Riding Tips - Understanding Target Fixation



Sample ImageSample ImageEver had that sensation when you’re on the road at night and find yourself distracted by oncoming headlights, drifting towards the other lane? Or found yourself drifting wide on a corner because you’re concentrating on a parked car/small child/fit bird? This, my friends, is target fixation, and it’s the cause of many an accident among inexperienced riders.

The term originates from World War II fighter pilots who found their concentration was so focused on a target there was a tendency for nearmisses with the very object they were aiming to destroy. It can be just as fatal for motorcyclists.

I’ve learned that with bikes wherever you’re looking is where the bike will go. It’s a damn sight easier to negotiate that sharp bend if you’re looking round it and where you want to go. Any sort of tight manoeuvre is almost impossible for a newbie unless you’re looking EXACTLY where you want to end up.

In fact, it’s vital when performing slow speed manoeuvres on a bike and also on the open road if things go a bit Pete Tong.

Simply put, when you’re trying to avoid a hazard, don’t look at it. Many new motorcyclists fail the uturn section of the bike tests because they look at the ground, the bars, lamp posts on the opposite kerb..... anywhere but where they are turning.

Similarly, if you’re going too fast into a bend, the body tenses up and the brain panics you into looking at what you’re going to crashing into. It’s not the easiest thing to override, but if you learn to relax when this happens and look for a way out, your body - and the bike - will react. It’s also an excellent technique to control skids if you lock the rear brake up - fixate on a point in the horizon where you want to be, and you’ll find you’re already well on the way towards automatically correcting most skids.

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