Need advice for crash prone beginner.

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

  1. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

    Nov 28, 2006
    In the sand
    She passed a BRC. Has she practiced the drills since? A dirt BRC sounds like a good next step. I wouldn't say not to attend with her, but let the coaches do their jobs. You focus on your own skills. Then you all can practice the drills afterwards.
  2. cycleman2

    cycleman2 Been here awhile

    Jan 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Coming from a MSF instructor in another life riding on dirt or grass is totally different than riding on pavement. When she did the MSF course it was taken on pavement ( I would assume ) so she has to modify her slow speed skills to accommodate the difference in surface she is riding on. Also learn to shift her weight forward in the turns etc and back in the straights.

    Confidence is a big thing when riding a motorcycle, you helping teacher her is not a good idea as well. A dirt riding course may help but it also might be too aggressive for her at her stage of development. The dirt course will certainly show her things like weight transfer on the bike, body position etc, so as long is she willing to work at her own pace and remember there is no pass or fail its all about developing skill. I've never watched her ride so its impossible to evaluate what her issue is, but if you know of a local MSF instructor that is willing to help out, give him/her a call.

    If she truly likes to ride, and it is her idea not yours, I would set up a very simple course consisting of some circles, figure 8's, uturns and short straight sections. Suggest that she stays in first gear and practices good friction control ( throttle, clutch & rear brake ) when doing the turns and shift up into second gear on the straights and then back down into first gear for the turns etc. Reinforce that she only applies the rear brake when in turns and the front brake when the bike is totally upright and heading in a straight direction, anything other than that, rear brake only. Then you go do something else and let her ride around the course on her own and give her time to figure it out.
  3. mikem9

    mikem9 Wanderer

    Oct 6, 2007
    North Georgia
    Can we discuss this a little bit? One common problem I see with beginning dirt riders is that they overuse the rear brake and underuse the front. Front is so key in properly weighting/balancing the bike within the turn.
  4. hardwaregrrl

    hardwaregrrl ignore list

    Jan 26, 2006
    When i took the BMW off road course, they taught emergency braking as locking the rear and using it as an anchor....I don't even remember them coaching the front?? I know that's not what you were referring to, just thought it was relevent and kind of weird.
  5. jmq3rd

    jmq3rd .

    Apr 9, 2007
    Texas, USA
    I use the front brake in a corner, in a straight, on dirt and gravel, on pavement, wherever. Basically if I'm not intentionally sliding the back around, I'm using the front brake (and the back too most of the time). However, I started riding dirt when I was 4 and used both brakes all the time (except for the year or two that we didn't put any brakes at all in my KDX 80 - that'll teach you a few tricks).

    Since I started pretty young, I'm sure I learned early on not to grab too quickly. I think advising grownups not to use the front when leaning over is a good thing, because they are used to braking aggressively in their cars, and will instinctively grab too much of that front brake lever. The downside is that many of them just hear that the front brake is dangerous, and nobody ever clears that up as the rider learns to modulate.
  6. machinebuilder

    machinebuilder Long timer

    Jun 6, 2008
    East Tennessee
    I took the BMW offroad course a couple years ago.

    They definitely teach front braking technique, that was when the had to replace the shifter the 1st time when I locked the front up and dropped it.

    I just had to try just a little too much.

    To the OP

    If you can get to the BMW Performance center for their offroad riding school it is worth it no matter what your skill level. There are quite a few RR's about it.
  7. PT Rider

    PT Rider Been here awhile

    Aug 29, 2009
    NW Washington State
    Target fixation is the result of failing to turn the head and eyes to look where the bike needs to go, not where it is about to go. Always give positive things to do; hardly ever give things to not-do. Tell her to always look way down the road when going straight, and to always turn her head to the turn exit when turning. You can stand in front of her on a straight run and watch where her eyes are looking--up at you and beyond you is correct. You can watch her head turn when she is approaching a turn on the bike. It takes some trust to do this, but it can be learned. Over-emphasize your own head turn when you're riding ahead of her.

