Riding Tip: Why Swerving Matters To You

December 12, 2017 Tags: , , ,

TEAM ARIZONA RIDING TIP | Why Swerving Matters To You When It Comes To Avoiding a Motorcycle Crash

This month TEAM Arizona RiderCoach Jill Blass tells us how swerving, especially above 18mph, may be the best hazard avoidance technique we can have in our toolbox as motorcycle riders.

Host: Jill Blass, MSF RiderCoach
Guest Host: Bill Seltzer, MSF RiderCoach; Total Control Instructor
Demo Riders: Matt Ginn, Ryan Jones

Avoiding hazards on the roadway is a challenge for us riders. When that tire carcass is splayed across the roadway or that driver stops suddenly, what will you do?

Various forms of research show many riders will do NOTHING! Some riders will under utilize their front brake while other riders will over apply their rear brake. Why aren’t they swerving?

In this video we’ll explore what a swerve is and why it matters to you.

First, we should define a swerve. It is two consecutive countersteers of the motorcycle. The first countersteer is to avoid the hazard, the second countersteer is to straighten the motorcycle and get us back on our path. RiderCoach Bill is going to show us an example.

Watch as the rider first presses on the handgrip to initiate the motorcycle to lean, thus directing the bike away from the hazard. Next, the motorcyclist presses on the opposite handgrip to straighten up the motorcycle and return the motorcycle to its original path of travel.

As you saw in the example, the rider was easily able to avoid the hazard. Research shows, that above 18mph, swerving may be the most effective way to avoid a hazard.

In one test published by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), at 35mph a rider who understands the swerve technique can avoid the hazard in HALF THE DISTANCE it would take to avoid the hazard. But that is just one of the major benefits, what’s another one Bill?

If we stop in the roadway, then we become the hazard. By swerving, we can efficiently and effectively remove ourselves from the hazard equation.

Those are two fantastic reasons why we work on swerving not only in our Basic RiderCourse, but our Confident RiderCourse and Advanced Riding Techniques course too.

So when was the last time you practiced swerving? Why not come out and get your swerve on with us here at TEAM Arizona?

Ride safe everyone!

 For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

Bill Seltzer Yamaha FJ-09Bill Seltzer has been a Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach since 2003 and a Total Control Advanced Riding Instructor since 2011.  He currently serves as the Marketing Director for TEAM Arizona and is a member of the Arizona Strategic Highway Safety Planning committee.  Have questions or comments about the article?  Email him: Bill@MotorcycleTraining.com


  1. Pete 9 months Reply

    I think needing to swerve is a indicator of not looking ahead and not reading the road (ie lack of situational awareness). No I am NOT saying that is the case in all instances but when you swerve you are putting yourself out of your intended line and into another (possible worse) situation. Don’t get me wrong, I swerve all the time to avoid road hazards (animals both alive and dead come to mind) but if there is always the possibility of getting into a worse situation. Take for instance the video with the stopped van in the riders path. Why has it stopped? Broke down?, accident?, kids playing in the road?, etc. By swerving you could be putting yourself into a more dangerous situation rather than braking hard and stopping. When you swerve you need to have your game face on, heighten meaning situational awareness. I think I am pretty good at this; for one reason; I ride/race off road alot. When riding off road you want to keep slowing or stopping to a minimum and momentum at a maximum. So you dodge, read ahead, swerve, wheelie, take the path of least resistance or whatever to keep moving and the flow steady. This translates well into street riding as long as you remember that other vehicles, people and critters have a vote in what happens too. My 2 cents.

  2. Joe M 9 months Reply

    My 5 cents: About 5 years ago, shortly after I took Rider Training at Team AZ, I was traveling south on AZ Loop 101 near Baseline Road at about 5 pm. It was rush hour & I was headed home, riding in the Left Car Pool Lane (legal for MC to use Car Pool Lane at any time in AZ) at about 50 mph. I ride with high beam on & wear a blaze yellow&orange safety vest for added visabity. I was positioned at the left tire path position in the lane, with a large following distance behind a car in front of me, watch the slow, crawling traffic in the right lane next to me like a hawk (anticipating a car to pull out in front of me). Sure enough a small dark blue car pulled out in front of me with out checking for my presents in the lane. In a spit second, I was just at his bumper. I preformed a swerve into the left breakdown lane, road past the car, and returned to position in the Car Pool Lane. No other maneuver would have resulted in me safely avoiding an accident. Heavy braking would have upset the balance of the MC and would not have prevented me from rear ending the car as there was not enough space for braking to be affective. So, in my experience the counter-steer swerve is an effective tool every MC Rider needs to know and be ready to use at any time.

    Joe M