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Tire vs Eye Position at the Apex


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So I've heard this discussed a number of times at the school, both for myself and other students: as you lean the head/eyes will be farther inside the corner than the tires. Intellectually I understand this pretty well but as my pace increases and being able to hit the apex tightly becomes more important I'm finding it's hard to accomplish in practice.

While I could try and just slowly move my apex target point farther inside, it feels like this could end badly. For example, a corner without curbing to give feedback you've reached the final part of the usable pavement would mean risking hitting dirt at high lean. It also feels like something hard to convince your brain to do ("I want to go one foot into the dirt at the apex"). Finally, slowing down too much would lower the lean angle required substantially, thus making the delta smaller and thus harder to work out a good methodology.

I glanced through Twist II and didn't see anything that seemed to address this specific issue, though it's obviously possible I missed it.

I'm enclosing a picture from Streets this last October which I think demonstrates it for anyone unfamiliar -- if I mentally had the right tech and awareness I'd probably move the tires a good foot or two closer to the apex, but that would put my head over the grass and the questionable pavement.

IMG_6130.JPG

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I am no expert in any way on this, but I presume it is about awareness (where are you placed) and confidence (rely on your knowledge about where you are). Some are better at knowing where in space they are situated than others. Personally, I am hopeless, which is why I constantly bump into things. So I need some margins, likely more than you, to feel somewhat in control.

Here are some pictures for inspiration about using all the available space, and then some, showing what is possible:

IOM-wall-1280x720.jpg

59264.jpg

8a9c3899c8f007f321c13f071d25665b--isle-o

f764472d7151941deeeb72dbbea80bf3.jpg

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcROTcyDnhfdzACJvbOxAIq

 

 

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One drill we commonly use in Level 4 is "knee over curb". The idea is to find a point of reference other than your head/eyes to use, to judge distance to the inside edge of the corner. If you approach the corner with the idea that you are going to try to put your knee over the curb instead of positioning your head over it, you can see (looking at your photo) that your tires would be at least a foot closer to the inside, probably more. Another advantage of using your knee as your reference is that most riders can SEE their knee in their peripheral vision, which helps to judge position over the curb.

Having said that, I personally am pretty short so my knee doesn't stick out very far (so it is harder to see) and my knee position is not super consistent because on my small, lightweight low HP racebike I sometimes keep my knee tucked in for faster corners to reduce wind drag and/or lock on more solidly. So, per a suggestion from my Level 4 consultant, I started using the gas tank as my reference. I try to put the gas tank over the curb.  It helps mainly because I can know with CERTAINTY that when I am leaned over, I can safely get the tank over the curb without worrying about hitting it (or the dirt, or ragged edge of track) that I DON'T want to hit at full lean. It gets me a lot closer without having any attention on worrying about hitting the curb. Since your height is, I think, similar to mine and I know you sometimes ride a lightweight bike, using the tank might be something to try.

 

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2 hours ago, Hotfoot said:

One drill we commonly use in Level 4 is "knee over curb". The idea is to find a point of reference other than your head/eyes to use, to judge distance to the inside edge of the corner. If you approach the corner with the idea that you are going to try to put your knee over the curb instead of positioning your head over it, you can see (looking at your photo) that your tires would be at least a foot closer to the inside, probably more. Another advantage of using your knee as your reference is that most riders can SEE their knee in their peripheral vision, which helps to judge position over the curb.

Having said that, I personally am pretty short so my knee doesn't stick out very far (so it is harder to see) and my knee position is not super consistent because on my small, lightweight low HP racebike I sometimes keep my knee tucked in for faster corners to reduce wind drag and/or lock on more solidly. So, per a suggestion from my Level 4 consultant, I started using the gas tank as my reference. I try to put the gas tank over the curb.  It helps mainly because I can know with CERTAINTY that when I am leaned over, I can safely get the tank over the curb without worrying about hitting it (or the dirt, or ragged edge of track) that I DON'T want to hit at full lean. It gets me a lot closer without having any attention on worrying about hitting the curb. Since your height is, I think, similar to mine and I know you sometimes ride a lightweight bike, using the tank might be something to try.

