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Apollo

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Apollo last won the day on June 20

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About Apollo

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    Cornering Artist
  • Birthday 07/25/1987

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    Southern California

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  • Have you attended a California Superbike School school?
    Yes

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  1. Yep, I'm a repeat level 4 offender. I recall the pick-up drill and we did the slide bike last year at Streets regarding pick-up and throttle. However, all of the front end tucks in cold/damp conditions have been corner entry, pre-apex, off trail braking already, either no throttle or just barely cracked (not even at maintenance throttle yet) rather than a corner exit issue. By crest in 3A, I mean the slight crest or transition from uphill to flattening out on corner entry as we make the run up from 3. I do know from photos that I'm still not dropping my upper body enough for hook-turn, and am kind of riding Colin Edwards head high (photos below for reference of my current positioning mid-corner). This issue of getting a lower and off to the side body position has been something I have been trying to work on, to help out the tires a bit more. However, in the case of the front end tucks, I'm right around where I would be implementing the hook-turn drop anyways when I lost the front so I'm not even sure that would have helped. At least so far in my mind, it seems to be a calibration issue between my perception of how much flex the front tire is giving and how much I can actually increase my entry speeds lap over lap when warming up a cold tire? Maybe not? At the same time, I was probably mentally pushing in places and times I shouldn't (esp after sitting on pregrid) because I see the front runner expert club racers are able to turn faster laps in the same track conditions. Thanks, Allard P.S. All this just suddenly brought back a flashback to some time pre-2010 with the school at Sonoma when Karel Abraham passed three of us setting up for the chicane 3/4 no brakes and a coach lowsided on entry right in front of us while trying to stay on his tail.
  2. I think watching racing is helpful for technique related issues. Especially nowadays with on-board telemetry, it is insightful to see how top level riders are trail braking and transitioning to the gas. Scott Redding actually has some fabulous on-boards and discussion of his braking technique on his Youtube channel. I think seeing the different body positions (feet, hands, etc) is very insightful. It's easy for anyone at a track day to tell you what they think; it is entirely different when you can see the positioning of the top level riders. I don't think there is necessarily a negative with watching TV. I find that watching helps me better evaluate cornerspeed (same with reviewing on-board footage from my bike) while removing the "speed sensation" in real life. Often, watching on-boards "slows down" the corner in my mind and helps with identifying reference points. Less useful, at least at this point, is watching professional racers' corner entry and mid-corner technique when it comes to backing it in or using the rear brake. I'm of the mindset of focusing on the front brake and working to improve that. However, maybe there is something to be said about early training of using both front and rear. Even in club racing now, fast experts are modulating the rear either by foot or by a hand lever. Maybe not using it early on is like waiting too long to learn a foreign language. But at least for now, I'm finding that stuff to be more entertaining and less informative.
  3. Fear of leaning too far can be one factor for keeping pressure on the handlebars. Part of it may simply be reminding yourself not to have pressure. Another bigger thing may be addressing why you feel fear. Maybe it is a visual issue with looking far enough down the track. Also, are you supporting your body weight through holding the handlebars? This may also cause the tense arms if you are trying to hold yourself up by gripping the handlebar. Fixing this requires improving your lower body contact with the motorcycle. This might be addressed by looking at how you use your outside knee to contact the tank. If you were to give a percentage (%), how secure does your outside knee to tank contact feel when cornering? P.S. It's a bit of a trek, but not too far to consider checking out the UK operations of the school to have a coach work in-person on these issues. Often, an external set of eyes can identify issues that you're unaware of.
