Why we panic in a turn (and how to prevent it) - Suzuki SV650 Forum: SV650, SV1000, Gladius Forums

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Old 04-12-2013, 01:39 PM   #1
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Wink Why we panic in a turn (and how to prevent it)

Disclaimer: English is not my primary language, so I tend to write and speak kind of weird. Please excuse my lack of writing skills.
Also, the following are my ideas, based on my own experiences and "research". If you do not agree, plsease manifest it in a respectful manner.


Original article: http://www.ofirmx.com/blog/2013-04-1...ositioning/21/


Over the last few years I have heard many "experts" talking about the Survival Reactions that cause riders to crash way too often when they enter a corner and their brains somehow go into panic mode which causes them to make tragic mistakes. All these experts say that those Survival Reactions are bad in motorcycling and tell you that you need to fight or suppress those natural instincts.

To me, that's BS.

Why "fight" your natural instincts if you can avoid triggering in the first place?





The Theory

Q: What is panic?
A: Panic is a sudden sensation of fear which is so strong as to dominate or prevent reason and logical thinking.

When your brain feels in danger, it panics. When your brain panics, it reacts with primal (and involuntary) survival reactions. In a motorcycle, these primal reactions can make you crash.


Q: What are the most common causes of panic when you are cornering on a motorcycle?
A: A "sense of lack of balance" and an "erroneous sense of speed".







1. Help your brain sense that your body is in balance

Q: How does the brain react to a lack of sense of balance?
A: It automatically panics and tells your eyes to look towards the "point of impact" and your body to prepare for the impact.

No matter what else is going on around you, once your brain has focused on that point of impact, it will remain focused there until the impact actually happens. This phenomenon is commonly known as target fixation.

I did my own experiments. Over a few days I approached friends and family members when they were standing still and looking forward and just pushed them to one side (no, I did not push my mom nor my wife). In a split second their brains went to survival mode and automatically turned their sight to the "point of impact" and prepared their hands for the landing.
No, nobody fell (I did not push them that hard) but I confirmed my theory that when someone feels out of balance he instinctively prepares for the hit; and looking towards the point of impact is the first thing we all do.

When your body is out of balance, survival reactions always come first.


Q: How can I help my body to feel always in balance through a turn?
A: By keeping your body aligned with your (ever changing) center of gravity at all times.

When you're riding on your bike at a constant speed on a straight line, the only G force acting on you is the Earth's gravity itself. As long as you are sitting straight on your saddle you will not feel like you are being thrown to one side or the other of the bike, you're only being pushed towards the saddle and your brain feels safe and secure. But as soon as you enter a curve everything changes; the centrifugal force of the turn will try to push your body and throw you to the outside of the curve. The faster the curve, the faster the sidewise G force.
So now we have two G forces acting on you: One pushing you down and one pushing you to the side. You cannot avoid these G forces, but you can align your body so it is pushed safely against the saddle and not to one side or the other of the bike. If you allow your body out of the balance of these two combined forces your brain will automatically feel in danger and go into panic mode.

PRACTICAL TIP: You don't need to "move" around your seat like a racer but transferring your body weight to the butt cheek that's on the inside of the turn automatically puts your body in a more balanced position within the centrifugal force of the corner. Also, your upper torso should always lean at least a bit INTO the turn - to where that balance point is. By doing these two simple things not only your body and brain will feel a safer sense of balance through the turn but you will actually keep the bike a bit more upright which helps keeping a good traction patch on the tires.
By practicing these simple body movements when you are cornering, your body will feel so comfortable and "in balance with the bike" that they will soon become a second nature when you ride.

Note: These movements become more drastic as cornering speeds increase to the point where racers "hang" on the side of their bikes, but the theory of balance remains the same.


Correct:
These two riders are keeping their torso aligned (in balance) with the dynamic G force. This sends a signal of "comfort" to the brain which avoids any panic reaction.
The rider on the right is going faster, so he actually has to hang to one side to stay aligned with G and prevent the bike from leaning too low.




Incorrect:
This rider is positioning his torso outside the G force. By doing this, his brain has to fight a sense of unbalance which can very easily trigger a survival reaction.




Note: IF you are going to put your torso out of alignment with G, it'd better be to the INSIDE. This way your body will only feel pressed against the bike and not thrown outside of the bike.






2. Prevent your brain from sensing that you are going too fast

Q: How does the brain react to an overly high sense of speed?
A: It automatically panics and engages every muscle of your body in preparation for a quick reaction. This also makes your sight focus on the sensed point of impact.

If your muscles are tight and your brain is in survival mode, you cannot think clearly and react properly in a curve.



Q: How can I help my brain to avoid sensing that I'm going too fast?
A: By looking farther away.

When you drive a car, you are surrounded by the doors on the sides and the hood on the front of the car that prevent you from staring directly at the pavement as it passes below you. That does not happen on a motorcycle. On a bike you see the pavement "flying" under you which in turns creates a sense that you are going faster than you really are. This is especially true on a curve as you are leaning and getting closer to the pavement. If you look down or in front of you, your brain will think that you are going way faster than you really are and automatically enter into panic mode. The best way to avoid this erroneous sense of speed is raising your sight and looking ahead, towards the exit of the turn.
This will not only prevent your brain from picking up an erroneous sense of speed but it will also help prepare all the movements that your body needs to make in order to exit the curve safely.

