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Hotfoot

Body Position Discussion

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There's been a lot of discussion about body position on the board lately; let's talk about some practical aspects for every day riding. Here's some questions for the group:

 

What part(s) of the body would a rider typically want to use to anchor securely on the bike?

 

If a rider is NOT well-anchored on the bike, especially when trying to hang off, what part of the bike does he tend to use to hold himself up?

 

What is the usual result of using that part of the bike to hold yourself up?

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You want to use your knees. If you don't use your knees you end up using the bars and that can cause unintended steering input which can cause wiggles, slides and all sorts of other nasty problems.

 

On that theme I have had a very interesting problem perhaps someone could help me with. When the speed gets in excess of 100mph (usually 120mph) I can't stop myself from death gripping the bars. I know I should relax but my body seems to have a mind of it's own in these cases. One of the things I plan on trying is making a point to have a "better" grip on the bike with my knees (you can always improve) and take one of my hands off the bars or at least only touch it with my finger tips. Hopefully with some practice I can develop more comfort zone. If only there was some place one could safely cruise at 160mph for a while. :)

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Robert, are you feeling forces (like wind or acceleration) that are pulling on you, or is this a mental thing, worrying about the speed itself?

 

At 120 mph the wind forces are significant. Are you well tucked into the 'bubble' created by the fairings and windscreen? If you are sitting up and trying to see over the top of the windscreen, the wind will pull on you hard and you will have no choice but to hold onto the handlebars tight, no one could keep a light touch on the bars while being dragged backwards by a 120mph wind.

 

Are your knees tucked in? If you are going around a corner at 100+ mph, sticking your knee out will create a lot of drag and want to twist your body around. Usually it is better to tuck both knees in tight for very high speed sweepers.

 

Do you scoot all the way back to the stop on the seat in fast straights? You may need to, to get a full tuck. If a full tuck doesn't put you back that far, you may need to add a pad BEHIND you, to give you a backstop. At full acceleration the BMW pulls really hard and you need a support at your butt to keep you from sliding back, otherwise you can end up exhausting yourself trying to hold on.

 

Are your leathers fitted well? If your leathers catch air and balloon out at the shoulders or back, they can act like a sail and put excess forces on your body at high speed.

 

If it is strictly a mental thing, if you are just concerned about the speed itself, here are some ideas :

1) tape over your speedo so you can't glance down and see triple digits.

2) get really good earplugs to minimise the roar of the wind, often the most intimidating factor

3) make sure your helmet doesn't do anything goofy at high speeds, like smush into your face.

4) try death gripping the bars ON PURPOSE for a few laps, then on the next lap relax your hands and observe the difference

 

If you think it is just a mental issue, pay attention to your body and your bike for a few laps and see if you discover that there is something physical going on that is triggering your worries - is the bike shaking or doing something weird? Are you getting pulled back on the bike physically? Are your eyes keeping up with the speed or does everything suddenly feel rushed? Does the sound of the engine or the wind become intimidating? Etc.

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MotoGP_2014_Rnd1_ValentinoRossi_RHS.jpgA point about using the knees to hang off.....notice how GP riders don't use their outside knee but rather the thigh part?

 

 

 

See how Rossi's knee is not holding on to the tank but the inner thigh is? I have observed this among all GP riders.The knee sticks out, pointing outward at the sky or something.

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You can find various pictures of MotoGP riders where they appear to not be locked onto the bike at all, for example there are numerous shots of Crutchlow at full lean with his outside leg not even on the footpeg. This is merely a example of how motorcycling is a very dynamic skill and how the faster you go the more things change.

 

When cornering at a moderate pace, which results in a moderate lean angle, being properly locked onto the bike is very important to allow the rider to support their upper body without applying unwanted pressure on the bars. however when cornering at a aggressive pace, and a aggressive lean angle the increase in all the various forces involved changes the way the rider must interact with the bike.

 

 

For example:

 

In perfect physics world, cornering at 60° results in a massive 2G's of load factor, which means physics world Rossi is being pushed down into the seat of the bike 2x as hard as he is when perfectly upright, he also weighs 2x as much as he normally does and has to support that weight, but the way he supports it and interacts with the motorcycle itself is considerably different than someone at a a 30° lean angle with barely over 1G of load factor holding them in place. For normal riders, in the real world, this is most noticeable in heavily banked or "Bowl" turns where the added G force "sucks" you into the turn.

