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My Friend And Support


faffi
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The greatest, most important item on my motorcycle is the front brake. It gives me comfort, it relaxes me, calms my SR and is quite frankly as close to a friend as a mechanical object can be. It is what I lean on when I have to stop or slow on perfect asphalt, on a wet and bumpy road, on gravel, on snow and on black ice. Unless the road is rather slippery, I have no qualms heading for the front brake even mid-corner.

 

I know I have discussed variants of this them before, but recently I have spent a lot of time analyzing my riding and why I act how I do when propelling my motorcycle down the road. And I think the answer for my intimacy with and reliance upon the front brake is down to the fact that I know how it works. I am confident with how it influence my motorcycle.

 

For several years now, I have tried to brake earlier and get back on the throttle earlier. I have also found a compromise; I still brake later and deeper than what's supposed to be ideal, but a lot earlier than I used to. So I'm OK with it. At times, it is also better than the typical very (too) late braking I have been used to.

 

However, there is a limit to this, a point where turning in off the brakes become scary. Frightening. I cannot tell exactly where the limit is - it seems to change from corner to corner as well as the speed allowed by the corner - but I know that my limit is lower than for many others. Lower than people I can leave behind with ease if I'm in front, riding the way I feel comfortable. Even repeating the same corner at the same pace that I know to be safe from experience fail to ease the sphincter-tightening feeling I get. Entering the same corner at the same pace, but slowing on the brakes, feels tons better than doing it under neutral throttle.

 

So I have concluded that for my purpose - road riding - it is better to do what I feel in control with than to continue to work towards a style that feels awkward and downright dangerous, regardless of what the theory suggests.

 

Does anybody else have similar "hang-ups" that they cannot or will not rid themselves of?

 

 

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The Level 1, first skill, Throttle Control was a real eye opener for me. I kinda knew that was the goal but didn't fully appreciate how the bike's suspension and traction at each end could be more consistently managed by eliminating transitions or oscillations in brake & throttle. That practice has led me to a place where I feel like I'm carrying a lot more speed into the corner. Since I'm off the brakes and won't add more than a crack of the throttle until my line is set and assured, I'm only asking the tires to corner and it seems easier to me to tell when I'm near the limit. My goal now is to coast less. I guess coasting at high lean angle is my security blanket and I'm hoping to make that less and less so.

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Eirik - something to take a look at on your bike is your front suspension setup. The way your front end is set up can make a big difference in confidence entering corners, on or off the brakes. For example, a front end that is very soft - especially if the rebound damping is set very low (soft) - can compress under braking, but then pop back up (extend) when you let off the brakes, prior to - or entering - a corner. Then once in the corner the front will compress again from the cornering load. This is a disconcerting feeling as the handling of the bike changes as the geometry changes, and that odd feel and unpredictable handling can really affect the rider's confidence in entering a corner.

 

Once the suspension is set up properly, then the way the rider manages timing on the brakes can also really improve the situation. The ideal scenario for a regular 90 degree type corner* is to get the bulk of the braking done prior to your chosen turn point, then taper off the brakes such that you are releasing the brake right as you turn the bike, so that the front end stays compressed throughout - first from the braking, then from the cornering load - but without that full brake release in between that allows the front forks to extend. (*There are exceptions to that ideal scenario - some high speed entry decreasing radius corners that might be handled differently, staying on the brakes longer.)

 

If the rebound damping on the bike is REALLY low, it can force the rider to have to stay on the brakes harder and longer than he/she should have to; increasing the rebound damping can slow down the reaction from the front end and make it much easier for the rider to have more of a brake release at the turn point without getting that uncomfortable compromise in handling that comes from the front forks extending right as you are turning the bike.

 

If you can get to a school, overcoming barriers like this - that seem insurmountable - is one of the greatest feelings in the world, and the Superbike School is expert at helping you do just that.

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This is not about the bike's handling, but how I perceive speed. Let me give two examples:

 

1. I ride along at a constant 60 speed and approach a corner that I know from experience can be safely taken at the speed I have, yet my brain scream that I'm going too fast. This happen before I even begin turning in. It is very, very uncomfortable, but I force myself to relax and take the corner. Once committed, I notice what I already knew, that there is plenty limit and I can accelerate early, using middle rpm and still get a fast exit. But the feeling is poor, the experience gives me no joy.

 

2. Same corner, but now I'm approaching the corner doing 100 mph, brake hard and turn in doing 75 mph just as I start to ease off the brakes. Once at the apex, my speed is down to 50 mph, pegs may be touching down, I raise the bike as quickly as possibly and whack the throttle open in a low gear for max acceleration. I feel happy, safe, relaxed.

