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Rider Weights - Does It Matter?

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Just wanted to make a comment about this thread. Some really great information here!

 

I started a topic called "Hang Off For Heavy Folks" and while there was a lot of great information there the comparison of body type and strengths and weaknesses in this topic has been even more helpful. I have had several "AH HA!" moments figuring out some of the quirks of my own work in progress riding style. While I'll never be 90lb without a hacksaw having a better understanding about how my body interfaces with the machine and affects the physics is amazingly useful.

 

Thank you guys!

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Well, yes, weight does matter but I'd suggest not in the way most posts consider. Being 6'4" and 290, I know this one first hand.

 

I've been riding for 7 years now, first on a Honda Fury, which is a factory chopper that actually handles well (dude, it's a Honda! ;-) that weighed 675 lbs. Traded that in for a BMW K1300s a year and a half ago, and took the level 1 class on the s1000rr at Thunderbolt in NJ just about a year ago. My K bike is 575 lbs & 64.5" wheelbase. the s1000rr is around 450 or so with a 56.4" wheelbase.

 

OK, now to the meat of it. And this is all based on my perceptions while riding these bikes, not scientifically. That said...

 

Rider weight affects COG of the bike and its geometry. All bikes are 'meant' to handle riders of certain height/weight whether they are intended to or not. So, my weight as a proportion of the bike is well over 50% (64.5%) for the s1000rr while being right around 50% (50.43%) on the K1300s. Riding the S, I feel very top heavy. Bike flicks in too aggressively, minor shifts of weight make the bike react and feel less stable. Leaning in on turns (haven't figured out how to knee drag yet so I'm very locked in) feels like the bike wants to low side.

 

Riding my K is exactly the opposite. Bike feels planted, leaning in I can go much harder on the lean and not feel out of kilter at all. I can get pretty solid lean angles with solid traction, and flick the bike at will. And I've taken this bike up to about 150 and felt solid and planted. The S on a track running at most 120? I was very uncomfortable going any faster and could not handle hard turning or lean. Especially in the 'octopus', the bane of my existence! So my next class I'll be riding my K.

 

Now, to verify this, I asked my son (6'4", 165) to ride my bike, while I rode his FZ6R, which is more a commuter bike with upright sitting position. His feedback is that my bike left sluggish and hard to turn in, couldn't get good lean angles no matter how hard he tried, and was just a brute on acceleration pretty much everywhere. His 420 pound bike felt very wierd indeed! No power, very skittish, wanted to low side, etc.

 

So, the net result of this very unscientific experiment? Seems bikes are meant to carry about 50% of their weight in meat when ridden aggressively. Anything above/below that changes the geometry and balance and makes the bike feel out of sorts. Longer wheelbases can help mitigate this a bit, but only a bit. Best to stick to the 50% marker as much as possible.

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Rider weight aye? See for yourself, all 3 rider weights are represented in this vid of my last race (ninja 250's).

 

#100 Orange suit rider - Jace, lightweight around 135ish lbs geard (1:13 scored lap time)

#511 Filming rider - Me, Average weight rider - 195lbs geared (1:14 scored lap time)

#95 Black suit/red boots rider that passes me (really really wants 2nd place) - Don heavywight rider - 260ish lbs geared. Don can ride that little, low powered bike for sure. (1:15 scored lap time)

 

 

And before you ask, yes... I wait for him on the back straight so we can really "race" on the final lap.

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Great video csmith12

 

Interestingly enough. I also have a video. In this topic I shared a video of my mechanic Opie Caylor. I'm a nice guy so I won't comment about his size but to describe him as "the little guy" would cause confusion. :)

 

http://forums.superbikeschool.com/index.php?showtopic=4121#entry35733

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Well, yes, weight does matter but I'd suggest not in the way most posts consider. Being 6'4" and 290, I know this one first hand.

 

I've been riding for 7 years now, first on a Honda Fury, which is a factory chopper that actually handles well (dude, it's a Honda! ;-) that weighed 675 lbs. Traded that in for a BMW K1300s a year and a half ago, and took the level 1 class on the s1000rr at Thunderbolt in NJ just about a year ago. My K bike is 575 lbs & 64.5" wheelbase. the s1000rr is around 450 or so with a 56.4" wheelbase.

