Eyes and Horizons

Posted: May 24, 2010 by BlogMaster in Bike/Rider Safety
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An article written by John Fitzwater from Thunderbikes in Nelson

Body Mechanics

Judging by the number of requests for more information, our past few articles on Countersteering and Body Mechanics in Twin Eagle Magazine have been read with interest by quite a few riders. This time we’re going to continue on the Body Mechanics subject, and talk about your eyes and horizons.

Have you ever watched bike racing on TV where they’ve had a camera mounted in the fairing of the bike to give you a riders perspective? The angles of lean they reach seem to be exaggerated and you wonder “how the hell can they lean that far without getting disoriented?”. It sure is hard to watch on TV, never mind, actually doing it on the track!

Well, there’s a trick to all this
The camera is not exaggerating the lean angle – the picture you’re seeing is just how it looks to me when I’m racing my bike. Try this! Go and grab your favourite racing video with a “bike-cam” scene in it (if you haven’t got a video available, go and rent Joey Dunlop’s lap of the Isle of Man from the video store.) Press play, and as the bike begins an apparent lean to the left try leaning your head to the left also.

What happened?
It should have looked even worse and you nearly fell off the couch – right? Now try leaning your head in the opposite direction to the way the bike is leaning – so if you imagine that you’re on the bike, your eyes are remaining level with the horizon. As the bike banks to the left, lean your head to the right, and as it stands up and banks to the right, pick your head up and lean it to the left. Aha! Things just got dramatically better! Notice how the apparent lean angle and the cornering speed seems to slow down?

By now the dog is probably barking at you and wife is more convinced than ever you’ve got a hippo loose in the top paddock (if you really want to have fun with her, go and put your helmet and gloves on!).

Try it on the road
What worked for you in the living room, will also work for you on your bike on the road. Try it. Next time you’re carving up the twisties on your favourite bit of road, keep your eyes level with the horizon by leaning your head in the opposite direction to the way the bike is leaning. Your eyes can now do their job of transmitting balance and speed information to the brain without having to cope with the lean angle. The result is the whole scene will slow down and your cornering speed won’t feel so high, giving you a more relaxed ride, or the ability to go even quicker.

Another tip is to look well ahead of the bike, not at the road just in from of your wheel. Have a look at that race video again and observe how far ahead the racers are looking – they are constantly looking ahead to the next corner. This will also dramatically slow things down – a trap when travelling with a group of bikes is to watch the taillight of the bike in front of you . If you do this, your brain just wont have time to assimilate all the information in time – concentrate on the road beyond the bike in front of you and it’s amazing how much more time you seem to have.

Amaze your friends. Amaze yourself!
If you haven’t already been using this technique , you’ll wonder why someone never told you about it before.

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