Have You Planned Your Next Motorcycle Crash?

Motorcycle Crash PlanDO YOU KNOW ANYONE WHO PLANS TO CRASH? Judging by the way some motorcyclists ride around in shorts and a T-shirt, it’s likely they believe it will never happen to them.

Wearing a helmet and protective jacket, pants, gloves and boots is one way to afford yourself better protection in the event of a mishap.

But even the best gear is no guarantee that you aren’t going to get hurt or killed when things go bad.

So, what else can you do?

Crash avoidance can be heightened with education, training and experience. Taking a break when you are tired, hungry, cold or hot can also maintain greater alertness and motorcycle control, resulting in enhanced safety – but of course with no guarantee of ultimate safety.

No matter how much gear you have, no matter how educated, trained and experienced you are, and no matter how alert you are…well…crashes happen.

What about your attitude or viewpoint on crashing?

So far, the best words I’ve come across on the subject were written by Keith Code in his book A Twist of the Wrist. Chapter 15 is aptly titled “How to Fall.” The following quotes highlight a few critical points, and I encourage any rider to get the book and read the entire chapter over and over. (The rest of the book is good, too.)

“No one wants to fall down, but once you’ve done it and it comes out alright, falling isn’t as fearsome any more. Your best insurance against falling is not to resist it.

If you resist falling, you are more likely to fall.”

“Be willing to fall off.”

“You don’t have to want to, but being willing to is very different, and it has to do with your attitude about falling. If you ride a motorcycle – and especially if you race one – falling is an activity you’re likely to become involved with. It goes with the territory of riding.”

“You simply decide that you might fall off and accept that it can happen, at any time, anywhere. You have to look at it and say, ‘Okay, I can fall off one of these things. I might break a bone or have a hell of a slide, or I just might die doing it.’ All of these things can and do happen to motorcycle riders. So, get it out of the way by taking a look at it and then making your decision from there.”

The book also elucidates the theory behind this. And, it also gives practical tips on what to do during a fall, and after a fall. There is even a section on practice falling (not while actually on a bike).

Hmmmmm…any chance you should do a little crash planning?

40 thoughts on “Have You Planned Your Next Motorcycle Crash?

  • Ladies and Gentlemen, I started riding in Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon). The first lesson I learned was to expect every other person to do the wrong thing on the road. In other words, if you got caught out by some idiot, then it is really your fault for not expecting it. I know, that’s not what you want to hear, but that is the reality when you are on a motorcycle amongst tin-tops where size rules. The antidote is to have a massively loud horn and use it at all times. And keep your fingers and foot on the brake lever and pedal all the time so that they can be activated quickly.

    Yes, I have had some slides in Sri Lanka and they weren’t pleasant. Those mishaps taught me to respect motorcycling and always keep a margin of error. I love to ride motorcycles, but I don’t want to get injured or die. The thrills of riding motorcycles doesn’t mean racing on roads, riding without protective gear or behaving like a stupid hoon. That won’t stop accidental falls but it surely makes the motorcycling experience more pleasurable.

    I have enjoyed riding motorcycles around Sri Lanka, America, Australia and Thailand.

  • Very good advice. I all ways repost this advice in our face book page in hops some of the advice rubs off on our rider who wear the least! Good work.

  • Thank you LVHarley man! Six months in, my wrist still hurts, but it doen’t keep me from riding. I read somewhere that when you fall you should let go of the handlebar that’s going towards the road.

    I THINK I hang on for dear life to both handlebars until I have no choice but to brace myself with my hand, which in this case led to a broken wrist. I sure wish I could see my falls in slow motion. I see videos of other riders falling and they manage to stand (!) with their bike falling between their legs. I don’t get it. Guess I’ll learn, sooner or later, no doubt later.

  • Well, I sure learned MY lesson! Broke my wrist in 2 places doing it! I was at the bank and proceeded to leave. There was no stop sign and I was vaguely aware that there was an ATM behind the bank but was so into my riding technique that I didnt’ really THINK about it. This is a seldom used bank and when one car came out from behind the bank…I assumed that was IT. (as in the only car)

    So, I took my turn to the left and what do you know…another car comes shooting out from behind the bank! He/she was going very fast and I was already in the middle of my turn.
    He/she just kept right on going while I swerved to avoid the back bumper and went right into a pole! It happened in the blink of an eye. I got up off the ground and looked around and the driver was long gone. He couldn’t have helped but noticed me once we got into the same spot. And with one quick glance in his mirror, he/she would have seen that I’d gone down! What is wrong with people nowadays????

    This person could have braked for me. But he/she wasn’t looking for a motorcycle, I guess! Had I been further on in my turn, he would have broadsided me.

