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turning a corner - how to tell if on the brink of losing traction?

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by daedalus, Mar 17, 2010.

  1. i have been reading about leaning, countersteering and slightly accelerating through corners (keith code's twist of the wrist vol 2) to maximise cornering ability

    however im afraid i will lean too much and slide.

    1. How do I tell if the bike is on the brink of losing traction such that any more lean or speed or countersteering will cause it to slide?

    2. How fast and tight a corner can a Kawasaki GPX250 do?

    3. Is wider or thinner tyres better for cornering? I notice the big bikes have wider tyres but that could be due to the need to accelerate hard as I also read thinner tyres corner better

  2. On a GPX if your tyres haven’t gone off you will grind your pegs before you exceed the lean angle where the tyres maintain grip. (In the Dry)
    Obviously on the road, unknowns like gravel, oil, or just slick surface, can cause this theory to fail
    The Thinner your tyre the faster you can enter a turn, the bike will be more agile. But… And this is the problem, a wider tyre will hold better at speed.

    When putting in any rider input (Turning Accelerating, Braking) you use up your traction, performing more than one of these actions at a time uses up your traction faster. So a wider rear tire also helps with accelerating with lean.

    So… If you are following the code school of thought (At least until you have the experience to not be asking these questions) Finish your braking before you tip in, and don’t get Hard on the power until you have the bike most of the way stood up, and you will be fine.
    I will point out that from slow starts on a GPX (Well at least a ZZR which is pretty close to the same) in a tight turn (Say a tight roundabout) you can actually get the front to lift out of a corner and come around while in the air. The first time you do it, it will scare the crap out of you.
  3. really has a lot to do with the tyres, don't know what 250's tyres are like but modern sports 120/180 tyres will go over a long long way, and have more grip then most need or realise

    As for how to tell, no idea you just sort of build up to it, as you get your sight (ie looking through turns) and lines sorted out it all comes together and as you get faster you will just lean in harder to adjust to the higher corner speed. Really get to the track if you want to experiment, but for me it was mind boogling just how much grip is on offer :shock:

    From my experience if you stay relaxed and let the bike do it's thing under the rider there is a fair chance it will generally come back to you as long as you don't panic, which is easier said then done
  4. As per the above.

    In my experience, most modern tyres don't just let go without warning either. You will feel them start to drift/slide along the surface, and provided you're balanced in your weight on the bike, both tyres will do this and it's not nearly as scary as it sounds. The rear tyre sliding by itself is fine, so long as you don't chop the throttle and cause a high-side. The front-tyre sliding by itself can be helped out by pushing off the road with the knee (or foot if you're using motard style) but you will run wider. Again, don't close the throttle in a front-end slide 'cos you will crash.

    Having said that, this is at racetrack lean angles, and leaning to the level that most unmodified road bikes will start dragging pegs, peg hangers, gear/brake levers, or heck even fairings and engine covers before the tyres start to slide like that.

    Depends on the bike and the quality of the tyres you have on. Hard touring rubber will slide a lot sooner, but still at fairly high lean angles. Soft sporting rubber will allow you to drag an elbow before they start to give way.

    Edit: Just before tyres really start to slide, you'll also generally get a churning/rumbling sensation through the suspension. You can feel the tyres working hard as they twist, micro-slip, and re-grip without breaking into a full drifting slide. This is generally the best indication that you're at the limit before you start sliding them fully.
  5. First off, go and write everything that's embossed on the tyres you have and let us know what you've got on there. Plus how old/worn they look.

    It's not a bad idea for learners - once you've got a few months expereience - to fit some new (or near new) sports tyres just so you can know you've got decent rubber to start with. Then scrub them in progressively. I think it's important in the learning phase to have faith in your tyres.

    As for knowing if you're running out of traction: it's different for the front and the back. Let's start by assuming there is no oil, diesel, pools of water, gravel etc. (because you can basically assume you have NO traction then!).
    With the front, if you are on the absolute limit of tyre grip, you will start to lose 'feel' from the front. It will go vague, the steering is really light but ineffective, you can't feel the road any more.
    With the rear, it will either start to slide a little bit (don't panic at the is stage, modern sports tyres should be able to handle a bit of slide before letting go!), or it will feel unstable, squirmy, kind of uneven or juddery.
  6. On occasion your first indicator is a slight warming as you slide on your back down the road,and it can happen so quick and without warning,that was a hot day and melted bitumen,I think,sometimes your never sure.
    this info is hard won,as said tyres are important so much so I check pressures before every ride.Thats weekend warriors rides.I had one of those 90deg connections on the rear tyre valve that had a serious leak,it on 2 occasions dropped the tyre from 40psi to 10 in 40mins,the first corner at 10psi got my attention and the 2nd taken much slower confirmed it,with experience you get a feel for what is ok and what isnt,but you need to feel what isnt a few times to recognise it.I just read some of the above posts,my sudden drop was 20 years ago on at the time top of the range Avon Roadrunners,times move on and modern rubber is way better,if you are really keen to become a top rider,get a dirtbike,that will teach you more about traction than any on road stuff,and you will very quickly start examining the surface your on,to a point,not staring but scaning and looking ahead.
  7. Exactly.

