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Revisiting the Body Position Conundrum

Surprise! Both Marc Marquez and Kevin Schwantz are skilled riders.

The subject of the “correct” body position on a motorcycle comes up pretty frequently in the MD Comments Section. I thought it worthwhile to revisit the topic here. Be skeptical if someone suggests that a certain body position is always correct, or incorrect, when riding a motorcycle. They might be right … or they might be completely off-base.

We wrote an article a few years ago discussing body position, and I wrote the following comment in response to a reader on the same topic this morning (my comment is re-printed below).

As with any skilled activity, the ultimate goal in motorcycling is to forget technique altogether while riding. It may seem corny, but here is a quote from Bruce Lee: “You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

Jeff Ward (9-time AMA champ, including 2 supermoto titles)

So resist slavishly following advice regarding body position, and be like water. Here is what I posted in the Comments Section to another article:

I’m afraid it’s not so simple. Here is the old article on the topic: http://www.motorcycledaily.com/2015/08/shifting-your-weight-to-the-outside-in-a-corner-why/ . I have ridden with Kevin Scwantz on the road and he sat bolt upright in corners. Freddie Spencer told me many years ago that he doesn’t lean to the inside while cornering on the street. He keeps his weight centered. You have to think about it a bit more carefully. You are effectively saying Jeff Ward (9 time AMA champ, including multiple supermoto titles … where the typical track is 85% asphalt), who leans his body to the OUTSIDE of the bike in road corners, doesn’t know how to ride.

Experienced riders vary their body position as circumstances vary. When ground clearance becomes an issue, you have to shift your weight to the inside of the bike. The same applies when the lean angle of the bike risks rolling off the edge of the tire – you have to shift your weight/lean off to the inside to keep the bike up on the grippy part of the tire. An extreme example is a MotoGP rider dragging his elbow on the inside of the corner.

If neither of these circumstances exist (restricted ground clearance or rolling-off the edge of the tire) leaning to/hanging off to the inside of the bike in turns is an unnecessary exercise and a waste of energy. This was Freddie Spencer’s point, and I agree. Some inexperienced riders have an exaggerated body position when it isn’t necessary and they look stupid, frankly. They read somewhere that they should ride that way, apparently, and they don’t have the feel/experience to realize it is wasted energy.

The pictures of Jeff Ward and Kevin Scwantz dipping the bike and shifting their body weight to the OUTSIDE of the bike on road surfaces doesn’t mean they lack skill or experience. This can be the best technique on the road, and the fastest way around. Again, these riders can feel when it is the right technique because of their experience. Basically, when ground clearance/tire roll-off are not concerns, you can typically change the motorcycles direction, and lean angle, more quickly and easily by “pushing it down” on corner entry. If you think about it, counter-steering illustrates this principle.

Years ago, Gabe would exaggerate his body position in corners even when the bike was relatively upright (not close to dragging the pegs or rolling off the tire) and I told him it looked foolish in photos appearing in MD. He disagreed, and you are entitled to disagree.


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58 Comments

  1. mickey says:

    the last 3 days I have been riding around, thinking about this article, and I can say for certain on my upright naked and on my faired sport tourer at street legals speeds +- 10 mph on the curvy country roads in southern Ohio that I ride, it doesn’t make a hoot of difference whether you lean in or out.

    I imagine as speeds increase, and maybe on a sport bike, where you don’t have that good bar leverage, that leaning in becomes more important.

  2. wjf says:

    Juke Box Hero – Didn’t know how to play it, but he knew for sure
    That one guitar, felt good in his hands, didn’t take long, to understand…..

    Seeing a bike for the first time, sitting on a bike for the first time…it felt good, possibly terrifying…but good.

    Most of us here knew at one of these points, this was it. This was part of a meaning that would get you out of bed in the morning, to go to your job, to live for this.

    If the drive/passion is there, you will figure it out, your way, at your level of risk. Some research, some just do it. Good and bad consequences can happen from both approaches.

    But that first time you saw, sat on, or rode a bike….

  3. DaveA says:

    A discussion about “proper” body position is meaningless without an accompanying definition of what your goals are with regard to the dynamics of the riding you’re talking about, and what sort of bike you’re riding.

