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The Forty-eight Parts Of Riding

Keith Code

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The Forty-eight Parts of Riding


Warning: Before you read this article you should know that it will create more questions than it will answer. Consider yourself forewarned.


Reality Check


For the cornering enthusiast, there are at least 48 different aspects in riding a single corner. Riders observe, record and scrutinize these points, usually without being aware of doing it at all.


A while back I started out with a list of 14 things riders monitor in turns. I never imagined it would become so extensive. During its development, I mainly used the list to help racers identify and clarify aspects of their riding skills. Now, we?re starting to use parts of it in our Level IV School sessions.


Several interesting things have come to light while quizzing riders using these lists.


1. As expected, each rider relates to the 48 points on the list a little differently.

2. As above, it was discovered that awareness (on many of the points) was low or even subconscious. Many were lumped together with other points of riding and never before isolated as separate and individual aspects of cornering.

3. Once each point was discussed, clarified and understood the riders were then able to grade themselves on how well they felt they executed them.

4. Even professional riders had no names or even slang type racer-expressions for most of the points covered.


As it turns out, there is great deal of awareness of a great many things while riding. These can be recalled once the rider?s attention is directed to them. Apparently, each of these points occupy some corner of a rider?s attention?they wouldn?t know what they are otherwise.


Even the absence of terms that describe these perceptions is valuable data. That fact brings us closer to understanding why some riders excel at the sport. The better the rider the easier time they have isolating and grasping the points. Their ability to translate them into real world actions showed me they were more aware of the points than other, less skilled riders.


I see riders, and you?ve seen it too, struggling with this lack of descriptive terminology all the time. Without the descriptive words what do we do? We use hand gestures and facial expressions when describing different riding situations!


The Name Game


What I?m saying is that inherent in the problem of rider improvement is the lack of names for these often flimsy and fragile perceptions. If you don?t have a name for a problem it makes it hard to discuss. If it can?t easily be communicated it is difficult to solve. Example, if you can?t easily communicate what the front-end feels like when you lose it (within an acceptable range) how would a rider recognize it when it happens? How would he know whether it meant an impending crash or if it was just good feedback on the traction limits from his front-end? You can say ?I was pushing the front-end in turn_______.?, but where does his imagination take him if he hasn?t done that?


Unless you figure out a way for riders to easily experience this or develop the words to describe it, your communication on the subject would go nowhere. No matter how many hand gestures you make. This points directly to the heart of the matter of rider improvement and one of its major pitfalls; communicating what things feel like.


Having a name for things helps. Short of having a good descriptive name for something there is the building of fundamental skills that keep the rider out of trouble and in control. That is what we do in our levels at the schools. Now we have another tool. The list of 48 has given us forward motion in helping to bridge the communication and experience gap.


Categories and Solutions


For 25 years I?ve been evaluating and re-evaluating the school?s curriculum; adding and subtracting things as we see fit. As this list started to shape up I began an inventory of what techniques we coach at CSS to see if the 48 points were covered.


Our current arsenal of drills and exercises numbers around 20 so how could we be covering all of these points? At first I was a little deflated. However, as I looked closer it became apparent that the 48 points could be grouped into categories. Examples of the categories are: traction, lean angle, stability, speed, corner entry, corner exits and lines.


Looking Deeper


From the perspective of an educator you have to design something that communicates and that brings another interesting problem, it?s one of those ?which came first the chicken or the egg? things.


Is the rider working the controls from the way the bike feels; making a mental decision before working the controls? Looking (with his eyes) then making a decision and then working the controls? Do we naturally take into account the lag-time between looking then feeling and then initiating control actions? Is the rider ?ahead of himself?; is he riding right in present time or slightly ?behind? himself to make these decisions? Is this all guided by what he did the last time he made this or another turn like it? How often does he flip back and forth from one sequence of seeing and feeling what the bike is doing to another?


See what I mean, a lot more questions than answers. Whatever approach you finally use must be based on a keen understanding of what the rider senses, how he uses it and a clear picture of which chain of events he uses leading up to controlling the bike.


Try One


You could ask, ?Is it really so complicated?? Isn?t there some simple way of going about sorting this out? Sure, once the categories are established, a few of which are listed above, then it does become somewhat simpler but beware, it also brings up more questions. I?ll take point number 27 from the list under the category of LINE so you can see what I mean.


