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Tips for Better Riding: Body position 17/03/2020
Connecting to the motorcycle correctly is a key aspect of riding for road or track and something that

Connecting to the motorcycle correctly is a key aspect of riding for road or track and something that all riders must learn to do comfortably. Why? Because the result of poor connection to the motorcycle impacts stability & handling. Keep reading below to learn how to stabilize yourself so that you can take advantage of the performance and handling that your motorcycle offers. 

What is body position?

It is common that riders encounter difficulty controlling their bike, particularly when it comes to steering into corners. Many riders use the bars to stabilize themselves on the bike, while others that hang off tend to use the bars for leverage to transition from one side of the bike to the other when changing direction. Both these scenarios create a myriad of stability and handling issues. The bars have only one purpose - to change direction. So, the question is if we are not going to use our hands to hold onto the bike, then what other options are available?

Our legs. For road riding situations, connecting to the tank with both legs stabilizes the hips and provides support for the upper body, head, shoulder and arms. Riders that hang off use the outside leg on the tank to achieve the same result. The tank is also used as the leverage point to move the hips across the bike using the legs. With the hips secure on the bike and the upper body relaxed in an upright or hung off position, the rider is now ready to engage the turn.

Why hang off?

The amount of lean angle required for a turn at a given speed is determined by the balance of the cornering forces acting on the motorcycle - centrifugal force and gravity. 

Most of the mass of the human body is above the waist. If the rider sits upright on the bike while leant over the combined centre of mass of the motorcycle and rider is higher in comparison to a rider that is hanging off correctly. It is common to hear “kiss the mirror” offered as advice to riders.

By lowering the upper body towards the inside of the turn, the rider has moved their centre of mass closer to the motorcycles centre of mass. The net result is that for a given speed less lean angle is required to complete the turn. 

For road riders, hanging off isn’t usually required as the lean angles achieved when road riding are less than those in track riding situations.

That said, road riders can use their upper body mass to their advantage, for example if they find themselves running wide in a bend.

What is the result? 

If you are in a left-hand turn, your hips should be slightly open towards the direction of the turn. Depending on the bike you are riding up to half a butt cheek maybe off the seat, your right knee should be locked into the tank. The inside (left) foot will have the ball of the foot on the peg with the knee comfortably extended out - this is your lean angle indicator.

Use your core for support so the upper body can be relaxed and towards the inside of the bike, your arms should be relaxed also and your head rotated into the turn. There should be no twist or rotation to the spine, you should be comfortable and relaxed in this position.

How to learn body position

Included in the California Superbike School program are drills to help you connect to the motorcycle and stabilize your body to put you in control of the motorcycle. In Level 1 the focus relative to body position is centred around steering and handling. In Level 2, the techniques provided allow you to successfully hang off the motorcycle.

If the track permits the lean bike is used in an off-track drill to reinforce this technique in a safe and controlled environment. The focus of Level 3 is having the rider in harmony with the motorcycle. This includes how to set up for turns, how to transition from side to side, how to use body mass to effect line and much more. 

The right techniques regardless of your level or experience

The California Superbike School acknowledges there are many different approaches to body position. If you watch high level racing you will see many variations of how riders hang off their bikes. The thing to realize is they are factory riders with factory bikes, the bikes they ride are built to fit them. We don’t have the luxury of factory sponsorship; we ride mass produced motorcycles.

The California Superbike School program will provide you with a set of tools that will allow you to connect successfully to any motorcycle so that you are stable and in comfortable control. 

Many riders that attend the California Superbike School have years of riding and have developed muscle memory in how they ride and hang off, many incorrectly. Learning the correct body position techniques requires new muscle groups to be engaged and trained. This takes practice and patience. The best way to do this is to slow down a little so you have enough free attention to concentrate on developing these new skills.

Contact our expert team to find out more about the training programs that we have available. Call today on 0456 005 554 or send an email to info@superbikeschool.com.au



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