i2i Motorcycle Academy - Knee Down

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Trackdays have been killing me: my legs burn after a single session, my knees hurt by mid day and I'm completely dead by the final session.

I was sure I was doing something wrong. I didn't feel secure or comfortable when hanging off the bike, especially at slower speeds when centripetal force is less helpful. I must have looked better than I felt though, I always have at least one session per track day with an instructor, but, when I brought up the issue it got brushed off with a generic "hang off more".

I found out about the i2i Knee Down event through a Facebook advert. It looked like the answer to my problems.

'Borrowing' copy from the i2i website, the event is described as:

The course reflects the simple building blocks that make the i2i Machine Control courses powerful. If you are wondering is this course aimed at you, then consider the following:

  • Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be in full control of where the bike goes, how far it leans and also to be confident at every lean angle and not just the first few degrees?
  • Would you like to experience what a bike does at max lean angles?
  • Would you like to know if expensive tyres are really better than normal ones?
  • Do you think you can lean a bike on to the pegs even in the wet?

i2i

The day.

We were supposed to attend on Sunday, but, the weather forecast was strong, cold winds and rain. Tom, the guy who runs i2i, sent us a text on Saturday offering everyone a chance to reschedule if we wanted.

The decision was unanimous and I rescheduled to a more promising looking Monday. Bonus: given it was a weekday, only two of us could make it.

The day, take 2.

It's easy to imagine that an event called "Knee down" could be very blunt. Turn up, hang off a bike on the stand then ride around in circles until it happens.

It was not like that.

Tom had emailed us a week before the event asking what we wanted to learn on the day, so he could somewhat tailor the day for us. For me, it was the aforementioned insecure/uncomfortable feeling.

Without giving too much away, the morning was spent doing slow speed handling drills. The idea being that Tom would break down the fundamentals of bike control and rebuild it with evidence based drills.

A drill focusing on positive steer helped me a lot. I always thought that when you're mid corner and the inside bar starts pushing back, it's a sign that the front wheel is unstable about to tuck. Turns out that's not the case. If you grow a pair and let go of the bars when you feel this happen, the bike will stand itself up.

tl;dr The bike will ride itself; you're a meaty hindrance.

We moved onto body position and everyone had knee downed just before dinner. Result!

The afternoon was spent on further improvement and practice. By the end of the day I was doing figure of eights while comfortably dragging my knees and toes, knees and toes.

Worth it?

In a word: Absolutely.

Even though we'd spent the majority of the day hanging off at high lean angles (Tom's fancy WSBK gadget was showing 61˚ of lean. Crazy!), I felt comfortable and secure on the bike. No aches or pains.

Can't wait to hit the track with my new found knowledge. Roll on sunshine.