Once you've crossed a line, have you ever noticed how much easier it is the second time? Maybe something like, oh I don't know, taking pictures from the bike while you're riding. With a handheld camera. Yeah, I did it again. Sometimes only the real deal will suffice.
Please bear in mind that I'm not advocating doing this kind of thing. I know, do as I say and not as I do. I happen to have a justifiably high opinion of my skill levels. These photos were also taken under somewhat controlled conditions. Even then, having great skills isn't a magic bullet.
Krysta from Milwaukee ( the place with two e's ) shared a quote with me from Harry Hurt.
"There is no magic bullet other than being smart".
What great words!
Anyway, back to the point of the post. Here's the photo:
What inspired this was riding around in Salem for work. Out of habit I keep the bike in a lower gear in order to keep the rpm's up. As Elvira and I rounded a particular curve in a street it suddenly struck me how alive she feels with the engine in a higher rpm range. You know how it is. Certain things take front and center at different times. I've written about keeping the rpm's up before, but it's such a useful tool it's worth sharing again.
Of course, now it's illegal to put up a blog post without a photo. Pretty soon, thanks to Bobskoot, it will be illegal to put up a blog post without a video. Now he's got Dom, Chris, and several others doing it. There's even pressure on me, now, in the name of "instructional videos"! Great. Just as soon as I get an instructional video in how to operate the camera and post the videos.
I could have sat in a parking lot somewhere and revved the snot out of Elvira while running in neutral. That's not the way I do things. My great friend Laurie is a vocal proponent of keeping it real. In that vein, I had to take the shot while actually riding.
First off, find a quiet country road. Stop with the flashers on. Elvira has them, so I put them to use. Put the G11 in the tank bag, turned on and with the screen flipped open. Take off the left glove. Ride for a bit and shift to second gear. Grab the G11 and take a photo of the tach while wound up in second gear. Unless you live in Key West and ride a battle hardened Triumph. Then you might not have a tach anymore. Be sure that you actually put the wrist strap around your wrist before taking the camera out of the tank bag. Take the photo, then reverse the procedure to put the camera back. Stop beside the road, zip the tank bag, put your glove back on, and breathe a sigh of relief that it went well.
Because of the angle the photo had to be taken with the left hand. Which meant holding the camera upside down. So the photo is upside down. Kind of cool, though, isn't it?
Most riders don't take full advantage of the wonderful sweet spot and dynamics available in their bike's engines. Part of it is not being aware of it in the first place. Part of it is that riders are uncomfortable with hearing the motor rev a bit more. Imagine that, not liking the sound of those sweet motors! Another thing is that loud pipes and showing off are the only reasons for riding in the first place. Never mind getting any sort of actual riding skills. Yes, that will offend some people. Get over it.
What this all boils down to is riding in a lower gear. In most instances this means using one gear lower than a rider is probably used to. Here are a few advantages.
Plan B in dealing with traffic includes both being able to stop quickly and to quickly get out of the way. If we find ourselves needing to speed up to avoid being hit, quickly roll on the throttle, and the bike says "huh?" we should have been in a lower gear.
The bike is so much more alive and responsive in a lower gear. At slower speeds, keeping the revs up will allow for much smoother control. Speed adjustments can be made with just a slight rolling on or off the throttle. Keeping the revs up while turning will help hold the bike up. Controlling the lean angle will be so much easier this way. The bike will want to stand up instead of falling down.
Cornering at speed will be much smoother with higher rpm's. When you find that sweet spot in the rev range, lean angles can be controlled with just a bit of throttle movement. Roll off a bit to lean, roll on a bit to stand it back up. So smooth and sweet. Think of one of those dimmer switches they use on lights. Why chop corners when you can carve them in style?
Rather than write about it more, I'd just encourage everyone to go out and ride. Go play with your bikes. Check it out. Enjoy. It will work to your advantage. Trust me. I'm a professional. Seriously. Go try it and then come back and let us know how it worked for you.
One caveat, though, on torque. Always be mindful of dicey traction conditions. Wet roads fall into this category. Always balance the torque on the rear wheel with available traction, especially when turning. In those instances a higher gear and less lean angle might be a bit better.
Oh, yeah. The upside down picture? Didn't you turn your monitor over? What? Too much trouble? Fine, fine, be that way. If you insist.