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My friend and I live in the Riverside CA area and he has been riding for a few months now. He seems to be having a lot more close calls than I would expect and it is making him think about giving up riding motorcycles. He seems to have about 2 or 3 incidents a day, but none of my other friends who ride seem to have this many. He has a GSX-R 600 but it's pretty visible yellow. I wonder if it is his riding style that is getting him in trouble? How often do you have close calls like that? I know that he has never taken any courses but until then is there any advice for basic rules he should follow? I am trying to get a bike of my own soon and I would hate it if he got out before I could begin riding.

Thanks for all your help guys :)
 

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The problem can be that he's riding like he drives his car. That means his eyes are on the bumper in front of him. This lack of situational awareness means things are literally happening so fast he is in the business of constant reaction instead of control of the situation. By keeping your head and eyes up you'll see things happening before they do and that allows you time to solve a problem before it becomes one. Riding shouldn't be a state of constant surprise.

 

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Driftless Rider
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I have found that "close calls" happen less frequently with more experience. They never go away completely, you just begin to react to them more decisively.
If you get proper training, learn from the situations, and take advice and instruction from veteran riders; you will begin to anticipate certain scenarios.

I was told by my riding mentor to "Expect that everyone wants to kill you. Not that they are just careless, but that they are actively trying to cause you harm." Now he admitted, and I agree, that this is a bit extreme; but that is the way you learn to ride defensively.

You will begin to find a sort of intuition for things. You will find yourself saying, " knew that car was going to (fill in the blank)"

Start slow and take baby steps as you learn.
Frankly, If it weren't a bit dangerous it wouldn't be quite as satisfying and fun.
 

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If he's riding in the Riverside/Los Angeles area, there are many, many local drivers. I have found that local riders are so set on certain routes and landmarks for their navigation, that they watch for them and don't watch for incidentals such as a small motorcycle.

As to the situational awareness, as Crash mentioned, you could suggest he read the book Street Strategies by David Hough which covers just this type of riding. I have not read the book yet, but he told me it covers all the types of unexpected things that a rider must watch for.

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I remember when I first started riding, I had a lot of close calls as well. One day I was telling a good friend of mine, a much more experienced rider, about all of my close calls....they mostly revolved around drivers "cutting me off".

I expected my friend to agree with me but he looked directly at me and said, "You shouldn't be LETTING them cut you off."

At first I was really defensive but he calmly explained that I should be seeing more of the road, more of what is going on around me, and EXPECTING people to not see me or to cut me off. He said I should see it as a sort of video game, with me being better able to anticipate what could happen and always leave myself an out.

As I practiced this visual skill I became less and less surprised by what cars were doing around me and much more prepared. It completely took away that feeling of having "close calls" all the time.
 

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I agree with Misti. I, too, have grown to know more what to expect. I find that I so automatically now watch where I am in relation to others on the road, that most things I do without even thinking of them. I automatically watch where I am that I have either a path to avoid a situation, or prepare myself for stopping.

I do this even when my eyes are wandering around looking at the scenery, or an address, or a good spot to stop for a photo. My body just does what it should from the many hours I have trained it to do so. We do this in our everyday life just living. No surprise that one can do it when riding too.

When I'm not looking around and am just doing some boring riding, that's when I train myself to do things like follow a certain path on the pavement, or take a curve a certain way, or practice correcting my balance when on a lip of the pavement where two layers meet. Then when something needs that skill in an unthinking situation, it comes automatically.

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My friend and I live in the Riverside CA area and he has been riding for a few months now. He seems to be having a lot more close calls than I would expect and it is making him think about giving up riding motorcycles. He seems to have about 2 or 3 incidents a day, but none of my other friends who ride seem to have this many. He has a GSX-R 600 but it's pretty visible yellow. I wonder if it is his riding style that is getting him in trouble? How often do you have close calls like that? I know that he has never taken any courses but until then is there any advice for basic rules he should follow? I am trying to get a bike of my own soon and I would hate it if he got out before I could begin riding.

Thanks for all your help guys :)
Its your friend. Its not that he is a bad rider, he is just new to riding. Not having gone through ANY rider training, he is having to figure everything out on his own and is prob doing a lot wrong. A GSX-R 600 is not the best beginner bike, it is easy to get into trouble on:biggrin:. I have only been riding 3 yrs or so and have had maybe...2...3 close calls, 2 involving animals. When you start riding, get at least a little bit of training/instruction, ride with someone who doesn't have a book of close call stories, with years of exp. Listen to them and learn. As you ride you will get good at predicting what drivers are going to do and you will learn to react accordingly. Most of all...keep getting advice from the riders of THIS forum. Safety is a big highlight to most of the forum members and none of us will steer you wrong.
Take it slow and be smart about it and you will be just fine:)
 

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2 or 3 per day... Jesus. :) He is probably not giving enough attention to his surroundings and placement in traffic... Staying out of blind spots, and being aware of whether he is going to be visible in a side or rear view mirror etc. Just a guess... I always assume all cars around me will do the dumbest thing imaginable, and I adjust accordingly...
 

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Yep, until he learns some of the almost imperceptible signs he needs to consider each and every person out there is out to kill him. You will learn the signs. A quick glance at a side or rear view mirror. A change of hand position on steering wheel. Actually almost any head movement. But little signs like that indicate someone is about to do something.

