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Will riding in the friction zone while practicing damage my clutch?
No, as long as you give your bike a "breeze out" after every 5 or 10 minutes of practicing. That is, ride around the parking lot, get your bike into 2nd or 3rd gear and breeze out the engine, staying off the rear brake and clutch, giving them a chance to cool down. Keep your revs low, around 1200 to 1500 rpms and you will be fine.
My motorcycle has linked brakes. You advise people to feather or drag the rear brake during low speed maneuvers, but also say to never use the front brake at low speeds as it will pull you down.Does the technique still work if you have linked brakes?
Yes. You can still put pressure on the rear brake to help stabilize your motorcycle at low speeds, while at the same time using the friction zone. I show this on my "Ride Like a Pro II" video on a Goldwing, Honda VTX and a BMW LT1200. For those of you not familiar with linked brakes, what that means is when you apply the rear brake, a portion of the front brake is being applied as well even if you don't pull the brake in with your hand. The fact is, that only a tiny portion of the front brake is being used when applying light pressure to the rear brake. It has little or no affect on the technique I describe. Don't even think about it.
I've been riding for 20 years and feel I'm a pretty good rider. Will this video still help me improve my skills?
Yes. This video will help any rider regardless of how many years he/she has been riding. The proper techniques for riding a motorcycle are generally the opposite of your instincts. That's why they must be learned, they will not come naturally. If you can take your motorcycle, turn the handlebars full-lock and scrape a perfect circle in the ground with your pegs or floorboards without dropping your bike or putting a foot down, you're in complete control of your motorcycle. In the real world, you will never have to complete this maneuver, it is simply a control exercise as are all the low speed drills in my video. Think of it this way, a person goes to the gym and does bench presses with heavy weights. That person will never have to do a bench press in real life, however, the exercise will greatly improve your overall strength. Making any other physical activity much easier. It's the same thing with my exercises in the video. Once you perfect low speed maneuvers, high speeds will be much easier and safer, thus, you're riding will become much more enjoyable.
I've taken the motorcycle safety foundation's experienced rider course. Will your video teach me anything new?
While MSF and ERC courses are a very good training experience, they won't have you Riding Like a Pro. I believe that's because they are throwing too much information at you in too short a period of time. Though they touch on the techniques that I teach, there's not enough emphasis on where it really needs to be. The motor officer training this video is based on, puts the emphasis on 3 simple techniques. More importantly, I will show you how to use these techniques to their fullest. That's the secret to riding like a pro, Actually, knowing how to use the techniques correctly. Every rider should sign up for as many MSF or ERC classes as you can, knowledge is power, the more information riders get from my videos, books and classes, the better, safer and skilled riders you become.
Are these techniques your invention?
No. The techniques have been used in Motor Officer training since the 1930's. I simply present them in the simplest, easiest to understand manner possible. I've modified the police motor officer training exercises to suit the average rider and present them in a step by step format so that each exercise builds on the next. The best part of this video is that you get to watch it over and over again. Each time you watch it, you'll pick up something new. My customers tell me that they initially watch the video 3 or 4 times before going out to practice. They then have in their mind exactly what the techniques should look like when used properly. These same customers tell me they then watch the video at least once a month and continue to practice as it becomes easier and more enjoyable each time they practice.
You, as well as other instructors advocate rolling on the throttle in a turn. Since many riders crash while in a turn or run off the road and then crash, wouldn't rolling on the throttle cause you to crash at an even higher speed?
Good question. The answer is, yes and no. If you go into a turn too fast for the bike to complete the turn, rolling on the throttle will make you crash at a higher speed, but, if you adhere to the proper techniques, rolling on the throttle will cause the bike to lift up on its suspension which will increase ground clearance which will then allow you to push harder on the bar. The bike will then lean further and lessen the chance of running wide of the turn. Here's the safest way to enter a turn. If the road curves to the right, position the bike on the left side of the lane. This will give you the best view towards the end of the turn. Do all your braking before entering the curve. That way, you're going into the turn slow and are able to roll on the throttle and safely exit the curve faster than you entered it. The harder you push on the bar, the further the bike will lean. The in slow, out fast technique will also help you in a decreasing radius turn.
Whenever I bring my bike to a stop, I feel like the handlebars want to turn to the right and the bike almost falls over. I can never stop at the place I want to stop. What am I doing wrong?
It sounds like you're looking down and to the right as you come to a stop. Remember, your hands follow your eyes. If you look to the right and at the ground, that's where the bike will go. Here's how to correct this. Go to a parking lot and draw a 4' x 6' box on the ground. Have a person stand about 8 or 10' beyond the box. Start from about 100' away from the box and get the bike up to about 15mph. Focus on the person's face and look at the box with your peripheral vision. Practice stopping with your front tire in the box. Keep your head and eyes up. Once you can stop easily in the box, practice without the person standing there and just focus 5 or 6' above the box at an imaginary point. Vary your speeds and distance from the box. In about a half hour, you should be able to stop exactly where you want your front tire every time.
