Saturday, June 1, 2013

A student asks...


A student asked me today "why is it easier to make a left turn than it is to make a right turn?"

I pondered this for a second as it is not the first time I've been asked and likewise I've come up with a couple of explanations.




I have my own theories such as the throttle is on the right so by turning the bars left opens up our right side making it easier to control the bike instead of forcing the throttle hand closer to the body on a right turn. As well, most riders are right handed so we tend to protect our left or weaker side and open up our much stronger right side instead.

Then there is on-coming traffic on our left so we tend to favor turning left just in case we run wide in a curve we have a buffer or shoulder.

We are conditioned to make U turns from the right to the left.

The last two got me thinking, how do riders in other parts of the world feel? Most of the world rides on the right or proper side of the road whereas riders in New Zealand, Australia and England ride on the left side of the road.



So my conclusion is that if riders who ride on the right are more comfortable turning left, then riders who ride on the left should be more comfortable turning right. This would make it geographical, however if we all feel more comfortable turning left then it would be a bike or throttle issue.

What's your preference and theory?


-

27 comments:

  1. Brad, interesting post and it's something I've wondered about too. I prefer right handers (driving on the left of course). I've always thought that it was because if I deck it on a right hander, I just slide off onto the side of the road rather than collecting a vehicle coming in the other direction. Not really sure of the real reason though, have no idea of what happens inside what is loosely referred to as my brain :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've always preferred left turns but I think that comes from learning on a dirt bike where one plants their foot then spins the rear wheel around. I also prefer left turns for the same reason as you, if by chance I run wide I'd rather run off into a ditch than into oncoming traffic.

      Delete
  2. Strangely enough this has been a much discussed topic in our household too as I learned and stumbled. Oddly, I feel more comfortable turning right, and I am right handed, and ride on the right side. Even with the threat of oncoming traffic, I feel I have "more" pavement if something went awry vs a left sweep would leave me in the gravel, or worse over a cliff out here.

    So I have posited that it is very personal if you favor right or left turning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interestingly both you and Brandy claim that your demise will be a cliff.

      Delete
  3. I prefer left hand bends (ride on the left)..not sure why. I think it is because of the extra road available to me on the left.
    of course living down under every thing is upside down, so perhaps my left is your right and my right is you left which means I am upside down doing right handers on left hand bends.......oh shit I am off to have a vodka.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm confused... maybe I need a drink too.

      Delete
  4. It depends whether there is an unguarded mountain precipice to fall into on my left or right side!

    It's also strange that pilots mostly/almost always land left wing low - I believe that there is some assymmetry in the brain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The same precipice Lori and Brandy fear I'm afraid.

      I didn't know about the pilots, never considered the whole right brain, left brain asymmetry thing, definitely something to consider.

      Delete
  5. Even some professional racers will have a preference for track direction when racing. MotoGP ace and former World Champion Nicki Hayden is said to prefer the few road racing courses that run counter-clockwise.

    Me? I much prefer left turns to right turns which is why on those occasions when I practice (yes, I still practice now and again in parking lots after all these years) I emphasize the right turns.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I favor left turns and will avoid right turns when I can, I need to get out to a parking lot and practice right handers.

      Delete
  6. I know a lot of people who prefer left turns to rights even though we ride on the left here. I used to be in that camp too but have grown to love right turns too - or maybe I just love corners?

    So I don't think it matters what side of the road you ride on as long as it's the right (correct) one.

    I wonder if it's anything to do with most people climb aboard from the left - dunno...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is an interesting theory, we do mount from the left and always have since the days of riding horses. Hmmmmmm.

      Delete
  7. i have often wondered this myself Brad. In Australia we ride on the left and my preference is definetly left hand bends as I have always found for some reason that right hand bends seem to be either harder or scarier.

