Proper technique in the twisties?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by -Q-, Mar 4, 2003.

  1. -Q-

    -Q- Adventurer

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    Hey everybody,
    I'm constantly trying to improve on my riding skills. Now that I think I have the blipping down. I came to wonder if I am using the proper technique when going through the twisties.
    I know of three ways to go about this, and I'm sure that there should be an ideal way with this type of bike. The first, which I don't think is right is the way someone would take a curb on a racing bike: body of rider towards the inside of the turn and obviously the bike closer to centerline than rider's body. (personally I can't see someone in a GS doing this, and not looking goofy).
    Second is something that motocross riders and enduro riders tend to do: leaning the bike into the curb and the body closer to centerline. This seems a quick way to maneuver the bike back and forth, but still for some reason I am not totally convinced with this approach.
    Finally, the one which seems to make the most sense, or I think looks the coolest at least is when the body leans with the bike and the rider's head remains vertical. (If I'm not mistaken there is a great shot of Fish in the gallery doing this on a tight turn).
    Is this the proper technique for all circumstances or would it be proper to combine techniques 2 and 3 depending on the situation?
    Also, what is the ideal thing to do when you shoot into a curb and suddenly find that it is tighter than you thought (aside from pooping your pants and praying for a miracle :(: )

    Thanks for any advice,
    -Q-
    #1
  2. iillyyaa

    iillyyaa Adwrenchurer!

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    Leaning:
    For most kinds of riding under most circumstances it's best to let your body lean with the bike. Counter-leaning the head to keep your eyes parallel to the pavement is just a way to help your vestibular apparatus and cognitive system cope with the task at hand. The less things change, the better, so keep your head leveled. (Ever try to drive a car with your head leaning to the side? If you crash, don't say I told you to do so.)

    Leaning your body more than the bike (sliding the butt/knee into the turn) is a way to combat insufficient clearance between the pavement and parts of the bike. If you don't scrape centerstand/heads, you don't really need this technique.

    Leaning your body to the outside of the turn is a good way to do small direction changes (such as avoiding small obstacles on the pavement) or traversing shallow rapid snake-turns. When you lean the bike but keep your body straight, it's like you're borrowing against future turning ability to make a quicker immediate turn. Think about the dynamics of the bike/rider system in a turn, and you'll understand what I mean.

    Another reason to lean to the outside is to increase the lean angle of the bike so it's easier to break traction at the rear wheel by using throttle to "back" the bike into a turn. AKA powerslide. It's usually accompanied by sticking the leg out and carrying your foot near or on the ground, to help control the slide at the limit. It's not something I'd recommend doing on the GS unless you've got a lot of practice on a lighter bike. Even then it's not the best technique for the GS, because a) the rider's weight is a lot less significant in relation to the bike's weight, reducing the effectiveness of this technique; and b) if it starts going down will you be able to hold it up with one leg? (I didn't think so.)

    Going in too hot:
    Not pooping and praying, but relaxing and thinking. If you are already in the turn, then try to lean it even further. Don't brake if you're at full lean - you'll need all the traction you can get (as if it isn't obvious.) The upside is that the amount of grip is going to surprise you and you're gonna get a nice adrenaline jolt, the downside is that you might lowside, which in most situations proabbly better than running out of asfalt - with guard rails, sheer drop-offs, oncoming cars, et. al.

    If you are still on the approach to the turn and haven't started leaning yet, then try to brake as hard as you can before starting the lean. It's important that the transition from braking to leaning be smooth, so don't release the brakes all of a sudden, but gradually, almost trailing them into the turn. (This is A LOT more important on bikes with traditional forks in the front, and especially with soft suspension, but it still applies to BMW.)

    Best advise is ride and learn. Experiment under controlled circumstances. Approach or even push the boundaries. In the end it's not something you read somewhere on the web that is going to save you from a fall, but your familiarity with the feeling of the particular situation and reflexive knowledge of the technique, whether perfect or not.

