How to really ride a bike.

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Mr Fast, Sep 30, 2013.

  1. Mr Fast

    Mr Fast Slowly striving

    Aug 21, 2005
    Flagstaff, AZ
    I've seen it seems (notice the rhythm) almost endless threads on how to ride a bike. Counter steering seems to be the big one but from my vantage point I would have to call it it counter bullshit. This esoteric crap is not helping people learn to ride a bike. It's a physical thing. It takes many hours on a bike before you have any ability to go back & reflect on your riding. So at this point I'll say if you want to go right, push right. If you want to go left, push left. What I would like for this thread to do is help Noob's & everyone else to ride a bike. To me, other than a dirt bike, the best way to learn how to ride is at a track day. So, let's go from there. I don't need sarcastic comments from posers with 20,000 posts. If you have that many you don't have time to ride a bike. Keep your comments to Jo Mama. So how do you make a turn? I'll keep it simple & leave it up to others to elaborate. This is old stuff but a few quick comments. The bigger contact patch the more traction you have. In cornering you sacrifice traction with braking. Ideally you don't brake in a corner but with experience you can trailbrake into a corner. The more upright your bike is in a turn the more traction you have & the faster you can go. Learn how to get off of the bike & drag a knee. You can read about that until you are blue in the face but it won't mean much until you do it & I mean time after time. This is something that is easy to say but is dificult in practice.
    I'm going to reveal myself a little bit so that everyone knows where I'm coming from. I'm 65 years old. I'm in damn good shape for an old fart. I enjoy teaching. I club race (road racing) in Albuquerque but live in Arizona. I've raced in Baja. I've raced MX.
    So let's have comments. Not bull shit. Help the Noobs & if your good enuff everyone else!! :clap:clap
  2. Barry

    Barry Just Beastly

    Oct 4, 2002
    Fredericksburg, Va.
    Well that explains everything... this should end well.



    Jul 31, 2008
    @ Barry:

    Perhaps you should keep your sarcasm in check, Sir!

    @ Mr. fast:

    Counter steering is indeed esoteric crap.

    I applaud your honesty. :clap

    I would also suggest n00bs eschew gravity, and embrace levity.

    Intrinsically a simple correlation between gravity

    [as the speed of mass (9.8 m/s)]

    and levity

    [as the speed of light (3.0 x 10^8 m/s)].

    Helps avoid (most) crashes. :muutt
  4. Low Drag

    Low Drag Adventurer

    Jun 25, 2013
    I've had my first motorcycle since April of this year, a KLR 650. Last weekend when coming home from a trail ride in the Rocky Mtns I actually scraped my left boot on the pavement while going through a little traffic circle. Any yes my foot was on the peg.

    I do counter steer to get a turn started. I've head a lot about 'looking through the curve'. I will try to refine that by saying 'actually trace the track/line you want to take through the curve with your eyes'. After the counter steer and you get the lean going roll on the throttle like we all hear about and 'trace your line with your eyes'.

    I've taken the beginner safety class and had the benefit of riding with some guys with lots of experience. I've picked their brains. I 'counter weight' when off road or on gravel roads with my hips and feet as well. I have just started to move the bike under me a lot more when off road as well.

    Hope this fits the bill.
  5. Reduxalicious

    Reduxalicious Been here awhile

    Jan 25, 2013
    Houston, Texas
    I do Indeed, Counter-Steer through corners, When taking a high-speed S curve for Instance---when going left, I'll just gently push the bars to the right, Just enough to lean my bike over and get it started--It's very, Very, VERY! Important that you know how your bike handles and what speeds you can take a corner at---In short, NEVER Ride outside of your skill zone and know the bike--For INSTANCE..

    my 77 KZ can NOT Take the S curves at the same speed at my 08 1200S---The seat on the 1200S Makes it hard to get off my seat to put the knee to the ground, but I'm not one for doing that kind of crap anyway--It'll take a corner at 80 MPH easily with out needing to get the knee down, (RECOMMENDED speed for said corner is 35)

    The one thing that has helped to take corners faster, is ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS keep your eyes pointed to where you want to go, ALWAYS, and you'll make it---Just follow through, I know it's hard at times but you have to do it.

    Also it's good to know your Engine and where the Torque band is--so you can get in the corner and fly out of it.

    That's all I can think of for now.
  6. fallingoff

    fallingoff Banned

    Jun 11, 2011
    syd oz
    mate you seem to be on the right track, pun?
    racing a pushbike you have great background
    as well as mx.
    I think what you should do take your car and bike to a vacant lot.
    park the bike in different spots around the car
    sit on the bike, study the position to the car.
    then sit in the car turn the music up, pretend your lost
    do some texting on your ph. etc,
    then see if you notice the bike.
    just not normal blind spots
    always look for the unexpected.
    dead horse around a blind corner
    plan your actions
    think about where you place your bike on the road
    will they run you over in their car,
    stoping for turns
    stop signs, lights etc.
    I know common sense.
    now practise
    locking up your front wheel
    back as well on some dirt at very slow speed
    feel the point of lockup.
    most of this you know anyway through your life experience.
    but a start
    ok inmates, tear me a new one.
  7. corndog67

    corndog67 Banned

    Jan 24, 2006
    Santa Maria, CA
    Like the OP said, get a dirt bike. Learn to deal with varying traction conditions. Use the front brake. Actually, have someone that knows how to use the front brake, show you how to use the front brake. I see guys on here telling brand new riders to trail brake, but when reading their descriptions on how to do it, they're not doing it right. You're just confusing the new guys by trying to show how much you know.

