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I know there are some different opinions on the subject, so I figured it's time for a thread about it.

My opinion, pulled from Ken Hill, but I can relate some of Code's concepts back to the same theories . I want to do what the best in the world are doing. If there was a safer way to go faster they would be doing it. Now take that with a grain of salt. The best in the world practice the fundamentals a lot. The fundamentals are eyes and focus, brake control, bike position, body position, turn in rate, throttle control.

The basic fundamentals are the same, but how fine you apply them allows you to be a better rider.

A better rider is one who can apply the fundamentals when the pace goes up and the risk increases.
 

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This should be an interesting discussion.

It would help to clarify if we're talking about track or street riding or both.

I find that it's easy to talk about the "skills" required to operate the bike controls, but the one thing that most riders really fail on doing is maintaining situational awareness. I think this trait is essential when riding, especially on the street. Good situational awareness can help overcome a small deficit in skill by giving a rider options and time to make corrections and goes to your point about eyes and focus. Unfortunately, good situational awareness can't really be taught as easily as how to let the clutch out smoothly.

Outside of that, the things you've got pointed out already are key elements that every rider should be working on - on every ride. Being comfortable applying those elements under a multitude of different situations is essential.
 

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A better rider is one who can apply the fundamentals when the pace goes up and the risk increases.
That's an interesting statement but there is another way to look at it. I think this calls SkyDork's statements into play with respect to situational awareness (we can see the pilot coming out in him there, a good thing).

I disagree with the idea that the risk increases with pace. The speed one is riding does not increase the risk; it is the lack of good judgment. When riding on the street, there is some speed (which can be calculated) which will be too fast for conditions, where no possible corrective action will work. But that has nothing to do with riding skills, it has to do with situational awareness. For example, knowing how to account for the blind turns, unknown pavement surfaces and road hazards, and knowing the speeds at which one can handle those eventualities.

Many street riders just want to go faster than their buddies and they will enter every single turn on a road as fast as they can. Hopefully there won't be any surprises but occasionally there are, and they can be painful.

Having the judgment and restraint NOT to chase down the so-called fast guy is a better street riding skill than all the schools, track days, and racing experience imaginable.

Knowing one's own limits is also good judgment. The speeds a skilled rider can enter turns or encounter the unknown are usually higher than those of a lesser-skilled rider. The kinds of situations that will result in a close call for a good rider often result in an accident for someone with less skill and judgment.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
This should be an interesting discussion.

It would help to clarify if we're talking about track or street riding or both.

I find that it's easy to talk about the "skills" required to operate the bike controls, but the one thing that most riders really fail on doing is maintaining situational awareness. I think this trait is essential when riding, especially on the street. Good situational awareness can help overcome a small deficit in skill by giving a rider options and time to make corrections and goes to your point about eyes and focus. Unfortunately, good situational awareness can't really be taught as easily as how to let the clutch out smoothly.

Outside of that, the things you've got pointed out already are key elements that every rider should be working on - on every ride. Being comfortable applying those elements under a multitude of different situations is essential.
I primarily think about track, but the same concepts and application of fundamentals apply to the street.

Situational awareness to me is the first step. Ken calls it eyes and focus. You make better decisions with more information. Your eyes take in information. Therefore you need to keep moving your eyes to gather as much information as possible. Focus is the other half of it. Every time I go out riding, whether its a commute to work, canyon riding, or a track session, I make sure I have a plan. If I find myself drifting off into thoughts of something other than the task at hand I re-focus. So, situational awareness is the outcome of gathering information with your eyes and being focused on the task at hand. There are some ways to teach those techniques.

Fang: you state that the risk doesn't increase with the pace. i'm don't understand how that can be. When you increase the pace you have less time to complete your actions. Laws of physics dictate that the energy to dissipate is greater with the square of speed.
 

