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Thread: How to make a 18 year old safe for riding ?

  1. #1
    Registered User
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    May 2011

    How to make a 18 year old safe for riding ?


    I was wondering if anyone had a how-to on making a 18 year person safe for motorcycling. I know this is a canned question and motorcycling is inherently dangerous on the face. But, there must be a how to for this. If not could anyone provide constructive feedback ?

  2. #2
    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    WNY, Further fron NYC, than 6 entire states!
    Replied to this a few times, I copy and paste better than rewrite, so there is maybe a lot more here than you were asking about, but all pertinent.

    Having raised three boys and teaching them all to ride, and having a wife who rides, I have asked myself this question more than once. The boys were a good excuse for some dirt bikes, which turned into street riding for them. My oldest son had his motorcycle license as soon as he turned 16, and had it for 6 months before he got his car license. All three boy‘«÷s got there motorcycle licenses at 16, and have been riding since.

    Teach them well and never quit teaching them. I started the boy‘«÷s road education long before they were old enough to get a license. When we would travel in a car, I would frequently point out potential situations and challenge them to do the same. In fact after a while, they would recognize and point out potential hazards before I would see them. This game is much more educational than looking for license plates from Alabama.

    Now all my boy‘«÷s and wife ride regularly, and for the last several years all of our family vacations have been either motorcycle or ski related, it is a bond that keep us together as a family. Even though they are adults now, we still enjoy track days, day trips, and we all did a Europe trip in 2004 and last year.

    If he wants to ride street, it is better to let him start now while he is still young enough to learn from you. Do I worry, yes, but I have to trust their knowledge and skill. I never quit teaching them and reminding them of their mortality. Point out hazards and talk about accidents and fatalities that happen in your area, discuss ‘«£what if‘«ō scenarios.

    Here is some of the things I taught them. I will keep it in bullet points, as it is easier to digest.

    -Pre-flight the bike, pilots do it, why? Because a failure can be fatal, it is no different on the bike. Tire pressure, front and rear axel, pinch bolts, throttle and brake condition, foot peg mounts (how would you like to stand up to stretch at 55 and have the foot peg fall off), Fenders, shocks. I even give my tires a kick with the heel of my boot frequently when I stop, after lunch etc. There is a distinct sound difference on an under inflated tire.

    -Preflight yourself. NEVER ride if you are preoccupied, angry, tired, extremely cold, bored, or have any type of intoxicant in your system. Expressway BORES me silly in about 20 minutes, so I bought a trailer to get to the fun and interesting roads. I did not like the stupor my brain went into after a few miles of ca-chunk, ca-chunk as I motored down the road. I can ride 600-mile days on narrow, twisting and interesting roads, I feel tired at the end of the day, but feel alert the entire time.

    -Pay attention to the bike, if something feels different, it probably is. Stop and check (see preflight). Last year at Renovo, I went up the hill and turned at the overlook, we stopped for 5 minutes or so and I headed back down. I started slow and about the 3rd turn, the bike felt different, I stopped and checked the bike and sure enough the rear tire was loosing air rapidly. I did not make it back down without adding air. Same awareness in the car, I can tell I have a tire going soft just by the feel, long before it is tearing itself to shreds.

    -Practice, Practice, Practice. The first place I take any new rider is to a back road and I give a braking demo. Front only, rear only and both. Then I make them do the same thing for 15-20 minutes before continuing. Even though I have had ABS for the last 6 years I still practice panic stops. I play ‘«£what is the latest I can apply the brakes and stop before‘«ō game. It goes like this; I will pick a landmark ahead, a pole, pavement marking sign etc. As I approach, I will wait until the last second I think I can apply the brakes and stop in the panic mode. It is an eye opener and commits some of this skill to muscle memory. I make my sons and wife practice this as well. Start at slower speed and then once comfortable speed it up.

    -Read, Read, Read. Get you hands on magazines, books, surf the web. Read about techniques and strategies, then go practice them. One of my signature lines reads ‘«£Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes‘«ō. This is so true, but easily forgotten.

