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“2) At speed greater than 10 mph, try to lean the entire you+bike package without changing direction. You can’t! “
Yes, you can. Three examples:
1. Leaning against a steady side wind while going straight.
2. Going straight on a side-way slope – in effect you’re leaning against the ground, rather than being perpendicular to it.
3. Set up body position (hanging off) while counter-steering to go straight prior to executing a turn. The bike would be leaned while going straight.
You’re using the “rolling a cone” example that David Hough used in Proficient Motorcycling; it is technically correct but on a tire where the contact patch width is what, not even an inch wide, the inner and outer diameter difference at the contact patch would account for a very small amount of turning effect relative to steering angle. The coning effect has more to do with needing to add throttle to maintain speed in a lean. The above is not a real argument against the correctness of the statement you cited.
Back to the statement you felt was incorrect: “The fact is that counter-steering, or direct steering, results in a change of direction, not lean. A change of direction results in a lean, a lean does not result in a change of direction.” Note that it’s a cause-and-effect statement, i.e., what happens first, and what follows. Does direction change happen before or after the bike leans?
The statement is actually correct in physics, i.e., direct changes first, then bike lean follows as a result of direction change, but the semantics is tricky and you need to think it thru. The whole thing has to do with equilibrium of force. This is the sequence as I see it:
1. Steering (turning the handle bar) causes tire contact patch direction change, and the friction (i.e., traction) between the tire and pavement causes a change of direction of travel. (Imagine no friction/traction between the tire and pavement, such as when you’re skidding on ice – no amount of leaning will result in a change of direction. Right here it should be clear that direction change is from steering, not from leaning.)
2. The change of direction of travel results in centripetal force wanting to pull the bike/rider to the OUTSIDE of the turn -> As a result the rider/bike has to lean toward the INSIDE of the turn to counter, or balance out, the outward centripetal force. The point is if there’s no direction change first, then there’d be no centripetal force, and you wouldn’t be leaning the bike to counter the centripetal force.
Hope this makes sense.
When I started riding, I found it easy to control and turn (counter-steering) the bike once it’s above walking speed. But for a while I felt very iffy about the slow-down-to-walking-speed-then-u-turn transition. Some times the u-turn worked out fine and felt natural, but some times it was all wrong – the bike wouldn’t turn the way I expected. Once day I went on a 70 miles ride, got home ok, but messed up a 3 mph u-turn in front of my house, hit the curb and dropped the bike. I was so mad at myself, but I didn’t know why I messed up. Now, when you ride a motorcycle, there is nothing worse than the “didn’t know why,” because you can get serious injured or killed by “didn’t know why”. Sometimes I wanted to make a u-turn in traffic, but I dared not do it, so I went around the block instead. For a few weeks it felt like having a dark cloud hanging over my head whenever I was riding. Finally I found this article (tip #233) by Mr. James Davis on his website:
That was like a light got turned on in my head – it got all clear in an instant. I got on my bike and knew exactly what to do. (Still needed practice but that’s different.) Tip #233 gave me the single biggest break through in my early riding days. In fact, as a beginner, I learned so much from reading Mr. Davis’ safety tips. Some of them can be long and technical, but to me it was well worth the effort.
Now that I think of it, I want to re-read all those tips.
I was thinking about using the freeway cloverleaves to do some practice, but the problem is you only get to turn right on those.
“quote from eternal”
Also those pretty body plastics are bloody spendy! Again, this is something I’m looking to fix with a light, low-power bike that I don’t care about falling off of
That is so true! That’s why I love my beat up ’01 naked GS500 so much! Of the three bikes I have, the GS500 requires the least amount of “active brain power” to ride. It feels like an extension of my body, like when I’m on a mountain bike. As a result, I worry the least when I’m on the GS, and I tend to ride much better. Whenever there’s a route or riding condition that I’m not sure about, the GS is always my first choice.
When I first started riding I have this notion that I NEEDED to man up and not hold up traffic in corners, so I always felt pressured to carry more speed into the corners. Until one day I talked to a co-worker who’s a long time cruiser rider; he said he had no problem slowing down to whatever speed he felt prudent, and not allowing impatient drivers behind him forcing him into something he felt unsafe. That made me realize that I needed to ride at my own pace, rather than being forced into an unsafe pace.
Lots of guys say once they’ve experienced track riding, going fast on streets looses its appeals. But I always thought track experience makes one a more confident street rider, so I find your account of being comfortable on the track but being psyched out on the streets (due to traffic/gravel/sand/oil) interesting. Can you help by explaining more on the “why”? What’s your background like, such as how long you’ve been driving/riding, do you live in the city or a small town, do you have off-road riding experience, etc.?
It takes some blind faith on the streets to think you’d always have adequate traction, especially after reading the occasional crazy stuff like people dumping oil on off ramps and curves deliberately to “get” motorcycle riders, and the more innocent spills that cause bikes to crash. Riding a mountain bike for years made me fairly comfortable with a little bit of sliding on loose terrain, although I’ve been told that’s nothing like dirt bike riding where you slide big time. Somehow traffic never bothered me, even when I was on a bicycle, and when driving in congested foreign cities in Asia and Europe where traffic are said to be much worse than here in the States. The exception is a local highway (hwy 17 in Santa Cruz) which goes thru the hills with tight curves and all the cars never slow down (many go 60-70 mph or more, in a 45 mph zone) and are always nearly out of control. That highway scares me a little even in a car.
