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Old 06-25-2012, 07:41 PM   #181
Vulfy OP
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Well from that video, I can see that you are leaning into the turn. I was doing the same thing earlier, and had a really hard time making the bike lean to its maximum.

Here is the explanation we got from UK Gymkhana folks.

When you are doing a tight turn, you must be more concerned about your rear wheel than anything else. Rear wheel is solidly connected to the bike, so the only way to turn it, is to lean it. So when you are doing a tight turn for Gymkhana, you want MAXIMUM lean on the bike + full lock on the bars to get the tightest turn possible.

Before, I was playing with different body postures, but still preferred leaning into the turn. This works great when you are at speed, since in a turn at speed, you want to minimize the lean of the bike, so you get more traction and you don't run out of lean angle on your bike and go wide.

Here its opposite. You WANT to lean the bike as much as you can.

The easiest way to do that, is to counter balance with your torso. Lean the bike under you, but keep the torso to the outer side of the turn. You can see top Gymkhana riders are doing the same.

Just my observation. The slower you go, the more counterbalance you have to do. In the video above, rider is going at a pretty brisk pace, but he is still counter leaning a little bit, not as much as me though since I'm going slower, so speed also plays a part here.

As a side note, I was scraping my pegs and sides of my boots on some of these turns. Speed Triple is a sports bike, it has a decent clearance. So you can sort of imagine how far I was leaning the bike, to be able to touch pavement with my pegs.
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Old 06-25-2012, 08:00 PM   #182
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vulfy View Post
Well from that video, I can see that you are leaning into the turn. I was doing the same thing earlier, and had a really hard time making the bike lean to its maximum.

Here is the explanation we got from UK Gymkhana folks.

When you are doing a tight turn, you must be more concerned about your rear wheel than anything else. Rear wheel is solidly connected to the bike, so the only way to turn it, is to lean it. So when you are doing a tight turn for Gymkhana, you want MAXIMUM lean on the bike + full lock on the bars to get the tightest turn possible.

Before, I was playing with different body postures, but still preferred leaning into the turn. This works great when you are at speed, since in a turn at speed, you want to minimize the lean of the bike, so you get more traction and you don't run out of lean angle on your bike and go wide.

Here its opposite. You WANT to lean the bike as much as you can.

The easiest way to do that, is to counter balance with your torso. Lean the bike under you, but keep the torso to the outer side of the turn. You can see top Gymkhana riders are doing the same.

Just my observation. The slower you go, the more counterbalance you have to do. In the video above, rider is going at a pretty brisk pace, but he is still counter leaning a little bit, not as much as me though since I'm going slower, so speed also plays a part here.
I just posted my own observations which mirror what you just said, d'oh..

Each time we go out there is a wee improvement, something as outwardly simple as using the back brake takes a lot of reconditioning to make habitual. At the moment the biggest thing for me is being smooth & quick, I am still having to make corrections to my lines which as the pace increases will cause a quick dismount.
We are on the prowl for a bigger area to set up a more complicated course with fewer hazards like kerbs & bike eating drains. Be interesting to see what happens to the flow when we find somewhere.
Play around with body position & mobility next time out me thinks.

Scraping boots? I managed to do that on the DT but that is more a reflection on boot size than lean angle.. Thing is, I want to do that consistently.
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:05 AM   #183
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Originally Posted by ultrachrome View Post
I drag my brake to prevent lurching due to chain slack. Perhaps there are other reasons but controlling this slack that is inherent to the design of the bike makes it much easier to control when riding a bike just off idle.
I asked about using the rear brake to a driver instructor that I know.

This was the answer:
The easiest way to explain this is to think about towing a car.
The front car tows (the engine of your bike) and the other one can be seen as your rear wheel.
The rope that connects the cars can be compared with the chain and gears of your bike.

To tow the car without jerking, the rear car should have just a little more resistance (for example by using his brakes) to keep tension on the rope.

your bike has the same principles, by braking your rear wheel and have the engine towing, the gears and chain will remain with tension and you have less jerking and become more stable by doing so.

this is also usable at higher speeds, but it requires more practice.
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Old 06-26-2012, 10:48 AM   #184
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Quote:
Originally Posted by liquid_ice View Post
I asked about using the rear brake to a driver instructor that I know.

