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SmokeU 10-21-2003 06:28 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
Nothing wrong with a little road head.

nbyers 10-21-2003 06:42 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
Absolutely--it feels weird not to cover the brake. I always cover (two fingers is plenty on modern bikes) and it's become ingrained.

If I'm on a long freeway trip and don't cover the brake for a couple of miles to give my right hand a change of position, I find myself automatically going back to two fingers as soon as I stop thinking about it.

In CLASS, Reg Pridmore told us to cover the brake, and told us that two fingers was his preferred way to go. Two fingers means that you still have a grip on the throttle, and can roll right onto the brake with a minimum reaction time. No well-maintained modern bike is going to pinch your fingers with the lever.

It's worth noting that there was also a session at CLASS where we were practicing smooth, hard, application of the brakes. Slamming 'em on is never a good idea unless you've got ABS.

obandoj 10-21-2003 06:45 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
First of all, it sounds as if the instructor is not into maintainance of the motorcycle, as a first line of defence against accidents and problems on the road, that in my opinion is a very big mistake, second, yes, you should be scanning, perceiving and alert, and when the situation arises or when in heavy traffic, lots of driveways etc, you should cover the brake. That technique will save you precious seconds in an emergency, and might be the difference between making it home or to the hospital or worse! As far as not being able to exercise good throtle control while covering the brake, that boils down to practice, it is very doable if you include that in your list of things to practice over and over again.

That statement he made to you about using that technique only on race tracks, I don't buy it, I have never raced a motorcycle, but I have done many performance and racing schools, and done many track days at different tracks all over the country, and have never had an instructor mention that to the class, ever.

Now, I'm sure that you learned many good things in that MSF class, but I suggest that you should take a Reg Pridmore school (CLASS) to complement what you learned there, and to learn the concept of, awareness, concentration, smoothness and consistency that is so important both on the track and the street, good luck!

shaneking 10-21-2003 06:48 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
I second what fujinator has to say. I'm also and instructor and I don't recall there being a set rule about covering but we do stress 4 fingers, at least while they are learning.

This instructor was injecting their own opinion (or experience) into the debate but probably should have been more clear in elucidating it as such. I have no problems giving my two cents to the students but I try to make it very clear that I'm speaking as a motorcyclist and not as an instructor. Some of us don't always make that distinction.

I have to disagree that going to a more commercial system instead of volunteers has a negative effect. It is hard enough to find instructors willing to give up their weekends (also known as prime riding time) to teach. We don't get paid that much by the state and more and more states are getting rid of their programs as a way to save money. If we don't see more private companies picking up the slack then we will have an even greater shortage of training out there that we do now.

unpaved313 10-21-2003 06:56 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
Where has this MSF Instructor been doing his updates?

Here in New England, we actually teach covering your brakes as a safety method for dealing with the highly congested roadways our students regularly find themselves on.

Admittedly, covering your brakes can have a nasty consequence to new riders. That said, experienced riders can, as our MOaning correspondent said, reduce reaction time with this same technique.

I suspect that the Instructor in question has taught a bunch of beginning rider courses, but hasn't commited to the difference between beginning and experienced. His mistake, but don't make it yours.

As always, common sense prevails, so ride within the limits of your self, your motorcycle, and your environment.

johnnyb 10-21-2003 07:00 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
I like to go a step beyond "covering" the front brake in heavily trafficked areas myself. That is, I will actually keep the front brake somewhat clamped on at all times, sometimes only lightly dragging, other times with more pressure. The key to this is to use a lot of throttle; the more brake, the more throttle. The idea is to keep the rear tire spinning at all times, and therefore the engine in the meat of its powerband should evasive action be required. It's a rather difficult method to master and hard on tires and brake pads. When you smell tire smoke most of the time, you'll know you've got it right. At red lights in particular, keep that rear spinning and an eye on your mirrors, just in case. Safety first, i say.

SmokeU 10-21-2003 07:08 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
I like to do those rolling burnouts too JB.

So how's it hangin' since you've left?

Betamax 10-21-2003 07:11 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
my MSF instructors also told me not to cover the front brake, for equally nonsensical reasons.

Taking more time "to assess the situation" is idiotic. When you're traveling at a lowly 30 mph (and who does?) you're still traveling about 40 feet per second. Covering the brake can mean the difference between stopping in time or T-boning that minivan that just pulled out in front of you.

pattonme 10-21-2003 07:12 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
I'll be the 3rd instructor to pipe up. We don't see more commercial opportunities (which are a good thing) because:

1) states make it nearly impossible to start a program (I kid you not, in IL for example the 1st school had to rig up an emergency brake, (yup) and dual controls for the *ride-along* instructor. Why? because the regs were written for cars and NOBODY in the beauracracy could conceive that it was utter stupidity to hold a MC to the same rules)

2) insurance is a HUGE killer - since 9/11 the companies are charging lethal amounts for any kind of commercial driving instruction. doesn't make ANY sense but that's what they're doing

3) range space is very hard to come by

4) it's a seasonal job

5) students don't like to pay the $300+/student that is the real cost of the program because they are used to massive subsidies by the state.

Now obviously there are a few ways to make the program have an incentive. Like preventing any and all sales of vehicles, let alone titling them without proof of a MC license. That alone would kill over 50% of current operators and get their butts into a program. another is to distribute to all insurance carriers the identities of unlicensed riders. A graduated licensing scheme where the basic course allows you to own/operate a 50HP bike but an ERC is required for bigger ones. And dealers could go a long way to help, too. Like giving a free class with each bike purchase (or 50% off or something) if that person is not trained. etc.

pattonme 10-21-2003 07:29 AM

why I don't cover any more
yes and no. Others have piped up to the instructor's defense and I will as well, sorta.

When I was a new rider I too used to cover the brake. I don't any more. By riding around covering the brake you never learn to develop the quick reflexes to transition into controlled maximum braking from the grip.

Granted none of my bikes have braking the likes of the latest track tool and I can't pull out a stoppie with 1 or 2 fingers (let alone 4) but I practice my braking regularly which the great unwashed rarely ever do. When you've got your fingers hanging out there (and you have good brakes) it is easy to overreact.

As to "assess the situation", if the 1/4 second you need to get on the brakes is the difference between hitting or missing something then you're asleep at the handlebar. The distance covered blithly ignorant of the approaching hazard and NOT having already formulated a plan of action before it's needed is what gets motor vehicle operators in trouble. It's called "recognition distance"

Far and away operators (cage and bike) are eggregiously guilty of tailgaiting, failing to maintain sight-distance, failing to position themselves to have an escape route as well as give the other person an out that doesn't conflict, and failing to communicate (horns hardly ever used).

If a situation was "sudden" it was because you weren't paying attention.

If I'm going to cover the brake (and I sometimes do) it's because I fully anticipate using the brakes. And all 4 fingers (well 3.5) are out there ready to swing into action.

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