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Learning By Doing


faffi
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It certainly took time before I were willing to methodically try various techniques listed on this site and in the TWOT books and DVD, but once I by accident learned how well relaxed arms worked, I'm suddenly eager to learn more by experimenting.

 

This is what I learned on today's ride:

 

- relaxed elbows seems more important than relaxed shoulders because dropping the elbows by itself tend to relax hands/grip as well as shoulders. But even if the two end points end up slightly tense, the dropped elbows works wonders. Locked elbows, even with arms bent, seems to affect steering more in a not entirely positive way.

 

- being relaxed lets blood flow better so it takes longer to get cold when the weather is chilly.

 

- being relaxed means the bike is less affected by bumps and strong winds.

 

- being relaxed lets the suspension work better.

 

So I worked a lot on relaxing. I'm very bad at coordinating my body - despite being pretty strong and stocky, I'm easily pushed over - so I need to work on finding the correct spot where my torso is always resting on the oncoming wind. As it is, I use a bit too much core muscles compared to what's needed if I always manage to stay absolutely neutral. Not sure if I will ever master it, but I can get better.

 

Also, I need to work on countering acceleration and braking forces. I realise that I have always been riding from my hands; hanging after my fingers when accelerating and supporting my body on the palms of my hands when braking. Leaning just enough to counter acceleration so that I can keep relaxed is another issue I'm working on and that seems to improve rapidly. I'm also just beginning to support my body by squeezing the fuel tank, and this also took less effort than I expected, but it will need lots of practice to become second nature.

 

Steering the bike usually has not been an issue for me, but I have noticed that there are times when I excert a lot of force on the handlebars (pushing/pulling) without actually getting the bike to do anything. Last ride I tried to focus especially on this phenomena, and at first I really couldn't understand the cause - some corners were unaffected while others, very similar ones, had me pushing and pulling with apparently no effect on where the bike was going.

 

In the end I concluded that either A) my inputs where indeed needed to counter-steer the bike even when leaned over to maintain my line or B) the effort was too low for the bike to bother since it was a constant force, and hence redundant. After experimenting, it seems like B is more likely; when I felt myself excerting force on the bars, I willed myself to relax my grip. Half the time a gentle nudge was required to slighly adjust my trajectory, the rest of the time the bike just continued its arch. Interesting!

 

Finally, I found that there are more ways to reduce the required amount of lean for any given pace around a corner - getting on the throttle just right. This was a revelation in itself, I must say, and it really surprised me how much time perfect (well, I'm not Stoner, so the term may not be, erm, perfect :P ) throttle application saved me.

 

Overall, I will say that with my new discoveries - which will not be new to most here - had some very positve effects, the most important being how much wider the road looked and how much more time I felt like having at my disposal to react to whatever the road could throw at me. It would be very interesting to have a go against my former self and how I ride now. I definitely rode faster, but was usually on the edge. The way I ride now feels a lot slower, and absolutely without drama, yet when I look at the overall average speed and the speedo, I don't think the difference is nearly as big as it feels.

 

I like it! It's what I've always wanted; keeping riding interesting without riding like an idiot. It's fun B)

 

 

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Eirik,

 

It sounds like you have been having a good time learning things in your head, then trying them out on your bike. Me too. I'm doing some of the same riding experiments on my own bike. Because of that, I can feel I can comment on one thing you said:

 

"There are times when I excert a lot of force on the handlebars (pushing/pulling)

without actually getting the bike to do anything ... some corners were unaffected while

others, very similar ones, had me pushing and pulling with apparently no effect on where

the bike was going."

 

This is a classic SR that I know well: You are tense on the bars. You may be trying to lean the bike and go right, and be pushing forward REALLY HARD on the right grip, but if your left arms is pushing back just as hard, the bike will be hard to turn. This makes the bike feel heaving or become "impossible" to steer.

 

The classic solution from Lee Parks, of "Total Control" fame, is to do all your steering with the inside arm. Push right to go right. Completely relax your left arm. You can't create isometric tension with one arm completely relaxed--there is nothing to push against.

