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We had a similar thread a while back on this, but I'd like to update and see what you think, lurkers are encouraged to participate. :) (Yes Benny, you too).

 

Please rank the top 3 riding skills/techniques, in order of importance. You can define as you wish, using the Superbike School skills, or just your own description.

 

CF

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1. Vision. The ability to judge distance, notice things around you (know where you are "in space"), know where you are going.

 

2. Sense of speed. Know when you must stop, how fast you can corner and when you can gas it.

 

3. High SR threshold. Ability to stay calm and analytical under stress so that one can operate the bike properly when on the limit.

 

The way I see it, the rest is just techniques. Quick steering, hanging off, brake application, throttle application - these are reasoably easy to practice if you know where you are, understand your speed and stay reasonably calm and analytical. People with poor vision skills, poor sense of speed and low SR threshold will likely never become champions. If you read about champions, most were fast almost right from the get go, then began honing their techniques so that stopped falling off so much.

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#1 Vision, Eirik summed it up quite nicely

 

#2 Confidence, without confidence in both yourself and your machinery all the techniques in the world are for naught

 

#3 Sense of speed, the better your sense of speed the more consistent you can be, and consistency will result in better lap times

 

 

I would also toss in a sense of traction , or perhaps a sensitivity for machine feedback, being able to read what the bike and tires are telling you

 

Tyler

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1. Trust/Confidence. In ones self. Ones equipment. And those riding with and around you. Failure in one or combination thereof will start making withdrawals on your $10.00. How much can you spare?

 

2. Throttle Control. But when done wrong, how deep of a pickle barrel can it get you into?

 

3. Vision. If you don't know where your going, what else matters?

 

Tyler that was a quick reply or I am just a slow typist :mellow: . I almost gave Eirik a +1 on his excellent reply but started thinking. Vision can be a tricky monster. It will tell you stuff that is not needed is needed and/or even tell you untruths. This can mess with the whole thought process at the wrong time. But we need vision to know where we are and what is going on in our surroundings. Why is it that people can ride or drive faster and calmer at night vs day?

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#1 Vision, Eirik summed it up quite nicely

 

#2 Confidence, without confidence in both yourself and your machinery all the techniques in the world are for naught

 

#3 Sense of speed, the better your sense of speed the more consistent you can be, and consistency will result in better lap times

 

 

I would also toss in a sense of traction , or perhaps a sensitivity for machine feedback, being able to read what the bike and tires are telling you

 

Tyler

Confidence may be a better word for high SR threshold, but it is basically the same thing; if you are not confident, you're SRs will fire.

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1) Throttle control (which directly and indirectly affects SR's)

ability to use it in the most optimal way + see where other people go wrong = huge advantage on public roads for me

 

2) Steering ( turn point + how quick 50/50)

Think fruit ninja , you start and complete a turn of your own choosing and efficiency like a blade slicing thru a blueberry type of precision

 

3) Vision

hazard and road assessment to optimize the 2 above

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We had a similar thread a while back on this, but I'd like to update and see what you think, lurkers are encouraged to participate. :) (Yes Benny, you too).

 

CF

 

Ok... I've officially been called out. I'm Benny, long-time lurker, first-time poster. I'll drop some more info about myself in the new guy section when I get a chance in case anyone cares.

 

I spent a couple of years as an ARTD Rider Coach so the skills I list below are my opinion based on my experience working with over 1500 students in that program.

 

1. The ability to effectively counter-steer the bike.

If you can't make the bike go in the direction you want it to, nothing else matters. Steering is THE most basic skill. We regularly spotted students on the orientation laps that couldn't keep up with the group even at very slow speeds (15-25 MPH). They always looked wobbly because they were pro-steering the bike and it wasn't going where they wanted it to so they didn't have the confidence to speed up. EVERY single time we saw that, it was due to a lack of understanding of counter-steering. After a brief lesson, we ALWAYS saw a rapid and dramatic improvement in speed and smoothness (i.e. confidence). There's a reason CSS does the steering drill right off the bat in Level 1.

 

2. Proper throttle control.

This goes hand-in-hand with proper steering and is the second step in being able to make the bike go exactly where you want it to go because proper throttle control gives the bike the stability needed to hold a predictable line. There is a reason CSS teaches throttle control as the first on-track drill in Level 1. Once you can put the bike exactly where you want it to go then you can worry about #3.

