How to Ride in Twisties - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 87 (permalink) Old 08-07-2010, 11:49 AM Thread Starter
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How to Ride in Twisties

I have always done within city riding + highways for almost 15 years now. My riding conditions range from normal N. American traffic to places where you cut and weave through lanes (if they exist) to juggle your space with trucks, trolleys, rickshaws, bicycles, horse carts, donkey carts and pedastrians who think jay walking is their birth right. Basically, I haven't been through twisties and want to learn a bit before I attempt some.

Versys is a bike that tempts me to do short trips on it to picnic spots, hiking, etc, instead of driving my car.

What I don't understand reading this forum is what is it about riding int he twisties that is so different from riding in the city. Or Even a more basic question: How do you ride twisties? Do you "knee" in the corners like professional racers do on tracks (I don't think you do)? Is there a certain RPM range/gear/speed one should be riding twisties while riding downhill/uphill?

All the reviewes mention V's performance in twisties to be exceptional. While I do have an idea of what it might be like from the several corners I have to take while merging/coming off of highways, etc. However, I'd reaaly like some advice on doing the real deal.

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post #2 of 87 (permalink) Old 08-07-2010, 12:11 PM
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Just go ride them. No need to drag a knee. The V is good for twisties because it handles so well. It is great for traffic because it is tall.

There are lots of different types of "twisties". Tight and technical, big sweepers, mountain roads with tight switchbacks...on and on. Just don't over ride the roads you are on. Do what you are comfortable with and have fun! Depending on your area watch out for animals or gravel in the road. There are plenty of other things to watch out for, but those seem to be the ones that sneak up on people. Also be careful of reducing radius curves.

Steve

I bought a motorcycle because my wife said that I couldn't! Now I have two and she still says I can't have another one!
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Sounds like a challenge to me!

Now I have four!
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post #3 of 87 (permalink) Old 08-07-2010, 12:27 PM
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Ride the way you are comfortable doing.
There is your answer.







OK, I will elaborate a little.

Twisties are no magical or complicated realm of existence, they are stretches of road that refuse to go straight for very long. It's still just a road. Just go ride them, adjust your style as you see fit.

It doesn't matter much if it is very different from city driving. I can think of a few strong similarities and a few strong differences. Neither will "teach" someone how to ride twisty roads.

When you ride twisty roads, make sure you stay within your skill level when you are pushing it. Don't suddenly go fast and stick out a knee if you have never done that.
You can practice it of course in a controlled way, by going slowly into a turn that you know, to refine the skill. Just don't experiment with new techniques when you're already at 90% of your possible speed.

Go into each turn with the speed and road position that allows you to do corrections or even emergency maneuvers without endangering yourself or others; You never know if there is gravel/oil/child that fell off her bike in the middle of your lane in the middle of the turn, with a car coming towards you in the opposite lane.

You will go where you look.
If you go into a turn too fast for comfort and you target-fixate on the outside edge of the road which is now quickly swinging towards you, you will go off the road right at that edge. DAMHIK.
Teach yourself to see everything, but look (point your eyes and head) where you eventually want to go. Don't look at the danger, in stead look at the way out of it, and lean it like you mean it.
By the way, not going faster than your skill level will usually prevent above situation. You need to find your personal balance between the thrill of going fast through the twisties and acceptable risk of not staying on the road with the rubber side down.

Last edited by Pretbek; 08-07-2010 at 12:29 PM.
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post #4 of 87 (permalink) Old 08-07-2010, 02:18 PM
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I came back to bikes after a 5 years absence and twisters was not a problem but had some problem when on the right side corners. Now I have mastered it so to speak by dropping a gear or two and the V handles superbly. Now I do twisters every week if possible and always run 5th or 4th gears and the V does the rest. The bike is very forgiving on twisters as long as you don't push it.

Carrying the right speed and seeing the corner ahead is important on twisters.
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post #5 of 87 (permalink) Old 08-07-2010, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the very detailed replies guys. I think I have an idea now. I will ride some on the weekend.

one of the future bikes: 2020 Ducati MS
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post #6 of 87 (permalink) Old 08-07-2010, 05:17 PM
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Buy, borrow, or rent, Keith Code's book "Twist of the Wrist". Looks like you can buy a DVD from him now: http://www.atwistofthewrist.com/
He's one of the most famous road racing instructors, Calif Superbike School. You'll learn techniques that will let you go faster safely.

#1 Trust your tires and your bike. Don't let up off the gas in the corner, it will go upright and off the road. Concentrate on the apex and exit of the corner, look where you're going. Your bike will lean over way further than you think it will. The edges of your tires will tell you how far you're leaning over. If you scrape a peg, that's about it, right?

