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Judging the limit (of your bike & your skill )

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' at netrider.net.au started by GhettoNinja, Feb 22, 2013.

  1. Ok so my question is what signs do you look for, or what tools do you use to determine when you are on the limit of what you or your bike can do.

    For me, as someone who hasn't been riding long. Im finding the feedback through the tyres / bars is obviously a main way you can tell. Does the bike feel planted or is it moving sideways / skipping over bumps etc. Another is if I tense up in a corner but that's more after the fact. Something caused me to get tense

    What other cues can I use to know when to not keep pushing further? i.e. Ride to my limit and not crash.

    P.S. This is not about rider training per se... because that's obviously the best thing for increasing speed... I just mean feedback and / or judging things

  2. If you go faster than you can see and able to stop then you are already pushing it (well said hawklord).

    Further, if your focus closes (concentrating on a smaller area) then you are riding over or too close to your abilities.

    Even further, if your heartbeat increases and you get some adrenaline then your riding is a poor risk management (actually more of a gambling for newcomers).

    And then you get tense in corners.
    Think that you've already crushed because if you haven't it was likely to be a luck.

    That's my own perspective and interpretation of the things I've learned so far.
    The list goes on but should be enough to get started.

    P.S. It may sound a bit harsh but it's worth it. Example: just last week I talked to a few guys (Greydog might remember) about a guy I rode with. The guy was riding over his abilities and didn't want to listen to slow down. So I wanted to politely have a word with him and thought about how to better approach it. Too late - he crashed.
    So better safe than sorry.
    • Like Like x 7
  3. Cheers for that. Exactly what I was after
  4.  Top
  5. To be honest, I really enjoy riding. But at the same time I also fear it, now it's not a fear to the point of being unable to get on the bike but I would say I have a genuine amount of healthy respect for the roadcraft. I think that really is the key to knowing your limits.

    Some of the things I'm doing to prevent accidents and keep ontop of my riding are as follows:
    • I watch instructional videos (Twist of the Wrist & Motovudu)
    • Read books & websites on how to correctly ride my bike
    • Read current Motorcycle magazines for tips and current news
    • Watch crash videos, to have a realistic understanding of what crashes can occur, what signs to look out for and early warning signs of danger
    • I ensure my bike is maintained (Tyre pressure checks before rides, Ensure tread levels, Ensure my gear is on correctly before a ride, etc)
    • Maintain an internal voice/dialogue when riding as a mechanism for self-limiting behavior
    I don't believe speed/skill comes from how close you get to your limits, I believe it comes from the slow progression of improving skills to the point where you don't even realize your fast and your not pushing it hard. Your just doing all the motions with such ease that to others you seem quick, but to you it's just old hat and part of your routine.

    If your ever riding hard and everything feels much faster, dangerous and scary then clearly your out of depths already. Riding is no different to your job. There is much of your job that's old hat, stuff you can do on auto or in your sleep. Not too many people are walking into the CEO's office and telling him they could do his job for the day. That's dangerous and will end up in your crashing, But advancing at a slow pace, Taking on new smaller challenges while the rest of your mechanics (skills/ability) are tuned and on auto (part of your muscle memory) then your able to improve. Nothing feels like your out of your depths.

    I believe that is the way to judge your limits.
    Ride Safe.
    • Like Like x 4
  6. Bikes can skip over bumps, draincovers and all sorts of stuff which 4-wheel vehicles do not skip over, that is the nature of having only two small contact patches touching the road: in general small wiggles are nothing to worry about. In almost all cases, even for experienced riders, you will run out of skill and/or adequate forward view of the road ahead before the bike reaches its technical limits. Look at one of the main types of motorcycle crashes: rider failing to negotiate a bend. It's usually because the rider has run out of talent and messed up, not because the rider has reached the maximum lean angle or limits of tyre traction. There are a million Youtube videos of people crashing on bends. Most are rider error and not the bike reaching its technical limit.

    The only place on the road most people find the limits of their bike, rather than their own limits, is excessive braking in corners, riding over wet leaves or diesel on corners which you haven't noticed or excessive throttle on wet roads. Even then, these have a component of rider ability, since often if you planned for them before hand, they wouldn't happen.

    So pay attention to the other suggestions in previous posts about developing your soft skills ;)
    • Like Like x 2
  7. As I found out the hard way on the weekend, it doesn't take much to run out of talent on a bend and turn a great day out into a disaster. In my case, overconfidence and complacency got me. I'd ridden through any number of tight bends that day, and was feeling really good about them, until suddenly I completely failed to get my speed and line right, then compounded my error by braking badly and down I went.

    I don't lack the necessary skills per se - I know that, I just failed to correctly utilise them on this one occasion, but that's all it took. Now, I have no bike and I'm still waiting to get various tests and scans done to find out if I've done any serious damage to myself.

    The point my medication-addled brain is trying to make is that "finding out" you've exceeded your skills can be a hard thing to do, but being aware of the need to be alert and aware at all times is easy and I can't recommend it highly enough. Extending yourself is critical for development, but in small doses, and gradually over time.

    And here's a red hot tip... if you're approaching a new bend with an advisory of 45kmh, and it's completely unfamiliar, play it safe and assume that you need to do 45kmh or less, even if the previous 45kmh bend was an absolute doddle. This one might just be different.
    • Like Like x 2

    You've missed a major one;
    Get more training and/or get a mentor.
    Reading books and watching videos is a good thing to do and most of the items you've specified will help but you will learn more if you get out there and actually live it with a highly experienced tutor/mentor.
    I cannot recommend this highly enough as everything you've mentioned above is open to your own interpretation and there is a danger that you will interpret incorrectly.
    • Like Like x 2
  8. If we are talking about the bikes limit which I think the OP asked (the other thread linked earlier is about personal limit).

