Welcome to Netrider ... Connecting Riders!

Interested in talking motorbikes with a terrific community of riders?
Signup (it's quick and free) to join the discussions and access the full suite of tools and information that Netrider has to offer.

Flux's tips for making a bike dance

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by [FLUX], Sep 18, 2008.

  1. Okay, so everyone has their own riding style. There are as many body position styles out there as there are riders. Everyone does something a little bit different, and that's fine. I'm not here to tell anyone what's right or wrong.

    It should be noted that the following tips are more sports-bike centric, and quite possibly somewhat rider-height dependent, but should be capable to being applied by most people on most any standard bike (sports/naked). Employed properly will make your bike handle so nimbly that you'll think you're on a different bike if you weren't doing these things before.

    These suggestions are more intended to be used in complex tight corner sequences, or on bumpy roads. Open sweepers on smooth roads are all about maximising stability and much of the recent discussion in this section has more focused on that side of things. In this post I want to talk about how you can really make your sports bike dance.

    1) Hunker-down on the bike - I mean really arch your back. Crouch over the tank but don't rest your weight on the tank. What this does is centralises the rider's weight much closer to the bike. When a bike changes direction, the rider has to change direction too. If the rider is sitting up high and proud the bike (and the tyres) have to work a lot harder to provide the force and energy to swing the rider from one lean angle to another. Best demonstration is to grab a broom. Hold it at the end of the handle with the head high in the air. Now swing the broom down to one side as if it were a rider leaning into a curve with a bike. Now try to swing it to the other side. It takes some effort. Now hold the broom midway down the handle and repeat. Much easier because the mass is more centralised to the axis of rotation. The rider crouching down has the same effect on the bike's handling.

    2) Get your elbows down low - I mean right down. Beside the tank to either side. Not above the tank, not across the tank if you like to hang off, but right down beside the tank. Ideally you want your elbows to even be a bit lower than your wrists. Coupled with hunkering down this should be easy to do, and is a good indication that you're hunkering down properly. What this does here is maximises the counter-steering inputs that you provide. When your elbows are above your wrists most of your counter-steering inputs actually do very little as most of the force is directed down towards the front wheel, rather than flat and out towards the front of the bike. Done properly, this will almost halve the effort required to counter-steer, or alternately if you use the same effort, will counter-steer the bike twice as quickly.

    3) Grip the bars wide - This maximises the counter-steering leverage on the bars. It also makes it a bit easier to get the elbows down beside the tank if your bike's tank is fat. How wide? We're talking about having the outside of your palms on the bar ends wide. It's for this reason that I don't like aftermarket "shorty" levers. You can't get a wide grip on the bars and still reach the brake/clutch easily. Coupled with getting the elbows down and the added leverage that provides, counter-steering a bike at speed will become incredibly easy.

    4) Carry all your weight on the pegs on the balls of your feet - Your butt should only be lightly touching the seat but the bike should be able to freely move side-to-side underneath it. This requires good quadricep strength in the legs to do for an extended period. If you want to specifically exercise for it then takes the stairs instead of the elevator/escalator whenever you're out shopping, or do standing static squats or walk up steep inclines. What this does is decouple the rider's weight from high up on the bike, and couples it far more closely to the axis of rotation when leaning. The bike will barely have to do any work at all to shift the rider's weight in the first part of a direction change as the bike will just shift under the rider. Eventually the rider has to follow with the bike, but by now the bike has developed some momentum in its progress to change direction and coupled with crouching low the bike will carry the rider over easily. This lessens the initial counter-steering effort even further to the point that you can make the bike zig-zag all over the ride while cranked over hard negotating a tight corner if you so choose.

    A practical example. Today I went riding on a local road that had debris all over it from recent high winds. We're talking twigs, stringy bark, broken branches, chunks of rotten wood, leaves and so on. Despite these conditions, using the above tips to facilitate the bike's nimbleness to change direction, I could lean the bike right to the edge of the tyres through the corners, and yet be dancing the bike about to zig-zag around all the debris. Just gentle flicks of the bar, with the rider pretty much staying static but the bike responding effortlessly to the steering inputs and dancing all around the crap on the road rather than riding through it anchored to a fixed arc.

    To the more experienced riders on the forum the above is likely just stating the bleeding obvious. I just thought to offer it up here given today's experience with threading the needle with a motorbike on the road I was on, and how effortless and fun it was despite the utterly atrocious conditions.
    • Like Like x 9
    • Winner Winner x 2
  2. excellent post stew, used to do a bit off what you talked about but it faded off somewhere in the past, will give this a go when familiarising myself with the gsxr once more over the weekend
  3. nomination for a sticky!

    can i get a second?

