Behind everything that advanced riders do is a simple idea; it's called The System of Motorcycle Control and leads to the quiet efficiency of riding style which is the hallmark of the expert.
Every rider should be asking themselves three questions:
- What can be seen?
- What can't be seen?
- What can reasonably be expected to happen next?
The System of Motorcycle Control helps you answer these questions, and more, and deal with the outcome. It assists the rider develop their riding plan; planning their future actions as early as possible so that they are always in the right place, at the right speed, at the right time whilst making safe progress. This subject is covered in greater depth during the Introduction to Advanced Motorcycling (ITAM), the classroom session that is the start of an associate's progress towards becoming an advanced motorcyclist.
These are the five phases of The System, commonly referred to by the acronym IPSGA, and the examiner will be looking to see that prospective advanced motorcyclist is applying each and every one in a consistent manner throughout the advanced test.
This phase encapsulates the other four as it must be applied continuously in order for the other phases to be effective. It is best described by dividing it into three sub-phases as follows:
Take: Observation is paramount to the advanced rider and doesn't just entail looking where you're going. The rider needs to take in as much information about his surroundings as possible and will be looking as far ahead as he can see, constantly scanning for changes in his environment. This would include use of the mirrors as well as shoulder and "life-saver" checks, giving the rider a full 360 degree safety bubble.
Use: From his observations he is able to use the information gained to formulate a riding plan; adjusting his position, speed, gear and acceleration to maintain safe progress and deal with any hazards that may present themselves in a quiet and unflustered manner. Hazards, in this context, could be construed as anything that impinges on the safety of the rider or other road users.
Give: The advanced rider, having taken and used the information from his observations is now in a good position to provide other road users with information. This may be in the form of using his indicators to warn other traffic of an impending change in direction, brake lights to warn following traffic that he is slowing down or might even include the use of the horn to warn people that he is there. His position on the road will also provide some idea of his intentions.
The correct position of the bike on the road is important in maintaining rider safety, bike stability and a good view of the road ahead to get early warning of possible hazards. A rider should not adjust his road position to obtain a better view, only to mainitain the one they already have, adjusting it as the view ahead changes. NEVER SACRIFICE SAFETY FOR POSITION.
Many riders equate "progress" with speed, but this is not necessarily the case. The correct speed is judged by many factors, including the prevailing legal limit for the class of road. The question the rider needs to be asking at this point in the System is whether this is a safe speed to negotiate a particular hazard bearing in mind that if the unexpected does happen that the rider can stop safely, on their side of the road, in the distance they can see to be clear.
This has nothing to do with what kit the rider is wearing. The correct gear for any given situation very much depends on the type of bike being ridden but is judged to be the gear that gives the greatest flexibility for the speed required, road and weather conditions. Too low a gear will result in over-revving the engine and rapid acceleration to clear a hazard situation may be curtailed by the machine's rev limiter. To high a gear may result in the engine stalling instead of accelerating and would not provide much in the way of engine braking. Being in the correct gear also shows that the rider has some sympathy for the machinery.
Some hazards or manoeuvres are best negotiated by slowing down rather than speeding up so it can be seen that acceleration, in this context, works in two directions. An overtaking manoeuvre would require acceleration to complete, whereas a bend in the road may require deceleration. Sensible use of acceleration allows the rider to achieve an appropriate speed for the prevailing conditions.
So there you have it. The "System" is intended to be flexible so if a planned manoeuvre cannot be completed at any stage then the rider can revert to a previous stage or even start all over again, bearing in mind that the Information phase should be a continuous function. Like everything else we do in life it requires thought and practice, and good coaching from a qualified and experienced observer - which is where East Kent Advanced Motorcyclists will be only too pleased to assist.