The sliders mount using some existing frame bolt holes. If you have a 2006-2008 model, the body work is open here. If it's an older model things are more difficult. Anyway, here's the link to Motorcycle Larry's if you want to take a look.
I know it's kind of like shutting the barn door after the horse has galloped away. Now that the sliders are installed, Murphy will decide it's not fun to tip my bike over anymore. At least that's the plan.
Some things on a bike can be customized by buying new parts. Other things you have to do yourself. Like peg feelers. They were just way too long on Elvira. So we've had to do our own modifications.
Our normal ART class involves a morning classroom session and a track session after lunch. Since we pay for the track for all day, why not use it? So, while I'm stuck in the classroom, Dean and company were conducting a cornering clinic. Instructors are invited to hone their cornering skills. Oregon's leading cause of motorcycle fatalities is riders getting corners wrong. Even instructors realize the need to constantly hone skills. The turnouts for the clinics are strong. The idea of free track time doesn't hurt, either!
When my group dismissed for lunch, the instructors were still riding. I took advantage of the opportunity to play some more with the Nikon. This is a totally manual photo. I was trying to capture some still life and action at the same time. Things coming at you are easier to stop while things going across your lense are harder. The combination shows both. I'm pleased with this photo, but your results may vary.
This is a photo of the bikes in our class just prior to starting the track session. Sometimes I just have to grab a shot without much time to mess with settings. Bright sunshine complicates things. I know the rule of F16 but I'm not quick at changing the camera settings, yet.
A couple of bikes back on the right is a blue full dress Harley. The rider is a man about my age. Where I'm shorter and a bit stockier, he's taller and thin. Say what you will about stereotypes, but it's true here. The man has a headband under his half shell helmet. He's got a leather jacket with a club patch on the back. There's other insignia scattered about. Talk about flying the colors! His hair's long, thinning, and scraggly. When he talks I can see he's even missing a few teeth. What looks like hard living is etched on his face. During the classroom session we spend a few minutes talking about how riding impaired from alcohol negatively affects a rider's ability to manage risk. I could see him at the back of the group staring up at the ceiling.
If you were to picture a "biker" in your mind, he'd be what you imagined.
This isn't meant to be at all insulting to the guy. He's attending training on his own initiative to improve his skills. I have nothing but respect for that. I'm merely showing the contrast between how he comes across and how I come across as it pertains to our approach to riding and gear. It's the contrast that makes the next part so humorous.
I could really care less if a student looks different than me. My job is to give the students what they need. In a smaller picture of how I feel the bigger world should work, we need to look past the surface and make a personal connection with people. That's what I try hard to do with my students. Everyone has different learning styles and I have to know how to best connect.
At ART, I draw pictures on a whiteboard during the classroom portion. We have discussions among the group. We go out and ride the track. Instructors stand at corners and coach. We ride among the students and have them follow us. Sometimes it's enough to enlighten a rider. Sometimes it's not. In that case, there's nothing like putting a student on the back of your bike and doing a couple of laps. The instructor gives a running commentary which explains what's going on. Students can see, feel, and hear the elements of good cornering technique. It's an extremely powerful tool that I encourage all students to avail themselves of.
So you can see where this is going, can't you?
It became clear that "biker" was afraid to trust leaning the bike. More specifically, he wasn't making the connection on how applying the throttle BEFORE he leaned the bike would help him feel more confident in the turn. So his turns were pretty choppy. He'd gingerly lean the bike with no throttle applied. The floorboards would scrape the pavement near the apex. "Biker" would react by suddenly grabbing a handful of throttle which would pick the bike up. However, he'd then be out of shape for the next corner. We needed to help this guy out.
Stan was standing near the paddock. I pulled Elvira to the side and waited. Stan stopped "Biker" and strongly suggested he go for a ride with me. "Biker" slowly dismounted while staring at me on Elvira. I could see several expressions cross his face.
One was distaste. Clearly, he wasn't thrilled to be riding pillion in the first place. I'm sure he didn't like the idea of being so close to another man. Perhaps I imagined it, but it also looked like he didn't really want to be on a Yamaha, or any other "rice burner". After all, he was flying just about every Harley related color possible. His progress to the bike was painfully slow. I patiently waited, my flip up helmet raised. I tried to keep an encouraging look on my face.
At the same time, "Biker" was clearly there to learn. He knew his technique was poor and that he wasn't getting it from our other coaching. As if pulled by a rope in his jaw, "Biker" finally stood beside Elvira. He eyed the rear seat somewhat apprehensively.
"That seat looks small", he said. "It looks like my ass is going to be hanging out in mid-air".
For the class I take the saddlebags and trunk off of the bike. Elvira looks a lot like a sportbike like that. The seat's bigger than it looks. Much better than the back of Stan's Interceptor, for example. There's no backrest, though, since the trunk is off. It would look much smaller than the rider's seat on a full dress Harley. "Biker" would have been a lot more apprehensive if he'd known ahead of time that I was going to take advantage of that vulnerable feeling to drive home a point.
Finally, "Biker" settled in behind me. I give the man every credit in the world for doing that. I know how hard it was for him. After a couple of quick instructions for being a passenger we were off. I had told him to expect some leaning and to just look over my inside shoulder. Down the straight we went. God, I wish I'd have given Stan the camera!
Picture it. A black Yamaha sporting bike with the rider in a white helmet and Hi-Viz 'Stich. Remember, that means it's a bright yellowish green. Underneath the road grime, of course. My passenger is in a black Harley leather jacket with a big patch and several smaller ones. He's wearing black chaps on the bottom and a half shell black helmet. Two worlds uniting for a ride.
I took it easy for the first couple of corners. Until we got to the hairpin. I took it at a good pace. All the while talking to him. I kept stressing how the early throttle held us BOTH up, even in the tightest corners. I explained that he needed to do the same thing on his Harley. Why not roll on the throttle and get maximum ground clearance BEFORE he leaned? Why wait until he heard the boards grinding on the road? Chances were that the floorboards wouldn't scrape in the first place. "Biker" was so tense he felt like a piece of lumber back there. I know he wanted to hang on tighter. Fear and phobia conflicted. I didn't want to scare him, but I also needed him to see how he could actually trust the bike to stand up with proper technique. It was a careful game of "scare and rescue".
By the time we finished a couple of laps "Biker" had relaxed. I knew the point was getting through to him. We also talked about being smooth with inputs and rolling the bike around the axis instead of throwing it down. There were no surprises since we were in total control.
Shaky, but impressed, he dismounted Elvira and re-mounted the Harley. I swear he was going to kiss the fairing of his bike, so relieved was he to be back!
Was it worth it?
After watching "Biker" on the next few laps, Stan commented how the student was a hundred percent improved. As it turned out, I followed "Biker" for his evaluation laps. He'd smoothed out considerably. Not perfect, by any means, but much better off than when he arrived.
How did he feel about me at the end of the class?
We give the students a chance to provide written feedback when the course is completed. The form asks if the student took a passenger ride and what part of the ride helped them the most?
"Biker" said the most helpful part was the instructor's knowledge and explanations during the ride.
I just wonder if he's going to tell his riding buddies about being on the back of Elvira?
Miles and smiles,