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Do You Keep A Straight Head On Your Shoulders?


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#1 Eirik

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 09:37 AM

Our brains use vision and the inner ear to decide what's up and what's not. If you lean your head with your machine as you tilt over in a corner, the brain will have to deal with two horizons; the actual one and the one created by your machine as you lean - as indicated by the handlebars etc. This can lead to confusions that in some cases could result in making the wrong actions under stress.

Keeping your eyes in line with the actual horizon becomes increasingly more difficult as you hang off the inside of your machine. So I wonder; is this thing a point you focus on during riding? How do you position your head during cornering and why?

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#2 Bullet

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 10:12 AM

Our brains use vision and the inner ear to decide what's up and what's not. If you lean your head with your machine as you tilt over in a corner, the brain will have to deal with two horizons; the actual one and the one created by your machine as you lean - as indicated by the handlebars etc. This can lead to confusions that in some cases could result in making the wrong actions under stress.

Keeping your eyes in line with the actual horizon becomes increasingly more difficult as you hang off the inside of your machine. So I wonder; is this thing a point you focus on during riding? How do you position your head during cornering and why?


I don't think it leads to confusion, i think it leads to problems feeling comfortable and relaxed with it, and rider don't in many cases like the feeling and won't go past their comfort zones.

Do you think it's something worthy of a lot of attention, of like many things, something we need to get used to, and deal with?

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#3 Eirik

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 10:25 AM

I believe it is important, but I also believe that the effect will vary quite a lot from one individual to another. Just like some have better balance than others, some have better coordination than others etc. People vary in skill, what they can do well - or not.

Personally, I am pretty sure that failing to keep my eyes level with the real horizon caused me to ride off the road back in 1991. I was, out of stupidity, occupied with looking at the instruments as I went into a corner. When I looked up, I was slightly off course and heading for the outside of the road. I felt confused because I had my head aligned with the instruments instead of the road, and simply failed to make the simple required adjustments and ended up with a tumble that wasn't very pleasant.

For me, it is vital that I keep my eyes level with the horizon, something I have always done even before I learned why back when I was riding a bicycle. Just cocking my head sideways makes it really hard for me to even walk straight, and entering black tunnels will make me wobble on the machine unless I force myself to really relax and just rely on the bike knowing how to stay upright as long as I do not interfere. In other words, shutting my eyes also significantly upset my balance.

As mentioned, this is likely to vary a lot from one individual to another, but for some I think it could prove life saving to keep a level head.

Eirik

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#4 Bullet

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 11:07 AM

I believe it is important, but I also believe that the effect will vary quite a lot from one individual to another. Just like some have better balance than others, some have better coordination than others etc. People vary in skill, what they can do well - or not.

Personally, I am pretty sure that failing to keep my eyes level with the real horizon caused me to ride off the road back in 1991. I was, out of stupidity, occupied with looking at the instruments as I went into a corner. When I looked up, I was slightly off course and heading for the outside of the road. I felt confused because I had my head aligned with the instruments instead of the road, and simply failed to make the simple required adjustments and ended up with a tumble that wasn't very pleasant.

For me, it is vital that I keep my eyes level with the horizon, something I have always done even before I learned why back when I was riding a bicycle. Just cocking my head sideways makes it really hard for me to even walk straight, and entering black tunnels will make me wobble on the machine unless I force myself to really relax and just rely on the bike knowing how to stay upright as long as I do not interfere. In other words, shutting my eyes also significantly upset my balance.

As mentioned, this is likely to vary a lot from one individual to another, but for some I think it could prove life saving to keep a level head.


You believe it's important to you, and if you do, you do. How would you rate it in your overal importance of your riding? If you could rank your top ten things to give attention to, how would you categorize them? Say how would you rate this over say bike stability or throttle control?

I think you should be wary of making statements of personal preference and thinking that is general accepted consensus.

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#5 Eirik

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 11:22 AM

I do not think it's a personal preference - several pages have been devoted to the subject earlier, for instance in magazines like Cycle, Cycle World and das MOTORRAD. I doubt they would print it if it wasn't of a more general interest.

For me personally, it is one of the most important aspects of riding for the very reasons described in my previous post.

Eirik

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#6 Bullet

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 11:30 AM

I do not think it's a personal preference - several pages have been devoted to the subject earlier, for instance in magazines like Cycle, Cycle World and das MOTORRAD. I doubt they would print it if it wasn't of a more general interest.

For me personally, it is one of the most important aspects of riding for the very reasons described in my previous post.


For completeness, and for others to be able to understand your points in more depth could you provide links?

You still didn't prioritise your thoughts for everyone on importance? categorise where this ranks for your of importance.

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#7 Eirik

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 11:54 AM

I did a limited search on google with ["eyes level with the horizon" + motorcycle + corner] and got nearly 10,000 hits. I don't think every hit is relevant, but there are many other ways to phrase it that are omitted by the search. So I believe it can be said that it has enough importance for enough people to warrant some attention. It is also recommended practice by the MSF.

