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Coming to grips with motard cornering on a sportsbike

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by [FLUX], Mar 31, 2008.

  1. I admit it. I'm a fan of sportsbikes. I love how they feel when they bite into bitumen at speed. I love sailing around medium radius sweepers with the knee skimming the deck, elbow down low, head down below the mirror stalk and looking through the corner while the bike gets into its groove. Any corner speed from ~70kph upwards is bliss.

    To get a sportsbike to carve up corners at speed requires a reasonably firm suspension setting. What is stiff at lower speeds transforms into controlled tarmac smoothing suppleness at higher speeds. If you tune the bike's suspension to be supple at lower speeds, it becomes too sloppy at higher speeds, and the bike will wallow about on the road with all the finesse of riding a heavily padded pillow down the side of a mountain. There's a dichotomous duality here.

    At lower speeds, especially over less than perfect surfaces, a sportsbike is a bit of a handful. It feels like there really isn't the momentum there to help stabilise the bike well whenever you try to hang off. The bike feels like it wants to fall over, and bumps don't help the matter. It short, it's hard to find that delicious state of balance that occurs at higher speeds. Give me a sweeper, and I'll rail around it. Give me a tight roundabout or a bumpy 15kph hairpin and I'm pussy footing through it trying to keep the bike balanced if I assume the typical sportsbike posture.

    So, what with all the motard phenomenon, and me eying off motards for quite some time now, including even watching some footage of the VSMR boys getting around the South Morang go-kart track, something started to creep into the sub-conscious. All these motard boys are onto something with respect to their style around really tight corners.

    By pushing the bike down into the corner with the rider more upright, and weighting up the outside peg heavily and with minimal weight on the seat, the bike is able to move around a lot more easily without trying to push the carcass of the rider's bulk through the same motions. The rider no longer has to precariously maintain balance on the bike as it tries to buck the rider out of the seat over every bump and correspondingly upsetting the balance of the whole. The bike can instead buck about, and the rider's legs and arms can absorb the bike's movements while the rider almost "surfs" on top.

    Of course, on a motard the bars are higher, the bike is lighter, and the rider is more naturally upright, so it's a whole lot easier to do it on a bike that has those characteristics.

    What I've now taken to playing with though is applying a sort of motarding cornering style around slower corners (as in <50kph actual speed) on the sports-bike, and I'm finding that it's working well. I guess what's interesting about this is that I've also only really felt comfortable doing it since I installed some new rearsets on the bike that are knurled and circular the whole way around, meaning that they still grip the boots well even when I'm deliberately getting more upright in the body position, as opposed to becoming less grippy as occurred with the stock pegs whenever you rotate your foot too far upright.

    Hey, I'm sure I look like a total klutz doing it, but I am finding that it's really helping with the really slow and tight stuff that is otherwise the nemesis of a sports bike that is set up for higher speed work.

    Just thought to offer these observations here. Probably common knowledge to the more experienced guy, but there ya go.
  2. Hmmm, food for thought there, Flux.
  3. Mmm my suspension is quite firm and reading this has made me realise that its the higher speeds where it feels right, but at lower speeds especially on not perfect roads - its absolute crap.
  4. Really enjoyed the first half and good to see anyone experimenting with different ways to increase confidence levels

    The more upright style is taught to dirt bike riders and as you've found out, applied to hairpins, but also on wet/slippery roads by increasing the contact patch
  5. Have ya got the foot out yet Flux? :LOL:
  6. I think you've just crystalised something that's been sloshing around in the back of my head for a while now. Some days it seems to me that I just can't get the slow stuff right. Yet at other times (usually when I'm not thinking about technique) it seems to come together. Maybe it's because I actually AM pushing the bike around under me? (instead of moving side to side myself). I think the higher, wider bars on a naked, tend to promote this.

    I'll have to go and try it out, methinks.
  7. For what it's worth, a decreasing number of professional motard riders push the bike beneath them now.
  8. :-k



    I look forward to reading about your experiments.

    All the road sports riding books and sites are definitely against getting the bike to lean more than the rider - but that's probably on the assumption of a much higher speed.

    Flux what are your thoughts about the suspension being more horizontal in your scenario? The more horizontal the suspension is, the less capable it is of soaking up larger vertical bumps... could get interesting on shorter travel sports suspension if you set up motard style into a corner and realise you're too hot??? :-k [​IMG] You might need to get rear wheel drift happening in that scenario?!
  9. Watching the recent MotoGP's races, if you watched Colin Edwards' save, you can see how he pretty much fell off the bike the moment the front slipped even a little bit. This is what I mean by balancing on the bike. When you're in the classic sports-bike hang position, you are relying on the bike to "push back" fairly consistently as it goes around the corner to hold you agianst the bike. If the bike suddenly slips away momentarily you can find yourself struggling to hold on.

    At speed, when you hit a bump, or even a series of bump, the bike still pushes back 'cos there's enough momentum/speed there for the tyres to bite into the bitumen again. When going around at low speeds, because the rebound damping is firmer, the recovery time is slower over bumps at slow speeds, and you will get that falling away sensation.

