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Old 12-03-2013, 10:31 PM   #1
moontower OP
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Need advice for crash prone beginner.

My wife has recently started riding (dirt) and has been having real trouble with her emergency braking. She's wiped out a couple times now while off-road and the last time, cracked her head pretty good (wearing helmet). She's started to lose confidence and become panicky while riding. After the last crash, her anxiety level is pretty high while riding which I think compounds the problem.

I have a half acre of land with very few obstacles to practice on in my back yard. I think she really needs to practice all of the brake, clutch and throttle control techniques to build her skill and confidence levels. What exercises can i set up with cones, 2x4's potholes and other household items to make all of the emergency riding techniques become second nature?

Thanks guys!
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Old 12-04-2013, 05:34 AM   #2
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This may give you some ideas

Actually, you may get better responses by posting in the perfect line, no shortage of experts there!

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Old 12-04-2013, 07:26 AM   #3
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It's hard for a cager to learn not to mash that brake pedal with everything they've got during a panic stop. Maybe a technological adjustment would help.
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Old 12-04-2013, 07:36 AM   #4
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Plan A: Send her off to get some professional training. DO NOT attend with her. Not even as a spectator.

Plan B: Realize that not everyone is prepared to pilot a motorcycle. Start looking for 2up options.
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Old 12-04-2013, 08:07 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by henshao View Post
It's hard for a cager to learn not to mash that brake pedal with everything they've got during a panic stop.
THIS ^^^^ Should NEVER happen.
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Old 12-04-2013, 08:18 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Yankee Dog View Post
Plan A: Send her off to get some professional training. DO NOT attend with her. Not even as a spectator.

Plan B: Realize that not everyone is prepared to pilot a motorcycle. Start looking for 2up options.
Good advice. My wife took the Basic Rider Course, and they did a LOT of work on panic stopping. Very important that you are not there. Not that there's anything wrong with you, but she needs to focus on the instructor.

Plan C. A bike with ABS (though that would be a crutch for something she should figure out).
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Old 12-04-2013, 09:31 AM   #7
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Professional instruction, such as an MSF course, would be my first suggestion.

Her loss of confidence is the biggest obstacle she needs to overcome, and that is a real biggie.

Ask her what she thinks would help her feel more comfortable on the bike. It may be that she needs to just ride big circles in the yard for awhile, until she feels more comfortable. Getting her to feel comfortable and not panicked on the bike is the most important thing right now. She can build skills after that.

If she would like to talk to a fellow female rider, send me a PM.
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Old 12-04-2013, 09:53 AM   #8
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Noticed that you mentioned dirt riding. Just wondering why she doing a lot of panic braking in the dirt?? Just like everyone else here is recommending, MSF course. If she's only riding dirt, they have dirt classes also. Where are you located?
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Old 12-04-2013, 10:13 AM   #9
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+1, although I wouldn't particularly call it "piloting" a motorcycle...

I use the term "pilot" to designate the person holding the handle bars. My pillion went through the same problem as the OP's wife. She decided to let me hold the handle bars. Although she still enjoys "riding" on the back of the bike.
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Old 12-04-2013, 10:19 AM   #10
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THIS ^^^^ Should NEVER happen.
I am confused as to whether you're pointing out one should not brake a car with maximum effort or whether one should not brake a motorcycle with maximum effort, and furthermore how whether it should or not factors into the fact that it does happen and has to be acknowledged before being corrected.

Please be clear.
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Old 12-04-2013, 10:26 AM   #11
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Doesn't BMW offer some off road classes/courses? I'm not sure if they're BMW specific but Morton's BMW has some off road days where people could get some extra help.

Are you aware of what she's doing wrong? Mashing on the front brake? Back tire sliding around? Target fixation? If you're able to pinpoint the causes of the crashes people can offer better suggestions on how to fix the problem. A class would be good to help her to develop better skills and become more comfortable, but if her habits during the emergency stops aren't addressed she'll continue to crash.
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Old 12-04-2013, 11:30 AM   #12
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In addition to the beginner's dirt course that some recommended, here are a few recommendations (my two cents) for any beginner that has a place to practice:

1) Clutch and throttle control - A) Ride ultra slow in a cones course while modulating clutch and throttle. Learn that the clutch is not an "all or nothing" proposition. Learn to ease it on. B) Ride this ultra slow course while standing.

2) Braking control - set up a straight away and learn to brake. A) Gently at first using both front and back. B) Practice back only brake slides. C) Then practice front and back together brake slides. D) Also practice threshold braking with no slide, but right to the edge of slide. Become comfortable with brake sliding on the dirt.

3) Cornering - create figure 8 with cones.

4) Power slide - this comes after good experience and confidence built backwith the previous 3 areas. Find a flat spot that is a little slick or loose dirt. Learn to lean into a corner and give gas, while the back end of the bike is coming out a little.

The key is to ride, ride, ride and let her go at her own pace.
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Old 12-04-2013, 11:39 AM   #13
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Get professional instruction if you can, if you can't take a leaf out of the MSF book and use a slow, low bike to practice on. Buy a cheap dirt bike that she can flat foot on and that has zero power and lay out a simple course to crash around on. Keep it really simple and learn to laugh about the low speed falls (feel free to demonstrate) and build confidence while making the whole process fun.
Take lots of time, you have all your life to achieve this.
As others have said, learn clutch, throttle and brake control and the combinations of these then work up to more challenging exercises, I suggest you look for training DVDs specific to dirt biking for better ideas.

Remember, it's supposed to be fun, if she isn't laughing she isn't enjoying it.
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Old 12-04-2013, 11:51 AM   #14
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Nobody should ever try to teach their Significant Other to ride. It doesn't work well, and usually results in a conflict for various reasons I won't get into. Let MSF or an experienced qualified person do it and don't even think of being a spectator.
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Old 12-04-2013, 12:55 PM   #15
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BRC worth every penny. There's a lot to cover, especially for a complete novice. Getting it all from you, even if she believes you're an expert, can lead to frustration. Subconscious stuff. "Why are you always telling me what to do." The BRC is a safe environment where you can ask questions and make mistakes and just be a novice amongst novices. It's a great idea for you NOT to be there as well.

I still have to resist the urge to constantly give advice to my wife although she's no longer a new rider. It's hard - riding is dangerous and I want her to be safe. But it understandably drives her crazy, and no one wants helpful pointers when they're already scared and frustrated. I try to keep it to before/after the ride unless she brings it up.
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