    To wit, I think we can all agree that Valentino Rossi is a very highly skilled rider, and as such is pretty unlikely to be ‘doing it wrong’ as it were. Watch some videos from 10 years ago, and watch from this year. His style 10 years ago involved keeping much more of himself ‘on’ the bike. Also during that time, it was relatively rare to see racers dragging elbows.

    Fast forward to today, and Rossi has adapted, because Marc Marquez et al have forced an evolution of riding style that involved getting way farther off the bike and as low as physically possible. This is also true of the fastest superbike racers as well; it’s not limited to MotoGP. It is safe to say that this style is the current state of the art, as there is literally not a single capital-F fast guy riding with any sort of style or technique that varies significantly from this.

    All of that said, this doesn’t mean that this extreme low-and-inside position is the best technique for street riding any more than it is for motocross or observed trials. In racing, the ‘best’ way is probably measurable and therefore demonstrable; if it’s faster, it’s better. End of discussion. Street riding (or even track day riding, if you have to go to work on Monday as it were), is more complicated. As we are not all Valentino Rossis, we have to take other things into account, including but not limited to our comfort level, body position effect on ability to react to unexpected need for maneuvering, margin for error, likelihood of mistakes, compensation for unknown traction levels, etc. etc. .

    Now…all of that said, on the track, I always tried to get as low and inside as I could, but I was old and fat even then, so my success in this area was limited at best. On the street, my preferred mode 98% of the time (speaking of spirited twisty riding here) is to mostly keep my butt still, but lean my upper body lower and to the inside. To this end, I try to point my chin at the bar end of the inside handlebar, and fold in and down toward it as I turn in. You’d be surprised how much lean angle you can shed (or how much faster you can go at a given lean angle) using this method.

    I like it because I can be very fast to react to the unexpected, as I’m nowhere near as committed to my position as I’d be if I were hanging off, but I am reaping significant benefits of moving my CoG lower and to the inside of the corner.

    On a side note, this is the method I used for years when I was a track instructor, and people would worry about body position, having never experienced hanging off. I started out with this to help folks get comfortable with the feeling of moving the CoG around, and I found that this introduction helped hang-off comfort levels later in the day. I don’t think I ever experienced anyone else teaching this, so if you were taught this way, maybe we’ve met! If so, I hope I was able to help in some small way.

    • Vince says:

      Well said Dave!

    • Smaug says:

      +1

      The reason we lean toward the inside on the street is to save lean angle for the unexpected. As said earlier, it’s much faster, in case of emergency, to push the bar than to hang off more.

      Earlier comments about it not being necessary for street riding are also correct, if you’re not treating the street like a track. On the street, we never know 100% what is around the next corner: branches, sand, lawn clippings, gravel or even a turkey. Got to save some lean angle for emergencies.

      To go into street turns supermoto-style, where all the lean angle is used up, is really putting your life at risk; it depends on the road always being clean.

  4. mickey says:

    There is a reason the best roadracers in the world, practice riding dirt bikes in the off season. It started with Kenny Roberts and has continued with most of the greats up to and including Valentino Rossi amd Marc Marquez.

    • guu says:

      There is: It is not possible to train on MotoGP bikes and it wasn’t at KR’s time. Before that it was.

      • mickey says:

        I rather think it’s because there are things you can learn about riding a motorcycle safely in the dirt that you will never learn or learn the hard way at great personal risk riding on asphalt

  5. Harry says:

    Before I learned counter steering I was always nervous in corners over say 25 mph but after that technique became intuitive riding my 1981 Suzuki GS750ex in corners became exhilarating! And leaning became superfluous.

    • Smaug says:

      Then you don’t understand the dynamics of leaning. Good street riders will do a bit of both.

  6. Tank says:

    A friend of mine’s kid borrowed a bike a few years ago and hit an SUV head on while making a high speed turn (trying to keep up with experienced riders). I think the 2 things that get new riders killed is the lack of knowledge about counter steering and the use of the front brake. I have actually talked to riders with years of riding experience that don’t know about counter steering and are afraid to use the front brake. Too many people think that because they know where the clutch is and how to change gears that they know how to ride a motorcycle. Unfortunately, riding a bike is like anything else, you learn from your mistakes (if you survive). More articles about motorcycle safety, please.

