Bret Tkacs is a motorcycle instructor who specializes in adventure riding training. On his YouTube channel Mototrek, he documents his off-road adventures and teaches us about certain aspects of adventure riding. We recently covered one of his videos in which he compares a production DwT ith a retrofitted Rekluse automatic transmission, which we thought was pretty neat.
In his latest video, Bret teaches us “how to crash”. Of course, nobody wants to crash and you can’t really practice crashing. However, there are certain habits you can develop to improve your mental and physical reaction to a crash. Obviously, this advice works best for self-inflicted falls. In crashes involving other vehicles, some of these lessons are harder to apply.
While demonstrating front-wheel braking to one of his classes, Bret ended up laying his GS down, which was caught on video. Going over the footage, he analyzes the mistakes he made that caused the crash but also pinpoints the things he did right once the crash became inevitable. Here are some of the highlights of his “unintentional rapid dismount”.
Look Up And Ahead
This is one of the first things you learn and practice when jumping in the saddle for the first time: look up and ahead in the direction you wish to go. Bret explains that up until the bike reached an unsalvageable angle, his gaze remained on the horizon, in the direction he wanted to go. He also explains that it wasn’t something he “forced” himself to do—it came naturally because he practiced it a lot.
If you start losing control of the motorcycle but somehow manage to react quickly enough to pull it back up, looking in the right place can make a difference between ending up on the side anyway and actually completing the save.
Ride It To The Very End
Bret explains that he always tells his students not to jump off the bike if they fall. As he demonstrated in his own fall, he stayed on the bike until he couldn’t physically stay in the saddle anymore. Once the bike reached a certain angle, the seat pushed on his leg and pushed his right foot off the peg.
He also points to the fact that his right foot got dragged to the back in the motion, adding that soft saddlebags are what saved him from injuring his foot. Had the bike been equipped with solid panniers, he likely would have hurt himself.
Don’t Try To Save The Bike
Past a certain angle, there is no point in trying to save the motorcycle or dampen the fall. In doing so, you are more likely to hurt yourself. As all four-year-olds sang at the top of their lungs on repeat in 2013: let it go.
Tuck And Roll
Once the bike reached the “point of no return” (read: an angle so steep that there are absolutely no chances of saving the situation), Bret explains that that’s when his gaze dropped to the ground to gauge the fall and react accordingly.
He explains that as soon as his hand touched the ground, he initiated a rolling motion with his body. This is the safest way to take a fall, as taught in a number of disciplines including martial arts. Work with the motion, not against it. He recommends that you stay as relaxed as possible and just follow the motion. Think Woody when Andy walks into the room in Toys Story.
Trying to brace for the impact and hold back with the hand or the elbow focuses the energy in one place, creating an injury-inducing impact. The rolling motion distributes and dissipates the energy instead.
Don’t Get Up Right Away
Bret says he was fairly lucky in his tumble—he wasn’t going very fast and landed fairly softly. In some cases, the fall can be a lot harsher and the impact, a lot stronger. Before getting up and running to the bike to pick it up right away, allow yourself some time. You might actually be hurt, but because of the adrenaline, you don’t feel or notice the pain right away, which can ultimately worsen the injury.
Stay Positive About It
Crashes happen to everyone and it’s part of the risks we accept to take by getting in the saddle. If you take a tumble, remain positive about it. Try to avoid getting too scared or angry about going down, because as soon as you get back in the saddle, you’re likely to make more mistakes.