Skill, Proficiency, Experience and Knowledge

Motorcycling is risky and the proficient motorcyclist knows that most of what matters on the road is what’s going on in the brain. If the saying “only the strong survive” is true, then the strongest biker will be the one with the most intelligence and knowledge! It will not be the motorcyclist with the most years or miles under his belt! It will be the rider with the most skill. In this case skill being the ability to use one’s knowledge effectively. 

A person’s physical strength, speed and size might matter on the football field… but not on a motorcycle! Riding ability can be instinctual but it can also be aquired. How? Most will probably tell you that experience is the best way to aquire skills. They will claim that years of experience results in skillfullness. Is that true? Does a more experienced rider have more skills than a less experienced rider if both are of equal inteligence? If you define experience strictly as time in the saddle then I would say “no”! However if you define experience as any activity leading to increased knowledge and ability then I would say “yes”.

There is a lot to learn when it comes to riding a motorcycle safely on the roadways. There are weather, traffic and road hazzards waiting to trip you up. Small mistakes on the road can cost an arm and a leg! I would rather not have to ride a million miles and experience each and every road hazard in order to gain knowledge of them! A friend might teach a new motorcyclist the fundamentals of how to operate a motorcycle and then say “the only way to learn more is through experience.” This could be good or bad advice depending on the above mentioned definitions of “experience”. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to wait until I have racked up a million miles before I consider myself a skilled rider. I choose to speed up the process and gain experience and knowledge through additional opportunities.

Look for opportunities to increase your knowledge of motorcycling. Fill your head with information during the cold winter months (if not all year round). Get yourself some good books to read and possibly some training DVD’s you can watch at home. Sign up for training classes at the beginning of the ride season. Then go out and practice. Take some trips and get that much sought after experience. Learn all you can, practice and become a strong rider! Remember the saying: “Only the strong survive!”. I’m sure you want to survive so get strong damn it! Also remember: “Knowledge is power!”

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7 Responses to “Skill, Proficiency, Experience and Knowledge”

  1. Great advice! Repeating the same bad habits over and over doesn’t help you learn anything. Until you learn how to do it right, your expereince may actually be making you worse!

    Ride Like a Pro DVD’s are awesome, but actually taking the course (or similar skilled rider classes) is even better. Go Sign up for one now!

  2. Thank you for the mention. I agree with you that seat time by itself doesn’t equate to skill. I also applaud your urgings to study and participate in training.

    Like Princess Di alludes to, training teaches us what we need to practice. It’s not just practice that makes perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect and training helps make sure we practice the correct thing.

    Great post. So glad you care and set a great example.

  3. Thanks ID. This is sort of a prelude to a book review on Proficient Motorcycling by David Hough. Have you read it?

  4. Yes. I have it and the sequel “More Proficient Motorcycling” on my book shelf. Even as a long time instructor I remain a student.

  5. Do you recommend the sequel?

  6. I do. The second book really delves more into what this post was about.

    Here are two quotes from the introduction that set the tone of the sequel.

    “Some riders believe that there are some secret advanced skills we are withholding. The truth is, no one is holding back any secrets. The information is already available. The limiting factor isn’t the availability of knowledge, but rather the lack of motivation to master what’s being offered”.

    And this one: “If there is a secret about ‘advanced’ skills, it’s that they are mostly mental skills, not physical skills. Yes, there are additional physical skills to hone, but mostly it’s a matter of observing, predicting, planning and timing, rather than using muscle power. And it’s a matter of controlling the motorcycle you’re riding but also controlling the situation around you”.

    Well worth the investment of money and time to get the second book. It’s the next step, so to speak.

  7. Thanks, I planned on getting it. I can’t help myself. Glad to hear you feel it is worth it.

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