 

Another solution is the Two Step--but with more emphasis on looking in SOONER. Pick your turn-in point as soon as possible and get the bike on a line to run right over it. As soon as you are sure you can hit that point, look in, as far IN as your eyes will let you go. Follow an imaginary line from your turn point, to your apex, to the exit--if you can see that far. THIS is what tells you how far and how fast to lean the bike.

 

If you are like me, and sometimes wait till you RUN OVER your turn-in point before looking in, everything will feel very fast, you'll brake too much and grip the bars too tight. The bike will be very hard to steer. When you wait too long to look in, you will have very little time to glance in, do a few quick sub-conscious calculations, then throw the bike over or run off the road. Eeeek! Talk about firing up those SRs!

 

When you START to get it right, your vision may be spotty and searching. One corner will feel very fast and the bike will feel difficult to turn (because your vision was low and late), while the next corner--same diameter, same speed--will feel slow and the bike will turn with a delightful effortless quality (because your vision was high and early). The brain calculate this stuff really quickly, but we need to feed the brain the information it needs as early as possible. It's like catching a baseball, it helps to "look the ball into the glove."

 

Finding a turn point, then tracing that imaginary line deep into the corner is a great tool to help the mind get the math out of the way as early as possible.

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Eirik,

 

It sounds like you have been having a good time learning things in your head, then trying them out on your bike. Me too. I'm doing some of the same riding experiments on my own bike. Because of that, I can feel I can comment on one thing you said:

 

"There are times when I excert a lot of force on the handlebars (pushing/pulling)

without actually getting the bike to do anything ... some corners were unaffected while

others, very similar ones, had me pushing and pulling with apparently no effect on where

the bike was going."

 

This is a classic SR that I know well: You are tense on the bars. You may be trying to lean the bike and go right, and be pushing forward REALLY HARD on the right grip, but if your left arms is pushing back just as hard, the bike will be hard to turn. This makes the bike feel heaving or become "impossible" to steer.

 

The classic solution from Lee Parks, of "Total Control" fame, is to do all your steering with the inside arm. Push right to go right. Completely relax your left arm. You can't create isometric tension with one arm completely relaxed--there is nothing to push against.

 

Another solution is the Two Step--but with more emphasis on looking in SOONER. Pick your turn-in point as soon as possible and get the bike on a line to run right over it. As soon as you are sure you can hit that point, look in, as far IN as your eyes will let you go. Follow an imaginary line from your turn point, to your apex, to the exit--if you can see that far. THIS is what tells you how far and how fast to lean the bike.

 

If you are like me, and sometimes wait till you RUN OVER your turn-in point before looking in, everything will feel very fast, you'll brake too much and grip the bars too tight. The bike will be very hard to steer. When you wait too long to look in, you will have very little time to glance in, do a few quick sub-conscious calculations, then throw the bike over or run off the road. Eeeek! Talk about firing up those SRs!

 

When you START to get it right, your vision may be spotty and searching. One corner will feel very fast and the bike will feel difficult to turn (because your vision was low and late), while the next corner--same diameter, same speed--will feel slow and the bike will turn with a delightful effortless quality (because your vision was high and early). The brain calculate this stuff really quickly, but we need to feed the brain the information it needs as early as possible. It's like catching a baseball, it helps to "look the ball into the glove."

 

Finding a turn point, then tracing that imaginary line deep into the corner is a great tool to help the mind get the math out of the way as early as possible.

 

 

 

 

Im with crash.

 

I usually " do the chicken " in the middle of a turn to see if I'm tense (especially after downhill turns where its uber exciting and on the brakes alot) on the bars.

I do get some level of arm pump and when i do, i slow down or get to a rest area to let my whole body take a break and relax .

 

Too much adrenaline I guess...

 

 

 

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Absolutely not!

 

First, it's not a hint of SR because I'm not pushing hard, nor leaned over far when this happens nor having any sort of scare. Secondly, I push with my inner and pull with my outer arm, so I'm definitely countersteering. It's like I can excert some force on the handlebars under steady pressure that for whatever reason fail to translate into a change of direction. Think pushing a car; if it takes 200 lb of force to get it moving, you can push with 199 lb for weeks and get nowhere, but put in 201 lb and it gets rolling and you can soon almost relax and let momentum keep the motion.

