As many of you know, when I’m not riding my motorcycle you can usually find me on my bicycle somewhere. In fact, bicycle racing was my passion long before I got into motorcycle racing, and I attribute my cycling background to contributing to my success on the motorcycle racetrack.
In addition to the obvious fitness benefits, riding a bicycle is also a relatively inexpensive way to hone some of your roadracing skills—primarily balance, fluidity and forward-looking vision.
Balance is the key to controlling any two-wheeled vehicle, whether a motorcycle or a bicycle. Being comfortable on two wheels and knowing how to balance properly will make even the heaviest motorcycle seem relatively lightweight and easy to maneuver. When you’re racing, it’s often not possible to be on the track every day, so riding a bicycle on your days off the racetrack will help reinforce balance and two-wheeled muscle memory.
Fluidity, or keeping fluid, loose and relaxed on a motorcycle is also important for handling and control. Keeping your arms and legs relaxed will allow your body to become an extension of the motorcycles suspension, allowing the motorcycle to move more freely underneath you and maintain better control. If you’re body is too stiff and you’re not relaxed- a flaw often experienced by newer riders, you’ll end up fighting the motorcycle for control and will tire more quickly. Riding a bicycle is a great way to practice keeping relaxed and keeping your arms and legs fluid. A mountain bike is likely the best for this practice, but any bicycle will suffice. The key is to relax your limbs and allow the bicycle to move underneath you as it is designed to do. If you consciously try to practice these skills you may be amazed at how quickly it translates into improved motorcycle handling.
Finally, cycling is also a great way to practice forward-looking vision, or looking ahead to where you want to go. In motorcycle riding or racing, it’s important to always look as far forward as possible, keeping focused on where you want to go. Scanning far ahead allows riders to plan that next turn, plan an upcoming pass or simply avoid a hazard on the road. Novice riders often end up staring at their front wheel or target fixating on an object in front of them. By keeping your head up and your eyes forward, not only will you be able to better plan your next move, but you will also get the sensation of slowing things down to better react. Think about driving in a car at 100km/ hour. When you look directly out the window and onto the ground beside you, the pavement is moving very quickly. However, when you look up at the road ahead, the pavement seems to slow down. The same is true for motorcycle riding. If you don’t have a motorcycle at your disposal each day, cycling provides an excellent opportunity to practice applying these vision exercises.
Whether you’re riding a bicycle on the road or on the trail, or even just using it to commute to work, cycling is a great way to not only stay in shape for motorcycle racing, but also practice some important bike handling skills, not to mention you’ll be in better shape than your fellow competitors!