 

3. Good visual skills.

Once you have the ability to put the bike where you want it to go, you need to be able to effectively determine where that should be and that's where these visual skills come in. Others have listed these as #1 and I would certainly agree they are absolutely critical, especially as speed increases. The reason I put it as #3 is because the very basic, built-in visual skills are good enough to get you by in the beginning while we figure out how to make the bike go where we want it to. Selecting and using a good turn point is the first step in developing a good flow of visual information and I expect that's the reason it's the second on-track drill in CSS Level 1. There is also an entire CSS level (Level 2) devoted to these skills. Vision can affect your sense of speed, your confidence, your SR threshold, or virtually any aspect of your riding. I believe that as you progress as a rider, this is certainly where most of your improvement can come from. Nearly every rider error can ultimately be attributed to a visual skills error.

 

That's how I see it, anyway. I'm glad to finally be up on the CSS forum. Looking forward to everyone's replies.

 

Cheers,

Benny

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Steering- if you can't control the bikes direction it won't really matter how fast or slow you are going (except in a straight line)

 

Throttle/brake control-if you can't control your speed, all the steering skills in the world won't "save" you (always...again you could simply go straight)

 

Visual awareness- if you don't know where you are going, what is around you and anticipate actions-you may as well be looking at the ground 5' in front of the bike and try to ride it like that. Visual skills are highly underrated IMO

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It would be interesting to know for sure, but my guess is that Rossi, Spencer, Roberts etc. didn't care much about steering inputs or throttle control initially. Instead, they likely had balls and they pushed until they crashed, climbed on board again, pushed to another crash etc. until they began to slowly get the message. Rossi writes in his book how they would end every day with a swim in the ocean because the salty water was good for cleaning up the road rash they had collected.

 

As they say, it is easier to teach a fast rider to stop crashing, than make a slow safe rider fast.

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It would be interesting to know for sure, but my guess is that Rossi, Spencer, Roberts etc. didn't care much about steering inputs or throttle control initially. Instead, they likely had balls and they pushed until they crashed, climbed on board again, pushed to another crash etc. until they began to slowly get the message. Rossi writes in his book how they would end every day with a swim in the ocean because the salty water was good for cleaning up the road rash they had collected.

 

This reminds me of the section in Ch 6 of A Twist of the Wrist where Keith discusses the Trial and Error approach versus Think it Through, he talks about the advantages and disadvantages of both methods. Anybody remember what he says to use?

 

In the new movie Rush you get to see a great comparison of a thoughtful and methodical racer versus one who takes the "big balls" approach (his exact words). It's a GREAT movie and a true story. It's intense but I HIGHLY recommend it!

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Sounds like a movie to watch.

 

Most world champions began riding before they went to school, and I doubt many of them would think things much through at the age of 3 or 5.

 

Biaggi is an anomaly in that he first rode a bike at the age of 18 and still became a champion. He was, however, really fast from the start at that age. I still don't believe a tentative person can become a world champion in something like motorsport. You don't have to be a daredevil, but you will have a natural ability to be fast right away so that what you need to find are those final seconds to get from fast to super-fast. I could be wrong, of course. But Biaggi jumped into an F1 car and was quickly up to a speed about 4 seconds off the lap record. Rossi was 2.5 seconds behind and IIRC worked down to 1.5 seconds behind Schumacher in the course of a few days of testing. Most people could never learn to drive that fast, regardless of how much thinking they did or how much training they got. At least that's how I read the "evidence".

 

As to thinking; it helps. If you can combine tons of early practice, big balls and a bright mind you have a winner that doesn't make many mistakes. Like KR Sr. He was once too slow around Suzuka. Instead of trying harder, he went to his hotel, spent a couple of hours riding around the track mentally, came back to the track and pronounced "I've found 2 seconds" and went out and was exactly 2 seconds faster than before. To me, that's impressive.

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I think Scott Russell started later in life too.

 

OK, interesting stuff so far.

 

Still like to see more guys chime in, even if it's just to confirm or not.

 

CF

 

PS--good you came out of the closet Benny!

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Bayliss was also pretty old when he began racing (24?).

I do believe he had a pretty successful motocross career as a young child, after which he took a long break before buying his first street bike and taking up road racing. Netflix has a documentary series on him, its not half bad IMO.

