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Knowing where the 'edge' is...

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by Pugsly, May 16, 2013.

  1. I've been riding nearly two weeks now. Learning lots, riding my own ride and enjoying it. First commute in was today, in the drizzle.

    I've been driving for 20 years, have owned a few cars including a Torana, an Impreza, an MX5, a Jeep and a Kluger. In that time I've done some driving training, a little track work and some fairly aggressive driving in a variety of conditions. I'm no expert, but to some degree I've learnt how to read the car, to know when things are about to break loose, and how to control it after the fact.

    Now, whilst I'm not wanting to quadruple the indicated speed on corners, or 200 clicks lane splitting down the the Monash on the back wheel, I am looking to understand how to read the bike when it's being pushed to hard around a corner etc.

    I expect I'm like most learners where I'm probably over cautious on the corners and want to improve.

    So what are the telltales that you're going too hard, is there any transition area between ok and oh-shit, and is there much opportunity for recovery? For instance, depending on the type and condition of tyres, you will get a reasonable amount of squeal out of car tyres when cornering before they let go.

    I wouldn't ask this question for a car. I'd get in the car and just try it somewhere open. Worst case, the car slides a little and I drive on. On the bike, well, it can get expensive and painful.
  2. Ride at 80%. It leaves you a margin of error. As you ride more, and become more experienced, your skill level increases - so while you are still riding at 80% you are actually riding faster than before.
  3. I get what you are saying, but in order to ride at 80% I need to know where 100% is. i.e., What (if anything) will the bike be telling me as I approach 95-101% so I can know that I'm pushing too hard.

    I don't want the learning process to be "oops, I'm on my arse and the bike is sliding along the ground", I overcooked it.
  4. I guess it's approach 100% slowly - sneak up on it. Try a familiar but tricky bend, a little bit harder each time.
  5. I'm by no means an expert. But I understand exactly what you are saying. I am only just getting into road bikes myself (but I have some experience on dirt). I used to race go karts in my younger days, so it feels like I have infinitely more "feel for the limit" in a car than a bike.

    I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think it's something someone can explain to us. I'm thinking the best bet for people like us is to attend riding courses.
  6. 80% isn't so much about the bike, but about you. Few riders can out ride their machine - more often it's rider error rather than pushing the bike beyond it's limits. 100% is pushing it. It's having an oh shit moment around every corner. There is no margin for error there. So ride comfortable.

    As I said, when your skill improves, your 80% improves. If you are half way around a corner and there's a pothole half way through, you have the extra 20% to get you around - you'll still probably have an 'oh shit' moment, but at 100% chances are you will hit the pothole and go down.
  7. I hope you're wrong too. :)

    Attending a course will improve skills, but even then there is a theory aspect to be explained. Saying "just keep pushing until the bike slides out from under you" doesn't really cut it.

    Hopefully some of the more experienced riders will give their PoV for our edification.
  8. And this is probably where my lack of understanding is.

    Looking at this hyperthetically, if I am on some bends, and have no fear (yeah right) come into the corner hot, and lean the bike over hard enough to take the turn, unless there is something on the road like water/gravel/sand etc, the bike is unlikely to lose traction?

    The answer to the above scenario will go a ways to helping my confidence (not overconfidence) on corners.
  9. Actually, let me put this another way. We have two planes of movement on the bike. Going straight/stopping and turning left/right.

    We can practice fast starts and stops and know what the bike will do on the edge and can practice for it. If you accelerate too hard the front wheel will lift, if you brake too hard the wheel(s) will lock. Neither situation will necessarily cause a crash and are recoverable.