    Now I know never to assume ANYTHING! I should have inched up further to see if there were any more cars behind the bank. Good lesson, but PAINFUL wrist!

  • thanks keith read your book … i bought a running junker put new tires on it… striped it to go faster … found the turn i want to crash at [ emt /fire rescue 1 1/2 miles away ] … hospital 4 miles away with a good trama unit …. so now i just go around that turn faster and faster [ little at a time as i want to enjoy it -also ] and when it goes it goes … crap bike full gear , no trees or big things to hit …grass to slide on …. so ya i am planing the next crash and get it over with and know my limits ….who needs a big buck school …thanks again .. and if bike makes it ,do it again or find another and swap tires….plan the crash ..right there in front of us and we did not see it .. plan the crash

  • Some really good sharing going on here with great advice re: riding and staying safe. As a brand new rider (1mth with my 600), I definitely heed the advice of ‘all the gear, all the time’ and more importantly; vigilant awareness, planning, and readiness at all times.

    To tag onto the ‘inevitability’ conversation, I tend to make it a habit of doing extreme things with high physical risk and have done so most of my life. I’ve had some close calls but have been lucky enough to avoid serious injury with only a couple of hospital trips (punctured lung & shoulder dislocations). In the end, we humans are not statistics and are not bound by any universal ‘musts’ regardless of what has happened before or how often. Crashes happen. A lot. But they don’t ‘have’ to happen.

    In my experience, we can impact our likelihood of a crash or injury by a combination of proper training, committed practice, sound decision-making, & strong personal awareness. There is a mode of ‘being’ in which our senses are most heightened and we perceive even the slightest changes around us and can instinctively flow ‘with’ an occurrence to stay safe. For example, your senses can judge how much braking room you have, how hard you can apply the brakes, what other threats exist, and simultaneously identify potential escape routes, all in an instance and can re-calculate the same for every second between your current position and the threat. Similarly, if you must fall, your body can determine & execute the safest fall so you can walk away with minimal harm. The key is to be intimate enough with your senses to hear them, trust them, and act on them. This is often ‘not’ a thinking exercise but a matter of just ‘doing’.

    But yeah, its easy to not be in that place at any given time – especially if its not something you do regularly – and even a momentary lapse can leave you highly vulnerable and dead if you’re in a high risk position.

    The following practices have worked for me (so far 🙂 )and may be helpful to others:

    – Always respect the danger involved in an activity and take sensible precautions
    – Do the activity regularly enough to expose yourself to as many situations as you can under controlled settings or whilst you are highly focussed & prepared. This is especially wise while in the early stages of learning as your senses are still naturally heightened and still in careful, discovery mode.
    – Take care to note poor or dangerous behaviours early and correct them before they become habits. Bad habits can kill so don’t let them develop or hang around.
    – Take advantage of training opportunities that can help you learn the most important habits quickly and in a controlled environment.
    – Develop a comfort and oneness with the activity, trying to foster instinctive discipline in your execution.
    – Ride within yourself and within your own abilities, pushing limits at your own personal pace.
    – Know & accept that falling and death is always possible and then forget about it.
    – Be decisive in your movements & if you are unsure or hesitate (i.e. when deciding to take a risk)…don’t do it.
    – Don’t avoid or ignore areas of risk or fear in your riding/activity unless you truly believe you can avoid ever having to face them. i.e. If you’re afraid of skidding out in the rain, learn to skid properly under a controlled/safe setting. You can adapt & learn to handle anything but your body can’t do so if you simply avoid the activity altogether.
    – Don’t panic during an incident. ‘React’ w/confidence.
    – You can do most of the above entirely instinctively when you learn to enter into your ‘zone’.

    Safe riding. What a joy!!!!