 

Yep, we're about the same stature and I love the low displacement bikes as well so that's always useful! I've done knee over curb many times, for many reasons, but have always had trouble keeping my knee in my visual range due to my visor position. Tank over curb sounds like an interesting modification of it to try though, thanks @Hotfoot.

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3 hours ago, yakaru said:

Yep, we're about the same stature and I love the low displacement bikes as well so that's always useful! I've done knee over curb many times, for many reasons, but have always had trouble keeping my knee in my visual range due to my visor position. Tank over curb sounds like an interesting modification of it to try though, thanks @Hotfoot.

FWIW, I don't try to see the tank in my peripheral vision ( I probably can on the BMW, but not on my little bike), but my outside arm is on it so I have a very good sense of where it is without having to see it.

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Yep, I'll keep my eyes on my 3-step as much as possible, no need for adding saccades, but my sense of where the tank is probably has more accuracy than where my knee is -- my arm is on it and I'm betting I have a more accurate proprioception of it than my knee, as counter intuitive as that might seem.

I might ask my consultant to try this drill at my first 2021 school, since accuracy is one of my "themes" every time the pace goes up or I warm my skills back up after a winter of only commuting.

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New to all this, but Hotfoot and Cobie taught me the knee to corner and was one of the most helpful drill for me at  Las Vegas.

Already signed up for April in Vegas and will test again my coaches patience. 😉 

 

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21 minutes ago, Red_Baron said:

New to all this, but Hotfoot and Cobie taught me the knee to corner and was one of the most helpful drill for me at  Las Vegas.

Already signed up for April in Vegas and will test again my coaches patience. 😉 

 

Glad to hear that, I look forward to seeing you there! I had fun riding with you in Vegas. :)

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5 hours ago, Red_Baron said:

New to all this, but Hotfoot and Cobie taught me the knee to corner and was one of the most helpful drill for me at  Las Vegas.

Already signed up for April in Vegas and will test again my coaches patience. 😉 

 

Knee to curb is a great drill for sure, I'm looking forward to trying the variant Hotfoot suggested to refine my riding even more. I think there's the factors she mentioned as well as the fact I'm not as consistent in terms of my body position either which can move my knee's relative position a bit. I don't quite cross up but my hip rotation isn't always as square as I intend on the BMW, and while I want to work on that as well I don't want to try doing multiple thing at once and spending all my attention dollars.

Enjoy Vegas in April! I'm looking forward to returning to Streets in March myself!

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This thread started me thinking. Dangerous, I know.

Some riders, very good ones, claim they just know where the tires are and can hit a tight apex. I can't but I'm happy for them.

Knee to curb is workable, or, more descriptively, Knee Over Curb. 9 out of 10 students reap substantial improvements with that drill.

AS Hofoot said, she can't see the tank on her small bike and if body position is good, with head low and turned in to the corner, it may be similar on a big bike. The more "GP" the body position the less tank you'll see.

One other thing just struck me as a possible device for estimating the location of the tires in a corner. It's the position of your outside foot.

Look at Yakaru's shot at Streets, or any shot in the thread, the outside foot is very close to being perfectly over the rear contact patch, not quite directly over it but that would give you a safety margin if it was a help. I say "if it was a help" because I have no idea if this would work for anyone.

You could call it a research project at this point and I hope to try it out for myself as well.

Keith

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17 hours ago, Keith Code said:

This thread started me thinking. Dangerous, I know.

Some riders, very good ones, claim they just know where the tires are and can hit a tight apex. I can't but I'm happy for them.

Knee to curb is workable, or, more descriptively, Knee Over Curb. 9 out of 10 students reap substantial improvements with that drill. [...]

One other thing just struck me as a possible device for estimating the location of the tires in a corner. It's the position of your outside foot.

[...]   I say "if it was a help" because I have no idea if this would work for anyone.

You could call it a research project at this point and I hope to try it out for myself as well.

Keith

I just went for a great ride on my favorite local twisties and I'm super glad I checked into the forum this morning and saw this post before I headed out.

