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Thread: How do you know what 100% is ... ?

  1. #1

    How do you know what 100% is ... ?

    This was asked in another thread. I know what my answer is ... today. But what is your answer? How do you know you are approaching your limit? Is it important to know what that limit is? Or is it good enough to just stay in a place that you know is well within your limit. Can a limit be changed? Should a limit be improved?

    This is for everyone. If you are riding a motorcycle it should be something to at least think about. And I hope riders like AZridered and other rider coaches will pitch in with their real life experience ...
    The best thing you can buy for your motorcycle is gas.

  2. #2
    Flirting With The Redline 2000 Posts! Sorg67's Avatar
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    As a veteran of zero track days, I have absolutely no experience to contribute to this. Be that as it may, it seems to me that there are two limits, the limit of the bike and the limit of the rider. And the rider is limited by both his actual ability and his perceived ability.

    I took OBX's comment to mean 80% of HIS track tempo. I have never been to a track. I imagine I am riding at something less than 50% of OBX's track tempo. Of course that is pure speculation. Since I have absolutely no basis for that guess.

    Maybe I am at 40% of OBX's track tempo. But maybe my track tempo would be 50% of OBX's track tempo, in which case I would be at 80% of MY track tempo.

    I suspect that if I went to the track, I would be on the steep part of the learning curve and my skills would advance quickly. Maybe I would quickly go from 50% of OBX's track tempo to 80%. But then it might take 100 more trips to the track and several Keith Code track schools to get from 80% to 100%. Of course given my superior natural ability, it would be inevitable that I would eventually surpass OBX..... hahahaha ...... kidding ....

    So who the heck knows. However, my first impression of the comment that OBX rides at 80% of track tempo on the road was that it is a really high percentage. I would have guessed that you would want a much greater margin of safety on the road than only 20%.

    Then again, it would be dependent on circumstances. Obviously in traffic or around a blind corner, you might be 10% of track tempo. Whereas on some sweeping curve in farm country where you have excellent visibility and on a road you are familiar with, you might push it a bit more.

    So who knows what the actual percentages are. But it seems to me that a benefit of track days is getting a better idea of the limit and whatever that limit is, you want to have a significant margin for error on public roads.

  3. #3
    Flirting With The Redline 2000 Posts! Sorg67's Avatar
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    As for what you "should" do, I think it depends on your objectives.

    It seems obvious that the limit of anybody's ability can be extended. Skill, courage, focus and fitness can all be improved and extend limits of many things.

    The limit of the bike can be improved through suspension adjustments, tire selection, maintenance and ergonomics.

    It seems that everybody would enjoy increased safety by extending these limits to a certain degree. But it also seems to me that there would be diminishing returns at higher skill levels.

    How fast the safety increase would diminish would depend on how aggressively one wants to ride. Someone who wants to slowly cruise deserted roads on Sunday afternoon will benefit less from extending limits than someone who running with a pack of canyon carvers, each trying to out do the other.

    I think we all benefit to sharpening our skills. Each of us must make our own choices about how much we are willing to invest in extending limits to accomplish our personal objectives whether they be impressing our friends with our impressive handling skills or getting out and back with minimal risk of injury or death.

  4. #4
    Flirting With The Redline 2000 Posts! Sorg67's Avatar
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    As for how you know what 100% is, it depends on 100% of what.

    To find 100% of your own personal limit, the only way is to exceed it. You don't know where the limit is until you cross it.

    I do not know if you can ever find 100% of the bike's limit. That would require perfect riding and nobody is perfect. A very skilled rider might get close. I could ask OBX to take my bike out on the track to give me an idea of what it is capable of. Probably a lot more than I think. Of course watching might not tell me much. Might have to have him take me out on the track two up..... Can you drag two knees???

  5. #5
    RiderCoach 4000 Posts! AZridered's Avatar
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    I don't know where 100% is, there is too much risk in inadvertently find 101. I do know when I'm getting close, upper 90 percentile or so. That is where the bike starts responding differently from normal. In heavy braking, the steering becomes vague shortly before lockup. This is quick though, so there is almost no warning. Heavy trail braking into a turn, the bike does not want to steer properly and there is a LOT of resistance through the handlebars. Too much throttle in a turn, the back end starts to feel vague, as if I might be on a thin layer of sand, just as wheelspin starts. Sometimes when too fast in a turn at the track, front end feedback gets weird. Instead of consistent force feeding back through the handgrip, The force varies a bit, side to side, before the front tire starts sliding.

    When my son was winning lots of races I asked him how he knew how hard he could brake into a turn. His response was, "You can keep braking harder until the back end comes around." Maybe I did not really want to know that.

  6. #6
    RiderCoach 8000 Posts! WoodstockJeff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OBX-RIDER View Post
    And I hope riders like AZridered and other rider coaches will pitch in with their real life experience ...
    Just because there is a "RiderCoach" tag on my account does not mean I have experienced everything and know everything....

    No track experience here.

    However, I do work on expanding my personal limits regularly. And, when I was younger and stupider, I did practice operating (4-wheel) vehicles at speeds which limit your options severely when things go wrong (I may have held the speed record for a few local roads, until the Corvettes started playing on them).

    I'd guess (and it's only that) that my personal limit on motorcycles is 60% or more of a typical track day regular's limit, with the realization that that exceeds what is needed for 99% of street riding. While I can take either of my motorcycles to their "scraping parts" limits, video shows "spirited riding" for me is rather tame.

