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Johnno down under

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About Johnno down under

  • Rank
    Cornering Apprentice
  • Birthday 03/01/1965

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    Waikato, NZ
  • Interests
    Gliding, riding, photography, tramping, and m/c touring.

Previous Fields

  • Have you attended a California Superbike School school?
    No, no schools at all. Just a survivor.
  1. Johnno down under

    Against the flow

    It's clear to me that a big piece of the puzzle is the bike set up. Some street bikes need almost effort to steer other require a firm hand, and others yet need assertive gymnastics to make them go where you want. After a decade of pushing a small 400cc fourstroke, Suzuki Impulse around corners at stupid speeds, back in them1990s I had a chance to consider more pricey alternatives. So out for a test ride. Fist a BMW boxer 800cc. Well that was interesting, It really didn't like corners at all. Sure it could change direction, but once turned in it was stuck on line unless brutally steered. Then a Suzuki RF900F. This bike didn't so much love going around corners as ignore the fact that corners might be challenging. Having eliminated the boxer, the two very different Suzukis are worthy of discussion. The Impulse turned as smoothly as the rider permits. Full extreme hang off, body vértices bike turning with the front wheel towing the bike into corners after initial countersteer, or suberbike style half cheek locked in sharp countersteer. Or even wild, suspension hammering turf the bike into the corner and hang on style the Impulse with its marginal 1980s cheap street bike suspension would take it all in stride. And cornered fast just like a lightweight ought to. but then by comparison the RF900f a prices, younger well developed sports tourer made the impulse look like a wanton child. Cornering was smooth, effortless, and stupidly fast. Counter steering -why bother. Hang off - if you really really want to. Lean the bike - nah it's doing that all by itself. How the hell is thing turning - well the obvious answer is it's going where you are turning your head towards. That's it just turning ones head. The once 80kph corner requiring a bit of rider concentration and effort, was just glided through at 80mph with little more than a glance in the right direction. The seated balance was perfect - zero bar weight required loose hands was well effortless. The suspension was unnoticeable. Stitching sweepers, chicanes and multiapex corners simply required the infinitesimal weight transfer that occured when turning the head. Seating remained inline with the bike. And ok, habit had me point a knee out but experimentation showed me that that was more for comfort than necessity. But why the 80kph, and the 80mph comparison. I knew the gorge road very well, a cornering speed 80 kph was what I thought I read on the speedo out of the corner of my eye, and was only a little faster than my norm on the impulse. I was being cautious as the bike was on loan from the store! On the flat and straight I'd time to take a closer look, and spdiscovered the imported bike speedo was miles per hour. So in fact I'd just been smoothly trundling along at 1.5 times the speed I'd thought I was doing on one of the most challenging roads in the city. Technology is a wonderful thing and perhaps explains much of that, but an improvement in corner speed of 35% with zero effort, or practice simply by changing bikes is I think extraordinary. More extraordinary is the minor detail that it's clear that it's not how the rider rides, but how s/he rides a particular bike. Perhaps the impulse could have been riden that extra 35% faster, but I can say for certain not by me! I say that with confidence as I've clocked up about half a million miles on impulses, and riden them to the limit, even occasionally well beyond into stupidly terrifying, brake, suspension and tyre failure territory, for much of that. The RF900F was just a better balanced, way more refined package that enabled the rider. The rf900 was effortless compared to the beasts of the early 1980s like the gsx750, more refined and sharp than the BMW k750, and preposterously more nimble than the Kawasaki gt750. The impulse at very low speeds ran circles around the RF900F for nimbleness but the smooth sharp turns at open road speeds made the fr900 very attractive. What were the true limits of the RF900F I do not know, wisdom got the better of me. I was riding for the street, and I could quite easily imagine being caught out on a day with the flu coming on and loosing my licence because I cruised past a cop at 210 on my way to work. Or potentially crashing at stupid speeds because I was exploring the 900's limits. It also cost twice my annual income at that time. As I've gotten older and heavier, I find myself riding ( the Impulse - still) more upright, with less hang, but slightly more drama ( dancing front end) at times. And slower… . We are now both classics. In the rain less hang, more upright, bike leaned more than rider, means better visibility, and more time to react to road surface issues. It's not pretty and can feel wrong, but it's saved my bacon. But when the air is clear, and the surface is wet, hanging off the inside bike more upright gives one just a tiny edge if traction goes bye bye due to slick surface conditions. Old bold riders have learnt to ride through the problems ahead, by adjusting their style to the bike, the road, and the weather, in addition to their rapidly degrading mental and physical agility.
  2. Johnno down under