    Certified Nut

  • Hi everybody. Hope you all have a safe riding experience. I do accident reconstructions in Puerto Rico and lately I have been doing quite a bit of motorcycle crashes. Interestingly enough one of the common factors in bad injury avoidance is skill and experience. The majority of the crashes are caused by inexperience riders with very little or no education on motorcycle safety. They don’t even know the difference on the different types of motorcycles and their attributes, etc. I have seen plenty of mistakes that could have been avoided, if the rider would have taken a riding course before getting on the motorcycle.
    What my concern is that some times it is great to ride when you have the confiddence and the skill to ride any type of motorcycle. This condition is not just for motorcyclr but to every vehicle you drive. Education is the key. If you are accostumed to drive, let say a sedan vehicle and you are a police officer, and you know how to drive this vehicle fast and to take curves at high speed, but suddenly you are requested to drive an SUV, and you try to drive it the same way, chances are you will end up turning over the SUV and having a bad day. The same thing happens on a motorcycle. You have to learn what are the cappabilities of this vehicle, train yourself on the safety of this vehicle and then belive you are in a fighting airplane and the enemy (everybody else) is trying to hit you. This is the way it sometiimes feels like it.
    The truth is that in a motorcycle you are a stranger and as far as I know the enemy to most car and trucks drivers, and if you get on their way you are the one that ends up loosing this battle. In the majority of the cases I have done the vehicle driver did not see the motorcycle rider until it was to late to do anything or felt the crash. This is call reticular thinking. Even to riders with experience, when they are driving a carthey get spooked when a motorcycle passes by and they where not aware of it until it passes by and they ask themselves where the hell did he came from. This action is correct in every country in the whole wide world. A lot of the crashes with cars are what they call Right of Way Violations.
    Please to all the riders outthere take some time and learn all that you can about your motorcycle and all the qualities and enjoyment you can do in a motorcycle, it is actually one of the most enjoyable vehicles you can put your behind on, and when you do it safely you and all your family will enjoy knowing you will always come back home in one piece. Use your full face helment and all your safety gear. You’ll be glad you did if ever you encounter a close encounter with the hard side.

  • No one plans on falling down when they get on their motorcycle or crashing in their cage. The dumb ones ride in cut-offs anf flip flops. The intelligent rider/s gears up, uncomfortable as it may be at times.
    The intelligent driver buckles up in their cage, the dumb one doesn’t.
    The intelligent rider/driver accepts and manages the risk and prepares for the worst. The dumb one does not.
    In the event of a spill the intelligent rider /driver has a good chance of riding again. The dumb one’ s last ride is in a hearse.

  • I’ve had many falls off-road over the years and none hurt much save for a few bruises. I have often ridden in jeans and flimsy footwear. Got away with that often enough. Two years ago, riding on road, I lost control of the bike at low speed (30 m.p.h ) . I slid along the road for approx 6-8 ft. Luckily I was wearing all the gear for once. My full face helmet, armored jacket and pants were destroyed. I didn’t get a scratch or bruise. If I had been wearing open face helmet and denims I would not be writing this now. If you slide along the road in denims you have approx 0.05 seconds before your skin gets ripped off. Needless to say I’ve never ridden in denims again. After 43 yrs. of almost daily riding I lost confidence and was persuaded to retrain. I did all that, and a few track days, and now back better than ever. So don’t be concerned about those helmetless, denim clad “motorcyclists, they probably wont be around for long.

  • Wow, after reading about all these crashes, I wonder if I should be riding, yet I know I will continue. I’ve been riding for only 2 years now putting a mere 5000 plus miles on my bike. So far I guess I’ve been lucky. I joked with one of my riding partner that I’ll probably crash one of these days. The last time I said that he said, “NO. You must always go out in a positive frame of mind. You must not think like that. Every biker starts out their ride believing they are going to have a safe trip.” Well, not according to the above comments.

    I do ride defensively, expecting drivers to turn in front of me. I slow down when I see someone pulling out of a driveway until I am sure they’ve seen me, slow down going through intersection while covering the front brake, etc. etc. I don’t ride in the rain nor in the dark. I don’t drink at all. I try to make myself as visible as possible and rev my engine to let other driver know I’m there if I think they haven’t noticed me. I give wide berth (as much as reasonable, at least) to cars turning, pulling out of parking spaces, etc. I stay well behind cars at all times…it’s like they’re the ENEMY or something!

    Almost had an accident last week when a young driver zoomed across the highway illegally as I was in the middle of a left hand turn…but my stopping skill kicked in and I just managed to keep my bike upright while avoiding slamming into his car. So, from THAT I learned even if the arrow says you can ONLY turn to the left or right, expect someone to ignore the signs and always be alert for these renegade drivers. And I’ve learned a lot from reading Hough’s book and the experiences of other riders.

    We’ve had a lot of motorcycle deaths in the Buffalo area so far this year…One involved a car driver who was distracted and didn’t notice the motor scooter approaching. Ran him right down on his left turn.

    Another involved a biker who pulled in front of a dump truck at an intersection and the trucker didn’t see her pull in front of him and proceeded when the light turned green, running her down. Another was a biker who went to pass a truck, was in his blind spot and the trucker suddenly changed lanes, killing this biker’s passenger.

    Lessons can be learned from reading this stuff…depressing as it is. I wish you all safe riding.

  • Having been on the trauma service at a major metropolitan hospital, the best possible advice is “Wear good protective gear all the time.” The reason we even discuss accidents is that they are ‘accidents’, which can happen to any rider anytime. YOU are not in control of an accident.

  • I got my MC endorsement in my late 50’s, a year ago; something I’d always wanted to do. No crashes, but it’s made me a much more aware driver and rider. I ordered a kevlar jacket, and never ride without a full-face helmet, boots and pads.

