Tips from the Master Kevin Schwantz

KSWe ran across a list of track tips attributed to Kevin Schwantz to make your first track day better. We trimmed down the list and will be looking at a few of the items in detail. We are focusing on tips for setting up for a turn and getting through the turn. The list of tips from Kevin Schwantz:

  1. Go slow when learning a new track. Get the flow first. – During your first session if the track is new to you, take it easy on your first two laps. See if you can get a map of the track to help familiarize yourself with the track before you ever put your motorcycle on the track.
  2. Find and use reference points for braking, turn-in and apex. – Look for the objects around the track that do not move that you can use for your reference points. Many tracks will have signs up before the turns indicating feet before the turn that you can use for braking reference points.
  3. Get body position set for corners early. – Do not wait till you are already leaning the motorcycle over into the turn and then decide at the last second to get your body off the bike. Get your butt off the seat as you start your braking.
  4. Get hard braking done early; don’t wait till you see God! – Starting breaking at the first brake marker you selected earlier and marked down on the track map after your first session. As you pick up the pace and start getting faster you can start braking a little later. Just be sure that the hard breaking is done as you hit your breaking reference point, not your turn in point.
  5. Hang off slightly–and comfortably–in corners. – Hanging off your motorcycle is unique to each rider. Hang off at your comfort level, your knee does not have to touch the track on your first outing. Progress slowly and see what works for you. Start by getting half your butt off the seat.
  6. Ease off the brakes smoothly as you lean the bike into a corner. – You should be done braking by the time you hit your turn in point. As you approach your turn in point you should be letting off the brake lever slowly. So when it is time to turn your braking has been completed and you can focus on the turn.
  7. Get to neutral throttle ASAP approaching the apex. – Get the throttle turned to the point where you are at a constant speed and can complete the turn. Keep the throttle to that point and leave it there.
  8. Apply smooth but forceful throttle exiting a corner. – When you are exiting the turn you can start to twist the throttle to add more speed. On you first few laps wait till the bike is fully upright then slowly add more throttle. Do not open the throttle so fast that you start pulling the front wheel off the ground.

We located video that has two riders on a track. The video was taken at Jennings GP located in Jennings Florida. We have provided time codes for turn 1 on this track. This turn is a very unique double apex turn. The braking markers can be seen on the right side of the track as the rider approaches the turn. There are also turn in markers indicated next to the track with an arrow to turn. On the video next to the track you will also see round orange dots that can be used as reference points.

  • 1:34 to 1:47
  • 2:57 to 3:10
  • 4:15 to 4:29
  • 5:36 to 5:46
  • 7:00 to 7:10

We consulted Greg Melka CCS Racing #2, the rider with the camera in the video, to get more insight on turn 1 at Jennings GP. Greg suggested that you need to start setting up for the turn on the front straight by heading to the right side of the track. Use the brake markers on the right of the track to set where you will start braking.

Start looking into the turn, look for the first orange dot. You should be off the brakes when you are starting to make the turn. Roll off the throttle and get it to the point so you motorcycle settles in. When you can see the 2nd orange dot in the turn start to drift out to the center of the track and hold it there. Look for the next orange dot on the right side of the track. By the time the motorcycle is at the orange dot you should have the bike stood up and you can roll on the throttle.

Courtesy of

The 5 phases of Cornering Evolution

KeithCodeCornering1 – The neat, tidy, knees-to-tank, stretched-out style, eye to muscle memory, as the path of least resistance: the natural style of riding
2 – Knee comes off the tank credited to Mike Hailwood. Paul Smart
3 – Butt off the seat credited to Jarno Saarinen
4 – Knee-down, hang-off Kenny Roberts Sr. get the credit for this one
5 – Riders are low and on the inside of the motorcycle, in line with the motorcycle not twisted or rotated in the saddle

Keith Code has posted on “Conceptually, hanging off couldn’t be simpler. Lower the combined center of gravity of the bike/rider and you go through the same corner at the same speed, on the same line with less lean angle. It’s a brilliantly utilitarian racer’s tool with huge residual benefits, chief among them an accurate, on-board gauge for lean angle.”

The last few words caught my eye, “on-board gauge for lean angle”; the knee touching down is a gauge for the lean angle.

Keith Code has been riding for many years. His racing career spanned from 1960’s through 1990’s. He is a writer and inventor and continues to fine tune his understanding of riding motorcycles. Keith passes along his wealth of knowledge on motorcycle riding through his books and the California Superbike School.

Written by John Campbell, Courtesy of