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About Birdhog

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  • Location
    Mill Valley, CA
  • Interests
    Dirt biking in the 60's; more recent interest in getting back on a bike before I no longer qualify for a drivers license!

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  • Have you attended a California Superbike School school?
    I'm scheduled for December!
  1. I've had the same kind of knee-down problem coming off the dirt and onto the roads, and I totally agree with JeF4y's response to this question on how to correct the problem: you need to have enough speed to benefit from the knee-down! Without the speed, the bike turnes in toward the Apex. I attempted to explain this in my earlier response to this question (above); but JeF4y said it much better. I just missed reading his response before launching my own long-winded response a month later!
  2. As a former, stand-up, steer by your pegs dirt bike rider in the 1960s, I have more recently found it difficult to teach myself how to get a knee-down riding a big Blackbird on the roads -- until I read Keith Cole's TOTW1 and came up with this discovery: "forcing" a knee down while turning was causing my bike to steer into the apex of a corner. The problem being, my cornering speed was not enough to benefit from the weight shift caused by the forced knee-down! For this reason, either I (or perhaps the bike in its own infinite wisdom!) was instinctively "turning-in" toward the apex of a corner in order to counter the weight shift resulting from the forced knee-down. As a result, I have had no other recourse than to either: (1) give-up on the forced knee-downs, or (2) counter steer away from the apex with quick and usually awkward shoves on the outside handle bar. Perhaps, had I had the confidence, increased throttle would have accomplished this same purpose. My new approach to getting knee-downs is to no longer try! I shift my body weight to the inside as usual, but then let my inside knee dangle FREE, which means it no longer comes down UNTIL I reach a cornering speed that actually benefits from the weight shift! More generally, I've learned that I need to stay RELAXED in the saddle -- sort of like a heavy sack of potatoes with shoulders hunched (I'm tall) and arms only lightly on the bars, and (especially) my inside knee LOOSE and NOT reaching for the pavement. When I force the knee downs, it feels like I am trying to remain upright on the pegs of a stationary bike when, in fact, I now know that I need to move before taking my feet off the ground!
  3. Quite apart from the pieces by Keith and others on how or how not to make use of the front and rear brakes when trail braking at speed, how about a short note on the importance of staying off the front brake in tight "parking lot" situations? Not really an exciting topic! Nevertheless, I am a fairly "new" rider on a 550 pound plus Blackbird who once road featherweight 250s in the 1960s. And the fact is, it took me several months of riding on the Blackbird before I discovered that in order to feel as comfortable in tight "parking lot" situations as I did on the open road, I had to stay completely off the front brake! I am not sure why this simple habit took me so long to discover, particularly since I had already put a lot of effort into improving my fore-aft braking habits at speed. It just took me a while to recognize that low speed parking maneuvers require a totally different use of the brakes! Or is there something more about linked-brakes that I should be aware of when riding at any speed?
  4. ? Keith Code 1996-1997 Several images came to mind as I was reading your much appreciated comments on the fine art of steering a road bike: (1) a professional couple dancing the flamenco, (2) a steep down-hill skier negotiating moguls, and (3) a pack of dirt-bikers at speed negotiating open-desert cacti and gopher holes. In all three cases, the beauty of the activities lie in the striking contrasts between immobile, upright torsos with fixed heads and shoulders and the seemingly detached, fast moving actions of hips, legs and feet. Also, as in the case of your road bikes, it is only in the more subtle movements of eyes and and lower arms that one can detect any intended changes in the overall direction of travel!
  5. Keith -- Your last "no brakes" article made me a true bliever in your school strategies, enough so that I just signed up for your December classes at Sears Point and Legua Seca. Also, as an intersting aside for both you and your students, I have long practed this art of "no brakes" when touring our CA hills in a cage (e.g., your typical Japanese sports cars and family sedans, nothing really exotic). Originally, my intent of this no brakes (and sometimes, "light feathering" of the brakes) practice in the cage was purely economical: I just wanted to increase the longivity of my brake pads! However, over time, it became clear to me that in the process of saving the brakes of my cage, I was ALSO improving my driving style. Together, the initial challenge of negotiating these turns at speed -- but without making use of any corrective braking -- and the resulting sense of accomplishment and music-like rythm in completing a sequence of turns under maximum exit power significantly increased my ENJOYMENT of these drives! I can't wait to now apply this techniuqe on two wheels when I participate in your school this December. -- BirdHog
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