    Hard Braking Weighting

    To turn when the back wheel is off the ground ( stoppie) requires that one actively control the relationship between the backend and the front contact patch via providing just enough asymmetric damping to prevent excessive swivel arround the headset. Still soft on the bars, just not totally so. The front end still needs to be allowed to weave microscopically. Much of the balance is served simply by remaining sat on the bike. Same principle applies when drifting both ends - common enough when encountering unexpected gravel on the street. Too much rider input will dump you on the ground ( high side or low side). Suicide reaction (SR) Observe calmly, consider the bikes behavior and your options then act very precisely, just once to achieve the outcome wanted. Most often just barely maintaining the throttle will allow the grip to return just in time to complete the corner, perhaps with a kiss of the inside mirror and then a touch more gas just as the curb is met on the exit. Keep your eyes level with the horizon, and look exactly where you intend to go - even if that happens to be behind you ( as sometimes happens). And ride through.
  3. Johnno down under

    Steering Video No Bs Bike

    Ah yes, I understand your point except. Higher bars raise ones centre of gravity, and reduce the ability of the bike to topple. The taller the lever, the greater the angular momentum change required. This is the reason it is easier to ride a very tall monocycle than a short one. Secondly, the source of the force imputing this change is gravity, not muscle power. As any idiot knows it's hard to pull up or push down on a bar that is at shoulder or chest height at arms reach. Lower bars allow one to use body weight to directly alter the lean of the bike thus instigating the flop that any kid whose pushed a bike by the seat while on foot comprehends with ease. This flop is driven by gravity, is entirely neutral (as in soft on the bars) and has the same effect as counter steering and for a rider merely requires a briefly down and out tug on the inside of the bike. For the microsecond required to trigger the flop, sure as you've pointed out the rider's COG lags behind the bike's, but when the rider then relaxes their gut into the turn as the front wheel turns in all by itself everything falls into sync. To a small degree, this cog turn is similar also to the lean-out in the rain style that was recommended back in the 1980s by Brittish instructors. (As in lean the bike, not the person- which probable works because the wheel base shortens while cog remains closer to the contact patch perhaps increasing grip fractionally, or because it made road riders fractionally more conservative..) note in the dry lean off the bike as normal was recommended. Over the years I've done both: hard sharp counter steering, and sharp out/slightly down tug on the bars with flop. Both work well. The later is very similar to just sitting on the bike carvIng corners with nothing more than a turn of the head and an asymmetric tensing of the torso. But with more urgency. Add in a little bit of brake/throttle and the effect is further multiplied as the suspension works. But then again I'm riding on thirty year old sport/commuter suspension on a smallish bike (1346 mm wheelbase) so perhaps that is why modern super bike riders are unaware of the effects of body weight and tension. I do know that riding a 750 inline four 80s shaft driven Kawasaki required a brutal amount of counter steer and body movement to corner hard at speed, and cornering hard at speed on a BMW 750 with a tall heavy windjammer fairing was an near futile exercise requiring very well warmed up tyres, and a post graduate degree in suicidal tendancies. The Kawasaki fell over much quicker than the BMW, and both once falling over were buggers to pickup following the apex without very large dollops of power. My little Suzuki by comparison is far quicker to fall, and easier to pick up and carries much much more speed through corners when I'm feeling fearless, even on cold tyres despite having at least 50hp less. My first( of two) Suzuki 400cc (which was stolen) had been altered and had a still shorter wheel base (1298mm)and less rake so turned much more like a GP bike - although the standard 38mm fork tubes flexed and squirmed like a bugger on meth. Hence my confidence in letting the front end move as it pleases. Soft, very soft on the bars after initiating a turn using either method. As some one elsewhere pointed out following initiation, one steers with one bum via the backwheel, with minor inputs via maintenance throttle at the front end. Aside from supporting the hand controls, the primary reason for the bars is to keep your face off the instruments during very very hard braking. And very brief moments of counter steering, occasionally.
  4. Johnno down under

