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Keith Code

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  1. Speed and Direction When riders say they would like to increase their confidence and control, what do they mean? Aside from pleasing the eye and entertaining discussions about them, all motorcycles have the same six controls–throttle, front brake, rear brake, clutch, gear lever and handle bars. Those six controls are how we change or maintain the speed and the direction of the bike. And, that is all they do and it is all you do while riding. Good control amounts to correctly choosing where and how much you change the speed and direction of the bike. Likewise, any and all decisions you make are based on changing or maintaining speed and direction. The bike is more than likely capable of performing well but in those moments of confidence shattering doubt, the rider isn’t. All dramatic situations on any motorcycle have been and always will be based on the rider's inability to correctly change or maintain its speed or direction. Aside from mechanical failures there are no other "situations". Someone could argue that point: “What about hitting an on or off ramp diesel spill; that doesn’t fit the maxim above?” I’d have to agree. However, the majority of motorcycle accidents these days are single vehicle, loss of control in a corner, crashes–not ones which no one can control. Speed and direction changes can be limited by the individual machine's controllability factors. Its handling of the road's surface and potential for stability are based on its suspension and frame configuration; its throttle response; gearing and braking characteristics and the tires' compatibility with all of the above plus electronic intervention that can alter your direct control over them such as ABS and traction control. Problems in controllability aren't bad. They are the road signs which have lead designers and engineers towards machine improvement from the beginning. For example, it hardly matters whether suspension was first conceived to achieve better traction on bumpy roads or to provide a smoother ride to eliminate the need for kidney belts. Both were situations that caused problems. Suspension did result in a whole new range of potentials for controlling speed and direction and a significantly more hospitable machine for rider comfort. Any rider's true skill level can only be measured by his ability to determine exactly WHERE to change or maintain speed and direction and execute the right AMOUNT of each. There are no other components to skill. While riding, the combinations of speed and direction inputs result in arriving somewhere: for example staying in your lane or using a late apex to handle a decreasing radius corner. Confidence is achieved when the rider is certain that the machine is going in the right direction and will arrive at a predictable location, at the right speed. You might need to be stopped or to swerve before hitting a car which pulled out, or it could be exiting the banking at Daytona wide open at the top of 6th gear doing 175 mph pointed down the straight––not at the wall. It makes no difference, both are determined by where and how much the rider changed or maintained their speed and direction. The ability of a rider to determine speed and direction changes relies solely on the amount of space they have to work with. This is the determining factor for where to change and how much to change them. Judgment could be defined as: fitting the right degree of speed and/or direction change into the amount of available space in order to arrive or not arrive (like missing a pot hole) somewhere. This leads us into the area of the rider’s visual aptitude. On a practical level, always having a destination plotted out in front is wise. The five faults that stand in your way are target fixating on something, compulsive over-scanning, tunneled vision, looking too close or too far ahead. Your visual skill is based on how many of those five are absent– anytime and anywhere you ride. Becoming aware of the five and gaining control over them WILL lead to improvement.
  2. 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. Traction Science Traction limits are hard to reckon for most riders but there are some things to know about it. Traction results from a brew of chemicals the rubber is compounded with, how cleverly the carcass is constructed and shaped, proper inflation, enough tread depth, and maintaining the tire within its optimum temperature range, which varies with different rubber compounds. Heat up a mounted tire to its operating temperature, tilt it over to 45 degrees and apply ever increasing pressure on it. At some point the tire will slip; that amount of load is 101% of the tire's static grip limit. In motion, achieving maximum traction is quite different. As the tire grips it wears. What 'wears out' are the various chemicals, oils, waxes and pigments which bind together the rubber. Abrasion and heat 'cook' them off. You've noticed the bluish-purplish color of a tire from hard cornering, it's called 'blooming'. That is the residue from the chemicals which have been leached out of the tire from heat. It takes very little abrasion to wear it off, maybe a lap. The oily parts—in sufficient quantity to maintain the rubber's flexible and compliant character—support its ability to mate with the road's surface. When they 'cook off', the tire becomes dry and slippery, like dead skin peeling off a sunburn. That sun-cooked layer must be cleaned off to expose fresh skin, or, in this case, fresh rubber. Cleaning it off requires abrasion. The amount of abrasion needed is provided by tire slippage. Tire engineers agree that roughly 15% longitudinal slippage maintains friction value peaks which includes maintaining peak operating temperature. You'd be mistaken to think this 'slippage' is a 'slide': in a corner, the bike is holding its line. It is what is needed to achieve peak traction; considerably less slippage is needed for cleaning it. Depleted rubber must be scrubbed from both tires. There being no power to the front it relies on three forces: 1) slip angle, 2) side grip friction, and 3) abrasion from braking, to uncover fresh rubber. In the steady state part of a corner (after braking and before acceleration) both tires clean up from slip angle and side grip abrasion. Slip angle is interesting. If you were able to freeze the lean and the turned-in front wheel angle you have while going through a corner, then got off and pushed it, the line would be much tighter than when you were riding. The bike's tendency is to always go straight—until some outside force influences it to turn. The turned-in front wheel is that influence—it creates abrasion resistance which forces the bike to go into and hold its arc through the corner. The tires are actually slipping sideways toward the outside, hence, slip angle. The side-slip in skiing is similar. But that's not the whole picture. Camber Force is another factor. Although it has substantially less effect on tire wear, it plays a part in traction. It works like this: On both tires, the outside of the patch (the chicken stripe side) is on a tighter radius than the side that's closest to the tire's center line. Think of a playground merry-go-round. The outside is traveling further in the same amount of time as the inside and therefore going faster than the inside. Conversely, the side of the contact-patch closest to the middle of the corner, is turning slower and is dragging. This creates rubber-cleansing abrasion and also helps the bike stay on its line. (To find more data look up the technical definition of camber thrust or camber force.) In any corner and at any speed sufficient to keep the bike moving and balanced, the tires are always slipping, at least slightly. You wouldn't get through corners or have to replace tires if they didn't. © 2014, Keith Code, all rights...
