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Hawk862

Knee Down Question (Again.....)

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Hi all,

 

Here’s one that I’ve been struggling with. Well I say struggling, however pondering is probably more the correct term.

 

I’ve been doing trackdays for a few years now and I currently ride at the top of inters or bottom of fast group pace on my ZX6R. In that time, I have NEVER gotten my knee down. I do seem to pass a lot of riders who do though. Most days I always seem to go around someone on a corner who has their bum way off and dragging their knee.

 

Part of me thinks that I should be getting my knee down by now, but in order to do so I need to hang so much of my bum off the seat that I just don’t feel locked on anymore and end up going slower, which to me seems to defeat the purpose of the exercise.

 

I believe that knee down is a gauge only really and not a requirement, but does anyone else have this predicament?

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Yes, same situation for me. Sounds like you're doing just fine without it so I'd let it leave your mind. Just think of all the money we're saving not having to replace knee pucks :)

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I'm in the same situation myself. This past Level 4 was the first time I ever had knee contact with the track. It does not bother me one bit that I'm not scraping my knee on the track through every corner.

 

Think of it this way. Using the correct technique decreases the lean angle required and increases the speed you can use through the corner.

 

I think that a lot of riders look at knee pucks as a measure of ability which is misleading at best. Many of them use an exaggerated technique that ultimately slows them down in the corners just to get their knee down. Don't worry about it. Use the technique that works for you the best.

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There are lots of elements of geometry and technique that determine when and if your knee will touch down. For me it happened in more or less the normal way - I got faster and introduced more lean while maintaining the same body position and eventually started wearing down pucks. But if I had shorter legs, less hip flexibility, bum more on the seat, higher rearsets, more ride height etc etc it would have happened later if at all. Lots of people go fast without dragging their knees, and lots of people go not-so-fast with their knees on the deck nearly every turn.

 

That said, if you don't change anything else about your body position or lines but start dragging your knees, then yes, you are probably getting more corner speed. So, it *can* be a mark of progress. For me, when I am just learning a new track I am not knee down much, but as I figure out the corners I get my knee down in more and more places. For me that is useful information. So, personally I am not neutral on this - knee down = good.

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There are lots of elements of geometry and technique that determine when and if your knee will touch down. For me it happened in more or less the normal way - I got faster and introduced more lean while maintaining the same body position and eventually started wearing down pucks. But if I had shorter legs, less hip flexibility, bum more on the seat, higher rearsets, more ride height etc etc it would have happened later if at all. Lots of people go fast without dragging their knees, and lots of people go not-so-fast with their knees on the deck nearly every turn.

 

That said, if you don't change anything else about your body position or lines but start dragging your knees, then yes, you are probably getting more corner speed. So, it *can* be a mark of progress. For me, when I am just learning a new track I am not knee down much, but as I figure out the corners I get my knee down in more and more places. For me that is useful information. So, personally I am not neutral on this - knee down = good.

 

Interestingly enough I agree with you on this. As much as I don't really care about my knee making contact it does provide information. The key of course is maintaining good technique and not "trying" to get the knee down. While it does provide information to the rider that information could be misleading in certain situations. A mistake can easily reduce ground clearance and cause contact without an increase in corner speed. Something to keep in mind.

 

I'm actually going to make a point to check my corner speed and lean angle data off of my datalogger when I make contact to make sure that indeed the scrape was not due to a mistake on my part.

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Hawk,

 

If you're running a pace at the lower end of the fast group and you've never managed to get your knee down, its probably a result of your body position. Without seeing any pictures I'm going to guess your not rotating your hips into the turn, and as a result you're not actually sticking your knee out far enough to make contact with the pavement until your lean angle is borderline excessive. It was a problem I had until I went through lvl 3 at CSS, i was using enough lean angle to occasionally drag the peg feelers on the schools BMW's, yet had 0 knee contact ever.Hanging your ass off the seat more causes problems, but rotating your hips into the turn helps in a few ways, first it lets you lock onto the tank with your upper thigh, second it naturally shifts your upper body into the turn and helps get your helmet "in the office" so to speak, and third it lets you really crank your leg out to feel for the pavement.

 

It's pretty common for newer track riders to obsess about not getting their knee down. A few of the corner workers I met at the ridge asked me about it and seemed concerned that they hadn't managed to drag their knees. My response to them was that obsessing about it now won't help at all, just keep riding, focus on your technique and it will happen eventually. However once your pace has picked up and you're carrying more speed and more lean through corners, the knee puck becomes a important reference point, and just like not having visual reference points, not having that one to rely on can hold you back.

