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Cracking the throttle


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Hey, all. One of the things I've set out for myself to work on this year is how I crack open the throttle. I know from some of my own video and data analysis that sometimes I am a bit too aggressive with the initial opening of the throttle, possibly unsettling the chassis rather than smoothly transferring weight to the rear.

So, the question is - how to improve this? I have a few ideas, but I'd love to hear others' as well.

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Some more details would be useful but a few ideas/questions:

How is your throttle grip? Is it comfortable? Tense? Is it focused in the fingers like a  screwdriver grip or more of a 'fist'? How is your feel through your gloves?

As an experiment can you initiate a roll on while straight up and down without unsettling/'gunning' or is it only in a corner that this happens?

 

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My grip at the point of initiating throttle is more palm-oriented than finger, because I’ve just finished braking with my fingers on the lever and palm on the bar. Would not describe it as tense - I don’t experience any kind of arm fatigue.
 

I am definitely *able* to crack the throttle smoothly, and in some corners I do a good job. I’m also likely to do a good job if I spend a portion of my attention on it. I’d like to make it a stronger habit to do the right thing every time with less attention required. 
 

The negative habit seems to come out predominantly when I’m in a corner where I could have started the throttle sooner than I did or in which I over-slowed the entry. I do a good job of setting my line and then it’s almost an “oh , let’s go!” response from my brain.

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Any issues with the throttle free-play?  I'm not sure which kind of throttle setup you have; ie, ride-by-wire/cable, but taking up the free-play so that the throttle is 'set' could ensure it is ready to go.  It may also prompt your brain into being ready to roll on when desired if you have to consciously prepare the throttle prior to actually using it - perhaps?

2 hours ago, Gravisman said:

My grip at the point of initiating throttle is more palm-oriented than finger, because I’ve just finished braking with my fingers on the lever and palm on the bar. Would not describe it as tense - I don’t experience any kind of arm fatigue.

Is the tank being gripped with your knees whilst braking?  It could be me reading into it, and apologies if this is not the case, but it sounds like some of the weight is being taken by your palms instead of the legs, which would then free up the hands to do their job. 

Alternatively, you could do a Valentino and put a big GOOOOOO!!!! sticker on the tank😜 

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Throttle free play is good (classic cable setup). Sure I use my legs during braking but I also use my palms. If anyone is able to grip the tank so hard that they don't need their palms/arms at full brake pressure, then power to you, but I also pop up, straighten my arms, and use my palms to help keep the nearly 200 pounds of me and my gear in place. By the time I'm off the brakes and ready to crack the throttle, my arms and hands are relaxed, but also by virtue of the the fact that my fingers have just come off the lever, it's my palm that's on the throttle, not the fingers. One option I haven't explored is repositioning my hand in the moment between coming off the brake and cracking the throttle. I'm not sure how much I think that is necessary given my earlier observation that this behavior happens in some corners and not all of them. I believe the core issues are when I'm cracking the throttle and what speed I'm traveling when that happens, though I should be able to train myself to have a smooth crack even when I'm doing it too late. Maybe a conscious repositioning would be decent training for that as eventually I'd be able to reposition my hand unconsciously and it could help build the habit of doing the right thing in all situations.

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Gravisman, your prior comment about this occurring in some corners and not all, and primarily when you feel your speed is too low in a corner, suggests to me it may not be a physical issue with grip or brake lever positions. Further evidence of this would be if you find yourself happy with your grip, brake lever position, and throttle control when rolling-on in corners that go well.

This may simply come back to just practicing and mastering "an even, smooth and consistent roll-on throughout the remainder of the corner".  My understanding is executing an "even, smooth and consistent roll-on" should happen in every corner, regardless of whether pace is just right or too slow. That said, this doesn't mean the throttle roll-on is always executed at the same "rate".  If a corner has played out too slow then the roll-on may happen at a faster rate (so more quickly), but should still be even, smooth and constant. A nice way to tell if your rate of roll-on is good for the corner you are in is if it happens in good synchronization with the rate at which you bring the bike up.  So faster pickup, faster rate of roll-on. Slower pickup, slower rate of roll-on … but always even, smooth and constant. 

