Monday, June 27, 2016

More Riding Secrets From The Experts

More Riding Secrets From The Experts

Story by Jim Foreman

One thing that has proven evident beyond one's wildest imagination is that Motorcyclists are always looking for ways to be better, and more proficient riders.  The previous story, Five Riding Secrets From The Experts, set records for the number of views it received, from all over the world.  While it is humbling for me, the greatest satisfaction is that there are better riders out there because of this effort.

Initially, this topic was only going to be a single story.   As the excellent responses kept coming in from such notable people, it became apparent that there were too many for one post. 

Again, each expert was asked to submit five riding secrets to share with others.  The phenomenal respondents for this outing include Bert Quechenberger.  Bert was Los Angeles Police Department's Senior Motorcycle Instructor.  He has recently retired from the LAPD but not from teaching.  

Shawn Thomas is a name known to many.  He's a colorful former instructor at RawHyde Off-Road and currently part of the duo, Adventure Brothers, with his real brother, Lance.  
Walt Fulton is a racer and the program director of StreetMasters Motorcycle Workshops.  
Chris 'Teach' McNeil is a professional stunt performer.  Officially sponsored by BMW Motorcycles, Teach, as he is known, performs gravity-defying stunts on the BMW S 1000 RR, The S 1000 XR, and an F 800 GS.  
Mellisa Holbrook Pierson is an author and motorcyclist.  Her insights into motorcycling are both unique and profound.  Riders and non-riders alike respond very positively to her books.  She remains an inspiration to female riders everywhere.

These riders cover a broad range of disciplines.  Each one has unique experiences and perspectives. A huge debt of gratitude is owed for the time and effort taken in each of these responses. 

Bert Quechenberger

Bert 'Q', as he is known, has trained more motorcycle officers than nearly any other single person.  Unless a motor officer in the Los Angeles region is less than two years old, Bert and his team probably trained them.  Most police departments, in the area and around the country, send their motor officer candidates to LAPD for their training.  In his 30+ years riding career, Bert has trained over 8,000 motor cops including trainers from England, Spain, France, and Germany.  Bert and his work partner, Sunti Singhanate co-own Police Riding Technique Academy, which is open to police officers and civilians, alike.  Bert has logged well over one million (1,000,000) miles, covering 50 years, accident-free.

Bert 'Q' 1989
When I went to LAPD Motor School in 1988, I had 21 years of accident free riding under my belt, with many many miles, on just as many motorcycles.  To say I entered the motor school program with a bit of salt on my shoulders, was an understatement.  I remember thinking to myself, what could they teach me?

Well, it only took about 5 minutes of practical application exercises, for me to realize, I really didn't know how to properly ride a motorcycle.

From that point forward, I practiced exactly the way I was instructed.

I'm now going on my 49th year of accident free riding, with well over a million miles ridden. 25 of my 30 years on the job was spent throwing a leg over a police motor.

Eventually, I became the lead riding instructor for all those years, continuing the instruction for officers while still on the job, and civilians through PRTA.

I use my personal experience mentioned above, coupled with my experience of training non law enforcement riders for almost two decades to form my opinion of what riders need most to succeed.

There are so many things that we could discuss regarding safe riding, I'll begin with the points that I believe are fundamental.

1: Participate in training from professional instructors.  Current or former Law enforcement riding instructors usually make excellent riding instructors.

2:  Plan your calendar where you get professional training multiple times a year.

3: Focus on numerous braking drills.  Pushing the envelope in a pristine training environment essential for every rider. 

4: The skills required to ride a motorcycle are perishable.  Depending on how often you ride, should be a gauge for your practice between revisiting professional training.  LAPD Motor Cops ride a lot of miles annually.  They participate in 2 days (10 hours each day) of in service training.  Riding mazes, braking drills.  It's something any rider should think about.

5:  A rider must be on top of his or her riding, physically & mentally.  Think about what you're going to do before it happens.  Plan escape routes while riding.  Trying to decide what to do as one is rapidly approaching a solid object at speed is tough.  Have a game plan before you roll.

Shawn Thomas

Shawn is a riot-in-progress.  Known for his infectious and sometimes whimsical personality, Shawn earns respect throughout the ADV (Adventure Riding) community.  Mastering off-road riding with big bikes takes skill.  As a former lead instructor at RawHyde, Shawn has worked with hundreds of riders to teach them proper off-road technique and motorcycle operation.  Currently, Shawn and his brother Lance, are the Adventure Brothers.  They go around the country offering instruction, seminars, tours and great times, all around.  Follow Shawn and Lance on Facebook.

Shawn and Lance Thomas - The Adventure Brothers
Adventure Riding is an endeavor without equal. With minimal training a rider can jump from road to dirt and back again, encountering just about any twisty, vista, basin and landmark in existence. Doing it right means having the right equipment, the right skills, and a proper mindset. With these in mind, and by practicing the right techniques, little is beyond reach.

