Pages

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

One Foot or Two?

An odd post title when thinking of motorcycling, but bear with me.

A few weeks ago I was reading a Cycle World magazine article regarding the new or updated models of certain brands of motorcycles.  What caught my attention was the fact that at least two of them (one was the KTM 1290 SuperDuke R) came with a hill assist or "hill-hold control" to prevent the bike from rolling backward for a second or two on a hill.

Our Fiat 500 has a standard transmission and came with hill assist.  As someone who learned to drive a stick in the 80's it was a strange concept to me.  However, I quickly got used to it and wondered why we didn't see the same feature on motorcycles.  Here we are 15 months after purchasing the Fiat and this feature is starting show up on high-end bikes and maybe has been around for a bit, I'd just never heard of it.

As my thought process progressed to putting  bikes in motion on a hill, it made me realize how much practice I probably need doing that very thing.

When I took my Team Oregon class back in 2002, we were taught to put 'all four paws down' when stopping.  Both hands in action pulling in the clutch and front brake, and both feet in action shifting down and pressing on the rear brake.  When stopping we put both feet on the ground. To this day putting only one foot on the ground when stopped is foreign to me, and putting both feet on the ground is my habit.  It is automatic.

This is only ever an issue when stopping on a hill.   9 out of 10 times I will still put both feet down when stopped, then lift the right foot back up and onto the rear brake.

Team Oregon now encourages students to come to a complete stop and just put the left foot down leaving the right foot on the rear brake. (While they don't specifically teach it, it is encouraged)  While this may be a good habit in some instances I just can't seem to bring myself to practice it.  I worry that one time when I stop on an off-camber corner muscle memory will take over and I'll automatically put the left foot only down when that is actually the low side of the road and over I'll go.  

With the habit of putting both feet down, I feel like I have the option to put either down if necessary since I am not used to just the left.  Does this make any sense?

So, do you have a preference?  Do you stop with one foot on the ground or two when out and about on two wheels?


- Au Revoir

Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm." - Abraham Lincoln
.

55 comments:

  1. both feet down when coming to a stop, then it depends on situation...if on an incline, then yes, I'd lift the right foot and engage the brake pedal to hold position.

    interesting feature, that hill assist....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do think it is very situational. My biggest issue is that when I get going on a hill I consciously have to remind myself to take the foot off the brake as I get underway.

      Delete
  2. Same, both feet down then the right foot on the rear brake when getting ready to go again. On some off camber stops (some really hilly areas in Santa Cruz), there was no left foot down option and the front brake wouldn't hold on the hill very well. Let's just say the actual time stopped was very short. I'm not sure I'd trust the hill assist...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't rely on the hill assist in the Fiat, but it is nice to have the aid when the car behind you has ridden so far up your rear end that you can't even see their headlights. Not much room for error. Of course it is easier in a car since you are only using both feet, not both feet and both hands.

      Delete
  3. Interesting about "hill assist" now being offered on some bikes. As a short person, I always only put one foot down. My left foot. But it's also how I was taught in Riders Edge class. Left foot down, right foot on rear brake. This technique definitely worked in my favor. As you point out, I did have to be very careful where I put that foot down and if the terrain was off-camber to the left, I learned to tilt the bike to the right or to put my right foot down. Gotta say, having that right foot on the rear brake sure did make taking off on an uphill very easy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess I am lucky with my inseam in that touching the ground isn't usually an issue, mind you I'm not inclined to ride machine I can't flat foot.

      I can't imagine taking off on a hill on a bike and not having the right foot on the brake. Rev the hell out of it I suppose.......

      Delete
  4. ... red foot, blue foot. :)

    When I went through the whole motorcycle endorsement process in 2006, Utah instructed and tested riders to put the left foot down at a stop, keep the right foot on the brake, and have the clutch disengaged and the bike in first gear. I imagine that it remains this way.

