Gymkhana

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Vulfy, May 6, 2012.

  1. Bill_Z

    Bill_Z Dude! chill,...

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    This looks excellent. I'd love to work on this skillset and it'd be fun while really learning the right riding. Of course, my Wee will be an extreme handful, but that's what I have right now. Makes a mini-motard like the WR250X look really attractive.

    Update: I found the AMGRASS link. Doh!, Dredman posted this earlier but I missed it...
    #21
  2. C/1/509

    C/1/509 Why?

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    Looks like a lot of fun. Seems like it might be hard to find a place that wouldn't run you off, but other than that should be great.
    #22
  3. Ronin ADV

    Ronin ADV Gear addict

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    So I dropped $10 today and bought some cones, then rode out to a parking lot and set up the coarse above. Riding laps on this coarse is indeed lots of fun, and a great workout. The cones are now residing in the tailbag on my Duc and I plan to work this into my routine rides. I have been meaning to put a smaller front sprocket on my Hypermotard and this definitely motivated me to get this done as its all low gear stuff. You definitely need to find a nice wide lot, I first tried to set up a coarse on a narrow lot and it wasn't nearly as much fun as you can't set up the longer lateral runs very well. If anybody knows some more good patterns, post them up. Great thread idea Vulfy. I'm going to try some coarses on dirt also.
    #23
  4. LittleRedToyota

    LittleRedToyota Yinzer

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    not really.

    i mean, sure, walking your dog--or anything--can be dangerous in one sense.

    but dropping your bike or low siding at slow speeds isn't really very dangerous if you are wearing the right gear (knee guards, elbow guards, stiff boots, etc.)

    dirt bike riders often do it numerous times per day without getting hurt.

    i sometimes do it many numerous times a day without getting hurt. :lol3
    #24
  5. LittleRedToyota

    LittleRedToyota Yinzer

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    personally, i find cornering that way is often advantageous in the city. i find that it keeps you higher up so you can see better. i also find it keeps your more balanced over the bike so you can react and flick it around quicker in the event of a sudden/unexpected change in riding environment. of course, it probably depends a lot on the particular bike you are riding.

    also, as mentioned above, you countersteer at all speeds.
    #25
  6. Vulfy

    Vulfy Been here awhile

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    I agree. Of course I'm not at the level of a top rider and I don't throw my bike around as much as they are, but I did have multiple instances of tire slippage due to debris, be that a bit of sand or a loose pebble, while leaning the bike.

    I guess if you are ok with the idea of dropping your bike (and they do drop their bikes during practices ) and have decent crash protection on the bike as well as your own gear (notice they all have crash bars installed, even on the sports bikes), then it really is a good experience either way.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zum7Uzg2tew&list=PLD8D18874A5683EAF&index=8&feature=plpp_video


    The first few times my tire slipped at an angle, my heart went to my feet. I didn't lay my bike down, but it got upset from my shaky throttle hand. After the first initial scare, you start to learn what your bike can and can not handle. I know that I can lean the bike pretty far and even if it hiccups on the sand, as long as I keep my throttle steady it pulls through. Of course I'm not talking about riding yards and yards in sand, while dragging my knee. A small patch is what I usually encounter. But that feeling of bike slipping away for a fraction of a second is a good learning experience, so you are not taken by surprise if something similar happens on the road.

    I'm just saying that a general feel for what happens when you encounter sand, is a good learning experience, so that you are not panicking, like you would the first time. Also keep in mind that this is coming from a rider who hasn't been on any dirt bike or off-road, ever. So this was a new experience for me.

    Please don't take what I'm saying above as a reckless advice, everything and everybody has their limits. Also a good judgement is important on your part. I started with slow exercises on my old 250. Slow u-turns, slow 8's, basically everything we are suppose to learn and know after MSF. So this sport is a progression from SAFE and responsible riding. It is based on the skills that we as riders need to know, just taken to another level. Actually running 8's is another branch of Gymkhana. Riding a set number of 8's and beating your time is something they do as well. I love riding them, and when you get into the rhythm and into the zone it can be an almost meditative experience.
    #26
  7. Harvey Krumpet

    Harvey Krumpet Long timer

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    Excellent! I have started doing an ad hoc version of gymkhana on my TDM. It stemmed from teaching my gf low speed skills on her DT & I enjoyed that so much I had a crack at it on Tubby. I do need to get some engine bars, though, had a couple of heart in mouth moments.
    I set up our course with half tennis balls, easy to ride over & I put in a stop box to practice our braking in a turn.
    I've gone from crapping myself doing a u-turn in 8 mtrs of road to doing 360's in less than 5 mtrs & figure eights from full lock to lock. The training has made me a lot more mobile & confident on the bike. It also really emphasizes that you go were you look even if it's over your shoulder.

