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Learning To Trust My Tires


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I've been to the track 3 times this month and very new to all this...

My main hurdle right now is that I don't trust the motorcycle - specifically the tires.

 

I've been riding for 3 months in total now so I don't even trust the bike over grooves on the highway yet - trying to avoid them at all cost.

 

Here is my track day this saturday:

http://youtu.be/E3Uq17QtHCY?hd=1

 

On sunday I worked on body position for the entire day and got my upper body more relaxed, and also getting my upper body to hang off a bit more and shoulders pointing into the turn more... (no videos from sunday).

 

My question is simple, If i'm in a turn and I lean more (body and bike) what will happen? I feel like if I lean more, the bike will "give up" and fall down - lowside.

 

Once in a while i'm in a turn and I feel like I need to tighten just a tad bit more. I stay on maintenance throttle and countersteer to lean just a little extra. That little extra lean ads tons more cornering force, The bike dives in to the inside and I feel like there is no possible way these tires are going to stay sticking to the ground.

 

I keep watching videos like this:

I feel like that's going to happen to me if I lean over any further.

I'm on BT016 bridgestones right now. I'm going to put some track tires hopefully that will help me trust the tires a bit more because right now everything in me refuses to lean any further. It's almost like i'd rather go off the track and run wide rather than lean further. I just flat out refuse...

 

Here is some of what of I feel: That at a certain angle, i'll hit the sharp edge of the tire, and my contact patch will be as tiny as a needle. At this point, my tire will surly give up and slide!!!!!

lean.jpg

The other thing is that my tire is chewed up all the way to the edge on both sides. Woohoo - no more chicken strips!!! So why should I attempt to lean further when I'm obviously all the way to the edge of the tire???

 

Anyone who follows me on the track says I can lean further though....

 

Any suggestions?

 

I have a track day at chuckwalla next weekend. I'm thinking of letting one of my experienced friends ride my bike and show me how low he can lean it and that the tires are not sliding and the bike doesn't just fall over.

 

When I first started tracking cars, I had the EXACT same issue. I refused to let the tires slide. I felt like when they will slide, they will loose 100% of the traction and i'll be completely out of control.

I hired a private instructor and he couldn't get me to hit the limit of my tires in a car. So we switched and he drove. He was sliding my car all over. Then it clicked in my brain - "wow! my car can do this????" and then I got back in the car and was able to really push the limits of the tire.

 

I really need to get over this barrier, or else i'll end up with great body position, being smooth, but refusing to lean far.

 

Any input would help.

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OK, you have made an excellent observation, which is that "leaning the bike over farther" in the MIDDLE of a turn is not a good idea! The crash video illustrates that rather well.

 

First let me just say that reading A Twist of the Wrist II, or coming to the Superbike School, would improve your riding so much that you will be astounded; from what I can see in your video you are missing some data in multiple areas and one day of school would make a world of difference.

 

Having said that, let's talk about "leaning it over farther". Instead of focusing on finding a way to lean it over more (because we agree that steering the bike again in the middle of the turn is not a good thing), let's investigate what happens BEFORE that. WHEN do you find that you want to lean it more? You said above that sometimes you are in a turn and want to tighten your line. So, are you running wide at the end of the turns, and needing to steer it again to stay on the track?

 

If so, let's look at what is causing THAT problem - why are you running wide? There are lots of reasons that can happen (read Twist II!) but go back and watch your video. In turns 5-6 (the left-hand hairpin) watch your buddy on the black bike behind you. Note where he ENTERS the turn - see where he turns the bike and where he is on the track - and also look at his apex. Compare this to your line; do you see how he enters that turn from the far right side of the track, and then comes very close to the painted line on the inside (his apex)? He is straightening out the turn, and this sets him up nicely for the exit.

 

By straightening out the turn, he is able to ride the same turn at about the same speed, using LESS lean angle than you. Where do YOU enter the turn, and how close are you to the apex? How does this change the shape of the turn that YOU are riding, does it make the turn tighter for you? Are you making it easier, or harder on yourself?

 

Chapter 4 in Twist II explains lines for more thoroughly than I would attempt to do here, that is the best place to look for more info.

 

Turn 6 at Fontana is a turn that routinely sucks riders in early (turns 5 and 6 combine to make one long left hand hairpin). The short straightaway following the turn also invites riders to roll on the gas hard. If a rider turns in early, and runs a bit wide on the exit of 6, he/ she might lean it over more to "tighten the line" AND roll on the gas harder at the same time. This combo greatly overloads the rear tire - what do you think might happen?