  4. Wes, See if you can find a real Pilates coach who has experience and all the Pilates equipment. I've found it very helpful not only for us old farts but for young, up and coming riders as well. Keith
  5. 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. Here is the process to apply to be a coach: 1. Read the description below the dotted line for an overview of what we are looking for. 2. A very good riding skill level is required from our coaches. Some have met the other requirements, but had to work on their riding skill, and eventually became coaches. While riding skill is important, as or more important is ability to learn, ability to communicate and get along well with a wide variety of people, can endure hard conditions (school days are long!), and can attend enough school days in a year. 3. Please review the description and application carefully. The schedule needs to be filled out with your best estimate, try and answer for every date. 4. If you fit the description, or think you could meet the requirements soon, fill out the application that is attached and send it to me. In truth, I'd rather have you try out and let us decide if you meet the requirements, than not have you try out at all! Cobie@superbikeschool.com ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Racing experience is preferred. Really we have to see the riding to answer if the riding skill level will be adequate. Most of our students are street riders, but we do need someone that can set an excellent example for a broad range of skills. 2. Friendly, personable, upbeat, high ethical standards, fit in with the rest of our team is a must. 3. Excellent communication and observation skills. Also willing to be trained and do homework. The coach training is vigorous, not for the wimpy. Every aspect of what you do is examined, honed, tested, and improved on a regular basis. 4. The positions are part time for independent contractors but we need a minimum of 10-15 school days per year. 5. Tryout is not paid. That is usually 1 day at a racetrack. 6. After the tryout, there is a short probation period, but we pay all travel and other expenses, you use our bike, gear, etc. Probation period depends on you and how much work you are putting into your training. 7. After probation, coaches are paid according to their coach training level, how many of our training programs they have completed. Starts about $150 per day, goes up from there. Getting all these together in the same package is the hard part. Truthfully we are a very dedicated, serious-about-being-the-best bunch. About 1 in 25 that apply even get accepted for the training, much less make it past the probation stage. If you have it in mind that this is just a prestigious job for you to show others how well you ride, that it will be a cool way to improve your own riding and get lots of track time, then this is not the right thing for you, and your reasons for coming are not the same as ours. We are a school, we train riders and racers and we do that totally. We don't give jobs to our friends because we like them. If you think you have the right stuff, download the application and e-mail it to me! Best, Cobie Fair Chief Riding Coach cobie@superbikeschool.com
  7. The Paved Planet Whether by instinct, schooling or coaching, once a rider can isolate, understand and focus on specific aspects of riding, achieving confidence is just a matter of drilling those points to gain familiarity and control over them. It's common knowledge that track riding is a less distracting and more accommodating environment to improve riding skill but let's put that in perspective. Imagine yourself riding on a paved planet. A perfectly smooth, limitless expanse of flat asphalt and there is no one else there. Many of our ordinary riding concerns would simply evaporate. Full-on, straight line speed; leaned over speed; running wide; braking distances; correct lines; decreasing radius turns; camber changes; surface; traffic and obstacles, all would become less intimidating or vanish entirely from your concerns. On the paved planet, with the majority of our worries eliminated, a rider's ability to focus would be enormously enhanced. For example, if the amount of attention consumed by monitoring the road's surface for danger was reallocated to feeling tire grip, throttle control, steering pressure and cornering forces, it would shortcut those processes enormously—any uncertainties with them could quickly and easily be addressed and improved. On Earth, our visual skill set monitors where we are and where we are going and is the single most important part of riding. Location dominates everything we do on or with a motorcycle. On the paved planet and with your attention free of that concern, the isolating and focusing process would be simplified in the extreme. You could literally be leaned over at a speed and corner radius of your choosing all day long. Just as too much of a good thing can become boring and ordinary, so it would go with riding on the paved planet. To make it interesting the only thing left, even though a chilling prospect on Earth, would be to ride blindfolded. Imagine how sensitive and accurate a rider could become without the ever-present visual demands we suffer now. Knowing enough about the bike and being able to isolate its needs is a large component of improvement that is often impeded by what we see. Getting a feel for the bike's suspension while blindfolded would become vastly easier—riding would be 100% by feel, exactly what is needed for sensitivity in making handling adjustments. Just as the blind develop extraordinary hearing and touch, riders could determine those adjustments precisely without the distraction of visual influences. Experience with different types of turns adds depth to any rider's confidence profile. On the paved planet, all types of turns would be possible—think limitless, obstacle free, twisties on demand. Even that would eventually bottom out a rider's interest. Time to add some features and create a more interesting space. Placing one traffic cone anywhere on the surface would instantly become a fascinating new toy to accelerate towards, away from, brake to and ride around. That would hold you till lunch time. Two cones, placed in a variety of positions, would seem like Christmas, exponentially increasing the number of games that could be dreamed up. Precision in your speed and direction changes would enter into it. The beauty of it would be that all limits, aside from the bike's, would be self imposed depending on how you placed them. Back on Earth, the next best thing to a paved planet is track riding. Track schools and track days provide the opportunity to learn and advance skills in a less hostile, more focused, environment than any road riding can possibly provide. © 2013, Keith Code.
