Riding motorcycles is a passion for many people. People become more passionate about riding motorcycles and cars as the new vehicles are coming up with new technologies.
But there are many factors and key points which should be kept in mind while driving. These factors help the driver in preventing accidents if implemented correctly. We will discuss how vision plays an important role while riding a motorcycle.
Vision is the most important skill for motorcycle riding. The majority of decisions made while you’re riding are based on information from your eyes. It’s absolutely worth getting your vision checked regularly. But how you use your eyes is just as important as having properly functioning ones.
Using your eyes skilfully requires some understanding of how you react to what you see.
Almost all riders, from newbites to MotoGP racers have difficult in maintaing proper vision in a corner. We usually far exceed the limit speed on our motorcycles, so we need to retrain our eyes to look farther in front of ourselves. Generally speaking, this is the best way to identify potential hazards early before dealing with them.
You probably already listened to the quote: “You go where you look”, but no one ever told you why that happens. That’s because we have binocular visions, where our eyes are set close together in front of our heads. This is great for tracking moving preys in the carnivore way of thinking.
However, on the road motorcyclists are on the bottom of the traffic chain, we should consider ourselves as preys, not predators.
Imagine yourself walking through a scary road. I bet your eyes were trying to look everywhere all at once considering you could be a prey.
On corners, we should look all the way through it, because it gives the opportunity of a better line choice.
What you can see is based not only on the light available, but also on the types of things you choose to notice.
Most human beings have no problem focusing on things, however many have difficult using the peripheral vision effectively. Humans, like all predators, use the focused vision, commonly referred to target fixation on the motorcycle.
You probably seen a rider crashing or riding off the the track, and the following rider — follows the front rider right off the track.
This problem is communal among motorcycle riders as compared to car drivers.
Target fixation is a natural phenomenon in which a rider becomes so targeted or focused on a particular object that it changes his original direction of riding and he starts riding slightly in the direction of the object. This results in fatal or severe accidents.
See image below to understand – if you focus your vision on the yellow sign, the changes are you’re going straight on it.
When riding a motorcycle, you should be able to use both types of vision:
Focused Vision: Used to pick out specific reference points (corner entry, exit points, braking points)
Peripheral Vision: The more important, it eliminates the target fixation problem, decreases sense of speed, keep your mind and body relaxed and have the possibility to see possibly hazards on the roads.
It’s important to be able to distinct between your actual speed and your perceived speed sense of speed. Your mind can play tricks on you when you rely on your focused vision while riding a motorcycle.
Your vision and where you are looking is a critical part in avoiding panic altogether as well as dealing with it when it does occur. As always, keep your eyes up when riding with your vision far down the road or track.
Try it by yourself,
- Ride your bike at moderate speed and look at the ground directly beneath you – it will looks like you’re moving pretty-fast. (Focused Vision)
- Now change your focus and look at the mountains in the background – it will look that you’re barely moving at all, even though your speed stills the same. (Peripheral Vision)
If you start looking farther ahead, you can slow things down in your mind. This gives yoru brain more time to make decisions and avoid problems.
Looking Through Turns
Our eyes have a sweet spot right in the middle of their travel. So it’s better to turn your head to pick your reference points with your pupils in the middle of your eyes, than to try to pick them out through the corners of your eyes. The image below illustrates how should you look through the turns.
There are three important reasons for looking far through the turns.
- Potential Hazards: The farther ahead you look, the earlier you will recognise potentiial hazards and the sooner you’ll be able to spot opportunities for early acceleration.
- Sense of Speed: Looking farther ahead slow down your sense of speed. This reduces anxiety about turns and allow your body to stay relaxed.
- Direction: Looking far through turns makes your body naturally wants to go in the direction it’s looking.
However, before looking through turns, you must use your focus vision to determine where your turning point will be. This should be done pretty fast, first use your focus vision than immediately change to peripheral vision through the corner.
Practice tip: Start riding in a circle and looking through the turn to the exit on the opposite side. Ask a friend to be on the middle and see if your eyes are dancing or staying focused on the constantly moving exit.
Once you have mastered looking through the turn, everything else will seem a lot easier.
With good vision, we can start strategising about the best line choices.
Becoming adept with vision techniques will prevent the target fixation as that will help you avoid many hazardous situations and it will help you to avoid panic when you see yourself in a bad situation.