Do You Lean Into Turns? - Motorcycle Forum
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post #1 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-07-2016, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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Do You Lean Into Turns?

--

In reading a post the other day, I saw that the poster thought that a sign of good riding was being able to lean into a turn. I paid attention yesterday to a ride I made on a lot of older pavement in poor condition. There were lots of 'practice potholes' for me to maneuver around for fun. And for survival. And to just preserve my kidneys.

Anyway, as you all know, when we turn at medium to high speeds, we must counter steer which is turning the handlebars slightly in the opposite direction we want to go. Then the bike magically goes there--where we wanted it to go. But as the bike starts in that direction, our bodies have several choices. One is to stay vertical with the bike such that we are leaning at the same angle as the bike is. It's kind of like carving a turn on snow skis. Or doing the waltz with Julianne Hough. Smooth like you're on a cloud.

The other option in the turn is to counter steer, okay, but then to counter weight with your body so that your weight is on your hip away from the direction you are aiming. This is not being in line with the bike, but staying vertical to the ground while the bike is leaning underneath you. It's easier to do, or more logical, on quick moves when you just want to 'flick' the bike in a different direction. You know what I mean? It's almost as if you were stopped and the bike was under you and your feet on the ground and you took the handlebars and moved them side to side while you just stood there straight up. One way to tell you're doing this is to look at the amount of road showing through your engine guards. If one side has less daylight showing through, then that's the side the bike is leaning towards.

I find this latter method is more instantaneous for the little moves, while the leaning with the bike is more suitable for big sweeping turns at speed. Either way is interchangeable, but I was surprised how often I switch from one to the other. Either was effective, but the 'flick' was quicker.

I always do the move with the shift of the hip and weight to the outside on parking lot turns so that the bike has the tightest possible turning radius. Never realized how much at speed.

Maybe Captain Potato Head will let us know of a tape he made on that subject.

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post #2 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-07-2016, 11:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonK View Post
--

It's kind of like carving a turn on snow skis. Or doing the waltz with Julianne Hough. --
You wish.

As far as the rest of it, guess all that confused this old man. Counter steer, yes, the rest just come natural. Actually the counter steer is natural now.
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post #3 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-08-2016, 12:34 AM
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I definitely use counter weight when dodging things. I normally lean with my bike in a curve. Thanks to a Forum friend I also use counter weight when doing U turns or figure 8's. I just couldn't turn really tight before he explained that to me. I'm still very thankful to him for his help.
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post #4 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-08-2016, 02:06 AM
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Rake and counter-steering

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Originally Posted by RonK View Post
...Anyway, as you all know, when we turn at medium to high speeds, we must counter steer which is turning the handlebars slightly in the opposite direction we want to go. --
"Counter-steering" is dependent on the "rake"; from hardly noticeable on a bike with the rake angle of 26°, to significant on a bike with rake angle of 35° or even more. This simple fact is often not adequately explained to new riders.
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post #5 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-08-2016, 03:18 AM
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I tend to do the counterweight thing, but it really just depends on the angle of lean. If I'm just going around a small curve, and the bike only goes about 30 or so degrees, that's not a problem. But if the bike hits closer to 45..counterweight. Much further than that? Leg out. It's just a natural reaction on my part.
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post #6 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-08-2016, 04:11 AM
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And you guys thought that "I" overthink things?! Geez!!

I don't lean if I ain't Bahaj'ing it; and I don't push away.....I pull.

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post #7 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-08-2016, 05:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soupy1957 View Post
And you guys thought that "I" overthink things?!
Yup! I have been riding since 1964 and never heard of "counter steering" until about 5 years ago - you just do what you have gotta do to get the bike to go where you want it to go.

I never noticed until this year what happens when I ride in a gusty crosswind. My body stays straight up and down in the same position in the lane while the bike leans left or right as needed (to counter the wind). How do I do that? I haven't a g.d. clue and I don't care LOL!
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post #8 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-08-2016, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Kaptain K View Post
I tend to do the counterweight thing, but it really just depends on the angle of lean. If I'm just going around a small curve, and the bike only goes about 30 or so degrees, that's not a problem. But if the bike hits closer to 45..counterweight. .
That's opposite to the way it should be done. You are reducing the ground clearance in a tight turn at speed by counterweighting. The most effective way to turn using higher lean angles is to lean the body into the turn further than the motorcycle is leaned.
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post #9 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-08-2016, 06:25 AM
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"Counter-steering"
I was doing that long before I knew there was a name for it. Don't you have to in order to turn?