 

 

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Thanks for the replies.

I've read twist of the wrist 2 and also another book called "total control".

 

What actually happens when I want to tighten the turn is this:

I'm overslowing on entry because i'm timid and have no "speed sensing abilities" yet and I want to be safe.

 

Mid way through the corner I feel a bit more confident and I can see that i'm a bit slow, so I get on the gas (smoothly) to speed up a bit but that would require me to increase lean angle. That increase in lean angle is my problem. It's simple, the more lean, the more afraid I get.

 

thinking of buying a 250 ninja today. It's much lighter than my 600 zx6r or my s1000rr. I can plant my feet on the ground when I sit on the bike, and it's so much lighter and I feel that if I lowside - it won't be a big deal.

 

Thoughts?

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Here is some of what of I feel: That at a certain angle, i'll hit the sharp edge of the tire, and my contact patch will be as tiny as a needle. At this point, my tire will surly give up and slide!!!!!

 

 

To address this part of your post - generally when you lean over that far, that sharp edge folds against the rim of the wheel and flattens out so you continue to ride on a contact patch, not on that sharp edge. It's not easy to describe but if you look at a photo of a rider leaned over a lot and zoom in REALLY REALLY tight you can see it. I think Brian from CaliPhotography was out there over the weekend, his photos are super high resolution, you should be able to zoom in enough to see how the edge of the tire flattens out.

 

Having said that, I do want to stress that it certainly IS POSSIBLE to low side a bike if you make a steering correction, mid-corner, while leaned over, ESPECIALLY if you have any tension in your arms, or are dragging the front brake, or chop the throttle; a stickier tire might save you, or it might not - but with consistent good technique you can ride on cold tires, worn tires, or crappy tires and still keep the thing upright - and without that nagging scary feeling that you might be about to fall down!

 

 

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hmmm..... A smooth roll on is relative to each rider and bike combination. If you get on the gas to hard and/or to soon it can stand the bike up or want to send you wide. Finding a line that allows for good throttle control is a fundamental step to felling confident and stable while leaned over.

 

Where do feel your throttle control is overall during cornering? Do you feel there is a spike in your throttle roll that could be relative to your spike in mid-corner confidence?

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so I get on the gas (smoothly) to speed up a bit but that would require me to increase lean angle.

 

Why does getting on the gas require increasing your lean angle?

 

To maintain the same raidus, if I accelerate, lean angle must increase.

 

Are you trying to make the turn a constant radius? To what purpose? Wouldn't it be a better solution to change your line so that you can have a straighter drive out of the turn and be able to accelerate harder without adding lean angle?

 

If you are wearing your tires to the edge, you are already leaning it over a fair amount, and in the video it looks like you are leaning it plenty. I recognise that you are trying to get more comfortable leaning it more, but I am not sure why, since we normally are looking to mimize lean angle to maximize traction and suspension efficiency.

 

If you could go significantly faster, WITHOUT increasing your lean angle, would that satisfy your goals? Or is leaning it over more a goal in itself, and if so, why?

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so I get on the gas (smoothly) to speed up a bit but that would require me to increase lean angle.

 

Why does getting on the gas require increasing your lean angle?

 

To maintain the same raidus, if I accelerate, lean angle must increase.

 

Are you trying to make the turn a constant radius? To what purpose? Wouldn't it be a better solution to change your line so that you can have a straighter drive out of the turn and be able to accelerate harder without adding lean angle?

 

If you are wearing your tires to the edge, you are already leaning it over a fair amount, and in the video it looks like you are leaning it plenty. I recognise that you are trying to get more comfortable leaning it more, but I am not sure why, since we normally are looking to mimize lean angle to maximize traction and suspension efficiency.

 

If you could go significantly faster, WITHOUT increasing your lean angle, would that satisfy your goals? Or is leaning it over more a goal in itself, and if so, why?

 

Thanks for the replies :)

 

I'm keeping a constant radius because I'm trying to get comfortable on the bike in the corners. I know it's not an ideal line, but the more time I spend in a constant lean, the more I come to grips with being "ok" with it. I'm still at the stage where leaning feels unnatural - like the bike is going to fall over.

 

My reason for wanting to increase my lean angle is to increase speed. With more speed per specific radius, the more lean angle required.

From the photos from the track day, my knee is about 1 foot off the ground. As you can see from my video, i'm not perfect body position, but i'm also not just completely ON the bike without hanging off just a little bit.

 

From what other control riders on the track have said to me after the sessions, my bike can lean alot further without a problem.

 

I want to lean further so I can gain confidence in my tires.