This was the answer:
The easiest way to explain this is to think about towing a car.
The front car tows (the engine of your bike) and the other one can be seen as your rear wheel.
The rope that connects the cars can be compared with the chain and gears of your bike.

To tow the car without jerking, the rear car should have just a little more resistance (for example by using his brakes) to keep tension on the rope.

your bike has the same principles, by braking your rear wheel and have the engine towing, the gears and chain will remain with tension and you have less jerking and become more stable by doing so.

this is also usable at higher speeds, but it requires more practice.
Oooh, nice! Thank you.
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Old 06-28-2012, 10:02 PM   #185
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Well, I took the Sportster out to the local mall parking lot to see how well figure eights would go. I did several and easily got the turn radius inside of 24 feet - the standard width of a two lane road. With renewed confidence I started trying to shorten the turning radius and nearly dropped the bike. Good thing I was going slow. I got the turning radius down to less than the width of two parking spaces. I don't know how wide that is, but it is challenging. I see a smaller bike in my future if I'm going to persue this part of motorcycling. In the meantime, how much do crash bars cost - that's a rhetorical question.

The business of pointing your chin towards where you want to go seems to work. It turns out that I've been doing it ever since I graduated from bicycles to motorcycles. I think the reason that whole balance thing happens is because the attitude (position of the head relative to the horizon) of the head enables one the see the horizon or some reference to it. When one looks down at the ground and then drops the bike where he was looking is because there is no reference to maintain balance until it's too late. It's the same way when one flys airplanes visually, as opposed to instrument flying. Another place that would cause one to have problems is trying to do figure eights across a slope. Falling would be for the same reasons. The horizon reference would be screwy, and screw up your balance and down you go. Of course, with practice, that whole thing could be overcome, just like walking with head down so you can look at your feet and not fall over. So, if you want to show off, learn how to do figure eights across a slope and then watch eveyone else fall. (grin) Again, that was a rhetorical comment. I'm not trying to encourage folks to be jerks. (grin)

Banking the bike and keeping the body upright seems to work too.

Trying to leave the clutch engaged while maintaing speed with the rear brake didn't work for me. The Harley doesn't like to go slow. Get a little bit below ten MPH and the bike bucks in protest - not good. It's a little too hard on the bike for me.
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Old 06-28-2012, 10:24 PM   #186
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Good job, I recently watched this vid from a Gymkhana event down here in NZ



My big bike is a twin but it handles the rear brake / throttle thing ok. A quick dab of clutch & lift the revs when I get chain slap. Turning on a camber? Oh, it's freaky. Part of our course is on a downhill road 5 mtrs wide, the first few attempts I was really tense & muscling the bikes around a bit at a time but turning to look over my shoulder for the next point & putting my body inside the turn eventually relaxed me. Like you say, if you look at your feet or front wheel that's were your going.
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Old 06-29-2012, 07:17 AM   #187
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@ kabluie: the width of a single parking space here is something like 2,5 meters (7,5 feet that is?)
Your's won't be MUCH wider I guess.

I think you did a good job with that.

Try the GP8 figure , that is wider so can go a little bit faster and have less problems with your clutch
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Old 07-06-2012, 09:44 AM   #188
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Well its been a couple of slow weeks. Temperature hovering above 90, I really don't want to get into my leathers and armor. A couple of rides in the morning before sun started scorching the pavement, but that's about it.
I did however managed to finally meet up with a local rider for a really brief session. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to practice fully as our session was interrupted by rain. However we got off to a good start, and hopefully will get more practice time in the next few weeks.
As slow as these weeks were, they gave me a chance to mull over motogymkhana riding techniques, and process some stuff on a back-burner. I find that sometimes when I'm trying to acquire a new skill, my mind as well as body, needs some rest period to sort of process all the data. After that, I sometimes see some dramatic results, after which it plateaus for some time, until next processing break.