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This is not about the bike's handling, but how I perceive speed. Let me give two examples:

 

 

Great post from Hotfoot!

If the brake-gas transition is not your problem, it seems that your perception of deceleration eases your fears, while acceleration makes you feel uncomfortable.

That perception is far from the Physics that apply to your street bike: riding a bike is far from natural.

 

Most conditions for street riding will accommodate an extended overload of the front tire.

There will be turning situations and conditions of low traction in which opening the gas will help and braking will make things more difficult and potentially dangerous....., especially if 100 mph is a regular speed.

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Eirik, in your happy, relaxed scenario above, are you trailing off the brakes all the way until you begin to raise the bike back up to vertical? Given what we've learned in the throttle control skill about the suspension and where grip and control is achieved, is the front tire being asked to do more or less work than if you were on the juice?

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I eased off the brake until I'm comfy with the situation, which could be early in the corner or not until the exit if I blew it completely (on an unfamiliar road), but typically I would brake until the apex and I would be raising the bike to accelerate. Over the past few years, I have braked earlier and gentler and begin my acceleration earlier, but still later than textbook. I still prefer to brake later and harder, but it is upsetting for those I ride with and also upsetting for me if I ride in a group, hence the change.

 

I do know I ask more of the front tyre the way I ride, but I like the feedback I get. That feedback is missing for me when I'm not braking. And more importantly I like the slower pace :P

 

Interestingly, back when I really used to brake deep, I would leave my friends way behind. Provided I rode at the front. If I followed, it felt like the pace was insanely fast since they had a higher mid-corner speed, but they also braked uncomfortably early for me. We were completely out of sync.

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I really like the articles that Ienatsch has written about "The Pace" for street riding. In his original article he said you might not see brake lights all day riding with his groups that ride the pace. He clarifies that in this Pace 2.0 article:

 

http://www.cycleworld.com/2013/09/16/become-a-better-street-rider-with-the-pace-motorcycle-safety-and-riding-skills/

 

Riding like this has really reduced the times where I felt like I've charged a corner too fast on the street.

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Eirik - something to take a look at on your bike is your front suspension setup. The way your front end is set up can make a big difference in confidence entering corners, on or off the brakes. For example, a front end that is very soft - especially if the rebound damping is set very low (soft) - can compress under braking, but then pop back up (extend) when you let off the brakes, prior to - or entering - a corner. Then once in the corner the front will compress again from the cornering load. This is a disconcerting feeling as the handling of the bike changes as the geometry changes, and that odd feel and unpredictable handling can really affect the rider's confidence in entering a corner.

 

Once the suspension is set up properly, then the way the rider manages timing on the brakes can also really improve the situation. The ideal scenario for a regular 90 degree type corner* is to get the bulk of the braking done prior to your chosen turn point, then taper off the brakes such that you are releasing the brake right as you turn the bike, so that the front end stays compressed throughout - first from the braking, then from the cornering load - but without that full brake release in between that allows the front forks to extend. (*There are exceptions to that ideal scenario - some high speed entry decreasing radius corners that might be handled differently, staying on the brakes longer.)

 

If the rebound damping on the bike is REALLY low, it can force the rider to have to stay on the brakes harder and longer than he/she should have to; increasing the rebound damping can slow down the reaction from the front end and make it much easier for the rider to have more of a brake release at the turn point without getting that uncomfortable compromise in handling that comes from the front forks extending right as you are turning the bike.

 

If you can get to a school, overcoming barriers like this - that seem insurmountable - is one of the greatest feelings in the world, and the Superbike School is expert at helping you do just that.

 

that explains why the new guys trail brake like mad on a new bike around my area ; the rebound damping is rubbish for sporty riding hence they are compensating for the front end "popping back" in a corner with stock suspension.

 

there are quite a few ways to "gear" (hardware wise) and "hack" (software wise, esp riding skills) around it , one is what you said ,properly tuned suspension with adequate rebound damping.

 

leaning into the corner (upper body only on streets) also brings some weight towards the front , which keeps the front fork compressed "longer" ; i would say with a higher grade of the quick flick + throttle skill , you can actually bridge the gap of the "pogo-ing transition" between off the brakes , flipping the bike and gassing the throttle , hence totally prevent the pogo effect even with really soft front suspension (which is a dozen a penny on stock bikes as they are tuned for comfort and usually a 150 pound rider) , thou it will definitely take up a huge chunk of the $10 to pull it off compared to a bike with worked out suspension~

 

Erik is flipping out because based on my guessitmate, the skillset he has isnt up to grade in retrospect to his extremely underdamped rebound suspension both front and aft ; he needs all the help he can muster to keep the front from popping up in corners...

