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Before You Dismount
Six things to do

By: James R. Davis

We all have our own unique way of doing things. Some people, for example, do exactly two things before they dismount their bikes: they turn off their ignition switch and they put down their side stand. Given a little thought about it, however, I think there are a few more details to attend to (however 'uniquely') before we dismount our motorcycles, and if we make a habit of doing them we can avoid some major trouble for ourselves.

  • Use your engine cutoff switch to shut off your engine

Some people seem to think that switch is there for use only in an emergency. Not true. The reason you use the engine cutoff switch rather than the ignition switch to shut off your engine is because you do not have to take your hand off the grip in order to do so. Further, if you make a habit of doing so you will build 'muscle memory' as to where it is so that you can quickly and unerringly find it in the event of an emergency.
  • Turn your ignition switch off

Obviously, unless you do this your lighting system is still on and your battery is discharging. By the way, it is good form to get into the habit of using your LEFT hand to turn off the switch (if possible) so that you can keep your front brake lever activated.

  • Turn your fuel valve (if you have one) to the OFF position

A stuck needle valve in one of your carbs can allow a great deal of gasoline to leak past it. If a needle valve should happen to stick while your motorcycle is left in your garage overnight, that leaking gasoline can cost you your house and your life. When you start your motorcycle you should always turn your fuel valve to the RUN/ON position. Thus, by making it a habit of turning the valve off at night you also eliminate the risk of having left it in the reserve position (had it been there when you last dismounted) and running out of gasoline on the road somewhere.
  • Put your side stand down - and confirm that it is locked in place

After leaning the bike onto the side stand you have insured that it is stable from side to side before you try to dismount. (Your bike should be in first gear and you should push the bike forward until all the play in your gears is gone before leaning the bike onto the side stand.)
  • Turn your handlebars full-lock left

A motorcycle is several times more resistant to movement when the front wheel is not pointing straight ahead. Even a gentle nudge from behind can cause a motorcycle that is on its side stand to roll forward unless the front wheel is not pointing straight ahead.
  • Squeeze the front brake lever

If you build these six steps into a habit that you always perform before dismounting, you are serious about ALL aspects of motorcycle safety.

The ride is not over until you are safely dismounted.

Copyright © 1992 - 2023 by The Master Strategy Group, all rights reserved.

(James R. Davis is a recognized expert witness in the fields of Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics.)

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