 

 

I think I disagree, to a point, on this "1. The ability to effectively counter-steer the bike. "

 

Now for me personally , I view this as a basic operational principle of the motorcycle, not a skill/technique. Of course quick flicking the bike is IMO entirely separate from this, much like knowing how to operate the brakes is very much different from good braking technique. If I were to play devils advocate along these lines I could list the top 3 skills as 1: Owning a motorcycle, 2: knowing how to turn on and start the motorcycle, 3: Knowing how to operate the clutch / gearbox. All three of these would be required before one even got to the point of needing to steer, but they are kind of silly in terms of the top 3 riding skills/techniques.

 

Perhaps the difference lies in the interpretation of the question. The "Top 3 riding skills/techniques" for a new rider might not necessarily be the same as the "Top 3 riding skills/techniques" for a experienced track day veteran. Much in the way that the 3 most important skills, might not be the same as the 3 most important fundamentals or the 3 most Basic skills etc. etc.

 

 

Tyler

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#1 for me is something like Erik's "high SR threshold". If you are constantly feeling like you are going too fast for the situation and panicking, you really can't improve. You have to get to a point where you are pretty much always relaxed on the bike. It's 99% a mental thing. This includes having the faith to just lean the thing over further - maybe further than you ever have before - when you feel like you are in a corner too hot. I am getting quite good at this!

 

#2 would be consistent line selection - being able to identify turn-in points and especially sight apexes so you are putting the bike exactly where you intend to in every corner. On new track layouts I still sometimes struggle to sight apexes in corners that are complex (e.g., multiple apex turns) or where there aren't good visual clues.

 

#3 is sense of speed, *especially* when transitioning from braking to turn-in. Getting the entry speed right is probably the biggest key to fast lap times in my mind. You start learning this without much emphasis on minimizing your braking times, but eventually you have to progress to hard braking followed by optimum entry speed. I suspect that this is the skill that most often separates the merely fast riders from the truly exceptional ones. I am still terrible at this - I usually turn better lap times when I relax my braking a bit and set my corner speeds early. This is fine for track days but won't win me any races.

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I think I disagree, to a point, on this "1. The ability to effectively counter-steer the bike. "

 

Now for me personally , I view this as a basic operational principle of the motorcycle, not a skill/technique. Of course quick flicking the bike is IMO entirely separate from this, much like knowing how to operate the brakes is very much different from good braking technique. If I were to play devils advocate along these lines I could list the top 3 skills as 1: Owning a motorcycle, 2: knowing how to turn on and start the motorcycle, 3: Knowing how to operate the clutch / gearbox. All three of these would be required before one even got to the point of needing to steer, but they are kind of silly in terms of the top 3 riding skills/techniques.

 

Perhaps the difference lies in the interpretation of the question. The "Top 3 riding skills/techniques" for a new rider might not necessarily be the same as the "Top 3 riding skills/techniques" for a experienced track day veteran. Much in the way that the 3 most important skills, might not be the same as the 3 most important fundamentals or the 3 most Basic skills etc. etc.

 

 

Tyler

 

 

First, I'd like to say that I'm right and you're all wrong! ;) (Still want me here Cobie?)

 

Seriously, though, your point is well taken. Where does basic become too basic? The reason I chose to start with steering is that I've seen a surprising number of experienced riders who still don't really understand how to properly countersteer a bike. We literally had a guy who had been riding for 20 years at an ARTD who clearly had a problem in this. I have no idea how he survived without it. After working it out with him he made a dramatic improvement and was literally elated at the revelation. He couldn't believe the difference it made. He was the "oldest" rider I can remember that had countersteering issues but I'd say we worked on countersteering with between 10-20% of our ARTD students (of varying level of experience) so, in my experience, it is a bit more of a skill than starting the bike or working the clutch. Certainly, others may draw the line elsewhere.

 

Benny

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#1 for me is something like Erik's "high SR threshold"...

 

#2 would be consistent line selection...

 

#3 is sense of speed...

 

Eirik & Yellow Duck,

 

I personally agree that these are attributes of a good rider, but just for giggles, let's see if we can break these points down a bit further...

 

1. High "SR" threshold... what can a rider do to reduce his SR threshold? What are the things that trigger SRs and what specific skills can be applied to reduce them? What what were/are your personal triggers & what have you guys done to reduce them?