 

I'm still not sure if that's the correct explanation, but I know for a fact that it has nothing to do with SR, nor am I more tense than what's needed to maintain the grip on the bars. Also, I look way ahead, so it's not related to the otherwise viable points brought up. I just need to discover if I'm doing something actually wrong or if I'm just wasting energy.

 

However, it's good to have the subject of SR brought up because it is an important thing to be aware of :)

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Other things that can make a bike hard to steer sometimes, but not other times:

 


  •  
  • Speed. The faster the wheels turn, the more gyroscopic force must be overcome
  • Pushing down, instead of forward. If the elbows are bent more or less on different turns, the apparent effort can feel very different
  • Psychological. The brain see something it doesn't like and just refuse to allow the muscles to work
  • Mechanical. I'm thinking loose or rusted bearings or a cable that catches on something

What else could cause this?

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Eirik,

 

First of all, congrats on your wins, and your discoveries. It's very cool that you are trying things out, observing what is happening, and getting a charge out of the whole process. Way to go on ALL of that!!

 

As far as your comment/question about getting the bike to respond, consistently, to your bar inputs... I get from your post that you are not stiffening your arms in a panic reaction. So it must be something else, causing your bar pressure to be more of less effective in changing the bike's direction at different times. Couple of questions:

 

1) Is there any difference between lefts and rights, in the bike's response to your steering efforts?

 

2) Does the bike feel easy to steer when you start from straight up and down, but inconsistent when you try to adjust your line when already leaned over?

 

3) Do you roll off the gas before you start your steering? Or do you maintain some throttle, or steer while rolling on?

 

4) Are there ever times where you have to "hold yourself up" a bit, with your arms, to maintain your body position? Like when you are braking, or leaned over very far? When you are mid-corner, do you feel as though you could let go of the bars entirely without losing your lock on the bike? If your arms are carrying ANY weight at all (and it is REALLY easy to do it without realizing it) it will make the bike much harder to steer. (Corollary question: what would happen to the bike's arc if you let go of the bars mid-turn? Would it change?)

 

5) If you haven't already tried this - try turning the bars by pushing DOWN on the bar, then try again pushing straight forward, with your forearm parallel to the ground. It is very tempting, especially for tall riders on bikes with low handlebars, to push more DOWN instead of forward, which is very inefficient and makes steering difficult.

 

6) OK, that's rider stuff - what about bike stuff? I know from your earlier posts you are knowledgeable on bike setup, but we are brainstorming so it's worth mentioning anyway: Keep in mind that a low front end effects steering geometry and makes the bike steer 'quicker'. So, if you brake, then turn the bike at the moment you release the brakes, the front end is down and the bike turns easily, right? But what happens if you are riding a series of left-right turns, each faster than the last, and you try to turn the bike while you are hard on the gas? Will it be harder to turn?

 

 

So these are some areas to look at. Based on your statement, though, that sometimes a gentle nudge is all that is required and sometimes even a LOT of force has no effect, and the fact that you mentioned steering "when leaned over to maintain my line" really makes me wonder if, on some corners when you are leaned over, you are having to carry a little weight on your arms to maintain your body position, or hold yourself up to see through the corner.

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Thanks for taking the time to elaborate - my replies should be easy to detect inside your quote.

 

Eirik,

 

First of all, congrats on your wins, and your discoveries. It's very cool that you are trying things out, observing what is happening, and getting a charge out of the whole process. Way to go on ALL of that!!

 

Thank you :)

As far as your comment/question about getting the bike to respond, consistently, to your bar inputs... I get from your post that you are not stiffening your arms in a panic reaction. So it must be something else, causing your bar pressure to be more of less effective in changing the bike's direction at different times. Couple of questions:

 

1) Is there any difference between lefts and rights, in the bike's response to your steering efforts?

 

Good question, had to think a bit over that one. It can happen in both directions, but is more common on left hand turns and happens after steering input, usually at moderate lean, when if feels like effort is still needed to maintain trajectory.