    Gymkhana has just started to happen down here in NZ so hopefully I may be able to enter an event in the future.
    #27
  8. Bill_Z

    Bill_Z Dude! chill,...

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    I have contacted the International as well as the US National Associations. I intend to start this up here where I live and see if we can get something going. The MSF uses a lot near my home for their training and I'll be contacting them to see if we could use the same lot. It's huge with lots of space for multiple courses, even while the MSF is running their classes or the State Police are using their skid pad and training area. I feeling pretty pumped because this looks like so much fun.

    Update: I have started a blog for organizing this in Kentucky. The blog address is http://www.kymotogymkhana.blogspot.com and I hope to recieve information from the National as well as the International Associations very soon. I'm issuing an invitation to all Kentucky riders to join in organizing this group. Also working out the kinks in a specifc forum, outside ADV Rider, for maintaining event information.
    #28
  9. nuggets

    nuggets It's all my fault...

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  10. Vulfy

    Vulfy Been here awhile

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    Christened my new R&G frame sliders as well as my suit today with a small drop. Chopped throttle at the tightest bend, and bike went down, tumbled off it onto my knee, elbow and then back. Speed was well bellow 10mph, so bike didn't even slide, just dropped.

    One thing for those who want to do this sport, is to definitely be ATGATT about it. Good knee pads, hip pads, tail bone, and all upper, chest, back, elbows, shoulder and good gloves with good padding on the fingers.
    Good boots too, no sneakers, or even work boots. A good chance of trapping your foot under the bike, since the speeds are pretty low and you are not sliding away from the bike.

    Public parking lot is becoming an issue. First of all I wouldn't want to take any tumbles in front of the public (this one happened in early, early morning, so it was completely empty), as it would create an unsafe environment for people around me and just makes me look reckless, which produces complaints and a patrol car.

    Second, as my skills are slowly increase, so is the size of the course. The best parking lot so far, with a decent pavement produces a roughly 80x80 foot square for my course. Right now its pretty good for what I can do, but I can see that it will become too small in a few months of constant practice.

    Have to start looking for a private or an abandoned lot in my area.

    Overall, had pretty good morning of practice, even with the tumble. Refined my previous course to a simplified one, which is a bit shorter, but gives me a chance to run it constantly, one lap after another.

    Here is the diagram for anybody who is interested. It will look messy at first, but just follow the numbers and it will make sense. It gives me a few good speed bends, and then a tight more technical bit. Good practice for hard braking in the very first straight as well as the last to the finish. This is roughly 80 x 80 feet. First and last cone at 1 and 14 can be used as turn-around to start next lap immediately, so its a continuous course.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanley550/7185964094/" title="gymkhanaCourse by stanley550, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5325/7185964094_45126fab1f.jpg" width="386" height="500" alt="gymkhanaCourse"></a>

    On the other hand a simple practice of running 8's can still be done on a small parking lot, and even without cones. Good braking, and lock to lock turning is essential, and 8's give you a chance to practice all of that.

    PS: MotoMind, tried setting up your course, but ran out of room. Tried setting it up smaller, but due to some potholes and bad pavement couldn't get it to work fully on the lot I usually practice on, especially with the faster bends in it. Gotta find more space.
    #30
  11. Bill_Z

    Bill_Z Dude! chill,...

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    Vulfy: Thanks for the pattern. This is what I've been looking for, in addition to Motoman's pattern. I have started to catalog these patterns for future use. I rode Motoman's pattern, I call #1, yesterday. I went out at 2:00 pm with a plan to ride at a county high school that I've practiced at before. Turned out that lost had degraded in the intervening years since I'd ridden there last. I could have swept the entire lot, but choose to move to another school. That lot is for parking, but was designed for the local marching band. Actually, although striped, there are so many numbers painted on the lot for the marching band, I can't imagine how then know where to stand. What looks like debris or dirt in the lot are actually numbers, little white, blue, green, and red numbers for placement. In the picture below I have not placed my markers yet and I am standing on the band directors stand.

    When I laid Motoman's pattern, initially, I used his dimensions at 100', but quickly reduced it to 50', to facilitate more turning and less accelerating and braking. In retrospect, I can understand the purpose of the distance, but I was bored riding that far, cone to cone, for the turns where I needed practice. After running that pattern for about twenty minutes, I picked up my markers, I used halved tennis balls instead of cones, and used the lot stripes to practice my turns by staying inside the lines of two parking spaces. I found it helpful to turn from one lane of parking spaces across to a second lane of parking spaces. I was blessed with a lot that was huge and clean. Actually, this school has four different lots.
    [​IMG]
    I am excited about this sport and have decided that it is my newest passion. I wonder what distances you use between cones for the pattern you've posted. Your's is much more technical and I look forward to using that this week.

