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Of Elephants and Chicken Strips and matters VFR


RC79NC001

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  Riding a Curvy road on a motorcycle is one of the best things in life. Maneuvering your bike confidently as the road tightens and twists is supremely satisfying. It’s like a dance between you, the bike, and the road. Keep your weight low and inside the center of the bike. Accurately judging when to start the turn and managing lean angle, brake, and throttle are part of the challenges.Understanding what the cornering limit is and staying on the right side of the limit is important. As in life, there are choices, truths and consequences when cornering a motorcycle.

Understand the limit: Keep riding and smiling. Lets call that a positive one ( +1 )

Misinterpret the limit: Varying degrees of not smiling...

 - 1; Momentarily crossing a double line on an empty road. Only you know you screwed up.

- 2; Momentary crossing into oncoming traffic. Horn blowing and fist waving only. Traumatizing others is anti-social activity !

- 3; Whatever the mistake was, you find it necessary to pull off the road and while stopped, ponder the meaning of life and controlling what you can  for 10 minutes.

- 4; Running off the road, not hitting something, you are ok the bike is ok but, a change of underwear is advisable.

- 5; Running off the road, hitting something , and rendering the bike unrideable while you remain ok.

- 6; Like -5 except you require medical attention and EMS.

 - 13; Running out of room off the road and over a cliff never to be seen or heard of again. I understand this can/has occurred at Deal’s Gap.

On every ride my goal is to be +1 all the time.  I have personally also experienced levels  -1, -2,-3,-4  -4C  -4Z.

- 4C; Running off the road,  hitting something, you are ok the bike is not ok but, you can still ride it home. As the result of the “off”, It may be missing body work or you may be riding with recovered damaged body work strapped to the bike. Change of underwear still advisable.

-4Z; Running off the road ( Road Atlanta to be exact ) at a California Superbike School. You run off the track, dump the bike in Red Clay . The unfaired school- provided bike ( 600 Ninja ) is undamaged save for a slightly bent handlebar that gets straightened back at the pit. You don’t get to finish the session and you lose your deposit ! Ouch. Note: My first -4C occurred shortly after my only -4Z. Not sure of any correlation.

 

What is a Chicken Strip ?  

Well most folks are thinking about a poultry derived food product. Others think what if Tyson Farms ventured into the adult entertainment world ? Motorcyclists have a different understanding of the term. In motorcycle slang ( if there is such a thing ) Chicken Strip refers to the unused ( but usable ) portion of the tire that appears with no wear on the edges of the tire . For some motorcyclists a narrow chicken strip or (better) a tire with no chicken strip worn all the way to the edge of the side of the tire is a badge that indicates that said tire has been ridden to the limit by a fearless bad ass. Please feel free at any time to review the previous section on Limits and Consequences. Our society seems to actively encourage  bad assery. Now on to the practical application of the term Chicken Strip.

Recently I stood in the parking lot of a Gas/Store on Hwy 181 Jonas Ridge NC. It was a fine spring day and as I enjoyed taking a break and a cold drink, an endless parade of motorcycles cruised past my vantage point. Refreshed, I saddled up and headed South on 181, ready to revel in a “curvalicious” descent into Burke County.

Being mindful of my limits I began enjoying the curves. I also observed a motorcyclist pulled over to the side of the road. He didn’t appear to be in any difficulty but, his attire ( High Vis everything ) and his motorcycle ( BMW GS) made my NC Highway Patrol detection alarm system go off. Well, I was motoring along at my happy +1 pace when I looked back and here comes Mr. High Vis GS traveling at warp speed. He passes me and proceeds to round the next 2 or 3 turns much faster than I want to go. His lines are neat and tidy.

We catch up to a large group of slower riding sport bikes. Well, to be accurate,I caught up to the GS rider who was stuck behind this slower moving pack of bikes. When a passing opportunity presented itself, the GS and I gassed it up and went around the pack. The GS then stepped it up several notches and disappeared into the distance. As I reached the bottom of the descent, the GS was already turned around and blasting back to the top. I wonder what  those GS chicken strips looked like ?

Tires on a motorcycle are an important way to feel the road and know where the limit is. Starting last year, I have chosen to ride with Metzeler Tires on my VFR. These tires are manufactured in Germany and feel wonderful. They also have a quantitative way to measure your Chicken Strip situation. Metzeler’s Logo is an elephant. On the rear tire  there are 8 small Elephant Logos evenly spaced around the edge of the tire right in the chicken strip area. Next to each elephant, 3 parallel lines that let you exactly see how much chicken strip is left. How thoroughly German ! You might not be able to tell from the photo but, the chicken strip on my back tire is past the first line but, not quite to the 2nd line. That GS rider was no doubt past the 3rd line ( If he was on Metzelers ) . BadAss !