#2 Lean your body more than your bike, not the other way around. Keep your head level, look over the grip that's on the inside of the corner.

#3 Scrub speed before you get to the apex of the turn, power thru and out of the turn.

#4 Don't ride over your ability, get out of control. Be ready to avoid an obstacle or vehicle in the middle of the turn.

That's the basics. And I'm not even fast. In a group of 20 riders I'll be in the back third. I just cannot get fast in blind right corners, I don't trust what I cannot see.

The V likes to sing, will generally run 6-9K rpm when carving twisties. It has nice compression braking so brakes aren't often needed. And the power is so linear from 4500 up you can pretty much pick a gear for a given stretch of road and just wind it up and down. It's a very easy bike to ride and the suspension is pretty good so it stays steady in the corners.

I keep thinking one day I'll do a track day with an instructor just to develop more skill, refine what I know, and pick up some new techniques.

One of the best pointers I got, came right from this forum - on up shifting. You hold pressure on the shifter and when you pull the clutch it shifts. Wow, never heard that in all my 40+ years of riding. Shifts are instant and silent, it's just screams from gear to gear.

Chris Brown
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post #7 of 87 (permalink) Old 08-07-2010, 05:26 PM Thread Starter
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Tanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJBROWN View Post
One of the best pointers I got, came right from this forum - on up shifting. You hold pressure on the shifter and when you pull the clutch it shifts. Wow, never heard that in all my 40+ years of riding. Shifts are instant and silent, it's just screams from gear to gear.
@CJBROWN: Thanks for the link and the excellent pointers. I don't quite follow your last point though. Are you saying instead of pulling the clutch and then shifting the lever, I should put pressure (up or down) on the shift lever and then press the clutch lever? Wouldn't that shift the gear without the clutch lever being pressed completely and resulting in a very jerky shift?

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post #8 of 87 (permalink) Old 08-07-2010, 07:31 PM
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Seconding Pretbek's comment, "Go into each turn with the speed and road position that allows you to do corrections or even emergency maneuvers without endangering yourself or others...." Yesterday I was behind a car and we came around the bend and found an Audi TT whose driver had decided that she was going to pull a three-point turn on a short straight stretch of double-yellow between two bends of a twisty highway. Surprise!!! Good that both the car in front of me and I were traveling at a speed where we could stop in time because there was no where else to go. I'm also glad I was focused and thinking ahead. Scary!

Someday is not a day of the week.
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post #9 of 87 (permalink) Old 08-07-2010, 08:25 PM
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Pick a road with a nice variety of turns. Make sure the road you pick have good visibility and a decent surface so you csn focus on turn control. Run it several times taking mental notes every time about what feels right and what not. That way you'll prepare yourself for less known and more demanding situations.
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post #10 of 87 (permalink) Old 08-07-2010, 08:43 PM
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It helps to be aware that any bicycle/motorcycle's direction is counter-steer controlled, by applying turning force in the opposite direction. A quick tug on handlebars to point front wheel to the left, immediately leans bike to the right, thus the instant change in direction to the right. The harder you try to turn the front wheel in one direction, the more it will lean and turn in the opposite direction... You'll also have better control and feedback by being relaxed and loose, also resulting in reduced cramp-up and fatigue tendency.
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post #11 of 87 (permalink) Old 08-07-2010, 09:01 PM
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A lot of these guys know the answer. Code explains it better. Get the book, read it through, go riding and note when things happen as he said, read it through again and make corrections the next time you go out. It will probably become clear on the fourth or fifth cycle.

Good Luck
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post #12 of 87 (permalink) Old 08-07-2010, 10:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by datawiz2012 View Post
@CJBROWN: Thanks for the link and the excellent pointers. I don't quite follow your last point though. Are you saying instead of pulling the clutch and then shifting the lever, I should put pressure (up or down) on the shift lever and then press the clutch lever? Wouldn't that shift the gear without the clutch lever being pressed completely and resulting in a very jerky shift?
For up-shifting. Yes. Try it, you won't believe it. I thought the V had a notchy trans as some shifts were smooth, some not. Light pressure up, when you pull the clutch it will shift instantly.

For down shifting you want to clutch then rev to match engine R's to your next lower gear so you're not meshing your gears so hard. So it only applies to hard accelleration up-shifting.

My shifting and transmission were transformed.

I had forgotten about the counter steer phenomena. It gets to be second nature after awhile so you don't even think about it. Roadies are very different from dirtbikes.

Chris Brown
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2009 V - custom black-on-black - SOLD
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post #13 of 87 (permalink) Old 08-07-2010, 10:33 PM
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Make a few practice runs first.

