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botte

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About botte

  • Rank
    Cornering Apprentice
  • Birthday 07/19/1952

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    Male
  • Location
    St. Louis

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  • Have you attended a California Superbike School school?
    Yes
  1. The replies to this thread have pushed in a number of directions. Discussing whether Cal Rayborne or Valentino Rossi was the greater rider because of the difference in the capabilities of their equipment probably requires more beer than sense to pursue at great length, so I'll let that thread go. I'm in the camp that agrees with the thesis that the sophisticated tires, suspension systems and traction management systems on today's bikes allow bad riding habits and bad track strategies to go unpunished. Darwin teaches us that that's bad for the species (homo motorcyclus), allowing survival of the unfit. But I am, on balance, deeply appreciative of these bike technology capabilities as a student. Furthermore, I think they increase, rather than decrease, the value of structured (coached) training. The technologies give the serious student the ability to experience the edge of traction, and learn what that feels like on the track, and learn what kinds of control and body inputs are useful (and what are not) with much less exposure to physical and financial pain. I first got on a track in 1977, with a TZ-250B-- wire wheels, 4-leading shoe brakes, "trigonal" Dunlop tires, suspicious shocks, flexible (stock) swingarm and forks, and barely enough electronics to fire the spark plugs. By the time the neophyte rider experienced loss of traction, there was next to zero chance that he'd have enough time to make a saving control input. Learning was a painful process, in the literal sense of the phrase. I was last on a track in 2012, on one of CSS' R1000RS bikes. I could explore traction at many places around VIR with high confidence that there wouldn't be a terrible consequence. On the (relatively few) instances that the bike's traction control technology interceded, I could think back to what I was feeling and the control inputs I made-- and learn a bit more about how to be in control while using the tire and suspension technology more fully. So, to me, the very great value of current technology is not that it lets me go faster or lets me "get away with more". It's that I can learn safer, and therefore faster and cheaper. That's very darn good value, when I compare the cost of a day at CSS in 2012 on the R1000RS vs a day at CSS in 2009 with the Kaw 600's. So why do I also think the current technology increases the value of structured training and coaching? I offer two reasons. The first is that discussing what you felt "at the edge" with somebody who has spent a lot of time there and has been trained to think about it critically and effectively, and what the "feel" means, is just amazingly helpful to "gel" the experience in your mind. If you feel it and record it accurately in your mind (which doesn't happen so well when you are terrified), you can describe it well enough that a good coach can understand what happened and focus your thinking on the important bits of it. The new technology lets you "record" more accurately (by subjecting you to less terror); the coaches help you use the "recording" much more effectively. The second reason is that as you begin to ride closer to the limits of traction, the more using it in the right places on the track becomes a competitive necessity. Track management and strategy, and traffic management and strategy, are where I have had the most fun and satisfaction from the coaching process at CSS. After the perfect traction control system and the 300hp, 30# engine with CVT has been implemented in every bike costing over $8000 (except Harleys), your ability to manage the track and traffic (and make precise control inputs) will be the differentiator. If you think this through to its logical conclusion, and you have an ounce of competitve drive, you'll sign up for MORE coaching, rather than less, as technology improves.
