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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just got back from a ride which was really great(except for a few mishaps) and I feel, somewhat eye-opening as far as technical control. I've been reading Total Control by Lee Parks which gives lots of insights not only into the technical side of riding, but also into the emotional and psychological parts. Applying the concepts in Total Control allowed me to see where I was erring technically, and also where I was allowing fear to become an obstacle to progress.

The main technical concepts I was focusing on were:
-Using the brakes to transition off of the throttle
-Hanging off before the turn
-Using only the inside hand to initiate and control the turn
-Creating a large tunnel of vision...looking far through the turn.
-Shifting clutchlessly at high loads/rpm's

The main psychological hurdle I was struggling with was the fear of crashing(duh!). This can be divided into fear of damage to my person, but strangely enough- mainly fear of damage to my bike. I decided I need to minimize my risk while still becoming comfortable at more difficult riding techniques. To do this I purchased Frame/Swingarm sliders and removed my mid and lower fairings. For gear I wore boots/gloves/jacket/helmet.

I practiced in a freshly paved parking lot which is really nice and smooth. The parking lot has a lot of dry leaves scattered all over it, and it had just begun to lightly drizzle but I was strangely not overly inhibited in my practice.

I began by practicing the cornering and transitional skills and was really getting some tight turns. These were pretty low speed(15-20mph) turns and I was hanging off all the way pulling them in really tightly. It was a freakin' blast! I felt pretty comfortable as though I were armed with knowledge and a little forward planning as my shield.

- Hanging off before the turn really eliminates the wobble of the pre-apex transitions I have been making. I have a tendency to feel very calm and in control up to a certain lean angle threshold. The moment that threshold is crossed I panic and think my tires are sliding(this is probably caused by the changing steering geometry), target fixate, roll off the throttle...basically everything you can do wrong short of grabbing the brakes. For me, getting off the seat period and hanging off really lessens my feeling of panic at certain lean angles.

-The one handed steering felt surprisingly natural and I'd recommend it.... I tightened my steering arm up way to much due to being unused to properly supporting myself while hanging off.

-Looking through the turn had me completing super tight low speed turns, hanging off the bike, in about three parking spaces. It also lessens my tendency to stare at the ground and think of 100 reasons why I'm going to slide out and wreck my bike. If I was looking down, I would not have felt comfortable putting the bike at healthy lean in a leaf-filled parking lot.

-The brake transition is critical. I practised the transitions on the open road going in a straight line coming up to stops. But practising it in a turn is where you realize how much work you need! Some turns I felt as choppy as <insert crappy similie here>.

I think just about anyone can become an exceptional rider with the right mindset, practice, and enough money to at least buy important things: gear/trackdays/sliders/.....bike...

My one faux pas really took away from the night for me though... I was practising clutchless upshifting at high loads/rpm's telling myself the mantra: "It's actually less taxing on your tranny to not use the clutch in these situations." It turns out, I found a way to make it more strenuous! I only tried it twice: I put it in first and gunned it 3/4 throttle(any more and it'll wheelie 8)), preloaded the shifter, snapped the throttle shut-SHIFT-then back open... the first time was very harsh, and the second attempt decidedly less so but still not good.

I was shaken by visions of bent dogs and sheared gears but I decided to try again this time using a brief stab of clutch. I gunned it and stabbed the clutch while shifting....yet, for some reason, held the clutch slightly in slipping till it I released it completely. The slipping lasted about 3/4 second and once again I was haunted by visions of burned up clutch plates. Relentlessly I tried again, stabbed the clutch, shifted it spasdically into second and then....it popped out....false neutral. Now I was certain I had permanently FUBAR'ed my beautiful zixxer's tranny. The truth is, I don't often shift at high loads or rpm's. I've always been one to pull out of turns in low rpm's and rarely gun it on straights- I guess I'm an easy going sportrider. I probably didn't f' up my tranny, but I certainly weakened my confidence in my shifting abilities!

