By DAVID SALTERIn motorcycling the ability to learn from your own mistakes is a good thing but only up to a point since misadventures on a motorcycle are often painful. Learning from someone else's mistakes or better yet an expert who shows you how to avoid the mistake in the first place is much better since you can learn the lessons quite well but don't have to deal with pain or other more lasting consequences.
Then there are a few who won't learn no matter what.
I had a conversation one time with a young guy who had wiped out all by himself at a 4 way stop intersection with no other traffic around. He was inexperienced, not badly hurt and a little vague about what happened. He claimed the rear end for no reason just slid out on him as he approached the stop sign and tried to stop.
It turned out he was in the habit of using the rear brake only and not the front and when the rear tire skidded in the grease stripe in the middle of the lane down he went. His bike was rideable although scratched and dented and after a short conversation on Motorcycle Stopping Technique 101 involving lane position, as in stay out of the middle where all the oil is as well as stopping power and where to find almost all of it in your front brake, he mounted up and wobbled off still inexperienced, a little banged up but presumably wiser.
That turned out to be a wrong presumption.
By co incidence I found myself talking to him a couple of weeks later and noticed he was far more banged up than when we had first chatted. Sheepishly he admitted to duplicating the first accident with an almost identical second accident just days before while again trying to use only the rear brake to stop.
He just didn't trust that front brake. It seems because some family member who rode back in the day never used his front brake or maybe didn't have one and that was just how you were supposed to ride back then. "Lay 'er down if you have to but stay off that front brake!" seemed to be the lesson the young man had taken to heart from Uncle Bob or who ever. Having never gone through a Motorcycle Safety Foundation class he just didn't know any better.
We've come a long way from back in the days of no available training other than the stories of Uncle Bob and bikes with weak or no reliable brakes. Today bikes have reliable brakes both front and rear with the old drum brakes having given way to super strong disc brakes with computerized ABS (Antilock Braking System) which under most conditions prevents traction loss and skidding during those times when you really need to stop quickly and under control.
Mechanically motorcycles have never been better engineered, made or with more safety features, but today as always the the rider who does not know or will not learn remains the weak link.
To strengthen that weak link especially if you are brand new to two wheels, motorcycle or scooter, sign up for an MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) beginners or experienced course. They are dirt cheap and locally available out at Carl Sandburg College and the best way to learn from others while not having to endure the pain of learning the hard way.
For more on the Motorcycle Safety Foundation see:
For more info see: http://www.galesburg.com/community/blogs/x749717940/Rio-Rider-The-Weak-Link