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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Ok i see lots of times peope asking, wanting to learn, people who sometimes don't have the money to spend for a school (you should try though) or people who don't have anyone to saw them (the proper way).
I wrotte this small article intended to provide a little info regarding body positioning. I will also try to get some images for it as well. Enjoy.

So we always hear about proper riding position and knee dragging and new riders get even more confused.

Purpose of this small article is to help rider (new, more experienced it doesn't make a difference) understand proper riding position on your bike.

What is proper riding position? And who the hell does judge what your riding position should be? Well the judge is physics and the how we are just going to analyze.

How many times have you approached a turn and felt frozen started thinking of traction, speed, body positioning and a hell of a deal of other things. Did that moment make you think that you are not going to make it through? If it did (if you say no…you are probably lying to yourself or you haven’t….ridden yet) don’t be worried its absolutely normal to get a scare, even experienced riders do have them time to time (try checking a few magazine videos, I know of a couple where you can hear the breathing from inside helmet cameras) it’s how your mind reacts to a danger situation and how it tries to prepare your body for something that might go wrong.

The first and most basic things you need to understand and get really familiar before moving to body positioning is throttle control, braking, countersteering and overcoming your fears the rest such as body positioning and cornering art (lines, speed, time saving techniques) are not to be experiment with if you haven’t got familiar with those basic issues. Believe me it might be fancy getting outside the bike and trying to lean all nice and like a motogp star but it ain’t of any help if you don’t know how your throttle works and how it affects suspension, corner speed and traction control.

If you want to learn more regarding those things I would suggest you attend a bike school (something like CSS) it is really worth the money even if you think that you have mastered these techniques (just ask a few professional riders).

Now on to body positioning, the first and most important aspect of cornering is to understand what exactly affects a motorcycle while cornering either at the start or the middle or even the exit of a corner.

So let’s see some important factors regarding cornering:






  • Your bike is designed to handle a distribution of load, you don’t have to know physics to understand that most of the weight distribution under extreme conditions should be handled by the rear part of your motorcycle, just look at the tires, the small front and the huge rear state this. Technically speaking a bike is working correctly while cornering when the weight distribution is around 30-40% at the front part and 60-70% at the rear this weight distribution is directly affected by throttle and brake handling (thus the mentioning of them previously).
  • A bike turns with the countersteering technique, this roughly (my intension is not to present what countersteering is through physics laws –we can do that on a different thread- ) means that when you turn you apply gentle pressure to the handlebars to the opposite direction (you want to turn left, you apply pressure –watch it pressure, not pulling- to the left clipon and vice versa).
  • You use the knee as a lean angle indicator, ok it’s nice dragging the knee down and gives a more talented “look” to the rider, but the knee is there only as an extra (and free) instrument, it tells you how much lean angle you have at the moment, usually us mortal riders will stop leaning after the knee has touched the ground.
  • Handlebars are for steering, they are not for holding on them, this is vital and crucial to understand, and you use the clipons as levellers for pushing you don’t rest your body weights on them.
  • The heaviest part of your body is your torso and your head, this is another crucial factor, you need to remember that hanging off does not mean moving your butt outside the seat, it means moving your body I see more and more often people hanging off but only their leg is sticking outside the bike, this is wrong. I know you have seen it done from MotoGP riders but you aint got neither their skills (maybe some of you…but you wouldn’t be reading this) neither the motorcycle parts (suspension, tires) nor we are talking about different circumstances and different techniques.
  • Chicken stripes (duh) are not an indicator that you are leaning correctly, they are an indicator of your lean angle, if you don’t move your weight to the inside of the turn and your tires have no chicken strips it means that you have higher chances of crashing from a rider who positions his body correctly for a corner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
But now lets start, there are many different techniques of hanging off the bike but there are common rules which need to be followed for achieving it correctly.

The first rule is that you need to move your body out of the seat and inside the turn, then you need to do this in a manner which does not disturb the bike, which would create problems and finally you need to have your hands relaxed and not pressing on the clipons.

So what is the procedure of cornering and body transition from side to side? (as mentioned above there are different ways of doing this, but you should always remember the common rules, bellow I will describe the way I prefer).


