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Emergency stopping and evasive action: Practice!!

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by belair, Aug 17, 2006.

  1. Today (yesterday) i finally pulled my finger out and made an effort to practice stopping quickly and evasive action(counter steering). Counter steering i practised a little more after the L's test and pretty much got the process in order. But emergency stopping I've never really worked at and I've got to say I'm an idiot for not doing so before hand.

    The way I see it (and if anyone has any other thoughts, go ahead), these are the two options when confronted with an unexpected obstacle such as cars pulling out, kids/animals running across path etc. Your either going to try to stop in time or swerve to get out of the way, or probably in most cases do both.

    Now i purposely set out to practise what i think i would do in similar situations. On the way to the boulevarde for a squirt, i anticipated certain situations such as people walking out from the side walk, "right turners" at intersections, cars stopping suddenly, non-head checking lane changers. This is something i try to do (and i guess everybody does) all the time. But what I havn't thought about is what i would actually do if those things did happen. The sort of things where you dont have the time to actually think what to do. It should be instinct to just brake, push left/right, do whatever it takes to avoid a pickle.

    A few weeks ago I really was confident and believed i would be able to react to all circumstances well, but with more thought I really wouldnt have. I cant quite put a finger on what has caused this train of thought but it could be to do with the amount of stacks there have been in the last couple of weeks. This is something i've been thinking about for a few days now and I figure that to have that instinct, I really need to understand my bike. Practise makes perfect.

    First go at hard braking: straight bit of road, no cars in mirrors, pick a reference point to brake from, brake. Seemed easy enough. 25m down the road, big cloud of blue smoke, and a big black snake on the road later and i'm stopped. "strooth!, better go easy on the back brakes next time" I muttered to myself. Tried again, locked up the back wheel but not for as long this time. It took about 6 or 7 goes of riding at 60 km/h, picking a braking point, and braking hard on the fronts before i could get an even balance between the front and rear. Did manage to lock the front wheel for a bit too. By the end I estimate I was stopping within 12-10m from 60k's.

    By the time i left the boulevarde, i think my confidence increased 10 times. I now believe I have what it takes to react to the unexpected in order to avoid a collision. All in all im disapointed i didnt get this in order sooner as it would have prevented my first stack about 7 months ago. If anyone has any further advice, by all means dish it out. But my advice to other new riders is that understanding the way your bike behaves when evasive action is needed is an extremely important factor in avoiding disaster.
  2. Excellent Post!...

    Thinking about Emergency Braking and actually being confidfent in doing it, is two different things.
    I believe that alot of guys riding do quite well, and probably feel confident with their abilities relative to their level - as long as everything is going along fine (which it usually is).

    But when things go Pear shaped, they can be seriously unprepared.

    Practicing, and getting a feel for how you and your bike are going to feel in an emergency stop or evasive manouvre, to the point where it becomes instictive, rather than thought process, is life-saving.
  3. Good call: I've been maybe 5 weeks back on a bike after 12 years off one, had to stop late to avoid a tool running an orange light yesterday, and fishtailed all over the place using too much back brake and gears... Practice would have helped me give it enough front brake and made the whole experience a lot healthier/less scary. I'm off to a deserted car park soon...
  4. I'm on board with you both. I got my first bike 4 months ago and immediately went for a daily squirt thinking that riding my bike would increase my skills. Coming down Sydney Road behind some cars and a tram people could probably see the grin on my face through the helmet. When the tram stopped suddenly (and so did the cars) I learnt very quickly the "give way to trams" rule which doesn't exist in Adelaide. I got a fistful of front brake, squeezed the rears with my foot and still gave the falcon in front of me a kiss. Thankfully for me there was no damage to property but my pride and confidence got the knock it needed.
    I've since spent a lot of time shortening my braking distance to a more respecatble level. Getting my licence was a breeze but becoming a well-rounded rider took a lot more work than I expected.
    It's an obvious tip - but anyone who is new to riding and is reading this please, please invest some time in emergency braking and evasion.

  5. When i first started riding about once a week i went down to Victoria Gardens (IKEA) and on their roof top car park which is always empty, had what i used to call a car park session. It was pretty much a run through of everything that i'd learnt in the L's test and things that i'd been advised to practice. After a couple of hours slow riding and emergency braking i'd head up to the Yarra Boulevard for a little run through before heading home.
    It's incredible the amount your overall riding skills will increase by practicing slow riding techniques when your first starting out. Even now on the big Fizzer i'll head out for a car park session when i've got a free hour or two.
  6. Front brake, back brake, mix of both??? What's the best technique??

    Ridesafe video shows that front and back braking will slow a bike faster in typical road condition... but in an emergency brake, a good hard squeeze of the front will have the back barely loaded... and that's the maximum braking you can have.

