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Transition from noob to

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by ptb, Oct 4, 2012.

  1. Four month rider here,

    I frequently practice and am making big improvements in the basics: starting, stopping, U turns, high speed, low speed balance, lockup control, emergency stopping, facing where I want to go, avoiding target fixation, riding in peak hour to the city and weekends through the Dandenongs, Black Spur, Warby Highway etc

    However, in the last month or two, I've made very little to no improvement in motorcycle roadcraft, and it bothers me, I think I should be better. If the weather isn't raining or freezing, I ride into the city in peak hour for the sake of it. I got my bike for weekend fun but the excitement of riding weekdays keeps me going.

    I only ride when my mind is unaffected by stress or tiredness and can focus on riding.

    I see my deficiencies as lane positioning, planning where on the road I'll be in 5 to 10 seconds and general smoothness, what to do next and fluidity. I've read heaps of info on these forums about how to ride, what to avoid, dos and dont's but can't seem to put it into practice.

    In a bit over 5,000km on the bike, half city half country, I've avoided and ignored many dumb motorists, I used to honk but Raven's bleating has changed my attitude so I try to GTF away from any upcoming issues I see. None of my Gopro recordings have made it out of my computer, then again I try avoid issues and haven't had any near misses but worry I won't know how to react if something happens.

    Has anyone felt like this when they were new at riding? What were your next 5,000-10,000km like and what did you do to improve?
  2. I've only got about 6,000-7,000km under my belt after almost three and a half years since I got my licence. One thing I've never been able to work out if I'm doing "the right way" is emergency braking. Thankfully I haven't had too many reasons to have to try the technique out (I always try to leave a huge stopping distance), but like you I'm worried that I won't know how to react if something happens.

    I've read some articles that say use both brakes in a 60/40 ratio front to back, some that say only use the front brake and never the rear, and others that say just stomp on the rear brake and let it lock up and slide so that you can then focus on controlling the front brake (seems a bit scary to me though - I'd expect that in a lockup the rear wheel would be likely to "catch up" with me and turn the bike sideways). I find I use the back brake most often and as yet have not had a lockup on the Street Triple (had a couple on my old CBF250 when I was on my Ls) - but I know the back brake alone won't cut it if I need to pull up quickly.

    Most recently I've been working on my cornering and leaning in - I think I was a lot braver on my Ls than I am now, for some reason. On my CBF250 I used to lean the bike right over and keep my body upright, rather than leaning my body over and keeping the bike more upright - apart from not making sense according to the laws of physics, it must have looked real weird to anyone watching! The last few days I've been reading about using your chin to "pull" you towards the mirror on the inside, and putting more of your body weight on the footpegs rather than on the seat. The first couple of times I tried this I saw an instant improvement in comfort level on the bike alone, not to mention a big difference in confidence from knowing that there wasn't as much sideways force being applied to the road, and that therefore the bike was much less likely to slip out from under me (I'm constantly paranoid that that's going to happen to me, even though it never has before).

    I think my biggest problem is not getting enough opportunities to ride (I have to drive for work most days, and weekends are less leisurely now that I'm a dad) - sounds like "finding the time" is definitely not an issue for you!
  3. I'm glad you took my 'bleating' under advisement. Seriously, are you the better for it?

    You've mentally platued, by the sound of things. It's normal, and will happen many times as you progress. Use this time to consolidate your riding overall. That could easily get you to 10k, which still is'nt a lot of k's, ptb.
    For now, just get better at what you are doing. Sort out the commute positioning question. It's a fluid and dynamic environment, so you have to constantly adjust, reassess etc. concentrate on riding proactively, rather than reactively. Watch other commuters. Some will stand out, confident with a sense of presence, so watch what they do, and get what you can, apply it to your riding. Something's will work for you, some won't.

    After that, if nothing is standing out, as needing work specifically, then choose one aspect of riding, and focus on it. Cornering always needs work! You can't be more than adequate there. What about braking mid corner to avoid obstacles , lines, body position, approach, exits etc.

    There is so much to learn, so much to perfect. Sounds like you've gone a bit stale, mate. Pic something out and focus on it. Sit down and make a list, and then stick to it, to keep you focused.

    C'mon! :)
  4. Eh!...6-7,000k in three years!?
    You are'nt riding enough to keep things freshened up, nor learn anything much in reasonable time.
    That's not a go at you personally. We all have time constraints, some more than others. But you need to ride more.

