Skills school: Eyes on the prize


The way you use your vision defines every decision you make on road, off-road and on track. So use it effectively…

Dave’s done a 123mph lap of the TT, rides an Aprilia Tuono V4 on the road, and is crew chief for Rapid Honda’s British Superbike

Welcome to the third instalment of MCN’s Riding Masterclass series. Having covered precision steering last week, the experts at Rapid Training now turn their attention to visual skills – possibly the easiest way to transform your riding.

Great riders can see and interpret far more detail much earlier than novices, and at far higher speeds, which allows them much more time and space to react and effortlessly handle whatever comes their way. It might look like a freakish talent when you’re trying to keep up with a faster rider, but it’s most definitely not – these visual skills can be learned by any rider. Follow this week’s tips and check out the video by following the QR code.

Improve your observation

There are three ways of improving your observation. Firstly, if you see hazards earlier, you’ll have more time to process the implications and develop a plan. Keeping your eyes up and looking further ahead is a good start and most riders – even experienced ones – don’t look far enough ahead. The trick is not to be complacent and to keep checking where you’re looking – it’s easy for your gaze to be drawn in by hazards as they approach.

Secondly, learn to see more detail. With focused practice, you can take in more detail ahead of and behind you. So instead of just seeing a corner, you see a righthander under some trees with a van approaching from the other direction.

‘Decisions are dynamic and complex’

Thirdly, you get in the habit of continuously observing – we call it ‘rolling road vision’. This means you continuously scan and update your observation, rather than fixating on any particular hazard.

bike on road

Supercharge your interpretation

Highly developed observation skills are not enough. If you want to achieve your potential you must learn to accurately assess the implications of what you see.

The easiest way to make sure you do this is to continuously apply the ‘so what?’ test. Say you see an adverse camber. So what? It could affect your traction and throw you off line. You see an empty side road. So what? A car might arrive as you approach and are past the point of no return.

bike turning corner

Read more on how to perfect your technique in the latest issue of MCN, head to stores to grab your copy now, or subscribe to MCN so you can keep up with MCN’s Riding Masterclass every week.