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It is Wintertime, and people are coming up with lots of different topics to chat about, like what kind of bike would you love to have, what you plan to do with your bike when the nice weather hits, big vs small, etc.

My question to ponder is simple: If there was one riding skill that you could have what would it be? This isn't really coming from the place of, "You only get to choose one," because the truth is, a person can practice anything and get better at it. This is more from a place of, what is that one thing that you fear, or are intimidated by, the thing that you would love to overcome but thus far have avoided because it is just a ways out of your comfort zone?

There are two things that l would really love to master...braking hard and leaning my bike over. With braking, l do practice quick stops from time to time when there is no one behind me, but l don't have a ton of confidence in my ability to do it if an emergency were to happen. Thankfully, l have never been in that situation...but l would like to be better prepared in case it ever does.

With cornering, l find myself looking for good corners to lean into, but l really have to push myself to lean my bike over, and l find that l am really reluctant to go "all in" and lean it over hard. I guess maybe l should ask the question...just how far can l lean my bike over before it gives me the middle finger and slides into home? My chicken strips are an inch wide and l don't really know how much harder l can lean into my turns before they go away...any thoughts? I probably should get signed up for that day at the track, huh?
 

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There are really TWO questions there.........but I'll address the second one, since that is the one that is mentioned in the Title of your Post.

A young man who is a relatively "new" person in our Church, (only attended a couple of times recently) says he wants to ride a motorcycle.

Engaging him in conversation about the topic, I am excited about the prospect of mentoring someone who seems genuinely interested in motorcycles, and want to make sure that he gets all the proper information, and that his experience is a good and safe one.

Since "I" don't feel that I am the "end all" of "proper information" and help in general, I will recommend THIS Forum (for starters) as a backbone encyclopedia of information, and as a great place to bounce ideas off folks who will give him honest (sometimes brutally......lol) answers, and great help overall.

In the meantime, I am working with him to get him signed up for a DMV BRC when the Spring comes, and then I have committed to going with him as he looks at used and new bikes, until he finds what his minds eye is looking for.

As I go thru this with him, it is a refresher course for "me," reminding me of the days when "I" was brand new to motorcycling, (talking with newbies in HERE does that as well), and it takes me thru a check list of the skills and information needed, to be as safe a rider/operator as possible on two wheels.

Going thru the excercise with him, I am doing some self-examination as you might guess, which I do when discussing topics in here too, and see my own limits and shortcomings.

I see those videos of the competitions by the Police Department motorcyclists; the courses they have to navigate, and the skill sets they must achieve in order to win bragging rights, and realize that I am not up to their level of total control of my bike that I should be.

Time and practice of course......"time and practice" is the key. True of anything I do. Guitar, Mandolin, Ukulele, Saxophone (yeah, I had a guy yesterday say he might loan me his Alto Sax to try........we'll see how THAT goes), anything I do...........practice does indeed, "make perfect."

I realized, at the end of the first ten years of riding, which stopped in the late 90's for me, before I bought another bike some eight years later, that I was sloppy on my start ups and stops (wobble), and have since been working on finding the things that affect that, and changing what I need to, to be a better motorcyclist.

Proper brake-clutching technique, distance estimation with regard to giving myself time to make smooth stops, acceleration from a stop moves, fatigue factors that play a role in riding..........lots of the things that can interrupt a wonderful ride, with trouble.

Overall, I'd say I'm improving, and continue to use S.I.P.D.E. on every ride (even in my car or truck) and just like anything else, practice, practice, practice!!

-Soupy
 

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I seldom agree much with Soupy but I would love to be able to be competitive on one of those police bike trials. I just can't seem to get myself over far enough to do what those guys do.
Keying off of Hawkaholic's post, braking is a skill I feel pretty good about. When I took the BRC exam the instructor signaled me to do the emergency stop and I did. He then started checking with the other guy on the range to find out if I had been going fast enough while he walked toward me to check that I had downshifted. It seems I stopped well short of what they ever expected to see. Note: I was not a noob at the time, I took the course to sharpen my skills after several years of not riding.
 

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My street riding skills are certainly not so perfect as to not need extra training, lol. But still if someone offered me the option of expert training in any category, I'd be tempted to spend that time improving my off-road riding skills.

