RIDE CRAFT: Smooth control input defined
Building pressure between initial and final throttle By Nick Ienatsch
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.