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Police preach Mick Doohan’s ‘Sixth Sense’ theories

Bike Torque TV
Mick Doohan

Queensland Police will this morning (21 July, 2018) preach the road-craft theories of five-time world motorcycle champion Mick Doohan which he calls “riders’ sixth sense”.

His theories are presented in a 2016 series of Queensland Government videos teaching riders to recognise and exercise their sixth sense when riding.

The sixth sense is the instinct motorcycle riders develop to read the road and conditions, stay focused and be aware of potential hazards when they ride.

Motorcycle riders from the Springwood Road Policing Unit will be at Springwood Suzuki, 112 Kingston Road, Underwood, Logan City from 9am to 2pm today to preach the sixth sense to riders.DayGlo Queensland Police witnesses mick

In a police press release, Senior Sergeant Michael Carige says they will discuss the “potential risks of riding in urban streets, hinterland and rural roads, and the factors that can impact rider safety”.

Police will be happy to answer questions you might have about motorcycle safety,” the release says.

Representatives from the Department of Transport and Main Roads and Logan City Council will also attend.

Sixth sense videos

The five videos in the Sixth Sense series represent Mick’s theories on riding on the road, even though we believe Mick rarely does.

In fact, Mick isn’t featured in any of the video’s riding sequences which are performed on some of the most scenic and challenging roads in South East Queensland.

Controversially, Mick also doesn’t recommend advanced rider training with professionals.

Instead, he suggests riders already have an innate sixth sense; “that unique instinct all riders share that helps us read the road, the conditions, the potential hazards and stay focused and in control”.

He refers to the sixth sense as perceiving the correct speed for corners, being aware of erratic movements of other vehicles and knowing when peer pressure puts you out of your comfort zone and skill level.

“The more you develop and hone your (sixth sense), the better your chances are of surviving to ride another day,” he says.

The videos are included on a government website called ”Join the drive”.

After his intro video explaining his sixth sense theory, there are four more videos:

In “Cornering”, he says if you “start looking short or fixating on that gum tree at the side of the road the chances are you’re gonna be shaking the koalas out of it real soon”.

In “Group Riding”, Mick says it’s “always a good idea to swap over at rest breaks to share the load”.

In “Returned Riders” he recommends buying a new bike rather than “dusting off the old one” because they are “safer, more rideable and more reliable than ever”.

In “Road Craft”, he suggests you give yourself more time in the wet. “Set off earlier and take it easier on the ride. Or choose not to hit the road at all, that works every time.”

Mick has featured in several rider safety advertising campaigns before, including one in 2014 with the RACQ and Motorbike Writer.

He has some interesting and thought-provoking theories in the Sixth Sense videos.

A few may actually surprise some riders: invest in a helmet intercom; ride in staggered formation in groups; and do not trail brake through a corner.

“Try to stay off the brakes as much as you can, it sounds wrong if you’ve got your turning-in point and your approach speed right you’ll be in control and the bike should handle the corner no worries,” he says.

What do you think of Mick’s Sixth Sense theories? Leave your comments below.

  1. Not sure if he is against trail braking as a technique or saying that getting your approach speed right in the first place is preferable.

    1. Getting it right is always preferable But trail braking is not as good a technique as people think it is as it adds an extra level of failure to cornering.
      If you were to get a momentary lockup due to trail braking it could be enough to kill you, getting high sided into oncoming traffic is almost always fatal.
      The rules of riding are:
      The road is not a race track there is no run off and everything is there to kill you!
      The road is always covered in oil or some other landmine like a branch a muffler or a dead roo!
      Everyone is out to kill you and sometimes they actually really intend to do it!
      And on the other side of that blind bend is a stopped truck or an idiot on the wrong side of the road or oil or what ever you can imagine.
      The pedestrians dogs and kids on the side of the road will always run out infront of you especially when you’ve taken your eyes off them.
      And the brakes aren’t always the best option to avoid an accident.
      There’s probably a lot more but thinking for yourself and thinking before you act is always best.

      1. You missed adding that when approaching an intersection always assume you have not been seen, less chance of being caught by surprise when a vehicle starts to pull out in front of you.

  2. As an instructor here in Qld, I do use Mick’s videos. My students feel they get a great deal from them, and he is viewed by them as a credible voice. He never uses the words trail braking in the videos, so I think people need to be cautious about interpreting things they hear, particularly when we hear things as an experienced rider, vs new rider. The way the information is presented in the video, coupled with the way I use it to guide group discussion about topics covered, is very useful. I have other videos I use as well that are very useful.

  3. I completely agree with Mick’s sixth sense. You do develop that sixth sense when you have ridden for many years and it becomes even more developed when you have had some scary seat of the pants moments like most of us have. I know this might not be what a lot of riders want to hear, but having music blaring in your ears dulls or even snuffs out a key sense required when riding your bike.

  4. “that unique instinct all riders share that helps us read the road, the conditions, the potential hazards and stay focused and in control”.

    Unfortunately a lot of riders don’t have this, and are often totally clueless. I suspect most of these types are latecomers and if there is a “sixth sense” it only comes from learning and loving to learn at a very early age.

    There is a similar trend in flying, where people who try it out later in life as “something new to do” have no innate talent for it. The people who have to fly because they have a compulsion to fly like a bird are the ones who make good pilots. The ones that want to be airline pilots for the money or lifestyle are able enough and the training is designed to get them a licence, but they are not as skilled or as safe.

    Some people are just not suited to certain scenarios, but everybody and his dog is out there trying to teach or come up with new ways to teach where they will probably not succeed because there has to be some innate talent in the student first. Apply this to any subject you like and you’ll agree.

  5. I am not sure I agree with the factors Mick cites, but I have, in what I am embarrased to have to say, 62 years of riding without a break on more than a month or two-and zero crashes in road riding, I encounter many many occasions where I instinctively take precautionary action before a risk or danger appears. How this occurs I do not know, and I pressed TAC VicRoads etc etc to get a group of similar long term crash free riders and observe them to see I we can find out exactly what is going on. This failed (what a surprise) every effort over 20 years as the safety bodies consistently refused to even consider it. Even when “naturalistic driving’ studies began in OZ-they were for cars only(!) and so the opportunity was missed again. I dont know what you have to do to get the safety establishment to take positive safety seriously.. check my website to see if I should or should not be taken seriously by them (

  6. Below I quote from Google!
    What Are the Six Human Senses? The five senses traditionally ascribed to humans are vision, hearing, taste, smell and touch. A sixth “sense” could be proprioception, the perception of body position, which is important for balance and agility in movement
    So looking at what Mick says you might associate it with that sense or contact us riders have planted in the seat of the machine that is directed completely by our movements. Therefore if we can develop and enhance this “proprioception” with our riding skills surely we can be better and safer riders while minimising the injuries to us if the worst should happen. My eldest son and Girlfriend have now started riding and I am forwarding anything to them to help him stay safe and enjoy his riding life.

  7. Mick’s sixth sense sounds a lot like everyday common sense to me.
    What is interesting is his non recommendation of professional advanced rider training.
    Some of the best things I have learned were at the California Superbike School at Phillip Island. They might not be an advanced road riding training school but they are an advanced cornering school as they told us.
    I don’t recall them ever mentioning trail braking into corners, instead they had us braking before the turnpoint and then accelerating through the corner.
    The good thing learned on the track was that the road is no place to ride fast safely.

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