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tmonroe
Male Advanced Member
747 Posts
[Mentor]


Seattle, WA
USA

Kawasaki

ZX-10R

Posted - 10/03/2016 :  12:16 PM                       Like
I perceive that James has always been a proponent of giving correct information. I value this forum, in a big part because of that dedication to giving correct information - heck, it's a good thing James' database has periodically crashed, because if not, you could undoubtedly search my ID, and see me repeating bad information and receiving correction. Hey, it's 15 years, + over 100K miles later, and I'm still here, and no crashes - so thank you.

Long story short, but I was sitting through a basic rider course this weekend, and the instructor repeatedly said the following:

"The motorcycle goes where you look".

I ignored the error in the statement, but it got me curious. A quick Google search of that phrase yields thousands of motorcycle sites - even at least one law enforcement site:
http://www.lvmpd.com/Portals/0/pdf/...fetyTips.pdf

So lets deal with the first issue. No, the motorcycle does not go where you look. I'm not saying that statement is never helpful, but it is technically incorrect. What I have told students in the past (which I believe is both equally helpful and technically correct) is "You tend to direct the motorcycle where you are looking". (I have played with "you tend to steer the motorcycle - which is cleaner, but sort of muddles the concept of countersteering).

So, maybe I am making too much of a big deal of this. I have a philosophical argument about why bad information is always bad information, and should never be given - especially by an instructor. The goal of the instructor is getting students to turn their heads and look through turns (no easy task) - and I'm sure that for most students, they hear that phrase and do not walk away with a belief that somehow looking through a turn will magically guide the motorcycle around the turn. The problem lies in all of the infinite number of edge cases where someone accepts this instruction at face value - and then gets injured (or killed) because the information was factually incorrect, and did not work as they had expected. Although looking through a turn is an important part, the motorcycle turns via countersteering. I would go so far as to say that teaching someone that looking through the turn will somehow magically get the motorcycle to complete a turn in a pinch is potentially contributing to a crash.

Anyway, I think it's a topic worthy of addressing. Am I being too pedantic about this?

James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17294 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 10/03/2016 :  12:56 PM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Thanks, Tom.

We completely agree as to the importance of the matter. I went so far as to write a 'Tip' article specifically addressing your concern. I believe that you will find it a Tip 116.

But the fact that I wrote an article about should not be an end to the discussion - I hope the articles serve as launch points, not end points.
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tmonroe
Male Advanced Member
747 Posts
[Mentor]


Seattle, WA
USA

Kawasaki

ZX-10R

Posted - 10/03/2016 :  1:07 PM
Thanks James. Sorry, I only went so far as to add "msgroup.org" to my google search to try see if it had been addressed previously - that was obviously not sufficient. Thanks for already answering my question.

I probably read this tip at some point in the last decade too - I think maybe I'm even subconsciously plagiarizing you.

I guess we could just add this to the list of bad instructions given by MSF instructors at one point or another.
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17294 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 10/03/2016 :  1:12 PM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
I've been associated with cases involving (critically) the instructions given by MSF instructors. And while I'm not bashful or shy about pointing out where those instructions are wrong (bad), I'm quick to note that virtually all instructors believe what they say and do so in good faith.
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Horse
Senior Member
263 Posts


Newbury, Berkshire
United Kingdom

BMW

R850RT

Posted - 10/03/2016 :  1:59 PM
Being pedantic ;) surely if we want the bike to in a particular direction, do we steer it to make it end up 'that' way?

Can a direction change only be achieved by moving the 'bars?

If there's *any* other way that the bike's eventual heading is achieved, wholly or partially, then, simply, we 'steer' the bike. 'Steer' is a generic term for a range of actions, which includes counter-steering.

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tmonroe
Male Advanced Member
747 Posts
[Mentor]


Seattle, WA
USA

Kawasaki

ZX-10R

Posted - 10/03/2016 :  2:34 PM
quote:
Originally posted by Horse

Being pedantic ;) surely if we want the bike to in a particular direction, do we steer it to make it end up 'that' way?

Can a direction change only be achieved by moving the 'bars?

If there's *any* other way that the bike's eventual heading is achieved, wholly or partially, then, simply, we 'steer' the bike. 'Steer' is a generic term for a range of actions, which includes counter-steering.





You'd have to be more specific about how you intend to change motorcycle direction. You can drop the sidestand and pivot the bike around it - but that's not relevant to riding.

MotoGP (and other track, and dirtbike) riders also frequently utilize rear wheel slide to change the direction the bike is pointing. But that's not very relevant to a basic rider course in my opinion.