  2. Greg: By "feather", I took the instruction to mean a very slight roll-off. We were talking about achieving a quick transition between turns 4 and 5 at VIR, and neither Cobie nor Tim wanted a big roll-off that would do any radical unsettling of the bike. Interesting-- on the school's 600's I didn't feel a need to roll off the throttle at all in the kink in the long straight near the start/finish line. Seemed like a WFO situation, but I think we had a ~10MPH headwind on the straight those days. Bet it's more entertaining on an open bike! Cobie: I'm interpreting your response below as a [deserved] dope-slap. A throttle roll-off (even a chopped throttle) produces weight transfer WITHOUT allocating any front tire traction to breaking forces. So at least that amount of front-end weighting and associated trail reduction should come for "free". I confess I don't even know if my rear brakes work, but if they do then I could transfer even more weight to the front without sacrificing front end traction, huh? Touching the front brake would be a different matter entirely, though. I will try experimenting with throttle roll-offs from mild to severe, and at different speeds, on a straight, to see what kind of front-end dive can be achieved without use of brakes. Wish I had a suspension and throttle data logger! Do the pros generally roll off when coming OUT of turns? If so, is the correct order of events (1) Lift the bike; (2) Some throttle roll-off; (3) Quick-steer toward the turn center to exit the turn? Best Regards, Eric (occasional Curley Howard emulator)
  3. At the last VIR sessions, both Cobie and Tim coached me to feather the throttle just before initiating a turn. Part of their explanation was that this would steepen the front forks a bit, thereby reducing the trail and increasing the "quickness" of the steering, making it easier to "quick-turn". I buy this part of their explanation. If I understood them correctly, they also said that this puts more weight on the front tire, giving it more "bite" for the turn in. I'm having trouble with this part of their explanation, and would like some discussion/help here. The second part of their explanation seems to contradict something else that we are taught at the school, and something that I believe I experience on the track. Once we are leaned over in a turn, we are taught at CSS to add throttle to stabilize the bike. This raises both the front and the back of the bike, per TOTW-II. Even if the front and back lift the same amount (which would NOT increase the fork angle!), the trail will still increase as the bike rises, thereby slowing the steering a bit and stabilizing the front end. So far, so good. We are also taught that stabilizing throttle requires 0.1 - 0.2 "g" (where "g" is the acceleration a falling rock experiences), which shifts the weight balance toward the back tire. TOTW-II states that the ideal weight transfer would make the ratio of the weights on the front and rear tires equal to the ratio of the front and rear tire contact patch areas; that this amount of weight transfer provides the best cornering traction that a matched set of tires can achieve. When I roll on a "good" amount of stabilizing throttle (not charge-out-of-the-turn throttle) in a fast sweeper, I perceive that the bike tends a bit toward oversteer (i.e., the bike turns a tighter radius for a given lean angle) than if I roll off the throttle, whereas rolling off the throttle seems to actually make the bike understeer (widen the turn radius for a given lean angle) a bit. This seems to imply that moving weight from the front toward the rear (with stabilizing throttle) reduces the sideslip on the front tire, or increases the sideslip on the rear tire, or maybe does a combination of both. This seems to be in complete agreement with TOTW-II's teachings on throttle control in turns, and I know I am a LOT more comfortable when the bike seems to be willing to turn tighter than when it seems to be turning wider! Do y'all experience some oversteer in corners under "stabilizing throttle"? Do you experience understeer when you back out of the throttle in a turn? So here's where I'm having trouble: If the front tire is side-slipping less in a corner when it is weighted less, why would it be good to weight the front in order to "get more bite for the turn-in"? I'd guess there is some middle ground here. Turning the handlebars with the front end really light (say, while doing a 2" wheelie) would obviously have no steering effect. On the other hand, braking hard enough to transfer 100% of the weight to the front would leave very little traction for any lateral force. More weight on a tire creates more adhesion to the road-- but braking forces "use up" that adhesion. Any of us can lock up the front end with two fingers, even with the rear tire just off the ground! Could it be that the best turn-in adhesion is with zero braking, which would place only the "normal" split of bike and rider weight on the front end, without robbing any traction for braking? If this is true, then a rider might be tempted to shift his weight forward for turn-in, except that this would move the bike-rider center of gravity forward too, raising the amount of front tire traction required to turn the bike. Is there a "best" rider position (front/rear) at turn-in? I do believe that steepening the fork angle at turn-in lessens the steering force required to quick-turn. That requires some braking, or at least a roll-off of the throttle, to compress the forks and lift the rear. However, I'm not sure whether to believe in the "improved bite" part of the story. Any thoughts? -Eric
