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Old 04-18-2015, 07:11 AM   #1
wpbarlow OP
Beastly Adventurer
Joined: Jun 2003
Location: Central NJ
Oddometer: 11,507
Spring is springing up all over, so

It might be time for a read as much of the country gets excited about a new riding season. This is an old, but still valid, article.

Lotsa laps, load of miles


This sport, the one you're so addicted to, is unmatched in terms of thrill and difficulty. Because of those assets, mistakes mean more than hitting a ball into the net like Andre Agassi or throwing an interception lke Brett Favre. Those guys can afford to make mistakes, we can't. Rather than spend the next few years learning from the school of hard knocks, let's shortcut the learning curve by examining a few of the ways we hit the ground.

We crash on cold tires. And everyone who falls off cold tires says the same thing: "Man I was going SO SLOW!" Respect cold - and especially new and cold - tires by giving them a few miles to warm up, and develop an inner alarm that gongs every time you start a ride. Cold tires can handle smooth, subtle braking, accelerating and cornering inputs. Just don't be aggressive.

We crash on overloaded tires. Modern sportbike tires will do amazing things, but traction is finite. Tires begin to slide when they become overloaded, like when too much front brake or too much throttle is combined with too much lean angle. Those scenarios push either the front or rear tire over the traction edge. If it's a gentle push, the rider can usually gather it back up, but if the traction edge is leaped over, the rider is down before he knows it.

We can sneak up on these traction limits by slowing and smoothing our control applications. The faster your bike, the smoother you need to work the brakes and throttle.

We can crash trying to catch up. The motorcycle has very little to do with a rider's speed on backroads, but until you understand that fact, using the throttle to keep up your friends seems like a viable option. Trouble is, your focus has just gone from riding technique and trying to read the road to trying to hang on with your more experienced friends. Don't succumb to this
temptation. Ride at your own pace and keep studying the sport. Learn to transition your bike off the throttle, onto the brakes and into the corner's apex. Riding on the street isn't about going fast, it's about attaining repeatability at speeds that won't freak out your brain. Get it right going slow and don't worry about anyone else.

We crash because we want to go fast. Freddie Spencer has a great line: "This is a slow corner. I'm going to go.....slow!" On the street, these "slow corners" can include intersections, school zones, blind crests, unfamiliar roads, crowded freeways, gravel strewn backroads etc. The riders that scare me the most are the ones that can't slow down. Thirty miles per hour doesn't seem fast until you see some idiot going that speed while splitting lanes in stopped traffic. Speed reduces time and adds distance in an emergency situation. Recognize and respect dangerous situations that can be remedied by slowing down.

We crash because we bail out. What do you do when you enter a corner too hot? First, understand that the term "too hot" probably means that your brain is overwhelmed, not that the bike is at its limits. You freak out because you missed a downshift or didn't go to the brake lever or got surprised by an unforeseen situation, but the bike could probably still make it through the corner if your brain could just settle down.

Do these three things: 1) LOOK through the corner. The brain doesn't know the pavement exists until the eyes see it. If you look off the road, the bike will follow.

2) LEAN into the corner until the bike is dragging on the ground. That's the limit.

3) BELIEVE in modern technology and know that if you are looking into the corner and leaning all the way over, the bike could still make it. Too many riders enter a corner too hot, stand up the bike and nail the rear brake. Look, lean and believe.

We crash because we aren't mentally there. Your motorcycle covers 88 feet per second at 60 mph, so an instant's inattention moves you quite a distance. If you're thinking about work, your family, the scenery... slow down or pull over. If you're thinking about your riding, make sure you're thinking about the next corner, the next intersection, the next brake application...the future.

You can't turn back time, so forget a previous mistake and look to the next situation. Ride ahead of your bike.

We crash because we rush corner entrances. Kenny Roberts said "Slow in, fast out." Think of the entrance as preparation for the exit. On your next ride, try reducing your corner-entrance aggression by 5 percent. Literally ride into the corners slower than you feel you could enter, and watch how much better your exits get, how much better you get your bike steered down to the apex, how much earlier you can pick up the throttle, how much more relaxed you are. It worked for Roberts when winning three world championships, and it works for street riders who want to make it to breakfast every Sunday morning for the rest of their lives. Most single-bike crashes come from too much entrance speed.

We crash because we can't keep up with the motorcycle. Today's sportbikes are the safest, most competent motorcycles in history, yet they continue to hit the ground. Make sure your software is equal to the hardware. Practice emergency braking. Take advantage of the many riding schools and open track days in your area. I can speak for the rest of the Sportbike staff when I say if we hadn't visited the racetrack on our testbikes, we wouldn't have had half as much fun or discovered the true performance available from these amazing machines.

Discussing crashes is a no-no in some magazines. That's too bad, because rather than commit a mistake that leads to damage, I'd much rather learn that lesson from someone else's goof! Don't be afraid or embarrassed to work hard on your riding, because the better your technique becomes, the more your bike will reveal to you and the more joy this sport will deliver.


Just one personal observation to add-- I've been on the scene of a few single vehicle mc accidents; and two thing I've never heard are

"I was going too slow to make the turn"
"You were going too slow to make that turn"
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