There are so many misconceptions about steering and counter-steering that your post sounds like you might be trying to bait me.

I wouldn't mind a good review though - relevant to learning how to ride a motorcycle, at speeds above stopped and up to 20 mph, keeping both wheels touching the ground (which limits the topic to a rider course, so it's relevant to this forum), how else besides steering for low speed, and counter-steering once the bike attains stability, do you steer a motorcycle?

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DataDan
Advanced Member
542 Posts
[Mentor]


Central Coast, CA
USA

Yamaha

FJR1300

Posted - 10/04/2016 :  9:52 AM
It works for me.

When I do parking lot drills, the first thing I do is make sure I turn my head and look where I want to go. Until that's happening, I suck.

When I go out canyon carving, the first skill I focus on is looking through the turn--spotting each reference point in succession and moving on to the next so my brain is staying ahead of the motorcycle as I plan my line. Only when my eyes are working well do I dial in more speed and move on to other skills. Most of my improvement over the past 30 years has come from sharpened visual skill.

Yet I know that my eyes don't telekinetically control the motorcycle. I knew it in 1980-something when I first heard it from an instructor. So did the friend I took the class with when he remarked, "It really works." We both improved considerably that day just by looking where we wanted to put the bike.

It's a lot like "keep your eye on the ball" or aiming for the hoop or the cup or the 10-ring. Most of us have experience in an activity that demands that kind of visual skill. So when we hear the statement "you go where you look" we can make good use of it without taking it literally.
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tmonroe
Male Advanced Member
747 Posts
[Mentor]


Seattle, WA
USA

Kawasaki

ZX-10R

Posted - 10/04/2016 :  11:13 AM
quote:
Originally posted by DataDan

It works for me.

When I do parking lot drills, the first thing I do is make sure I turn my head and look where I want to go. Until that's happening, I suck.

When I go out canyon carving, the first skill I focus on is looking through the turn--spotting each reference point in succession and moving on to the next so my brain is staying ahead of the motorcycle as I plan my line. Only when my eyes are working well do I dial in more speed and move on to other skills. Most of my improvement over the past 30 years has come from sharpened visual skill.

Yet I know that my eyes don't telekinetically control the motorcycle. I knew it in 1980-something when I first heard it from an instructor. So did the friend I took the class with when he remarked, "It really works." We both improved considerably that day just by looking where we wanted to put the bike.

It's a lot like "keep your eye on the ball" or aiming for the hoop or the cup or the 10-ring. Most of us have experience in an activity that demands that kind of visual skill. So when we hear the statement "you go where you look" we can make good use of it without taking it literally.



Someone commented to me once that when coaching sports, a lot of attention is paid to where the athlete is looking, hence its cousin phrase, "the body follows the head". I always assumed we probably inherited this phrase from sports coaching.

I would not argue that it's probably useful in a motorcycle safety course to get students to turn their head - arguably probably one of the most challenging parts of training. The problem is that it's factually incorrect.

Here's part of my opinion of the Basic Rider Course: In my understanding, standardized rider training (now called the BRC) was developed at least partly in response to the Hurt Report which was published in 1981. Since 1981, there have been several studies reporting the fatality rates for different types of crashes, and in my understanding, the ratio of "single vehicle crashes" - or "cornering errors" are essentially unchanged since 1981 - and it accounts for a lot of lives. (I welcome anyone who can correct me if I am stating something that is factually incorrect).

In my opinion, this merits a closer look at how we're teaching students to corner. We're failing. So the next question is "why are we failing?".

I don't have very much to go on for wrapping my mind around this - but one thing I have is my own experience, when I took rider training 15 years ago, and my experience progressing from a novice rider to today. There were more than a handful of near-misses in my first 2 or 3 years of riding, almost all of them were cornering issues. My instructor hammered "look through the corner", and in each case, I looked through the corner, but now looking back, it's possible they might not have been near misses had I been more focused on pressing.

I think for novice riders, we're missing a big piece in not focusing more on the exit of the corner. I suspect that if something is going to go wrong, it's there. If we tell students to accelerate through the corner, and to exit wide, and to look all the way through the corner *to* the exit, I think we're setting them up for issues, because of a combination of the following factors:
1. Accelerating all the way through the corner means speed is highest at the exit
2. Exiting wide (to the outside) gives the least margin of error at the exit.
3. If they are instructed to look all the way through the corner we have not told them where to look when they reach the exit (which is one of the issues I have with focusing so much on head turn)

Please don't think I'm advocating not accelerating through corners, or looking through corners - what I am saying is that I think the most dangerous part of the corner (which I suspect is probably very near or just after the exit of the corner) is being ignored, which might at least partially explain why fatality rates for corners pre Hurt and post Hurt are essentially the same.


