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Author Topic: THE BASICS:  (Read 6124 times)

Offline Kirk

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THE BASICS:
« on: November 19, 2011, 01:18:18 PM »
Motorcycling on the road presents a unique learning challenge. 

Ernest Hemmingway said that there are only three sports: Bull fighting, mountain climbing, and motor sports- the rest are merely games.  His point was, that it's not a sport if it can't kill you.  We owe it to the people who love us, to not run an UNREASONABLE risk of allowing ourselves to become seriously injured or killed. 

And since death is one of the potential outcomes of motorcycling on the road, we should strive to develop our skill set to a survivable degree of competency.  To do anything less is to fail to take an active role in our own survival- we would simply be alive because the laws of statistical probability had not caught up with us yet.  Yet the longer one survives (while doing it wrong), the more they tend develop a false sense of security, thinking that they actually know what they're doing.  As a result, only the most emotionally mature will accept actual knowledge when it's presented to them- pride prevents the others from taking the advice, even if it would save their lives.  It would be like a group of guys are each playing Russian Roullette by themselves, and thinking that they're getting really good at it, because they've each pulled the trigger four or five times on their guns, and their guns haven't gone off yet.  And then a firearms expert spots them and tries to tell them that they're going to kill themselves if they keep doing what they're doing.  Most of them poo-poo this expert advice, and...here comes the sucky part...the ones that wouldn't listen, end up blowing their brains out.  Since they're dead, they can't go back and tell all the others "Hey! That guy was right.", so the pattern continues with the next generation.  That's how it is with motorcycling on the road.   

But there is no commonly accepted path to this survivable degree of competency- even motorcyclists with decades of experience often manage to avoid learning the basics.  It would be like trying to learn how to dance before learning how to walk.  Recently, I encountered a motorcycle operator who knew how to write a check for a giant engine and knew which way to twist the throttle, but didn't even know how to operate a tire pressure guage. 

There are only three things you can do with a motorcycle to keep yourself alive: stop, turn, and go.  I would define a "rider" as someone who has developed a survivable skill set- being able to do all three of those things (stop, turn, and go) to a survivable degree of competency. In practical terms, that means being able to do ALL THREE of those things better than any cage that you are likely to encounter on the road.  But the vast majority of motorcyclists (I'd guess around 90%) are not able to do at least one of those three things.  I often encounter motorcyclists, some with decades of "experience", who don't know how to brake correctly, and often don't even know which way to push the handlebars to make the motorcycle go in the direction that they intend to go.  Most motorcyclists, once they learn how to get a motorcycle rolling without stalling the engine, basically stop learning at that point.  They mistake the passage of time as increasing skill, when in reality they are simply becoming more comfortable at sucking.  That's why if you tell someone who's been motorcycling for 50 years that he's doing something wrong, the first thing that he's likely to pull out of his butt is that he's been "riding" for 50 years, even though he's not really a rider.  Mistaking oneself as a rider when he is actually just an operator, can be a fatal error.

A modern, competent motorcycle, like the Hayabusa, has a great deal of potential when it comes to stopping, turning, and going.  What most people don't realize, is that the throttle is the LEAST powerful control input of those three.  A stock Hayabusa is only capable of lifting the front wheel off the ground (using throttle only) up to roughly 100 mph or so.  But the brakes are capable of lifting the rear wheel off the pavement at nearly twice that speed. So, of the three major control inputs (front brake lever, handlebars, and throttle), the throttle should be the easiest for us to master, even on a Hayabusa.  If someone has an issue with the throttle, it's very likely that they're also having trouble with steering and/or stopping, and they probably don't even know it.  I often see this expressed as an apprehension about a whether or not a novice motorcyclist can "handle" the power of a Hayabusa.  Steering a newbe towards a LIGHTER motorcycle makes sense,  but steering them towards a SLOWER motorcycle does not- a newbe needs to be able to do all three things (stop, turn, and go) every bit as much as the rest of us.  Why take away one-third of his chances for survival by putting him on a bike that won't go?  My personal opinion is that we should not put newbe riders on anything with a performance envelope less than that of an SV650.  An Aprilia RS250 is fine.  A Kawasaki Ninja 250 is not.

