While enjoying a leisurely ride after work to the bank, the bike shop and home on side roads, for one reason or another the complexities of riding tumbled around in my brain. Not only are these beautiful pieces of machinery complex, but a good rider must understand and master them all.
For those who don't ride, here is a little overview of the controls...
Right Foot: Rear Brake. This is important in slowing the bike. The rider must remember that only about 20% of all braking should be performed by the rear. Any more can cause the tire to loose traction. That is NOT a good thing.
Right Hand: Front Brake. This is very important in slowing a bike. Approximately 80% of all braking relies on the front brakes. Throttle. Accurate and precise throttle control is vital to safely navigate turns and perform smooth shifting. Kill Switch. Should an emergency arise where the engine must be cut off immediately, there is a kill switch near the throttle. Starter. Bikes with electric starters will usually have the starter button on the right.
Left Foot: Gear Shift. Actuating the gear shift properly must be smoothly coordinated with throttle and clutch control. Coordination failure can cause bad things to happen, like dumping a bike while accelerating to highway speeds.
Left Hand: Clutch. Not only must the clutch be carefully used in sync with throttle and gear shift, but is vital to slow speed control. Turning Signal. The turning signal is usually a thumb selected switch. High/Low Light Switch. There is usually a toggle switch on the left side to control the headlights. Choke. Not on many larger, fuel injected bikes, but is still there on most carbureted machines. The Horn. Very important!
If anything mechanical should malfunction, there is typically no time to think. Reaction must be immediate, accurate and deliberate.
These are the major control points of a typical motorcycle and says nothing of other things like countersteering, time and space control, balance, scanning and a host of other things, all necessary for a good rider.
In my opinion, fine motorcycle riding is akin to dancing the tango with a steel partner at 55 miles per hour.