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Thread: Both fast and safe in the twisties?

  1. #1
    Kbiker BCKRider's Avatar
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    Both fast and safe in the twisties?

    Just wondered how those of you that consistently wear out the edges of your tires first on public roads manage to do that? I get all the stuff about turning your head, looking toward the exit, keeping your eyes level with the road, steering with a quick push, trusting your tires (assuming the road surface is good) and gradually accelerating through the turn while mildly "hanging off." In fact, I practice those things on every ride, though at a pretty modest pace.

    Must admit that I really don't understand "trail braking." Am I correct that carrying a little front brake as you start the turn allows the bike to turn quicker? Is this a useful technic for "intermediate" road riders such as myself? A track day is not likely in my future, so confine your advice to lightly travelled back roads.

    What I REALLY DON'T GET is what you do when, leaned well over, you are confronted with a deer, boulder, stalled vehicle, etc. in your lane. Or an approaching vehicle that's using a third of your lane. In my experience, 99% of all turns are "blind." In other words, you have only a few seconds to see what is in your land - or APPROACHING in your lane.

    Any rider can learn to ride fast through the twisties - and a number of them die every year when their skill level is not up to their speed. I'm inviting those of you who are not just quick but have survived your quickness for a decade or more to share your thoughts. I doubt that I am the only one who has a lot to learn.
    Doug
    1992 K100RS

  2. #2
    johnnywishbone
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    i entered a turn too fast. a blind turn. i saw a rock in front of me. say, the size of a soccer ball. i was totally committed and leaned over hard. the front wheel hit the rock, the bike wobbled a little, and that was end of story. no nothing. no problem, no drama.
    BMW HANDLING. that's where the extra money went. that was a R100/7.

    some of your questions confuse me. but then, tv remotes confuse me.

  3. #3
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    I donÔÇÖt wear out the edges of my tires as much as I once did. However; I do enjoy riding winding country roads with a good deal of alacrity. I donÔÇÖt have the skills to answer some of your questions and will leave that for others to comment on. The OPÔÇÖs last two paragraphs set up a false paradigm, at least to my eye, seeming to equate sport riding with being unsafe.

    The hazards described confront all riders. What will you do on a K 1600 GT riding two up loaded for a trip up the North Shore of Lake Superior when you round a bend traveling well within the speed limit and are confronted by a moose in the middle of the road? Hopefully you are paying attention to your riding and not just gawking at the scenery, have practiced your riding skills and are constantly updating your riding strategies as you scoot along. I know that is what I am doing and in a focused way when I am sport riding.

    Motorcycle deaths are a serious topic. Unfortunately many of these deaths involve drinking and riding. Speed is seriously intoxicating. Its affects on ANY rider start when they twist the throttle and let out the clutch. This is a great topic and I hope to learn from my fellow members. I just hope it is a discussion of sport riding and the safe development of skills and use of them.
    Pass the mustard and UP THE REVOLUTION!

    St. Paul Pioneer Press , Minneapolis Star Tribune

  4. #4
    Registered User rocketmanli's Avatar
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    Put on a bunch of miles in 29 years, and always thought I knew everything. Last summer, finally had an opportunity to experience the Tail of the Dragon. Challenged myself, not to ride it too fast or too slow, but to try it without hitting the brakes, at all. First couple of tries, found it impossible to do. By the 5th or 6th time, it was about 90% possible (and that was 2-up). After that short trip, I had 100% more confidence in me and my bike; knew what we both could handle within reason, and now realize that under normal circumstances, as long as my bike keeps moving, it will stay vertical. Also, hitting the brakes has its appropriate times, but may not always be the best answer to a given situatiion. Unlike a car, acceleration sometimes is the answer. Just need to make that decision and analyze the situation in a split second; most likely intuition, instinct and experience, rather than thinking it out. Simple enough concept, but had to prove it to myself. Looking where I want to go, breathing steady, not panicking, and letting the bike do its thing, will get me home safe. Even an old dog can learn something new.

  5. #5
    Just me rad's Avatar
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    No expert here. I do work the edges of my tires fairly well and have done so for a few decades.

    I ride narrow twisty two lane redwood tree lined mountain roads every day on my commute. This 4 ?¢ mile stretch has about 100 changes of direction.


    There is no magic to surviving that for the decades I have. You have to have enough skill, good gear, a good bike and most importantly, good judgment.

    I have my personal “rules of engagement”; these must all be met in order to ride near my traction limits.

    Good weather
    No traffic
    Good road surface
    Good site line through the turn
    not riding in a group
    No mail boxes or driveways!


