Not everyone can ride fast, but equally not everyone can ride slowly.
Have you ever witnessed riders wobbling all over the place at slow speeds, or paddling their feet while trying to negotiate a carpark?
It actually takes a bit of talent and training to ride slowly and it’s something that the police learn, not just for parades where they might be escorting royalty or pollies, but for control of their bike.
Possibly the best display of slow riding I’ve seen is by police in motorcades and at motogymkhanas.
I spoke with an American police officer who was competing in the annual police riding competition at the Harley 105th anniversary celebrations in Milwaukee in 2008.
I asked him for some tips on riding slow and steady.
This is a summary of what he said.
- Learn to be smooth with the controls. Throttle, brake and lots of clutch slip to even out the drive.
- Ride the rear brake. This steadies the bike. Avoid using front brake which can tuck the front wheel.
- Look up and ahead. Tightrope walkers look at the horizon to get their balance and so should you. Don’t look at the ground or that’s where you’ll end up.
- Keep your feet on the footpegs as this helps you balance. Don’t be tempted to put your feet on the ground or this means you will have to rely on the front brake and that will make the steering jerky and erratic.
- Keep your body upright and let the bike tip to turn. At slow speeds you don’t countersteer; you steer in the direction you want to go.
- Breathe deep. Don’t get nervous. Relax and be one with the bike.
Find a nice quiet carpark, cul de sac or industrial estate where you can practise slow-riding techniques and tight feet-up turns. It’s fun and it will improve your bike skills.
You can’t have control of a bike at speed if you don’t know how to be smooth and in-control of a slow bike.