RIDE CRAFT: Smooth con­trol in­put de­fined

Build­ing pres­sure be­tween ini­tial and fi­nal throt­tle By Nick Ie­natsch

Cycle World - - News -

Be smooth. That ad­vice soaks into our heads the mo­ment we think about rid­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle. We sense the in­her­ent sta­bil­ity is­sues that are mag­ni­fied by the ad­di­tion of an en­gine to the bi­cy­cle we are fa­mil­iar with. Be smooth; got it.

At Yamaha Cham­pi­ons Rid­ing School, we re­fer to smooth­ness at the con­tact patch, load­ing and un­load­ing the tire and sus­pen­sion in a lin­ear, re­peat­able way. The more lean an­gle you carry—or the less grip you have due to weather, road, and tire con­di­tions—the more this smooth­ness counts. You get it. I get it.

But the point of this ar­ti­cle is some­thing we see and dis­cuss at the school a lot: Our fo­cus on smooth­ness should con­cern the ini­tial brake and throt­tle ap­pli­ca­tion and the fi­nal clos­ing of the throt­tle or re­lease of the brakes. That is the point where loads are placed on, or re­moved from, the tires and sus­pen­sion. Abrupt­ness with this ini­tial and fi­nal pres­sure is what lit­er­ally hurts us.

The faster you ride or the less grip you have, the more you must fo­cus on this smooth load­ing and un­load­ing. I en­cour­age you to prac­tice this ini­tial and fi­nal smooth­ness ev­ery mo­ment you’re awake (grip­ping your cof­fee cup to pick it up, set­ting it back down, and re­leas­ing it, for in­stance) so the per­ma­nent prac­tice is ingrained for the mo­ments you truly need smooth load­ing and un­load­ing.

Stu­dents work hard on ini­tial and fi­nal smooth­ness but then con­fuse smooth­ness with big-time front and rear tire load­ing. They ini­ti­ate brak­ing beau­ti­fully but then stay at that light ini­tial pres­sure too long. They sneak open the throt­tle but don’t add sig­nif­i­cant ac­cel­er­a­tion as they take away lean an­gle. They’re smooth, but they’re slow and in­ef­fi­cient.

If speed and ef­fi­ciency mat­ter to you, re­mem­ber that smooth­ness refers to ini­tial and fi­nal brake and throt­tle move­ments. (It refers to smooth body move­ments and turn-in rates too, but that’s another ar­ti­cle.) Af­ter you load the sus­pen­sion and then the tire, you’re in a po­si­tion to lin­early add more pres­sure gauged on lean an­gle and grip con­di­tions.

Want to be an awe­some rider? Be smooth but then build pres­sure.

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