My recommendation is to start off with the MSF beginner's class.  They are really good at teaching people a few of the basics, including their SIPDE threat management system.  The only issue I have with them is that they teach braking wrong, but they do everything else so well, I'd rather have people take the MSF class and then just teach them to brake correctly afterwards.  The MSF class, however, does NOT qualify someone to attempt to operate a motorcycle on public roadways- it just qualifies them to operate a drum-brake bias-ply air-cooled single-cylinder 12-horsepower mini-chopper at walking speeds in a parking lot. 

The next step would be to learn (in the academic sense) the basics of why motorcycles do what they do, and how we can influence the motorcycle to get it to do what we want it to do, in terms of stopping, turning, and going.  Keith Code is a strange duck, but his book "A Twist Of The Wrist II" is the best resource that I can refer you to.  Read it cover to cover, until you understand it.  Once you've learned that, the next step is...

Go do a track day.  I learned more in my first 20 minutes on track, than I had in my 40 years prior to that.  It's not safe to attempt to develop your practical skill set by exploring accident avoidance skills (like maximum braking and turning), on a public roadway.  You need a safe environment.  That's what track days are for.  Once you've got a track day under your belt and developed your ACTUAL skills to a survivable degree, THEN you would be good to go on public roadways. 
« Last Edit: December 28, 2011, 01:16:15 PM by Kirk »
-Kirk

Offline blk02ws6

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Re: THE BASICS:
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2011, 01:44:12 PM »
what is the "correct way" to set tire pressure?


btw, lots of very great advice in your post.

Offline Kirk

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Re: THE BASICS:
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2011, 01:57:40 PM »
what is the "correct way" to set tire pressure?

Find out what the tire manufacturer's recommended pressure is (NOT the max tire pressure listed on the tire's sidewall, and NOT the max pressure listed on the bike's tire sticker and/or owner's manual), and start there.  An example would be the Michelin Power One, which people have mistakenly attempted to use at pressures of up to 42 psi, but Michelin recommends 22 psi:

http://www.michelinpowerone.com/

The following tutorial may also be of some assistance:

http://www.suzukihayabusa.org/forum/index.php?topic=75445.0


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btw, lots of very great advice in your post.

Thanks.  I hope that it's helpful.  I've seen a lot of people die, for lack of the information contained in that post, and it's tragic. 
« Last Edit: December 28, 2011, 01:20:43 PM by Kirk »
-Kirk

Offline ktw88q

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Re: THE BASICS:
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2011, 03:22:32 PM »
Well addressed points!!!

Offline Kirk

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Re: THE BASICS:
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2011, 06:25:59 AM »
Thanks.  

And let's all wear appropriate safety gear every time we ride, starting with a Snell and/or DOT approved full face helmet.  They won't let you out on the track without full safety gear, and the track is INFINITELY safer than riding on public roadways.   :tu:
« Last Edit: November 23, 2011, 06:27:30 AM by Kirk »
-Kirk

Offline JHerheim

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Re: THE BASICS:
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2011, 06:13:39 AM »
How does MSF teach braking wrong?   And what would be the right way based on the target audience and intended outcomes of the basic rider class? 

Is it taught properly in the ARC?  advanced rider class?


How come Metzler and Bridgestone  both state to use the recommended tire pressure in your motorcycle owner's manual as a starting point?   Of course they are assuming you use the recommended tire for your application. -



But beyond my bickering.   Kirk does have great points, and good advice.  :thumb:
« Last Edit: December 03, 2011, 06:41:22 AM by JHerheim »

Offline Kirk

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Re: THE BASICS:
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2011, 10:12:50 AM »
You sound like someone who has served as an MSF RiderCoach.  If so, thank you for your service.  You guys do a better job than anyone, at introducing new people to our sport.

And don't worry, you're not bickering.  Bickering is arguing about trivial matters. Motorcycling on public roads is done by "Big Boy" rules- If you get it wrong, you stand the very real chance of going home in a box.  Life and death matters are not trivial, and we are not arguing- I made a statement, and you asked me a question, which I will now answer.

The MSF is apparently still teaching students the divided attention task of attempting to use both brakes.  I suspect it is because the course was probably developed back when motorcycles had crappy drum brakes, tube-type bias-ply tires, and crude spring-on-a-stick suspension.

