Articles

Disclaimer: these articles are the thoughts of the individual and not necessarily the policy of IAM/SAM.

Left, Right, Left, Right?
or Which Boot To Put Down & When?

Put together a group of IAM Observers and/or Motorcycle Instructors and sooner or later the topic of conversation (once the world has been put to rights) will turn to which boot should a motorcyclist put down as they come to a stop.

In my experience the only thing that most will agree to, is that it’s not both boots that should dangle in the breeze as we come to a stop. It’s either the right boot or the left boot, not both. I would say that this is a really common fault/bad habit that is easily corrected. With both boots on the ground or dangling the rider has neither immediate control of rear brake nor the gearbox as one comes to a stop, during the stop and the get-away.

Also the rider can look a little like a duck coming in to land, which whilst humorous on occasion, is not the best style for a biker – Advanced or otherwise!

When people first start riding motorcycles these days they are taught the classic CBT stationary ‘Safety Position’ of:

Bike in neutral, clutch released.
Left boot down on the ground.
Both hands on the handlebars.
Right foot (or left hand for scooters and mopeds) applying the rear brake.
Head up, keep alert and listen.
This basic safety position has the benefits of having something simple to teach the beginner, it is safe and it does work. Also, with the rear brake on (the more forgiving and smoother of the two brakes), a brighter red light is presented to traffic coming up behind the stationary motorcyclist than just the back light. If the stationary biker receives a tap from behind (not at all unknown) then as the rear brake is already on there is some degree of control over the situation. We don’t always stop on the dead flat and the rear brake again does give us control over gravity. Another benefit is that the learner motorcyclist is only asked to do one thing at time with each hand/foot.

The downside of the above mantra is that, as the rider meets more complex and sophisticated road conditions and scenarios, the “Always Left Boot Down” is not the optimum way to manage the situation.

As experience is gained, the DSA test passed and the L-plates thrown away, then things bootwise can begin to evolve.

There is always an exception; when I carry a pillion passenger (heavier than my wife, no one is lighter) I usually stop on one boot and then wait with both boots on the road.

Let’s have a quick look at the disadvantages to the ‘Always Left Boot Down’ approach:

Selecting gear with the left boot on the floor means that the biker has to change feet, come off of the rear brake, select first gear and swap feet again before riding off – thus the ‘Hendon Shuffle’ (rather than the Harlem Shuffle) was born – the Met. Police have only recently stopped teaching Police motorcyclists at the Hendon College & Training facility. The Hendon Shuffle can still be useful for really steep hill starts.
The camber of the road might be so steep that the left boot might not be able to reach the ground! This can sometimes happen at left turns at road junctions protected by a Stop lines and signs.
Could be that the ground under the left boot is slippery, broken, muddy, or perhaps a deep puddle lurks under foot.
As a motorcyclist gains experience, control and dexterity then doing more than one thing at a time with the right hand can mean that the left boot can be freed up from rear brake duty.

One could recognise that Right Boot Down is a change for the better as one can now do away with the Hendon Shuffle and, for example, get-aways from traffic lights as they turn green are quicker.

Also, Right Boot Down means that, in general, the UK road camber starts to work for the biker rather than against. Those blessed only with a sidestand – almost certainly on the left side of the motorcycle – can also put the sidestand down with one deft flick with the right boot on the ground, making sure that the stand is positioned fully forward before we hop off.

So the question now is, should motorcyclists, experienced motorcyclists, now adopt a ‘Right Boot Down’ mantra?

So, does it matter which boot we put down?

Yes, it very much does matter. In my mind we, as Advanced Motorcyclists, should actively plan ahead, make informed decisions and have the ability to put the better boot down to suit each and every different situation. In other words, each situation on its own merits.

Our choices would include the following elements:

Safety of the overall situation.
Saddle height of the motorcycle vs. leg length.
Camber of the road.
State of and quality the road surface, paint can be slippery when wet.
Will it be only a short stop, a second or two when slipping the clutch in first gear is acceptable or do we need to get into neutral and then back into gear again to move away?
Are we carrying a pillion passenger?
How hard is the wind blowing from one side or another, particularly nasty gusty winds?
Has the rider learned to feather the front brake for safe slow riding?
Does the motorcycle enjoy a linked braking system?
When we move off are we planning to turn left, right or road ahead?
On which side of the road are we positioned? (One-way streets or abroad where they drive on the right, or even down the middle).

