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Since I'm still struggling with dizziness and imbalance problems since my concussion last summer, the doctors have repeatedly warned me against riding motorcycles. I still ride once in a while, but mostly on my VMAX (the upright position is easier on my neck), and usually with much restraint. The problems have greatly diminished, but I'm still not fully comfortable on the bike, especially after one incident (on my RC51) where my brain suddenly screamed "you're falling!" (my whole body felt like it was free falling to the left) even though everything was totally fine.

 

I recall watching some Motogp and World Superbike races last season, and in some of the rider interviews I heard mention some of them use PS3 or XBOX console systems to play racing games and familiarize themselves with tracks. Obviously it is not real racing, but I recall one rider saying he could use the game learn some things about the track (the graphics have gotten very realistic the last few years) to start preparing for the upcoming real race.

 

While I was in vestibular therapy, I was introduced to balance games on the Wii game console as a form of rehab. Since it seemed to be at least partially effective, I eventually bought my own Wii so I could do the same exercises at home. Later a quick Google search revealed a Motogp game for the Wii.

 

Having tied all these things together, about two months ago I bought the Mototgp game and started playing almost daily on the Wii. The simulation isn't perfect, and obviously lacks a whole lot of reality, but I did find I could try to do some of the mental tasks: look up the track, set entry speed, look for turn-in points, find the mid-corner, look for the exit, etc. A few weeks ago I realized I was leaning without really thinking about it, and so I took it another step: I moved to the edge of the chair and I would try to shift my weight a little to set-up for the upcoming corner (I haven't figured out how to hang off my chair yet :) ). This had me thinking about weight shift while on the gas/right before braking/rolling off the throttle (as poorly simlated as these functions are). I know there is a vast difference between this and real riding, but I have found this gives me some satisfaction of going through the motions, but without putting me in danger on the street. I could drone on, but I'm sure you get the idea.

 

So, now I'm curious, has anyone else tried using computer or console games in this way? Whether as a way to see or "ride" a track, or as therapy, or just for good fun?

 

 

 

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has anyone else tried using computer or console games in this way? Whether as a way to see or "ride" a track,...?

Brad;

 

I'll try to respond to a piece of your inquiry.

 

A number of years ago EA Sports had a SBK game that I enhanced by adding a console with clip ons, a working throttle and working levers. I used it to acclimate to Laguna Seca and was very surprised how accurate it was including a large Oak tree at the top of the Corkscrew which has since been removed (I think) for MotoGP. Anyway it was a very big help to me preparing for that specific track. I have also tried to use on board videos in much the same way without much success; mainly because I couldn't control the vantage point. When you can see that pushing the bars here results in a quick change to your viewpoint on the track, it does have a big impact on managing your expections when you get there - YRMV.

 

Rain

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I've always found bike games on consoles really disappointing as none of them seem to nail the feel of being on a bike. The closest two that have are pretty old now; Riding Spirits and Tourist Trophy both on the PS2, the latter featuring the Nurburgring and Laguna Seca amongst others as it was made by the team that did Gran Turismo and was effectively GT with bikes.

 

Recently WSBK:10 on the 360 and PS3 was pretty good, but still not quite right.

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For me it offers limited assist. My problems this weekend were quick turning, so I couldn't really use it, but when I was practicing the two step (although I went off track a lot) I was able to repeat the process over and over without having any real tracktime. The saying is "if you want to be great at something, do it 1,000 times." My favorite version of that is "redundance is the best teacher." That's a lot of trackdays though. Sometimes it does help. Some people say it doesn't at all. If it works for you, great.

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It can help you learn a track, provided it's in the game. An instructor I had the other day at Silverstone said that I picked up the lines of the circuit really quickly and I'd attribute at least part of that to years of playing games and learning turn points.

 

Another thing that's hard to replicate in a game is the fact that when you're negotiating a corner on a real bike, you're often looking over your shoulder and much further through the turn than the fixed perspective of a game will let you.

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It can help you learn a track, provided it's in the game. An instructor I had the other day at Silverstone said that I picked up the lines of the circuit really quickly and I'd attribute at least part of that to years of playing games and learning turn points.

 

Another thing that's hard to replicate in a game is the fact that when you're negotiating a corner on a real bike, you're often looking over your shoulder and much further through the turn than the fixed perspective of a game will let you.

 

That's intriguing, anyone have a specific recommendation of a system and game that has a selection of US tracks in a format that helps you learn them?

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No bike games will have many, most likely candidates are the latest Moto-GP or WSBK games, but Laguna Seca will likely be your only choice. If you get something like R-Factor on PC, you'll have to put up with cars only, but will be able to download lots of user created tracks, including lots of real ones that will be modelled very well.

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As said above, I find that the control mechanics of console based Motorbike games are rubbish!!!

 

However, in preparation for a trip to Germany's Nurburgring after having my license for a few months, I bought an xbox with Forza 2 because that game had the Nurburgring in it... I also supplemented it with on board videos, but again, as said above, on board was not as good as I thought.

 

However, I found that running laps of the 'Ring on Forza, even if it was in a virtual car, really gave me an understanding of the track. Things were obviously bigger and more awe inspiring in reality, but the fact is, I KNEW what direction the next corner was... and that took alot of fear and unceratinty out of the experience for me. Especially since one lap is 13 miles long!!!

 

I was still slow, as my first 1000 bike miles were just getting to Germany, and the elevation changes were alot more dramatic in reality, but that allowed me to pay attention to other things like the scenery (didn't know about looking for reference points) and all the exotic cars in my rear view mirrors (didn't know I was supposed to watch the guy leading me)

 

All in all I do homework on ANY track I am about to ride. If youtube is all I have then so be it... I try to be as prepared as I can be...

 

And if a recent (good graphics, accurate representation) video game has the track, then even better!!!

 

 

My $0.02

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It can help you learn a track, provided it's in the game. An instructor I had the other day at Silverstone said that I picked up the lines of the circuit really quickly and I'd attribute at least part of that to years of playing games and learning turn points.

 

Another thing that's hard to replicate in a game is the fact that when you're negotiating a corner on a real bike, you're often looking over your shoulder and much further through the turn than the fixed perspective of a game will let you.

 

That's intriguing, anyone have a specific recommendation of a system and game that has a selection of US tracks in a format that helps you learn them?

 

 

If you want to learn the track, and do not mind driving virtual cars, then perhaps Forza on Xbox 360, or Gran Turismo on PlayStation 3???

 

(There is Forza 2 and 3, and Gran Turismo 4 and now, 5 I think... Google it and you should be able to find the tracks available... I am not certain on which tracks are available, but I can guarantee that if the track is in those games they will be VERY accurately depicted!!!

 

Hope that helps...

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