    A funny thing happens to me when I wick it up, my focus and concentration goes up accordingly. In some regards I’m safer and more on my game at speed. I wish I could say I have the same focus at moderate paces, but I don’t. It is important to note that I know myself well enough to be able to tell rather quickly if I’m on my game” at that moment. If I’m not, I back way off.

    I have one other technique that helps. I ride the straights at moderate speeds and carry that speed into the corners. I don’t hammer out of turns or need to brake heavily setting up my turns. That is why I can ride a BMW that only has about 100hp, it is about the turns for me, not the straights.

    Another thing, I’m far the fastest out there, and that is just fine with me.

    Oh ya, the most important reason I have survived all these years, I have been lucky! When I go, chances are Bambi will take me out. At the posted speed or double that, if Bambi decides to bolt from the brush, I'm toast.

    I forgot, you said, "safe". As we taught in the previous MSF curriculum, the definition of “safe” is, absence of risk…It ain’t going to happen.

  6. #6
    Registered User greenwald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCKRIDER View Post
    Just wondered how those of you that consistently wear out the edges of your tires first on public roads manage to do that? I get all the stuff about turning your head, looking toward the exit, keeping your eyes level with the road, steering with a quick push, trusting your tires (assuming the road surface is good) and gradually accelerating through the turn while mildly "hanging off." In fact, I practice those things on every ride, though at a pretty modest pace.

    Must admit that I really don't understand "trail braking." Am I correct that carrying a little front brake as you start the turn allows the bike to turn quicker? Is this a useful technic for "intermediate" road riders such as myself? A track day is not likely in my future, so confine your advice to lightly travelled back roads.

    What I REALLY DON'T GET is what you do when, leaned well over, you are confronted with a deer, boulder, stalled vehicle, etc. in your lane. Or an approaching vehicle that's using a third of your lane. In my experience, 99% of all turns are "blind." In other words, you have only a few seconds to see what is in your land - or APPROACHING in your lane.

    Any rider can learn to ride fast through the twisties - and a number of them die every year when their skill level is not up to their speed. I'm inviting those of you who are not just quick but have survived your quickness for a decade or more to share your thoughts. I doubt that I am the only one who has a lot to learn.
    If you have the opportunity 'up there in the northwoods,' take the MSF Advanced Rider Course (ARC). This is NOT a recycled version of an ERC, but rather a whole new animal that spends a lot of range time working thru the very scenarios you describe.

    Braking while leaning thru a curve is addressed, along with swerving while leaning thru a curve - previously, both significant "No - No's"

    I learned a lot when I took it last August, and wrote an article about it in the January 2011 ON.

    As for trail braking, two ways I use this technique. First, I can "dial in" a set amount of throttle and set amount of friction zone (clutch), and then all my momentum is modulated by pressure on the rear brake only.

    It was an essential technique for many of the LEO maneuvers we did as Motor Officers, but also can be applicable to civilian riding.

    Secondly, I can use some rear brake pressure for speed control in twisties (I use it a fair amount when riding The Dragon) as well.

    No forum advice is an adequate substitute for good training, though, so find a resource near you and best of luck!
    Kevin Greenwald - Touring Tips Editor
    Nationally Certified Law Enforcement Motor Officer (Ret.) / IBA Member #34281
    MSF RiderCoach # 121656 (BRC,SBRC,IS,IME,SMARTrainer)
    Motorcycle/Driving Instructor - ROAD AMERICA Race Track

  7. #7
    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    As someone that has yet to get 3K out of a set of tires, in the last 45K miles (you do the math $$, it would make me cry), A certified corner addict, that always wears out the sides before the centers, here is my advice. For the street, track is different.

    1. NEVER try to be fast, ALWAYS try to be SMOOTH!!! SMOOTH is fast, simple as that, plus a lot less work, a lot less surprises, and much more room for error.

    2. Stay in the low gears, in the twisties keep it singing, 4k-5k PLUS rpm range, on a boxer. This eliminates 90% of brake usage as the the engine does most the slowing. It also keeps it simple, instead of thinking about front and rear brakes, clutch and throttle to think about, you just have one speed control, at your right wrist to do it all (keep it simple).

    3. Do any braking and all the slowing (see throttle note) PRIOR to turn in. If you need to slow down while turning you went in too fast. You should be adding or maintaining throttle as soon as you turn in, if you have a good sight line.

    4. Delay turn in (delay Apex) as long as possible and always have lane position for maximum sight lines, be it near the center on R handers, and on the fog line for L handers. Once you commit, run to the inside to apex.