    There are not many places where, if you abide by the speed limits (including advisory ones), you need the techniques offered in the MSF ARC class, or Lee Parks Total Control ARC. Yes, leaning forward and in while turning will give you more confidence in corners, and more margin, but even just staying aligned with the motorcycle is "enough", most of the time, and we're not supposed to be riding 40+ through the roundabout with a 15mph advisory speed.

    Finding personal limits - There is an exercise layout that MSF uses for their Basic and Advanced RiderCourses, which we call "the peanut", amongst other things. It's essentially a oval with a chicane, 24' radius corners on each end, 100' of straightaway on one side, and a kink in the other. It has different objectives in the different classes.

    In the basic class, we want riders to get to 20mph in the straight, then slow to a speed that allows them to maintain a steady pace through the corners, about 12-15mph. The advance class, the target is 25-30 in the straight, slow to whatever entry speed the rider is comfortable with for the curves, and experiment with using "lean with motorcycle" and "lean forward and in".

    Watching people who regularly do "spirited riding" (including track days) vs. "everyone else" is instructional for the RCs, too. Some riders will hit 35-40 in the straight (we ask them to hold back a bit), then blast through the corners, hanging off to get a knee down, even though we've talked about that being an invitation for having talks with law enforcement about what the local definition of "exhibition of speed" is. My C14 is capable of that, too... but I did NOT like it when I tried it, so I'll be content with my personal limit being lower than theirs.

    I'm an advocate of smoothness as a way of maximizing traction. The discussion elsewhere of how far into a corner you can brake, to me, is more about how smoothly you can release the brakes as you transition to turning, and how smoothly you can add throttle back in to complete the turn. I'm not going to (deliberately!) carry braking to the apex, or test the traction control by rolling on a lot of throttle on exit.

    The biggest issue, I think, is that attempting to ride above 80% of your limit for more than a few minutes is TIRING. I would say that's why track days limit your session length - so you don't push yourself to the point that you're trying to run 90% with 70% brain/body function.

    But, the higher you can push your limit up, the easier "normal" becomes. And if you train your vision and perception to work at those higher limits, "normal" becomes almost effortless. And that aids with smoothness...

    "The future is so much easier to predict when you have a handle on how you arrived at now.... Works with traffic just as well as the rest of life. "

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  7. #7
    Flirting With The Redline 2000 Posts! AlwaysLearnin's Avatar
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    GEEZ Sorg! Maxxed out three replies? I know! You just wanted to make sure you weren't misunderstood. 😁

    Here's my take:

    I agree with AZ You know what 100% is when you reach 101%. It IS important to know what that limit is - if you can actually ride at 100%. I'd venture to say not many can actually do that, especially on-road. I think, as a really green noob it IS important to improve (or push beyond) your limit because at that point in your riding career your limit is WELL below what ANY bike can do. Once comfortable at a certain beginner level it's important to expand to the next beginner level until you become an intermediate rider and then an experienced rider. For me this was learning to relax and avoiding hill stops and highways until I was comfortable enough to move into those levels. To this day I still am exploring and learning what's possible with every ride and would put my riding skills at advanced beginner with a loooong way to go to expert status (I'll never get there BTW - too old). It's easy to get set in your ways and settle for "good enough" skill but that's really isn't good enough. There's always some new experience that comes along to test your limits. When you find you can handle that experience you can consider it another notch in your belt and a small level up. On to the next limit test....

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  8. #8
    Senior Moderator We've stopped counting... subvetSSN606's Avatar
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    Just a thought... there are several limits that come into play, which one might be approaching 100% right now?

    Personal comfort/confidence?
    Reaction time for existing road/traffic conditions?

    In the end, regrets rarely come from things done, but from things not even tried.

  9. #9
    Just a note about 101%. I have been down on the track at least 4 times. On none of these occasions was I all. On 3 out of 4 I rode the "crashed" bike again within a session or two. On three I rode the bike back into the paddock. On one I simply re-teched and on two I just needed to replace one part. The time I couldn't fix the "crashed" bike was it had a unique to it part damaged.

    The first was on my Buell M2. I simply misunderstood what the instructor-coach was signalling which caused me to increase my cornerspeed way to quickly for my skill.

    The second was on an SV650s. Just a touch of brake while cornering ... and I do mean a tiny amount. That was also partially from a bad street habit of always covering the front brake. Now when I am done braking into the turn ,my hand comes completely off the front lever.

    Three and four were on a GSX-r750. One was caused by bringing a little too much power on too early. The other I simply exceeded the traction of the street tire mid corner (I had been using race rubber mostly before). Both of these were on the same street tire. I have used this same model tire on another bike at a trackday since (it's highly regarded) and I've considered that mebbe I got a bad tire. Or mebbe not.

    On only 2 occasions has someone needed a trip to the hospital from a trackday I attended. On only one occasion was it overnight. And there are a few trackday riders and amateur racers who don't street ride because they consider it too dangerous.

    All of this is anecdotal and I am not trying to say doing trackdays is risk free. But I do believe the risk is much less than most think.
    The best thing you can buy for your motorcycle is gas.

  10. #10
    Flirting With The Redline Mad Matt's Avatar
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    The typical learning curve for any activity has a steep part where you learn rapidly, then it levels off as you slowly polish and refine your skills. That last stage is when you understand exactly where the limits are, or at least approach a complete understanding.

    What’s generally fun for me, in any activity, is being in the steep part of the learning curve. In that stage I think it’s unavoidable that you don’t fully understand the limits. I’m inclined to get bored in the diminishing returns part of the learning curve, so I probably won’t ever really learn where “100%” is.

    This is probably one of the reasons I’ve spent more time this past summer on my trials bike and less on my street bike. I can push the limits, try things without knowing they'll work, fail a lot, and not get injured.


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