    I must be nervous at stops, or impatient (I don’t know): Sometimes I’m left, sometimes right, sometimes both, and sometimes I switch from side to side. Sometimes the bike’s in first, sometimes in neutral (one or no hand on a grip), and sometimes it’s in first and I’m playing with the friction point--rocking forward and back, forward and back--probably wearing the clutch.

    Maybe I should follow the rules I was tested on; maybe I should try to be consistent; and maybe I should just cut back on coffee and sugar.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhh I wondered who would catch the Dr. Seuss reference. Good job.

      It sounds as though you aren't consistent when stopping the bike. Not that that is a bad thing - makes me think you'd be ready for anything. You might want to cut back on the sugar and coffee, but what fun is there in that?

      Delete
  5. More often than not it's the left foot only on the deck although it does depend on the camber of the road. When Adventure riding you have to plan things a bit more carefully.

    I'm generally always in gear unless I'm sitting in traffic for an eternity. Often use the rear brake to hold my position but usually use the front brake as the one to control the take off on the hill.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah adventure riding is a whole other story. Our last ride in the sand saw me go over on the left for just that reason, should have checked how far to the ground before I put that left foot down.

      I too am always in gear in traffic. You just never know when the car coming up behind you isn't going to stop and you need to use that escape route in a hurry.

      Delete
  6. I stop using the left foot down, right up with foot on rear brake, clutch in, in first gear ready to go. We teach this 3 point stance to our students. Preference i guess and I use this on a hill start as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I too stop in first gear with the clutch in ready to go. I think the left foot only when stopping is a newer thing they've started teaching. Not sure why really.

      Definitely a preference or even just habit for each of us.

      Delete
  7. An interesting article, makes you think about something that is just done automatically with muscle memory. I always put both feet down when I stop, ever since my Saskatchewan rider's safety course in 2011. There were two times I had just my right foot down and a big wind came along and blasted me to the left - over I went both times. Damage to the bike. That won't happen again! Both feet always go down, every time now.

    As a teen riding in British Columbia, I know I only ever put one foot down when stopping as the wind was not a problem there. On the prairies though, Mother Nature is more severe and has forced me to adapt - or feel the wrath!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't think about the wind, good point.

      We have one stoplight between here and a neighboring town (Albany) that is on a banked corner and the road is off camber as well. We always have to be real careful when getting stopped at that light.

      Delete
  8. Probably about 50/50. Depends on incline, camber and how I feel. Sometimes I just feel like one foot down. Quick stops are always both feet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe you are ambidextrous of feet (not that that is a thing) when it comes to stopping on a bike. Left or right, you can do either or both.

      Delete
  9. I tend to be a Hendon Shuffle man, placing left foot down when arriving at a stop, keeping right foot on brake. Once I come to a complete stop, I'll generally switch to my right foot down, with left foot ready to put the bike in gear.

    If you put two feet down on a European licensing test I'm pretty sure you'd automatically fail.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the education. I'd never heard of the Hendon Shuffle so I googled it. Interesting stuff, and from what I read about it with comments it looks like everyone has an opinion about the Shuffle.

      Delete
  10. Of course, there is the neither foot option...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What, taking the cage because the URALs are once again in the shop?...

      Okay, okay, I'm sorry for that--I regretted it when I typed it. My apologies to you and Dom.

      Delete
    2. Cage? That's why you need a spare rig if you choose to ride a Ural...

      Delete
    3. Come to think of it, the 5 people I know that ride a Ural also have at least one other bike.