But I really want to hear what HotFoot has to say …

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I find myself agreeing with a lot of what you're saying Coffee -- if it happens most frequently when going too slow then it can probably be attributed at least in part to some form of impatience. I know I've spent time on internalizing that you have to wait for the right time to roll on and if you rush it you just get yourself in trouble, even if you did go in slower than intended. I might still pay attention to the interface but if it's mostly when too slow that would be quite telling to it being a mental process issue.

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I tend to agree with CoffeeFirst in that it may not, specifically, be an issue with what you are doing but when you are doing it.  The other thought is could it be linked to vision; and where - as well as when - you are looking prior to corner entry, mid-point and exit.

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53 minutes ago, Vic said:

I tend to agree with CoffeeFirst in that it may not, specifically, be an issue with what you are doing but when you are doing it.  The other thought is could it be linked to vision; and where - as well as when - you are looking prior to corner entry, mid-point and exit.

This is precisely my own analysis, that the issue is rooted in getting to the throttle too late, and that is caused by my vision being a bit behind.

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The way to improve on vision is to constantly work on vision drills - driving a car, walking about, making coffee, watching tv, etc.  What are your eyes doing all day - are you spending a working day outside in open space, or at a desk where your vision is funnelled down to focus on a small screen? 

What about taking up a sport where peripheral vision is integral such as tennis, boxing...

The possibilities are endless for working on vision.

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Still needs to be even, smooth and constant even when rolling on late.  Hard to do, I know.  

But let's start with this question.  If you think back to corners where you've rolled on late, do you remember having to make a steering correction(s) at any point while going into, through or exiting the corner?

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Got it.  So if steering corrections aren't creeping in then it sounds like you're pretty happy with your turn points and lines on those corners. Can I assume this?

When it happens do you find yourself dissatisfied with your entry speed right from the very start of your turn point?  Or, do you think you may scrub off too much pace with trail braking?  Or, are you happy with both?

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I should add, it is possible to have a line that doesn't require steering corrections but does force one have to wait before rolling-on.  Good "quick turn" technique allows the use of later turn points. Later turn points (but not too late) provide the straightest line / arc through a corner, with the least amount of lean angle and an earlier opportunity to roll-on the throttle.

The beauty of less lean angle is you have more available traction to up your cornering speed (which will then use that available lean angle / traction you've created). 

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I am happy with my lines. I think the typical scenario involves focusing too long on my apex, trailing the brakes longer than I need to, and then having my brain realize I’m on the right line, not on the edge of the tire, and it’s time to accelerate, so I get pretty aggressively to the gas. So my analysis is really that my eyes are moving to my exit too late. 
 

Obviously my goal is to clean that whole thing up, and much of what I intend to work on is focused on my vision. The purpose of this thread was to see if anyone had any thoughts on drills/ways to train specifically the right hand part of equation, because I want to train my brain to have the correct habit even if I have over-slowed. It’s less a mystery as to “why this is happening” and more a question of “ok, what are good training techniques to improve?”

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Now I understand.  

When my corners get sloppy (i.e., entry speed off, missed apex / line, gripping bars too tight, overly aggressive throttle roll-on, etc.) 9 times out of 10 my vision practices are to blame.  When I get back to good wide view transitions my sense of space opens up, and when I execute good 2-step/3-step my eyes get back to moving smoothly along my reference points and intended line … and then my control actions get back to being smooth as well.  

As to drills that train the brain and wrist to roll smoothly, this is where we need HotFoot or Cobie to chime in. I'm sure CSS has some very specific drills for this. For me, it has just been a lot of repeated practice corner after corner, and at about 75% pace.  As soon as I'm chasing speed I find it hard to concentrate on what my wrist is doing.

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Something that caught my attention - a few posts back you said when braking "but I also pop up, straighten my arms, and use my palms..."

Do you mean you sit up for braking? Why do you sit up, versus staying low on the bike for braking? Do you then have to reposition your upper body and arms to enter the turn, and does that contribute to the lag in getting back to the gas? 

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17 minutes ago, Hotfoot said:

Something that caught my attention - a few posts back you said when braking "but I also pop up, straighten my arms, and use my palms..."

Do you mean you sit up for braking? Why do you sit up, versus staying low on the bike for braking? Do you then have to reposition your upper body and arms to enter the turn, and does that contribute to the lag in getting back to the gas? 

