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Quick Cornering On The Street


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1) Sometimes, when I get a corner right and roll on the gas fairly aggressively, the rear digs and then the suspension compresses from centrifugal force. Is this an okay thing to do?

 

2) If there are fast chicanes, the bike can seem to bounce from extreme left leaning to extreme right leaning. Is this safe?

 

3) If I need more cornering force, I hang off, and eventhough the turn radius is reduced, the tire starts squirming or sliding a bit immediately. I assume this is because the thrust center is misaligned from the center of gravity. Is this desirable for street riding? Why or why not?

 

Thanks.

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1) Sometimes, when I get a corner right and roll on the gas fairly aggressively, the rear digs and then the suspension compresses from centrifugal force. Is this an okay thing to do?

 

2) If there are fast chicanes, the bike can seem to bounce from extreme left leaning to extreme right leaning. Is this safe?

 

3) If I need more cornering force, I hang off, and eventhough the turn radius is reduced, the tire starts squirming or sliding a bit immediately. I assume this is because the thrust center is misaligned from the center of gravity. Is this desirable for street riding? Why or why not?

 

Thanks.

 

 

sounds like suspension issues. have you set your sag/rebound/comp yet?

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sounds like suspension issues. have you set your sag/rebound/comp yet?

 

Correction, I can adjust rear preload, which is in stock setting for my 180lb weight. A riding buddy said my preload on the front was too high and wanted slide my forks up or cut a coil out of the front springs, but neither sounded kosher to me.

 

Should I adjust the rear preload up a click? That would put more weight on the front. Is that desirable?

 

Thank you.

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2) If there are fast chicanes, the bike can seem to bounce from extreme left leaning to extreme right leaning. Is this safe?

 

3) If I need more cornering force, I hang off, and eventhough the turn radius is reduced, the tire starts squirming or sliding a bit immediately. I assume this is because the thrust center is misaligned from the center of gravity. Is this desirable for street riding? Why or why not?

 

Thanks.

 

When you are transition from left hang off to right hang off positions, or from not hanging off to hanging off, you should do it entirely with your legs, and not be pushing on the handlebars. And when you are holding yourself in the hangoff position you should be holding onto the bike with your legs, not your arms. I bet you are messing with the handlebars and causing the above sensations. Practice with your bike stationary on a repair stand or something like that. Or, just don't hang off - it's not really something you have to do except for the most extreme cornering - I personally rarely do it when riding on public roads. But even if you stay centered on the bike you still need to not be inadvertently pushing on the handlebars. Push on the handlebars to countersteer to change your lean angle, but try to relax your arms completely when maintaining a lean angle in the middle of turns. And if you are going to hang off, do it before the turn rather than transitioning to it in the middle of the turn.

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Your #2 could be suspension, but I think your #3 is probably a lot more to do with tightening up on the bars, or hanging your weight on the bars when hanging off, or pushing on the bars inadvertently as you are moving into the hang off position. You say you only hang off when you screw up. I take you mean when you get into a turn too hot? That is exactly the scenario where almost all of us have the tendency to tight up on the bars. The higher handlebars on the 650r make hanging off more awkward in my experience.

 

I don't think that there is anything inherent about hanging off ("the thrust center is misaligned from the center of gravity") that would cause the sensations you describe. Lots of people hang off all the time without having their front wheel sliding and squirming, even on bikes with soft and unadjustable suspension.

 

Your #2 could be suspension maybe if you are making some really fast transitions. Making your transitions a little slower might work better with that kind of bike. Or maybe just making them smoother. Perhaps all of the stuff you describe here is from just riding the bike too hard in general. Based on the specs it's not a super aggressive bike. Not that I'm diss'n your bike or anything. I've had similar bikes and loved them but different bikes have different purposes.

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Your #2 could be suspension, but I think your #3 is probably a lot more to do with tightening up on the bars, or hanging your weight on the bars when hanging off, or pushing on the bars inadvertently as you are moving into the hang off position. You say you only hang off when you screw up. I take you mean when you get into a turn too hot? That is exactly the scenario where almost all of us have the tendency to tight up on the bars. The higher handlebars on the 650r make hanging off more awkward in my experience.

 

I don't think that there is anything inherent about hanging off ("the thrust center is misaligned from the center of gravity") that would cause the sensations you describe. Lots of people hang off all the time without having their front wheel sliding and squirming, even on bikes with soft and unadjustable suspension.

 

Your #2 could be suspension maybe if you are making some really fast transitions. Making your transitions a little slower might work better with that kind of bike. Or maybe just making them smoother. Perhaps all of the stuff you describe here is from just riding the bike too hard in general. Based on the specs it's not a super aggressive bike. Not that I'm diss'n your bike or anything. I've had similar bikes and loved them but different bikes have different purposes.

I think you're right. Thank you. (#2) The transitions probably ARE too fast for this bike. (#3) But I can ride pretty darn quick without sliding the rear tires at all. If I misjudge a corner and slide one cheek off the seat, I seem to turn a lot quicker--sometimes unpredictably so. Come to think of it, when I plan to hang off, I do tend to push on the inside handlebar, almost as though I don't trust the bike to turn. So that's what is causing the tires to slide and have a bit of that rubber eraser look?

 

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

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Your #2 could be suspension maybe if you are making some really fast transitions....Perhaps all of the stuff you describe here is from just riding the bike too hard in general. Based on the specs it's not a super aggressive bike.

