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Cobie Fair

Poll for street riders

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If you ride a street bike, interested in what you think:  Of the following skills/abilities (or another not listed) what do you rank as the highest priority as a rider?

  1. Ability to steer quickly
  2. Brave
  3. Visual skill, lack of target fixation
  4. Quick reflexes
  5. Physical condition, strength

Interested in all skill levels response to this short survey, so if you ride a motorcycle, you can answer.

Best,

Cobie

 

 

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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

 

 

 

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4-1-3-2-5 in that order, though I Place 4/1 similarly related. I might even be inclined to swap them but didn’t because I’d place reflexes as senior to quick steering. 

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#3 as I find the need to scan the road surface for hazards through corners has the potential to cause target fixation issues (for me) that you're more freed from on the track where you can practice better visual skills without worrying so much about the pavement surface itself.

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I think visual skills are far more important than the others listed.  I think your school thinks so too :)  You teach that and throttle control first because it's the foundation of all the other skills in that those two things keep you mentally ahead of the action unfolding in front of you.  The only other thing I would add as a skill is being smooth and steady on the controls.  If your vision and throttle control are good, I think you'll find that those quick reflexes, bravery, and other skills will get tested less often!!

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1 hour ago, PittsDriver said:

I think visual skills are far more important than the others listed.  I think your school thinks so too :)  You teach that and throttle control first because it's the foundation of all the other skills in that those two things keep you mentally ahead of the action unfolding in front of you.  The only other thing I would add as a skill is being smooth and steady on the controls.  If your vision and throttle control are good, I think you'll find that those quick reflexes, bravery, and other skills will get tested less often!!

I vote this as best answer.

Rereading the question, I must have heard Family Fued music playing in my head when I answered. 😂 

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In my opinion, for street riding, if you have the greatest ability to steer quickly but, don’t have visual skills you wouldn’t steer away from the problem.

I think the highest priority is visual skills.  I think the second highest is quick steer.  In my opinion, if you can quick steer to full lean (excessive for street riding but, if a deer or car are coming into your lane maybe it’s not excessive) and have great visual skill, then I don’t know how you could be bad at riding.

I would imagine if you had both of those skills, rolling on the throttle would be easy because you wouldn't run out of track/road.

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This is great stuff, all of you.  I do hope we get a little more on this, either confirmations of the above or any other views (if you haven't yet chimed in, please do).

CF

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Another skill for street riders would be developing your spidey-sense for danger from other vehicles on the road.  Unlike the track where you can put almost all your attention into looking where you want to go and how you get there, if you do that on the street that's when someone is going to pull out in front of you because you didn't notice that they hadn't made eye contact with you and were looking the other way.  I guess in CSS terms, that would maybe be the wide view?  Maybe that's still vision but with a different emphasis on detecting potential dangers.  

 

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This is difficult as to a point these skills will play off each other.  So, my opinion (based on street riding, not track though they are likely the same):

#1 - Visual skill, lack of target fixation.  You have to see the situation or threat before anything else can happen.

#2 - Quick reflexes.  Once you see the threat/issue you need to make the right reaction.

#3 - Ability to steer quickly.  If you need to change direction, this is important.

#4 - Physical Condition.  Its important so you can enjoy your ride and not be fatigued (and sloppy)

#5 - A lowly last is Brave.  Just being brave will likely get you in real trouble.

One skill not mentioned is ability to brake safely and quickly in all riding attitudes (straight up, turning, poor traction etc).

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OK, to move on to the next point, and that is one's attention, and where does it get put/get used/consumed.

Keith has covered this well in Twist 1, with his $10 bill analogy.

One thing that surprises me is how few riders new to the track use ear plugs, and for the simple reason of reducing distraction.

What types of things do you guys do/use to have more free attention for riding?

Let's hear 'em.

(Should we do a new thread for this?)

CF

 

 

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I USUALLY wear earplugs for street or track. I also believe that having well fitted gear with no lanyards or hanging bits is part of the equation. Except...

I used to have a pair of washable earplugs that has softened over the years, you guys might not believe me if I said how long I’ve had them. But I kept them in a little plastic box that was tied to the zipper of my suit. Keith asked me 2 years ago if it was distracting. Do you know THAT day was when I lost one or both plugs and grieved a bit then threw it all away. I found that box light enough and the lanyard short enough that it didn’t bother. Now, I often forget to grab a set of disposables from the drawer before I go out.

I don’t find engine noise distracting but wind noise, certainly. For minimoto racing I can get away with not wearing them. I think top speed on my XR100 is maybe 47MPH and that’s IF it can haul my weight up to that speed in the short distances we use on kart tracks.

Good bike and rider ergonomics often get overlooked. Once you find what works the bike becomes invisible. This goes for proper bike setup too.

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I am guilty of not wearing earplugs on track. I tried using earplugs while riding with CSS a couple of times and I couldn't do it; it was too hard to hear the bike.

I tape over my speedometer to reduce distractions! I didn't realize how much I was looking at my instrument cluster until I started masking it.

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Hearing the engine, just to be clear, is that for when to shift?