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I have peaked in my riding and dropped back to a lower plateau and I have zero aspirations at this point to be better than I am. I do not mean to say that I am apathetic towards riding as nothing could be further from the truth, I just know that I am NEVER going to be top club level racer fast let alone pro racer fast. Even as I am finally getting back into shape and losing a bunch of weight I packed on after an injury several years ago I'm just not that quick overall. In my prime I was about 7-10 seconds off any given AMA lap record and that is all I am ever going to accomplish. I know that, I have accepted that and I am totally ok with that. I just like riding on a track and helping others do the same. Doesn't matter if I am towing Novice riders around, setting up the suspension on a bone stock SV650 or helping a Pro Racer get his suspension dialed in for HIS unique needs at one particular circuit. I just like the atmosphere of being both at and on the track with fellow enthusiasts. I ride the track because it is fun and relatively safe compared to street riding and I don't really want to push it any further to the point where it is not safe. I'm too old to be wadding my shit up and it takes too long for me to heal nowadays.

Back in May I had an awesome weekend at Buttonwillow with Let's Ride Trackdays. I got to tune suspension all day on on Sunday then ride all day on Memorial Day and it was just an awesome event all the way around. I was working with my wife and had slowed down to wait for her to catch up when she got tangled up with a bunch of friends and they all went blasting by so I gave chase and it was one of my favorite sessions ever. I never got above about 75% of my ability and just kept everything mild and in check. That to me is what a trackday should be. Easy going, not putting myself or others in harms way and always in control. I'm not beating the motorcycle to death with constant thrashing and I'm not doing anything that could put me into an expected panic situation. I'm running a pace that leaves me a lot of track still available and always have my eye on an out just in case. Racing would be a different story, but this is what I wish every single trackday was like for me.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkT_mYle1og


The bottomline though is I do not feel like I am ever going to become a better rider regardless of what I am being taught as it is comes down to managing slides and drifts to cut time further when I ramp it up to 100% and that is not where I want to be riding at... I bet I am not alone in that regard. I just want to ride quickly and comfortably not be the fastest man on the track that is where I am mitigating the risk.
 

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So, situational awareness is the outcome of gathering information with your eyes and being focused on the task at hand. There are some ways to teach those techniques.
I'm using the situational awareness terminology to encompass everything - eyes, focus, and decision making. I've found it's very hard and time consuming to teach this aspect of it. Some people have the innate skill and others must practice it over a long period of time. It comes with experience, but also learning and applying certain techniques. But it's not something that's as quantifiable as "applying the throttle smoothly" or "start braking at this point". And too many times, people think they're situationally aware until the situation deviates. Then emotion and fear take over and they get into bad situations.

Head on a swivel at all times and seeing what's around you is key. When approaching an intersection, are you looking at the traffic in front of you? Or are you checking the crossing lanes? I always check the crossing lanes. When following a car, are you staring at his bumper or looking through his windshield at the car in front of him? In the rain, are you worried about staying dry, or using the reflection off the wet road of the brake lights 2 cars ahead of you? At the track, are you expecting the guy to come around you on the inside? Will that scare you into twitching the brake lever or an erratic steering input? What about missing your braking marker? Do you know your going to miss you mark before you've hit it? Or do you wait until you're too fast at the end of your braking stint to realize you're not going to make the turn in?

Fang: you state that the risk doesn't increase with the pace. i'm don't understand how that can be. When you increase the pace you have less time to complete your actions. Laws of physics dictate that the energy to dissipate is greater with the square of speed.
More to this point, not only do things need to happen faster in general as the speed increases, but the time to make decisions is also reduced. And that's the biggest thing. You need to be thinking faster than the bike is going at all times. Especially on the track.

It's the same with flying. :wink: Flying a J3 Cub is not the same as flying a Mooney. Traveling at faster speeds means you need to be able to plan farther in advance for things to happen. Starting your landing decent is different in a fast plane. Adjusting your pattern turn points based on speed will yield a more aggressive pattern or a larger one. Same sort of thing applies to sportbikes the way I look at. But then again, I'm a dork. :badteeth:
 

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Fang: you state that the risk doesn't increase with the pace. i'm don't understand how that can be. When you increase the pace you have less time to complete your actions. Laws of physics dictate that the energy to dissipate is greater with the square of speed.
Why can Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez ride faster than me and you? Their reactions and control inputs are faster and more accurate. Much, much faster and far, far more accurate.

If you use the purely theoretical mathematical principles of physics to evaluate this, it's like programming a spaceship. People are not machines. They have widely varying abilities, memories, training, experience. I once rode behind Reg Pridmore (two-up) on a racetrack. It was terrifying, truly terrifying. He was riding at speeds I could never approach alone. And he was perfectly at ease. He used to do this all the time; I think he's given thousands of rides like this.

