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Your winter of riding improvement is waiting in the garage.

 

Throttle Versus Steering-Wheel Angle

You are already accelerating off corners, adding throttle percentage as you unwind the steering wheel, but perhaps you haven’t thought about it too much. The best riders carefully match throttle additions as they subtract lean angle, so you can play with this in your car. Get your brain on squeezing the throttle down as you unwind the wheel; focus intensely on your foot movement and your driving-wheels’ grip. When spring comes, you will transfer this focus to your right hand and rear tire automatically.

 

Trail-Braking Practice

Practicing trail-braking (trailing off brake pressure as you add lean angle/steering wheel angle…or trailing brake pressure into the corner) is worth the price of your car! If you stand on a corner and watch drivers trail-brake their four-wheelers into corners, as I have, you will quickly see that everybody automatically leaves the brakes on past the turn-in point to better control their entry speed. But very few of them think about it and even fewer realize they are not just controlling their entry speed, but the steering geometry and front-tire contact patches.

This is the main point of four-wheel practicing: the realization of the driver’s effect on loading springs and tires, and the unloading of those components. A car usually has less suspension travel than a bike, but our focused practice of how we add and remove brake and throttle, and how quickly or slowly we add steering-wheel angle, will fine-tune us to feel even minor suspension movements.

The beautiful thing about car practice is that we can usually overdo it with little painful effect. We can snap on the brakes and feel the car overreact as the springs bottom. We can jump off the brakes and feel the suspension unload and the handling fall apart. We can feel the car stay planted as we linearly steer it and fall apart as we flick it. And this learning is all possible because we now drive our cars as practice for our motorcycles.

 

Be Like The Champions

There’s a commonality that motorcycle roadracing champions share, and that is their ability to be instantly fast even though they haven’t ridden lately. I began noticing it when I worked for Freddie Spencer and saw it in Eddie Lawson and Scott Russell, among others.

Initially I felt it was inherent skills I would never have, something inborn that set them apart. That could be true and in some ways I think it is, but now I realize why they were always quick whenever they touched a motorcycle: The rest of their lives were practice for our very risky sport. Away from the roadracing track they drove cars, rode dirt bikes, drove golf carts…and did it with the focus on maintaining and improving their on-bike success.