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Keith Code

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Everything posted by Keith Code

  1. CRASHING Riding errors which lead to crashing follow distinct patterns. Once detected they can be used to make huge leaps forward in skill and confidence. Reasons To Improve My experience is that riders come to school for a variety of reasons. They say: to be safer, faster, more in control, learn the skills, have more confidence, get their knee down, improve and so on. Beneath all of these reasons and consistent with each is a very fundamental personal reason: riders don't want to crash. Everyone wants to experience the maximum freedom and exhilaration with the minimum of danger; and I fully agree with this. For the school staff, this principle works out just fine. If a rider crashes on a school day, no one wins: we are deprived of the opportunity to finish up what we started and so is the rider. It puts kinks in the day for everyone involved. Conventional Wisdom On Crashing Unfortunately there is still a lot of really bad advice out there on crashing: "You don't know how fast you can go until you crash," is one of them. "There are riders who have fallen and those that are going to fall," that's another one that makes crashing seem inevitable. These pieces of "conventional wisdom" miss the mark by miles. They are actually harmful. I'm not saying that you can get through all of life without falling down. You may. But riders have and will continue to crash, bin it, fall down, go down, throw it away, pitch it, drop it, put it down and lose it. A significant rider error, when aggravated and compounded by the rider's "corrections", can result in violating the machine's inherent stability leading to a bike and rider going down. That is the negative. Errors Follow Patterns On the positive side, there are key indicators of these basic errors and they follow a pattern. I say positive because if you intend to improve someone's riding, but don't have a clue about these indicators, you may see errors and try to correct them but miss their underlying pattern, which in turn creates a mystery as to why the rider suddenly runs off track, scares him/herself or falls down. These indicators do have patterns and are specific in how they look. They generally break down into two main categories. 1) the riders who look uncertain and choppy as they commit them, a sort of advanced case of new rider syndrome and 2) riders appear to have abandoned their senses like someone with their first unlimited-purchase credit card. They are purposeful, very positive and absolutely committed to their silly riding. You see what can only be described as blind faith in the bike and the tires with absolutely no idea of limits and how these limits may be correctly approached and eventually controlled. Steering Drill Those of you who have already done the school may remember the simple steering drill we did with you in the paddock or skid pad area. There are 6 corrections we can make on how the rider relates to the bike as it's steered into a corner with that drill. Riders feel more in control of the bike from any of the six corrections, once corrected. However, one of the primary reasons we do the steering drill is to prevent them from making mistakes that, under very common circumstances, can lead to running wide, running off the track or even crashing. When the coaches see these errors they know where the rider is going and what he thinks he is trying to do and how bad it can get if not corrected. The Timid and The Brave Some riders can't get comfortable with the no limits idea the track provides and actually ride slower than they do on the street. While at the other extreme, some riders go on vacation from the laws of physics, speed, lean angle and common sense. Whichever mode they tend toward, certain patterns quickly develop in their riding that, to the trained eye, spell TROUBLE. I hope I don't blow any other schools out of the water with this but, all schools, all track days, all racing and of course street riding have crashes. Some people call them accidents but rarely are motorcycle crashes accidental; they are caused, more often than not, by the rider's own hand. Statistics on Crashing I bring this up because of what has happened at our school over the past year and a half. For the previous 25 years we had a pretty consistent attrition rate due to crashing. All in all it wasn't horrible, about one and a half million school miles to what you might call a serious crash: more than a broken collarbone or bruises kind of thing. Because we pay attention to how riders are riding I was convinced it had more to do with the phases of the moon or something than observable riding patterns but we've had a fresh look at this and it began to resolve in the riders' favor. Once we began to really see the errors and what they meant, what seemed like accidents or fate turns out to be lack of technical skills and is very correctable. What happened? Well, when you have a 50% improvement in anything you know that you are on the right path and we have, on average, cut our crash rate in half. Considering that we have more school days and hence more students now than ever before, that floats my boat. Preventative Measures We are