Tuesday, April 7, 2015

On a Royal Enfield, how close is close enough?

What if the guy you're following has better brakes than you do?
There are two sayings I repeat to myself every time I get on my Royal Enfield Bullet.

The first is the Motorcycle Safety Foundation training phrase: SIPDE. Scan. Interpret. Predict. Decide. Execute.

Every motorcyclist will immediately recognize the value of that saying.

The second is more specific to riding my classic, 1999 Bullet:

"Following Distance Is Your Friend."

I'm reminding myself to leave extra room between the car or truck ahead and my Bullet.

I'm not saying the Bullet's brakes are bad. But, as the old saying goes, the Bullet's brakes are like your retirement savings: it pays to plan ahead.

Car and Driver columnist John Phillips reminded me of this recently in a piece he did asking how long it would be before improvements in motor vehicles make us all completely reliant on safer machines to keep us safe.

"Ask any driving instructor how difficult it has become to get fresh students to stand on the brakes with force sufficient to engage ABS," he writes. "Such a large human input now feels like a wild overreaction in an age of delicate touch screens."

And so it is that before every ride I remind myself that I am leaving the world of mouse clicks for the circa 1955 world of "drum brakes: some physical effort required."

Beyond a doubt, the traffic ahead of me is going to be able to out-brake me if it needs to.

As often as possible, I plan to give it plenty of room to do so.

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