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To Haul Ass, Or Not To Haul Ass?
By Alex Edge

Having spent quite a bit of time riding with different groups of riders, I've noticed a pretty solid trend. Basically, people who take their sportbikes to the canyons can be divided into two groups - those who haul ass, and those who don't.

I'm not talking about skill level, or how fast they take the corners. Perhaps a better way to put it would be to call one style 'race style', and the other 'practice style'.

A group that rides 'race style' will do their best to fire the bike out of every corner using maximum acceleration, applying 100% throttle and redlining each gear as they row through the tranny. They'll try to continue accelerating as long as possible before closing the throttle and getting on the brakes as hard as they can - braking late, the same way racers do in a race.

'Practice style', on the other hand, means keeping to a reasonable pace on the straightaways (say, no more than 80 mph or so), while still 'attacking' the corners as rapidly as possible. This often means that little or no braking is required, although that depends on what type of roads you're riding - my favorite twisties are mostly 30-50mph corners, so if you're approaching at 80mph, you've still got a fair bit of slowing down to do.

Proponents of the 'race style' will tell you that practicing braking is useful for any rider, which is certainly true - however, I personally still prefer to ride 'practice style', for a number of reasons.

First, the reason I ride canyons is to enjoy myself while at the same time improving my skills - and the skills I'm there to improve are cornering skills. If I take my time approaching the corner, I have a few extra seconds to analyze the best method of attack, so to speak.

Second, the worst and most dangerous (in my opinion) part of riding aggressively in the twisties is dealing with automobile traffic. They get in your way, and often it's difficult and/or unsafe to pass them. If you keep your speed under 80mph, you're going to come up on far fewer cars than if you see every straightaway as an excuse to blast to 130mph.

The third reason is safety. Traveling over 100mph on a narrow road with poor visibility is certainly not the smartest way to prolong your lifespan - 80mph means a few more precious seconds to react to the deer that just ran in front of you, or the car that's making a U-turn from the shoulder. Not to mention you have more time to slow down when you spot the inevitable law enforcement officer.

Obviously, my opinion is that keeping your speed down to a reasonable level is the smart and responsible thing to do. It also promotes a better image of motorcycling to the general public - 80mph doesn't look that different than 60mph to the average driver, but what will the other road users think of the guy in the funny leather suit on the brightly colored bike who just blew past them at 140mph?

The bottom line is, we're all out there to have fun on our motorcycles and develop our riding skills, but at the same time, we're all trying to get through the day with the rubber side down and a clean license. It's a delicate balance - just try to keep the above mentioned factors in mind the next time you head out to your favorite local canyon.

Source: Motorcycle Daily
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