  8. There are distinct phases riders must punch through on their route to improvement. All of them are based on personal battles waged against fear. For a newer rider even the simple sensations of leaning the bike over are strange. Humans rely on the force of gravity as a constant. More than any other factor, things move and feel the way they do because of gravity. Every action of your body and your bike is measured and adjusted because of it. We ourselves gain intimate knowledge of gravity to maintain balance in our upright, stand, walk and run positions. This relies on a sensitive and detailed data acquisition system that we involuntarily obey to avoid the consequences--falling down. Our most familiar orientation is perpendicular to the planet and all of our internal balance and visual machinery likes to keep it that way. Cornering motorcycles is diametrically opposed to those sensibilities. The world begins to distort as we lean over. Once our visual orientation gets out of sync with the internal balance machinery it causes both the most rewarding and most terrifying sensations in riding. This is directly observable in new riders when they resist leaning by holding their bodies erect and press the bike down and away from themselves as they turn. As riders become more accustomed to some lean angle they can go one of two ways (1) Continue as above to resist it or (2) Get sucked into the tantalizing sensations of cornering, often beyond their skill level. This too is easy to identify and generally is accompanied by scary turn-entry speed. The barrier then is both physical sensation and visual orientation and I believe there is a make/break point in it. That point is 45 degrees of lean. At 45, the forces are a bit out of the ordinary. Along with the normal 1g down we now have a 1g lateral load as well. As a result the bike and our bodies experience an increase in weight. That’s not native to us and acts as a distraction and as a barrier. Once we finally become comfortable with 45 and attempt to go beyond, the process begins to reverse. Immediately we have more lateral load than vertical load and things begin to heat up. Riders apparently have difficulty organizing this. Suddenly we are thrust into a sideways world where the forces escalate rapidly. While it takes 45 degrees to achieve 1g lateral, it takes only 15 degrees more to experience nearly double that, depending on rider position and tire size. Paying your dues and joining the 1g club is the good stuff of riding. It opens up worlds of control, worlds of problems and worlds of rewards: putting your knee down at 45 is now very doable. Up to 45 degrees riders can be pretty rough with the bike. Current suspension and tires will forgive. But once past that point it’s a brand new game. Just as we have to rewire our senses to deal with the new 45+ forces we must also adjust to using less force and more finesse. Problems arise when we instinctually resist leaning with the bike. Speeds seem higher and, as the rider is out of alignment with the bike and the lateral g load, he must struggle to stay on the bike. Now the arms and body come into play, stiffening up. This tires us out from the physical tension which ultimately upsets the bike’s handling. Much like a counter-leaning passenger, it tends to stand the bike up and run it wide. Awkward and uncomfortable body, neck and head positions result from this. Shoulders and hips twist away from, instead of into, the turn putting peculiar S curves in the rider’s back. This alone can upset the body’s orientation machinery. About 15 years ago I developed an exercise called The Steering Drill. It looks very simple and can be done in a parking lot. The student simply rides away from the coach at about 25 mph and weaves the bike back and forth. That simple drill has 25 correction points. In other words, with low speeds and no panic, riders can make 25 different errors while weaving their bike back and forth. Each of those errors, while not deadly in a parking lot, can snowball into real problems out on the road. All I want to do here is point out that there is something to every rider action, no matter how simple it may seem. Getting training is the only practical means riders have of breaking through their barriers. © Keith Code 2013, all rights reserved.