Here are a few tips to consider when choosing off-road riding, courtesy of the Adventure Brothers:

1. Dirt is not Asphalt. This may seem an obvious declaration, but in application it is not. Anyone who has ridden an Adventure Bike on the street will tell you how impressive it is. They are agile, powerful, and comfortable. They can easily tackle curves, city streets, and interstates, making the rider feel like their skills have increased simply with purchase of the machine. But when the bike touches dirt, everything changes. Suddenly the machine feels heavy and unstable, and turning is a nightmare. This is not the bike's fault; it's yours. You are riding it like a street bike, using those on-asphalt techniques you are so accustomed to. This will not do, as street techniques count on an abundance of traction, which you no longer have. Best to shift into an off-road stance, and the techniques that go with it, on the double.

2. Stand up. One of the most stabilizing effects you can have on the machine is standing up. When you stand, your point of influence shifts from the seat to the pegs. Because your feet know far more about balance than your derriere, your ability to feel and react to movement of the machine is greatly enhanced. It will feel weird at first, but trust us: you will come to love it.

3. Adjust your controls. Your machine is set to accommodate a sitting rider. Handlebars, levers, and foot controls all take in to account your street riding stance. Most adventure bikes offer a multitude of simple adjustments that will allow you to adjust for a standing position. Handlebars can be raised, foot controls can be tweaked, and different foot pegs and bar risers can be installed to make you more comfortable on your machine. Get the adjustments right, and most riders will see no need in changing them when they return to asphalt.

4. Slow Down. People like to ride fast on the dirt. This has the benefit of making the machine feel more surefooted, as the high rate of wheel-spin stabilizes the bike. When the times comes to slow down or turn, speed becomes a hazard. Learn to ride as slow as possible, at no more than a walking pace. This will force you to feather the controls and develop acute balance, both of which are essential in Adventure Riding

5. Front Brake is King. You may have been told that using the front binder is a death sentence on dirt. Not true. The front brake gives you the best stopping power you've got, both on road and off. You just have to be easy it. A hark jerk of the brake lever is survivable on asphalt, but will cause the front end to wash on the dirt. Learn to feather the brake. Ease it in and feel the dive of the front end. If you lock it up, no problem; just release and reapply.

Truly there is a lot more to know about the art of Adventure Riding. But these tips--along with practice, practice, practice--will help you on your way!

Walt Fulton

Walt Fulton Is a three-time Daytona winner and features in the movie "On Any Sunday."  His career spans five decades and has still never had a street collision.  Fulton is the Director or training for StreetMasters Precision Cornering Workshops.  For over 30 years, Walt leads the Crash Investigation and Reconstruction team for Kawasaki in their legal division.  Walt and the StreetMasters team are hosting training classes at the MOA Rally.  Follow StreetMasters on Facebook. -Jim

Walt Fulton (L) and Fred Rau (R)
1. RESPONSIBILITY: It’s not a coincidence that RESPONSIBILITY heads up my Five Secrets from the Experts for Motorcyclists. Growing up, my parents taught me a lot about responsibility and the consequences associated with ignoring it. Responsibility is like the laws of physics – ignore them and you’ll pay the price. We now live in a “me first” world and responsibility has been relegated to the backseat, but the penalties are still there. In my opinion, accepting responsibility is more important than using the correct technique. In the real world we all have a responsibility to ourselves, family, friends and coworkers to arrive safely at our destination. There are a lot of people out there that are counting on us to be around tomorrow and the next day so don’t let them down. Keep in mind your speed and surroundings and ride accordingly so you will arrive at your destination.

2. DON’T BE IN A BIG HURRY: Statistics indicate that speed is often a causal factor of crashes. This is an extremely important factor directly related to how you operate your motorcycle. Keep in mind that every time you double your speed you quadruple your kinetic energy. Simply stated this means that at 30 mph you should be able to stop in 30 feet (1 G) and at 60 mph that distance is increased by a factor of 4, or 120 feet. At 120 mph (which is not legal anywhere except the track) your stopping distance is increased to almost 500 feet. All of these distances are based on a rider that has excellent control of the brakes, good tires and on a good roadway surface and don’t include perception and reaction time. Your best bet is to not be the fastest vehicle on the highway. I like to ride with approximately 80% of the roadway users. Keep in mind that there is always someone faster than you; don’t get caught up with trying to be the fastest.

3. VISUAL CONTROL: Somewhere between 80% to 90% or more of the decisions we make on the road are based on what we see. This points out that if we fail to see a developing situation it’s unlikely that we‘ll be able to react to it and therefore we may very well be a part of it. Head and eyes up and continue to scan 360 degrees around our path of travel at all times. As riders we are responsible for what’s behind us, beside us and in front of us.

