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Stopping at a light? You're probably doing it wrong.

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I can't even count how many times I've heard people recommend that you should keep it in gear when you come to a stop so that you can get out of the way if someone is going to rear end you. Makes sense, right? I do that as I'm slowing down, watching the person behind me for signs they are NOT slowing down, but as soon as I see that they are stopping, I switch into neutral and stop with enough gap the I still have an escape route. I always thought I was wrong to do it this way--against conventional wisdom that we've all heard a million times--but I feel a little vindicated this morning after watching this excellent safety video. Coming from sport bikes, I do heavily favor my front brake and I absolutely DO hold the front brake at a stop...not realizing what the risk of doing that was. Until now. The entire video is interesting and you will probably see a lot of good things you already do, but I'm referring to the description from about 6:30 to 7:45 in the video. That's vital information I've never heard in 40 years of riding and it will change my riding style a bit. I thought I would share it in case anyone else might benefit from it.

Coincidentally, I think a lot of NC700 riders already do some/most of this because neutral is often hard to find when completely stopped so we find it while we're still rolling, inadvertently using good safety process...just don't hold that front brake at the stop.

As with most things motorcycling, YMMV.
 

670cc

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I have no patience for videos so I rarely watch them, as most are poorly edited and too long. For my benefit, can you explain the reason for shifting to neutral at a stop light? My manual bikes are never in neutral while the engine is running. Never. Neutral is only for pushing a bike around in the garage or performing service.
 

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Me too but I found this one interesting enough to watch it. The stop light portion is just a minute long starting at 6:30 but in a nutshell: if you're in gear with the clutch pulled in and you're hit from behind, it will likely make you dump the clutch and twist the throttle and, even if you dont, if you have the front brake covered (guilty, your honor!) it can flip you over the bars.
 

bigbird

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I watched from 6:30 to 7:45 as suggested.
That's the way I drive.
I never leave my bike in gear at a traffic light with the clutch pulled in unless the traffic will start to move in the next few seconds.
However I also check my mirrors and surroundings before making that decision to engage neutral and I hold the bars but do not cover the brake unless on a slope.
The most important thing I believe is to watch your mirrors until stopped traffic is about 2 or 3 cars deep behind you, then change to neutral with no front brake applied until traffic starts to move forward again.
With a DCT, I do the exact same thing.
I do and have been doing what the video suggests as long as I've been riding a motorcycle.
It just makes sense.
I'm not preaching, and I really don't care what anybody else does.
Do what makes YOU feel safe.
 

Rabbit

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I’ll have to watch now, but wouldn’t you think that if hit hard enough from behind to cause you to lose control you’d either go over the bars anyway or have way more serious problems?
 

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I’ll have to watch now, but wouldn’t you think that if hit hard enough from behind to cause you to lose control you’d either go over the bars anyway or have way more serious problems?
I’d think it would probably knock the bike out from under you (unless you have a top box) and yes leave you with more serious problems. Fortunately, I have no experience in this. Yet!
 

potter0o

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Like most motorcycle things to each their own. My version of this is that the rider is going to accept the hit versus being in a position to do something to avoid the hit by being in gear. Obviously in addition to being in gear there is leaving enough space in front of the stop, being in the right lane position to filter between the vehicles and situational awareness of watching the cars behind to make sure they are stopping. I didn't see an aha moment that would alter my current routine and training. To each their own.
 

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I watched from 6:30 to 7:45 as suggested.
That's the way I drive.
I never leave my bike in gear at a traffic light with the clutch pulled in unless the traffic will start to move in the next few seconds.
However I also check my mirrors and surroundings before making that decision to engage neutral and I hold the bars but do not cover the brake unless on a slope.
The most important thing I believe is to watch your mirrors until stopped traffic is about 2 or 3 cars deep behind you, then change to neutral with no front brake applied until traffic starts to move forward again.
With a DCT, I do the exact same thing.
I do and have been doing what the video suggests as long as I've been riding a motorcycle.
It just makes sense.
I'm not preaching, and I really don't care what anybody else does.
Do what makes YOU feel safe.
I know there are wide ranging opinions about this which is why I used YMMV. I’m just too lazy to hold the clutch all the time when I know they are stopped behind me.
 

itsmenc700

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I dont mean to start a fight, and I understand leaving it in gear, and I have heard the "in case I need to get out of the way" story as well, having said that -
1 - your pointed forward waiting for the light
2 - IF you see the guy behind you either coming up not stopping - the reaction time is small
3 - NO way you can move in time to avoid getting hit. You might not get hit. The bike will and take you down.
There just isnt enough time, and IF you spend all your time watching the mirrors, that is not very safe.
Just my two cents.
 

670cc

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Me too but I found this one interesting enough to watch it. The stop light portion is just a minute long starting at 6:30 but in a nutshell: if you're in gear with the clutch pulled in and you're hit from behind, it will likely make you dump the clutch and twist the throttle and, even if you dont, if you have the front brake covered (guilty, your honor!) it can flip you over the bars.
Thank you for the summary. It took me under 10 seconds to read your post instead of watching a much longer video.

