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Old 05-06-2012, 08:31 PM   #1
Vulfy OP
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Gymkhana

Been practicing for a little bit now.

Just in case if you are not familiar with what it is, its basically an obstacle course, very similar to Cop's rodeos but done on any bike (light 250 are preferred ) and with A LOT more speed. I like to compare it as what go-carting is to formula one, so is gymkhana is to GP. Seems it originated in Japan. Lots of videos of it on YouTube, but your best bet is to actually translate Gymkhana into Japanese and post that into a search. Adding "Dunlop" also helps, as they are a big sponsor over there.
It seems there was an attempt to bring this sport to USA under BattleTrax but its still a bit different.

Given my nature of keeping my two wheels firmly on the pavement (for now) instead of gravel, grass and any other mother Earth's covers, I finally found something to do on my bike, other than going from point A to point B.

Gymkhana manages to combine a lot of good things, in a very Urban friendly package.
A parking lot gives me the ability to race a defined course.
Courses are not set in stone, so with my own imagination I can accommodate to the size of the parking lot, or my own needs and practice.
Its TONS of fun.
No more chicken strips. Seriously, I'm grinding foot-pegs on my Triple... on a parking lot, at parking lot speeds!
I'm developing and honing my riding abilities, such as general control of the bike, tight turns, hard acceleration and hard braking, tire slippage, proper posture on the bike, lean angles, etc.
Its relatively cheap compared to a track day.
Lower speeds compared to the track, and riders riding the course one a time, makes it much safer, so even if you dump a bike its minor damage to you and your equipment.
Even though some bikes perform better at this, there is no discrimination and you can do amazing things on heaviest of bikes.

So far so good.

Few things to be aware of.

Cops and rangers might not like what you are doing, so I explain, and if they insist on me leaving, I leave.
Private parking lot security might not like this either. If they ask me to leave after I explain that I'm not stunting or causing mayhem, I leave.
Beware of cars, even on parking lot. I honestly am amazed how some people manage to get their license and if they have a license at all.
Beware of pedestrians on parking lot; had two guys just walk through my course while I was riding it. It wasn't a "power walk" as in "fuck you, I'll walk where I want, you have no business doing what you do, here". It was just two guys chatting with each other, walking THROUGH the course, giving me thumbs up. Sigh... At least they were friendly.
Pavement is far from racetrack pavement quality. Potholes, sand, garbage, its all there. Have to clean up a bit before each session.
Parking lots are busy during the day. No way around it, so I try to get most of my practice either later at night (cops get REALLY suspicious in later hours) or early in the morning pre-dawn. Morning runs are much better, as there are virtually no cars. Cops don't care. No drunk or partying teenagers on SUVs, compared to evenings. Its pretty cool, and by the time I'm exhausted and ready to head home, parking lot starts to fill up and it gets warmer.

Gymkhana might actually get me washboard abs. I'm not joking, throwing my bike around from side to side, pushing with my knees, constant hard acceleration and hard braking puts a toll on my core muscles. I've been doing this for a very short time so far, but after each session I feel like I'm going home from a gym.

The only problem is lack of information on technique. The closest is probably Lee Park's "Total control" book and course. I have the book but didn't take the course yet. Speeds are not racetrack speeds, and there are a lot of really tight 8's and u-turns. At the same time, to get best time, you are really trying to gas it in the straights, between those tight turns, so you are constantly either accelerating, or braking, or grinding foot pegs.

Here is the sample of a good Gymkhana rider in Japan.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIRFX...ure=plpp_video

And here are my "lazy" turns and twists. I'm putting lazy in quotes, as it feels a lot more intense on the bike. but doesn't look nearly as dare-devilish from outside.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91ol6R_ysPY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga84E8J_Pas
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEBXzTsaIyU

If anybody in my area (NYC) is interested in trying this, I'd be happy to ride with you, just let me know.
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Old 05-06-2012, 09:47 PM   #2
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I'm definitely interested in trying this. What days do you usually do this?
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Old 05-07-2012, 07:27 AM   #3
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I love watching this stuff it's very cool and takes an amazing amount of bike control and skill to do well.

One thing that worries me is if it becomes too "second nature" - the skills used here are reasonably opposite of what you need at only slightly higher speeds on the road. Below about 15mph, you steer into a turn rather than countersteer, and you also counterweight (push the bike down) rather than hang-off on the inside.
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Old 05-08-2012, 05:25 PM   #4
LittleRedToyota
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One thing that worries me is if it becomes too "second nature" - the skills used here are reasonably opposite of what you need at only slightly higher speeds on the road. Below about 15mph, you steer into a turn rather than countersteer, and you also counterweight (push the bike down) rather than hang-off on the inside.
personally, i find cornering that way is often advantageous in the city. i find that it keeps you higher up so you can see better. i also find it keeps your more balanced over the bike so you can react and flick it around quicker in the event of a sudden/unexpected change in riding environment. of course, it probably depends a lot on the particular bike you are riding.

also, as mentioned above, you countersteer at all speeds.
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Old 05-07-2012, 07:35 AM   #5
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It translates to street pretty well IMHO. At higher speeds you are still hanging off the bike, and even going into the turn, I'm finding myself hanging off up to a moment where I need to start counterbalancing it, and its a pretty fluid motion, you just feel for what bike is doing under you. As I understand Gymkhana is based on street riding skills that they teach in Japan in their MSF equivalent classes, so its not some specific riding technique that is used JUST for Gymkhana. Also their cops do the same Gymkhana exercises and have competitions as well. So the base of the skills is still for the street riding, with a sport of beating best time on a course, thrown on top of it.
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Old 05-07-2012, 11:20 AM   #6
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It looks great, heavy on skills and reasonably easy on the bike, I would really like to try it.
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Old 05-07-2012, 11:50 AM   #7
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I would like to know how these guys (on bikes and in cars) are able to remember the path you're supposed to take. It just doesn't seem like an intuitive course to me, maybe it'd look different while you're actually riding it.
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Old 05-07-2012, 11:52 AM   #8
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This is a great course to run in a parking lot. You can set it up with one of those long hand-crank tape measures from the hardware store, plus low soccer cones (don't get the tall ones). It works well at half-size, but a very different experience.