I Always shift my weight to the Inside of the corner, every time.... Anytime I don't I feel like I'm not in complete control of the machine.
Of course flicking the bike around pot holes or debris there's no time or even need to slide around on the seat.

But the deeper I go into a curve, the more I hang off to the inside. Once you learn how to 'put some weight' to the inside, you'll see it's the safest way.
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post #10 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-08-2016, 07:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DianneB View Post
Yup! I have been riding since 1964 and never heard of "counter steering" until about 5 years ago - you just do what you have gotta do to get the bike to go where you want it to go.

I never noticed until this year what happens when I ride in a gusty crosswind. My body stays straight up and down in the same position in the lane while the bike leans left or right as needed (to counter the wind). How do I do that? I haven't a g.d. clue and I don't care LOL!
I'm with you. I'd never heard the term "counter steering" until I joined a motorcycle forum. A few other terms too. just learned to ride and have been doing it ever since. If I had to stop and think about what I was doing and what angle I was at and so on I'd probably confuse myself and fall off.
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post #11 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-08-2016, 07:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonK View Post
--

In reading a post the other day, I saw that the poster thought that a sign of good riding was being able to lean into a turn. I paid attention yesterday to a ride I made on a lot of older pavement in poor condition. There were lots of 'practice potholes' for me to maneuver around for fun. And for survival. And to just preserve my kidneys.

Anyway, as you all know, when we turn at medium to high speeds, we must counter steer which is turning the handlebars slightly in the opposite direction we want to go. Then the bike magically goes there--where we wanted it to go. But as the bike starts in that direction, our bodies have several choices. One is to stay vertical with the bike such that we are leaning at the same angle as the bike is. It's kind of like carving a turn on snow skis. Or doing the waltz with Julianne Hough. Smooth like you're on a cloud.

The other option in the turn is to counter steer, okay, but then to counter weight with your body so that your weight is on your hip away from the direction you are aiming. This is not being in line with the bike, but staying vertical to the ground while the bike is leaning underneath you. It's easier to do, or more logical, on quick moves when you just want to 'flick' the bike in a different direction. You know what I mean? It's almost as if you were stopped and the bike was under you and your feet on the ground and you took the handlebars and moved them side to side while you just stood there straight up. One way to tell you're doing this is to look at the amount of road showing through your engine guards. If one side has less daylight showing through, then that's the side the bike is leaning towards.

I find this latter method is more instantaneous for the little moves, while the leaning with the bike is more suitable for big sweeping turns at speed. Either way is interchangeable, but I was surprised how often I switch from one to the other. Either was effective, but the 'flick' was quicker.

I always do the move with the shift of the hip and weight to the outside on parking lot turns so that the bike has the tightest possible turning radius. Never realized how much at speed.

Maybe Captain Potato Head will let us know of a tape he made on that subject.

--
All of it depends greatly on what type of bike you ride.

The feeling of flicking a big heavy cruiser with your hips just doesn't happen on a crotch rocket, just like I wouldn't try to hang my butt off the inside on the Voyager but it is what you do on a Z, its easier to let your butt slide off than try to keep it centered. I no longer have a Z.
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post #12 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-08-2016, 07:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kraken View Post
"Counter-steering" is dependent on the "rake"; from hardly noticeable on a bike with the rake angle of 26°, to significant on a bike with rake angle of 35° or even more. This simple fact is often not adequately explained to new riders.
If you are on 2 wheels then you use counter steering to make the bike lean when not in slow maneuvering, regardless of rake.
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post #13 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-08-2016, 08:19 AM
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For quick little flips around potholes or roadkill, I usually stay pretty upright, (I guess this would be the "counterweight" method.

For "lazy" corners, I lean with the bike.
For more "interesting" cornering at speed, I lean in the direction of the turn slightly more than the bike

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post #14 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-08-2016, 11:40 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodsfall View Post
That's opposite to the way it should be done. You are reducing the ground clearance in a tight turn at speed by counterweighting. The most effective way to turn using higher lean angles is to lean the body into the turn further than the motorcycle is leaned.
--

You are absolutely correct. The easiest way to see this is on a racer's high speed turn where the rider is doing the opposite of counter steering. He's leaning off the inside of the turn such that his knee is touching the ground while his bike is more vertical to the ground. If the bike were to be at the angle he was at, it would be almost on the side of the rim. What he's doing is moving the center of gravity to the inside without making the bike exceed its ability to lean that much.

