Technical and Riding Tips.

I'm not an authority on bikes but I do know a bit and I do know how to ride.
Stunts are neither big nor clever and if you crash it's your fault.
Don't blame me.

Techniques for Shorties
Kneedowns for the Vertically challenged
Riding at Night
Stunting on a GS500E
How to Wheelie a Bandit
The Gower School of loonyisms (Link Not working I'll fix it later)
(Some of these open up a new window)

De-restricting the Suzuki
How to rebuild aCG125
How to rebuild a Harley Davidson
Extreme Makeover -GSX600F (Katana)
ZX10R Day in Dynotopia
The Butterfly Effect and the Motorcycle.

Getting you knee down – forthe vertically challenged.

There have been a few discussions in several threads as towhy people can and can't get their knee down. These reasons vary from being too short tobeing the wrong shape.
So being too short, the wrong shape, the wrong age and the wrong sex I decided to find out how much of a factor is rider's size and shape in getting your knee down.

It was a warm and dry early September afternoon and I had a hour spare so I decided to try and find out if getting my knee down would be easier if I wasn't vertically challenged.

My Statistics:
Height 5'2"
Inside leg = 33
Waist = 26"(sometimes)
Boobs = ????"
Weight = 55kg (I'm working on it)
GSX R1000 seat height = 32.7"

Before I started I rubbed some chalk on to my back tyre so that I could see howfar over I had to crank the bike. I even wore my new 1 piece suit which isstill very tight so that flexibility wasn’t a factor.

Right armed with my new Titanium knee sliders I headed to some roundabouts and twisty roads and hoped that the rain would hold off.

I played around on the bike for about 20 minutes to "get in thegrove" and to warm my tyres up.
You really shouldn’t try to get your knee downif your tyres are cold or you’ll end up getting far more than just your kneedown.

Before the “serious” action I decided to check to chalk marks, they haddisappeared, bother. The playing around was a little bit more intense than Irealised.

I already hear cries of “we haven’t got nice long sweeping bends or bigroundabouts where we live” so I found a quiet but tight(ish) roundabout. In my opinion, a smaller roundabout is probably better because your speed islower but you’re leaning more. Before I started I rode around it to check fordebris, oil and gravel and anything else that might upset the balance of thebike. When I was certain it was clear I started.
On tight(ish) roundabouts and bends it’s very important not to un-settle your bike by repositioning yourself mid bend. Get your body in the right position before you start. For me theright position for a roundabout is:
* Bum off the seat completely.
* Left leg gripping the LHS of the tank by my knee.
* The ball of my right foot on the outside of the RHS peg.
* Head, shoulders and upper body as low as possible.
* Entire body relaxed.
Before I start to turn in I exhale to help relax. Entryspeed is usually between 30-40mph.

1st run.

Tipping into the roundabout in 2nd gear at about 40mph I hung off the bike, stuck my knee outand cranked it over with the resulting screeesh

2nd run.
Same as above but without sticking my knee out so much(simulating a short leg length)....screeeesh

3rd run.

Not hanging off as much but sticking me knee screeeesh Cranked the bike over more.....screeesh

4th run.
Tipped the bike in and went around and around with my knee just touching down while keeping the bike stable by throttle and arse control. My aim was to try and see what action(s) would lift my knee.

They were:
a) Speed too high.
b) Speed too low
c) Not hanging off
d) Not keeping the bike cranked over.

I think that taller people would have an advantage but not a lot.
Getting your knee down it not related to your physical size, vertically endowedor challenged, fat or thin you can all get your knee down.
Obviously the Six Foot plus giants out there could probablyget their knee down with the bike vertical. But that’s not the point is it.

The feeling you get when there’s pressure on your knee is fantastic. The bikeis at a balance point and your knee can be used for positioning the bike. WhenI’m on a track I don’t intentionally try to get my knee down (unless I'm showing off) in factgetting your knee down is something you try to avoid. I use my knee as a gaugeto let me know when I’m approaching the limit.


Riding at Night.

"Don't fear riding at night, embrace it and have fun"

Riding in country lanes at night can be a bit scary but it can also be fun. I've had lot's of practice at this so I've decided to list a few tips that work for me, they may not work for you.

A. First up we take a look at the equipment.

i) Make sure your visor is scratch free and clear.
ii) Use an anti-fog device. An anti-fog mask works best for me and has transformed my night riding progress.
iii) I carry a damp cloth attached to the bike by an elastic band. When I know I'm coming to some interesting bits I slow down and give my visor a wipe with the damp cloth then clean it off with my finger wiper.

(Top Tip) tie an elastic band around the finger wiper and attached it to your glove. I've lost a lot of wipers.

iv) Always clean your headlights before you set off and also at anytime you feel your light has degraded.
v) Know where your main beam switch is *instinctively*, also learn where all the other switchgear is. You'd be surprised what difference a change in gloves can make to where you think your controls are.

