What's the proper way to ride a motorcycle? Ask a dozen riders and you'll get a dozen answers. Not even the experts can agree. Take something as simple as steering: Forget that whole push-right-to-go-left deal. Keith Code gave us the Power Pivot, Reg Pridmore preaches body steering and Freddie Spencer stresses trail-braking to change direction. Totally contradictory techniques, yet they all work. Who are we to disagree?
The thing about riding a motorcycle is there is no one proper way--there are lots of ways. And you never stop learning. Take what you hear or read or see or are taught, think about it, give it a go, and if it works, make it your own. Then share it with your friends. government job in teaching
As a journalist, racer and track-day instructor, I've been doing just that for more than two decades now. Drawing from that experience, I've compiled 20 tips that, for one reason or another, have stuck in my craw for lo these many years. Most I got straight from the source, a few I read in books or magazines, but all are nuggets of information that have served me well. I hope they do the same for you.
1. Keith Code
LEARN TO THINK FOR YOURSELF
Say what you will about the guru, Keith Code wrote the book on high-performance motorcycle riding and it's called A Twist of the Wrist. Twenty-three years after it was first published, it's still tops on my list. I took Code's California Superbike School twice in 1984 and '85, and at first found his teaching style frustrating. Asked the best line through a corner, he turned the question back to me: "I don't know. There are lots of correct lines. They change depending on what bike you're riding, the condition of your tires, etc. What line do you think is correct?" What I thought was I'd better learn to think for myself.
2. Wes Cooley
KEEP YOUR CHEST ON THE TANK
The second time I took the California Superbike School, Wes Cooley was a guest instructor. I was impressed by how tidy he was on the bike--always tucked in behind the windscreen without any limbs sticking out in the breeze. Later, he told the class a funny story: "One day I came in from practice and my dad told me I needed to stay tucked in. I told him I had, so he tied a shoelace from my zipper to the ignition key. When I came back in after the next session, my leathers were unzipped to my waist." Keeping your chest on the tank not only improves your bike's aerodynamics, it lowers the center of gravity and gives the front tire a better bite.
3. John Kocinski
TRUST YOUR TIRES
Everyone frets about cold tires, especially when they're fresh from the molds. Not John Kocinski. In the years before John Boy won the 1990 250cc world championship, I covered the AMA 250cc Grand Prix series for Cycle News, and can recall him routinely going to the starting grid on unscrubbed slicks. "That's OK, I'll just push the front a couple of times on the warm-up lap and they'll be fine," I once heard him tell Dunlop's Jim Allen. This was years before tire-warmers were invented, incidentally. Kocinski's competitors were quick to point out he got the good Dunlops straight from the GPs, but it wasn't his tires that won him three consecutive titles, it was his confidence.
4. Danny Coe
ALWAYS UPSHIFT AFTER MISSING A GEAR
Back in the late '80s, Danny Coe of Cycle magazine was a top AMA 250cc GP competitor and unofficial champion of the Moto-Journalist GPs. When during a GSX-R launch at Laguna Seca I mentioned I'd botched a downshift, he asked me what I did next. "Um, I downshifted again." Wrong: Coe insisted you should always shift up after missing a shift, to ensure you're not a gear lower than you intended. Better to be out of the powerband than to have the rear tire hopping up and down, trying to pass the front.
5. Jason Pridmore
HUG THE CURVES
In '93 I rode for Kawasaki at the Willow Springs 24-Hour, and one of my teammates was Jason Pridmore. This was long before he established his STAR Motorcycle School, but he'd been instructing with his father's CLASS organization and had become adept at identifying riders' shortcomings. He followed me for a few laps during practice and afterward told me I needed to run tighter lines. Where I'd go through a corner with my knee on the white line, Jason would take it with his knee on or even over the curb. More often than not, the shortest path around a racetrack is the quickest.