The Secret Skills of
Motorcycle Riding - wBW
The Secret Skills of Motorcycle Riding, Parts I and II
by Allan Kirk, New Zealand Motorcycle Safety Consultants
ISBN 978-1-877177-62 -0 and ISBN 978-1-877177-63-7
webBikeWorld.com Book Review by Rick K.
There can never be enough books, videos, webcasts or even podcasts that
teach motorcycle riding skills. I'm a voracious consumer of them all.
I learned a long time ago that a continuous regimen of training, practice
and more training is a vital part of the motorcycling experience, and it
helps me to feel safer and more confident in my riding.
Of course, I'm always aware that confidence shouldn't become
over-confidence, which is the sophomore jinx of new riders.
I think a philosophy and commitment to continuous training and practice is missing
the vast majority of motorcycle riders today, unfortunately, which is
probably one of the primary reasons that motorcycle accident rates are too
Not every scrap of riding skills information will be valuable, and riders may, in fact,
disagree with some of it. And they should disagree, if it comes from
some self-taught grizzled veteran who has only a brain full of motorcycle
urban legend to share.
So I'm always on the lookout for more information that be absorbed, digested
and either used or discarded, and that's where these new "Secret Skills"
books by Allan Kirk come in to play.
I've been following Allan Kirk's New
Zealand Motorcycle Safety Consultants (NZMSC) "MegaRider" website for many
years, and it's been one of the secret ingredients in my secret sauce for
NZMSC is a "non-profit body working on motorcycle safety and riding skills
promotion in New Zealand and internationally via the Internet", according to
the MegaRider website. They once managed the MegaRider email list, and
about once per month or so I'd get an interesting email, filled with tips,
tricks, actual rider lessons learned and even some motorcycle haiku.
If I recall, they even had a school or a test or something that riders could
take and become official MegaRiders. I'm not sure what happened to the
email list, but I'd guess that NZMSC decided that it was "giving away the crown jewels",
as it were, by sending such a valuable missive for free.
Well, the email list may no longer be with us, but the MegaRider philosophy
is (UPDATE: It has been
replaced by a blog). Allan Kirk is writing a series of "Secret Skills" books that
are available either in print or electronically in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)
format. He sent us the electronic versions (which include color
illustrations, rather than the black and white illustrations in the hard
copies) of Secret Skills of Motorcycle Riding, Parts I and II.
The plan is to have a series of 6 books that "will build to a very high
skill level, higher than any other books covering on-road riding", according
Secret Skills Part I starts with some basic information on choosing and
buying a motorcycle and motorcycle riding gear and then covers the basic
skills, tips, techniques, tricks and traps for new riders. But riders
of any skill level can benefit by the information; I found myself either
nodding in agreement or shaking my head in mild disagreement with the
which is just as it should be for a discerning rider who has developed an
individual skill and experience base.
It's always good to get back to basics and to
refresh the memory with the basic and necessary building blocks of safe
I realized I've either forgotten, or perhaps forgot to put into practice,
some of the basic riding techniques that have been proven over time.
This is why it is so important to build a library of motorcycle
riding skills books, videos and information, and to keep referring to it
year after year. I find it useful to refer to mine on cold winter nights, when I'll
pull out all my old books and videos and pick a few chapters to read, just
to refresh and recharge the little gray cells.
Secret Skills Part II builds on Part I. A small amount of the information is
repeated, and I can probably argue about the order of the chapters,
because some of the information doesn't flow as well as it could or should,
in my opinion.
But it's all useful and although perhaps not as highly
polished as some of the big publishing house trade books, it's still a
nicely concentrated dose of Allan Kirk's 30+ years of motorcycle riding
experience, presented in a no-nonsense style.
While we're picking some nits, I'd also argue against the use of the
gender-specific pronoun "he" in all the references to motorcycle riders.
Women are far too important to the sport and, in fact, are said to be the
fastest growing segment of the sport in some countries, so I'd suggest a
revision to the text to make it gender neutral.
And what about the disagreements?
At first glance, I was a bit puzzled by the chapter on "laying it down" as
an accident avoidance procedure, a skill I first considered to be outdated.
But I do understand that the topic is part of an interesting discussion that
prompts the rider to imagine what might really happen during an accident and
to try and mentally prepare for it, which might, Kirk suggests, just save
the rider's life if the real thing comes along.
By the way, I don't subscribe to the "there are only two types of riders:
those who have fallen and those who will" philosophy. I've been riding
motorcycles since 1972 without an accident or a fall, and I don't plan on
having one any time soon.
Not that it can't or won't happen, but I personally don't feel that it is
constructive to assume that it is a fait accompli . I have full confidence in myself
and my ability to anticipate and avoid the idiots on the road -- and in dealing with the
worst case scenario if it did occur -- but I absolutely do not think it is
inevitable, and my 35 years of riding proves it to my satisfaction.
UPDATE #2: The .pdf volumes of "Secret Skills" 1 and 2 are now
for sale in .pdf format on the MegaRiders site. More advanced volumes
will be sold in hard copy only. Contact MegaRiders for more information.
My feeling is that you can't get enough knowledge about motorcycle riding
and that every rider should develop a continuous learning and practice
regimen that spans multiple years.
The Secret Skills of Motorcycle
Riding books are the distillation of an experienced rider's many years of
experience and they are a worthwhile addition to a motorcycle riding skills
Review Date: November 2007
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