 

 

Rchase,

 

Imagine a hypothetical corner, where you're doing everything right, good reference points, body position, throttle control the whole thing is just flawless, and despite having your knee stuck all the way out you have no contact with the pavement. What does that tell you about your entry speed ??

 

 

Tyler

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Rchase,

 

Imagine a hypothetical corner, where you're doing everything right, good reference points, body position, throttle control the whole thing is just flawless, and despite having your knee stuck all the way out you have no contact with the pavement. What does that tell you about your entry speed ??

 

 

Tyler

 

In theory it tells you your entry speed could have been faster. But what if the turn was off camber? Could you or should you use maximum lean angle?

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In theory it tells you your entry speed could have been faster. But what if the turn was off camber? Could you or should you use maximum lean angle?

 

 

 

Unless its a crested road where your tires are on a off camber surface, AND the road falls away under you, I don't think it matters. A off camber surface means you will need less lean angle from vertical ( relative to the horizon ) to make knee contact with the road, but the angle required relative to the plane of the road surface will be the same regardless of the camber of the road. If you want to get technical sure a positive camber allows for higher cornering force, which compresses the suspension more and reduces the bikes ground clearance slightly. As long as you're comparing the negative camber to 0 or equal positive camber I think the difference would be negligible.

 

Maximum lean angle is going to be a function of available grip, and ground clearance. So the decision to use maximum lean angle would be based on not only the camber of the road, but your tire choice, suspension settings, and the grip level of the road itself.

 

 

If your knee is fully extended to make contact with the road surface is that your maximum lean angle ?

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Tyler,

 

You are a good sport. On many of the more technical tracks there's always a lot more to the corners than meets the eye. I threw in my question about camber to demonstrate sometimes it's more complicated than your scenario accounted for. At my favorite track Barber Motorsports most of the corners have interesting surprises engineered into them to keep you on your toes.

 

To answer your question in most off camber turns the angle of the surface brings your knee closer and reduces the lean angle needed to make contact. You are rarely at maximum lean angle when you make contact in an off camber turn. The problem of course though is the negative camber reduces your traction and makes it much easier for the bike to get out of shape on you ruining your opportunity for a fast drive out of the corner if you overcook your entry. Even in a completely flat turn when your knee is fully extended you are still not at your maximum lean angle. If you watch closely many professional riders will continue to add lean angle after they make contact.

 

So here's some interesting questions.

 

Which of these give you the fastest lap times? A fast entry and mid corner speed? A slower entry and better drive out? A combination of both? Which should a less experienced rider focus their attention on first for the biggest bang for the buck?

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It's been too quiet around here anyway :D

 

 

What gives you the fastest lap time? A fast entry and mid corner speed? A slower entry and better drive out? A combination of both?

 

That depends on the style of bike, and the layout of the corners and straights before and after the turn, there is no one answer its entirely situational

 

As for your home track Barber, even the pros in AMA Superbike are not knee down in every corner, a quick review of a few laps and there are at least 4 or 5 corners where they don't have enough speed or the layout of the track make it impractical. However with 15 turns the places where you cannot drag a knee are a good bit outnumbered. At Streets, which is plenty tight and technical, its more like 2 or 3 out of 14. Regardless of riding style or technique, the number of corners where you "should" outnumber the ones where you "shouldn't" by a healthy margin.

 

I think you're overcomplicating my question and scenario, and I totally agree that trying to drag a knee just for the sake of dragging a knee, unless theres a cameraman shooting B) , accomplishes nothing. but the fact remains that if you can use more lean angle you're leaving lap time on the table. It doesn't have to be higher entry speed, you can still use a slow in fast out, but simply turn the bike faster and square up the corner with a steeper lean angle. That is a technique I routinely use at SoW to get the jump on BMW's heading onto the front straight, its more of a U turn than a square though.

 

But if you're going through a average corner, and the mythical "downhill off camber decreasing radius in the rain with loose gravel and sand in the apex" is not a average corner, and you're doing everything right, but you're not using up all your available lean angle, you CAN go faster, you're being held back by mental block, not mechanical limitations. If I can use 10° more lean angle then the next rider I will have a faster lap time.

 

 

 

I’ve been doing trackdays for a few years now and I currently ride at the top of inters or bottom of fast group pace on my ZX6R.