    FYI. For 'me' to stay fresh I must ride every day and at least one days ride on the weekends. If I miss a week, it takes me a couple of hours on the next ride for me to get situated and back into the zone.
    These past few years I've been lucky to ride once a fortnight, after no riding for a year, so I took to track to reacquaint myself with my own skills. 4 track days over last summer got me sorted.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Quick way to improve is to do an advanced riding course. HART Advanced I etc.
    For roadcraft, MA have a program (Rob Salv is an instructor).
    • Like Like x 2
  6. [MENTION=14652]robsalvv[/MENTION] on this forum offers courses in road craft to Melbourne riders. I've done the intro session and it taught me a fair bit - I'll do some more with him time permitting.

    If I can find the original thread will post.
  7. Well done! If I needed some experienced level coaching for myself, I'd be going straight to Rob, and cue jumping if I could.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Beat me to it [MENTION=19313]twistngo[/MENTION]
  9. Maybe you just got it down pat now hehe :)

    I have been riding for about 3 months and done about 4,000ks. City riding and country riding. I find that I learn more out in the back road, through the twisties, especially for cornering than city riding. I'm more focus on what is around me when commuting rather than practising my cornering etc.
    City commuting is more roadcraft tech, that I'm picking up.

    Maybe try going into work/commuting via a different route and do that a couple of time.
    I try to commute to work this way to mix things up and to familiar myself with new roads. Especially in the morning during traffic time.
    Even if I know the road from driving down it heaps of times, it is different on a bike.

    Explore the back streets, even if you don't get a chance to practise tech riding skills, just enjoy the ride!! :)
  10. I'd like to think so. I didn't mean bleating in a negative way, I meant it as one of the most frequent things I've read in the other rider videos and threads where people focus on horns.

    I try an anticipate stupid activity and avoid if I can. I don't remember if I've used the horn due to other peoples actions and to date, i've not had any near misses whether idiotic or accidental but now I'm aware that in most situations, I don't think about the horn but focus on how to stay on 2 wheels if the driver does 'x' or 'y'.
    Yup, most days when I go out bush and on back streets, I feel I get better and more confident

    One thing I can't seem to figure out is what to be thinking in start/stop heavy traffic. When moving, I own the lane, coming to a stop I position myself further left or right to have an escape if the person behind doesn't seem to be stopping.

    I often commentate my driving/riding eg lights ahead red, arrow green, if I slow another 20kmh I'll get there when it turns green, no cars behind to hit me, next lights don't ride to the front because first car is a badge engineered chev commodore etc
    I'm struggling to figure out right of path in heavy traffic on 2 wheels. The bike fits in spaces where I'd never attempt in a car and can stay away from lots of danger but can easily get into trouble too so I often take the conservative option of staying in my lane.

    An example is on the freeway when traffic is under 40kmh. Some riders effortlessly sail through and make progress at what looks like well controlled and smooth manoeuvres. Others are far more ballsy than I ever want to be, flying through side by side cars, rapid weaving and, to me, appearing reckless and dangerous but still, they seem to do it so smoothly.

    I'm pretty quick to pick up techniques explained or observed, done a lot of improvement in the twists but like you say, I've stalled in the traffic situations. I don't think I'm dangerous, I'm comfortable with my more cautious riding style but just don't know how to improve.

    What courses at HART do you recommend for my skill level?

  11. HART Advanced I. The Intermediate is a bit basic. More aimed at when you come off P's and about to get a bigger bike.
  12. I stand to be corrected but HART won't take you on the road - they'll give you better riding techniques and give you some advice and theory of riding on the road.

    On the roadcraft course you are on the road with an experienced rider following you with a camera. Along the way you stop and he gives feedback on your roadcraft - decision making, road/lane position, head checks, hazard awareness and avoidance with a debrief session at the end.

    Sounds to me like this is more what you are after than more advanced motorcycle control techniques. Nothing wrong with HART, but different objectives from the road craft courses.
  13. Just getting this clear, you've been riding a total of 4 mths and plateaud 2mths in, so effectively in terms of "roadcraft" you haven't (don't feel) you've progressed beyond first 2mths riding.

    It's only very early days yet.

    I don't see the issue with taking conservative options, which is staying within your comfort zone (limits) as you get to know your bike better and your awareness/judgement of your environment continues to improve.

    To do otherwise means you'll be riding beyond your limits, ie. your ability to read and judge with confidence and a level of accuracy things unfolding around you.

    This takes time (experience) and at 2-4mths I doubt you've yet got the skills and experience to competently manage anything like splitting traffic etc.

    So, give yourself permission to progress at your own rate.

    For "roadcraft", robsalvv's already been mentioned (paid tuition).