Of course, we're talking higher speed turns. (Don't get this paragraph mixed up with the rest of the thread!) At extremely slow turns, the bike has to be forced to get a large degree of lean angle to make the turn (unless you are duck-walking the bike around) which is hard to do if you are trying to balance your body at the same angle. Easier to stay vertical with your body, put the weight on the outside cheek (counter weight), and do the "flick" but holding that angle all the way around the turn. At this slower speed, you will probably also be turning the handlebars into the turn--which is the opposite of counter steering.

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post #15 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-08-2016, 12:41 PM
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Counter steering only works when the wheel is spinning fast enough for gyroscopic forces to make the wheel lean; this can be a lot slower than you may think. I initiate a turn by pushing down on the end of the bar that will be on the inside of the turn, then turn the wheel into the turn if the turn demands, which is usually fairly low speed turns. Started doing this on a 26" bicycle, before I was aware of the term 'counter-steer'. You can also use gyroscopic forces when the wheels are in the air to change direction abruptly when the wheels come back down; you see this in super cross all the time.

But, for a quick low-speed turn, you can get the bike leaned far enough over to make the turn a little faster if you let the bike lean under you, instead of trying to lean with it, just because of inertia. Looks and feels sloppy to me, but sometimes, you just have to.

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post #16 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-08-2016, 01:03 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by WintrSol View Post

...

But, for a quick low-speed turn, you can get the bike leaned far enough over to make the turn a little faster if you let the bike lean under you, instead of trying to lean with it, just because of inertia. Looks and feels sloppy to me, but sometimes, you just have to.
--

That's what I just said.

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post #17 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-08-2016, 02:33 PM
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I will be the odd one. On the Ural if you don't lean into the corner, the bike will lean away from it. In my Avatar picture, I am taking a right turn while leaning left.
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post #18 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-08-2016, 09:48 PM
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Leaning is something learned on a bicycle, how much or how little depends on speed and type of bike. A Harley will never lean like a factory road racer, sure I lean, but there will always be that chicken strip on my tires.
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post #19 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 05:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodsfall View Post
That's opposite to the way it should be done. You are reducing the ground clearance in a tight turn at speed by counterweighting. The most effective way to turn using higher lean angles is to lean the body into the turn further than the motorcycle is leaned.
...Yeah, there's no way I could do that, if I wanted to. I could never be comfortable at such an angle. For reasons I've mentioned somewhere before.

If I'm going to an angle I'm not immediately comfortable with, I'm leaning against it. Instinctively. Like...it's not even something I think about or can control. It's just my mind "correcting" the problem that makes me uncomfortable.

But it's also worth note that I have no interest in taking really fast hairpins that put a rice rocket almost horizontal, either. I am more than happy to slow into a turn, and take it at posted speed limits. Thus far, it hasn't been a problem. I don't see it ever becoming one. I don't ride the right kind of bikes, or with the right kinds of crowds, to make it so.
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post #20 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 06:11 AM
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Originally Posted by DianneB View Post
Yup! I have been riding since 1964 and never heard of "counter steering" until about 5 years ago - you just do what you have gotta do to get the bike to go where you want it to go.

I never noticed until this year what happens when I ride in a gusty crosswind. My body stays straight up and down in the same position in the lane while the bike leans left or right as needed (to counter the wind). How do I do that? I haven't a g.d. clue and I don't care LOL!
I thought I was the only motorcycle rider who didn't notice what is he doing and why. I read a book 8 years after I first ridden a motorcycle, and I thought it's junk. How on earth can you lean into a turn if you counter-steer? And then i tried to do it and it worked, just like the guy wrote in that book. Now I am doing more or less the same things when riding, the thing is now I know exactly what I am doing and why I am doing it.

It may sound weird, but I learnt to brake while turning from this book. Before that if I tried to brake while turning, the bike started to lower the lean angle and I didn't know what to do.
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post #21 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 06:26 AM
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There's a lot about skillful and safe riding that is counter-intuitive. Many things go against human nature.

That's where practice and developing muscle memory come in.

