Need advice for crash prone beginner.

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by moontower, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. moontower

    moontower Adventurer

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    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?:ear

    Thanks guys!
    #1
  2. eric2

    eric2 ®egister this:

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    This may give you some ideas :lol3

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

    [​IMG]
    #2
  3. henshao

    henshao Bained

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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.
    #3
  4. Yankee Dog

    Yankee Dog Long timer

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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.
    #4
  5. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

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    THIS ^^^^ Should NEVER happen. :1drink
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  6. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    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).
    #6
  7. shelion

    shelion Goddess of Fire

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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.
    #7
  8. hardwaregrrl

    hardwaregrrl ignore list

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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?
    #8
  9. Yankee Dog

    Yankee Dog Long timer

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    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.
    #9
  10. henshao

    henshao Bained

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    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.
    #10
  11. justafurnaceman

    justafurnaceman Imaginary

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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.
    #11
  12. mikem9

    mikem9 Wanderer

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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.
    #12
  13. Crisis management

    Crisis management Latte riders FTW!

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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.
    #13
  14. ttpete

    ttpete Rectum Non Bustibus

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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.
    #14
  15. feathered

    feathered Been here awhile

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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.
    #15
  16. moontower

    moontower Adventurer

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    Hey guys, I posted this pretty late last night before hitting the sack and didn't expect this many responses. I will try and address most of the questions that have been brought up without quoting each individual.

    - She is completely capable of riding a motorcycle, but could definitely work on her riding skills.

    - She attended and completed the MSF course in november.

    - Her accidents can be attributed to target fixation or pinning the throttle and dropping the clutch while crossing ruts or dips. She does fine on the maintained gravel roads and has zero interest in riding roads with vehicular traffic.

    - Her bike is a klx140 so I don't think power and weight are an issue.

    - I agree that me trying to instruct her on how to ride is a terrible idea.

    - We will be signing up for dirt riding classes (separately) when the new year rolls around and our weekends aren't book up.

    I would like to set up an area of the yard that she can safely practice some of the skills that she learned in the MSF course and possibly others that are more dirt oriented. A lot of the time I think she pushes herself beyond her skill in an attempt to not slow me down. I have told her that I don't mind riding slow and that she needs to ride her own ride, but it is still a factor. I think we need to take a step back from exploring on the bikes together she can work on on her skills at her own pace and have more fun doing it.

    Thanks for all of the replies!
    #16
  17. moontower

    moontower Adventurer

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    I completely agree. I think that riding with me makes her push her boundaries so that she doesn't feel like she is slowing me down. I think that baby steps is the best course of action. Ill definitely pass along your info. She should be signing up for an adv account this weekend.
    Thanks!:D
    #17
  18. moontower

    moontower Adventurer

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    This is exactly what I was thinking. Ill set it up and show her how each one is done and then let her have at it. She can move the cones herself when she feels more confident.
    #18
  19. Signal

    Signal Cynical Idealist

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    Highschool drivers ed ranges are excellent practice.

    Start, go, signal, brake, stop..... ad nauseum
    #19
  20. FTL900

    FTL900 White and nerdy

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    Let me start by saying that I always recommend the MSF course for any new rider.

    That being said, I have helped a few friends master the controls in a large church or community center parking lot prior to the MSF, just to give them a head start and make it easier for them to absorb more during the MSF.

    The first thing I teach them is the throttle-clutch relationship during take off.
    Too much throttle, it's scary. Too little, the bike dies. Clutch too fast, it lurches, too slow, it stalls.
    You know these things, but to a new rider, it's very intimidating.

    So I demonstrate on their bike that I can let the clutch out VERY slowly, without touching the gas at all,and ride away.
    I put my right hand on top of the switch gear totally away from the throttle, and ease the clutch out while they walk beside me.
    Then I explain how only about an inch of the clutch lever travel actually does anything. You know what I mean, but they don't... yet.

    The next thing is start-stop. Start, stop. Repeat this about 30 times, maybe more. It's all about muscle memory, and learning where the controls are.
    You can't pick up a guitar and play it the first time, and neither can a new rider "remember" where these controls are.
    So start, go maybe 10-15 feet, and stop. Repeat this 30 to 40 times, or until they get totally bored with it.
    I normally do a lot of running beside them at this point.

    By doing this a WHOLE BUNCH, the rider is learning the controls so they don't have to think abut which one does what, and they're moving very slowly so if they do crash, it's just a tip-over.

    Start-stop. Start-stop. When they're getting the hang of that, increase the distance to 40 or 50 feet.
    A little more speed, staying in first gear, and then stop. A little more fun, a little more scary.

    When they're totally bored with that, teach them to turn the bike around slowly- at first with the clutch in and pushing with their feet, then feathering the clutch.
    Then it's time to shift into second, ride 50-75 feet and then slow down and shift back to first.

    This will build the confidence, and more importantly the muscle memory to handle the bike and navigate a bit.

    I talk to them about 3 things they will learn in the MSF:

    1. Counter-steering

    2. The importance of using the front brake

    3. How look where you want to go because you're going to go where you're looking. Turn your head like a barn owl.

    [​IMG]

    I spend a lot of time thinking about how to make it easier for a new rider.
    I like it when a friend joins our exclusive club, and I want them to enjoy it, while easing the fears of all their relatives that warned them not to get on a motorcycle.
    #20