Survival Reactions is popular term that’s often batted around biker circles, I would imagine primarily due to Keith Code’s Twist of the Wrist 2 book and video (available on YouTube), but what does it really mean? There are 7 that are listed, although personally I feel these can be broadened out a little to wider categories, I’ll list them ‘As Is’.
1. Letting go of the throttle/Rolling off quicklyAnyone who understands the physics of cornering a motorcycle should get this straight away, but in principle it works like this: As soon as you let the throttle go, you invoke engine braking, and the bike will in essence nose dive. What happens at that point? Well the front tyre will immediately have increased traction, in the event of being in a corner, you are asking for real trouble!2. Handlebar death gripWhere to start with this one, well think like this: If you have a tight grip on the throttle and go for the brakes, what happens? You roll ON the throttle (yep – I’ve done this one myself!), so the bike unexpected (but predictably) lurches forward. The other side to this is, if you’re gripping too tight, and you hit a bump, again, that throttle is On-Off-On-Off… Kangaroo style riding! See the obvious problem here?
3. Narrow and frantic visionEver been looking for something in the house when you’re in a real hurry? You rush around looking all over the place, checking every possible place. Then you stop and take a second to think and boom. It was right there in front of you all along. Now imagine that feeling at speed approaching a junction. Sound fun? Thought not. This reaction I’m sure pretty much everyone is guilty of. It’s important that our focus remains stable, looking ahead and using peripheral vision as normal, even when posed with a difficult situation.
4. Fixed Attention (on something)Watching one object can lead you to miss other objects. If you’re fixating on the car in front, what about the car to your left/right/behind? What about that child about to walk out into the road? What about those watching the tarmac in front of your front wheel? Scan your field of vision, don’t fixate on an object. If you fixate on an object, you’re going to lead yourself straight into number 5
5. Steering in the direction of the fixed attentionThis is classic target fixation. Don’t do it! Scan your field of vision continually in a calm and safe manner. Have a read of the Target Fixation blog for more information on this one, as I feel it needs a deeper explanation
6. No steering (frozen) or ineffective (not quick enough or too early) steeringRabbit in the headlight syndrome! You approach a hazard and panic takes over. You freeze up. Now what? You’re headed straight toward the hazard! You have to relax, steer/swerve in good time, keep relaxed and calm and this will happen naturally, panic, and you WILL get yourself into trouble.
7. Braking errors (both over-and under-braking)Ok – Wide subject, but I’ll mention this directly with cornering. You know your own bike, you know how hard it’ll brake. Brake inside a corner is going to end badly, bike stands up, and you’re no longer cornering. It’s as simple as that. Over brake before a corner and you’re going to have traction problems, welcome to the low side? The high side? Neither are desirable. Brake in time and appropriately before the corner, and power through it. If you’re too slow into the corner, you can always power out of it, if you’re coming in fast, tip it in more to increase the lean angle. Whatever your preference for cornering speed, whilst you’re in that corner, leave the brakes alone!Most of these are pretty obvious to the more seasoned biker, but one thing to remember is that these are human nature, they happen to all of us, you simply need to be aware of them, so that you can hopefully counteract them if/when you feel them coming on! Any reaction that is out of fear or panic can be termed a Survival Reaction, they’re instinctual, but you CAN control them. Stay calm, stay focussed on your riding, and they should be few and far between!For more information or advanced riding lessons, please Contact Us.