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richard_m_h

Simon Crafar

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I was just wondering if anyone else has looked at Simon Crafar's new book & DVD?

I've only done level 1 of CSS and can't work out how compatible it is.

Though it does seem a marketing ploy to criticise CSS these days.

Don't really want to plug someone else's product so delete this if its inappropriate.

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Everybody has their own ideas on whats best. But keeping an open mind and reading or watching other peoples take on riding, can only be a good thing. Even if it doesn't always agree with what you have already learned.

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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

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I have been on a journey for the past 8 years from when I first started riding sport bikes until now. I was fortunate to take this course first. One can argue about trail braking or technique, what works best or what doesn't, and one can search for the greatest book ever written. But you have to do it. There are no short cuts. I believe that regardless of what anyone says, CSS is the best riding school for entry and intermediate riders. There are no assumptions made about what you know or don't know. The curriculum brings out flaws that your ego might hide saving you from yourself.

 

From my perspective, there is a misunderstanding about what it takes to be an accomplished rider and what people's expectations are vs what the reality is. One can't get on a motorcycle and ride like Casey Stoner by reading a book whether it's Keith Code's Twist of the Wrist or Simon Cafar's. The books are meant as an aid to practical applications. Keith Code's books aid in the practical application of his schools curriculum.

 

I forget how many CSS schools I have been to maybe Cobie could find out, 10 or 12? I don't remember. I can relate to people's thirst for knowledge because I was the same way. I wanted to learn and I wanted to know right then. One can search in Twist of the Wrist or Simon Crafar's book but you won't find it. This knowledge is in the last chapter that is not printed....It's your chapter.

 

I just went to NOLA motorsport park yesterday. It was 40 degrees when I went out on a 2.7 mile green track with slick cold tires on a bike producing 170 horse power....thank you CSS for helping me get there.

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One can search in Twist of the Wrist or Simon Crafar's book but you won't find it. This knowledge is in the last chapter that is not printed....It's your chapter.

That was well said sir.

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I saw this thread and searched around online, got myself a copy of the MotoVuvu book & DVD. Enquiring minds want to know...

 

Is it compatible with Level 1 of CSS? To me it seems a bit daft to ask if one training system is compatible with another. Aren't there just right (or good) and wrong (or bad) ways to do things? Having said that, there were some things I found interesting, and some other things that seem to be a slap on the face of reason. Maybe I'm a bit biased, and this is the CSS forum, but here I go:

 

"Myth 4 - Once you start opening the throttle you need to keep opening it". According to Simon, unless you want to highside or run off the track he recommends quite the opposite.

I was kind of amused with this one, because in all the demonstrations it's clear to see that Simon is doing just that - using a continuous, smooth roll-on once he does open the throttle. I suppose technically it's correct - you don't need to keep opening the throttle. But that is the smooth and fast way around a track, and it's plain to see that is how Simon rides in this DVD. This and other points in the DVD seem to deliberately evade the idea of not chopping the throttle, but fail to mention how you should use the throttle (IE - maintaining throttle or rolling off smoothly).

 

"Myth 7 - Using your throttle to control your suspension". Simon says "Maybe in the '70s, but modern suspension is so good that you can concentrate on your riding." huh.gif

News flash! Modern suspension is so good that it's unaffected by bad throttle control! blink.gif I'm really trying hard not to be too snarky, but come on... no one is going to back this up.

 

Body position (BP) - this is one area that I watched closely, because a very different BP is recommended to what I personally use, but I also saw something here that could be beneficial. Maybe I just have an old school style, but when I am setting up for a corner I position myself around the middle of the seat with my outside knee comfortably in contact with the side of the tank. As I'm braking both my legs are gripping the tank to stop my body sliding forward, I keep my body a little bit low so that my forearms are almost horizontal to give the most effective steering inputs. I have as little weight on the handlebars as possible, definitely not pushing on the 'bars. Keeping the weight off the 'bars took quite alot of effort when I was heavier (90Kg+), but now that I'm lighter and my corner entry speed is much higher I find that I don't spend nearly as much time braking and I am really comfortable with the BP, I ride a full day and I'm usually not even tired - I stay for the very last session and that's usually my best/most fun.

