Part 1: Smart Ways To Improve Your Riding Skills - Kratos Motorsports

Part 1: Smart Ways To Improve Your Riding Skills

The fundamentals, the basics, of riding any motorcycle is the same whether if you’ve just obtained your license or for a veteran who had ridden motorcycles since Reagan was President. That means there are specific skill sets you could apply to riding to turn you into a better rider.

1. Steering

Just as bikes don’t steer by themselves, they don’t tip over into corners by themselves, either.

To steer a bike, you need to countersteer. Simply put, you push on the left handlebar to go left, and push on the right to go right. The rate of steering (how quickly the bike tips over and turns) corresponds to the amount of force and speed you apply it to the handlebar.

Learning to countersteer actively gives you precision of controlling your bike.


2. Throttle Control

Don’t treat your throttle as an on/off switch. Instead, good throttle control plays a tremendous role in controlling the tires’ traction, suspension action, smoothness and overall speed. It should be rolled on and rolled off, not whacked open or snapped shut in hackneyed fashion. This is especially important when cornering or riding on slippery roads.


3. Vision

Do follow this simple adage: “Your bike goes where you look.” Repeat that to yourself when you get up in the morning, on the bike and off the bike until you go to sleep.

Admittedly, looking away from danger is difficult as our brains are hardwired to compel us to “Keep an eye out on the dangerous situation.” On a motorcycle, however, keeping your eyes on the car which just turned out in front of you virtually guarantees that you will hit it. It’s called, “Target fixation.” 

When danger presents itself, look for escape routes and steer towards the best option, instead of towards the thing you want to avoid.


4. Braking

What’s the single most powerful component of your motorcycle?

The brakes.

Because no other component translates so much of what little input by the rider into such big reactions. As with the throttle, you should start looking at brakes as the device to achieve your target speed, instead of being an on/off switch.

And as with the throttle, one should always apply the brakes smoothly and never to grab it in full abrupt force. In fact, if done right, rolling off the throttle, transitioning to the brakes and getting back on the throttle smoothly will work wonders towards your riding. Also, do remember to clamp your knees onto the fuel tank and leave your arms and elbows as relaxed as possible when you apply the brakes.

Stiffening up your elbows and locking them will render them useless in helping you to turn the bike. You’d be surprised of how high are the capabilities of modern brakes, chassis and tires before running out of brakes and traction. Stiffening up your arms and elbows will transfer all of the braking forces to them and your body, fooling you to think that you’ve reached their limits.


5. Let it Slide

We know, a sudden rush of adrenaline will kick through your body when a tire breaks traction and “kicks out.” Is that a bad thing? Unless your bike has swapped ends (the front has overtaken the front), there’s always the possibility of saving it (although you’d still need new underwear).

The best way to practice slides is on a dirtbike on a dirt track. You don’t have to ride as fast as you do on the streets. Dirtbiking teaches your body to respond to slides by using all the skill sets you’ve learned so far. Once you’re back on the pavement, you won’t panic when the tires step out of line. However, the basic techniques are to always ride relaxed. A relaxed body and limbs lets the bike slide around. A sliding bike doesn’t mean it’s totally out of control, instead, think of it as trying to find a stable position. Riding stiff just means you’re resisting it from finding this safe ground. So let it slide, while you stick to steering, throttle control and vision.

More on this will be shared in the upcoming article...hope to see you there!

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