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Twisted Pencils


So what is all this stuff about smooth and wobbly bits?

One of the great light bulb moments, you know the eureka thing, is when you realise that you are actually riding something akin to two pogo sticks with a wobbly bunch of limbs flopping around on top and the only way to shuffle it along at a decent pace is to try to stop all the wobbling and choreograph the whole thing so it’s all working together.


If you don’t quite get what I am on about have a think about this analogy.  Imagine a bike is a little like a pencil with a rubber eraser on the end.  If you put the rubber onto a smooth surface and your finger tip onto the sharp end you can balance the pencil with a little pressure keeping it solid against the surface with the rubber end.

Now if you lean the pencil over it will still stick to the surface for a while until the lean angle gets just too much and the force from your finger pushes it sideways instead of down.  A bit like your bike and its tyres right?  Except that your bike has you on top and suspension.  So let’s think of the pencil with a spring at the sharp end and do the same thing.  Now you find you wobble around with your finger and as you do this the pencil wobbles around, in fact it would wobble and change its angle against the surface.

It not only gets harder to keep it stable but harder to stop it from sliding.  More importantly even than this is that that wobble makes you less confident about it sticking as you lean it around and you have to slow down your movements.  Even more so you start to pay more and more attention to the pencil instead of other stuff, like me babbling at you.

Now imagine that you can get the pencil, with the spring and your wobbly finger to move to exactly the lean you want and stay there stable until you move it to the next position, again stopping at a stable lean.

Tada, Choreography of the wobbly bits and suddenly the world changes you have plenty of time for my rambles whilst you are doing it and also you can do it faster so things get a lot more confidence inspiring and you start to get SMOOTHLY along whilst at the same time feeling like its less stressful and actually slower.

Now on your bike it is a lot more complicated because everything you do, everything, causes more than a single effect and failing to control even one wobbly variable can lead to a cascade of problems.   Take your suspension, if it changes compression because of changing load, usually this means a change between front and rear ride height, which will mean a change in corner lean and radius which will mean a change in grip distribution which will mean.... well you get the idea.

This book is about understanding the controls, body and balance (the twiddly bits) so that you can get the wobbly bits to function just the way you need them too, just like your pencil.  It is also about you understanding the effects each control has beyond the directly intended one.

Hopefully we will teach you to be the choreographer of your ride.