Right now my max is lets say 35 degree lean. So whenever I'm at 35 degrees in a corner, I ###### my pants.

If I can lean to 45 a few times and know that the bike is still gripping, then I can be much more relaxed leaning at 40 degrees.

Does that make any sense?

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Thanks for the replies :)

 

I'm keeping a constant radius because I'm trying to get comfortable on the bike in the corners. I know it's not an ideal line, but the more time I spend in a constant lean, the more I come to grips with being "ok" with it. I'm still at the stage where leaning feels unnatural - like the bike is going to fall over.

 

My reason for wanting to increase my lean angle is to increase speed. With more speed per specific radius, the more lean angle required.

From the photos from the track day, my knee is about 1 foot off the ground. As you can see from my video, i'm not perfect body position, but i'm also not just completely ON the bike without hanging off just a little bit.

 

From what other control riders on the track have said to me after the sessions, my bike can lean alot further without a problem.

 

I want to lean further so I can gain confidence in my tires.

Right now my max is lets say 35 degree lean. So whenever I'm at 35 degrees in a corner, I ###### my pants.

If I can lean to 45 a few times and know that the bike is still gripping, then I can be much more relaxed leaning at 40 degrees.

Does that make any sense?

 

OK, I see. Yes it makes sense. One thing that others have tried is to find a parking lot and just ride in a constant circle, at gradually increasing speed, to get comfortable with more lean angle in a gradual way without the pressure of a track day. (Wear all your protective gear if you do this!)

 

You mentioned a Ninja 250, those are a fun bike to learn on and inexpensive to run on the track (less costs in tires, fuel, etc.) and if you feel more comfortbale on that, it sounds like a good idea. Leaning over farther on a Ninja might be a safer proposition than on a 600 or larger bike since you have less power to the rear wheel. They are fun to ride and it sure feels good to pass a 1000cc bike on one. :)

 

Minibikes are another option - riding something like an NSR50 on a go kart track is cheap track time (often under $40 per day) and a great way to lean WAY over without have to go 90 mph to do it.

 

I don't want to harp on this point too much, but there is a safety issue here - be cautious about setting up your turns so that you are FORCED to make a steering correction at the end to avoid running wide. Adding throttle AND lean angle at the SAME TIME can easily (and very quickly) overload your rear tire, resulting in a high side - and in that situation, where you are adding load two different ways simultaneously, you don't get much warning. Also, sudden concern about running wide can trigger a lot of survival reactions - chopping the throttle, grabbing the brake, stiffening the arms, etc., and those types of things can overload the FRONT tire, resulting in a low side, even at relatively low speeds or moderate lean angles.

 

You have mentioned that you sometimes make steering changes (leaning it over farther) in the middle of the turn, AND sometimes lean it more and get on the throttle at the end of the turns - if you try those things at steeper lean angles it could land you on your butt and I would be remiss if I did not point that out to you.

 

Take a look at Twist II at the chapters on line and steering, they can give you some great tools to get down to one steering input, so you get your radical lean angles done early in the turn and in a safer manner. :)

 

I hope this is helpful, please let me know.

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Thank you. your points are all very well taken.

On the street roads I always make sure i'm in the straightest line as possible from the apex to the exit point.

On a track like ACS in fontana, there are a few corners where the run off area at the turn exit is just a ton more pavement. So that's where I try to maintain a constant radius.

 

I've been really wanting to find a great parking lot and just spend a few hours doing 360 turns each time increasing my lean angle a bit more.

 

Next weekend I have 3 track days back to back at chuckwalla. I put the best tires I could find on both my bikes - 2011 ninja zx6r and 2012 s1000rr. I got pirelli diablo supercorsa SC. Apparently they have alot of grip where I can trust that I can explore steeper lean angles.

 

Again - by steep I mean relative to what I do now, which is not very much at all.

Once I can relax a bit during a lean and get more confident, I think i'll go back to less sticky tires in the far future and explore the limits of traction.

 

Thanks again everyone.

Hope to see some of you at streets of willows in march for the school!

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Minibikes are another option - riding something like an NSR50 on a go kart track is cheap track time (often under $40 per day) and a great way to lean WAY over without have to go 90 mph to do it.

 

 

+1 Minibikes are a super fun/cheap way to get leaned over and learn some racing techniques.

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Next weekend I have 3 track days back to back at chuckwalla. I put the best tires I could find on both my bikes - 2011 ninja zx6r and 2012 s1000rr. I got pirelli diablo supercorsa SC. Apparently they have alot of grip where I can trust that I can explore steeper lean angles.