Anyway, I'll be posting pics of my half-faired Zixxer in a day or two...I think a little work would make a great streetfighter.
 

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dont clutchless upsift from 1st-2nd, just do it for each gear above... and clutchless is only idea when at wot. you arent going to hurt the clutch/transmission by slipping the clutch, they are designed to be able to do that. just make more positive shifts.

ben you make yourself out to sound like a pretty big sissy boy... ya know, if you arent going to ride the snot out of that 636 i will babysit it for a while until you grow some nads. j/k :p :-*
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I am something of a sissy boy. It's not so much that I'm concerned that I'll get hurt, as it is that I'm concerned I'll wad up my bike. This would be a fate worse then death(as I would have to live with the consequences ;)).

I've always been a casual sportrider, but very interested in the technical aspects of cornering. On the street, my motto is: If I can't slide off the road in this turn and not have a high chance of dying or getting seriously hurt, then I'm simply not going to push it..
 

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honestly I would be super paranoid about hurting the bike as well.. that thing is just so pretty. :)

and riding hard on the street is pretty stupid, such a high probability of getting hurt really bad if you crash at high speed on the street. :(
 

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I didn't like the steer with one hand thing, but using the throttle/brakes together feels smoooooth. Much easier to hit the brakes while rolling off the throttle than to roll on the throttle while coming off the brake. Good book.
 

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If you liked Total Control, you'd love Chris I.'s Sport Riding Techniques. It goes much more in depth, and talks about a lot of topics that other authors skip. It's far and away my favorite one and I highly recommend it.
 

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It's Nick I. ;)
 

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"Sport Riding Techniques"
"Total Control"

Both books were very helpful and each have their own very useful perspectives on different things.

"Sportbike Performance Handbook" is great tech info on mechanical workings and how they relate to riding.

Hey, where can I find info about proper body weighting. I.E. Pressure on pegs and bars for elevation changes, braking, cornering, and the such?
 

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Ben,

You're a squid :p

When my clutch cable holder (near the sprocket) snapped, I got a quick lesson on clutchless shifting (up/down). My first shift was very rough, second was not so bad, and the rest were butter. Down is harder, you just have to stand on it until you're slow enough for it to click in. I still wince at that night. Yuck.

Anyway, be advised about the hanging off thing: once it gets to be totally comfy and normal you will do it automatically in good corners. The problem comes when for some reason you don't. Then all of the sudden you start grinding things and it can be pretty scary.
 

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Nimbus said:
Anyway, be advised about the hanging off thing:  once it gets to be totally comfy and normal you will do it automatically in good corners.  The problem comes when for some reason you don't. Then all of the sudden you start grinding things and it can be pretty scary.
Ha, ha... I know what you mean.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Nimbus said:
Anyway, be advised about the hanging off thing: once it gets to be totally comfy and normal you will do it automatically in good corners. The problem comes when for some reason you don't. Then all of the sudden you start grinding things and it can be pretty scary.
I know all about scary experiences while grinding hard parts..... :-X



8)
 

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Thanks for the synopsis of the book and your own experience.
In thinking about my own riding, I feel I've already considered most of the lessons and have put them into practice. Clutchless shifting is normal but I've decided to use the clutch in casual riding (ie I have to remember to use the clutch now). Hanging off feels normal and I learned after the first several time about a year ago that all your large movements (ie the torso) need to be made before and after the turn... not during. Moving during the turn is literally and figuratively unsettling.
The one less you mentioned which I'm certain I don't do - or maybe I do it - is braking while rolling off the throttle. I'll practice that today.
It's all about being smooth.

In the meantime, why don't you go ahead and type up that entire book for us and post it here ;)
 

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That book made a difference in my riding too. I went looking for a good book on riding at B&N. After reading half the book in the store, I figured it was worth 20 bones.

I think the biggest difference came from looking through the turns. It's funny how at first, it brings both a settling and uneasy feeling.

