AMERICAN MOTORCYCLIST MAY 2020

Ask the MSF: Looking Where You Want To Go

Q: Can you provide an in-depth explanation of the “look where you want to go” concept? It is easy for people to understand when traveling on a straight road. But are there specific techniques or ways to think about and apply the concept in curves and sharp turns?

A: “Look where you want to go” is good, basic advice. It is simple, easy to understand and helps to correct typical rider errors such as looking down at the road directly in front of the bike or not turning your head to look through a turn. However, looking where you want to go in and of itself doesn’t make you go where you look (a common misunderstanding), precise steering input is needed for that. It also represents only part of the process of SEE-ing (Search-Evaluate-Execute) your way through a curve.

To SEE effectively in a curve, you must continuously assess and evaluate before and during the curve. Factors to consider include radius, lane width, surface condition, camber, and other traffic. Is the entire curve visible? Does it get tighter? Is there an escape area like a paved shoulder?

A head turn helps get the most out of your central vision. As you enter a curve, turn your head in the direction of the curve and move your eyes throughout the intended path. Do not fixate on just one point in the distance or you might miss factors that are important for your safety. You need to scan far-and-near and side-to-side in a dynamic way to give yourself a continuously updated visual picture of your intended path.

From a maneuvering standpoint, select a lane position for a smooth line through the curve and choose an appropriate entry speed so, ideally, you won’t need to brake while leaned over. Be ready for any changes in the curve, such as surface conditions or other traffic, and increase speed only after you are able to see through to the exit of the curve and confirm your path is clear.

Curves are where most single-vehicle motorcycle crashes occur. Don’t ride passively in curves, be an active participant in the task at hand.

Curves are where most single-vehicle motorcycle crashes occur. Don’t ride passively in curves, be an active participant in the task at hand.

Have a question you would like to have answered? Please e-mail it to submissions@ama-cycle.org with the subject line “Ask the MSF.”