Does bike weight affect stability in wind?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by ABChaos, Nov 18, 2013.

  1. ABChaos

    ABChaos Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 27, 2013
    Oddometer:
    53
    Location:
    Boulder CO
    Hey All,

    I currently ride a 2007 BMW 650 Dakar. I LOVE this bike because it's light and easy to maneuver. But, yesterday I was riding on the rode in high winds and almost got knocked over multiple times (scary!).

    Would a heavier bike keep this from happening? For quite a while I've been eying a bmw 800, KTM 950 or 990.

    Suggestions?
    #1
  2. Tallbastid

    Tallbastid Let's get tropical

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,509
    Location:
    Northern VT
    My DRZ is a kite in the wind, and my VFR is hardly effected. I would say weight certainly makes a difference. I would also argue sitting straight up on a tall-suspended DS bike makes a bigger difference. It's all about the surface area.
    #2
  3. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2010
    Oddometer:
    6,914
    Location:
    Southern New Jersey
    Yes, lots of weight helps.
    You could bolt on an anvil, that way you could remove it for when its not windy instead of having to ride around with all the weight all the time.
    #3
  4. LittleRedToyota

    LittleRedToyota Yinzer

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2,861
    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    stick out your knee in the direction the wind is coming from. makes a big difference.

    but, as tallbastid noted, the DRZ is like a kite in the wind. weight is definitely a factor, as is form. the DRZ is a tall, relatively flat from the side bike that also puts you in an upright riding position...basically, it's a sail.

    but i do find that sticking my knee into the wind helps a lot on my DRZ. also, i ride on whatever side of the lane the wind is coming from just to give myself some margin in case the wind does actually push me sideways a bit.
    #4
  5. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    6,464
    Location:
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    yes so does aero profile of bike .. two days ago R80G/S heavily loaded saddle bags rode from Tulsa to Stroud in gusting head/side winds. a trip that normally takes about an hour .. took 2+ hours. pulled over lots to let cars by .. couldn't go near the 65mph speed limits.
    #5
  6. SloMo228

    SloMo228 World Class Cheapass

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,867
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    Weight is a factor, but it's not the only one. I'm not even entirely sure it's the biggest factor. I find my DR350 to be fairly susceptible to side winds, and it weighs in around 300 pounds. A fully-faired GL1500 SE tops the 800-pound mark, and after having ridden one, I can't say that it's all that stable in the wind. In fact, it can get downright sketchy, especially when you get caught in the wake of a semi trailer.

    On the other hand, I used to own a cafe'd GL1000 that weighed in around 550 pounds and it was the most stable bike I've ever ridden in high crosswind situations, despite being right in the middle of the DR and 1500 weight-wise. Part of that, I'm sure, is because of the smaller area vs. the GL1500 and lower COG vs. the DR, but it's just an example to show that weight doesn't tell the whole story.

    Bike aerodynamics, weight, and suspension geometry/setup, and weight distribution all play a part in how much a bike is affected by wind. How they all work together and which factor is most important, I don't know, but I do know from experience you can't just look at the weight alone.
    #6
  7. MotoTex

    MotoTex Miles of Smiles

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,943
    Location:
    Tool Shed
    I think the size of the gyros may be a greater factor than just overall weight. Bigger bikes have bigger tires and offsetting a bigger gyro takes more force.

    It always confuses me when I hear folks talking about how the wind blows them around. It is seldom an issue for me and I think that using the bars to respond to gusting winds is why. This is what I would call "active counter-steering" and it is an effective way to deal with gusts. I've been doing it for so long this way that it became automatic for me.

    When riding in gusting crosswinds rarely will I deviate from my place in the lane, though my lean angle changes. As long as I have adequate traction I'll use the bars to maintain my lane position, even in hard, fast gusts whether I'm on the DRZ or something larger.

    Practice pressing forward a little on the bar on the side the wind is pushing from to keep the wheels tracking in about the same place in the lane and you can make it a habit.

    Give this technique a whirl in the next wind you encounter. :D

    Granted, there was one time coming out of Houston as a Hurricane was coming in where I hydroplaned in a strong crosswind and was blown across two lanes of I-10. That was the worst I've experienced. Once traction is gone all bets are off. In that instance I rolled off the throttle to get the tires back onto the road and made my way onto the service road. Fun, fun, fun.
    #7
  8. Martin_404

    Martin_404 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2013
    Oddometer:
    63
    The Dutch on avarege are very tall people, compared to for instance Americans.
    With that in mind, other Dutch people generally think I'm a big broad-shouldered guy.
    I beleive this provides more stability than the weight of my bike. (1200 Super Tenere)

    A smaller, thinner person would be able to get in big trouble on the same bike, in even moderate winds.
    #8
  9. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2011
    Oddometer:
    9,877
    Location:
    Western Sierras
    And I thought I was the only one who did this. It sounds weird, but works very well.

    I think weight and amount of fairing on the bike are the two biggest factors. My Ninja 636 was the worst I've ever experienced, being blown a full lane by a gust. My XL600 weighed about the same, but was slightly better because the wind could blow through it. My boss did even better on his KLR650.

    My 410 lb Dorsoduro, a naked supermoto, is pretty good in the wind. When I have my aerodynamic saddlebags on, I see a huge improvement. The only way I can explain it is that they act like feathers on an arrow to keep the bike going straight.