  4. Thanks, Cobie. I don't mean to hijack this thread away from the Street oriented polling. I have read some of the tire threads as they have popped up over the years here. In general, I can feel the super cold "bowling ball" and the hot "biting" feeling. It is the in-between warm up feel that is problematic for me because I am trying to find a pace that adequately warms the tire carcass rather than allowing it to continue cooling. On the street, I ride with a large safety margin, so I have not run into the tire warm up issue on the street. With my margin of error for road conditions, I still wind up with a warm tire by the end of a ride. My issue rears its head when I'm trying to get closer to maximum traction in the 6 or 7 laps for a given track session. Sometimes, I'm not sure what is a mental block of not wanting to crash the bike and what is actually front end feedback. With hot "biting" tires, I have felt small front end slides and slightly spinning up the rear on track on my old Ninja 300 (now I'm on an R6). Similarly, I have felt these while playing in the dirt at Cornerspin and Rich Oliver. But having an honest assessment of the in-between warming up state and how far I can push has been a problem. For example, my last crash was a cold morning at Sonoma/Sears Point with a trackday org. It was high-40sF out with some light lingering fog coverage. I came off warmers early (Pirelli Superbike slicks) to link with a coach to see their lines. We ended up sitting on the pre-grid for a while where my tires were cooling. As it was our first time riding together and due to the weather, the coach took it extra slow (let's ballpark 30 seconds a lap off hot pace) as we rode in traffic for 2 laps. Then, we slowly started moving the pace up, but we were still crawling. I was trying to mind my tires, and increasing the pace and load bit by bit to get them heating up rather than continue cooling. I thought I had a sizeable safety margin (probably still 15 seconds off hot pace, running a lot less lean angle) while leading when I came over the crest in 3A and the front tucked without any discernable warning over the crest. So clearly, I did not have the safety margin I thought I had. Part of my feedback issue may also be mental due to not having a feel for the bike. At the time of the crash, the bike never felt like it tracked as tight a line as my 300. I thought it might be mental since the R6 is a heftier bike to transition. However, since then, I discussed it with Dave Moss and we got the bike tracking a lot better by playing with both suspension settings and geometry by raising the rear. Maybe I would have had a better feel for impending doom if I was comparing "tracking true against tracking wide" versus "tracking wide against tracking slightly wider." The front end just feels a lot easier to discern and risk when I'm on a quarter of the weight dirt bike with a hotshoe on versus an expensive to repair 400lb R6. Of my lifetime 5 crashes on track, 3 were slow but not slow enough first session front end tucks in cold/damp/light rain at Sonoma and VIR. Not sure if these thoughts of mine spur additional concerns to you with my riding, or specific thoughts/info for further reading. Haha.
  5. Same as PittsDriver, front end feel. I have ridden dirt bikes in an attempt to improve this, but it is still the most difficult issue for me to improve. On a dirt bike, I have ridden trails with a deflating front tire and kept it upright while believing the trail was slippery. However, on the track, I have lowsided three times over the years in cold morning sessions where I did not feel like I was pushing (maybe riding at 60%) and did not feel like I had any significant warning before the bars went light. Those occasional moments of lowsiding and the subsequent repair bills end up dialing back my trust in the front end until I get a perfect weather day and just commit to trusting that the front will stick. My current approach has been to become more of a fair weather rider and sitting out the first session if the track is cold. But that's really just avoiding the problem.
  6. There are several different foot positions that you will see with some famous, fast riders. As Cobie said, comfort is different for everyone and the biggest issue with your foot being on the end of the footpeg is reduced ground clearance. One question is whether your toes touch the ground when you ride. This can especially happen on standard bikes, some of which have lower footpegs. If so, you may want to have your foot closer to the motorcycle. Personally, I ride with my foot parallel to the motorcycle. I tilt, or cant, my foot to the side so that the outside edge of my foot rests on the footpeg and the inside edge of my foot rests on the vertical rearset bracket. Looking from the rear of the motorcycle, the bottom of my foot, the footpeg, and the rearset bracket form a triangle. This was after discussion with Dylan about my lower body position and sometimes touching my toes. With this method, my foot stays close to the motorcycle, preserving lean angle, and I actually get my knee farther out than when my foot is angled like your photos. You can see this style with some riders, like Casey Stoner (below) and Marc Marquez. At the same time, some other riders, like Troy Bayliss, prefer to have their foot angled 45 degrees from the bike, like your second photo. Regarding your knee aching, are you applying a lot of pressure on your inside foot? I have found that if I am able to support my body by anchoring my outside leg with the motorcycle (locking with the tank), my inside foot does not tire and ache as quickly.
