Anyone can go fast but how tight are your riding skills? Precision is the name of the game when we talk about going back to the basics with slow speed maneuvers.
Motorman Jerry Palladino discusses several techniques that that are necessary to hone your skills.
- Mastering “head and eyes” movements for turning: When you turn your head and eyes in the same direction, your bike moves in that direction. If you turn your head to the left, but your eyes look straight ahead, the technique WILL NOT work. Both your head and eyes must turn in the direction you want the bike to go. It takes practice for this technique to become second nature but you can use this every time you are on your bike. If you pull out of your driveway and turn left, turn your head and eyes left and look down the road where you want to go. You will immediately notice that you are making much tighter turns than normal. And BTW, don’t look down unless that is where you want to go!
- Using the “Friction Zone”: The friction zone is the area on the clutch between fully open and fully closed. As you let the clutch out and the bike starts to move, you’re entering the friction zone. Try slow riding to practice this technique by going as slow as you can without releasing the clutch completely.
- Proper use of the rear (controlling) brake: While in the friction zone, keep your foot on the rear brake and feather it as the bike starts to move. When you do this, you are tricking the bike into thinking that its going faster than it is and when you apply power and keep your foot on the rear brake, it keeps the motorcycle from falling over at low speeds. We don’t tend to have problems with balance when going 55 mph but if you don’t use this technique when driving 5 or 10 mph, the motorcycle feels clumsy and wants to fall over on it’s side.
- Do not use the front brake for slow maneuvers: Avoid the use of the front brakes when riding at low speeds and in parking lots. If you do and turn the handle bars even slightly, you will be pulled to the ground like a magnet.
- Avoid dragging your feet on the ground: Dragging your feet on the ground often causes balance issues, especially at slow speeds and when your feet are on the ground, they cannot be on the brake. As soon as you start to move your bike from a complete stop, both feet should automatically come up to the floor boards/pegs and your right foot should be feathering the rear brake.Once you master these techniques, you will be amazed at the tight maneuvers your bike can perform. You’ll know you’ve gotten it right when you can make full lock turns in both directions at 5mph with the pegs/boards scraping a perfect circle in the pavement!