    5. Plan on apexing 8" to 12" from the fog line, on blind corners. This is generally cleaner than the edge or middle of the lane if there is gravel. If road is clear, you can dive deeper toward the edge.

    6. Always leave some extra wiggle room, EVERY corner you should plan on and have the skill and reserve, to exit at the INSIDE of the corner. (the fog line RH, the center in LH). Drifting wide is easy, should an obstacle be in my path, tightening up causes people problems. Also get comfortable running LH turns around the outside, near the shoulder, if they are blind. Many people fear the edge of the road, when the danger YOU can't control is usually in the other lane.

    7. LOOK WHERE YOU WANT TO GO! It is a mantra I repeat to myself over and over in the twisties.

    8. Look ahead, looking 30 feet in front doesn't do anything but make you do the wrong thing (jerk the bars). I am usually looking at the next corner. If good sight lines exist, I an setting up for the next, before I straighten up from the one I am in. It is a lot like a game of pool, every corner exit should position you for the next entry.

    9. RELAX, loose on the bars, let the bike do its thing, it is better than most riders. I also slow down in the straight sections many times, less chance of LEO issues, plus gives you a second to recharge for the next bunch of fun.

    On all turns, a blind turn especially, it would not matter is someone was half in my lane, as I am NOT using that part of the road, I am using the inside on rights, and, if blind the outside on lefts, and realistically I only need about a foot of pavement or less when I an leaned over to get by. AND I don't need to adjust my line, just keep doing what I planned on doing in the first place.

    That is just a few of the major things, best thing get to a track day, practicing on the street is dangerous and hard, the track lets you improve what you did in a corner EVERY lap, the street requires constant adjustment.

    Then you can do this to a Pilot Road2 in 2700 miles and 10 days of street riding!

    Last edited by pffog; 03-29-2011 at 05:46 PM.

  8. #8
    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rad View Post
    ..........................
    A funny thing happens to me when I wick it up, my focus and concentration goes up accordingly. In some regards IÔÇÖm safer and more on my game at speed. I wish I could say I have the same focus at moderate paces, but I donÔÇÖt. It is important to note that I know myself well enough to be able to tell rather quickly if IÔÇÖm on my gameÔÇØ at that moment. If IÔÇÖm not, I back way off.

    I have one other technique that helps. I ride the straights at moderate speeds and carry that speed into the corners. I donÔÇÖt hammer out of turns or need to brake heavily setting up my turns. That is why I can ride a BMW that only has about 100hp, it is about the turns for me, not the straights...................
    We must be related somehow, excellent points as well

  9. #9
    Just me rad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PT9766 View Post
    I concluded long ago that trouble on the road is usually hiding round the bend where you can't see. it.

    PT9766
    I understand your comment.

    I will say that for me, I would rather be on the nastiest twisty two lane road and take my chances with what’s around the next curve than be on the straightest multi lane highway in traffic and face the risks from the only creature I have found to be more unpredictable than a deer, car drivers!
    Last edited by Rad; 03-29-2011 at 05:44 PM.

  10. #10
    Just me rad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PT9766 View Post
    ....................Just as many - if not more "Road Idiots" on the scenic routes as on the 4 lanes, as far as I can tell. I like to ride old motorcycles and d---ed if I want to let some punk deny me the ability to do so.
    PT9766
    I guess we each get to pick our poison

  11. #11
    Certifiable User Mike_Philippens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnywishbone View Post
    the front wheel hit the rock, the bike wobbled a little, and that was end of story. no nothing. no problem, no drama.
    BMW HANDLING. that's where the extra money went. that was a R100/7.
    When something like that happens, you're amazed how stable a bike actually is. I did an advanced driving course and they let you do several things to make you aware of the stability of the bike. If you know that, you know that you don't have to freak out when you see a pothole that your can't seem to avoid or gravel in a corner.

    As part of the course, we had to do gymnastics on the bike, go over a car tyre and over a wooden plank, screwed down on the track diagonal on your driving direction. You had to cross it without hands on the handlebars. It's scary at first, but the bike goes over it with ease.

    I can go fast if I like, with the pegs over the road surface, but I rarely do that. I don't see the need and I like to enjoy the scenery. Also, I think that when you go for the limit all the time (ie using all of your tyre) your margin for error is marginal. When something happens, correcting is harder. By just going a little slower, you can easily survive gravel or other debris on the road. As long as it's a little bit. You also have more time to spot problems and to react.