In conclusion and following the inspiration of the ‘Think’ safety campaign’s slogan, please ask yourself, armed with all the Information (as in IPSGA) possible that you can gather on the move:

‘Which boot will you put down to serve you better for each different occasion?’ It’s your choice to make !

By: Pete Wood

TYRE – SatNav Route Planning Tutorial

‘SatNav’ units are great. Whether you are using a TomTom Rider, or Garmin Zumo designed specifically for use on a motorcycle, a car device in a tank bag, or maybe a mobile phone with a navigation app, there are loads of advantages. You can always find your way home, your destination, follow a road to ‘see where it goes’, safe in the knowledge that you’ll be able to find out where you are and how to get to where you actually wanted to go. Many can record your position at regular intervals for later review.

I’ve always wanted to be able to share routes easily with others, and to be able to plan exactly the route I would like to take rather than relying on the
‘intelligent’ algorithms in the navigation device to pick.

Finally, I’ve worked out how to do this. The good news is it is very easy and routes can be shared with others even if they have a different device. The key to it all is a super piece of free software, TYRE. Visit the site, download and install the application and then follow the simple tutorial below.

Let’s follow a tutorial for a simple route. We’ll make a short route from Gloucester to Tewkesbury.

Begin by opening Google Maps and put ‘Hammond Way, Gloucester’ in the search box.
Click ‘Get directions’ at the top left and type ‘Tewkesbury’ in the box that appears above ‘Hammond Way’.
The map shows the default route (at the moment it is Tewkesbury to Glos, so click on the button on the right of the place names ‘reverse directions’ to
swap start/end over).
No self respecting motorcylist would ride up the M5 when there are much more interesting local roads. We can alter the route by ‘pulling’ the path plotted on the map using the mouse.
A few clicks later, this is my preferred alternative. Round the A40 to keep out of Gloucester, onto the A38, and then through Tewkesbury town rather than slavishly following the A38 ‘bypass’.
If you are planning a ride through an area you dont know (or don’t know well), you might get a good idea of the quality of the roads or the signs visible at the various turns by using ‘Street View’, the ‘little man’ logo above the ‘zoom slider’ can be pulled and dropped onto the route to see photos of the roads.

We need to copy the link to drop the route into TYRE.
Click on ‘Link’ (highlight A), and then select and copy the link (highlight B).

Note that even if you don’t use a SatNav, you can ‘share’ a route you’ve produced as above by copying this link and emailing it to riding buddies Beware that the ‘send to sat nav’ option offered by Google sends only the end point, you still rely on the satnav device to choose its own route, which we don’t want to do here.

Run ‘TYRE’
Click File > ‘Import from website’ and paste in the address copied in point 6.
Click on ‘Import’ button, then ‘Save as’ either TomTom .itn file (which you’ll copy into the folder on your TomTom), or Garmin/Navigon file. Of course, you might want more than one type of file so that users of other hardware who also wish to follow your route can do so.
If you have TYRE installed on your computer, it will open TomTom Itinery files/Garmin route files and you can see or alter them. It can also be used to
convert the files so that you can save it in a suitable format for your own device.
If you share routes online (via email, through our Facebook group, on our website etc.) avoid starting or ending routes at your home address as
this could pose an unneccesary security threat.

P.S. I’ve uploaded the TomTom .itn file created in the above tutorial as an example below.

Update January 2013:
If you have a smart phone or a tablet (android or apple), you are in luck. If you download the latest google maps app for your device (from the app store or google play) you can get turn by turn voice prompt to guide your route, and you don’t need to go anywhere near TYRE or even find your cable. If you ‘save’ your map (either on your PC / mac, or on your tablet, or on your phone), it will then show up under ‘layers’ on your mobile device. Once you’ve pulled it up, you can then use ‘navigate’ to get the directions as you ride just like you get on a ‘real’ sat nav. Try searching on google (type something like ‘copying a route to android phone’). If you still can’t make it work, then give me a shout and I’ll try to help.

By: Simon Charters