Look Where You Want To Be...

photos, videos and discussion for this faq

The best way to aim your motorcycle is to look directly where you want to be - as far ahead as is comfortable. Doing this allows for much better planning, your lines will become smoother, the operation of the motorcycle controls smoother, your reactions more predictable, and the body is easier to relax. However, as you ride, beware of letting your brain focus so intently on an object that you lose awareness of other hazards or obstacles - or you risk becoming a victim of “target fixation”.

I once had a friend who was learning to ride on the street. She took the MSF Class, did well with it and so she bought a bike, a Suzuki 500ES. I was pretty excited to be teaching a new person (with no bad habits) how to ride effectively. We practiced smooth operation of the different controls in a parking lot for several hours and I was pleased with how well she processed the ideas and skills I was showing her. The next day we made our first street ride, from Grants Pass to Patrick’s Creek in California. This is served by Highway 199, a wide two-lane highway with large sweeping corners and its share of traffic. We headed out of town at the speed limit, arriving almost at the bottom of Hayes Hill before I noticed she had disappeared from my mirrors. I did a hurried U-turn and was horrified to find the Suzuki halfway up a hillside, upside down and smoking. My riding partner was nearby, quite a distance off the road - a little beat up but not seriously hurt.

As things slowed down, I wanted to know what caused the wreck. To this day, I am still in shock.

She had seen a large rock outcrop on the right hillside as she was approaching the corner. Try as she might, she could not stop staring at it and then ran off the road aimed right towards it. Lucky for her, it was an additional thirty feet up the hill! Her head had been aimed at the rock and that is where the bike traveled.

This is such an important lesson. You will go where your head is pointed. If you are scared of something, look away. If you look at it, you will hit it. Look to where you want to be, you will follow your line of sight. If you get silly with this and look four miles ahead, you will be rewarded with predictable results. Be reasonable, be comfortable, be disciplined when sighting down the road.