Riding Skills Newsletter

How To Fall Off

For our purposes, there are three types of motorcycle crash - the Highside, Lowside, and the Impact crash.

A HIGHSIDE crash is a crash where the rider is thrown upwards off the bike. This is usually caused by the rear tyre sliding out, then catching suddenly. This creates a dramatic pendulum effect at the top of the bike and, as it is a trifle unusual for a motorcyclist to wear a seat belt, the rider is often flung upwards off the bike. At higher speed the ejection off the bike can be quite spectacular. Canadian reports have indicated that, at higher speeds, the rider can be flung to the height of a lamppost.

In a highside crash the danger for the rider is the impact on landing. Thus, in this type of crash, the more protective clothing the rider is wearing the better, especially if he/she lands on his/her noggin. On the whole, though, it is better to land on one's feet if one can. And remember to relax as you land. As an NZMSC supporter reminded us as he recounted how he emerged unscathed from a spectacular highside crash, a relaxed baby can fall five floors and survive. So, as much as it sounds crazy, remember to relax just before you hit the ground!

An IMPACT crash is the sort of crash that occurs when a bike hits a car or roadside furniture, such as a fence post. These impacts usually occur when the bike is in some sort of upright position. The chances of the rider being seriously injured is quite high in this type of crash unless the rider has pre-planned his/her reactions in the situation.

Not only do you need to avoid crashing, you also need to wear basic protective clothing in case you are caught unawares sometime.


The simplest way to prevent crashing into roadside furniture is to follow the Golden Rule of Riding and look where you want to go.

The best way to avoid injury is to get up and over the thing you are impacting into. The various ways you can do this are too complex to go through in this short article but the NZMSC book The NZMSC Accident Survival System, available for $10 from NZMSC, covers these.

A LOWSIDE crash occurs when the bike slides out from under rider. Since these crashes usually occur when the bike is leaned over while cornering, the rider has only a foot or two to fall. Consequently, these are reasonably "safe" crashes as long as you don't get caught under the bike and know what to do once you hit the ground. The most important thing is to apply the rule that, whether you are riding or sliding, "Look Where You Want To Go".

Of course, the riders who walk away from a Lowside crash with the least injury are those who were wearing good protective clothing, especially gloves. Since your natural reaction when you fall is to put your hands down, lowsided riders without gloves usually end up with very nasty hand injuries. The gloves that will protect you best in a lowside crash are those made of strong leather and preferably with two layers of leather on the heel of the thumb. Gloves with studs in palm should have the studs covered with leather inside. Otherwise the studs will heat up as you slide and burn neat holes in your skin...

Once you are on the ground, slide. Don't roll.

When you slide, you can see where you're going and thus steer yourself away from hazards by dragging your hands and feet on the ground. If you roll, you can't see where you are going and, also, your extremities will fling and are inclined to break.

Another advantage to wearing good protective clothing in this type of crash is that you can concentrate on steering to safety rather than being distracted by the pain of skin being ground away!

Steering while you slide works. A senior NZMSC instructor was unfortunate enough to drop his BMW on a corner on one of New Zealand's delightfully winding roads not too long ago. He hit the ground and wase sliding along the road when around the corner came a large car. So our instructor steered his body away from the oncoming Holden Commodore while his bike slid into the path of the car!.

The score was: Rider, scraped leathers and minor bruises. BMW: lots and lots of damage. Car, minor dents and dings.

Well, there you have some thoughts on how to crash. We do not, however, encourage you go out there and practice the techniques. Just think about what we've said, discuss with your riding buddies these ideas and generally mull them over. That way they get lodged into your subconscious and when the time comes, you'll probably use them instinctively.

Which is just as well because, in the 1.8 seconds one normally has in a crash situation one has no time to mull over survival reactions and implement them.



Motorcycling Misquotes

We all know that motorcycling changes us. It's the thrill and the challenge of riding that ensures that, once captured by the adventure of riding, we stay captured.
Then motorcycling becomes part of our life and very persona. And, because the motorcycle invades its rider's life so completely, have you ever wondered what the words of the great literary figures of the world would have been like if they had been motorcyclists.
We did, so we took a look at a famous quote from a famous person and made a minor gentle adaptation to show you how this famous quote would have ended up if the author had been motorcyclist:

"Early to bed and early to ride, and you meet very few of the best motorcyclists."
George Ade 1866-1944,
American Humourist author & playwright.


 May I See Your Licence?
HYANNIS, Massachusetts -

Adam Wood's driving debut was marked by the squealing of tires, a dramatic swerve around a tree and a collision with a parked van.

Not bad for a 3-year-old.

The tot escaped without injury, arrest or even a bad mark on his driving record. The toddler got into his grandmother's Isuzu Trooper, apparently put the key in the ignition, started the engine and shifted into drive. Then he gunned it.

"Sometimes we don't give kids enough credit," Fire Captain Dean Melanson said.


We believe that, if you think about other rider's crashes, you can often learn what to do in a similar crash situation and, perhaps more importantly, what NOT to do.