The "when in doubt - Gas it!" phrase has seriously saved my arse on a couple occasions.

Yep, good book.
 

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Hi-T said:
The "when in doubt - Gas it!" phrase has seriously saved my arse on a couple occasions.
Agreed. Another counterintuitive technique that is VERY important.
 

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Hi-T said:
The "when in doubt - Gas it!" phrase has seriously saved my arse on a couple occasions.   
You know it's funny. I had a "pucker" moment about a month ago where I entered a curve way too fast and I did all the wrong things. I put my foot out, I got on the brakes, I sat up instead of leaning in, and the whole freaking time I was saying to myself in my head "get on the throttle", "lean your a** over and get on the throttle". I mean I had a whole freaking conversation in my head about it in the three seconds it took me to get slowed down enough to "barely make the turn/stop in the middle of the road, but not once did I actually listen to myself. Talk about counter-intuitive.
 

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treoff said:
Hey, where can I find info about proper body weighting. I.E. Pressure on pegs and bars for elevation changes, braking, cornering, and the such?
"A twist of the wrist II" by Keith Code covers these aspects (did you know that pressing the *outer* peg reduces the needed lean angle?), but you might find this book a bit awkward to read (or maybe it was just the german translation I had available only). Check it out, you might like the info, some of which is naturally overlapping heavily with the books mentioned above.

As for books: I doubt that there´s an english version of "Die obere Hälfte des Motorrads" ("The upper half of the motorcycle") by Bernt Spiegel, at least amazon.com lists only the German version. It was written by a German Professor of "Behavior Studies" (don´t have a better translations at hand now) and deals with "tool use by humans", the choosen tool being a motorcycle. It has some very interesting insights on behaviors, conscious/unconscious decisions and the way to utilize them. It also tells the techniques (sp?) the other books do, but is more focused on the mental side of the thing. It was a perfect companion to "Twist of the wrist" and might be even interesting to read for non-bikers (though there seems to be a significant part of actual riders that find the book boring).

Ciao
Jan
 

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Jan Zoellner said:
"A twist of the wrist II" by Keith Code covers these aspects (did you know that pressing the *outer* peg reduces the needed lean angle?), but you might find this book a bit awkward to read (or maybe it was just the german translation I had available only). Check it out, you might like the info, some of which is naturally overlapping heavily with the books mentioned above.
Ciao
Jan
'Pressing the outer peg' does not simply reduce lean angle. He siad you can use the outer peg(leg) to create leverage to steer fater. In turn, steering faster uses less lean angle.
 

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Dont over analyse your riding too much.. Your have read some books which have obviously highlighted some of the problems you were having cornering which is great..

Honestly if you just loosen up and stop worrying your will be fine.. Just ride as much as you can the more your ride the more your confidence will grow and the smoother everything will be.. The worst thing you can do is to tense up on the bike - let the bike do its thing you just need to point it in the right direction and enjoy..

Seriously a bike is much like a horse.. If you tense up on a horse and dig your heals in or rip at the reigns the horse will get pissed off.. Same with you bike.. Just relax and let everything flow..

Now throw those books away and get riding.. Do clog your head up with technical stuff..

Just me 2cents.

Skid
 

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I disagree. When you "stop worrying" is when you crash. You should always have that healthy fear that the machine can get the best of you at any moment if you get lazy.
 

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Ben Jammin' said:
My one faux pas really took away from the night for me though... I was practising clutchless upshifting at high loads/rpm's telling myself the mantra: "It's actually less taxing on your tranny to not use the clutch in these situations." It turns out, I found a way to make it more strenuous! I only tried it twice: I put it in first and gunned it 3/4 throttle(any more and it'll wheelie 8)), preloaded the shifter, snapped the throttle shut-SHIFT-then back open... the first time was very harsh, and the second attempt decidedly less so but still not good.
Don't shut the throttle - a quick but partial roll-off (maybe 20%?) is all you need to unload the transmission.
 
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