Here are a couple of things that have been bugging me, in my own riding.

First is the front brake. I'm not using if efficiently enough, to keep up the speed in the straights between the cones. I would accelerate out of the turn, but would have to chop and brake in the middle of the straight, to scrub off speed and coast to an entry speed, that allows me a quickest turn. That way I'm loosing a lot of time in the straights, even if my turns are clean and tight.

After reading, watching more videos on youtube, and a bit of a discussion over at amgrass, I started playing a bit more with front brake. Trail braking into the turn. Honestly, its not as much drama as everybody warned me about.

Here is a good read on front, trail braking right here on ADV.

http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=805304

So here are a few things that helped me to get to grips with (haha) front brake.

First is very simple. Same as emergency stop, but at a speed at which you are attacking straights, just apply all three, rear, front and roll off a bit for engine braking.
First grab the front brake a couple of times. Feel that bite and front dive.
Then smoothly load the front, feel how much different it feels, and at which point a bike actually starts to dive, as you need to squeeze quite a bit, when doing it smoothly, before bike really starts to slow down.
Then, pre-load the suspension with rear brake. Apply rear brake, and then smoothly add front. You will feel the difference, as the bike will be much more planted, and won't nose dive as much.
Then as you are squeezing the front brake lever, start rolling off the throttle a bit. Feel for that motion of the hand and fingers, where you are sort of pivoting and sliding your palm over the lever.
Do all of these, until bike feels smooth and you can decelerate quite rapidly. Do not stop though, as you would need the bike moving in a turn. So just slow down, accelerate, slow down, accelerate.

Next step that worked for me, was to get the feel of how the arm twists and stretches, and how it all feels with the fingers on the lever, in a turn. A left turn is a lot different that a right turn, as your throttle hand is either stretched out from your body, or tucked in, close to the tank.

So without any cones, find a wide spot of the road, and drag the front brake ever so slightly while you do a big, lazy figure 8.
Just get the feel for how much the position of the fingers change (if at all) on the lever, as you move your hand back and forth, while steering the bike. Remember you need to get a feel for the entire range of travel, of your bars.

As you are getting comfortable, start squeezing a little bit more. Feel for the nuances and what the bike tells you. Most likely you will have to pick up some speed, as you will decelerate that much faster with the front brake in a turn. S
Start incorporating the rear and roll off, slowly, the same way you did on a straight. You are going for a smoothness here. Bike should not lurch forward.

At this point its basically fine tuning your sensations of the bike. How much pressure is needed, how much your rpms drop and how much you need to roll off or roll on in a turn, so not to stall the bike. Also the point and speed at which the bike tries to stand up. Its interesting, but you will feel that with the brake in the turn, the bars will want to move to a full lock by themselves, while the bike tries to stand up. Let the bars do their thing, don't wrestle with them, but lean into the turn a bit more, to keep the radius tight.

Don't rush it, and give it some time. It might feel awkward and weird at first, as well as scary. Stick with it. Push a bit at a time, and at the end, there really no drama in applying relatively heavy front braking in a turn, in a lean. Its all about training your muscles to be gentle and smooth with the controls. Fine tuning it.

Now before you attempt any of this, a warning. This is a learning process, and at this point, you are taking your bike to an edge. So be prepared to drop your bike. If you are not comfortable with that, practice on other techniques.

Now the second thing that was still bugging me, was riding posture.
From a few snippets here and there, as well as observing the Japanese riders, it seems there is a certain posture for motogymkhana riding.
When accelerating, lean forward, chest over the tank.
When decelerating, straighten out.
It seems that these motions come partly from g-forces acting on the rider and him overcoming them.
Also it seems they are transferring weight from front to back, to keep the bike relatively centered, and not diving or wheeling too much. I'm still figuring out the exact reasons and techniques for that.

However, here is an interesting find and my own personal experience.

On my Speed Triple, I tend to ride it as a standard bike, with my back relatively straight, and arms relaxed with elbows pointing down.