 

Bottom end of the fast group doesn't strike me as a less experienced rider. I absolutely agree that for a new rider obsessing over and attempting crazy acrobatics on the bike to make knee contact is detrimental. But eventually less experienced riders become experienced riders, and more experienced riders need more tools in their toolbox, and at some point a lean angle gauge is a important tool in that toolbox. Like I said It becomes a reference point. For me, if I have to stick my knee all the way out, it means I could have come in faster, or turned the bike quicker. Stick it out about halfway and I'm right where I wanna be, but if I make knee contact in my "static" position, I'm not in trouble, but I should probably ease off just a tad.

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Cheers for the responses guys - really appreciate it. Definitely a few things for me to try there and I will make a mental note to check my hip position.

 

This is the best photo I could find to demonstrate my point (I know I need to work on my head position and this may be half my problem). This is one of the corners at Silverstone that I feel I should definitely be able to get my knee down on. Whether I was actually really trying on this particular shot I can't be sure, but let me know if this helps with regards to body position etc?

 

 

post-22340-0-91748400-1407832650_thumb.png

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Based on that photo, Tyler nailed it. You need to rotate your hips (and for that matter, your upper body) more into the corner if you want to get your knee down.

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Hawk862,

 

To the previous point of turning your hips & upper body into the corner... when you ride, are you right up ON the tank or do you leave some distance between your wedding tackle and the tank? I suspect from the picture that you're right up on it.

 

Benny

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there is no one answer its entirely situational

 

That's one thing we can agree on. There is no one answer. Here's some

observations that I have come to just from this conversation.

 

1. Knee contact can be due to rider error.

2. A knee down is not an indicator of maximum lean angle as the pro's continue to lean even after they touch.

3. Certain corners are impossible for even the pro's to get a knee down in.

 

I'm going to pick up this conversation with Tyler offline as I don't want to derail the topic any further. Someone asked specific questions and our healthy debate is not adding to that at this point. :)

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there is no one answer its entirely situational

 

That's one thing we can agree on. There is no one answer. Here's some

observations that I have come to just from this conversation.

...

 

I'm going to pick up this conversation with Tyler offline as I don't want to derail the topic any further. Someone asked specific questions and our healthy debate is not adding to that at this point. :)

 

WHY?????????????

This is a very good thread; don't take it off line - that's why we're all here.

 

Rainman

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Oh Ok. I just thought we were getting off on a tangent. I did not want to take away from the original question. In the interest of transparency this is what I sent via PM to T-Mckeen.

 

"Hey,

Thanks for the healthy debate in the Knee down topic. I don't think we were helping the guy with his question so I decided to PM instead.

 

I'm sure your familiar with the 80% rule from the school? The thing to keep in mind is that your 80% is different than my 80% or even Valentino Rossi's 80%. You mentioned the following in the topic.

"but you're not using up all your available lean angle, you CAN go faster, you're being held back by mental block, not mechanical
limitations."

Even Valentino has that problem. As human beings we just can't keep up with the machinery no matter what. Riding above your limits opens the door for all sorts of SR's that can ruin your riding.

Relatively inexperienced riders like myself are trained by the school to throw away a little bit of that entry speed to have a SR free entry and a better exit. That's where our bang for the buck is. Eventually we do increase our entry speed but that's a gradual process. You can always go faster but when you trip an SR going in too hot it's very destructive to your riding."

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In regards to the photo. I agree with what everyone else is saying here about being able to refine body position a bit.

 

The thing that stuck out to me a bit was the position of the head and shoulders and the position of the inside arm.

 

How are your feet positioned on the pegs? One of the huge problems that I had for a while is foot position. Since I was scraping them on the track I used a very unusual foot position up against the frame of the bike to combat this for a while. It solved the problem in the short term but caused other issues. With decent rearsets and revisiting my foot position getting into a hang off position was a lot more natural for me. Being able to pivot on the ball of my foot allowed me to get more knee out while maintaining ground clearance.

 

It's not all bad news. I do notice your rear end is off to the correct side of the center line. Your back is relatively straight until it gets to the shoulders. Should just be a little refinement to get you where you want to be. :)

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Let me just remind both Robert and Tyler that physical differences in the body (leg length, flexibility in the hips, etc.) and bike configuration (rearset position, tank shape, etc.) can have a considerable influence on how easy or difficult it can be to get the knee down, even with steep lean angles and good body position. For example, I have three bikes. On one I can get my knee down consistently and on another occasionally, but on the third one, I am not anywhere near touching my knee. The third bike is taller, has an odd tank shape and REALLY high rearsets.

