Reg’s End of Summer Newsletter

Hey Mates,

CONFIDENCE. Maybe you’re wondering why it’s in bold print at the top of this page. That’s James leading the way and he has come such a long way since he first started coming to CLASS many years ago. He’s on a sportbike, but this kind of confidence can be had on any style motorcycle. We have a rider, George,  who comes year in and year out to VIR on a full dresser Harley that amazes all of us. Confidence is such a personal thing and so important to being a good rider. What inspires confidence? I would say it’s all about control, technique and desire. Being able to feel at one with your motorcycle. Your brain, body and throttle hand, your engine and your wheels all in sync. Making it all come together and smoothly flow as one. That’s when confidence comes. Forget about speed, it will come. It’s a good feeling and more than that, having that control is also important in keeping you safe.

But beware of false or over-confidence and bad habits which will lead you down a path you don’t want to be led. Good coaching and good practice can help your riding immensely. But beware of bad coaching too. I once had a student who told me their “racing coach” said if they weren’t crashing, they weren’t doing it right… I couldn’t disagree more. That’s why we do what we do at CLASS.

Since we’ve been back from the Isle of Man tour, Gigi and I have had an extended summer vacation. Very relaxing, but I’m missing riding the racetrack!  It’s finally kicking down a gear as we’ve been hard at work this past couple of weeks finalizing plans for some upcoming schools. I’m proud and excited to be conducting a school wholly dedicated to motorcycle cops. It happens Sept 22 out at Streets of Willow. Last year over Labor Day we had 4 officers from SoCal attend and they were hooked. With their help we’ve put together a whole day just for cops. We’ve got PD, Sheriffs and CHP all coming out to ride and learn and and extending their already vast knowledge of control. We’re really looking forward to it.

But first, we have a great fall season starting up next week. Monday is Labor Day and we, along with our mates at SHOEI Helmets, will be at Streets of Willow to ride!  They will also have several new helmets on hand to take for a demo ride — including the new X-14. I hope you’ll try them out. There are a few openings, so if you’d like to join us, register today. Oh and don’t forget, barbecue lunch is compliments of SHOEI as well. It’s definitely one not to miss.

Today is the LAST day to save if you register for VIR. As of Sept 1, the price goes to $895. Most of you guys have taken advantage of the early sign up $100 savings, but thought I’d just drop a reminder. As of today there are only 3 or 4 spots open, so if you’ve been waiting to sign up, there’s no time like now. Our VIRginia dates are Oct 17 & 18 —  you’ve still got 6 weeks to get your trip plans together, but not if it’s sold out!

D-DAY! is back and the dates are Sept 23 & 24. This is our most in depth and comprehensive class all year. It’s limited to 12 students and we’ll have 12 or more instructors on hand to work with each student extensively. As of today I have two openings and that could be on your motorcycle or on one of mine. If you’re interested in really taking it up a notch or two, consider joining us as one of the Dirty Dozen at D-Day.

We still have some bike rentals available for all our remaining Streets of Willow dates.  We have the 2016 Honda CB300 and CBR300 as well as the 2016 CB500 and CBR500. These are great bikes for that tight technical racetrack and sure to be a ton of fun. Learn more about our bike rental program here.

I am happy to announce I recently re-established a great association with a past sponsor. Many of you may remember Baxley Wheel Chocks from CLASS. These are the best front wheel stands on the market. They are seriously well made and I can highly recommend them. Unlike a rear wheel stand, you can roll the bike into these and both wheels are basically on the ground. Really a nice feature. I will most likely have a couple for sale at the track (I always sell out quickly) but meantime, you might want to check them out at baxleybyprovidence.com.

Last month I blog posted a short entry from my book, Smooth Riding the Pridmore Way. It’s fun to go back and see some of the timely things we (myself with the help of my co-author/editor Geoff Drake) wrote about. This one’s about how the concept of smoothness became all important to me, and you can read it here.  Being a smoother rider paid big dividends in solo racing but also in my Isle of Man sidecar racing in the 70’s.

I hope you’ll come out and ride with us at one of our fall dates — beginning Monday with Labor Day at Streets, and finishing up at Laguna Seca on Nov 3 & 4 (with several dates in between). Check our calendar.   Hope to see you at the track this fall. Til then, ride safe, think fast!

Cheers,

Reg’o #163

P.S. A new shipment of tires just arrived, I better go help unload them. If you need them, Dunlop Q3s are still just $250 delivered to your door. Order here…

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The “Stone Axe” – Beginning to Master Smoothness

by Reg Pridmore

Where does smoothness come from? For many, it’s a cultivated skill, acquired for reasons of safety, speed, or maybe just to be a classier-looking rider. Certainly, these are legitimate reasons.

