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Rolling With The Bike

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I'm new to this forum, and it looks like a fantastic resource. I've read both ToTW books, plus some others, like Nick Ienatsch's. I live in Denver where hundreds of miles of pristine canyon roads lie only about 20 miles from my door. I have a question based on something I read that Keith wrote. He said that you have to take care when steering that you're not just pushing the bike underneath you. In other words, you must roll when the bike rolls. Sounds obvious, but after I read it, I realized that sometimes I was guilty of pushing the bike around underneath me. I found that pushing on one handlebar causes me to roll very naturally with the bike, whereas pushing on one grip while pulling on the other tends to stabilize me on top of the bike, preventing me from moving with the bike. Thoughts?

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Hmm... I don't think pushing on the bar has anything to do with it. In fact, I think that's the way most fast racers initiate a turn.


Pulling on the outside bar is a much less controlled movement, and DEFINTELY less powerful. When you push, it comes from your center of gravity and has your weight behind it. Pulling tends to tug you off center, plus unless you lean back, there's not much leverage/power there. I would reconsider that technique... I'm not a CSS instructor, but I am a race instructor as well as MSF instructor. I would never tell anybody to pull on the outside bar.


Leaning with the bike just takes practice. Moving your butt to the inside edge of your seat as you prepare to turn helps, as well as leading with your chin.

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Interesting! Ienatsch says in his book that if you ask 10 expert riders how to turn, you'll get 10 different responses. I guess he's right. Pushing on the inside bar and not applying any pressure to the outside seems to give me the best balance, but maybe not the most leverage. I think I need to try weighting the peg more. I'm a decent rider for someone who hasn't taken one of Keith's classes (yet), but I need to get more comfortable with pushing the bar harder. It's just a matter of overcoming fear. Thanks for the responses!

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I found that pushing on one handlebar causes me to roll very naturally with the bike, whereas pushing on one grip while pulling on the other tends to stabilize me on top of the bike, preventing me from moving with the bike. Thoughts?


I think I know what you mean.


In my experience, an equal amount of push and pull on each grip seems like a reasonable way to boost leverage at the bars but it tends to keep the upper body frozen in position for a fraction of a second longer than just a push or just a pull would... ...thus making the bike seem to be pushed beneath me rather than "following my lead" (Ideally I'd like to lead with some lean or at least some movement in the shoulders).


Imagine it in a non-riding scenario:


A large, horizontal wheel (like a valve or maybe an old bus steering wheel) must be turned. If you were to turn this wheel with both hands (a simultaneous push and pull) your shoulders would likely stay stable and all of the movement would be taken up by your arms.


Now turn the hypothetical wheel by pushing forward with your right hand only.. ...Chances are your right shoulder would tend to move forward (and maybe down) a bit to take up the physical slack.


Now back to the bike... :ph34r:


The steering head is not unlike that hypothetical horizontal wheel in that you should be doing your "pushing" forward and backward on the grips in a horizontal plane.. ..not pushing down...


..and once the steering head is rotated the bike will lean. I found that initiating the turn by pushing forward on the inside-of-turn grip helped me to break the (youth-on-a-dirtbike borne) habit of "pushing the bike beneath me".


As my body english/positioning improved I noticed that I was often "flip-flopping" this technique and pulling hard on the outside-of-turn grip.. ..sometimes so much as to get blisters on my hands from it. The problem I found with this method was the amount of weight I sometimes felt being taken up my my "high side" hand if my body positioning wasn't good enough; I felt like an ape hanging from a branch and just like the swinging ape my weight would sometimes swing from the grip a bit and therefore contribute to mid-turn wobbles.


Keeping an emphasis on the inside-of-turn arm/hand/grip seems to be the most consistent means of control for me.. ..at least when it comes to the twisties. In a panic-swerve situation I tend to use both bars much more equally but in that scenario I am looking for maximum leverage and don't care quite so much about leading with my shoulder.



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If I start the body lean AND push on the inside bar at the same time I feel the bike hooked up and are rolling with the bike through the apex.


Well that's kind of what I was getting at in my post. When I put the emphasis on the inside bar on turn-in it kinda 'forces' the upper-body lean to go along with it. More often than not I've already used my legs to lift my ass up and slide it over towards the inside of the turn well before turn-in... ...the inside-bar push and coincident shoulder lean is the "last step" in my direction changing move.


I remember that when I first read about pivot steering I thought it was basically the same move I was doing but with a little bit more "drive" from the leg, courtesy of the outside peg.


Interesting what you say about mid-corner tension on the bars though. Are you really putting that much stress on the bars mid-corner? every time I feel any amount of tension in my hands (whilst banked over) the bike tends to track a little wobbly. It does -not- track so wobbly when I use a very very light touch.. ..the bars do need to wiggle a bit in order to keep the bike arcing through the turn (no corner is perfect).