Today I was practicing with the posture as well, and there is a noticeable different in the feel of the bike as well as control, when I'm leaning forward in a more sporty position, with my chest over the tank, and my elbows raised. This posture allows me to lean into the turn instead of counterbalancing, while still going relatively slow and bringing the bars to a full lock. Also, it gives me a better feedback on how much I'm turning my bars. Feels a bit like I'm steering a large steering wheel, rather than handle bars.

Great exercise I discovered for myself, while waiting for my rear brakes to cool, was to run same figure eight, but keeping the throttle at a constant speed, very low. Then applying the above posture, and running figure eight, with additional rotation at each cone. Its a bit hard to describe, as it was a multitude of new sensory inputs, but the result was much better turning, and the feel of the bike, as well as feeling for that natural fall into the turn, and bike's turning radius.

So, chest over the tank, elbows up and out, throttle constant (maybe a slight roll-on in the turns as RPMS drop), no brakes, lean INTO the turn.

Try to go as slow as possible, right on the edge of the bike falling down. Start out relatively straight up, then start leaning the bike a bit more and more, while keeping the bars at full lock, or close to it.


Now for the session today, with all that information, heat climbing up and just overall wobbliness, I just couldn't get into the groove. It took me a few hours of constant riding to just wake up and finally start to get somewhere. I got to the spot at around 6am, and only at around 9am I got a few decent runs. Of course I was overloading myself a bit with new techniques, and just putzing around on the bike, trying this and that.
Only after I started approaching each thing separately, and braking it down to manageable and practicable pieces, did I start to get some results.

At the end, I got a few good runs, and stabilized a bit new information, hopefully enough for my muscles to remember. I will have to do a few more sessions this weekend and if work permits during the week, as I need to practice and entrench the new techniques, otherwise it just evaporates and I'm back to square one.

Another good thing from todays session, is that I managed to get SUPER close to my personal milestone of 35 seconds in figure 8. I somehow, despite horrendous turning radius on some of the turns, managed to squeeze in a 35.5 second run.
The rest of the runs were hovering in 36-37 range.

I'm pretty happy with this. Here is the video of it.

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Old 07-06-2012, 01:51 PM   #189
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Well done, speed racer. Ride on!
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Old 07-06-2012, 04:20 PM   #190
Harvey Krumpet
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Good job Vulfy.

We suffer the same thing re over load. We practice one day & all is good, go out the next day & we are like muppets, after a few days break everything we practiced seems to to have sunk in properly & our next session is an improvement. I have found the same thing in other sports. Body memory, subconscious filing? Who knows..

I had the pleasure of an advanced instructor teaching me to brake properly a few months ago. In a straight line & in a corner, not trail braking, actually in it. What you say is right. With my bikes wheelbase & weight bias I have to use both brakes, the bike stays level & forward - back weight transfer is minimal. the smart part is releasing the brakes & applying the throttle at the same time to maintain this.... takes a bit of practice. I suggest to riders that they spend some time setting the bike up to achieve this easily. I have adjusted front & rear levers so I have more control & importantly comfort. Their is a lot of discussion on how many fingers to use on the front brake. I was made to use 4 fingers in my training, for years I have used two, a hangover from dirt bikes. Three main reasons for this, with soft brakes you do not want to crush fingers & for feel, your pinkie is the most sensitive of the bunch. Also it is very easy to brake & not fully close the throttle using two fingers which I discovered in training, must have been doing it for years unaware. My hands are big enough to use throttle & brake when I use 4 fingers but now I have to do it consciously, this is why you should set your bike up, we are all different & need to find what fits.
The body position you describe is the classic moto X "attack" stance, weight over the front, pushing forward from the footrests, arms up & flexible with the best leverage & mobility. Be weird on a road bike. Do you have flat bars?

I think the smooth & quick transition from brakes to throttle is a key element for us, same as track racers. Anything in between & you have no control.

Vulfy, practice in the rain too, it really focuses the mind!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Any further thoughts on a new toy yet?