I pop up because A. it allows me to use my body as a sail to aid in stopping, B. because it puts me in a good position to allow some pressure through my arms+palms without fatigue, C. because it puts me in a good position to drop my head/upper body into the turn, and kinda-sorta-D. because every professional rider I've ever seen does this. No, this doesn't cause a lag in getting to the gas. Do you *not* come up and just stay in tuck the whole lap?

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One simple thing you can do that can help smooth out your throttle crack-on and ALSO would help you not overslow in the middle of the corner is to try turning up your idle on your bike - if you have a bike that will allow that. Just be cautious when you first go out to ride with the higher idle as the bike will take you into corners a little faster than you are used to; start out with slower entries and a higher safety margin until you get accustomed to the difference.

If you have a bike that won't allow you to adjust your idle speed, try lowering your engine braking, if you have the electronics for that. 

If you can't adjust your idle or engine braking, try entering your difficult corners in a gear higher, which should reduce your engine braking and make your throttle roll-on smoother.

Here are a couple other drills to try:

1) No brakes drill. Take trail braking out of the equation in order to REALLY focus on entry speed. If the entry speed is correct, correct throttle control timing is easy to achieve. When it isn't right, it is extremely difficult!

2) Bracket the entry speed. Enter the corner a little too fast, then a little too slow, and observe how it changes your throttle timing. Find the entry speed that allows you to get back to the gas WITHOUT feeling the pressure to come into it too hard (which, as you correctly observed in an earlier post, is usually caused by the feeling of being too slow mid-corner and trying to make up for it with a quicker, harder roll on, or of being too late to begin the roll-on, which is generally caused by charging the corner.)

3) Throttle control slow roll - spend a session focusing on JUST controlling your throttle roll-on; it may be hard to force yourself to do this but if you do, it may uncover any ergonomic issues that make it difficult to control your roll-on, or reveal whether the initial entry speed was too high or too low (and give you information about how MUCH the entry speed needs to change).

Have you been to Level 2 at CSS? If so I have some additional drills you can try. 

 

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37 minutes ago, Gravisman said:

I pop up because A. it allows me to use my body as a sail to aid in stopping, B. because it puts me in a good position to allow some pressure through my arms+palms without fatigue, C. because it puts me in a good position to drop my head/upper body into the turn, and kinda-sorta-D. because every professional rider I've ever seen does this. No, this doesn't cause a lag in getting to the gas. Do you *not* come up and just stay in tuck the whole lap?

Generally not, no. I don't stay in a full tuck all the way around the track but I do not sit up to brake. Sitting up tall under braking increases the bike's tendency to stoppie, especially if the arms are straight and locked, and bracing on the bars can cause the bike to weave under braking and put too much load on the front end. It also makes it harder for me, personally, to get back down to a relaxed arm position to enter the turn. I get the best result by keeping my body low and my forearms parallel to the ground, so that if I have to press into the bars while under max braking, it is straight forward pressure and not downwards, and it is much easier for me to then release that pressure as I am letting off the brakes and be in a good position to enter the turn versus having to make a big motion to get into position.

I do, at a couple of tracks where I race, sit up a little to increase wind resistance to slow down WITHOUT brakes, for a controlled entry into a very fast turn. 

I would probably also sit up under braking if I was braking unexpectedly and wanted it to be more obvious to anyone behind me on the track that I was slowing (and I'd get my hand up as soon as possible to signal.)

Edit - I'll also add that if I can't SEE ahead, or if I don't have good reference points, I'd have to sit up to see farther ahead. But on the racetrack, if I have to sit up to see farther ahead, that tells me I don't have enough reference points for that braking zone or corner entry. 

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7 minutes ago, Gravisman said:

Thanks for the drill suggestions. Yes, I've done all the levels at CSS

If you think of the corners where you most often have trouble with the roll-on, what types of corners are they? Fast and open corners, or slow tight corners? Late apex, or decreasing radius corners? Corners you can see through easily or blind/visually challenging corners? Uphill, downhill or off-camber...?  Any info you can provide would help determine what sort of drills might help.

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I think the corners where this typically exhibits are corners that combine hard braking on entry with a decent opportunity for driving hard out. They're sorta balanced, so usually I'm looking to maximize both my entry and exit without a clear "I care more about my exit drive" or "I care more about how late I can brake."

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