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James Pickard

Limitations of CSS techniques?

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For me, the fundamentals of CSS are simple and straightforward.  There is nothing complex about "do most of your braking while upright", or "complete your steering before getting back on the gas"...

What I like most about these CSS fundamentals is that they are "safe".  At any point in any corner, the chances of losing the front mid-corner while on maintenance throttle and no unintended steering input is so much less than if you were on the brakes and steering into the corner at that exact point (see pic below).  There is this confidence that comes from knowing the bike is stable as you go through a corner.

That being said, I get why others schools may be upset with CSS students!  I can't trail brake to the apex to save my life.  So if another school was trying to coach me to ride in that manner (to carry the brakes farther into the corner), it would be frustrating for both of us.

People spend so much time arguing about trail braking (to the apex) vs point and shoot (quick turn, then back on throttle).  There are many fast riders with different styles.  The major difference I notice between these 2 styles is in the lines.  CSS teaches wide entry (or late turn in points) and people who trail brake like to begin turn in sooner, brake longer, and trail to the apex.

Corner entry.jpg

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I found another picture that illustrates the difference in lines I was referring to.  The issue here is that a rider behind you sees you taking wide entry turn ins (to get on the gas through the corner and have a good drive out) and they think they can sneak in on the inside on the brakes.  It leads to issues because if they are coming in hot, you shut the door on them.  And if they are coming in too hot, you need to pick up to prevent an incident.

That's why different lines is the main conflict I notice.  Racers of course would not leave the door wide open, but non-racing regular trackday riders like myself like to joy ride to the edge of the track before bringing it back in :)


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So I went and paid for a one month subscription to see all of the MotoVudu videos available on the website. There's a lot, over 100 videos. Some are quite short, only a minute or two, others are longer. It's basically a bunch of videos of Simon giving tips about riding (and other things related to riding). I'd love to read his book but it's not available electronically and I'd prefer to download it and read it on my iPad while on a plane. So my feedback is based purely on the videos and the public stuff on his website. A lot of it is good information and will definitely help riders improve.

On 7/14/2017 at 1:23 PM, James Pickard said:

Recently, a blog post by Simon Crafar of Motovudu caught my attention where he singled out CSS for causing him a lot of problems in his coaching and limiting riders with how far they can proceed.
So I investigated further and found one of the biggest things appears to be his views on corner entry when compared to CSS.

One of things that jumps out at me about the quoted article above by Simon: "In all my years instructing on circuit I am yet to come across a very fast rider using strictly what CSS teaches". My first response to this is that very fast riders don't need Simon's coaching so that's probably why he's never come across one (it's not hard to find a list of very fast riders trained by CSS) ;) The very first comment at the bottom of that article is by someone who had been "using CSS technique of getting balancing throttle applied straight after turn in" - that's not what I remember CSS teaching - we all know the throttle control rule, and it's not about "balancing" throttle. So as Dylan pointed out, the former students that Simon has been coaching aren't even practicing what they've been taught at CSS.

He teaches pushing yourself up against the tank so that the tank can hold you under braking forces, BUT he also says to lock your arms on the bars under braking. Once the braking is done you're supposed to relax the arms and lean your upper body forward and on the inside of the bike. Then in another video he talks about how to many people have too much input on the bars. Well guess why that is? It's because riders at the level he seems to be coaching, can't go from fully locked arms to leaning forward with relaxed arms quick enough so the arms still locked or partially locked while they are trying to steer the bike. He also talks about letting the rear move around under braking, which IMO is a result of what he's teaching, not a something you should be aiming to do. 

It's not my intention to ridicule Simon's coaching, because as I said at the start there's a lot of good stuff there. There's a really good, balanced, review of the MotoVudu DVD (the content of which is available with the one month subscription on the website) here: https://lifeatlean.com/motovudu-dark-art-of-performance-dvd-review/ and I agree with everything in that review.

The only negative comments I've seen of CSS are from people who clearly haven't understood the drills they were supposed to be practicing. One guy complained that a CSS coach told him he would go faster without getting his knee down. The drill he was practicing before being told this was Rider Input - he was trying so much to get the knee down that he was white knuckling the bars. Knee down doesn't make you fast (though fast riders can get the knee down whenever required/desired). I have video of me getting the knee down in a carpark doing figure 8's in 1st gear at not much more than walking pace.


As for which methods are the best/fastest, it takes a lot more than learning riding techniques at a few riding schools to be very fast. A lot of riders suffer way too much from paralysis by analysis, when what they need to do is get more track time and practice!

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