Niall Mackenzie talks you through his top tips which could save you from a nasty incident
If you ride smoothly while staying relaxed but sharp, then getting into trouble should hopefully be a rare occurrence. Having said that, tricky, unexpected situations will always unfold occasionally, so this month I’ll try to explain what action I take when things go wrong.
Although the exact circumstances may differ every time, I have some basic rules that serve me well in many different scenarios.
Firstly, I am always aware that the more upright I am whether braking or accelerating then the more grip I have from both the front and rear tyres.
So my first example would be rushing into a corner then realising I might be carrying too much speed at the point I need to start leaning over. Rather than risk losing the front while braking at an angle, I would most likely choose to stand the bike up, scrub some speed off safely and sacrifice my good line through the turn.
Similarly if I found myself heading for the grass after missing my braking point and corner entry on a track day, this time I would remain upright, brake as hard as possible then release the brake just before leaving the tarmac. Once on the grass it is always best to let engine braking slow things down by gently back shifting while applying the slightest amount of pressure to the front brake.
When braking in the wet, being upright is even more important. If I lock up the front wheel on slippy roads then quickly releasing the brake lever completely is the first step to letting the bike regain stability. Then the process has to start all over again but this time being gentler with brake lever pressure and when possible using more engine braking.
While accelerating, the risk is obviously with the rear tyre sliding; so again the more upright you are the safer you are. Being 100% upright while exiting a corner may be 100% safe but it is also very boring. Now and again when I have the back end step out the following process usually keeps me safe. When I feel the rear go I never completely close the throttle, as this tends to flick the bike in the opposite direction and could throw me off.
I find gradually rolling back the throttle to let the wheel speed come back in line with the engine speed will even things out. At the same time I help the bike get more upright by pushing on the foot pegs, which lifts my bum slightly and gives me more control. All of these are subtle riding adjustments to help regain control but remember all of this can be practiced safely while having a laugh on a cheap off roader.
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