If you're not riding the way you'd like, what's holding you back? It's nice when we can externalize it, and say, "These tires are almost done. This bike has no cornering clearance. If I only had the latest magazine and webforum fodder under me, then I'd really be something." Nice, but often untrue.
What if it's really internal rather than external? Easier to fix or harder? Easier to recognize and examine, or harder?
This question has been on my mind for the past month. It started when I was behind another rider who appeared to be fundamentally competent, but excruciatingly slow (not hyperbole). He appeared to look through the corner, push on the inside bar, accelerate on exit, and so on, but the bike barely leaned, and was even slow on the straights. In my head I kept asking, "What's holding him back?"
It's an interesting question, because when you ask it in front of a mirror rather than in reference to someone else, it gets more challenging to answer. The blanket answer really comes down to beliefs. Do my beliefs hold me back? I'm pretty sure the beliefs of the rider in question were holding him back. Easier to say that than it is to identify which exact beliefs are culpable, and come up with a way to change those beliefs.
If beliefs might be holding us back, one approach I'm experimenting with is to write down my beliefs about any given situation - riding or non-riding - and my beliefs about myself and my abilities. Armed with that list, rather than ask myself how to change a belief, I ask myself what would happen if it's not true. What if the tires will still grip past 10 degrees of lean angle? Okay, how about 20 degrees? How about 40 degrees? How would the world be different? How would I ride?
These beliefs and their questioning need not be limited to motorcycling. You need to apply some judgment to the questions and the way you choose to test for truth. For instance questioning your beliefs regarding gravity, or the solid nature of the oncoming bus should probably be tested in some way that won't lead to grave bodily harm.
With the above caveat in mind, what do you believe? How do you know it's true? How would you ride and live if it weren't true? How can you (safely) test it? Challenge yourself.