And so the riding continues. Keep it +1 !

IMG_A3484.jpg

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Very well said. The one thing that greatly increased my ability to ride nearer to the machines limits was Advance Rider Courses at a local college's training track.

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No joke about Deals Gap.  There is a Youtube video of a dude riding solo, that collided with another dude who was solo.  One of them went over the cliff, died, no trace.  The other went over cliff, broke a ton of bones and was basically not able to move.  No one knew they were there, no one knew an accident had happened.  After about 24 hours the person who was still alive was recovered, just from his screams miraculously being heard.  I can't imagine the fear of being that injured, that alone, and not knowing if you will just die there..........and not to mention what animals, insects, etc may come along and start having its way with you.

 

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A great read. GS riders at track days always seem to be fast, whatever their tyres. I don’t understand why!

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8 hours ago, VFR78 said:

A great read. GS riders at track days always seem to be fast, whatever their tyres. I don’t understand why!

Because they don’t get sucked into the sticky tyre hype that the sports bike guys do.  

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10 hours ago, VFR78 said:

A great read. GS riders at track days always seem to be fast, whatever their tyres. I don’t understand why!

125Nm torque probably helps.

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On 4/10/2020 at 12:27 AM, signal said:

No joke about Deals Gap.  There is a Youtube video of a dude riding solo, that collided with another dude who was solo.  One of them went over the cliff, died, no trace.  The other went over cliff, broke a ton of bones and was basically not able to move.  No one knew they were there, no one knew an accident had happened.  After about 24 hours the person who was still alive was recovered, just from his screams miraculously being heard.  I can't imagine the fear of being that injured, that alone, and not knowing if you will just die there..........and not to mention what animals, insects, etc may come along and start having its way with you.

 

There are many better places to ride in the area besides Deal's Gap for challenging twistie fun.  I would rather have an accident (actually better to not have one) that was my fault than the fault of some incompetent idiot on a machine that should never have been on The Gap with any kind of rider(s) on it.  i. e.  What's a Harley with two 350# riders doing on Deal's Gap for a common example?    

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I've never been to Deals Gap or the Dragon, no desire to go there at all.  Tons of much better stuff all around it and away from it.

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I agree completely about the Dragon being overrated and over crowded. Like a surfer I am reluctant to give up my favorites but, here's a

 

bone, NC Hwy 89 and 268. In  a roundabout way I meant to put my stamp of approval on Metzeler Roadtecs. About to have the

 

3rd set installed on my VFR.

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Weird thing: if you have a road that goes through hills, it's probably got some curves to it... and if one in an area does, it stands to reason that others might. 

 

Speaking of chicken strips... I have a nice safe but respectable looking rear tire on my VFR, but on the other hand, the 690 Duke I recently bought was scrubbed to the edge in under 200 miles - note that I've never felt like I was pushing it. Horses for courses. Gentleman's Express vs Hooligan Special.

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One has to know ones own limits and ride smart. To push a tire (sport or not) to the limit while not on a track it needs to be done on a safe road, good line of sight, rider knowledge/familiarity of the road a dry run or two to make sure there is no pea gravel wets spots or other hazards. This still doesn't rule out the risk of someone else crossing the line.

I'm grateful to have a road like this near me and am able to push myself, my bike and my tires pretty hard for street riding. 

Enjoy the ride and be safe.

 

IMG_5784.JPG

VFR 10.JPG

 

Capture.JPG

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Add some trees and/or clear-cut and that pretty much looks like the kind of roads in my neighborhood. Not surprising really... it's still the coast range, it's just a little warmer down there. The clear cuts are more line-of-sight friendly, but the trees are prettier. 

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Chicken strip is a very poor term designed by peer pressure & hubris. I remember doing track-days on my CBR600F4 and having a 10mm strip of unused rubber on the rear through good riding technique. I was faster than my friends, I could turn inside them at will & was running with 900’s. My friends all used all their rear tyre to the edge, yet I was quicker than them. So not chicken strips in my case ! 

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3 hours ago, Mohawk said:

Chicken strip is a very poor term designed by peer pressure & hubris. I remember doing track-days on my CBR600F4 and having a 10mm strip of unused rubber on the rear through good riding technique. I was faster than my friends, I could turn inside them at will & was running with 900’s. My friends all used all their rear tyre to the edge, yet I was quicker than them. So not chicken strips in my case ! 

They are not always a "tell".

