COVID-19 Lockdown – things to do on your motorcycle.

Most of the bikes we see at the school are very well looked after, but occasionally a rider turns up, usually a track bike in a van which won’t start, or cuts out, handles badly, or has badly worn tyres or brakes.

I used to scrutineer occasionally for Retford Motor Club, and saw some real horrors. Loose engine and axle bolts, a loose seat, missing disc bolts, bad leaks, a frame repaired with fibreglass etc.

So lockdown is a chance to give your bike a good service and check up, as long as you are competent.

If you’re racing or doing regular trackdays, then your bike will requires far more maintenance than your owners manual states. Some models have enhanced routines if you are using them for competition.

You can get workshop manuals to download, free if you’re lucky.

If you need some more tools then don’t buy cheap, some of mine are over 50 years old. You need a good torque wrench to make sure everything is tightened correctly. Don’t guess. Worn tools will cause problems with rounded nuts, bolts and allen screws

The brakes are obviously vital, so check all the pistons are moving properly and strip and clean if they are not. They tend to corrode if not used regularly. Change the brake fluid if its more than 2 years old – use fluid from a new sealed container.

Make sure there’s plenty of pad left, motorcycle pads don’t have much to start with. Check the discs aren’t warped or badly scored, and the spools are tight. You can get replacements.

If you’ve not checked or adjusted your valve clearances recently or before, now is the time to find out how, and save yourself some money in the future.

Look at work you haven’t done for a while – or ever. Oil and filter changes are assumed.

Strip the rear swing arm and linkages, clean and regrease the bearings.

Strip the front forks, clean and change the oil. Consider using a grade thicker if it’s a road bike – check the forums thoroughly for advice.

Clean and regrease the steering head bearings, which are often neglected.

If you have a carburetted bike, strip and clean them carefully. If the float bowls have original cross heads screws made from cheese, make sure you use the correct screw driver bit, and considers replacing with Allen screws. You don’t want to leave fuel in them for long, as it evaporates leaving a residue that can be impossible to remove, blocking internal passages. Drain them after running the bike.

Drain and wash out the tank, you maybe surprised what you’ll find. If it’s rusty inside you can sort this with gravel, and there are various ways of recoating.

Clean the fuel filter.

Carb balancing kit it is easy to use, and is available from £50, but swap the pipes/dials around and take average readings if you buy cheap. You’ll probably need a small auxilliary petrol tank and fuel line as this is done with the tank off. £10 on Ebay.

Check the chain and sprockets, clean or replace. Make sure you tighten the sprocketsproperly and fit a new retaining tab to the engine sprocket if there is one.

If you’ve got a clutch cable, check it isn’t fraying at the ends, and lubricate it with light oil.

It’s worth checking the clutch, as baskets wear and notch and friction plates can crack and break. If they do, the clutch basket can explode wrecking the crankcase if you’re unlucky. Clean and grease the release mechanism if it’s cable operated, check for leaks if it’s hydraulic.

That should keep you occupied for a while, and your bike will thank you for it.

‘Cats Claw’ Theory – Motorcycle tyre grip

We’ve been working on this for a while at The School, trying to show riders the amount of grip available when cornering, in a simplified straightforward way. Many thanks to Martin Knox for the concept.

It must be stressed that this is the theoretical maximum amount of grip available when cornering, dependent on lean angle, on a flat consistent surface, for an expert rider.grip-final-plus-logo

This illustration combines the radial (centrifugal) forces from John Bradleys work, with Mohr’s Circle for the relationship between radial and tangential forces.

The dark green area shows the further you lean, the less cornering grip is left.

The light green areas shows the available tangential grip at angles of lean which is used in braking, accelerating or steering.

Both start to drop off rapidly after 45 degrees of lean.

So at 45 degrees of lean you have in theory 45% of your maximum radial grip left for cornering, (which seems reasonable), and 80% tangential grip for braking and steering (which doesn’t). In practise there is significantly less tangential grip apparently available, particularly when braking, although we know there is enough grip to wheelie a bike out of a corner at 45 degrees of lean.

