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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Race Seminar Review

About two dozen people showed up for Carl McAllister's riding seminar at MotoConsult last Saturday.

Carl started with the basics, how to prep your bike. It's amazing how many people who think they're great riders just jump on their bike, time and again, without checking the little things that make a big difference.
  • Tire pressure, even a couple of pounds off can have a big affect on cornering and braking. 
  • Oil level, when was the last time you checked yours? 
  • Steering head bearings, even the slightest amount of play can throw you on the ground when you get out on the edge.
  • Brake lever and pedal. Are they adjusted to fit the way you ride? Or are they still at the factory one-size-fits-all setting?

He then went over body position on the bike on the straight and in the curves. Of particular interest was his comments on the transitions between the different phases. For instance, instead of going straight from the tucked position down the straight to the knee out position in the corner Carl inserted the butt back position to help braking.
  1. Tuck behind the fairing down the straight
  2. Butt up and back to shift weight away from the front wheel to enhance braking at the end of the straight. Reason: The weight is going to end up on the front wheel anyway but by moving back you keep the suspension compression to a minimum to prepare for the corner. Subtle but effective.
  3. Then, slide out and over to bring the bike around in the corner.
Little things like this shave quarter seconds off of laps and make the difference between winners and also rans.

In the Question and Answer period that followed the inevitable "What should I do to my engine to go faster?" question was asked. Proving that he really knows what he is talking about, Carl answered, "Leave it alone!"

To go faster Carl advised:
  1. Check your bike over carefully and make sure everything is as it should be. Knowing that the bike is ready inspires confidence and confidence makes you go faster.
  2. Check your tires. New tires will have better grip and feedback than the ones you probably have on there now.
  3. Get your suspension upgraded. Better compliance with the road or track will give the tires a better grip and the rider better feedback
  4. Go to a track school. No matter how good you think you are, you could be better.
  5. Only then start to think about more power. You are probably not using all that you have now except on a straight road. Anybody can twist the throttle when the bike is straight up and down, the difference between winners and losers comes in the corners.
 Finally, Ben was kind enough to provide pizza and drinks for all of the attendees. Yumm! It was time well spent and I'm looking forward to the next one. I'll make sure to post the date and time here so stay tuned.