KISS - 'Keep it simple, Stupid' or Low Effort Biking

We were having a discussion about doing tight U turns and figure 8s the other day. I CAN do a full lock fig 8 on the GSXR750... I made sure I could by practising it over and over... because I'd look pretty silly if I couldn't handle the bike in front of a trainee.

But is a full lock figure 8 turn any practical use? Yes if you are improving your own bike control, but not really if it's simply to prove the trainee (and instructor) can take a tight turn safely. If that's the case, then why not make the test relevant by testing tight turns? It's not that difficult.

Likewise on the road, I try to eliminate unnecessary manoeuvres from my riding. One of the most obvious is that I never do a U turn if I can do a three point turn. It's easier and usually a lot safer to do a three pointer. A U turn not only puts your riding under severe examination, but the problem is that there is a kerb on the other side of the road, limiting your options when you don't get it quite right.

It's no surprise that we have more problems with U turns than any other manoeuvre on DAS courses, but the U turn is also something that trips up experienced riders. I got an e-mail from one of my old trainees at the beginning of the year - he was nursing a broken leg from crashing whilst doing... you guessed... a U turn, something I had suggested he not bother with. I had emphasised the need for good control in tight turns but why actually do a U turn in a narrow lane? Sadly, he realised he wasn't going to make it, stuck a leg out and fell awkwardly.

I preach KISS (Keep it simple, Stupid) and Low Effort riding... the less complicated you make life for yourself the better. Learn new skills, master new techniques, but eliminate unnecessary manoeuvres. Once you have passed your test, what's the point in taking risks by doing an unnecessary U turn?

But it's not only U turns that are unnecessary. KISS applies to many other areas of biking from the blindingly obvious to the more sublime. Consider just these few examples:

    * Eliminate surprises - look in your mirror before you attempt to deal with a hazard - trying to find out what's about to hit you from behind is much easier whilst you are assessing the situation from a distance than as you start panic braking for the lights that just changed unexpectedly.
    * Eliminate panics - slow in, cautiously round, fast out - it's much easier to speed up when the bend ahead turns out to be clear than slow down when it isn't.
    * Eliminate unnecessary overtakes - don't overtake just before a lower speed limit - not only is overtaking probably the most dangerous manoeuvre we make on a bike, but the chances are you will end up braking in front of the vehicle you have just overtaken, which may not slow down, and you know there is a good chance that the limit will rise again.
    * Eliminate unnecessary manoeuvres - having passed one vehicle on a dual carriageway, don't swerve unnecessarily back to the left hand lane - if you can see that you will be passing another vehicle in the next 15-20 seconds, then hold your position if safe to do so. Moving back to the left not only means you have to go through the whole series of checks to move out to the right again, but means that you will end up pulling out in front of the vehicle that just decided it was safe to pass you.

When you think about it, you can see that sometimes in riding, with a little bit of planning, less is often more!