  9. Sport motorcycle design and the technology upon which they are built has improved with impressive consistency. Starting back in the early 1980s factories embarked on the path of creating bikes ever closer to track-compliant specifications. Compare 2012 600cc Supersport laptimes to a factory 750cc Superbike of 1998 at Phillip Island; one of the great combination horsepower and technical skills tracks. The 600s this year were a full second faster than the quickest Superbike then and equal to the first year of the 1000's in 2003—less than 10 years ago. It seems logical that riding techniques would change as much as the bike technology has. It's an interesting concept until you begin to break it down. Look at what hasn't changed in rider skills whether riding the '98 or the '12 bike around any track: The evolutions in tire technology have been huge. Is traction so good now that riders can ignore its limits? Has the increased limits of traction for braking, corner speed or acceleration eliminated the limits, such as lean angle, that govern them? Are lines substantially different over the past 15 or even thirty years? Does having higher corner entry, middle and exit speed make it easier to find the right lines? Were riders able to run precision lines on the old bike/tire combinations? Can today's rider ignore the bike's lean-angle limits? Do rear wheels stay on the ground longer during hard braking than they did then? Is the rider's knee on the ground giving different information now? Are track surface conditions alone making lap times quicker? Have today's bikes excused riders from finding their own quick-flick steering limits? Have electronics eliminated the need for good riding techniques? Machine tech has not substantially changed or eliminated any of them. You can change the speed and the direction of a motorcycle. The modern motorcycle will do both better than ever before. However, good riding is what gets them done at the right place and the right amount. The simple conclusion is that rider awareness and control hasn't changed one iota. The technology of riding them remains solidly in place. What modern machine technology has accomplished is more integrated transitions between those changes. The beginning, adjustment and completion of each control input can now be done with improved sensitivity. Things don't happen so abruptly now due to substantial increases in usable control range for chassis, suspension, brakes and engine components. Actions flow better now: Quicker, cleaner gear changes; more progressive power with both the engine and the brakes; suspensions now provide precision control of wheel movement through more of the stroke; frame and swing arm rigidity are more complimentary to one another. In addition, being better able to integrate our control inputs, now there is a more connected feel while riding the bikes. We do have better traction and line holding potential but that potential doesn't eliminate the skills necessary to use it. In the not so old days, aggressive riding was difficult to do smoothly. It took real finesse; our control timing and transitions had to be better planned and very careful. The rider was more responsible for integrating all control transitions. Consequently, new bike tech allows more latitude when pushing it. The point is, the essentials of what we are pushing; lines, traction, lean and speed, remain the same. In less experienced riders, the forgiving nature of new equipment covers up quite a few errors. For the already good rider, it broadens what used to be a much finer line between control and out-of-shape. Going quick and in-control is still a precarious balancing act. But the one thing that stands above all other benefits we derive from new technology is the huge savings in attention all those advancements have provided us. Before, it required extraordinary focus and timing to ride the bikes. Today's bike allows us to re-focus our attention; applying more of it to take advantage of the new tech bike's potentials. © 2012, Keith Code, all rights reserved.
  10. It's always going to pull you in when really good riders offer up something. The hope that there will be some "dark secrets" revealed is impossible to dismiss, for any cornering enthusiast. I'm the same way. What have they got to say, have I missed something critical in my research, are there other or better ways to teach and coach the sport? I wake up with that question every morning. I'm not sure of what Simon has to say, I don't know him well at all, just met him briefly this year over in Europe at an SBK event. He was a consistent front runner in SBK back in his day. One thing I have noticed over the past thirty some years is, just like racers, schools and even styles and techniques for riding come and fade away. I think it's easy to be enthusiastic for a couple of years and come out and say "newer techniques" "better techniques" "modern techniques" "now techniques" and promise the usual "smoother" "faster" "safer" "more confidence" "more control", etc. Even we use those words sometimes. But there are basics that have stood the test of time and those are the ones on which you have to base your teaching and coaching. The thing is this: education is a process of taking bits of information and getting them to align with what a rider can and can't do, coach him through the rough spots and lead him forward. Looking at any finished product doesn't necessarily show you how it was made. You don't think about the smelly aluminum foundry that produced the raw materials for your bike's frame and engine when you look at it sitting there but it couldn't exist without that step. You don't think of the designers and all the time and effort they went through to fit all the bits together and come up with an 1199 Panagale Ducati. It just beautiful, just like watching Casey, Valentino, Danny and those guys ride. But how did they get there? It great to think that you can make a Star Wars jump into hyperspace with your riding and just arrive there, I just haven't seen that done. I have seen many attempts at wowing riders into thinking that it was going to be easy but it's not easy at all. What Easty says is mostly true. You look around and see what people have to say and see if it fits into what you can do now. Can you see yourself getting to where you want with your riding by doing what is presented to you? If it seems too complicated or is based on just believing or some other leap of faith to get there, it hasn't been broken down well enough to be useful yet. So yes, look over what is out there. Some of it is OK, some is just fluff and hype, some is useful but some is also out of reach for many, even most, riders. One of the tip offs that a technique hasn’t been fully researched or tested is when you see it presented without much explanation, “Do it like this” but not much in the way of supporting evidence or reasons why it should be done like that. Casey Stoner does it this way sounds pretty cool but, for most of us, there is no hope of getting even a fraction of that ability. And more importantly, how did he arrive there? What were the phases he went through that brought him the confidence to do it that way? How did he get there? That may be the most important question you should ask. If what you see or read answers it, you’ve found something useful. Keith