And like captaincrash said, look further down the road. Look far enough and you'll see signs that will tell to change lanes or prepare for anything. All of a sudden you no longer have close calls but did avoid them. It's what makes us survive and you must learn this. Reading about it is one thing but it takes practice.

You don't just point and go on a motorcycle. You become part of it. Hopefully the part that thinks and not just added weight.
 

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Other vehicles and road hazards don't just appear out of nowhere. If the rider is really paying attention to what is going on all around them, most bad situations can be avoided.

Two things remain true when riding:
1) There will be road hazards in your path of travel.
2) People will invade your right of way.

There are only three things a rider can physically do to avoid a bad situation:
1) Change speed.
2) Change path of travel.
3) Signal your intentions.

Keeping all that in mind and actively looking for potential problems can help a rider reduce the risk of close calls and crashes.

Always think of what the safest/most visible road position is at every given moment. Don't make it difficult for other traffic to see you.

Give yourself enough room to react, and extra room for those behind you to react.

Always be thinking "What if?". What if that car pulls out or turns left in front of me? Can I stop in time? (If not, slow down)

Get training and practice. Learn the proper techniques for riding and emergency maneuvers. Practice them until they are smooth and automatic. There sometimes isn't much time to try and remember how to react. With practice, you will know what to do before you even realize you are doing it.
 

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In addition to the very good advice above I'll also offer that sometimes newer riders see things as "close calls" that really aren't all that close. Just startling because they're now seen from the perspective of a rider.

For example I've seen a newer rider swerve out of their lane to avoid a car stopped at an intersection that gave no indication to me that it was going to move forward.

I've also seen a new rider drop her bike on purpose because there were people stepping off the sidewalk into a crosswalk as she went through the intersection. Even though they were 20 feet away she said she felt like she was going to hit them and the only way she could save herself, and them, was to drop her bike. (I can't make this stuff up! Luckily, she is now selling her bike.)

If your friend is having 2-3 close calls a day, maybe he just isn't yet used to the normal stuff that happens when you're riding?
 

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Being a relatively new rider myself, I did have more close calls at the beginning of my riding life. Riding a bike and driving a car, just from the standpoint of seeing things, is two totally different monsters. One needs to be more attentive on a bike, because we need to see what lurks in our danger zone. On my bike, a car sort of stopped at an intersection, but the tires are still moving, makes me nervous. In my truck, it doesn't bother me much, because I know I have a hunk of steel protecting me. I'll be like " C'mon Mother F'er I could use a new truck" On my bike "don't do it Einstien"

Hopefully, with experience, the close calls will become less. But there are riders that put themselves in danger without even being aware of it. Hopefully he learns how to avoid the dangers before they become close calls.
 

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Some people may have a different idea of what "close" means.
Great point Rob. A beginers close call in most cases will probably not be a close call for an experienced rider. This guy is probably not anticipating what cages will do until he's under the gun. When I ride I expect someone to cut me off even before I get up close. I anticipate them not seeing me. Guess you can call it defensive riding.
 

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Close

Some people may have a different idea of what "close" means.
Yup.
I have on my fridge door a notice from the RCMP.
This office has received a complaint etc. where I committed the following offense.
Change Lanes Unsafely.

I most likely went from the right hand lane to the left hand lane in a space that the motorist thought was too small. I always give a good hand signal before this maneuver if it is close. Did not register as a close call on my part.

The cops do the paperwork, but did not take this seriously, went I stopped by to chat about it.

Unkle Crusty*
 

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Go easy, avoid busy streets until after you finish the Basic Riding Skills Course. The class will teach you the skills you need, including situational awareness. It will also teach you quick-stop's, and basic maneuvering skills which you will need on every ride, for the rest of your life.

While you can legally ride with the permit, without the class, it is not the best idea. The streets are dangerous, with skills and experience, but much more so, without skills and experience. Both you, and your friend, will be much more comfortable riding after the class, so be patient, and limit your riding, until the class is completed. The class is typically Friday night (classroom), followed by Saturday and Sunday, on the range, riding their bikes, learning the skills that will save your lives, countless times in the future. Cheers!
:coffee:
 

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Great point Rob. A beginers close call in most cases will probably not be a close call for an experienced rider. This guy is probably not anticipating what cages will do until he's under the gun. When I ride I expect someone to cut me off even before I get up close. I anticipate them not seeing me. Guess you can call it defensive riding.
In the same way a bad fighter will telegraph a punch or kick, a bad driver will often telegraph their unsignaled and right-of-way-invading lane change.
 

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2 or 3 times a day is a lot. It may just be like others have said he thinks he sees close calls where there are none. He's also gotta aim high, look where he wants to go and his eyes must always be scanning and survielling the road and everyone on it, assessing the big picture. Never fixate on any one thing. Always scan. Always be aware of what's going on 360 degrees around you, always maintain your bubble and always think at least two steps ahead.

Also, no one else has mentioned this, so I guess I'll be that guy. He never took the MSF and is starting out on a GSX-600. That's a lot to take on for a new rider. Hopefully you will take the MSF course. I did and it was immensely helpful in getting myself started out on the road. Do yourself a favor and pass that course before getting out on the road.
 

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Most times we tell new want to be riders to take the BRC before buying a bike. There really is 2 reasons for this. One is the training is really great for a new rider. Two is that some folks find riding is just not for them. If I were "truthfully" having that many close calls a day I don't think I would be riding.

Tell your friend to take a course before one of those close calls turns into something horrible.
 
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