When you learn to ride a motorcycle, your teacher will always tell - your vision is the most important thing on a motorcycle. Quite simply, look where you want to go and the motorcycle will follow. To simplify that even further, if you are looking at a 1 foot wide pole on a 20 foot wide road, chances are you will go crash into that pole or end up missing it narrowly. This is the basic definition of target fixation and it’s one of the basic mistakes that are made by a lot of new riders.
The term target fixation is relevant for all human beings who operate a high-speed motorized vehicle. Be it a fighter jet, a boat, a car or a MOTORCYCLE! We might steer different vehicles using our hands and feet but it is our eyes that are the ultimate navigation device we have. In terms of motorcycling, target fixation can happen in a lot of places. It can happen on the street, off-road or even at the track.
So why does it happen? The most common reason for target fixation is a rider’s lack of confidence in their own skills and in the capabilities of the motorcycle. Another good reason for this is simple laziness. Talking about the first one, a lack of confidence often rears its ugly head when you come into a corner faster than you are used to, and you suddenly panic thinking that the motorcycle will not be able to make it around the corner and will go crash into the guard rail by the side of the road. In fact, at this point of time, people who target fixate end up looking at the guard rail instead of where they want to go. And that’s where things start going wrong. Nine times out of ten, you are not at the limit of the motorcycle and even if you come in too hot into a corner, your motorcycle still has enough cornering performance left in reserve to safely make it through. All you have to do is look where you want to go, and not where you don’t want to crash.
The second reason, laziness, often stems from being too confident on a motorcycle. This can happen to seasoned riders as well, and most often, it happens in a straight line. Imagine there is a car in front of you, which is being driven at a slower speed than you. When you are not fully present in the moment and thinking about something in your head while you are riding (you shouldn’t be doing this in the first place), you will quickly close up on the car in front and as it closes quickly on you, you will suddenly fixate on the car because you are headed for it. You can guess what happens next.