What is it about left hand curves? The demons were not
there in the beginning. After all, a left hand curve
allows you a wider arc than a right hand curve. You are
not pushing with your throttle hand so you do not have
the worry of rolling on the throttle while pushing. So
where did the demons come from? And can they be
The majority of my riding during the past two years has
occupied the right track with Cliff leading in the left
track. Occasionally I have drifted a little wide while
attempting to stay in the right track through a left
curve. But that was not enough to summon the demons.
Was it that infamous trip on the road from Masonville?
It was a crisp June morning as the group headed out that
day. Just outside of Masonville, Cliff and I pulled
over to wait for Polar X. Hard to believe I know,
but so true. We then headed out to catch up
with the rest of the group. Since Chris, Cliff and
I all have the same
radios, Chris was able to provide feedback on how I was
taking the curves while Cliff set a comfortable pace.
So far so good.
Then the curves started to tighten and appear more
frequently left, right, left I have had enough of
these curves right damn, another one left. I push
left, my boards scrape, I slow down, I push left, boards
still scrape, I am drifting out, I cannot push any
harder I am not going to make the curve. Now what?
Remembering my MSF course, I opt to straighten it out
and stop. Unfortunately, I needed a couple more feet of
pavement. As soon as I hit the edge of the pavement,
the bike slammed down on the shoulder.
This incident left me a little concerned about why I
could not push any harder. Why did I miss the corner?
We were not going fast. Did I just pick the wrong
line? Two weeks later, Cliff and I find ourselves
bringing up the rear of one of the July rides. We are
on High Grade Road almost to Conifer approaching a tight
curve. Cliff keys his microphone to warn me of the
gravel in curve and tell me to slow my speed. I round
the curve and all I can see is gravel from one side of
the lane to the other. The next thing I know, I am
going faster not slower. I cant see the track that is
clear of gravel. There is no shoulder, only
guardrails. I HAVE to make the corner!
I look where I want the bike to go. I do not touch my
brakes. And I pray. My board is scraping. I am through
the curve, but coming up on Cliff too fast. Have I
cleared the gravel? Can I use my brakes now?
Thankfully Cliff picks up his pace. And yes, this was a
left hand curve.
I realized two valuable lessons that day. If you tense
your throttle hand, it has a tendency to roll the
throttle on. And if the heel of your hand is on your
throttle boss, simply loosening your grip will not roll
the throttle off.
Since that time, I have made a conscious effort NOT to
tighten my grip on the throttle. The throttle boss was
turned out of the way. I kept riding. But the lefts
kept getting worse, not better. I would switch from the
right track to the left track for left hand curves.
Then I found myself switching from left track to right
track for rights. What was going on? Where was my
A couple of weeks ago, Cliff and I were reviewing online
articles. We came across an article on how to make your
bike fit you. They were not talking about all the
customizing that expresses your personality. They were
discussing physically how to make the bike fit the
rider. They discuss modifications to the seat, foot
controls, levers, pegs and handlebar. One of the
articles suggestions is that you sit on your bike,
close your eyes, and extend your arms to a comfortable
riding position. Open your eyes to get an idea of what
adjustments may be necessary.
So just for grins, I tried this. Cliff had worked with
me to adjust the bike providing me with the knowledge his
many years of riding had provided him. Much to my
surprise, the grips (and handlebar) were too low.
So with a quick turn of a couple screws the handle bar
clamp was loosened. I moved the bar up maybe an inch at
most. I did not think any more about it. After all, it
was a very small adjustment.
Imagine my surprise on our next ride when I push left
and bike goes way left. All of a sudden, a gentle push
left and the bike leans into a nice line. No more
fighting the bike to go left. I have heard many VTX
riders comment on how you really have to work the Retro
in the corners. It had never occurred to me that I
might be pushing harder than I should to control the
bike. Could that small of a change make that much of a
difference in my leverage on the bars? Could the demons
be banished this easily? Ask me again after I have a
few more miles, but yes I think so.
Two weeks before the Masonville ride, we had installed
4 Rivco risers and lowered the handlebar. The
handlebar had been adjusted to a comfortable arm/wrist
position that would eliminate the strain on my shoulders
or upper arms. I had clearance for lock to lock turns
so what could be wrong? As I considered the position
that I chose recently while having my eyes closed, I
realized that I need at least some tension in my
shoulders/upper arms to provide me with leverage when pushing.
As I ride this upcoming winter and spring, I will pay
more attention to how my bike fits me. Do I have the
best sitting position? Do the foot controls fit me?
Should I make other adjustments? Adjusting your bike to
fit you is not only a matter of comfort, but of safety
from Motorcycle Cruiser Magazine,
"Just adjust: Set up your
motorcycle to fit you."