becoming pro at spotting these patterns and nipping them before they progress to the run-off-the-track or crashing stage. Looking at it from another perspective, students have told me for years that crashing on the track is most probably many, many times ?safer? than on the street. But one of the great rewards of teaching this sport are the scores of students who have come back and told us of the horrible riding situation that they avoided because they knew what to do. I'm not saying that we can make you a safe rider. I'm not saying that you can't crash at my school, you certainly can. Fortunately, we recognize something about ourselves and our sport: if riding was not dangerous it wouldn't be nearly as much fun. We know the risks, we like the risks and we love the rewards of taking them. It makes perfect sense to me. Taking risks, with understanding, makes a rider as safe as he or she can be. Problems Lead to Improvement The other huge positive that has come out of this evolution is that riders are made more aware of the points that get them into trouble. It may sound crazy but more often than not the "fatal" mistakes (resulting in poor control or catalysts to crashing type errors) mistakes are actually aspects of riding that the student felt were some of their best points. Clearing up these misguided ideas alone can open the door for vast improvement with any rider. If this seems like I'm patting ourselves on the back, you are right. Crashing is a huge area of rider fear and eliminating 50% of the crashes on average is another milestone for us. You have plenty of reasons to learn the skills of riding. We are doing our level (very) best to see that you get what you want with your riding and we are winning at it every school day. You will too. See you at the track. Keith Code Copyright Keith Code, 2006, all rights reserved.
  2. Trail braking is a highly useful skill to have for the corners and riding situations where it applies. Decreasing radius entry corners are a perfect example of a kind of corner where anyone might want to trail the brake in. I was told by some car guys that Schumaker's team mate a year ago (don't know his name) who was driving pretty well didn't trail brake at all while Schumaker did all the time so apparently even in cars it is an option based on the pilot. It is also easy to see that MotoGP riders often don't get back to the gas until around the apex of the corner. When you consider that it takes time to finish the release of the brake and move your hand into roll on position you see that the is only very, very slight actual braking going on through the first third of the turn. You can also easily see that even the fastest guys make terminal errors with trail braking so from that perspective it is indeed an "advanced technique" I don't have a quarrel with trail braking except that it can become a crutch for riders who don't have a clue on their turn entry speeds and trailing the brake in becomes a crutch to a rider who doesn't have a good sense of speed. The fact is that trailing the brake is something that should be done on every track braking situation, whether the rider is leaned over or not and this is a huge point for riders when they are trying to "go fast". It's huge because they tend to "charge the turns". THat means they wind up with a lot of brake at their turn in point and that just makes it more difficult to judge the entry speed accurately. Up to the point any riders is still having entry speed problems trail braking won't solve their entry speed judgement errors. In many corenring situations in racing you will get passed if you aren't trailing the brake in. In others, if you can run late turn entries and you have good confidence to get the bike turned quickly you can let someone pass you going in and repass them on the exit because your line will let you drive off the corner harder. On the road, trailbraking is a valuable skill for avoiding obstacles like pot holes or rocks or whatever. As pointed out earlier in this thread, lean angle and braking are porportional. The more lean you have the less brake you can use. If you are overconfident with it you will do a Danny Pedrosa and take out your team mate who is tyring to win a world championship...as an example...or crash on the road. The question then is does trailbraking solve the other basics of corenring like choosing a line, good throttle control, visual skills, rider input errors and so on. I say it doesn't. On the the road to improving speed I believe there are points that build a stronger foundation for the rider than learning to trail leaned over. Keith
  3. Cattivo, The $750 is the maximum you would pay if you damaged the bike. No damage, no charges. If you bent a handlebar for example, it would cost about $25. If you totaled the bike it would cost $750, no more. Fourtuantely, we don't have that many crashes. OK? Keith
