If your bike could talk, chances are it would say “It’s not me, it’s you”. As I’m sure many of you are, I am fascinated with watching crash videos. Having seen my fair share, it always amuses me to see the rider’s reaction after he or she has gone down. How many times have you seen the rider get up and say, “ I messed up, that was totally my fault”. It rarely happens but the truth is, most of the time it is you who f’d up.
The machines you are riding have been designed by people whose minds work in ways most cannot imagine. I’d like to think I’m mechanically inclined but even if given limitless resources and time, I could never build a modern day motorcycle. The mechanics, the electronics, the aesthetics behind these bikes go beyond my imagination. So when I see riders on shiny new motorcycles with thousands of dollars in upgrades and racing equipment getting lapped at the track by riders on bone stock, often times smaller engine displacement motorcycle, I can’t help but laugh. Although still unnecessary, you get a pass if you bought that type of bike as-is or if you can easily afford those types of luxuries. But for those of you spending every last dime you have on aftermarket clutch levers, exhaust systems, Chicken Hawk tire warmers for your stock tires because you believe these things are somehow holding you back from being a better rider, just stop.
Every stock motorcycle has limitations and things that can be improved. But in order to get to a level where you have outgrown those limitations as a rider, you have to be a lot better than you think you are. So instead of spending your hard earned money on excessive motorcycle upgrades, invest in yourself. Nothing is going to make you as good of a rider as seat time and getting expert advice. Yes there will be time when your motorcycle fails you, nothing is 100%, but as a trained rider your chances of surviving that fail are much higher. In December of last year, I did my first track day at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. My confidence started kicking in on the third session of the day and as I picked up the pace, I came in way too hot into a turn on cold, stock tires and ended up riding wide into the dirt. I messed up, that was totally my fault. Speed, dirt and street tires are not a great combination but the SoCal Supermoto training I got a few months prior kicked in and I was able to save the bike from going down. I distinctly remember Brian’s voice in my head saying “When your tires hit the dirt, forget about the front brake. Only use the rear brake and ride out the sliding rear tire if you have to.” I completely attribute my ability to save my bike that day to my training. I’m not saying don’t ever get upgrades, I’m saying don’t blame your lack thereof for your inability to ride well. It’s not your bike, it’s you.
The same goes for progressing as a rider. Your motorcycle is so much more capable than you think. If you can’t keep up with your buddy who has a similar bike, chances are it’s not because he has a $2000 exhaust but because he is a better rider than you. One-upping him on upgrades will not automatically make you faster. Besides wouldn’t it be so much more satisfying being that rider killing it on a fully stock bike? I always find it so much more impressive. Pay your dues, put in seat time and get expert advice. Even if you are a great rider, there is always something to improve on and learn. Learn to take accountability and learn from your mistakes instead of masking them under a sea of excuses. Trust yourself, trust your bike – you are the only two things that matter.
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