 

Again - by steep I mean relative to what I do now, which is not very much at all.

Once I can relax a bit during a lean and get more confident, I think i'll go back to less sticky tires in the far future and explore the limits of traction.

Something to keep in mind... if you're changing tire type/brand then you should be verifying your suspension still is setup correctly. Frequently changing tire type/brand could even trigger/sustain your apparent distrust because you likely will face constant changes in tire/suspension feedback with each variation. Also, there are a lot of very fast track-day riders using "street" tires (something like Dunlop Q2's) and never having issues with or being concerned about tire traction.

 

My last immediate thought... good technique is for more deserving of your attention than your tires. If you're giving attention to tire concerns then you have limited attention left over for everything else. As Keith might say, your $10 worth of attention can only buy so much...

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My last immediate thought... good technique is for more deserving of your attention than your tires. If you're giving attention to tire concerns then you have limited attention left over for everything else. As Keith might say, your $10 worth of attention can only buy so much...

 

I think you hit the nail on the head. I've been using 50% of my concentration worrying about whether my tires will hold. Just paranoid but I can't get past that.

 

Now with very sticky tires - I won't think about them any more. They will hold - at my level of riding, unless I do something really foolish and abrupt, they will hold.

Now I can have complete focus on the things I actually want to focus on. Body position, and good visual skills. Those are my main focuses for the next - probably forever...

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Watching the video, I have to agree that in many corners, there is already plenty of lean angle. There are two obvious things that I would suggest you work on based on the video:

 

1) Body position. I think you are working more on this already, but just to reinforce that....in the video you are not moving your butt around at all - it just stays in the same place on the seat. You also fail to get your upper body moved over to the inside when setting up for a corner. You are going to need to "hang off" a bit if you want to get your corner speeds up without running out of available lean angle. By getting your body mass (much) more to the inside, you will be able to carry a lot more speed with the same amount of lean. Most riders who are new to the track are surprised when they see photos of themselves at how little they are hanging off. I am sure you feel the same. Commit to the turn with your body by getting your weight well to the inside before you even turn in.

 

2) Turn in speed. In the video you are turning in very gradually. As you get more track time you should find that you can counter-steer the bike into a turn much more quickly, achieving your final lean angle in a fraction of the time you are currently taking. You'll read about this in the Keith Code books as well....just pointing out that, based on the video, there is lots of room for improvement on this aspect.

 

There are other possible things as well, but it is much harder to deduce much about those from the video. It *looks* like you are quite tense on the bike (but that may not be true - may just look that way because you are keeping your body in one place). Concentrate especially on keeping your arms very relaxed at the bars - let the bike work naturally. I also can't tell much about your throttle control, but I think that aspect has been covered in some detail above.

 

I am *not* an instructor - just a fellow rider trying to learn about track riding, now with two seasons under my belt. The advice above is just based on my own experience and the things that helped me personally. In fact, a while back I started a thread with almost this exact same title, and many of the same questions - scroll a few pages and you will find it ("Drill for Learning to Trust the Tires").

 

Cheers.

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I think you're way to caught up in trying to lean lower, especially after 3 months of riding!!! Leaning lower and carrying more corner speed simply come with time and experience. It really does happen automatically if you practice good technique. Good technique lets the motorcycle feel rock solid and stable even if your pushing traction limits. Having that stable feeling motorcycle inspires confidence which usually results in you going into the corner faster and leaning it over just a little bit further untill something feels "unstable" again.

 

Forget about trying to hold a constant radius while accelerating. Reaching deep lean angles requires using the availible traction from both tires in a smooth, predicatable way (adding lean angle + throttle overwhelms the rear tire like Hotfoot mentioned... far from smooth or predicatable). If you're accelerating you need to make sure your line leaves you with the extra space for the widening radius.

 

Bottom line is you need to start with a good foundation. Leaning lower isn't a foundation, its the result of a good skills foundation that lets you lean lower.

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My question is simple, If i'm in a turn and I lean more (body and bike) what will happen? I feel like if I lean more, the bike will "give up" and fall down - lowside.

 

Once in a while i'm in a turn and I feel like I need to tighten just a tad bit more. I stay on maintenance throttle and countersteer to lean just a little extra. That little extra lean ads tons more cornering force, The bike dives in to the inside and I feel like there is no possible way these tires are going to stay sticking to the ground.

 

Watching your video, it is evident that you just need more riding hours.

Your barrier is mental, since you have not learned the new gravitational field in which you ride.

