The article below comes from the Megarider (Allan Kirk) safety email which arrived today. I've used this technique for years and learned it many moons ago in the UK. I'm sure that heaps of experienced riders use it too for the reasons mentioned in the article. (As opposed to the multitude of cagers that simply cut blind bends).
Seeing it mentioned again has reminded me of a letter to one of the UK bike magazines last summer from an advanced bike instructor from the UK who was touring NZ on a bike. He got pulled over and pinged by a patrol car that was following him. I can't remember the actual wording of his letter but the charge was effectively failing to keep left. I thought at the time that this seemed pretty harsh if he was using the technique within its proscribed parameters.
Does anyone have an informed view of the legal position in NZ? Any other comments?
P.S. I love the last paragraph!!!!
OFFSIDING - AN ADVANCED RIDING TECHNIQUE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Many years ago, one of my instructors commented to me in a surprised tone, that I "cut" corners while riding - straight lining corners by using the oncoming traffic's lane - when there is no oncoming traffic in it, of course!
On New Zealand's little trafficked back roads, there is minimal danger in using this tactic ... as long as you know what you are doing.
In some countries, however, the amount of traffic on the roads makes this a highly dangerous tactic. Sometimes, the use of solid no crossing lines makes it a licence-risking practice, as well. In fact, I've been told that in the US it is even illegal to cross a dotted centreline unless actually overtaking, severely limiting the talents of the megarider.
After my instructor commented on my habit, I had a think about what I was doing, and why I did it.
I knew the habit started in my early days of riding and was firmed up when I was racing. I do it on the road because it enables me to ride smoother and thus faster.
In using the whole width of the road you get much greater choice of line, more flexibility in road positioning, you extend your sightline, and you can straighten out multiple sharp bends into one or two long flowing curves. Decreasing spiral bends, a nasty type of corner that accounts for the majority of single vehicle motorcycle crashes on corners, can only be handled reliably and consistently by straight lining the corner or taking the corner extra slow.
The main danger of straight lining corners is that one will collide with a car coming around a corner coming the other way.
However, if one is riding as a megarider, with the usual 10% to 20% performance leeway up one's sleeve, all it takes is a little countersteering to get back onto one's "correct" side of the road and out of the oncoming driver's way well before the car very close.
And since the megarider rides to the Vanishing Point, he will see the car coming around the Vanishing Point well before it gets close and there is a risk of collision.
But my instructor's comment stuck in my brain and, although I was quite happy using the technique, I wondered whether I was actually doing something wrong.
That was until I heard of offsiding.
Off-siding is the United Kingdom term for straight lining corners and it is a technique widely used by the highly trained UK police motorcyclists.
Andy Woodward, a UK megarider says:
"Some so-called experts suggest you regard the centreline as a wall.
However, UK police instructors regard the centreline as non-existent whenever the road can be seen to be clear, unless it is a solid centreline.
In this case, the line is a legally binding wall."
When used carefully and sensibly, offsiding is a valuable tool for the megarider. When carried out correctly it will markedly increase the speed of your riding and, believe it or not, your safety.
It improves your safety because you improve your sightline and because you don't have to use extreme lean angles to get good cornering speeds.
You DO have to ensure you have that 10% to 20% of performance leeway and you must never offside if you cannot maintain a reasonable distance between you and the vanishing point so you will never be too close to any car that appears around the corner. And, if you are in the other lane, you must see and react to oncoming vehicles IMMEDIATELY. And that reaction must be not only quick, but precise.
Offsiding is not a newbie's technique. One of the dangers of offsiding is that, if you do not react quickly enough, oncoming cars may react to the fact that you are in their lane and, in attempting to avoid you, may swerve into your lane just as you also swerve back into your lane ...
Exactly that sequence of events has caused a couple of serious crashes involving police motorcyclists in the UK. In each case the fault lay with the police officer who either did not react quickly enough, or did not maintain a reasonable distance between himself and the Vanishing Point.
However, if you are riding with performance leeway and watching the Vanishing Point to react to the sight of oncoming vehicles as soon as they appear, the distance (and time) between you and them will be such that the other motorist will feel no alarm or will not have time to make any untoward manoeuvre before you are back in your own lane, with the throttle closed to make allowance for the now-tightened radius of the corner.
There will no doubt be many riders who will not be prepared to use such a technique because they consider it dangerous. That is fair enough. As in all things, each rider must make his/her own risk management judgement.
However, as with many advanced riding techniques, whether offsiding is dangerous depends upon where, when, and how it is used. My experience and the many riders who I know use it (including, now, the instructor who first commented on my use of the technique) is that it is not dangerous when done correctly and is a very useful technique.
For starters, it tends to discourage hanging off as this decreases one's sightlines and gives very little gain when offsiding. And I like the cynical comment of Megarider Andy Woodward about the fashion of hanging off:
"Generally, folk who hang off sportbikes on the street are newbies who like to look faster than they are. And they attract plods like wasps to jam."