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ZAMM Fanatic
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2,730 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Aside from LEANING the bike into corners, it has always seemed to me that

LOW SPEED U TURNS AND SUCH

would be important curriculum in an INTERMEDIATE rider's course.

Personally I struggled with tight turns until a year or so ago, when two key phrases kept popping up:

Turn your head....further!
Counterlean the bike

Indeed, if you can quit looking at your front tire, and swivel your head AS FAR AS IT GOES in the direction you want to turn, looking off into the distance,...the bike just seems to naturally go where you want it.

Leaning the bike to the OUTSIDE of the turn (counter-leaning) at very low speed also seems to improves stability.

I'm sure a lot of you experienced riders pull one-lane u-turns without even thinking about what you're doing. I find cruisers, especially, are easier to whip u-turns on than top-heavy sport-touring bikes like my Concours.

Still, there are times when you NEED to be able to do a "U" without taking up two lanes.

Confidently.

There it is, the key word. Doing tight turns CONFIDENTLY. Like with oncoming traffic in the 2nd lane.

Confident...invariably requires... practice and even more practice!

I failed to find any good U-tubes on making tight U-turns at low speeds, only one guy who has posted dozens of promotional videos attempting to SELL his video series about how to make more confident, low-speed turns. Bait and switch for all practical purposes; the FREE videos teach/tell you NOTHING.

If he's not interested enough in biker's safety to even throw out a couple of free tips...teasers...I ain't shelling out.

Who here will admit they're still not as good as they'd like to be flipping U's?

Who here can offer useful tips other than twisting your head further?

Cheers!
 

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I will admit I am not as good at tight slow turns as I would like to be, but I can usually do one lane u-turns no problem. Key word: usually. I still need to work on them to get more confidence and consistency. I think most of us underestimate how perishable many skills are. Use it or lose it!

On another note, I am considerably better at tight, slow turns to the left, than to the right, since those are usually what is called for. I need to practice slow tight turns to the left as well.
 

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American Legion Rider
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I honestly don't know if this works on inlines but on V-twins, dragging the rear brake and using a high rpm does wonders. People might think you don't know what you are doing with the r's up but really helps. That's my tip for what it's worth.
 

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Gone
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You need to lean the bike in the direction of the turn, but counter-lean the body the opposite direction to get the tightest, smoothest turn. Leaning the motorcycle opposite the turn will only widen the turn.
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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2,730 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I honestly don't know if this works on inlines but on V-twins, dragging the rear brake and using a high rpm does wonders. People might think you don't know what you are doing with the r's up but really helps. That's my tip for what it's worth.
I'm guessing that's using the engine as a gyroscope to help stabilize the turn.
 

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American Legion Rider
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Yep.
 

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Shaper Of All Things Metal
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So Wade mentioned one lane u-turns, but all the videos I've watched are not accomplishing a u-turn in one lane, rather usually two lanes. Going to full lock, I can't bring my bike (small cruiser) around in one lane width. Am I the limitation or is it the bike?

What is considered the average width of one lane (I know it varies) or a two lane road?
 

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Premium Member
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8,960 Posts
11 feet

11 feet for a skinny lane I think.
Wider for a freeway lane.
On your trials bike, you pop a wheelie, and swivel the bike around in its own length. Can be practiced on a steep hill.

Unkle Krusty*
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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Discussion Starter #9
You need to lean the bike in the direction of the turn, but counter-lean the body the opposite direction to get the tightest, smoothest turn. Leaning the motorcycle opposite the turn will only widen the turn.
If I don't push the bike AWAY from my body, towards the outside of the corner in a very low speed u-turn it tries to fall down to the inside of the turn.

Maybe you have to be able to do it above a certain speed to counter-lean -- and achieve the tightest possible turn.
 

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Shaper Of All Things Metal
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If I don't push the bike AWAY from my body, towards the outside of the corner in a very low speed u-turn it tries to fall down to the inside of the turn.