For example: Do you need to use both brakes to stop? No, you can stop fine most of the time only using the rear brake, as long as you apply it early enough. But what about when the car eventually turns left in front of you? If you trained yourself to only use the rear brake every time you stop, your right hand isn't going to move to the front brake when you really need it to in a stressful situation.

It's the same with curves and turning. Yes, most of the time body position isn't going to matter much. Taking turns casually at standard road speeds with plenty of safety margin won't mess up the turn if you lean out instead of in. There may be a time when the turn is misjudged and entered a little too fast, and a vehicle happens to enter the path of travel at the same time. If you have trained yourself to lean out instead of in while tightening the curve, an avoidable crash could be the result.

Thinking "It will never happen to me" is not very good protection against potential crashes.

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post #22 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 06:44 AM
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..........................you can stop fine most of the time only using the rear brake, as long as you apply it early enough..................
Yep. The rear brake works fine. Interesting that I've heard folks talk of the front brake as the most commonly used stopping tool. "Rear Brake? What's that?!" (they say).

The BRC encouraged the use of BOTH brakes of course.

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post #23 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 06:48 AM
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The BRC encouraged the use of BOTH brakes of course.
The front brake provides most of the stopping power, but using the rear brake as well will shorten the total stopping distance. When you really need to stop quickly, using both will produce the best results.

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post #24 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 07:16 AM
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The heaver the bike, the better the rear brake works in my experience. I can brake a lot harder on the rear brake with V-Rod, than I can on the Versys.
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post #25 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 07:28 AM
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The heaver the bike, the better the rear brake works in my experience. I can brake a lot harder on the rear brake with V-Rod, than I can on the Versys.
I think a lot of it has to do with weight transfer. A lighter motorcycle with a shorter wheel base will transfer the weight to the front wheel during a stop more than a heavier, longer motorcycle.

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post #26 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 07:32 AM
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If I exaggerate my pressure on the front brake on the FLTRU103, I will get SIGNIFICANT front end dip. I have experienced the S
ABS response once or twice as well.

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post #27 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 08:03 AM
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I did some flat tracking in the 60's. We didn't call it anything but going faster and not wrecking.

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post #28 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 08:07 AM
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I've noticed that the back brake is more effective on my heavy bike too but I have trouble telling just HOW much more because my Vision has linked brakes, even if you only use the rear brake as soon as you get past very gentle braking it applies pressure to a single piston in the front brakes too. A think a lot of the big bikes have this setup.

Using both brakes is best, and will stop the quickest, but even on a heavy bike the front brake will do much more to stop the bike quickly than the back, it's a case of physics. When the bike is decelerating the weight transfers forwards and loads up the front wheel with more weight, so it can brake harder without skidding, while the rear wheel is unloaded and thus can handle less braking before it skids. An extreme case of weight transfer in action is a stoppie...

In a max performance hard stop the front wheel does 70-90% of the work, the back does the rest, so if you need to stop make sure your really using the front brake well and hard, it's the one that does most of the work.

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post #29 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 08:09 AM
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Good point, it's probably the difference in wheel base that's significant here, not so much the total weight.

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I think a lot of it has to do with weight transfer. A lighter motorcycle with a shorter wheel base will transfer the weight to the front wheel during a stop more than a heavier, longer motorcycle.

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post #30 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 11:13 AM
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The exception to the rule of both brakes is on surfaces covered with sand or gravel, or otherwise slippery; any turning motion with the front brake applied can result in a low side, if you're not very careful with the front brake pressure. On these surfaces, unlike most other roadways, I start with rear brake, and add front brake carefully, which is the reverse of most braking I do.

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post #31 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 11:21 AM
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The exception to the rule of both brakes is on surfaces covered with sand or gravel, or otherwise slippery; any turning motion with the front brake applied can result in a low side, if you're not very careful with the front brake pressure. On these surfaces, unlike most other roadways, I start with rear brake, and add front brake carefully, which is the reverse of most braking I do.
Or in the case of a blow-out. If the front tire blows out, you want to stop, but you do not want to apply front brakes, to my understanding.

As for me, I have been taught to otherwise ALWAYS use both brakes, because "you have 70% braking in the front, 30% in the back, 100% in both". Although if slowing down toward a light, or reduced speed limit, I'll typically apply the rear first, and then add the front as it becomes necessary. Simply because the foot is already near the brake, while the hand has to shift to "lever hover" position, making it quicker to hit the rear, than the front. So pretty much, I'll hit the rear brake and hover the front, and add it as needed.