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OK pollsters, here is another look at this area, and question for you (and any others that have not chimed in) this could be considered the same question (or similar), but going to ask anyway:

What single skill would you most like to improve in your own riding? 

CF 

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On 7/1/2019 at 7:07 PM, Cobie Fair said:

Hearing the engine, just to be clear, is that for when to shift?

That's a good question; I don't really know.. I don't shift based on the sound of the engine but I do like to have the sound as feedback, especially during downshifts. I probably don't need to hear the bike at all on track but it feels important for some reason. 

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On 7/1/2019 at 7:14 PM, Cobie Fair said:

OK pollsters, here is another look at this area, and question for you (and any others that have not chimed in) this could be considered the same question (or similar), but going to ask anyway:

What single skill would you most like to improve in your own riding? 

CF 

Visual skills.

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On 7/1/2019 at 8:14 PM, Cobie Fair said:

OK pollsters, here is another look at this area, and question for you (and any others that have not chimed in) this could be considered the same question (or similar), but going to ask anyway:

What single skill would you most like to improve in your own riding? 

CF 

For riding at the track, the skill (or lack of) that's holding me back from advancing is feeling front end grip and riding near the limit.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe it's fear of a low side that's keeping me from riding near the limit?  The one and only time I've ever put a bike on the ground was a low side in an off-camber decreasing radius where I felt like I had everything working just right until I was sliding on my back.  I blame that incident on my stupidity of pushing cold tires but it's put a road block in my advancement and I wish there was a way to get past that to develop finer feel for the limit.  

I'm a dirt bike guy as well and I'm comfortable with that bike moving around under me at and beyond the limit of traction but for some reason I just can't trust myself to push the bike into any kind of slide at the track knowing that I can control it.

Also, I never throw my leg over a motorcycle without hearing protection.  I'm a poster case for being stupid about that earlier in my life and I'm just trying to save the hearing I have left.  

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On 7/1/2019 at 5:14 PM, Cobie Fair said:

OK pollsters, here is another look at this area, and question for you (and any others that have not chimed in) this could be considered the same question (or similar), but going to ask anyway:

What single skill would you most like to improve in your own riding? 

CF 

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.

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Hi Apollo,

We have some good threads on tires, but I'll take a quick swing at this:

The goal is to discover traction, not assume it--I'm not of the opinion that one should just "trust" the tires--find out how good they are working!  This is harder to do on the front, easier to do on the rear.  If the morning is cool/cold, (and let's assume no tire warmers) then you have to put heat in the tires, which builds from flexing the carcass, so heat comes from the inside out.  So start easy, gradually increase the pace.  Straight line accel and braking help a little to flex the carcass, but still needs both sides warmed, which is achieved by cornering and putting them on a load, gradually increasing that load.  On a modern Dunlop slick, this can take 3 laps on even just a cool day, maybe more on a cold day, or very first ride.  On some very cold days, they won't ever get to temp.

If you have a good lock on the bike with the lower body (arms are not being used to support the body), the front will feel like it's a bowling ball, stiff and slippery, not "hooked up" at all.  As it warms, you will feel more resistance, it's "biting" more and will track a tighter line once turned in.

This is a super short comment, we have a lot of good data up here on tires, and cold tires too.  Let me know if this helps, or you need any assistance finding more info.

Best,

Cobie

 

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On 7/15/2019 at 4:53 PM, Cobie Fair said:

Hi Apollo,

We have some good threads on tires, but I'll take a quick swing at this:

The goal is to discover traction, not assume it--I'm not of the opinion that one should just "trust" the tires--find out how good they are working!  This is harder to do on the front, easier to do on the rear.  If the morning is cool/cold, (and let's assume no tire warmers) then you have to put heat in the tires, which builds from flexing the carcass, so heat comes from the inside out.  So start easy, gradually increase the pace.  Straight line accel and braking help a little to flex the carcass, but still needs both sides warmed, which is achieved by cornering and putting them on a load, gradually increasing that load.  On a modern Dunlop slick, this can take 3 laps on even just a cool day, maybe more on a cold day, or very first ride.  On some very cold days, they won't ever get to temp.

If you have a good lock on the bike with the lower body (arms are not being used to support the body), the front will feel like it's a bowling ball, stiff and slippery, not "hooked up" at all.  As it warms, you will feel more resistance, it's "biting" more and will track a tighter line once turned in.

This is a super short comment, we have a lot of good data up here on tires, and cold tires too.  Let me know if this helps, or you need any assistance finding more info.

Best,

Cobie

 

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. 
 

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3A, off camber slippery turn that then crests and goes down hill, on a cold morning that was damp...after sitting too long on the grid--everything against you on that one.

Have you done the school and taken the class that has the Pick Up technique?  It was in Level 2 for a long time, now in Level 3 (we have a braking exercise in L-2 in that spot now).

CF

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1 hour ago, Cobie Fair said:

3A, off camber slippery turn that then crests and goes down hill, on a cold morning that was damp...after sitting too long on the grid--everything against you on that one.

Have you done the school and taken the class that has the Pick Up technique?  It was in Level 2 for a long time, now in Level 3 (we have a braking exercise in L-2 in that spot now).

CF

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. 

 

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