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Since I released podcast #90, I’ve had some people reach out wanting to see the full excerpt from my Moto Pilot Guide. Below is the full introduction from the guide.

       An Introduction by Ken Hill

This manual contains the methodology I’ve used to train thousands of riders (so far), developed out of necessity (the lack of established fundamentals, and, thus, extent of misinformation and inexpert advice in the racing and recreational riding communities was shocking) and quite simply from – what worked at the highest levels of the sport. It’s the same methodology for all, just a different degree of application based on the rider’s current development level, environment, and speed, which I’ve proven to be successful not only with street and trackday riders but national championship-winning racers.  After all, isn’t that how it should be?  Other sports, such as martial arts, baseball, football and cycling, have long had highly standardized training fundamentals and clear pathways for developmentand technical improvement. It’s time we did, too!

I developed my methodology by looking at the sport backward, reverse-engineering what the best riders in the world were doing and creating not only knowledge and skill objectives, but an order in which to teach them.  This was a massive breakthrough in how I taught as it allowed a rider to improve in less time, with less risk.  Why?  Riding time is limited, track time is limited (and expensive), and trial and error are expensive, painful, and dangerous in our sport.  So, after analyzing and decoding what the best in the world do, I developed an unambiguous way to teach it in a manner accessible to riders at all levels. My methodology includes objectives, techniques, and processes (not only the why but, importantly, how and in what order) that streamline the learning curve while mitigating risk, all in a consistent, standardized language.

This introduction will cover a variety of topics, all-important is understanding how you are going to interact with your student.

  • Fundamentals
  • Order of the Sport (Fundamentals) 
  • Setting expectations and boundaries within your coach and with yourself. 
  • The elements that make up a world-class motorcycle racer
  • What your standards should be. 
  • The 5 reasons why we crash
  1. Fundamentals:  Up until now, our sport has lacked clear and concise fundamentals.  What are we supposed to be doing?  Look at almost any other sport – soccer, tennis, football, cycling, etc. and the fundamentals are clearly on display when we watch them train and compete.  Clear fundamentals, supported with objectives and drills that build steps to reach higher and higher levels of proficiency.  The fundamentals I have created were organically established by what mattered most – what worked – and what enabled a rider to keep moving forward with understanding and proactive choices.  The fundamentals are what we should be doing.  These are the fundamentals, in the correct order (what I call the Order of the Sport):
  2. Bike Placement and Establishing Precision
  3. Vision and Focus
  4. Motor Controls
  5. Brake Adjustability
  6. Turn in rate and turn in point
  7. Body Position and Body timing 
  • Order of the Sport:  When I first started working with riders, by far the #1 request was for a better body position.  Yes, body position is important, but there are far more important riding fundamentals that come before body position.  The Order of the Sport was created by giving a rider a clear order of what was importantfor building higher levels of proficiency.  Body position simply didn’t matter if a rider didn’t understand proper bike placement, reference points or basic brake usage.  Up until the Order of the Sport, we were shown – what to do – but not in the order of how to do it. 
    As a teacher, establishing a consistent way of communicating with students, in a particular order, was a game-changer.  Whether a brand-new rider or professional racer, everyone goes through the same process and objectives because – it is the same!  The Order of the Sport gives students a clear path of what to work on, when, and in what order, and allows them to see a path to improvement.  The Order of the Sport also enables coaches to easily pick up and follow where the student is at all times and either reinforce or move to the next steps.
  • Setting Expectations and Boundaries:  Whether working with a trainer or riding for yourself, placing yourself in a position to meet your goals is where it all starts.  We tend to want to jump right to the solutions, without proper evaluation of current skills or whether a process has been established – in order to meet your goals. This pre training pause, taking the time to establish the relationship with your trainer and yourself is the foundation of success.  As a trainer for a discipline that has consequences, I’ve been told I am too uncompromising or too expensive or my methodology takes too long.  We tend to look at what the cost of success looks like – time and money – but what about the cost of failure?  That is your training, that is what I try to bring to every student, the ability to adjust and mitigate risk.  Committing to the process, not the outcome.  The outcome happens because of the process.  I am sharing my 5 rules that I use when working with clients that I hope you would embrace when working with an instructor and for your internal conversation. Here are the 5 rules: 

3a) I am not trying to be their friend

To accurately evaluate and work with a student, a trainer needs to have an objective, and not personal, viewpoint.  A trainer should be friendly and take your personal situation at hand, not make trying to be your friend as an objective.  Students will listen and respect you to the highest level if they know your only objective is to help them improve their riding.

3b) There needs to be humility

Set aside your ego, embrace the possibility of a better way, and defer to what the best in the world do.  Ask your yourself to be open at looking at different processes of riding.

3c) Be ready for feedback

If you can’t accept feedback, you’ll continue taking things personally and be stuck.  Give yourself permission to accept feedback and understand it’s not personal.  Learning takes time, it’s a process and is based on looping constant evaluation and training.  Accepting feedback from an expert source delivered correctly, should be absolutely welcomed.  And, we take the Top Gun approach – be prepared to be scored.

