How to safely fall from a motorcycle

How to safely fall from a motorcycle

In many sports, like skiing, one of the first things you are taught is how to fall.

Why?

Because it is part of the sport.

When talking about motorcycles, even though not a sport for many, it will never stop being driving an inherently unstable vehicle, and as such, prone to falling.

It is a fact that many riders manage to go through their riding lives without a single slip.

However, they are a minority, and to be safe, we should prepare for the worst, and not bank on a statistical improbability.

Taking that into account, we can assume that a fall will happen sooner or later, and as such, it is crucial to know how to address it.

This being, I firmly believe that learning how to fall on a motorcycle is as important here as it is in other sports, like skiing.

Even though luck will always play a vital role here, if we put that aside, trying to minimise injury on a fall happens in three stages:

  1. Trying to prevent the fall

    It may seem obvious, but how we address obstacles or issues when driving plays a significant role in dictating potencial outcomes.

    This is where understanding that sometimes speeding up can be better than grinding to a halt.

    I'm not necessarily saying that driving faster is safer, but many times we assume our bike won't handle something, we brake, and fall.

    On the other hand, if we had kept it up, or even speed up a bit, an accident could've been prevented.

    Experience, training, proper technique, and understanding your limits, as well as the limits of your bike, becomes key to having a chance to prevent injury.


  2. Understanding that the fall is inevitable

    Regardless of our best intentions and all our training, sometimes falling becomes inevitable, but that doesn’t mean it becomes uncontrollable.

    Having off-road experience plays a big part here, as falling is a normal by-product of driving motorcycles off-road.

    Having experience falling allows you as a rider to know what to expect and how to potentially minimise damage.

    If you tried everything you can to prevent a fall, and you realise it is impossible, you may still have time to prepare your fall.

    You can decide to bail out before hitting something or try to aim the bike at a soft patch, amongst other options.

    This is not as easy said as done, but with enough falling experience, it is possible on some occasions.

    I've hit and been hit on the road a handful of times and always escaped unharmed because luckily, I've had enough time, and off-road falling experience to aim at soft spots, or bail out before contact occurred.


  3. Tuck and roll

    We have all seen, or potentially be seen drunk and falling.

    It is impressive how many times a drunk stumble doesn’t produce the body damage one would expect.

    One of the reasons why that happens is that by being drunk, we are so “relaxed” that we do not stiffen up in anticipation of getting hurt.

    That on its own, allows the body to dissipate the energy that by stiffening up, it would fully absorb. 

    If hitting the floor is inevitable, trying to keep calm while tucking and rolling instead of trying to stop the body motion may help you prevent damage.

    Trying to avoid going head or back first is key, and if you can avoid shoulder first, you can also avoid a broken collarbone, still, and considering that when flying around it might be hard to aim what hits where, keeping calm is paramount.

    Take a look at MotoGP crashes, and you will notice that although not always possible, they try not only to tuck and roll but also to slide as relaxed as possible until they are fully stopped.


In the end, these are all tips and guidelines one can follow, and in a way, train for, but in more cases than not, they are not enough in preventing injury or worst.

Still, following those tips as well as using proper safety gear is as much as we can do in terms of prevention and preparation for when things go south.



How to safely fall from a motorcycle


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