I rode off-road bikes for decades, but it's now been years since I've even had a dirt bike. Still, I recall those years as being so much fun. And I'd love to improve the abilities I had at that time. Specifically jumping & fast cornering (drifting)
 

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I believe observational skills are the most critical. While it's important to have the physical skills needed to properly maneuver the motorcycle, the lack of being able to see a danger before encountering it is what gets most riders in trouble.

As far as cornering, practice is the way to get better at it. Being able to corner smoothly is the key. This can be practiced at low speeds. (It's actually harder to corner smoothly with less momentum behind you) Break down the turn into four steps. Slow, look, press, and roll. Work on being smooth and lean angle and speed will just naturally follow.

You can lean until:
1) You drag hard parts
2) You run out of tire

A nifty way to check how much tire you are using is to draw a line horizontally across the tire with a piece of chalk, then make some turns. Check to see how much chalk is left on the edge of the tire. It's not really important to use the maximum amount of lean angle, especially on the street. It's always a good idea to leave a lot in reserve, but know that you can use it if needed.
 

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I wish I had the skill to pick the correct line through a corner Harleys are not known for cornering clearance to begin with, and my inability to find a good line in a corner leads to slower corners and lots of sparks.
 

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A good line and correct lean in the corners for me. I find at 71 years old I'm painfully aware of having fragile bones and the pavement looks harder to me than it used to. Every corner I take I'm telling myself to lean turn my head and not look further ahead into the corner. I consider myself a new rider because of a long layoff and still feel a little uncomfortable about a few things.
 

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Might you be using leaning instead of counter steering? Okay, I admit I may not be the expert some are but I see them as different approaches to cornering and I think both are needed to achieve maximum and smooth cornering.

Now I also hope this doesn't start a nasty debate on how to corner too. But I have hit hard parts very rarely in my canyon craving days keeping up with the BMW hotshots on my 85 Electra Glide. Grant, I could never pass them but they never left me in the dust either. Poor bike was wide open in 2nd and 3rd gear all the time but it did it.

Most people just don't think those big bikes can do it but they can and I think it's the combination of lean and counter steer. I mean you can counter steer around an item that was dropped on the road right in front of you and there is very little lean doing it.

So the same thing should hold true on corners. One can take them leaning or counter steering with some lean.
 

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I think I would like to improve my skills at riding in sand and not getting freaked out by it as I do. I make myself ride in it once in a while, but it still feels soooo squirrelly to me. I don't mind gravel or regular dirt, but deepish sand—yikes! I know I don't have the ideal bike or tires for it, but I would like to be able to handle it better the few times I might have to ride through it.
 

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Hawk ... question #2.
So long as you are on GOOD dry asphalt (not slippery)
your bike and your tires are MUCH better than you are!
They can handle anything you throw at them
just make the cornering totally smooth!

guys mess up when they do erratic changes to the bike controls
while cornering. theres no reason for you to do that.
go and find some smooth cuves ... fairly tight. excellent asphalt
gradually increase your speed through those turns, increasing lean angles
do it until you are rubbing metal on the asphalt.

YOUR BIKE is good for it!!!

cheers,
dT
 

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Your lean angle is directly in line with your confidence in your tires and bike. I've managed to erase the chicken strips on my last rear tire, I'm working on my new one, only down to 1/2" now. Now that I have a new front tire that matches the rear, I'm a little more confident to lean on turns. I'm running Pirelli Angel GTs now, I was on Angel STs. There's a different feel to the new tires, so it's going to take a bit to get used to them. Anyway, your bike should be hitting pegs before you lean over too far, so that's probably a good point to stop :D The hard part is finding a corner that doesn't have gravel/debris that you can take without worrying about losing traction.
 

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Dods, you must explain that one.
I have an experiment for you to try. Pick a corner and take it at a speed where you will start to reach max lean angle and scrape. This does not have to be done going very fast, 15-20 mph is plenty. Then try it at the same speed, except move your body forward until your chin is over your wrist on the inside of the lean. Amazingly, you now have more lean angle available and go through the corner without touching hard parts.

What is happening here is that you are actually doing the beginnings of hanging off, and exactly for the same reason racers do. To give you more lean angle at a given speed.

This is not only applicable to sport bikes. It will work with any motorcycle, including touring bikes with bags. :D

I'm not talking about fully hanging off (unless you want to). Simply shifting forward and inside and tucking the elbow will give you a pretty good amount of additional lean angle.

