Another good article from the Zen Master - Chicagoland Sportbikes
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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 08-15-2008, 04:36 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: Bartlett IL
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Location: Bartlett IL
Sportbike: MV Agusta F4 1000R , Ducati Monster 620
Years Riding: Since 1999
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Cool Another good article from the Zen Master

Something as simple as rolling on the throttle has levels and shades of proficient, correct operation. Does understanding shortcut the process of mastering it or can we get by on practice alone?


The moment we take our maiden grab at the twistgrip with a live engine we hit the first wall; to get the bike moving, how much will be enough, how much is too much?

Some of us get the truth of it right away--it doesn't make any difference--the clutch monitors how much or how little power gets to the ground for any start.

Some never get it. With most of their attention on the throttle, rather than the clutch, it remains inconsistent. It's not that they can't ride, it's that certain limitations are imposed on their riding, like starting on uphill or with a passenger, not to mention bogged race starts for racers.

Racers try, in vain, to put more and more attention on the throttle only to find themselves taking wild guesses at what will work. This only results in more inconsistent starts.

Riders who rapidly blip the throttle for fast starts only have a 50% chance of getting it right. Those who pin the throttle and use the clutch for the power delivery are way ahead of that.

Throttle Control Barriers

Once we are in motion Throttle Control itself becomes a hot topic. Here again, riders can limit themselves by placing too much attention on the wrong thing at the wrong time and barriers result.

In other words, riders tend to grind on some idea or technique that may be inappropriate for the circumstances. A common example is trying to get a good drive off a turn. Riders wait until the throttle can be opened aggressively to get the "hot drive" and to "feel" the acceleration; ignoring the roll-on they could have had in the corner.

Confidence with the throttle or any control inputs comes from knowing we have choices. Being stuck with only one way to approach something isn't inspiring, especially when it doesn't get results.

Just the words "throttle control" can become generalized as to what is needed and wanted both by the bike and the rider. Let's take it out of the general and break it down to specific ways to use it and situations to overcome with it. Here are fourteen points that will have to be mastered before you could call yourself a competent throttle jockey.

1. Overcoming the fear of opening the throttle the first tiny crack. The understanding on this point is that the bike doesn't actually accelerate with the first tiny opening of the throttle no matter what your Survival Response (SR) is telling you.

2. Trusting the bike to hold its trajectory. This is bound up with visual skills like what to do with your eyes in which part of the corner, but the feel part of it can only come from a clean rolling on of the twistgrip.

3. Sensing the chassis stability produced by good throttle control. This is the feeling you should be looking for in every turn. Repeating the throttle control rule to yourself and finding that it does produce a stable bike every time it is applied is the remedy here. See "A Twist of the Wrist, Volume II" for the rule.

4. Reducing the lag between off brakes and on gas. The moment you release the brake there will be a lag as you orient yourself to the speed you have. Focusing on that lag can shorten it.

5. Coordinating the roll on with picking the bike up. Knowing that the throttle is proportional to lean angle is simple knowledge. Sorting it out requires coordination of the two actions. Focusing on it improves it.

6. Overcoming the barrier of a consistent roll-on at steeper lean angles. As riders approach their own limits of lean the tendency to ignore the throttle is strong. The throttle is what makes the lean feel comfortable. Focus cures it.

7. Maintaining progress with the roll on despite distractions. This is a general point. Whatever unpredictable thing comes up like seeing a patch, seam or any rough pavement, you maintain your roll on because it is correct.

8. Being willing to experiment with roll-on rates. The right wrist often has its own idea of how quickly to roll-on. This is a bit scary to experiment with but worthwhile to conquer.

9. Overcoming the roll-off instinct. Checking your wrist's action when it wants to start to roll off the throttle would be the focus in this one.

10. Separating the eye's concerns from the wrist's action. Similar to #7 above but specifically overcoming what you see with how you control the roll on is a huge hurdle on your way to good control.

11. Separating the bike's "noise", its feel and any other signals it is sending to you, from tire squirm from your wrist's action. When you feel the squirm your task is to then maintain an adequate roll-on for the bike. You just have to ignore the squirm "noise" in the end.

12. Coordinating the exact roll on to stabilize the bike at the brake off/quick flick point. When you drop a bike into a turn quickly there is an optimum opening of the throttle, which maintains good stability through that transition. The focus on this is to see if you can grab the right amount of throttle right away to get that instant stability.

13. Maintaining a roll on when it gets loose. This is why I built the Slide Bike trainer. Once a rider has the presence of mind to not chop the throttle when the bike starts to get a bit out of track he has taken the first major step to controlling wheelspin.

14. Sensing the degree of acceleration that will maintain bike stability, hold a predictable line and, ultimately, traction. Once you have handled most of the above this is the point at which it all comes together. Having full control over this aspect of riding would indicate a very high level of skills.

Accomplishing the Fourteen

If you looked over that list and selected one at a time and really focused on that one point until you mastered it and then the next, etc., you would come to a pretty good understanding of throttle control. You would begin to move up through the levels, and there are levels, of good, proficient throttle control.

Each of the 14 represents a barrier and, once overcome, a freedom in your quest for good throttle control. Reaching your own ultimate potential as a rider would heavily depend on the level of accomplishment you were able to achieve in each of point.

Look at it this way, if you could get all of them right 51% of the time your riding horizons would broaden at a very rapid rate and continue to do so. This, in turn, and as a natural result, leads to proficiency in many other areas of riding.

Coaching the Fourteen

The whole reason that professional coaching is invaluable has to do with the error identification and correction factor. Leading the rider to fast progress in each of these areas of good throttle control is an art in itself.

The proof of that lies in the fact that we have coached at least a score of riders who were faster than any of our own staff could ever hope to be. Our current score is 43 national and world championships won by riders we have coached.

There you go, I am bragging.

Does that make us heroes? Tiger Woods' coach, Hank Haney, can himself never hope to be anywhere near the golfer Tiger is and the same can be said for countless coaches in a dozen other sports.

The point is: no matter what your current skill level of riding is, we know that once you are armed with the correct information and are able to apply it with a truly integrated, step by step procedure and are cared for by one of us you will make serious progress. It only takes the decision to improve.

To put it simply, we'll be ready for you when you are ready for us.


Keith Code
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