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Discussion Starter #1
I bought my first bike in 2008, rode it for about a year, sold it, and didn't ride again until early this year. It was a 1986 Honda Interceptor 500, which looks a lot like a sport bike, but has a standard riding position.

When I got on that bike, it felt like the most natural thing in the world to lean into turns. I felt secure and solid, and easily held a clean line. When the wind kicked up, the bike swayed back and forth underneath me, but my direction of travel generally wasn't upset. Not so with my 1988 Ninja 600, and I'm trying to figure out why.

On the Ninja, I always feel like I'm always falling to the inside of a curve, and as I fall, it upsets my steering and I have to make corrections throughout. My body doesn't like that feeling, and so I find myself leaning to the outside. My lean angles aren't extreme enough to make that an issue, but it's a bad habit I have to constantly train myself out of in case of an emergency. This bike doesn't feel like it's a part of my body, it's like I'm driving it instead of riding.

I've got a few theories about where this feeling comes from, but no idea how to tell which it is.

The first is that it's because I'm on a true sport bike now, which have a more aggressive riding position and are purposely designed to be less stable in order to facilitate agility. I've noticed that the feeling gets a lot less prominent when I'm in a full crouch.

The second is that the Ninja is heavier, which puts the center of gravity more inside the bike than in my body. I'm suspecting this one because of the way it behaves in the wind. On the old bike, it was like the bike was a pendulum that hung underneath me and swung from side to side when the wind picked up, but on this one, the pendulum is inverted. The wind upsets my balance and steering, which makes the bike swerve back and forth.

The third is that I'm seated higher, which increases the leverage effect of gravity and centrifugal force, pulling me to one side or the other if my balance isn't perfect. This one is also supported by the fact that the feeling lessens when I crouch.

The fourth is that it's something with my suspension. I don't know how that would work, but I read a review of the CBR600 a while ago, and the guy who wrote it described something like this feeling and said it went away after he messed with the suspension settings.
 

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Aging & Worn
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Mess with the suspension settings and see if that helps.

If not, sell it, and buy another 1986 Honda Interceptor 500.

-Soupy
 

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MODERATOR
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"purposely designed to be less stable in order to facilitate agility." QUOTE:confused:

No-no-no not true. many, many things can and do affect handling and if you find the answer to the perfect handling situation, you will be a millionaire overnight:p

Now at the highest levels of Factory development and racing, certain aspects of the bikes behavior have been tweaked with to please their top riders, like frame flex for instance. Ducati found that if a frame had basically no flex, it was much harder to ride fast because it was "stiff" and unforgiving.

Drop in versus drop out can be as simple as tire type and pressure and suspension adjustment and not to mention the position of your body.

As an aside, I had a brand new 1986 Honda 500 Interceptor and it was a neat little bike that ran well (For a 500) and handled well to, which was their main selling point besides that sweet little V-4 engine. This bike was my first supersport, "Ride like a Jockey" street bike but I found it to take the pressure off my back and onto my arms and shoulders which apparently were in better shape.

Imagine my surprise when a year later, I bought a new 1987 BMW R65 and found that it handled much, much better than the purpose built Honda. It was down a little in peak, high rpm power but it made up for it with much better torque, smoothness and ergonomics.

Sam:coffeescreen:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Quote.

Given the same triple-clamp offset, the trail is positively correlated to the rake. In other words, the more rake you have, the more trail exists. Generally speaking, sportbikes and dirt bikes have steeper rakes and shorter trails for quick maneuvering, while tourers and cruisers have greater amounts of rake and trail to promote straight-line stability.

Total Control By Lee Parks Pg. 18
 

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Motorbike Macgyver
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385 Posts
If it is the suspension, the best fix I can think of is a steering dampener. Some are cheap, some are expensive. Have you tried going slow through turns? Before you install a steering damper or mess with anything else, just try going slow through turns and see how it feels. When you say you lean to the outside, the only way I see that being possible is if you are turning the front wheel. Have you ever tried leaning into a turn without turning the wheel? I never turn the wheel unless I am going very very slow. Some bikes you can lean and turn the wheel and it feels natural, some you can't. I really don't know why that is, but it may depend on frame or fork geometry, wheel size, engine torque, center of gravity, or who knows. I think the explanation for your problem is very simple. You already said it yourself. The seat is higher, this changes your riding position and therefore your center of gravity. Not the bikes center of gravity, but yours when you are on it. The steering is affected by rider position and center of gravity, a higher rider center of gravity can affect steering and handling poorly. It usually doesn't affect it too much, and after awhile many riders get used to it because they learn how to sit in the right position and control their body. I've found that for myself, I have to control my body and micro movements slightly differently from one bike to another.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'm not getting the shakes, I don't see how a steering damper is going to help.

