Conquering correct head and eye positioning is one of the first obstacles to overcome if you want to become a competent rider. Keep your head and eyes up and turn your head so your nose is pointing in the direction where you want to go; that will naturally put your eyes perfectly ready for you to look where you want to go. When cornering, that means you’re looking through (around) the corner, toward the exit point.
Use this technique to achieve consistent success through your corners and to sight hazards early.
The importance of your reaction time goes hand in hand with your looking position.
The way we look in front of us naturally in a walking scenario, isn’t the same whilst we are riding a motorcycle. If we’re walking down the street and there’s a hole in the middle of the path ahead, we’ll see it easy enough as we’re either looking at the ground just in front, or our peripheral vision will pick up the hazard closer to our feet. So even if you are having a gander at some shop windows or have been distracted by that racy-red Duke that just zapped by, you’ll usually still have a decent time of grace for that hazard to register and to step around it.
On a motorcycle, we don’t have that luxury.
Travelling at around 100kmph, we are covering nearly 28m per second, which gives diddley-squat time for a reaction to a hazard, if you’re too close to the vehicle in front of you.
If you can see some stray wombat, for example, heading across your route, 60m in front of you, that hazard needs to be dealt with now!
The only way you can see and deal with that wayward wombat is by having correct head and eye positioning and being a decent distance away, so you have the reaction time to decide on a course of action.
Riding too close behind any vehicle, including another motorcycle, puts you at risk of not seeing the wombat until it’s too late, or possibly the vehicle in front hits it and flicks the dead-weight back into you.
Oh, and by the way, those that have hit a wombat in a car, say it’s like hitting a large watermelon filled with concrete… rarely does the car continue far afterwards.
On a bike? Mmmmmm… yeah, no thanks.
A safe following distance is two to three seconds back, adjusted to weather conditions and lessened visibility, e.g., fog, night-time, sun blindness, etc. Position yourself in the carriageway, where you can see far enough up the road so you can scan ahead for potential hazards. The same applies when cornering.
Where you look, the motorcycle will go naturally and by looking through the corner, you’ll be more likely to see hazards there that need proactive attention.
The reasoning behind the look where you want to go theory is that’s the way our bodies have learned to work… try and imagine a motorcycle and the rider as one body, the rider as the upper torso, the bike as the extension of our body and thoughts.
By Iri Griffin