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Riding Techniques

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by Sir Skuffy, Oct 3, 2005.

  1. Here is something I discovered about riding. Something in here for the NEWBIE and the SEASONED VET.




    .... Racing involves speed, concentration and commitment; the results of a mistake are usually catastrophic because there's little room for error riding at 100 percent. Performance street riding is less intense and further from the absolute limit, but because circumstances are less controlled, mistakes and over aggressiveness can be equally catastrophic. Plenty of roadracers have sworn off street riding. "Too dangerous, too many variables and too easy to get carried away with too much speed," track specialists claim. Adrenaline-addled racers find themselves treating the street like the track, and not surprisingly, they get burned by the police, the laws of physics and the cold, harsh realities of an environment not groomed for ten-tenths riding.

    .... But as many of us know, a swift ride down a favorite road may be the finest way to spend a few free hours with a bike we love. And these few hours are best enjoyed riding at The Pace.

    .... A year after I joined Motorcyclist staff in 1984, Mitch Boehm was hired. Six months later, The Pace came into being, and we perfected it during the next few months of road testing and weekend fun rides. Now The Pace is part of my life - and a part of the Sunday morning riding group I frequent. The Pace is a street riding technique that not only keeps street riders alive, but thoroughly entertained as well.


    .... The Pace focuses on bike control and de-emphasizes outright speed. Full-throttle acceleration and last minute braking aren't part of the program, effectively eliminating the two most common single-bike accident scenarios in sport riding. Cornering momentum is the name of the game, stressing strong, forceful inputs at the handlebar to place the bike correctly at the entrance of the turn and get it flicked in with little wasted time and distance. Since the throttle wasn't slammed open at the exit of the last corner, the next corner doesn't require much, if any, braking. It isn't uncommon to ride with our group and not see a brake light flash all morning.

    .... If the brakes are required, the front lever gets squeezed smoothly, quickly and with a good deal of force to set entrance speed in minimum time. Running in on the brakes is tantamount to running off the road, a confession that you're pushing too hard and not getting your entrance speed set early enough because you stayed on the gas too long. Running The Pace decreases your reliance on the throttle and brakes, the two easiest controls to abuse, and hones your ability to judge cornering speed, which is the most thrilling aspect of performance street riding.


    .... Crossing the centerline at any time except during a passing maneuver is intolerable, another sign that you're pushing too hard to keep up. Even when you have a clean line of sight through a left-hand kink, stay to the right of the centerline. Staying on the right side of the centerline is much more challenging than simply straightening every slight corner, and when the whole group is committed to this intelligent practice, the temptation to cheat is eliminated through peer pressure and logic. Though street riding shouldn't be described in racing terms, you can think of your lane as the race track. Leaving your lane is tantamount to a crash.

    .... Exact bike control has you using every inch of your lane if the circumstances permit it. In corners with a clear line of sight and no oncoming traffic, enter at the far outside of the corner, turn the bike relatively late in the corner to get a late apex at the far inside of your lane and accelerate out, just brushing the far outside of your lane as your bike stands up. Steer your bike forcefully but smoothly to minimize the transition time. Don't hammer it down because the chassis will bobble slightly as it settles, possibly carrying you off line. Since you haven't charged in on the brakes, you can get the throttle on early, before the apex, which balances and settles your bike for the drive out.

    .... More often than not, circumstances do not permit the full use of your lane from yellow line to white line and back again. Blind corners, oncoming traffic and gravel on the road are a few criteria that dictate a more conservative approach, so leave yourself a three or four foot margin for error, especially at the left side of the lane where errant oncoming traffic could prove fatal. Simply narrow your entrance on a blind right-harder and move your apex into your lane three feet on blind left turns in order to stay free of unseen oncoming traffic hogging the centerline. Because you're running at The Pace and not flat out, your controlled entrances offer additional time to deal with unexpected gravel or other debris in your lane; the outside wheel track is usually the cleanest through a dirty corner since a car weights its outside tires most, scrubbing more dirt off the pavement in the process, so aim for that line.


    .... The street is not a racing environment, and it takes humility, self assurance and self control to keep it that way. The leader sets the pace and monitors his mirrors for signs of raggedness in the ranks that follow, such as tucking in on straights, crossing over the yellow line and hanging off the motorcycle in the corners, If the leader pulls away, he simply slows his straight way speed slightly but continues to enjoy the corners, thus closing the ranks but missing none of the fun. The small group of three or four riders I ride with is so harmonious that the pace is identical no matter who's leading. The lead shifts occasionally with a quick hand sign, but there's never a pass for the lead with an ego on the sleeve. Make no mistake, the riding is spirited and quick in the corners. Anyone with a right arm can hammer down the straights; it's proficiency in the corners that makes The Pace come alive.

    .... Following distances are relatively lengthy, with the straightaways taken at more moderate speeds, providing the perfect opportunity to adjust the gaps. Keeping a good distance serves several purposes, besides being safer. Rock chips are minimized, and the police or highway patrol won't suspect a race is in progress. The Pace's style of not hanging off in corners also reduces the appearance of pushing too hard and adds a degree of maturity and sensibility in the eyes of the public and the law. There's a definite challenge to cornering quickly while sitting sedately on your bike.

    .... New rider indoctrination takes some time because The Pace develops very high cornering speeds and newcomers want to hammer the throttle on the exits to make up for what they lose at the entrances. Our group slows drastically when a new rider joins the ranks because our technique of moderate straightaway speed and no brakes can suck the unaware into a corner too fast, creating the most common single bike accident. With a new rider learning The Pace behind you, tap your brake lightly well before the turn to alert him and make sure he understands there's no pressure to stay with the group.

