Motorcycle Skills Test: Part 5 / “Curves”

Motorcycle Skills Test:  Part 5 / “Curves”


[music] This is the fifth and final video in our series featuring Washington State’s motorcycle skills test. In this video we’ll look at run number 5. Cornering. Riding through 2 curves. This run verifies the rider’s ability to negotiate curves. The skill needed is the ability to corner effectively. Proper entry speed is essential allowing the rider to safely corner and navigate curves. Riders are instructed: Ride through both curves acceleratinging to a speed of at least 20 miles-per-hour in the straightaway. Prior to the second curve slow to an appropriate entry speed. Stay within both sets of boundary lines. Common mistakes include: Running wide…a lane error. Riding too far inside. Speed. Too fast often due to not adjusting entry speed. Typically riders go outside their lane. Too slow. Typically caused by a lack of skill or fear of leaning. This is a timed evaluation. Riders must go fast enough to demonstrate proper cornering ability. If you’re not comfortable with countersteering or would like to practice cornering please consider taking a rider safety course. Keys to success include: Keep your head and eyes up. Look through the curve. Adjust to a proper entry speed. Slow to a speed allowing for a smooth acceleration. Positive throttle throughout. Look. Turn your head. Look where you want to go. Look through…to the exit. Press and lean. Countersteer. An “outside-inside-outside” path of travel is often easier. Roll on. Slightly increase or maintain speed through
the curve. Riders must be able to stay within their lane and corner effectively. Riding too fast going out of your lane threatens everyone’s safety on road. Especially rural roads. Crash investigations show that most motorcycle deaths occur in curves and are usually single vehicle crashes. Motorcycle only. Your cornering skills must be there when needed. Know your bike. Know your limits. Ride within them. If it’s been a while since you’ve attended a rider safety course please do consider taking one. You’ll be taking responsibility to help keep our roads safe. The 3 most common factors in motorcycle crashes are: Speed. Lane error. And impairment typically from alcohol. Be responsible. Ride smart. Ride safe. Ride sober. And ride trained.

35 comments

  1. Well done series, This takes a little of the edge off, knowing what the expectations are. I don't feel as nervous as I did before.

  2. So, are these actually the new tests put on by the schools for WSDOL? They are different than when the test were done at licensing offices. No more offset cones? Right hand sharp turn and left hand u-turn now?

  3. Yes. You might be interested in our two latest blog posts as they directly address your question. Our blog: licensingexpress(dot)wordpress(dot)com

  4. Great video series I take the msf tomorrow, however im not in Washington but i feel it will still basically follow the same guidelines.

  5. @Moardub – some states other than WA have also moved to this test model. Some haven't yet. So, you may get a similar, but different, test. Just be aware to listen carefully to the test directions so you'll know what your state is looking for.
    Good luck!

  6. @ Lorenz – It depends… it may be the better/safer option. Other times, may be best to stay in the current gear. Depends upon the 1) curve and 2) what's next!
    A new-to-you ride, or new rider, should adjust speed prior to. Often it's less unsettling to the suspension -as opposed to adjusting mid-curve.
    We teach to SLOW -early; LOOK -through to the exit; PRESS the handlebars -in the direction you want to go; ROLL-ON the throttle -to engage the suspension and make for a smoother ride.
    RIDE SAFE!

  7. @ MrMorewhat – Throughout WA we are seeing different rates for testers who (a) are within a training course, vs. (b) ride their own bike to test. The overall average is about 85%. (Most riders not passing, score-out by the end of "Run #2". However, we see some performance challenges within Run #3, #4, and #5.)
    A "safety goal" of the test design is to ID riders with 'balance', 'control', and 'basic skill" challenges by the end of Run #2.

  8. Thanks been trying to find a place to practice, have a question about the inside distance of the curves in test 5 thanks in advance

  9. @ MrMorewhat  -try hitting the "show more" link (just above this text) to see more information about each run.  
    If you're asking, "what is the distance/size of the curve 'lane'?"  The lanes are 8' wide.  
    Try an outside-inside-outside path of travel throughout the curve -this helps most riders navigate the Run #5 of the test. 