 

2 & 3. Consistent line selection & sense of speed... I personally think the underlying skills that address these are the same, which is why I grouped them together. Again, what skills can you aply to improve the consistency of your line selection? Improve your sense of speed? What has worked specifically for each you?

 

Anyone else is obviously free to chime in as well.

 

Benny

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A little off topic, but maybe it's on topic after all as it may give a glimpse of why some are much faster than others. This is about Kevin Schwantz and people talking about memories of him:

 

Schwantz would come through, most laps sliding both ends, occasionally with his butt off the seat and one or more feet kicked off the pegs as he wrestled with the bike. It looked like a miracle save almost every lap, except he kept doing it and the pace never slackened.

 

I was on the west banking, just to the inside of the white line up near the wall, thinking how I'm just the ######, when I heard, and FELT, a presence rapidly approaching from the rear. Out of my peripherals I caught sight of a blue and white bike with a "34" on it to my immediate right, passing me, with what seemed like 20 mph in his back pocket, BETWEEN me and the wall. Talk about bursting your bubble! There was maybe, oh, a millimeter between my bar-end and his, and I was completely amazed at this display of skill and cojones. My bike, and me, literally shuddered in his wake. Right then was when I realized the huge void that exists between a weekend racer out for a little fun and a highly skilled professional.

 

I'm getting the hang of going around corners and tip the bike into turn 3, a bumpy 90 degree right hander. Now keep in mind, I'd never even heard of Kevin Schwantz until that day. So I'm at the apex of the corner and out of nowhere comes a shadow, a flash by my right side and then the image of a crossed up, sliding, peg dragging FJ600 with some skinny guy looking over his left shoulder at me. I'd swear I could see a, 'Man, did you see that?' smile behind that face shield.

 

I was solidly ON THE BRAKES when a flash of white whipped through my field of vision carrying at least 15MPH on me. It was that guy from Texas. Forget slamming into the wall and lying in a heap, he was going so fast I figured he was going to clear the wall, and the pit exit lane behind it. I blew off looking to the apex (thank you Keith Code) and watched the unfolding spectacle before me. Suddenly I wasn't looking at the back of his bike anymore. It went from pointed forward to being broadside in front of me without seeming to transition between the two states. I was looking at the side of his bike and was aimed for direct ramming amidships. Instead, I learned about chassis flex as I saw the weight of the engine bend the whole bike like a straw. Then it flexed back, he hit the gas and was gone.

 

You can read the full stories - and several more - here https://www.google.no/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&ved=0CEEQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.superbikeplanet.com%2F2007%2FJul%2F070702-34.htm&ei=t_lWUsrnLoK84ASC34Fw&usg=AFQjCNEte4SzbOjtmFJssUDrLroZISEk5w&sig2=vc0OskvZki0GFD0jVsBy6w&bvm=bv.53760139,d.bGE

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1. High "SR" threshold... what can a rider do to reduce his SR threshold? What are the things that trigger SRs and what specific skills can be applied to reduce them? What what were/are your personal triggers & what have you guys done to reduce them?

Some doesn't seem to have much in the way of SRs, like Schwantz in my post above. Or like Marquez, crashing at 320 mph and still have presence to decide how to crash to reduce the risk of hurting himself, then going back out, bruised and battered, and riding even faster. Most people would hold back just a little after such an episode, but if you do, you will not win. Can you learn to be this fearless, or would you have to be born this way?

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1. High "SR" threshold... what can a rider do to reduce his SR threshold? What are the things that trigger SRs and what specific skills can be applied to reduce them? What what were/are your personal triggers & what have you guys done to reduce them?

Some doesn't seem to have much in the way of SRs, like Schwantz in my post above. Or like Marquez, crashing at 320 mph and still have presence to decide how to crash to reduce the risk of hurting himself, then going back out, bruised and battered, and riding even faster. Most people would hold back just a little after such an episode, but if you do, you will not win. Can you learn to be this fearless, or would you have to be born this way?

 

 

You seldom see idiot drivers/cyclist/bikers on the track do you? Or stray animals/leaves ...

 

Riding 90% like MM or ANY of the top gp champs on open roads is a death wish imho

 

They are just what they are: inspiriation.

 

As Mr Keith said: would you like to learn golf from tiger woods or from the instructor who taught him?

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