    On a side note: I would like to see this thread continued as a place to share information. I have started a blog for my ride reports: http://kymotogymkhana.blogspot.com
    #31
  12. Vulfy

    Vulfy Been here awhile

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    #32
  13. Ronin ADV

    Ronin ADV Gear addict

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    Vulfy
    Sweet pattern. I'm working today but I'm going to go try it tomorrow. Keep posting up patterns guys.
    #33
  14. dredman

    dredman Dirt Disciple

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    One of the most important methods to improve, AND self-assess is to time your runs, or have a buddy to time you. Two or more guys running the course makes it more fun and interesting, you get feedback and coaching - AND you get TRUE assessment of your improvement - TIME.

    Bottom line is, you can talk about the best line, technique, lean angle, braking, acceleration, etc. and it is all meaningless unless your time is improving.

    Most smartphones have a stopwatch, or a free app you can download. 5 seconds is a BIG deal.

    Pull out the timer. :evil
    #34
  15. scmopar

    scmopar Been here awhile

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    coming from a horse showing background these patterns remind me of the Aqha reining horse patterns I use to have to memorize and practice on an old honda big red three wheeler good times:clap I may have to repurpose a few of those patterns :deal
    #35
  16. Bill_Z

    Bill_Z Dude! chill,...

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    Since this is the second time I've focused my attention on the mechanics of riding, I'm gonna work on each of the components before I start timing. I learned a lot yesterday, in the short time that I rode, including experiencing the areas that I need to focus on. I still don't have full control, lock to lock, but I did manage to reduce the radius of my corners while increasing my speed. I still have to improve my clutch work so I'll add that to my brake control.

    I think it's pretty cool that there seems to be more than a little interest in this thread.:freaky
    #36
  17. Ronin ADV

    Ronin ADV Gear addict

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    +1
    I'll worry about my times later. Right now its good to just focus on the mechanics of the coarse.
    #37
  18. shaddix

    shaddix Banned

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    I can't seem to turn at full lock. If I have my bars at full lock I tend to fall. Is there some special trick to this?
    #38
  19. beechum1

    beechum1 Dandole Gas al Burro

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    Don't
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  20. Vulfy

    Vulfy Been here awhile

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    Regarding technique. There is a bit of a difference between western way of teaching this and Japanese. I say continue with what you learned at MSF and any other school, but something to be aware of is that Japanese ride Gymkhana without slipping the clutch. Clutch is always engaged. Watch YouTube videos of Gymkhana riders, and you will see that the clutch lever is never being touched.

    Before anybody tries to disprove or say that this is wrong, please read the following first.

    I really don't want to turn this into "My Kung-Fu is stronger than your Kung-Fu", and I'm not an expert at Gymkhana to preach and explain other way of riding, but what I learned from a person who IS licensed in Japan to teach motorcycle riding classes, is that for braking you rely on Front AND Rear brake, as well as engine braking, which means as you brake you smoothly roll off throttle to add engine braking as well. Don't chop the throttle, and never completely roll it off, there needs always be power going to the rear wheel otherwise you will drop the bike.

    At the tightest part of the turn, you do not slip the clutch, but rather rely on your rear brake to control the speed and smooth throttle to keep power to the rear wheel.

    At the turns, and PLEASE NOTE this is at relatively slow speeds, you control your bike with your torso, hips and legs.
    Same applies to faster turns, but obviously you would counter-steer, and just add torso and legs to the equation. See "Total Control" book by Lee Parks.

    Again, I'm not an expert and here is just my progression with the skills and how I interpret them for me and my own observations and feelings. All of this is based though on very specific riding techniques that are being taught in Japan and is being presented to me by a licensed instructor.

    Also PLEASE NOTE that this is for Gymkhana riding, NOT street riding. I'm still slipping the clutch when I need to, on the street.

    For Gymkhana:
    You keep your throttle smooth, keep some power to the wheel. Don't touch clutch. As you scrub most of the speed with both brakes and a smooth roll off (but not completely off), at the tightest bend, smoothly let go of the front brake, and apply rear brake harder. Keep hands light on the bars, and turn them to full lock or almost full lock, dig your outside knee into the tank and push with the knee INTO the turn, while digging into the INSIDE footpeg with your other foot and stepping on it.
    This will tip the bike over to the INSIDE of the turn even more and you control the rate of the turn as well as not letting the bike fall over by applying more or less rear brake, NO clutch slipping.