 

2) Does the bike feel easy to steer when you start from straight up and down, but inconsistent when you try to adjust your line when already leaned over?

 

Usually, I'm just maintaining lean, but every now and then I want to just tighten the line a small amount. It doesn't feel inconsistent in a given corner, but from one corner to the next. Note that the norm is that this doesn't happen.

 

3) Do you roll off the gas before you start your steering? Or do you maintain some throttle, or steer while rolling on?

 

Depending on the conditions, I may steer on a constant speed or slow down. The norm is to slow down, even just a quick chop of the throttle, when initiating steering, or I could be anything from light to hard on the brakes when steering in. A good question, though, as the heaviness seems to be most common when the speed is relatively constant or when it's natural to start accelerating almost immediately after finishing the steering. Perhaps I'm too eager with the throttle? Don't think so, but I will pay attention on my next ride.

 

4) Are there ever times where you have to "hold yourself up" a bit, with your arms, to maintain your body position? Like when you are braking, or leaned over very far? When you are mid-corner, do you feel as though you could let go of the bars entirely without losing your lock on the bike? If your arms are carrying ANY weight at all (and it is REALLY easy to do it without realizing it) it will make the bike much harder to steer. (Corollary question: what would happen to the bike's arc if you let go of the bars mid-turn? Would it change?)

 

As mentioned, my bad habit has been to always support my body through my hands. In that respect, the "I don't want to react to inputs" situation has not changed from riding stiff to riding limp. Funny you should mention letting go of the bars, as this was a thing I tried to do - well, barely touching the grips with open hands - when noticing myself using force without obtaining any reaction. More often than not, the bike just continued on its trajectory, the rest of the time I just needed a tiny nudge to tighten the line a minute amount.

 

5) If you haven't already tried this - try turning the bars by pushing DOWN on the bar, then try again pushing straight forward, with your forearm parallel to the ground. It is very tempting, especially for tall riders on bikes with low handlebars, to push more DOWN instead of forward, which is very inefficient and makes steering difficult.

 

I sit upright with fairly tall bars on my XT600, so I'm pretty sure the force goes pretty horizontal. Even more so when I am relaxed in my elbow joints and leaning forward a little bit.

 

6) OK, that's rider stuff - what about bike stuff? I know from your earlier posts you are knowledgeable on bike setup, but we are brainstorming so it's worth mentioning anyway: Keep in mind that a low front end effects steering geometry and makes the bike steer 'quicker'. So, if you brake, then turn the bike at the moment you release the brakes, the front end is down and the bike turns easily, right? But what happens if you are riding a series of left-right turns, each faster than the last, and you try to turn the bike while you are hard on the gas? Will it be harder to turn?

 

This isn't related to attitude changes with the bike, at least not as a norm. I think I may not have been able to properly explain what I feel happening, so I will try again. When I notice using this force, the bike is actually going where I want it too - it's just that for some reason I notice I'm still using an even force on the handlebars that really doesn't seem to make any difference. And I don't want or need any changes, either. So I'm trying to understand why I excert a force that seems uncalled for. Now that I ride so much more relaxed, I probably notice this much more than before, when I was always clutching the grips like my life depended on it.

Most likely, I just need to be firmer with my initial inputs - a quick flick and relax. It could be that the flick isn't quite quick and strong enough and that I for some reason find that I cannot let go, even if experimentation showed I could. What makes me think I cannot relax is something I'm still pondering.

 

 

So these are some areas to look at. Based on your statement, though, that sometimes a gentle nudge is all that is required and sometimes even a LOT of force has no effect, and the fact that you mentioned steering "when leaned over to maintain my line" really makes me wonder if, on some corners when you are leaned over, you are having to carry a little weight on your arms to maintain your body position, or hold yourself up to see through the corner.

 

This could also be the answer, as when experiementing with more or less letting go I release the bike from most of my inputs. But, as I mentioned, even when I constantly rode stiff, the continuing steering input thingo happened under very similar conditions. OTOH, even if my fingers were clutching the grips, how much - or little - of my body got supported through them may have varied quite a bit. Food for thought!

