Safe Riding

Safe Riding Tips

Written by  August 31, 2004

So, you want to be a good rider, huh?

Let’s drop the “Sermon on the Mount” preaching that you normally get from this type of article and be a little more realistic. I’m a young feller and not much into preaching. I'm also not going to tell you what to wear or get into some helmet debate on right to decide, or help you find 'Zen' when you’re out there riding. I want to talk about how you ride, and give some helpful tips along the way. Hopefully something will interest you, and may help save your life someday.

First thing, let’s hit on some terms everyone may not know for motorcycle basics. We will look at these all over the next couple of months, but let me light your fire with these first: Counter Steering, Counter Weight, Maximum Braking, Squishables vs. Non-Squishables, Communicating, Group Riding, and The Load Triangle.

Whether you know it or not, you use these every time you ride; I guarantee it. Do me a favor and ask someone who has been riding for years, how they turn their bike under speed. Most of the time, they tell you they lean around a corner. Well, that’s fine and all, but think there is a better way? It’s called Counter Steering. Just simply press on the handlebars in the direction you want to go. It sounds backwards, I know, but it works. Go jump on your bike, and get up to 20 mph or so and press forward on the bar in the direction you want to go. It’s simple guys, you’re tipping the bike over, that’s all. About 12-18 mph, the front end won’t turn, right? So you press on the bars to initiate motorcycle lean, and lean with the bike. It’s a simple concept that will keep you from running too wide in a corner. The harder you press, the tighter you turn.

Simple things like this will keep you on the road. The majority of single-vehicle motorcycle crashes are due to improper cornering, and lots of booze.

So tell me, how good are you? Nobody's perfect. Do you think about what might be fast approaching behind you at a red light? Can you tell me what to do if you lock a rear brake during an emergency stop? Why it’s more difficult for most people to turn left than right? Do you know how to reduce your lean angle on a turn, and turn tighter?

We will talk about these things and more over the next several issues. In the mean time, e-mail your questions to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and let's see what you want to know. If I can’t tell you the answer, I will find it.

Matt Albertson, MSF Instructor