Chris Peris is constantly scanning ahead, adding consistency to his lap times. Chris Peris Collection
”Get your eyes up.” Great motorcycling advice because vision feeds our brain to make future decisions. The earlier we see our future, the better we can plan for it. All of us will struggle with low eyes as we go faster, so jumping our eyes to the future sooner is a lifelong undertaking.
I begin with vision because this series on consistency relies on our habit of consistently and constantly scanning our eyes out to the big picture, back to the near future of missing a pothole, a glance in our mirrors, a check of the traffic light, back out to the big picture. For track riders, we are looking at our turn-in point, the corner’s slowest point, the apex, the exit, any curbs or pavement irregularities that need to be dealt with, traffic, then the turn-in point, slowest point, apex, exit, irregularities, traffic. Repeat.
In Part 1 we studied Jorge Lorenzo’s consistent lap times and a champion’s ability to consistently slow the motorcycle to the exact maximum cornering speed their lean angle will allow. Lorenzo and his ilk peer into the corner with their eyes tied to the brake lever, making incremental speed adjustments based on their experience of grip and lean angle, trailing brake pressure to the slowest part of the corner to guarantee the consistency they need to beat the world.
For this week’s message, let’s study these brake pressure graphs from Chris Peris’ track-record lap at Arizona’s Inde Motorsports Ranch. Peris lapped the track on a stock 2020 R1 on race tires and the data was pulled from the Y-TRAC system that comes on the bike.
See the red balloon with the white pointer on the track map? That’s Peris entering Inde’s turn 6, and it corresponds with the thin white vertical line on the data graph. YCRS’s data guru Mark Schellinger pulled all other data off the screen to show us brake pressure only, seen in blue. Nick Ienatsch
Peris doesn’t use much brake pressure into this corner but my main point is this: He is continually adjusting pressure throughout the braking event.
This is vital for us to understand because it’s easy to think that elite riders (Peris is six-time and current WERA Heavyweight Endurance national champion, AMA 600 Supersport winner, etc.) have these smooth and beautiful data-graph lines, that they know the exact pressure and distance to brake for every corner, every lap. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Here is Peris braking into Inde’s turn 3, a significant braking event in terms of pressure and duration. Note that the initial build of pressure is exceedingly linear, but then Peris starts adjusting based on what his eyes and tires are telling him, at the lean angle he is comfortable with. Rather than think he has made a mistake and needs to fix it with a brake-pressure change, know that he is balancing the bike on the edge of corner-entry grip and constantly refining his speed to get the bike to the slowest part of the corner at the maximum speed his tires and brain can handle. Nick Ienatsch
In this final example, Peris shows the pressure changes while trail-braking into Inde’s sweeping, downhill turn 10. As good as Chris is and as many laps as he has at Inde, he must constantly modulate brake pressure to safely arrive at the corner’s slowest point lap after lap, at the lean angle he chooses; on this lap, Y-TRAC shows that Peris used up to 55 degrees of lean angle. Nick Ienatsch
Riders, this story needs to stick with you for the rest of your riding career. It is OK—in fact vital—that you constantly play with brake pressure at corner entry. Your eyes feed your brain about corner radius, pavement, speed, and debris. And your braking fingers and foot respond to this information with minute movements that fine-tune your speed, and thus your radius and safety. Master this trail-braking adjustment and consistency soars.