Tips & tricks for successful riding 2

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Don't focus on anything

Scan ahead at all times and don't concentrate on any one thing. Someone who habitually looks at the ground ahead of the front wheel or the back of the car ahead is not getting the big picture. This will lead to surprises, which tend to get dealt with by jerky, hurried responses, instead of the smooth kind of riding that is not only safer but more enjoyable.

Look ahead consciously; control the bike subconsciously

Someone who looks deep through the corners and scans ahead is delegating the moment-to-moment control of the bike to the subconscious mind. If left alone by the conscious mind (which is slow by nature) the bike is very good at remaining upright, going where the rider looks, and recovering from irregularities.

Shift weight before entering a corner

This becomes natural after just a few days of practice. You can feel the bike settle in and hold the line by itself. This frees the rider to look ahead and deep. The arms and shoulders relax. The opposite of this is to steer the bike through the corner. The arms and shoulders become tense and interfere with the bike's natural balance, while making it more difficult to be smooth with the controls.

Cover the front brake

This saves 1/2 second of response time, which translates into a good distance traveled down the road. This gives you time to squeeze the lever progressively; you won't have to snatch at the lever, which is not the best way to get progressive brake action. Hold the throttle with the thumb and index finger, and put the next two fingers on the brake lever. If your bike has adjustable levers, check to make sure you can forcefully squeeze the lever all the way. If the lever is adjusted in too far, part of its travel may be blocked by the index finger, leaving you unable to perform a quick stop. You may not notice this problem in normal riding, so practice panic stops.

Flash your brake lights

When spotting possible trouble ahead, tap your brakes to warn drivers behind and roll off the throttle. When you anticipate in this way you'll feel much more in control and will do everything better. This is the principle behind the flashing brake light modification.

Pre-position your left foot when shifting

This shortens the time you spend with the clutch in, which aids smoothness, especially when up-shifting. However, avoid the common fault of failing to allow the shift lever to fall all the way to the bottom between up-shifts. This will cause the bike to miss shifts.

When shifting, be sure to not squeeze the clutch before rolling off the throttle

Again, this contributes to being smooth in all you do, and you won't be scared by a sudden increase in rpm.

Don't lean on the grips too much

This not only strains the wrists, arms, and shoulders, but makes for tense control of the throttle and levers. Grip the tank with your knees. When it comes time to use the controls, bring the back muscles into play to support the trunk. Now the arms and hands can be light and supple to aid in responding appropriately to the bike's feedback. See Staying light on the bars

Stay in your comfort zone

No one riding over their head or pushing the envelope in risky circumstances is going to be smooth and relaxed. Go to a track day to learn how to push your particular envelope.