    .... There's plenty of ongoing communication during The Pace. A foot off the peg indicates debris in the road, and all slowing or turning intentions are signaled in advance with the left hand and arm. Turn signals are used for direction changes and passing, with a wave of the left hand to thank the cars that move right and make it easy for motorcyclists to get past. Since you don't have a death grip on the handlebar, your left hand is also free to wave to oncoming riders, a fading courtesy that we'd like to see return. If you're getting the idea The Pace is a relaxing, noncompetitive way to ride with a group, you are right.


    .... I'd rather spend a Sunday in the mountains riding at The Pace than a Sunday at the racetrack, it's that enjoyable. Countersteering is the name of the game; smooth, forceful steering input at the handlebar relayed to the tires' contact patches through a rigid sport bike frame. Riding at The Pace is certainly what bike manufacturers had in mind when sport bikes evolved to the street.

    .... But the machine isn't the most important aspect of running The Pace because you can do it on anything capable of getting through a corner. Attitude is The Pace's most important aspect: realizing the friend ahead of you isn't a competitor, respecting his right to lead the group occasionally and giving him credit for his riding skills. You must have the maturity to limit your straightaway speeds to allow the group to stay in touch and the sense to realize that racetrack tactics such as late braking and full throttle runs to redline will alienate the public and police and possibly introduce you to the unforgiving laws of gravity. When the group arrives at the destination after running The Pace, no one feels outgunned or is left with the feeling he must prove himself on the return run. If you've got some thing to prove, get on a racetrack.

    .... The racetrack measures your speed with a stop watch and direct competition, welcoming your aggression and gritty resolve to be the best. Performance street riding's only yardstick is the amount of enjoyment gained, not lap times, finishing position or competitors beaten. The differences are huge but not always remembered by riders who haven't discovered The Pace's cornering pureness and group involvement. Hammer on the racetrack. Pace yourself on the street.

    © Copyright MOTORCYCLIST Magazine
    November 1991 issue
  2. thanks for sharing that...it was easy reading full of great info
  3. makes alot of sense - all you've got to do is find the people to ride with ... :wink:
  4. Good article.
    Thanks for posting it. :D
  5. I'm sorry, but it has lost me completely. I'm sure that the stuff in there is good, but I don't have the analytical skills to unpack the voodoo from the useful stuff. The article rabbits on about this mysterious thing called "The Pace" - which could, just as easily, be "luminiferous ether" or some other hocus-pocus. "The Pace comes alive", "the Pace is part of my life"...use the Pace, Luke.

    The article fails to tell me anything at all about riding techniques - because it all comes down to "the Pace". The closest we get is: set your approach speed and line, use firm countersteering inputs, relax your arms, reduce your reliance on braking in a corner. Hardly revolutionary stuff - certainly not enough to warrant building a metaphysic.

    Strikes me as a great big ad for a (very successful) riding skills school. If I do one of their courses, I'll remember to bring my crystals, incense and some Draggin' paisley flares. Their courses aren't cheap, but, as Bono says, "The Pace I believe in isn't short o' money, mister".

    Edit: Revised to evade the spelling police
  6. Hey Chairman!

    Check out the "Proficient Motorcycling" books ... they explain the cornering technique described above in "The Pace" quite well ... I've been meaning to try the "late apex" cornering technique out on my next twisties ride ...
  7. Cosmic man, just what I need to go with my tasseled white buckskin jacket! I'll, like, commune with them immediately man....
  8. I'm not criticising the techniques that the article touches (too lightly) upon - I love to be better at late-apex cornering, speed control and all the rest - I just find that the silly mysticism gets in the way. I guess it's horses for courses, but don't be consulting your astral chart when you take me on the inside!

    And I owe a certain skills school an apology - I can only plead guilty to a failing memory - they're not associated with Ienatsch.
  9. Having just done a day with a "Very successful riding school" (my second with them) last Friday, THE PACE (or correct entry speed for the corner) is certainly what they are all about. I found the sessions done early one limiting you to 1 or 2 gears and NO brakes really got you dialled in getting the corner right. While having a serious blat down the straight is OK, carrying some decent speed through Southern Loop, Honda, Siberia, MG, Lukey Heights and finally Turn 12 at Phillip Island is where the action is. Their logic behind not brakeing heavily into the corner is so that you have maximum concentration on whats required to get through the corner, not worrying about if you are going to pull up in time. What results is that you back off the throttle earlier, coast into the corner at a speed you are happy with and the bike is perfectly stable for you to tip into it. The last session with all gears and brakes definately didn't feel comfortable and led to some corners being "rushed" and missed entry and exit points.
  10. Mark, it's not often I disagree with what you contribute, but I have to comment this time. I didn't see any "silly mysticism" in the article - just a very sensible philosophy for riding on public roads.
    Yes, perhaps there is some jargon in the way they define their system in a phrase like "the Pace". But the writer then went on to describe exactly how this system DIFFERS from track riding (or just riding fast).
    I don't believe it was ever intended to be a treatise on how to ride a bike, fast or otherwise. I think they give the reader credit enough to work on that themselves. I think it was more about describing an attitude towards how to enjoy road riding without increasing risks. The writer described the specific differences in style and technique that differentiate their system from racing.
    To me, it was about having a different set of goals (as opposed to skills) when you set out to ride this way.
    And strangely, from the little of your own riding I have seen, I would have thought they were similar to yours? Just a thought.
  11. :LOL: :LOL: :LOL: :LOL:
    Yo, parts of it read like a new-Christian-sermon, eh? :LOL: :LOL:
    I think, what's rather meant is the 'mindset' behind it all...
  12. You'll need a Harley to go with the outfit though... :LOL: :LOL: