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Idaho STAR Program

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"Rollout" plan for
2013 courses

Courses will be posted to the website as follows:

June courses - April 1
July courses - May 6
August courses - June 3
September courses - July 1
October courses - Aug. 5
Nov. courses - Aug. 30


You can register on line at or call us at 208-639-4540 or toll-free at 888-280-7827.

Idaho Falls &
Coeur d'Alene
Spring Openers
The Idaho STAR Program will be holding two Spring Openers from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in

Idaho Falls, April 20th
Coeur d'Alene, April 27th

The Spring Openers will include riding demonstrations, handouts, giveaways, and information about the factors involved in Idaho’s motorcycle crashes.  The focus will be on what riders can do to better control their bikes and avoid crashes. 
Come say ‘hi’ and enter to win a STAR course gift certificate. There will also be music, coffee, and lots of bikers sharing stories. 
We hope to see you there.

Maximum Braking Technique in 4 Steps

Maximum straight-line braking is a skill many of us don't practice very often. When we need it, however, that practice can make all the difference. To become more skilled at maximum braking, practice under controlled conditions.

Maximum braking is accomplished by fully applying front and rear brakes without locking either wheel. To do this follow these four steps:
  1. Squeeze the front brake smoothly, firmly, and with increasing pressure. Do not grab the brake lever or use abrupt pressure.
  2. As the motorcycle’s weight transfers forward, more traction becomes available at the front wheel, so the front brake can be applied with more and more pressure after braking begins.
  3. Keep your knees in and your eyes up, looking well ahead. This helps you stop the motorcycle in a straight line.
  4. Apply light to lighter pressure to the rear brake pedal to prevent a rear wheel skid. As weight transfers forward, less traction is available at the rear.

Stopping Distance Standards

 These are standards that beginner level rider training or the DMV state test might use:

· 20mph – 23 feet
· 25mph – 31 feet
· 30mph – 44 feet

Skilled riders should be able to stop their motorcycles in less distance:

· 20mph – 15 feet or less*
· 25mph – 20 feet or less*
· 30mph – 30 feet or less*
*NOTE: these distances require pretty aggressive braking.   Be careful, be smooth, and work toward these over time. 

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That's the Brakes!
Getting your bike stopped quickly is one of the most important things you can do in an emergency to prevent a crash.  In this article we’ll explore several factors that determine how long it takes you to get stopped.
Time and Distance
How soon did you see the hazard?  Whether it’s a car stopping quickly in front of you, a car turning across or into your path, or an object in the road too big to go around – how soon you see it, perceive the need to respond, decide that braking is the best response, and then start braking makes a huge difference.  By scanning 20 seconds ahead (scan ahead to a point it will take you 20 seconds to reach), you are likely to see the hazard sooner.  The math is simple.  See it sooner = more time and distance to get stopped.  See it later = less time and distance to get stopped.  At just 30 mph, an extra 2 seconds gives you an extra 88 feet to get stopped.  At 45 mph, those 2 seconds give you another 132 feet. 
Conclusion – scan well ahead, and increase your following distance so you can see more of what’s in front of you.

Many situations that end up with the need for a quick stop have clues.  Some examples include lots of side streets, traffic changing lanes frequently, stop and go traffic, animals running loose near the roadway, children playing near the roadway, a truck in front of you with a poorly secured load, conditions of poor visibility (night, dawn, dusk, fog, glare, rain, dust storm, etc.)…the list goes on.  The point is, when you start to pick up on these clues, you have 3 choices: maintain speed, speed up, or slow down.  If the clues are telling you that the odds are going up of something happening where you will need to stop quickly, slowing down is a good move.  Here is a stopping distance chart from a rider training course – notice how slowing down just 5 or 10 mph shortens the stopping distance.

Conclusion – when the clues in the environment (and/or your ‘gut’) tell you to slow down…slow down.
Using the Brakes
Now we get to the actual physical skills of braking.  This is a very important element, and it’s great to do so, but let’s not lose sight of how much time and distance we can gain with the good visual scanning and appropriate speed adjustments mentioned above.
Crash reports (and observational experience with real riders) tell us that riders often under-brake at the front and over-brake at the rear. For some reason, there is STILL this myth out there that says “stay away from the front brake – you’ll go over the handlebars.”  Another factor here is that when we drive our cars, stopping quickly is accomplished by pushing hard with the right foot.  This ‘habit’ can show up when we are riding if we don’t work at practicing the correct motorcycle specific habits mentioned below.

Another common error is laying the bike down. Have you ever heard a rider say “I had to lay it down?”  Just remember a few things about laying a bike down:
1.    Laying it down IS crashing.  Once the motorcycle is down, all control is lost and the rider is just another flying object. The ability to affect the bike’s speed and/or direction are available only when the motorcycle is on its wheels.
2.    Sliding metal and plastic do not slow you down nearly as well as gripping rubber.
3.    If you are ever in a situation where you KNOW you can’t get stopped in time, ask yourself this question – “how fast do I want to hit it?”  If you answer is “as slow as possible!” (btw - that’s my answer), then we recommend keeping the bike upright and staying on the brakes all the way to impact.  An impact at 5-10mph upright and in control is a very different experience than an impact at 20-30mph sliding on the ground and out of control.


Handling Skids
“But what if I skid the tire?”  Yes, that can happen – especially in an emergency when your adrenaline is pumping (although the more you practice your braking skills, the less often you find yourself skidding).  The best way to handle a skid is to avoid causing one in the first place. But we all make mistakes from time to time.  If you DO get a skid, here is how to correct the problem:
Front-Wheel Skids: Under braking force, a motorcycle’s weight transfers forward. More weight forward equals more traction available for braking. However, too much braking force applied too quickly (before this weight transfer occurs) can result in front-wheel lock-up. This is known as ‘grabbing’ the front brake. Front-wheel skids result in immediate loss of steering control and balance. Failure to fully release the brake lever immediately can result in a crash. The same loss of control can occur from applying the front brake too much as it can from applying it too fast.

If the front wheel locks, release the front brake immediately and completely. Reapply the brake smoothly and properly. To put it simply – release and reapply.

Rear-Wheel Skids: Too often when riders are faced with an emergency situation, they over-brake and lock the rear wheel. A skidding tire is a dangerous condition that can result in a violent crash and serious injury or death.

A rear-wheel lock-up is caused by too much rear brake pressure. As soon as the rear wheel locks, your ability to change direction is lost. To regain that control, the brake must be released. However, if the rear wheel has fishtailed out of alignment with the front, there is a risk of a high side crash. This occurs when the wheels are out of alignment and a locked rear wheel is released. The motorcycle can violently and abruptly snap upright and tumble, throwing the rider into the air ahead of the motorcycle’s path. Even slight misalignment can result in a high side crash. The farther out of alignment the rear wheel becomes, the greater the risk of a high side.

If the rear wheel locks, immediately release the rear brake (before it has a chance to get out of alignment).  Reapply the brake smoothly and properly.  To put it simply (again) – release and reapply.
Conclusion – Practice quick stops regularly to keep your skills sharp.  Get in the habit of ALWAYS using both brakes (yes, even for very easy gradual stops).  We have found that that in an emergency, riders tend to do what they practice good stuff!
You can find a practice guide on the Idaho STAR website - – scroll all the way to the bottom to find the practice guide “for more advanced riders.”
Ride well, ride lots, and keep increasing your ability to stop.  The better our skills can overcome mistakes made by other road users (and sometimes mistakes made by us!), the more miles we can ride ‘incident free!’



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