When I say I'm leaning to the outside of the turn, I mean I keep my body upright while pushing the bike into a steeper lean angle, like when cornering with a dirt bike. And for the record, I use counter-steering like you're supposed to. I don't try to steer the front wheel into a turn except at parking lot speeds because that doesn't work.
 

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Motorbike Macgyver
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Now I get what you are saying. You counter balance. Well if that helps, why shouldn't you do it? They do it in racing all the time. It could be the fork oil needs changed, if you haven't done it yet/in awhile. Really supposed to do that every couple years. But if its not the suspension or the fork oil, I stick by the rest of my advice. Higher center of gravity caused by higher seat, coupled with a little too much speed and lack of body control/proper positioning. It's also a talker, heavier bike, that would change the bikes center of gravity as well.
 

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Motorbike Macgyver
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There is a difference between this and "purposely built less stable to facilitate agility". What you are saying is, they purposely design sport bikes to be less stable in order to force the rider to be more agile. There is no reason any manufacturer would do that.
 

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Gone
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The rake and trail on sport bikes is smaller in order to turn into corners easier. The Total Control guys are correct.

My suggestion would be to practice smoothing out the turns. Go in nice and slow and add throttle smoothly though the turn using the correct body position. (Lean with the motorcycle) Keep your eyes up toward the horizon and turn your head to look through the path of travel. It may help to practice in an empty parking lot at fairly low speeds, about 15 mph, until your comfort level rises. The same technique is used at road speeds.

Mistakes commonly made in turning:
1) Looking down
2) Being on and off the throttle
3) Not slowing enough before the turn
4) Looking where the motorcycle is currently pointed instead of looking where you want to end up
5) Not leaning the body with the motorcycle

Conquer these and the turns will be pretty, comfortable, and smooth.
 

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American Legion Rider
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I'm thinking it's simple. You stated you are sitting higher now so you are more top heavy. Until you get used to the new balance points it will continue so.

Straight line will be no problem. But everything about a curve will be different. Where you begin the turn and start accelerating will all be different. So it's just going to take time in the saddle or get a different machine.

I don't care for a top heavy bike myself. My BMW was top heavy. It took several hundred miles to get used to it. Like in the 1-2k area. And going back to a Harley felt like putting my best broken in boots back on.

Some bikes are just that different. You got to decide just how much you want to deal with it. Don't over look air pressure too. I like more air than manufacture recommended because it feels less squirrely.

So if you've made sure everything is sound, it's time you need.
 

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Commute Racer
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Before you go messing with the suspension, how old are the tires?

Tires that have started to flat spot behave the way you describe.
 

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If you know how to ride quickly and safely in the curves, you will rarely if ever use your brakes, which shifts weight all over the place, when you want nothing to change your line experience.

Follow a GOOD rider in the curves and you will see what I mean.

Thinking ahead, looking ahead and taking a good look at ones skills is important--you may not be a "Rickey Racer," even though you feel you are.

Your experience and perception should tell you way before the curve, what gear and speed to start the curve in.

I can ride for 50 miles in the mountains at a fair rate of speed through the twisties and depending on how tight the road is stay in the same gear the entire time and NEVER use my brakes:wink:

If a person rides "over their head" and abilities then nothing will help.

Sam:coffeescreen:
 

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American Legion Rider
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Porky said:
If a person rides "over their head" and abilities then nothing will help.
I was wondering if this might be part of the problem too. Just because you ride a crotch rocket doesn't mean you know how to rife one.

We've had other riders complain of bike handling problems. I've personally suggested tire pressure and have never heard from them again.

There's way too many things that can cause handling problems. And a big one is the skills of the rider. Especially stands out when change bikes.
 

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Your bike

I agree with those saying you need to practice. The difference between riding different styles of bikes well is vast, to say the least. It's like shooting a gun. Everyone can at least figure how to hit a 6x6 target. Not everyone can group under 2" consistently. You are familiar with riding, but not practiced. I have ridden thousands of miles in months on a sports bike, but after various gaps in times of riding, I need to refamiliarize myself with the kind of bike. It's like picking up a basketball and not playing for years. Just take your bike to a place with little traffic and practice fundamentals and work out bad habits. You're recognizing stuff is off, but from the sounds of it, it's not the bike. I've had these issues, briefly, and had to do what I just mentioned. Let us know how it goes.

Doc
 

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Pegasus trapped in a human body on a motorcycle
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I've had some students who would disagree with you, unless you meant a 6'x6'x6' box...and they were inside it.
I've seen some arty guys that could drop a shell into that box from several miles away lol
 
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