No matter how long you've been riding streetbikes or how proficient you think you are, ride long enough and you'll eventually come face to face with a situation that demands some sort of evasive action. It could be a reaction to a left-turning cager jabbing into your lane, a deer jumping onto the roadway from the shoulder or a kid on a bicycle popping out from a row of parked cars. Whatever the situation, you have to act evasively-and decisively-or deal with the consequences.
Confronted with these types of situations, you've really only got three choices: accelerate, swerve or brake, or some combination thereof. The key here is to be thinking ahead and constantly considering the possible moves you'd make to get out of trouble.
Speeding up can be advantageous due to a bike's inherent accelerative capabilities. But because whacking the throttle results in more speed-and more energy to even-tually dissipate-this isn't always the best choice.
Swerving can be desirable if traction and circumstances permit. But even when conditions seem right for a quick swerve, the unpredictable nature of drivers, children and animals make it tricky at best. Will that deer spook and jump in front of you when it thinks it's about to be centerpunched by a 500-pound projectile?
Hard braking is preferred by many experts for left-turn/ intersection and wild-animal situations, thanks mostly to the superb brakes and tires of today's motorcycles. "A proficient rider," writes David Hough in his book Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well, "can usually stop a motorcycle traveling 40 mph in less than 100 feet." Understand, however, that stopping your bike in minimal time/distance takes lots of practice-especially when you're braking hard and swerving at the same time. We recommend practicing in an empty parking lot with clean pavement.
The bottom line, of course, remains the rider's ability to make split-second decisions-and that can only happen with plenty of miles combined with the right, defensive attitude.