    For clutch & throttle drills, try this on an empty parking lot.
    ...On a straight painted line, have her ride alternately slow, real slow, slow, real slow, slow, real slow, slow, really really slow, real slow, really really slow, etc. This may take no throttle at all, or maybe the smallest amount. It takes clutch control to go real slow--and for the whole drill she may never let the clutch fully out. Continue the drill until she complains about being bored. Do it again several other days.
    ...Where the parking lines are painted at right angles, do slow circles. Start with 4 parking slot wide circles, demand the complete head turn, and make very slow circles. Reverse direction. Now do 3-slot wide circles. Full head turn. Slow speed with the clutch slipping. Do 2-1/2 slots if she's comfortable, full head turn.
    ...Same parking lot, do S-turns 4-slots wide, full head turn. Then 3 slots wide, full head turn.
    ...Same idea, figure-8 turns. Full head turn.
    The goal is smooth clutch and throttle control and a full head turn. The brain has to think of what to do when the action is new. The brain can only think of one thing at a time; there is actually no such thing as multi-tasking. Right now she has to think of the movements to make, and they're coming faster than she can think of what to do and think of doing them. It takes several hundred repetitions for the brain to "learn" the new movements by forming new neural connections. Then the movements are in the subconscious where the reactions are fast, nearly effortless, and leave thinking capacity for other things. It takes several thousand repetitions for the brain to replace a movement that is already learned. Don't let her develop bad habits.

    Make very sure that she does not inadvertently twist the throttle open when she pulls on the front brake lever. Some people squeeze the brake and drop their wrist & elbow resulting in rolling throttle on. The result can be painful.

    Ask her how to apply the brakes. When she says, "squeeze," she's ready to practice. Ask her how to apply the brakes for a short stop. When she says, "squeeze farther," she's ready to practice. If she says "harder" or "faster" she's not ready. Do some brake practice. She rides toward you. when you raise your arms she immediately squeezes both brakes on and squeezes the clutch lever. Points for smoothness. Points deducted for jamming the brakes on or killing the engine. Point loser cooks dinner or washes the dog or some other chore. You want to be the point loser in this competition.
  8. 14fg

    14fg Been here awhile

    Apr 7, 2008
    Winchendon ma
    as silly and simple as it sounds, I think bringing it back to basics helps. get her out on a mountain bike, get her comfy with skidding the back tire on flat ground, what it feels like to slide on 2 wheels. I think the bicycle is a very powerful training tool a lot of people over look.

    also (obviously in a safe, controlled environment) take one of the brake controls off the klx? I think it will help teach what each individual control does, ride around for awhile with just the rear brakes, then awhile with just fronts?
  9. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

    Dec 27, 2006
    chico,just below rag dump(nor-cal)
    +1. Learning emergency procedures is NOT the first thing someone learns on a bike.

    That's like skipping the first two lessons in math,have someone who's taught before teach her.
  10. mudmullet

    mudmullet Been here awhile

    Jun 3, 2011
    South Texas
    Follow her. Maybe it'll take some of the performance anxiety away. It worked for my daughter and me.
  11. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

    Dec 20, 2007
    Delaware Ohio
    Don't know if it has been said here... a lot of text to read...

    For off roading front brake use two fingers!

    If you use two fingers you can grip the bars with the thumb, ring finger, and little finger. Most current MX and off road bikes run short levers for that exact reason. Riders need both throttle and brake control at all times.

    If the OP truly wants her to ride they should see if she can do the BRC, just to learn a bit about riding. From there if she has the skills to start and shift, then get her to use two fingers on the front brake. Fact is since they are riding off road, the front brake could initially be ignored. After all a bike can be ridden with only the rear brake, just ask any flat tracker.

    The problem is it is easy to start to lock the front wheel on a loose or slippery surface and grass is about as slippery as you can get on a dry surface. When that lock up starts the rider's actions are frequently to squeeze harder to hold on to the bars. Can you say "on your ear"? That's where the rider usually ends up. So the best trick to avoid that is to not use the whole hand. Use just the index and middle finger to squeeze the front brake (or even just the index finger to start), and have a grip on the bar with the thumb, ring, and little fingers.
    Go slower and learn some off road control, then introduce two finger braking.

    Personally I learned that way on my own when I started. I started riding without any front brake (quite literally the lever and cable were not on the bike). Of course only having a rear brake was pretty much what we grew up with on coaster brake bicycles so it was nothing really new. Then I put the stuff on to have the brake and was taught to use only a couple fingers, because I was riding a trials bike. I never was taught to use my whole hand and thus seldom do. Besides with small hands it's hard to do.

    The disadvantage to most bikes having disc front brakes is they are strong enough to be made to lock.
    The advantage now with most bikes having good disc front brakes, two fingers are usually adequate after some practice and minor strength development in said two fingers.

    Good luck, your wife sounds like she'd really like to learn.

    One other consideration - do some playing and learning brakes wth a mountain bike or cross over bike. Swap the brake cables so it is braking front brake on the right. Again, learn two fingers on the lever.