I've also found a little trick that helps at lights. In my region, most lights are controlled by weight sensors. Well...the reduced weight of a bike...doesn't lend itself too well to tripping a sensor. So if you roll up to it, and quickly lock the front brake as you hit the sensor, all the weight of the bike shifts to the front wheel, which better trips the sensor. A little trick I discovered after being nearly late to work because of a finicky light.
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post #32 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 12:28 PM Thread Starter
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Since we're on braking right now, thank you, I would caution those who say I sometimes just use my rear or use the rear first and then start on the front to give time for weight transfer. I would posit that what you are doing is jacking around with your muscle memory and in a tight, quick emergency when both brakes are needed, you might hesitate thinking which brake to use first and hardest. A two second hesitation in full braking can mean you travel an extra 100'.

Now granted when stopping/slowing on gravel (panic mode) or in a turn at slow speed (concentration mode), coming on the front brake will cause the front end to slide or spin to one side. So in those situations, using the rear brake mostly or totally would be appropriate. But those situations are in a different mindset of either panic (gravel) or concentration (slow speed maneuvers). While approaching a stop light, slowing for a curve, or emergency braking all are more 'normal riding' and are the times for building your muscle memory so that both hand and foot braking is automatic.

To be clear, muscle memory (with braking) is in part the degree to which your hand and foot move and the direction given by your brain. To that end, the memory can be learned from just the brain. How? When you are riding along, picture some situation that you might encounter. Imagine what your body parts would do. Train your mind to react in a certain way. Might sound crazy, but it works, not as well as actually doing it, but a long way.

It's like training your mind as to what you'd do if you had to panic stop around a blind curve. You can't just hit both brakes hard. You must first straighten up the bike, then hit the brakes. Does anyone ever practice this? Not too many. But you can learn that you will react that way by running over it in your mind--over and over. If, every time you go around a blind curve, you practice in your mind what you will do if there is a sudden problem in front of you, you will be prepared.

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post #33 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 12:38 PM
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I've also found a little trick that helps at lights. In my region, most lights are controlled by weight sensors. Well...the reduced weight of a bike...doesn't lend itself too well to tripping a sensor. So if you roll up to it, and quickly lock the front brake as you hit the sensor, all the weight of the bike shifts to the front wheel, which better trips the sensor. A little trick I discovered after being nearly late to work because of a finicky light.
Light sensors don't use weight. The older, more common, type use magnetic induction. This is basically a loop of wire placed into slots cut into the road surface and covered with tar. The loop has a charge through it, turning it into a big metal detector.

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post #34 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 04:47 PM
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RonK is correct about muscle memory; I have to overcome it in those special conditions, when I have time to think about it, otherwise, it's brakes on, front and back. Also, I rarely need to use my whole right hand on the front brake lever; I find middle finger and out is plenty strong enough, so I can keep index finger and thumb around the throttle. This allows me to have throttle, brakes, and clutch all working at the same time, if needed, in those slow turns.

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post #35 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 07:50 PM
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One time we lost the rear brake in an endurance roadrace. We lapped just as fast, or all but as fast without a rear brake.
Just goes to show how useful the rear brake is during hard braking.
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post #36 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-12-2016, 08:20 PM
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In reading a post the other day, I saw that the poster thought that a sign of good riding was being able to lean into a turn. I paid attention yesterday to a ride I made on a lot of older pavement in poor condition. There were lots of 'practice potholes' for me to maneuver around for fun. And for survival. And to just preserve my kidneys.

Anyway, as you all know, when we turn at medium to high speeds, we must counter steer which is turning the handlebars slightly in the opposite direction we want to go. Then the bike magically goes there--where we wanted it to go. But as the bike starts in that direction, our bodies have several choices. One is to stay vertical with the bike such that we are leaning at the same angle as the bike is. It's kind of like carving a turn on snow skis. Or doing the waltz with Julianne Hough. Smooth like you're on a cloud.

The other option in the turn is to counter steer, okay, but then to counter weight with your body so that your weight is on your hip away from the direction you are aiming. This is not being in line with the bike, but staying vertical to the ground while the bike is leaning underneath you. It's easier to do, or more logical, on quick moves when you just want to 'flick' the bike in a different direction. You know what I mean? It's almost as if you were stopped and the bike was under you and your feet on the ground and you took the handlebars and moved them side to side while you just stood there straight up. One way to tell you're doing this is to look at the amount of road showing through your engine guards. If one side has less daylight showing through, then that's the side the bike is leaning towards.