  4. Keith: This is one of your most beautifully written articles. Thank you. I have often wondered how a track rider could best go about learning the character of a track. After quite a few sessions at Streets of Willow, I am beginning to understand how to put turns together there. However, it has not been an efficient process for me. I would be highly interested in a Superbike School Level V course offering, covering aspects of learning the character of tracks. By this, I do not mean having a coach show students the "correct" line around a track, but rather a classroom/track curriculum that shows students what to look for in track conditions, shapes, turn sequences, and line options. The objective would be to make the student much more efficient in learning how to best use the options. If you believe that a disciplined approach to learning the character of a track is a teachable skill, please consider such an offering. I would guess that the perceived "character" of a track would evolve with a rider's ability and knowledge of it, so the learning experience among a class of several students and coaches could be very rich. Enrollment requirements might be completion of Level IV and NOT having run a particular track more than 3 (or so) times. This would attract me to take Level V at several tracks around the country! Best Regards, -Eric
  5. Simple question, but with some not-so-simple considerations. The obvious part of the answer is that increased speed increases the apparent "centrifugal force". ("Centrifugal force" is a misnomer that physicists will challenge, but it works fine for this discussion.) In a "balanced turn" the lean angle and speed are such that the centrifugal force acting to tip the bike upright is exactly balanced by the gravity force trying to tip the bike over onto its side. At a fixed lean angle, if speed is increased the tipping force due to centrifugal force becomes stronger than the tipping force due to gravity, and the bike wants to tip upright-- i.e. to less lean angle. Since the original question stipulates that there is no rider input to the steering, my initial thought was that the bike would have to tip upright, and the forks would do whatever they had to in order to make the tire happy-- i.e. produce the least scrubbing action, which means that the steering angle would decrease as the turn radius increased. However, there is another input to the steering than rider input and tire input, and it caused by steering trail. Suppose you had a bike on its centerstand (racers can ask tourers what that is), resting lightly on its front wheel. With its steering centered, push on the left side of the bike tank. You'll see the steering shift right, because the front tire contact patch is behind the point where the steering axis meets the pavement. I think that, as speed increases in a turn, the trail-induced forces tend to steer away from the direction of turn, which would act to increase the lean angle. Therefore, I suspect that a bike with enough trail might actually lean more into a turn, and actually decrease the turn radius, as speed increases. On the other hand, a bike with an intermediate amount of trail might actually tend to increase lean angle exactly enough to maintain a constant radius turn as speed increased-- with zero rider input to steering! The latter condition sounds like nirvana-- you could fool around all you want with the throttle (within the traction limit), and not affect your line through a turn at all! (But, being a ######, Nature probably exacts some nasty other form of penalty for such a virtue.) It would be really interesting if one of our Ducati bretheren with the switchable rake/trail bearing cups would do an experiment for us, to see if changing trail changes how a bike with no steering input behaves during throttle roll-on in an initially balanced turn. Of course, we would have to remove his throttle from the handlebar to make sure he REALLY wasn't providing steering input, and we'd have to immobilize all his joints with duct tape (except for right wrist-- we could tape the twist grip into his mouth) so that he couldn't influence the experiment with body motion, and I'd have to keep his bike afterward in case further experiments were required...
