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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am a fan of "technique" books and have been ever since I tried my hand at ski instructing in high school. Learning to take an analytical approach to instructing netted big gains in my own performance and finding the best methods for thinking about or explaining technique was a rewarding part of teaching. If you have a similar enjoyment of the metaphysics of sport instruction, or simply happen to be someone who "thinks too much," this book is for you!

The Upper Half of the Motorcycle, by Bernt Spiegel, is a German riding technique book that was recently (and wonderfully) translated into English. In keeping with stereotypes about German engineering, the style takes a very academic but straightforward approach to scientifically understanding what it means to be "in the zone." I minored in Anthropology because I could not get enough of the burgeoning field of Cognitive Science and it was not yet a proper field when I was in school. Learning about the behavioral and evolutionary science behind human nature, free of the jargon of Psychology or the minutae of Biology or classical Anthropology, never ceased to provide a string of Eureka! moments and this book aligns strongly with that vein. It picks up where Keith Code left off in discussing counterproductive instincts, fear and the ever elusive quest to define the mental aspects of riding.

Rather than devolving into a vague, new age attempt to reference but gloss over what it means to get into the zone, Spiegel lays out the hard science of hangups and mental barriers and provides concrete, repeatable methods for identifying and overcoming the myriad mental circuitries that cause bad habits and plateaus. He spends a lot of time discussing the ways that we learn and the differences between thinking through actions and letting them happen naturally. If you have ever struggled with the difficulty of incorporating step by step instruction or high-level theory and sometimes feel the best way to ride is to go with the flow, this book will provide you with the reason why you feel that way (the subconscious simply works faster and the conscious mind is too slow to fully control the motor system) and it will teach you how to deal with it more effectively (learning the limits of thinking too much allows you to incorporate lessons and theories directly to motor memory with more ease).

Anyone with a technical, philosophical or scientific bent will enjoy this book and anyone else with a healthy curiosity about learning to ride better will benefit from it. If you read it let me know as I would love to discuss it with other riders!
 

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Giant on a Motorcycle
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Thank you for sharing but I feel like over analyzing motorycling to this extent would ruin the fun for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
LOL, it certainly sounds like that, doesn't it! It is more of an analysis of learning; the sections directed solely towards riding technique are actually elegantly simple and concise....followed by a metric crap-ton of the science behind them:)

It is basically an academic treatise on the zen of letting go. I am going to use it to recruit an ashram full of rocket scientists and neurosurgeons and take over the world. Let me know if you change your mind!
 

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sounds like I would enjoy it.

I'll have a look for it.
 

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King of the Hopeless
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It is a bloody amazing treatise. That being said, it does not read like anything else you have ever read about motorcycling, unless you are into reading suspension workbooks or engine design theory.

I loved it and highly recommend it.
 

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Thank you, OP. Your first paragraph really spoke to me as a firearms instructor. I was always after that "edge" to perfect my craft and to perfect my method of bringing my students to a higher level.
 
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