    -Ride like you are invisible, because to many you ARE. Even if people see you they do not feel threatened and would pull a move they would not it you were an 18-wheeler. The vast majority of people behind the steering wheel are passengers in the drivers seat, not drivers. My son use to drive an ambulance in Buffalo and he would constantly tell stories of drivers that did not see him, with all the lights flashing and siren wailing, what chance to you have on a motorcycle.

    - Do you have close calls?? If so have you figured out what YOU are doing wrong, even if it is not your fault? You were not anticipating what the other driver, road condition, wildlife, Mother Nature etc. might do. This applies to driving a car, walking, bumping your head and a multitude of other things. Are you constantly ‘«£Situationaly Aware‘«ō do you always know what is going on around you? If not, learn the skill. The best indicator of your skill is to ask yourself this question. Look in your rear view mirror, do you know where the guy behind you came from???? Did the slowly catch you, did they pull out of a side road or driveway, if so which one??? Strive to be Yoda!!!

    -Scan constantly and play ‘«£what if‘«ō. What if the road turns to gravel over that hill? What if that car parked on the side of the road, pulled over to make a U-turn and they decide to do it NOW? What if that motorcycle coming the other way goes wide? Always have an escape route.

    Do you use riding as a way to feed an adrenaline rush?
    If you feel you must always ride WFO to have fun, sell the bike. You can get an adrenalin rush safer ways, skiing, roller coasters, bungee jumping, snowmobiling (only safer than motorcycles if you avoid the bars). You can substitute some of the fun with a good car driven hard.

    Tell yourself LOOK WHERE YOU WANT TO GO. I have repeated this mantra to myself a million + times, and still do on a regular basis. It is FUNDAMENTAL to riding safely, and failure to do so is probably the #1 cause of accidents. In my opinion, thinking that you can stop if you are in a corner too fast is a guaranteed accident. There is no way you can stop. Now if you are still going straight and have a few seconds by all means scrub off a few MPH, then look where you WANT to go, release the brakes and head for the apex. My bet would be 99% chance you will make it, vs. 99% chance you will crash if you try to stop. Even if you feel you are 20mph to fast, about 2 seconds on the brakes will drop the speed and now you are going the speed you want, so just turn!!

    All the gear, all the time. Never leave home without it.

    Be aware of closing speeds. When I pass an Amish buggy I am usually going no more than 20 mph, same if I am passing a vehicle going 60, I get behind them, spend some time so they can see me, and I can observe them, then squirt around. I avoid passing multiple vehicles at once, and never pass on ‘«£the fly‘«ō, it is just too risky.

    Now for more specific skills to improve you ability.

    SMOOTH, SMOOTH, SMOOTH. So you want to be fast? The best way to get fast is not to try to be fast, but try to be smooth! Smooth adds confidence, concentration, and gray matter application to your riding.

    Learn to read the road. There are multiple clues in any given corner. Are there skid marks? Is the guardrail dented? What are the clues that are visible going into a corner? Look at tree lines, telephone wires, and a million other clues that dictate how you navigate the corner.

  3. #3
    100,000+ miler 32232's Avatar
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    Mar 2003
    Southwestern Ontario
    I firmly believe there are people with an aptitude for riding and those without. A low aptitude rider will never be as safe as someone who "gets it".

    Start with a motorcycle safety course. Get proper riding gear for all weather so there won't be a temptation to ride without it.

    There is no substitute for experience. Get lots of practice riding in a low-threat environment before taking on the tough stuff, whether challenging roads or high traffic volumes.

    '06 Triumph Scrambler (Trans-Labrador veteran)

  4. #4
    God? What god? roborider's Avatar
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    May 2007
    Raleigh, NC
    I agree with the other posts.

    1) MSF Beginner class
    2) Good gear, make sure they wear it
    3) Small bike to start, dirt riding is REALLY valuable
    4) Keep an eye on them if you can (I realize at 18 they are an "adult")
    5) Take more training, like a track day, later on, to develop advanced skills.
    Rob C. , Raleigh, NC
    '10 R12RT, R90/6
    2007 CBR600RR & 09 V-Star
    Suzuki DR 350

  5. #5
    Intermediate Adventurer Newstar's Avatar
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    Jan 2006
    Landenberg, PA
    ANother vote for the MSF beginner rider class. Let them learn in a safe, controlled environment. This goes for the riding portion as well as the class room portion. The videos give good examples of what to do, what to wear, etc. and most importantly, why.

