By: Lee Parks Paperback: 192 pages Publisher: Motorbooks International; (April 2003) ISBN: 0760314039
You may know Lee Parks as the guy who makes the wonderful motorcycle gloves (see the wBWreview of Lee Parks gloves). But do you know the other Lee Parks?
Lee has been racing for over 16 years, and he won the 2001 G.M.D. Computrack National Endurance Series Championship in the Lightweight class. He also finished 2nd in the 1994 AMA 125GP national championship in its exhibition year.
He spent five years as the editor and chief test rider of Motorcycle Consumer News where he road tested every new street motorcycle available in the U.S. and became one of the top performance-testing journalists in the world.
Lee has translated his lifetime of experience for you to learn about the various skills and techniques needed to become a better and safer street rider. Better riding is a continuous lifetime learning experience, and involves theory, practice and evaluation.
There are many books about motorcycle riding, and the good ones have “take-aways” that you can directly apply to your street or track riding.
Many motorcycle self-improvement guides seem to be biased either towards street or track riding but don’t do a good job of both. Total Control is unique in the way that it blends Lee’s track experience with strategies for the street that can help make you a better rider.
I would characterize Lee’s book as one that can fill the knowledge gap that is the missing step between a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Experienced Rider Course and a track day experience.
My feeling is that the measure of a good self-help book is in how much it makes me think and then by how much of the knowledge I can apply. Not every tip in every book can be applied, because if you’re on a quest for knowledge, you’ll probably have absorbed some of the lessons already.
But if there’s even one or two nuggets that come to the reader as new knowledge, the book is a success. Lee’s book has more than that — it gave me a fresh approach to riding, even after reading my share of the popular guides and by taking some of the available courses.
For example, one tip that really stuck with me is Lee’s “steering with only the inside arm” technique. I instantly recognized myself in Lee’s description of riders whose hands end up fighting each other for control of the steering. I’ve been practicing Lee’s tips and I’m amazed at the difference it makes in my riding.
Total Control covers other subjects which may sound mundane but which come to life under Lee’s pen. For example, the typical traction, steering, chassis dynamics and more are covered in Part 1. But Lee takes a fresh approach by adding photos, drawings and charts that whittle out all of the obscurity that permeates some other guides and offers an understanding of how these subjects can affect riding in a way that can make a difference.
Part 2 is called “Mental Dynamics” and its discussion of fear has helped me with issues that are way outside the realm of motorcycling and which affect my daily life. Now if a motorcycle riding self-help guide can do that, it’s surely worth a read!
Part 3 gets to some of the knowledge that almost everyone can use: Vision, Line Selection, Throttle Control, Shifting, Braking, Body Positioning, Low Speed U-Turns and even Riding Two-Up.
Lee also includes tips on fitness, riding gear and track days for when you want to take the next step. Total Control is right up there with the best of them. Now I can’t wait to try one of Lee’s Advanced Riding Clinics!