  • I always prefer to position my body before I start braking; this helps me because under heavy braking body movements will disturb the bike (again for us mortals, racers usually can do it without any problems). And if I try to position my body after braking (which would be the start of the corner) again I might disturb the bike. So before you start braking move your inside butt cheek outside of the bike (for example approaching a left turn you would move your left cheek to the outside of the bike) so much that only the opposite butt cheek rests on the seat.
  • Again before braking I prefer of positioning my legs properly so that I don’t need to adjust my positioning during cornering. So I usually rest the ball of my inside foot to the edge of the peg, this helps me because of my height if I rest the ball on my peg I won’t be able to easily open my leg later (there is no correct or wrong at this, you need to find which is more relaxing and easily achieved for you). Note that you should be carefully positioning your leg, if you toes extend far to the ground there is a big chance of injuring them (I’ve seen riders breaking their toes while scraping the rearsets).

    Your outside leg should be placed normaly on the rearset but you need to make sure that it allows you to put pressure on it, since its going to replace your hands on body movement later plus you will use it as a suspension extension.
  • When you have finished positioning your body you should actually start the braking of the bike, this is another crucial step of cornering and its crucial that it is performed correctly.

    One major error that new riders perform most oftenly is shifting weight to the front system (suspension, tire) while braking, this is a major reason of some crashes, your hands should be resting you should not be pushing the clipons while braking because they only thing you achieve is moving more weight to the front end system, more weight distribution means higher chances of loosing traction and crashing (remember the 40% - 60% rule mentioned?) I know I can hear you asking how you maintain your body positioning on the bike while braking, and the answer is between your legs (eh…not that) your tank! Grab the tank with your outside leg (right leg for a left hand corner) and push against it to maintain your body positioned, push also down your outside leg so that your body does not disturb further the bike. While you are braking always remember that you don’t let your brakes go free while heavy braking, you need to smoothly release the brakes because if you don’t you are disturbing even more your front end system (sudden release of the brakes means quick suspension rebounding which disturbs your bike again).
  • While you are smoothly releasing the brakes, start lowering your torso, this is vital! And most times forgotten or done the wrong way, the heaviest part of your body (as mentioned again before) is your torso and your head, not your waste nor your legs, it’s the upper body which needs to move for proper hanging off. Also note that you are not pivoting around the tank, you are moving sideways outside, pivoting is not wrong but its hard to do it correctly when you are a novice rider (regarding body positioning) I see most of the people pivoting that they have their torso quite high and above the tank this is totally wrong since your body needs to move to the outside. So start lowering your torso and bend your elbows if you don’t bend your elbows you won’t be able to lower your torso and there is a big chance that you will be applying pressure to the handlebars.

    One technique that helps your get the correct body positioning is called “kiss the mirror” that’s the technique that will produce you the best results regarding the positioning, it is achieved by bending your hands, and moving your torso towards the mirror in a position like you are trying to kiss it. This means usually that the inside hand should be bend around 90 degrees (to give you and idea), a small part of your torso should be touching the tank (the inner part should be hanging off) and your outside hand (right on a left hand turn) should be resting on top of the tank. While you are lowering your torso point your inside knee to the inside of the turn (try to move it around 40 – 45 degrees to the inside of the turn).