  6. ITABruto: Choosing between the two day camps and single day schools depends a lot on your finances. You get more attention in the two day camps, and a bit more track time. However, you need to be in decent physical shape, and really good mental shape, to get the most out of the two day camps. And they are more expensive. (But I'm signed up for a second 2-day camp this spring, so I'd have to say that I believe in their value!) Either way you go, you will be getting exposure to a LOT of new riding stuff, and you will also be dealing with a lot of new non-riding impressions. Among these might be: 1st time in the CSS routine, 1st time on a closed track, 1st time with specific objectives to accomplish at every turn, 1st time with on-track coaching, 1st time in a track suit & boots. Even for riders with a lot of street experience, this is a huge amount to assimilate in one day, and you will be TIRED at the end of the first day. My experience has been that I was more tired at the end of my first CSS day than after ANY of the subsequent days-- and I've now taken Level IV 3 times, and been to the CodeRACE two day camp. You need to assess whether you can get enough rejuvenation overnight in a hotel bed (unless you are fortunate enough to live close to the track) to come back and do it again starting at 7AM the next day. Also, in the days immediately after my Level I class, I realized that I didn't get as much out of it as I could have. (My "Type A" personality got in the way on the track, and I spent too much effort trying to go "fast" (I wasn't), and too little effort trying to absorb and understand what was being taught.) I NEEDED the time after that first day to reflect on the experience, and to get everything I was capable of getting out of my second and subsequent classes. You'll probably get your first day righter than I did. But even so, if you haven't experienced the Superbike School, and you are relatively new to motorcycling, I suggest trying a single day school for your first experience. Having said that, I live in San Diego, and the travel to any CSS track is long enough that I have done either 2-day camps or two back-to-back single day sessions since my Level I class-- just to economize on travel costs. I have never regretted this, but despite knowing the CSS routine well now, and having no anxiety about what the experience will be like, some of my early laps on the second days aren't pretty. (Of course, I'm older than dirt-- younger people who don't fly a desk every day might find the second day a piece of cake.) However, after a few laps, things sort out. I have found that I don't tend to go faster on the second days, but I do solidify the previous day's accomplishments really well and learn the new material a bit faster. Hope the previous helps, but I have one other comment I'd like to make. Your post seems to indicate that your goal is to achieve Level IV. That's OK, but the Level certificates are not what's at the heart of this experience. Please, please consider starting the CSS experience with the intent to learn, rather than the intent to be "accredited". You could spend a lot of money doing four days (whether 2-day camps, or single day classes) and come away with four certificates, and not know much more than you do now. Alternatively, you could open yourself up to some pretty amazing knowledge and skill enhancements and not worry about getting to Level IV (or around the track) in the quickest possible time. This (paradoxically) requires that you relax, and focus on what some amazingly knowledgable and skilled (and caring) CSS instructors and coaches have to offer. Best of Luck! -Eric
  7. There you are, trying to decide whether or not to spend what is, for most of us, a lot of money on a session at the Superbike School. “What am I, nuts?” you might be asking yourself. “Don’t I already know how to ride?” “This is going to cost me half of that new exhaust system I’ve been saving up for.” Yes, it will. And if you do it right, it will give you much more speed on all bikes than that aftermarket exhaust will on your bike alone. It will make you safer and more confident on all bikes. I think the question you might ask is, “Do I want to invest in me, or in my bike?” That’s a scary question. In a year or two, you might get half of your money back on the exhaust when you sell your bike. You won’t get a cent out of your investment in you. You have to be worth investing in, in order for the Superbike School to make any sense for you. In 7 Superbike School classes to date, I have not met a single student that I thought made a bad investment decision. And this includes everybody from a recent motorcycle enthusiast, wife and mother who was initially terrified at being on the track, to people who are genuinely fast—way faster than most people who go rail-to-rail all the way up Mulholland from PCH to the Rock Store, or on the South Grade at Palomar, or for the full length of The Dragon. “But,” you say, “if I buy the exhaust, I’ll have it forever. All my friends will know I’m cool. What will I have after the class?” Great question. You will have invested in you. If you do this right, you will be a better rider—faster, safer, more confident, more in control of any riding situation life throws at you, whether on the track or on the street. You will have this forever. If you are worth anything at all, this is a far better investment than any go-fast accessory you could possibly buy. What you get out of Superbike School depends a lot on how you take the class. I wasted my first class by going as fast as I could on the track, and trying to apply what the coaches and classroom instruction