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  1. 1 point
    Level 4 is still an individual, customized program. However, there are many, many new, specific Level 4 drills that address a variety of problems riders encounter. So the basic format is the same but the array of tools and drills that are available (there are over 100 level 4 drills) has been expanded considerably, along with some other nice improvements in AV tools and video capabilities. You mentioned you've been asking yourself what skills you need to work on - come on out to a school and your coach will work with you on your goals and closely observe your riding to create a custom program to address this. In other words, you don't have to have it all figured out before you get here, your coach and your level 4 consultant will work with you personally to identify what skills need improvement.
  2. 1 point
    Rider Improvement What There Is to Learn I’d like to point out some things about riders and rider training. Below is a list of six categories of riders and how they regard the idea of training and rider improvement. The next section covers the results; the kinds of things we look for and you should expect from rider training. The Six Categories of Riders 1. Ones that have tried to improve, failed at it and lost interest. They're basically locked-up on the whole subject of rider improvement–they don't want to know about it. 2. Riders that say there is nothing to learn. This category of rider often says that seat time will handle it. They'll change the subject or politely dismiss what you have to say about training. 3. Those that actively speak against training. ‘Hey, you just get on the bike and do it. I don't crash, what is there to learn...don't waste your money on a school buy a nice pipe instead. Schools suck.’ These guys are foolishly antagonistic. 4. Those that have a vague desire to improve but lack information about how to. They have a want but it goes unfulfilled. For one reason or another, this rider just doesn't take the next step. They HOPE it will get better. 5. Those that become interested in learning more. They will talk about improvement. They will listen to advice but still remain passive. This might be the most dangerous of all the categories because this rider will listen to just about anything. They might hear, ‘you don't know how fast you can go until you crash’, and actually try it! 6. Riders who do something to improve. Here you find the rider who reads articles, goes to track days in search of answers or comes to a school. They make a commitment to improve and take definite steps to do it. Most riders are in one of the above categories on the subject of rider improvement. What There is to Learn It's no secret that I am in the business of training riders. I do it because I know it works and over the past 39 years of doing it I've noticed a few things about riders who take the plunge to improve. The following is what we have observed in our students. Once a rider is trained, they begin to handle cornering problems and situations on their own. They understand and make sensible corrections that actually correct. Riders who are trained can read the feedback the bike is giving them easier than those who are not trained. They can identify and communicate to someone what the bike is doing. Trained riders can spot what is wrong in their riding and tend to not make the same mistakes over and over. Also, training brings about control over the "knee jerk" reactions that cause riders to make dangerous errors. Riders who are trained have a solid foundation of skills and the knowledge and certainty that their riding won't get worse. They can still make mistakes but it doesn't defeat them. Additionally, trained riders can actually offer constructive help to others who want to improve. If a rider is turning in too early or too late, has poor throttle control or is rushing the corners and making it worse, the trained rider can spot it. Riders who look uncomfortable are uncomfortable. Trained riders look as though they are more a part of the bike. And as a bonus, racing fans gain an appreciation and an even greater respect for what professional riders can do because they can see what the pro is doing and why. My riding instructors are trained to observe these points and the really amazing thing is we see changes like these in every student. What we Know Confidence comes from knowing that the bike will do what you want it to do when you want it to do it. Once a rider improves, and knows why and what they have improved, it opens the door to virtually unlimited improvement. Knee-jerk reactions only happen to riders when they don't have the right skill or technique for the situation at hand. Training strips away confusions and complexities. When riding feels