    But if you are fairly new to riding, then your internal inclinometer has'nt been calibrated yet...A generally normal lean angle can feel like a full blown race turn to a new rider.

    IAt this stage (assumed new rider), I would be more worried about oil, sand, dirt and petrol on the road ahead...That stuff is more likely to toss you down the road before you're tyres (assumed to be good) lose traction.

  8. welcome back raven :)

    in my experience, you almost always will be able to 'feel' when you're at the limits of traction. I say almost always because I recently had a rear end slide out with zero warning, of course like everyone says it depends on the tyres - my rear tyre was old and should've been replaced. Solution is to get the best tyres you can for the conditions you ride in - after all it is the most important part of the bike that keeps you upright!
  9. Ta Spawn. :)

    Yes, I agree....I feel the rear-end through my ask most of the time, and I "hear" the front tyre when it's starting to go - on a dry day. Experience teaches us the signs over time I guess....and then as happened to you, all that goes out the window, and we cop a woopsie without any warning at all (noticed). As always, we ride with an ever present level of danger. :)
    Makes it funner!

  10. Don't mean to derail the topic, I reckon its still relevant.

    In a public road setting I struggle with relaxing and cornering too far. I have this fear of just doing that: going over too far and sliding. I think this ties up with not being able to look well ahead through the corner, this is because I don't trust the road surface: loose gravel, potholes, bad surface, etc. and tend to look "in front" of me. This is especially in the tight, blind corners we tend to have in my neck of the woods.
    I feel that this is severely effecting my ability to relax and corner properly.

    I did manage to jump on someone's CB1000R a short while ago and I guess with a better COG, stickier tyres and better suspension, I was more confident, enjoying myself much better around the corners.
  11. I thought there was a comment about riding dirtbike and always noticing the amount of grip, but can't find the comment to quote (maybe it was another thread) but i do sort of agree, take the hornet down a few gravel roads then go back to road riding, every surface will feel like a race track (y)
  12. I have been down gravel roads and it handles like a dog! I guess the H9 hasn't got the best suspension around (pretty budget unit).
  13. that is my point, ride enough on gravel, get used to the front and rear sliding, and when it happens on the black top, it's so minor compared to moments on gravel roads......i have have plenty of oh **** moments on the sv in recent times coming into turns to quickly on gravel roads.....but i am slowly getting better at relaxing, keeping arms loose and allowing the bike to move under you, also keeping eyes up (i have looked down a few times and come very close to binning it), so generally now hitting gravel on the road sure gets my attention but it's not the same fear factor i once had about it, guess it's like when you first learn to corner and you think oh **** the bike is going to fall over
  14. Point taken! Will give it a go.
  15. Though a smattering of gravel on a Black top road is a lot more slippery than a gravel road.
  16. #16 twistngo, Mar 27, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2015
  17. sudden pain is a reasonable guide...
  18. Sounds like you are talking about "suburban" roads??....which are a vastly different animal to open road riding, which is vastly different again, to the track.
    While the same fundimental skills are and must still be employed in these three examples, they are modified to suit the different types of riding conditions.
    You cannot learn to corner correctly in suburbia....for day to day riding...sensible open road riding in the twisties is what you need if you want to learn cornering.
    (and a good track day to help hone those skills or correct any failings in your techniques). :)

  19. A good way to get a feel for how much traction you've got is to do a few quick emergency style stops and hard accelerations. That'll give you an idea of what sort of forces the tyre can take - you might be surprised how hard you can e-brake in the wet, for example, but you probably wanna try that from low speeds in a carpark.
  20. Good point Loz. Often I will give the blade a bit of a blat, as you suggested just to see where the traction threshold is in a given section of road...That general insight will give me an idea of what to expect on the front, to.

    ...er...slightly funny story....

    Veeeery wet road, raining heavily and my spidy-senses were tingling...I was cruising in traffic at 50-60 and thought I would just clutch it up a bit and see if the rear end broke loose....nup!...just good traction...so I think....mmm...but it looks so bloody slippery - I don't trust it....so this time I'll give it a handfull and and dump it just to see where the limit is!...

    but WHOA! - the bike takes off with a mono and I have to shut it off before I climb over the car in front, and then hit the brakes hard after the front comes down with a wobbly thump....eurgh!
    I look like a complete freaking tossbag being a complete fwit in the traffic. Eurgh! dah!

    But GREAT traction where I was expecting next to none!.. 8-[