We got a literal ‘thumbs up’ from Vittorre Cossalter (Motorcycle Dynamics)

We’ve worked backwards, assuming the maximum lean angle is 60 degrees (zero grip), which is only available on a dry race track with soft race rubber.

To stress again this is theoretical, assumes ‘steady state’ on a race track with slicks, ignores the effects of bumps and dips, variations in road surface etc. or extra loads due to sudden steering, braking or accelerating which all need to be smoother the nearer you get to the limit to avoid going over the edge.

You need also to consider weight transfer and tyre slip – which we will discuss later.

COVID-19 Update April 2021

We can now start again on 2nd April, but riders cannot camp overnight until the 29th April date or stay locally until the 27th May date.

We will continue to provide a safety briefing video and training videos to riders before the event, to avoid the classroom sessions and comply with the ‘rule of 6’.

We coach in groups of a maximum of 4 – 3 riders and a coach.

Signing on is a simple identity check with your licence, signing on forms to be completed and emailed to us before the date.

We are able to maintain a 2 metre separation distance at all times. Takeaway cafe on site for drinks and lunch.

Continue reading “COVID-19 Update April 2021”

A free training day for a young rider on 25th July 2019

We are offering a free training day for a young rider aged 15-17 on 25th July 2019, which includes use of a new Yamaha R3, helmet, leathers, gloves and boots courtesy of Yamaha’s Partner Track Bike Hire UK.

2017_YZF-R3_DPBMC_AU_ACT_004_1280x960 (1)

Entrants are simply asked to send in an email to with their name, age and contact details, answering  this question ‘What is the official prime cause of motorcycle road accidents‘? Personal information will not be used for marketing purposes.

Permission is required from parent or guardian who must attend all day – 8 am to 5.00 pm.

The young rider will attend our usual rider’s course with the older riders, but will be assigned a personal track coach who will be with the rider on track to try and make the day as safe as we can.

The track we use is Blyton Park owned by Ginetta, which was purpose built in 2010 and is safer than most of the old tracks having little Armco, no gravel traps and tarmac run offs almost everywhere.

The track is marshalled by Blyton and our own coaches, with two teams of paramedics and a fire truck in attendance, to try and make the days as safe as we reasonably can, but like every other high speed motorsport there are obvious physical risks.

Get you knee down in safety, in private.

I was mucking about in the garage last year working on the feasibility of setting up a rig to help riders with their positioning on the bike. Many want to get their knee down and are leaning far enough to do it, but don’t seem to be able to get into the right position when they are on track, even after we go through it with them in the paddock.

I’ve just found the photo of a lash up I put together in the garage at home, which anybody could do. Please read carefully below before you try and do the same.:-

Leaning rig

The idea was to bring the track up to the rider on both sides, so they could play around with their position on the bike, and practise moving from side to side getting used to where they should be. It is quite painful when you start as you’ll likely use muscles you haven’t used before.

The first problem is to secure the bike properly – which a normal rear paddock stand will not do – you’ll drop it in the garage which can be embarassing and painful. I used a stand with a rod though the rear axle, and then tie wrapped an aluminium tube across the back and wedged it. You might get away with tie wrapping normal padddock stand arms to your swing arm spools, but make sure it is stable before you do anything else and the stand is braced from left to right.

I used a sheet of 8′ x 4′ polystyrene I had lying around, cut in half to represent the track, but anything around 4 foot square and flat would do – chipboard etc.

I then wedged the sheets with a couple more paddock stands at 45 degrees to the bike, lining them up with the tyres at the bottom.

If you then sit on the bike (making sure its stable and won’t fall over when you hang off) you can fairly quickly work out where your body needs to be to get your knee down – and it’s far better than looking down when you are riding trying to see how far you are away – as some riders seem to try.

You will find you need to move your upper body across as well as your backside, and keep your pelvis at right angles to the bike, and put the ball of your inside foot on the peg.

You will hopefully find a position that feels comfortable and safe with you firmly wedged in place – usually with your outside arm against the petrol tank. You can then practise moving to and fro from your normal riding position and to the other side. If you practise this it should become second nature and will help you get those new muscles working. Next time on the track it should feel natural and comfortable.

