The Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month tips continue from Team Oregon Motorcycle Safety Program. Two articles cover problems caused by other drivers; the other two cover problems caused by riders themselves. All of them will raise your awareness and help you ride better, safer and longer. See below for links to the rest of the series.
Motorcycle Safety Awareness Problem 2: Riders in Curves
The Problem – Running wide in a corner is the most common cause of motorcycle fatalities in Oregon. We’ve got great roads – smooth, well-marked and curvy – but one mistake can put you into rocks, the trees, or... over the falls.
Oregon curves regularly upend both beginners and experts alike
Many times it’s not the first curve that’s the problem. It’s the second or third in a series of curves that sucks you in, chews you up and spits you out.
The Problem Behavior – While we can’t take the curves out of the road (nor would we want to!), we can change our approach. There are innumerable reasons for missing a curve, but most point to one problem behavior: Being unprepared. When unprepared riders – whether beginners, experienced riders or experts – fail to negotiate a turn, it’s because they enter too fast, in poor position, with no exit strategy.
Act, Don’t React – When a corner catches you unprepared, it’s not too late to act if you have your wits about you. Most important is that you look through the turn. Don’t look down, don’t look at the guardrail, don’t look at the ditch or oncoming logging truck. Look through the turn, to the exit. The motorcycle wants to go where you look. When you feel like you’re in too hot, the simple act of looking through the turn can save you.
Get your head turned and look where you want to go
If your speed is still way too fast for the turn, gently reduce your speed – a little roll-off can help tighten your line. If you’re still running out of road, press the inside handgrip more and lean the bike further. Trust those tires.
The Strategy – Every curve should be approached the same way: From the outside, at a safe entry speed, with an eye for the exit. An outside position provides the best line of sight and widest radius. A safe entry speed is one that allows you to slow or stop if the turn goes wrong. For experienced riders in good conditions, safe entry speed might be the curve’s advisory speed or just below it. The exit is where the curve ends.
As you round the turn, continue to hold your outside line and entry speed until you know where curve leads. Don’t accelerate until you can see the exit – that’s your target.
In blind curves, hold your speed, path (black line) and outside position until you can see (yellow line) where the curve leads
And beware: Sometimes the exit is a nice, long straightaway... but sometimes it’s another curve, in the opposite direction. At that point your target is no longer the curve’s exit. Now it’s the entrance to the next turn.
If you aren’t 100 percent sure of your curve skills, it’s time to head to school. Even a basic motorcycle class will give you a leg up in the corners. For experienced riders, an advanced course is way more fun. Take your pick at http://team-oregon.org/advanced/
For more cornering tips go to http://team-oregon.org/resources/tips/