Why does the bike fall over when using the front brake in a turn and why doesn't it fall over when using the rear brake?
When your handlebars are turned and you apply the front brake, all the weight of your motorcycle plus your weight, plus your momentum, is suddenly transferred to the front wheel in what ever direction the handlebars are turned. There's no way you can handle that sudden weight shift, so down you go. Since the rear tire doesn't turn side to side, there is no sudden weight transferred in one direction or the other. In fact, if you keep power to the rear wheel and put pressure on the rear brake at the same time, you can keep the bike upright for a second or two without ever putting a foot down. When you apply the front brake, just make sure your handlebars are pointed straight ahead and remember, to squeeze the front brake. Don't grab it or snatch it.
I'm still having problems making U-Turns. My driveway is 24 feet wide, yet I can't get my Road King turned in that space. The front tire always goes off the edge into the grass. Do you think I'm not leaning enough?
Since I know a Road King can turn in about 20 feet, even if you don't lean at all, I'd guess that's not the problem. You're probably looking at the edge of the driveway at the grass as you begin the turn. Remember, your hands follow your eyes. That means if you look at the grass, that's where you'll go. Here's what you need to do. You must go to an open area where there's no potential obstacles such as a curb or road edge. A parking lot is your best bet. Measure out your 24 feet and mark it off with tennis balls cut in half. If you happen to run over the tennis balls, it won't hurt a thing. With that knowledge in mind, your eyes shouldn't be drawn to the tennis balls, and you should be able to turn your head and eyes as far over your shoulder in the direction you want to go as far as possible. Stay in the friction zone, put a little pressure on the rear brake and let the bike lean.
I'm having a lot of trouble finding the friction zone. My clutch seems to be like an on and off switch and I can't stay in that gray area you say I'm supposed to be in. What should I do?
You have found the friction zone since you must pass through it every time you start off from a stop. I think your real problem is staying in the friction zone, rather than passing through it. Keep in mind that most clutches are adjustable. Check your owners manual for the proper adjustment procedure on your bike. If you have small hands, adjust the clutch for more free play. That way, the clutch will start to grab closer to the grip and you won't have to hyper extend your fingers to manipulate the clutch. Once adjusted to your liking, let the clutch out until the bike starts to move and keep it there. You know you're in the sweet spot when you can freely rev the motor up and down without causing the bike to pick up speed or lurch ahead. To get more familiar with the friction zone, wedge a 2 x 4 in front of the rear tire and practice riding over it without the board flying up behind the bike. When you can ride over the 2 x 4 without it moving, you've mastered the friction zone.
I frequently ride with a passenger. Should I be doing anything different at low speeds that would help me to control my motorcycle better?
No. The techniques of head and eyes, the friction zone and feathering the rear brake are exactly the same with a passenger on board. You may have to limit your lean angle slightly because of the extra weight of a passenger will lessen your lean clearance slightly. In other words, your pegs or boards will scrape sooner with the extra weight on board. Also, keep in mind if the pegs or boards do scrape, it's not a reason to panic, it just means you're reaching the limit of the lean angle. A good rider should still be able to make full lock turns on the floorboards with a passenger on board. Once you master the 3 techniques, practice with a passenger on board in an empty parking lot.
Another U-Turn Question: Why do I have problems making U-turns? I've taken the MSF course and I know about head and eyes, but I still can't seem to turn my bike without duck walking it around a U-turn.
Though you've taken the MSF course and they've told you about head and eyes, the friction zone and using the rear brake, they haven't told you how to apply those techniques properly. Here's the U-turn drill. Assuming you're going to make a left hand U-turn. Decide exactly where you are going to start your turn, put your foot on the rear brake, get in the friction zone, dip your bike to the right so that your front tire is heading towards the right side of the edge of the street. As soon as you reach that point, turn your HEAD AND EYES as far as you can to the left. Never, ever look at the opposite edge of the road where you don't want the bike to go. The further you lean the bike, the tighter the turn you can make. There is no production bike I know of that cannot make a turn in less than 24 feet. In the deepest part of the lean, bring the revs up a little, slip the clutch a little more and put a little more pressure on the rear brake. All the time, keeping your head and eyes focused on where you want the bike to go. Think of how an owl turns his head completely around, that's what you should look like when executing a U-turn properly.
What kind of bike should I buy?
This is my most frequently asked question! Unfortunately, there are way too many variables for me to answer this question. All I can tell you is, buy the bike that fits your wants, needs, desires and of course, your bank account.