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Robert, are you feeling forces (like wind or acceleration) that are pulling on you, or is this a mental thing, worrying about the speed itself?

 

At 120 mph the wind forces are significant. Are you well tucked into the 'bubble' created by the fairings and windscreen? If you are sitting up and trying to see over the top of the windscreen, the wind will pull on you hard and you will have no choice but to hold onto the handlebars tight, no one could keep a light touch on the bars while being dragged backwards by a 120mph wind.

 

Are your knees tucked in? If you are going around a corner at 100+ mph, sticking your knee out will create a lot of drag and want to twist your body around. Usually it is better to tuck both knees in tight for very high speed sweepers.

 

Do you scoot all the way back to the stop on the seat in fast straights? You may need to, to get a full tuck. If a full tuck doesn't put you back that far, you may need to add a pad BEHIND you, to give you a backstop. At full acceleration the BMW pulls really hard and you need a support at your butt to keep you from sliding back, otherwise you can end up exhausting yourself trying to hold on.

 

Are your leathers fitted well? If your leathers catch air and balloon out at the shoulders or back, they can act like a sail and put excess forces on your body at high speed.

 

If it is strictly a mental thing, if you are just concerned about the speed itself, here are some ideas :

1) tape over your speedo so you can't glance down and see triple digits.

2) get really good earplugs to minimise the roar of the wind, often the most intimidating factor

3) make sure your helmet doesn't do anything goofy at high speeds, like smush into your face.

4) try death gripping the bars ON PURPOSE for a few laps, then on the next lap relax your hands and observe the difference

 

If you think it is just a mental issue, pay attention to your body and your bike for a few laps and see if you discover that there is something physical going on that is triggering your worries - is the bike shaking or doing something weird? Are you getting pulled back on the bike physically? Are your eyes keeping up with the speed or does everything suddenly feel rushed? Does the sound of the engine or the wind become intimidating? Etc.

 

Hotfoot. REALLY helpful stuff here. It's going to take a bit to absorb all of that. Thank you for all of that great advice! :)

 

I think it's a combination of factors. I'm running a factory screen on the BMW and I'm not a tiny person I can probably work on my tuck more but as well a better wind screen would help too. I feel the sensation of the wind trying to tear me off the bike and my body reacts on it's own. I used to be afraid of higher speeds until I realized that straight up and down rocketing down the track at 100+ is probably the most stable the bike can possibly be. So there could be a mental element to it as well.

 

Part of it's the speed itself but also the brutal acceleration the BMW has that I have yet to get used to. I think revisiting my seating position would help too to support my lower body and that alone would also help in giving me more room to fold my body behind the screen more. Having some support from the back would counteract the BMW trying to rip my arms out of their sockets.

 

One question though. With the riders weight farthest back in the seat would the bike not have a higher probability of lifting the front wheel? When it comes to mental issues that's a big one for me when I realize that 90% of my braking ability just went away and even after the wheel lands it will take a moment for it to settle before I have 100% braking capabilities again.

 

I have a list of stuff to work on. Thanks again!

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Much like I used to coach my clients when I was a personal trainer, no matter what part of your body you wanted to work on the most, it's all about the legs. Strong, stable base is key...just like a house, it starts with the foundation. It's a fantastic benefit as a rider that the best way to provide that anchor is with the largest muscle group in the entire body, and they naturally wrap around the bike...Quads. Mentally I always say to myself when things get hairy on the 405 or coming around a hairpin on Topanga Canyon (using a Suzanne Somers famous tag line from late 80's TV)..."Thank You Thighmaster." Thighs squeeze and it instantly relaxes the whole upper body and that travels all the way up arms, trapezius, which connects to the neck and ultimately the brain. At least for me.

 

Handlebars are the thing you'll grab and I've found one will also likely slide further forward on the seat. That means tight and locked, hunched over, not flat on the tank...making your body position on the bike even worse, which will makes the bike feel even worse and you get one gnarly negative feedback loop. Been there.