Oh, it is easier to practice using both brakes in a curve at a reasonable speed, the bike reacts slower or rather over a greater distance. I struggled in training initially because the bike slowed & turned faster than I could react. They stop very well in a turn!!! Start very, very gently to get the feel first & do it somewhere very safe.

Happy coning all.
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Old 07-06-2012, 05:36 PM   #191
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Harvey: Oh yes, I've been fidgeting with brake lever position ( I have an adjustable one) for the entire session. I was told to use one finger at the beginning, as it reduces the chance of a death grip and a nose dive. At the end when I got more comfortable with it, I reverted to two fingers, how I usually brake on the street.

The somewhat tricky part is to squeeze the lever, while still operating the throttle, be that closing or opening it, depending on a situation. while my throttle arm is either stretched out in a left hand turn, or tucked in in the right hand turn. But I think I worked enough of a muscle memory to do it smoothly. Just need to reinforce it now.

As for braking and not closing the throttle, what I found was that for these type of turns, throttle needed to stay open somewhat. Front brake has a lot of gripping force, so it still slows the bike down quite a bit. However when I was closing throttle almost to an idle, and then opened it up after the turn for the straight, there was a very pronounced surge and a kick. At the end it was much smoother to keep RPMs up a bit, and after the turn, let go of the brakes and the bike would just spring forward. The result however was me boiling rear liquid and front going soft, after 3-4 runs, so 15-20 laps of figure 8 course.
I definitely need more practice to smooth things out and maintain proper throttle opening so I'm not burning through pads and liquid at such a rate.

And yes, you are absolutely right, it is mostly in the braking where you loose or gain time. Basically if you look at any motogymkhana course, it consists of pretty much the same turn, that we do in figure 8. Just at different intervals from one another. So a skill of braking into a quick turn from any speed, is the key to a good time. One second you are hauling ass in a straight or a sweeping turn, and the next you need to slow down almost to a standstill to go around a couple of cones. So that transition into a tight turn from speed, is extremely important.

As for the stance, it is a little bit weird at first. I constantly have to check my posture, as I tend to slack back into a more upright and relaxed position. But it works. I have regular bent bars on my bike, but I did have to put risers on it, as the bars were almost hitting my tank at a full lock. It is much easier now, as I don't bang my hands into the tank.

Rain practice is actually on my mind. Hehehe. But only once I'm smooth and confident with this whole front brake malarkey in the dry.

New toy is on a wish list for now. I'm invested in my Triumph for now. For my skill level, it will do for the rest of the season. I have risers and sliders on it, its a bit banged up, so I'm not worried about dropping it, and I'm thinking of changing rear sprocket for some low end oomph. I'll start looking for a sumo in the spring. For now just researching whats out there.
I honestly don't really like the look of sumos, I would rather go with a light sports bike, maybe CBR or ninja, but one big appeal of sumos to me, is that they are designed to be crashed and dropped right from the start. As well as pretty good ergonomics for gymkhana and great turning radius, with good lock to lock. So its function over style for me.
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Old 07-06-2012, 06:28 PM   #192
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LOL, I get your point on the Sumo looks, they do not gel.
Both the bikes I ride have wide bars so the only issue I have is when I hit the lock stops, I guess having arms like a gibbon helps too.
I'm reading a book on road racing technique at the moment & it reinforces what I have been taught, it's particularly interesting when it comes too braking into & accelerating out of a corner.
Basically braking hard from upright into the turn, releasing the brakes approaching the apex as lean angle increases & getting a positive throttle as the brakes are released then accelerating through the apex, not from it, to pick the bike up which should already be pointing at the next turn or part of the track to enter the next turn. The point the author reinforces is that exit speed is paramount, entry speed is dictated solely by finding grip & getting on the gas to maximise the speed into the next part of the track. Same as on the road & round the cones, to fast in is slow out & creates the risk of losing the front by over braking in the turn to compensate. The author states & I agree that you will never lose the front under acceleration but cornering with a neutral throttle runs the risk of the back coming around & if under brakes the front washing.
My take on this for us is thinking through the braking, turning & accelerating points of each maneuver so the bike is always in the right place to maintain flow. The more efficient we are at applying this, the quicker we go & the better we are at getting our bikes to their limits, not beyond them.