This is a great procedure to practice. If you ever enter a corner too hot, shifting to the COW position can be enough to allow you lean further and make the corner safely.
 

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I've been riding over 30 years and know that I could improve my skills in EVERY aspect of riding. Staying observant of the situation around me is probably one that I need to always remind myself about and certainly could do better. But one that I have tried to do better, with less than full success, is making U-turns in a narrow area (24 feet or less). I even attended the Ride Like A Pro one-day class and must admit that while I was doing better at the end of the day than at the beginning, I still seem to lack the confidence to lean my heavy bike at slow speeds enough to make a smooth U-turn. I know I should just practice, and come the spring season, I hope I can remind myself to do so. (FWIW, there were several "students" in my Ride Like A Pro class that were taking the class for the 2nd, 3rd, and in one case, 4th time. Made me feel less inadequate that I had not mastered this seemingly easy skill by the end of this 4-hour program.)
 

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I have an experiment for you to try. Pick a corner and take it at a speed where you will start to reach max lean angle and scrape. This does not have to be done going very fast, 15-20 mph is plenty. Then try it at the same speed, except move your body forward until your chin is over your wrist on the inside of the lean. Amazingly, you now have more lean angle available and go through the corner without touching hard parts.

What is happening here is that you are actually doing the beginnings of hanging off, and exactly for the same reason racers do. To give you more lean angle at a given speed.

This is not only applicable to sport bikes. It will work with any motorcycle, including touring bikes with bags. :D

I'm not talking about fully hanging off (unless you want to). Simply shifting forward and inside and tucking the elbow will give you a pretty good amount of additional lean angle.

This is a great procedure to practice. If you ever enter a corner too hot, shifting to the COW position can be enough to allow you lean further and make the corner safely.
Hmmm....you just may have tied it together for me. When I counter steer my elbow drops, shoulder drops and head moves slightly to that direction. It doesn't seem like much but I'm betting it's all tied together. It's hard to see yourself ride while you are riding ya know. I never thought of it as chin over wrist because I'm sure not doing that. It's a slight amount of movement. I wouldn't think the full heads worth per the diagram but could be I suppose. Some real aggressive curves probably.
 

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Hmmm....you just may have tied it together for me. When I counter steer my elbow drops, shoulder drops and head moves slightly to that direction. It doesn't seem like much but I'm betting it's all tied together. It's hard to see yourself ride while you are riding ya know. I never thought of it as chin over wrist because I'm sure not doing that. It's a slight amount of movement. I wouldn't think the full heads worth per the diagram but could be I suppose. Some real aggressive curves probably.
It's a technique that can be used during aggressive curves, but it's more importantly a technique that could also get a rider out of trouble if they misjudge a turn. With a little practice, it's quick and easy to use. Just lean forward and kiss the mirror during the press and roll part of the turn.

I would recommend not using 100% of your turning ability or traction while riding on the street because a miscalculation could end badly. It's good to know you can keep a little extra turn angle in reserve if you really need it. It beats going wide into traffic or washing out.
 

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Two skills I guess... one, I would like to know how to REALLY ride a motorcycle, like on a track.

Two, I would love to learn to TIG weld.
 

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It's a technique that can be used during aggressive curves, but it's more importantly a technique that could also get a rider out of trouble if they misjudge a turn. With a little practice, it's quick and easy to use. Just lean forward and kiss the mirror during the press and roll part of the turn.

I would recommend not using 100% of your turning ability or traction while riding on the street because a miscalculation could end badly. It's good to know you can keep a little extra turn angle in reserve if you really need it. It beats going wide into traffic or washing out.
You could have gone all day without saying lean forward. I don't do that at all UNLESS I blow an entry. Then it's do everything possible to save it which does include leaning forward. But that's 99.9% where I don't. However I'm a slower in faster out kind of rider too which means you have to look well ahead of where you are all the time. All of it goes together though for sure.
 

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Skill

I would like to learn how to play the ukulele that Mrs Snippets bought for me. But I still have little feeling in my big finger on my left hand. This is making contact with other road users difficult as well.
Using all the tyre on the public highways is difficult, because it does not leave a lot of margin for surprises.
Round abouts are the place to practice. Using the brakes severely, is just a progression of more heavy braking.
We will chat in 015 Hawk.
The WMRRA 015 schedule is posted on their website.

Unkle Crusty*
 
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