Riding Tip: Three Rider Upgrades To Start With

January 24, 2020 Tags: , , ,

Riding Tip: Three Rider Upgrades To Start With

As coaches we get asked a lot of different questions during our courses. One question we’re frequently asked is what performance modification we would make first to a motorcycle. The answer typically surprises people as they expect us to say some form of engine tuning and/or aftermarket exhaust. Most street riders cannot access the gains realized from these types of modifications unless on the track (or at illegal road speeds…you know who you are).

So let’s take a look three (3) upgrades that most affect our favorite motorcycling word ever: traction!

Baby Needs New Shoes!

motorcycle tireTires.  They’re at the top of our pre-ride inspection for a reason (T-CLOCS).  Hopefully, they’re the only parts of your motorcycle that contact the road and we want them to be in the best shape possible (click here for our articles about tires: one and two).  In the mechanical world, very rarely do we get something without a compromise, and that is true when it comes to tires.  There is an indirect relationship between available traction and durability.  Want more traction for canyon carving and track days?  Expect the tire to wear out in fewer miles.  Want to ride long distance and get 10,000 miles or more out of your tire?  Expect less overall available traction, especially at greater lean angles.  Yes, tire manufacturers are narrowing the gap with multiple compound tire construction, but in our mind, there is no replacement for traction.  Therefore, one of the first upgrades we look to is our tires especially if we are buying the bike used.  The more sticky the better!

Control Freaks

20200123_145943There are components on our bikes that ensure we keep the tires on the ground so that we have traction available. These components, forks and shocks, are often overlooked by riders even though they can affect available traction immensely. The whole idea of a fork and shock is to maximize the amount of time a tire spends on the roadway. If preload or spring rate is not setup properly, it could cause the bike to pitch excessively, thus increasing the amount of time a tire spends with less than optimal contact with the roadway. In extreme conditions, no contact with the roadway means no traction; the exact opposite of what we want to happen. Funny enough, for most average riders, there is no need to purchase any additional equipment. The rider simply needs to learn how to set sag and damping controls properly. That’s what we teach in our Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic Level 1.

If you’re a bigger rider (like my 300lb self), then making sure you have the correct spring rate can be crucial to creating a satisfying ride. In my motorcycling journey, no equipment gives me more confidence than making sure my suspension is setup correctly for my weight and riding demands.

Upgrade the CPU

Advance your skills through training. This might seem like a self-serving promotion for rider training, but it really isn’t. Why? Because year after year we as RiderCoaches seek additional training, and year after year we pull something away from that training experience that gives us more confidence when riding. We gain knowledge we can share to help our students.  We learn techniques that help us optimize our traction usage. We acquire not only the motor skills to ride at a higher level, but we acquire mental strategies for performing at a higher level. Trust me. The more you know, the better it gets.

Plus, it is an investment that pays off repeatedly with a lifetime of fun, safe riding. And who better to invest in?

Bill Seltzer Yamaha FJ-09For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

Bill Seltzer has been a Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach since 2003 and a Total Control Advanced Riding Instructor since 2011.  He currently serves as the Marketing Director for TEAM Arizona and is a member of the Arizona Strategic Highway Safety Planning committee.  Have questions or comments about the article?  Email him: Bill@MotorcycleTraining.com

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