For me, as a racer in the ’70s, it was a matter of survival, plain and simple. Smoothness was part of my race kit, like a good set of leathers. I didn’t become smooth for highminded reasons, or to impress anyone, or for bragging rights. I did it as a means of self-preservation.

My smooth riding techniques started as far back as 1965, when I had a horrific crash (resulting in a double compound fracture, broken ribs, broken collarbone, and a fractured skull). It was then that I began to formulate my philosophy of smoothness and control. I decided I couldn’t fight the bike. I had to work with it, using the controls and body inputs in a natural manner.

Imagine, for a moment, that the year is ’77. I’m riding a Kawasaki KZ1000. The hulking 1,046cc, four-cylinder motor has been tuned to make more than 140 horsepower (measured on the famous Axtell rear-wheel dynamometer). But here is the twist: This angry lump is wrapped in an almost whimsically flexible double-down tube frame. The spindly, 34mm forks bend and sway under braking and cornering loads. The bikes quickly earn the nickname, “flexi-flyers.” There is no fairing and only a small handlebar, making speeds of 140-plus a perfect opportunity to practice great body input. (These speeds were routinely achieved at Riverside and Ontario raceways in California. I reached 150-plus at Daytona, Florida, and Pocono, Pennsylvania.) This twitchy package—propelled by an explosive motor—means that any throttle, braking, and steering inputs must be made with a deft touch. At the fastest speeds it’s near impossible to lift my hands off the bar, because before I can grasp the levers, the wind forces my fingers back.

It was a monster, plain and simple. How did I deal with it? My philosophy was to let the bike have its own head. What else could I do? If I tried to manhandle it, I’d end up on the ground. Take a track like Sears Point, for instance. In what’s known as the “Esses”—a series of quick right-left turns, with elevation loss—the big KZ had a tendency to do what it wanted. The front end would push pretty bad. If I rolled off the throttle at a corner entry, the front would just drop away. Sometimes it would move and I’d think, “It’s not coming back this time.” But it would. I had to be smooth in all my transitions, use my knee as an outrigger, and try not to tighten up or panic.

The big Kawi wasn’t the only bike that forced me to exercise a gentle touch. The BMW R90S, which I rode from ‘74 to ‘76, was another classroom for dedication and smoothness. Here was a bike that had been brought to the thin-edge of reliability with titanium connecting rods, hollow valve lifters, hollow titanium pushrods, and a host of other modifications that made it fast but fragile. The transmission was a little antiquated, and would come apart if you were rough on it. Stock rpm limit was about 7,000, but we used to coax as much as 9 grand out of the motor in order to generate peak power, with no rev limiter, of course!

People called it a grenade, ready to explode. But the trick to dealing with a grenade is to not pull the pin, or, if you must pull the pin, put it back very gently. And that was accomplished with smoothness and dedication. I had to be in touch with the motor and chassis at all times, and monitor all my inputs in the correct manner.

Those old bikes would scare the heck out of anyone accustomed to today’s great sportbikes. These days, the bikes do a lot of the work for you. Sometimes I feel lucky that I was self-trained so many years ago, when control and smoothness meant everything. Riding those old bikes was the perfect preparation for the powerful machines we have today. You still have to manage the phenomenal power of today’s bikes very carefully, but in general, they have far more capability than most riders can use.

When I think back, I realize that in every era, riders have struggled to master the capabilities of their machines. It amazes me to think that the Isle of Man TT is 100+ years old. Those first riders, on their flat-tank Nortons and Triumphs, would probably think I had it easy racing in the ’70s, in the same way that I am amazed at the capabilities of today’s sportbikes.

Where does it all end? Thankfully, it never does. We all make the best of what we have. That is the artistry and the beauty of our sport. We try, sometimes we fail or fall down, but we move on, and we learn. It’s the learning that counts, and I try never to forget that, no matter what I’m riding. Experience is the teacher.

regsiglg

Excerpt from Smooth Riding – the Pridmore Way by Reg Pridmore with Geoff Drake
Smooth Riding – the Pridmore Way is available through CLASS or your favorite bookseller
Copyright Reg Pridmore

Brushing up on panic

If you read motorcycle magazines with any regularity, especially articles on riding safety, you might begin to feel as though you know it all when it comes to getting around safely on the street. I read a lot and I see that there is a lot of  information flowing out there, and some of it is bad. I really feel that some writers tend to baffle us and I believe sometimes it’s from lack of experience.