  7. hh says:

    Good article!!! Good dialogue…

  8. Dino says:

    Thanks for re-publishing this, really good info!
    I know if you are racing on the track, then they lean in for maximum maximum….
    but on the street should NOT ride on the edge like that, so a neutral position is actually safer. Good points all around!

  9. Phil says:

    The style you have isn’t that important (all though Rossi looks fantastic). Body position is pretty simple.
    – On the corner entry you have to shift your Center of Mass to load the inside of the contact patch,
    – In the middle of the corner, the centre of mass (you and the bike) should go through the centre of the contact patch
    – On corner exit you load the outside of the contact patch.
    – Depending on your level of enthusiasm, you may need to shift your weight forward as well.

    Sounds simple, but like a golf swing – you can spend a lifetime trying to perfect it.

    • todd says:

      and then there’s physics. The center of your contact patch will always be directly under the CG of the bike and rider, normal to the average of the gravity and inertial vectors. When you shift your CG, the contact patch shifts accordingly – otherwise you fall over.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yep, controlled falling over is what your doing.

        Seriously, if you make the effort to understand why bikes turn, it can give you confidence and make you a technically better rider.

      • Phil says:

        Yep, controlled falling over is what your doing.

        Seriously, if people make the effort to understand why bikes turn, it can give them confidence and make them a technically better riders.

  10. ilikefood says:

    Position your body toward the outside of the corner to reduce the width of your chicken strips 😉

    • Dino says:

      There is that!!!

    • Phil says:

      I’m not the only one then….

    • G. Hill says:

      Had a Goldwing 1500. Aired suspension up past max to increase ground clearance and stiffen. Heavily used counter steering. No chicken strips.

    • skortch says:

      Ha, and the inverse is also true. Putting your weight to the inside of the turn will widen the chicken strips. Fair warning, if that matters to anyone…

      (Chicken strips on the street are a good thing. Mine are around 1/4 inch, give or take, at least until a track day.)

  11. gpokluda says:

    One of the things I really learned at Reg Pridmore’s Class was to settle into your bike and try to ride as smoothly as possible through curves instead of heavy braking followed by lots of throttle.
    That being said, I nice flat seat, wide, upright bars and mild foot pegs is the most versatile combo which allows the rider adjust to changing needs.

  12. Mikey says:

    Lee Parks book Total Control SECOND EDITION has an excellent discussion on this topic.
    I have read every book published including Lee’s first TC. His second edition book is all new. It is THE BEST book currently available.

    • A P says:

      Ah, the fashions in “expert” riding info… Code was the guru of the 1980’s, and many including Spencer and Schwantz followed on after. Schwantz was known for his upright GP riding style, dubbed “lookyloo” by one journalist. No surprise he stays planted in the centre of the seat on the street. Spencer’s track training thing was strong trail braking, on the premise that the compressed forks steepened the steering geometry making it easier to turn-in. And now many gurus advocate strong trail braking for regular street riding. In any case, Kevin and Freddie both have such elevated skills compared to mere riders that it is no surprise they can plod (relatively) around on the street sitting bolt upright in the centre of the seat. At one of my first track schools, I was going as hard/fast as I could, thought I was doing well… until the instructor I was following sat up and rode looking back at me through the braking zone and half way around the next corner. And pulled away while doing it. Ego check bigtime.

      The bottom line is that while there is much to be gained in proficiency and safety from any motorcycle training combined with seat time, transferring racing techniques to the street is not as direct a link as many track/racing background experts would like to paint.

      Enhanced situational awareness and a seamless neuromuscular integration where the rider reacts properly at a near-subconscious level is a far more necessary survival/enjoyment skill than being able to aggressively trail brake or lean off. Do you consciously think about where to put your feet every step when you walk across the floor? Of course not, and operating the controls and your positioning your body/weight while riding should become nearly as semi-automatic. After 40+ years riding/training I’m getting reasonably good at it.

      For all that, I am still an avid student of riding, will be until health or death stops me.

      • Mikey says:

        Why didn’t you just say you’ve read Lee’s book then. Woulda saved a lot of typing.