    I play a game on the road I call “What am I missing?” where I look around and try to notice details – slowing traffic a mile up the road, a weaving car a couple of lanes over; a very old driver in the next lane, an intersection hidden by trees. Each “find” is a “point” and like the TV show “Who’s Line is it Anyway” the points don’t matter. . . .

  • I started riding two years ago at the age of 16, starting of august 2010. I have never ridden bicycles of my life but never a motor bike. Do I plan to crash? No but I ride knowing that it may well
    happen and ride prepared to take a spill. I don’t wear my gear always
    (helmet, jacket, gloves pants, boots)
    Having them reminds me to be
    ready and accepting. I accept the
    idea that a fall or hit could come
    with this ride. I accept this risk as
    the price of the ride.
    So i think i will go first trafficless area . Take a motor cycle and go to the DU (trafficless area) in midday. The magic of speed arrest me and i got high speed of the veichle , suddenly at a turn i can’t turn the veichle according itself and veichle take sliding condition
    get crashed
    result of crashes hurt me give a hole on my t-shirt (my lovely one) , scratches on my face, hand and leg.
    give a message save your life wear halmet, jacket, gloves, pant, boots. This nothing give a profit of me this is all about we .

  • I started riding two years ago at the age of 50. I have ridden bicycles most of my life but never a motor bike. Do I plan to crash? No but I ride knowing that it may well happen and ride prepared to take a spill. I wear my gear always (helmet, jacket, gloves pants, boots).

    Having them reminds me to be ready and accepting. I accept the idea that a fall or hit could come with this ride. I accept this risk as the price of the ride. I ask is this ride to be worth it? If the answer is no then I will climb off the bike. There are times when the risk is too great. The weather or rode conditions may be beyond my ability.

    I love to ride but can only ride if I live. I am now going to surf over to Amazon and look for a copy of “Twist of the Wrist.” Thanks to all who share bike info here.


  • Having witnessed the results of 3 crashes since I started and seeing that 2 of the 3 were essentially gearless and seeing that the majority of the riders I see out there are gearless I may have an inflated sense of security as I practice ATGATT. Being a new rider at 58, 7 months now I have encountered a few butt puckering moments due to the poor driving and decision making of others and a few of my own I realize each of these situations could have had very negative consequenses. I have learned from all of them and know more are to come. Being willing to take the risks allows me to ride cnoservativly and so far within my limits. Having read Codes and Houghs books and being sober enough to remember what I have read when conditions show up only gives me more edge than if I never read or practiced at all. I sometimes imagine the crashes I could have. Staying alert, looking way ahead and expecting that car to drift, jump out or suddenly appear will keep me safer but is no guarantee.

  • i think that one should buy old junk bikes and crash over and over just to get the hang of it and as keth code says” get it over with and the fear of crashing will be gone and we can be better riders”. sounds right for some one from calif. but hay it might just work that way you can roll with it like a drunk in a crash and not stiffen up and fight it. you make it through 10 self induced crashes and hey no big deal . and all the junk bikes serve one more time… maybe keth can open a school and make big $ and write another book.

  • I always bragged about never falling down, until a worn, wet tire introduced me to a high side which left bike okay and me with a fracture.
    Twas a good experience because after the fall I felt less afraid of falling and my riding significatly improved.

  • The best advice I can give is slow down and don’t ride in blind spots. I always try to avoid riding next to cars also. They have a bad habit of changing lanes without looking. Exits can be tricky too because you don’t know what the road conditions are. Anybody that has ridden in Rhode Island knows that exits are often covered in sand left over from the winter. Think/look ahead and stay vertical.

  • Ride! Ride again! Ride somemore! Learn all about your ride and riding skills and lack thereof. Ride eberyday in any weather. Buy the best and correct fitting protective gear and use it. Get and keep ur head in moment of the ride. Get the bke you want to ride and fit it to you so you can and will want to ride it. Know ur limits skills and physical and do ur thing. Ride ride ride and repeat until you are as intimate with ur bike and its physical qualities and personality as u are with ur wife or significant other. Ride like u may not be able to tomorrow.

  • I’m not Irish but I was unbelieveably lucky last Saturday. Gear AND luck saved me.
    On a mountain recreational road that is about 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 lanes wide TOTAL (vs 2 lanes wide, so this width wasn’t enough for 2 cars & a VERY close fit for a bike and a car), no dividing yellow line. I was riding with a group of 6, was number 5 and tailgunning. I had a nice lean going (cruiser lean, not sportbike lean) and was about 2-3 feet max from the side of the mtn (which was on my right), so I’m coming around a curve about 20 mph (as per the rider of the bike behind me said) & Iwas surprised & shocked to see a car coming out from the shoulder on the other side of the road towards the middle of the road. He wasn’t in the middle YET, just kinda aiming for it. His wife later explained that they thought all the bikes had gone by (he had pulled over to let the other 4 in front of me go by) so he pulled back out into the road. Shocked me out of my lean, and you KNOW that bikes go where you look!
    Yup, I went right into his side. The side of my bike went into the side of HIS car. I guess the engine guard’s highway peg bracket (the hwy pegs were folded in) caught the poor guy’s car door and did a can-opener type thing to his car and spun my bike around me.

