This got me to put on my thinking cap and try to answer this question in the best way possible. I never asked myself this question. I don’t think any of us Motovation Track Days had ever asked ourselves that question. We were on a track asking people to find their limit without actually knowing where the limit was.
And then something one of my old riding instructors told me struck me.
“This motorcycle you ride was built by a bunch of expert engineers and if you aren’t going to ride it like an expert, you are not doing it justice.”
The chassis, the brakes, the engine and the tires were meant to be used, used to 100%. We just need to inch our way there and figure out if we can actually utilize that 100% when the time comes.
Every aspect of the motorcycle has its limit and we need to find the fine line where we don’t go beyond the 100% of the motorcycle or the tires. The tricky part here is that you will not know if you have crossed that 100% until after you have actually crossed it. And more often than not it will end in a crash and we do not want that.
Every time you give an input to the motorcycle, you are chipping away a little by little from that 100%. Every millimetre of throttle input, every dab on the brakes makes a massive impact on your grip levels while leaning your bike over in a corner. As lean angle increases, your throttle and brake inputs need to reduce. As your lean angle decrease, you can start increasing the throttle input. To put it simply, your 100% needs to be split between your lean angle and your throttle and brake inputs.
Last week The Road Runner spoke about Trail braking and a few of you actually dropped me a couple of messages asking how trail braking would affect tire grip in a corner and while a few of you were able to figure it out, a lot of you were left with even more questions. Let me give you a practical example. Take an eraser and place it between a flat surface and your thumb and do not put any pressure on it, not try to knock it out from under your thumb, did it just bounce off as soon as you applied a little sideways pressure? That is exactly how your tire reacts when it isn’t loads and you decide to give it a fistful of brakes. Now try it again and slowly start applying pressure, it will be more and more difficult for you to knock the easer out from under your thumb. When you use gradual pressure to brake, it allows the front to get loaded and that in turn allows the front tire to grip even more firmly. So don’t be afraid of braking in a corner, just make sure your braking isn’t abrupt.
The same logic applies while accelerating into or out of a corner, you never add more throttle while increasing your lean angle, that is a recipe for disaster, as your lean angle increases your throttle input should decrease and vice versa. The key to being faster and safer in a corner to keep your front suspension loaded, thereby allowing your front tire to increase its contact patch.
We usually tell you to finish your braking before you get into a corner and that is usually so that you won’t need to figure out a dozen other things in the corner. The question that arises though is what you do when you need to brake in a corner. It’s simple give up your lean angle to allow for harder braking. The idea here to increase the contact patch while braking to reduce the possibility of washing out the front.
This technique will help you in the street and on the track. Imagine you are riding home and you find a ditch mid corner, if you’re already on your brakes, you just need to apply more gradual pressure and you will be able to change lanes in time, successfully avoiding the ditch.
Now we come to the next most asked question, how do I get my knee down in a corner? First things first, we wouldn’t want you to get your knee down while riding in the city, it is irresponsible and dangerous but since you guys do come to the track ; Getting your knee down isn’t so much style as it is a gauge for our lean angle, we know that when our knee hits the ground, we are at maximum lean, we our using our entire 100% here and forget about the brakes and the throttle, as we start to exit the corner and our lean angle decreases, we get on the throttle with our body still hanging off, pushing the bike upward.
The Rookie already mentioned in the basics of body postponing: butt cheek off the seat, knee out, and toe on the peg, pointed towards the corner. The key here is getting into the position before you enter the corner. The best thing to do is get into position as you get on the brakes. This is a good time to point out that the only time you should have pressure on your palms is when you’re braking hard, otherwise lay off the arms, you will just end up tiring yourself out for no reason.
None of what I mentioned above is going to help though, if you are unable to look where you are going. A lot of crashes we see are avoidable. Most people end up fixating on a target and end up running straight into it. If you want to go somewhere ensure you are looking there.
Ride Hard and Ride Safe and we hope to see you all this weekend.