  4. Hi guys, If you pay close attention to what the bike is doing you will find that the initial reaction of going off gas mid corner is the bike coming up slightly. As the speed deteriorates rapidly when this happens, the bike then begins to tighten up its line, going to the inside of the turn. The lean increases as the radius the bike is running on decreases. The initial "stand up" is due to the drag at the contact patch trying to countersteer the front wheel into the turn and therefore bring the bike up. Acceleration widens the arc the bike is on without altering its lean angle. Lean angle is depedant on speed and also the radius of the turn. You can be at full lean in a 35mph hairpin and a 150mph sweeper. Its just that the radius is great in the 150mph turn. If acceloeration stands the bike up then that must mean a rider who is accelerating hard out of a turn must hold the bike down with the bars to keep his line on the exit until he wishes to pick up the bike for the next straight or corner and that is something that I have never had happen on any bike that I have ridden. Most riders think that rolling on the thorttle brings their bike up at the end of the turn even if they are only accelerating a small or an average amount. What does that tell you? Does mild acceleration also bring the bike up or is it just a false perception of the rider when they are actually steering the bike up while rolling on the throttle and doing it unconciously, as riders who don't understand countersteering think they are steering by leaning? Keith
  5. I know exactly what you mean and it is a barrier. If you can start out my giving it a little gas, then stay with that for a while in a particular turn (on track) and then persuade yourself to add just a little more gas, eventually you can break through to more confidence in downhill corners. As I said before, the line has to be right or it spoils your attempts to the turn inpoint and your apeex points should be consistant before you go out on a limb and spook yourlself. Keith
  6. tfc600 Good obseravation--different riders look different on the bikes. Just as each of us walks a little different we tend to sit on the bike the way it feels best to us. Some riders do lots of stretching exercises, some look stiff, some relaxed. 5'11" isn't too tall at all to ride a 600 so don't worry about that part of it. One thing you want to be aware of is the basic idea of why riders hang off and when you look at someone you can make a simple decision based on that. The basic idea is to lower the combined center of gravity of the bik and the riders body mass which can only be done by bringing the body off the inside of the bike, this, among other things allows for less lean in the corners. If they have their butts way off the seat but their upper body is countering that by being across the tank in the opposite direction they are not getting the full benefits of hanging off. Instead of getting their weight to the inside of the bike their torso mass is countering that and they may be worse off than if they just sat up straight on the bike. Use that as your guide and you can't go wrong if you are trying to learn hanging off. Ben Spies "Elbows" rides like that because it is comfortable. try it yourself and see what it feels like. Try other body positions as well to see what they feel like, it is quite fun to mimic what a pro rider does on the bike and you can learn something about different body positions. All of our Level III is based on this but we start setting you up at Level II on the "Lean Bike" which is when we work out the basics of how to do it best and fit you onto the bike. Keith
  7. Usually around November 15th. If we don't have your email address go to the contact page and write to the school and that will get you on the list and you'll be first to know the new dates when they come out. Keith
  8. Keep it simple guys. It's common to have a "bad side", I'm not so sure you can make a case with the dominant eye thing, I just don't know but there are other factors: Take for example someone who has fallen off of one side or the other, that can be the one they can continue to fear from the lingering effects of the moment they felt out of control. You can always recognize the rider's "bad side" by which one looks the most uncomfortable that will be the side where they won't go with the bike. That is right at 99%+ accurate. I mean once you notice this and then ask which side the rider is least comfortable on it is always the side that fits the description above. The article "The Bad Side" posted here on the forum has tons of data in it about this and there is also a solution recommended. Get your body position the same on both sides of the bike, that means the minimum is you are going with the bike and not countering it by keeping your head straight up from the gournd. Once you get used to that and practice it I think you will find that your "bad side" might just disappear. Keith
  9. Your helmet should be where the mirror is on the right. Keith
  10. Hi Keith, Since you mentioned Rossi, I will post a couple of pics from the very recent Sepang GP as our reference. Honestly, what I notice is that Rossi doesn't hang off that much, and his chest is close to the tank at full lean. Also, his head is pointed slightly downward although I am sure he is looking far ahead in the corner. Also, after a few more careful looks, I think the center line of his body makes a very very small angle with the center line of the bike. That means, he didn't use his hands as the fulcrum and rotated his butt outward. He "rolled" off the bike to the inside and hangs on with his outer knee and outer arm. Am I correct? I have this feeling that many riders, including myself, pay too much attention to hanging off itself and not realize that it's a mean to an end and not an end in itself. Somebody once said "The best line ... is the one that most efficiently uses my tires. ... Lines aren't the objective, but merely a result." I think that applies to riding and cornering as well. James James, The center line of the body to bike is a good place to start with your riding position and yes, hanging of to the floor can be more of a detriment to most riders than a help. Get yourself in line with the bike and send us another shot. Keith
