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How Important Is Dirt Training For A Racer?


Stroker
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How important really is riding in the dirt as a part of your training? Most of the top riders swear by it.

 

What part of your road racing improved as a consequence of riding the dirt, and is a rider who does not have access to a dirt bike at a disadvantage to those who ride dirt bikes regularly?

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I am not now, and never was, a serious dirt bike rider, but I have done some riding on them and have taken some classes on them.

 

Riding them helped me to get more comfortable with:

1) the bike moving around under me

2) sliding the rear tire

3) braking all the way to tire lockup, with either brake

4) dealing with low traction conditions - like riding through deep soft dirt or gravel, and using the front brake on unusual surfaces like grass. Occasionally for one reason or another I end up having to ride a sportbike on our through dirt, grass or gravel (construction zones, dirt roads, whatever) and some dirt bike experience makes me MUCH more comfortable with that.

5) dealing with elevation changes, starting and stopping on hills, riding sideways to a hill, turning around on a slope (well - actually I still hate that one on a street bike)

 

Starting out as a cautious and very inexperienced street rider, I rode my street bike very carefully and tensed up with any wobbling and any percieved possibiltiy of sliding a tire. Playing around on a smaller and lighter dirtbike allowed me to experiment with sliding, hard braking, etc, without fearing for my life, or worrying about other cars or cops. And riding a dirt bike over any kind of medium-to-rough terrain definitely forces you to confront the feeling of the bike moving around all over the place, often unexpectedly, and you quickly learn that it can move around a LOT without the world coming to an end. Getting comfortable with that helped me stop being so tense and reactive on my street bike.

 

Riding a dirt bike helps with street riding in a way similar to how driving a go-kart relates to driving a car - it allows you to get experience with things you would probably never try in your regular car on the street (like spinning it around or fully locking up the brakes entering a corner) and the skills you learn can come in VERY handy in emergency situations - like automatically knowing what to do if your car unexpectedly starts to slide.

 

Regarding pro-riders - I'm sure it helps them with riding a racebike at its absolute limits, and dealing with the ways the bike reacts to that (sliding, wobbling,etc.), but I imagine it is also a big help for physical conditioning because dirt riding is a serious workout!!

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You can do anything you set your mind to, but the gradient is rather steep - since a street bike is heavier, taller, has smooth tires and a different style of chassis and a less forgiving suspension over big bumps, it's likely to be much more difficult to figure out how to slide it around without crashing, and crashing a street bike is typically a lot more expensive (and could potentially cause more injury because of the weight) than crashing a dirt bike - those things are tough as nails and are designed to fall over without destroying expensive parts.

 

Think of it this way - a highside in the dirt on a streetbike could easily result in $1,000 worth of damage just on the fairings and paint. You can go out and buy something like a used Yamaha 125 for about that price and drop the thing over and over with no significant damage, then resell it for the same amount of money. :)

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^^^ yea

 

I wasn't advocating that anyone do that, it was meant more for the funnies.

 

I bought a used $100 200cc off brand dirt bike just to beat to death. It has taught me plenty that I used on the track for reasons Hotfoot has already mentioned above. The shotty suspension has me really relaxed on the street bike. I try not to crash my yami dirt bike too hard, parts are expensive when you need them often and broken bones hurt, even in dirt.

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^^^ yea

 

I wasn't advocating that anyone do that, it was meant more for the funnies.

 

I bought a used $100 200cc off brand dirt bike just to beat to death. It has taught me plenty that I used on the track for reasons Hotfoot has already mentioned above. The shotty suspension has me really relaxed on the street bike. I try not to crash my yami dirt bike too hard, parts are expensive when you need them often and broken bones hurt, even in dirt.

 

Yes, I knew that was meant mostly for entertainment. :) I had not yet seen your post, it popped up while I was typing my reply to Stroker.

 

Is that actually you in the photo?

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Actually, i could get one of the older two stroke bikes and mod them as MX bikes.It has been done before with some success.I think my throttle and clutch control will improve more with a 2s than 4s?

 

Besides, the 2s will be lighter and way cheaper to buy used/junked.

 

There is a dual sport available...but too little power.Only 14 miserable horse.Pah!

 

I hate scooters with all my hear and soul.Nearly died on one.....

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I don't think there have been any world road race champions over the past couple of decades that doesn't do some sort of off road riding. They to MX, they do bicycle downhill on the woods, and they use light, low-powered bikes and go around in circles for days on end. Kenny Roberts Sr. has a bunch of Honda XR100s on his ranch, and this is also where Jorge Lorenzo ended up when trying to become a master of wet weather riding, despite having done a lot of similar training at home. Since it's not just about doing the laps, but also about the tuition, he found the days spent with KR invaluable and it paid off with podiums and wins in the wet, a situation that he previously didn't master at all.

 

But the amount of practice done by those wanting to be the best doesn't end with dirt riding. For instance, when he was still a young lad, Lorenzo's dad made him learn to stop a motorcycle, on asphalt, without brakes. He literally undid the brakes and taught Jorge to slide the rear to a stop speedway style. Another practice they did for days on end was figure eights, mostly with everything from 5 to 50 metres between the cones. Jorge's dad felt that was the most useful form of practice there is for road racing since it deals with every aspect of cornering. To make it more interesting, the corners were lightly oiled.

 

For ordinary riders without ambitions to become the best in the world, going to such extremes may not be realistic or even desirable. One must take into consideration such things as cost, how much time you can spend on riding, the risks involved, what you want to ultimately achieve and if you can get a good teacher to make sure you go in the right direction.

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Funny you mention the figure-8 riding. Anders Rasmussen, 1-time European Superbike Champion back in the '90ies, was well-known for practicing figure-8s on grass, with a 500 2T on the day (I forget which one). He did this as spring training at least.