    I'm guessing the two KTMs would still feel some buffeting due to the fairings. A 950 Super Enduro would probably do well, as would the BMW 800.
    #9
  10. devo2002

    devo2002 -Devo

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    4,043
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Yes weight does have an effect, why wouldn't it?

    However, unless I lived in an incredibly windy location and dealt with this all the time, I would not buy a bigger bike just so the windy days are more manageable.

    If possible, shift down a gear or two for more centrifugal force, helped some on the Strom.
    #10
  11. Reduxalicious

    Reduxalicious Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2013
    Oddometer:
    139
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Going to say no, Just because on a really windy day my KZ gets thrown around a lot, but my Guzzi stays on track.. The KZ weighs (I think) 590ish, Wet, And the Guzzi weighs 538 Wet.
    #11
  12. 2tallnwide

    2tallnwide Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,582
    Location:
    Nature Coast, Florida
    Yep, and then factor in the rider size, weight, wind direction, gusts, terrain, etc, and it can alter all of that other stuff as well. :lol3

    Personally I think weight helps as long as it doesn't increase the mass too much. Not just with the bikes either, being broad in the shoulders can offset my added weight (for stability) at times I'm sure.

    Just thinking about this I am recalling a video of an 18 wheeler being blown over on the interstate while the much lighter cars around it appeared not to have an issue. :deal

    Passing an 18 wheeler on the GS during gusty winds was interesting to say the least. I didn't mind being blown away from them nearly as much as the feeling of being drawn into them. I try to leave as much of a gap between myself, and anything bigger than me like that, coming or going.
    #12
  13. joexr

    joexr Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2011
    Oddometer:
    3,773
    Location:
    You're Mama
    Going faster helps more than going slower.
    #13
  14. Warin

    Warin Retired

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2012
    Oddometer:
    2,426
    Mass? Meaning? Weight...

    I think you meant surface area... but mass means weight (for common people).

    ===================
    More weight helps in a cross wind by slowing the effect, thus giving you more time to react. The weight also helps by reducing the amount of lean you need to create a counter force.
    #14
  15. trc.rhubarb

    trc.rhubarb ZoomSplat!

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2,063
    Location:
    Concord, CA
    Real wind... those that live in the east sf bay know 680 from Benicia to Fairfield. Some people refuse to ride that stretch after doing it once.

    Harley is like a tank and is rarely affected
    GS feels like the front end is lifting and sometimes can move some - not getting stiff arms is key
    R90 doesn't notice the wind at all, strange. Even less so than the Harley.
    Duc - I think it almost flew off the Dumbarton bridge on Saturday. It's like a kite but a very pretty Italian one :lol3

    I'm pretty sure they are listed in order of weight - high to low.
    I find speeding up makes it more stable... some theorize the airstream making a 'bubble' that helps... I envision that bubble is still subjected to the same side loads and it's just a gyro thing. If it's a gryo thing, wheel weight in order high to low fits the profile. Harley, R90, GS, Duc

    I've only ever pulled over once in about ridiculous winds on the backside of Tehachapi... that was brutal.
    #15
  16. 2tallnwide

    2tallnwide Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,582
    Location:
    Nature Coast, Florida
    In the redneck dictionary, mass relates to size, as in massive. :lol3

    At least you figured out what I was trying to say. I ain't the most educated old roughneck fer sure...:D
    #16
  17. henshao

    henshao Bained

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2013
    Oddometer:
    630
    Location:
    The Commonwealth
    the only way you can change the weight without increasing the mass is to change the gravity of the planet :deal
    #17
  18. scootrboi

    scootrboi Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,716
    Location:
    Bisbee, AZ
    The height of the center of mass has a strong effect. When a top heavy bike tips in the wind, that is an effort to correct. On my bike the weight is so low that when it is hit hard it bobs like one of those punch 'em clowns. Despite the small wheels the corrections are effortless. The low mass is ballast and it is a lighthearted experience.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/29821169@N06/8482355050/sizes/c/in/photostream/
    #18
  19. Tripped1

    Tripped1 Likely Lost.

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    8,229
    Location:
    Nippon

    It varies wildly bike to bike, long trail, shallow raked bikes skate around less in the wind then short/steep bikes.

    I used to live in New Mexico where the winds were +40mph straightline for weeks at a time in the afternoon, its a learned art. My Speed Triple has a steeper head angle then a lot of GSXRs, it really gets kicked around, the trick is getting low over the tank and just staying loose and fast, more fast, more stable, My ex's sportster was pretty easy in the wind, for all I hated the foreward controls, her Ultra has a fucking wrestling match, that head mounted bat-wing made dealing with heavy wind a fucking wrestling match with a near 900 pound bear.

    My 675 is actually easier to ride in the wind considering its near 100 pound weight advantage, everything happens so fast on that thing that most wind is dealt with at on the pegs, there is little actual steering input required.
    #19
  20. farqhuar

    farqhuar Lone Wolf

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,268
    Location:
    Melbun, Oztralia
    I own many bikes, including a ZN1300 Kawasaki Voyager 6 cylinder. The Voyager is the one most susceptible to side winds - scarily so - even though it weighs 1,000 pound unloaded.

    So no, more weight most definitely does not imply less susceptibility to side gusts. I think the key ingredient is side surface area. The Voyager has a massive fairing, panniers and top box - in the manual it even states that you will have more problems in wind than a regular bike.
    #20