    I remember seeing myself going towards his car, I remember hitting, I remember yelping, and the next thing I remember is ending up in the middle of the road, just SITTING in the middle of the road. No road rash, no sliding on any body part, just quietly….sitting. And a tiny bleeding from my mouth.

    I had on my chaps, jacket with kevlar elbows and shoulders, EMT steel-toed over the ankle boots, full face helmet.

    The bike’s engine guard is what really REALLY saved my leg from being crushed and me being airlifted out.

    The bike’s left hwy peg was ripped off (AGAIN, it was NOT extended, it was folded in), engine guard sides scraped, tank scraped, pipes scraped, L turn signal a little off-kilter’, not sure about the right hand one, both mirrors off-kilter, front tire slashed in 2 places, engine guard kinda came in and pushed my floorboard in and up so I couldn’t shift with my foot, so the guys took the engine guard off. It seemed fine when I got on it, I checked all the turn signals and brake lights, they were good, so I rode it down about 5-6 miles down to Mt. Baldy village & the lunch site, where AAA took over and took my bike to the local bike hospital. When I rode it down to the lunch site, the bike was kinda aiming for the right, pulling a tad and the handlebars were kind of off-kilter a tad as well, going towards the right.
    My injuries were a cut on the gum below my bottom teeth (HOW did that happen? Anyone? Anyone? Something came up between the shell and the padding on the inside and caught my gums. WEIRD.), two lip cuts, and a tiny bruise on the inside of my left calf. Ok, plus some soreness on Sunday, which felt like the muscle soreness you get when you go to the gym and do some serious upper body weight training. Maybe the fact I teach aerobics and DO weight training had something to do with my body and how it’s reacting to the accident.

    The bike probably has about a $ grand of work goin’ on.
    I SO feel sorry for the guy’s car, because even though it was 5 years old, he kept that car PRISTINE. You could TELL.

    What else can I say? I’m ONE LUCKY RIDING LADY.

  • The best insurace against falling is by not getting into that situation in the first place. So far I haven’t been that lucky and have stayed up-right. But more to the topic and wearing the right gear.
    What gets me is the number of guys in a full set of leathers riding there bikes while the girl is on the back is in a mini skirt and t-shirt. No protection what so ever. It might be pose value for the guy but he certainly doesn’t like his girl friend otherwise………
    In Australia, scooters 50cc or less can be ridden with a car license as their speed is limited to 30 kph mainly. What you do see is the cute little girl dressed in standard office wear (jacket and skirt or pants) and heels. Usually these riders ride along the left of the lane so they can’t be seen. Temporary Australians we call them as they have never gone through the learners stage of getting their bike license.

  • Four bikes and many miles in 43 years of riding. Don’t like the concept of “laying it down.” If I come off inadvertently, okay, but laying it down eliminates any control or avoidance. Not been down yet, but I do “dress for the crash, not the weather.” Also, I always assume I’m invisible.

  • Yes I guess we will all come off sometime. I have three times.. once in the days when armour, back protectors, knee sliders, and full-face helmets were unheard of. Folks just rode in the gear they were happy in, put layers on to match the weather. I woke up in hospital.. but never then or since have I blamed the gear that was or wasn’t wearing for my injuries. Since then I have come off twice.. low speed wheel locks.. no great shakes. Some guys boast about speed and near misses.. and as if to give themselves the courage to risk the lives they will spend thousands on gear. Go a bit slower I think.. and save not just thousands but also looking like a jerk. Riding is about the individual. I hate the ‘WEAR THE GEAR’ advise. Wear what you like, take the risks you wish, and enjoy the experience. If you are that scared of a crash, don’t ride a bike.

  • Someone once said that “anything worth doing…is worth doing poorly…until you learn to do it right”

    Motorcycles are in the top most challenging man-made machines to operate proficiently. I my zeal to learn I made many of the classic mistakes…locking up the brakes; grabbing a hand-full of front brake with the wheel turned; sliding over last winter’s salt and slipping on wet leaves. My HD Classic has been on its side three times…fortunately all at slow flight and no injuries except my own pride.