Edited by - tmonroe on 10/04/2016 11:22 AM
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rkfire
Advanced Member
1695 Posts


Stratford, CT
USA

Suzuki

Bandit

Posted - 10/05/2016 :  5:47 PM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
I think you're correct, in that it's a statement that just isn't enough information. Especially for a beginner, and added to that, a lot of motorcyclists fail to negotiate the curve.

Probably better than "the motorcycle goes where you look" would be something like...Look where you want to go. Seems to me that would work better for slow speed, reading the curves ahead at normal speed, as well as encourage away from target fixation.

Having never taken, never mind taught the class, is it more of an instruction for low speed, sharp turns? I can see the importance of telling a student to really turn the head or they just can't see where to aim.
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gymnast
Moderator
4267 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 10/05/2016 :  10:51 PM
" is it more of an instruction for low speed, sharp turns? I can see the importance of telling a student to really turn the head or they just can't see where to aim."

That.

However, the direction change failures that produce serious injury and/ or death as a result of running off the road or failure to maintain position in ones lane tend to be a result of failure to look well ahead, adjust speed, and as pointed out above, failure to look through the curve. All which involve subtle eye movements tracking ones intended path.

Little to no range instruction occurs at the speeds where tracking or out tracking (steering) skills become critical.
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tmonroe
Male Advanced Member
747 Posts
[Mentor]


Seattle, WA
USA

Kawasaki

ZX-10R

Posted - 10/06/2016 :  11:24 AM
quote:
Originally posted by gymnast

" is it more of an instruction for low speed, sharp turns? I can see the importance of telling a student to really turn the head or they just can't see where to aim."

That.

However, the direction change failures that produce serious injury and/ or death as a result of running off the road or failure to maintain position in ones lane tend to be a result of failure to look well ahead, adjust speed, and as pointed out above, failure to look through the curve. All which involve subtle eye movements tracking ones intended path.

Little to no range instruction occurs at the speeds where tracking or out tracking (steering) skills become critical.



Turning the head is emphasized both for low speed and for high speed. Knowing what we know about steering and counter-steering, obviously there is more going on here than we realize. I've taught for more than 10 years, and I will say that students who look through corners do a lot better than those that look, say 6 feet in front of the motorcycle - no argument from me there.

But what does that mean? Is it that somehow, pointing the head in a direction will somehow cause the student at low speed to point the handlebars in the direction of the turn, while at speed cause the student to press in the direction of the turn (which is actually the opposite action)? Does the brain somehow subconsciously know how to convert the "turning the head" motion into the correct control input? If that's the case, then wouldn't it be better to focus on moving the action from subconscious to conscious?

I suspect the actual mechanism is that when students are looking 6 feet in front of them, their brains are trying to process input (IE they're looking at the quality of the pavement, or something similar), and the input is coming too quickly, so they stiffen up their arms (thereby steering the bike straight).

As to your second point, I couldn't agree more. If we want to reduce fatalities involved in cornering, we ought to figure out how to expose people to cornering at speed. Whether it's something like getting telemetry, or just watching a student on a public roadway, it's something we *could* do, we just don't.
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Daves
Junior Member
41 Posts


Alexandria, VA
USA

(None)

Posted - 10/06/2016 :  1:10 PM
Somewhat of an aside, I find it fascinating how many people in other fora argue two things:

1. Basic rider education is insufficient because of all the advance techniques they ignore.

2. Advanced techniques are of no value because they aren't included in basic rider education.

I know that's a bit of a strawman, but time and again, I see discussions devolve into those two camps, when I think the answer is intuitively both, i.e. it depends.

Can you "steer" a motorcycle without the bars? Yes-- but why would you want to? You would steer it *poorly*, slowly, and ultimately unsafely. You have handlebars, *use them*. Leave the stunting tricks for the parking lot.

That said, can you steer a motorcycle with ONLY the bars? Again, yes-- but why would you want to? It wasn't until I started taking some dirt-oriented riding classes that I learned a whole panoply of techniques to augment my handlebar steering-- throttle and braking inputs, foot peg pressure, thighs against the tank, pivoting with my hips (this last one is *hugely* helpful), etc. There's actually a huge range of steering techniques people can use, it's not just binary between "sit straight up in the saddle and use the bars" versus "hang off like Rossi and Marquez."