I practiced knee to curb in one of my sessions at Barber this past May - indeed it was helpful.  But as this thread inquires about tire vs eye position at apex, I found practicing/focusing on  my outside foot to be tremendously helpful today.  For me, it really tied together vision (keeping vision and attention well down the road) and precise tire placement through the corners.  I played with both knee to curb drill and outside peg drill, and for me, without a doubt, my tire placement was much more precise with outside peg. 

It also freed up a lot more attention - with outside peg I was able to draw an arc with my mind's eye that essentially had the same radius from where I was to where I was looking.  With knee to curb, I noticed some of my attention was eaten up with feeling and visualizing two of the same arc with different radii (if that makes sense).

Regardless, I really enjoyed playing with it on the street as it also helped me navigate debris and potholes in the middle of some of those turns - never had a tire out of place.  It also helped me compensate better for hanging over the double yellows at full lean.

I'll be on track at CoTA next weekend and look forward to playing around with the outside peg concept on track.  Will report back on the track practice of it if I have any additional insight.

Cheers!

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El Colibri;

First off, thanks for trying it out and comparing it with the other technique you'd done before at the school. That gives your observations more credibility for me.

Yes please, do come back after your COTA tarck day and let me know but I'm willing to wager that if you can get it to work on the street, it'll that much easier there and the COTA apex 'curbing' is already pretty friendly.

Keith

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Keith, Merlin here.  
 

You were my off track coach for all 3 single days at Barber this past May. I believe it was on day 2 - I was able to shave 5-7 seconds (can’t remember exactly to be honest but it was a huge gain) off my lap times with a single drill you assigned to me. 
 

if that helps with “credibility” 😉

The freed attention and consistency in my lines with outside peg/foot “felt like” a similar leap forward for me. I think you’re on to something valuable here.

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21 minutes ago, El Colibri said:

Keith, Merlin here.  
 

You were my off track coach for all 3 single days at Barber this past May. I believe it was on day 2 - I was able to shave 5-7 seconds (can’t remember exactly to be honest but it was a huge gain) off my lap times with a single drill you assigned to me. 
 

if that helps with “credibility” 😉

The freed attention and consistency in my lines with outside peg/foot “felt like” a similar leap forward for me. I think you’re on to something valuable here.

On to something valuable is good, that's the way its been going since I started coaching way the hell back in 1976 🙂

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On 11/19/2020 at 1:24 AM, Keith Code said:

This thread started me thinking. Dangerous, I know.

Some riders, very good ones, claim they just know where the tires are and can hit a tight apex. I can't but I'm happy for them.

Knee to curb is workable, or, more descriptively, Knee Over Curb. 9 out of 10 students reap substantial improvements with that drill.

AS Hofoot said, she can't see the tank on her small bike and if body position is good, with head low and turned in to the corner, it may be similar on a big bike. The more "GP" the body position the less tank you'll see.

One other thing just struck me as a possible device for estimating the location of the tires in a corner. It's the position of your outside foot.

Look at Yakaru's shot at Streets, or any shot in the thread, the outside foot is very close to being perfectly over the rear contact patch, not quite directly over it but that would give you a safety margin if it was a help. I say "if it was a help" because I have no idea if this would work for anyone.

You could call it a research project at this point and I hope to try it out for myself as well.

Keith

I liked the sound of this too so thought I would try it out before writing.

I like the idea of using the outside peg to 'triangulate' a point of the tyres' contact patches to the peg, to create a better idea of where the bike is placed, pretty much as El Colibri found.  Also, that our awareness of using that outside peg should already be 'switched on' if we are pivot steering (which I assume we are).  As it's new to me, I did find my attention was then slightly focussed at the rear of the bike, which then felt like it was playing catchup as the bike moves forward - perhaps this is just how my faulty cerebrum is wired! But will keep at it...  

I have used the 'tank over curb' before on the track, but found it takes up too much attention on the street.  Admittedly, I am 5'11" on a small 300 so I do need to glance down to see the tank.  

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