MotoJitsu Lessons Learned

Ten years late for my Mid Life Crisis Motorbikle.  Taken the BRC, which was great, and at about 120 or so hrs of on-bike experience I found the single best online instructional video series:  MotoJitsu on YouTube.  Full website is motojitsu.com

Kudos:  This dude, “Fast Eddie,” is freaking awesome as an instructor.  Unlike most motorcycle videos online, he gives actual advice and instruction rather than only pointing to purchase DVDs or subscriptions.  You don’t have to buy his books at all to get value from this guy.  I DO BELIEVE HIS MAIN INTENT IS TO SAVE LIVES through skill.  I have purchased his first book, as well as the 1st & 2nd Editions of Lee Park’s “Total Control” instructional books.  Hashtag is #shutupandpractice

The way to use his channel and materials is to start at the extreme basics and master them by practice, practice, practice.  For what it’s worth, his method is truly military methodology of “crawl, walk, run” on any task.  This isn’t news.  Aikido has a concept of ShuHaRi.

Shu: Follow the Rule.  Master the fundamentals that are guaranteed success. (Bachelors)

Ha:  Break the Rule.  With fundamentals mastered, break the rules if necessary. (Masters)

Ri:  Be the Rule. With enough experience, become the example. (PhD)

Notes will be posted in most-recent order.

More “White Belt” practice notes. 8/5/2020

So, at this point, my on-bike time is 256 hours, and about 20 of that is just literally going in circles… I’m pretty consistent with a 35-30 ft diameter circle and see vast improvement in my street riding maneuvering handling and comforts:

  • Body position is key for me on this bike – big counterweighting to get the bike to lean in enough for a tight turn.
  • Lots more comfortable with the bike lean and feeling like the bike is another part of the my body, which does make me very comfortable with a lean at-speed on the road.
  • Running the offset weave drill is pretty easy now.
  • The parking spaces weave is feasible now, being comfortable with counterweighting a tight lean.

My drill is:  5 x counterclockwise inside the 40 ft circle, exit & do a 18 ft diameter turn (parking space weave practice), 5 x clockwise circle, exit & do offset weave, 18ft left turn to run through the offsets again, back to circle to repeat all this, then take a 5-10 min break.  3x of this double drill each practice.

White Belt” practice on the 40 ft diameter circle.  7/6/2020

This has been difficult, to say it mildly.  Because I tended to fixate on the cones, I made the choice to do my circles outside the cones at first.  This worked well.  For the past several hours of practice, I’ve been inside the cones in pretty tight circles of maybe 35 ft diameters.  My main difficulty is the right-hand (clockwise) direction.  The reason is that the clutch arm is very extended, which is where all the control really is.  To compensate, I have been leaning forward deliberately to give more wingspan for more delicate control over the clutch.  I will not try the other drills in MotoJitsu White Belt until I “feel” like I can do a 30 ft circle in either direction at any moment.

Observations:

  1.  MotoJitsu video of two tips are spot on point.  Imagine an eyeball on your chest and point that eyeball where you want to go (i.e. in the next immediate part of the circle).  This works wonders and removes the need to consciously counter-balance.  Plain body mechanics takes care of the counter-balancing on the motorcycle.
  2. The other tip from MotoJitsu’s video for White Belt is clutch control.  This is important because he explains that simply increasing speed (albeit low & slow) will right the motorcycle.  I’ve found this true in practice to be more effective than the “put a foot on the ground” instinct to not drop the motorcycle.
  3. This drill forces you to NOT LOOK AT THE FRONT OF THE BIKE while controlling it for these turns.  This promotes growing an intuitive sense of the motorcycle as part of your body.  You don’t look at for feet to see where you are, you look where you want your feet to take you.  Same thing.  #shutupandpractice

 

My first email to Fast Eddie 6/1/2020:

After many months of searching Youtube, I found your videos.  You answered questions I had but couldn’t find a straight answer anywhere.  For example, I have been trying to find out what “push” means even though I paid close attention in BRC.  Yours is the only instruction that addresses exactly that confusion.  I am taking some time to give-back some perspective maybe you can use.

I take issue with your claim that there are no instant fixes.  Your videos have directly caused 5 🙂 1.  Thoroughly understanding the meaning of “push” has immediately improved my ability to corner at more than 40 mph.
I had been “pushing” apparently down, which did countersteer a tiny bit.  I still have some terror about countersteering “too much” and causing the front wheel to do that thing that sometimes took me down on bicycles as a kid.  Also, you might want to address that different handlebars work differently on specifically how to countersteer.  My bike is a Shadow with stock bars.  So, I must kind of push “out” to effect that same push “forward” that straight bars use.  Practice, practice, practice.