Of course, that's the value of training. The BRC and classes like it are a great place to start, but it's even better when you augment those classes with even more education. I'm trying to take a new class/school at least once every two years... I'd take them EVERY year if I could afford it. It's so much fun learning new ways to ride, I'm genuinely surprised so few riders take advantage of everything that's available for them.
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tmonroe
Male Advanced Member
747 Posts
[Mentor]


Seattle, WA
USA

Kawasaki

ZX-10R

Posted - 10/06/2016 :  1:34 PM
quote:
Originally posted by Daves

Somewhat of an aside, I find it fascinating how many people in other fora argue two things:

1. Basic rider education is insufficient because of all the advance techniques they ignore.

2. Advanced techniques are of no value because they aren't included in basic rider education.

I know that's a bit of a strawman, but time and again, I see discussions devolve into those two camps, when I think the answer is intuitively both, i.e. it depends.

Can you "steer" a motorcycle without the bars? Yes-- but why would you want to? You would steer it *poorly*, slowly, and ultimately unsafely. You have handlebars, *use them*. Leave the stunting tricks for the parking lot.

That said, can you steer a motorcycle with ONLY the bars? Again, yes-- but why would you want to? It wasn't until I started taking some dirt-oriented riding classes that I learned a whole panoply of techniques to augment my handlebar steering-- throttle and braking inputs, foot peg pressure, thighs against the tank, pivoting with my hips (this last one is *hugely* helpful), etc. There's actually a huge range of steering techniques people can use, it's not just binary between "sit straight up in the saddle and use the bars" versus "hang off like Rossi and Marquez."

Of course, that's the value of training. The BRC and classes like it are a great place to start, but it's even better when you augment those classes with even more education. I'm trying to take a new class/school at least once every two years... I'd take them EVERY year if I could afford it. It's so much fun learning new ways to ride, I'm genuinely surprised so few riders take advantage of everything that's available for them.



No discussion of "bars only" would be complete without a reference to Keith Code's "No BS" machine. If we're going to go there, I'd like to start with what his machine shows... Having used it myself at the California Superbike School, I can say that my own experience does not agree with many of the assertions in your post:

http://superbikeschool.com/about-us...b-s-machine/

Edited by - tmonroe on 10/06/2016 1:40 PM
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rkfire
Advanced Member
1695 Posts


Stratford, CT
USA

Suzuki

Bandit

Posted - 10/07/2016 :  7:36 AM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
quote:
Originally posted by rkfire
[br
Probably better than "the motorcycle goes where you look" would be something like...Look where you want to go. Seems to me that would work better for slow speed, reading the curves ahead at normal speed, as well as encourage away from target fixation.



Maybe I wasn't clear. I'm saying, take the magic of eyeball steering away from the statement "the motorcycle goes where you look" and replace it with "look where you want to go". Simply, you'll automatically steer or counter steer, depending on speed, to where your eyes tell the brain, the brain tells the hands, where you want to go.

In low speed U-turning, you steer to where you want to end up. At other than low speed riding, you counter steer to where you want to enter and exit a curve, you counter steer to the open and safe space away from encroaching traffic, avoiding target fixation.

In the end, I think "the motorcycle goes where you look" requires further explanation of how does it go there. "Look where you want to go", seems good advice without hinting at magical steering. It also is part and parcel of looking further down the road, whether it's in a parking lot or on a road with traffic.
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gymnast
Moderator
4267 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 10/09/2016 :  9:55 PM
Bingo!
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commonground
Male Standard Member
155 Posts


Windsor, PA
USA

Yamaha

V Star 1300

Posted - 10/10/2016 :  12:25 PM
quote:
Originally posted by tmonroe


So, maybe I am making too much of a big deal of this. I have a philosophical argument about why bad information is always bad information, and should never be given - especially by an instructor. The goal of the instructor is getting students to turn their heads and look through turns (no easy task) - and I'm sure that for most students, they hear that phrase and do not walk away with a belief that somehow looking through a turn will magically guide the motorcycle around the turn. The problem lies in all of the infinite number of edge cases where someone accepts this instruction at face value - and then gets injured (or killed) because the information was factually incorrect, and did not work as they had expected. Although looking through a turn is an important part, the motorcycle turns via countersteering. I would go so far as to say that teaching someone that looking through the turn will somehow magically get the motorcycle to complete a turn in a pinch is potentially contributing to a crash.