suggested when I could spare the attention. I have since seen other people get way less than they could out of the Superbike School experience the same way—and it really didn’t matter whether they were new to the sport or fast. Only in retrospect did I understand what I had missed, and decide to go back. Maybe I can help you get it right from the start. In order to get the most out of what Keith has built into this program, you need to do one thing for sure. You might try a second thing, which I’ll discuss later. The one thing for sure is that you need to ride slow enough that you can apply and evaluate what you are being coached and instructed to do on the track. I cannot emphasize enough that if you are frequently getting into your survival reflexes (SRs; see the Twist Of The Wrist Books), you will not learn what is being taught. No homo sapiens learns when he/she is amped on adrenaline—at that point, the rational mind is completely subverted in a mode where the body has the fastest possible reaction time and physical strength to cope with threats from 50,000 years ago. 50,000 years from now, when our distant ancestors have been “naturally” selected for survival on two wheels, SRs may be useful in motorcycle riding. But having your vision tunnel, your muscles tense up, and your capillaries shut down to prevent excessive blood loss when a velociraptor bites your leg off, aren’t going to help you when you are going wide in a turn, are they? Stay in your head. Give yourself the ability to try what is being taught, and to evaluate the outcome. If you don’t have time or attention available while on the course to evaluate the results of your trials, you are not getting everything you should out of your investment. It’s worse than buying that race exhaust, and then not re-calibrating your fuel injection, because after you have paid your Superbike School tuition, driving at a pace that lets you evaluate what’s going on is free. “Slow enough” can be very different speeds for different people—and that works out very, very well in the Superbike School. It is not just “O.K.” that different people will ride at different speeds in the school; it is a key part of the learning experience. The overwhelming probability in the school is that you will pass and you will be passed. Both provide great learning experiences, when rider/students approach the school in the right frame of mind. Slower riders provide faster riders an opportunity to study the art of passing in controlled, repeatable road conditions, but with different skill levels in the other rider. Faster riders provide slower riders an opportunity to see that there are new levels of skill and confidence to be earned. I have realized that both faster and slower riders are wonderful additions to the school experience, and I welcome all. “Slow enough” means that you can focus intensively on what is being taught. Do the assigned exercise in every session—and don’t go a single mph faster than allows you that level of focus. I also think you can ride too slow at the School. If you can always concentrate on the exercise, have plenty of time to evaluate what’s happening, and have attention left over—then you are not getting everything you could out of this experience. You cannot put “unspent attention” (see the Twist Of The Wrist books to understand what “spending your attention” is all about) in the bank. A dime of attention unspent at any point on the track is a lost opportunity to learn. (That goes for all life experiences!) Ride to stay out of your SRs, but ride to use all of your attention. (Don’t get me wrong here. You can’t learn when you can’t concentrate, whether lack of concentration is due to plunging into your SRs or being too fatigued or in too much pain. If you feel mental or physical fatigue to the point where your concentration might lapse, give yourself a slow couple of turns or a slow lap—or whatever is required to get back into your head.) Now I’ll get to the advice I’ll offer for your Level 3 and Level 4 sessions. But it’s advice you should consider most carefully before accepting. A thing you might do in order to learn everything you can in the Superbike School is to occasionally, very deliberately, embrace touching your limits. And I very much do not mean going beyond them. Perhaps this is a strange idea, and one I don’t think Keith’s books address explicitly. Here’s my thinking: Without question, the Superbike School program will improve your mechanical riding skills, tools and knowledge. You will find yourself becoming a faster rider, while being safer and scaring yourself less. This alone is great, and worth the tuition. But there is another aspect of this sport that deserves your consideration, because motorcycling is an inherently dangerous sport, with elements of risk outside your control. (When’s the last time you had a fordosaurus shift into your lane with no warning whatsoever? When’s the last time you carved around a perfectly familiar canyon curve and found a rock in your line?) Beyond the mechanical skills of riding, there is the skill of staying in your rational mind, and refusing to give in to “survival” reflexes. This skill can be learned. I believe that part of the learning experience at the Superbike School can be occasionally, very deliberately, and in consultation with your coach, riding to the threshold of (i.e. just touching) your survival reflex trigger point. Learn what the onset of SRs feels like—when your body wants to take control from your mind— and learn to hold them off. Nobody can describe to you what SR onset feels like in your head. You need to experience the onset of SRs and learn to suppress