I have been teaching riders for many. many years, and with that experience comes a lot of knowledge on some of the main things for which riders tend to be unprepared. I don’t profess to have all the answers, but I do know that most riders haven’t brushed up on “panic”. I think it’s because riders aren’t realistic enough to think it could happen to “them”, or “I’ll deal with it if it comes”. Not a good decision. Being prepared and practicing panic and the “what ifs” are the secrets to survival.

My 25 years as a road racer taught me to stay one jump ahead of the panic game. Things happen quickly on the race track and you better be ready for whatever the race throws at you, or you won’t make it as a racer.

My sincere message to all who ride is to learn the meaning of control and finesse. This is what I teach at CLASS, and though it’s not rocket science, a large percentage of my students come back to me saying that no matter how long they have been riding, learning the secrets to control and finesse, and practicing it on the race track, has opened a new world of riding to them.

But new recruits sometimes arrive with ham fisted techniques that get them into trouble quickly on the racetrack, and most certainly at some time on the street. I call them “point and shoot artists” that know how to twist a throttle, but they aren’t in touch with their emotions and soon they are led down the road to Panic. It gets expensive and it can also get deadly. But even if you’re not the type to point and shoot, riders must stop and think seriously about what it is they are doing, and what the real consequences could be of doing it wrong or of underestimating what’s around the next bend. It’s not a game, it’s survival. Planning ahead, staying in tune with what’s happening every second, that’s preparation for the unknown.

You can practice by imagining the “what ifs”. It takes hard work on your part to keep these things in mind, especially when your favorite Sunday ride is a never ending ribbon of smooth twisty roads through some beautiful countryside. The last thing you want to interrupt this paradise with is the thought of something bad happening to you.

I try to practice these bad situations on some of my neighboring twisty roads, oftentimes two up, where it’s more than just my life involved. I imagine that around the next curve is ______. You fill in the blank. Are you ready for it?

I want to be prepared. I want to be ready for that SUV sitting at the intersection with his left hand flasher ticking away, ready to go ahead and turn left in front of me. I want to be ready for that vision impaired driver at the T junction who must see my highbeam coming up the road, and pulls out in front of me just before I get there. Or the gravel laying on the line of the familiar turn in my favorite twisty road, or for that 18 wheeler to decide he likes my lane better than his own!

If you can be a step ahead of the game, plan ahead, control your emotions as well as your motorcycle, practice getting ready for the unknown, that’s what helps keep panic from rearing it’s ugly head. Believe me, it can happen at any time.

Oh and remember, don’t believe everything you read. Test it with common sense and keep your survival, not just your corner speed, in mind.

Ride Safe and hope to see you at the track!

regsiglg

Never Again

It happened to me, it could happen to you

By Gigi Pridmore

You’ve probably heard it said “All the gear, all the time.” And we think, “It’s so hot,” or “I’m not going far,” or “Really? I’m not a racer.” I know, I’m guilty of it too. At the track, I’m dressed in leathers; well made, protective, sponsor-plastered, red, white and blue Zooni race leathers. I even wear a back protector, a top-of-the-line pair of Sidi boots, a new SHOEI helmet and a pair of Held Titan gloves. When I ride in the dirt, I’m wrapped-up like the Michelin man (with respect to Dunlop, they don’t have a man). I don’t want to crash, but if I do, I don’t want to get hurt. I’m ready to ride!

But on the street I have mostly been, “Most of the gear, almost all the time.” Until that beautiful, sunny February day.

Reg and I had met friends at the Rock Store for breakfast and were having an enjoyable Sunday ride. We ran into Jay Leno there that morning and had to get the picture! Heading home, two-up on our Honda CB1000R, we came around a blind, slightly downhill right-hander on Mulholland Highway. Scattered across the road was sand. Not just a little sand, deep sand, as if someone had put it there on purpose. From my pillion position, I was looking through to the right of Reg’s helmet and my very first thought was “That’s sssss…”—and I was on the ground sliding. The front-end tucked so fast I couldn’t complete the thought! I was on my back thinking, “OK, this isn’t so bad, hopefully I’ll stop soon and not hit anything.” Thankfully I came quickly to a stop without further ado.

Cool. Reg was up, now I needed to get up to warn the other riders behind us (my ‘CLASS instructor’ mentality went into action). But it was very hard to get up, and once I did, I was having severe trouble walking. Friends behind stopped and Reg and our doctor friend Dean helped guide me to the side of the road to sit down. I was starting to go into shock.

The reason for the injury? When I came off the bike, I landed on my knees. My new blue jeans were ruined and I was bleeding. I couldn’t look, but my knees—once my best feature—now had deep divots in them full of sand and gravel. In addition, my femoral nerves had gone into shock and my knees and legs didn’t want to work at all. The bike was hardly damaged and not really realizing it, Reg said, “OK lady, let’s get back on and ride home.” I said, “You can ride, I think I’ll catch a lift.” Then Reg’s knee started to swell (the bike had landed on it and he was bleeding too). An ambulance ride was our best option.