Rating it? How do you rate anything that's heavily connected into a whole? How high do you rate the wheels over the frame on your motorcycle? I guess it will depend on just how poor the frame or the wheels are.

If we ignore the obvious basics (having a working motorcycle in the first place and a head that can move), I would say that being able to keep my head reasonably in line with the horizon is very important for riding hard, not so much for keeping a touring pace.

I would much rather ride fast (for me) on something like a V-Strom with full movement of my head than on a Gixxer with my head fixed horizontally. I would rather be able to tilt my head than have impeccable throttle response. I would rather ride with drum brakes than a fixed head position.

Dunno if that helped any, but everything is intertwined and the answers will differ with the actual constellation. At least for me.

EDIT: A link http://www.daytonamo...-motorcycle.htm

Eirik

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#8 Bullet

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 12:40 PM

Rating it?

I would much rather ride fast (for me) on something like a V-Strom with full movement of my head than on a Gixxer with my head fixed horizontally. I would rather be able to tilt my head than have impeccable throttle response. I would rather ride with drum brakes than a fixed head position.


Well, rating, I'm thinking priority, what do you give your attention to, as we'd all agree we only have so much? What do you focus on? If we can make things automatic and feel comfortable, would it be possible we wouldn't need to give them much attention, whereas something that's uncomfortable and unfamiliar, that surely must take much attention?

Agree, head movement is very important, but keeping eyes horizontal is where we started, and that's not so neccesary it's a familiarisation thing, being comfortable with it.

In order to go through a corner (speed irrelevant), with larger lean angles is it possible to keep your head/eyes level with the horizon? No, it's not, so we either need to adapt ourselves be changing where we look/what we look at, or/in addition we need to be comfortable that our eyes don't need to be level.

The only otherway to do this, (and I think this is where this question started from), is to counterlean against the bike in the turns, the consequences of which we discussed in our thread yesterday at much length.

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#9 Eirik

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 01:16 PM

I think you can probably keep your head reasonably level with the horizon even if you hang in some. However, it wasn't my intention to draw this back into a lean in/lean out body position thing - it was based upon balance and how the brain react to having two horizons to relate to.

I'll try to answer your question about how much attention I give it. It is automatic for me to tilt my head, but I quickly notice if I forget or if I somehow mismatched the two horizons a significant amount. That's the only time I'm aware of it, and I then correct accordingly. Doesn't happen very often.

Then again, most of what I do while riding is based upon experience and instincts. Even when I first started out riding, things like when to start braking, or where to turn in, or where to get on the throttle were automated, done by feel. I'm talking myself into taking a course rapidly here, I feel :lol:

BTW: Typically when riding, engine vibrations, poor throttle response, harsh suspension and butt burn are what draws my attention ;)

Eirik

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#10 stevo

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 11:45 PM

Personally, I am pretty sure that failing to keep my eyes level with the real horizon caused me to ride off the road back in 1991. I was, out of stupidity, occupied with looking at the instruments as I went into a corner. When I looked up, I was slightly off course and heading for the outside of the road. I felt confused because I had my head aligned with the instruments instead of the road, and simply failed to make the simple required adjustments and ended up with a tumble that wasn't very pleasant.

Could part of the issue just be the surprise you experienced due to the difference between where you thought you were and where you really were once you looked up? Normally when we ride or drive we have a continuous stream of visual information coming into our eyes and we are used to that. I think the interruption of this is a problem and part of the reason why fiddling with things in the car is dangerous- we are changing a CD and look up and - whoa!- someone pulled out- what did I miss? goes through the mind in an instant. I think that when we have a visual interruption of the stream our minds are filling in what should be there. If the duration is short and the mental estimate is correct, we don't think about it. But if the mental estimate can't realign easily with the resumed reality, we get disoriented. When you blink your eyes, you never notice it, because it's so short of a time.

I can't say I try to keep my head perfectly level in cornering, just really keep it level enough that my field of view includes as much of the oncoming track as possible.
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#11 stuman

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 03:35 AM

Doesn't really make much difference.

The only time we coach someone on this is if they are "crossed up" on the bike, we may ask them to try NOT leveling their horizon.

Some of the fastest riders I know don't level their horizon, I do somewhat.. Six of one........

This guy seems to do OK without leveling...

Posted Image

#12 Jasonzilla

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 04:48 AM

You will not find a top racer, or even a local racer who keeps his head even to the bike. Just not going to happen. They might not get perfectly parallel to the actual horizon, but they're going to have their head more even with the actual than with the bike. You can go all the way back to Augustini or Rainey and you're going to see the same thing. I don't know if it's the photo's angle or what, but Rossi does not keep his head parallel to the bike. He wouldn't be the best rider in the world if he did.
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#13 stuman

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 02:34 AM

We should try to stay away from blanket statements like that Jason, sure most riders naturally level their head some, but not all. Our mechanic Will is a very successfull racer, multiple class championships and lap records, he does not level his head at all. Look at a bunch of photos of Rossi on-line. In many his head will be leveled, in many it is not.