 

I know both of you guys, and you are built totally differently, so much so that you will both need to take each other's comments with a grain of salt, because I am confident that your respective experiences - even on the same bike - would be quite different. Robert, I think you would have to go considerably faster around a corner (and/or carry a higher lean angle) to get your knee down, compared to Tyler, who has long legs and a lot of flexibility in his riding position. Also I'd hazard a guess that Tyler can more comfortably ride in rearsets that are lower than what would suit Robert.

 

Another item to consider; Robert, the recommendation to ride at 75% of your ability is for learning, to give you enough free attention to observe your riding or learn a new skill, instead of riding at your absolute limit. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to ride at 75-80% of your ability all the time - it's not a bad idea, because you have some margin for error, but if you are going all out in a race you may not leave that much safety margin. I wonder if Tyler is talking 100% full out pace when you are talking 80%? That distinction would make a difference for me, I am not dragging knee at my 75-80% pace, I have to be going as fast as I can go (OR use bad technique) to get my knee down.

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Let me just remind both Robert and Tyler that physical differences in the body (leg length, flexibility in the hips, etc.) and bike configuration (rearset position, tank shape, etc.) can have a considerable influence on how easy or difficult it can be to get the knee down, even with steep lean angles and good body position. For example, I have three bikes. On one I can get my knee down consistently and on another occasionally, but on the third one, I am not anywhere near touching my knee. The third bike is taller, has an odd tank shape and REALLY high rearsets.

 

I know both of you guys, and you are built totally differently, so much so that you will both need to take each other's comments with a grain of salt, because I am confident that your respective experiences - even on the same bike - would be quite different. Robert, I think you would have to go considerably faster around a corner (and/or carry a higher lean angle) to get your knee down, compared to Tyler, who has long legs and a lot of flexibility in his riding position. Also I'd hazard a guess that Tyler can more comfortably ride in rearsets that are lower than what would suit Robert.

 

Another item to consider; Robert, the recommendation to ride at 75% of your ability is for learning, to give you enough free attention to observe your riding or learn a new skill, instead of riding at your absolute limit. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to ride at 75-80% of your ability all the time - it's not a bad idea, because you have some margin for error, but if you are going all out in a race you may not leave that much safety margin. I wonder if Tyler is talking 100% full out pace when you are talking 80%? That distinction would make a difference for me, I am not dragging knee at my 75-80% pace, I have to be going as fast as I can go (OR use bad technique) to get my knee down.

 

Hotfoot. Your knowledge and ability to share it never ceases to amaze me! The bike does make a huge difference in the equation and is something that we never really even touched on. Something that should have been fresh in mind with all the troubles I had with one of my bikes. Beyond the bike body size, shape and flexibility plays a huge factor as well.

 

I also never took into account racing which is a whole different ballgame. I go to the track to stretch the legs on my bikes and have a good time and rarely if ever go beyond my 75-80% unless presented with a situation where I really need to. That alone probably explains the rarity of my knee scrapes. Goal and purpose has a huge bearing on what an individual considers to be important. Someone who races is going to have a different perspective on what's important than someone who's casually doing track days for fun.

 

Personally as long as I'm making improvements I'm happy. Knee on the asphalt or not.

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Personally as long as I'm making improvements I'm happy. Knee on the asphalt or not.

 

 

 

My favorite quote of the day. :)

 

Thanks for your compliments, glad it was helpful. I always enjoy talking about motorcycles and riding!

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So, first off ... EVERYONE should take ANYTHING I say with a grain of salt cause I'm probably not right in the head :D , that also kinda goes for anything you read on the interwebz though ....

 

I'm not talking about riding at flat out 100% because IMO thats a racing only kind of thing, but I'm not talking about riding at 75% either, I would say I routinely ride at the 90% mark, close enough to my limit to keep things lively but with some margin for error.

 

Robert, you keep bringing up this inexperienced rider point, ( TBH I'm a little confused what you consider to be a inexperienced rider because I wouldn't peg you as a inexperienced rider ), and I'm not sure why, in virtually every post I've stated that I'm NOT talking about inexperienced riders, so perhaps we can keep the focus on a experienced rider who has a few years of riding under his belt and a pace that is in between the intermediate and fast groups at your average track day.

 

 

 

Now to try and pull a play from Hotfoots playbook, in the beginning of TWOTW II Keith talks about the various different types of advice a rider is likely to experience at the track, which of those types of advice do these responses to the original post reflect ?

 

1: Yes, same situation for me. Sounds like you're doing just fine without it so I'd let it leave your mind.

2: ...me too! It's OK, it's really OK and I've been doing this for 14 years.

3: It does not bother me one bit that I'm not scraping my knee on the track through every corner.