So we created the scene, and what a scene it was. CHP and fire trucks and really cute firemen/paramedics were assisting us. Bicycles and Harleys and everything in between were slowly threading their way through the mayhem, gawking. Thankfully we had our sense of humor about us. And then we were unceremoniously pushed into the ambulance and taken to the hospital emergency room. Did I mention it really hurt? Neither one of us had anything else wrong with us; our protective gear (of which we wore all, except for the jeans) had done its job. All of this—plus several months recovering—because we had on blue jeans and not our riding pants with knee armor. Those were home in the closet.

And that’s why I’m on the soapbox. We know a lot of motorcyclists and I could tell you story after story about riders getting hurt because they weren’t dressed for the crash. And often it was just something so close and innocent as to be within a mile of their home or work. Accident statistics point out that most crashes happen close to home, so a short trip is no excuse to skip the riding gear. I talk to a lot of people who need to get gear to attend our school—because gear is a requirement. And the conversation usually goes something like this:

Student: Well, I have a jacket and a helmet.

Me: OK, great. Is it a motorcycle jacket and does it have armor in the elbows and shoulders and does it fit well? You know if you go down you want the padding the stay in place. Is it made of quality materials like good leather (not all leather is the same) or Carbolex textile? Does it have quality abrasion resistant materials like Kevlar? Now you need some good motorcycle pants, good boots, good gloves. Oh, and how’s your helmet? We recommend it be five-years old or newer and undamaged. Some other things to think about: Are the stitches well-done of quality thread? Are the seams hidden or are they right in the spot that will get worn away as you’re sliding down the road in a crash? Is the armor CE approved? Don’t just trust that if it says ‘motorcycle gear’ it’s quality. Use your brain, research, and be proactive in choosing good riding gear.

I don’t really go through that extreme interrogation, but these would be the things I would be looking for if I were buying. If the rider is super-inquisitive, I’ll give ’em all I’ve got.

Student: Well, can I rent something? I’m not a racer.

Me: Possibly, but let’s talk about your gear first. You know, I would really recommend (yes, now I’m meddling) that you get some quality clothing to ride in, even on the street. Let me tell you about riding in blue jeans…

Actually, I haven’t told that story too many times, but occasionally…

They often tend to resist and I know it’s partially from ignorance, partially from rationalization (I’m not going to crash today), and partially from wanting to get away with the lowest investment they can in gear. “A back protector? No way! I don’t race!” Let me tell you about my street riding friend who went down on the road after hitting something slippery in a sweeping turn. He slid back first into the curbing on the other side of the road and was extremely grateful that he always slipped his back protector on under his well-made textile suit. And he’s never been on a racetrack in his life.

I also mention that when it comes to gear, you get what you pay for. If you say the $59 or $79 cheaply made jacket offered by the local motorcycle chain is better than nothing, you’re right. But when it comes to your safety, do you really want to settle for “better than nothing?” Or would you rather walk away glad that you invested some hard-earned dosh in protecting yourself from the “what ifs?”

When it comes to tech inspection at CLASS, we have a wide-variety of gear that we’ll allow. But keep in mind, we also mention this in our liability release—you sign that you are comfortable that your gear will be adequate. We can’t police the world. So get yourself armed with some good information about what’s available and what’s best, and remember that you get what you pay for. Whether you go for leathers or textile gear, be proactive in choosing good-quality gear.

What about helmets? Is it a quality helmet like the Shoei that I wear? Does your helmet fit properly? After almost every crash I’ve seen, we look at the helmet and note that this guy or that gal would have had some serious facial damage without their full-face helmet. How much is your head worth? Updated standards and new technology mean that newer helmets are better and safer than old ones. And safety standards such as SNELL exist for a reason. How much is your head worth? I say mine’s worth a lot, so I pay for a really good Shoei helmet.

Boots: In a crash your feet can get flung far and wide or land under the bike or hit something else. A broken ankle will likely be a lifelong reminder of that day. I know because I’m married to an ex racer—there are a few injuries he still lives with daily. But remember, it can happen on the street as well as the track.

Gloves: I love a great pair of gauntlet gloves with armored knuckles and wrist guards and seriously good kangaroo skin, among other things. And they are not cheap—because they are well made of good-quality materials. I have seen people wearing soft deerskin work gloves at our schools, or motocross gloves that are cloth and made for dirt, not asphalt. Let me ask you this: Do you need your hands tomorrow? I need mine. I’m wearing the best gloves I can find.

