Afraid of downhill twisties

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by GypsyWriter, Jul 27, 2014.

?

Have you always liked the twisties?

  1. Yes, they're the best part of motorcycling!!

  2. Yes, they're fun but I enjoy other aspects more

  3. Not always, but I've learned how to manage them well

  4. They're not my favorite part of riding

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  1. GypsyWriter

    GypsyWriter Yup, I'm a girl.

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    So, I hate twisties. Not the lazy kind that wind through many national parks or foothills, but the supposedly "fun" kind that require yellow-diamond speed warnings. The kind motorcycle folks love to travel to on weekends to rip it up and have fun.

    The worst though? Anything downhill. :cry Switchbacks are definitely the worst; I hate the feeling of not being in control, and speed (slow or fast) doesn't seem to make a difference.

    I've never had a track day and do want to try if only to practice in a "safe" environment, but I'm hoping y'all have some advice? I've been riding now for nearly six years and only just got myself a "light" street bike (DRZ-SM) but it sadly doesn't feel any better than my 1200GS. I'm squaring away the suspension on the SM in hopes that'll make everything feel better, but what would you recommend for me to get past this problem? I honestly hoped a lighter bike would make me feel more confident, but I still felt squirrelly in those tight turns especially downhill.

    Please tell me I'm not alone here.....
    #1
  2. XtreemLEE

    XtreemLEE insignificant being...

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    I get uneasy when the I don't have the bike under power. Try downshifting so the engine braking has got you going into the corner. Maybe having the throttle under your direct control will help:ricky
    #2
  3. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

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    The attitude of the bike doesn't help. Put a 21" wheel on the front of the SM and it'll probably feel a lot happier.

    My DL 650 is in it's happy place screaming into a downhill turn, front knobs shuddering and the rear wheel 4" off the deck - with a couple of litre sports bikes chasing me. Power doesn't make as much difference going downhill, and the geometry means it doesn't feel like I'll turn into a lawn dart if I use too much brake.

    The DL is the best 'downhill' bike I've ridden, a mates Touno the worst, hit the brakes on that and the rear wheel would lift going uphill, even on moderate downhill slopes it was terrifying.

    So, no, not JUST you. The SM setup is likely making it feel worse.

    Some of this is experience but finding a bike that isn't intrinsically scary downhill and riding that for a couple of days will likely help a lot even on your existing bikes.

    Pete
    #3
  4. JohnCW

    JohnCW Long timer

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    My take just on what you've posted, if you've only been riding a heavy bike for the past 6 years you've never actually learned how to ride. Please don't take this the wrong way, I'm truly only trying to be helpful. You've likely picked up really bad habits that you need to undo just to get back to square one.

    A small supermoto is an ideal bike to learn on. Connect with someone who can help you, or go to a training school. Be prepared to go back to basics. If you feel out of control going downhill through tight twisties on a small supermoto, you are out of control. Learn to be totally in control and you'll soon realize why so many enjoying this aspect being a test of their skill.

    You're not enjoying it because your skills are inadequate, as simple as that. I ride with a lot of older age 'returning riders'. They haven't ridden for 30 years and go buy the bike of their dreams, often a GS, HD, or big tourer. They struggle and never really get good. The best advice I saw for someone wanting to get back into riding and wondering how, do it exactly the same way you learned in the first place, a small lightweight good handling bike. Only when you've mastered that think of moving up.
    #4
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  5. Tim_Tom

    Tim_Tom Long timer

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    There is nothing wrong with your bike. Putting on a 21" front will not make you feel in control on tight switchbacks.

    Setting your suspension up will not transform your riding either.

    If you don't feel in control of the motorcycle you are not doing something right. Go take an advanced riders class. Look up the Total Control book by Lee Parks, or Keith Code's Twist of the Wrist. Educate yourself on how to ride properly.

    The most important upgrade you can do on a bike is the nut connecting the seat to the handlebars :wink:

    I hope my post does not offend you, but not feeling in control of a motorcycle is dangerous and fundamentally wrong. Take the time to learn, when you feel confident with your switchbacks then you can think about doing some track time.
    #5
  6. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

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    Obviously, I disagree, some bikes are better than others downhill.

    If you are already nervous, riding a bike that's front biased doesn't help.

    Yeah, having leet skilz, well, yeah, it's not an issue, but the trick is getting there.

    Pete
    #6
  7. catweasel67

    catweasel67 RD04

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    Personally I doubt if it's the bike but rather a case of taking on too much, too soon. My suggestion would be to slow things right now - pick a quiet day on a nice gentle hill, the less traffic the better and go it them at 1/2 to 1/3rd speed limit whilst making sure you can always stop in the distance you can see. Go slower if you want to, but don't go faster. Find your comfort zone (which will change the more experience you have). Keep telling yourself to relax, make sure you're not gripping the bars too tight, instead use your knees and keep your upper body nice and loose. And keep telling yourself to relax (yep, I said that twice),

    Oh, before you go, make sure your tyre pressures are OK and have a glance as your suspension. Give the brakes a once over the usual thing but the tyre pressures are probably the most critical thing to check.
    #7
  8. scfrank

    scfrank Old farts riding club.

