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How build­ing on the ex­pe­ri­ence of oth­ers will make you a bet­ter rider ‘Ex­hibit A is the ware­house of crashed 125s’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week In Mcn - Ru­pert Paul MCN Con­trib­u­tor Au­thor of Pass the Bike Test (And be a great rider too!) avail­able on Ama­zon

Just over 28 years ago I bought a re­ally sharp kitchen knife. It cut veg well, and for the first few years it also cut my fin­gers. But even­tu­ally I learned to ap­ply the right amount of con­cen­tra­tion when us­ing it (right amount = no blood).

This is ex­actly how al­most ev­ery­one learns to ride a bike. Metaphor­i­cally speak­ing, you cut your­self oc­ca­sion­ally, un­til you fi­nally work out how to pre­pare a meal with fin­gers in­tact. Ex­hibit A is the ware­house of crashed bikes at MCE’S in­surance re­pair cen­tre. By far the com­mon­est bikes are 125s. There is a snag with this method, of course. In the kitchen a slip-up can be sorted out with an Elasto­plast. On a bike, pick­ing things up as you go along is an ap­proach that leaves much to be de­sired. My friend Adam (a non­rider) has a grim way of putting it: “I’m fas­ci­nated by mo­tor­cy­clists,” he says. “Evo­lu­tion in ac­tion.” Hap­pily, we can learn in other ways too.

By far the most pow­er­ful method is build­ing on the achieve­ments of oth­ers. Take your bike’s en­gine, for ex­am­ple: a won­drous in­ven­tion that turns dead di­nosaurs into for­ward thrust. Think about that for a minute. As con­cepts go, it could hardly be more in­cred­i­ble. But the de­sign­ers didn’t start from scratch. They used knowl­edge al­ready laid down.

So where is the equiv­a­lent stuff for peo­ple who want to avoid fall­ing off mo­tor­bikes? Here are some of my an­swers: 1. What po­lice col­li­sion in­ves­ti­ga­tors know. Un­like so many road safety peo­ple, these guys don’t gen­er­ally harp on about how ‘speed kills’. What they say in­stead is: a) pay at­ten­tion, and b) know your lim­its. 2. What your friends know. If any have crashed, you can ask in foren­sic de­tail about what led up to it. 3. ROSPA’S on­line leaflet (see be­low), says the five com­mon­est crash types are a) left bend A-road, b) right bend A-road, c) junc­tion, d) over­take and e) rid­ing too close/ig­nor­ing slip­pery roads. Handy to know, eh? Go to www.rospa.com/road-safety/ re­sources/free/mo­tor­cy­clists/

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