 

The Ninja 650R is a great bike to come back to motorcycling after 18 years off, but it is what it is. I agree the bike is not set up to be super-aggressive compared to the ZX-600's I rode at the track, but other than price, how can you tell from the specs? If I were buying a bike used, how would I tell if it's going to be a much faster ride than my current bike or just a pretender with a strong engine and lousy chassis and suspension?

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I think you're right. Thank you. (#2) The transitions probably ARE too fast for this bike. (#3) But I can ride pretty darn quick without sliding the rear tires at all. If I misjudge a corner and slide one cheek off the seat, I seem to turn a lot quicker--sometimes unpredictably so. Come to think of it, when I plan to hang off, I do tend to push on the inside handlebar, almost as though I don't trust the bike to turn. So that's what is causing the tires to slide and have a bit of that rubber eraser look?

 

Well I'm not exactly an expert at sliding bikes around or anything but aside from tire pressure, here are a couple reasons I can think of that your front would slide but not the rear:

1. If you are going through the turns off-throttle, then your front tire will be the first to slide. If you are going through a turn with a lot of throttle, then your rear wheel will be the first to slide. If in a turn you hold the throttle slightly on, or slowly increasing, enough to maintain speed or slightly increase speed throughout the turn, then the traction will be balanced front to rear and both tires will slide about the same (and most likely not at all unless you are some super racer dude or run over something slippery).

2. Keeping your arms really relaxed throughout a turn will improve front wheel traction. It allows the front wheel to track naturally due to the trail.

 

These 2 things are both stuff I learned in Level 1 with superbike school but obviously they go over them in more detail. Both will make the bike generally more stable and accurate. Even if not riding hard they really help out with how the bike reacts to things like bumps or gravel patches in the middle of turns - very useful for public road riding.

 

You say when you hang off the bike "turns a lot quicker--sometimes unpredictably so." 99% of that is because you are pushing on the bars as you are shifting your weight around, or in other words you are putting a countersteer into the handlebars causing it to lean lower. Having your weight off the inside of the bike has a very very mild effect compared to what you are doing with the handlebars. If you get into a turn too hot, in my opinion the best thing to focus on is: Look through the turn where you want to go, relax your arms, and get the throttle open slightly. And somewhere in there you may need to countersteer briefly to make the bike lean lower if necessary, but that will come naturally if you do the other stuff.

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The Ninja 650R is a great bike to come back to motorcycling after 18 years off, but it is what it is. I agree the bike is not set up to be super-aggressive compared to the ZX-600's I rode at the track, but other than price, how can you tell from the specs? If I were buying a bike used, how would I tell if it's going to be a much faster ride than my current bike or just a pretender with a strong engine and lousy chassis and suspension?

 

When I looked at the specs of the 650r, under suspension it doesn't mention any adjustments, except for rear preload, which basically every bike has, theoretically to allow for passengers. If you look at the specs of the zx600s you'll see mention of adjustable rebound damping, compression damping, etc. Plus things like the lower handlebars and inverted forks and such. Even if the bike has such features, and you never actually adjust anything, it still matters, because bikes that have these features also seem to have stiffer springs and damping in general, making them more suitable for aggressive riding. And it makes sense, one bike is basically a track bike, the other is a street commuter type bike. The zx600's suspension is all about going fast, the 650R's suspension is about comfort. It's honda civic vs. ferrari. My first bike was a yamaha seca II 600, no adjustments, but still a nice bike that served its purpose well. I currently own a KLR650 which has 9 inches of mushy suspension travel and forks that are so flexible that after countersteering hard it takes a second for the front wheel to catch up with the handlebars! :D My gsxr600 is like a rock compared to either of those and at relaxing street speeds it seems kinda silly stiff, but when I ride it hard it works great.

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One problem could be with the tires. Have you gotten new ones, especially for more aggressive riding? My wife still has the stock tires on her 650, and they like to slide a lot.

 

Thanks. Yes, I did replace the stock Bridgestone BT021 with a set of ContiSport Attacks. They are much stickier. Although after I had replaced the tires I read Keith Code's "A Twist of the Wrist II" wherein he says a lot of beginners would learn a lot from tires that aren't so sticky. I found the the Bridgestones were picky about pressure and operating temperature and can be sticky or slippery depending on conditions. I learned a lot about using the rear brake along with the throttle from those tires, stuff that I've almost forgotten with the Conti's. And I've had several exciting front and rear slides with those tires when cold or wet.

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You say when you hang off the bike "turns a lot quicker--sometimes unpredictably so." 99% of that is because you are pushing on the bars as you are shifting your weight around, or in other words you are putting a countersteer into the handlebars causing it to lean lower. Having your weight off the inside of the bike has a very very mild effect compared to what you are doing with the handlebars. If you get into a turn too hot, in my opinion the best thing to focus on is: Look through the turn where you want to go, relax your arms, and get the throttle open slightly. And somewhere in there you may need to countersteer briefly to make the bike lean lower if necessary, but that will come naturally if you do the other stuff.

 

THANKS!

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You guys have covered a lot of ground, regarding technique. One thing that can be checked is the spring sag (did I miss that somewhere?). If the front is not correct for your weight, sometimes a little more preload (using a spacer), or new springs might be needed).

 

I personally like the best tires I can get on the bike. Learning the limits of the tires is more easily done at the track.

 

CF

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