Relax to Ride
Hey… did you realise that a motorcycle, at road speed, stays upright, with or without the rider?
Balance for a motorcycle is not provided by a rider, but instead by those two rubber-clad round things underneath.
It’s likely, at some stage you’ve felt your motorcycle swerve, wiggle, slip and slide… due to surface changes, like lumps and bumps, course-altering cracks through the bitumen, or a bit of slippery moss.
Maybe the first time you rode some gravel, it was a tad freaky, with the motorcycle squirming about… seemingly with a mind of its own.
Sure, unless you understand these movements it feels insane and scary, but rarely will your bike wipe out from underneath you unless something else causes the situation to compound.
What’s happening is the motorcycle is making corrections and adjustments to keep upright, just like it was designed to do. Your natural reaction to these surface changes and motorcycle movements, is often to tense up and tighten your grip.
That… makes the situation way worse because you end up fighting the true motion of the bike… the scenario becomes graver in gravel if you then snatch a fistful of front brake, which stabs the front tyre down and most likely spits you off for your trouble.
You’re not letting the bike decide what to do, after all, it’s just an inanimate machine… you are simply allowing the bike to work in sync with you, while you do your role.
Your job on the motorcycle is to provide direction… the motorcycle will provide balance.
Next time you’re out and about, on a safe area of road, (i.e., not your local motorway,) with your hands on the grips, check to see if you have some bend in your elbows and try flapping your arms a bit. If you can, great… you are relaxed with your grip and positioning. If you can’t, chances are you’re tensed with no area for arm movement which prevents your bike from doing its job and deflects you from doing yours.
Please don’t confuse a relaxed grip and seating positioning with a relaxed mindset. Keep that mind alert… always.
Your motorcycle will continue to correct itself over many different surfaces, grooves, etc., you encounter. Relaxing in and becoming one with your bike, assists greatly when riding over these rough spots… in conjunction with your expert obstacle avoidance skill set, which hopefully… you regularly practice.
I am living proof of this.
After riding well over 600,000km, on and off road, mostly through the whoop-whoops of the Australian outback and about a third through Europe and Russia… each time I have been in a serious fix, where something happens all too quick for time to react or think… when I’ve analysed the situation on the other side, I realised even though I’d just experienced a very close call, I was still weirdly relaxed, as my body was almost moulded to the bike, relaxed and flowed with its movements.
My at-ease grip and seating position keeps me in sync, one with the bike.
My consistent practice, of obstacle avoidance and emergency braking, each time I ride, keeps me alert for when I need those safety measures.
I don’t even think about what to do, it comes naturally… coz we all know there is no time to think about using them. It needs to just happen… auto-pilot-like.
Tensing up in any of my previous situations? Yeah, let’s say the conclusion would have been entirely different…
By Betz J. Johns