  11. xlr8tn, You push on the left footpeg and which bar do you press to initiate the turn? Keith
  12. Orion, Unless the hill is Really, really, really steep the bike slows when you roll off the gas. The secret to these turns is your turn point. If you make your final commitment to the turn too early, all of the bad things that are happening to you will continue to happen to you. The basic idea of straightening out the turn means that you have chosen a turn in point that creates a constant radius turn for yourself. That means you must turn in later in most hairpins and ALL decreasing radius turns too straighten them out.. Turn in late enough and I'll bet that your problems disappear. Keith
  13. rhema83, Look into the turn is great advice as is the shoulder pointing. There are other parts to good body position that are equally important to having your shoulder pointed toward the turn's direction. I have a question. If you compared the shot you posted to Ben Spies or Danny Pedrosa or Val Rossi, etc., what would you say the difference between your head and upper body position and their's would be? Keith
  14. GSXR600, The situation you originally came up with was losing the front from acceleration while in the corner. If you have not leaned the bike over way too far and you aren't on the brake and it isn't a slippery surface then the reason you are losing the front isn't the gas--unless you are actually whacking the twistgrip open. Riders don't lose the front on the throttle. Going off the throttle and not bringing the bike up at the same time is far more likely the cause of losing the front than is adding throttle. Ancient racer wisdom tells us that rolling on the gas, not harshly, is what saves a front end slide. Kenny Roberts (senior), a keen observer to say the least, recently said that he'd never seen anyone lose the front if they were on the gas--provided of course it wasn't a really slippery surface and even then a little gas can save the front. Keith
  15. Wisquared, Why not just turn up the idly a bit that will get the throttle on slightly and help. There have been some racers who have used this as a technique and I can't say it is wrong but it is complicated and you have to be delicate with the controls to make it work and not cause problems like a power surge while leaned over and on the brakes, that could ruin your day. I don't like to base things on what pro riders do but you can clearly see that no one who has ever had a camera on their bike in MotoGP is using that technique and those guys are pretty smooth and pretty fast. When they show the brake/gas graph it is always one or the other never have I seen both at the same time. Keith
  16. Wippersnapper, Even the pros have all but given up on this as a useful technique. It used to be all the rage but it was discarded because it makes the turn entries far more complicated and all the sliding around became distracting to riders actually getting their turn entry speed right. A far more important point than looking cool sliding the back end into turns. You still see some back end movement in some corners for the pros but there are only a few who actually use the technique to get better turn positioning. Forget it as something that is essential to your progress as a rider, you, like the top pros will discard it eventually. Keith
  17. strace107 Great success story. To answer some of the "questions" you brought up. Yes we make a point to ask our students about application because theory is all well and good but in the end if you can't apply the theory all you did was a mental exercise. Making any riding technique your own is always the battle and you had success doing that at VIR. Well done. Those points we go over in Level 1 are vital. No matter what else you do or how fast you are, those are the ones that make the corner happen or not. They are foundation skill sets but they aren't meant to be applied robotically. Take for example throttle control. We train it the way we train it becuase that is the way it works. Once you feel how it works, only then can you start to become creative with it and find its fine points. We say and Twist II says that once you begin to roll the throttle on you continue to do that at a steady, even rate throughout the corner. OK, where does the corner end so you can get the hammer down for the drive off the turn? Answer: Some riders in some turns are pinned before the bike is much more than half way to full vertical another rider may wait to 3/4 of the way to full vertical and so on. Another rider may quickly pin it just before vertical, that jacks the back end up and stiffens the rear suspension, that starts the wheel spinning and then they slam it up to vertical as it spins. That produces some pretty looking short slides and gets a good drive off the corner. The point with all of the drills at the school is to lay in a foundation so the rider can be the architect of his own style, with as few problems as possible. The more you stick with the basics the fewer mistakes you will make. Finding the loop holes is what we do on Level IV. On Level IV, it becomes your own individual program. So what I think you are saying is that you were able to integrate what we drilled and talked about at the schools into your senses and sensibilities and that is as good as, I think, it gets. Keith
