Riding safely is more than skills

How important are skills: reactions, strength, and coordination? Well skill is necessary but not sufficient. You need skills to ride, but riding safely is more than skills.

The "avoid trouble" skill

The real skill is to avoid trouble in the first place

Skills can get you out of trouble and they can get you into trouble. The real skill is to avoid trouble in the first place! Acting dangerously, then hoping "skill" will rescue you is tempting fate. You don't want to do that. Think about those "Oh No!" accidents, when events catch up with you like an oncoming locomotive, and you cant stop what must happen.

The mental skill you need is prediction

In the movies, the hero makes a split-second twist out of danger but the reality of an accident is more like being hit by a train you didn't see coming. You are like the film viewer not the film actor - you watch but cant change anything. Having skill, strength or coordination is not the answer to most accidents. Rather than trying to be superman, to magically fix problems, why not avoid them in the first place? To do this, the mental skill you need is prediction.


How fast can you react? Most accidents happen too fast for reaction time to be a factor. A big bike at high speed has a lot of inertia, so it cant stop or swerve much. What can you do in a half a second? Most of us take that long to gather our thoughts.

Being prepared is the best protection

Yet in psychology studies, human reaction time can be zero or less! How is this possible? It is possible by prediction. Prediction means you know what will happen. This lets you prepare, and being prepared is the best protection. Attitude is so important because without it, you will not bother to predict or prepare. Why bother if you think you can handle everything?

Check your attitude

Check out your "near miss" attitude. You take a corner a little too fast a feel a "speed wobble". After, you realize the motorcycle nearly fell. Do you feel?

  • Exhilarated at pushing the envelope
  • You are naturally lucky
  • This is a great story to tell the guys
  • You were really in control
To ride safely, skill is not enough - you need the right attitude

If any of the above are a "Yes", then worry about your attitude. When a fool speeds a corner and survives, they say "My Skill". In fact, they were just lucky. Another day, they do exactly the same thing, but this time they fall. Now it was "Bad Luck". Actually, their bad judgment just bore fruit. To ride safely, skill is not enough - you need the right attitude. This attitude defines your relationship to the world. New skills are easy to acquire - it is just mechanical practice. However to get a new attitude, you must personally embrace it. You have to open the door and let it in. Unless you want it, it wont happen. You should decide now what you want your attitude to be.