them. (Alternatively, just stay well away from situations where your life might depend on dealing rationally with them. What are you thinking, riding that bike???) For me, touching the edge once or twice per session is making sense. I can pick the times when I am not endangering somebody else, and when I can focus on the feeling of SR onset. If I touch the edge once or twice per lap, I’m not a good guy to be on the track with—either for you or for me. And being a danger to somebody else is not tolerated at the Superbike School! Let me be very, very clear about this suggestion to occasionally, deliberately touch the threshold of your SRs. You do not need to ever touch the threshold of (let alone plunge into!) your SRs in order to learn to be in better control, or faster, or safer at the Superbike School. You will get all of these benefits without touching your SRs. Learning the skill of suppressing your SRs is not in the curriculum. But the Superbike School is an environment where this skill can be exercised, prudently, and where there are knowledgeable people to talk with about what you are experiencing. Why did I recommend that you consider this advice for your Level 3 and 4 experiences, and not for your Level 1 or 2 experiences? In your first sessions with the Superbike School, you’ll be spending a lot of mental energy just learning the school routine, figuring out where the track is, evaluating the lessons, summoning the discipline to focus on the on-track exercises for 40 minutes at a time, learning that you can trust your life and well-being to your on-track coach and fellow students, etc. Many of you will be coping with your first or second time on a track, your first or second day in full leathers, and (if you’ve rented a School bike; see below) an unfamiliar bike. That is a lot of new experiences to cope with and integrate into your world-view! My strong recommendation is to focus on the given exercises and curriculum in Levels 1 and 2. You will find that much of what was new and distracting in your first two Levels has become familiar by Level 3. If so, you might want to allocate some of your attention to learning the skill of suppressing your SRs. Let me summarize my suggestions this way: At every point on the track, and at every skill level, you can learn at most one thing at a time. Keith realized this fact years ago, and has designed the School to accommodate it. If you are focused on dealing with your SRs, you will not get what you should out of the exercises. In Levels 1 and 2, focus on (and ride at a pace to learn) the assigned exercises. Ride at a pace that demands your attention and challenges you, without driving you into your SRs. In Levels 3 and 4, occasionally, at times of your choosing and when it is not a danger to others, focus on learning the onset of, and the control of, SRs. New Topic: Are you pissed off that Keith won’t let you start with Level 2, or 3, or 4—because you are already fast? Are you deeply concerned that you might not be fast enough yet to be safe on the track? (I had both of these feelings when I was considering whether to sign up for Level 1!) Read on… Here’s why you shouldn’t be pissed off with starting at Level 1: You will learn from it no matter how fast you are. The school does not teach you how to be fast, it teaches you how to be in natural control. But being in natural control enables you to be effortlessly faster, so you will get what you thought you wanted anyway. As an added bonus, you get safer. If you go to the school to learn, you will come away feeling that this has been one of the best investments you have ever made. If you go to prove how fast you are, you will leave with much less benefit—and very seriously humbled. There are many reasons why you shouldn’t be concerned that you might not be safe on the track—assuming that you are reasonably comfortable handling the bike’s controls. First: The school is a controlled environment that is much, much safer (my opinion) than the streets or canyons. (Where else can you ride that the safety record is better than one serious accident in 1.5 million miles???) The Superbike School has a superb team of track marshals who watch out for everybody’s safety (and do not tolerate dangerous riding), the tracks are generally very safe with good run-off at the right places, and the on-track coaches are always there to help. Second, you will be shown around the track by a coach before you have to do it on your own. This is a very non-threatening first experience! Third, the passing rules are very generous to those being passed, and rigorously enforced, so that the person being passed never has to be concerned with the passers. Fourth, there is no minimum speed requirement. You do not have to maintain any pace faster than you are comfortable with. You will not be pressed to go faster, or resented by other riders for going at the pace you feel you need to go to be safe and learn. Fifth, all of the staff, and the vast majority of the students, are ***absolutely delighted*** that new people are coming into the sport, and will do whatever they can to make you feel welcome. Sixth, taking the Superbike School classes will give you a better chance of surviving on the street! If you make this investment, you will like what you learn about riding and about yourself. The fact of the matter is that riders from both ends of the experience range (and all those in between) co-exist very well on the track, in the Superbike School. What sounds like a potential recipe for disaster or boredom does not turn out to be so. It’s a richer learning opportunity for all. There’s always somebody faster, and slower, out there. Don’t be