  11. Isn't it amazing what happens over a period of 27 years, 12 million track miles and 150,000 students...you can actually discover things :-) The statement in the book isn't absolutely right or absolutely wrong. It states that, "the radius of a turn is OFTEN second..." Not always. I was leaving myself some room on that statement just in case I discovered more. At the time of writing, I wasn't thinking that much about radius because, and this was a big error, I couldn't imagine that someone wouldn't have already figured that out. Big error. All this time later, I know that isn't true, riders don't always see what I or you see. The big leap forward is that we now know exactly why they don't see it. The drills on Level II are intended to help sort that out and most often they do. Thanks, Keith
  12. Exactly. Once you sort out the actual radius then you have the effective radius to coordinate with it. Positive to flat in a constant radius corner you try to neutralize the decreasing radius effect by adjusting your line to create an increasing radius line. Turn in a little later. Choose a slightly later apex. BTW, the same would apply for trailing the brakes in as it would for getting out of them while you were more upright as far as line goes. But don't forget, unless the rider was at the limits of tire adhesion, there are more options. He could also go in and stay right on the curbing a little longer, not using a "touch and go " apex, and still get a brilliant drive off the corner. That's just one variation. Keith
  13. Not so sure stopping quicker is a plus. You know what the old saying is: It's not the falling part that hurts, it's the sudden stop at the end! Anyhow, gravity is the advantage and the culprit in positive and negative camber situations. It pulls you down/in on banked ones and out on off-camber ones, simple. So you set up the turn to minimize the effect of off-camber and maximize the effect you get from banked...you can do that once you get a handle on the radius or radius changes. If you just go for minimizing or maximizing camber, without taking radius into account, you won't get as good a result. And radius will still rule. Keith
  14. My shortest answer is radius rules. Whatever camber changes there are in a corner, you need to understand the radius of it to know how best to handle the corner. You might have a decreasing radius on a turn's entry and decide to run it really tight. But, if the corner is a compound radius, double apex type turn, you can have other options. You could, in this case let it run in on a wider line and find that it sets you up perfectly for the second apex. Whereas, the tight entry runs you wide at the second apex. I can think of many other scenarios, that's one where radius rules. Keith
  15. Richard_m_h. "Automatic" is a big goal, I'm not sure you can ever achieve it in an absolute sense. Because of the fact that each time we go into a corner things are a little different, we're forced to continue to track each of the tools of turning: Speed, Lean-Angle, Traction, Suspension action and the bike's stability and so on. No matter now many times you go through a corner there will be attention on those things. It comes with the territory. What Level 1 does is familiarize you with the 5 essential set up actions for any corner. Level 2 is how to keep them in perspective and make them flow. You'll have a great time I know. Keith
  16. That depends on the turn. Where do you see the most crashes? On entry on the brakes. Is turning and braking the cause of that? Yes, it is the cause of it. Keith
  17. My question is about the graph on the TV. During the race, it always shows, regardless of whether it's a decreasing radius or not, the GP bikes trail braking to apex, then getting straight back on the gas (except Crutchlow earlier in the year, who was still building a trust with the machine). I always thought the later braking into the corner was a way of defending the line and taking the braking to the apex so nobody can get under them. It also made sense that a rider with a healthy lead could stop doing that as much, could get the bike over, and back on the gas, and that's how they increased their leads that much more when so far out front. I was of the understanding that when a rider is trying to get another rider to tail him instead of passing it was so they didn't have to keep defending their line, and they could both catch the leader by using the same style that the leader had switched to, then duke it out from there, once the leader had to start defending his line. Jasonzilla, You said: "During the race, it always shows, regardless of whether it's a decreasing radius or not, the GP bikes trail braking to apex, then getting straight back on the gas..." Watch or play it back frame by frame and you'll rarely see anyone going all the way to their apex on the brakes. It's a catch phrase that stuck in rider's minds. If the rider was going into a 60MPH turn and you see the gas back on a little before apex (or even at the apex) the rider already released the brake between 15 and 30 feet earlier. How do we know that? Because at 60mph we travel 88 feet per second. 2/10ths is 17 feet and that's as fast as anyone gets back to gas after brake release. 4/10ths would be twice that, around 34 feet. For most budding track day riders it's even longer. If you are thinking that braking is going on to apex, you probably see it that way. If you really look, you'll see what's actually happening. Generalities like "braking to the apex" always need to be inspected. You may even talk to a world class rider and he'd tell you he was braking to the apex and really not be doing it at all. Once you look at him or at his data acquisition you most often see quite a different picture. The point is, an eye blink takes time and these days that's the difference between pole and 15th. Keith
  18. Compared to 5 years ago, backing bikes into turns has been abandoned as a technique. What may appear to be 'backing in' is, in most cases, the rider's final squeeze on the brakes to set corner entry speed which makes the back of the bike very light or it comes off the ground completely. With a light rear wheel and even a small amount of steering input the back levers itself around, no rear brake is applied to make this happen. Rear brake was the way it was done back when it was still in vogue. For all I know at this point, 'backing in' may come back once MotoGP goes to 1,000cc engines, it is possible but not likely. I say not likely because guys like Stoner have worked out how to have both corner speed and hard drives off the turns and that is a hard combination to beat. On trailing the brakes...the first thing you need to realize is that you should always be trailing off the brakes. Leaned over or straight up, your brake release is that moment where your entry speed is being set. Any abrupt release is going to be less accurate and usually slower than a well executed, tapered, gradual release. As we watch world competitors we see brake trailing but not everywhere and not all the time. In addition, the idea of trailing the brakes 'to the apex' has almost completely been abandoned in favor of earlier and earlier releasing of the front brake lever. Why? So they can get back to gas. One of the reasons James Toseland couldn't cut it in MotoGP was that he was taking advantage of the ultra high tech handling, brakes and tires and trailing the brakes in late. Later than everyone else. At Laguna Seca, for example, he was on the brakes 2 to 3 meters longer than Rossi, Stoner, Lorenzo and Pedrosa. That put him in about 15th place, from my observations. Just a tiny bit of