  6. #6
    My son is 19, been riding for 15 months on the street now.
    He had a dirt bike when young and rode pillion to many rallies from the age of 12.

    +1 on the MSF class. Do it.

    Get RF helmet communicators and ride together the first year. Take the lead for rides and explain everything you see, do, spot, fear, etc to your son behind you.
    Live rolling commentary is valuable.

    Take him to the next MOA National and put him in Camp Gears. Not only will he learn a lot, he will make a slew of friends. And he will get on the coolest electronic trainer around to be accessed.

    Check out the artice on curve navigation by David Hough in Proficient Motorcycling, and practice "Slow, Look, Lean, Roll" together over radio communication.

    The ergos on those bikes are too aggressive for new riders.
    Sig? What's a Sig?

  7. #7
    OldBMWMaster JDOCKERY132445's Avatar
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    Sep 2010
    Pleasure Island. NC


    Dirt is much more forgiving than asphalt. I started young and I started my son out when he was 4 y/o with a Suzuki RM50. His mother was not happy; but making mothers unhappy has been a lifelong obsession of mine. If a child is going to grow up, they will need to break that umbilical cord; riding a motorcycle or a horse is a fast path to that.

    My son raced motocross until he was 8; then he got a Honda 125 trials bike to ride with me on my Suzuki 185 trials. We know most of the power line right of ways around Columbia, SC. He learned early and he learned well. But his learning has not stopped. He is over 40 and he and I took the NC Safe course this year. Sharing an activity like bikes, guns, fishing, cycling, or anything else will result in a lifelong connection with your child. They need your time and they need your guidance.
    Jerry Dockery
    309 N. 3rd. Ave.
    Kure Beach, NC 28449
    2009 R 1200 RT,1996 R1100RT, 1985 K100RS...too fast to believe.

  8. #8
    Rpbump USN RET CPO Rpbump's Avatar
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    Jan 2008
    Jacksonville, FL


    At 18 years of age we feel that everything happens to"the other guy/gal". In addition the advice above, arrange for someone in health care to aquaint the young adult with an EMT or Emergency room Nurse/Doctor. I quit smoking years ago after viewing 2 cadavers. One died of lung cancer the other never smoked but died in a car accident. Words do not match the impact of seeing real injuries.
    Cave Contents: 1980 R100RT/Ural Sidecar, 2004 R1200CLC, 2006 HD FSXTI
    Ride Safe

  9. #9
    Rally Rat
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Southeast Arizona....where we ride year round.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rpbump View Post
    Words do not match the impact of seeing real injuries.
    THAT is what really made an impression on me at a young age (17)......seeing a mangled body in a mangled car.....up close...and dead. I watched the car roll and was the first on the scene. It was a life changing experience for me. It amped up my already strong sense of self preservation that has served me well.

    Death is abstract to people until they experience it in real time. The smart ones learn from it....the dumb ones don't.

    But on the bright side....nature has a way of weeding out the dumb ones.

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Bloomington, IL

    Thumbs up

    Dittos to what so many of the other posters have said. My 2 cents worth, teach by example. Be a Mentor to the young rider. I'm guessing you and your riding friends have good riding habits. Always practice them when riding with the 18 year old. In the mid 90s I had a duel plugged R90/6 that was a screamer. Thought it to be too much for my newly licensed 16 year old son, sold it, bought an R60/6 as his first BMW. Because he was always around experienced beemer riders that we quickly learned that he would have been fine on the R90. By the way, he sold the R60 and three owners and eight years later he bought the bike back and has it today.
    Chuck Manley #12106
    2012 Howlin' at the Moon Rally Chair
    Ambassador, Knights of the Roundel #333, IBA Member, Life Member NRA
    Black '13 R12GSA (the Outlaw)

  11. #11
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    Mar 2003
    53 sMiles south of Alpine, TX USA
    Great advice here! And another recommendation for Camp G.E.A.R.S. at the national rally. The best part may very well be that his peers are as much into ATGATT and training as he is! Peer Pressure can really work for you with the right peers!