I think that many times a newbie takes everything the instructor says as gospel. Why shouldn't he? The instructor is all knowing. "Never" and "Always" are terms often used by instructors. The newbie, not knowing any different, complies to the letter. It's not until experience starts setting in that he realizes there are no definitive rules in riding a motorcycle. There are too many variables.

Yes, look where you want to go but, your eyes should constantly be scanning for any other hazards and not fixating on the elusive end of the curve. That deer that steps out of the bushes on the side of the road or the groundhog that comes scampering out of the grass, might have been picked up if you were scanning.

In the beginner classes you may have been told to never brake in a curve or outside-inside-outside tracking on all curves. The first timer thinks that those instructions are gospel and tries to make sure that he complies to the letter and often ends up having a problem.

I write this because I fell prey to that mindset when I started and had a couple pucker-string pulling moments.
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dhalen32
Male Moderator
841 Posts
[Mentor]


Omaha, NE
USA

BMW

R1200RT

Posted - 10/11/2016 :  5:35 AM
Tom:
You said in your original post that you were sitting through a basic rider course. Were you there in an official capacity or just lending another student your support? You also stated what you have told your own students with regard to head turns and the use of their eyes. Are you an MSF RiderCoach or do you teach some other type of riding courses?

I agree with you that what this particular RiderCoach said to their students is not technically correct and that Roger's (rkfire) words "Look where you want to go" would be a much better choice of what to say to students. It is what I use when discussing the subject of higher speed cornering as well as low speed turning with my students; beginners as well as experienced riders.

Unfortunately, many of our students choose to look down at lines and cones or just in front of their motorcycle's front tire rather than raise their eyes and look through a turn. I have often wondered to myself what causes humans to gravitate to this default SOP. My conclusion is that it stems from walking where our speeds are low and we are "programmed" to look for things that might injure us such as holes, sharp rocks, trip hazards, dangerous animals, etc.
Dave
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bachman1961
Male Advanced Member
2266 Posts
[Mentor]


colorado springs, co
USA

Honda

CB750 NightHawk

Posted - 10/25/2016 :  3:42 AM
I like this discussion.

It makes me value the concept of what can we do better ? or how can we do this better ?

Words and phrases create mental images and paint pictures but what do we see in their minds eye and how do we know it's interpreted correctly or they even heard us correctly ?
A catch phrase can be a good blanket statement and cover a broad concept, yet other times call for surgical precision in defining explaining or characterizing a tactic or maneuver.
With new or learning riders of various learning styles and attention spans, background or diverse experiences, delivering a clear and accurate message is as important as having students that are too shy or afraid to ask for clarification on any one thing they don't fully understand.

I have not been a very active participant in many sports but I respect the subtlety of body position, chin up or down or slightly turned etc.... how some of the tiny, simplest of things can lead to a major break-through with a participant who feels that 'click' (as you witness it) and from then on, demonstrates a fluidity and confidence that pays strong dividends as they leap through the learning curve. It's a shinning moment neither forget.

I've used the phrases; "Look down , Fall Down" and "Look where you want to go" or " Trust your periphery and look out farther down the path " but these things are mostly one on one types of experiences and moving along at the equivalent of PLP slow speed progress either on skis or on bicycle trails. Much easier with one student and not moving along at 60 feet per second.

Those of us that look through the turn or farther down the path and trust our peripheral immediate areas so we know to look and take in the important stuff have done so by gaining years of experience success and trust. It makes me remember times when I've been in a class room and didn't ask a question because I did not know what I didn't know. That's what I think we see here-

Unfortunately, many of our students choose to look down at lines and cones or just in front of their motorcycle's front tire rather than raise their eyes and look through a turn. I have often wondered to myself what causes humans to gravitate to this default SOP. My conclusion is that it stems from walking where our speeds are low and we are "programmed" to look for things that might injure us such as holes, sharp rocks, trip hazards, dangerous animals, etc.

Edited by - bachman1961 on 10/25/2016 5:45 AM
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tmonroe
Male Advanced Member
747 Posts
[Mentor]


Seattle, WA
USA

Kawasaki

ZX-10R

Posted - 12/09/2016 :  3:32 PM
quote:
Originally posted by dhalen32

Tom:
You said in your original post that you were sitting through a basic rider course. Were you there in an official capacity or just lending another student your support? You also stated what you have told your own students with regard to head turns and the use of their eyes. Are you an MSF RiderCoach or do you teach some other type of riding courses?




I took a break from teaching MSF classes for about 2 years. I had to take a BRC as part of getting back into teaching (a small part of what I had to do).
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