    Cheers!
    --
    Ilya

    P.S.: You also want to keep your body near the center of gravity of the bike. That way if the rear starts sliding less momentum is accumulated, and it will be easier to compensate. This means moving closer to the front of the seat/hugging the tank.

    I don't actually fully comprehend this last advise, but take it as a given since I heard it from Eric Woods at one of the racing school track days. He seems to think it is very important (and who am I to doubt him?), but I can't unambiguously explain it to myself.
    #2
    messes and malmon like this.
  3. kirkmoon

    kirkmoon Making up for lost youth

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    Ilya -

    Nice post! Great explanation.

    Moon Man
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  4. Guzz

    Guzz Gutless wonder

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    Excellent discription!

    Just want to add, to tell if you did everything perfectly...
    1. You are out of the turn and going straight (still on two wheels).
    2. You are going faster than when you entered the turn.
    3. You have an incredible adrenaline rush with your heart going 100 mph.
    4. You're thinking "How the hell did I do that!?!?!?!"

    You have just done your perfect high speed twisty. Now try to do it again!
    #4
  5. MikeO

    MikeO Long timer Supporter

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    Nice post Ilya. The number of times I've followed a student or test candidate into a bend and watched them sit up, brake, snake about, lean it over again and wobble out of the bend:rofl

    I pull 'em over and ask what went wrong. 'Misjudged it, I was too fast', they'll say. 'No,' I say 'because despite everything you did to try to make that bike crash, it still went round - imagine how much sweeter it would've been if you'd kept your bottle & stayed with it..'


    MikeO
    #5
  6. iillyyaa

    iillyyaa Adwrenchurer!

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    :rofl :rofl :nod :thumb
    Do you mind if I quote you on occasion?
    --
    Ilya
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  7. pierce

    pierce Ex Tourer

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    thats a good technique for very low speed very sharp turns, such as U turns, parking lots, etc. it allows you to execute a tighter radius than the bike would otherwise at very low speeds.
    #7
  8. -Q-

    -Q- Adventurer

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    iillyyaa,
    Couldn't have asked for a better reply!! I'll keep those tips in mind on Saturday's outing.
    Thanks
    #8
  9. iillyyaa

    iillyyaa Adwrenchurer!

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    I'm glad. Push limits, be careful, don't sue me, and enjoy it! :D
    --
    Ilya
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  10. turkish

    turkish Long timer

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    The motocross/motard approach seems to work pretty well on my GS. It's an ADV and has lots of ground clearance, so I don't need to hang off like one would on a sport bike.

    Another reason I like the motard style is that my bike isn't completely neutral in turns. Once it gets past a certain amount of lean, it tends to drop in towards the turn even more and I have to balance it out a little to hold the line. I think this is a normal property of Tourances (tires). Since the bike drops in on its own, it's easier for me to counterbalance it if I'm upright--hence the motard style. I don't stick my inside leg out though since I couldn't hold the bike up anyway and I've learned that brusing my shin on the big OEM crash bars is painful.

    Backing a GS into a turn works surprisingly well. I don't leave big darkies going in, but the dual-sport tires let go easily and it's fun to play with the traction. If you get into trouble, just whack the throttle and you'll be fine. Oh, and don't forget to turn off the ABS first.
    #10
  11. L Rider

    L Rider "Road Worthy"

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    ..........David Hough's book "Proficient Motorcycling" has excellent advice on cornering as well as many other topics. Although I am a fairly new rider, my longer standing rider friends maintain this book is excellent. I read it cover to cover.....
    #11
  12. Riding fast is a lot more complicated than what leaning style you use. It is also a lot more simple. Much of what you do right becomes natural the more you ride fast. I like to ride fast and love to play games with my self and others. If I am riding a road wwith another rider ahead I often slow down or stop for a while to put some distance between us. Then I try and catch the person a head. One of the things I work on while trying to catch up with the guy ahead is keep my self loose. Often a bikes worst enemy is the rider. We often try to force the bike to do things it knows it can do better if you just let it do what it wants. One way I do this is by droping my clutch hand around corners ( do not try until you are comfortable with just loosing up.) I Love to pass sport riders with one hand in the air. If I were sum up my fast riding tips they are:

    1. Ride loose - learn to work with the bike not aganist it.

    2. Enter slower than you think you should and exit faster than you think you can.

    3. Throttle is your friend braking is your enemy(once in a turn not before)

    If you follow those three simple rules you will ride faster and safer than you ever did before and enjoy more than ever.:evil
    #12
  13. G.Kennedy

    G.Kennedy ...

