Riding Skills: Keep Your Head Up

One of the joys of driving a nice car is looking out at the road over a cool fighter-pilot inspired dashboard. Of course your eyes are on the road, but you can see the speedometer in your lower field of vision – always ready for a quick glance at the speed or rpms or navigation system. The problem is, this perfectly good practice of having the instrument panel in your field of vision when driving a car encourages a really bad habit for motorcyclists… In a car, you can see the instrument panel while seated in the proper driving position looking out at the road; but in a motorcycle, the only way to see the instrument panel is if you’re head is down looking at the front wheel.

This is why full race bikes do not have speedometers and many racing schools tape over the speedos of their school bikes. Because when you’re riding properly there’s no time to look down at the gauges… In the same way when you’re looking into a corner while turning, if you’re looking in the right place, you won’t be able to see the front of the bike: you shouldn’t be able to see the front wheel, or the gauges, or the mirrors (check your mirrors before you begin a turn) because you’ll be looking in a different direction entirely.

One of the reason people have trouble with sharp turns is because they’re not used to looking away from the bike deep into the turns. And one of the main causes of crashes is a rider being unable to turn the bike sharply (even though the bike is more than capable of the turn). Because the only way you’ll be able to (really) lean a bike over on its side is if you turn your head and look in that direction.

So here’s the tip: Eyes up here buddy! If you can see your speedo by just looking down with your eyes, then your head is probably in the wrong position. Learn to judge your speed with your eyes rather than using your gauges (that’s what the pros do)… Cheers!


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