B: Next we look at you and your attitude.

i) Make sure you are warm and dry. I know it's bloody obvious.
ii) Relax, don't tense up.
iii) Plan your route well ahead.
iv) Don't go at a pace you're not comfortable with.
v) Don't ride further than you can see.

C: Now the actual riding bits.

i) Learn not to look at on-coming headlights, look at the light they project on the road and the hedgerows.
ii) Plan any manoeuvre well in advance, learn how to memorise a hundred metres ahead and then mentally tick off the markers as you pass them.
iii) Hard to resist this one. Don't get into a main-beam duel, if the on-coming vehicles have their main beam on a quick flash by you will remind them, if they still leave it on don't look at it and be prepared to slow down or stop. By using (i) above you will never have to stop.
iv) Use all the road, keep over to the left for right hand bends and over to the right for left hand bends.
v) You've probably noticed that headlights are not very good at looking around corners. As you lean the bike in a bend the headlight is illuminating the other side of the road and not the bit you want to see. In the dark I tend to hang off the bike more and try to keep the bike more upright. I always use my main beam in a tight bend. You will not dazzle on-coming traffic because of the lean of your bike. This is why I say "know where your main beam switch is *instinctively*.
vi) Practice your distance judgement. It's different in the dark.
vii) Look well ahead and look out for parked cars, tractors etc.

Amazingly it's probably safer riding in the country at night because on-coming traffic use headlights. I find that my progress at night is not that much different from the daytime but I do take bends a bit slower at night.
I know it's a tad long but you'd be surprised how much you do when you analyse it. I cannot stress strongly enough about the need for a good visor and anti-mist system. This is the biggest factor in riding fast and safe at night.


Stunting on a GS500E.

But you need powerful sportsbikes to do stunts on don't you?

To be honest, if you can't wheelie a GSX R1000 you should hand your licence into the nearest police station and ask them to rip it up. The Gixxer is also fairly useful to get you knee down on but it's a tad snatchy on the throttle. It's not the best for rolling stoppies but nevertheless a pleasing one can be achieved fairly easily.So, what am I leading up to, you might ask? Well, I had a couple of hours to spare during the summer of 2004 so I put on my race leathers and decided to go for a blast. To my surprise I found myself firing up my GS500 instead of my Gixxer.
A pretty bike

And I get both feet down.
It's time to see what the GS500 can do. I've already dusted a few Power Rangers's on it but I'm sensible enough to know the limitations of its handling. Actually it's not too bad. An enthusiastic run got the tyres warm so I decided to go to my favourite roundabout. The plan was to gently work up to kneedown fun but at the first roundabout I slapped the girl over and scrapped my knee. You be amazed how easy it is to get your kneedown on the GS500.
Does my bum look big?
Select 2nd gear.
Get your body position right before the roundabout.
Hang off and stick out knee.
Enter the roundabout at 35-40 mph.
Slap the bike over.
Skreeetch and sparks.
I managed a smile
I'm not kidding I could have stayed there until the petrol ran out or my kneeslider had worn through. It was that easy.
Where's my topbox gone?
You're got to be kidding right? Nope.
The GS probably puts out about 35bhp at the back wheel so technique is important. Clutching up in second doesn't work, the engine just bogs down. Clutching up in first lifted the suspension only, so what does work. It took me a while to work this out:

Select 1st gear.
1) Rev to about 6,000
2) Close throttle to compress the front fork but at the same time stab the back brake.
3) Clutch in and open the throttle to about 9,000-10,000 rpm, flick the clutch and release the back brake.She comes up fairly well but holding it up is hard unless you get it to the balance point, I wouldn't recommend that wheelie novices looking for the balance point at first, it takes a lot of practice.
Item number #3 is all done in one seamless movement.
I suspect that the same technique would be needed on a GPZ500. In fact the bike has similar power deliver characteristics to the GPZ and even KD felt the same. The big difference though is doing stoppies. Doing stoppies on the GPZ is fairly easy, the front suspension and brakes are far better than the GS. So, how did the GS get on with stoppies?

I found it very difficult to do stoppies on the GS. It went something like this.
At about 50mph squeeze the front brake and pull in the clutch and as the suspension compresses squeeze very hard and pull in the clutch. The rear came up by about 18" but the front wheel skidded and I did a "skiddy stoppie" ;) which is different. I manged a short rolling stoppie with the rear about 2 foot off the ground but it was rather ragged.
I need to try some sticky tyres on the front and perhaps some warmer weather. But still I did manage a stoppie. But I'm not proud of it.