    You can stick your hand up in the mentoring thread for some on-road mentoring by a more experienced rider.(free)

    And you can pop down to Sat prac where you can have a chat about the things you've raised with more experienced riders and review your bike control. (free)

    Hart or Stay Upright etc courses are always a good thing -Intermediate will probably be more than enough for you to digest with where you're at, but keep in mind they will focus more on "ridecraft" (closed, off-road circuit) as opposed to "roadcraft".

    Unless you practice it you won't know how to react, I could pretty much guarantee that. :wink:

    Practicing will help towards overcoming "brainfreeze" when the unexpected occurs.

    Here you go.

    Start at a speed you're comfortable with, eg. 25-30 km/hr to start. Once competent at that speed then gradually increase it, gaining competency at each incremental increase until you're able to brake/stop from the variety of speeds you get around at.

    And above all, keep your head up (see vid). (y)
    • Like Like x 4
  14. ptb you might be a little hard on your self
    you have learn"t the basics in that time frame in real time traffic and roads,
    its all about being alert and planning ahead in confidence and sometimes it takes years, a slow process with huge advantages
    And you never stop learning because situations are always different.
  15. Well what did you expect? I mean when was the last time you learned something new - like playing a new instrument, learning a new sport?
    The curve of your learning progress looks roughly the same with any new skill that you try to acquire:

    At the beginning you have a very steep climb, as you soak in all the basics. Starting from zero knowledge there's so much to learn and the basics are so easy to learn, too. But once you're past the fundamentals, it will flatten. If you don't practice frequently enough, it will even plateau out. The more advanced your skills are, the harder you have to work to learn more stuff! The better you are, the more time and effort you will have to invest to add on to your skills!
    You need to make yourself push through that first plateau (there will be many other plateaus following the first one!). There might be just one little thing that somebody tells you to work on, and voilĂ  you managed to get that learning curve climbing upwards again. Until you've explored all the aspects of the one little thing, and it plateaus again. It's hard to learn new skills - otherwise everybody would do it :p
    You need to either fight for becoming a better rider, or not be bothered and stay at your current level (like so many others have chosen to do).

    I am assuming my riding level is maybe just below yours (having done just a few more ks in just a couple more months). It IS frustrating when you are so used to making massive progress, and then you suddenly can't make the tiniest step forward anymore (or maybe even backwards!!). We all have to go through the same process when learning a new sport, you are not alone ;)

    I think others have mentioned it already: Try to concentrate on one thing. I mean riding contains so many different aspects, you managed to learn a lot in every aspect so far, now it's time to focuy on specialties. What is most important to you? Make up your mind, then look at your options that you've got. Think about how you can improve that aspect, who will be able to help you, and how much time (and money?) you have at hand to invest.
    An experienced rider who knows what they're talking about is likely to be your best option now. But YOU need to know what you want to concentrate on. Don't learn something, just because someone told you so... think critical and be careful with what the 'experienced rider' is telling you as well. Keep in mind that people like to show off their skills ;) and also that some tricks don't work for everyone.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. HART do have on road training. think its called confidence and road skills. a 1/2 day course. they did have the training rides in the Yarra Ranges but I think they stopped when Mark McGuire left Yarra Ranges.
  17. I knew I'd have to stand corrected....
  18. Typical!...:)

    Only wise words from this lady.
    • Like Like x 1
  19. That's perfect!...you're doing all the right things. And at times like this, it's normal to slow progession down. Because comes a time when the absolute best thing todo, is do things over and over and over again.

    So when you have to react in a really serious situation, the right way, instinctively.
    Just get into it.

    If you feel uncomfortable, and you are doing the right thing, then you are pushing your limits. It's a good thing because it is the method of improvent. But challenge yourself incrementally. The clever part is recognising the difference between pushing your limits and riding beyond your limits.

    You're doing good, riding smart. And don't worry, the bleating bit was not taken the wrong way. :) no offence, but I appreciate your concern about it.
  20. Don't know how to take this - Every time I've learned something new, footy, mixing with a XPonent, track driving in a car, I've never encountered the same sudden brick wall near the beginning of my interest.

    With bikes I can see so many areas I need to improve on and am doing my best to get better at one thing at a time. Heavy traffic roadcraft is one thing I feel I haven't got any better at, hence the thread.

    Raven, Nightowl, everyone else,
    Thanks for spending the time to reply. I'll take another few months of practice and see how I go then reply again with thoughts of progress. I avoid riding with a lot of my mates, they're far more experienced at the hills than I am and I don't even bother trying to keep up.

    I appreciate all the advice I'm given here, I'll start off slower with a few ride days then get into the professional tuition.

    Cheers all