simple, control is simple. When control is simple any rider has confidence. Effort or Training Truly enthusiastic riders do have the urge to improve. Unfortunately, a great many of them waste their riding time and their money hoping that seat time will handle it. That doesn't mean they aren't going to improve, it means that it will take longer, cost more and the results will be sketchy. Most likely there will be a lot of misguided effort involved. Which is likely to be most effective, rider training or simply trying harder? Will experience alone sweep away those uncertainties? Will more emotional effort get you the level of control you want? Training and expert coaching are what we offer and it works. Keith Code PS: Our 2019 schedule is at <www.superbikeschool.com>, log on, sign up and I'll see you at the track. © CSS, Inc., 2018, all rights reserved
  3. 1 point
    Yes to the above. The turnpoints marked will give you a good line, but as I'm sure was mentioned in the classroom, there is no "ideal line" that is the absolute perfect line for every rider. Riders will tend to choose their preferred lines based on their particular skillset, bike characteristics and riding preferences. For example on my little Moriwaki, which weighs only 180 lbs, I can carry far more corner speed than a heavier bike, and with very low horsepower, maintaining momentum is critical. My lines on the that are not quite the same as the ones I'd take on the BMW; for example, I might use all the track on the exit on the BMW because I am driving hard and the rapidly increasing speed widens the arc and forces me outward. That doesn't happen on the Moriwaki, it can't accelerate that fast so if the next corner was turning the same direction I might not go out so far on the exit, why cover the extra distance if I don't have to? I also, personally, tend to choose relatively late turn points (on the BMW) because I LOVE to quickturn the bike, whereas another rider that likes to trailbrake heavily might choose an earlier or more inside line to better complement their strengths. The turn points at the school are there for learning purposes and students are encouraged to experiment with them, turning before and after, inside and outside, to see what happens. In fact, one of the targets for the TP drill is to go out and do that exact thing, turn before and after the mark, etc. Most novice riders are inclined to turn in early (due to SRs firing off) so those turnpoint marks help get the riders to actually GO to an area that might otherwise never even try. Another aspect is visibility - riding on the road, using a turn point that is later and more to the outside gives you better visibility through the corner. On a familiar track if you have good references (like the rider in the video), that might not be a consideration but for street riding it can be very useful. Do you remember how you determine, after you go through a corner, whether the line you chose was a good line?
  4. 1 point
    At least two are steering, and the third could be also, since being able to carry more entry speed has a lot to do with being able to steer the bike quickly! You mentioned earlier that you had the idea that you needed to be on the brakes to compress the forks to steer the bike - did (or does) that misconception create the entry speed problem and the mid-corner adjustment problem you are trying to fix? Can you (personally) steer the bike more quickly (and carry more entry speed) if you are not also trying to brake hard enough to compress the forks? It is certainly less to worry about, easier to gauge entry speed, and easier to control the steering action, if you are not trying to brake hard at the same time. To be clear, compressing the forks CAN tighten up the steering by compressing the forks (this steepening the steering angle) but it can also make the bike harder to steer (more effort) and I have been in at least one back-and-forth debate with Cobie about which is the greater effect. Personally I almost never use the front brake for the sole purpose of compressing the front end - if I don't need the brakes to slow down, I don't use them. One exception that I can think of is a VERY fast chicane where I have difficulty getting the bike steered fast enough (only at my max pace), and I am driving going into the chicane. In that one case I do SOMETIMES us the front brake a little to help me get the quick direction change, because otherwise the forks are extended coming into it, because I am accelerating coming into it, and the combination of speed, momentum, and fork extension makes the direction change difficult in that tight chicane. A touch on the brakes helps to get it flicked over from one side to the other, but it is a bit tricky to do and I need a lot of free attention to get it right.