deterred by delusions of adequacy or inadequacy—just come with an open mind, a genuine desire to learn, and a recognition that you are worth investing in. Another New Topic: You might be wondering, “Should I bring my own bike, or rent a School bike?” This is a tough question to answer because of the different financial situations and learning goals of prospective students. I have a CBR 954, yet I rented the School bikes for the first 4 classes I attended, and am very glad I did. You do not need the brute power of a liter bike (or even that of a 400, for that matter) to “get” what’s being taught. In fact, brute power is counterproductive in many ways. A broad powerband and agility are the best bike characteristics to bring to this experience. The bike rental seemed like quite a bit of money to me at first. But track riding is taxing on a bike, and you get very competent tires and tuning in a School bike. You don’t have to haul it there or back, or spin wrenches once you’re home. At the end of the day, you just walk away from it. All the rentals are late model Kawasaki 600’s, and they are very, very good bikes. The modern 600’s deliver more than enough power to get everything the School is trying to teach you. (Last class I was in, a very young rider on a 100cc race bike was doing quite well in the pack!) If you’re shorter than 5’6”, or not used to a bike weighing 400#, the Kaw 600’s may be a handful. But they have smooth throttles, brakes and suspensions, and it’s a simple truth that these bikes are at the same time lots of fun and very friendly to ride. (I also had a lot of fun experiencing the contrast between my CBR 954 and the Kaw 600’s) All in all, my recommendation is that if you don’t have a track-dedicated bike, and don’t have a compelling reason to get track experience on your personal bike, then renting one from the School makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, if you want track experience with your bike, then do not hesitate to run it in the School. In the classes I’ve been in, students have ridden everything from serious race replicas to Harley roadsters. I recently bought a CBR600 for track days, and since then I have used my own bike at the school. (No, I still don’t have an aftermarket exhaust. Yes, I am faster now than if I had spent my money on the exhaust instead.) Last Topic: Should you do anything after your class, to get the most out of this experience? Oh hell yes! You can apply everything you learn to your everyday riding, and should do so. (If you are not determined to do this—to change your riding style to one of determined focus on applying what the Superbike School teaches, to one of determined focus to improve with every ride—then maybe you should buy that pipe instead.) Applying what you learn to your street riding, and building it into your normal riding patterns and responses, will increase the value of your next day at the Superbike School as well. And it just might save your life. If you’re the type of person who can absorb knowledge from books (and you probably are, if you’ve read this far!), and can afford the Twist Of The Wrist books, then you should re-read them after every Superbike School day. You will get even more out of them after each School session than before, because you will have the context, experience and coaching to understand what Keith has written. You will also get a second perspective by reading these books, because Keith’s understanding of the “technology” of riding and how to teach it have evolved over the years since he wrote TOTW-1. Reading a description with a slightly different perspective on some lesson point often helps to clarify that point in your mind. Reading the books helps solidify your understanding of what you were taught and worked on. Final Thought: If you haven’t figured out why I’ve taken the trouble to write this, it’s pretty simple. I have had great experiences at the Superbike School. I have met a lot of really nice people there—both staff and students. I keep coming back (I’ll be taking my 5th Level 4 this Spring) because I still learn things in the School that I wouldn’t on my own. Coaching works! I’m safer, faster, in better control because of my School experience. I would feel great if any of you decided to try the School, or got more out of the experience, because of this letter. I’d enjoy meeting you there. -Eric Bott
  8. I'm confused about jrfuisz' reply. As I understand it, if one starts to lose traction in the front when leaned over in a turn, the concensus remedy is to unweight the front by adding some throttle-- that this will reduce the load on the front tire, and help it "make do" with the traction it has available. Increasing the throttle also shifts weight to the rear, which (with the increased engine thrust) increases the load on the rear tire, and makes it more prone to slipping laterally. The resultant oversteer (lateral slippage of the rear tire slewing the bike into the turn) brings the exit line back toward the inside of the turn. This also seems to be a concensus view. What seems inconsistent is jrfuisz' experience that moving his weight back in the seat INCREASED his rear end traction, and DECREASED his front end traction. Moving his weight rear should have added load to the rear tire, which should have made it more prone to lateral slippage, while decreasing the load on the front, which should have stabilized it with respect to lateral slippage. Is there something else going on here? Jrfuisz also said that he was "sitting up". Could raising his center of gravity or raising his center of pressure or changing his grip on the handlebars have caused his front end to get loose?
