Balance – Or “The Newbie Shuffle”

I’m sure you’ve all seen it. A hesitant rider waddles their way round a parking lot, or shuffles their way through a slow manoeuvre – all the time pecking at the ground with their toes, or doing a fair impression of a penguin walk.

This is the Newbie Shuffle™ (in certain circles also known as “the Harley Shuffle”, but I won’t go there).
It stems from the rider’s lack of faith in their ability to balance the machine.

But here’s the thing: it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Do you want to know what’s the most sure-fire way to upset the balance of a scooter? It’s having various appendages swinging wildly about, and trying to deal with spurious changes of direction brought about by pecking at the ground with your feet. It really is making life hard for yourself.

Your scooter will be at it’s most balanced when you are securely seated in the saddle with your feet on the running boards or pegs.
By maintaining that position you are ensuring that the centre of gravity remains as constant and as central as possible. Further – although you may not realise it – you maintain balance by subtle shifts of weight and position. How are those shifts of weight and position effected? By input from your feet.
Together with slight input on the handlebars, your feet play a major role in those subtle adjustments by adding pressure on one side of the machine or the other.

“Listen” to your body the next time you are out riding. You will find that at various times, one foot is applying more pressure than the other.

Now, this is not to suggest that you actively try to control how much pressure your legs are exerting on the machine, and when. Rather, I am trying to get across the point that by removing your feet from the pegs or running boards, you are robbing yourself of that control.
Add to that the shifts in your centre of balance brought about by your legs swinging around – and the various “nudges” bought about by the pecks at the floor – and it’s no wonder you feel the need to put your feet down!

So, what am I driving at here? Get those feet up as soon as possible – and keep them there until you come to a stop.

It is a thing of beauty to follow a good, balanced rider through traffic. Their feet are on the pegs or running board even before they have started moving, and one foot comfortably touches the ground at the moment, or even after, they have come to a complete stop.
This isn’t done for any display of prowess. It is simply because doing so gives the rider the best balance at all times.

Finally, here a couple of tips for those slow speed manoeuvres:

  • When coming to a stop, look straight ahead. Your head comprises about 8% of your body weight, and one of the golden rules of riding is to look where you want to go. If you are looking to the side, or down, when you come to a stop, it is very likely the scooter will follow!
  • When doing slow speed manoeuvres, don’t touch the front brake. During slow speed manoeuvres, rely on the rear brake. I will expand on this topic in a later blog, but a combination of rear brake and gentle application of the throttle will help immensely.

Safe Scooting!


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