The following is from a braking tutorial posted in the TECH section:

We have members here of all different skill levels. I'd like for all of them to survive. To that end, I'd like to initiate discussion on the rear brake. I am not the fastest, nor am I the smartest. But I'd like to share what I can with those that I can help. At the risk of presenting this in an overly basic manner, I'd like to make sure that we include everyone in the ability to live longer.

Point 1:

If you hold up a stationary motorcycle up and then let go of it, it will fall over. It falls over because there's nothing holding it up.

If you ride the same motorcycle down the road at 60 mph and let go of the handlebars, it doesn't fall over. It doesn't fall over because of the gyroscopic force of the rear wheel spinning.

Point 2:

The limit of braking on road-going 4-wheel vehicles is usually the limit of traction of the tires. The harder you brake, the closer you get to the limit. At the limit, the tires start to skid. At that point, you can't brake any harder or the tires will lock up and slide. Braking with more wheels (front and rear) is the only option to maximize braking force.

Motorcycles are different. 400 pound sporting motorcycles come with brakes the size that come on a 3500 pound Corvette. The brakes are not going to limit braking force. Sport motorcycles also come with tires capable of providing pavement grip similar to the grip that bikini wax has on...well, you get the point. Heck, a lot of us do stoppies in the rain. So tires aren't going to limit braking force either. That pretty much leaves weight transfer, which is the real limit of braking.

A sporting motorcycle going down the road at a steady speed has about 50% of the weight on the front tire, and about 50% of the weight on the rear. As you brake, the weight balance shifts towards the front, proportional to the amount of braking force applied. As you brake harder and harder, more and more weight is shifted to the front tire. As you approach 100% of the weight on the front tire, the rear tire obviously is approaching 0%. Just as obvious is that applying the rear brake with 0% of the weight on the rear tire is going to do absolutely nothing to slow you down. What it will do, is lock the rear tire up. I refer you to Point 1 above to find out what happens to the motorcycle when the rear wheel isn't turning.

It gets worse if you aren't going in a straight line. If you lock up the rear wheel and low-side the bike in a straight line, that's bad enough. But a tire only has x amount of traction available. If you're already using 60% of it's available traction for cornering, and you use the rear brake pedal to demand another 60% for braking forces because you think you went into a corner too hot and had an anxiety attack, the rear tire is going to lock up. The instant the rear end steps out, your brain will have one of those "Oh shoot" moments, causing you to instinctively release the ejector lever...err...rear brake lever. The rear wheel is now free to instantly regain full traction, with the bike still sideways and banked over. The bike will snap bolt upright, and since it weighs about twice what you do, it's going to catapault you up into the air, accelerate you to roughly twice the speed that you were going right before you became a flesh projectile, and in the most literal manner, your bike will follow you in the same way that the ACME anvil follows Wile E. Coyote off a cliff. It's bad enough to get thrown like a lawn dart into a rock wall, but to have a 500 pound motorcycle use you for a tent peg right afterwards is adding insult to injury.

And thank you again for your service.  :tu:
« Last Edit: January 01, 2012, 04:55:23 AM by Kirk »
-Kirk

Offline JHerheim

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Re: THE BASICS:
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2011, 12:52:53 PM »
No argument like that.   But you didn't answer how it should be taught.    You are giving pretty decent advice, but a person who that really should be targeted for should have more knowledge than what is offered in a MSF basic rider course.


Brakes are in the hands of the end user.   Both brakes on a race track are a highly advanced skill set that few will ever try and develop and fewer will actually be good at. 

MSF does clarify in it's teaching that both brakes are only as effective as their traction.  As you've said   As weight shifts the rear brake is certainly less effective, and becomes to the point of useless.   But this is also controlled by the rider.     The rider can control how fast it shifts by application, and their weight on the motorcycle.    They even deal with how to handle a rear wheel skid.   But assume it starts while trying to brake in a straight line.

