Speed & Gear phases (IPSGA) test & motorcycle training tips

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Speed & Gear phase of IPSGA

For many aspects of advanced riding, speed and gear are linked and overlap during the approach to a hazard. Riders must remain within the speed limit and manage their speed, such that they can stop safely within the distance they can see to be clear on their side of the road.

With advanced riding there remain the three methods of braking, involving engine, front and rear brakes. What needs to develop further is effective/intuitive ‘throttle sense’ as an integral part of adopting the correct speed and correct gear. Throttle sense is also referred to as ‘acceleration sense’ and involves using the correct gear to facilitate direct machine response. This means that by being in a mid-range gear, riders can accelerate and decelerate without braking or changing gear.

Mastering engine braking reduces reliance on the brakes, which results in a smoother and more stable machine. Developing effective ‘throttle sense’ whilst in a responsive gear results in less braking and fewer gear changes. These skills take time to master, but result in a more fluid riding style that results in more progress, less speed and improved levels of concentration and ultimately, rider safety.

Both brakes should be used together, when the bike is in an upright position and travelling in a straight line. Use the front brake slightly before the rear brake and as the bike dips from front brake application, use the rear brake lightly to stabilise the machine and continue with the front brake to reduce speed further if necessary.

The application of the front brake triggers the brake light switch. It is acceptable to close the throttle and gently apply the front brake only in certain circumstances. This action results in the motorcycle slowing down when the throttle is closed and a gentle press of the lever will cause the rear brake light to illuminate. This can be useful for the rider to reduce speed slightly by using engine braking, whilst giving ‘slowing down’ information to the vehicles behind. This is particularly useful if arriving at a slower speed limit with a car very close behind.

There are times when only the rear brake should be used, as applying the front brake in certain situations can be dangerous. The rear brake can be used in isolation when travelling slowly when turning at a junction, riding slowly in traffic, bringing the machine to a controlled stop and whenever there is steering input to the handlebars. Should a rider find themselves travelling too fast during cornering, it is advised to shut the throttle and apply rear brake only to reduce speed – although in a perfect scenario the speed should be reduced before the bend.

Gear phase (IPSGA)

The lower gears are sometimes referred to as power gears and the higher gears as the speed gears. The intermediate gears (with good throttle sense) can be used to control the bike’s speed. Throttle/acceleration sense is the ability to use the correct gear to have direct engine response. By being in a mid range gear riders can accelerate and decelerate, thus increasing and decreasing speed without the need to brake or change gear.

Riders should preferably use the sequential gearbox to go up or down one gear at a time. Slowing down normally with the full use of each gear results in an extended/smoother braking process. Correctly and fully releasing the clutch between each gear change helps to match engine and road speed.

If a motorcycle has a rev range of 10,000 rpm, the mid range revs should be used to control the machine in each gear. This means that by using revs between 3,000 – 7,000 rpm in each gear, in the correct circumstances this will give good acceleration and deceleration through the full range of a motorcycles gearbox.

Key learning points - Information

  • Slowly build on braking pressure until you fully understand how they work
  • Use brakes independently to see what the different characteristics are
  • It is important to understand how to correctly use the brakes and gears to slow down effectively
  • Practice using higher revs in lower gears if you are guilty of riding in high gears
  • Avoid using the front brake at slow speeds, particularly when turning
  • Don’t use the front brake when the bike is banked over when cornering
  • Never use the rear brake as the primary brake to reduce speed quickly
  • You should avoid using the engine as a brake, ie changing down a gear to slow the bike down on the engine alone
  • Never snatched or brake aggressive – Always progressive and smoothly
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