time, really just hundredths of a second per turn, was enough to do it. His drives off the turn were as good as anyone elses. The reality of the situation is that any bike will continue to slow even after the brake is released and the throttle is being opened up. Depending on the corner at Laguna Seca, between 12% and 37% throttle is needed to even begin to bring the speed upward. Here's another way of saying it: the bike is still slowing down after brake release and, in some turns, the speed doesn't begin to increase until up to 1/3 throttle. It is very interesting to see this from the data acquisition I have which was collected from the winning bike in Daytona Sportbike there this past year. When I first described and showed trail braking in the original "A Twist of the Wrist" book back in 1983, it was the first time it had been photographed and graphed out for motorcyclists. It is a must-do technique for decreasing radius turns. Those are the kind of turns it makes the most sense to begin experimenting with it, for someone who is trying to get the feel for it. What I find most interesting is that once the rider's feel for the bike is up to the point they are confident enough with all the other basics to begin to experiment with their riding, you don't have to even mention it, they begin to find the places to apply it quite naturally. There is much, much more to the subject of brking. Many things happen with the bike and the rider depending on what kind of corner it is and whether they are finishing the braking straight up or leaned over. There is a strange misperception in the world that we tell everyone to finish their braking while they are straight up and down. The truth is, in the 32 years of the school we've never said that in any of the briefings. As a coach, if you are following someone and they are dragging the brake way down to the apex and you clearly see they could be on the gas much earlier, what should you do? Tell them to keep that up, or, ask them to release the brake earlier and get back to the gas? On the other hand, if you see someone getting in too hot, you could suggest that they trail the brake in. You could. However, if you also see some other basic technical skill that is lacking, the smart coach would go after that instead. For example, if you see someone trailing the brake and and slowly turning the bike causing him to run wide, what would you have him work on? Trailing the brake more and continue to add lean angle, or, demonstrate for him that if he got the bike flicked in a little quicker he wouldn't have that run wide problem? There is a balance to all of this. If the rider isn't comfortable getting the bike turned quickly, it influences many core-skill aspects of their riding in the negative. This is where we put our attention at CSS. Once the rider can genuinely turn the bike with no fear (because there is no reason to fear it) then we have a major hurdle overcome and we can move on to other techniques, if they will be a benefit. We know of some very high quality riders who only trail the brakes into decreasing radius corners and not at all in other turns. They put their attention on getting the bike pointed towards exit and back to the gas as early as possible. They have lap records and championships. What does that prove? That it can be done with understanding and practice. Does that make it better than always trailing the brakes? No. It only means that it can be done and done to very good results. Keith
  19. THe curbing at Laguna doesn't look as pronounced as VIR's but maybe after awhile the curbing wears down. I have fond memories of the CSS school there in 49 degree weather and i remember going over the curbing out of turn three with no issues... There are a bunch of people talking to VIR right now about the backing and we think that it can be handled with enough pressure from enough track day and school and race clubs. Keith
  20. Yuk... I'm not riding there! Im slightly curb-a-phobic anyhow. I was down at Barber in November and I thought they had nice curbs- flat, even concrete with just painted strips. I heard the grip is still good on them but I didn't test it! If the teeth were backwards...now that would be a problem I wouldn't be interested in dealing with. The old curbing, which they left in place wasn't terribly rider friendly but actually worse in many ways than what this is. The new stuff has less change of pulling off a puck! Keith
  21. The actions of riding one lap of a circuit, like our local training track, The Streets of Willow Springs in Southern California breaks down something like this: Throttle position changes 50 Steering inputs 22 Gear changes 20 Clutch actions (downshifts only) 10 Front brake pulls and releases 14 ------------ Total 116 A lap at Laguna Seca is pretty close to the same number. It's not physically demanding to roll the throttle on and off 50 times every minute and a half to two minutes; shift the gear lever 20 times; push on the bars 22 times? It's not a lot for one lap but over the course of 25 laps it adds up to about 2,900 actions. It's the rider's timing of Where and How Much of each of the 900 to 2,900 actions that add up to a good event or a good day at the track. The only reason it can become difficult is the stress created by not fully understanding what the bike needs and when it needs it. Stress comes from worry, worry comes from lack of commitment. You quit worrying and get busy once you've committed to anything! Despite the fact that a rider may be going twenty seconds a lap slower than a pro, the number of actions needed to be performed is the same. Quite often, however, it increases due to errors and corrections that a less skilled rider creates for himself. This has a direct impact on the amount of time the novice rider has to identify and initiate correct and accurate control responses: he's often still busy fixing or dwelling on the last one. For any riding situation, the important inputs into the bike often take a back seat to the ones generated by the rider's own errors, corrections and hesitations to commit to the next one. At just 60 mph that one beat of an elevated heart rate has you 44 ft down the road; all of a sudden it seems you are in a big, big hurry to perform. That's the cost of uncertainty. Lack of commitment in the rider takes time and that time is chock full of things to do. It's too full to be accurate; too full to have the time to observe; too full to make good decisions; too full to make a solid commitment. There are some rules: ►Getting to and completing actions is what buys you the time to observe and predict the results and commitment begins that process. ►Being half hearted and non-committal on control actions only holds you back. ►You can't easily predict the outcome of any control action on the bike until it is at least begun. ►When you are hesitant, you are giving yourself less time to respond. It seems, on the Survival Response level, you are making more time but it's the opposite. ►Being decisive with control inputs, with the smallest possible lag time, is safer in the end. If you haven't got the inborn skills to ride as you wish to ride, take this simple advice: Get out with a trained professional riding coach who knows what to look for and how to bring you around to understanding and improvement. In the end, confidence and commitment are identical. Once you know why, when and how to commit riding becomes what you've always envisioned it to be. © 2011, Keith Code, all rights reserved.