What SkyDork said is accurate; a carrier landing is pretty darn fast and pretty darn hard to do, but carrier pilots do them every day in the week. For them, that speed is not unsafe. So velocity alone is not the factor, it is how it's managed. As someone once said, it's not the speed that kills you, it's the sudden stop.

I am with LDH, I am not going to get much quicker, but I can get smoother and use better judgment and have improvements in situational awareness. But that's really irrelevant. Any rider at any level can improve using those methods, from Jack Miller to the kid who just bought a dirt bike and has aspirations.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Why can Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez ride faster than me and you? Their reactions and control inputs are faster and more accurate. Much, much faster and far, far more accurate.

If you use the purely theoretical mathematical principles of physics to evaluate this, it's like programming a spaceship. People are not machines. They have widely varying abilities, memories, training, experience. I once rode behind Reg Pridmore (two-up) on a racetrack. It was terrifying, truly terrifying. He was riding at speeds I could never approach alone. And he was perfectly at ease. He used to do this all the time; I think he's given thousands of rides like this.

What SkyDork said is accurate; a carrier landing is pretty darn fast and pretty darn hard to do, but carrier pilots do them every day in the week. For them, that speed is not unsafe. So velocity alone is not the factor, it is how it's managed. As someone once said, it's not the speed that kills you, it's the sudden stop.

I am with LDH, I am not going to get much quicker, but I can get smoother and use better judgment and have improvements in situational awareness. But that's really irrelevant. Any rider at any level can improve using those methods, from Jack Miller to the kid who just bought a dirt bike and has aspirations.

Good point Skydork about decision making. That definitely needs to be a part of the equation. I think that comes with experience, being honest with yourself and current abilities, and practicing the fundamentals so you can continually make improvements at how smoothly you can apply them. Just like the expert marksman mantra, slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Those guys can rip off accurate shots with crazy speed and accuracy.

Fang: the part i highlighted red. I don't think it's irrelevant. In fact I think that's how you improve safety or speed, or both. Be smoother, have better situational awareness. I'll never be anywhere near as fast as Rossi or Marquez, or even the top AMA guys. But I know that they work on the fundamentals when they train, so as I get faster I don't need to change my strategy, just keep working on the fundamentals to fine tune the adjustments I'm able to make to myself and the bike based on the current conditions.

Being safer at the same speed makes you a better rider in my book. You don't have to go out and ride canyons fast enough to drag knee, or back it in to hairpins, or brake to the point of the front starting to slide. But if you know your limits, and you practice the fundamentals, that gives you a better chance of coming out of emergency situations intact.
 

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Some seriously good points and really great discussion. Although I'm very sure I'm no where near as fast as LDH is or nearly as knowledgeable about the track or suspension I feel much the same way about my own riding skills. I'm only going to have "X" amount of track days left to learn how to be faster. I'm already what many would consider an over the hill age although that really means nothing to me personally but I'm very aware I'm not going to get much faster than I am at this point. I can say that for me slowly working on one area until I am comfortable there and then going a tad further has helped. A real willingness to take an accurate assessment in your own skills and an active role in improving them. Being willing to spend a few track days working on certain areas and not set your best lap time or beat your buddies so that down the road when you put things together you will be better. Seat time is also key to me. The more time I spend going fast the more things slow down and I can better process what I am or am not doing. So instead of everything being a blur, I can think about what I did and how it worked. Some lead follow with video can be a great learning tool. You can literally see what your doing and make corrections and there are some great control riders out there willing to work you if you just ask. Certainly learning is an individual process and we all learn in different ways and at different rates so leaving the ego at home and keeping the focus on where you are and not someone else can keep you on track. Lastly follow someone just a tad faster than you. Maybe a one to three second a lap faster rider and try and keep up. I have found I can go a tad faster than I thought I could when I try and keep up.
 