One such crash story is below:

One afternoon after High School, one American motorcyclist raced his 1972 Triumph Bonneville against a Mustang (car).

Things got exciting when the rider suddenly realised that ahead was pickup truck at a stop sign waiting for the intersection to clear and he wasn't going to be able to stop in time. So he slammed on the brakes and skidded towards the back of the pick-up.

As he got closer, the rider saw that the pickup's tailgate was down. As the bike hit the back of the pickup, the tailgate caught the bike's forks just below the headlight.
Reflexively, on impact, the rider hung onto the handlebars. The result was that he did a complete flip over the handlebars, landing with a thud in the truck bed on his back.

There was not a scratch on the rider but he admits it would have been a different story if the bike hadn't slowed right down by the point of impact or the driver had had the pickup's tailgate up.


A middle aged bikie who had suffered the ravages of loud exhausts for too long and was now virtually deaf, went with his girlfriend to the doctor for a check up.
"Now," said the doctor, " I'll want a stool specimen, a urine specimen, and a sperm specimen."
"What'd he say, woman!?" the bikie demanded of his girlfriend.
"He wants you to leave your underpants here," she replied.


The most important asset to safe riding is an imagination.

When out in traffic, you need to constantly imagine all the worst that could happen and plan how to deal with it.

Many riders ride fast because they have no imagination. Once the cut and thrust of everyday driving inflicts its scars and tunes up the rider’s imagination, he soon slows down.


Being Good Looking Doesn’t Come Naturally

Ever wondered about the contradiction of motorcycle riding skills experts telling you that you should "Look Where You Want To Go" at the same time that they tell you that you should always keep your eyes moving, scanning for hazards.

It’s obvious to anyone that this is a contradiction. If you go where you look, yet move your eyes continuously, your bike will be heading in each and every direction.


The New Zealand Motorcycle Safety Consultants is a non-profit body, working on motorcycle safety in New Zealand and now, through the Internet, internationally.

For more than 27 years it has been studying motorcycle safety and motorcycle riding skills, as well as promoting and carrying out rider training at all levels.

It also works with - and sometimes against - the New Zealand government and governmental organisations in the promotion of motorcycle safety and rider training.

The NZMSC is made up of motorcyclists who are specialists in motorcycle safety and rider training and, as such, has had many successes in its motorcycle safety work in New Zealand.

The NZMSC produces authoritative riding skills books under its Professional Rider project which aims to bring riders' skills to a professional level. The books can be bought from the NZMSC's website at .

A variety of physical riding courses are run by the NZMSC. One, the basic NZMSC Handling Skills Course, focuses on teaching the six essential survival skills to motorcycle licence applicants and appears to have reduced the motorcycle crash rate in Wellington, New Zealand's capital, by over 40% amongst the most at risk new riders and over 30% amongst more experienced riders.

Another course, the NZMSC Advanced Course, takes advantage of New Zealand's heavenly motorcycling roads to teach advanced skills over a variety of delightful motorcycling roads, teaching about such things as pillion carrying techniques, accident survival, cornering, loose surface riding, country road riding, motorway riding, etc, etc. It is an eight hour session full of motorcycling pleasure, fun, and riding skills education - the NICEST way to spend a day!

The top level, two day NZMSC Road and Racetrack Riding Course is almost legendary amongst experienced Kiwi riders. The first day of this course runs over some of New Zealand's most spectacular motorcycling roads and incorporates some astonishingly novel but educational exercises. Being a high level course run over challenging roads with exercises that expand the experienced rider's skill levels and help him/her analyse and understand his or her own riding processes, all participants must have more than two years riding experience and a reasonable skill level and knowledge of riding. The second day of the R & R course is spent at a racetrack where, in a safe environment away from oncoming traffic and roading hazards, the rider can learn high speed riding skills.

At irregular intervals, other riding courses, often tailored to the specific needs of clubs or groups of riders, are also run by the NZMSC.

The NZMSC has also developed the NZMSC Riding Skills Units, a very comprehensive motorcycling educational program that incorporates both correspondence and physical riding tuition covering just about all aspects of riding. To indicate the variety of material and levels of knowledge featured in the Units, included (amongst many other things) is theoretical education on buying a bike and riding gear, basic motorcycle maintenance, riding skills of all types and levels, basic and intermediate level mechanical knowledge, attending a crash scene (including your own!), and knowledge of the science and construction of riding clothing. The physical riding tuition starts off from a check of the basics and goes to a high, professional level. For example, the upper tuition levels include tuition on the use of psychological management to control surrounding traffic.

The NZMSC's slogan is "We Will Save Your Life". This slogan is used simply because so many Kiwi riders have come up to NZMSC instructors and, shaking their hand, said: "Thanks. Your instruction saved my life". That, we feel, is what the NZMSC is all about.

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New Zealand Motorcycle Safety Consultants
PO Box 26-036, Newlands, Wellington, New Zealand