    Again remember not to put pressure on the handlebars / clipons you are just touching them and using them to countersteer nothing more nothing less. This movements are performed while the bike is coasting (it’s the part where you have finished with the brakes, you keep the throttle steady –maybe just a tab of roll off to use also the engine break- ).
  • Once you have finished with body positioning you should be in the entrance of the corner, now you either keep the throttle steady or you start opening it, but never never (unless you are an experienced rider) back off or hit the brakes, you need to try to maintain the 40% - 60% weight distribution and that’s done at this time by throttle control.
  • Your outside foot should start pushing on the rearset, this will transfer the center of mass further down (from the tank to the peg), this is achieved because you are pressing down the peg and not the seat or the tank, the peg is lower than the other points and thus you get a transfer of the center of mass.
  • Always look at the vanishing point this is the only way to properly ride through a corner, you don’t look down, you don’t look outside, you don’t look inside you look at the end of the corner, this way your brain reads the corner and provides the proper information to the rest of your body parts to move correctly, where you look is where you go, sounds strange but that’s how it works, look outside of the corner and you will end up there.
  • The first times you will try you probably are not going to be dragging a knee, that’s normal you don’t drag a knee to impress people, you use it to understand how much lean angle you got there, but I know surely that you will start feeling totally different, you will instantly start understanding how wrong you where riding and how much more confident you will feel. Now once you tried a few times look at your tires, woa yes you got chicken strips (unless you got mad lean angles and you where dragging your knee) maybe a bit big, but that’s an indication you are moving correctly, your bike now needs less lean angle to make it through a turn, and surely you feel you can use even more throttle. Well if you feel that, then you surely do understand why you hang off the bike, you don’t do it to look like Rossi (well you like to look like him I am sure J ) you do it to allow yourself to ride better, quicker and safer.
  • All of the above movements are done usually rather quickly and you must practise to make them without disturbing the bike. It’s going to be difficult since you will feel that you can’t handle the bike properly at the time you start hanging off, but I can assure you that it’s far safer to hang off rather than stay on! Off course this means you are practising on a track or somewhere that there is no traffic or other kind of obstacles which could put your life or health in danger.
  • Don’t try to drag a knee if it doesn’t happen the first time, chasing such a thing could put you in danger, know your limits, if you start feeling you are riding above your skills and your limits then call the day off, you will achieve this by practise but maybe not the first day.
  • This article is not complete, as mentioned in the begging there are many other aspects needed to be controlled and understood before trying to move to this, you should attend a school where you are taught and “monitored” by the instructors.
  • If your corner is a really slow speed corner then hanging off might not be necessary since its more effective in higher speeds, again a small transition of body weight will help you turn more easily, but don’t try to hang off if you are not experienced.
  • If you think something is missing or something is wrong or you would like to suggest something else, just drop a line bellow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Some picture note the difference in lean angles to understand how your body affects it.

This is a neutral body positioning on the bike.



This is a crossed body positioning, this is totaly wrong since you are forcing the bike to lean even further to achieve proper lean angle.



And this 2 are lean angles with the body moved to the outside (proper hang off) notice the difference between the 2, 1 needs more lean angle due to less upper body movement towards the outside.



 

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I cant wait to read the whole thing later, thanks for taking the time.
I am also glad that you didnt take a pic of me off rick clemson and use it for the wrong position, that would be bad. although now i wonder if i am in the right position
http://www.rickclemson.com/Photo_Details.asp?PhotoID=3922
 

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This is the kind of writeup that i've been looking for. I already vote it sticky !
 

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moved to the correct section and made a sticky. nice write up!
 

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ualramper said:
I cant wait to read the whole thing later, thanks for taking the time.
I am also glad that you didnt take a pic of me off rick clemson and use it for the wrong position, that would be bad. although now i wonder if i am in the right position
http://www.rickclemson.com/Photo_Details.asp?PhotoID=3922
I'd say no... trying to kiss the wrong mirror :)
 

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Thanks for the awesome write up. I've read similar articles on this topic but this one was easy to read versus reading a book and easy to understand and had PICTURES. Thanks again, and I too, vote it a sticky.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks everyone, well most of this is based on CSS teaching and Keith Code's book twist of the wrist, i just felt writting something smaller quicker for everyone who has questions.
I know i've been there as well trying to learn and discover.
I will try to add some more articles in the future as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
ualramper said:
I cant wait to read the whole thing later, thanks for taking the time.
I am also glad that you didnt take a pic of me off rick clemson and use it for the wrong position, that would be bad. although now i wonder if i am in the right position
http://www.rickclemson.com/Photo_Details.asp?PhotoID=3922
From the angle of shot allthough not very clear (since it was shot from top) and by taking in account that a picture is hard to make a judge i see that you are shorta crossing your body.
Your waste comes out, but your torso and head are over the tank and not only that they have the tendency to kiss the opposite mirror, i am sure since your hands seem ok and not pushing that if you move your torso and head to the inside of the turn and lower them you will be able to corner much better and easier. As fas as i see this is because you tend to pivot around the tank, forget pivoting for the moment, next time you hit that corner move outside sideways (don't try to turn around the tank) i am sure it will feel way better and it will allow you to move quicker inside the corner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
This guy is an editor of Powerbikes magazine of Greece he also used to be a CSS instructor and has one of the best body positioning techniques i've ever seen. He performs the kiss the mirror technique very good.
Following some pictures of this technique:









And finally you can see that actually even in MotoGP this technique is performed.


 
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