Total Control News

The latest news from Total Control Superadvanced Riding Clinic. Motorcycle news, events and all things bike related.

25 May 2010

The Laws of Physics

"You cannae change the laws of physics Cap'n" as Engineer Scott famously said in Star Trek and although it was a science fiction programme, the statement is most certainly fact and these same laws play a massive role in keeping us safe on our bikes.

In conversation with a retired motorcycle Policeman the other day, I enquired as to why all bike cops rode around bolt upright in the saddle and astonishingly the answer is that it "looks professional". I would have expected him to have told me that the upright style brings many benefits, but no, it is the look that is important. I suppose the thinking goes that the Police are considered to be good riders and can hustle along well enough sitting bolt upright, therefore riders that hang off like their favourite racers, will try and ride like their favourite racers (fast) and that of course must be discouraged.

Although it may look professional, to certain eyes, the bolt upright riding style has a particular and deadly disadvantage that outweighs any of its advantages.

The picture with this blog is of a chimney in mid collapse. Notice that the top of the chimney has broken away from the main body and has adopted a much steeper angle than the rest of it. This is a wonderful illustration of Newton's First Law also known as the Law of Inertia, which states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest and that an object in uniform motion tends to stay in uniform motion unless acted upon by a net external force. The chimney in the picture has started to fall because the demolition contractor has knocked its feet out from under it, thus rendering it unstable. As it falls it tries to accelerate the entire mass of the chimney, but there is a bit of a problem in that the top of the chimney has to accelerate much, much faster than the bottom of it. The first bit of Newtons law states that stuff wants to stay at rest, so the brick built chimney snaps in the middle as the inertia of the top resists the acceleration forces coming up from the base. The only way to stop the chimney from snapping is to lower it at a rate that allowed all the components to accelerate together. This rate would be much slower than that due to gravity alone and would require some sort of external counter force to be applied. Watching videos of concrete, rather than brick chimneys being demolished shows that because they cannot snap due to their massive strength they fall very, very slowly once their foundations have been blasted away.

This leads us straight to the problem with the bolt upright riding style in that a bike is like the falling chimney. When we lean the bike over to negotiate a corner, the faster we lean it, the quicker it will turn and the slower we lean it, the slower it will turn. If we try to lean it quickly, then Newtons law of inertia means that our very heavy head wants to stay where it is and like the top of the brick chimney in the picture, it tends to get left behind. If we lean it at a rate that allows us to keep our head in line with the rest of the bike, then like the concrete chimney, it has to lean very slowly indeed.

This wouldn't matter so much but for the fact that leaning a bike slowly takes up a fair amount of road in going from upright to leaned over. To counter this problem, we have to start the leaning process early and the earlier we start leaning the bike the wider we will run at the exit of the corner. To counter running wide at the exit, we have to lean the bike over more and run the risk of dragging hard parts or running out of tyre which usually means we run wide.

Running wide on rural bends is the biggest killer of riders in this country, yet the Police use and encourage a riding style that practically guarantees that riders will run wide and kill themselves. It hardly makes any sense.

As it is impossible to change the laws of physics as Scotty once told us, we will have to change something else to make them work in our favour rather than working against us.

Luckily there is a solution to the problem and it's called the Total Control riding style which we are hoping will eventually become the default professional style for riders of all types. After all, you cannae change the laws of physics!

Get yourself booked onto a course today and learn the secrets of the Total Control riding style, you never know, it might well save your life.

13 May 2010

The "killer" question?

So who, or what is the biggest killer of motorcycle riders? Let's take a look at the usual suspects to see if we can find the truth.

Surely the biggest killer must be the idiots in cars, not looking properly and wiping us out at junctions? No, although they do have an impressive kill rate, they are not the biggest killer.

What about potholes then? There is a lot in the news about these horrid things, they must be at number 1? No, in fact the victim count from potholes is remarkably small considering how many of them are out there.

Must be diesel spills, due to the carelessness of many truck drivers? Once again a resounding no, although there are a lot of unplanned dismounts due to diesel and other surface contaminants, the morgues are not bursting at the seams because of it.

Ahh, speeding, that must be it. The Government tells us that speed kills, so that must be the answer? It's certainly the easy answer, but it is not the right answer. Breaking the speed limit might kill a few of us, but again, it is not the biggest killer.

To find the correct answer, we must first find the killing ground where most of us end up dying and work out the solution from there. According to all the information gathered from many fatal accidents over the years, it is the rural left hand bend where most of the carnage takes place, not one particular bend you understand, but any and all of them. To add to the horror, in most of the fatal accidents on this type of bend, there was nobody else involved at the beginning of the accident, but there usually is some kind of third party involvement at the end of it.

Averaging out all these accidents, they all seem to follow a sickeningly inevitable course. Our victim is happily bowling along the road, enjoying all the sensations that riding a motorcycle brings when a corner hoves into view. There is nothing unusual in this, as our victim has already negotiated dozens of corners just like this one on the ride so far, so why should this one need special consideration? Trouble is, our rider has made a serious mistake on the approach to the corner because it is most definitely NOT like all the corners that have gone before. Maybe it tightens, or perhaps there is a huge patch of gravel on the surface, or even a tractor parked up just out of sight round the corner. Whatever it is that makes this corner different to all the rest, it is going to have a profound effect on our rider when they suddenly realise it IS different.

What happens immediately after this moment of realisation, will seal our rider's fate and it is THIS moment that is the answer to the "killer question".

The action a rider takes at the moment of realisation of his mistake is by far and away the biggest killer.

Although many riders might make similar mistakes, the mistake does not seal the rider's fate. Fixing mistakes that riders make will certainly help to reduce the carnage, but there are so many mistakes to be made that you could not possibly fix them all.

Much better to concentrate on the moment of realisation, because you will get one of those, irrespective of the mistake you may have made.

That's the big difference between Total Control and other advanced riding courses. Other courses will try and show you how to avoid making mistakes, whilst Total Control will show you what happens at the moment of realisation and what you should do about it.

We call this Superadvanced riding, you should try it, it might well save your life.

8 May 2010

Heart of England Bike Show

This litle show organised by Warwickshire Council, will be at the Heritage Motor Centre near Gaydon in Warwickshire this Sunday and we will be there to promote Total Control.

Am just about to go and set up the stand, and even though the weather is a bit murky today, all being well it will be much better tomorrow.

There will be lots of training organisations attending such as IAM and Bikesafe, so it will be a good opportunity to introduce Total Control to them as well as all the visitors. If you fancy a nice ride out into the country, why not come along to Gaydon and say hello.