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Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by raven, May 1, 2008.

  1. I followed a rider today, and he got me thinking about head-checks.

    A head-check is to confirm! that there is nothing beside you, just before you lane change (for instance).
    You should already be fully aware of what's around you, and the head-check is just a confirmation that things are the way you expected. ( and...so that you don't get caught out by any last minute changes in traffic conditions)

    It's not intended (for instance), to see what's going on behind you - that's why God gave us mirrors, and you should have them adjusted to give you full views of what's happening from your shoulders Back, via your preripheral vision.

    The fellow I followed was either strung out on speed (the drug), or just flat out did'nt have any inherent situational awareness and had to constantly look around himself. Dangerous!...because while he was doing that, he twice nearly got caught out by what he missed right in front of him. It appeared nervous, and very skittish - not a good way to ride, since his control actions were worsened by his general lack of roadcraft, and made worse again by his constantly swivelling head.

    Keep your riding scans going, but you need to be able to do that, and see all around you, without sacrificing one view for the other in terms of safety.

  2. I completely disagree with this john, for to reason, mirror have a horrible blind spot.....i agree most concentration should be forwards, but for me, i use head checks out when in blocks of traffic.... or as i am moving through traffic.....

    For example if am (actually sitting in a block of traffic) and a car in a lane either side of me passes me, i will do a quick head check to see who/what is a the next car i should be keeping an eye out for....if there are now no more cars in that lane (if thats the case i can relax on headchecks to that side and just keep a eye on that mirror. I just like to know whats around me and my position to them

    When i pass a car (especially if i have come up on them quickly, maybe from 2 sets of lights in a row, coming out of splitting) i will generally have a quick look at the driver to see what they are doing, (just a glance) if i see they look distracted, phone, cd, playing with fans swtiches, even talking as i pass them (normally just as i pass the front) i will give another head check to make sure they haven't decided to move (maybe in behind me or are starting to merge into the side of me....it also gives me a idea where they are until they come back into mirror view....

    Mind you non of these are long looks, just enough to see who is where, but i am a fan of head checks. For me i do use them more as my escape plan, when i think my situation/escape plan of something happening has changed it time to re access the situation.

    But agree there is a time a place for them... thats another reason to ride in your mind further ahead then you actually are on the road. If you are doing that then you should have plenty of time to view all areas around you. :)
  3. use the mirrors and dont ever look behind. (head check whats next to you, mirrors see behind).

    I have been caught out by this. Lets just say I learnt the lesson the hard and EXPENSIVE way.
  4. What do you disagree with Stew? In the cases you put forward, you are head-checking to confirm, something you already had an inkling about, which was my premise. Or you were making sure that the traffic conditions had'nt changed at the last minute from what you knew of it. Again...that's what I was saying, mate.

    You (Stewy), use your head-checks to confirm...not find out what's there, being completely oblivious beforehand - that's my point. You have situational awareness and use your head-checks to confirm...or as a last minute reassurance of the traffic conditions - right?
    I was'nt saying that having a look is a bad thing...it's only bad if it effects your riding, and breaches your safety margins, as it was clearly doing with this particular rider.
    But I still contend that a head-check is primarliy for confirming something that you already believe, or as a last minute check to catch any last minute traffic changes that might get you.
    Might we be talking the of the same thing here, mate.?...only in different words.
  5. Just the topic I was looking for!

    I'm new to riding, and have found that when i do a casual headcheck, i can't really see much behind me!! I think its because of the helmet thickness? Do i just need to turn my head even more?

    Seriously, i do headchecks because I know I should, but i dont really see far enough behind me for it to be effective!!!

    Whats the deal?
  6. Correct, you cant really see behind without taking too much attention away from whats in front. Headcheck is just to check your blindspot.
  7. Correct, you cant really see behind without taking too much attention away from whats in front. Headcheck is just to check your blindspot.
  8. Hmmm fair enough! Thought i was just doing it wrong. Have been told I do it wrong before :p
  9. I stuck a couple of circular "blind spot" mirrors (the ones that rotate so you can get a custom view) on to those pathetic excuses for mirrors on my bike.

    Truely the best cheapest addition to the bike one can make. They don't get rid of head checks, by any means, but they do clearly show something in your blind spot without having to turn your head.

