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Old 01-22-2013, 03:03 PM   #236
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Joined: Dec 2007
Location: Delaware Ohio
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Originally Posted by Jedl View Post
Interesting dynamics in this discussion. A lot of people presume to know what the OP "needs" and how he "needs to learn it". Or how other people should think and learn about these things. It's a piss-poor instructor that demands the student think and learn the way the instructor thinks and learned.

Knowing how to ride a bicycle teaches us just enough about how to ride a motorcycle to get some people into trouble. Yes, they are both single track vehicles and the physics involved has much in common but the sensory feedback and self-righting tendencies are different enough to make riding a motorcycle at speed a different animal. The classic new owner that crashes the bike on the way home from the dealership is a good example of this reality.

Some people are not scientifically inclined. That, in and of itself, doesn't make them bad people or unintelligent, but it does affect how they view technical explanations of physical realities. Other people need to "wrap their minds around" why these things are true. Not in order to ride a bike at easy paces but to really learn to trust the things about motorcycle dynamics that are counterintuitive.

Presumably we all learned to ride a bicycle before we tried to ride a motorcycle and yet in some cases even after decades of experience, some people still don't believe that a single track vehicle can only initiate a turn via counter-steering. Riding a motorcycle is not the same as riding a bicycle except under some very narrow circumstances. Learning to ride a motorcycle at the edge requires different skills, techniques and, dare I say, knowledge.

I'm not arguing that these things must be practiced under stressing conditions in order to be fully internalized or that internalization isn't a good thing. As I ride, I don't consciously counter-steer. But I do counter-steer all the time. And if I think about what I'm doing, I'll be aware that I'm counter-steering. Being aware doesn't slow me down and doesn't mean I don't have the reflexive response. It just means that I am able to counter-steer instinctively and I understand the physics.

To the OP: Yes, you should be able to consciously counter-steer. It would be a good thing for you to be aware of your counter-steering if that helps you internalize the technique. No, you don't have to fully understand the physics of how a motorcycle turns, unless that knowledge will help you enjoy the experience more deeply and/or make you a safer rider.

That is the case if one did not actually ever aggressively ride a bicycle - being one of those people who pedal their ass around at a snail's pace on some high handlebared two wheeler like so many do. Cyclists are those riding roads down hill at 40-50 mph with curves in the road, mountain biking. and BMX stuff, actual challenging riding. Stuff like that. Your classic example of the new motorcycle owner crashing was likely a bicycle "pedaler", not actually riding a bicycle in any aggressive fashion. Most people who mention bicycle experience usually are bringing it up because they have ridden bicycles aggressively. They practice countersteering as a single track vehicle require at the speeds they ride. They know how to instinctively steer a single track vehicle.

When it comes to differences, did you ever see a bicyclist in a roadrace hanging a knee out, just like a road racer? Similar intent there, to keep a wider contact patch on the road, not ride up the edge of the tire too far. Of course there are some more extremes that each will have due to differences in variables, but still a single track is a single track, the way they steer is essentially the same. Some of the variables change in magnitude, but are not elliminated. If you ever coasted down a hill on your motorcycle in neutral you are essentially on a 500 lb bicycle (no power to the wheel) with fat tires. The racing bicycles have the same quick actions as sportbikes because they have similar rake (bicycles call it out from horizontal at 75-76 degrees, motorcycles call it from vertical at 24-25 degrees), not sure about the trail, but I'll bet that isn't too far off either. Tourers run more relaxed rake and trail similar to a touring bicycle. The biggest differences are tire width and gross weight along with center of gravity when it comes to steering.

There are a lot of ties from bicycling to motorcycling and vice versa. Eli Tomac the current leader in AMA Supercross happens to be John Tomac's son, John being a long time mountain bike racer and builder. Gary Fisher of Fisher bicycles was a former AMA flat tracker, one featured in a big get off in On Any Sunday. Mert Lawill is known in the bicycle community for building some really trick bicycle suspension and components and his son has had a pretty good career as a mountain biker. These are just a few. I know a number of motorcycle racers who went to bicycles at one point for any variety of reasons. Numerous riders and racers of motorcycles use bicycling as a source of work out and also a source of enjoyment and I would venture to say the experiences are very similar. The ties are there, the skills obviously transfer.

It is great to be aware of countersteering, but to make it a distraction trying to "science it out" for every turn is foolhardy. If one comprehends it, then play with it, and make it apply to instant reactions. That is what I've been saying. I'm betting there are some seriously talented riders that couldn't tell you anything about countersteering, but do it fluently. It isn't necessary to know it, just to do it.

When one has some serious bicycle experience the skills do transfer. I've seen it. Cyclists that make the jump effortlessly. Do not mistake those cyclists for people who just pedal around usually in too high a gear or on a beach bomber with the seat 6" too low and a pair of high bars at about 6 mph.
Ever get lost? You know, that good kind of lost - come to a dirt road intersection and you have no idea where you are or which way to turn? I like when that happens!

Mark - klx678
95 KLX650C w/Vulcan piston bigbore, Now an 09 KLX250S, selling my 90 Zephyr 550
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