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 control.

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 timely manner.

I said, "Give me power!"
The bike said, "No, you're going to crash!"
"Give me power!"
"No, you're going to crash!"
"Give me power dammit!"
"NO! You're going to crash!"
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.

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 familiar with.

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