    Say you're intending to change lanes. Ordinarily it's a check mirror, signal, head check (or what ever order you like) and if there is something there, ya don't move or adjust as required ahead or behind to slot in the next lane.

    With those little blind spot mirrors a quick glance will tell you before you even start any move if something is there. If it is, then adjust as necessary, then do the whole usual head check/signal/mirror etc.

    I do a lot of freeway riding and at 100+ kph it's very handy to be aware of the situation in your blind spot without having to look around (especially when you're fighting a mean crosswind).
  10. I contend that in general, your head-checks should be to double check what is beside you (roughly speaking)...Things that won't be in your mirros. Of course...I also contend that those things beside you, you should already be aware of, and are using the head-check to confirm

    That is'nt to say that you should'nt head-check to cover unusual situations.
    When in doubt check it out! :)

    But you should not be using the head-check as your means of seeing everything that going on around you...get good at using and trusting your mirrors, which should be set up to show you everything behind your shoulders.
    This is especially important in winter riding where the larger/thicker winter coats restrict your ability to move your head around as freely as you would expect.

  11. Head checks don’t get me in trouble at the front, I guess you shouldn't be too close to the car in front anyway, right? (in theory)

    I guess the most dangerous head checks are if there is a girl at a bus stop hehe ;)
    by the time you look back on the road things usually change some what..
  12. I was taught:

    "Mirrors give the no, headchecks give the go."

    Basically, don't change lanes until you do a head check. Something in the mirrors may give you reason to stop or to wait, but a headcheck is the green light.
  13. Raven, could it have been that the guy simply has a bike with shit mirrors? ie. can't see anything in them, so has to head check all time?.
    (In which case he should have backed off from the traffic in front, of course).
  14. Not in this case, mate...looked like a Hornet 600...I'm riding a Blade so I get your point...even so...I look around in them and move my body and head to get the view I'm needing at the time.
    I think this bloke just relied almost completely on his direct vision. At point I thought for sure he was going to plough into the rear-end of the car in front, and we were in tight traffic at about 80k's...got me bloody nervous! :shock: :grin:
    I kept thinking..."you just looked there, what are you looking again for...and again...and again...eurgh!"

  15. On the subject of headchecks, what's the purpose of headchecks before pulling away in a straight line? I was told to do so on the L's course but in practice I rarely do as I am more interested to know what is ahead of me as I accelerate. Who cares what is beside you as you pull away in lane, of course check before changing lanes though.

  16. You couldn't pass your test (when I took it in the UK) without headchecks. They were called 'Lifesavers' back then.

    They taught you to make intentional eye contact with other drivers, look down roads you're just about to pass (cars appearing and not stopping), entrances to roundabouts etc...Head checks before you changed lane and generally having awareness of your surroundings.

    Maybe the rider you saw has watched WSS races with Fabian Foret and thought 'hell, if it works for him'...but then, if he'd watched Broc Parkes do it and then his crash maybe he'd stop.
  17. Raven et all thanks for this topic - it is VERY helpful. I'll remember to DO my headchecks, but to also use them appropriately in the right circumstances.

    On the note of ease of movement, will a thick winter scarf impeded movements much? I'm terrified of the cold, but was told that wearing a scarf is a no no. Necksocks don't seem to be thick enough for me ... any other suggestions?


  18. Eat more so you build up a natural layer of insulation. :)
  19. Once I got back on the bike after my argument with the truck I was a tad paranoid. I'd check and check and check - head looking all over the place when it was completely unnessesary, yet only taking in little snapshots, if anything, coz it was all so quick. In fact, everything seemed to be going at a faster pace. Once I learnt to calm down and trust myself I was able to take in more through my mirrors, plan better through looking ahead and around, and use head checks more purposefully. But I know how it can be a difficult balance.

    By neck sock do you mean neck warmer? If not, go to the NR online store and buy one, wear a high neck top so no air gets to your chest, tuck neck warmer into jacket and helmet. I've also sewn a zip for the front of the neck warmer to the helmet - lovely and toasty warm :grin: (EDIT: and protects the eyes) ...or you could get a biker balaclava.
  20. Try a balaclava Peaches. I've got a "laugh at the cold" Damart one, fits nice, does the job. It also stops the cold air on the chin and blocking it from going down to your chest. Winter riding isn't a fashion parade. Wear what's warming and comfortable, even if it makes you look like the Michelin man!