    Very good points mate, cant wait to try them all out.

  4. Excellent post! I'll give those tips a go tomorrow. I'm not sure I can get my elbows that much lower on my bike, but I could probably crouch a bit more.
    +1 to have this made a sticky :grin:
  5. Well written, and simple to understand Stew.

    As you first stated, it is rider height and size dependant to some degree, but you can't escape the underlying principles.

    Personally, I am a little bit limited in the hunkering down department as my gut gets in the way. (groan) and the tank of the thou is a little wide and high for my body shape and size. It also limits just how far I can get my elbows down, for the same reason, so my position is modified slightly from what I would call "ideal".

    To support your point on rider fitness, I to, suggest that riders work hard on their quads...sporty riding will indeed give them a work out, and you can tire very quickly when running at the more serious end of the scale. (but still safe) :wink:

    Aspiring sports riders should take what you've said and go practice it...endlessly. :)

    • Like Like x 1
  6. [​IMG]

    Even Elmarco will be able to remember those four steps. :LOL:

    Nice work Stu. :)
  7. Great tips for a bloke but us girls who have bits that or hopefully that keep us a bit up from the tank and a differnet seating position due to different pelvic configuration need to adjust to suit!

    Some of your tips will greatly help the more diminutive girls to man(woman) handle their bikes thru the twisties however most of these girls are reluctant to buy a bike that needs this kind of treatment. Having said that I can see that by following some of your tips they will get a better result than they ever have before.

    Very clear & concise & well written article and I will certainly be trying to adapt where necessary to try your tips!
  8. Unless you're built bigger than Pamela Anderson, you shouldn't have too much trouble with the tank. Us lads have more bits down low to bang into stuff. I would say that the fairer folk have the upper hand in the pelvic respect.

    For those blessed with a bit of a gut, just push the butt back slightly to compensate. If your gut/chest/breasts/man-boobs are still on the tank, just stand on the pegs a little higher until the bike can clear your "endowments" by sliding under them. It's a compromise but it'll still work.

    The tips will work just as well with a more upright naked bike, but you'll just have to modify the technique slightly. Your elbows won't need to be down beside the tank, but maybe just sitting on the outside edge. Every thing else applies though.

    I wasn't stating that you should be doing this everywhere. In sweepers and along straights, sit down on the bike normally. Sports-bikes don't need to be man-handled at lower speeds and are actually quite easy to ride. When you up the pace on bumpy and/or tight roads, that's when these tips will work to your favor. For the women-folk it will allow you dance the bike about without having to bulk up like an Olympic weight-lifter to push the bike around. Men can often push a sports-bike around with poor technique because they have the strength to still man-handle the bike even when positioning themselves less than optimally.

    It's all about technique. Heck, if it's dry go jump on your bike now and really try hard to get those four points working at once and ride around the block. Do it all right, and I guarantee that the bike will feel almost as light as a Razer skate-board scooter if you apply your regular steering inputs. It'll feel odd and a bit scary at first because the bike will feel less stable. It's not though, it's just that a gentle push on the bars is now like shouting in the ear of someone next to you instead of whispering, and you'll have to adjust the magnitude of your inputs to suit.

    Get onto a winding road and push along quickly (develop the confidence and other cornering skills first though), and a bike that used to be an effort to get around will now be far less demanding (static quadricep strength aside).
  9. This is great! I feel a lot of the reason why some days seem off is simply that I'm doing things slightly different but dont have the knowledge to know what it was that impacted my performance. I'm pretty sure the weight on the pegs point explains one day I remember that felt better than usual .. now I just need to go try it out and make it a habit.


    You're not kidding! I just got back .. I didnt quite realise what that statement meant. The bike handled more sensitively .. it was enough of a difference to be a bit of a surpise :shock: , even on the little ZZR. Nice!

    Thanks again!
  10. Good writeup. :)

    Agreed; A bit of a forward hunch gets the elbows at the correct angle, though it's not as much of a lean as a 'real' sportsbike. Keeping the elbows close to the body helps maximise leverage/minimises effort too. :)

    I find that correct posture (particularly arm angles) can make all the difference between my Tiger feeling like a nimble 250 (as it should! :LOL:), or something a fair bit heavier and slower-steering.
  11. Great writeup. Add something about keeping relaxed then make it a sticky!
  12. Great post Stew!
    Wider on the bars to maximize leverage ... :-k makes good sense.
    As stated it can be rider height dependent, so I'll try to put what I can into practice.