  9. Kevin: I'm curious about what actually caused your crashes. You said that they happened when your (stock) pegs touched down. Are they hard-mounted (i.e. not hinged)? If they are hinged, I don't think they would have been the sole cause of your crashes. Could the crashes have been caused by something else that was hard-mounted to the bike and touched down, or did you just lean off the edge of the tires? If the former is possible, it might be a good idea to find out what's touching down and get it tucked away. Additionally, could you have been losing ground clearance by backing out of the throttle at the apex? These questions are in addition to the body position thing-- I agree with the concensus in the earlier responses. Best of luck! -Eric
  10. Hi riders: Are you better at turning right than left? Or left than right? Would you be willing to help to test an idea that might explain this? I would like to find out if the typical rider is better, worse, or the same in taking turns toward his/her dominant eye. I need data from as many riders as possible to get a good statistical basis for determining if eye dominance and “best turn direction” are related or not. How could this help you ride better? If there is a relationship between eye dominance and turn direction, then in Keith’s language, we might be able to develop a better “technology” of seeing through turns—maybe finding a way of visually locating reference points faster, or getting better at sampling speed, as we turn toward our “bad” side. Please tell me which (if any) eye is dominant and which (if any) way you turn best—either by posting in this forum, or by emailing me at eric.h.bott@saic.com. Please report your results as follows: Right eye dominant: RD Neither dominant: ND Strong left eye dominant: LD I turn better to the right: RT I turn the same either way: NT I turn better to the left: LT For example: “Hey, Eric, I’m LD/RT”. In order to help in this, you need to give me BOTH your eye dominance AND your turn effectiveness indication. If I get at least 30 responses for right dominance and 30 for left dominance, I will publish the results in this forum, and we can start to think about the technology of seeing. If you don’t know or aren’t sure which eye is dominant, find out as follows: Make a small hole (1/8” – 1/4”) in the center of a card or piece of paper. With both eyes open, find a distant object that can be completely seen through the hole with the card/paper held at arm’s length. Without blinking either eye or losing sight of the object, slowly draw the card/paper back to your head. (Keep your eyes focused at the object you selected.) In doing this, if you have a dominant eye, you will draw the hole in the card/paper up to that eye. At some point in this process, your perception may “snap”, and you will realize that one eye is actually looking at the back of the card/paper, rather than at the distant object you initially chose. In this case, your focus will probably switch to the back of the card/paper. Try the test a couple more times, and see whether you most often tend to draw the card/paper toward one eye or randomly towards either, or whether you never get far enough to tell. If your results are random or you never get far enough to tell, you probably don’t have a dominant eye. If you most often draw toward one eye, it’s the dominant one. Whatever your results from this test, don’t worry. Except for the fact that you ride motorcycles way too fast, there are plenty of other people just like you!
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