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    Get a dirt bike. Learn to ride it.

    Like these other guys, not trying to be a smart ass. Take some advanced riding classes. MSF ERC for a start. Its about skill and confidence. I understand your comments. Been there. Still visit there sometimes. Its about knowing what to do, training is the answer. A training class at a track would be good, you dont have to intend to go racing. Should be a lot available in CA,
    #8
  9. atomicalex

    atomicalex silly aluminum boxes

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    I voted wrong.

    I actually like downhill twisties now, but it took a while. I know where you are coming from. My run down the Prato side of Stelvio was terrifying until I hit the tree line and stopped looking around. The looking around was what was doing me in!

    What helped me was learning to lean into the turn - not just to the side like "normal", but also forward over the front wheel. Once I got my weight better positioned, it became like skiing and a whole lot easier to control the bike. Put my weight back to normal riding position or try to sit up straight (leaning back going downhill), and uh-oh, not good.... It seems counterintuitive, but give it a try. It will improve your control and increase your fun.

    Let us know if that helps.
    #9
  10. unstable

    unstable Banned

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    getting a dirtbike and learning to ride in the dirt is the best way to learn to ride a motorcyle
    weight on the outside peg and outside elbow up
    both elbows up at all times weight forward practice pushing on the tank with inner knees
    initiate these turns with a hard countersteer and sometimes a counterlean(lean the bike more than the body)
    when doing a steep downhill on a dirtbike and standing on the pegs it is just like snow skiing
    #10
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  11. Prettyboy

    Prettyboy BFLB

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    I love twisties, up or down. That said, the first time I (being a flatlander of the East Coast variety) encountered a set of downhill switchbacks, it was terrifying. You can check out my Bayou Bound ride report to see my impressions of that. As I got a bit more practice, it got much more fun.
    #11
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  12. Andyvh1959

    Andyvh1959 Cheesehead Klompen

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    I learned to love the hilly twisties of south central Missouri, but it took time and miles. But most of all, rider training will help a lot! Maybe consider taking a trip to attend the John Ford rider class that actually takes place in hilly twisty country. A track day would help, or take a rider course like the Lee Parks Total Control.
    #12
  13. Merlin III

    Merlin III Long timer

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    I always think of myself as downhill skiing when doing twisties in the downhill direction. It is fun and there is no fear, but I never ski or ride out of my comfort zone, if I can help it. The only thing that freaks me out sometimes is when the sight distance is shorter than my ability to see what is ahead especially on new to me roads.
    #13
  14. simonpig

    simonpig droppin' jewels

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    What he said. Weight a little forward helps for sure. It will help the front settle and bite into the turn. Also gives you front end feedback. Many people, myself included when I was starting out, are not aware of this, but a bad habit for many is when things get scary they scoot /weight back on their seat and drop their elbows - both on or off road. Bad body position will not allow to control the bike.
    #14
  15. aldend123

    aldend123 Long timer

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    Try to kiss the mirror, and work on staying calm to prevent locking your arms. I think Simon's on to something about sitting too far back.

    Any chance you're a really big person? Maybe the slope combined with your weight is flatting the front suspension?
    #15
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  16. dhally

    dhally Hammerhead

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    If you don't like going fast around corners, go slow. Ride your own ride. The whole point of riding is to have fun. IMO fear isn't fun.
    #16
  17. scfrank

    scfrank Old farts riding club.

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    Lots of good advice. Primary -- look where you want to go, down the road, not over the cliff. When I find myself uncomfortable I think of that.
    #17
  18. steve68steve

    steve68steve Long timer

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    Use your brakes.

    ;)
    #18
  19. SkiFastBadly

    SkiFastBadly A beer? Yes, please

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    Exactly so. Beginning skiiers lean backwards and hence don't get the bite of the edges that one needs to execute a turn under control. Also, beginning skiers are scared that they're going to get going too fast and won't be able to stop. Same with a bike. You need to get your weight over the front of the bike, and you need to practice stopping going downhill. Once you are confident in your ability to slow the bike going down hill, you'll stop worrying about gaining speed and things will fall into place.

    When I was living in Utah I had an acquaintance with whom I both skied and rode. He was a crappy skier and a crappy downhill rider, and it never occurred to him that the reasons for both were the same. Weirdly, he was a great downhill mountain bike rider....
    #19
    mixed likes this.
  20. MauiCowie

    MauiCowie Been here awhile

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    Never had an issue with leaning back. I lean forward and into the turn whether it's down flat or up.
    #20