You can see where this comes from if you can bring yourself to perform a leap of faith.. ...set up a good bit of lean in a nice big sweeper at a good pace and (once you know the way ahead is clear) take your eyes off the horizon and look briefly at the steering head... ..more than likely it will be wiggling about slightly as the bike tracks along through the turn. It's always done that.. .your arms have just been taking up the "slack". A stiff arm (or arms) will impede that wiggle and it might translate into whole-bike wobbles.


I've gone so far as to (briefly) lift my hands from both grips (at the same time) whilst leaned over and sure enough there was basically no difference in the behaviour of the bike. I then set my hands back down so lightly on the grips that I could barely feel them in contact with the bars and it felt just as stable and secure. As a result of these experiments I try to keep a very very light and equal degree of grip on the bars while tracking through a turn. All of the bar pressure comes to play during a change in direction/lean only. IOW I am not really "steering" at all while tracking through the turn.. ..just tending to the bike's stability with a light touch on the bars and a bit o' throttle.


Sometimes I find myself forgetting to release the grip tension and more often than not it is when I use the outside grip to pull myself into the turns.. ...not sure why that is so but it does appear to be so. For some reason I have a better time on my body english (on turn in) and mid-turn lever pressure if I push the inside bar when I countersteer.



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push on the inside bar to initiate the turn at your turn point. Push down at the same time on the outside peg - it's called pivot steering and CSS will teach you it in Level 2. It works! You will get major quick flicks into turns using this method, which gets you into the turn faster, therefore using less lean angle for the same speed. Try it!

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If you're steering to keep the bike up in a turn, then you are doing something wrong. Use the throttle to keep the bike up. Crack the throttle open as soon as the bike is at the desired lean angle, and roll on smoothly to keep the bike up mid corner and increase roll on as you stand it up.


Taking the class is a great idea. If you can't afford it, a well organized trackday might be a cheaper way to learn a few things about this topic.

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If I can offer a couple of thoughts on your posts, you write:

1.) "I realized that almost all the 'pulling' I was talking about was the exit where I wanted the bike to stand up as throttle was added, I was pulling on both bars, not as steering inputs but to put myself back in the saddle".

Metal on Metal offered you half the answer when he wrote: "I've gone so far as to (briefly) lift my hands from both grips (at the same time) whilst leaned over and sure enough there was basically no difference in the behaviour of the bike. I then set my hands back down so lightly on the grips that I could barely feel them in contact with the bars and it felt just as stable and secure. What he didn't tell you is how did he stay on the bike? - it was with his legs! In Level 3, you will see how much you need to use your legs durning cornering so you can stay "loose" on the bars. This is a very important part of the syllabus.


2.) "I know the proper 'look through' the turn technique, the problem is that as I approach the turn I focus on the point just behind the cornering marker on my line. That is the do or die point."

My sense of the drill was to look UP the track so the wide view will reduce the SR associated with speed, mainly because you will see more accurately how fast you are actually going in relationship to how much room you have to manage that speed. Since target fixing takes almost all of your attention, you can't see how much you have cheated yourself out of corner speed until you are past the "do or die point". Once into your turn - then and only then do you see how much quicker you could have gone throught there.


3.) You can't get there from here. What I mean is by that is that it is very hard to teach youself these techniques no matter how much you try. The best testimony that can be found here is from Balistic, winner of 11 of the 14 races he has entered so far this season. He writes: "I am the product of the master not the master myself. The real joy of my racing is showing the benefits of my training to others who want to know how high they could go. Ask Keith, and do what asks."


Good luck.


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Wow Rifleman... ..sounds almost like you have some issues with the sensation of speed, or maybe your death-gaze-on-the-turn-in-point is creating some sensational issues for you.


The thing that I don't like about using turn-in points for street riding is that there aren't many reliable ones to use.. ..or rather you don't make laps on the street so you aren't as likely to be able to use the same one again and again (and meaure your progress with a lap counter even if you were making "laps".


Seems to me that most street riders have a "turn-in point" which is really nothing more than the point at which they commit to turning the bike. The "point" is really more like a small region in which the rider feels pretty comfortable with the notion that if they steer within the region the bike will track its' way out of the corner OK.


You said that you are the king of corner exits and so I think you are OK once you get your eyes up and towards the exit; the trick is maybe to get your vision a little less tunneled before that point.