 

OK, now to the meat of it. And this is all based on my perceptions while riding these bikes, not scientifically. That said...

 

Rider weight affects COG of the bike and its geometry. All bikes are 'meant' to handle riders of certain height/weight whether they are intended to or not. So, my weight as a proportion of the bike is well over 50% (64.5%) for the s1000rr while being right around 50% (50.43%) on the K1300s. Riding the S, I feel very top heavy. Bike flicks in too aggressively, minor shifts of weight make the bike react and feel less stable. Leaning in on turns (haven't figured out how to knee drag yet so I'm very locked in) feels like the bike wants to low side.

 

Riding my K is exactly the opposite. Bike feels planted, leaning in I can go much harder on the lean and not feel out of kilter at all. I can get pretty solid lean angles with solid traction, and flick the bike at will. And I've taken this bike up to about 150 and felt solid and planted. The S on a track running at most 120? I was very uncomfortable going any faster and could not handle hard turning or lean. Especially in the 'octopus', the bane of my existence! So my next class I'll be riding my K.

 

Now, to verify this, I asked my son (6'4", 165) to ride my bike, while I rode his FZ6R, which is more a commuter bike with upright sitting position. His feedback is that my bike left sluggish and hard to turn in, couldn't get good lean angles no matter how hard he tried, and was just a brute on acceleration pretty much everywhere. His 420 pound bike felt very wierd indeed! No power, very skittish, wanted to low side, etc.

 

So, the net result of this very unscientific experiment? Seems bikes are meant to carry about 50% of their weight in meat when ridden aggressively. Anything above/below that changes the geometry and balance and makes the bike feel out of sorts. Longer wheelbases can help mitigate this a bit, but only a bit. Best to stick to the 50% marker as much as possible.

nice writeup!!

 

COG of bike + COG of rider MIGHT be factors too

 

Im 5"8 160 pounds with gear and during my big bike class....

 

The XJ6N (205KG) feels much more unstable as the gas tank is conventionally placed.

 

The NC700 (215KG) on the other hand, feels supremely planted with the gas tank below the seat .

 

Fun part is another student who is doing the same class ( lanky 6foot 150 pound guy) commented that he feels that the NC700s feels like a 160KG bike at low speeds.

 

He was surprised when i said that the NC700s is a full 215KG without fuel, 10KG more than the comparatively wobbly XJ6N~

 

thou a more scientific method for the bike COG experiment will be to find 2 bikes of the same weight and wheelbase (nc700S wheel base= 1525, XJ6N = 1440 ,MM) but totally different COG's.

 

For the biker COG... same bike as control, and same height+ weight but different COG /build rider (high COG = afro american american soccer player/bodybuilder , low COG = olympic ski team candidate?)

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EricG,

 

I think what your describing is mostly just evidence of how important having your suspension properly set up for your weight is.

 

to go off of what you said slightly, stock suspension is always tuned for a specific weight rider, the S1000RR is designed for a much lighter weight fit world class racer, while the K1300S is most likely designed for a slightly more realistic human being, and the added weight of the bike itself means it has stiffer springs anyway.

 

Take either of the 2 smaller bikes, respring the forks and shock for a rider your weight and I'd bet most of the complaints you have with the way it handles go away, I think your generalization about riders being 50% of the bikes weight is is kind of irrelevant, its simply a matter of adjusting the suspension for your weight vs the OEM rider weight, be it simply adjusting preload or completely changing the springs front and rear

 

Tyler

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The bike I found easiest to ride, where I could still look around enjoying the scenery while throwing sparks (I only have ridden old bikes) was a Z400G, an old twin from 1979 where I had modded the fork internals for better damping and the correct ride height plus more progressive action through a higher oil level. The rear was fitted with Konis intended for the KZ1000, so quite a bit longer. The bike felt like an extension of my body. My weight is about 230 suited up. The bike 400 lb wet.

 

Another bike that was incredibly easy to ride was the Yamaha XJ600 Diversion with a wet weight of 260 lb. Very neutral, very nimble. Soggy suspension, but it wasn't problematic.

 

The bike I felt most secure on (I felt very, very secure on the 400, but it had a top speed of 75 mph and I'm sure 130 would have been, uhm, interesting what with the steep rake and little trail) was my CB1100F. It was very hard to change directions on, but even throwing sparks around 130 mph bumpy bends it never once deflected from its chosen line. It was 600 lb wet.

