There are only two ways to improve in motorcycling. We either make mistakes and correct the problem, or we learn from other riders. We shouldn’t only listen to the most experienced motorcyclists, though. There are pearls of wisdom in every story — be it of an accident, a near accident, or just a hairy situation — if we just look for them.
I prefer to look at it like Bruce Lee’s fighting style. When he was formulating Jeet Kune Do, Lee famously borrowed techniques from fencing and boxing, adding them to the Kung fu he learned as a child and inventing something completely new in the process. He kept what worked, and he threw out what didn’t. American mixed martial arts formed in a similar fashion. The styles that work in the octagon take root, while those that don’t fall into disuse.
You don’t have to take corners like Marc Marquez to recognize the beauty in his cornering ability. His style may not be relevant on public roads, but it got a lot of street riders thinking about how they enter corners when Marquez was winning every MotoGP race he entered a couple years ago. Was there another way to maximize exit velocity? Can rider aids make me a better rider? It’s about embracing the possibilities.
In the internet age, learning from other riders is easier than ever, but reading safety tips is only one way to gather new information. Make a habit of talking to anyone who rides, and don’t assume you can’t learn anything from someone just because you’ve been riding longer than they have. Traffic conditions evolve quickly and organically. We usually recognize situations we’ve survived before, but learning how your buddy escaped a harrowing situation can open your eyes to those same conditions when they develop around you.
Getting complacent is one of the most dangerous things a motorcyclist can do. When we first start riding, we soon learn to operate a bike well enough to get around without wrecking. From that point on, a clock starts ticking down to the time when we think we’ve got it all figured out. Motorcycling has a way of telling us that we don’t, and sometimes it doesn’t let us down gently.
Here are a few of the voices that have influenced us in our journey. Feel free to share others you may know of in the comments section, and please include a link.
Former racer Nick Ienatsch provides common-sense instruction as well as more advanced insights on Cycle World magazine’s website.
You don’t have to own a sportbike to ride like you do. Check out the many informative tips from the folks at Sport Rider magazine.
Our fellow riders across the pond have their own insights into safe riding. The Motorcycle News’ New Rider section is definitely worth checking out.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is the go-to source for evidence-based riding info.
Also, consider taking a Basic Rider Course from the MSF. You’ll save cash on insurance, and you’re bound to learn a thing or two — whether you’re an old dog or a young one. Check this link for locations near you.