Having just turned 40 and been racing motorcycles for longer than Marc Marquez has been on the planet, you’d think if anybody would find it difficult to embrace a new riding technique it would be Colin Edwards.
But the experienced Texan is preparing to break old habits to try and be more competitive on the new Forward Yamaha Open class package in 2014.
The double World Superbike champion has found it hard to match the blistering pace set by teammate Aleix Espargaro, while trying to understand how to ride the 2013-spec YZR-M1.
It is well known that Edwards favours a more front-end riding style, but the Yamaha he is riding this season requires a technique more suited to the rear, having been developed around Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo.
Edwards spent the majority of the final test in Qatar last weekend adapting his style after his Forward Racing crew put more weight on the rear to try and improve his confidence.
And Edwards told MCN: “It hasn’t been an easy winter but for as long as Aleix has been alive I have been riding a motorcycle. When I got on this bike way back in Valencia my first comment was it doesn’t turn. And I was still trying to ride it on my natural instinct. I’m a front-end guy and I like having a lot of feel and confidence and if I’ve got that I can go fast. Pretty much all winter I have been messing around with that and in Qatar we put more weight on the rear to see if I can adapt to how the bike wants to be ridden. We did that and I didn’t feel too bad. I’m kind of concentrating on going outside what I have learned and what is normal to me and this bike really likes to be ridden on the rear. We’ve all got an ex-girlfriend that used to like that too!”
Edwards said it was obvious that the YZR-M1 spec he is riding was clearly developed based on input from double MotoGP world champion Lorenzo.
“You can definitely tell it has been developed around Jorge. You can see he rides the bike on the rear and at the Boot Camp he rides on the rear. That’s his style and this bike doesn’t like to be ridden any other way. As soon as you get off the brakes you’ve got to be instantly back on the throttle. At the Boot Camp we teach a lot of this neutral throttle and getting the bike evenly balanced but this bike doesn’t like that. You need to get all the weight off the front as quickly as possible and make the turn, “said Edwards, who is preparing for his 12th season in MotoGP.
Edwards said it was a challenge to try and tweak his technique and the difficulty in not falling back into old habits will come when he has to nail a lap time in qualifying.
He added: “I know how to ride it now but under stress conditions like qualifying when you need to go out and do a stomper lap, you generally revert back to your instincts and that’s what I’m trying to be focused on. At the end of the day, the way it wants to be ridden means you are taking less risks and the times are faster. As long as I can get my brain to understand that and do it in times of need, I’ll be fine.”