  18. Totally agree. Guys like Rossi make it look so easy you think he couldn't be "thinking things out" at those sort of speeds. He already made most of the key improtant decisions so he says in his book he's talking to himself about what he is doing but that is already measured up against his "plan". Keith Your questions will be answered after you go to school. Some of what you are confused about is in the Twist books, you are right about that. The thing you will get at school is the EXACT sequence you do them in and all the reasons why. Steve will deliver those to you in the classroom and you'll see that it is super simple in the end--all your confusion will evaporate once your coach works with you on track, I promise. All best, Keith
  19. This is a great relationship--I have as much fun writting the articles as you guys have reading them. Keith
  20. I've always thought that the Level II drills and skills are the most diffucult to take "on board" because it requires so much retraining of our visual system. There isn't anything natural about our eyes except that they create most of our problems because of their archaic programming to search out danger--not to find a good line through a corner or get us out of a panic situation. Trained, they are superb instruments that aid us in riding. Untrained, they get us into trouble. Great onyour successes with the drills, the more you use them the more breakthroughs you will continue to have with your riding. Keith
  21. Oops, my bad, I reversed the name of the bike in my message. Please change all occurances of "R6" in my post to "6R" (i.e. Ninja ZX 6R) -- that should cause less confusion. -Celeste Celeste, We have a cut down seat for shorter riders. If you are coming out to school and using our bike, let Natalie know that you want a cut down seat on our bike. call her at 800 530 3350. Keith
  22. Yes but only because your front brake may not be what you would use too hard if you ran off track. Keith
  23. What we ask for is a competent street rider for exactly the reasons stated above -- if you are still wrestling with basic control operations it will be impossible to learn techniques. Get some experience on the bike and try to stay out of trouble for a few weeks and a few thousand miles then we can help you get what you want as a rider. keith
  24. The Barriers to Improvement While riding, the more we resist things happening to us the more likely we are to make an error with that exact thing. The areas we fear, the ones we do not understand the basics or the limits of, the ones that stick our attention, will bite us in the end. Squirmy Barriers It's really simple, if you put too much attention on how the tires are gripping, each little squirm of the tire can make you nervous. Later braking, better drives, higher entry speeds and everything else there is to riding, especially quick riding, follows suit. They all have scary parts that can stick our attention. Look over most of the riding forums and see what the majority of questions are about. The questions all relate to the barriers these riders experience. Good Starts Take starts for example. You try to get a good launch and the right hand is too nervous on the throttle; your attention is fixed on it and the start is bogged. Putting all of ones attention onto the throttle and resisting the impact it "might" have leaves no attention free to look after the clutch. Done properly, we bring the clutch out to just before engagement and pin the throttle, leaving all of our attention free to use the clutch and correctly meter the power to get the launch; no bog, no wheelie. Attention Barriers Attention nailed in place, on what is being resisted, becomes the real barrier. The moment attention goes to what we don't want to happen (the scary bits) we miss the positive aspects that would allow us to improve. Chopped up riding is the expected, but unwanted, result of our attention being spent on and becoming fixated on that which we resist. It creates "no-flow" and hesitant riding is the result. If you wanted to get some immediate improvement in your riding you'd write out what it would be like if the commonplace things you resist were overcome. In fact, take a look at any time you've had a riding uncertainty and you'll come up with an item that was being resisted. The control inputs that govern your traction, line, lean angle, surface situations and speed are the most likely suspects to investigate for that list. Bridging the Gap In order to maintain contact with what IS happening the important must be separated from the unimportant. Easy to say but how do you bridge the gap between the fear of things and achieving the desired flow? Here