  10. @ Crowmagg1, in the rider education courses yes. The S-Turn is (a) the same size dimension as the U-Turn, and (b) goes in the opposite direction -thus supporting the proprioceptive design (aka "kinesthetic sense" or "learn by feeling how things work"). Funny, how most riders "get" the S-Turn easier. (It's the same "turn".) 🙂

  11. This is all very well on car a park.  BUT, what techniques do you teach them to take bends correctly, on the open road at much higher speeds?

  12. The skills test, as well as most curricula, focuses on “path of travel” (e.g. being able to stay in-your-lane) as well as “appropriate entry speed” selection.  On-street, SLOWING prior to a curve, allows riders to respond and ride effectively.  Too fast into a curve, typically fear kicks-in, shoulders and arms lock, and your head won’t turn – thus, running wide. 
    What do we teach?  SLOW, Look, Press & Roll-on.

  13. going to take my test in a week or so, worried that i wont do well, any suggestions for someone with little knowledge and experience?

  14. @ MrKamiller – DOL suggests reading the Motorcycle Operator Guide. Prior to taking a class or skills test, re-balance youself by riding a bicycle or motorcycle -if you have. Testing validates control/balance, position awareness, and hazard avoidance skills. You may want to watch these videos again, and practice the components in a parking lot.
    Basic classes are designed to help folks new-to-riding develop the skills needed to ride.

  15. Hey man, why is there a jingle jangle hanging on the front tire of that bike? Looks a bit unsafe.

    Good videos! I'm a new(er) rider and this info is great especially having spent more time off-road than on!

  16. @Mustang- Thank you!  Lots of effort and partnership with stakeholders.  DOL worked with WA State Patrol, MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) and WA Traffic Safety Commission -and many many others to produce. 
    Test developed here in WA is now going national via MSF's (new) BRC curricula. 
    Thanks for the feedback!  🙂  KM

  17. I just got home from taking the skills test at the Ridgefield, WA facility, which I failed. However, I am not discouraged as I realize that all was not in my favor today. Incredibly heavy rain at times, a bike that was very different from my own, the wrong boots for that bike (avoid heels of any kind). I do not live in the Ridgefield area, so I spent the weekend at my daughter's house in Vancouver and away from the comfort of a good nights sleep which I probably would have gotten in my own bed back home, but as I live two hours away from the facility I thought that might be a better idea (it wasn't) and then I forgot to eat breakfast before I arrived at the course this morning. The real bummer was that I had spent 3 great days practicing and studying through participating in the novice course (a great course!) but I still failed, but my thanks go out to the instructors that failed me, especially after coming home and watching these 5 videos. If I had had 1 more point I would have passed, but there is no doubt that their failing me was the right decision at this time as I am just not ready for the road and I need more practice in handling the bike at slow speeds, swerving and quick stops.

    So, based on my experience over the last 3 days here is my advice… Practice slow speed turns etc. before you go, get lots of rest, eat well and eat often, before and during the course (at break times) as you are burning a lot of calories while riding, I have blood sugar issues and not eating this morning was a huge mistake! Drink lots of water. When/if you get to choose your bike, choose the one that best suits you and/or is the most like the bike you own or plan to own. I spent 2 days on a Suzuki that had different gear and brake placements than my little Honda Rebel and it was very frustrating. Although there was a Honda Rebel there that I could have chosen, but I didn't notice it until the 2nd day and by that time I didn't feel that it would be right to ask the person riding it if he would switch bikes with me.

    All in all though, it was an excellent class and a fun experience and the guys teaching it did a great job. I am going to practice, practice, practice and then I'll be back to take the "skills test" over again, fortunately I did managed to pass the knowledge test. Thanks to all the guys that spent the last 3 days teaching the class and thank you for helping to keep me safe. All of it was a great experience, except for that hour or so when it rained in buckets. I'll see you again soon!

  18. I took a mandatory course in Oregon called "Team Oregon" It's basically the same test. Absolutely superb and a must for everyone who rides. Thanks for posting this!

  19. whats the requirements for the bikes  I have a sports bike with custom signal lights is that ok for me to use for the test

  20. I am 64 took my first test at 17 on a cb750 past. When I moved to WA. bought a 650 yamha and drove it for two yrs. with out a license. Next was a Harley Sportster. I decided to take the test and past. There were no written tests aside from auto. The mc test was simple and took 3-19 mins much simpler. Just bought another bike to ride with my son, the new test is too long and complicated. I don't think I could pass it at my age and slowed reflexes. Never got in a wreck in forty yrs of driving, but I am too old now.

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