 

I found the Triumph Daytona 900 (540 lb) and the Kawasaki 750 Turbo (520 lb) to be real pigs to turn, both demanding extreme efforts to turn, even when ridden moderately. They are the two least favourable bikes I have ridden and both made my forearms hurt after just a couple of miles of riding hairpin roads. Surprisingly, the Triumph Sprint 900 (basically a Daytona with softer suspension and more comfy ergonomics) was a delight to ride and impressively tossable and the best bike I've ridden on radials. You couldn't be aggressive due to the ultra-soft suspension, but it was comfy and nimble.

 

In my personal findings, bike weight doesn't matter much, but how it is balanced and how the suspension is set up and how I fit the bike makes a lot of difference to me. I prefer a bike that steer quickly with low effort while always keeping its line without a fight, where every action from every input is predictable. The old Z400 offered that. I would always know right down the the inch where it would go. Never did I have to use conscious effort to steer it, nor did it ever wander off course or wobble or weave. It was utterly predictable in every way for my kind of riding, which is gnarly backroads. On a track, it would have been dwarfed, though :D

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Rider weight aye? See for yourself, all 3 rider weights are represented in this vid of my last race (ninja 250's).

 

#100 Orange suit rider - Jace, lightweight around 135ish lbs geard (1:13 scored lap time)

#511 Filming rider - Me, Average weight rider - 195lbs geared (1:14 scored lap time)

#95 Black suit/red boots rider that passes me (really really wants 2nd place) - Don heavywight rider - 260ish lbs geared. Don can ride that little, low powered bike for sure. (1:15 scored lap time)

 

 

And before you ask, yes... I wait for him on the back straight so we can really "race" on the final lap.

 

Thanks for sharing the video B)

 

Here is an attempt at a scientific approach http://motomatters.com/analysis/2011/04/13/number_crunching_how_much_of_a_factor_is.html

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The bike I found easiest to ride, where I could still look around enjoying the scenery while throwing sparks (I only have ridden old bikes) was a Z400G, an old twin from 1979 where I had modded the fork internals for better damping and the correct ride height plus more progressive action through a higher oil level. The rear was fitted with Konis intended for the KZ1000, so quite a bit longer. The bike felt like an extension of my body. My weight is about 230 suited up. The bike 400 lb wet.

 

Another bike that was incredibly easy to ride was the Yamaha XJ600 Diversion with a wet weight of 260 lb. Very neutral, very nimble. Soggy suspension, but it wasn't problematic.

 

The bike I felt most secure on (I felt very, very secure on the 400, but it had a top speed of 75 mph and I'm sure 130 would have been, uhm, interesting what with the steep rake and little trail) was my CB1100F. It was very hard to change directions on, but even throwing sparks around 130 mph bumpy bends it never once deflected from its chosen line. It was 600 lb wet.

 

I found the Triumph Daytona 900 (540 lb) and the Kawasaki 750 Turbo (520 lb) to be real pigs to turn, both demanding extreme efforts to turn, even when ridden moderately. They are the two least favourable bikes I have ridden and both made my forearms hurt after just a couple of miles of riding hairpin roads. Surprisingly, the Triumph Sprint 900 (basically a Daytona with softer suspension and more comfy ergonomics) was a delight to ride and impressively tossable and the best bike I've ridden on radials. You couldn't be aggressive due to the ultra-soft suspension, but it was comfy and nimble.

 

In my personal findings, bike weight doesn't matter much, but how it is balanced and how the suspension is set up and how I fit the bike makes a lot of difference to me. I prefer a bike that steer quickly with low effort while always keeping its line without a fight, where every action from every input is predictable. The old Z400 offered that. I would always know right down the the inch where it would go. Never did I have to use conscious effort to steer it, nor did it ever wander off course or wobble or weave. It was utterly predictable in every way for my kind of riding, which is gnarly backroads. On a track, it would have been dwarfed, though :D

someone commented on the % of weight of rider VS bike and it seems that 50% (of rider weight vs bike) is the line between stable and really unstable...(for bone stock bikes)

 

based on the data you provided, it seems to add up ~ (Z400G is already optimized to your weight and style , sus damping/oil is a HUGE upgrade imho )

 

weight (bike + rider) doesnt show itself much on street and sport riding situations as the G forces acting on all parts doesnt really upset any component whatsoever (weakest link theory)

 

up the ante and weak points show up faster on a heavier rider... esp with antique bikes that werent designed with CAD / calibrated optimal stiffness technology .

