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Returning rider - Front end confidence

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by raband, Feb 7, 2013.

  1. Hey all, quick query

    I'm returning to riding after 3 years off the bike (same bike - heaps of Km's under my belt previously)

    I'm finding I have a notable lack of confidence in the front end/wheel/tyre when cornering with even moderate lean at the moment.

    The bike just feels like the front wheel/tyre is going to wash out when pushing through a corner. Either that or it feels as if even the slightest bump it's going to skip and jump all over the place. Add some gravel or ruts into the turn and it's even moreso.

    Following other riders I know the pace is relaxed and easy, but I feel as if I'm riding on ice - it's a very disconcerting feeling indeed.

    The bike is in perfect condition, tyres are 90% - just the feeling/feedback (or lack of it) I'm getting is coming back to me all wrong. It's not the speed, the angle, the roads that are causing any issues - just the feeling I'm getting - sort of similar to taking a corner in the wrong gear/neutral.

    Maybe it's just time and renewing my riding, but it's still causing me issues after 1,500kms

    I'm wondering if anyone else has had anything similar they experienced or any suggestions at all.

    Maybe I just need to grow a set and go hell for leather for a while to get it out of my system - maybe I'm pussyfooting around it too much.
  2. What tyre pressures are you running? What tyres?
    Are you running a lot of compression damping on the forks?
    A lot of preload on the shock?
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  3. I'll need to double check that tonight and get back.

    Suspension is as it was 3 years ago when I put it to bed for a while without the issues.

    It definitely does feel that way though - almost as if the front forks are solid rods of steel.
  4. Not that I'm any expert, but you might be too tense in your arms/upper body. I have the same issues, and I'm reasonably sure that, in my case, I'm getting very tense and holding too tight.
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  5. That wouldn't surprise me at all - working as a catch 22 I could be going into the corner a little tense, not feel comfy so tense a little more making it worse, making me more tense etc.

    I'll keep that in mind on a ride tonight and see if I can pick it.
  6. First thing I would check is you. Are you keeping your eyes level with the road and "NOT" tipping your head into the corners.
    When you go round a left hand corner with a bit of lean, you should feel your helmet tap your right shoulder, or I should say your right shoulder tap your helmet as your head should be steady and level, looking to where you want to be next!!!!
    My other worry is that the tyre hasn't been used in three years and probably a year old back then....and it's now a hard, shiny deathmaker.
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  7. #7 raband, Feb 7, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2013
    Yeah - my head position is fine - pretty much inbuilt reflex to keep it level now :) Find myself moving my head even watching the bikes on telly :)

    Changing the tyre had crossed my mind - still feels soft though. I will give it a better look tonight and drop the pressure a bit as well. They'd only be about 3 1/2 years old (from fitting, not manufacturing - I'll check the manufacture date tonight)

    Michelin call for annual inspection after bike tyres reach 5 years and replacement by 10 years so I'm thinking that if they're not hardened and are still under the 5 years then I should be able to trust them. If I've still got issues after the other suggestions I'll be replacing them.

    Thanks all for the things for me to check/look at - it'll help me narrow down whether the issue is internal (me) of external (bike).
  8. I'd be thinking tyre, ages ago I got a zzr theat had been sitting for a couple of years and it always felt like it was gonna wash out in the bends. Tyres looked and felt ok but a quicker riding mate than me reckoned I should change them. Fixed it up beautifully.
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  9. Some good advice here.
    The pressures could be way off.
    The tyre itself could be old and as hard as a railway line.
    The forks could need rebuilding and be giving you no feedback.
    If you have the opportunity, see if you can ride another bike under the same conditions; if you feel the same, it's your head, not the bike.
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  10. I have a theory... this doesn’t sound like an issue with the bike, it’s something not isolated to just riding, it could occur with any skill. I’ve had it with a number of things, skiing, boarding, tennis and of course... riding a bike. I think what you might be experiencing is ‘cognitive dissonance’ and it is exhibiting as anxiety in your riding.