  22. I’ve been asked this question a hundred times: “What could you possibly be coaching on a rider like ________ , who is already a podium guy at world championship level?” I’m pretty sure my face betrays me because I’ve never had what I’d call an intelligent answer. But people always expect something really wise, some new or miraculous aspect of riding they’d never thought of before. Of course it never is. It’s always something that is, in my mind at least, very simple, very basic, very mundane to the ear but very important to the rider who is struggling with it. See if these look familiar to you. How can I: Be more confident, Go faster, Find good lines, Brake harder, Lean over farther, Trust the grip of my tires, Not panic so often, Quit running wide in turns, Handle ‘S’ curves better, Not stiffen up on the bike, Feel more relaxed in corners, Have better entry speed, Stop target fixating, Keep balance and be confident at very low speeds, Be able to downshift smoothly, Get my knee down, Stop the bike wiggling in quick transitions, Make fewer steering corrections in corners, Handle a slide, Get better drives off the turns, Make smooth starts, Make the bike feel planted in all corners, Have good body position, Handle emergencies better, Brake in turns, Avoid obstacles and Improve my lap times? 25 items that are now, or have been in the past, on every rider’s punch list for improvement. Which ones are still on yours? There are answers for each of them; not just tricks you can do in a parking lot that will make a rider feel good―that I also know how to do―but the thing that actually allows them to tick it off of that list. I’ll give you an example. Over a 5 year period I’ve run one thousand street riders through a very controlled program that, amongst other riding skills, has improved their average stopping distance at 60 mph by 60 ft. That’s the width of the six lanes of Sunset Blvd at Sunset and Vine and a bike length more than the longest eighteen-wheel trailer. How long does that training take? About an hour. It consists of assessing and measuring the rider’s base line braking; then coaching him through the feel and fear of using the brakes; and finally, applying what they learned at full speed and re-measuring the stopping distances. Who was tested and trained in my research and development of this program? Riders on everything from choppers to dual sport to sport bikes to touring bikes participated. What was their experience? It ranged from as little as “I rode my friends bike twice,” well under a hundred miles, to several hundred thousand miles; mostly males, about 3% females. For the sticklers for details out there, the range of error for the distance testing was plus or minus 6 feet. Range of error for measured speed was plus or minus 2 mph. Would training that actually reduced your stopping distance by 25% to 50% be valuable to you? How would it make you feel if you could stop your motorcycle in roughly the same distance as the professional rider who tested your bike model for that magazine? How many lives would be saved if everyone had truly effective rider training? What’s the point of me telling you this? The technology exists to coach an average rider through well designed programs that don’t just bring them up to the skill level of passing a cone weave course in the DMV test area at 12 mph to get their bike license but could, in the very real world of riding, save their life. OK, this is cool. That is an example of a solution for one of the twenty-five punch list items, harder braking, and yes, there are solutions for the other twenty-four. For my part, I can’t decide if I derive more satisfaction from seeing a rider get onto the podium in world competition, or, coach someone who is completely inept and really should never ride a motorcycle, through to this level of breakthrough in their stopping distance or in some other area of their riding. I’ve asked myself that question a hundred times. © 2011, Keith Code, reserving my rights as usual.