    Another thing. Practice. Practice. Practice. Don't just putt around looking at the cute little birdies. Get out there and pay attention to what the fuck you are doing. When my wife started riding, she made me extremely nervous, I noticed that she wasn't paying attention to what the fuck was going on out in front of her. She was out having fun, looking around, but not really seeing what was happening. I was very relieved when she scared the shit out of herself, almost missed a turn, locked the front wheel of my Duc about 70mph, but didn't crash. Because she wasn't paying attention. She quit riding right after that, and all I could think of, was her skipping down the freeway, enough so that I didn't argue at all when she decided.
  8. tkent02

    tkent02 Long timer

    Dec 6, 2008
    Littleton, CO
    We don't care about all of that, what oil do you use?
  9. omeoxlv

    omeoxlv Been here awhile

    Jul 20, 2007
    Omeo Region
    Its not getting complicated quickly enough:evil
    The "push the bars" description is really better suited to lower bars I reckon.
    For a combination of higher bars (like older people and adventure bike riders have):D and getting off the bike a bit, the description of what you to to the bars is very well described as "pulling the bike down" into the turn.
    IMHO of course.
  10. anotherguy

    anotherguy unsympathetic

    Jun 18, 2009
    the hills
    Do you pull on the bars to pick it up on exit/transition or push the opposite side?

  11. Wdwrkr

    Wdwrkr Long timer

    Dec 8, 2011
    Lost at sea
    if you want to know how to ride a bike i'll sum it up in one sentence for you.. Keep the wheels facing down... there

    with that said there are many techniques out there and all are right.. I'm a big proponent of going to school.. I personally attend at least one motorcycle training course every year.. some are off road, some on, some track, and every year I learn something new.. I have noticed through the years that most techniques are taught either stopped, or a slow speeds, so slow down, and pay attention to what you are doing.. when you find something that feels right, and works well take note and try it again.. find an empty parking lot and practice, and don't worry about others think when they see you doing it.. they won't be the one in a hospital if you fail to master basic techniques.. counter steering, trail braking, weighting the outside peg... this is all good advice, but won't do you a bit of good if you can't do it properly... riding is something you must do to get proficient at.. i can read a hundred threads on how to do it, but if i don't get off the keyboard and try it you'll always struggle.. some people can learn from reading and then doing,, others need to be physically shown.. figure out how you learn best, then go do it..but remember the only person cheated by not slowing down and paying attention is you..
  12. Mr Fast

    Mr Fast Slowly striving

    Aug 21, 2005
    Flagstaff, AZ
    Hey, this is actually going pretty well. No more sarcasm from Yours Truly. :lol3
  13. Sparrowhawk

    Sparrowhawk Long timer

    Sep 26, 2005
    Eastern Washington, USA
    You got one thing right. Every day on a dirt bike is a track day. The only laws you need to follow off road are the laws of physics. Many off road skills are very valuable on the road while others not so much. Getting used to the bike sliding in a controlled fashion will help on pavement when you've over cooked. On the other hand, foot forward, ass on the tank, and bike down in turns doesn't translate so well.

    It's too bad that in North America there is little opprotunity for on-track practice sessions. We run riders around cones at parking lot speeds and that's all that is available unless a person is willing to travel and spend big bucks.

    A high speed track day is a very good way to increase some skills but it doesn't really match what a person might need in traffic. I spent a few days with the BMW Club of Europe on the Nurburgring a bunch of years ago. Half the time was spent learning the track, best line, braking points, etc. and the other half was spent doing high speed drills. Drills included entering a curve at a designated speed (120 kph) to a cone set along the inside of the curve and then bringing the bike to a stop as short as possible while turning. The initial pace in the turn was about as fast as one might ride on a good canyon road with no traffic or police presence. Stopping in a straight line from a higher speed was also part of the fun. Another drill was riding straight towards a large styrofoam block at speed. A signal with almost no time to react was set to direct you either left or right around the block. Both the track time and running high speed drills were very valuable to everyday riding but for different reasons.

    The skills I learned in the drills came in handy not too much later when I was riding on I-90 over Lookout Pass in Montana's pre speed limit days. Heading home after a long ride, I was leaned way over in one of the glorious sweepers with the sun in my eyes and came on a herd of about 20 elk roaming about on the highway. The skills aquired by braking while leaned and running through styrofoam blocks probably saved both me and a couple of elk.

    A few times a year I will find a deserted country road and practice high speed panic stops. Getting a feel for F/R brake pressure, tire squirm, rear wheel lift, body position, etc. takes time and practice.
  14. Tuna Helper

    Tuna Helper Rawrr!

