This past week, I had a couple of students in my Ride Like a Pro class that had a total lack of any kind of skill. I knew ahead of time that both the students needed serious help since both the students spoke with me prior to coming to my course. Instead of my normal Ride Like a Pro advanced course, I decided to make the exercises quite a bit wider since these two problem riders were the only ones in the class.
The female student was riding a late model Harley Road Glide, she told me she had moved from a Sportster to a Deluxe and then to the Road Glide. She did admit that her skills were very poor on the smaller bikes as well, which means on the larger, heavier bike, her lack of skill and technique would only be amplified.
Funny thing is, she has ridden many thousands of miles on the Road Glide, however, as I’ve said many times, riding straight down the road and making big wide turns every once in a while requires no skill at all as this woman proved. As an example, it would take four to five seconds for her to take off from a stop, just to go straight.
A rider needs to be able to commence moving off from a stop in about one second. If a driver is behind her expecting to move off as most people do, the driver may accidentally hit her bike. The reason it would take her so long is that she had never mastered clutch/throttle coordination. In addition, she would look down at her tank as she began to move. If you’re having a similar problem with take offs from a stop, you need to practice your take offs a few dozen times in a row. If you’re not sure you have a problem, time yourself. Counting 1001, 1002; if you haven’t taken off smoothly and quickly by 1002, you need practice.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t her only problem. She was unable to make a turn in less than 70 feet, even at 20 mph. The reason is, she would not turn her head and eyes and, she was deathly afraid of leaning her bike. At any speed above 15 mph, a motorcycle will not turn without leaning.
After four hours of training, I was able to get her turns down to about 30 feet. She still needs a lot more work, but at least she recognizes that now. She now has the tools and she knows exactly what her faults are and how to correct them. She’s already signed up for another class.
The male rider, a 70 year old re-entry rider, also had no conception of how to use the clutch and throttle. He also would not turn his head and eyes. He was able to take off from a stop at a normal pace and did not fear leaning the bike. I was able to get his turns down from 40 feet to a consistent 30 feet and an occasional 24′ U-turn. He too will be back for another class.
If anyone reading this has similar problems, get some training. It will save your life and make riding so much safer and more enjoyable. If you say to yourself, “I’m not that bad”, you need help as well. I’ve found through the years that the vast majority of riders need some serious training.