Both brakes will a stop better than one brake while traction is available 100% of the time.    But you are correct that at a higher stress level and speed you are multi-tasking when you are trying to save yourself.    People are going to do as they have trained, and if they haven't trained for this high stress emergency braking situation on their bike in those conditions, disaster may happen.    But to say the rear brake is worthless is not correct in all cases, different bikes stop differently.   You can't stop a police issue road king at the best of it's ability without using both brakes.  And please forget the "real bike" argument here.   


One of the take-aways from any MSF program should be  "boy, do I have a lot to learn, or a huge window for improvement"   I assume that should be the same at any level of skill training. 

Challenge with the MSF Basic Rider Course  in my opinion is that it does not give the instructor the latitude of acknowledging a persons ability and skill level as they walk in the door.  All people are given the same instructions and expectations to develop the same entry level skills, as if they have never seen a motorcycle before.    In fact if you go, you will not learn to ride a motorcycle.  You will have the opportunity to gain some confidence with the motorcycle controls and operation on a very basic level.   If you miss the part at the end where you are encouraged to find higher level skills courses, and the need to redo many of these basic exercises and really learn to bond with your own motorcycle.   You may leave with the believe that MSF thinks , "this is the way all people should ride and there is no other way"

I wish that wasn't the norm.   But for many of the MSF non believers- they just don't understand what the class is really about.

Now the ARC on the other hand does allow for riders of many skill levels.   But still does focus on street riding.   I tell people that at the end of the class you can choose to use your new beginner super powers for good or evil.    I try to teach body position in cornering.  Threshold braking,  trail braking, braking while leaned over, amongst some standard idea's of road safety.    And it's a bring your own bike course.  I get to deal with any two wheeler that could have a license plate in Wisconsin, even things that most would call a scooter.        At the end,  I try to steer those who like what they did and would like to try a faster version into a local track day or track school..      for the most part All school is good school..


I enjoy helping people learn how to play and have fun,  while helping them learn accurate self evaluation.   I think I like working the entry level track day clinics the best though,  little faster, a little more fun, and I pick up way more myself in that atmosphere.       


     






Offline Kirk

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Re: THE BASICS:
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2011, 02:25:39 PM »
No argument like that.   But you didn't answer how it should be taught.    You are giving pretty decent advice, but a person who that really should be targeted for should have more knowledge than what is offered in a MSF basic rider course.

Correct braking should be taught on the race track.  I thought I already said that, but I'm getting a little forgetful in my advanced age. 

Many of your students have become my students, including my wife.

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Both brakes on a race track are a highly advanced skill set that few will ever try and develop and fewer will actually be good at.

This is true, but it's even more true on the street.  Racers do brake hard, but racers tend to leave a margin, and their job is simpler, because every braking zone is the same as it was the last time they saw it, a minute and fouteen seconds ago, and everyone around them is competent.  On the street, if you're doing 45 mph down a 5-lane thoroughfare and a soccer mom pulls out in front of you leaving no other avenue of escape, you are now faced with a maximum braking situation.  Energy increases with the square of velocity, and the human body can only survive so much energy.  You need to dump as much energy, as fast as possible, with the ultimate goal of avoiding that cold stainless steel table.   

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As you've said   As weight shifts the rear brake is certainly less effective, and becomes to the point of useless.   But this is also controlled by the rider.     The rider can control how fast it shifts by application, and their weight on the motorcycle.

Under maximum braking, the RATE of weight transfer should be as quick as possible.  You need as much weight on the front tire as possible, to anchor it into the pavement.  SNAPPING the front brake on is counter-productive, as the force of your brake application may surpass the traction available from an under-weighted front tire.  But if you are implying that intentionally transferring weight at a slower rate somehow reduces stopping distances, I gotta call BS.  Whatever RATE you transfer weight at, you are eventually going to arrive at 100% front and 0% rear- if this is MAX braking we're talking about, how many feet are you gonna roll with the brakes partially applied, before you have enough weight on the front tire to get serious about braking?   

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Both brakes will a stop better than one brake while traction is available 100% of the time.