    Jun 22, 2010
    Red Five standing by
    Is this thread supposed to be fore beginning never been on a bike riders, or those who have experience but want to do track days riders?
  15. Bollocks

    Bollocks Farts with an Accentâ„¢

    Oct 14, 2005
    Watauga lake, 10-E-C
    How's this for basic, you do have to close the throttle a little bit to change gear.
    I know that sound stoopid but most people Learn to drive an automatic car and have no idea how to change gears.
    Edit: the other thing if ya riding thru town below 5 mph don't use the front brake because you run the risk of grabbing it and upsetting the front end just use the rear brake to slow down in traffic and keep with the flow. You have a Nuff on your mind as is.
    If you need to come to a compleat stop use both.
    I think it's 70% front brake 30% back if I remember correctly.
  16. Mr Fast

    Mr Fast Slowly striving

    Aug 21, 2005
    Flagstaff, AZ
    These comments should help any kind of rider. Even remind experienced riders about things they might have forgotten!
  17. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

    Apr 5, 2011
    Western Sierras
    Here is a little technique I learned after 2 decades of street riding:

    In corners, keep your back pointed straight into the corner, and stretch your neck out like you're trying to cross the finish line with your head first. It sounds odd, but let me explain.

    After bumbling along for many years, I bought an Aprilia that inspired me to make more use of what the bike had to offer. My weakest skill was cornering, and my very experienced friend had told me that smoothness brings speed naturally. I tried to take a steady line through corners as I crouched low on the bike, but that wasn't getting me anywhere. I began watching the body position of professional racers, and it looked as if they were attempting to remain ahead of the bike's center of gravity as it pushed them through the corner, rather than hanging from the handlebars.

    I tried it, and walla! smooth, steady corners. I think it has something to do with rotational momentum. Crouched down, the bike is free to wobble about like a figure skater with her arms tucked in. With my body stretched ahead of the bike's center of mass, no wobble. Works for me, give it a try.
  18. dirty_t

    dirty_t Been here awhile

    Mar 19, 2007
    Not sure what the smiley is for 'reinventing the wheel' - but if there was one for that I'd insert it on this thread.

    There is so much information on this topic - even the simple topic of how to corner properly - that you could probably write a book about it. Oh, wait a minute. There *is* a book about it.Yes! Although it might forestall a good deal of snarking, sniping and mudslinging, a n00b could just pick up a copy of David Hough's most excellent book, Proficient Motorcycling, dip in and read up on whatever topic they happen to be wondering about, then go out and put a couple hundred (or thousand) miles of seat time in, working on whatever lesson they happened to read about.

    Do that for 20 years or so, along with some track days and dirt riding, and you might just start getting the hang of this.

    Details here:

    PS - anyone who sets 'dragging knee' as a goal for themselves is a poseur, imho. The goal should be cornering as fast and smoothly as possible. If get good at this, one day you may find your knee dragging (please tell me it was on a track, not on the street). :lurk
  19. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

    Nov 28, 2006
    By the Great Lakes
    This just sounds closed-minded to me. Have you stopped learning?
  20. erkmania

    erkmania Last of the red hot left pipers

    Mar 19, 2004
    San Diego, CA
    I guess that all of us want to be Zen Masters of riding a motorcycle and we each have our take on how motorcycles should be ridden. I expect that many respondents are accomplished riders and can bury a peg or broadslide at-will when circumstances dictate.

    The key is to know WHEN and WHERE one should position their body a particular way for any given turn. This depends on the surface, the terrain and the turn. There's no doubt that we each want to take a turn at the maximum velocity that doesn't compromise our safety or well-being. Crashing sucks, hurts and costs; bike, ego and/or body. Maximum velocity feels good and we each have a maximum built into us.


    1 - The cops lean the bike under them during low speed drills just like dirt bike riders. I figure they do that because they are on top of the bike during maneuvers and if the bike losses (loses-spelling) traction then they remain on top of the bike instead of being pinned underneath.

    2 - Dirt bike riders remain on top of their leaned bikes for the same reason so long as the terrain is level. In a steep berm then they are liable to lean into the turn when they feel that traction is secure. Watch SuperMoto and see how those competitors may do it both ways by leaning in or over the top of their bikes

    3 - Asphalt riders are encouraged to lean inward of the leaning bike because of the prodigious traction. They sacrifice the safety of being on top of the bike, mid-turn, in exchange for the added safety of not dragging hard parts.

    I'm being very brief here, but riding a motorcycle doesn't have a fixed manor (manner-spelling) in which to be ridden. There is a continuum and that continuum depends on the type of turn and what it is composed of.

    Adventure riders may experience the broadest range of conditions. As such, a good overall rider must know when to hang-off or when to ride on top of the pony.

    Proper riding isn't fixed in a singular protocol, it's based on the conditions and riding comprises a continuum. I think that is why SO much confusion exists on how to ride a motorcycle visa vie, 'should I counter-steer'?

    Well, depends...

    That's my take and I have been safe and excited for many years.