4. SITUATIONAL AWARENESS: Road and traffic conditions constantly change and we must too to avoid conflicts. As riders we can’t afford to live in the present. Where we are now quickly becomes the past in less time than it takes to blink an eye and thus irrelevant. It’s important that we get the “big picture” by aggressively looking as far ahead as practical and be able to predict the flow of traffic. Any rider that experiences multiple dramas on a ride should reevaluate why this is happening. Look ahead, plan ahead and ride ahead.

5. LANE SHARING: Currently, California is the only state that allows lane sharing and this offers motorcyclists an advantage during high traffic hours and from my personal observation makes riding in heavy traffic safer . . . provided it is done properly. Remember the first Tip, Responsibility? Lane sharing is one of those activities that requires a double dose of Responsibility. Lane sharing means that you are using someone else’s lane, so be a good neighbor and extend them the same courtesy that you expect. If you’re someone that kicks doors, knocks off mirrors, opens the throttle until the engine is bouncing off the rev limiter, honks your horn and speed between traffic like you’re racing on the Isle of Man then you are totally irresponsible. You can bet that you have made an impression on the driver you’re just assaulted – a very negative one.

Here are some guidelines that I usually follow: 1) Travel no more than 10 mph faster than traffic. 2) It’s better to pass two cars that are side by side. 3) If you’re passing traffic and a space to one side or the other opens up move into that space and away from the cars you are passing. 4) Don’t push the envelope and be very selective on who and where you pass. 5) At 35 to 40 mph it’s probably time to get back in the lane.

Chris 'Teach' McNeil

Champion Freestyle Motorcycle Stunter and Performer Chris 'Teach' McNeil has spent over ten years competing and performing all over the world.  Chris earns his nickname 'Teach' during the week because he teaches Latin in his home state of Maine.  Officially, BMW Motorrad's only official stunt performer, you can catch Chris at one of his many shows throughout the United States.  McNeil also competes professionally with the XDL National Championship Circuit.  Chris is also an incredibly great guy who always takes the time to talk with people at every outing. Follow Teach on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  See some of Teach's awesome videos on his YouTube Channel.

1. Practice Practice Practice. Practice evasive maneuvers. Practice specific skills, particularly low speed control skills. Practice braking Do it all in a controlled environment so that when you are faced with a situation requiring your skills, it is second nature and not something you have to think about. If you're left thinking about it, then it is probably too late.

2. Ride everything you can get your hands on. Riding different disciplines and even different models, brands, and styles will increase your skills, making you a safer rider in the end.

3. Getting comfortable with your bike starts with the controls. So it's important to set the up according to your body and preference. Don't automatically assume that the dealer or factory's setup or the prior owner's setup is going to ergonomically fit you. This will help the bike feel more natural to you and allow you to focus on what's truly important. Riding, of course.

4. I almost didn't mention it because for me it goes without saying, but wearing the proper gear is paramount to surviving life as a motorcyclist. Most importantly is a helmet, you get what you pay for. Remember what it's protecting. Being comfortable while protected from simple things like bugs or excessive noise will go a long way towards decreasing your distractions and improving your ride.

5. I talked about practice earlier but more specifically, learn how to use your clutch and rear brake. Most useful in slow speed situations, this skill will do wonders for your bike control at higher speeds, too. More importantly, your confidence in your ability to handle your motorcycle will skyrocket. Confidence is a big part of motorcycling. You want to feel good and look good when you pull into a bike night or meetup with friends. This is important in both your gear and how you ride. It's best with no squid tentacles dangling on the ground!

Melissa Holbrook Pierson

Melissa HolbrookPierson is a motorcyclist and notable author of several highly acclaimed books. Among most popular are ‘The Perfect Vehicle’ and ‘The Man Who Would Stop At Nothing.’ Both are phenomenal reading that gives a unique perspective to the sport. 'The Man Who Would Stop At Nothing' is also available as an Audio Book.

1. Never rush departure. Stop and look at your bike: What do I need to check? What do I need to bring? What buckle might I have forgotten to fasten?

2. Practice some physical calisthenics when it's safe to do so. Turn your body all the way to look behind you on the right; ditto the left. Experience the fact that you're not cast in stone.

3. Get rid of anyone who's following too close behind. They're a danger. If they're in such a hurry, help them get there quicker by letting them go ahead.

4. Unless you're relying on it, turn off the GPS. Screen fixation is just as dangerous as object fixation.

5. Think: "Graceful." Keep this in the forefront of the mind, and make it your style.


When you are in Southern California, Please visit Irv Seaver BMW. Located in Orange County, CA, Irv Seaver Motorcycles is one of the largest and best motorcycle dealers in the nation.  Since 1911, Irv Seaver Motorcycles has sold dreams and happiness to Southern Californians.  Irv Seaver BMW continues to host events, sponsor trips and provide guests with an outstanding two-wheeled experience. Irv Seaver offers top rated Service as well as Parts, and Apparel.  Irv Seaver BMW is located 10 minutes east of Disneyland on Katella Avenue in the City of Orange.

©2016 Jim Foreman All Rights Reserved.

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