8 best bits from the go-faster books

We’ve burned the midnight oil digesting the finest biking bibles so you don’t have to. Read and learn…

1: The need to focus

“When you ride you should try to forget everything else. Don’t think about the rest of your life or the rest of the world. Try to forget all that and think only of the road or the track and the bike. It’s not always easy to stay focused on the bike. Sometimes you feel that one part of the brain rides the bike, thinks about the tyre, sees the road – but maybe the other part is thinking about a girl, a friend, a song.”

The words of Valentino Rossi in Performance Riding Techniques by Andy Ibbott.

2: It’ll be fine (will it?)

A puppy, for whom we have placed a treat at the end of a plank, falls for our trick. He has only his goal, that sausage, in mind, and walks off the end. A motorcycle rider flies around a blind curve and crashes head-on into a logging truck. He has only his immediate goal in mind, and takes the corner assuming everything will turn out as expected.

A neat lesson from The Upper Half of the Motorcycle by Bernt Spiegel.

3: What’s this lever for?

Find a quiet road. Squeeze the brake lever – gently at first, then harder as weight piles onto the front tyre. Increase your knee squeeze as the weight transfer gets more intense. How safe do you feel? What info is coming through your hands? How near is the tyre to where you reckon the limit is? Repeat 10 times. By then, what started out quite scary will feel OK.
From Pass the Bike Test by Sean Hayes and Rupert Paul.

4: Proof that you can feel the tyres

Close your eyes and touch a pointer on a wall. You experience the wall’s resistance, not in your fingertips or hands, but out front at the tip of the pointer. You can also say what the wall is like: hard or soft, rough or smooth. You can even say how long the pointer is, even if you were only handed it after you closed your eyes. As with a pointer, so with a bike. F

From The Upper Half of the Motorcycle by Bernt Spiegel

5: Technology versus tips

I want to outline the different categories of information you might receive about riding your bike. 

1. Destructive advice

“You don’t know how fast you can go until you crash.”

2. Friendly advice

“Keep the rubber side down.”

3. Useful tips

“Go wide around that bump.”

4. Real technology

“You always use a later turn-entry point for a decreasing-radius turn.”

True technology regularly resolves riding problems. It contains a basic understanding of what the rider is trying to do and forms a bond between the rider and the machine’s dynamic requirements.

How to sift the advice from your mates, from A Twist of the Wrist II, by Keith Code.

6: The Limit Point and why it’s key to safer riding

The ‘Limit Point’ is the furthest point ahead where you have a clear view of the road surface as you ride along and it’s particularly important when there’s a corner ahead.

On a clear, level road this is the point at which the two sides of the road appear to meet. Always ride at a speed that lets you stop (on your own side of the road) within the distance you can see is clear – that’s the distance between you and the Limit Point.

This then determines how quickly you can safely enter the corner up ahead. The closer the limit point is, the less time and distance you have to react if something unexpected happens.

Classic advice from the IAM’s How to be a Better Rider by Jon Taylor and Stefan Bartlett.

7: The ideal line

Linger on the outside! Use a late turn-in! Push the apex toward the exit! The blue line makes for high lateral acceleration, takes the bike dangerously close to the outer edge of the track, and keeps it there for a dangerously long time. The red line allows a much earlier acceleration and offers greater safety reserves. A basic principle for every road corner.

From The Upper Half of the Motorcycle by Bernt Spiegel.

8: Make it go where you want

Counter steering: Two magic words. Counter: In an opposing

manner or direction. Steering: To guide. It means to guide in an opposing manner. Simple enough. You have the bars in your hands and you’re going straight, but you would like the bike to turn, let’s say, to the right. “To guide in an opposing manner”, you then apply some pressure, at the handlebars, to the left. The bike goes right.

The essential point about steering, from A Twist of the Wrist II by Keith Code



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