    Steering Video No Bs Bike

    I'd find the video far more convincing if the fixed bars were at or below the level of the regular bars. I can't imagine that the riders ability to load the bike isn't reduced by the high fixed bars. As an experiment I tried, taking my hands of the bars on my little 400cc Suzuki and loaded the exposed frame below the tank. About a handspan below and a handspan inboard and below the regular bars. No counter steering, so slower turn in, but way more steering effect than the CSS video shows. And more than trying to load the pegs. In conjunction with actively shifting body weight the effect amounted to about 60% of reasonable counter steering and almost as precise at highway speeds. Ok the 400 is only 157kg dry, and I'm 86kg so the effect is noticeable. Try carrying an active uncooperative pillion when counter steering and you'll find counter steering is only part of the equation. Having said that, without counter steering, carrying a drunken pillion is a nightmare.
  5. Johnno down under

    Hard Braking Weighting

    Hmm, seeking comments? My high speed braking ( lover 120kph) straight line braking technique has always been to apply brakes with vigor, whilst sitting up tall, having moved forward to mid seat. Knees and elbows out, catching as much air as possible. In other words supplanting the brakes with drag. At very high speeds using drag seems to generate more braking effect than the brakes - at least until the speed drops blow about 120kph. The load on the bars is limited by the bent outwards facing elbows, and is almost directly downwards, so steering is pretty much able to squirm as necessary, without undue rider input. Indeed the rider is acting as a big parachute so at very very high speeds drag reduces front end loading a little. As the speed drops to turn in speed, elbows and knees come in, chest and head drop to passive riding position enabling hip flick, and low elbows to counter steer. Then tuck to exit corner reducing drag for the straight. When hanging off, the drag occurs on the inside of the corner so acts a little like an anchor line multiplying the altered tyre geometry and COG of a leaned bike. As drag is relative to the visual frontal cross section squared vs the length of the bike, one can easily more than double the drag ( more like multiply it by 7) by sitting up vs a full tuck. ( note this isn't the full story on drag, but a sufficient rubric.)
  6. Johnno down under

    Can Quick Turn Be Overdone?

    The short answer is yes it is possible to over do Counter steering ( i.e. Quick turn.) The obvious context is when one exceeds the mechanic limits of the bike. This may not be the tyre, but rather suspension or frame components. I have experienced headset bearing failure when initiating a particularly brutal U-turn at moderate speed (40 mph). The bearings were well maintained and properly preloaded, but couldn't reliably handle the load. Having previously completed similar turns on the street in emergency situations where braking to a full stop or simple evasion was not feasible I was confident the turn was possible, but the under engineered 400cc Honda commuter frame had its limits. Thank god, I'd invested in an Arai as I ended up scaring along the road on my head, and wore a tennis ball sized hole in the temple of it, without feeling the impact at all. Run of the mill Street bikes are manufactured to be ridden far gentler than superbikes, and motoGP, and to a much lower technical specification. Note: the example given reflects the only occasion in 30 years of riding which might be described as having been high sided. Having read a little booklet by 1980s racer Dr. Roger Freeth on how to ride safely, I learnt the physics of counter steering early in my riding, when this notion was still controversial even amongst the racing fraternity. Luckily, he also explained the need to be soft on the bars to allow the front to turn in. Roger who was a physicist in his other life also wrote the textbook on pre-taping any likely injury sites before hitting the track. Long before modern trick body armour came available he figured that most orthopedic injuries occurred due to a lack of support. So with a bit of gym tape he would stablize all the joints that might be injured. So broken fingers, or elbows or dislocated shoulders etc were taped before his races as though they were broken. At worst he figured that such a process rendered first aid unnecessary!
  7. Johnno down under

    Brake Lever Protector And Balance Of Handlebars?

    So have you found out that BMW car oil filters are interchangeable with those for bikes. The difference being the bike filter is about 18mm shorter to allow for the nut welded onto the end of the filter for easy filter replacement. Thus the replacement period for the BMW motorcycle filters is a third less than the car version. Over here riders of BMWs often just buy the car filter - not only does it have a longer service life, it is half the cost. To remove a used car filter from the motorcycle one need only apply a screw driver at an angle sufficient to unscrew the filter. Yes it is slightly messier.
  8. Johnno down under