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Lastly follow someone just a tad faster than you. Maybe a one to three second a lap faster rider and try and keep up. I have found I can go a tad faster than I thought I could when I try and keep up.
Yes, trying to chase down someone 10 seconds a lap faster who's streaking off into the distance is not going to be helpful. I often find that my cornering speeds are as high or higher than the faster bikes and they need to get onto the straights to pull away. So all of the differential in lap times is what they've gained on the straights with more power. In that case I don't try to follow unless in a tight section.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Podcasts

^Some good info here, i used to be able to get through the full set on my way to a trackday, now he has too many for my 3 hr drive.

There's a definite mental aspect of riding that a few of us have hit on. Whether that's decision making, or having a plan
 

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^Some good info here, i used to be able to get through the full set on my way to a trackday, now he has too many for my 3 hr drive.

There's a definite mental aspect of riding that a few of us have hit on. Whether that's decision making, or having a plan
Freddie Spencer was very big on visualization and having a clear plan. I went through his program a couple of times in Las Vegas. The fastest riders always get into the seriously esoteric aspects of thought and action.

Guys like Spencer, Roberts, Rossi, and so on simply have better brains with respect to processing and reacting to high-speed motion. We can train and train but we can't really improve the basic wiring we were born with. We can only work toward reaching its potential. For most riders who work at it, we can get pretty good. "Pretty good" usually means being able to ride safely and competently on the street without having a lot of close calls and near misses, and having confidence.

The number of riders who can actually get out onto a racetrack and ride at a respectable pace, ride smoothly, and improve over time is much smaller.

People think I am nuts because I like the faster racetracks, and I am expecting to turn 60 this year. But I like it. It does something for me. I am not the fastest guy in the fast group by any means, but I'm not the slowest. I CREEP up on my limitations, usually. And most of the guys going quicker are on slicks with full race setup, which gives a lot more grip and confidence under hard braking and cornering than my stock Gixxer 750 with Q3s.

Street riders who reject the track as being dangerous and just memorize a section of public road, and ride it as fast as they can, generally have their butts handed to them by a girl on a Ninja 300 the first time they try a track day. Their ego can't handle it. That is also another serious limitation. A proud rider is not going to improve. Hubris does not equal skill or speed.
 

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I ride everyday so I don't forget how to ride, weather permitting. When Rossi said that I knew that he knew exactly what I was talking about. Next, must be in perfect health. Not slow thinking; not fat; not weak mentally; not weak physically; the ability to ride from the heart is paramount, simply can NOT ride from ego or from rational thinking once the throttle is learned as must ride within the collective sense of what is happening on the road targeting cagers and whatever; the ability to sort out Code's concepts in practice; the ability to find a street loop that is empty, so much going on in terms of riding techniques. Track equates to treadmills; ankles need real roads to gain strength. About as clear as I can make it.
 

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I ride everyday so I don't forget how to ride, weather permitting. When Rossi said that I knew that he knew exactly what I was talking about. Next, must be in perfect health. Not slow thinking; not fat; not weak mentally; not weak physically; the ability to ride from the heart is paramount, simply can NOT ride from ego or from rational thinking once the throttle is learned as must ride within the collective sense of what is happening on the road targeting cagers and whatever; the ability to sort out Code's concepts in practice; the ability to find a street loop that is empty, so much going on in terms of riding techniques. Track equates to treadmills; ankles need real roads to gain strength. About as clear as I can make it.
How do you feel about the brakes Scout? Code promotes going to the track in Twist II as the safe environment to improve your skills and creep up on the limits. then when you go back and ride on the street you can dial back and still be safe
 

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the ability to find a street loop that is empty, so much going on in terms of riding techniques. Track equates to treadmills; ankles need real roads to gain strength. About as clear as I can make it.
So, I'm confused as a baby in a topless bar. :confused: Let me get this straight....you're saying that riding on a race track is the equivalent of doing the same thing over and over again that won't provide much insight into riding, but yet advocating riding the same loop over and over again the same way? A loop that is devoid of traffic even?