    What I’ve learned is…
    -Keep the body relaxed, the bike will handle easier, but keep the mind alert
    -Practice daily…a short ride each day is far better than a long weekend ride. You need to train your muscles to balance and react correctly and they learn better with constant training
    -Expect other drivers to do stupid things…they won’t disappoint you!
    -Practice “What-if” scenarios while riding
    -Look where you need to go, the bike will follow
    -Practice the Smith techniques of “Aim High” (look way down the road); “Get the Big Picture (keep an eye for everything around you); “leave yourself an out” (Don’t get boxed in…!); “Keep your eyes moving” (don’t allow your eyes to fixate but keep looking in the mirrors and around you); “make yourself visible” (lots of lights, modulating brakes, visible clothing, reflective tape)
    -Be ready to ride…no booze, drugs, sleep deprivation, emotional upheaval, zoned out thought processes…
    -Invest in the best safety gear you buy…your body will thank you…
    -Learn to adapt to changes in weather, wind, traffic
    -Keep your ride safe with good tires, good maintenance and customized to your comfort
    -Use the right gear for all temperatures
    -Wear safety goggles
    -Avoid riding behind any trucks…not just rocks, but tires and wheels come off with disastrous results!
    -Ride your own ride, don’t be bullied into exceeding your skill level
    -Take advanced training and read all you can about how to improve your riding skills
    -Have a favorite lot where you can practice U-turns and slow riding skills
    -Ride with a Buddy, until you are comfortable enough to ride on your own
    -Carry a personal satellite GPS locator if you travel off the grid on a regular basis
    -Do a Circle check esp. tire pressure before EVERY ride.
    -Swallow your pride and let the aggressive drivers whip past you…there day will come…

  • All the “There are two types of riders…” sayings are bullshit.

    While it may be true to a large degree it does NOT have to happen. I think it is somewhere in the 40% range that NEVER CRASH.

    As to the risk.

    Get training.
    Ride a proper bike. (Feet forward bikes take more discipline to ride)
    Practice, Practice, Practice
    Don’t Ride like a Wimp… Be Assertive.
    Don’t Ride Drunk.
    Don’t Ride on Drugs.
    Don’t Ride Tired, Pissed Off, Cold…
    Practice daily… The learning never stops.
    Never expect drivers to see you.

    Do not ride straight down the road when there is a potential left turning car… Or one potentially getting ready to pull out of a side street or parking lot. Weave a little to help them notice you.

    Learn of Road hazards. Proficient Motorcycling by David Hough is a good book for this. Buy it. Read it. Read it again.

    Never Never NEVER let your guard down when riding.

    No Matter what comes up… be ready. (I go to my throttle way WAY more often than going for the brakes)

    Budget about $2000.00 for riding gear. (Have gear for Hot, Cold, Dry, Wet…) Always wear it. Always!!! (You don’t need a $600 helmet. Look in the $200-$300 range.

  • Crashed on exist exam on rider training coarse. Not fast but hard under the bike stopping in a left hand turn. Failed the coarse didn’t get my licencse. Two things, after three months of recouping got my licencse. Everything I suceed at i have failures along the way. It also gave me respect for what could happen while riding a bike and the price I would have to pay healing and limpimg along for awhile. Best lesson out there especially in a controled enviroment. Have since taken extra training race training read articles about riding but on the bike you”re on your own remember that even in a group.
    There are two kinds of riders out there, those who have fallen (probably will again) and those who have yet to spill godspeed to all

  • All I have to say it “BLACK ICE”. Started riding after maybe 38+ years, took all the courses have all the gear. Lucky for me I read just about every posting on this and other sites before purchasing my first bike.(soft tail deluxe). Well anyway road that for two years, but with the long trips I take, I needed to upgrade to a Ultra Classic. Love the bike, but last December at 6:30 AM. I made the all time mistake of not seeing the trees for the forest. Waiting for the light to change got lost in thought and when I looked up the light was green, eased off the clutch made the turn when into 2nd gear and heard on the radio LOOK OUT FOR BLACK ICE. Bam she when sideways and I rode her like a shown board sideways for about 6 to 10 feet, I let her go and slid be hide her for another 5 to ten feet of black ice.. Yes it hurt mostly my pride. Bike and I are fine, a little cosmic damage to the guards, but we are both fine. After getting to work all I did was rewind the whole thing over and over.. The bottom line is, when I walked out that morning I saw a lot of morning water on the cars and road, my eyes told me but because of the heated gear didn’t realize it was below 35 degrees.