I find this latter method is more instantaneous for the little moves, while the leaning with the bike is more suitable for big sweeping turns at speed. Either way is interchangeable, but I was surprised how often I switch from one to the other. Either was effective, but the 'flick' was quicker.

I always do the move with the shift of the hip and weight to the outside on parking lot turns so that the bike has the tightest possible turning radius. Never realized how much at speed.

Maybe Captain Potato Head will let us know of a tape he made on that subject.

--
I more or less split the difference. I do not lean over as far as the bike but I do lean into a turn even at low speed. The bike leaning will get you the tightest turn but you can't get it over that far if you insist on leaning with it.


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post #37 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-12-2016, 08:53 PM
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In my neighborhood there's a hard right that I've been taking just a little faster every day, leaning just a little more. 2 or 3 days ago I suddenly felt the heel of my boot gently scrape the street and was done with that experiment forever.
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post #38 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-12-2016, 10:18 PM
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^ ^ ^ But you're just getting to the fun part!
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post #39 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-13-2016, 07:23 AM
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In my neighborhood there's a hard right that I've been taking just a little faster every day, leaning just a little more. 2 or 3 days ago I suddenly felt the heel of my boot gently scrape the street and was done with that experiment forever.
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post #40 of 65 (permalink) Old 09-13-2016, 01:49 PM
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Some people make this more confusing than it needs to be. At anything above very slow speeds you cannot steer the bike by turning the handlebars. You may think you are steering but you are not. Whether you know the term or not, when turning at speed you are countersteering, because that is the only way to get the bike to make the turn. Most of us do this naturally if we ever rode a bicycle. Its only when it is described to the novice that it sounds so illogical.

As to keeping your body leaned with the bike or vertical, Dodsfall is totally right that the most effective way is to lean with the bike. In really extreme turns at high speed you will have to lean even MORE than the bike is leaning, which you can clearly see in any photos of racers taking a high speed tight turn. But for swerving around an obstacle, you should just countersteer first in one direction and then the opposite direction quickly, and without shifting your body weight. A quick swerve doesn't need your body to move, and there is usually not enough time for you to shift your body anyway. Its just a quick push-push and you are around the obstacle (this was a routine lesson in the basic riding course that the MSF taught, and maybe I am assuming too much in thinking it is still part of the curriculum).

When it comes to braking, I am amazed that there are still riders who fail to use their front brake. Maybe it made sense 40 years ago or so, but it no longer does. I recommend, for those of you not used to regularly using BOTH brakes routinely when slowing or stopping, that you practice the following. When you decide to slow the bike, consciously apply the rear brake first to transfer the weight of the bike and rider to the front wheel, then smoothly apply the front brake while continuing to use the rear brake. This is a basic skill every rider should have, and to not be able to use the front brake, or to be so unused to using it that you will fail to use it in an emergency is just very poor riding, to the point of being rider negligence.

Back to turning; when I was an MSF instructor I used to tell the students that there is a real difference between how much you are leaning the bike, and how much you feel you are leaning the bike. A novice rider who leans only a few degrees thinks that they are close to touching their knee to the ground. As you gain proficiency in turning you get more and more comfortable with leaning further and further over. Sooner or later you will have the not unpleasant, but possibly surprising experience of scraping your foot pegs, or actually having the heel of your boot scrape the ground. For most of us, that is about as far as you should ever lean the bike. Modern bike suspensions and the incredible quality of modern motorcycle tires allow a bike to lean at speed that would astonish riders of 100 or even 50 years ago. But the more you learn to lean, the better you are able to handle unexpectedly sharp, or decreasing radius turns without loosing control and crashing. What you DON'T want to do when you find yourself entering a curve too quickly is to grab the brakes while leaned over and losing the traction of the tires. Learning to lean in more will help you safely negotiate the sharp curve and be fun at the same time.

FWIW, just this past week I rode the Tail of the Dragon with my 900 pound plus Goldwing. I took the 310 curves rather modestly and yet I touched pegs to the ground several times. Leaning and safely turning on tight curves can be one of the most fun parts of motorcycling.

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