 

its really like goldilocks (rider) and the porridge(chassis); too stiff and the other components take a beating ; too much flex and the bike wobbles around.

 

WSBK 2015 rules makes chassis "optimizations" all but outlawed with 0.003mm tolerance on the frame , else every team is just optimizing the "stock" frame to a rider's riding style by adding or shaving thickness on frame areas on 2014 and prior....

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This is a cool topic. Something I'm taking away from it.

 

At the limit weight does matter. How many of us are able to ride at the limit though? Some riders are better at getting to the limits than others.

 

Regardless of my 214# weight my goal is to try to improve and get closer to that limit on the machine I am riding.

 

The Machine is also an important part of that limit equation. A bike designed to be ridden on the street has a number of compromises that make it comply with legal regulations and be able to survive longer than it's warranty period. MotoGP bikes don't have these limitations and allow the rider to get much closer to the limits of physics and even seem to defy them at times. In comparison to the bikes we ride on the streets the only similarity is the form factor. Virtually everything is a custom made prototype on the GP bike made from exotic materials.

 

It's nice to try and compare the raw science but there are way too many variables not taken into account. It's a really complex scenario involving man, machine and conditions. You would need a bank of supercomputers and still could not calculate the equation with any level of true precision in real time. The human element however throws all of that science straight out the window as as advanced as we are we are unable to accurately measure ourselves. :)

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Points very well made on suspension adjustments. And I should also add that riding the S felt like a Grat Dane riding a Poodle (visual intended). The K fits me like a glove. And the duolever/paralever suspension probably does have a lot to do with it, I'm sure... Though I have tried it in "comfort" settings while the S was on race setting, IIRC.

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This is a cool topic. Something I'm taking away from it.

 

At the limit weight does matter. How many of us are able to ride at the limit though? Some riders are better at getting to the limits than others.

 

Regardless of my 214# weight my goal is to try to improve and get closer to that limit on the machine I am riding.

 

The Machine is also an important part of that limit equation. A bike designed to be ridden on the street has a number of compromises that make it comply with legal regulations and be able to survive longer than it's warranty period. MotoGP bikes don't have these limitations and allow the rider to get much closer to the limits of physics and even seem to defy them at times. In comparison to the bikes we ride on the streets the only similarity is the form factor. Virtually everything is a custom made prototype on the GP bike made from exotic materials.

 

It's nice to try and compare the raw science but there are way too many variables not taken into account. It's a really complex scenario involving man, machine and conditions. You would need a bank of supercomputers and still could not calculate the equation with any level of true precision in real time. The human element however throws all of that science straight out the window as as advanced as we are we are unable to accurately measure ourselves. :)

 

Oh well the Germans had started somewhere with the S1000RR HP4 ...

 

its still "gen 1" so give it a few years imho

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Crash.net:
As a smaller rider, what would you say is the ideal weight for a MotoGP rider?

Mika Kallio:
That's actually pretty complicated to answer. Both Rossi and Pedrosa could win races and Marquez is somewhere between them and can win races too. For me it's a racer who is a little bit taller, let's say 175cms, but is still light. Then you can use your body to move the bike.

Having a slightly bigger frame means that you can use it like ballast around the bike and put the weight where it's needed. If you're small you often keep your body in the same place all the time and can't play with the weight transfer so much.

The problem is that usually if you're a bit taller then you're also a bit heavier so that takes that advantage away. The riding style will also affect whether your build is right for racing. It's a complicated equation.

In MotoGP you can be taller and get away with the weight more because what you lose on the straights you can make up for in the corners because you can use your bigger body. You can use your weight to turn the bike and get out of the corner faster because of the grip.

In Moto2 it's actually quite similar because the size and weight of the bike isn't too far from the MotoGP one so the same applies. In the 250 days weight and size made a far bigger difference.

Crash.net:
Also I guess the weight doesn't make such a difference in Moto2 because of the minimum weight rule?

