It’s time to become an aggressive rider. Not on the street, of course, but, under controlled conditions. That means your favorite parking lot. With the downturn in the economy, finding a deserted parking lot is pretty easy. The exercise I’m about to lay out for you needs to be practiced aggressively.
This exercise is called the Intersection. This exercise will have you practicing quick left to right transitions as well as U-turns all at the same time. In addition, you’ll also have to use your head and eyes, the friction zone (clutch and throttle) and the rear brake in order to perform it correctly. Why are these things important? When a car violates your right of way, you need to make a quick left to right or right to left transition to avoid that vehicle. Using your head and eyes allows you to put your motorcycle exactly where you need to be. The friction zone and rear brake allow you to take advantage of your bikes’ built in maneuverability. Knowing how to make a U-turn without dropping the bike, duck walking it or backing up a 900 lb. motorcycle in order to turn it around, is self explanatory.
Where does the aggression come in? Here it is. You must attempt to perform the intersection as quickly as possible. You must aggressively use all the techniques at once. If you try to creep through the intersection at a slow walking pace, you’ll have no momentum and gravity will force you to the ground. If on the other hand, your average speed through the exercise is 10 to 12 mph, you will develop a rhythm and actually enjoy the feeling you’ll get as your bike reacts as it was designed to be ridden. In other words, you’ll become one with the bike.
Here’s what you’ll need to set up the intersection. Chalk or marker paint, six tennis balls cut in half or 12 plastic cones and a 100’ measuring tape. Each leg of the intersection should be 24’ wide X 34’ long. Set up two cones or tennis balls at the end of each leg at the corners and four more cones at each corner of the center of the intersection. At 12’ from the end of each leg, put an X. That X is your pivot point. The pivot point is where you’re going to place your front tire in order to make a U-turn.
Enter the intersection so that your first turn is to the right—that means all your U-turns will be to the left. Now, here’s the trick to the intersection. As you approach the first right turn, DIP the bike to the left first. In other words, make a wide turn like an 18 wheeler. This dip to the left before making the right turn aligns the rear tire with the front tire and sets up the chassis for the U-turn. As soon as you dip to the left, SNAP your head and eyes and focus on that pivot point. If you wait until after you make the right turn to find the pivot point, it will be too late. The sooner you snap your head and eyes and look for the pivot point, the better. As the bike heads for the pivot point, but before you actually get there, SNAP your head and eyes as far to the left as possible. Once the bike starts heading to the left of the next cone, SNAP your head and eyes to the right and find the next pivot point.
Remember to stay in the friction zone and have a little pressure on the rear brake the entire time you’re in the intersection. Your RPM’s should be 2000 to 2500. Don’t try to idle through the exercise, use that throttle aggressively. Turn your handlebars quickly, snap your head and eyes as fast as you can. Make a game out of it. Have a friend time you through the exercise. Try to beat your previous time or your friend’s time. The more you practice it the more confidence you’ll have and the better and safer rider you’ll become.