we are back to the basic idea of "A Twist of the Wrist, Volume I", how our limited amount of available attention is being spent. What's Important? In the tire squirm example: tire squirm is important to you but your control over the throttle is far more important. In the end it will be mastery of it that allows you to move through the tire squirming barrier and get to the point where proper tire spinning is comfy. As you bring the bike up out of the turn and apply more and more throttle the rear end tends to stiffen, as a result, the squirmy little mini-slides are more easily achieved. Because of that, the drive area off corners would be the important place to begin to experiment with squirm and spin. Why? It's safer. Tire slip is tire slip and the rules say that slip at big lean angles is going to get worse a whole lot quicker than if the bike were more upright. This is important for you to know. It gives a precise area (turn exit) and action (bringing up the bike) to coordinate with your idea of tire spinning and throttle application. Squirm Barriers If the rider freezes as he feels the squirm two things can happen that make things worse: 1) she stops bringing the bike up and 2) the throttle roll on stops. That is exactly the point at which it would begin to work if she had kept going with both. In this case, the timing of the two actions is what is important just as the clutch engagement timing is the key that unlocks a great launch. The Time to Improve Riding and life work like this: put your attention on fears and we produce fear and errors; put it on our hopes, we see hope. The only hope you have of mastery in these areas of riding is to sort out the underlying technical points, procedures and priorities which, when mastered, will pave the way to success. It doesn't mean that there aren't riders who are quick, smooth and consistent naturally, I've known many; but the questions you have to ask yourself are, "Am I quick, smooth and consistent?" "Can I make it in the time I have allotted for this sport"? "Will 10 more track days pull it all together for me?" Un-resist On a purely physical level a great example of overcoming fear and resistance is the technique for going down a steep, slippery dirt hill on foot. If you resist, for fear of your feet slipping out from underneath you, they tend to slip. The moment you lean forward and begin to run or walk quickly enough, there is no possibility of falling from slipping. Skiing is very similar. Resist and you lose control. There is simple physics that accompany this technique but the point is-it's foolproof, you can't fall from loosing your traction if you run or walk quickly enough down the slippery stuff. The flow you impose on it overcomes the barrier. The potential for a bad result evaporates completely and you are in knowing control of it. Un-resisted Riding Actually, riding off-road is the same principal, the more you resist going down the hill by over-using the brakes, especially the rear, the less control you have; pushing through that barrier and allowing the rear wheel to turn ain't easy for some people but it is a whole other world of control on the other side. That world opens up when you correctly place your attention onto what gains you control rather than resisting it. Similarly, your chances of wheelying or bogging goes way down when the throttle is pinned for starts; it just doesn't seem that way until you do it. Every barrier you blow through results in a satisfying and in-control flow of actions. If you think what I am saying is: you have to push through the fear barriers to get to clean riding, you are right; but the push comes after the understanding of where your attention should or should not be focused. Simple Route There are basic principals to riding. What you ride doesn't change them. Where you ride doesn't change them. How fast you ride doesn't change them. They are what they are: they are not based on my opinions about them, they are based on well defined and easily understood basic principals you will understand. You may discover these principals all on your own, you may also win the lottery. Considering the limited amount of time most riders have to devote to riding your chances are about the same. It has been our great good fortune to research, discover and assemble these technical points of cornering. It has taken 30 years of devoted time and attention to separate the important from the unimportant and to figure out ways we can trick ourselves into giving up the resist-error-resist-terror way of doing things in favor of the focus-flow-focus-go mode. We now know how to achieve this with ANY rider. Indeed, the huge amount of improvement riders can achieve in just one day of training still boggles me, even after 30 years of doing it. The Superbike School's program is not based on tricks and I can't say it is easy to overcome the barriers. I will say that our route is simple to understand, direct, to the point and it works. You will improve; past that I can't promise anything. Learn the skills, discover the art of cornering. Best, Keith Code\School Director ⓒ Keith Code, 2006, all rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any form without express written permission from the author.
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