Mika Kallio:
Yes, I have to carry 7 or 7 ½ kilos of ballast. But at least you can put the weight more or less where you want to put it. In general though it's quite a disadvantage because even though the weight is where you want it you've still got 7 Kilos more weight and when you're flipping from side to side quickly you can really feel it. I may be smaller than many other riders but I need to change direction with a heavier bike.

I don't think I gain anything from my weight in fact it may be a disadvantage because I have more difficulty maneuvering the bike. Over winter I tried to train to put more muscle on my body because having the weight there is probably the best place it can be.

Crash.net:
If it's a good thing to have the weight on the body, wouldn't it be a good idea to somehow put it into your leathers?

Mika Kallio:
That was exactly what we did last winter, we asked for the heaviest materials possible to be used in my suit and boots. So my suit is thicker and gives better protection so at least that weight is doing something.

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Great post, Eirik!

 

In a sorta related story - this weekend, I pulled into the pits from one of my races, and my bike seat pad fell off. (Oops, glad it didn't happen in the race!) I picked it up and was shocked at how heavy it was - it came with the bike and looks like a regular lightweight foam seat, but it was about 5 times heavier than I expected.

 

So, instead of re-mounting it, I spent some time that night cutting and shaping a new lighter-weight seat from regular race seat foam, proud of myself for saving a bit of weight on my low-HP SuperSingle. I mounted the seat, it was shaped perfectly, and it looked great.

 

Next morning I went out for practice, and it was awful! This bike vibrates a lot and that thick heavy seat was insulating me from it. The new seat didn't absorb the vibrations and in about 3 laps my legs felt like noodles due to the buzzing of the nerves up near my hip joint - have you ever had your hands go numb from running a weedeater? It was like that, except it was my legs!

 

I came back to the pits and mounted the old heavy seat. Like Mika said in the quote above.... it is heavy material but at least that weight is DOING something! :)

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Hehe....strange are the ways of the motorbike.

 

I still maintain a lighter and smaller rider can learn how to get around those disadvantages but a heavy rider cannot deal with his extra bulk.

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Hehe....strange are the ways of the motorbike.

 

I still maintain a lighter and smaller rider can learn how to get around those disadvantages but a heavy rider cannot deal with his extra bulk.

 

I'm not sure it really matters either way. Heavier riders can use the weight as an advantage up to a point to help turn the bike with less effort. Lighter riders have more acceleration on the straights. In reality mixed in with the differences in abilities it all works out in the wash. This of course only applies to "mere mortal" riders rather than MotoGP which is it's own world all together.

 

I think the most important take away really is to identify where your build is an advantage and a disadvantage and exploit the advantages and minimize the disadvantages as much as you can. The classic "know thy self".

 

This is actually quite inspiring for me as I have been on a personal weight shedding mission in the quest of getting faster. It really does not matter as much as I thought it did. I'm not giving up on the personal weight shedding as being in the best possible physical shape is still an advantage. It's just nice to know that I'm not alone and the stick figure guys have their own set of disadvantages as well. :)

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Great post, Eirik!

 

In a sorta related story - this weekend, I pulled into the pits from one of my races, and my bike seat pad fell off. (Oops, glad it didn't happen in the race!) I picked it up and was shocked at how heavy it was - it came with the bike and looks like a regular lightweight foam seat, but it was about 5 times heavier than I expected.

 

So, instead of re-mounting it, I spent some time that night cutting and shaping a new lighter-weight seat from regular race seat foam, proud of myself for saving a bit of weight on my low-HP SuperSingle. I mounted the seat, it was shaped perfectly, and it looked great.

 

Next morning I went out for practice, and it was awful! This bike vibrates a lot and that thick heavy seat was insulating me from it. The new seat didn't absorb the vibrations and in about 3 laps my legs felt like noodles due to the buzzing of the nerves up near my hip joint - have you ever had your hands go numb from running a weedeater? It was like that, except it was my legs!

 

I came back to the pits and mounted the old heavy seat. Like Mika said in the quote above.... it is heavy material but at least that weight is DOING something! :)

 

LOL. That's an awesome story Hotfoot. I have often thought about what would make the perfect track bike and have thought of the pro's and con's of removing various bits of bikes such as starters and batteries and other non essential parts. Often times it's easy to forget how simple things like a starter and battery can make life a little easier when you accidentally stall the bike on the way to start finish.

