Throttle Sense

A scooter brake being applied 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:

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][2] 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:

Diagram showing a scooter approaching a road on the right where a car is approaching. 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:

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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