      Delete
  11. Gearing Up, one of the rider training programs here, and the one I have taken refers to the left foot down at a stop as being in the “ready” position. I regularly practice left foot down and consciously practise stopping smoothly enough to need only one foot down ‘on landing’ even though I can flat foot, which is why I ride my style of bike. And yes, I'm always in gear. Planning on a 'left foot landing' allows me to use both brakes if needed coming to the stop, or just the rear brake which naturally helps the bike stay upright at slow speeds. I keep an eye on the rear view mirror in case I need to move away in a hurry and in this position, I am ready. I keep my foot on the brake even as I leave the stop so drivers behind me don’t get in a rush and run me over. It has become a habit, that is unless I feel like I'm about to topple over, then I'm all about self-preservation and then there are no foot(s) barred. It’s funny how self-preservation always trumps habit when your brain senses gravity is about to take over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am starting to think I am too clumsy for only one foot down. Maybe I feel more stable with two. I do agree that self preservation trumps all.

      Delete
    2. I have to agree with VStar Lady - self-preservation trumps "which way is best?" If only a brief stop it's left foot down for me, right on the rear brake. If a long stop - both feet down as I'm simply more comfortable with that.

      Delete
    3. I too am more comfortable with both feet down, but agree about self preservation. Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  12. 90% of the time, I am left foot only, but my reasoning is different and may not make total sense. I have these super bright flashing LEDs in addition to the brake light and they continue to flash as long as brake is on. So, it's kind of obnoxious to the person behind me at a traffic light. Here's the controversial part.....I disconnected the brake light switch to the foot brake and rely on a little front brake always to activate the lights. After I stop, I release the front and hold my foot on the rear, squeezing the front if someone is approaching......complicated I know, but it works for me :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That makes complete sense. I have accessory brake lights on the back as well that flash for a few seconds before becoming steady on. There are times when stopped when I will let go of the brake and re-engange just to get them flashing agin. I believe mine is activated by both front and rear brakes.

      Delete
    2. My flashing brake lights also have a "California" setting which does the flash 5x then on steady as there is a law that prohibits continuously flashing lights unless you are an emergency vehicle.

      Delete
  13. I'm giving myself a headache trying to remember but the Hendon Shuffle is more or less it. I don't spend much time thinking about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is good you think of other things instead.

      Delete
  14. Brandy,
    The one foot down or "Hendon Shuffle" as Conchscooter refers to came from the UK Police Roadcraft technique that IAM uses. I won't go into the whys and wherefores here but it is no longer rigidly enforced and is left to the individual based on their physiology. For example, I have knee damage and feel more comfortable with both feet down. I NEVER trail them before stopping or after re-starting though as that could mean loss of control. I will go to one foot sometimes when anticipating a brisk take-off from a stop.

    So in summary, do what you think is the safest for you! Great post topic!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the extra info Geoff. I too do not trail the feet when starting or stoping, they go up right away when I start to roll.

      Delete
  15. Hi Brandy
    I only ever put one foot down, Usually the left one and have my right foot on the brake, however I sometimes put my right foot down but my left will be up. Just depend how I'm feeling I guess.
    In Aus our training told us to left foot down, cover the rear brake with right foot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sounds as though people are trained differently depending on which country you are in.

      Delete
  16. Hi Brandy, in front of a traffic light or at a hill for me it's mostly left foot down, right foot on the brake, and in gear ready to go. When the wait is longer, I put both feet down.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I too am always in gear. Sometimes if I am stopped on a flat road I'll take my hand/foot off of both brakes if a car is already stopped behind me and the risk of a rear ender is lower. Gives the right hand a break while the left is busy squeezing.

      Delete
  17. Brandy,
    As you may remember, I'm 4'11", so this is a big issue for me. I'm often told I can learn to ride a taller bike and put one foot down. So I've tried to practice this on my V Star, just to see how it would work.
    Like you, I worry about it, but I've had so many times where I would have dropped the bike had I only had my left foot to put down, or if I had to tilt the bike off center when I stopped. There is a particular offramp in San Diego that is sloped so severely to the left, and also on a hill where I would roll backwards, that had I put my left foot down I would have been so far over the bike would topple.
    That one offramp changed my mind entirely in that moment. I only want to ride a bike that I can get both feet down. Also, since most of my time riding I'm carrying a full touring load with me I need to consider how much weight I'm managing.
    Smooches,
    Sash The Rude Biker Chick

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At least you have your height as an excuse for putting both feet down, better than my "I am too uncoordinated to just use one."