 

I'm coming up on a year of riding in Sept and I have been astounded by the intensity of the mental aspect of it all. The CSS training has helped immensely but even having the knowledge was only somewhat of a help at first. It took Miles and miles of Saddle Time, plus repetition to develop real comfort. Even after Level 1 & 2 I still felt on the edge of control at 55 on the highway with all of the stimulus. Crossing 55 was freaky but things settled, then it was over 60, etc. Now I'm fine till I get to 85ish. Haven't been able to go further with comfort yet. For the blue collar analogy it's been like developing callouses. You have to rub and chafe a bit doing a new activity. It hurts and isn't pleasant but your mind and body adapt till it's an integrated part of you that is now protected and able to do the job at hand with no discomfort. Another analogy I like it's like upgrading the processor on your computer. You're running too many programs on the current machine and things are running bogged, slow, unit is overheating and you're frustrated. For me it seems to happen after taking a few days off riding, somehow your brain and body upgrade a the Core few GHZ, pack in some extra RAM and you're able to run all the programs much smoother now. The buzz in the bars and pegs from the rain rails now not isn't distracting. The rough throttle blips are more smooth. The pavement bumps and subsequent shakes aren't as unsettling. You get a Wide View when you hit the starter button and start rolling.

 

I'm trying to become more comfortable moving around on the bike. I have found I have to police myself because I have a tendency to slide forward in the saddle quite a bit and it puts me in bad position. They very nicely put a buttcheek shaped cutout on my bike's seat as it transitions to the Pinion section and so long as I slide back and lock on from there everything flows very nicely (I'm guessing that's why it's there). Going to re-take Level III in Sept because those are threads I would really like to get tied together into a good strong rope. I do struggle with not feeling comfortable with my upper body over the side of the bike. I end up looking down at the open pavement too often as I move out of the upright position for a second and that can make me tighten up a bit. Really focusing on looking for my exit point has helped me keep my head up.

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Just to be different, I have always held the bars hard - even trying to relax the grip, it doesn't last long before I grip hard again. Also, engine vibrations are usually less bothersome when I grip the bars tightly, so less chance of numb fingers. I virtually never grip the tank for anything, although there have been the odd time under braking. I rarely have handling issues and I ride old, crappy bikes. So there is only one logical explanation: I am slow:D

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Slow and steady wins the race remember? :D

 

I would like to pick one particular rider and then dissect his Body Position.What about Stoner?

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One question though. With the riders weight farthest back in the seat would the bike not have a higher probability of lifting the front wheel? When it comes to mental issues that's a big one for me when I realize that 90% of my braking ability just went away and even after the wheel lands it will take a moment for it to settle before I have 100% braking capabilities again.

 

!

If you sit UP and back in the saddle, you are putting most of your weight behind the COG, AND putting some of it ion a long lever (the height away from the COG) and it will make the bike more likely to wheelie. However, if you slide your butt back but get into a tuck with your body down low to the tank, you aren't shifting enough weight back to make a big difference, since most of your upper body is still in front of the COG and the weight is low on the bike.

 

The BMW can power wheelie no matter where you sit, if you throttle on hard enough, but keep in mind that if you do wheelie, the front will come down immediately when you let off the gas. Immediately. There is not a long lag waiting for the front wheel to land. Out of curiosity, have you had the bike wheelie on you? If so, where were you, how high did the wheel lift, etc.?

 

I asking because, generally speaking, with good throttle control power wheelies are usually low and very smooth, often the rider is unaware the front wheel is off the ground until they feel it come down.

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One question though. With the riders weight farthest back in the seat would the bike not have a higher probability of lifting the front wheel? When it comes to mental issues that's a big one for me when I realize that 90% of my braking ability just went away and even after the wheel lands it will take a moment for it to settle before I have 100% braking capabilities again.

 

!

If you sit UP and back in the saddle, you are putting most of your weight behind the COG, AND putting some of it ion a long lever (the height away from the COG) and it will make the bike more likely to wheelie. However, if you slide your butt back but get into a tuck with your body down low to the tank, you aren't shifting enough weight back to make a big difference, since most of your upper body is still in front of the COG and the weight is low on the bike.

 

The BMW can power wheelie no matter where you sit, if you throttle on hard enough, but keep in mind that if you do wheelie, the front will come down immediately when you let off the gas. Immediately. There is not a long lag waiting for the front wheel to land. Out of curiosity, have you had the bike wheelie on you? If so, where were you, how high did the wheel lift, etc.?