No they won't.  In fact, the exact opposite is true.  When riding in snow, where virtually no weight transfer is possible, both brakes will stop you faster because you are taking advantage of what little traction is available, from both tires.  Under any normal riding, the rear brake has no role.  I can lift the rear tire in a driving rain storm.  Anybody who stops faster with both brakes, wasn't really stopping fast to start with.  What they THOUGHT was 70% front and 30% rear, was more likely 40% front and 10% rear, leaving 50% of their braking power un-used.  Most people have no freekin' clue how hard a competent modern motorcycle can stop.  My biggest concern in a max-braking situation on the street isn't the cage in front of me- it's the one with all four tires chirping in a full ABS stop behind me- I don't want to get ass-packed because the housewife behind me can't stop as fast as I can.

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But you are correct that at a higher stress level and speed you are multi-tasking when you are trying to save yourself.    People are going to do as they have trained, and if they haven't trained for this high stress emergency braking situation on their bike in those conditions, disaster may happen.

How you train is how you'll fight.  Under stress, we don't rise to the occassion- we fall to our level of training.  Fine motor skills go right out the window in stressful situations, and throwing a pointless and dangerous divided-attention task into their lap when it happens, can be fatal.

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But to say the rear brake is worthless is not correct in all cases, different bikes stop differently.   You can't stop a police issue road king at the best of it's ability without using both brakes.  And please forget the "real bike" argument here.

Harley jokes aside, a Road King is NOT a competent motorcycle. A police-issue Connie 14 is a competent motorcycle.

I am not able to give advice on surviving incompetent motorcycles- it's simply outside my depth of expertise.

Rather than bringing a rubber-mounted Heretige-Edition chrome-plated Dreamin' Beagle pocket-knife with optional skull appliques and Genuine Knife Company (tm) logo-emblazened pleather tassles with fold-out rape whistle, to a gun fight, I think one should bring a gun.  A good one. 

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Challenge with the MSF Basic Rider Course...  In fact if you go, you will not learn to ride a motorcycle. 

You will have the opportunity to gain some confidence with the motorcycle controls and operation on a very basic level.

True.   

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I enjoy helping people learn how to play and have fun,  while helping them learn accurate self evaluation.   I think I like working the entry level track day clinics the best though,  little faster, a little more fun, and I pick up way more myself in that atmosphere.

Thank you again for your service.

« Last Edit: December 28, 2011, 01:23:15 PM by Kirk »
-Kirk

Offline biggar

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Re: THE BASICS:
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2011, 12:22:56 PM »
Good stuff Kirk.  Even brought me out of the woodwork to log in here.



Gar

Offline bignasty

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Re: THE BASICS:
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2012, 04:08:13 PM »
it is my understanding from what I was taught (way back when) You should start off using both brakes to maximise the breaking of both wheels and increase the rate of transfer of weight to the front wheel. As the weight is transfered you should be using less rear break and more front break. Doing this in a stressful situationis difficult but if you practice your breaking often in a safe envirionment then when you need to do it you will be able to do it.
I however do not press much rear break in a corner since I dont want to get anywhere near the point of breaking the back tire loose.
bignasty

Offline Kirk

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Re: THE BASICS:
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2012, 04:24:05 PM »
That's a nice theory, but this transfer of weight occurs in a fraction of a second, fueled by the adrenaline of suddenly being faced with a life-and-death situation.  The reality of it is, that I've never seen anyone able to successfully do what you're talking about, but I've seen many examples of people who have died trying. 

Anybody that I've ever encountered on the street that thinks that they can stop faster with both brakes, has no idea what maximum braking is.  That's why the vast majority of living Hayabusa riders have never noticed how horribly under-sprung the front end of the Hayabusa is, as delivered from Suzuki- they're not really braking that hard. 

One of the reasons I recommend a trackday is because there is no place else where you can safely practice maximum braking.  Those who haven't done a track day, have probably NEVER practiced maximum braking.  The first time they try to learn maximum braking, may be in the last instant of their life.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 04:33:27 PM by Kirk »
-Kirk

Offline Sinister_Outlaw

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Re: THE BASICS:
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2016, 11:58:08 AM »
"Ernest Hemmingway said that there are only three sports: Bull fighting, mountain climbing, and motor sports- the rest are merely games.  His point was, that it's not a sport if it can't kill you".

Well said!  :tu:
"May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won’t" - General Patton

Offline Joseph69

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Re: THE BASICS:
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2016, 12:44:19 PM »
Excellent advice for everyone out there !!