We have all been there. That is, following another rider who appears to waft along on a magic carpet, with all the traffic parting as if choreographed. Every move perfect and yet the rider appears to be making no effort at all. You have done the advanced course; you know the theory and get out on your bike as much as possible to practice. So what is the secret?


Well perhaps there are a few other ingredients to complete the picture, but many of those you will be well aware of already.  Let us have a look at what we do when we are on our bike. Using a bit of plagiarism from the esteemed Keith Code, he points out that there are only two changes that you make whilst riding; turning and speed. Straight away this helps us – by keeping it simple! Continuing on that theme of keeping it simple, there are only two options in regard to planning; what you can do now and what you will be able to do later.

Now this planning thing is the initial key to getting it right, using the System of Motorcycle Control (IPSGA – see Roadcraft). To make a good plan, we need to take information on what is happening around us, via good observation (yes these are the bits you should know) and then make decisions in regard to What You Can Do Now (WYCDN) and What You Will Be Able To Do (WYWBATD). Once a decision is made, or an option open, we can implement the changes in speed and turning. For this we need to use our sense of speed – how fast we are moving in relation to the objects and vehicles around us. In order to achieve good timing often a good acceleration sense is key to keep it smooth. For this to be effective some experience of your motorcycle will help – knowing the engine and power type and how much or how little engine braking you have.

Ok, let’s try and put this into real life context. You're approaching a roundabout, (let’s assume clear, dry and good visibility etc), and you see ahead that there a few cars negotiating the roundabout. WYCDN is that you can adjust your speed to go for a gap between the cars already on the roundabout. WYWBATD is that you will get that gap! So, using acceleration sense we lose some speed to time our entry onto the roundabout at the point there is a gap. Bear in mind you may need to use brakes to lose some speed. Don’t think you can lose lots of speed by just shutting off. Now your sense of speed comes into play in regard to both your own speed and that of the vehicles already on the roundabout. By getting this right you will come up to the roundabout and float into a gap and continue on your way, compared with arriving at the roundabout, braking whilst looking for a suitable gap and having to then accelerate away again.

Or perhaps an overtake – coming up behind a vehicle in front you have a few oncoming vehicles. By adjusting your speed on the approach to the vehicle in front, and looking at the relative speeds of oncoming vehicles, we can time our final approach/overtake at just the right moment as a gap appears. Or you could just barrel up behind and then spend 5 minutes trying to look for a suitable gap, but because you have lost so much speed you need a bigger gap.

It sounds simple doesn’t it? Being at one with your bike helps! No, I don’t mean some sort of Yoga/Ninja moment, but being familiar with the controls and handling of your bike so that instead of thinking about what you need to do to complete a gear change or indicate, you do it naturally and can give your full attention to the road ahead (and behind of course). This is where Emergency Services drivers and riders need to be – in a position where the driving is natural and automatic (hence the System).

This timing/planning applies to every move you make, whether just to pass a stationary vehicle at the right time or filtering etc. Linking it altogether for every ‘hazard’ is where the ‘good’ rider excels; maintaining a flow across the whole ride.

Timing is everything – oops gotta go, I’m late……

Submitted by Fastbanana

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