    By sitting in a more upright motarding style, and I'm not really talking about pushing the bike way down, if only 'cos you can't 'cos the clipons are so low, 'cos you're more on top of the bike rather than on the inside of it, when the bike start to fall away briefly over a bump you're still on the bike rather than falling off the inside.

    I guess it's really more of a conscious effort to lean the body away from the corner slightly when the speeds are low, and to weight up the outside peg more heavily. It's not really as extreme as some of the motarding styles where the rider is almost sitting straight up on a bike that's practically lying on its side.
  10. Might be better to think of it in terms of the classic low-speed counter-balancing positioning. There they tend to recommend that it's done at speeds no higher than 15-20kph. On more stiffly setup sports bikes, I think what I'm getting at is that it can be helpful even up to the 40-50kph range.

    I've really only just started playing with it more. I did it once just 'cos I felt like being a bit silly around some tight corner, as I occasionally do just try some weird stuff out when I'm bored, and found that the bike was more stable. Hitting bumps allowed me to decouple my weight on the bike more effectively, allowing the suspension to just work on the bike's weight more or less while I was able to balance more easily on top of the bike and help it a bit by pushing the wheel-ward side of the bike back into the road by loading up the outside peg more.

    Hey - I'm not proposing that people ride around pushing the bike down into corners at higher speeds. That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying that in the 20-50kph range there's still room to apply the counter-balancing body position (of which the motard style is an exaggerated form of) when on a stiffly sprung sports bike.
  11. Yes it works well up to about 40kph but I don't think it gets you round the corner any better it is just more comfortable to let the bike do it's own thing when you are not so low down. That is just my opinion coming from dirt biking where you use this all the time as you don't have the grip to lean far with the bike.
  12. Hi Stew.
    Sounds to me like you are just taking the slow-speed counter-leaning style of riding through car parks and doing uey's etc, one step further.

    I tend to do that a bit at regular suburban left and right hand 90deg corners at 20-30 K's or so.

    Can't see why it would'nt work at slightly higher speeds, just as long as it doesn't mess with your very technically correct higher speed regular sports bike riding style, by causing body memory issues..??

    But I think what you are proposing is a reasonable method for lower speed stuff...and on any bike, Stew.
    (I too hate those 15-25K Hairpin turns) Never quite know how to position myself.)

    The only area where it could be more of a compromize in styles in when hitting the gas hard on exiting a corner...one might not be in the ideal position for balance then - too upright, but still...it's a minor adjustment to ones "feel" of the bike, and a rider would have to adjust to it. Quite feasable.

  13. Cool idea. Anyone got some good video clips? Or for that matter, a textual / graphical explanation of good 'tard technique?
  14. Sportsbike riders tend to use the knee down technique more on supermotos, and these riders usually look goofy, as the bike is still vertical, and the rider is rounding a corner hanging off the side of the bike.
    (finally found a pic on SMJ)

    In MX style, where the sport stems from, dirt riders on supermotos simply look cool with the lean the bike, foot out front method. Also, nothing looks cooler than backing it in at high speeds coming into tight corners

    True Supermoto style: [​IMG]

    Have a look on YouTube, I'm sure I saw some footage of some sportsbike riders backing it in. Insane stuff on those heavy arse bikes.

    *Pics borrowed from SuperMotoJunkie.com
  15. One response, Ohlins forks and shocker. Never have these problems.
  16. We all know which looks cooler, but which is faster? Hanging off the side of bringing the bike around the corner flat on its side?
  17. That's probably the closest to what I'm talking about. Sitting more upright. Not really pushing the bike down into the corner hard, just a little bit.

    The foot out thing is optional, but in answer to devotard's snipe above, I actually do stick the inside foot out on occasion, but when I do it, it looks a bit more like how Dani Pedrosa does it. Not dragging it on the ground, just hanging there in case it's needed.

    pro-pilot, the bike already has top-notch suspension. Come for a ride with me once, and we'll compare notes.
  18. I thought Dani Pedrosa and Rossi hang their leg out to shift weight to the side to get the bike to turn in better? Or is it because they are coming in so quick they put their leg out just in case they don't make it?
  19. Let's not get too off-topic here.

    For getting around a corner the quickest, it all depends on how much angle you can get on the CoG of the bike+rider combined mass relative to the contact patch.

    By simple physics, hanging off the inside of the bike is the best way to make that happen, however, I'm talking here about the really slow stuff (~50kph real speeds and slower) where hanging off the inside of the bike becomes a rather precarious balancing act.

    Upon further reflection I'm also thinking that it has something to do with how high the CoG of the bike is. On my bike, I know that it's quite high - a bit like a motard really in that respect. On my old R1, it was much lower and therefore felt more stable in the slower corners.
  20. That sounds right, but I hardly ever do this on the r1 and the 14 sometimes slides the front if I don't, so if you can get the CoG down as far as you can with the traction available do you think that is counteracting the longer wheelbase in slow cornering??

    EDIT:That came out wrong. Maybe this makes more sense, your Cog can only be so low at a given level of traction, but by dropping the bike lower and keeping the rider/bike CoG at the same level that could counteract the effects of a longer wheelbase?? (this is only relevant to low speeds and uneven roads)