I doubt whether this is a unique riding aid – just that they are usually hidden behind locked garage doors.

Hope this helps. Take care.

Feedback appreciated.


Mike Abbott ACU Coach #61220

British Superbike School.





How to avoid a Fatal Road Accident – drive into the vehicle in front!

Firstly most accidents (now called collisions or RTC’s) are mainly caused by road users not paying attention, with the exception of motorcycles >500cc where ‘loss of control’  is the main cause.

Many collisions are beyond an individual road user’s control, but there are actions we can take – if we are prepared – that maximise our chances of survival or minimise the risk of life changing injuries.

On (or rather off) a motorcycle it is ‘how you fall’ and crucially ‘what you hit‘ which determines the outcome – (see the late Dr John Hind’s last video). However ‘What you hit’ is an issue for all road users.

For anybody on two wheels, road furniture represents a very real unique danger, increasing your chances of dying by no less than 17 times, according to the World Health organisation. So you need at all times not only to be aware of other vehicles and the danger in particular of trucks, but also anything by the side of the road, including trees which are also potentially fatal to any road user.

Target fixation leads you to ride or drive into what you are seeking to avoid, so you need to look where you want to go, not where you don’t. Getting into routinely scanning and looking ahead helps you both plan your ride, and identify potential escape routes.

This full list of factors is called ‘Haddon’s Matrix’, but here we are just considering ‘The Event’, and its related ‘Agent‘ and ‘Environment‘, as we can’t change anything else when a collision is immediately likely, and environmental factors are what we are seeking to address.

Haddon's Matrix

We have to avoid rapid de-acceleration as up to 56 g’s is all that is surviveable, and we are surprisingly fragile. Although, according to the TRL, in a car we usually survive front and rear impacts from 30 mph, (but not from 40 mph), a side on impact can kill at < 20mph due to a lack of crumple zones. Clearly the situation is even worst when you come off a motorcycle or cycle where even 15 mph can be fatal if you hit something solid.

Also the nature of impacts are not usually always obvious. The impact and rate of de-acceleration is the delta (difference) between pre and post collision speed. If you run into another parked car of similar weight in your car, the impact is circa half the speed as the stationary vehicle will move, reducing a 60 mph impact into approximately 30 mph delta. One car at 60 mph = two cars at 30 mph (approx – as kinetic energy is 1.5 x mass x speed squared). This, although it seems a considerable impact, is probably survivable particularly due to front and rear crumple zones.

Riders and bikes are two separate masses – riders have only flesh and blood crumple zones – so none of the above really applies. Your personal weight will have minimal effect, so this is not an excuse to eat more pies. But in a prospective shunt from behind, on your bike you can maximise your chances by being either positioned to the right or left hand side of your lane and the vehicle in front, so the vehicle coming up behind could miss you, and you could also potentially move past the vehicle in front, and out of the way. Get in the habit when you stop at the back of a queue, to watch behind until the vehicle pulls up and acts as a shield.

Riding (or even driving) into the back of a 40 tonne truck at 40 mph would be close to a 40 mph delta and not likely survivable – so even for cars it is can be ‘what you hit’. Modern 4×4’s are safer due primarily to their weight – run into one of those at 2 tonne in your small car at 60 mph and your impact is nearer 40 mph – probably not survivable – their’s would be 20 mph and not significantly life threatening.

So if you are in your car at the tail end of a jam and you see a car behind that is not going to stop in time, you need to consider standing on the brakes or better still bizarrely drive into the car in front then brake! You have just doubled your mass and potentially in theory halved the impact – although you potentially put the occupants in the car behind in significantly greater danger. You still could also be crushed if your car’s shell deforms too much.

Would you have the presence of mind and time to spot potential collisions ahead of time and act appropriately – or are you just going to find you’ve suddenly sprouted wings? Or alternatively become a Buddhist and wait for another chance?



Review of 2016 Motorcycle Road Accidents – ‘Speed Awareness’ not working

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: