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Tips for tighter u-turns on a cruiser

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by JMAC, May 16, 2016.

  1. Hi all,

    I'm a new rider with a lot to learn.

    I have had my Bike (Kawasaki Vulcan S) since last November. Been overseas a couple of months in that time but otherwise have been riding and I do commute to work most days and have put 2200kms on it. I feel comfortable on the bike on the road in traffic etc. Never seem to have any uncomfortable moments on the road anymore. Thought to myself I should really start doing practice for MOST and get my Ps as licence runs out at start of October. So I went to the learner session on Saturday and had quite a bit of difficulty. Main issue is the cone weave and u-turn, other stuff I can mostly do and will be comfortable with with a little more practice. just seems very tight to me atleast on my bike (haven't done it on any other so hard to know)

    the Cone weave I get through the first couple but inevitably can't do the last one or two turns. I'm thinking its a speed, throttle control issue along with not enough back brake but I feel like the bike just wants to hit the deck if I lean it anymore than I am at low speed. The u-turn I can do but not quite inside the box so need a to do a tighter turn (I can comfortably do one in 3 car park space widths but that is probably 7-8metres). Partly I'm probably not getting my head round quite far enough.... I was told shift my weight too which I'm working on. I seem to be able to turn much tighter and throw the bike around much much more at speed (eg: 30kms/hr+).

    If anyone has any additional tips for me to think about and try to implement I'd be grateful.
  2. Little more back brake and clutch slipping while actually turning your head and looking further into the corner, this will help you angle your weight and shift your bum on the seat. It might also be worth slightly lifting off the seat transferring the weight to the foot pegs, this helps lower the bikes centre of gravity making it more stable in a turn.
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  3. Maybe rely on a bit of counter steering, rather than trying to lean into it?
  4. mate this is good advice - you really have to turn your head all the way and look where you want to go and the bike will follow, use your clutch, throttle and rear brake to adjust speed.

    get onto youtube and see if you can find Jerry 'Motorman' Palladino. he is a US police bike instructor and has a number of great vids. he throws big heavy cruisers around like they are postie bikes and talks a lot about the 'friction zone'. if you can't find the clips on YT do yourself a favour and order the dvds from his website you will not be disappointed - the advice on u-turns alone is worth the price of admission!
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  5. As above re rear brake and friction zone and add in some counter-balancing which means >> leaning your body toward the outside of the corner while the bike leans in ... this is for slow speed turns.
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  6. Save the headache mate and hire a easier bike for the most test. That test will be damn near impossible on a big cruiser
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  7. Tip one.
    Don't buy a cruiser in the first place ;).
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  8. I'm not on a cruiser but I picked a really good tip on Saturday for the cone weave (and even in general turning off the lights etc):

    - start the bike pointed straight but the steering pointed left, it will send you a little wide for the first one but then when you come back in you almost have this yo yo effect for the remainder

    I saw someone trying to just miss the cones and eventually hit one or two - there are no bonus points for getting close to the cones, just aim for the centre line between them all and it will give you much more room to manuvere between them - especially if you go a little wide on the first one so you can then line up the middle line

    If I'm there this weekend I'll show you what I mean - but other than that, the other advice is gold and helped me get through it...

    Hope that helps
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  9. Look back over your shoulder. Use the brake to stop you and use a bit of throttle with the clutch to modulate the power. T
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  10. Biggest help I found was, as mentioned by FractalzFractalz, watching Youtube vids of US Police motorcyclist competitions, paying particular attention to what they were doing with their upper body and head. Cuban hips, baby ;) If you can get that action happening, you're halfway there.
    Something I *still* need to improve on: when the bike's leaned over and it feels as if it's going to drop the instinctive response is to cut the throttle. The correct action is the exact opposite! Use the rear brake to control speed, not the throttle/clutch.
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  11. If you have only done one session, don't despair, you will get better.

    I am not in NSW so am not sure exactly what that test involves or how fast you are expected to ride through the cone weave but if you ride slowly you should be able to get through a weave without needing to lean and if you ride faster you should be able to lean without dropping. I suspect you simply lack the confidence to lean a bit more which will help to turn the bike more sharply. Practice will overcome this.

    On a U-turn you are more likely to be riding slowly and that means if you lean the bike may want to drop but if you don't lean the turning radus is much greater. So the secret is to counter lean. Instead of leaning with the bike as you would in a normal turn lean the bike by pivoting your hips into the direction of the lean and lean you body the opposite way.

    The other thing to do is look where you want to go. On a U-turn this means looking over your shoulder. Turn your shoulders right around as far as you can and then turn your neck until your chin is over your shoulder as far around as you can get and look there. The bike will follow.

    And as stated above dragging a bit of rear brake (just a tad you aren't trying to bring the bike to a stop) will help.

    But the main thing above all else is practice.
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  12. #13 fruechtel, May 17, 2016
    Last edited: May 17, 2016
    Your advice to transfer more weight onto the foot pegs is sound for a multitude of reasons, but your explanation is not valid; standing on the foot pegs will not lower your centre of gravity.
    As long as the rider is attached to the bike, seat, pegs or otherwise, and only the tyre contact patches are contacting the ground, it is absolutely 100% impossible to lower the CoG, or more accurately, Com (Centre of Mass) CoM by standing. It just does not happen, the CoM is RAISED.

    Of course in this situation this is a good thing as we know, RAISING the rider’s CoM, and therefore the combined rider/bike CoM:

    · Provides more leverage on the bike. As the masses are spread further apart stability is improved. As the masses are centralised, a bike is less stable, and steers/manoeuvres more responsively, witness sportbike development over recent years

    · Decouples the rider from the bike to allow for the riders’ CoM to move independently of the bike’s CoM with often only the bike deflecting, or the rider/bike combination deflects less than it otherwise would, assisting correction

    · Adds suspension through the knees, so less combined deflection again, and easier recovery

    · Improves visibility to better anticipate and plan earlier

    · Improves ability to move the body mass fore or aft, and therefore the CoM to keeping the body’s CoM within the bike’s wheelbase to suit up or downhill

    · Adds the ability to preload the suspension to assist with obstacle negotiation

    · Moves the raised CoM left or right to suit the terrain, ie cornering or sideslopes

    Lots of advantages to standing at the appropriate time, but it is physically impossible to lower the CoM/CoG. Its not a matter of opinion, its just PHYSICS.
  13. Thanks all....will keep it all in mind.... I'm working on better consistent throttle and back brake control and I think that's making a difference.... Just got to add the counter balance/lean and hopefully that will get it done..... I realise it's possible with a smaller bike I might already be able to do it but I want the satisfaction of doing it well even on a bigger bike.... Way I see it is it'll just mean I'm a better rider for the effort!
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  14. Scath, if you're there on Saturday I'd welcome any feedback!
  15. He didn't... he bought a Vulcan S ;)
  16. not everyone has the skill to ride a cruiser
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  17. I will try and be there - even for the first 1/2 hour but I have to go up to Blacktown Hospital later on for scans on my knee afterwards Saturday (not related to riding!)

    Either way as the guys mentioned:

    1) Plenty of material on youtube, just search "motorcycle slow speed turning", not all the advice will be relevant but you can try out different techniques to see what works for you (I tried to teach myself and almost threw myself off a couple of times!).

    2) Just practice practice practice - find some quiet streets or empty parking lots (shopping centres etc) and don't worry about the MOST dimensions - get a feel for the feeling of weaving and u turning, leaning etc. As you get comfortable with it, slowly try and improve it until you can get it nice and tight to do what you want at slow speeds.

    On Saturday in-case I can't make it, there is a space just past the practice course - I'm not sure if we can use it but if think you can use that area also if you want someone to watch and assist with the technique...
  18. personally the best thing I found to practice was just going super slow in a straight line. Like, SUPER slow. This teaches you all about rear brake and friction zone. Then add turning into it later with a lot of the above mentioned techniques but you'll have your balance and speed control down first.
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  19. hope this didn't get missed, I found Motorman to be worth watching

    here's a few links, watch a few clips you will be amazed
    Motorman's Corner - Ride Like A Pro, Inc.
    Online Videos - Ride Like A Pro, Inc.
    Ride Like a Pro Jerry Palladino