Master your bike’s electronic aids
How to make the most of traction control and the different riding modes
Traction control myth #1
One of the biggest myths is it makes you faster. In fact, the opposite is true. By its very nature TC cuts power when the rear wheel starts to slip, and that slows you down. It’s more a safety aid than a performance enhancer.
Traction control myth #2
TC won’t stop you crashing. Give it too much throttle at full lean, especially in the wet, on a slippery track, or on cold tyres and you can still lowside or highside.
The perfect TC setting
Use the minimum amount of TC you can. The TC should only start working when you’ve started to lift the bike out of a corner and you’ve got the rear tyre starting to move under hard acceleration. You can then start using it as a gauge – if the TC isn’t activating, you’re not going hard enough. Too much TC and it’ll hold you back too much out of corners.
Most ABS systems kick-in far too early for track riding, but the latest racing versions disable the rear ABS and allow a degree of rear wheel lift. They allow maximum braking force at the front and for you to slide the rear. In the wet ABS is a no-brainer.
Anti-wheelie systems save you energy on track. Without antiwheelie, you’ve got to climb over the front of the bike under hard acceleration and feather the throttle. The anti-wheelie control on the ZX-10R, RSV4 and S1000RR is so good you can lean on it, but some systems are too intrusive and you’ll be faster by switching it off altogether.
On a Motogp bike you can hold the throttle, then dump the clutch, but most road bike systems limit revs, activate the anti-wheelie, then clickoff after a certain road speed. You’ll never make a bad start with launch control, but you can often beat it manually.
As well as helping you slice through gears quickly at full throttle, a quickshifter is really good for shortshifting at high lean angles – it keeps the suspension loaded and the bike much more stable. Road bikes like the MV Agusta F4RR and new S1000RR now come with autoblippers as standard, which saves you having to use the clutch on the way down through the gears, too.