 

Thanks again for taking the time B)

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Other things that can make a bike hard to steer sometimes, but not other times:

 

  • Speed. The faster the wheels turn, the more gyroscopic force must be overcome
  • Pushing down, instead of forward. If the elbows are bent more or less on different turns, the apparent effort can feel very different
  • Psychological. The brain see something it doesn't like and just refuse to allow the muscles to work
  • Mechanical. I'm thinking loose or rusted bearings or a cable that catches on something

What else could cause this?

 

Thanks for the thoughts, Crash! See my replies to Hotfoot, as they should just about cover it. I think the confusion is brought up by my poor explanation; the bike isn't hard to steer - it's already been steered, but I keep excering force on the bars after finishing the steering. The bike is fine, BTW ;)

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When I notice using this force, the bike is actually going where I want it too - it's just that for some reason I notice I'm still using an even force on the handlebars that really doesn't seem to make any difference. And I don't want or need any changes, either. So I'm trying to understand why I excert a force that seems uncalled for. Now that I ride so much more relaxed, I probably notice this much more than before, when I was always clutching the grips like my life depended on it.

 

 

OK, got it, you're right, I didn't quite understand what you were saying. Regarding the statement above, there seems to be a very common belief that if you stop actively holding the bars, the bike will straighten up and come out of its arc, and you wouldn't make the turn. If you ask a group of riders "What would happen in a turn if you let go of the bars?", most would NOT believe that the bike will continue on the same arc. (Until they try it!)

 

Personally, I think this is a habit/assumption that comes from driving cars, since if you release the steering wheel in a turn, the wheels will typically straighten out and take you out of the turn. It can be hard to convince people that a motorcycle won't do exactly the same thing.

 

On a bike, if you maintain that "holding pressure" on the inside bar, you have to have an EQUAL pressure on the outside bar to cancel it out, to keep the bike on a stable arc, thus you end up exerting an even, and unnecessary, force on the bars.

 

This is a habit that is VERY commonly observed at the schools and we have a couple of drills that address it. It is very cool to see the revelations that occur during the drills (much like the ones you are having after experimenting with this on your own), and how much more confident, relaxed, and less tired riders feel after doing them. :)

 

PS - a couple of caveats: (1) I am not suggesting that anyone ride around with hands completely off the bars - just relaxing your hands and arms once you finish your steering input is the idea, and (2) SOME bikes, depending on steering geometery, may, in fact, wander to the outside of a turn if you release the bars - but that is not typical for a correctly set up sportbike.

 

Eirik, I'll be interested to hear what else you come up with on your upcoming rides! :)

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Again thanks for the elaborate feedback!

 

I know for a fact that I am both pushing and pulling, not push-push or pull-pull. However, it could be that the forces are not going in the directions they should, that somehow they go more up-down than fore-aft. I need to continue to experiment further and pay even closer attention - just a pity that with winter arriving, there will not be many more chances until spring. The bike will retain its lean if I let go of the bars, BTW.

 

I have had many bikes that required constant pressure on the inside handlebar to prevent it from falling un under cornering, but the XT is neutral.

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Most bikes with good tires shouldn't need much pressure, at least what I've been riding recently.

 

I for sure push and pull.

 

CF

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The XT doesn't need much input to turn, it's just that at times I seem like I cannot finish my quick turning input, but retain pressure for several seconds - that also doesn't make any difference to where the bike goes :huh: One day I may learn just what I do wrong - and why. Or I could just work on making quick steering inputs and immediately relax until it happens 100% of the time, not just 95% :P

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Have just finished an article written by Lane Campbell in 1978, discussing rake, trail, steering and several other factors involved in keeping bikes stable as well as making it turn. I will not tire you with the 4 full pages, but one item perticularly caught my attention: Why it is so important to push as close to 90 degees to the steering axle (rake) as possible, for instance. Every ounce of enery in a different plane does nothing but bend the handlebars. So let's say you have low bars coming back towards you, every time you want to steer the bike you will push down quite a lot, which will not help the bike change direction. The ideal, when direction of power is concerned, angle of the handlebars is somewhere between horizontal and vertical - with the vertical position being parallel in every way to the steering stem/fork legs. This is also why taller bars typically gives the rider more leverage; it's easier avoid pushing downwards.