All I'm saying is that I just don't feel like this is something that is important, or something that you must do to ride well. We have been coaching riders at the school for a very long time, and this is not part of our curriculum, if it was something that we thought would benefit riders we would coach it. Like I said the only time we use it as a tool is when we ask riders to NOT level their head in an effort to get them to go with the bike.

#14 Jasonzilla

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 04:19 AM

I did add that most don't get perfectly parallel to the ground, and they don't. But no one keeps their head level with the bike. The sudden change in elevation and tilt will not be conducive remaining calm. And I stand by my statement, including and especially Rossi. He could not be the top GP racer in the world if he kept his head level with the bike. Even on the photo you presented, Stu, Rossi's head is turned and not leveled with the bike.
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#15 Eirik

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 07:55 AM

In my experience, the main reason to tilt your head is to make it easier for the brain to have a fixed point to work from when things starts to go wrong. This is particularly important on the road where conditions change constantly. And if it is - as I think - important on the road, perhaps it is a good idea to incorporate it on the track?

You could probably go fast without tilting your head on a track because you repeat the corners and you know where you are and what to do. But even in a controlled environment like a track, things do go wrong that require immediate reaction. And in my opinion, you can react quicker and are less likely to make the wrong actions if the eyes are already reasonably in line with the actual horizon.

Perhaps an open mind to the issue wouldn't be totally misplaced. After all, MSF must have a reason for teaching this in their classes. Maybe you can prove them wrong (which should give you a place in the history books), but there is also the possiblity that they may have a point ;)

Eirik

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#16 Bullet

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 09:31 AM

In my experience, the main reason to tilt your head is to make it easier for the brain to have a fixed point to work from when things starts to go wrong. This is particularly important on the road where conditions change constantly. And if it is - as I think - important on the road, perhaps it is a good idea to incorporate it on the track?

You could probably go fast without tilting your head on a track because you repeat the corners and you know where you are and what to do. But even in a controlled environment like a track, things do go wrong that require immediate reaction. And in my opinion, you can react quicker and are less likely to make the wrong actions if the eyes are already reasonably in line with the actual horizon.

Perhaps an open mind to the issue wouldn't be totally misplaced. After all, MSF must have a reason for teaching this in their classes. Maybe you can prove them wrong (which should give you a place in the history books), but there is also the possiblity that they may have a point ;)


If you look at my avatar my friend, would you say I'm tilting my head or not? Or would you possibly say I'm looking further up the track? Or would it possibly be a combination of both?

Your entitled to your opinion on this of course as are MSF (i've no idea who they are really), but there are more detailed steps and drills we have developed to enable visual sequence to getting into, through and out of corners in the training programme which mean we give the riders something a little more fixed and consistent to focus on rather than just worrying about the horizon.

By leveraging these and putting student attention and awareness onto these drills, as StuMan stated we don't really focus on horizon at all, only where people counterlean against the bike, as we've somewhat developed over the years its a sensation and phenomen that's uncomfoirtable for some to step over, but like many other things, it's just that, a step.

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#17 stuman

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 07:57 PM

But no one keeps their head level with the bike



Ok so would you say his head is more in line with the bike or the ground ? :)

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I think you might break your neck trying to keep your head level at this kinda lean angle.

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and last but not least, compare Rossi's head (in line with bike) to Stoner's (more level).

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Just a few examples from a quick image search on google. I'm sure I could come up with a bunch more.



I had a quick conversation with Keith on this topic yesterday and I'm paraphrasing here, but his response was that leveling your head causes more problems then it resolves, it puts your neck at a strange angle and makes it harder to go with the bike.


So I think if you want to level your head and it is not causing a problem for you, fine keep it up. But I wouldn't advise that someone that doesn't level their head should do so.

#18 stuman

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 08:24 PM

And just to further illustrate my point....

The two black lines represent the riders eyes and the bike, they are pretty much parallel. The red line represents the horizon. So yeah, I'd say Rossi's head is more in line with the bike then the horizon.

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#19 stuman

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 08:31 PM

Ok one last thing, you would think that if "The sudden change in elevation and tilt will not be conducive remaining calm" this would be really important for motocross riders huh?

Well, maybe not...

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#20 Eirik

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 08:33 PM

We will have to agree to disagree, then ;)

A picture of Freddie Spencer, who I consider to know a thing or two about riding.
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This is Spencer on moving http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

Spencer, Roberts and more (from 1:57-on) http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

Also, if you watch the instruction movie where Rossi ride the R6 that I posted elsewhere today, you will see that in most places, Rossi cocks his head to make it more in line with the real horizon more often than not.

Still, I'm not going to say that my opinion is the one and only way to go, but it I consider it vital for me.

BTW; MSF is the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

Eirik

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