2.  Emphasizing “bend the elbows” has also contributed immediately to cornering.
So there I was on one of my rides home, still avoiding scary highways, and on a curvy 40 mph road.  I got “lazy” and slumped a bit, and the curve worked miraculously better.  I thought “wtf, the whole little-boy motorcycle imitation actually f-ing worked?”  Yes, I now look back and see that what actually happened (see #1) was that my elbows bent and my “push down” actually was a “push out/forward” and poof.  So here is a problem you might want to discuss:  it is DIFFICULT for me to keep my arms bent without slumping.  Some unkind people might say my stature comes with a less than impressive wingspan.  (I’m 5’7″)  When I accelerate, I definitely feel thrown back (150 lbs) and actually holding on at full arm’s length.  If I sit straight up, it is full arm’s length.  I have to lean forward to get the helpful bend.  I keep my back straight, though, so good core strength helps, but it is Awkward to keep my head “up” while leaning in.  Practice, practice, practice.

3.  “Head, Body, Bike” is a much easier silent chant that other long sentences I used to prepare for turns and curves.
This seems trivial but it is not.  Every every every ride for me is practice.  I do constant self talk.  For curves it has been “point with your nose” or some such.  Having a quick set of words where each reminds of a whole paragraph is incredibly helpful.  Some more of my self talk is: notice but don’t look, trust physics, trust the bike, etc…

4.  “Counterweighting” is an actual Thing, apparently.
So, this is a thing I would do to turn more sharply but figured it was a total novice-only thing to do.  Now that I know it is a legitimate technique, I have the confidence to actually practice, practice, practice this and have already gotten much better.

5.  Using the front brake.
I still don’t know wtf you mean by “trail braking” but here and there I’ve learned that the front brake is NOT scary if used expertly.  That includes being sensitive to when front is completely compressed and the danger of flipping like a motorized gymnast has past.  I’ve actually gotten pretty confident and within a week am using the front more than the rear braking power.

Here are some things that may or may not be useful:
In my neck of the woods, there are never ever any big wide parking lots that are empty.  The high school parking lot doesn’t have distances more than about 50m or so (probably wise) and the big box retailers don’t like people creeping on their property after closing.  So, I practiced for at least 30 hours within my neighborhood at 20 mph or less before venturing to even the local park 2 miles away.  I am fortunate that our neighborhood has a nice 0.25 mile slightly curved straightaway, lots of cul de sacs (for turn practice), uphill/downhill, smooth streets, and some with definite dips and bumps.

I slightly disagree with your assessment of loud pipes.  I bought my Shadow which already had chopped pipes, but it really isn’t much louder than my husband’s Shadow.  I’ve noticed that it does indeed cause notice at less than 25 mph, but then so does my horrific neon yellow vest.

At stop lights, if I see ANYthing coming up from my rear, I blink my brake lights a little too much and prepare to jet if I don’t see them slowing quickly enough.

I do not hesitate to beep my horn if I don’t see someone’s eyeballs looking at me – like someone at an intersection about to turn onto the road I am on.

I don’t count miles.  I count hours.  Time-on-task (correctly) is the key to mastery, not miles driven.  I am now at 137 hours on my own bike, and only NOW am I feeling some confidence in curves.  After repeating both of your countersteering videos multiple times, I gave it a terrifying deliberate try on a terrifying curve.  It is a moderate curve to the right, with the road itself slanting down to the left.  Every time I approach at more than 40 mph, I would have to slow down and adjust or else plow into the oncoming lane.  So, I invented some faith and pushed “out” a bit.  And, it worked.  That is instant improvement.

Last interesting tidbit on my own personal countersteering that you might find useful.  I had to deliberately trick myself into pushing “out” (in order to effect a turn of the front wheel).  I chose to fool myself out of my already practiced push “down” thing, using body mechanics.  I twisted my right hand (left was never an issue un-learning) INWARD a bit.  Feels awkward, but basically once I have the throttle where I want it, I just scooch/twist inward a bit.  Then when my “muscle memory” kicks in to push “down” I end up pushing “out” which in your terminology is “forward” but with my own handlebar situation.

 

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