Since the crash, Reg and I have only ridden on the street a few times. The reason is that I haven’t taken the time to get adequate pants to go with our good jackets (those pants in the closet now look marginal to me). Believe it or not, the times we have gone out we have worn our CLASS leathers! Oh yeah, we get some looks, especially in the restaurant🙂 As we get further from that fateful day, it’s easy to think, ‘these jeans will work.’ STOP! Don’t do it. I learned from this experience, and I hope I can spare you some pain and aggravation with the lesson learned.

GRgearStory

Footnote: Reg and I are super excited this year because in May we’re heading to England and the Isle of Man for a motorcycle adventure with 15 of our closest friends. The good folks at TourMaster have lined us up with some nice protective, waterproof motorcycle clothing. Held USA has us fitted us for some excellent new waterproof gloves, Sidi has our feet warm and dry with their Gore-Tex street boots and SHOEI has us stylin’ and well protected in new X-14 helmets. Thank you very much to these fine companies.

 

The Fun and Windy Challenge

A great day with  a great CLASS Team

Say what you will about the desert, it’s beauty, it’s starkness, it’s highly contrasting and sometimes grueling weather conditions help make it exactly what it is: a challenge.

My riding days have always been and always will be the experience that points me toward fun and survival. From the days back in the streets of Hornchurch and the surrounding area, outside of London. If you didn’t like to ride in the weather, you might want to find another hobby. I imagine it’s still the same now. On the other hand, California nearly always offers my favorite type of riding conditions. Oh, it does rain here. I love riding in the rain and I love the challenge of beating a scary wind at its own game.

Streets of Willow is renowned for its testing ground and there have been pictures in most every motorcycle mag in the country showcasing the incredible beauty of the California high desert. What those pictures don’t show is the wind that can blow out there for days on end.

Monday’s school at Streets gave us those desert winds. I think the forecast was 25 mph with gusts to 40. In the afternoon you had to be careful how your parked your motorcycle because the wind was strong enough to blow it over. Dealing with this condition at speed became more of a task if you wanted to play the game. But everyone there met the challenge head on and trained to cope better than ever with challenges the desert has to offer.

The morning started off a bit cool, in fact the track stayed on the cool side most of the day so warming up those black round things was top priority all day long. But I must give props to everyone in attendance because throughout the day, there was only one slide off attributed to cold tyres.

A windy condition such as we had on Monday really steepens the learning curve and can actually build skill and confidence at a faster rate. It helps teach the importance of relaxation on the bars, all the while using the lower body and even the throttle to keep the bike from being blown about. When you take these new skills out to your favorite road and find some unexpected wind, things are going to be much more familiar to you than if you always avoid riding in inclement weather.

But even with the desert windy day challenge thrown at us, the day was as good as it gets. It was a fantastic group of excited and appreciative students. Many of them already very good riders, others new to the track and a little nervous, and of course everything in between.  I believe we had two minor slide offs that day, but as has become the norm at a CLASS event, the ambulance stayed parked in one place all day long.

Huge thanks to everyone who made Monday such a great CLASS. And speaking of everyone who makes it possible, I just want to add a few words about my instructors.

I can say this at 100% of my schools, but I’ll just add that the CLASS team on Monday was outstanding, with about 10 of us including our latest addition to the crew, FNG Troy Simmons. Troy did something at our Laguna Seca school the prior week that made me know he was going to work out just fine. I was about to leave the turn 5 area with the B group on the morning track orientation, when Troy saw from the back of the line my tail-light dim as I tried to start my bike. My battery was dead – and he was alert. Within seconds he was giving me his motorcycle to continue on my way, and he proceeded to bump start mine and catch up with us a few minutes later. I single out Troy here, but I could tell you similar stories about every one of these blokes.  I am extremely happy with the team we have at this moment in time.

What do I look for in an instructor? Sure, a skilled rider is a must. But as important as that is, their situational awareness and ability and desire to help other riders is paramount. If you’ve ridden with us you know that my guys are not the ones continuously popping wheelies past the slower riders showing everyone how good they are. Most of them are very fast, and the occasional front wheel goes in the air, but for the most part, my guys are there to help you become a better rider. To work with you at whatever level you’re at, to help you climb the ladder of skill and accomplishment on a motorcycle, regardless of your current skill level. I choose these guys with special qualities in mind, and I’m happy to say we are often complimented on our professionalism, friendliness and the quality of the people who are the CLASS Team.

Ride safe, think fast.

Cheers,

Reg Pridmore

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.
-Reg

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
controls.
    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
this.)
    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.
Cheers,
Reg