  7. Ranked. I think visual skills and quick reflexes are the most important for street riding. Riders need to be able to absorb and react to information from the road in order to avoid hazards. Quick reflexes are important, especially with regards to braking and steering inputs. I don't cover the brakes on track, but I definitely do on the street. 1. Visual skill, lack of target fixation 2. Quick reflexes 3. Ability to steer quickly 4. Physical condition, strength 5. Brave
  8. You really can't go wrong with any of the tracks that CSS goes to. However, I would give the slight edge to Barber, VIR, and Laguna if you're making a big trip out of it. If you're open to the entire country, I would probably vote for Barber. It would be a heck of a long trip, and I would definitely recommend using the school's BMWs. Barber has a fantastic track and the museum is incredible. The museum is definitely a must-see. VIR flows incredibly well and has fun elevation changes. You would be running the North course. Beyond the track, VIR has great amenities. You can rent a room overlooking the front straight or stay at the inn, and it has a restaurant on site. Laguna is a legendary track, but the amenities definitely are lacking compared to Barber and VIR. However, Monterey as a whole does make up for the extra frills that the track lacks. Also, do not worry about the straight. It is plenty long enough to scare yourself, especially if it your first time on track. On that note, even though VIR may seem like it has a long front straight, it definitely has a strong kink at speed. Although I would vote for Barber first, I will also say that Laguna days are harder and harder to come by. To that extent, you might want to do Laguna Seca sooner than later before the ridiculous neighbors finally make the track costs astronomical. (I fear that day will happen in the not too distant future). You really can't go wrong with any of them. But really consider renting their bikes. *knock on wood* The biggest issue I have with riding to the track is what happens if you crash. Odds are, the motorcycle will sustain damage and require repairs. Additionally, there is always the risk of bodily injury preventing riding home even if the bike is fine. If you have contingency plans ready, then that's one thing. I always prefer to drive or fly-in.
  9. The biggest thing with collarbones isn't necessarily hitting some random object. Breaks can happen because of landing helmet first because the helmet then cants to the side and jams into your collarbone. The airbag kits mitigate this risk by providing extra cushioning between the helmet and the collarbone. Although the airbag kits were originally one-piece suit only, both Alpinestars and Dainese now have them available in jacket/two-piece suits for more convenient street riding gear. I am personally a fan of buying the gear that makes you feel safest and comfortable. I don't think the higher end gear necessarily crashes better, but the higher priced kit does tend to have more supple or luxurious feeling leather. You might feel some extra mobility due to the supple leather, but a well fitted, cheaper suit may do the same job. Personally, all of the high end brands anecdotally have sufficient protection and quality. If you stay with the major brands like Rev'it, Held, Spidi, RS Taichi, Dainese, Alpinestars, etc, you'll be in the ballpark. If you want a sensor deployed airbag kit though, Alpinestars and Dainese are really the only players. Mithos and RS Taichi have licensed the Alpinestars airbag, but they only offer it in their one-piece suits. Rev'it has the Dainese airbag, but again it isn't available unless you're a world level professional.
  10. I haven't tried the Missile suit, but the TechAir airbag vest has more coverage than any of the Dainese Misano (mostly collarbone), Misano 2D (extends over upper chest), and Mugello (includes side airbag). Supposedly, the same size works, but I think you'll probably want to go up one size in the suit as the vest is fairly bulky. All of the electronics are packaged in a hard shell back protector for the vest that is maybe almost double the thickness of my regular L2 back protector. The biggest issue with the TechAir is that it's a bit cumbersome if you like to walk around off-track with the top half of your leathers hanging loose because the rigid back protector keeps the shape of the upper half. In SoCal, Beach Moto is a TechAir distributor and might be your best bet of having the woman's version in stock. Alternatively, you can always order from Cycle Gear and just return in store for free. I also have the Hit-Air and it is a good option. I still think either of the TechAir or D-Air is a better option though since they are independent of the bike. The Hit-Air takes about 60 pounds of force to set off, so you just get tugged backwards if you get off the bike without unclipping. It is an extra hassle though to have to put it on, clip, and unclip each time. If you're hopping between bikes, setting up the tether each time is also an additional step.
