What is the correct Body Lean position on a motorbike?
One of the many questions that get motorcyclists all rattled up into a frenzy of opinions. But firstly, let me start by saying that there is no bible or law book on how to ride a motorcycle. The question I have is, are you in control and are you increasing your probabilities of losing control through your actions or how you are riding.
Now there will be as many ways to interact with your bike on bends as there are styles of motorcycles on the market. You also need to bear in mind that no two bikes sit the same, and no two bikes will act the same riding through a corner/bend.
There are many factors that will come into play, but before we get into those let’s look at why we adjust our body position on the bike.
Why do we lean?
Simply put, we are compensating for the centrifugal force that is trying to through us towards the outside of the bend by imposing the weight of the motorcycle plus our body in equal measure to the inside of our bend. This lean is equal to a dance, a never-ending movement that makes riding a motorcycle along a twisty bendy country road one of the most pleasurable actions you could ever accomplish.
So what is the minimum standard to get to lean properly.
There is a time and a place for everything and the Psychology of where when and how is another subject we cover in our riding courses. But before you get to grips with the idea of leaning your bike into a corner, you really need to understand friction. It’s only once you get to understand this concept will your subconsciousness accept that you can trust your tyres, your bike and the tarmac you ride on. Because until you gain the trust of your tyres and your motorbike you will never break through the mental barrier.
Most of us have the ability, we just lack the know-how and confidence. To build confidence we need knowledge, practice and a splash of patience mixed with persistence. Baby steps are the order of the day. Small steps that push your ability in the right way at the right pace. Eventually, it will all fall into place. Remember the very first time you changed gear on a motorcycle. My point exactly.
But why do we do this?
to start with it feel’s INCREDIBLE. There is no other feeling like it when riding. it as close to flying through the air in your own fighter jet as you can get.
Our goal is to glide through the corner quicker, faster but still maintaining balance and control.
We are constantly trying to find that sweet spot with our balance. We use our motorbikes and our own bodyweight to discover where our centre of gravity is best-positioned whilst negotiating centrifugal forces. The numerous ongoing calculations made by a rider are difficult to even imagine. The computing power required for such a manoeuvre is truly impressive. Just some of the variables required are; Our speed, grip, the combined weight of the bike+ourselves and finally our available turning circle, (which unless we are familiar with the road we are riding in is also variable). These are just some of the inputs required to make this incredible occurrence take place.
But let’s try and analyse this in a simpler way.
The amount of body lean you could input on your bike is considerable. You could lean to the left, right, up, down or even move your body weight in the diagonal direction. (Think of a 3D map) It’s almost like you’re a pilot measuring longitude, latitude and hight continuously non stop and at a lightning-fast pace.
Your goal is to place your combined (you+bike) centre point of gravity at the perfect spot. This is where riding a motorcycle becomes art. it’s a feeling, a feeling most of us find difficult to describe and if you could it probably would only make sense to you and no one else.
But just like a guitarist pressing the string on his guitar, they might know roughly where the note is placed, but it’s only once they get a feel for the neck of the guitar that they will place their finger in the position they believe to be correct. Once there, they make minute micro-adjustments to get the sound just right. A motorbike sweeping thought a bend is no different.
You can see the bend and your mind has already made the necessary calculation of lean angle required, but it’s only as you get closer or actually arrive in the bend do you make those final minute micro weight adjustments that allow you to negotiate your corner/bend confidently and successfully.
Someone told me that to truly get the lean angle correct I have to scrape my knee sliders.
This is almost a sentence I hear every few weeks. Its probably the most misunderstood input most riders do in the pursuit of what they consider to be sports bike rider excellence. I see some riders approaching corners where it seems they have literally dislocated their hips in an effort to make their knees reach those extra few mm and reach the ground. I call it the “dog pissing on the tree routine”. Somehow the masses have attributed a scraping knee pad as the pass certificate of excellence. The truth as to why the knee is scrapped was for race riders to know when they had reached their lean angle limits of their bike or tyres. Not because it made them faster on corners. But I guess this has somehow got lost in translation along the way and today we see allot of misguided riders out there concentrating on the wrong objectives. So don’t worry if you haven’t scraped your knee sliders. Even more importantly I would actually question where on the public road would it be prudent to do so in the first place.
But tell me about how to position my body in the bend?
Well for this we would like to invite you to attend one of our advanced rider courses. During this course, we will cover, head, shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists, legs and feet. All of the essential requirements for good body lean angle. We will also cover the basics from a physics perspective and teach you in a way that will make sense to even the non-geeks out there. We will have a look at the Psychology behind a successful lean and what can we do to break through the mental barrier that is holding us back.
Get in touch send us an email or even give us a call. I am here to help and always keen to talk to a fellow biker who has a burning desire to learn.
So, in summary
- Lean on a motorcycle is the antidote to centrifugal force trying to through you to the outside radius.
- It’s a never-ending calculation of speed vs grip vs weight vs hight vs available turning circle.
- It’s a technique that is acquired over time, with plenty of practice even with a few mistakes along the way.
- And NO, sliding your knee on the tarmac does not make you faster on bends.
Got a question about anything to do with riding a motorcycle. Send me an email and let me know. If its interesting enough ill make a blog in reply.
Motorcycle photography by: Feldbergschleifer
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