        • A P says:

          Actually haven’t read Parks’ books in detail, scanned one at the bookstore and found nothing groundbreaking from other fairly standard, well published models. Parks’ major innovation is his training methods/layout which can be done in any decent-sized parking lot. More a business solution than an actual expansion of the absolute knowledge base. OF COURSE it is easier to learn to achieve more slow speed (parking lot) lean angle if you increase the contact patch by lowering tire pressure.

          A step up from the original MSF system but doubtful it will achieve the goal of significantly increasing motorcycle road safety(the biggest safety hazard is the other drivers, as Hurt first demonstrated). I’m still waiting for some statistical/media coverage on just how well industry safety efforts initiated 8 years ago have progressed. From 2011…
          https://www.roadracingworld.com/news/motorcycle-safety-think-tank-recommends-improvements-in-rider-training/

          http://usmca.org/
          This seems to be the most tangible result of that initiative, and while laudable, how is this much different from the original MSF system? 8 years of having some of the best, brightest and most influential figures in US motorcycling working on this problem basically reinvented the rider-training wheel.

          In the end, once the essential basics are accomplished and well-practiced, motorcycle riding is more like handwriting than anything else. We were all taught to mimic the idealized samples posted in every grade-school classroom, and yet few peoples’ handwriting comes even close to that form. And except for doctors, most peoples’ handwriting is more than adequate to get the meaning across. Professional riders are the calligraphers of motorcycling, and even they don’t adhere to any common “ideal” riding style/technique. in fact it is often the departures from the “standard form” that distinguish the greatest riders/racers from the rest of us. Roberts perfecting the knee-down, rear-wheel steering style, then Spencer’s trail braking, Rossi’s leg dangle, Marquez’ elbow-down and crash-avoidance artistry.

          To state the obvious, I don’t ride my current F6B exactly the same as my previous CBR600RR. Ya, I went directly from the 600 to the lead-wing… both great fun but night and day otherwise. I generally keep at least a couple 1/10ths in reserve when street riding, but that couple 1/10ths is far different on the F6B than the 600.

          The perennial education problem, putting old heads on young shoulders… which cannot be done in sound/text bites.

          • Mikey says:

            What I particularly like in Park’s second book is that he has addressed ‘fear’. It’s a topic nobody talks about. It is very good and easy to understand.
            And his 10 steps on cornering is amongst the best explanations out there.
            True, though I have taken several courses including Parks (with Lee himself) there is no substitute for implementing them on the road itself. It’s a long process to become a good rider. And a fun one.

      • Ralph W. says:

        Thanks, A P. That is one of the best written, most intelligent and most worthwhile comments I have ever seen on this site. I’m glad there still are some motorcyclists who are interested in riding instead of just posing.

        I trail brake a lot on the road, doing it subconsciously without thinking about it. IMO you can use it to load a bit more weight on the front wheel to get extra traction at the crucial moment of ‘turn in’. As for being an “avid student of riding”, good riders never stop learning. After 46 years I’m still getting better at it, both in skill and understanding.

  13. kjazz says:

    Balance and moderation.

    To ride well… read, ask, listen and ultimately understand what people say about these different riding positions. Notice when they are used and why and to what extent. And then experiment by adding them into your repertoire….or deleting them as you see fit.

    There are legitimate physical reasons to lean “in”-side and to lean “out”-side of the bike’s lean angle while corning. Usually speed, situation and intention of how your are cornering are big factors. But sometime surface condition is an input.

    To me the biggest factor of all; however, is….. (this applies to riding on the streets or rural roads)….. allow for the most unimaginable thing to occur at any given moment in the road ahead. Do not ride 100% committed to a specific turn as one would do on a race track where conditions are highly controlled. The wild wild world of road riding can serve up a surprise that will cause you to quickly realize being fully committed to an extreme speed, radius and the necessary lean angle to achieve them will bite you on the ass. God forbid it may be your last bite on the ass…..

    Personally, I use a counter lean (push the bike over) only when going slow (parking lot slow) and weaving between things like cars or whatever. Reg Pridmore had some input on my thinking here.

    At sporting speeds, I simply put myself just to the inside of a center line… maybe half a butt cheek off the seat and my chest and head 6 – 8 inches inside of the longitudinal center of the bike. This seems to promote my already automatic “push” on the inside handle bar (counter steering), keeping just the right amount of pressure while allowing me to quickly neutralize my position if required. Of course, steering input is different for all our rides. My GS’s wide handle bars are very powerful levers. Your clip-ons might need stronger input.

