Is faster on a motorcycle, safer?

Is faster on a motorcycle, safer?

 

  1. Fast does not necessarily mean above legal speed limits when they are at play.

    Sometimes faster means the difference between 20 miles per hour and 30, just as an example.


  2. Any experienced rider will tell you that what is difficult on a bike is not going fast, is going slow, very slow.

    This is the reason why many advanced training exercises are done at excruciatingly slow speeds, to improve throttle, brake, and clutch control, as well as balance.

    Due to the physics at play, bikes are more stable with a certain amount of speed, and for that reason, it is not uncommon to hear riders stating that faster is always safer.

    Please refer to point one for my definition of faster.


That being said, and assuming that riding safely at any given speed limit is within reach of even the most rookie rider, there are still situations when a bit more instantaneous speed can be life-changing.


ON THE ROAD:

  • Bikes are smaller and nimbler than the surrounding traffic, so either merging lanes, or even within your lane, a bit of extra speed will put you ahead of traffic and in more control.

    By control I mean making sure you move into positions where you can be seen, rather than expecting other vehicles to see and respect you.

    The same can be said regarding blind spots and iffy situations.

    As before, pushing the throttle a bit more will allow you to get out of blind spots, move away from the middle of the road in any situation where everyone is braking, preventing someone from potentially rear-ending you, of just to get out from behind a reckless driver.

    On the road, there are many situations where a little bit of extra speed, even if just instantaneously can be a tremendous asset to your safety.

    As a note, none of these examples should be used as an excuse for speeding.


OFF-ROAD

  • Those that have had off-road classes with me have heard time and time again: 

    “When in though, push the throttle!”

    This shouldn’t be taken out of context, of course, but it illustrates a clear point, you need speed to float over obstacles.

    If riding sand is nearly impossible at slow speeds, it becomes more comfortable with a bit more throttle.

    If going up a hill with no momentum can be challenging, a bit more speed at the base of the hill, mixed with good line choices can make the impossible, possible.

    If crossing a rut, hole, or log can be an exhausting task if you stop or brake before hitting them, pushing the throttle the right way and with the proper technique, can make those obstacles virtually inexistent.


With this in mind, we can agree that in many situations, more speed, can be the difference between moving along, or having a seriously hard time.

However, and in the wise words of Uncle Ben: “with great power, comes great responsibility,” and in this case, power equals speed.

Although speed can be helpful, it also comes with its downsides.

To be safe at speed, you require clutch, throttle, brake, and balance control that you will not gain by regularly riding at higher speeds, or by fighting your bike not to reach them in the first place.

Those skills are developed at low speeds and are the ones you will need when you are forced to do any kind of:

- emergency braking

- quickly change driving lines

- control the bike under any loss of traction, to name a few examples.


There are indeed many situations when faster equals safer, but in no case riding above your skill level will improve your chances of staying alive.

If you want to go fast, learn slow.

If you want to learn slow, do advanced courses, and never stop practicing, keep in mind that we forget what we don’t practice.

Stay safe!



Is faster on a motorcycle, safer?


2 comments

  • Zé Duarte

    Thank for the kind words Patrick, it is with great pleasure that I share what I know, and it is even with greater pleasure that I see it validate by you guys ✌️🏍

  • Patrick Carroll

    This was Very well written and informative. Thank you. Clearly states and defined the often confused listening of “newer” riders in on the convos of more experienced riders.
    Well done. Again, thank you

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