 

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Yes, and I agree - I also try to stay off the brakes these days and for the most part I manage. However, I still prefer to enter corners on a trailing throttle over a steady throttle.

 

Erik,based on my guessitmate...

 

your bike is seriously underdamped , hence you have to load up and stabilize both the front and rear suspension with the minimum amount of lean angle... your suspension wont hold (it would go up and down like a pirate ship) properly if you don't enter a turn trailing the throttle.

 

I have the same experience with stock bikes tuned for comfort and a huge load range (jack of all trades master of none) , they have to be "loaded up" to feel stable from entry to exit of a corner, esp for a light rider. heavier guys on stock bikes "go faster" in corners because of this, their weight overwhelms/counters the stock "underdamped" rebound damping, technically its not underdamped for them in the corner because of the higher G forces loaded on the tires and fork throughout the corner due to centrifugal forces ; i still eat them for all 3 meals on the straights thou.

 

My bike only has a cheap aftermarket rear (its only preload adjustable) and a re-oiled front (the springs and internals are stock) but the thicker oil(+10to 15% at given temps) in front means i only have to trail brake up to the turn point , do a quick flick , and Im already holding if not opening up the throttle with next to no $ of the $10 on the brake department therafter (unless an emergency pops up)

 

Such a setup and cornering habit easily yields me an additional 7-10km/h going out of turns compared to anything stock with easily more than enough left of the $10 worth of attention for emergencies while street riding.

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Eirik,

 

If you get a chance, have a look at Twist II, Chapter 25, called "Traction". There is a really interesting section in there that seems to relevant to your description of the riding style that feels comfortable for you, and the pros and cons of that style. Here is a bit of text from that section:

 

"Riders who rely solely on the perception of maximum traction have a certain style they develop. They appear to be lost if they can't feel that particular band of traction and don't believe they're going fast unless they do feel that traction."

 

The section goes on to describe the "grunt and bite" feeling of the tires in the turn, and describes in detail the advantages/disadvantages of this style and possible riding errors or barriers that can result. Your description of coming in hard on the front tire (braking late and to the apex), then exiting hard on the rear tire (rolling on the gas hard), reminded me of this particular info in Twist II.

 

I'm not sure if this what you are running into in your riding or not, but I DO think there is some info in that section that could be useful to you in working through the challenges you describe in your original post. I hope it is helpful!

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Heavier guys on stock bikes "go faster" in corners because of this: their weight overwhelms/counters the stock "underdamped" rebound damping. Technically, it's not underdamped for them in the corner because of the higher G forces loaded on the tires and fork throughout the corner due to centrifugal forces.

That's an interesting comment, ktk-ace. Never really thought of it before, but ...

Me, I'm a 7 stone weakling and yes, I've noticed that a number of my 'stockier' :rolleyes: road-riding buddies enter corners faster than I do. However, by mid-corner, I'm already up their exhaust pipes (if I'm not careful) and before the corner unwinds, I'm long gone. (Like I said, I've never thought of it before), but maybe suspension set-ups this is part of the reason ...
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  • 2 weeks later...

 

Heavier guys on stock bikes "go faster" in corners because of this: their weight overwhelms/counters the stock "underdamped" rebound damping. Technically, it's not underdamped for them in the corner because of the higher G forces loaded on the tires and fork throughout the corner due to centrifugal forces.
That's an interesting comment, ktk-ace. Never really thought of it before, but ...
Me, I'm a 7 stone weakling and yes, I've noticed that a number of my 'stockier' :rolleyes: road-riding buddies enter corners faster than I do. However, by mid-corner, I'm already up their exhaust pipes (if I'm not careful) and before the corner unwinds, I'm long gone. (Like I said, I've never thought of it before), but maybe suspension set-ups this is part of the reason ...

 

 

I had a chance to observe a friend who is near 200 pounds, he corners like crazy on his stock (suspension) bike during the initial 1/2 of the corner too...

 

stable too on a nicely paved corner as both the front and rear are nearly only running on air springs as they are like on the last 1/5 of their effective length...

 

His stock front tire was shot after only 4500 KM (the usual milage fyi is 8000-12000 KM )

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