I live near the App Gap which has some fun twisties that I ride almost ever time I take the V out. Many riders don't scout it out first before riding it hard and it's common place to see a wrecked motorcycle. There is a blind decreasing radius turn that I've personally seen 4 bikes laid down, slid up against the guard rail. Riders can't see just how tight the turn gets and come in too fast for it. It all could have been avoided if they scouted it out first.


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post #14 of 87 (permalink) Old 08-08-2010, 12:06 AM
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Definitely get Keith Code's book or DVD. The new DVD (Twist of the Wrist II) is very well done. I have watched it probably a half dozen times now and keep picking up more things.
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post #15 of 87 (permalink) Old 08-08-2010, 01:58 AM
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I think you got some good answers. One to emphasize is when riding with other people, ride your own ride, don't let a faster rider make you ride over your head trying to keep up.

This is another thing you may want to read (like there isn't enough from the links above ) - The Pace. I ride can ride 100 miles of twisties and not touch the breaks once other than to come to a stop at an intersection. The biggest advantage I see to this is that your corner speed is always well within your limits, because you don't rely on bombing the brakes at the last minute to adjust your speed, so if you need to make any line corrections or emergency maneuvers (something like Tigerpawed mentioned) you still have a lot of reserve braking left.

Here is my attempt at "pacing":



Gustavo


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post #16 of 87 (permalink) Old 08-08-2010, 02:40 AM
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What Gustavo has mentioned above about not using brakes is a great skill to develop and practice, like to do that myself and have been taught by riding instuctors to do this on a race circuit. this will teach you to find the correct gears and use the correct engine braking for twisties. Gustavo, great lines you rode in your vid clip, looks really smooth.
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post #17 of 87 (permalink) Old 08-08-2010, 06:49 AM
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Like all the others have said, never ride above your ability, and check out some of the great material out there to pick up some additional tips. In the meantime, one suggestion I might make, is that you should try to do all your braking BEFORE getting into a turn, and then accelerate through the turn. The reasoning here, is that when you brake in a turn, the bike will want to stand up, which is opposite of what you need it to do.
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post #18 of 87 (permalink) Old 08-08-2010, 07:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJBROWN View Post
For up-shifting. Yes. Try it, you won't believe it. I thought the V had a notchy trans as some shifts were smooth, some not. Light pressure up, when you pull the clutch it will shift instantly.

For down shifting you want to clutch then rev to match engine R's to your next lower gear so you're not meshing your gears so hard. So it only applies to hard accelleration up-shifting.

My shifting and transmission were transformed.

If you think this is tricky, you can actually shift like this without using the clutch. Just put the same upward pressure on the gear shifter and then quickly roll off the throttle slightly and then back on (literally like a flick of the wrist). Once you get the throttle control right your up shifts will be super smooth and quick.

As for riding in the twisties, there is an old motorcycle saying that many people know, but few people understand or put into practice - "when in doubt, gas it out". Up until recently when I read a magazine article on this technique I did not understand it, but after practicing it today in the hills I am converted.

The theory is you should always be accelerating (even if just slightly) when cornering. Do all your braking before the corner, turn into the corner and gently roll on the throttle. When you reach the apex of the corner and sight your exit you can start to really crack open the throttle.

This works because when you are on the throttle it actually tips the bike forward, giving a steeper head angle and quickening the steering. I know this sounds the opposite of what you would think happens, but remember how wrong counter steering sounded when you first heard about it?

This technique is also very good to remember when you think you have turned in to a corner too quickly. Natural reaction is to brake more or shut the throttle off, but this will result in the bike standing up and you running wide, or in the case of grabbing the brakes the front sliding out on you. Best thing to do is trust your bike and tyres, counter steer harder and roll on the throttle and you will be very surprised at how easily your bike goes through corners.

T.

Last edited by TBass; 08-08-2010 at 07:17 AM.
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post #19 of 87 (permalink) Old 08-08-2010, 07:39 AM
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post #20 of 87 (permalink) Old 08-08-2010, 08:44 AM
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do a trackday! - but if not, keep it simple and always use your "own" common sense as opposed to following a mantra and getting out of your depth. as there's more than one way to ride a bike fast no matter what the book says.

I'd recomend to anyone to simply start slow and play with moving your weight around the inside of a turn, drop an inside shoulder slighty, and always keep your balls of your feet on the pegs. this alone will put you you and the bike in a more confident position/stable platform in which to progress. You;ll be ahead of 75% of riders just doing that!

tip - later, when you start pushing on in tight/blind bends, always assume there is something coming the other way over in your bit of road. and keep in. Counter percieved wisdom, but Its almost impossible cut back in or not panic brake faced with an oncoming vehicle. But it is far easier/quicker to run wide if come if come across a slow vehicle in your lane for example. Real world is messy, again something the book doesnt tell you!
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