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Keith Code: Motorcycle technology can save your life

Keith Code: Motorcycle technology can save your life

I am a huge proponent of motorcycle safety.  I love riding, I love the power of a motorcycle and the ability to turn on a dime.  I love “watching” motorcycle racers who have more skill in their little finger than I have in my entire body apply their craft.  But, at the end of the day or the end of a ride I consider the greatest achievement is getting home safely to my family, everything else is secondary.

So, when there is some new technology that can make the sport I love safer and help me achieve my ultimate goal, I am all ears.  Some of you may know who Keith Code is, he is a former motorcycle racer, he has written books, produced DVD’s and runs a racing school in California.  When Keith Code talks he knows what he is talking about.

I posted a story some time back that talks about the safety benefits of having anti-lock brakes on a motorcycle.  This article provided statistics from the Highway Loss Data Institue that detailed the benefits of ABS on motorcycles.  Keith Code now has some statistics from his racing school that further back this study up.

The full article is posted below but to sum it up Keith replaced the 600cc bikes he was using at the race school with the BMW S1000RR.  The S1000RR is one of the fastest production sport bikes on the market, it is a rocket.  So, new racing students + super fast bike = more motorcycle accidents, right?  Not right, the S1000RR’s are equipped with ABS and Traction Control.  The frequency of on track accidents have dropped DRAMATICALLY.  All of this on a bike with loads more HP and speed potential than in the past.  Read the article below for a full explanation from Keith.

The next time you are in the market for a new motorcycle and thinking about the extra $500 to $1000 that ABS and Traction Control typically cost consider this information from a guy in the know. Remember, the ultimate goal is to get back home to your family and friends in one piece.

From Keith Code Superbike Racing
Electronics Or How a Chip Can Save Your Bacon

As a purist, my viewpoint on competing with sophisticated electronics on road racing motorcycles is: get rid of them. On the other hand, they’ve cut down on highside crashes and injuries, a real blessing in that sense. However, my area is rider training so let’s talk about how computer chips and an obscene amount of horsepower can help you become a better rider.

Several months ago it was announced that the California Superbike School was going to put students on the new BMW S1000RR. Hold on – you’ve got to be joking – that’s the most powerful liter bike ever produced for public consumption. It is the only one that puts over 180 bhp to the ground and will propel it through space at 200 mph. I wouldn’t call the reaction to that announcement actual hate mail but let’s just say there were some strong opinions concerning Keith Code’s sanity.

My current unequivocal statement: For track-based, high performance rider improvement, this ultra fast bike (which also handles with the best of the class) tempered and tamed by its state of the art electronics is the most fantastic training aid ever developed—period!

Allow me to put rider training aids in perspective for you. The door was opened in 1984 when I built the first training aid, the Panic Braking Trainer. Its purpose was to coach riders on recovering from a locked up front wheel. Two years later in 1986 I built the first On-Board

Camera Bike which gives the closest-to-real view of how you are riding.
Researching body positioning in the early 90’s, I found it took too long to correct it so, in 1997, I conceived and had built the Lean & Slide Bike trainer. It provides rapid correction of body position problems and trains riders on how to save rear-end slides due to misapplication of throttle.

In 1999 it became obvious to me that riders distracted themselves with sloppy braking and downshifting. That year I began work on the electronic Control Trainer. It’s a stationary bike, connected to a computer, that walks the rider through all of the combinations of braking, downshifting and upshifting, both with and without the clutch. I’m still working the bugs out of that one.

During that same time period I put together the No BS Bike which has two sets of handlebars: The normal set and another that is solid mounted to the frame and does not turn the forks. This gave riders a definite feel for how their unconscious bar inputs affect the bike and how positive and accurate the steering is when only using the bars to change directions.

And finally, one of our students, realizing he needed practice in employing the body positioning techniques he learned at our school, designed another stationary training bike we affectionately call the Fukka. The bike flicks side to side on air rams to simulate steering and lean and a variety of body positioning techniques we’ve developed. All of my training aids either instruct on proper technique or allow the rider to approach his own and/or the bike’s limits.

Add to those 6, the S1000RR and you’ve got all 7 proven training aids that exist and the last is, by far, the best.

Code-Break readers may recall my observations about the past 50 years, that horsepower wasn’t the cause before, and was unlikely to be the cause now, of crashing motorcycles. Rather, it is rider errors in applying core technical skills that causes them to go down. That was my story, and now I have proof, so I’m sticking to it.

So far this year, over 400 or our students have run 49,000 track miles at 4 tracks in 13 days of riding. The training was conducted in all sorts of weather, including rain, on our 2010 BMW S1000RRs fitted with Dynamic Traction Control and Race ABS systems. Yes, we run the first session in Rain Mode which limits the power output to “only” 150 bhp. After the first ride students are allow to go for the full power.

The bike provides an electronic cushion that forgives the rider some of the more common errors. This curtails panic; riders have that cushion and it provides time to gather themselves together before it escalates to out-of-control proportions. At the same time, NO, the bike cannot and will not forgive truly stupid riding.

Here are the results. Compared to the 600s we’ve used for the past 30 years; 12 million miles of track training; over 125,000 students; at 106 tracks around the world…our crash ratio has reduced by 400%. In real world numbers it looks like this: Last year we had 1.2 crashes per per school day average. This year so far, it’s down to a very convincing 0.3 per day.

Let me point out once again, bone stock, these bikes put out 193 bhp, add an Akrapovic pipe and that number is 204.5 bhp. Horsepower is not the cause of crashing and the S1000RR is the best high performance rider training aid ever invented. I rest my case.