It doesn’t matter how long you have been riding, and on what kind of terrain, you will eventually end up riding your motorcycle towards a sudden obstacle. Riding on a blacktop, minding your own business, and suddenly there’s an object in front of you. A shredded truck tire, wooden plank, roadkill, a refrigerator. Okay, forget about encountering a fridge; if that happens, you are the roadkill.
But when you suddenly encounter a (small) object, you need to be prepared. Your automatic reaction will be to serve around it. But that can be a dangerous maneuver, since you will not have had the time to see what’s driving up next to you. Also, your reactions might not dictate that you serve; many bikers will roll right into the object – it’s called fixation.
Another reaction would be to hit the brakes hard. On its own, this could work, but you’ll need to check your rear; if there’s an 18-wheeler close behind you, it will never be able to stop in the distance you stop, so you’ll be toast. But if there’s nothing behind you, and you have the time to stop; great. But if not, here are a few pointers:
- Line up as much as you can to hit the object straight on. If you hit it at an angle, you’ll most certainly crash. If you encounter an object while in a curve, straighten your bike.
- Hold on firmly to the handlebar. Use all your fingers to grip the handlebar. If you, like many bikers, ride with 2 or 3 fingers covering the brake lever, your fingers during the impact might just action the brakes, which at that stage is bad news.
- Depending on your motorcycle type, just before hitting the object, lower your center of gravity by standing on your foot pegs. Obviously if your bike is one with pegs way at the front or rear, it will be more problematic.
- Don’t stand fully on your pegs, but raise yourself enough to have your knees bent so they can absorb much of the impact energy.
- Just before hitting the object, open the throttle. You don’t need to go full throttle, but enough to accelerate. By doing this, weight will transfer to the rear wheel, and your front wheel will lift (even if it’s very slightly).
- Shift your weight to the front when you cross the object with your front wheel. This will make it easier for your rear wheel to go over the object.
If you went over a hard object, and you had a real bump, better pull over and check your bike for damages. But wait until the motorcycle is back in a straight line, stabilized.
It sounds like a lot, but it’s quite a natural process. Repeat the steps in your mind, and if possible try the process a few times on a quite road or parking lot. You don’t need to ride over a shredded tire, you can image something lying there when you see a crack or a line on the road.
Practice makes perfect.