    Riding on the left around a right hand bend means no run off at all. Riding on the left around a left bend has a subconcious effect of saying if I run wide I still have road and wont run off that cliff/precipice/ditch/tree. Although this is a major failure and also false belief as anytime on the wrong side on a bend could be instant death at any second, it's probably just the subconscoius mind at work tricking us into a false sense of security.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If we take into consideration that the opposing lane is more often than not empty, then I understand how our mind fools us to believe that this is a safe alternative, however false it may be.

      Delete
  8. I don't think I have a preference when it comes to riding at or near highway speeds, but on slow turns such as a u-turn I will always go left. It just feels more comfortable to me but I have absolutely no idea why. Just one more thing to contemplate the next time it's just me with nought but a motorcycle and an empty highway for company.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An empty highway for contemplation, sure sounds nice.

      Delete
  9. interesting questions ive pondered too... im in the USA so riding on the right. personally i mount from the left because of the sidestand. my turning prefs evolve around my lean angle and if im scraping pegs/boards...

    if we're talking u-turns, i definitely prefer left turners.
    if im running fast and leaned waaaay over, i prefer right turns.
    is that weird?
    i'm always practicing these too, like doug said...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha, a student told me today practice makes permanent.

      Delete
  10. Interesting analysis. I generally prefer right turns on the highway but like anyone else riding on the right side of the road, u-turns are almost always to the left. With the sidecar, I always prefer left turns as all right turns now have the possibility of the sidecar wheel lifting or bouncing up when unloaded.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Flying the chair would give me all the more reason to turn right.

      Delete
  11. The roads I ride, and prefer in Wisconsin are often tight and around here, that means limited visibility. A hard right gives almost no view distance, a left has a substantial longer distance of sight line. Personally on a higher speed corner, again around here on typical roads, visibility is great; ditches wide and roads that allow those higher speeds have larger radii. I really don't think I favor one over the other but may be kidding myself. I DO have bikes with more or less clearance on a side and once I learn that, it has to be factored in.

    My race days were long ago and I don't ride that way on the street any longer. Briskly smooth/smoothly brisk is much more satisfying and respectful of those we share the roads with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting, I never considered line of sight and limited visibility before, thanks.

      Delete
  12. I prefer right hand turns & uturns. I was born a left hander and made to use my righthand in school so I am ambidextrous so I am always fighting hand dominance. In thinking about it more I guess I am actually comfortable going in either direction in turns and I regularly practice R&L turns and uturns in the parkinglot. This turn comfort cold be because I am still relatively new to riding and still get out to the lot routinely. Hmmm a turning conundrum.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can do right turns, just not as proficiently or comfortably as left turns, but I am getting better. I don't even think about it while doing demonstrations during class though, I guess it is because I practice. I need to get out and do a few figure eights.

      Delete
  13. Interesting thoughts. I ride on the left and prefer left turns. I have always thought that was because the only time I've ever dropped the bike while moving was doing right hand u-turns so it's made me more nervous about them. I'm better at right turns now with practice but if I haven't ridden for a while the first few round abouts are usually a bit shaky til I get my nerves back under control.

    While on the highway though I dont find either harder, I love corners in any direction when the bikes moving at a decent speed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting comments too Brenda, I would have thought that right turns would come naturally to you as left turns have to me. I should take these findings and break them down to male riders vs. female riders and right hand vs, left handed riders, parking lot speed vs. highway speed as well as which side of the road riders travel. This may take some serious funding.

      Delete
  14. I am in the camp with the sight lines if we are talking corners at speed. I hate any corner with a bank so tall I cant see the exit. Of course, I also hate downhill corners as I haven't mastered the gripping of the tank to keep the weight off of the bars. However, I have an awesome right hander from Hwy 20 to Denny School rd. that I love to hit as fast as possible and the left hander from Stoltz Hill to Rockhill. I think you may be on to something though with the throttle hand for newer riders, but it is also likely that there is too much weight on the bars also.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are more than welcome, however, thanks to an increase in anonymous spammers of late, you now must be a registered user to comment.

Thank you spammers!