Ask RideApart: How Do You Stay Focused While Riding a Motorcycle?

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stay focussed while riding

You ask, the community answers. It’s Ask RideApart. This week: How do you stay focused while riding your motorcycle?

From Melbourne, Australia, reader Nick asks: “I’ve just read Jon Langtson’s article about staying alert on long rides which prompted me to ask the question: How do other people prepare for a fast ride through the twisties?

“How do you sharpen your mind and focus on the task at hand? Do you listen to music or prefer to listen to the bike? What are the biggest distractions to you when trying to ride at speed around corners?”

What tricks do you use to get and stay focused? How do you stay focused on riding your motorcycle without letting your mind wander?

Have a question for us? Post it on our Facebook page, or on Twitter using the #AskRideApart hash tag. We will select the best topic from our submissions and post them here each week.

  • Brian

    I think there was an article posted possibly here or on one of the forums I am on ( I can’t rightly recall), about how many things a cop notices in a 3 minute period. There was a video accompanying it where an officer talked outloud of how they stay aware by calling out all of the visual cues they notice as not only a part of their job, but in beating the dullness that puts most to virtual sleep. Calling out those visual cues helps you greatly in not only when you will surprise yourself in what you might be noticing, but in possibly slowing you down just enough to keep you from going over your limit into an 11/10ths crash situation. One example I’ll give you is that I look at forward information like telephone poles and wires to read how a bend is going to go, or the trees to see the grove like seperation. There are many things that can be said or suggested, but if you are always looking forward for information on the road and situations coming, then you you will be generally aware and therefore focused. The road comes to you very fast, and all of its surroundings. Keeping your head up and turning and looking for that information, as much as you possibly can, taking in all that you can is key, not only for your awareness and enjoyment, but for your safety.

    • Chris Gillham

      this. If I know the road I talk to myself like i’m in a rally, as in, long sweeping left to hard right over crest to straight

  • Luke

    Might make no sense or work for anyone but me, but when I chew gum I feel much more focused on riding. I think it’s because I have an outlet for any nervous energy and maybe I can’t chew gum, ride my motorcycle, and think of anything else at the same time. (insert jokes at will).

  • Bill J

    How can you NOT stay focused? You’re on two-wheels; everyone else is on four-wheels. You’re 700 lbs plus bike; everyone else is 3000 lbs or more. Your hands are on handlebars; everyone else is texting their girlfriend/boyfriend. If that doesn’t keep you focused, you need another hobby…

    • Jai S.

      Riding for many people isn’t a hobby, it’s transportation.

      A few weeks ago I road from Orange County to Phoenix and back. I road, not because it’s my hobby, but because I found it much more enjoyable than driving. That being said, after two, three, four, or five hours in the saddle focus becomes a chore. The fact that you are on a motorcycle doesn’t magically make you focus, and because you are struggling to stay focused at the end of an all day ride doesn’t mean that motorcycling is not for you.

      Tips like the ones here are actually quite helpful to those that ride over a hundred miles in a day.

  • Tony M

    Wearing earplugs prevent fatigue in both your hearing and in your mind. In general keeping loose and comfortable early on in the ride helps prevent fatigue and losing focus later on in the ride. For long rides, think of them as any endurance activity, like long distance running, and make sure you prepare early on for the fatigue that will hit later in the day.

    • ThinkingInImages

      I am a lot more focused when I’m wearing earplugs. When I plan a long trip, I plan in breaks and road changes. Even driving, a long droning, nothing changes but the exit signs, road trip will have my mind wandering. (I was a lot more focused when I drove a car wit a manual transmission.)

  • mikki sixx

    I narrate the world, traffic, general going’s-on around me out loud. To myself. In my full face.
    Lots of color commentary.

  • Mark Vizcarra

    My tinnitus forces me to listen to music. So I dont go insane. Yes I do wear earplugs on top of my helmet speakers or use my handlebar mounted system.

  • Guy

    My mayor once told me that crack cocaine does the trick. If it helps him run the city I’m sure it does wonders on long road trips.

    • eddi

      If you’re taking advice from politicians, motorcycling just dropped to second craziest thing you do.

  • Sid Widmer

    I start to loose focus when I have a lot on my mind. This is usually why I took my bike out in the first place, to escape the noise of life. If my mind is wondering I just ride faster and concentrate on riding well. As soon as I make it about the riding every other thought fades away. The arrest place for me to keep focus is commuting of the highway where I am just covering ground to get from point A to B. When this happens I just start playing riding related games. I practice seeing what’s in my periphery, I mess around with body position. I shift my focus near and far because it exercises the eyes and increases the speed in which you can focus. I try to identify makes and models of cars coming at me as quickly as I can before they come into full view. Anything to keep from spacing.

    • Davidabl2

      We have a winner.

  • STRTRRR

    This may sound crazy – and hearing what it must sound like definitely would – but I have found that talking to myself, aloud, inside my helmet, about what I am seeing and doing makes an enormous difference.

    • Tim Watson

      I’m with you on this – I do this too.

      • http://Rideapart.com/ Curtis

        Same. And making up stupid songs about things that I’m doing.

    • worship_mud

      i make engine sounds… :D

    • Blake Harrison

      I do this while listening to music. I know most people don’t like the music idea, but it with keep my ADD mind focused on everything else. Honestly I feel that having ADD helps me with riding. I am able to more easily focus on multiple things at 1 times and know my surroundings more clearly. But that’s probably just me. Lol.

  • Luis Fernando Ponce

    I stay in focus riding at 80-120 where others go 130-200 kmph. Slow down it is for me the best way to catch up with surroundings.

  • Slacker

    I always visualize my path of travel through the corners. I also will work to try new things I’m reading about or learning. Music helps me bring me into the environment, but it’s not absolutely vital. Typically I’ll just remember my process of preparing for the corner, establishing a line and then hitting the apex before preparing for the next corner.

  • Kr Tong

    proper sleep, proper nutrition, caffeine. If you don’t feel “focused” or whatever, don’t ride.

    • Kr Tong

      Also wanted to add that there was a study showing caffeine worked better than sleep when it came to sharpening up a fatigued car driver.

  • Donnie Byers

    I just think about all those youtube motorcycle crash videos and how I’d be roadkill if I get too lackadaisical while out riding. Nothing says “wakeup” than seeing a rider helicopter in the air after being clipped at an intersection…

  • Glenn Rueger

    Crashing in the mountains has improved my focus.
    The concept of crashing is best realized after having crashed.