  • Recently I had an opportunity to test the crash bars on my motorcycle. Like Jake, whenever I get into a hairy situation, I always try to rewind and make sure I did everything right. This is probably why this was my first accident in 25+ years of riding. But – as noted, sooner of later you will HAVE to lay it down. That was the situation I was presented with. A motorist cut onto the highway when there wasn’t enough room. No shoulder, traffic in the right lane – the only option was to emergency brake, then lay it over at the last minute. The damage to both me and the bike were minimal. Had i attempted to stay on the bike, I surely would have rear-ended the car, resulting in greater injury and damage to the bike. The resulting slide trashed my gear – boots, pants, jacket, gloves – but had i been wearing none of that, it would have been my skin. I rode away from a highway crash with a couple of broken ribs, a broken thumb, and some road rashed chrome.

    1) Get good gear
    2) WEAR your gear
    3) always know what you’re going to do, practice and prepare.

  • As a relatively new street rider in my 50’s, I have always found it odd (or at least uncomforting) to constantly be reminded by other street riders which have previously gone down that “I too must some day crash”. Yeah, I have had my share of frightening moments. Any time one occurs I make it a point to rewind the episode and understand the mistake. Target fixation, too hot into a turn, out driving my abilities, etc…

    I got a couple years under my belt now and I know that a bike mishap, just like an auto wreck, could possibly happen out there to any of us, but geez, I will never admit that it’s inevitable and the best thing to do is just get it over with already. My two kids ride and I, nor my wife would let them off the property if an accident was “inevitable”.
    I hate to disappoint the “I told you so” crowd but being prepared is the correct outlook here, not crashing and being relieved its over because it was inevitable anyway. Yes/No?

    Track time (if possible),
    Practice the moves.

    George B.

  • No, there are THREE kinds of riders. Those who have gone down, those who will go down, and those who have gone down and will go down again. I’m pretty sure I fit in the last category. I fell many times during my early learning period off road, which I believe is the best place to learn to ride. I don’t like to see riders venture out onto the road until they feel completely natural on the bike, with responses coming automatically instead of having to think about it.
    Then I got my license, and four days later had an intimate encounter with the front end of a ’73 Ford Gran Torino. (Think Starsky &Hutch) I’m lucky to be alive, and even luckier still to be in possession of my right leg.
    A few years later, with my ’75 Honda CB400SS, I was lucky enough to take my AFM first-time-racer course at Ontario Motor Speedway, and a young Keith Code was the instructor. That was a wonderful experience, one that I will never forget. He didn’t teach me how to fall down, though. I was already an expert at that. I’ve worn out my share of leather, and thrown away more than my share of helmets. I’ve even had to throw away a brand new helmet after the first ride with it. I consider that to be an investment well made. Helmets are much easier to replace than skulls.

  • One of the things I have found myself doing, possibly as a result of my Navy flight training, is “chair flying” during rides. What I mean by that is, as I’m riding in a particularly tricky spot on the road (no shoulder, 2 lanes with guardrails on each side, etc.) I’ll ask myself, “what would I do right now if, a) the car in front of me locks up the brakes, b) the oncoming car comes into my lane, c) any other potential hazard I see right now rears its ugly head ? It makes for some valuable brain food back at home after the ride and frequently puts you in the scenario of being able to visualize that at some point you’re gonna HAVE TO lay it down.

  • I too started riding late in life–first with a scooter for 8 months, then my first “real” motorcycle at age 51. It’s taken me three seasons to learn to relax my hands and arms more so I don’t oversteer the bike which, as someone points out above, can lead to mishaps.
    I think many riders my age are more sensible–they’ve taken a few lumps in life and no longer feel invincible. I know I can fall. So I gear up as if that could happen that day, and always try to ride with awareness and within my abilities.
    That said, I do still fear falling – and fear my reactions would be all wrong when it happens. Maybe a little fear is good, but I would like feel more prepared to hit the pavement. Perhaps the book recommended here will help…
    Ride Safe All,

  • Yes, we crash…or will. Nothing like a lifeftime of racing dirttrack for a basis of skills. Everytime I put a friend on one of my dirttrack bikes it is for the sole purpose of making them a better rider…they just have a boatload of fun doing it. When they come back later they are more confident in their abilities. I also get on the soap box about gear and threaten lives if I see them without. Statistically… riders that wear the gear are involved in fewer accidents. So wear all the gear you have and you will never crash!! 🙂
    Situations, conditions and ability awareness are magic!

  • Hi MCg,

    I don’t think Keith Code means that we should anticipate or expect to fall. But one of the survival reactions which will cause a crash is excessive tightness on the handlebars. So fear of falling will cause the tightness that will reduce your sensitivity to steering feedback, slow your reactions, and over-control the bike, causing the fall.

    I believe race training is not just for the young hot-shots (I’m 53) who always double the speed limit, but also for normal sensible riders who might one day, through inattention or fatigue, find that they have exceeded the capabilities of their motorcycle and everyday skills.