You can get a set of cheap track timers on ebay for under $100: http://www.ebay.com/itm/bestlap-lap-...item3cb98e72eb

(You'll need that kit plus one more beacon, since you need 180 degree coverage to cover start and finish.)
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Old 05-07-2012, 01:51 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MotoMind View Post
This is a great course to run in a parking lot. You can set it up with one of those long hand-crank tape measures from the hardware store, plus low soccer cones (don't get the tall ones). It works well at half-size, but a very different experience.



You can get a set of cheap track timers on ebay for under $100: http://www.ebay.com/itm/bestlap-lap-...item3cb98e72eb

(You'll need that kit plus one more beacon, since you need 180 degree coverage to cover start and finish.)
Hell, I seen people doing this at closing time leavin the parking lot down at the bar!
They didn't need no cones or timers or nuthin!
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Old 05-07-2012, 09:11 PM   #10
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It looks like fun on a closed course, but I don't know that I would try it on any parking lot. Too much sand, gravel, etc on the surface. Knobbies probably wouldn't help much either.
What about one in the dirt? Hmmm....
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Old 05-25-2012, 05:47 PM   #11
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It looks like fun on a closed course, but I don't know that I would try it on any parking lot. Too much sand, gravel, etc on the surface. Knobbies probably wouldn't help much either.
What about one in the dirt? Hmmm....

knobbies help, they keep the bike centered in reality, or at least your mind. a little too much throttle, or a little too much lean, and you feel it. the good thing is it's recoverable, most of the time.

as far as offroad: i've been playing on some gravel out in front of barber's motorsports park, figure 8's a nutso hard to do in gravel (for me). running an entire course like the one the local guru puts together on DIRT would be a blast ! sliding, washing, wheelies, and lots and lots of dirty backsides.

when you see a buddy pushing hard around a turn, the suspension working, HIM working (just to stay up) on a big bike, it's very cool. knowing just how freaking slick the pavement is while he's doing it, and how close he is to sliding - another reality check. i'm definitely hooked !
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Old 05-07-2012, 10:13 PM   #12
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The whole point of doing it (gymkhana!) in a parking lot is that you're dealing with real-world conditions. I can tell you that running a bike on shagged knobbies through a gymkhana course is the most entertaining thing ever. Yes, I lowsided once, but the speeds are so low that you can't get hurt.
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Old 05-08-2012, 06:52 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by MotoMind View Post
The whole point of doing it (gymkhana!) in a parking lot is that you're dealing with real-world conditions. I can tell you that running a bike on shagged knobbies through a gymkhana course is the most entertaining thing ever. Yes, I lowsided once, but the speeds are so low that you can't get hurt.
I agree. Of course I'm not at the level of a top rider and I don't throw my bike around as much as they are, but I did have multiple instances of tire slippage due to debris, be that a bit of sand or a loose pebble, while leaning the bike.

I guess if you are ok with the idea of dropping your bike (and they do drop their bikes during practices ) and have decent crash protection on the bike as well as your own gear (notice they all have crash bars installed, even on the sports bikes), then it really is a good experience either way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zum7U...ure=plpp_video


The first few times my tire slipped at an angle, my heart went to my feet. I didn't lay my bike down, but it got upset from my shaky throttle hand. After the first initial scare, you start to learn what your bike can and can not handle. I know that I can lean the bike pretty far and even if it hiccups on the sand, as long as I keep my throttle steady it pulls through. Of course I'm not talking about riding yards and yards in sand, while dragging my knee. A small patch is what I usually encounter. But that feeling of bike slipping away for a fraction of a second is a good learning experience, so you are not taken by surprise if something similar happens on the road.

I'm just saying that a general feel for what happens when you encounter sand, is a good learning experience, so that you are not panicking, like you would the first time. Also keep in mind that this is coming from a rider who hasn't been on any dirt bike or off-road, ever. So this was a new experience for me.

Please don't take what I'm saying above as a reckless advice, everything and everybody has their limits. Also a good judgement is important on your part. I started with slow exercises on my old 250. Slow u-turns, slow 8's, basically everything we are suppose to learn and know after MSF. So this sport is a progression from SAFE and responsible riding. It is based on the skills that we as riders need to know, just taken to another level. Actually running 8's is another branch of Gymkhana. Riding a set number of 8's and beating your time is something they do as well. I love riding them, and when you get into the rhythm and into the zone it can be an almost meditative experience.
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Old 05-08-2012, 05:05 AM   #14
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the lots are swept of course. any time you fall it is dangerous
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Old 05-08-2012, 05:21 PM   #15
LittleRedToyota
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any time you fall it is dangerous
not really.

i mean, sure, walking your dog--or anything--can be dangerous in one sense.

but dropping your bike or low siding at slow speeds isn't really very dangerous if you are wearing the right gear (knee guards, elbow guards, stiff boots, etc.)

dirt bike riders often do it numerous times per day without getting hurt.

i sometimes do it many numerous times a day without getting hurt.
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