So all in all a really fun afternoon and what did I learn?
My hair gets in my eyes.
The GPZ and GS have similar characteristics
The GS is fun providing you push it to the limit.
The GS is amazingly easy to get my knee down on and probably the easiest bike I've ever done it on. It's not so easy to wheelie because of the poor flat power.
You need a decent front tyre to do decent stoppies.
Who wants to join the Gower Stunt Finishing School for Girls?
Disclaimer: You've got to be nuts to do stunts on bikes, it's not big and it's not clever and can be very dangerous even to experience stunt riders. If you hurt yourself of anyone else it's your fault. If you wreck your bike it's your fault.
Have fun.

For the benefit of doubt let's define a wheelie. I don't mean "wow jeeez" the front's just popped up but a deliberate and controlled lifting of the front wheel and a controlled landing. Whether it's clutched up or not doesn't really matter but of course clutching is more controlled.


How to Wheelie a Bandit

"The 1200 is easy but the 600 requires a bit more skill"

The Bandit 1200

Select first gear Over-grip throttle so you can get at least three quarters movement in one twist.
Grip the tank with your knees
Steady yourself and cover the back brake.
Accelerate fairly slowly in a straight line up to about 22-25 mph
Do not dip the throttle to compress the front. Twist the throttle in one fast sharp movement.
The front *will* come up.

At first the bike will just shoot forward but it will start lifting as you gain confidence with your throttle. The secret is to really give it a sharp twist

You will find there's about a quarter of an inch of movement which will control the height but this takes practice. When you get it right you will be able to keep it up and even produce a slight nodding movement to wave at other riders.. The next stage is snicking through the gears.

This is not the best way to the the B12 up but it does work. Clutching it up is more controlled. Second gear at about 40MPH, clutch in, rev to about 5-6000rpm release clutch very quickly, it's more like a flick. (This actually varies from bike to bike.)

The Bandit 600
The technique for a Bandit 600 is different and this is how you wheelie a Bandit 600 from almost a standstill. It really does work but take care. It also works for most other bikes but you'll haveto play around with the revs. When you get it right it looks good. When you get it wrong just don't look.

On a straight level road and in 1st gear.
Gently rev to 1500
Open throttle quickly to just 2000
Close throttle quickly to compress the front forks
At the same time apply back brake. This causes the bike to squat.
Open throttle to 5000 at the same time release back brake
Flick the clutch.
The front will come up quite quickly.

An easier way but not as spectacular:
Rev to about 4,000 rpm
Pull in clutch and rev to 7000 (ish) you'll have to experiment to find thebest position for your weight and seating position.
Release the clutch very quickly.

Don't Crash


A Day in Dynotopia.

A day at Road and Track in Ayelbury?

Today's the day (14 March 2007) I get my bike set up on the dynometer so I get up early to make my way to Road and Track Dyno down in Aylesbury. It was a lovely bright sunny day but with a touch of ground frost. I had another cup of tea then on with my one piece race suit and fire up the bike. Off I go, the first problem was when I hit the Tesco Roundabout a Flitwick, the road was closed A little detour later and I was back on track, or so I thought. For some reason, I took the wrong road a Toddington and was heading to Dunstable so I had to turn around. As I blasted through the twisty roads I was wondering if the ride would be any different on the back.

When I arrived at "Road and Track Dyno", Chris greeted me with a cheery hello Molly, fancy a cuppa?". He made a cup of Earl Grey with a touch of sugar, " you can spit it out if you like" he said. Actually it was quite delicious. Chris put the bike on the dyno and started to tie huge straps to it to hold it in place. I couldn't believe how much preparation work he did before he fired the bike up. The first few runs got the base line figures sorted out and, as Chris expected it was running lean. He then set about producing a new map and fitting a TRE (timing retard eliminator). I toddled off for a cup of coffee.

I had told Chris that I would love to get the mid range beefed up a bit since the ultimate HP was really academic.

When I got back from coffee Chris had already completed the mods and was into producing a new map.

To recollect what I've done to the bike:

Pair of Micron Race cans
Power Commander III USB

K+N Air Filter.

Chris came out with a look of disbelief on his face, "It's ridiculous" he said, "all that power from a road bike" he continued "it would be winning GPs not too long ago." "It's ridiculous". He told me that he had found useful gains throughout the rev range and some really decent torque and HP increases especially around 7,500 to 9,000 rpm.

Peak power is up to nearly 165bhp from 160bhp at the back wheel and torque up by 3ft-lbs.

So, did it make any difference to the bike? The figures on the graph don't get close to telling the full story; it felt like a different bike. No doubt the TRE helped a lot in the lower gears because it's now quite a handful and want to stick it's front wheel skywards a lot more than it did before. The power delivery is very smooth and controlled whereas before it was a little fluffy in the lower rev range. Chris spent a lot of time on ironing out the lower fuelling and it certainly paid off. He told me I could expect further gains as the engine loosens up. It's only done 1,300 miles. It's not so much how much power you have but it's the way it's delivered that's important. And does it deliver.

Road and Track Dyno give Chris a call on: 01296 424248