 

I asking because, generally speaking, with good throttle control power wheelies are usually low and very smooth, often the rider is unaware the front wheel is off the ground until they feel it come down.

 

 

That makes sense. With the body weight over the tank in a full tuck there's less weight over the back of the bike.

 

I have felt the front of the bike get extremely light but I have yet to have it wheelie that I'm aware of. It's more of an irrational fear based on a lack of experience more than anything. Moving from a bike that you can easily pin all the time and still not catch up to a powerful monster like the BMW presents a lot of unknowns. Thanks for defining some of those. I might have to explore Race mode sometime on the track now that I realize the front end leaving the ground suddenly is not such a big deal. :)

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I think it's a combination of factors. I'm running a factory screen on the BMW and I'm not a tiny person I can probably work on my tuck more but as well a better wind screen would help too. I feel the sensation of the wind trying to tear me off the bike and my body reacts on it's own. .

 

Part of it's the speed itself but also the brutal acceleration the BMW has that I have yet to get used to. I think revisiting my seating position would help too to support my lower body and that alone would also help in giving me more room to fold my body behind the screen more. Having some support from the back would counteract the BMW trying to rip my arms out of their sockets.

 

One question though. With the riders weight farthest back in the seat would the bike not have a higher probability of lifting the front wheel? When it comes to mental issues that's a big one for me when I realize that 90% of my braking ability just went away and even after the wheel lands it will take a moment for it to settle before I have 100% braking capabilities again.


RChase

I am also riding an S1000RR (and racing it), moving up from a bike that had half the HP. I completely get where you are coming from. I agree that you have a combination of factors going on. The best way to deal with them is one at a time.

 

Life above 100mph. Think about it, most people you walk up to on the street have never been 100mph in a car let alone on a motorcycle. Things start happening pretty fast. Your visual and motor skills need to adjust to get the correct timing. I would have to guess humans weren't designed to go that fast, probably why we get so passionate about doing it well. I think that wall you're hitting is the point that you don't have any attention left to spend on new information. When you go faster than you ever have before, everything is new and requires free attention to be comfortable making the adjustments. The more attention you have on all the sensations of going fast (wind noise, G force, acceleration, thoughts of wheelies, arms ripping out of sockets etc..) the less likely you will be comfortable going faster. I would recommend handling this in two steps. First clean up your riding in the turn before the high speed straight and the turn after the straight. This leaves you extra attention in the boring middle section to go fast. Something you might try once you have the attention issue sorted out is not using all the power when you are getting close to 120MPH mark. Get there and go flat on the throttle to maintain the speed. Doing this will take away the sensation of acceleration and allow you to pay attention to other things and build confidence. As you gain comfort do the same thing at a higher speed. Once you get up to the proper speed for the straight, revert to the proper roll off and braking technique. The BMW acceleration takes getting used to at all speeds.

 

Getting used to the BMW acceleration. Yep that's a handful. I had to completely change my body position, timing and riding style so I could be in good positions not to interfere with the bike, still hang on and get on the gas. What kind of riding do you do? I can probably answer some specific questions if you have em.

 

Regarding wheelies. I agree with the things Hotfoot said. Throttle control is the key. The bike will not unexpectedly just go 12:00 on a wheelie without a lot of help from your right wrist. The wheelie control can only do so much and my understanding can be ran through if you try hard enough. In most normal good throttle control situations the bike only has certain places it tends to wheelie and they are very controllable (some people might even say fun). Race starts, hard roll on in 1st, in 1st wide open above 11K RPM, 2nd gear wide open above 11K RPM. 3rd gear occasionally above 11K RPM. This is on my 2010 on various tracks and elevation changes under race conditions. The higher the gear and speed the slower the wheelie. The race start wheelie are rider error and the traction control gets involved and makes me go slow. 1st gear hard roll on can lift the front wheel at will. Not the place to learn hard roll on for this bike.Top of 1st, I usually short shift at 11K RPM to second, keeping TCS off. 2nd gear I might short shift or let the tire float depending on the track and turn. 3rd gear is non issue. As I said earlier throttle control is key. If you have a power wheelie and don't feel comfortable with it, roll off or upshift (quick shifter) and the wheel will come back down. If you whack the throttle on in second gear 7K RPM the front wheel will likely come up, this is not good throttle control, unless you want a wheelie. Use good throttle control as taught by CSS and you can go really fast without having scary wheelies.