  5. 1 point
    Body Position The most obvious thing about any rider is their form on the bike. How do they sit and move on it? What’s their posture? Do they look comfortable or awkward, stiff or loose, Moto GP, or nervous-novice? Good body positioning isn’t just about being stylish——you can play dress-up in your older brother's or sister's cool boots but walking will be clumsy——it has a desirable result and we can define 'good body positioning'. Harmony with the bike, freedom of movement on it, precision control over it―with the minimum necessary effort. Survival Reactions Play a Role The bike itself can force poor riding posture. A shift lever positioned a ¼ inch too high or too low manipulates the rider into awkward and uncomfortable poses, limiting his control over it. Even with perfect control positioning, good form on the bike has its difficulties. Achieving it may look and even feel like it’s reserved for the young and flexible. This may be true to a degree but many of its problems are actually brought on by our own Survival Reactions, our SRs. For example, a rider who instinctively levels the horizon by tilting his head in corners, creates unnecessary tension in his body. Basics Apply Good form is difficult for riders who struggle with basics: uncertainty with basics has a physical manifestation. Just as joy or anger are obvious in someone, these uncertainties manifest themselves in awkward and unsuitable body positions. For example: poor throttle control prompts riders to rely on slash and burn hard drives out of the turns. Their 'ready-for-action', rigid body language telegraphs their intention. That tense anticipation of the drive off the turns loses them the handling benefits of being relaxed mid-corner. The Stages of Body Positioning There are three stages to body positioning: Poor form + poor riding = ripple-effect, snowballing errors. Good riding + poor form = good but limited range of control. Good form + good technical riding skills = riding that is both fluid and efficient. Number 3 is the goal of any rider training. The Ingredients Body Positioning has five distinct ingredients. The bike and how it is configured——its controls, seat, pegs and bar positioning. The rider's understanding of body positioning——how to properly position himself on the bike and why. Our Survival Reactions——how they create unwanted and often unconscious tension and positioning problems. Lack of riding basics——has or hasn't mastered the core technical skills needed to ride well. The rider's own physical limitations——height, weight, flexibility, conditioning. With those five points under control, specific techniques can be employed to achieve positive benefits in bike control. Form, Function and Technique GP body position does not address or improve 90% of the most basic and vital components of riding: Our sense of traction, speed, lean angle, braking, and line, to name a few, are not directly dependent upon or necessarily improved by stylish form. Clearly, body positioning isn't the universal panacea some think it is, but it has its place. For example, holding the body upright, counter to the bike’s lean while cornering has several negative effects. Among these, is the fact that it positions the rider so he can’t fully relax. This can be quickly corrected and solves the functional problem of tension from cramped and restrictive joint alignment: a key element in allowing any rider to relax. A bike related example would be too high or too low brake or clutch lever. It puts the rider's wrist into misalignment and restricts fluid movement. The Rules of Technique Here are my guidelines for technique. Any riding technique is only as good as: The validity of the principles it rests on. Example: The benefits of hanging off follow physics and engineering principles. The access it provides to the technology with which the bike is designed and constructed. Are the potentials of chassis, suspension and power able to be utilized as intended? Does the technique embrace them? The consistency with which it can be applied. Does it work in all similar situations? The degree of control it provides for the rider. Can the rider either solve problems or make improvements, or both, by using it? The ease with which it can be understood and coached. Does it take extraordinary experience or skill to apply it, or, can it be broken down into bite sized pieces for any rider to master? Which brings us to my first law of body positioning. Stability Comes in Pairs. Bike and rider stability are always paired―rider instability transfers directly to the bike. Body Positioning has but one overriding guideline: Rider stability. How a rider connects to the bike can bring about harmony and control and fluid movement or turn into an uncoordinated wrestling match. Ideal Stability Having stability AND fluidity of movement sounds conflicting; when something is stable it’s expected to stay put, unmoving, like the foundation of your house or the roots of a tree. But the opposite is true for riding. Comfort And Stability What works well on a paddock-stand doesn't always transfer to real riding. Aftermarket rearsets, which can be adjusted (or which are manufactured) too far up, back, forward or down is an example. In the paddock they feel racy; on the road or track they can fatigue the rider. The fatigue comes from the rider's core not being correctly supported. This causes him to be off balance. Off-balance generates extra effort from muscle tension and poor joint alignment which in turn hampers accurate control manipulations. Awkward looking body position is what you see. Riders often accept or try and work around this, without realizing its negative impact on their riding. Simply Complicated Through research and coaching of tens of thousands of riders of all skill levels, 58 separate elements which influence our body positioning have surfaced. Seemingly simple things such as too tight a pair of gloves or leathers can affect all the other elements. Once the 58 are corrected and integrated, the rider has many more options; opening doors to a wide range of fun, efficient and, you might say, elegant techniques. All of our coaches have been thoroughly drilled on what each of the 58 are and how to correct them. © 2014 Keith Code, all rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced in any form without the author's consent.