    A good example is this. I’ve seen about a dozen guys run off the side of the road because they feared they were going too fast. The bike gets unsettled and one or both of the tires starts to slide towards the sand and dirt on the edge of the road. So they immediately chop the throttle and grab the brakes. About half the guys and gals low-sided, or were tripped by a curb, or hit roadside brush or trees. The other half just ran onto a lawn and came back onto the road.

    But If any one of them had taken even the first Superbike course, they would have learned that rolling on the throttle has the effect of setting both tires firmly onto the road, and settling the chassis immediately. They would not have ran off the road. Or if they knew how to hang off, relaxing their grip on the bars and just throwing a hip towards the inside or bending the torso downwards towards the inside might have changed the dynamics of the bike enough that they run off the “inside” of the road. It might seem like a squid-ish thing to say, but if you don’t practice it, you won’t think to do it, and won’t have the skill to do it right.

    And yet 99.99% of people won’t do a lesson because “they don’t need it” or “it’s too risky.” Everybody’s perception of risk is different.

    I was riding in a car where all 4 tires were dribbling after every pavement irregularity due to worn struts. The driver is 60+ thinks it is safe because he drives very, very, slowly everywhere. One day he’ll have to drive the car over a bumpy, rain driven, corner, and he’ll be in the guard rail. I wonder if he would pass inspection or his road test. I prefer to have myself and my vehicles in top mechanical condition, and drive faster. Everybody’s perception of risk is different.

    My long winded point: If you’ve fallen, take responsibility it. Figure out why, and “fix” it. It’s in your own best interest.

    Best regards,


  • I’m back to motorcycling for about a year. Before that, I had been riding 5 years, two of those years as a daily commuter (12 months) in New York City.

    You can imagine that I’ve fallen off a few times on account of snow and black ice. My bike and I were adequately protected and undamaged through those falls. But, I’ve also been ejected by a tank slapper which totaled my bike. Both my rings on my fingers were crushed, and I broke a pinkie. Leather sleeve almost worn through in the gusset (3 layers of full thickness cowhide). Helmet not even scratched. I relaxed and tucked into a tight ball as I was going over the handlebars. I Judo rolled 5 times (as the bike somersaulted 3 times) before I slowed enough to get up and run towards the Jersey barriers–crazy NYC drivers were honking me to move out of the way. I was lucky I didn’t get squished by the tumbling bike.

    The tank slapper was essentially a high-sider caused by accelerating across the slippery middle part of the lane (dry, fall evening). I had Metzeler Laser (bias ply) tires which were starting to square off. I only use premium sport tires now. There is a false economy to look for long tread life if the tires will square off or are slippery in curves. Will the rider outlast the tires?

    It is important to understand the causes of your crashes and to develop new habits that fix the cause. I’ve taken the MSF Intermediate Rider’s Course, and there is some street wise information there, depending on the instructor. But MSF courses emphasize low speed maneuverability and liability avoidance, not bad weather or high speed handling.

    Where I learned a lot about crash avoidance is from taking the California Superbike School Level 1 course. When the average rider, with barely adequate riding skills, pushes and travels two to three times his normal velocity, his every little mistake will be exaggerated by a factor of 9X. This evokes survival reactions which just make things much worse. Bad weather or road conditions will do the same thing, but in an unpredictable, unsafe way.

    In my class section two guys repeatedly ran off the track. They were nervous, new riders, and lacked the confidence and skill to follow instructions. They kept snapping the throttle shut and hitting the brakes, which stands the bike up and runs it off the course. That is called a instinctive Survival Reaction (which could get you killed.) Thank goodness there are no yellow lines, opposing traffic, guard rails, or drop offs on the track, or these guys would need another 9 lives.

    On the track, the speed will emphasize the mistakes you make. The coaches at the school will correct them, but it is up to you to fix them.

    Practice, practice, practice, and ride mindfully.



  • I bought my first bike two years ago when I was 51 years old, and have had a blast riding everywhere. I now have 22,000 miles on the bike. Someone once told me “There are two kinds of riders, those that have gone down and those who will”. Well last year I was riding in a very bad rain storm in New Hampshire, I exited off the highway and onto a two lane asphalt road and wham, just like that it went down. The bike slid 40 feet and I slid 20 feet on my knees. Both the bike and I were fine, but I got an education that day.
    I had already taken the basic Motorcycle Training class and have since taken the advanced class. My advice is learn all you can from classes and also allow experience on the road to teach you.

  • Not long after coming back to riding in my 50s, I went into a corner badly after a very long ride and went into a slide off the side of the road. Lost a bit of skin and bent thebrake pedal,but otherwise ok. It turned to be very good thing. It was like I knew I had to come off some time and now I had got it out of the way and was able to relax more into the riding. But I do realise that not all falls have such a happy ending.

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