27. Do you have Immediate Certainty on your Line??

This breaks down into several questions of its own:

1. Can you see and understand the exact line you are on right away after getting to your final leaned-over angle?

2. Do you have to wait a while to see if it is right or not?

3. Do you know it?s good sometimes before you even know that you know it is?




Breaking this tiny portion of time down into its mini component parts can be done by referencing:

1. Time, how long does it take you?

2. Distance, what is the distance covered before you know?

3. Your attitude, how does it make you feel when you have to wait?

4. A description of visual data, what were you looking at?

5. The feel you get from the bike, was the bike stable or what?

6. Perception of speed, were you trying to decide if your speed would get you where you wanted or not?

7. Lean angle, could you tell if it needed changed or left alone?


8. Traction, is your awareness of traction at this point too attention consuming?

These are but a few possibilities of additional questions. But wait, there?s even more. The answer to those bring about a whole other column of questions.


Super Refinement


Which of the above is more important than the others? Can Humans multi task--input and process--this much information? Do we monitor this sequentially or simultaneously? Do all riders do it in the same way?


You can see the problems in working this out. But most importantly, the value of this line of questioning is rider improvement. To access this value you have to be able to rate yourself from 1 to 10 on point number 27. Can you do it? Go back and look it over.


Tricks or Basics


Sure the things that we?ve developed over the past twenty-five years like the Lean and Slide Bike, the Panic Brake Trainer, the Control Trainer and our various video inventions are a big help in solving these areas. When we broke our school days into individual ?drills? in 1983, that was a major breakthrough in rider training all on its own. That was the beginning for me. I knew then that, luckily, there are simple answers. Unfortunately, it isn?t just one technique that covers #27 of the list. It?d be nice but it?s not so.


What we have here is a very detailed process built on the true fundamentals of riding: throttle control, visual skills, traction sensitivity, ability to turn the bike accurately, rider input, speed setting and line recognition skills. All of these have to be in place for any rider to rate high on this Certainty of Line aspect of riding, # 27 above.


Is anyone likely to get to be a 10 on this in even one corner on one day? Sure, its possible. Could anyone get it right for every corner on a given track in one day? Hmmm, haven?t seen that happen.

When mastered is it one of the parts of a rider?s confidence? Think it through?if you could get point 27 on the list really right all the time, how would you feel? See answers below...


The Benefits


Here is a partial list of what you would have conquered:

1. You could see your line right away. This reduces the tendency to target fix.

2. You wouldn?t be sitting on the bike waiting while you search for the answer to ?where am I going in this turn?. Perhaps the most important question a rider can have.

3. No doubts about when the gas should go back on. Being able to achieve throttle- induced stability earlier in the turn is always a plus.

4. Total certainty on any steering corrections you might have to make. This dramatically improves timing the steering inputs to be most effective.

5. A solid idea of where the bike is going to wind up at apex and the exit. Having good prediction on this always inspires confidence.

6. Huge reduction in rider tension on the bike. You don?t have to be wound-up about steering inputs you imagine you ?might? have to make.


How valuable would the above six points be to you? OK, there are 47 more points, let me know when you are ready to start (or continue) working them out; we?ve got over 100 school days in 12 countries in 2005 to handle it.


Keith Code




?Keith Code, 2004, all rights reserved.

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This sounds very analogous to ground breaking work that was done in decision making theory many years ago. An Air Force fighter pilot (Col. Boyd) noted that in the Korean war, the US jet (F86) was out performed by the MIG15 in every important area of flight performance (acceleration, absolute turn capability, top speed, etc.), but the US pilots were shooting the MIGs down at a ratio of something like 8:1. Why?


Boyd found that every action taken by a pilot involves the "OODA loop" of decision making (also called the Boyd cycle):

- observation (eg, the MIG is to my left)

- orientation (I may need to turn right)

- decision (I will turn right)

- action (initiate bank to right - increase power, etc.).


These OODA loops are repeated with every decision or action -- hundreds of times in any flight and 10s of times in short air-to-air engagement.


Boyd found that although the US plane had inferior performance in any category, it was designed in a manner that facilitated the OODA loop, and permitted fast decision making and transition from one flight attitude to the next (eg, the canopy had excellent visability, the controls were easy to use, the plane turned from right to left more quickly).


Similarly, I think Keith is applying these same principles to racing, where taking a single turn requires not only numerous "initial decisions," but a bevy of OODA loop/continuing modifications to the original decisions (tightening the line, adjusting cornerspeed), many of which interact with each other.


Facinating stuff.

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  • 1 year later...



Just read the article and loved it because of the way it makes me think about all the aspects of riding

a bike.


Thinking through how the benefits, mentioned at the bottom of your article, would alter my performance;

I've come to the conclusion that getting only a 7 at every corner of any of the tracks i ride, will put me on the podium.


That's something to think about !!!! Will work on this.




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