Maybe you have to be able to do it above a certain speed to counter-lean -- and achieve the tightest possible turn.
By counter-leaning your body weight is compensating for the weight of the bike trying to fall inward. Maybe you need to lean out a bit more or eat another helping of taters to build more counterweight! :biggrin:
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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Discussion Starter #11
S all the videos I've watched are not accomplishing a u-turn in one lane, rather usually two lanes.
I was thinking of a U-turn FROM a left turn lane INTO the oncoming lane closest to you with traffic oncoming in the next lane over

Starting it wide to the right in the turn lane helps of course...
 

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Shaper Of All Things Metal
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I was thinking of a U-turn FROM a left turn lane INTO the oncoming lane closest to you with traffic oncoming in the next lane over

Starting it wide to the right in the turn lane helps of course...
Okay... I feel much better... I can do that easily enough. :p
 

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2%er
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U-turns were the part I had the most trouble with in my rider training course. The way the MSA test is set up here (might be the same everywhere), you have to be able to do a u-turn in the tightest possible way that the specific bike you're using allows. (I think they measure the wheelbase and add a foot to that or something, I can't remember exactly how it worked) High revs to use the engine as a gyro and dragging the rear is what they taught us, as well as turn your head past 90 degrees and look where you're going. I do it a lot when I'm parking at my house, just to keep up the practice, and I can do it pretty good on my small bike but I'm curious how I'll do when I graduate to a bigger bike though.
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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Discussion Starter #14
You need to lean the bike in the direction of the turn, but counter-lean the body the opposite direction to get the tightest, smoothest turn. Leaning the motorcycle opposite the turn will only widen the turn.
I'll attempt/practice counter-leaning the body instead of the bike and see how it goes. Twisting my head while counterleaning doesn't SOUND intuitive...

It'll probably be harder for me than learning to chew bubble gum and walk at the same time. That took awhile....
 

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Registered
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Sorry for the confusion - what I meant by a single-lane u-turn is turning from the right lane I am in, to the left lane opposite, and then continue riding in the opposite direction than I started from.
Okay... I feel much better... I can do that easily enough.
 

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Troublemaker
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2,517 Posts
I honestly don't know if this works on inlines but on V-twins, dragging the rear brake and using a high rpm does wonders. People might think you don't know what you are doing with the r's up but really helps. That's my tip for what it's worth.
Does not work on bikes like mine with linked brakes, makes it a PIA and you just have to ball up and make the U-Turn.
 

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Gone
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The more the motorcycle weighs, the more you have to lean out away from the turn. For heavier bikes sliding off the seat a little seems to help.

A little trick I use to make a smooth u-turn or figure-8 is to build a little momentum while straight and coast through the tight turn with the clutch pulled. That may be cheating, but it simplifies things.
 

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Troublemaker
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I live on a two lane highway with no shoulder. I have for years just rode out and done a U-turn and rode back in the drive. There are times when I will do it 20 or 30 times just because I like to get better at it. I go both ways on the turns, but no matter how much I practice, the left turns are shorter. That is how I found out that linked brakes don't help when trail braking at low speeds. It takes both lanes with the VTX and Raider, but less than one lane with the Honda 360, it is a turning machine!
 

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On The Road Again!
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Years ago, when I had my BMW R90 on the road, I could make that thing turn on a dime and give me nine cents change.
But I've been somewhat frustrated in my attempts to repeat that type of maneuver on my current ride, a 76 Goldwing. I don't know if it's the bike, the tires or ME! I have to say that I do much better on my Honda Trail 90. But that bike only weighs 185 pounds instead of the nearly 700 pounds of the Wing. I really need to go to a parking lot and practice. But the coming of winter has put the kebosh on that idea for a few months.
 

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American Legion Rider
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Does not work on bikes like mine with linked brakes, makes it a PIA and you just have to ball up and make the U-Turn.
Yeah, crutches like linked brakes although great at times, rob you at other times. I don't like them myself and think they are trouble just waiting to happen when someone switches bikes to one that doesn't have them. Knowing how to use your brakes is a basic survival skill on bikes. But I guess too few knew how so the manufactures decided to help.
 
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