      Delete
  18. 90% of the time it's one foot down for me, even on my Vespa which gives total foot-freedom.

    On the Shadow it's left foot down, right foot on the brake, bike in first. Montreal has a lot of hills, so there isn't a lot of choice.

    Before the Shadow, I varied on the Vespa, left foot down for weeks at a time, then right foot down for a few months, then back to the left foot... the only neglected option was two feet down. I think it felt too safe, too newbie-ish.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sounds as though before the Shadow you preferred the 'hokey pokey' method. You put your left foot down, you pick your left foot up........

      Delete
  19. One foot. Usually the wrong one as I have to change feet to put the bike back in gear when the light changes.. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That too sounds a little like the hokey pokey. At least you have great balance for switching back and forth.

      Delete
  20. I've done both and prefer both feet down, for many of the same reasons. In my case it's more like toes down rather than feet. :) btw, we had a 84 Subaru that had a hill holder feature. I thought it was a great idea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't realize a 1984 vehicle would have a hill holder. The things I can learn......

      Delete
  21. Well, I was taught left foot down and right foot on brake. That was 1973... . Now, with me not getting any taller but getting a lot older and riding a taller and heavier bike, I'm retraining myself to put one foot down, either the right or the left, as long as it is the correct foot! I have to see if the road is level slopes off to the left (right foot should go down) or if road slopes to the right then the left foot goes down. I'm also trying to scoot over to the side of the seat corresponding to the foot going down so as to maximize leg length. I want a good solid foot plant with some leeway in case of sand or other unexpected slippery stuff. The 2015 BMW RT can be really tough to hold up if it tips a bit to the side. Bikes with a high(er) centre of gravity form a moment arm from contact patch to the CG. As the lean angle increases the CG moves to the side, gravity pulls down and my wee spindly arms need all the help a well planted foot and strong leg can provide.

    I do need to do some upper body exercises before the season starts... .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we all could probably use some upper body exercises......

      I do believe that road slope and surface have the biggest impact on one or two feet down, then a lot of personal preference as to whether or not riders leave the bike in gear and/or have to switch back and forth to let off the brake and put it back in gear if in neutral

      Delete
  22. Most instructors in Australia teach riders to use the right foot on the brake for hill starts and I learned that way too. Over time though I've developed a strong preference to have both feet on the ground on all occasions and have become very adept at using the right hand to accelerate and release the front brake at the same time. I think I developed this habit when I acquired the BMW F650Gs as I found it too tall to depend on just one foot on the ground. Now I use the two foot approach on the BMW and my Honda Shadow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tricky to have the right hand on the brake and release it enough to get the throttle twisted. A good skill to learn.

      My problem is that I have small hands, so that isn't easy to do even if I had the skills.

      Delete
  23. Okay, I had a good long comment here but this new windows ten messed it up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Damn Windows 10. Don't worry I have the same issue with my iMac sometimes.

      Delete
  24. Two, always. When on a hill -- we have lots of those -- I use the front brake to keep the bike still. Once I'm sure the bike is properly balanced. I put my left foot on the brake and keep it there til I have safely started again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like you and I are alike on this.

      One more month......just sayin'.

      Delete
  25. I too was taught left foot down and right on rear brake. Over years I stopped doing this and was using the front brake to hold and two feet down. Then riding in SE Asia I was diverted around road works and had to stop on a very steep gravel incline and the bike slid backwards dragging the locked front wheel and fell over which would not have happened if I had used the rear. Probably never going to be in that situation again but I wonder how many other habits I have picked up over the years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we all pick up habits and don't even realize it until they are brought to the forefront,much like yours was on the travelled hill. I will try this summer to see if I can make a point of left foot down, right on the brake. Try being the operative word.

      Delete