    Street Skills And Road Engineering

    So part of my problems cornering turned out to be a front tyre that had given its best -cupping and old age (10 years). It still had plenty of tread it just wasn't providing reliable feedback. So onto a new street tyre. And a slight increase n pressure from 32-34 psi cold to 36 psi based on the tyre gurus recommendation (Pirelli sport demon). And a problem. While wearing in and adjusting to this new tyre I was riding very conservatively 75km into an unfamiliar long downhill sweeper with initially good banking. Weather was sunny, with warm dry road surface (not summer greasy). I was aware that a 50km sped restriction was ahead so I stuck with maintenance throttle only following a gentle trail break into the sweeper. Just before the primary apex of the sweeper I spotted the speed restriction shortly after the second reducing apex, but well before the sweeper ended at the bottom of the hill, I thought to myself this is going to be fun! I wonder if I can slow enough to beat legal speed past the sign. So shift to gentle trail braking -front and rear, move inside and down to counter the stand-the-bike up effect. Hmm, front end feels light and skittish - ahhaa the banking is rolling off prior to the second apex. Bugger. "Sit on the bike, sit on the bike" thought starts circulating in my head to forestall SR. Yes I'm still loose on the bars, nicely locked in but not wildly hanging off the bike, it's just I was maintaining just beyond the front tyres point of stability. A bike length before the sign I could see that I could straight line the remainder of the corner. Stand the bike up into the worn n centre, and whack the brakes on, and so I achieved the speed limit a couple of bike lengths past the sign. By this time I'd been speed cammed. Probably just a few km over the limit. Having spoken with council engineers they have indicated that there is nothing wrong with the placement of the signage. And I know that in a tin top with adequate tyres and no regard for driving safely it is relatively comfortable to brake from 100 to 50 through the zone. On a motorcycle with warm, scrubbed in tyres at the optimum pressure I'd expect it to moderately uncomfortable, but wholely doable by an experienced rider. But for a novice, with new tyres, with a poorly set up road bike and a novices SR and poor visibility ( frequent mist, fog, and torrential rain) I would expect either a high side or low side off with the bike and rider almost certainly impacting the sign. What advice would other skilled, and experienced riders give the council engineer? Hint: in my view moving the sign to a point 25 metres ( 30 yards) later, down on the flat, 10 metres past the curve would enable most if not all riders to negotiate the speed restriction in a safer fashion. This would move the first sight of the sign maybe 1-2 metres later, and yet provide an additional 25 metres to break in, although much of this addition braking zone would remain in the exit of the corner.
  9. Johnno down under

    Hip Flick Creating Problems. A Question Of Style?

    Yes, thanks KHP, that's the video. Sorry to hear about Andy's stroke. There was also one video where Keith was demonstrating knee to knee but it was focused on keeping a knee on the tank, rather than the mechanics of moving ones bum.
  10. Johnno down under

    What Work Do You Do For Yourself?

    The more you do for yourself, the more confident you can be that everything is as it should be. Mounting tyres on rims is pretty much the only thing I outsource. I my time I've reassembled/repaired bikes declared dead by mechanics. But my proudest achievement is manufacturing suspension linkage components that work better and last way way longer than stock Suzuki suspension bearings. Learnt a lot about materials selection and using a lathe. One of my bikes did 600,000km before someone stole it ( shortly after I installed new pads, chain, sprockets, tyres, and replaced fluids. Still ran as new, and indeed handled better than new - in part due to an accident that bent the head stock thereby shortening the wheelbase by 60mm down to 1280mm. I liked the change so rode on it for ten years. Dave Moss gives great advice on wheel alignment and suspension adjustment.
  11. Johnno down under

    Bike Bias

    Of all the bikes I've ridden the steel framed Suzuki RF900rf was the most balanced street bike. Plenty of power, delivered smoothly, cornered lightly and quickly and well suited to my shorter stature 5'10". The only drawback on the street was that it was very very easy to rack up mountains of speeding tickets because it felt so effortless to ride. With effort I would guess it would give more powerful bikes good competition into and through corners. Secondhand prices are almost reasonable for a ten year old low km bike.
  12. Johnno down under