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Hehe....strange are the ways of the motorbike.

 

I still maintain a lighter and smaller rider can learn how to get around those disadvantages but a heavy rider cannot deal with his extra bulk.

 

I'm not sure it really matters either way. Heavier riders can use the weight as an advantage up to a point to help turn the bike with less effort. Lighter riders have more acceleration on the straights. In reality mixed in with the differences in abilities it all works out in the wash. This of course only applies to "mere mortal" riders rather than MotoGP which is it's own world all together.

 

I think the most important take away really is to identify where your build is an advantage and a disadvantage and exploit the advantages and minimize the disadvantages as much as you can. The classic "know thy self".

 

This is actually quite inspiring for me as I have been on a personal weight shedding mission in the quest of getting faster. It really does not matter as much as I thought it did. I'm not giving up on the personal weight shedding as being in the best possible physical shape is still an advantage. It's just nice to know that I'm not alone and the stick figure guys have their own set of disadvantages as well. :)

 

 

If you go abit "hardcore" and dev into suspension and bike geometry(esp trail and tree angle placement...) / frame / mass centraliziation...

 

A lighter rider WILL have much more advantage during the long run due to fuel economy alone ... (Suzuka 8 hrs anyone? or LEMANS 24hrs ...)

 

I dont even want to dev into brake pad life/shock fluid temps/tire wear ... these all cross over to commuting too.

 

more weight = more wear and tear.

 

but of course for racing ... unless the track is biased towards small bikes with next to no straights ,

 

the usual know how is how to maximize all 170-200hp's using modifications on a litre bike

 

; ie you already start off with too much power ; you have to make it more controllable/accessible and that requires personalization.

 

 

imho Bikes have rider weight "sweet spots" too... be on either end of the spectrum(too light or too heavy) and huge suspension mods might be necessary...

 

 

 

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I am just finishing a personal experiment on trying to find the best weight for me as a racer. Of course this is not scientific, just the results I found. My conclusion is the harder you ride, the more weight and muscle to fat ratio matter. I am 5'11" and normal morning strip weight was 180lbs. My experiment weight ranged from 165 lbs to 195 lbs. My muscle to fat ratio varied also but to keep that short, it matters.

 

When I was racing on small bikes (NSR50, ninja 250) it was obvious that my weight and surface area were handicapping me against smaller riders. I found myself tucking in the bubble tighter than ever trying to minimize the disadvantage. I also found that all movements had to be smoother than usual or I would upset the bike. Don't get me wrong, this was blast and some of the funnest racing out there. I am just realistic about giving up HP for my weight. I use 1 HP for every six lbs I am carrying over my competition. This usually comes up over a beer when we are bench racing.

 

Racing on on a Ducati 749 I found my weight and muscle mass a lot less significant. 103 HP and an incredibly stable bike to move around on. The main thing I noticed was my endurance level and recovery time changed based on weight and muscle ratio. At the time my preferred weight was 180lbs to 185 lbs.

 

Things really changed when I started racing a BMWS1000RR. As others have mentioned regarding the mortal level of riding, HP to weight is not an issue The increase in forces forced me to change how I was doing things. Now the weight I was carrying got magnified against the forces and affected my timing. Simple things like driving out of corners were now extremely physical. Speeds between corners went way up, front straight at Autoclub went from 145mph on the Ducati up to 170mph on the BMW, 20 to 30 mph between most turns. Entry speeds stay the same, so there is that much more braking to get done - the forces are higher, for longer. The first thing I did was drop my weight. This helped but there were diminishing returns with a lack of endurance similar to the riding the 749. Next I worked on my muscle mass and core strength. Not trying to bulk up but more to improve the muscle ratio. I am carrying about 175 lbs right now and finding that it works for me. Light enough to move around on the bike quickly and enough mass for endurance.

 

I have been on the track with faster riders that are both heavier and lighter. Does weight and muscle ratio matter, yes. It just has to be the right combination for you.

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I have been on the track with faster riders that are both heavier and lighter. Does weight and muscle ratio matter, yes. It just has to be the right combination for you.

 

Slasher. Really appreciate you sharing your experiences on various bikes. Not only helpful but quite inspiring as well.

 

This last part that I quoted caught my attention to most. Some VERY wise words and I think it's the key.

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