Women Riders

Wrist Position & Braking

Written by  June 30, 2004

A few ladies have asked whether the throttle hand “wrist down” position (keeping the wrist level or slightly lower than the fingers) is the correct way to ride. Yes, for two reasons. First, when you accelerate rapidly, your body is pulled back. With your wrist in a “high” position, the force of your body will pull your wrist back and down, causing you to open the throttle more and possible loss of control. This is a very common mistake made by novice riders, and can result in a crash. With your wrist down, your body pulling back will raise it up, thus closing the throttle.

Second, regarding braking, with the wrist in a relaxed, down position, and the grip pressed firmly into the groove between your thumb and palm, just reaching for the brake lever will result in you “rolling off” the throttle from the friction of your hand against the grip; all in one motion. Inexperienced riders will roll off the throttle, then have to “unroll” their fingers from the grip and bring them out from under the brake lever before they can grip the lever. This takes valuable time in an emergency situation.

If you are coming to a complete stop, your left foot should be clicking down the gears, so that you are in first by the time you stop. Your next hazard may be the inattentive driver behind you that isn’t stopping, and you may need to evade that hazard. By having the bike in first gear, you are ready to roll. You may find, however, in an emergency stop that your engine will die, even with the clutch disengaged. In-line four, carbureted bikes are prone to that quirk from their carburetors flooding under heavy braking.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) teaches that the first step in any braking sequence is checking the mirrors for any hazard behind you, so you know what to expect at the end of your stop. Experienced riders routinely check the mirrors constantly.

Here are a couple of other questions from our readers:

Dear Goldie,
As new rider, it makes me nervous to have cars following too close behind me. What is the best way to handle this situation?
CJ Bell
Shawnee, Kansas

Hi CJ,
I think both new and experienced riders encounter this same problem, so you are not alone. Most importantly, make it safe for you. When a car is following too close and wants to pass, do NOT move over to the right side of your lane. That will encourage the car driver to try and pass you in your lane. Remember, you are legally entitled to a full lane, USE IT!! Always stay in the left third of the lane, which will give the car driver plenty of space to look around you, and forces them to make a safe pass by using the other lane.

When I first started riding and someone tailgated, I would tap my brakes a couple times, then using my left hand, I would push my arm back and forth alerting them to back off!
Good luck and ride safe!

Hi Goldie,
I met you at K.C. Creations a few weeks back and asked how to get a stop light to sense your presence. I’m petite and ride an 883 Sportster, and sometimes I end up running the red light because it never changes. I have three stop lights to get to the main highway from my neighborhood and it’s a pain in the kazoo.
Debby Adams
Kansas City, Missouri

Hi Debby,
Yes, I remember meeting and talking with you. I called the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) to find out who the culprit is in this situation. I was told that if the sensor unit is a capacitance type (wire buried in the roadway), there are several things you can do. First, since the corners are the most sensitive areas, try to stop so that the largest amount of metal on your bike is near an inside corner of the cuts made to bury the wire. If this still will not trip the light, contact a local office of MODOT. Sensitivity of this type of sensor is adjustable, so it could be tweaked to sense you in the future. They can increase the sensitivity and eliminate the problem, but it may take a few phone calls to get it done.

I also checked with the Missouri Highway Patrol as to the legality of making such a turn if the light does not change. I was told you could be ticketed, regardless of how long you sat and waited. Bummer, huh? They recommended a right turn on red, which is legal here, and then turn around to travel in the direction you wish to go.

Goldie Arnold
“Never Ride Faster Than Your Angel Can Fly”

Goldie’s Tip of the Month: Since I know a few new riders going to Sturgis this year, I recommend taking some short weekend trips to learn all the subtle characteristics of your bike before taking to the highway for an extended trip. It will give you increased awareness, experience and confidence in yourself, and your riding abilities.