    Live fully. Laugh deeply. Love widely.
    BMW MOA Ambassador / FOM / Roving Forum Moderator/
    Selected Friends of Wile E Coyote/ A Million BMW sMiles

  12. #12
    It's a way of life! oldnslow's Avatar
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    Oct 2011
    Ash Grove, MO
    Quote Originally Posted by brewmeister View Post
    start out on the dirt with atgatt,small dirt bike then move up.
    Mike Davis
    "Old n Slow" It's a way of life!
    1985 K100RT

    1998 R1100RT

  13. #13
    Registered User ANDYVH's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    Green Bay, WI
    Definitely what everyone else has said. Start with the MSF course, and a smaller easy to handle bike. Dirt experience is a great base to start and learn from. In fact, I would go for requiring a new rider to learn on the dirt for at least a year before taking the street riding basics course.

    My goal as a MSF instructor, with my BRC students is three-fold. One, to make sure they get the basic motor skills and cycle operation skills in place well enough that they can learn/progress on their own after the class. Two, to hopefully have some of the street-strategy-skills sink in, enough that they can survive the street while they continue to learn/progress on their own after the class.

    Three, and THE most important in my opinion, is I strive to instill in them an ATTITUDE about riding that preempts EVERY choice they make about riding. At the core of that attitude of "no one can do anything to improve my safety and reduce my risks of riding but me. Its ALL up to me to take this on." I tell them to never expect anything from any other road users to help them as riders.

    With the right attitude about riding, it helps the rider about making all the relative choices about gear, machine choices, admittance of limitations, realization about need to always learn more, awareness of ALL aspects of riding that impacts their safety and risk control.
    Get trained! The best "performance" upgrade you can get is YOU. Visit for training info.

  14. #14
    Registered User Scott C's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
    Chicago IL / Tampa FL
    I totally agree with everyone and 2 more ideas to think about would be the Camp GEARS (Gaining Early Advanced Riding Skills) program put on by the Foundation at the rallys, and the use of the Smart Trainer.

    At the rally, I went over to the Camp GEARS area and also checked out the Smart Trainer. I came away very impressed with the work they do in helping kids and younger riders to learn the different aspects of safe riding. It's also not just about riding but they include things like first aid, weather, camping, photography and some technical information.

    Really good program that the Foundation puts on.

  15. #15
    It's a way of life! oldnslow's Avatar
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    Oct 2011
    Ash Grove, MO
    My son has crashed on motorcycles more times than I can remember. He has endo'd, low sided, high sided, flipped off the back, hit stationary objects, hit moving objects, been hit by other vehicles, and been airborn multiple times; all before he was 15 years old! He did all this racing hare scrambles on a dirt bike of course.

    My point, he knows whats happens when you take chances on a bike. He knows how a bike can handle, and how to handle emergency situations. He knows that sometimes, things just go wrong and you need to be ready with 'plan B' if they do.

    Playing in the dirt and on the trails taught him how to operated the bike. Now when he wants to street ride, he doesnt have to think about bike operation, (clutch, gas, brakes, lean, don't lean, front brake, back brake, more gas, less gas...) he just has to concentrate on traffic and the situation surrounding him.

    I can't imagine learning to ride a motorcycle AND learning how to ride one on the street at the same time.

    If I were to teach a young adult how to ride, I would want a big open field, an older low powered four stroke dirt bike, and we would go out and roost dirt and do power slides and skidding stops and jump ditches and logs all day long. We would have skidding contests, drag races, and any other crazy thing I could think of. I'd even try to teach him how to do a stoppie and a wheelie!

    When he figured out all this stuff, then he could go learn how to ride around cones on a parking lot.
    Mike Davis
    "Old n Slow" It's a way of life!
    1985 K100RT

    1998 R1100RT

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