Too Hot!

By Reg Pridmore

Originally printed in Motorcyclist Magazine many years ago,  it still rings true today.

Sooner or later, it hits even the best rider — the sudden realization that your approach speed is much too fast for the corner rapidly filling your faceshield. It doesn’t matter if you’re a commuter cruising home from work or a racer who just suffered a lapse of attention at speed; riding out of this mess gracefully demands attention, skill and mental preparedness. Let’s take the problem a stage at a time.

DECIDE TO MAKE IT: Your first emotion should be a firm determination to “ride through the corner”. You have to stay mentally strong and suppress any doubts, which can quickly explode into panic, and can overwhelm your ability to take charge of the situation. Too often a rider panics and locks the rear brake, losing his ability to control the situation. He then slides off a corner that he could have made if he simply had been resolved to do so.

Some riders simply freeze, and never make any control inputs at all. It’s more common for a rider to crash when he panics entering a corner that he could have completed than it is for a rider to fall trying to corner too hard. Learn to relax and maintain your body position and motorcycle control in these high-pressure circumstances.

LEAD WITH YOUR EYES: You go where you look, so LOOK UP THE ROAD AND THROUGH THE CORNER where you want to go. Don’t let you eyes begin searching for a place to crash. Part of overcoming panic is wrenching your eyes away from the ditch or railing or even the open field looming ahead and putting them where you want to turn. It’s also the first step in actually turning that way.

BRAKE DEEP, LEAN HARD: If there’s ever a moment when your braking practice pays off, it’s now. As long as you have some significant pavement ahead, there is room to brake. The slower you go, the tighter an arc you can ride through the corner. Of course, the closer you come to the edge of the lane, the tighter an arc you NEED to stay there. Given sufficient room and hard enough braking, at some point your speed drops below the point at which you can safely lean it over and drive through the corner. That speed is probably higher than you realize, however, unless you have spent some time on a racetrack exploring the outer edges of your bike’s performance abilities. The only way you will learn how much your bike has left and how to use it fully is to practice

LEARN FROM THIS EXPERIENCE: A close call should reinforce your confidence if you handle it successfully, reminding you that you have a reserve to tap. It should also remind you of your limitations. In other words, either know your road, or slow down.


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Reg Approved: The Shoei X-Fourteen

The New Shoei X-14: In January I had the privilege of being invited to the Shoei X-Fourteen Launch Event at Chuckwalla Raceway. The morning press meeting was as you would expect, full of info and testing results that show how vastly improved – aerodynamic, visual, cool and lightweight the new helmet is.
       But when I was able to put it on and take it for a ride, that’s when I realized it truly lives up to the hype. My personal findings were that the helmet is exceptional. All the major areas: the visual is improved, the fit was perfect, the ventilation is remarkable and the streamlining made the helmet exceptionally steady at speed.
       Shoei has done their homework in the wind tunnel and I am confident that this new helmet is a vast improvement over last year’s model. I’ve never been a complainer but I’ve listened to some comments about heads buffeting at speeds such as are found on the straightaway at VIR. I figured it was just part of riding fast. And helmets are warm when the temperature gets in the 90’s, that’s how it is. The new X-14 aerodynamics along with the ventilation system promises to keep my head comfortably steady and cool all year long.

Holding You Close: Some Advice on Two-up Riding

    What makes a good two-up rider? First is a sense of caution and respect for
your companion. You need to assess your passenger. For some people, a ride
on the back is very exhilarating. They enjoy the speed factor. For others, it
can be very scary. It’s your job to gauge this before getting under way, by asking
your rider about their experiences and preferences.
    One of your most important responsibilities is to keep your ego in check.
Never try to impress your passenger or condition them to your accustomed
speed. Not only is this dangerous, but they may never want to ride with you
again (or with anyone else, for that matter). Being a responsible two-up rider
also means accounting for the added weight and its effects on turning and
stopping. Since the total package has more mass, you’ll need to apply the
brakes harder and allow more stopping distance. You’ll also need to educate
your passenger about the various methods of holding on. If you’re carrying an
unfamiliar passenger, make sure you get used to their movements and effects
on the bike. Fatigue is another issue to be aware of because two-up riding can
really wear you out due to the added weight, so moderate distance and saddle
time accordingly.
    You should get the bike off the side stand or center stand and be comfortably
seated with both feet down and the front brake on before allowing anyone to
get aboard. Settle in and give the word OK to board. A tall passenger may be
able to swing the right leg over the bike and put both feet on the passenger
pegs simultaneously. A shorter rider will need to stand on the left peg and
swing his or her right leg over, and for this you need to be well braced with
the left foot down and the bike straight upright. The passenger should put a
hand on your back or shoulder for balance while climbing on. Both of you
should give a thumbs up or verbal OK when ready to get underway.
    On the track or for sport riding, pillion riders should:
Reach around and place the hands on the tank.  This way passengers can support themselves under any braking conditions rather than forcing you to support them
with your arms. If they cannot comfortably reach around to the tank, they should
push on the small of your back during hard braking. Gigi also squeezes with her
knees to hold her back under braking. Don’t have them push on your upper body,
which requires that you support them with your arms and affects your use of the
    Squeeze with the elbows, squeeze with the knees.   Those passengers who are
able to place their hands on the tank should squeeze the operator’s torso with
their elbows under acceleration. This will help keep them planted in the middle
of the saddle under hard acceleration. Those riders who can’t reach around to
the tank should simply grasp the operator’s waist under acceleration.
    Use proper foot position.  Passengers should keep the toes up (not pointed
down) and the balls of the feet on the pegs. This ensures that their boots
don’t touch the ground in corners (for aggressive sport riding), and provides
a good foundation for weight shifts and moving around in the saddle. (Riders
aboard cruisers or big touring bikes with footboards needn’t pay attention to
    Look through the corner.  Passengers should keep their eyes level with the
roadway, turn their heads, and look through the corner–just as the operator
does. This is critically important, as it directly influences body position,
ensuring that the operator and passenger move in unison. It all starts with
the eyes and head! Work together.
     Don’t be a wet sack. Being a passenger at a sporting pace isn’t a passive
role. No daydreaming, please. The passenger needs to be an active part of the
rider/machine combo, and not daydream.  Many passengers on Honda Gold
Wings and other large touring bikes might contest that last point. In fact, some
pillion riders see nothing wrong with taking a nap back there in that big old
armchair. In my opinion this is a dangerous practice. Snoozing riders on the
back will negatively affect handling–especially at a sporting pace. They may
also endanger  themselves in the event of a quick stop or evasive maneuver.
This doesn’t mean they can’t relax and enjoy the scenery. But at all times,
passengers have a responsibility to be an integral part of the package. This
also includes traffic and road awareness.
    Passengers should also take care not to distract the pilot with a constant
refrain of “Look at that!” This type of distraction could cause an accident.
    As we Spring forward in 2016, I hope these tips help to encourage pilots and
passengers to enjoy the ride together. Ride safe, think fast.