    I have (and this may be a flawed comparison) memories of cornering my pushy in my childhood and having the bike slide out from under me. It's that scenario I don't want to relive here. Assuming a clear road surface, and warm tyres in reasonable condition is this ever a likely outcome?
  10. #10 Ljiljan, May 16, 2013
    Last edited: May 16, 2013
    The telltale signs of going too hard aren't so much feedback from bike as much as it is you. Signs of going too hard:
    • Turning into and apexing corners v. early
    • Rolling off throttle mid-corner
    • Gripping bars tight
    • Locked or very tight/stiff arms which stop you from steering
    • fixating/locking vision on obstacles on other side of the road in corner
    • braking errors
    • head is outside centreline of bike - if you make a vertical centreline up your bike, in a corner your head should be well inside this line towards the inside of the corner.
    If you find these happening, slow down, take several deep breaths, let go of bars, flap your arms around to get them loose and relaxed and then drop your speed through corners.
    the 80% idea is somewhat worthless because you can be comfortably travelling at some arbitrary "80%" figure, whatever that means, and suddenly encounter a situation that puts you straight to 120% such as a big bump, pot hole, branches etc.
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  11. I don't think Pugsly is asking "how fast can I go". He is asking if their is any early indicators the bike is about to slide out from under you and the actions to correct.

    It's for when he is riding along at this "80%" but accidently over cooks it.

    In a car their is many tell tales that you learn to feel and correct. It must be the same as on a bike. But I'm guessing that like a car, sometimes it happens so fast you don't have time to react.
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  12. In the broader sense...How did you learn how to 'read' your car?!
    There-in lies your answer.

    But beware....you couldn't fall off your car.
  13. Only if you make it happen. The bike itself wont.

    And not wanting to quibble, because it's largely irrelevant, there is another plane, rotation about the wheels in roll.
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  14. Umm...how do you know when you are riding at 80%...?
  15. (Disclaimer: I'm a relative novice too...)

    The short answer is: yes, on a good road surface in the dry. But as soon as you hit a surface that has less grip, you're likely to end up on your arse with the bike on top of you. Or worse. In the rain, the big hazard isn't so much that the wet road grips a lot less than dry road, it's that there are so many more slippery patches that can catch you out. In Melbourne, wet tram tracks are one of my least favourite things.

    More importantly, as Lilley said, as soon your form starts to slip, you're going too fast. If you couldn't react in time to an oncoming car on your side of the road, you're going too fast.

    When you're accelerating out of a bend you can reach the limits of traction, but you can feel that more gradually (rear wheel starts to slide out like it would in a car) so you can correct by backing off the throttle a little.
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  16. So too, if someone was asking me about the limits of cornering in a car, I can tell them that prior to losing traction the tyres will likely be squealing in protest, if you continue past that point and depending on if the driving wheels are f/r/4 wd will depend on what the car will likely do next...

    I get your point on not falling off the car, that's why I'm asking questions and not just jumping in. :)
  17. OK I'm still a noob and have only been riding for a year so far. But honestly, during that year I have never worried about how far my bike can go. Simply because I reach my own limitations way earlier than my bike does. I am more worried about my own limitations than my bike's.
    Even when riding under not ideal conditions (wet, cold tyres, etc.) I reach my own limitations before the bike's. If my tyre wobbles while crossing a wet tram track, will I freak out or just ride through it? If something big in a corner is taking up half my lane, will I be able to change my line and smoothly ride through it? Those are the questions that limit my speed.

    Granted, I am more of a cautious rider than others. I always have the issue that bike riding is a mental game and I need to stay in my brain's comfort zone. But if you have only started riding, you might still have some time to discover how to notice when your bike is reaching its limit, just as you are able to notice when your car is reaching its limits ;)
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  18. #18 raven, May 16, 2013
    Last edited: May 16, 2013
    Pugs...listen up mate! :)

    There is a huge mentors thread in this section on NR.

    You need to make contact with one the mentors and talk to him about this kind thing.
    Give me a yell via PM if you like.
    These questions you have, need to be broken down into simpler components and addressed individually.

    Ei: I could tell you that with good conditions, and when cautiously approaching the limits of grip for a very good tyre, at that time, with these other things in play, your tyres WILL signal you, that the limit is close...BUT...this is true, only if the tyre is capable of 'talking'...and the average tyre on a low performance bike, isn't.
    And if it could, you are not yet trained in their language.
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  19. @raven Thanks. I was just reading the mentors thread last night and was mulling over whether to make contact now, or to give myself another week or two.
  20. It's irrelevant. As Raven said:
    It doesn't need being said that if you run out of friction you will go down.
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