 

TCS intervenes if a wheelie is too high or long. Not sure on the details but here is how I figure it. The higher the mode (race vs sport) the more latitude the ECU gives you for wheelies. When the TCS sees rapid changes it tends to intervene more quickly to help the rider overcome the conditions. Poor throttle control or too aggressive of a wheelie will initiate more intervention from the TCS and help you learn faster. It's an amazing bike, trust it.

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Wow! Thank you Slasher! As with Hotfoot's reply it's going to take me a bit to absorb all of that. :)

 

I have said this before but I'll say it again. I have never seen a more helpful bunch of people than here on the CSS forums!!

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MotoGP_2014_Rnd1_ValentinoRossi_RHS.jpgA point about using the knees to hang off.....notice how GP riders don't use their outside knee but rather the thigh part?

 

 

 

See how Rossi's knee is not holding on to the tank but the inner thigh is? I have observed this among all GP riders.The knee sticks out, pointing outward at the sky or something.

 

 

maybe its because anything over a certain lean angle (i guess 50 or above )makes the rider get pushed down hard enough on the bike so much that a proper knee lock on to the tank isnt 100% necessary... hence rossi's "pose"

 

but if its 0-said lean angle (0-50 degrees of lean ?? ) , the g force might NOT be able to totally plant the rider on the seat , hence the need for a good lock on to the tank... esp with bumps mid corner as shown in above video clip.

 

I might be wrong thou...

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How would it be to race in a reclined position? You would then be able to use your legs for support against the braking forces and the back will allow you to stem against acceleration without effort. Not being able to move much and being removed from the front wheel probably speak against it, but it would be interesting to put light to all the positives and negatives with it, if people can work around how weird it would look at first :D

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GREAT video!!

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The design of the bike makes such a difference here. Look at the footpeg position in the Rossi photo. It looks like the exhaust pipe or even the bellypan would touch down before his boot. That's nothing like the bikes most of us ride on the track. Rossi's body position is also not that close to my personal ideal, but what works best at 150 mph is not going to be the same as what works best at 65 mph. At a certain point sticking your knee out and getting your torso to the inside is just going to result in your being blown off the bike! Most of us don't really need to factor aerodynamics into our preferred cornering body position....

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The design of the bike makes such a difference here. Look at the footpeg position in the Rossi photo. It looks like the exhaust pipe or even the bellypan would touch down before his boot. That's nothing like the bikes most of us ride on the track. Rossi's body position is also not that close to my personal ideal, but what works best at 150 mph is not going to be the same as what works best at 65 mph. At a certain point sticking your knee out and getting your torso to the inside is just going to result in your being blown off the bike! Most of us don't really need to factor aerodynamics into our preferred cornering body position....

 

True that~

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Yes, I'm familiar with that, and it's supposed to handle quite well. However, it would be interesting to evaluate how it would work in a racing situation. It is sort of counter-intuitive, because we automatically want to lean forward under attack, whereas leaning back is felt more like relaxing. But F1 drivers are pretty reclined to keep the CoG low and to be able to withstand up to 5G of braking force, for instance. As I mentioned earlier, the recline riding position probably won't work as well for motorcycle racing, but it would still be interesting to have it theoretically analyzed.

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Hotfoot and Slasher. Thank you guys again for your advice. With the new windshield I just installed on my bike and some of your great advice I'm going to face that wind blast on the long straight at Robeling Road next week. I plan on working on my tuck and plan on revising my seating position to take advantage of the back rest as well.

 

Photo of the new windshield. Much taller and a snap to install.

 

IMG_0541.JPG

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I was looking up some information on Aerodynamics for some further understanding and found this video. BMW's WSBK team using a wind tunnel to help the rider find the best position for the straights. Very interesting.

 

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It took me a while to find this topic again. I wanted to share an image from this past Monday. Due to the advice I got here on body position, aerodynamics and other tips and tricks I was quite calm and comfortable doing speeds like this down the straight. Something that would scare me to death previously is easy, repeatable and not that big of a deal anymore. It even makes holding the camera easier (JUST KIDDING! it's an onboard camera).

 

4th%2520gear%2520161mph%2520redline%2520

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