    If I’m really worried about running out tire….I’m simply going way to fast for non-track riding. But a little bit of foot peg weighting and inside lean I think is good. I’ve certainly been leaned over a bit too far and encountered ripples that compressed my shocks and allowed a hard grounding on the peg bracket or center stand. That can be avoided by using proper position to keep the machine slightly more upright even if only a few degrees.

    Anyway….watch, ask, listen, learn and then use that info moderately in developing your riding style.

  14. Chief Schmuck says:

    I stay neutral on the street, neither to the inside nor the outside. I ride a GSw, which has gobs of clearance. I figure, if I’m starting to touch pegs on that bike, it’s time to back off a little, as that’s plenty fast for the street.

  15. joe b says:

    not sure why, but mx bikes as do the motard bikes, like to have the motorcycle itself pitched at extreme angles of lean. I still ride like that sitting bolt upright on my streetbike. I lean some, when there is a flowing big sweeper, but I am not sure why, i ride upright pushing the bike into a more severe lean, often passing others who are “hanging off”. those who hang off at slow speed, are having fun. I dont criticize them, i just go by them. but now I am old, i often let myself slow for things in the past I would never slow for. I still shift funny, and with the DCT, the paddle shifter in the middle of the turn is a taste of heaven.

    • HalfBaked says:

      MX racers and off-road riders in general lean the bike over so we can take our inside foot off the peg which facilitates weighting the outside peg and positions the inside foot just of the ground to allow a quick dab to prevent as another poster stated losing the front or rear end.

  16. Rapier says:

    It depends to some degree on the bike. I got a huge tall Stelvio and had to relearn how to ride. I’m still trying to learn. That is at slow speeds I lean to the outside or at least stay mostly upright and truth be told should just do it all the time. I looked into this and I found that this was the preferred method of pavement racers for decades, at least up to WWII.

    It’s somewhat dictated by the ergos too. The more sporting the position, high and rearward pegs and lower bars sort of dictate leaning in.Then too we ‘learn’ by watching racers but in street riding the leaning in is really more a fashion than a functional thing.

    • James says:

      Erhgos are important. On an upright bike with wide bars, you can get steep lean angle simply by counter-steering and gently pushing the bike down while staying upright. On a lower bike with clip-ons, you may not get enough leverage just by counter-steering and sometimes need to shift your weight inward to help the process. People who have a lot of experience on sportbikes but little experience on more upright bikes don’t realize how much leverage a wide bar can give you.

  17. fred says:

    IMHO, a rider only looks foolish if he crashes. If he makes it home with both himself and the bike fully functional, he did okay. Anytime there are two or more ways to do something, there are multiple arguments on which is best. I tend to be more in agreement with the “lean in” crowd than the “lean out” bunch, but how you ride doesn’t bother me much if you aren’t hurting yourself or others.

    • dp says:

      Well said, Fred. I just add that besides coming home in one piece is a feel of accomplishment, sense of exhilaration. You feel like a man again.

  18. TimC says:

    The riders cited are two racers with their opinion. I guess the best the two sides can do here is agree to disagree, because other professional riders/racers have the opposite opinion.

    From looking at the reasons, to how I feel when doing different things on the bike (which is emphatically not sliding it, so dirt style is right out), I have to go with the latter, opposite opinion.

  19. Grover says:

    I blame Kenny Roberts!

  20. Jabe says:

    I remember watching the great Troy Bayliss (don’t remember the track) flicking his 996 through a very tight chicane in a very dirt bike kind of way while other racers were busy sliding their back sides across the seat from side to the other as the negotiated the turns. Bayliss was (like dirt bikers) rotating the bike under him and minimizing his upper body movement from side to side and in certain parts of the turn put his weight on the “wrong” side of the bike. But because we are talking about Troy Bayliss, this also allowed him to yank the bike back upright and into the next turn. Man did he have that wrong. Not sure why he won that race.

    We have all seen, especially from the younger crowd, the excessive leaning off the bike to the inside of the turn at pathetically slow speeds not even close to the limits of traction. Someday they will grow up or sell their bike after they scare themselves enough.

