Thread: Gymkhana
View Single Post
Old 05-13-2012, 12:15 PM   #40
Vulfy OP
Studly Adventurer
Vulfy's Avatar
Joined: Feb 2012
Location: NYC
Oddometer: 573
Regarding technique. There is a bit of a difference between western way of teaching this and Japanese. I say continue with what you learned at MSF and any other school, but something to be aware of is that Japanese ride Gymkhana without slipping the clutch. Clutch is always engaged. Watch YouTube videos of Gymkhana riders, and you will see that the clutch lever is never being touched.

Before anybody tries to disprove or say that this is wrong, please read the following first.

I really don't want to turn this into "My Kung-Fu is stronger than your Kung-Fu", and I'm not an expert at Gymkhana to preach and explain other way of riding, but what I learned from a person who IS licensed in Japan to teach motorcycle riding classes, is that for braking you rely on Front AND Rear brake, as well as engine braking, which means as you brake you smoothly roll off throttle to add engine braking as well. Don't chop the throttle, and never completely roll it off, there needs always be power going to the rear wheel otherwise you will drop the bike.

At the tightest part of the turn, you do not slip the clutch, but rather rely on your rear brake to control the speed and smooth throttle to keep power to the rear wheel.

At the turns, and PLEASE NOTE this is at relatively slow speeds, you control your bike with your torso, hips and legs.
Same applies to faster turns, but obviously you would counter-steer, and just add torso and legs to the equation. See "Total Control" book by Lee Parks.

Again, I'm not an expert and here is just my progression with the skills and how I interpret them for me and my own observations and feelings. All of this is based though on very specific riding techniques that are being taught in Japan and is being presented to me by a licensed instructor.

Also PLEASE NOTE that this is for Gymkhana riding, NOT street riding. I'm still slipping the clutch when I need to, on the street.

For Gymkhana:
You keep your throttle smooth, keep some power to the wheel. Don't touch clutch. As you scrub most of the speed with both brakes and a smooth roll off (but not completely off), at the tightest bend, smoothly let go of the front brake, and apply rear brake harder. Keep hands light on the bars, and turn them to full lock or almost full lock, dig your outside knee into the tank and push with the knee INTO the turn, while digging into the INSIDE footpeg with your other foot and stepping on it.
This will tip the bike over to the INSIDE of the turn even more and you control the rate of the turn as well as not letting the bike fall over by applying more or less rear brake, NO clutch slipping.

The feeling that I'm getting from the bike when I do this, is that I'm not controlling it by twisting the bars. I'm controlling the bike by leaning it into the turn, and the bars sort of do their own thing without too much input from me. My hands are there mostly for just throttle control. Bars do twist to a full lock, so if you have clip-ons or clubmans you will have a difficult time with this.

If you are feeling like you've been doing situps and squats after riding Gymkhana, you are on the right track

Again, watch this video, its a perfect example of what I mean, at 00:25 mark.

Control is with the hips and legs, and rear brake. NO clutch, NO hands.
At 00:55 mark he rides in without hands, tips the bike with just his legs and torso and rear brake into the turn, an then rides off.

For body position, what works for me is this. For faster turns and general riding at speed, and even going INTO the tightest of turns, I position my torso to the INSIDE of the turn, just like we are being taught here.
Good technique that I've read and been practicing myself is to try and move your CHEST to the inside mirror. I've heard somewhere that some track schools here teach "kiss the mirror" where you move your head to the INSIDE mirror, for better body position, I like the chest method as it really does result in me hanging off the bike.

Keep your butt planted in the seat, don't drag knees or anything like that. Squeeze the tank with your thighs.

From my own video, at 00:47 you can see how much I'm leaning into the turns. Those are lazy 8's, no brakes and at about 20-25mph.

Fore even BETTER example here at 00:53 mark and on, look how far his body is on the inside.

whole torso not just head is on the inside of the turn. So CHEST to the inside mirror.

As you get into the turn, you are hanging off on the INSIDE of the turn. As you slow down and start tipping the bike even more but with less speed, and that usually happens for those turns where you circle the cone one full turn, I find what works for me is to start counter balancing the bike a little bit by positioning my torso more upright and more perpendicular to the ground. However I've seen riders on youtube who manage to hang off even at slowest of speeds.

As I was starting to learn all of this, one of the worries was stalling an engine by applying too much brakes and not slipping the clutch... Well first of all, you are running in first gear most of the time, so no need to downshift. Second, its actually much harder to stall an engine, than what you think. I've never stalled an engine, nor come even close to it.

Head is exactly the same as we are taught here, look where you want to go. Maybe even exaggerate a little bit for training purposes. Point your nose to where you want to go, not just eyes.

Here are a few old links to Gymkhana technique. As I said, the info is scarce at best, but something to munch on and wrap your head around.

Gymkhana scooter ( I told you there is no discrimination here, and this guy is smoking it)!

This is the "Mother Load" of technique discussion, so read up if you are interested.

This is the school they are talking about in the above forum

The post is from 2007. The school is still operational, and they still offer SRTT class. I don't know how much it changed and they are still teaching same techniques as back then. Will have to find out myself soon.

At the end, I just want to state one more time, is that I'm NOT saying that one way is better than the other. Japanese ride a little bit different, and we are talking about a sport here not pure street riding. If you can apply and add from here to your riding skill set, and find it useful, while at the same time have better control of the bike and make yourself a safer rider, use it.
If its completely counter-intuitive to what you are used to, learned or just how you feel on the bike, no harm done, ignore it.

For myself I'm finding braking with both brakes (as I was taught in MSF) but adding engine braking as well, gives me more confident and tighter braking.
I do slip the clutch on the street, and would not rely just on my rear brakes for speed control on the street, especially in traffic riding.
When just starting out, I would overheat my rear brakes all the time. So its a normal part of the learning experience. Now I rarely overcook them. If your rear brakes fade, and the lever just fall through without engaging rear brakes, give a few minutes to let the liquid cool off, and then just pump the lever until you get full rear bake back. Its a perfect time to ride some lazy but faster and bigger 8's for body positioning practice in turns at speed.

Vulfy screwed with this post 05-13-2012 at 12:53 PM
Vulfy is online now   Reply With Quote