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Speaking of figure of 8's.....it was for this reason i started the Moto Gymkhana threads wayy back.I really think there is a lot to be learned from such training.

Funny because I did 8's before teaching myself the ways of the school via video and book...on a scooter

 

Alot? Im still skeptical that you have actually read the book/saw the video and applied it to your everyday riding for such a statement to pop up.

That or maybe the area where I ride is actually really close to being a full blown rally course with leaves, mud, sand and unexpected downpours forming small puddles everywhere , making hydroplaning a stark reality .

 

Im not discounting that it could be both or just one of them thou.

 

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Alot? Im still skeptical that you have actually read the book/saw the video and applied it to your everyday riding for such a statement to pop up.

That or maybe the area where I ride is actually really close to being a full blown rally course with leaves, mud, sand and unexpected downpours forming small puddles everywhere , making hydroplaning a stark reality .

 

Im not discounting that it could be both or just one of them thou.

 

I do not understand what you are trying to say - could you please be more specific?

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Alot? Im still skeptical that you have actually read the book/saw the video and applied it to your everyday riding for such a statement to pop up.

That or maybe the area where I ride is actually really close to being a full blown rally course with leaves, mud, sand and unexpected downpours forming small puddles everywhere , making hydroplaning a stark reality .

 

Im not discounting that it could be both or just one of them thou.

 

I do not understand what you are trying to say - could you please be more specific?

 

 

Riding 8's doesnt train much apart from finer control of the motorbike imho. Not triggering SR's and finding the ideal line is the real deal in surviving the harsh everyday commute for me.

 

And my oh my, the roads around my area sucks. hard. real hard. near full blown rally course level after a typhoon to be specific.

 

The strays and idiot road users both walking and on wheels (2,4,6 if you count the dump truck) makes the already insane conditions .... it ups the ante

 

Sorry, had a rough day everytime I ride . I cant change the environmental conditions atm.

 

 

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to truly push the limit on a street bike you have to be comfortable with it slipping and sliding around, and theres no better place to practice that than on a dirt bike, or flat track. The results of riders who grew up riding dirt and flat track since they were 3-4 speak for themselves IMO

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The figure 8, according to Jorge's dad, will teach you throttle control, braking, turn-in, lines, cornering speed, slides - just about everything involved with track racing. Personally, I cannot really comment.

yeah, everything, just not in the right dosage or way in this time and date. Its very outdated IMHO.

Maybe its just me but I've been there done that with 8's and I personally prefer a mini course / track or the touge behind my house where I get access to uphills/downhills , positive/negative chambered corners and low medium hi speed corners. Preferably with chase cam or an instructor to oversee one's strengths and mistakes.

 

What better way to troubleshoot the bike and one's skills than to throw real life conditions at it ?

 

Speaking of slides... does anyone actually tune the mass balance of their bikes to make sure its actually neutral on the straights in the rain? For ex the CB400 Spec2-4 and most scooters likes to skid itself on the side of the pipe when the tire/s loses traction :

 

I do.

 

 

 

Note on both cases , when the bike loses traction, it turns towards the side with the pipe/exhaust.

 

On a properly mass centralized bike (just on the left and right) , upon lockup of the rear wheel, the rear will only wiggle and squirm slightly, well within a riders control.

 

My personal level of precision in finding lines allow myself to actually make the rear step on part of a manhole/line to make it "slide" ; the result is 0.2-0.4s of oversteer drift .

 

 

How are you going to do/learn that on 8's? with no knowledge of overcoming SR's and a badly balanced bike + no knowledge of how the bike acts upon unwanted steering inputs , its very inefficient imho.

 

My scooter doesnt even have a tank for me to lock on to.

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There are videos of bikes taking longer to stop with abs.What then?

Mind showing us the videos?

 

edit:

 

did you mean this?

 

 

I'd say 2 factors come into play:

 

1) The grade of the ABS

 

I have the opportunity to try both the FZ6N , XJ6N and the NC700 at the training grounds

The FZ6N is obviously the oldest bike in the paddock and with craped out suspension to boot ,; when the ABS came on, it was shuttering like mad ; stopping distance wasnt good

 

XJ6N and the NC700 are new bikes but the XJ6N 's ABS had a tendency to overheat the fork oils , resulting in the same shuttering like the FZ6N when the 4th or 5th rider came to ride the bike on a hot day during braking test practice runs (every rider has to run the whole course at least 10 times)

 

The NC700 however, has C-ABS , braking distance was significantly shorter although it only has one disc brake up front plus it has much less brake dive. The rider also doesnt get "thrown" or "shaken" that badly hence having more of the 10 dollars attention to relaxing the upper body and focusing on grabbing the tank with the tights.

 

C-abs doesnt come with downsides thou, if it activates in a corner , the line will be affected much more as 2 wheels are braking simultaneously .

2)the body positioning

 

Obviously if you clamp down on the tank AND dont straighten up your arms, the weight transfer forward will be much less resulting in a shorter braking distance.

 

 

That said, I'll still opt for ABS as insurance for ABS equipped bikes are much lower. The 2014 updated bosche 9.1M abs unit on the KTM adventure 1190 is another whole new level imho.

Its called MSC but i think its still ABS with updated software to work with the lean angle sensor .

 

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KTK,

 

at some point the skills and techniques you need to practice for street riding and for pushing the absolute limit of machinery around a race track start to diverge from one another. the thread is about practice and training for a "Racer" not a average rider, also there can be a world of difference between doing figure 8's in a parking lot or confined space and doing them on a real 1/2 mile dirt oval. Also just about every motorcycle shootout article I've read has had skilled riders stop faster with the ABS off than with it on. I would gladly remove the ABS from my new FJR if it were a option.

 

Tyler

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