Riding “The Pace”

THE PACE by NICK IENATSCH, Motorcyclist Magazine

The Pace focuses on bike control and de-emphasizes outright speed. Fullthrottle
acceleration and last minute braking aren't part of the program,
effectively eliminating the two most common single-bike accident scenarios in
sport riding. Cornering momentum is the name of the game, stressing strong,
forceful inputs at the handlebar to place the bike correctly at the entrance
of the turn and get it flicked in with little wasted time and distance. Since the
throttle wasn't slammed open at the exit of the last corner, the next corner
doesn't require much, if any, braking. It isn't uncommon to ride with our group
and not see a brake light flash all morning.
If the brakes are required, the front lever gets squeezed smoothly, quickly and
with a good deal of force to set entrance speed in minimum time. Running in on
the brakes is tantamount to running off the road, a confession that you're
pushing too hard and not getting your entrance speed set early enough because
you stayed on the gas too long. Running The Pace decreases your reliance on
the throttle and brakes, the two easiest controls to abuse, and hones your ability
to judge cornering speed, which is the most thrilling aspect of performance street


Crossing the centerline at any time except during a passing maneuver is
intolerable, another sign that you're pushing too hard to keep up. Even when you
have a clean line of sight through a left-hand kink, stay to the right of the
centerline. Staying on the right side of the centerline is much more challenging
than simply straightening every slight corner, and when the whole group is
committed to this intelligent practice, the temptation to cheat is eliminated
through peer pressure and logic. Though street riding shouldn't be described in
racing terms, you can think of your lane as the race track. Leaving your lane is
tantamount to a crash.
Exact bike control has you using every inch of your lane if the circumstances
permit it. In corners with a clear line of sight and no oncoming traffic, enter at the
far outside of the corner, turn the bike relatively late in the corner to get a late
apex at the far inside of your lane and accelerate out, just brushing the far
outside of your lane as your bike stands up. Steer your bike forcefully but
smoothly to minimize the transition time. Don't hammer it down because the
chassis will bobble slightly as it settles, possibly carrying you off line. Since you
haven't charged in on the brakes, you can get the throttle on early, before the
apex, which balances and settles your bike for the drive out.
More often than not, circumstances do not permit the full use of your lane from
yellow line to white line and back again. Blind corners, oncoming traffic and
gravel on the road are a few criteria that dictate a more conservative approach,
so leave yourself a three or four foot margin for error, especially at the left side of
the lane where errant oncoming traffic could prove fatal. Simply narrow your
entrance on a blind right-harder and move your apex into your lane three feet on
blind left turns in order to stay free of unseen oncoming traffic hogging the
centerline. Because you're running at The Pace and not flat out, your controlled
entrances offer additional time to deal with unexpected gravel or other debris in
your lane; the outside wheel track is usually the cleanest through a dirty corner
since a car weights its outside tires most, scrubbing more dirt off the pavement in
the process, so aim for that line.


The street is not a racing environment, and it takes humility, self assurance and
self control to keep it that way. The leader sets the pace and monitors his mirrors
for signs of raggedness in the ranks that follow, such as tucking in on straights,
crossing over the yellow line and hanging off the motorcycle in the corners, If the
leader pulls away, he simply slows his straight way speed slightly but continues
to enjoy the corners, thus closing the ranks but missing none of the fun. The
small group of three or four riders I ride with is so harmonious that the pace is
identical no matter who's leading. The lead shifts occasionally with a quick hand
sign, but there's never a pass for the lead with an ego on the sleeve. Make no
mistake, the riding is spirited and quick in the corners. Anyone with a right arm
can hammer down the straights; it's proficiency in the corners that makes The
Pace come alive.
Following distances are relatively lengthy, with the straightaways taken at more
moderate speeds, providing the perfect opportunity to adjust the gaps. Keeping a
good distance serves several purposes, besides being safer. Rock chips are
minimized, and the police or highway patrol won't suspect a race is in progress.
The Pace's style of not hanging off in corners also reduces the appearance of
pushing too hard and adds a degree of maturity and sensibility in the eyes of the
public and the law. There's a definite challenge to cornering quickly while sitting
sedately on your bike.
New rider indoctrination takes some time because The Pace develops very high
cornering speeds and newcomers want to hammer the throttle on the exits to
make up for what they lose at the entrances. Our group slows drastically when a
new rider joins the ranks because our technique of moderate straightaway speed
and no brakes can suck the unaware into a corner too fast, creating the most
common single bike accident. With a new rider learning The Pace behind you,
tap your brake lightly well before the turn to alert him and make sure he
understands there's no pressure to stay with the group.
There's plenty of ongoing communication during The Pace. A foot off the peg
indicates debris in the road, and all slowing or turning intentions are signaled in
advance with the left hand and arm. Turn signals are used for direction changes
and passing, with a wave of the left hand to thank the cars that move right and
make it easy for motorcyclists to get past. Since you don't have a death grip on
the handlebar, your left hand is also free to wave to oncoming riders, a fading
courtesy that we'd like to see return. If you're getting the idea The Pace is a
relaxing, noncompetitive way to ride with a group, you are right.


I'd rather spend a Sunday in the mountains riding at The Pace than a Sunday at
the racetrack, it's that enjoyable. Countersteering is the name of the game;
smooth, forceful steering input at the handlebar relayed to the tires' contact
patches through a rigid sport bike frame. Riding at The Pace is certainly what
bike manufacturers had in mind when sport bikes evolved to the street.
But the machine isn't the most important aspect of running The Pace because
you can do it on anything capable of getting through a corner. Attitude is The
Pace's most important aspect: realizing the friend ahead of you isn't a
competitor, respecting his right to lead the group occasionally and giving him
credit for his riding skills. You must have the maturity to limit your
straightaway speeds to allow the group to stay in touch and the sense to realize
that racetrack tactics such as late braking and full throttle runs to redline will
alienate the public and police and possibly introduce you to the unforgiving laws
of gravity. When the group arrives at the destination after running The Pace, no
one feels outgunned or is left with the feeling he must prove himself on the return
run. If you've got some thing to prove, get on a racetrack.
The racetrack measures your speed with a stop watch and direct competition,
welcoming your aggression and gritty resolve to be the best. Performance street
riding's only yardstick is the amount of enjoyment gained, not lap times, finishing
position or competitors beaten. The differences are huge but not always
remembered by riders who haven't discovered The Pace's cornering pureness
and group involvement. Hammer on the racetrack. Pace yourself on the street.

2010 Adventure Touring Shootout

There’s no shortage of adventuresome motorcyclists, but just how far each is willing to go varies widely. Motorcycle-Usa rounded up three of the more free-spirited street bikes and took them on a three-day tour that covered hundreds of paved miles, and an almost equal amount of dirt. Three riders carried everything we needed in the saddlebags and switched between bikes as we tracked fuel economy, performance, comfort and character along the way. Full writeup and test here.

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Source: MCN