    I spend as much time on dirt as I do asphalt and my riding style reflects that, it’s kind of a blend of the two as I think it should be. I do enjoy strafing an apex with my body far to the inside of the turn, nothing quite like the sensation when you get it right. But as far as dragging an elbow through the turn, the only times I ever did that I also dragged the rest of my body through it because I got it wrong. Those antics are best saved for the track.

  21. azicat says:

    Speaking of Gabe – I’m still waiting for his Part 5 of the MD Project SV650 article. I’m getting head spins from 5 years of holding my breath 🙂

  22. bmbktmracer says:

    There’s an old adage amongst weight lifters: “No matter how strong you think you are, there’s a teenage Chinese girl warming up at your max.” Same goes for speed. Humility is the only thing saving us from being fools. Criticizing someone’s form based on a snapshot in time is a pretty good indicator that the criticizer isn’t a wise person.

  23. Martin says:

    Years ago I read “Twist of the Wrist” and “Total Control”, and I recall one of those authors talking about traction as a component of suspension, with suspension being most efficient when the bike is upright. If this is the case, leaning your body into the turn while trying to keep the bike as upright as possible would improve suspension and therefore traction. Perhaps this is a function of speed, as the technique is obviously different between superbike and supermoto racing. For me it feels more natural to be half a cheek on the inside of a turn when at a nice pace on a twisty road.

    • todd says:

      Maybe it’s not so simple. When the forks are turned, the wheels are out of line. This misalignment imparts a torsional moment on the frame, twisting it out of shape and its action is less predictable. Controlling your line is likely easier with more lean / less steering input yet keeping the bike perpendicular to the road keeps suspension action normal and predictable as you suggest. All roads are different, some are bumpy requiring suspension compliance and others are smooth but light on traction requiring a tight line and minimal deflection. Each road requires a different approach.

      • Peter says:

        The only way you get lean IS through steering input – countersteering input.

        • todd says:

          Not the only way but, yes, “counter steering” is one way to initiate a lean. Once you ARE leaned over you will notice that the angle that the bars/wheel is turned into the turn is less than if the bike was upright. The less you are leaned over, the more you need to turn your bars to turn the bike. That angle reduces the more the bike is leant over.

  24. Bart says:

    I have been told I look “loose” sometimes on my bike. Tru dat. Adapt to the turn conditions at hand or…fall down/run wide/get launched!

    Dirt or gravel, esp gravel. Some corners can lean the bike in, stay straight with the bike because there is enough traction to support side loads. Other .times (like i a lot and steer it like a car. Front can skid a bit without it turning into a push/tuck, use throttle to bring the rear around a bit to finish the turn.

    When I instructed on track days, I could tell who rode dirt, they would push the bike down into turns. Told them that’s going to work in the morning sessions, but you won’t get away with it if you step up the pace after lunch. I told them when they would crash and in what session. Sad thing is, I was right about that too often!

    Thanks for the reminder about water, Bruce Lee would have been a great rider, RIP.

    Another similar mantra I remember is “when the way ahead is blocked, change.
    Having changed, you pass through.” ~ I Ching

  25. Peter says:

    Dirt riding teaches you that you lean the bike only (keep body upright) so that when you lose the front, you can recover and pull the bike back upright and regain traction. It also keeps more body weight pushing the tire down rather than sideways. In those situations you aren’t clearance or tire limited, but traction limited. Its also helpful in tight uturns when you need the bike to turn quickly, but you are going so slow that the bike would fall to the inside if you didn’t keep your body upright. In general, the more traction I haven, cornering speeds increase and I lean in/hang off more to save some ground clearance “in reserve”. On the street, you may hit a decreasing radius corner or a dip that causes suspension to compress. If you don’t have enough reserve clearance, hard parts drag and you might be unweighting the tires. I’ve crashed from dragging a centerstand that way.

    • azicat says:

      I agree with Peter’s comment. When cornering offroad I steer into the corner and push the bike under me, use more rear brake than front, and unweight the saddle. At higher speeds on sealed public roads I use the knees more to hold body position, slightly lean the upper body into the corner, and countersteer.

    • HalfBaked says:

      In addition to leaning the bike you need to have your inside foot off the peg so that a quick dab will prevent losing the front or rear end. Also your foot off the inside peg facilitates weighting the outside peg.