Seems to me if the bike is hit from behind it is going to be pushed out from under you. You will let go of the clutch but also will no longer have a grip on the throttle to be able to twist it. You will also not likely go forward over the bars, rather you would probably be on the hood of the car behind that hit you, or if you have luggage blocking your rearward ejection, you’d be on the ground beside or under the bike. Being in neutral or in gear is not going to change that outcome. However, being in neutral would have made it more difficult to evade the pending impact. This video, although I didn’t watch it, seems to be a conversation starter or entertainment, nothing more. It will in no way influence my current behavior.
 

halfSpinDoctor

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FYI - motorcycle accident statistics (for the US) show that being rear-ended at a stop is one of the least common causes of motorcycle accidents. Not to imply you shouldn't protect against it, but that your efforts should be far more focused on known dangers such as cars turning left across your right of way and other more likely scenarios.
 

the Ferret

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I was rear ended lightly once on my ST 1300, but with anti lock brakes on most cars these days, I doubt you'd have enough warning (no squealing tires) or truthfully room, to implement a very successful escape plan.
 

Bcsmith

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Like most motorcycle things to each their own. My version of this is that the rider is going to accept the hit versus being in a position to do something to avoid the hit by being in gear. Obviously in addition to being in gear there is leaving enough space in front of the stop, being in the right lane position to filter between the vehicles and situational awareness of watching the cars behind to make sure they are stopping. I didn't see an aha moment that would alter my current routine and training. To each their own.
Whoa! I would never accept being hit from behind as an option. I will continue to hold clutch while in gear with an escape route while monitoring my rear view mirrors.
 

mzflorida

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It is highly unlikely, whether riding a motorcycle or walking down the sidewalk, when personal harm is imminent that a human will do nothing. Whatever you decide is best for you train for that set of actions. Not having the muscle memory to respond in a way that you feel makes the most sense is probably the biggest risk in either of the two choices here. The outcome may not be different but your odds of surviving the event are increased when you train to create muscle memory to respond to threats. By the way, this applies to almost all threats, motorcycle or otherwise.

Obviously if you don’t see it coming all bets are off.
 

dduelin

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It is highly unlikely, whether riding a motorcycle or walking down the sidewalk, when personal harm is imminent that a human will do nothing. Whatever you decide is best for you train for that set of actions. Not having the muscle memory to respond in a way that you feel makes the most sense is probably the biggest risk in either of the two choices here. The outcome may not be different but your odds of surviving the event are increased when you train to create muscle memory to respond to threats. By the way, this applies to almost all threats, motorcycle or otherwise.

Obviously if you don’t see it coming all bets are off.
Yes, muscle memory training is everything and playing the What If & What Would I Do Game on a regular basis is an important street riding strategy. A rider on another forum told a story about riding down the interstate when "suddenly all I saw was brake lights in all three lanes. There was nothing I could do, every lane was blocked." He locked up the brakes on his non-ABS bike and went down. As I saw that thread I had just read a book about how the human brain allows us to ride motorcycles to the level we do and it had just such as this example of how to see the escape lanes that are there but our brains tend not to see. (The Upper Half Of The Motorcycle by Bernt Speigel, Whitehorse Press) When panicked our brains focus on the threat unless we consciously look for an escape route and release the panic. I posted this and the unfortunate rider denied the ability to "do anything, there was no where to go." Consider that by design interstates have 12' wide lanes with a 4' to 10' wide paved shoulder on the left and the right shoulder is minimum paved 10'. The width of an average car in the USA is about 6.5', a full size SUV 7', a tractor trailer 8.5'. With a vehicle stopped in each lane there are still escape lanes open right in front of us that are 4' to 6' wide plus the paved shoulders. But the vehicles ahead were not stopped but were decelerating under braking from 70 mph. In that situation closing distance is rapidly shrinking and red lights are everywhere in front of us. Panic sets in and all escape routes close up unless we have "seen" this situation before in our street survival strategizing. Does our brain see a solid wall of steel or a wall with big escape routes in it?

In context of this thread my own strategy is to come to a stop at the edge of my lane behind the vehicle ahead. Clutch in, first gear selected, my threat scan taking in the mirror view every few seconds. I want to see around the vehicle ahead and be best positioned to shoot into the gap ahead if I see a car approaching from behind. that doesn't look like it can or will stop. After a couple vehicles stop behind me I might slip into neutral.
 
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Jt105

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I leave it in gear.
It's a very rare exception that I click it into neutral.

I ride with a few friends that put it in neutral at stoplights. When the light turns green, I motor away while they monkey around with the shifter and eventually get going. I have seen cars start to go, then have to hit the brakes because one motorcycle out of the group did not move. Seems like added risk to mess with neutral at stop lights. You're a sitting duck. No matter your reaction time to any perceived threat, it will always be longer if you have to put it in gear first before reacting.
 

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I leave it in gear.
It's a very rare exception that I click it into neutral.

I ride with a few friends that put it in neutral at stoplights. When the light turns green, I motor away while they monkey around with the shifter and eventually get going. I have seen cars start to go, then have to hit the brakes because one motorcycle out of the group did not move. Seems like added risk to mess with neutral at stop lights. You're a sitting duck. No matter your reaction time to any perceived threat, it will always be longer if you have to put it in gear first before reacting.
Gosh, how hard is it to watch the light or two cars ahead move and click into first before it's time to move? I'm suffering poster's remorse from this whole thing.
 

670cc

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Gosh, how hard is it to watch the light or two cars ahead move and click into first before it's time to move?
How hard (or easy) is it just to leave the bike in gear and not even mess with the shifter at all?

I'm suffering poster's remorse from this whole thing.
When the title says you might be doing it wrong, that is likely to stir an emotional response from some people. The thread‘s replies indicate that many riders have given thought to this scenario and have established their ways to deal with the risks.
 
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