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Feeling of speed while riding a motorcycle

Logically speaking, the weakest link when riding a motorcycle is the pilot himself. Any instructor of a motorcycle school, a professional from a racing track or a traffic policeman will confirm that equipment is only a tool, and it is a person’s direct responsibility to manage it and monitor its condition.

The issue of perception of speed is very close to the perception of time. This skill must be trained, and the main thing is to understand what it consists of, because the human body can be deceived, moreover, the pilots themselves are deceived without knowing it.

The feeling of speed allows not only to calculate the trajectory of movement, but also to understand how to react further. A thousand times we discussed the possibilities of working with the brake, discussed emergency braking and normal braking. We analyzed how important it is to train braking. But what about the speed?

How does the pilot assess speed?

Initially, the driver evaluates the speed according to three parameters:

  • According to instrument readings
  • Visually
  • By my own feelings

If we think about the nature of the sensation of speed, then we can conclude that devices are far from the only thing that helps us navigate. Surely any driver had the feeling that they say I was driving along the device at 100 km / h, but I feel that the tarantay is lying, like I’m laying 150 km / h! I’ll go check the sensors. The desire to argue with the readings on the dashboard comes from personal observation. Each person determines the speed relative to the movement of objects around his person, but otherwise, I have my own speed, a friend in the next lane has his own.

Visually, we perceive speed in comparison, how a participant in a movement moves relative to static, stationary objects, be it a house or a tree. In motion, we unconsciously, but observe and compare, either actively (purposefully) or passively (in the background). However, visual judgment lets us down on the road when it comes to possible illusions, bad weather, or limited visibility. In addition, there is banal fatigue when, at the end of a grueling downtime in a traffic jam and driving in heavy traffic, you go home and it seems that you are moving like an old felt boot.

The sensation of speed is how our body as a whole perceives movement, acceleration and deceleration.

A trivial example: you are a passenger. You are driving and for some reason cannot look over your shoulder (the visor is darkened, and you are already at dusk; the speed is too high, it is easier to duck behind the pilot’s back; maybe you are driving for the first time and it’s scary to hell), in general, you ride behind the back of a comrade, develop behind him like a backpack in the hope of not flying off the tail and look at his courageous (or not so) back. How do you measure speed if you cannot compare your movement with objects on the road? Your own body will tell you the APPROXIMATE movement speed by sensation. Our body, surprisingly, is able to determine both time and speed and temperature, especially if you train in this.

Specific examples of speed estimation

Without sight, we have nothing to do on the road. It’s not worth driving with a bad visor or with glasses that do not help, because the point of such a trip is to harm yourself and frighten others. Let’s talk about visual techniques that affect the perception of speed.

Tilt angle

The first thing that is taught in any motorcycle / driving school is the driver’s angle of view. I sit high, as they say, I look away. If you look solely under the front wheel, then the rapid change of scene turns any cruising speed of the snail into the explosive speed of the spacecraft. The angle of view should allow you to assess the situation, the further you look in front of you, the slower the speed seems.

Vision angle

It’s no secret that with increasing speed, the angle of view narrows. Hence a hint to anyone who doesn’t like to check the readings on the dashboard. As soon as the road ahead turned into a tunnel from the fact that the angle of view narrowed, then you have gone too far with the gas.


This has been said, written and described a thousand times in traffic rules tickets, about poor visibility, extreme caution and how speed is underestimated and distance is overestimated in conditions of, for example, fog or rain.

Visual illusions

This is a topic from the category of unexpected nasty things. How many mistakes in calculating your personal speed or trajectory occur every day due to the fact that visually the speed of one participant seemed more / less against the background of another.

First, the aspect ratio affects the perception of speed. It seems to us that a big car goes slower than a small one. Even if a truck is driving at a constant speed in front of you, and “Oka” tramples behind it, it will visually seem that the truck is not straining, but the “eye” smokes with the last bit of strength and at a higher speed.

A similar problem with the perception of objects at a distance from your side, the one who drives in the near lanes is visually slower than the one who is further away. Let’s say your friend is rearranging or turning, but at a constant speed, because of the distance to the side, it seems to you that he is going faster, because he still changes trajectory, and does not go parallel.

If you add the first two examples into one, it turns out that any large transport next to you will be visually slower than any smaller one a lane further. It is much easier for a person to assess a large car than a motorcycle rushing nearby, so it happens that we see a wagon going behind, but only a second “before” we see a motorcyclist hurrying to overtake.

Secondly, the trajectory of movement. We have already mentioned that speed estimation occurs in relation to other items. So, the more often the transport changes its direction or even the angle of inclination, the greater its speed seems to us. Suppose a truck is coming to meet you and some kind of “cue pikante” is constantly looking out for it, even if it cannot raise speed further than the truck, so as not to smear on its bumper, it will seem to you that it is very nimble , once twitches endlessly in indecision. Likewise with a motorcycle, if someone in front of you often maneuvers, even at a constant speed, you will feel that he is increasing it, because his position is constantly changing relative to other road users.

Oncoming vehicle color

Suddenly, but the color of the oncoming vehicle or equipment affects the perception of his speed.

A moment of physics, remember that light is reflected from the surface of light colors, but absorbed by dark ones, especially black. Therefore, any vehicle whose driver decides to play Batman on the road becomes underestimated in terms of both speed and distance. Light colors are seen better, but they are sometimes overestimated in the stream.

If dark and light cars are moving in front of you, then you will count the dark more slowly, simply because the reflection of light from it is less and you see it less clearly than the bright one.

As for personal feelings, it’s not a secret that if you constantly rush at high speed, then over time you get used to it and do not realize how much you exceed. Motorcyclists, due to the absence of a safety cage, perceive speed as air resistance. When the resistance becomes habitual, the body gets used to it, then the speed ceases to seem great.

This list can be continued for a long time, but we have considered the main ones that are most often found on the roads.

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