  23. Riders crash on both roads and tracks. More often than not it is a single vehicle accident that is explained as "loss of control". That means the rider concocted his very own set of circumstances that led to the crash. From a technical perspective, citing "loss of control" is about as useful as teats on a bull. There is always an inciting cause for the incident and it isn't always obvious. You can't put yourself in the rider's place to know which of the eight Survival Reactions (fear induced panic responses) were at work in a crash. Only the rider can tell you that. But, looking at one component that can be discovered helps. The most obvious component of riding is the space the rider used to negotiate the bend, in common speak it is his line. Accident reconstruction guys can figure this out. While there are many choices in lines both for safety and for speed but not everyone who rides is adept in the fine art of choosing a line and it is an art. Compared to the street, track riding is more forgiving. A track may be 35 to 45 feet wide whereas your ½ slice of a two lane road could be as little as 8 feet. In that case, an error in line judgment on the road is roughly five times more critical than on a race track. Your turn entry position, mid-corner and exit all have roughly 1/5th the margin for error. In other words, your line must be five times more precise, as a one foot error is equivalent to a five foot error on the track. One more point: if you couldn't get your lines under control on a track, it would be hopeless to think you could do it on the road. From a coaching perspective, 5 to 10 foot errors in lines on a track are interesting. While we know how to sort them out, you do wonder how they have survived thus far on the street. A case can be drawn for either the entry, apex or the exit being the key element in cornering. Get your exit right and all is well. Get your mid corner or apex spot on the money and you are golden. It can also be argued that a right choice on turn entry influences the outcome of both the others. All are true to a greater or lesser degree. But which one of them do riders struggle with the most? Their turn entry position and there are a number of pressing reasons for it. Consider a corner's three main divisions: entry, middle and exit. Which of them seems the busiest to you? In my surveying of thousands of riders "entry" wins hands down as the most critical portion of the turn. Having the corner's entry under control generally gives riders a breath of confidence. Getting entries wrong tends to start one off on high alert, possibly mild or more panic and is a definite distraction, mainly because the moment to correct the line passes too quickly. Choices in line are rapidly eliminated; what apex and exit can be achieved past that point is more luck than skill. Control inputs, too, become haphazard and often misguided like an untimely grab of the brake or throttle chops and steering corrections, possibly all three in a really dire circumstance. Are there solutions to perfecting lines? Many will tell you it's all about visual skills like picking reference points and looking ahead; that it can't be done on unfamiliar roads; that you have to be smooth, or, just slow down. This is good "advice" and when I began training riders 34 years ago that's all there was. Now, experience tells me, you may have other problems that good advice won't cure. Oddly enough, over those 34 years I've come up with 34 technical riding skills, drills and correction points and each of them has some bearing on lines. Which one will solve lines for you? Once again, here is my pitch: get out to the track and make your mistakes; get coached; get trained. Whatever speed you go is irrelevant. Once you are running consistent lines, within 1 to 3 feet, you will be doing way more right than X things wrong and your chances of surviving spirited street riding will soar. ©Keith Code, 2011.
  24. There was a very clear moment, back in the 70’s, when I realized that others weren’t experiencing the same joys of riding I was. I honestly felt that they were being robbed. Not wanting to be a snob about it, I earnestly thought: “Come on, don’t you see what you’re missing here? You’ve got to push it some. You’ve got to challenge yourself. You’ve got to taste some danger. You’ve got to forget about the cool accessories on the bike, just find the passion button and push it. You aren’t a mushroom digesting the seat, ride that thing!” I wanted to instantly transfer to them the passions of my world, my impressions and senses of riding. What can I say, I was naïve. The obvious solution was to teach them how to ride. Big problem. You couldn’t just do a Vulcan Mind-Meld and transfer all of your touchy feely impressions of what it should or should not feel like. It’s hard to relate what the curtain of red mist creates in you when it takes over your senses. There weren’t even accurate descriptions in English for either the mistakes or correct procedures. Riders were smooth or choppy; brave or chicken; they had rider DNA genes or were squids. “Ride more and you’ll improve.” that same old vague advice, used commonly enough, was boring and useless to anyone smart enough to know they could be better. I figured that there were two parts to my job. First,figure out how to ride then pass it on. Second, give riders an environment that would allow them to discover they had wings and really could fly; to ride for themselves and no other reason. That required getting them out of the urban and two lane jungles and into some kind of riding paradise. Riders like to hear stories of riding adventures. They desire to grasp a piece of that potential, even if only vicariously. “Near misses”, “got my knee down”. Daring feats for the soldiers of fortune in an urban jungle, war-zone kind of stuff: “ran from the cops”, “smoked the geek in a Porsche”. That sort of thing. The problem was those were pretty much all connected to street riding. Solution: Even for riders with no interest in getting a knee down, only one place fit that riding paradise description, The Track. On the education side of things, the “just ride and you’ll improve” crowd would believe I’m daft to say there are 52 points that affect your riding position; up to 72 things that riders tend to notice when they corner a motorcycle; that there are 18 definable senses which we rely on when we ride, and that there are 37 laws to how you approach a corner. They would honestly think I’m being quite pedantic about it all. Well, everyone knew the earth was flat for thousands of years. Shaping riding into an integrated package of practical skills and drills which produce quantifiable good results seemed the right way to go. What really began to blow my skirt up was figuring out and testing things to see if they really worked to improve riding. I was so excited when I came up with my first riding drills in the early 80’s I nearly peed myself. Once a rider has enough savvy about the core technical skills it opens many doors. But students still had problems and uncertainty. Later in the 90’s I began to understand and catalog the 8 instinctual “Survival Reactions” that impeded their abilities and that discovery opened up even more avenues to approach riding. Now, we have 30 well defined technical points of riding and each can be drilled or coached with anyone who rides. Nothing matches the feeling of working with a world class rider and watching them improve by drilling and coaching them on the very same technical skills that are lacking in the average rider. And that’s the whole point, these skills are understandable, they can be practiced, they provide a solid foundation. They are vital to success and they do build confidence and control at all levels and for all purposes that riders ride. Even somewhat misguided training is better than no training at all. And if it’s done at the track, your opportunity for success is immeasurably improved. That urge I had, way back when, has unfolded into this amazing array of techniques. The greatest part for me has been figuring them out, writing them down and sharing them. Start planning now to get out to the track. Keith Code ------ Keith Code, 2011, all rights reserved.
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