Next time I go out I intend to spend a fair bit of time walking through my course making broom broom noises & riding the bike in my head to put all of this into effect, well try, & also think about body position, bike position & visualise the dynamics of what is happening at a given point. The author makes a big point of working on the areas where you can gain the most speed, not the most technical or slow points. The time saved here is too small to justify the effort.
I appreciate that the book is about race tracks but I think the same principles apply for us to a certain extent. I don't expect the back end to crack out going around a cone.......
I shall let you know if this approach makes any improvement to my riding.
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Old 07-06-2012, 07:05 PM   #193
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Hmm, interesting.
Overall everything coincides with what I'm experience and seeing in gymkhana videos, but one thing.
Accelerating through the apex.
Over at amgrass, there is a reply to my post from UK rider, and his take on braking into the corner for motogymkhana, is to tighten up chases by rear braking first, smooth application of front, and then rolling off the throttle gradually at a rate that puts you in the slowest speed at the apex and the tightest part of the spiral. And yes, you accelerate when the front wheel is pointing to the entrance of the next turn.
What he is saying about roll-off to a point of almost standing still at the apex, coincides with what I'm seeing in motogymkhana videos.

Example:



You can see the rider almost stopping at the apex, and swinging the front around. This also differs from track racing in a way, that here we are doing u-turns mostly, and to gain time, we need to travel least distance around the cone, in the least amount of time. With the track you are riding swooping turns, maintaining the line that gives you fastest speed. Here we are maintaining the line and speed to get us the fastest swing around the cone.

This is motogymkhanaman's quote from amgrass thread.

"Great stuff on the trail braking, but as you say it does take a fair bit of practice to get right. Recommend the use of just one finger on the front brake lever otherwise it will be all to easy to lock the front. The most common braking regime is with the throttle open, apply the rear first and wait a moment for the bike to squat before gradually applying the font. The rate of deceleration should then be constant as the bike capsizes to its optimum bank angle and the bike is as slow as it can go without falling over. At this point you should have spiralled in around the back of the pylon. Wait, wait, wait until the front wheel is pointing exactly towards the next turn point, when you can release the brakes entirely. The bike should instantly begen to return to the vertical and spring forward. As soon as it does you can further open the throttle. "

This does reflect my times. A swooping, more rounded turn around the cone, might feel faster, but its actually slower. A tight, "slower" turn, but with faster directional change, results in a much faster times.

Of course the weight and the overall feel of the bike still somewhat dictates how the corner is taken. My Triumph is pretty heavy, and I still can not bring it to an almost stand still at the apex, but a lighter bike, I would assume be easier to swing around, similar to what the rider in the above video is doing. I'm still managing more of a "swooping" turn, rather than "leaping".

Very very interesting stuff.

Vulfy screwed with this post 07-06-2012 at 07:13 PM
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Old 07-06-2012, 07:10 PM   #194
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This is a great video for me personally, as the rider is on exactly same bike as I am, and manages a roughly 30 second run for 5 laps (roughly, since I'm measuring just the laps, without start off and end, since he just rides continuous 8's).

His arc is a bit more flowing compared to the sumo guy above, but he still manages a very fast time.
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Old 07-06-2012, 08:07 PM   #195
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Great vid, you can see the brake light & turn combine, also the wide entry, tight exit with the throttle coming on as described in the previous post right at the maximum tipping point when he is lined up for the next cone. Nice to hear the bike when he does the 360's, same revs as he approaches the exit & just a dab of brake to continue turning but maintaining the same revs.

With the bigger bikes I think the wait, wait, wait bit is the hardest, at the stage I'm at that is when I feel the bikes weight & my sphincter snaps shut & eyes pop out.

The info I posted about turning was based on a 90o corner so I guess a 180o would shift the apex to the point were you are on a dead or neutral throttle otherwise the bike would run to wide.

I'm loving this, I have never thought so much about how to ride a bike in over 30 years.

On that note, I'm off to waste some petrol in the sunshine.
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