I’ve experienced the staring at the guard-rail and road-side gravel wobbles. I’ve tried hard to discipline myself to look where I want to go, and now I trust myself about 95% in this regard. I don’t trust myself 100% when the road gets very twisty and the turns come up in quick successions, so I slow down to add safety margin whenever I need to. On a hilly road where I’ve only been on twice, there is a sign that says “extremely slippery”. Now, “slippery when wet” I’ve seen often, but “extremely” slippery? Like ice (actually it’s not)? Both times when I rode past that sign, my upper body tensed up so much I had to slow to almost a stop to make a curve that could probably be taken at 25mph safely. That sign really psyched me out.
Having never lived in a place with true 4-seasons, i.e., severe winters, the notion of putting the bike away at the end of a “riding season” is alien to me. Stop riding for 5 months and loosing some of the hard learned skills from lack of practice? What a bummer deal! But I guess people find other things to do, like ice skating, snowmobiling, ice fishing? Again, those are all foreign concepts to me.
Bikes w/ FI have a slightly more modern, sterile feel; bikes w/ carbs have a slightly retro, elemental and mechanical feel. Each has it’s appeals. In fact, I’m beginning to think – wouldn’t it be fun to have a bike with a kick starter?
There are a lot of great bikes that use carbs, and how a bike performs and appeals to me overall is much more important than the FI vs carb thing.
I’m in San Jose and it only rains in the winter here. When I first started riding last winter, riding in the rain was out of the question due to my newness and safety concerns, and it had only rained a few days so far this year. Lately I’m beginning think it would be fun to do some rain rides. I still have this mental block of not wanting to get my gear and bike wet, partly because I’m lazy with maintenance and just don’t like the idea of having to clean up, dry up and lube the bike after wet rides. Neverthelss, I think it’ll be hard to resist the urge to ride when the rain does come.
Seeing in the rain is one thing, but I’m much more concerned about being seen by drivers when its raining. I imagine a motorcycle is practically invisible to most drivers on a rainy night.
Eddie, thanks for the feedback on demo rides. Good to know they have a system worked out and you didn’t have to wait in line for it. I’m still having a hard time picturing how they can accomodate all the riders. I mean, there’s got to be a lot of people, and who wouldn’t want to take a FREE demo ride? I’m surprised that they don’t charge at leat a small fee for the demo ride so only people who are serious about the bike would take it. I mean, I’d be perfectly willing to pay 10 or 20 bucks for a 20 min demo ride, but I’d be more selective on which bike to take if I had to pay for the ride.
Cool – the CycleWorld International Motorcycle Shows is coming to San Mateo (San Francisco Bay Area) this weekend. I’m hoping they’ll give test rides here too. How did the test rides work? Did you take a number or had to stand in line? How long did you have to wait to ride a particular bike, how long did they let you ride, where did they let you ride, etc.?
Thanks for your response. Just reading other people’s account on thier crashes brings back the memory of events leading up to my lowside (i.e., ignoring plenty of early warning signs), which serves as a good reminder to be careful out there.
I’ve taken Summit-Old San Jose a few times but haven’t had the chance to explore the Highland Way side.
7.5 gal tank for the Concours?! Wow, that’s a huge tank!
One time I led a friend up Alpine and down Page Mill. I was on my GS500, which was totally in its element on those tight and twisty roads. My friend was a much, much more experienced rider, but I coudln’t help but think he must had been working a lot harder on his FJR On another occassion I let him try my SV650N; he kept saying, “it feels weightless.”
I’m in San Jose and often ride in the Santa Cruz mountains. Dan (OP), I’ve got a few questions in addition to what you’ve already addressed:
1. “First time in 15 years” means you had never gone down prior to this, or you had gone down 15 years ago? I’ve had one lowside and I felt that made me a more cautious rider, so I’m wondering whether a prior crash (15 years ago) affected how you ride during the 15 accident-free years.
2. Which road and what section was it? Are you familiar with the road and its conditions thru out the year, or was this a new route, or new condition (due to recent rains)? You were obviously surprised by the road condition when you rounded a corner, and I’m wondering if that’s from having never ridden that road before.
3. You hinted that your 1-liter touring bike was perhaps not the best choice for the road/condition. In hind sight, would you avoid taking that bike on that road and condition, or is it a matter of slowing down further for the condition?
I think squid crash videos are awesome to watch. It’s even better than watching movie special effects, until I start thinking about the human tolls behind each crash.
600 usually refers to a sportbike with peaky, high-output, high-revving inline-4 (4 clinders) engine, latest and greatest racing component, extreme riding position and sensitive (touchy) controls. Great for the race track, not as good for general street riding, and not new rider friendly. Expensive to insure, expensive to repair when dropped.
650 usually refers to a cruiser (like the Shadow) or a standard (like a SV650 or Ninja 650R) with torquey twin engine (2 cylinders), and more relaxed street-oriented riding position. Generally easier to handle for a new rider. Usually cheaper to insure compared to a 600cc sportbike.