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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Riding Skills Series: Body Positioning


You've seen the extreme race shots of riders hanging off their machines like monkeys, but while it helps out cornering on the racetrack, it's not necessarily the optimum body position for street riding. A more centered riding stance may not look all that cool, but it will give you increased confidence and control in a variety of situations. For most cornering, you should be centered on the seat, and leaning with your bike so that your head is either on or just to the inside of the centerline. Tilting your head to match the horizon stops your brain from getting confused by mixed visual and balance signals. If your controls don't fit correctly, adjust them to match; never adjust your style to fit.


Keeping your inside elbow locked, and using the weight of your upper body on that arm to countersteer is a common lazy habit. This prevents you from making small steering corrections, and limits your control of the motorcycle; in addition, any bump in the road will unsettle your upper body, and that movement will transmit directly down your locked arm and into the bar-unintentionally steering your bike. It's important to remember that the handlebar is more for steering your machine rather than for holding onto it. Experiment with holding your body in position using your stomach muscles and pressing your outside knee against the tank, while keeping your elbows bent with as much weight off the bars as possible.


Using the centered riding stance puts your outside knee in the correct position and will help to distribute your weight properly. If your bike has low clip-ons, it will require substantial knee pressure to unweight them; try variations until you find something comfortable. With as little weight on your arms as possible, you'll find it much easier to make small steering corrections, and bumps will unsettle your bike less as your weight has a reduced effect on steering. Also, experiment with foot position to find what works for you; it's usually best to keep your toes on the footpegs, especially the inner foot to avoid dragging. If you like to use the rear brake (RSS, April '00), keep your foot as far back and tucked in as possible.


There are instances where some hanging off helps with maneuverability or traction. For instance, on wet or slippery surfaces, moving your body to the inside of the turn will allow you to keep your bike more upright to take maximum advantage of the available traction. And during quick countersteering swerves, when you're avoiding an obstacle on the road, keeping your body upright during the entire sequence lessens the amount of mass you have to throw from side-to-side, and lets you push against your bike using your own inertia. Body position has a significant effect on your bike's handling, and it's well worth trying different techniques to find something that gives you more confidence as well as comfortableness
 

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Need4Speed750 said:
Riding Skills Series: Body Positioning

Keeping your inside elbow locked, and using the weight of your upper body on that arm to countersteer is a common lazy habit.
I agree with everything except this part. I don't keep my inside elbow locked, but I do use the weigh of my upper body to countersteer. Of course, I am lazy, but not using your upper body might be OK with 400-pound racers, not 600-pound street bikes. If I want to hustle my bike around tight corners, I have to use my upper body. It's almost like bench pressing with a curved arm on that inside corner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
No Worries said:
I agree with everything except this part. I don't keep my inside elbow locked, but I do use the weigh of my upper body to countersteer. Of course, I am lazy, but not using your upper body might be OK with 400-pound racers, not 600-pound street bikes. If I want to hustle my bike around tight corners, I have to use my upper body. It's almost like bench pressing with a curved arm on that inside corner.
kats tend to sometimes take alittle bit of muscle as well..its not too bad since they are pretty well balanced..but it is heavier so i gotta take that into consideration at times too.
 

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Well, if they are talking about standard street riding as in, "city blocks", then I would tend to agree. But if they're talking about riding the twisties, then I don't quite agree with them. I ride mainly centered on the bike when riding around town, but I hang off the bike if I go for a ride on the curves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Captain Morgan said:
Well, if they are talking about standard street riding as in, "city blocks", then I would tend to agree. But if they're talking about riding the twisties, then I don't quite agree with them. I ride mainly centered on the bike when riding around town, but I hang off the bike if I go for a ride on the curves.

unless ur trackin it or really hitting the twisties hard, there's no need to lean any farther, IMO..im with you captian!
 

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This coming up season I am organizing a SpeedWerks track day run in conjunction with NESBA. The SpeedWerks guys will participate as control riders (instructors). We get a lot of people coming into our shop that are street riders who either ride over their heads, don't understand how much your bike really is capable of, or just plain want to try a track day, but have never done it and don't want to go by themselves. We'd love to get some of you guys/gals out on the track with us.