    OP you are right the feedback through the bars is a very good way to get a feel for what's going on. If you start really loading up a bar and it starts to shake or very vague than thanks a sign not to push any harder.

    On the rear wheel you can usually hear a slight increase in revs before you feel anything through the bike, that's a sign of wheelspin.

    But technique comes into it a lot, if your operating the bike correctly then it's limit will be much higher.

    In the end i think the mechanical limit is really all about load through the front and rear tyres. Your technique controls how much load you put where. There's alot of science behind it but you can feel the load distribution when riding. On a sport bike the rear can handle more (60/40 I think it is). How you apply the throttle and brakes directly controls where this load is put (of course body position comes into it aswell). Good techniques such as rolling on through corners promotes correct weight distribution.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. #10 Hypervisor, Feb 22, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
    Very good point!. Also to add on that, a responsible mentor. Not your mates, mates mate who is stunter and gives shoddy advice. :D

    I think there is two types of advice, Advice like "at 100km/h on a 25 degree pitch on gravel you may feel a traction loss at...." which is really "give you a fish" and advice like "get a mentor, read a good book, goto a school like HART or Cali Superbike School" which would be analogous to teaching one how to fish.
  10. I've always figured that a sufficiently skilled rider could do impressive things on the most unimpressive machinery. I've also always figured that wasn't me and that I need all the help I can get.
    • Like Like x 2
  11. Everybody makes mistakes. I came close to saying hello to the bonnet of an oncoming BMW around Christmas time, just because I lost the plot for a few moments. Best of luck getting the bike fixed :)
  12. Fair enough I thought to this comment above, its sound ligit. I've seen heaps of vids on rnickeymouse chanel on you tube. Then this comment

    45 or less on a posted 45 bend. Well that certainly sounds strange. I've normally hit 45ers anywhere from 60-90 on my R1.

    So I then looked at his bike type a VStar XVS650A, mmm a cruiser eh. Then I though about the time I'd swapped rides with an aquantance. He road my zx-9 and I road his HD Road King. That was a chalk and cheese experience i'll never forget.

    Needless to say back to the first comment that if I tried to ride the road king like I do my R1 then it wouldn't take that much to reach the technical limits of the bike to which I did, and no I didn't crash it. But its easy to judge anothers riding from your own view point depending on the type of bike you ride and how you ride it. How was he riding it at the time. Was he backin it into some of the bends, liftin the rear tyre. I assume no on an xv650 but you never know.
  13. #14 dgmeister, Feb 23, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2013
    slow is smooth, smooth is fast

    never outdo yourself

    as soon as you start pushing is when things go wrong, save it for racing.

    your aim is to build your skills, not ride harder and harder until you fcuk up (although many people like this method)

    judging the limit is very easy, you crash.

    your aim is to get enough skill so you can balance on the limit point, this takes a lot of practice and experience
    • Like Like x 2
  14. like unlocking your front door, it is an automatic skill that is done very smoothly and without thought.

    rushing things is like trying to unlock your door while being chased by a vicious dog, you end up dropping your keys!

    when you normally open the door you are smooth and relaxed, this is the fastest way
    • Like Like x 3
  15. I'd never try to find the mechanical limit on the road. As soon as it starts to get sketchy, it's time to relax. I have a gsxr 750, so not going to go anywhere near it's limit on the road and then on the track would rather not write it off, so again not ridden at my limit, let alone the machines.

    I do have a 600cc race bike and ride it at the engines limit in a lot of the gears, corner it until the rubber is pushing well off the side of the tyre. So to me that is part of the bikes limit and I am not overly concerned for the machine, I try to ring it's neck. If you are dragging hard parts of the bike, you have reached it's limit of lean angle.

    But then, others have ridden that bike a lot faster than I. The only way I am going to get closer to the limit is seat time and training. I try to maintain the tyres and pressures, also the chain the best I can on the bikes. On the road some days it feels good and others very average, so my limits vary depending on weather, lack of sleep, state of mind, whatever.

    I think I read John McGuinnes say something like "80% of riders will never use more than 20% of the bike".
  16. Thanks for all the responses... I got my bikes suspension setup today so looking forward to some better weather to test it out properly and when I do I'll keep in mind what I've read here.

    The comment about smoothness definitely sounds right to me and is something that I always try to work on. If I'm not being smooth then it's probably a sign I'm tired or not concentrating possibly so usually I use that as a warning to relax and take it easy. Other days everything seems to be effortless which is when I give it plenty.
  17. Rider training isn't about increasing speed, it's about equipping you with skills.
    Speed can be a by-product, AFTER you've practiced those skills, but how fast someone travels at any given time is subject to the prevailing conditions (& skill).

    Not sure why speed even factors in here, as I wouldn't have thought a DRZ is designed with that purpose in mind.
    Road riding has so many variables.

    So, this brings us back to skills, how you know when you're at you're own personal limit.
    You know you're at or exceeding your limit primarily when you're stepping beyond your comfort zone.
    One limit is your ability to brake from whatever speed you choose to travel at - knowing you can pull the bike up to a smooth, clean stop is a core skill that inspires confidence.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. :banghead: Vstar 650 is a LAMS bike.
    How many learners/new riders do you know that can back any bike into a corner?
    Second sentence of the OP indicates the level here.
  19. Huh? Is there something wrong with your bike? If mine was that slow I'd get it checked out.
    • Like Like x 1