Riding Tips

Stolen from JUNE 2000's Sport Rider magazine

     You've seen the extreme race shots of riders handing off their machines like monkeys, but while it helps out cornering on the racetrack, it's not necessarily the optimum body position for street riding. A more centered riding stance may not look all that cool, but it will give you the increased confidence and control in a variety of situations. For most cornering, you should be centered on the seat, and leaning with your bike so that your head is either on or just to the inside of the centerline. Tilting your head to match the horizon stops your brain from getting confused by mixed visual and balance signals. If your controls don't fit correctly, adjust them to match; never adjust your style to fit.

     Keeping your inside elbow locked, and using the weight of your upper body on that arm to countersteer is a common LAZY habit. This prevents you from making small steering corrections, and limits your control of the motorcycle; in addition, any bump in the road will unsettle your upper body, and that movement will transmit directly down your locked arm and into the bar -- unintentionally steering your bike. It's important to remember that the handlebar is more for steering your machine rather than for holding on to it. Experiment with holding your body in position using your stomach muscles and pressing your outside knee against the tank, while keeping your elbows bent with as much weight off the bars as possible.

     Using the centered riding stance puts your outside knee in the correct position and will help to distribute your weight properly. If your bike has low clip-ons, it will require substantial knee pressure to unweight them; try variations until you find something comfortable. With as little weight on your arms as possible, you'll find it much easier to make small steering corrections, and bumps will unsettle your bike less as your weight has a reduced effect on steering. Also, experiment with foot position to find what works for you; it's usually best to keep your toes on the footpegs, especially the inner foot to avoid dragging. If you like to use the rear brake keep your foot as far back and tucked in as possible.

     There are instances where hanging off helps with maneuverability and traction. For instance, on wet or slippery surfaces, moving your body to the inside of the turn will allow you to keep your bike more upright to take maximum advantage of the available traction. And during quick countersteering swerves, when you're avoiding an obstacle in the road, keeping your body upright during the entire sequence lessens the amount of mass you have to throw from side to side, and lets you push against your bike using your own inertia. Body position has a significant effect on your bike's handling, and it's well worth trying different techniques to fine something that gives you more confidence as well as comfortableness.

Toes up = Keep the balls of your feet on the pegs, not your arches. You should "tip-toe" on the pegs. This will keep you from stubbing toes on the ground at high lean angles.

Other riding tips- The key to anything about cornering is the word SMOOTH

1)Braking should be done early, while the bike is vertical (wait till you get better to start braking while beginning to lean). Put the brakes on progressively and get off the brakes progressively (progressively=gentle at first, then gradually increase and vice versa). This will keep your suspension from bobbing up and down excessively. DO NOT USE YOUR REAR BRAKE (unless you are a pro and plan on "backing it in" which I don't suggest trying...yet.)

2) Get your body set up BEFORE going into a turn. Have your butt slid off to one side before entering a turn, then, as you begin your turn, you can just lean your upper body, rather than your ass & all. This will help keep the suspension smooth. Your outer (in relation to the turn) leg should be nicely tucked into the tank for support, while your inner knee sticks out for a possible drag on the pavement.

3)Most of your weight should be on the pegs, not the seat. This will keep the suspension on the bike from over loading. Just think of it, your knees are probably the best suspension component for your bike. Absorb the bumps with your knees so your (crappy) FZR suspension doesn't have to.

4)Look REALLY far through the turn. Check out some pictures of pro riders in corners. You may ask yourself..."where the hell are they looking?? They aren't looking foreword!" That's because they are looking through the turn. Remember, you go where you look. When you went wide on the street, it's probably because you were not looking far through the turn.

5)Keep accelerating GENTLY throughout the turn. Motorcycle suspension works best when there is more weight transferred to the back. Once again...SOOOOOOTH.

As you may have figured, suspension is the key component on your bike when it comes to doing some serious cornering.