Track days are awesome fun, and even participating in one track day will teach you soooo much about riding and your bikes capabilities. If you're interested in doing one, either sign up for our newsletter, or if you don't want to be on our mailing list, email me at [email protected] and I'll keep your email address and email you when we get some more details. :) If you sign up for our mailing list, you get some sort of product deal or discount each month. ;)
 

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I'm so afraid when I get my bike, that I'm gonna do something wrong like not having my body positioned right, as said article. And I have this fear, that I'm going to lay it down because of it. I know some of you guys have been riding for years and years so...Is that a common fear for new riders?!?!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
comon fear for every new rider..but thats what the msf course and general riding experience will do for you. you're bike can handle alot more than you think it can.
 

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Charlie, that is definitely a common fear, and nothing to be afraid of. I was on the more daring side, and after only 600 miles on a streetbike ever in my life, I took my bike to the track for a track day. It's the best thing I could have ever done. Man, I wasn't aware how capable the bike is. The most uncapable part of a bike is its rider.

So many people get killed running wide out of a turn on the street and hitting something. I hate to say this, but most of those people could have made it, they just doubted their bikes ability and theirs. We have a quote here at SpeedWerks that we always remind ourselves. If you're going wide in a turn, look through the turn, give it more gas and lean...you may not make it, but it will end the suspense. What that means is we'd rather lowside trying to make that turn than to go out of it and crash. It's a great practice to get into, and believe me, it works.

When I was racing my Aprilia, I got into turn 1 at summit a little too hot trying to outbrake someone...I started to panick and focus on the pavement and the edge of the track. All of a sudden I said to myself "I'm not going to crash!" I looked hard, leaned hard and damn if I didn't make it. Scared the S%$# out of myself, but realized my bike is always more capable than me! :)
 

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SpeedWerks.com said:
Charlie, that is definitely a common fear, and nothing to be afraid of. I was on the more daring side, and after only 600 miles on a streetbike ever in my life, I took my bike to the track for a track day. It's the best thing I could have ever done. Man, I wasn't aware how capable the bike is. The most uncapable part of a bike is its rider.

So many people get killed running wide out of a turn on the street and hitting something. I hate to say this, but most of those people could have made it, they just doubted their bikes ability and theirs. We have a quote here at SpeedWerks that we always remind ourselves. If you're going wide in a turn, look through the turn, give it more gas and lean...you may not make it, but it will end the suspense. What that means is we'd rather lowside trying to make that turn than to go out of it and crash. It's a great practice to get into, and believe me, it works.

When I was racing my Aprilia, I got into turn 1 at summit a little too hot trying to outbrake someone...I started to panick and focus on the pavement and the edge of the track. All of a sudden I said to myself "I'm not going to crash!" I looked hard, leaned hard and damn if I didn't make it. Scared the S%$# out of myself, but realized my bike is always more capable than me! :)

That is the best way to put it. :dthumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
low siding is always easier to walk away from then running smack dab into a tree or guard rail.

just trust your bike, its something i dont think we ever stop learning how to do. but it does get easier over time. :cool:
 

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Your bike will most likely not let you down. You WILL NOT out ride the bike! But a little bit of fear will usually keep you and the bike upright and off the pavement!!
 

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Gas Man said:
Your bike will most likely not let you down. You WILL NOT out ride the bike! But a little bit of fear will usually keep you and the bike upright and off the pavement!!
Now is there any WOS members that can do this. LOL Fear is always good. It helps keep you on your toes and when you lose the fear is when you get to careless and things go wrong. :(
 

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Thanks guys, I figured as much. But I wasn't sure. I don't want to be all squidly, which is WHY I want to ask as many questions and get as many answers as I can. I want to be a safe and cautious rider. So when the time DOES come to get on my bike, I want to be confident in the abilities of myself and the bike. Not in a cocky way, but in a way that I'm comfortable. Thanks again guys! :hug:
 

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V-Twin Moddin
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Well, Twisty is the most "without fear" guy I know on a bike. Many of the other fast guys in WOS still have that reality check valve in their thinking! But I personally don't think many people can push the bikes past their limits...they are just built that way!
 
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