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The Paradox of Speed and Control

Have you ever noticed a paradox with riding street motorcycles and racing, from the lowest to the highest level like MotoGP?!

Did it come to your attention that the front runners of all MotoGP categories leave the crashing to the riders in the backfield most of the time? That’s happening even though the race leaders are faster and have a dog-fight for the victory. Hm… right?!

I remember when I was a professional racer and I had only eyes for my riding performances. I remember there were many crashes behind me at Assen TT Circuit/NL, and I couldn’t understand why and how some slower racers were crashing, while I was marking every entry and exit with black lines to take a trophy home. Hm… right?!

There are beginner riders struggling with low speed maneuvers and don’t know why. Maybe because they are going so slow that their wheels lose any gyroscopic rotational force, and therefore stability. Hm… right?!

A less experienced rider recalls more likely what I call a ”protective reaction”. This is decision making, mostly wrong, triggered by pace. A feeling of “too fast” ends up in the dirt for actually no good reason most of the time.

Let’s consider another example. Here is track day rider Joe who is riding C group level and gets pulled by an instructor to a pace he’s never ridden at before. Those instructors are often short on teaching skills, so Joe goes back out again with a sloppy pointer that his body positioning sucks and with the muscle memorized pace. BUT… with the instructor is also the matching line for the higher pace gone, and Joe is- or could get in trouble.

Or let’s say you don’t know what counter steering is. Never learned it properly because you read it in a book and decided that you got this. You become faster and faster, but you can’t hold the lines like others and you are massively in danger all the time. It might be because the way you use to steer the bike can’t keep up with your mid-turn pace anymore.

So the two elements ‘speed and control’ found each other paradoxically at a certain rider level, correct? Also, it’s not always the most obvious reason to point out, isn’t it?!

This is not at all an invitation to just go faster! We need to understand that a certain momentum is needed to create stability in a beginner rider, even though it sounds paradoxical. We need to take time to let our eyes and brain get used to higher paces, so that we know what to do before doing a track day. We need the knowledge, skill, and experience to master our bikes first- and only then to reach out to the stars :-)

Headcoach Can Akkaya, Superbike-Coach Corp