  11. Rev'it is quality gear on the higher end of the spectrum. However, as far as I know, they do not offer an airbag option. For professional racers, they have been using the Dainese D-Air system but it is not available commercially for every day riders. What do you mean by "best gear one can afford?" It seems like you have some aversion to Dainese or think that they're on the cheap end of things. If anything, they tend to be a bit expensive and overpriced due to their marketing and brand identity in my opinion. If you are looking for the best gear you can afford, I think you should definitely look at an airbag suit or jacket/pants combo. The increased protection against a collarbone break is worth the savings in medical bills.
  12. Thanks, Hotfoot. Definitely thoughts to think about. My 300 suspension was also really soft just due to it being entirely stock. I just couldn't justify dumping money into it versus saving for another bike (R6). It's actually pretty funny to see photos from my last race, where my bike is noticeably a bit lower with a nose up attitude compared to others with worked over suspensions. In normal riding conditions, I doubt there will really be major issues since brakes are for braking. I am mostly intrigued to see how I fair on this thing in the morning 3/4, no brakes drills this weekend while cornerworking for CSS. Mainly, my concern (as also discussed with Spaghetti below) was wanting to know how much of this engine braking issue is a mental barrier/technique issue I need to adjust to. There are some moments where I feel like the engine braking is useful. Like I've had it happen where I'm in a corner, closing up fairly quickly but safely on another rider, and transitioning from trail braking to throttle application for the drive out. I've had the rider in front get spooked by something and roll out of the gas post-apex, sometimes being a bit unclear on their intentions. With stock engine braking on my other bikes, I can just easily roll off a touch to keep the gap without worrying about having to get on the brakes again or making a pass while guessing if they're going to take some weird line on the drive out. But maybe this is really also an issue of Wide View and passing drills to go for a safe pass instead of checking up behind another rider. I guess it just made me a bit nervous to give up the engine braking, so I wanted some confirmation from you all here. It's not an issue of relying on the engine braking. I'm definitely not coasting into corners. It is just there are some moments where I feel like the engine braking is useful. Like I've had it happen where I'm in a corner, closing up fairly quickly but safely on another rider, and transitioning from trail braking to throttle application. I've had the rider in front get spooked by something and roll out of the gas post-apex, sometimes being a bit unclear on their intentions. With stock engine braking, I can just easily roll off a touch to keep the gap without worrying about having to get on the brakes again or making a pass while guessing if they're going to take some weird line on the drive out.
  13. Thanks for the info on the GP riders, Dylan. I appreciate the knowledge drop, and it will definitely be something to consider in terms of adjustments based on track layouts. Since I will mostly be riding at Thunderhill East, Sonoma, Buttonwillow, and Vegas this year, I guess I am leaning towards less engine braking to a degree, as they all have flowing sections. I will definitely have to spend a trackday just fiddling with the engine braking settings over back to back sessions to gauge the differences. This is a lot more complicated than my stock, non-adjustable suspension, single fuel map power commander Ninja 300. Haha. See you at Vegas this weekend.
  14. This is more of a tech question, but it segues into technique. So I upgraded this year to a 2011 R6 with a YEC kit ECU. The bike was previously run by a current AMA rider and set at least one lap record, so the bike is not an issue. Also, for background, I've been almost exclusively riding mostly stock twin-cylinder bikes for the past four years. The R6 ECU is set to a heavily reduced engine braking setting. Compared to my twins, roll-off engine braking feels pretty near minimal and gives almost a freewheeling sensation. In searching around, there seems to be a school of thought among a lot of fast riders that minimal engine braking in the ECU is preferable for smoother roll-offs and less speed loss on the way to the apex. The underlying question for me is, should I just keep the setting as used by known fast guys, and learn to ride it "the way it should be?" Or is it something that should be adjusted to by resetting and incrementally reducing the engine braking setting? Or is it really just a feel issue dependent on the rider rather than an "all fast guys at the front do this?"
  15. I have only done single days, so I can't speak to the comparison. However, I think the single days are great for refreshers. If anything, you could always do a single day of any level to gauge your progress and then follow up with a 2-day camp once you have an idea of where you want to focus on.
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