Where's my power?...
I'm such a control freak.
[ Thursday - November 21, 2013 ]
It rained buckets last night but it eased up as the morning rolled
around. The sky still looks ominous, with a slight drizzle, so
I dawned the rain gear. Just in case. Who knows, I might
get a rain ride out of today's commute. That would be nice.
The concrete and tarmac is mighty wet so I decided to put the
monster into rain mode. It's good to know that I have the
maximum traction control aggressiveness enabled. This way, I
don't have to worry as I go across paint stripes. You know,
the stuff that, when wet, is so slick that it makes snot look like
superglue. So I'm riding along. As I get ever closer to
work, the drizzle intensifies and becomes heavier and heavier
rain. What happens when it's a good down pour? That's
when I start having fun. Now here's the kicker. Ever
since I started riding, 9 or so years ago on my F650GS, I've always
ridden in the rain. I started doing this as a means to improve
my skills just in case I get caught in rain while touring. In
this way I would know how to act/react so I don't get myself
in trouble. Eventually the practicing made me so comfortable
in the medium that I start enjoying it. Even revel and desire
it. Some might say I'm out of my rocker, but to each their
own. This just happens to be one of my kicks.
I'm so use to all the older bikes (that don't have any form of rain
mode), that I forget the new GS has and is currently set to rain
mode. Through years of riding in the rain, I'm use to and am
more than comfortable managing the power and the drive train
myself. When I put my mental state into rain mode, I'm very
conscious of paint stripes, manhole covers, oil slicks, and anything
that might make me go sideways. When I accelerate from a red
light, I feather the clutch and open the throttle just enough to
cross the first paint stripe, a little more before I cross the
second paint tripe, and then I open further when I'm in the
intersection. By the time I reach the paint stripe on the
other side of the intersection, I have a good amount of speed and
don't worry too much about rear wheel torque over those paint
stripes. Full bike power, not problem. It's all under
Well, it's that last bit, "It's all under control" that has me
feeling a little bit... odd... this day. As I come off the
line, I twist for power. With rain mode on, the GS goes,
"...rrrrrrr...RRRRRR." In other words, delayed firing.
"What the heck? Where's my power?" As the bike slowly
pickup, my instincts say, "I'm clutching it wrong." So I pull
the clutch in. The bike's delayed reaction is doing what is
know in fighter pilot talk as PIO. Pilot Induced
Oscillation. Basically, the pilot inputs a command, but the
machine is delayed in reacting. By the time the machine
achieves it's first input goal, the pilot has already submitted a
second correction input. Man and machine is off cycle with
input and reaction. This causes the machine to be in an
oscillation state where input and reaction can't be achieve in a
I said, "Give me power!"
The bike said, "No, you're going to crash!"
"Give me power!"
I find myself in a weird on/off power/acceleration situation where I
don't know if I'm staying or going. In the end, I release the
clutch and keep the throttle in position. Eventually the
machine finally catches up. Ugh... PIO sucks.
"No, you're going to crash!"
"Give me power dammit!"
"NO! You're going to crash!"
I'm not saying I'm Valentino Rossi, but having me ride the GS in
rain mode is like having Valentino Rossi ride the Ducati in Moto
GP. Rossi is such a finesse rider that he has trouble with the
Ducati's on or off throttle riding style. The man is a classic
skilled rider who knows how to push the machine to its limits all by
himself without any electronic assistance. Not the twisted
open or let go off rider like Pedrosa. For me I'm so use to
finessing the throttle and feathering the clutch that having
retarded engine firing doesn't help me in the rain. When I
switch the GS back to road mode for the remaining rain ride, I no
longer PIO and everything works just fine. Road mode allows
for a level of rear wheel slippage, but it's not something I'm not
Discussing this with Mr. Speedy, I surmised that Rain mode is really
for those folks out there who might not be familiar with rain riding
and need that little bit of assistance when caught in the
rain. For myself, I think this mode would prove useful when
the temps drops below 32F (0C). Icing conditions.
My conclusion... "Rain mode" is not for me. I'll stick to road
mode in the rain thank you. The other advantage is I don't
have to switch modes when it rains. Yeah.
Written on: November 21, 2013
Last modified: November 21, 2013