    +1 on making it a sticky
  13. Please post pics :twisted:

    Performance riding is different from road riding. I was taught to sit as close to the tank as possible and grip the tank with my knees. this position is totally useless for track riding.
  14. I just got back from a run through my local twisties and tried the suggestions made by Flux. The difference was night and day! My bike felt like it had shed half its weight. It felt so much lighter in the corners and made it so easy to change direction, just effortless.
    I mostly focused on getting down low on the bike and getting my elbows down aswell. Carrying all my weight on the pegs felt a bit unstable though, like my feet might slip off.
    Anyhoo, it's the most fun I've had on my bike in a while and its really helped with how I corner :grin:
  15. The tips are pretty easy to follow. Hunch over with your upper chest close to the tank, hold the bars wide, get the elbows down beside the tank (or below wrist level in the case of a naked bike), and carry all of your weight on the balls of your feet on the footpegs to the point that you can slide the bike side-to-side easily under your butt. Don't really need a photograph to demonstrate those four simple items.

    This would best be described as one of the tools of performance road riding. You can do it anywhere though. Great for negotiating roundabouts quickly. Good for tighter corner sequences at a racetrack. Basically anywhere where you have to rapidly change direction multiple times quickly.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  16. Great stuff! That's exactly how it should feel, like the bike just lost half its weight. That means you're getting it and doing it right.

    With the footpegs thing, I really wanted to keep it simple in the opening post, but I'll expand on that point since you brought it up. Keep your weight evenly balanced on the pegs before tip in. Feel free to squeeze the tank with your knees here if braking to help stabilise yourself and take the weight off your wrists. As you lean over more transition more of your weight to the inside peg, almost to all of your weight on the inside peg totally when leaned right in. The outside leg then you can use to push against the side of the tank to stabilise yourself until you build up the muscle co-ordination and confidence a bit more. Weighting yourself wholly on the pegs will feel a bit alien the first few times you do it. When you go to exit the corner start loading up the outside peg again. If you're switching direction, transition most of your weight to the outside peg, and this will further assist the bike in flipping from side to side.

    By anchoring the majority of your weight on the inside peg your foot is less likely to move around. Sometimes to prove a point I'll take my outside leg off the peg mid corner and wave it around just to prove to myself that I have no weight on it. If you feel like you're slipping, then as above, push the outside knee into the tank, but once you get used to doing this more you'll find that you'll be able to balance just fine.

    The next step is to find some bumpy arse road and try it there. The bike will start to skip and move around over the bumps, and while it'll feel a little bit unstable you'll soon learn to appreciate that it's actually easier. Just let the bike do its thing with the road's bumps while you guide it in the direction you want. Now turn around, plant your arse in the seat and try riding the road with all your weight on the seat and it'll feel like momentously hard work in comparison. You'll soon find that the biking moving around is not a bad thing at all. What's bad is when the bike moves around and is throwing the rider around with it. Carrying your weight on the pegs allows the bike to do what it wants independently of you.

    Oh, at this point is where aftermarket footpegs also come into their own. They are typically heavily knurled with sharp spiky points that bite into the soles of the boots well and prevent any slippage. I tend to find that stock metal footrests are a bit slippery and glossy in comparison.

    Really glad you gave it a go though, and many thanks for posting the feedback! :grin:
    • Like Like x 1
  17. I'd pointed out your upright-ness and straight-arm-ness on that Macquarie Pass day, too. ;)

    Anyhow - Glad to see you've given a sportier riding position a shot. :)
  18. All your weight on the inside peg...WTF? :?
  19. When you're pushing into the corner, weight up the inside peg to help bring the bike into the corner. I mean think about it. Stand in the inside peg and the bike is going to want to fall to the inside more quickly. Put all your weight on it and it will do it as quickly as it can (counter-steering aside).

    You're transitioning the weight back to the outside peg by the apex because by then you should already be getting ready to bring the bike upright and it'll help to keep the rear wheel planted when you wind the throttle on.

    Yeah, I know it might seem a bit odd to some. Carrying your weight on the pegs instead of the seat allows the rider to quickly shift which side of the bike the rider's weight is being carried on to assist in bike direction change.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  20. Thanks mate - just realised my post might have read as questioning rather than a question; it's not though, just in case my signature disclaimer's gone unnoticed :)

    Sure, this I get.

    OK, happy with that too.

    It was this...

    That made me think WTF? :p

    What you've described is pretty much Doohan style. Maybe a good chance to ask what your take is on the GP riders waving the inside foot around just prior to tip-in?