PRACTICAL TIP: Every time you enter a curve, imagine there is a fish hook in your nose, pulling hard towards the exit of the curve. So not only your eyes are "looking" but your whole head is pointing in the right direction.

Colin Edwards is a master at looking through the turn. This is how you're supposed to look every time you enter a curve:



Regardless of your speed, LOOK THROUGH THE TURN!







Another thing that helps A LOT to avoid panicking in the middle of a turn is to keep your arms and body relaxed. The only muscles that need to be really engaged are your torso ones -to keep you from tightening your arms on the bars- everything else should be loose and happy. Oh, and KEEP BREATHING through the turn, seriously!


So, summarizing, my cornering suggestions are:

1- Relax your body.
2- Look through the turn, exaggeratedly (point your face to the exit of the turn, not only your eyes)
3- Transfer your body weight to the butt cheek that's inside the turn. (this little trick makes a huge difference)
4- Lean your upper torso a bit to the inside of the curve. To the point where your body feels in balance with the G forces acting on your body.
5- Keep relaxed, looking through the turn and breathing until you exit the turn.
6- Smile inside your helmet



By doing the above you will feel much more confident on the curves and your mind will be clear to react in case a line correction is needed (but since most corrections are caused by panic reactions, it is very likely that you will just enjoy a nice, clean and relaxed curve).


- Ofir R-R
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Old 04-13-2013, 12:52 AM   #2
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Re: Why do we panic in a turn? (and how to prevent it)

Very insightful! I have been getting more and more daring with my cornering and I am starting to notice these survival instincts, especially the excessive speed sense when cornering. I started leaning my upper body out but had not thought of the saddle position, I'll have to give the ol' butt cheek trick a try tomorrow.
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Old 04-13-2013, 03:26 AM   #3
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Re: Why do we panic in a turn? (and how to prevent it)

Nice write up. It all made sense to me.
Sub'd for future interest.
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Old 04-13-2013, 04:37 AM   #4
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Re: Why do we panic in a turn? (and how to prevent it)

Quote:
Originally Posted by off1 View Post
Disclaimer: English is not my primary language, so I tend to write and speak kind of weird. Please excuse my lack of writing skills.
Also, the following are my ideas, based on my own experiences and "research". If you do not agree, plsease manifest it in a respectful manner.

Your written English is much better then many people that post, even those with English as a first language.

Also great post on panicking in turns.
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Old 04-14-2013, 08:25 PM   #5
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Re: Why do we panic in a turn? (and how to prevent it)

Excellent...Thanks.
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Old 04-16-2013, 03:20 PM   #6
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Re: Why do we panic in a turn? (and how to prevent it)

Fantastic! Thank you
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Old 04-16-2013, 05:54 PM   #7
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Re: Why do we panic in a turn? (and how to prevent it)

You can't stress the looking through the turn part enough. The bike will go where you're looking.
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Old 04-16-2013, 06:12 PM   #8
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Re: Why do we panic in a turn? (and how to prevent it)

I agree with everything except the part about fighting survival instincts being "BS." Everything you say after that actually supports Keith Code's proposition that survival instincts need to be suppressed. You touch on the need to not target-fixate, and to adjust your COG, two good examples of fighting the survival instinct by doing the opposite of what your brain in panic mode is telling you you need to do to survive. There are more:

Survival instinct will tell you to steer right to go right; steer left to go left -- the exact opposite of what you should do. Counter-steering is counter-intuitive.

Survival instinct will tell you to stand the bike up when you're in too hot -- the exact opposite of what you should do. Leaning the bike further when you feel you are in over your head is counter-intuitive.

Survival instinct will tell you to slow down if you think you are going too fast; either chop the throttle, or hit the brakes, or both -- the exact opposite of what you should do. Staying steady on the gas or even slightly increasing throttle when you brain is shouting "too fast!" is counter-intuitive.
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Old 04-16-2013, 06:31 PM   #9
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Re: Why do we panic in a turn? (and how to prevent it)

Quote:
Originally Posted by cfreger View Post
I agree with everything except the part about fighting survival instincts being "BS." Everything you say after that actually supports Keith Code's proposition that survival instincts need to be suppressed. You touch on the need to not target-fixate, and to adjust your COG, two good examples of fighting the survival instinct by doing the opposite of what your brain in panic mode is telling you you need to do to survive...
That's what I meant with my writing not being so good.

The whole intent of my original post was to explain a bit about the very root of those survival instincts (I've never seen anyone else explain much of that in the motorcycle world) so the riders can understand a bit better the interaction between mind/body and the dynamic forces of cornering. That way the rider can put himself in a comfortable position (literally) at all times and avoid triggering those survival reactions in the first place.

If, for any reason, you trigger that survival mode in your brain, you will obviously have to fight those panic reactions in order to save the day. But if you do things right, you should never have to put yourself in that "fighting" position to begin with.

Again, this is just my opinion
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Old 04-16-2013, 06:43 PM   #10
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Re: Why do we panic in a turn? (and how to prevent it)

I see what you mean -- ingrain proper responses to avoid panic mode in the first place, yes?

I liked your "fish hook" example for looking through turns.
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