Right foot, left foot?

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Right foot, left foot?

Postby fordandco » Tue May 29, 2012 12:03 pm

It's now around 9 months since I passed my IAM test and over the last few months I have been helping my two boys get to grips with their KTM Duke 125. One of the many pieces of excellent advice given to me was that I should always come to a stop and then place my RIGHT foot down to support the bike. The logic was obvious. On the left hand side you may have a steep camber or gutter and on the left hand side of the road there is more chance of there being grit and gravel.

My 17 year old son has, this morning, taken and passed his module 2 test. However he was given a minor fault for always placing his right foot down. My son then chirped up that his dad had told him to do that. "No", said the examiner, "always put your LEFT foot down".

Now what is the right (or left) answer?

Any help would be appreciated as my 19 year old will be taking the same test later this summer!
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Re: Right foot, left foot?

Postby Horse » Tue May 29, 2012 2:00 pm

Aren't 'rules' wonderful? :x

Serious answer: email DSA and ask them! My guess - and it's no more than that - is that if a rider is safe and in full control then it shouldn't make any difference. But I'm not an examiner . . .

My old 2001 DSA manual does say to put your left foot down, though :roll:


However, you raise an interesting point that many riders don't control their stops and co-ordinate the 'necessary' foot - they just put out whichever foot the direction the bike's falling :roll: :lol:

Doing it after making a conscious decision actually needs a very slight counter-steer just as you're about to stop.
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Re: Right foot, left foot?

Postby DucJohn » Tue May 29, 2012 4:43 pm

No idea why there should be a right or wrong side. I thought we were training to encourage planning for the next action based on the available information. Road condition, camber, etc will be one factor to consider when stopping. So too will be the next likely action of operating the gear lever.

Where did this "left side rule" come from? Does it date from the time that British machines had the gear change on the right? Hendon Shuffle anyone?
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Re: Right foot, left foot?

Postby fordandco » Tue May 29, 2012 9:31 pm

For anyone interested I have emailed the DSA for some sort of clarification on this very small point. It will be interesting to see how long it takes them to respond!
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Re: Right foot, left foot?

Postby GsxrGareth » Tue May 29, 2012 10:25 pm

For the DSA test I was taught left foot down, right foot holding the bike on the rear brake. Presumably this is because, as novices, we weren't considered coordinated enough to hold it on the front brake and operate the throttle to pull away as per the right foot down advanced system approach.
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Re: Right foot, left foot?

Postby Horse » Wed May 30, 2012 11:33 am

GsxrGareth wrote:For the DSA test I was taught left foot down, right foot holding the bike on the rear brake. Presumably this is because, as novices, we weren't considered coordinated enough to hold it on the front brake and operate the throttle to pull away as per the right foot down advanced system approach.


AFAIK, it's been known as the 'safety position' or summat similar for years and is - probably - a hangover from the police 'Hendon shuffle (AKA 'Tap Dancing') combined with 'keeping it simple' for the learner, ie one control per hand / foot eg throttle, r brake, clutch, gears. That's not to say that as skill improves with practice then 'combinations' and alternatives shouldn't be introduced [IMHO].
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Re: Right foot, left foot?

Postby wunwinglow » Wed May 30, 2012 1:43 pm

It might have been interesting to have asked the examiner why the left was preferred /ordained? It is usually something about if you then drop the bike, you will fall in the gutter rather than in the path of oncoming traffic. To my mind, doing the Hendon Two-Step is almost guaranteeing a dropped bike at some point! Or a ramming from some impatient driver behind you.

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Re: Right foot, left foot?

Postby DucJohn » Wed May 30, 2012 2:55 pm

Dave Brook's web site describes the Hendon Shuffle and the more sensible alternative pretty well. I note that neither advocate "left foot down first".
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Re: Right foot, left foot?

Postby Horse » Wed May 30, 2012 3:27 pm

DucJohn wrote:Dave Brook's web site describes the Hendon Shuffle and the more sensible alternative pretty well. I note that neither advocate "left foot down first".


He asks if it isn't a 'wee bit simpler?' . . . perhaps so - but it's also a 'rule' as much as any other.

Personally, I tend to have bikes with boingy long-travel front suspension, so smooth front-brake stops are possible but it's easier with the rear brake - so why should I make life harder for myself? :)

My compromise is, when stopped, swap foot down once, into neutral, then stay like that. But the side I foot down will depend on camber and other factors - and, sometimes, I'll click into neutral as suggested.

Here's another version: at T junctions, to get an easier pullaway, lean the bike to the side you're heading - and have that foot down.

In windy weather, or when carrying a pillion, or at longer stops (like traffic lights) then I may well put both feet down!

However, being able to choose which option to use and put it in place requires observation, thought, planning, and control.