    The feeling that I'm getting from the bike when I do this, is that I'm not controlling it by twisting the bars. I'm controlling the bike by leaning it into the turn, and the bars sort of do their own thing without too much input from me. My hands are there mostly for just throttle control. Bars do twist to a full lock, so if you have clip-ons or clubmans you will have a difficult time with this.

    If you are feeling like you've been doing situps and squats after riding Gymkhana, you are on the right track :D

    Again, watch this video, its a perfect example of what I mean, at 00:25 mark.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cue-DMQHWSk&list=PLD8D18874A5683EAF&index=45&feature=plpp_video

    Control is with the hips and legs, and rear brake. NO clutch, NO hands.
    At 00:55 mark he rides in without hands, tips the bike with just his legs and torso and rear brake into the turn, an then rides off.

    For body position, what works for me is this. For faster turns and general riding at speed, and even going INTO the tightest of turns, I position my torso to the INSIDE of the turn, just like we are being taught here.
    Good technique that I've read and been practicing myself is to try and move your CHEST to the inside mirror. I've heard somewhere that some track schools here teach "kiss the mirror" where you move your head to the INSIDE mirror, for better body position, I like the chest method as it really does result in me hanging off the bike.

    Keep your butt planted in the seat, don't drag knees or anything like that. Squeeze the tank with your thighs.

    From my own video, at 00:47 you can see how much I'm leaning into the turns. Those are lazy 8's, no brakes and at about 20-25mph.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEBXzTsaIyU

    Fore even BETTER example here at 00:53 mark and on, look how far his body is on the inside.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajOQOPe5Bxs&feature=related

    whole torso not just head is on the inside of the turn. So CHEST to the inside mirror.


    As you get into the turn, you are hanging off on the INSIDE of the turn. As you slow down and start tipping the bike even more but with less speed, and that usually happens for those turns where you circle the cone one full turn, I find what works for me is to start counter balancing the bike a little bit by positioning my torso more upright and more perpendicular to the ground. However I've seen riders on youtube who manage to hang off even at slowest of speeds.

    As I was starting to learn all of this, one of the worries was stalling an engine by applying too much brakes and not slipping the clutch... Well first of all, you are running in first gear most of the time, so no need to downshift. Second, its actually much harder to stall an engine, than what you think. I've never stalled an engine, nor come even close to it.

    Head is exactly the same as we are taught here, look where you want to go. Maybe even exaggerate a little bit for training purposes. Point your nose to where you want to go, not just eyes.

    Here are a few old links to Gymkhana technique. As I said, the info is scarce at best, but something to munch on and wrap your head around.

    http://www.citybikerblog.com/2011/04/welcome-to-motorcycle-gymkhana/
    http://www.citybikerblog.com/2010/11/mad-slow-mo-gymkhana-skillz/

    Gymkhana scooter ( I told you there is no discrimination here, and this guy is smoking it)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=m2bI9WyZHLw#!

    http://www.citybikerblog.com/2008/08/how-to-develop-gymkhana-skills-part-1/

    This is the "Mother Load" of technique discussion, so read up if you are interested.

    http://www.sport-touring.net/forums/index.php/topic,10603.0/all.html

    This is the school they are talking about in the above forum
    http://www.ride-chicago.com/

    The post is from 2007. The school is still operational, and they still offer SRTT class. I don't know how much it changed and they are still teaching same techniques as back then. Will have to find out myself soon.


    At the end, I just want to state one more time, is that I'm NOT saying that one way is better than the other. Japanese ride a little bit different, and we are talking about a sport here not pure street riding. If you can apply and add from here to your riding skill set, and find it useful, while at the same time have better control of the bike and make yourself a safer rider, use it.
    If its completely counter-intuitive to what you are used to, learned or just how you feel on the bike, no harm done, ignore it.

    For myself I'm finding braking with both brakes (as I was taught in MSF) but adding engine braking as well, gives me more confident and tighter braking.
    I do slip the clutch on the street, and would not rely just on my rear brakes for speed control on the street, especially in traffic riding.
    When just starting out, I would overheat my rear brakes all the time. So its a normal part of the learning experience. Now I rarely overcook them. If your rear brakes fade, and the lever just fall through without engaging rear brakes, give a few minutes to let the liquid cool off, and then just pump the lever until you get full rear bake back. Its a perfect time to ride some lazy but faster and bigger 8's for body positioning practice in turns at speed.
    #40