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My riding has improved mostly because I'm using the VFR more in the twisties and can't use the grunt of the S1000R on it. The VFR forced me to be smoother and carry more speed through the the turn I go into the turn faster and leave faster and with less lean I'm faster on both bikes because of this. My strips before the change were completely gone before now I have a bit more than 1/8 of an inch can't seem to get rid of doesn't look as impressive but I'm faster which makes me happy 🙂  

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I'm with you: riding the Duke is making me faster on both bikes. I think it helps to occasionally force yourself slightly out of your comfort zone. Also interesting: I do occasionally drag pegs on the VFR, but the tires are untouched on the edges. They definitely don't look like mountainslide's. I think I probably use more of the tire on the Duke because it's so light that body English goes a long way. It just lends itself to a different riding style. I'm not one to go riding wheelies through traffic or other similar douchery, but I can see why that bike appeals to those who do. 

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2 hours ago, Marvelicious said:

I'm with you: riding the Duke is making me faster on both bikes. I think it helps to occasionally force yourself slightly out of your comfort zone. Also interesting: I do occasionally drag pegs on the VFR, but the tires are untouched on the edges. They definitely don't look like mountainslide's. I think I probably use more of the tire on the Duke because it's so light that body English goes a long way. It just lends itself to a different riding style. I'm not one to go riding wheelies through traffic or other similar douchery, but I can see why that bike appeals to those who do. 

Dang, now I need to get another bike ;^) I hear you on dragging the pegs, in the video you can see the result of dragging the peg "feelers" through that turn. I'll also say position is a big part of it as I could certainly hang off the bike more and use less tire. I'm having fun not trying to be the fastest guy out there and am comfortable at those angles on that road with these tires.

 

The road is off to the right in the shot below, my son's face says it all. The cars coming up the grade on the left are the reason they paved the twisty section of joy to the right. It was just too steep and too many vehicles lost brakes and went of cliffs, I counted 50+ turns in 5.5miles. Go up the twisties and then coast down the steep section and do it over and over. 

IMG_5782.JPG

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22 hours ago, Mohawk said:

Chicken strip is a very poor term designed by peer pressure & hubris. I remember doing track-days on my CBR600F4 and having a 10mm strip of unused rubber on the rear through good riding technique. I was faster than my friends, I could turn inside them at will & was running with 900’s. My friends all used all their rear tyre to the edge, yet I was quicker than them. So not chicken strips in my case ! 

Agree its all down to technique and positioning.

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I've never had my feelers down or my knee for that matter (& prob never will) on the vfr and am almost at the edge of the tire. The strips probably a 1/4" from the edge with some lite marks a little closer. 

 

So at what stage do you get touch down? Or the edge

 

My bike is raised in the rear with 1/8" shim, hard side of suspension settings and standard tyre size and pressures 

 

YMMV

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3 hours ago, boOZZIE said:

I've never had my feelers down or my knee for that matter (& prob never will) on the vfr and am almost at the edge of the tire. The strips probably a 1/4" from the edge with some lite marks a little closer. 

 

So at what stage do you get touch down? Or the edge

 

My bike is raised in the rear with 1/8" shim, hard side of suspension settings and standard tyre size and pressures 

 

YMMV

Tire pressure, profile and rider weight are all variable on this and of course turn camber.. In the video above peg feelers are dragging  as you can see by the debris and line as I am toward the end of the turn. Played with a graphics program and rotated a line to the axis of the bike and it is at 50°. I'm 150 lbs. The feelers are already part way worn down. That corner has positive camber too. I would guess right about 50° is when the feelers touch down. My tires are Dunlop Q3+ at 31 PSI there, I have since upped the pressure per my tuners advice.

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Yep, different results, but I also have a very different set of variables. I'm down to only half again your weight (dangerously close to being in shape), different tires, plus I've made some minor changes to the geometry on my machine now that I consider it. Still, it's interesting academically... understanding why the bike handles the way it does. 

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On 4/16/2020 at 6:15 AM, Mohawk said:

Chicken strip is a very poor term designed by peer pressure & hubris. I remember doing track-days on my CBR600F4 and having a 10mm strip of unused rubber on the rear through good riding technique. I was faster than my friends, I could turn inside them at will & was running with 900’s. My friends all used all their rear tyre to the edge, yet I was quicker than them. So not chicken strips in my case ! 

I wholeheartedly agree.  The rider below may be scrubbing off his "chicken strip" but likely being passed by his mates who are leaving theirs intact.  To me proper body position combined with appropriate bike lean is more important than getting the tires to their limits of lean angle.

 

 

image.png.088575e6d181cd2337e90b6ae5073c88.png

 

 

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Ha, wonderfully illustrative pic: try riding the bike instead of sitting on top of it! It's definitely pretty silly that people have gotten their egos wrapped up in it, but in a world where people do stunt riding on the freeway in shorts, it's hardly a surprise!

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