  26. Neal says:

    I may look foolish but, for me, getting my butt off the seat is one of the big differences between a ride for fun and a ride for transportation. I feel like it’s a technique worth practicing and keeps more rubber on the ground whether I need it or not. More experienced riders can chime in, but I feel like its easier to make adjustments mid corner when I can move the bike around underneath me without my butt attached to it. Practical rationalizations aside, it feels awesome when you get it right.

    • Phil says:

      How you shift your weight is critical… your style in doing so isn’t. Even at low speeds you’re doing it (often without ealising it, and possibly incorrectly)

      Why do you shift your weight? It’s about moving your Centre of Mass around to change the load going through the tyre contact patches. This deforms the tyre slightly (changing its profile) and will assist “turn in” and “turn out”.

      What are you trying to achieve? In theory it’s simple.
      – On corner entry shift your weight to the inside to load the inside of the contact patch. The change in tyre profile will make the bike turn more tightly.
      – In the center of the corner your C of M should be in line with the bikes, going through the center of the contact patches for max grip
      – On corner exit shift your weight to the outside to load the outside of the contact patch. The change in tyre profile will make the bike stand up and run straight.

      While doing this you may have to shift weight forward to load the front wheel (depending on your pace at the time)

      Sounds simple, in theory it is….. but like a golf “swing” you can spend a lifetime trying to perfect it.

  27. downgoesfraser says:

    Agree, A friend told me once that I don’t move on the bike, just sit there and steer. True, riding on the street at a comfortably fast pace, staying in my lane, don’t need to perform gymnastics. If I get into a corner way too hot and things start to drag, then of course I am moving my body over. Spring is almost here in western NY and it takes a couple weeks to become one with the bike and roads are still dirty, so will ride a little slower. Racing is best done on race tracks.

  28. mickey says:

    I agree Dirck. Having ridden on the street for 54 years and raced motocross for 10 years I can tell you without any doubt that there is more than one way to get around a bend. Sometimes it requires dipping your body and sometimes it only requires dipping the inside handlebar.

    and I also agree exaggerated hanging off on a corner that doesn’t require it does look foolish.

    • dp says:

      I did not rack as many years as you did, but have my observations too. After some 35 years I am re-learning how to ride in bends. True, hanging out like monkey on grinder is unnecessary and funny.

      What I do is, I articulate may body at waist side to side with slight lean of chest forward. That keeps me in control and fairly confident that in spite of my age (just 72) I can still handle.

      • A P says:

        100% agree with dp. OF COURSE the extreme body positions used in racing are of little value to street or even most trackday riders. But more moderate positioning can markedly increase bike stability and rider control. The bike responds to rider inputs, INTENTIONAL OR NOT. Keith Code said it best, “when the bike is doing something you don’t like, look back at what you did last…”

        When coaching less experienced riders for pavement riding, I ask them “where is your weight?” Most novice riders just sit on the bike and/or lean on the bars, not ever putting any weight on the pegs (I find being on the balls of my feet works). For me the object of the exercise is to, whenever possible, minimize the amount of weight being fed into the handlebars. This reduces fatigue and unintended steering/throttle/brake inputs. Learning to best position your body/weight on most street/track bikes, shifting your butt/weight SLIGHTLY to the inside peg tends to flexibly secure your lower body to the bike while reducing the amount of weight on the bars. This is NOT Marquez-elbow-down positioning. In fact, I tell novices to just THINK about SLIGHTLY transferring weight to the inside peg just before corner entry and they come back amazed at the “magic”.

        Like dp, 40 years of street (and over a decade of trackdays) has taught me a lot about conserving energy, increasing control while riding briskly. Barring serious health issues, I expect to be riding until they nail the lid on me. At over 65 years old, the fun remains.

        • mickey says:

          Riding on the street everyday taught me a lot. Racing dirt on Sundays every weekend also taught me a lot.

          Street riding made me a better dirt rider. Dirt riding made me a better street rider.

        • Al Banta says:

          I agree with AP and DP, I’m 74 years old and still like to ride “quickly” on the street. I seemed to have learned what to do from trial and error. I probably ride more like Wardy and do occasionally drag a peg but its no big deal, I leave enough room that I can “pick” the bike up a little if necessary, rarely is however.