You ride the same street loop everyday, over the same route, which is the same as riding on a racetrack. So essentially you're advocating riding on a racetrack without calling it a racetrack. Got it. :ayyy"

I think. :badteeth:
 

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How do you feel about the brakes Scout? Code promotes going to the track in Twist II as the safe environment to improve your skills and creep up on the limits. then when you go back and ride on the street you can dial back and still be safe
I always claim not able to brake; then I always claim that I'm slow. On the other hand effective braking is as little as possible and as late as possible. Code's entire riding orientation is track and Code does everything bike thoroughly. I even took a wheelie class from him a long time ago. But Code's concepts work on street rural twists just have to modify Code's concept of 'traffic.' Code's traffic notion is track, where we're all going one way. Real world has, you know, on coming, bicycles, cagers of all levels, peds, critters, etc.

Braking comes with dialing in. And it changes. I am running both '11 and '13 wheels. One of them has rotors that the pads feel soft for the first few loops. I just adjust then the pads adjust whatever and I forget about even noticing the difference until the next second cycle.

Slow to me is just inside the comfort zone or the zen zone or the Jung zone or Occult zone, whatever. The ride feels slow as in no speed. But that doesn't translate to others, interestingly. Last Sunday I was on Calaveras and I noticed a hot cager up ahead going my direction and was really impressed with his speed on that section. But I felt slow. Not joking. I freaked him out as I can tell that he was surprised that I was there. I was too. Kinda hard to explain but I know some here know exactly what I'm talking about.
 

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So, I'm confused as a baby in a topless bar. :confused: Let me get this straight....you're saying that riding on a race track is the equivalent of doing the same thing over and over again that won't provide much insight into riding, but yet advocating riding the same loop over and over again the same way? A loop that is devoid of traffic even?

You ride the same street loop everyday, over the same route, which is the same as riding on a racetrack. So essentially you're advocating riding on a racetrack without calling it a racetrack. Got it. :ayyy"

I think. :badteeth:
Yes, but not confusing. My 200 mile loop is never the same. I do have one 90 mile section of tight stuff with very little traffic but that is never the same. Track is ALSO never the same but the 'same' range is mega narrow on the track. The track tire wear is the evidence. I wear the entire rear and only the front sides. Both sides and identical wear rates. That is hard evidence of a huge range of techniques. And my traffic is so crazy different day to day. That's the mental equation and a huge one.

Yes, I never race but do have a pace when safe. A couple local ranchers agree with you, though. They get out on the road every once in awhile with a green flag. Rancher humor. lol.
 

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Kinda hard to explain but I know some here know exactly what I'm talking about.
To be totally honest, I don't have a fuckin clue in hell what you are talking about...

Furthermore I don't find Code the end all be all of anything motorcycle related. He spent decades telling people not to trailbrake and then all of the sudden when every single trackday class to Pro Racer school was not only teaching it, but emphasizing the importance of trailbraking Code started backpedaling like Fred Flintstone down a steep hill going so far as to stage an interview so he could rewrite history and now incorporate trailbraking into his curriculum :rolleyes:
 

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To be totally honest, I don't have a fuckin clue in hell what you are talking about...

Furthermore I don't find Code the end all be all of anything motorcycle related. He spent decades telling people not to trailbrake and then all of the sudden when every single trackday class to Pro Racer school was not only teaching it, but emphasizing the importance of trailbraking Code started backpedaling like Fred Flintstone down a steep hill going so far as to stage an interview so he could rewrite history and now incorporate trailbraking into his curriculum :rolleyes:
There is something to that. Also I just read an article review CSS and the guy who took the course said they were teaching him to keep the throttle closed completely until the very bottom of the turn. That used to work with CV carbs but not any more, need to get it slightly picked up earlier than that. So there are some modifications and adaptations going on there. CSS is not perfect but many have learned a thing or two there.
 

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Some good writing here on the subject.

For road riding, time to pull out The Pace and re read )))
The Pace | Nick Ienatsch | Motorcyclist magazine

Big differences from Street to Track. Environment is the key and track is a much better environment for pushing limits and the bike. Want to ride like that on the street, get your head read.

On the street, for rides, I like to travel solo. No other bikes to distract me and I focus on the rest of the world. Smooth, with lots of situational awareness. Ironically the most dangerous time riding the street is near home for most and usually at low speeds. Brain switching off issue.

Every ride, something new to learn. I like to ride in all conditions except when road ices over. Have ridden in sleet though but road surface was warm. Crap sticks to you visor though which is a bummer.

Never stop learning and it isn't all about speed but the joy of riding.
 
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