    In time and practice, you will have the finesse to back off the rear after the first few moments of emergency braking.

    A word of caution: you can brake hard, you can swerve hard, but you can't brake and swerve hard. The traction circle just won't let you.

    I practice an emergency brake, with gear kick down, about every 2nd time I enter the quiet burb road that feeds into my street. I use a marker and try to pull up the bike shorter than the last time for a given speed. I went a while without doing it, and I was shite the next time... keep up the practice.

    Great to read a newbie thinking rider. Checkout the link in my post for an article worth thinking on.
  7. Definitely recommend the emptly car park practice sessions to anyone that's not confident with emergency stopping or swerving!! :idea:

    I practiced at every opportunity when I first got my licence and it's definitely saved my life!! Would've been cleaned up at a set of traffic lights on Bourke Rd last week if I wasn't able to emergency stop instinctively as an idiot ran a red light at high speed and almost collected me :shock:
  8. Tag for later, I'm about to start riding and I want all the safety tips I can get. Thanks!
  9. I put off practising counter steering 'coz I was worried I'd drop the bike, which is stupid really. Anyhow, I put in some serious counter steering practice over the weekend. I was really surprised how stable and natural it felt even doing some big swerves. Find a nice long empty road in an industrial area and pick out some road features or shadows to dodge. If anyone has any more tips in that area, I'd love to hear them.
  10. Counter-steering practice is fun!

    Just dodgy EVERYTHING on the road:
    Potholes, rocks, sticks, patches of repaired road, puddles, drains, man-hole-covers, etc.

    It's fantastic practice at any speed, breaks up a boring ride, and gets people off your tail if they're a bit close.
  11. Guys i'd really advise gettin the 'Ride Smart' CD from the TAC. A bit cheesy and the graphics are very early 90's but the stuff it points out is gold.

    I've only been riding for about a year but the info I've got from there is all stuff you think you know well until it's been pointed out to you how well you need to know it.

    An excellent additive to 'real practice' it'll teach you all the things to look for before its to late.

    Its free too, I got a letter in the mail for it, guess you'll be able to get it from the sight as well.
  12. something similar happened to me the other day. orange light, moderately close, panicked a bit and fishtailed all the way there haha.
    very scary. certainly not going to repeat that one.
  13. Yeah I'm sure Inci will attest to the big cloud of blue smoke I created quite a few weeks back now when I wasn't quite going to make it through the lights before they changed :LOL: I've been practicing every ride I go on since then :p
  14. I was always told when learning for my 250 to NEVER change gear during emergency braking as it could increase your engine speed and cause all sorts of problems.
    When braking leave the foot off the gear selector and hand off the clutch until almost stopped and just catch it before stalling.
    Dont grab the brake lever but squeeze it like a beer can progressivly harder all the time and always use the back brake in conjunction with the front to keep the bike settled.
  15. I was always told when learning for my 250 to NEVER change gear during emergency braking as it could increase your engine speed and cause all sorts of problems.
    When braking leave the foot off the gear selector and hand off the clutch until almost stopped and just catch it before stalling.
    Dont grab the brake lever but squeeze it like a beer can progressivly harder all the time and always use the back brake in conjunction with the front to keep the bike settled.
  16. Are you sure about this? If you are in gear and coming down in speed the engine is going to keep trying to drive you forward. It won't affect the traction you have on the back wheel as it will fight the rear brake, with the residual force of engine vs brake being applied to the road. But it will alter the amount of brake pressure on the back as the engine and brake will be fighting each other. Depending on gear/speed, this will be different for every situation making it hard to instinctively know how much rear brake is required before locking it up.
    You can practice this squeeze standing still. It should take about one full second. Where to stop applying pressure is where the practice comes in. If you squeeze too hard you will lift the back wheel which while spectacular, is proably the last thing you want to do in a emergency braking situation. When I do my practice, I deliberately take it to the point of just lifting the back wheel a couple of times before I release. That way I know where the limits are.

    Another thing to keep in mind when practicing is surface condition. For a while I always practiced at the same spot when it was dry. Then I realised that would be perfect practice if I ever had to emergency brake in the Coles carpark! As for being on the road with painted lines, road debris, oil and rain, that is an entirely different matter. So I have tried to vary the surface as well including practicing(very gently initially) in drizzle and rain. You really get to know the limits of your bike and yourself that way.
  17. I agree with all of the above. Even as an experienced rider I always continue to practice emergency stopping & evasive action when no-one is around me! I also use a variety of surfaces & conditions. Don't forget also to know when to let go!
    Early in my riding days I panicked and locked up the back wheel, let all brakes go & came at it again in a controlled manner to find I had enough time & distance to stop safely! Got angry at myself for almost being my own undoing! Had I gone down would I have blamed the car driver?