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BikeSpeedman

Getting It Right, Every Corner, Every Ride.

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Like anyone who spends his time and money on CSS, I was enthusiastically gathering as much knowledge and practical application of that knowledge as I could. I scoured youtube, books, articles, etc. So by the time I went to the class, I had some pieces of the puzzle already.

 

I'd have good days and bad days. I'd arrive at work and talk to my fellow biker buddy about how well or how poorly I rode on the way in. Some days I'd do okay on certain types of corners and make a mess of other corners. Or I'd do okay at speed but feel less confident when stuck behind slower traffic.

 

I went to the class with some assumptions and even more questions. The coaches helped me separate the wheat from the chaff, answered all of my questions, used videos, photos, and data to help show me what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong. I left the class way better than I arrived to be sure.

 

While I returned home to twisty mountain commute far better than I had been, one thing that means even more is the bar set by the relentless critical eye of top notch coaches. I came home knowing that even after 2 very long days in the saddle, I still made a ton of mistakes. I still wasn't getting my weight off the bars properly. I was only light on the bars mid corner at a decent pace. But I knew it must be possible to be light on the bars in braking, at tip in, high speed or low, all the time. I would take a decent line around most corners but still made a hash of sharp corners and often let my eyes drift to the apex way after I should be looking at the exit. As primarily a road rider, it's often not necessary to roll off the throttle to turn. Most of the time, I'm riding a good pace but a steady pace. So in the class, I had a habit carrying some throttle past turn-in.

 

So when I got home I made it a priority to continue riding as if my coaches were right behind me. I spent nearly 2 months riding much slower than before I went to the class. The first thing I focused on was getting my weight off the bars. Not just mid corner but always. I found a way to get my leg locked on that helped. It's about 80% side of the tank and 20% back of the tank. Before I knew it, I could ride super slow with the same light hands that I had at higher speed. Then I started focusing on the 3 step drills. Even on a new road where you don't have specific reference points, just ball parking the 3 steps makes a huge difference in line consistency. Now the bike is going where I expect it to go without exception and without mid corner corrections. Next I focused on fixing the bad position you see in my avatar. I don't know how many times James told me to keep my elbow bent but on the bike, I'd immediately stiff arm the inside bar when it was time to turn in. One day it just clicked that I should see if I could get the same force on the bar with a bent elbow. Yes! This is what they wanted me to do the whole time. And guess what, now the rest of my body is where it's supposed to be. Finally, I started working on rolling the throttle off and on through the turns. Obviously I'm not full throttle to a braking point on the road but instead I just worked on getting enough speed before the corner so that I can roll off the completely without running off the road on the inside. There's no lap time to worry about but it allows me to practice timing the roll off, the lean in, and the roll on. This is something that can even be fun at very slow speeds. A way to give yourself a challenge when circumstances simply don't permit speed or a decent amount of lean.

 

Before I knew it, I found that I was getting it right, every corner, every time. Don't get me wrong. I know I'm still ~20 seconds a lap slower than ideal on a timed track lap. I still have a ton to learn and a then to put all that new knowledge to practice. But though my speed is lower than the experts, I've come away from the class (and subsequent homework) with the confidence and skill set to significantly, if not completely, eliminate close calls.

 

I like to think every close call is a sign that I got lucky. The longer you go between close calls (especially the ones that were in your control) the safer you'll be. The more you'll enjoy riding. The more the entire process feels like fun and less like a mixture of fun and anxiety or frustration.

 

So anyway, thanks to you guys (and gals) at CSS. You've made a huge impact on my life.

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Great experience. Thank you for sharing.

 

Right or wrong I find that there's certain circumstances where it's impossible for there not to be some of my body weight on the bars. Heavy trail braking while hanging off tends to be one of those times for me. From what I have read this is normal. It's still worth trying to reduce this as much as possible as unintentional bar input can adversely affect the bike.

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Great experience. Thank you for sharing.

 

Right or wrong I find that there's certain circumstances where it's impossible for there not to be some of my body weight on the bars. Heavy trail braking while hanging off tends to be one of those times for me. From what I have read this is normal. It's still worth trying to reduce this as much as possible as unintentional bar input can adversely affect the bike.

This youtube may be of interest to you. I just finished watching

 

https://youtu.be/hlfN9Z6IlI0

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Great experience. Thank you for sharing.

 

Right or wrong I find that there's certain circumstances where it's impossible for there not to be some of my body weight on the bars. Heavy trail braking while hanging off tends to be one of those times for me. From what I have read this is normal. It's still worth trying to reduce this as much as possible as unintentional bar input can adversely affect the bike.

 

when I was riding super slow just working on finding a new way to grip the tank, I focused on this exclusively. I found that when hanging off prior to braking, making sure that my outside leg was angled sufficiently so that even before turning and even when applying some brake, I was entirely supported by my feet and the outside leg. Before leaning over, it's the pressure of the leg against the back of the tank. As you lean in, the pressure from the outside plays a bigger role. There's no transition from back to side of tank. Your leg is angled so it's already prepared to serve both roles. Then just day after day of hanging off at 20-30 mph with maybe 10 degrees of lean just enjoying the way the bars feel in your hands. It's different than it feels when you're hustling. It's missing a physicality that allows you to really just observe small details without focusing on making the corner.

