I'd like to add to Smitty's suggestions that everyone
needs to practice throttle control once in a while. It's not just a newbie thing; it's something we can all use, especially when the road turns wet and dirty.
In the current issue of Cycle World (3/04), former AMA 250GP champ Nick Ienatsch describes his guest ride on Ducati's MotoGP bike. Worried about the demand on his throttle control skill made by 220hp in a 300lb motorcycle, Nick prepared by mounting a slick on the back of his dirtbike and riding around a dry lake bed to sharpen his touch.
Nick suggests this throttle control drill in his book, Sport Riding Techniques:
Take your bike out on a deserted street or parking lot and accelerate and decelerate in first gear, using various rpm. Roll the throttle on and off slowly at first, just easing it open and easing it closed. Really concentrate on your right hand, finessing the grip open and closed. As you get smoother, increase the rpm and try to roll the throttle on and off just as smoothly, but more quickly. Find the point at which you can quickly open and close the throttle while maintining smoothness. This skill must be practiced constantly to overcome our inherent instinct to be more aggressive when trying to excel in sports.
I recently did my favorite throttle control practice, in which I try to avoid brakes and use only throttle for deceleration. The route I chose includes about 5 miles of reasonably well groomed dirt road as well as 25 miles of paved goat trails with lots of gravel and 1st-gear turns. As always, I started off a little rusty but quickly sharpened my skill and came away with the feeling that I had accomplished something.
In addition to awesome top-end horsepower that demands the utmost respect, today's sportbikes can also be sensitive to throttle at low speed. Hamfisted throttle application while turning or on a poor surface—such as pulling into traffic as you exit the gravelly Kwik-E-Mart parking lot—can put you on your ass in an instant. Take some time to work on throttle skill. You just might save yourself some aches, embarassment, and motorcycle repair bills.