So you're making payments on a new 1200 cc Blood Red Hog and you feel invincible.

Or maybe you own a BMW R1100 RT, all anthracite gleam, with a CD changer and heated grips, and you wanna ride two-up cross-country when the weather's better.

Some statistics:

  • More than 26% of all motorcycle accidents involve riders with less than one year's experience.
  • Ninety-two percent of riders involved in reportable accidents are untrained (i.e. they were self-taught or learned from friends or family).
  • Motorcycle riders between the ages of 16 and 24 are significantly over-represented in accidents.
  • Twelve percent of ALL motorcycle accidents involve alcohol, but HALF of all the FATAL motorcycle accidents show ALCOHOL involvement..
Still wanna ride? Good, here's to your health!

It is essential that any motorcycle rider who wants to ride safely graduate from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Beginning or Experienced Rider Course. This is the sort of training that is just too good to miss. When the program was introduced in California there was a 76% decrease in fatal accidents among riders under 21. The course is now mandatory there for young riders.

Given over two weekends, the MSF course spends two days in the classroom and two days on the bike, which is provided, along with helmet and gloves.

There is a single technique that stands ahead of all tricks, tips, and smart things to do that are taught in the course. As you might imagine, this technique is also useful for anyone driving any sort of motor vehicle.

Here it is:

THE S I P D E TECHNIQUE

Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute--the mental process suggested by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

  • SCAN--Always be looking. Your eyes should follow a rotational pattern including mirrors, controls, and the road ahead. Scan for potential hazards as well as opportunities.
  • IDENTIFY--Identify the situation ahead. Hazard or opportunity? Vehicle, pedestrian, animal, or stationary object? Each category presents its own challenge to the motorcyclist.
  • PREDICT--Anticipate the hazard or opportunity. What will be the situation by the time you get to it? Predict what might happen and visualize escape routes. This is the part of SIPDE that depends most upon your knowledge and experience.
  • DECIDE--Make a choice from the available alternatives. Single hazard or multiple hazards? Blow your horn, flash your lights, adjust your speed (slower or faster), adjust your course--or some combination of these? What you decide depends upon the road conditions, your bike, and most important, your skill level.
  • EXECUTE--Do it! Take the action necessary to avoid the hazard. Generally this means increasing the "envelope of safety" surrounding your motorcycle.

If you can keep the bike where the hazards aren't, a cold beer upon your safe arrival becomes a distinct probably.

That's it. S I P D E, an acronym to live by.

For the beginning or experienced RiderCourse nearest you, call 1-800-446-9227


You know, now that I think about it S I P D E makes pretty good sense when it comes to noding too.

This is perhaps a condensed version of the advice above, but it has served me very well through the years.
When I bought my first street bike at the tender age of seventeen my father, an avid cyclist himself, knew I was already fairly adept at motorcycle operation from years of enduro riding. He made certain that my first road machine was a small, forgiving bike, and spoke the following sentence, which I keep in mind when operating a car, motorcycle, or bicycle:

"Assume that everyone you see will try to kill you, and ride accordingly"

After that, he turned me loose.

So far, so good. Paranoid? You bet, but I've still got all my original parts.

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