4: You need to rotate your hips (and for that matter, your upper body) more into the corner if you want to get your knee down.

 

 

Based on finally being able to view Hawk's photo, he is using plenty of lean angle, and if he were to maintain that body position and keep adding lean angle till he finally scraped a knee puck, IMO he would be using excessive and borderline dangerous amounts of lean angle to do so. He may think he's sticking his knee way out there, but he's really not, so I think that in this kind of scenario the casual advice of "don't worry about it" or "it will happen" is actually bad advice, he has a body position issue that needs addressing, and addressing that may not only allow him to get his knee down and have a quick and accurate gauge of his lean angle, but it might help sort out some other issues and improve his riding all around.

 

so to add a few more Points to Roberts list from before

 

4. Lack of knee contact can be due to body position error

5. When used properly the knee puck is a accurate gauge of lean angle

6. Based on Rider and Bike geometry sometimes knee contact is simply not possible

 

 

Now a couple questions for Robert ( or anyone for that matter :D ), which might get us a little off topic,

 

How do you break through a mental barrier ? If you never approach your personal "limit" how can you move it ? And if you never encounter your SR's how can you hope to tame them ? If you were able to quickly gauge your lean angle mid corner, would that free up some of your attention span ? If something is consuming a unnecessary portion of your attention while you're riding should you address it, regardless of what IT is ?

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Now to try and pull a play from Hotfoots playbook, in the beginning of TWOTW II Keith talks about the various different types of advice a rider is likely to experience at the track, which of those types of advice do these responses to the original post reflect ?

 

1: Yes, same situation for me. Sounds like you're doing just fine without it so I'd let it leave your mind.

2: ...me too! It's OK, it's really OK and I've been doing this for 14 years.

3: It does not bother me one bit that I'm not scraping my knee on the track through every corner.

4: You need to rotate your hips (and for that matter, your upper body) more into the corner if you want to get your knee down.

 

Actually Tyler the first three do respond to his original post which did not include anything more than a common lament of riders who have never touched knee puck to the deck. The fourth was Yellow Duck's and it appears immediately after Hawk posts a photo - the only empirical evidence that Hawk offers up. The photo expanded his original question with something that Forum members could use to generate more specific feed back. It's a good thread and demonstrates why this Forum works as well as it does. Hopefully Hawk and other Members have learned something from it and maybe others who have been monitoring it - but see it from a different angle can chime in too.

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A fair point on the difference between the first three and number 4, although Yellow Ducks response post photo is exactly the same as my original guess. However my point there is how quickly the "common lament" is brushed off with the standard don't worry about it response. Which in many cases is good advice, but not every case. In some cases there is some actual underlying issue that is worth digging into. My guess is that had Hawk postulated his problem in the form of a question about body position it would have been met with a response of show us a photo so we can critique it, but since it was about dragging a knee it got the standard reply of don't worry about it.

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Now a couple questions for Robert ( or anyone for that matter :D ), which might get us a little off topic,

 

How do you break through a mental barrier ? If you never approach your personal "limit" how can you move it ? And if you never encounter your SR's how can you hope to tame them ? If you were able to quickly gauge your lean angle mid corner, would that free up some of your attention span ? If something is consuming a unnecessary portion of your attention while you're riding should you address it, regardless of what IT is ?

 

Some REALLY good questions that have been root of evil with many of my own riding problems.

 

I think I read in one of Keith's books a section related to gradually increasing corner entry speeds. You can do it a little each time without triggering SR's and stretch your comfort zone. This past Level 4 I discovered my corner entry speed issues were mostly related to visuals and obsessing over the turn points. The turn point itself grabbed so much of my attention that the rest of the important stuff got lost in the shuffle ultimately killing my mid corner speed. By not obsessing about the turn point and by gradually increasing the speed I was able to make a remarkable improvement remaining well within my comfort zone.

 

In regards to the "common lament" thing. That's also an attention thing as well if you think about it. If you focus on the goal of getting a knee down you can overlook some of the other important issues causing the actual problem. In my case my problem was my obsession over the turn point that caused my corner entry speed to be so low I did not need to use as much lean angle to get through the corner. I could have forced myself to use more lean angle than needed but that would not have ultimately solved my visual problem and probably caused other problems. The knee down is a byproduct of getting it right. It's really a question of focusing on the product than the byproduct. The product is getting through the corner as fast as possible.

 

It depends on your point of view and goals if that advice is "wrong or right". I do however agree with your idea of "digging into the problem. I'm really glad it happened in this thread as I have learned a lot of stuff from many people sharing their experiences.

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