 

Now the contrast with Simons recommended BP - he recommends sitting right up against the tank during braking, so you don't have to use energy to stop yourself sliding forward - just sit forward & don't fight it. He also pushes on the 'bars to support his body and has very little weight on his feet. Being so far forward to the tank, his knee is not in contact with the tank mid-corner - they stick out the same as some other racers. He does mention gripping the tank with his legs while braking. The other reason he gives for not sitting back on the seat is that you're more likely to be ejected during a highside - if your backside is sitting back in the seat, it will be going with the bike during a highside. But if you stay forward you have more chance to stay on the bike.

 

The reason I adopted my current body position was because I don't want to add alot of extra weight over the front wheel under braking, and by sitting a little back in the seat it gives a better weight distribution to allow for heavier braking without the rear tyre leaving the ground. It also places my outside leg in the correct position for the corner. So from the braking aspect it seems like Simons method would result in an increased tendency for the rear tyre to leave the ground? Although alot of the demonstrations also involved some backing in and braking while starting to turn in, maybe these things are another reason that BP works for him. I got to thinking about the times when I haven't had my outside knee against the tank mid-corner, and it's felt really bad when I'm not going fast enough - like I'm about to slide off the side of the seat. But I also recalled a couple of times where it felt like I was approaching "1G cornering" and in those instances I didn't setup quite the same - my outside knee was not in contact with the tank, but I felt glued to the seat regardless because of the cornering force. Since I was closer to the tank it did seem like I was able to turn quicker for less effort as well. So maybe that kind of style that we see alot in MotoGP/WSBK etc. is something that can work at a certain speed? This is something I'm going to try out for myself more in the future.

 

Braking with "The Doctor Dangle" - The book/DVD has one of the best explanations that I've seen for why riders hang their inside leg off the bike during hard braking (aka, The Doctor Dangle). The reasoning is that when the rear wheel (or the weight mass behind the steering head) wants to keep heading towards the outside of the corner during heavy braking, moving the inside leg off the bike provides enough weight distribution to even things out. Simon also notes that he is able to brake slightly harder when he moves his inside foot closer towards the asphalt and towards the rear of the bike. He call this his 'panic brake'. This isn't really taught as a braking technique, it seems like it gets a mention just to explain what is happening when we do see racers use it.

 

Turning with a closed throttle - I wanted to give this a mention because I think it's a real stand out point. It's something that I either completely missed in Twist and other books, or I just had the wrong idea about it. I would always be back on the throttle (either pick up, or slightly accelerating) as soon as the bike was turning in. A good, simple plan for the road - but very limiting on the track, and definitely not a fast way round. It was only at a track day where I was also getting some tuition that the coach showed me the error of my ways, suddenly double apex corners were manageable. Back when I learnt this I brought up the topic on another forum I frequent and the people there couldn't really accept it as a valid technique (we're talking mostly older guys). Simon puts it simply, "I close the throttle on the entry of almost every corner of every track." I used to be worried that the front would tuck if I didn't add some throttle to keep weight bias towards the rear - but that's just not right. Simon points out that closed throttle turning is much safer than trail braking because with no front brake applied there is much less chance of the front tyre letting go. Turning in with a closed throttle is one of the things that made the biggest improvement to my speed and confidence.

 

Mid-corner - Now we come to a mention of what to do when you crack the throttle. "You need to do so softly and so slightly that the bike stops decelerating but stays strictly on the line you have chosen at the correct speed". But I thought that modern suspension was so good that we didn't have to worry about throttle control and we could just concentrate on our riding? The book says that this is very difficult to teach - some people 'get it' and others just don't. No doubt it is hard for someone to understand when it seems to be a glaring contradiction to "Myth 7".

 

Counter steering, it's over-rated - Simon thinks that there is too much importance put on counter steering to change direction. He gives the example that when he pushed off his kids on bicycles at 4 years old, they changed direction by counter steering and he didn't have to tell them. Well, that's no surprise that counter steering was involved, since that is the only way to change direction on a single-track vehicle. Of course they used counter steering, because there is no other way to do it! Simon says that the only thing that needs to be thought about is the timing and the force involved.

 

Sliding, advanced riders only - I thought this was an interesting one, the suggestion is to use high rpm. The reason being that when the rear slides, it will only go so far before the engine runs out of rpm and power. Then you only have to worry about how fast it will snap back.

