Here are five simple ADV moto-mindset changes that will help you achieve even more happiness while riding every year—both on and off the bike.
By Ron Lieback
Reading is a constant flow of my entrepreneurism habits, and many of the principles learned to grow my businesses and others have directly strengthened my ability as a rider. One book that constantly resurfaces is Carol Dweck’s Mindset: Changing The Way You Think To Fulfill Your Potential. Dweck says two mindsets exist: growth and fixed. In simplest terms for motorcyclists, if you have a fixed mindset, you believe your ability is as-is and can’t be changed. These riders think they have a fixed talent, whether good or bad, and no amount of effort will make them better riders.
If you have a growth mindset, you believe you can cultivate better riding skills through your efforts. The latter is an absolute must-have to become a better rider year after year, decade after decade. I’ve witnessed road and MX racers change mindsets and win racers. And the same is true for adventure motorcycle riders. Once you believe in yourself that the unthinkable, such as riding a fully loaded R 1250 GS effortlessly on single-track style terrain, your riding life will change for the better.Keep at it with a growth mindset and your riding will ascend to new levels you thought unimaginable. And the best part is the outcome. You become happier, and your mindset helps influence others, creating further enjoyment for riding.
Here are five simple moto-mindset changes that will help you achieve even more happiness while riding every year—both on and off the bike—from daily jaunts to month-long adventure tours.
1. Visualize More
I believe that 80 percent of the riding well game is mental, and 20 percent is physical. Besides the constant studying of new techniques and riding habits through the numerous videos and books available, visualizing yourself completing these new techniques makes all the difference.
This is due to neuroplasticity. Without getting geeky, basically, our brains have the ability to rewire themselves to form new neural connections and pathways based on interactions with our environments. Studies show that visualizing something sends the same signals to the brain as actually doing something, which allows you to tackle riding situations much easier when on the bike because your brain thinks you have completed the riding task before.
This is nothing new in sports. People like 23-time gold medalist Michael Phelps constantly attribute visualization as part of his mental preparation for success when swimming in the Olympics. And how many MotoGP riders do you see visualizing riding the circuit before a race, typically in full leathers with their hands on the imaginary controls? The latter has always been a favorite before riding various race tracks, and video games further helped with the visualization.
This moto mindset takes this visualization practice that modern neuroscience has confirmed worked and can make you a much better rider. I sometimes just refer to it as daydreaming, something that can be completed often amid the boring, mundane tasks of everyday working life.
Visualize all—not just the sites, but also the sounds of things like a slipping clutch to the smells of a damp morning while riding over slippery pine needles.
I do this often by riding my 1190 Adventure R on some of the rockiest and tightest single tracks possible or crossing deeper creeks. If you’re mentally prepared you’ll be in much better shape when these adventures begin.
And to maximize all, do a few visualizations – first of yourself actually riding the bike, feeling the controls and hearing the engine, and then from a third-person perspective, seeing yourself riding.
2. You Can Master Controls and Balance
The ultimate solution to smoother riding that can make you faster (if you like speed) and tackle the off-road like Marc Coma is mastering your controls. Finesse is the name of the game in regards to throttle, brake, and steering inputs. And a simple change in mindset to understand you can master these inputs can make a lifelong difference in your ability to ride better and longer.
It does take effort, though, but there’s one simple practice and one that’s for free. Walk your bike around your backyard or favorite trail or whatever you have available.
The more unlevel the terrain, the better. This will give you an immediate feel for clutch, brake, and throttle finesse.
Then challenge yourself to ride as slow as possible on the same terrain while standing up. Kick-off legs here and there, which will also help you improve balance, and use only one hand depending on if you need throttle or clutch.
Think like a grade-schooler at recess. Play and master your controls and balance.
3. You Can Master GPS
Approaching a motorcycle GPS unit for the first time, and sometimes the 50th time, as in my former case, is intimidating. To break the mindset hurdle, throw away the technical jargon of waypoints and creating GPX files, and simply experiment.
Once you get comfortable with the basic functions of the GPS, as simple as entering a destination and finding gas stations along the route, the more technical aspects become more approachable.
Also, take your unit outside with you for a GPS signal, and watch some YouTube videos. There are definitely multiple videos available for your motorcycle-specific GPS. Being hands-on will help change your mindset and ease the struggles.
Also, if you participate in group rides, a few GPS experts will be there. Ask them questions; most riders love to share their knowledge of how to best utilize a GPS.
4. You Can Properly Load Your Bike
A properly loaded bike changes the happiness of the ride, and quickly. The issue is most just think they know how to load a bike, and this is due to their fixed mindset that just thinks it’s OK. But many are wrong.
The key phrase here is the center of gravity. Most adventure bikes have higher ground clearance, which means the center of gravity is higher. The higher the center of gravity, the heavier the bike will feel because when weight is higher, the bike will lose balance quicker.
This is why standing on the pegs is important for lowering your center of gravity, which will keep your bike balanced easier. It sounds counterintuitive to some because your body is actually higher, but all the weight is on the pegs, centralizing more weight lower, which allows you to control the bike easier. (Want to geek out? Read this Kevin Cameron article on Center of Gravity Myths).
The same is the concept for loading a bike. You want to keep the weight low and balanced from side to side. Pack heavier items at the bottom of the bags and in the panniers. If you use a rollbag on the rear or a tail pack, try to keep lighter items up top, and also balanced from left to right.
Example: keep a tent at the bottom of one pannier, and your liquid drinks at the bottom of the other pannier. Balance the weight of the remaining items between the two panniers. Place all lighter items such as clothes and dry foods in the rear case.
Proper loading can prevent you from stupid crashes where you are forced to make quick steering, throttle, or braking input—especially at slower speeds off-road.
Change your mindset to always load your bike correctly, and never leave things to chance. Your bike’s handling should immediately tell you if things are unbalanced—just as low pressure in a tire would also quickly translate that your bike is not right.
Speaking of PSI, always check daily before each ride, and always compensate for added weight on the motorcycle based on the manufacturer’s recommendations.
5. Make Time to Ride More
Everyone complains about not finding enough time to ride, but that can be changed. Yes—not finding time to ride more, but making time to ride more. This is a moto mindset change that will surely make you happier than most.
I schedule time for riding as I do for work assignments. This includes scheduled daily “lunch” rides to get out on the local trails or roads, even if they are only 20-minute treks. This also goes for riding motorcycles to work, rain or not. Once you begin the practice, it becomes simpler and simpler to find more time to ride.
Embrace these moto mindsets, and you’ll spend more time in that proverbial saddle. And the normal outcome of more adventure riding time is more happiness, something everyone can use more of nowadays.