 

RE braking: Yeah, I think in this case it's mostly just reducing the bar pressure and being ready to transition to totally soft hands earlier than before. I remember a friend of mine telling me a long time ago that you should pinch the tank with your knees when braking. That didn't make sense to me bc if it was important, the pros would do it and you can tell they're not pinching the tank with both legs. Some are letting a leg dangle. Others have their inside knee out far before they stop braking. So I convinced myself they must just be using the bars. In fact, they do talk about the intense pressure it puts on the shoulders when braking.

 

But this new way of locking on allows me to keep most of the weight off the bars even when stopping hard. If I'm hustling, I'll be hung off enough so that I can hold myself up with the outside leg on the back/side corner of the tank. If I'm tooling around, I'll just have my crotch/stomach up against the tank.

 

A long time ago, I was passing and I had one car to my left and another to my right and an errant 3rd driver pulled out in front and when he saw me he just panicked and shut down. He ended up blocking the entire road and I had no room left or right. I braked as hard as I could and it was unclear if I'd get stopped in time. The 3 cars all did their best to open up a little room for me to move through but I was pushing on both bars so hard, I couldn't turn. I was very lucid about not being target fixated. I just couldn't get the bike to change direction. It was only after my speed was scrubbed enough that I released the brakes (and therefore the bar pressure) I could squirt through the hole. So sometimes even intentional bar pressure is bad and even when you aren't planning on needing to turn. Plus when there's a line of 15 cars doing 28mph and your options are:

 

1) go nuts and pass like a felon

2) be bored as hell

3) make games with yourself that you can work on without being anti-social.

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I'm still trying to figure out how to reduce the amount of pressure I feel in my hands when I'm heavy on the brakes heading into a corner. I keep my arms bent but somehow some force is traveling through them. I'm also working on my core strength a bit so I can support myself better without that energy transferring into the bars.

 

It's one of the things holding me back slightly from braking like a pro. Along with many other things of course. :)

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I'm still trying to figure out how to reduce the amount of pressure I feel in my hands when I'm heavy on the brakes heading into a corner..

 

I think of it as riding a monocycle. Most of the time we're "riding" the rear tire and the front is for directional changes. Front tire "riding" is only dominant when initiating braking up to the apex.

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I'm still trying to figure out how to reduce the amount of pressure I feel in my hands when I'm heavy on the brakes heading into a corner. I keep my arms bent but somehow some force is traveling through them. I'm also working on my core strength a bit so I can support myself better without that energy transferring into the bars.

 

It's one of the things holding me back slightly from braking like a pro. Along with many other things of course. :)

 

I'm wondering if the no brakes drill can help you with this. Heck! I need to do more of that myself!

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I'm still trying to figure out how to reduce the amount of pressure I feel in my hands when I'm heavy on the brakes heading into a corner. I keep my arms bent but somehow some force is traveling through them. I'm also working on my core strength a bit so I can support myself better without that energy transferring into the bars.

 

It's one of the things holding me back slightly from braking like a pro. Along with many other things of course. :)

I'm not sure it is realistic to expect to be 100% off the bars when braking hard on the S1000rr, there is a LOT of force to contend with. Personally I try to absorb as much as possible with legs and core, and then just make sure any force on the bars is parallel to the ground, instead of downwards. Keeping the upper body low and elbows bent helps with that. Also you want avoid UNEVEN pressure on the bars as this can create tail wagging or make the rear end come around.

 

For sure core strength and leg strength help tremendously, along with good tank grip pads. Are you keeping both knees in the tank when braking hard? When do you release your inside knee?

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I'm still trying to figure out how to reduce the amount of pressure I feel in my hands when I'm heavy on the brakes heading into a corner. I keep my arms bent but somehow some force is traveling through them. I'm also working on my core strength a bit so I can support myself better without that energy transferring into the bars.

 

It's one of the things holding me back slightly from braking like a pro. Along with many other things of course. :)

I'm not sure it is realistic to expect to be 100% off the bars when braking hard on the S1000rr, there is a LOT of force to contend with. Personally I try to absorb as much as possible with legs and core, and then just make sure any force on the bars is parallel to the ground, instead of downwards. Keeping the upper body low and elbows bent helps with that. Also you want avoid UNEVEN pressure on the bars as this can create tail wagging or make the rear end come around.

 

For sure core strength and leg strength help tremendously, along with good tank grip pads. Are you keeping both knees in the tank when braking hard? When do you release your inside knee?

 

I wonder if this is a matter of difference of perceiving what top level racers do from what they are actually doing. From what I can tell, in the braking zones they tend to sit-up a fraction of a second before getting hard on the brakes, which puts the force at an angle versus the ideal parallel to road surface as you've described here. I guess I'd also been emulating what I've seen but experience has taught me that force on bars is bad and to be avoided as much as possible.

 

If one were to get the braking completed and off the brakes completely before turning, would it still matter where the rider force is applied? I'd think you'd want that going down versus forward as you're now trying to change your vector. Hmmm....lots to think about.

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