 

Tyres - Simon recommends using sports tyres that are far beyond your current ability level, to minimise the chance of a crash on a track day. I don't agree with this, the method described in Twist makes much more sense. Starting off with street tyres will let you more safely feel out their limits, then you can move up to sports tyres and you'll have more confidence to begin feeling out their limits as well. A new track rider who uses the greatest sports tyres straight off will likely spend an age trying to push their comfort zone and find the limit of the tyres. Regardless of what tyres are used, a rider should always be able to ride safely because safe and responsible riding means riding to the conditions - whether that is on track or the street, if the bike has nearly worn out old street tyres or brand new slicks.

 

I think that's about it for the things that either stood out to me as useful or interesting, or just didn't make sense. Given that there's more than a few things that I don't agree with, I couldn't really recommend MotoVudu to my friends (or anyone). I'm sure that people who've been able to make use of his track instruction have had good results. The Twist of the Wrist books along with Total Control by Lee Parks and The Upper Half of the Motorcycle by Bernt Spiegel give a much more thorough and complete overview/instruction into what makes a safe, fast & competent rider. Total Control and The Upper Half especially are very good for looking into the mental side of riding. It looks to me like MotoVudu has taken square aim at books like those, as if they contained some riding myths that needed to be corrected, which I just don't understand. Maybe the way Simon words things do really make more sense to him, I don't know.

 

MotoVudu did show me some interesting things that I'm going to look into, and it's cool to see Simon backing it in and leaving darkies at every corner exit, but my recommendation would be the Twist books and DVD (along with Soft Science if you're really keen), followed by Total Control which is a good 'general' type book that goes over the basics developed in Twist in a slightly different language that may be easier to understand for some people, but this book is really great for touching on some areas of mental preparedness & technique. Finally if you want to really delve into the mental side of riding, Upper Half is great for this, it is nearly entirely devoted to that subject. It's a bit of a heavy read, but I found it very very interesting and some points there immediately improved my everyday riding.

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You're awesome, Mugget. Thanks.

 

To a certain extent, it's whatever works for you. How you learn, all your preferences. I've been to other schools, plan on continuing to educate myself, and find it's whatever the rider prefers, as long as it's not really wrong. Brake with two fingers, use the whole hand. Both are right. One school got me comfortable pushing the bike into corners and trailbraking in a way CSS never could.

 

Exiting was also explained in a way that clicked with me. Possibly because it's been a while since I've been to a school, but who knows.

 

I LOVE the structure at CSS, which the other schools don't provide, and getting all the coaches attention we do in CSS is unparalleled. At one school I was told (with my one lap of being followed in a whole day of school) my riding is perfect except that I wasn't picking the bike up fast enough when exiting. That's not what I want to hear. Do a couple of schools. Maybe you'll like the other one, maybe you'll like CSS. You won't know until you try.

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In random;

 

- you always want to spin the rear tyre with the torque falling to prevent highsides, if blokes like Doohan, Rainey and Roberts Sr. are to be believed

- I've always braked like Crafar describes it because it feels nartural

- I prefer to sit way near the front under cornering and feel really insecure and awkward if I slide back in on the seat

- I only grip the tank lightly if it is wide enough to meet my splayed legs because it feels right

- I prefer to turn in on the brakes or at the very minimum under trailing throttle

- could he have meant that counter steering happen naturally so that it doesn't make much sense to fokus on it, not that it isn't required?

 

Disclaimer: I only ride for fun and by instinct so I am bound to do things wrong ;)

 

 

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Thanks for the response Mugget. Think I'd better find time for level 2. I like anything that gets me thinking about my riding.

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I remember With Crafar's take on throttle control he also speaks about WAITING.

 

So you brake, enter the turn, crack the throttle and he talks about WAITING. Maintenance throttle, pretty much... Coasting through the apex for a little bit, at least until you are confident about where your bike is pointing.

 

Fact is, the book is more like a large pack of cue cards. Each page has a few lines, like bullet points, such that the DVD is EXACTLY the same. He reads the book to you in the DVD, because they are just points that he touches on, point by point.

 

He is speaking ONLY from a viewpoint of riding FAST on track, IMO.

 

Twist books are for every speed, every level of rider, and anywhere...

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