    Basically, as you’ve been away from riding for so long you’re a little rusty; however, you are aware of this and recall how comfortably you used to ride. Previously, your level of skill was married with your ‘perceived’ (can’t think of a better word) level of skill and – again for lack of a better word - you were ‘ignorant’ of any flaws in your riding (beyond the obvious of ‘always learning’).

    So I would imagine this will eventually dissipate as you continue to ride. This is of course isn’t comparable to when you first learnt because now you’re no longer ignorant of how good you need to be to ride comfortably... when you were learning every day you rode better than the last and every day you knew more than you did than the day before. I think this is not too dissimilar to how an accident can rock the nerves.

    Anyway, just a theory! :D
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  11. Thanks again guys - great suggestions.

    I'm hovering now between it being the tires and the brain :)

    Bloke in the club rides the same model ZX14 as me so I'll ask for a quick bike swap next time we're riding together (if I haven't gotten to the bottom of it before then).

    That'll answer it both with how his bike feels and his feedback on my bike.
  12. If your tyres have been sitting for three years, then I'm not surprised you have no confidence in them.

    Replace them & start again, even if it's a mental problem, new tyres will go a long toward fixing it.
    • Like Like x 2
  13. #13 raband, Feb 7, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2013
    Ooh - another thing - in threads like this would it be normal to give a "nod" to everyone helping/suggesting or are they a bit like spam/annoying/suck-up'ish/not used/saved for special occasions?

    edit: nods all round for this thread - thanks heaps all - definitely think they're worth it :)
  14. Cheers - that's the exact experience I was after :)
  15. You're not wrong there at all. I used to ride 120+ km/day. If I spent even a week or 2 off the bike I'd have that feeling of how rusty I'd gotten for a fair while (until I caught up again to myself).

    If I'd only jump on the bike occasionally over a few months there was none of that feeling of having lost any sharpness.

    That thought has been at the top of my mind getting back into it - knowing how rusty I'd be, but fearing I'd not having the recognition of it. That could well be combining with the "dissonance" as you put it. I'm both rusty, but also riding in such a way that I think/know I'm rusty - expecting or looking for a (re)learning curve is forcing me to not ride in my own zone.

    Tires, checking if I'm relaxing or tensing up through corners and just chilling out and riding (not overly thinking) seems to be the direction for me to focus.
  16. Like others have said.


    Especially the front. Swap it out. (Keep the old one as a spare if you like)

    Second, I swap from car to bike to other bike all the time and I find that from time to time on a bike I get a weird feeling of "sliding". It's like my brain needs to adjust to how this vehicle moves again and interprets the movement as sliding.

    It's hard to explain but I know now to ignore it for the first few mins on a diff bike.
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  17. Agreed - old rubber is bad news....

    For that sake of a couple of hundred bones you may as well find out the cheap way your boots are done......
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  18. just wondering (or maybe i missed something) but why'd you stop riding previously? it wasn't anything to do with a front end wash out was it?

    I'm feeling a lot the same at the moment, I had a really close call about a week back where the front hit gravel mid corner and was really lucky to stay on, for the rest of the ride i had ZERO confidence in the front end and consequently my lines got worse and worse as i didn't want to tip in and went off line.

    I'm hoping that getting out of town and having a good ride will settle the nerves a bit... it sucks cause i was just getting confidence back after dropping my bike when the front hit tram tracks in the wet... took a LONG time (and 2 new bikes) to get settled again.
  19. For mine I would do some hard front braking to see if you can resurrect that front tyre. It might need to go through a fairly major heat cycle to get some life back in it. The negative of doing this is if it is on it's way out... it will crack up overnight after getting some deep heat in it.
    Don't try and lock it up but yeah give it a few really good braking sessions from 100 clicks down to nada. A much safer way than hoping through a bend
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  20. Years ago I had a lowside that I couldn't find a reason for,other than operator error.
    I then went right through the bike and made it my business to have it working to the best I could achieve.Read heaps on setting up suspension and experimented with as many setting as I could.I also made the decision to only use the BEST rubber I could get and monitor the air pressures before every ride.That works for me,one quick tip is using a cable tie on one of the forks to monitor fork travel,to little or to much used.In the end this is great fun to do,Its surprising how tiny changes have a huge effect on modern bikes.BTW I would be changing your old rubber.