 

This is also why it is so effective to drop your elbows and push straight ahead; virtually all your effort goes towards turning the front wheel and very little is wasted bending the handlebars in directions not helpful to turn the front assembly.

 

Lane also explained why rake and trail vary between various types of bikes. One is that trail must never become negative - because that means no stability. So a designer needs to consider the worst case scenario, like a topped out rear suspension and a totally bottomed front suspension. If it's a MX or enduro style bike, the designer must in addition take into consideration that the front wheel can sink deep into sand. This is why these sort of bikes usually have more trail. A road racer, OTOH, with short travel suspension and firm road surface under their wheels, can use less rake for quicker steering.

 

Trail helps reduce the effect of steering impacts, not unlike partially pushing downwards on the handlebars. And since imperfections on the road also cause steering inputs, desert racers require a lot of trail to reduce the effects of all inputs. Again, road racers what with their smoother environment, can get by with less trail for more direct inputs. Still, this make them more sensitive to wobbles if the rider sits with stiff arms and/or bumps hit on the side of the front wheel.

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Have just finished an article written by Lane Campbell in 1978, discussing rake, trail, steering and several other factors involved in keeping bikes stable as well as making it turn. I will not tire you with the 4 full pages, but one item perticularly caught my attention: Why it is so important to push as close to 90 degees to the steering axle (rake) as possible, for instance. Every ounce of enery in a different plane does nothing but bend the handlebars. So let's say you have low bars coming back towards you, every time you want to steer the bike you will push down quite a lot, which will not help the bike change direction. The ideal, when direction of power is concerned, angle of the handlebars is somewhere between horizontal and vertical - with the vertical position being parallel in every way to the steering stem/fork legs. This is also why taller bars typically gives the rider more leverage; it's easier avoid pushing downwards.

 

This is also why it is so effective to drop your elbows and push straight ahead; virtually all your effort goes towards turning the front wheel and very little is wasted bending the handlebars in directions not helpful to turn the front assembly.

 

Lane also explained why rake and trail vary between various types of bikes. One is that trail must never become negative - because that means no stability. So a designer needs to consider the worst case scenario, like a topped out rear suspension and a totally bottomed front suspension. If it's a MX or enduro style bike, the designer must in addition take into consideration that the front wheel can sink deep into sand. This is why these sort of bikes usually have more trail. A road racer, OTOH, with short travel suspension and firm road surface under their wheels, can use less rake for quicker steering.

 

Trail helps reduce the effect of steering impacts, not unlike partially pushing downwards on the handlebars. And since imperfections on the road also cause steering inputs, desert racers require a lot of trail to reduce the effects of all inputs. Again, road racers what with their smoother environment, can get by with less trail for more direct inputs. Still, this make them more sensitive to wobbles if the rider sits with stiff arms and/or bumps hit on the side of the front wheel.

 

does that mean a higer front end = more rake/trail?

 

 

 

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does that mean a higer front end = more rake/trail?

 

 

 

 

That depends on your starting point. If you already have a motorcycle and you do nothing but raise the front, rake and trail will increase. But you can design a motorcycle with a very high front end that still has very little rake and trail. You could even design a tall bike that have negative rake and trail, but you wouldn't want to ride it :P

 

OTOH, if you have a motorcycle that you raise the same amount front and rear, rake and trail will not change despite the extra height. However, the wheelbase will usually increase when you raise the bike, although the angle of the swingarm before and after will also influence this. Furthermore, the centre of gravity will naturally be raised with the hoisting, increasing stability and making directional changes easier.

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Alright, engineering talk! Now you guys have lured me into the discussion! :)

 

Eirik, I'm not sure I agree with the last sentence in your last post, or maybe just need some more clarification.

 

Just so everyone is clear, this is the sentence I'm talking about:

"Furthermore, the centre of gravity will naturally be raised with the hoisting, increasing stability and making directional changes easier."

