have enough space to squeeze your motorcycle in through. Don’t panic and keep your cool while doing it.

Make your playground bigger. It will give you more exit options. The lane you are in is not your playground. All 4 lanes on the freeway are your playground. Now this does not mean you should cris-cross across all lanes whenever you want. What it means is that in case something unwanted happens, your mind should know more than one ways of getting out of that situation.
Secondly, look ahead always, but once in a while, look far ahead. Scan the road and traffic. Usually, you will find these relatively traffic free stretches between islands of cars. Get past these islands, and into those low traffic stretches. Repeat it at the next island of cars.
Thirdly, always keep towards middle of the road. If there are three lanes, mostly use the middle one. If there are four, use one of the middle ones, preferably middle left. It gives you a bigger playground and more exit options. (However, as I said earlier, if you see that right lane is empty for the next 200 yards, but the middle one is packed, then use the right one for those 200 yards. You ALWAYS want to be maximum distance away from other vehicles).

Proximity to other vehicles is your enemy. ALWAYS stay away from other vehicles, and also immovable objects (road signs, pavement et all). While going constant speed, while overtaking, while somebody is overtaking you, just get as far away from them as possible. Switch lanes? Yes, if the need be. Get to the other edge of you lane? Definitely Yes.
This is especially true when you are going past other vehicles at a much higher relative speed. They will see you approaching FAST on their lane, and try to get out of your lane with the intention of making way for you. What they will not know is that you were actually planning to use the parallel lane to get past them. In such scenarios, plan to get on the ‘outmost edge’ of the PARALLEL lane, so that even if this guy pulls into that lane, you can still go outside him.

New roads are your enemy. When you ride alone and the road is new to you, be very alert, and when the road starts curving, keep a sharp focus on the inner edge of the road. More than the outer edge, the inner edge will tell you how much the road is going to curve. And again, be looking a good distance ahead, and not at your front tire.

Group riding is an accident waiting to happen. This is especially true when you go riding with people you don’t know. When you ride in group that is going fast and you want to go fast too, get behind a guy you know knows that road. If you don’t know who knows that road, then get behind a fast guy, go fast, but keep a good, safe distance away. Notice other things too, have your own plan too, but use him as a primary input. When he slows down a little, you slow down a lot. When he accelerates a lot, you accelerate a little bit less. But as soon as you see that STRAIGHT, free stretch we talked about earlier, accelerate and catch up to him. Your ego will stay happy enough while minimizing unnecessary risk.
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Old 08-21-2006, 04:00 PM   #2
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thinking too much about what to do can casue more problems. i think developing good habits the first time and seat time are best. its good to read a fresher upper post though.
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Old 08-21-2006, 04:07 PM   #3
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Old 08-21-2006, 04:47 PM   #4
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Good post....I agree with everything, except the group ride stuff. I say know you limitations and ride within your skill level. I can understand the benefit of seeing first hand how someone faster than you rides. But just because you see how they do it, doesn't mean you'll be able to pull off the same manuvers. If you don't have the same skillz, you can easily find yourself riding off the road out of control...Wanna be a faster rider in your group of riders. Practice, log in some track time and learn from the pros, and read up on riding stratagies. There is a Big learning curve with riding. The more you do it, the better or fast you can be.....IMO.
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Old 08-21-2006, 04:55 PM   #5
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^u r totally right, Fallen! but i posted that for the dumbass who is not gonna listen to 'slow down' stuff and wants to go fast at any cost. (i have seen quite a few of this variety)
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Old 08-21-2006, 05:05 PM   #6
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good write up. and would have to agree that most squids don't have ears to listen to the words of wisdom (know your limits, ride at your own pace)
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Old 08-21-2006, 05:19 PM   #7
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Yeah I supose your right..."Ride your own Lines, and dont Chase," Everytime I've heard or seen a new rider wipe out on the side of the road...Its because they were trying to follow someone faster into a corner, and they couldn't hang....So I guess the best you can do for the ones that wont listen is, wish them luck and hope for the best.
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Old 08-21-2006, 08:31 PM   #8
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Excellent Post. I like the part about getting behind a Fast guy and keeping up
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Old 08-22-2006, 01:34 AM   #9
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Sorry bud but you are wasting your time writing this mantra of yours. It's like talking to children, it goes one ear and comes out the other. All these newbies, and squids think that they own the street because they had the newest baddass bike. If you want to do good take these newbies and show them your skills and if they are impress and respect you then they would listen otherwise, they probably tell you to shut the **** up. That's just my thought.
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Old 08-22-2006, 02:54 AM   #10
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Its all good. The squid will follow his nose and crash.
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Old 08-22-2006, 10:15 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PSYCHO1000
Excellent Post. I like the part about getting behind a Fast guy and keeping up
i dint mean smbody as fast as u when i said about keeping up:notworthy

and level5 yeah, i know its almost a wastage.. but oh well...even if 1 person learns!
i was sitting idle in office and read about that guy's crash who died on wed on the beltway feeder.. felt really sorrry so just wrote it up..hope smbody learns
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Old 08-22-2006, 10:48 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedismo
i dint mean smbody as fast as u when i said about keeping up:notworthy

and level5 yeah, i know its almost a wastage.. but oh well...even if 1 person learns!
i was sitting idle in office and read about that guy's crash who died on wed on the beltway feeder.. felt really sorrry so just wrote it up..hope smbody learns
It's all good intentions, no doubt but these newbies had to learn the hard way.
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Old 08-22-2006, 11:05 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by level5

Sorry bud but you are wasting your time writing this mantra of yours. It's like talking to children, it goes one ear and comes out the other. All these newbies, and squids think that they own the street because they had the newest baddass bike. If you want to do good take these newbies and show them your skills and if they are impress and respect you then they would listen otherwise, they probably tell you to shut the **** up. That's just my thought.
I will disagree..........your lumping all of them into one group, that's like saying everyone who rides a Sportbike is some crazy hooligan.
There are a lot of smart ones on this board who DO listen and ask questions before they bust they're . What they need is more people to post up advice like the above............not the same old "Buy a 250, wear your gear, take the MSF, come back in 10 years".
No offense but that is good advice that FEW are going to listen too.
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Old 08-22-2006, 09:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
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FEW are going to listen too.

I give you that, few will listen. The bad out there won't listen unless you get respect from them.
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Old 08-22-2006, 10:46 PM   #15
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Great write up! I think there will be a good percentage of the newbies that will take in the mantras, but application is best. So my advice would be to get these words of advice and ride, and then refresh the words again, and then ride again. At some point it will sink in properly.

The ones who have too much pride are the ones who will ignore such words and try to conquer the roads on their own. When I first started out riding with a group of friends, I would find myself getting left behind several times and having to call the guys some minutes later and asking where they ended up, and then I would catch up too them only to be left again. There is no shame in knowing your comfort level and taking the time and practice to get good. I would think that would be common sense. . .
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