  6. 1 point
    Great article. I find the following the most interesting. The Stages of Body Positioning There are three stages to body positioning: Poor form + poor riding = ripple-effect, snowballing errors. Good riding + poor form = good but limited range of control. Good form + good technical riding skills = riding that is both fluid and efficient. I fell into #2 for quite some time. Improving my form on the bike has given me new found confidence. I am finding that I am having to "re-learn" steering in some cases because of how well the bike turns now. I have found that physical fitness plays a huge role in good form for me. Being physically stronger in my lower body gives me a more stable base and less fatigue when repositioning on the bike frequently. I learned this the hard way this past Level 4 when I had a great on track session where I made some major breakthroughs. When I got back to the pits and got off the bike I found it difficult to walk because my lower body was angry with me for demanding so much out of it.
  7. 1 point
    There are technical points concerning a rider's fear of making either right or left hand turns. Many riders have this fear and it's frustrating. Scores of riders have complained to me about this with a sheepish sort of approach and "admitted" they were perplexed by it. Rightfully so, roughly 50% of their turns were being hampered by an unknown, un-categorized, seemingly unapproachable fear having no apparent source and no apparent reasoning behind it. Out of desperation for an answer riders have blamed their inability on being right or left handed, mysterious brain malfunctions and a host of other equally dead end "nonsense solutions"; nonsense because none of them answered their questions or addressed the hesitance, uncertainty and fear. Having a fear of right turns would be the worst if you lived in Kansas or Nebraska where practically the only turns worth the title are freeway on and off ramps. If you went "ramping" with your friends, "doing the cloverleaf", round and round, you'd be at the back of the pack . Anxiety on lefts would exclude you from the dirt track racing business for sure but mainly we are talking about day to day riding and any such apprehension as this (and there are others) spoils a rider's confidence, making him somewhat gun shy. There are actually three reasons why you could have this unidirectional phobia (fear) and all three contain an inordinate amount of some emotional response that runs from suspicion and distrust to mild panic and a dose of plain old anxiety dropped into the middle for good measure. By the way, if you consider yourself in this category of rider, count your blessings, many riders have bidirectional phobia and it's only by their force of will and love of freedom that they persist in their riding at all! First Reason Reason number one for this fear is that you crashed on the right or left at sometime and the relatively indelible mental scar is still on the mend but remains a more or less hidden and nagging source of irritation. The part of the mind that is concerned with survival does not easily forget and the proof is that our species still exists. There have no doubt been other more pressing problems along the way that have tried and tested Man in his effort to put order into his environment. The fact that the incident of a crash drops down to an obscure sub-level of awareness is not a help in this, or perhaps any other case, as it can affect our riding from there and can add an unpredictable element to our riding. You may gain some control over this with practice but the oddest part of it is that if one hasn't ridden for a while this apprehension of turning right or left can return in force... provided it springs from this particular source. In the technology of the mind and according to the discipline of Dianetics, these incidents are stored in what is called the Reactive Mind, for the obvious reason that one finds himself reacting to, rather than being coactive with, some circumstance. In this case, right or left turns. Second Reason In the discipline of riding technology we have the act and activity of counter-steering to contend with. Here a rider may have become confused, in a panic of some sort, and gone back to another variety of "survival response" that pressed him into turning the bike's bars in the direction he wanted to go rather than doing the correct (and backwards from other vehicle's steering) action of counter-steering. That instant of confusion has stopped many riders cold in their tracks, never to twist their wrist again and pleasure themselves with motorcycle riding. Turn left to go right push the right bar to go right, its the thing that eludes us in that panic situation (statistically) more commonly than anything save only the overuse and locking of the rear brake. When you dissect this confusion regarding the counter-steering process you see that it is possibly more devastating than the rear end lock up, even though both have the same result, the bike goes straight, and often straight into that which we were trying to avoid. Basics prevail--You can only do two things on a motorcycle, change its speed and change its direction. Confusion on counter-steering locks up the individual's senses tighter