I mentioned earlier the machine control needed for stopping using the front brake; it could be said to be a double-dip recession :) , not just taper braking, but taper (both brakes), allow the bike to settle level, then taper the front brake only. Add into that the gentle counter-steer to lean the bike the way you want it to lean.
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Re: Right foot, left foot?

Postby TTBird » Wed May 30, 2012 9:08 pm

The pedal cycle method is worth a look. Dont stop for anyone and you wont have to do the Okey Kokey and fall off. :) :lol: :P :roll: :evil: :twisted:
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Re: Right foot, left foot?

Postby tfdodo » Thu May 31, 2012 3:25 pm

[well you did ask, & its at least 2 weeks since I last posted an essay :twisted: )
When I learnt at BMTC/Hambrook in 1996 I was consistently told that 'left foot down' was required so we could cover the rear brake in case of getting rear-ended (cf Dave Brooks "less likelihood of machine twisting if hit from behind.").

Ever since then I have held an image of a Union-Jack-clad motorcyclist, boldly saluting and heartily singing "Rule Brittania" whilst applying the rear brake and awaiting his ramming from behind. How brave ! How manly ! :roll:

You can probably judge that my preferred approach is (prior to not being rammed) right foot down, and (prior to being rammed) into first & get the H*ll Out of Dodge City, probably without any singing or saluting (and certainly without any involuntary geting rammed). My very limited impression of DSA testers is that asking them "why" is as futile as suggesting another way, but ymmv. In fairness expecting CBT-level trainees to keep an effective watch rearwards when stopped may be optimistic.

But over-arching this is (as with most of advanced motorcycling) the correct foot to put down when you stop, is - after assessing each case on its merits - the one (or maybe two) you decide will work best on that occasion. Works every time :twisted: .
wot Hoss says above >"being able to choose which option to use and put it in place requires observation, thought, planning, and control." Hooray to that.

So, in general, right foot down, but if...
-there's a pit-sized pothole on the right > left foot down
-there's diesel, or gravel, or a herd of fluffy kittens or disabled children on the right > left foot down
-you're holding the bike on a 1-in-4 ramp out of your work car-park waiting for the roller-shutter to close without the druggies getting into your carpark - > left foot down & hold bike on rear brake. (you can still do a front-brake hill-start on a 1-in-4 (well I found I could) , but it's un-necessarily harder)
-you're altitudinally-challenged vs your bike height, with a heavy/heavily-laden/be-pillioned bike > probably both feet down
-you're on ice and/or snow (probably take the bus :twisted: but otherwise) > again (prefer rear brake) left foot, then both once stopped.

Some observers don't seem to get this at all (and some associates are seeking "rules they can follow")... as an example of the wrong way, I've had at least 2 'check ride' candidates nearly drop bikes through their obvious determination to put "the right foot" down. Plot lost!.

You really should... more so if you frequent areas with herds of fluffy kittens, but nonetheless - be practiced, confident and competent in putting either foot down when appropriate. Call yourself 'advanced' and have a moment 'cos you "don't usually put that foot down" ? Shame on you ! Think of the Fluffy Kittens !

ps, after all that, is it just me that thinks the "mechanical sympathy" argument against holding the clutch in at stops, probably expired in the 70's with old-era British motorcycles (dry-clutched Ducatis maybe excepted, are they still fragile ?) ?
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Re: Right foot, left foot?

Postby DucJohn » Thu May 31, 2012 8:46 pm

TTBird wrote:the "mechanical sympathy" argument against holding the clutch in at stops, probably expired in the 70's with old-era British motorcycles (dry-clutched Ducatis maybe excepted, are they still fragile ?)

The clutch springs put a big load on the dainty release bearings and push rods found on bikes (like the load on high heels) so neutral at stops with the clutch out is always the kindest mechanical act. The problem with Brit bikes and Ducatis is trying to get the damn thing intro neutral after stopping. I knock into neutral just before stopping unless planning to pull away almost at once.
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Re: Right foot, left foot?

Postby ozzzie » Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:02 pm

As I often say to associates, usually on a pre-test assessment: "How many fatalities result from putting the wrong foot down?".
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Re: Right foot, left foot?

Postby Horse » Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:28 pm

ozzzie wrote:As I often say to associates, usually on a pre-test assessment: "How many fatalities result from putting the wrong foot down?".


I knew someone who stopped at lights in the right hand lane of a dual-c, a car pulled up close alongside.

Too close, it 'parked' on her left foot.

Shee had the bike in gear, so couldn't let go of the clutch lever (albeit if she'd had time and cool calm thought she could have used the kill switch, then let go of the clutch . . . ) to point out the error of the driver's ways.

So she had to wait for the lights to cycle through . . .

Still alive tho' :)
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