Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Motorcycle safety's easiest little tip

The Motorcycle Rider Course I took to get my license taught me a lot of things, but one tip sticks out. I may never master counter steering or some of the other big concepts, but this little piece of advice was easy to put into effect. I find that I never forget to do it and it saves me potential trouble at every intersection.

What is this fantastic little tip? You might laugh.

The technique is simply to ride with your throttle hand held so that the finger tips are atop the front brake lever -- but not far enough to operate the brake. Your thumb wraps firmly around the throttle (as it must, since it is the only grip you have on it). Perfectly comfortable, but very important.

Here's why: holding your hand like this insures that when the time comes to grab the brake lever, even in an emergency, you will automatically close the throttle with your thumb as you stretch your fingers to reach the lever. Simple, huh?

What happens if you don't do this is dangerous and unsettling. If you ride with your fingers wrapped around the throttle (as I typically hold a bicycle hand grip), your hand can be in any position at all, depending on how much throttle you're using.

In an emergency, you won't think. You'll open your hand (thumb included) and grab forward for the lever. When you get it, you'll clamp down hard, pulling back and down to get maximum pressure. That back-and-down movement will actually roll on more throttle as you apply the brake.

Since you instinctively grabbed for the clutch with your other hand, the engine will begin roaring as you're trying to stop. It's terrifying: I know, because I didn't count this little tip for much in class and had to experience an emergency stop without it for myself.

Got a tip you'd like to share? Comment here.


  1. Seems obvious -- and yet, how often does such a little thing make such a big difference? Excellent tip!

  2. It does make a difference. It cuts the reaction time. There is some article on the Web along with data

  3. Mark Dibben4/17/2019

    You can achieve the same effect using the index and middle fingers. More grip on the throttle, less strain on your thumb, and the natural move forwards to pul the brake leaver opens the ring and little finger. Allows a balance with your left hand, too, because strictly speaking you should do the same with the clutch. Always cover the clutch with two fingers in case of an engine failure to allow you to de-clutch quickly. With an emergency braking event, you should pull the clutch in anyway. And that stops any 'engine racing' transferring to the rear wheel. Two fingers on both levers! That's what I was taught anyway. :-)


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