 

So, here are the questions I have:

1. How do you make something more stable, yet easier to turn(less stable) at the same time?

2. If raising the center of gravity indeed makes the bike more stable and easier to turn, why do bike manufacturers concentrate on "mass centralization"(a term you'll see in almost any magazine article about a new bike) instead of raising the center of gravity?

 

Here is a pretty good article from Motorcyclist I found that explains mass centralization if anyone listening hasn't heard the term:

http://www.motorcyclistonline.com/features/122_0905_drawing_line_mass_movement/index.html

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I don't know the exact why's, but a higher CoG - at least to a point - will increase directional stability. The same is true for more trail and a longer wheelbase. The old Gold Wing, for instance, was long but very low and didn't like sidewinds because of the low CoG.

 

When it comes to ease of changing direction, think of a lollipop. With the candy down and the stick up, the thing wants to stay this way. If you turn it upside down, it will want to fall over.

 

I agree that these two sound contradictory, but - once you are moving! - a higher CoG brings stability. Unless it's placed too far back, then it's not good because it change the balance of the vehicle in a way you do not want.

 

Again, think of the lollipop. If the weight is down, it is easy to move the top of the stick back and forth, but it will want to return to its basic position. Hence it's easy to get a weave. If the weight is on top, it will take much more energye to wiggle the ting back and forth, although it will take less effort to make it fall over.

 

At least this is how I understand it. There are probably many better and also more scientific ways to explain what's going on.

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After a lot of researching I'd devised the relaxing shoulders technique. I tried numerous other ways to teach relaxing on the bars, and not only has it been proven to work for everyone I work with, but I can also watch them in the corner.

 

I don't get the relaxing elbows without shoulders. If I sit up and let my shoulders drop to their sides, I can't have tenseness (?) in my elbows. The same proved effective on a motorcycle in a corner when done correctly. I went through CSS flapping my arms with stiff arms still on the bars and nobody caught it, so that didn't prove to be too effective. I work on the shoulder dropping technique and it definitely refocuses me.

 

Sorry it didn't work. I'm working with my brother this weekend and I've already gotten him working on shoulders. I'll try some things and let you know what I find.

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Not quite sure what you meant by "it didn't work", but the shoulder/elbow thing is probably just preferences. The main thing is to be relaxed, and if elbows follow slack shoulders or the other way around prolly don't matter much.

 

It does. With as much as I applied myself to figuring this out, I had to really focus my attention on thinking about whether my elbows were relaxed before working on my shoulders. That takes more attention than I want to give. If you just let your shoulders drop and allow the rest of your arms to follow, it takes very little attention to make this happen. It's all about the amount of attention you want to give to something that can be accomplished so easily.

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I had 3 crash dummies to experiment with, all with different experience levels, and getting them to relax their elbows and assess whether their arms were relaxed was so far out there that I couldn't get any sort of positive response from any of them. They used words like "I think so" and "maybe" in response to my questions about their experience.

I tried getting one rider to work on it the night before the trackday on a bike set up on a chock, all 3 riders the morning before we went out, and all 3 on the track. Not one positive response was found after describing to the riders that I wanted them to quickly assess the status of their arms being relaxed. They knew what to look for because I'd spoken with 2 of them on previous trackdays and 1 of them after a few days of coaching.

When I spoke with them about using their shoulders to assess their arms being relaxed or not, and how to drop them to fix any problem they had with stiffness, all of them, including the rider with almost 20 years of experience, unanimously found it the best way of the 2 to check for relaxation of the arms, and correct any post steering input stiffness.

It's easy to sit and assess this. Think about being on your bike in a tense situation. How easy is it to keep your shoulders stiff and relax your elbows. How much of your $10 do you think that would take at speed? It's hard enough thinking about it sitting on the sofa. Now relax your shoulders. Just letting them drop to the side also causes relaxation of the elbows. It takes nothing to do while on the bike at speed. If you think you're tense, relax the shoulders and you're relaxed on the bars.

I can try it again with other riders, but the findings were significant in teaching, understanding, and application of one technique over the other.

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