    Street Tyres - Best Ever

    I've been riding smallish street bikes for a long time, with 500k miles on two 1987 Suzuki GSX400x (homogolised for Japan F3). In that time I've tried almost every combination of street tyre available in 17". Stock suspension. Low mileage second bike. Maintained, minor upgrades to rear (nylon bushes), front set slightly firmer, spring rate increased). The best tyre combo ever was in the late 1980s, a radial "Super Sport". Might have been Michellin, or Continental. It had a flatter (round) profile than normal and gave the bike quite unusual handling. For instance at low speeds steering was very flckable, and required little lean in. At speed hanging off the grip was phenomenal for street tyres. Counter steering required a firm hand, but then the tyre took over and turned itself firmly into corners. I still I got 15k miles out of the front and 10k out of the rear at significant average speeds. Unfortunately the availability of these tyres was very poor, so I've moved on to other brands, none of which have delivered the same confidence inspiring grip, or predictability. Most have been at best lack lustre. I'd like to obtain a similar performing tyre to replace the Pirelli Sport Demons that it's currently wearing. They seem to transition to skipping rather than sliding progressively and are freaking me out from time to time - and I'm no-where near the edges after 1000 miles of riding. I've settled on 34psi rear, 32psi front on the street. I generally set front pressures to provide neutral steering at the lowest pressure. Texture indicates good wear both ends. Any suggestions. Please. More sport touring, scratching than street racing as z rated tyres are damn hard to warm up at urban speeds.
  13. Johnno down under

    The Unrideables

    Brings back memories. I was wondering though who was the rider who at that time introduced the stopie- wheelie super late braking technique that put him on apex just before all the classic line riders like Steady Edie? Neither of these clips gives a hint. The two names that spring o mind are Rainey, or Mamola. One of our local biker mags did an entire feature back in the late 80s that contrasted the two lines, and interviewed the innovative rider... The riders explanation ran something like this take the inside line. Brake very hard and late then as you apex, release the front brake, standup on the pegs, while cracking open the throttle but holding the speed by maintaining rear brakes. Standing up will pop a wheelie, at which point swing the bike onto your exit line at the apex and feed the power to the back wheel by letting the ear brake off. Grin madly as your opponents discover their apex blocked by an insane sliding sideways doing a wheelie. I used to do a far more cautious version of this, that I used to think off as rubber banding. I'd roll the throttle on early balanced by a gentle rear brake, and load up the chain on the apex before real sing the brake at the apex. It seemed to launch me earlier and more smoothly than not using the rear brake. But then again I was young and willing to try anything.
  14. Johnno down under

    Hip Flick Creating Problems. A Question Of Style?

    It was in one the videos, not sure which one exactly as I not only watched Twist II - this referee to hip flick, but only dwelt upon knee to knee, but also lots of css videos on YouTube. The one that scene sticks in my mind was presented by a trainer that was either British or Australian. I also have skimmed through many many posts in the forums, and Keith's articles. Most refer to hip flick but do not explain it. Thinking further about my style, I realized that if one lifts ones bum off the seat using locked-in knees and feet rather than bars then as long as one doesn't just plonk back down the only thing that occurs is the centre of gravity goes up and down without significant weight transfer. The implication I wrongly garnered from those earlier sources was that even a slight lift would induce instability. Your advice helped me realize the key as always was to be smooth, gentle and decisive in my movements while locked-in and loose on the bars. I also realized that I also generally adjust my position while under brakes/deacceleration and so I'm already light on the seat. And settle as braking load comes off. Note: while braking particularly over 50 mph I tend to sit up, wide elbows and knees to catch as much air as possible. Knees return to gripping tank as sipped drops, or broken surfaces ahead. My error while trying incorrectly hip flick was that I attempted to do it in isolation between braking and countersteer, firmly seated. Perhaps, a little more detail regarding hip flick basics added to resources describing Knee to Knee exercises.
  15. Johnno down under

    Hip Flick Creating Problems. A Question Of Style?

    Also realised that part of my previous "hip flick technique" was as I pivot my knee out, as my inside foot rotates on the ball my heel rides up on the peg mount plate and pushes my knee out and draws my butt even further off the seat. This amounts to as I feed in more knee I'm levered across the bike. This happens automatically as I adjust my cornering arc to match the road revealed ahead. My outside foot and knee remain locked in; the outer knee simply becomes locked in slightly tighter. Riding the windies yesterday I also noticed that I hook turn quite often, doing a head and body nod to close up my arc - but randomly I was also SRing and backing off (albeit gently), trail braking very light post apex. I was also more conscious of how this destabilised the bike vs continuous (from before turn in)and continuing trail braking past the apex (to create a late apex) then on the gas vs turning late and slow, decisive countersteer and early on the gas. The latter is more comfortable except entry has to be much slower than I'm accustomed to. 80% blind corners means allowing for a need to emergency stop at or just past the apex on occasion. Trail braking already has the bike "stabilised in braking mode" but leaves little reserve for leaning in harder if tighter is the better option. Maintaining a positive chain tension was a good way to keep a good sense of gently rolling on the gas. Fits and starts evolution of style.