than a transmission run without oil and reduces those two necessary control factors down to one...A bad deal in anyone's book. Third Reason The third possible reason for being irrational about rights and lefts is the one that has solved it more often than not--practice. Applying the drill sergeant's viewpoint of repeatedly training the rider to practice and eventually master the maneuver is a very practical solution. I suppose this one falls under the heading of the discipline of rider dynamics. And a casual inspection of riders will show you the following: Ninety-five percent of all riders push the bike down and away from their body to initiate a turn or steering action, especially when attempting to do it rapidly. Rapidly meaning something on the order of how fast you would have to turn your bike if someone stopped quickly in front of you and you wanted to simply ride around them; or avoid a pothole or a rock or any obstacle. For example, a muffler falls off the car in front on the freeway at 60 m.p.h., that's eighty-eight feet per second of headway you are making down the road. Despite the fact you've left a generous forty feet between you and the car, that translates into one half second to get the bike's direction diverted, including your reaction time to begin the steering process. We're talking about a couple of tenths of a second here--right now. This procedure riders have of pushing the bike down and away from themselves to steer it seems like an automatic response and is most probably an attempt to keep oneself in the normally correct relationship to the planet and its gravity, namely, vertically oriented or perpendicular to the ground. This is a good idea for walking, sitting and standing--but not for riding. When you stay "on top" of the bike, pushing it under and away, you actually commit a number of riding dynamics sins. The first of which is the bad passenger syndrome." Bad Passenger Bad passengers lean the wrong way on the bike. They position themselves in perfect discord--counter to your intended lean, steering and cornering sensibilities. So do you when you push the bike away from yourself, or hold your body rigidly upright on the bike--very stately looking, very cool but ultimately it's an inefficient rider position. The most usual solution to a bad passenger's efforts to go against the bike's cornering lean angle is brow beating them and threaten "no more rides." But how do you fix this tendency in yourself? A bad passenger makes you correct your steering and eventually become wary of their actions and the bike's response to them. This ultimately leads to becoming tense on the bike while in turns. Pushing the bike away from yourself or sitting rigidly upright while riding solo has the same effect. Hung Off Upright Hang off style riders don't think this applies to them but it does. Many riders are still pushing the bike under themselves while hung off. Look through some race photos especially on the club and national level and you will easily see that some are still trying to be bad passengers on their own bike and countering the benefits of the hung position by trying to remain upright through the corners. A rider's hung-off style may have more to do with his ability to be comfortable with the lean of the bike, and go with it, than anything else. This is not to say there is only one way to sit on a bike, in any style of riding. But it does mean that each rider must find his own way of agreeing with his bike's dynamics and remain in good perspective to the road. And this doesn't mean that you always have to have your head and eyes parallel with the horizon as some riders claim. But it does mean that you may have to push yourself to get out of the "man is an upright beast" mode of thinking and ride with the bike, not against it. It may feel awkward at first but it's the only way to be "in-unit" with the bike. On a professional level most riders do this. John Kocinski is an example of someone in perfect harmony with his machine and Mick Doohan has modified his sit-up push-it-under style of riding over the past couple of years to one that is more in line with the bike. Show and Tell If you have a rider (or yourself) do a quick flick, side to side, steering maneuver in a parking lot you'll clearly observe them jerking and stuffing the bike underneath themselves in an effort to overwhelm it with good intentions and brute force rather than using correct, effective and efficient steering technique. There are other steering quirks you may observe while having someone do this simple show-and-tell parking lot drills. For example, some riders have a sudden hitch that comes at the end of the steering when they have leaned it over as far as they dare. It's a kind of jerking motion initiated from their rigid upper body. You may see an exaggerated movement at the hips; that's another variation of their attempt to keep the back erect. Also, look for no movement of the head or extreme movement of it to keep the head erect. A general tenseness of the whole body is common as is lots of side to side motion of the bike. So what's the right thing to do here? Good Passenger What does a good passenger do? NOTHING. They just sit there and enjoy the ride, practically limp on the saddle. The bike leans over