IMPROVE YOUR MOTORCYCLE RIDING SKILLS
Riding a bike is a beautiful affair; how do you make the most of it?
From new riders to pros, the personal energy we devote to our riding is one key to experiencing the action and the joys of this sport. This is the intensely personal side of motorcycle riding and naturally has many facets when it comes to rider improvement.
Those who rely too heavily on intuition are guided by feel alone and can’t see how it could get much better in a short period of time. For this cut of rider, seat time is the stated route to better riding. Others wish to be told directly where their errors lie and how to fix them; they have little interest in understanding the underlying theories or technical reasons for tried-andtrue riding techniques. This is the answer-hungry faction that tends to accept whatever ‘good advice’ comes their way – accepting a superficial familiarity with techniques to satisfy their desire to improve.
There are some who operate solely on elevating personal intensity as the ultimate solution to improvement, applying their psychic energy to smooth things out for themselves. For them, the intensity of effort is its own reward. Still a smaller percentage of riders seek to have it all: better feel plus an understanding of the fundamentals while collecting all of the psychic perks from it they can. Whichever category you might fall into, a desire to improve is the common denominator and is a credit to all.
In sport cornering, the challenges are real and have a profound effect on those who partake. From thousands of conversations about cornering, riders often describe a kind of energy, a sort of direct hot-wired line connecting to their very essence. It encompasses, and possibly even relies on, the doubts and fears of danger for the energy to engage them in those moments with such magnetism. Like a moth to flame, those so afflicted are attracted by the sexy allure of cornering.
Racers are steeped in this attraction. Trackday riders are charmed by it, and even weekend street riders catch its scent once in a while – more so, I’ve noticed, after a few key uncertainties are resolved through good coaching.
In 40 years of coaching, I can see that the gross errors of cornering have remained the same, a gross error being any that require subsequent control corrections to remedy, such as turning in too early, getting on and off the gas, over-braking, turn-entry speed errors, poor line choices, in-corner steering corrections, lazy steering inputs, and rider tension and overcontrol resulting in rider-induced bike instability. That is the short list of usual suspects. Each of these errors relates to a riding technique that has definable fundamentals and its own catalogue of advantages gained from correct application as well as predictable problems, such as listed above, that will occur if not done properly.
While good advice on handling mistakes might be acceptable to the ‘just tell me what to do’ crowd, it rarely, if ever, results in either permanent or widely applicable improvement. You could say that good advice tends to remedy symptoms but lacks the core understanding necessary to address the root of most problems. For many riders that seems to be sufficient.
It’s understandable for riders to not want to be burdened with complicated technical explanations of riding skills and their fundamentals. It seems too complicated to approach something in that fashion that’s as personal to an individual as riding. It is also one reason some back away from rider training. There is no degree of experience or skill level of rider who cannot improve. The simple question you should ask yourself is: How enjoyable would cornering be if I knew what it took to find my groove and knew how to get that from any bend in the road, to have each curve become a transporting experience?
It’s all about energy...