Throttle Sense

Today, I’m going to talk about something which carries a lot of benefits – most especially for the scooter rider. Some of these benefits include:

  • Better Hazard Avoidance
  • Better Visibility
  • Increased Fuel Economy
  • Less Wear on Your Scooter
  • Less Rider Fatigue

Quite an impressive list, wouldn’t you agree?
All of these benefits can be achieved by the cultivation of what I call “Throttle Sense”.

You see, the humble throttle doesn’t really get too much attention – especially on automatic scooters because, well, you just twist it and go, right? Well, it turns out that there is quite a bit more to it than that.
Intelligent use of the throttle can improve our riding immensely.

I’ll start by addressing the fuel economy item from the list above. After all, it’s one of the great gains we, as scooter riders, have. It would make sense to extract the most out of that advantage.

Every time we apply our brakes, we are wasting fuel. It stands to reason that it has cost us good fuel to  bring our machine up to a speed. That fuel has been converted to forward motion. By applying the brakes we are converting (and discarding) most of that energy into heat (through the brake system).

Every time we apply our brakes, we are wasting fuel

Any time we avoid using the brakes, we are conserving fuel.
How do we avoid the use of the brakes? By anticipation and good observation – which just happens to be the  cornerstone of safe riding too. See IPSA for more on that subject.

When approaching a red traffic light, how many people do you see racing up to the light, and then harshly applying their brakes to come to a stop? Not only is that wasting fuel, but it is putting undue wear on your scooter and making your machine unnecessarily unstable.

Do you remember in an earlier post about braking I mentioned that a scooter is at its most stable when travelling at a constant speed in a straight line? Anything we do that causes us to waver from that is robbing us of some stability.
Of course, braking when we need to is crucial, but unnecessary braking is to be avoided.

When approaching that traffic light, careful observation will allow us to simply ease off the throttle and coast to a stop – only applying the brakes momentarily before we come to a complete halt.
Even more careful observation and application of throttle sense will many times allow us to time our approach to the junction so that we don’t even have to stop.

Here is another example which ably demonstrates using throttle sense to increase safety:

In this scenario, if both vehicles are travelling at roughly the same speed, then they are going to meet at the junction.

This, clearly, is a potential hazard. It is a simple matter to either ease on the throttle, or back off to make sure you don’t converge on the junction at the same time.
Personally, in this situation, I would gently ease on the throttle to get ahead of the junction before the car arrives.

A similar situation arises when approaching curves in the road.
If you find yourself braking to set yourself up for the corner, you are likely going too fast into that corner for regular street riding.

Well-developed throttle sense would allow you to ease off the throttle in time to arrive at the curve at exactly the right speed to negotiate it. This is something that comes with practice and experience.

When I was in initial training, my observers would sometimes take me out to a country road and tell me: “OK, I want you to ride from here to (some point three to five miles away), and I don’t want to see your brake light once.
Of course, the point wasn’t simply to avoid the brakes at all costs, but to cultivate good, reasoned throttle sense. If they didn’t see the brake lights, then I was demonstrating it well.

Here are just a few more examples where throttle sense comes in to play – enabling us to avoid taking more “immediate” measures:

  • Approaching the brow of a hill (using throttle sense to slow to the speed required to negotiate the hazard. Always ride so that you can stop in the distance you can see to be clear)..
  • Travelling beside a car in their blind spot (using throttle sense to either accelerate, or decelerate to get yourself out of the blind spot).
  • Approaching a reduced speed limit (easing off the throttle at precisely the right time so that you arrive at the speed limit sign at that speed).
  • Preparing to pass another vehicle (modulating the throttle to back off to get a better view, and to put you in the right place for your passing manoeuvre).

See if you can come up with others of your own.

It can be seen that between good throttle sense, good observation, positioning and the many other techniques that I talk about in this blog, the net effect should be that our riding will become much smoother.
Smoothness is the mark of a good rider, and is something that contributes to markedly increased safety.

Why not try it for yourself? Be aware of where and how you are braking, and try to alter your riding style so that you need to brake much less. You will find that your riding will become much smoother and, rather than slow you down, you will end up making considerably better progress.

Until next time, Scoot Safely!


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3 thoughts on “Throttle Sense

  1. Seeing a traffic light go red in the distance, slowing down immediately and cruising towards the light so that you reach the light as it changes back to green, preventing you from having to stop at all. Speeding towards the red light, then having to stop, then accelerate again on the green will use up more fuel than just dropping 10-15mph as soon as the light comes into view and then being able to cruise on through the green light later.

  2. Thanks! Great resource and very logical riding instructions. I’m forwarding this to my girlfriend (new rider)

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