and so does the passenger. Which scenario agrees with motorcycle design: weight on top that is moving or weight that is stable and tracking with it? Motorcycles respond best to a positive and sure hand that does the least amount of changing. You, as a rider, need to do the same thing, basically, NOTHING. Holding your body upright is not doing nothing it is doing something. It is an action you initiate, a tenseness you provide and it is in opposition to the bike's intended design--what it likes. More Lean There is another technical point here. The more you stay erect and try to push the bike down and away (motocross style riding) the more leaned over you must be to get through the turn. That's a fact. Crotch rocket jockeys hang off their bikes for show but the pros do it to lean their bikes over less. You can counter this adverse affect of having to lean more by simply going with the bike while you turn it, in concert with and congruous to its motion, not against it. There is even an outside chance you may find it feels better and improves your control over the bike and reduces the number of mini-actions needed to corner. There is also a good possibility that this will open the door to conquering your directional fear, whichever form it may take. Diagnosis Look for one or more of these indications on your "bad" side: 1. The body is stiff or tense while making turns on the side you don't like, at least more so than on the side you do like. 2. You don't allow your body to go with the bike's lean on side: You are fighting it and it is fighting you. 3. The effort to remain perfectly vertical is greater on your bad side. 4. You will find yourself being less aggressive with the turning process on your bad side. 5. You will find yourself being shortsighted, looking too close to the bike on that shy side. 6. You will find yourself making more steering corrections by trying to "dip" the bike into turns or pressing and releasing the bars several times in each turn. 7. You will notice a tendency to stiff arm the steering. 8. You will notice you are trying to steer the bike with your shoulders rather than you arms. You might find more symptoms but one or more of the above will be present on your bad side. Coaching The very best and simplest way I've found to cure this tendency to push the bike under is to have someone watch you while you do a quick flick, back and forth, steering drill in a parking lot. You have your friend stand at one point and you ride directly away from him or her as though you were weaving cones and then turn around and ride directly back at them weaving as quickly as you feel comfortable and at a speed you like, usually second gear. In that way your coach is able to see you either going with the bike at each steering change or they will see you and the bike crisscrossing back and forth from each other. As the coach, that's what you are looking for, the bike and the rider doing the same action, the rider's body is leaned over the same as the bike at each and every point from beginning of the steering action to the end. There is no trick to seeing this...it is obvious. For example, when they ride away from you, if you see the mirrors moving closer and further away from the rider's body, they are obviously not moving together. That's pushing the bike under rather than good steering. This is also the time to notice which side is the rider's bad side. The back and forth flicks will be hesitant on one side or the other. Remedies The entire purpose of this exercise is to have the rider get in better communication with his machine--going with it not against it--and not treating it as though it were a foreign object that he is wrestling to stay on top of or muscle it down like a rodeo rider. Often, it simply takes a reminder to loosen-up the upper body. Sometimes the rider needs to lean forward and imagine the tank and he are one and the same. On sportbikes, a full crouch over the tank can sometimes be the answer to link the rider with his bike, giving him a ready reference to it's physical attitude in relation to the road. Making sure the rider has some bend in his elbows while leaning forward slightly seems to help. Having them use palm pressure to steer the bike seems to resolve the tendency to muscle the bike over from side to side. Dropping the elbows so the forearm is more level with the tank makes the steering easier and promotes their going with the bike and takes them away from the stiff armed approach to steering. Reminders to relax the shoulders and let the arms do the work of steering also helps. End Result You stop doing the drill when the rider has the feeling he is in better control of the bike, when he has the idea of how easy and how much less effort it takes to steer; or when he feels comfortable with both rights and lefts. There could be other contributing factors like overly worn tires or a bent frame that would bring a genuine and justified anxiety to a right or left turn but I believe the above three reasons cover everything else and if you are anything like the hundreds of riders I've had do the above drill, you could use a little work on this area even if you don't have a bad side. I hope it helps. ? Keith Code 1996-1997
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