A couple of things that helped me (and that I force myself to remember every spring when I work my way out of the beginning-of-season worries):


*the difference between the width of your bike and the width of your lanespace is pretty significant; you can fit three bikes side-by-side in yer average country lane so really the corners you face on your bike are not unlike a 3-lane highway in width. That's an awful lot of pavement available for you to use... ...and it means that (for less than rolling-crime-spree speeds ;) ) your turn-in point isn't a tiny, uber critical, make-it-or-break-it patch of pavement that must be hit with all the precision of a squeeze between parked cars. In other words, there isn't such a need for you to focus on the "turn-in-point" to get through yer average street twisty.. ..just getting it in the "region" is good enough.


*A few words on watching something roll right up to the tire: After a certain point in time (it will vary based on your speed) you won't have the space (or time) available to do anything about it if you are off-course. Consider how many feet per second you are covering at even 30 MPH (44 feet per second); if you are looking to make a steering correction to hit a mark on the pavement at 30 MPH you'll have less than 44 (linear) feet to pull it off... ..probably much less than 1 second, given your reaction time, etc etc. In other words, don't fixate on the stuff you really cannot do anything meaningful about. If the lane ahead is clear then just aim for your "region" and once you have it in sight switch it to your peripheral and try instead to get your eyes up and on the exit.. ..sounds crazy but really we use our peripheral vision to get through a lot of our tight spots... ..do you have to concentrate and focus on the toilet seat to sit on it? ;)


*Sometimes we fall victim to Machiavellian tendencies ("the end justifies the means"). Maybe our goal is to hang off like a magazine shoot and so with that goal in mind we commit our turn-in, body language, etc to making that goal happen. If you are "reaching" your knee out for the pavement then I bet you're falling for this trap (I've done it!). The big problem with this IMHO is that your line selection gets seriously compromised since it was set up for a kneedragging attempt rather than a quick and efficient cut through the curve (and you know it when it isn't right). Ask yourself: could I have gotten through that curve at that speed without hanging off at all? Why not try it again just to see?


Another trick I sometimes use to rethink my riding is to cut "the line" out completely. I pick a suitably twisty road and then try to ride while "mirroring" the dividing line (staying exactly a safe distance from it, say mabe 5 feet.. ..on the straights and all the way through the corners). Istart out slow (say at the speed limit :rolleyes: ) and then go again a little faster, then again a little faster still. By putting an emphaasis on the lane marker line I am forced to use my peripheral vision more and therefore break the habit of tunnel-vision a bit. Once I am really ripping along I start to hang off, etc and have some fun. **You can also do this type of thing on a highway on/offramp "cloverleaf" if one is available.



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Isn't that a flat tracker technique to GET the rear to kick out and slide? Crossing up the bike as it were. I'm already hyper sensitive to the rear "giving" during full over turns. We're talking pucker facter 9000!!! Sounds like an advanced technique that I will have to shelve until I have mastered the basics.


The pivot steer isn't an advanced technique at all - it's just the easiest way of turning your bike. You become almost bionic! Especially at high speeds when it becomes harder to turn the bars (gyro effect increases at higher speed). There's no reason that the rear will step out - that will only happen if the rear loses traction - usually due to cracking on the throttle too hard/too quick on the exit or at too steep a lean angle. Using the pivot steer will also REDUCE your lean angle for a given speed which equals more traction.


Why don't you get yourself on a CSS level 1 and 2 - they'll sort you out...!

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don't wait 'til Christmas...you're gonna go crazy between then and now with all your questions/queries/understanding! Get booked in this summer! I wish I had booked my Level 1 a lot sooner than I actually did. In fact, I wish I'd done it years before I did. It takes me about 12 months to digest everything they teach you in each level before it becomes "subconscious" i.e. you don't have to think yourself to perform the skill, it just comes naturally. I don't think you'll regret it.


When you do try the pivot steer drill , don't be surprised how quick you suddenly start to be able to turn. You'll, at first, end up running into the apex of the corner too early. That is, you'll have wished you'd have turned later than you actually did and you'll need to stand the bike back up again. This is good! Because now you realise that you needed less lean angle to get around that corner. If you need less lean angle, that means that the fatter parts of the tyres are in contact with the ground, giving you more available traction - which is also good! So, you can now go around the same corner, at the same speed using the same turn point BUT with MORE traction - which is really good! All down to turning the bike quicker...I'm no CSS instructor - they'll teach you all this far better than I can describe it!


Maybe a CSS instructor could comment on the above postings and help this guy out?


Good luck! Stu#71

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  • 2 months later...

Just finished TOTW 2 and then went back and re-read all the posts in this thread.


Thanks for all of your help. To look at it now the problem was that I was being given perfect directions to a goal, I just didn't have a map to follow those directions on.


Thanks for putting up with questions that could have easily been addressed simply by getting into the book. Two eyes, one mouth. That ratio exist for a reason.

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