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    #13
  14. Ricardo Kuhn

    Ricardo Kuhn a.k.a. Mr Rico Suave

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    Get a XR100,explore her limits.someday,you and me will learn how to push it to her limits.
    try in the dirt first,but for sure a smaller ,lighter bike helps,all those skills will translate into the street,confidence,body english,and stupidity(In a good way) helps.

    this is not to compete on the "sideways"contest from turkish.but still fun to do.
    [​IMG]
    #14
  15. motu

    motu Loose Pre Unit

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    too right Ricky,too right! A gutless poor handling bike will teach you all you need to know - give it 110% and learn what is beyond the limit.

    Ride a powerfull perfect handling bike and you won't learn a thing about riding-but your mates will think you are a great rider,you will know you aren't.
    #15
  16. thwack

    thwack Long timer

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    So, what's the right technique then for twisties that are running downhill (often fairly steeply)? Yeah, I know, start the turn plenty slow, but setting the suspension means applying some throttle and with a bike the size of the big GS, any throttle downhill means speed picks up fast.

    If it's a series of turns back and forth with no straight stretches in between, where are you supposed to brake again? How do you not take this series either too slow or too fast?

    Coming down from Skyline Blvd into Saratoga hits a couple of these situations (including some long semi-steep downhill tight sweepers to the right).

    Thwack
    #16
  17. Rad

    Rad Done riding

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    Couple quick comments: I’m not the fastest cornerer out there. I no longer have that need to think I am. That being said I have drifted my GS many times and scraped hard stuff in the corners so I also ain’t slow.

    For me there is no bike I can corner faster in the tight twisties than the big GS. I have had sport bikes and other more sporting BMWs. The difference is the confidence and control I get from the dirt bike/motard style of cornering. I can stay up over the center line of the bike, whip the big beast back and forth with the wide bars and foot peg pressure and feel very in control if and when she scrapes and breaks loose.

    An added bonus is in my daily commute I have one two lane mountain section with over 100 tight turns in about 4 miles. These turns all have terrible sight lines for the redwoods come right to the edge of the lane so you can’t see thru the turns. Upright and over the center line with the bike leaned under you dramatically improves your sight line thru the turn.

    When I get to big open road high speed sweepers the traditional lean with the bike technique is then employed.
    #17
  18. Snail-Darter

    Snail-Darter Slime Dog

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    #18
  19. R-dubb

    R-dubb Dubbious Adventurer

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    Last time I watched Ricardo pull a move like that, he landed on his ass...:rofl :rofl :rofl

    Doesn't always work, but you can't get better if you don't try.

    :dj
    R-dubb
    #19
  20. traveltoad

    traveltoad Aaron S

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    Not to take away from any of the information posted. It is clear that there are a lot of riders here with lots of experience and with the intellegence to put that experience into words (not an easy task).

    However, this post began by asking a question about "technique" and has become one about "speed" through corners. Again, I am not taking anything away from what has been said, the pros and cons of differing styles have been well stated. I think that every rider adopts a combination of many "techniques" to arrive at something that works for him/her depending on the motorbike, conditions, needs and rider confidence. If we are to start a thread about "speed" through corners, however, I would agrue that the lines a rider takes are much more important than his/her "technique".

    To get through a series of corners, especially tight corners, quickly it is more important to have a good line than whether you are hanging off the bike or not. (IMHO)
    #20