    I'm not saying that people who drive fast are bound to have accidents. It's just my own policy which keeps me in the saddle for a lot of years allready. Public roads are not suitable for driving on the limit since you never know if there's road damage, debris or some nut coming from the other direction taking the corner a little wide.
    -=- if you always see the road ahead of you, it's not worth the trip -=-

  12. #12
    Nickname: Droid
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    For the most part I agree with all the other posts. Over the past 15 years of riding my 94 RS I have by practice developed many skills that allow me to use a lot of my tires and be quick and smooth. Now, programs like Total Control and the MSF ARC address many of the techniques leading up to the ability to be both smooth and quick through the turns. To me, quick and smooth have to be related to each other to be a good rider. Just "fast" alone is a crash waiting to happen.

    Visual control is the biggest part of quick smooth riding. Without knowing, how to look, where to look, what to look for, and how to manage your visual control over your riding, you'll never have the ability to be quick and smooth. Visual first. That even includes terrain reading WELL before the turns, reading tree lines, reading slopes (both the road and terrain next to the road), reading the road surface for a LOT more than clean or dirty, but also for slope, camber, crown, texture, material, etc.

    That all ties into traction management. If you can read and detemine the traction, then you can rely on what the tires are capable of. Next is trust, in the tires and grip and in yourself. The bike will almost always do what is possible to make the turn, but the RIDER ALWAYS limits what the bike produces. With trust in what the bike can do you can build the trust in yourself to get more from the bike. Eventually, over some years of practice I found I was able to at times, touch down the footpegs or centerstand and still feel totally in control.

    Trail braking is an experienced level technique of using the brakes (not just the front or rear) to cause the bike to turn in a bit quicker. BUT! Trail braking first requires the other aspects of visual control, road reading and traction control before using the brakes to set the bike into a quicker turning mode, because trail braking must be blended into the turning and blended off as the throttle is applied while turning. The whole idea of trail braking is to "set" the suspension and chassis in a way to cause the least transition of chassis loading from decel into a turn into to accelerate out of a turn. It is an advanced technique for sure, and one which I doubt I do much of, really.

  13. #13
    Kbiker BCKRider's Avatar
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    Wow! The posts so far give us all a lot of "food for thought."

    I'd like to rephrase the original question: "On a blind curvy road, can you stop within your sight distance?" If so, do you count seconds to the point of "visual termination" to determine if you are too fast? Seems to me that sight distance, if you believe gravel, etc. will not be a problem, is more often the fact that should limit our speeds in the twisties. If you do impose this limitation on yourself, how do you practice it?

    Just to be clear, I don't think the folks who CONSISTENLY wear out the edges of there tires first are riding more "dangerously" than those of us who don't. I'd just like to know how they do it. And how they deal with the hazards. They have valuable information we all can use, whatever our chosen speed.
    Doug
    1992 K100RS

  14. #14
    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCKRIDER View Post
    .....................
    I'd like to rephrase the original question: "On a blind curvy road, can you stop within your sight distance?"
    I can't guarantee, I can stop if a hazard (deer, opposing traffic, dog, someone switching lanes, a muffler laying in the road, hidden by the truck I was following; that loose bail of hay/couch/sheet of plywood/washing machine/matress strapped to the truck/roof etc, etc ) on straight level road either. But when I see these hazards, I adjust accordingly.

    I don't run as fast on roads with lots of traffic/driveways/known high deer areas/gravel in random corners/after a heavy rain/ after a high wind etc. But I try to give myself as much cushion as possible. One post talked about reading the road/corner, this is VERY important. The fact that ABS is on so many cars took away one of the "signs" of a deceptive corner, as you don't see the skid marks anymore, but you do see the dented guardrails, the scrapes in the road from the wheel chocks the tow truck used when pulling cars out of the dung weeds, the dung weeds mowed down by frequent out of control cars, the scars in trees etc. There are THOUSANDS of clues, but they are just that, clues. Again, you adjust to your comfortable risk level. But we are ALWAYS going to be at higher risk than a cage.



    Quote Originally Posted by BCKRIDER View Post
    If so, do you count seconds to the point of "visual termination" to determine if you are too fast? Seems to me that sight distance, if you believe gravel, etc. will not be a problem, is more often the fact that should limit our speeds in the twisties. If you do impose this limitation on yourself, how do you practice it?
    ...................................
    I don't count, as there are too many other things to evaluate. If you used that criteria, one would not be able to go over 5 mph in a lot of blind corners, and risk getting mowed over from behind.

    Again, you adjust to your comfortable risk level. But we are ALWAYS going to be at higher risk than a cage. Practicing risk reduction through paying attention is all you can do, risk will never be eliminated.

  15. #15
    2-up and havin' fun sugarhillctd's Avatar
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    Do a track day.
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