Finesse on a Motorcycle

_Ortiz Big Apple Motorcycle SchoolFinesse

Finesse on a motorcycle is the hallmark of MotoGP racers Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. They maneuver smoothly and seemingly effortlessly through a series of increasing and decreasing radius turns at speeds of more than 100 mph, often with other racers in close proximity. These pros are at the top of their game and consistently win races. Their polish, skillfulness and artistry are honed to perfection.

What’s the secret to their success? One is that their machines are state-of-the-art. But in interviews they both credit practicing correct technique, improving core strength and awareness of their surroundings as essential to their success. Rossi’s crew chief Silvano Galbusera says of Rossi, “His mind is as fast as his body.” In fact, Rossi is nicknamed the “The Doctor” because of his precision on the track and his cool and calm composure in racing.

The average rider doesn’t expect to achieve the level of skill needed to be a world-class racer like Rossi or Lorenzo, but what makes them successful can help you be a better rider. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation says that riding is a skill of the eyes and mind as much as it is the hands and feet. Sound familiar? One look at the pros during a MotoGP race and you’ll notice the focus in their eyes, scanning ahead with an occasional glance behind. You see that same look in the eyes of professional athletes as they mentally process what’s happening all around them while simultaneously plotting a strategy to win. Now think about the last time you rode. What were you thinking about? Were you looking far ahead with your full attention or was your mind elsewhere. It takes effort to stay mentally focused while still maintaining full control of the motorcycle. That’s why many riders are tired after a challenging day on the road. Whether your ride involves the constant starting and stopping of a high traffic situation or a spirited sprint through curvy roads, a moment of inattention could have dire consequences.

So how can we improve our focus, finesse and precision? Making sure your vehicle is in top-notch condition is a good place to start. You need to be able to depend on the acceleration and braking capability of your bike. Check the controls, cables, brakes, fork seals, tires, fluids etc. often. Regular maintenance goes a long way towards minimizing component failure.

Once you know you can depend on your bike, work on the way you control your inputs to the bike. Are you in the habit of grabbing the brakes instead of progressively squeezing them? Work on smoothly matching your gear to road speed with transitions that are barely perceptible to the rider, or onlooker. A key to knowing that you are riding with precision and control is when someone comments on how easy you make it look – and that includes tight U-turns at slow speed. Strive to become a master of the craft within your individual limits and those of your motorcycle and you’ll find that riding is not only more comfortable, but “mindful” as well.

Ride Safe!


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