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Old 04-27-2013, 07:17 PM   #1
jnclem OP
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Tips For Downhill Cornering

I started riding motorized two wheelers again last fall, after about 30 years of on and off road bicycling. Let me say that I'm 55 years old, and not at all interested in setting any speed records. My interest in riding is doing a lot of dual sport miles here in western Colorado, enjoying myself, and becoming a smooth, safe rider, and doing some longer cross-country tours.

I guess I have put on about 3500 miles since I got my GS last September. It has been a blast, and I learn a lot every time I get it out. Today was the first time this year that I had enough confidence in the weather to take a longer ride outside of our valley, which always requires crossing some high passes. It was a beautiful day and a great ride.

But, what I'm noticing is that I am much more confident going up passes than descending. The roads are in good shape, but being Spring, you always have the possibility of sandy patches, snowmelt running across the road and carrying debris, and rocks coming down, just around any corner, not to mention the yahoos that don't seem to realize there are two lanes on road.

I know the physics of why downhill cornering robs us of more front wheel traction, but I am looking for any techniques that you all use for better downhill cornering on pavement or dirt. I find myself tightening up, going slower, and having to consciously relax and concentrate much more on technique when descending. I am better on right handers than left too. Granted, the consequences for mistakes on our bigger passes can be pretty severe, but I know i can improve a lot. Again, Speed is not realy my goal, smoothness and confidence are, and I don't want to be an obstacle either.

Sorry for the long post - any advise?
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Old 04-28-2013, 03:41 AM   #2
PeterW
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Different bike ?

Sorry, I know exactly what you mean and most of the bikes I've owned have felt the same. The one I own now - just doesn't.
It's perfectly happy cornering and braking downhill on sealed roads even in really crappy conditions. Well, at least, the rider feels comfortable.

Even there, steep dirt downhills are nasty

I'd guess it's mostly a seating position/geometry thing, so you might be able to make it less bad by fiddling with the ergomics - but other than 'not all bikes are like that' I don't have anything specific.

Pete
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Old 04-28-2013, 05:00 AM   #3
guitarhack
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It sounds to me like you are just exhibiting good common sense.
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Old 04-28-2013, 05:18 AM   #4
joef
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My Multi corners differently down hill as opposed to up hill, braking force's change, geometry changes, front end compresses more and the rear has less weight on it while braking down hill. I feel the difference and my approach to up hill and down hill turns changes
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Old 04-28-2013, 05:41 AM   #5
jnclem OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterW View Post
Different bike ?

Sorry, I know exactly what you mean and most of the bikes I've owned have felt the same. The one I own now - just doesn't.
It's perfectly happy cornering and braking downhill on sealed roads even in really crappy conditions. Well, at least, the rider feels comfortable.

Even there, steep dirt downhills are nasty

I'd guess it's mostly a seating position/geometry thing, so you might be able to make it less bad by fiddling with the ergomics - but other than 'not all bikes are like that' I don't have anything specific.

Pete
I don't think the bike is having any problems, I think I am just not as comfortable with the feel of downhill cornering as uphill. The feel is dramatically different on any kind of two wheel vehicle I have ever ridden. It has to do with so much more weight on the front as opposed to the back.

I just thought maybe my positioning should be different or something, but I probably just need more time and experience.
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Old 04-28-2013, 07:21 AM   #6
joexr
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If you're not , you should be against the tank , more weight on front , not sitting back. Been riding for 43 years.

joexr screwed with this post 04-28-2013 at 09:03 AM
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Old 04-28-2013, 08:09 AM   #7
anotherguy
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The beggest problem I see riders doing is coasting through the corners on the brakes overloading the front wheel's traction. Turn up the loud switch,even just a little and gear down to use compression braking. There's usually more traction than you think there is. Technique (or the lack of) robs you of traction. When you have to brake do so with force appropriate to the situation.

Have you tuned/set up the suspension yet? That is the key to just about everything. If the bike works well it frees the mind to do what it needs to do.

Start slow but using correct cornering technique and the speed/confidence will come.
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Old 04-28-2013, 08:38 AM   #8
Madrox
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Loosen up, get your weight on the back of the bike and make sure you're not carrying any weight on the handlebars. Enter the corners slower than usual and accelerate harder through them; this will transfer more weight to the back (larger contact patch) and make the bike much more stable. When you're going down hill there's more weight on the front tire (smaller contact patch, much easier to overload) than on the back which introduces instability. Rear grip is also reduced substantially because of this. If you're tight on the bars all imperfections the front tire encounters will be amplified through your body and sent through the entirety of the bike. With the front tire beyond ideal 40/60 loading already the bike will feel very unsettled. Your natural reaction will be to back off the throttle which transfers even more weight to the front causing the bike to stand up and run wide.

Short answer: Consciously relax, loosen up, slow in, fast out.

Edit: Also make sure you're in the right gear, it will help a lot.

And a demonstrative youtube video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ncgT008MxI
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Old 04-28-2013, 09:35 AM   #9
joexr
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Is that a BMW GS in that video?
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Old 04-28-2013, 09:41 AM   #10
Madrox
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The physics are the same whether it's a MotoGP bike or a giant bagger. I couldn't think of a better corner than the corkscrew.
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Old 04-28-2013, 10:35 AM   #11
joexr
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The weight bias is much different. Best handling is front weight bias. Sorry , don't have a video to show.
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Old 04-28-2013, 11:10 AM   #12
Madrox
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The Motogp bike has more weight up front so it can turn in much more quickly and is more stable under hard acceleration. The fact still stands that the bike is most stable with a weight distribution of roughly 40/60. When going downhill more of the weight will shift to the front putting more load on the smaller contact patch making it much easier to overload both tires. You have to counteract this as a rider by getting more weight back onto the rear tire to keep it stable.
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Old 04-28-2013, 11:15 AM   #13
joexr
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You really don't know what you're talking about.
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Old 04-28-2013, 11:23 AM   #14
benzbaron
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I was going to hold back a bit but I have run fast downhill before and find that trail braking with just the rear brake can help set the bike through the curve. Trail braking might not be a good way to control speed but if you come into a downhill curve a bit too fast trailing the rear brake through the beginning of the corner and you won't get the imbalance associated with applying the front brake while turning. I chewed through a set of pads trail braking down the east side of Palomar mountain in san diego area.

I'm still figuring out riding techniques so don't know if this is the best way. I figure if the traction circle remains the same between cars and bikes the fastest line through a curve involves overlapping braking/turning, pure turning, and turning/acceleration.
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Old 04-28-2013, 11:32 AM   #15
Madrox
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joexr View Post
You really don't know what you're talking about.
Enlighten me then if you feel my understandings of physics and motorcycle dynamics are that wrong.
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