3d) You have to put your reps in

There are no shortcuts or silver bullets. You have to invest.  Everybody wants to be great….but we forget the really hard part.  Getting good.  You have to be really, really good before getting great.  It’s the slog, the grit of doing your reps day in and day out when no one is watching, that separates amateurs from professionals.  Progress isn’t an accident.  Professionals are predictable because they consistently work at getting better at the fundamentals by putting their reps in. 

3e) We’re going to do what the best in the world do

My methodology is based on what the majority of what the riders in the world are doing.  Want the 4th-place result?  Do what the 4thplace guy is doing.  Want to be the best, do what the best in the world are doing, because if there was a better way, they would do it.

  • What are the elements that make up a world-class motorcycle racer:  Motorcycle riding and especially racing is a sport, but yet, our sport is treated as a hobby.  To be clear – whether it’s treated as a hobby or sport, it has dire consequences if not controlled correctly.

4a) Technique

A world-class rider is always trying to improve.  They understand the consistent, deliberate practice of the fundamentals is what makes them better.  Constantly revisiting the fundamentals is what keeps you sharp and moves you forward.  

4b) Physical Fitness

The fitter you are, the longer you can access your technique.  The second your fitness drops, what happens?  Your focus drops.  No focus, no technique.  Physical fitness in our sport should be based on a good cardiovascular base, followed by core, flexibility, and strength training.  This has multiple benefits of being able to stay focused longer, moving around on the bike easier, and recovering from injury sooner.

4c) Mental Fitness

If your mental fitness is off, you lose the ability to access your technique.  And, this can come from a million things, from personal to professional.  This is – FOR SURE – the number ONE training aspect I have to address.  Whether it’s a lack of confidence or the inability to simply focus….  Mental fitness is the most important and most often overlooked part of the training, especially with all the distractions of having to be connected every minute of every day.  Create a space with your motorcycle world, vs your non-motorcycle world.  (How intently would you focus if they you were getting ready to jump out of an airplane?  Work on developing a ritual/plan to help establish focus before getting on the bike or entering track, every single time.  Establish a re-focus trigger when focus is lost or something happens.)

  • The 5 reasons why we crash:  Yes, crashes happen.  In our sport, there seems to be a stigma or superstition talking about crashing, and as a coach, we need crashing to be an open topic so we can take proactive steps for mitigating risks while on track.  The 5 reasons why we crash are just that – why WE crash.  Acknowledge there are other types of crashes that are beyond your control, such as mechanical failures, fluid on the track or someone else taking you out.         These 5 reasons are why we crash.
  • Lack of a plan / Lack or Loss of focus:  Notice the order of those words.  Without a plan, there is nothing to focus on.  Having a clear plan for your session, communicated clearly, with a deliberate trigger to turn the focus on and back on, can save so many on-track issues.  Why does 9-time world champion Valentino Rossi kneel by his bike before he gets on his bike – every single time?  He’s getting his plan and focus going, and has a plan for re-focusing when his focus is lost.
  • Abrupt inputs:  Choose your words carefully when describing to a student how inputs are placed into the motorcycle.  “Whack”, “Stab”, “Throw”, “Toss,” “Grab,” etc., are not words we want to describe for inputs.  The faster one rides on the track, the more lean angle is used, initial inputs need to be deliberately softer as to load the motorcycle and tires more uniformly.  Words like “add”, “load”, “apply”, “build” work much better and help hone the student’s mindset.  Concentrate on the first 5% and last 5% of the inputs you are placing into the motorcycle, being able to adjust for the lean angle and speed.
  • Rushing direction:  The first fundamental (Bike Placement and Establishing Precision) is the first fundamental because – it is what we are trying to accomplish, on every corner entry, at the slow point and on the exit.  Being in a position to accelerate for the longest period of time – the most feet per second the longest.  Regardless of bike size, understanding and respecting where the bike needs to be slowed and pointed – for maximum acceleration – will be one of the most difficult things to teach.  I’m not saying go slow on the entry, what I am saying is – “don’t get into the corner past 100% of the rider’s or bike’s ability, that compromises the exit”.
  • Repeating a mistake:  Many times, a rider doesn’t know if they are making a mistake.  We need to have report cards that can be read in real-time to tell us how the student is doing and so the student can assess/learn to assess how they are doing.  While there are many report cards that are used during training sessions, apexes are the #1 report card for assessing how the student is doing and how they are reacting to your training input.  Apexes tell us about – bike placement, control usage, vision skills, brake adjustability – it’s all there.  If there are 15 turns on a track, there are 15 opportunities to see how your student is doing, in real-time.

Overconfidence:  Overconfidence has bitten us all and is something that has to be monitored closely.  We feel good about our riding and feel confident because of the techniques that are being applied – Deliberate, focused proactive inputs.  Overconfidence is an emotion and leads to the opposite – Reactive unfocused inputs.  Remind your student they are riding well because they are applying the techniques that allow 

Ken Hill