That field is sometimes vertical, like the natural one; however, it is sometimes diagonal.

 

It is important that you understand that you don't lean the bike in an arbitrary way: you simply keep your bike and your body perfectly aligned with a diagonal gravitational field.

Hence, neither your bike or your body can fall in, if speed and turning radius are in balance.

If either one of those change, your lean angle will adapt naturally (unless you interfere).

 

If properly inflated, your tires can resist a lateral force as high as the share for that tire of the combined weight of your bike and body (which will happen around 45 degrees of lean).

At 35 degrees, you are not using a big margin of grip (lateral force is only 70% of total weight).

 

As explained by Hotfoot, that is all the lateral force that your rubber can develop, and riding mistakes can very well overload the tire with more lateral load (example: mid-corner steering corrections) or with additional longitudinal load (example: acceleration or off-throttle).

 

Extreme lean angle per se does not induce quicker riding.

To be fast, a rider needs to be smooth; to be smooth, a rider needs to be focused and relaxed.

Work on those things and try to forget about the lean angle: it will improve by itself and as you mature as a rider.

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Thank you guys!

I was at chuckwalla for 3 days last weekend and hired an AMA racer to help me out a bit.

 

The biggest difference he made was my feet position. although I had the balls of my feet on the pegs, they were too close to the bike. He had me pretty much put my feet on the very outside of the peg. That allowed my legs to twist easier so I can move my body.

 

The 2nd thing was to sit a bit farther back. Because I am so new and timid, I was riding all the way forward to the tank. That also disabled me from moving my upper body.

 

The third thing is the upper body position. Just like you guys mentioned - I feel like i'm hanging off, but from pictures and video - it's pathetic.

The instructor had me make sure my inside elbow is bent, gripping the handlebar almost from the side, and my outside arm is stretched over the tank!!!

 

At first it was uncomfortable. I felt unstable. It was because I had the proper body position but was trying to turn at the same speeds as before. So what ended up happening is that I was hanging off, and the bike was almost vertical!!!

 

regardless of how awkward and unstable it felt, I kept going round and round the track with my bike almost vertical around the turns. After a few hours, my brain started trusting that my body position was allowing for a much greater apex speeds. So I started to up the pace... The faster I went into the turn, the more this body position made sense!!!

 

My good friends that were with me were really excited!!! They couldn't believe the speeds I was carrying (for being new).

At day 1 and 2 since it's open session format with many advanced riders, I had people passing me during the corners left and right non stop. By day 3, I was only getting passed on the straights, and not even that often. Very exciting for me.

 

I went for a ride with a couple of friends today just trying to soak in the things I learned at the track and to really hammer in that body position. They were running a good spirited pace and I was working on hanging off and having my outside arm stretched around the tank. And while they are leaning like 40 degrees, my bike was almost upright!

 

For the first time riding on some twisties, I felt like I wasn't running wide. I actually was running too deep over and over. On a right hand turn, my bike almost ran over the curb at the apex of the road. On left hand turns, I have to keep myself from running over the double yellow.

 

Just all proof that expert instruction pays off!!!!

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The biggest difference he made was my feet position. although I had the balls of my feet on the pegs, they were too close to the bike. He had me pretty much put my feet on the very outside of the peg. That allowed my legs to twist easier so I can move my body.

 

The 2nd thing was to sit a bit farther back. Because I am so new and timid, I was riding all the way forward to the tank. That also disabled me from moving my upper body.

 

The third thing is the upper body position. Just like you guys mentioned - I feel like i'm hanging off, but from pictures and video - it's pathetic.

The instructor had me make sure my inside elbow is bent, gripping the handlebar almost from the side, and my outside arm is stretched over the tank!!!

 

 

This sounds good and it's amazing how a good body position can help bring things together

 

At first it was uncomfortable. I felt unstable.

 

However, this rings a slight alarm bell. With a good body position you should feel relaxed.

How tense does your upper body feel when you hang off like this? How are you supporting your weight now that your butt is not planted on the seat? Do you think this could add any unwanted input into your steering?

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However, this rings a slight alarm bell. With a good body position you should feel relaxed.

How tense does your upper body feel when you hang off like this? How are you supporting your weight now that your butt is not planted on the seat? Do you think this could add any unwanted input into your steering?

 

I think you missed my point. When hanging off and going too slow, the bike was completely vertical in the corner. It was only till I started trusting that hanging off will allow for more cornering speed, where I increased my speed during the corner and that's when hanging off body position felt very comfortable. Without the centrifugal force of a high speed corner, hanging off is a bit awkward... Try it sometime :)

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