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BACK TO BASICS - SLOW RIDE PRACTICE EXERCISES

by Jerry Palladino (MOTORMAN)

[Judging by the amount of requests I've been getting for additional exercises, I'm guessing that a lot of you are actually out there practicing what I've been preaching. Since I haven't presented you with a good practice exercise for a while, here's one of the best.

The exercise is called the Intersection, or the Iron Cross. It's simply a cross of which each leg is 24' long and 24' wide. It really doesn't take much to set up this exercise, all you'll need is a minimum of 20 cones or tennis balls cut in half, a tape measure and some chalk or paint. Try to find a lined parking lot to set it up and use the parking space lines as a guide.

In this exercise, you must use all the techniques to their fullest. You MUST be in the friction zone, you MUST be putting pressure on the rear brake and you MUST be turning your head and eyes in the direction you want the bike to go. The trick to this exercise is proper placement of your front tire. If you pull into the intersection at the bottom of the cross and your first turn is to the right, you will be making a series of left handed U-turns. Here's a few of the tricks to help you get through this Intersection exercise.

As you reach the end of the leg where you're making your right turn, place your front tire as close to that right edge as you can. Place your cone or tennis ball about 3' from the end of that particular leg. On the diagram, I've put an X where that point is, let's refer to that as your pivot point. Aim that front tire right towards that area and snap your hear around to the left as far as you possibly can once you've reached that point. The further you lean the bike, the easier that U-turn will be. As soon as the bike straightens up, and you begin going in the opposite direction, snap your head and eyes to the right and look at the next pivot point. You want to make "tear-drop" shaped turns. It's very difficult to make a 90 degree turn on a bike. Simply proceed in the manner I've just described through all 4 legs of the Intersection. Once you complete the 4 legs, enter the Intersection again from the bottom of the Cross, only this time, make your first turn to the left. That will make all your U-turns going to the right. Some of the common mistakes people make in this exercise is not using all the room available. In other words, people tend to cut it short by not placing their tire all the way to the edge of the pivot point. Another common mistake is releasing power in the deepest part of the lean, that's the most serious mistake as it will put you right on the ground. You MUST keep power to the rear wheel. You must be in the friction zone and you must be putting pressure on the rear brake. The quicker you turn your head and eyes while in the Intersection, the easier the exercise becomes.

Keep in mind that most motorcycles with a 65" wheelbase or less can actually turn in under 18'. So, if you've got a Harley Road King with a 63" wheelbase, you're going to have 6' to place with while in the Intersection while it's set up at 24'. As a general rule of thumb, for each inch of wheelbase over 65", add 1' to the exercise. In other words, let's say you have a Yamaha RoadStar with a 66" wheelbase, your bike is capable of 19' turns. So, using the 24' rule, you'll have 5' to play with inside the Intersection. Take a few friends with you when practicing, you can actually get about 10 to 15 motorcycles inside this 24' Intersection at the same time, but, it takes concentration.

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More articles by MOTORMAN:
Back to Basics Series:   About Jerry Palladino:
A "Motorman" is the term used in police circles to identify a motorcycle cop, or any law enforcement officer assigned to the motorcycle division. Prior to
becoming a Motor Officer, Jerry rode for enjoyment for about 25 years. Then one day, he saw a 5 minute segment on a television show which depicted motorcycle officers training on their Harley police bikes. The way these officers could maneuver these full size motorcycles around like a child's toy, made it appear as if they were defying gravity. At that moment, he knew that he had a lot to learn about riding a motorcycle. Shortly afterwards, the agency he worked for started a motorcycle unit. he was sent for training to Tallahassee with the highway patrol. The training consisted of 120 hours of intensive motorcycle training, focusing mainly on low speed handling. Jerry says, "When I finished this training, for the first time I really knew how to ride a motorcycle."
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