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mugget

Big, Heavy Rider = Less Cornering Fun?

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Hi All,

 

This is a big question (pardon the pun, entirely accidental! tongue.gif) that has been sorta kicking around my mind for a long while...

I used to be right into bodybuilding (my heaviest was around 94kg, doing deadlift reps at over 200kg, 40kg curls, that kind of thing), but I found that it was just really tiring having to move all that bodyweight around the bike. In summer especially I'd be struggling to stay out on track for more than 10 minutes. blink.gif

 

I haven't lifted any weights at all for probably a year and a half, my bodyweight now has dropped to around 74kg (last time I checked) and I've found that riding is alot easier. I have one theory that I'm now much more relaxed and comfortable on the bike, also I'm learning to move more efficiently and stay relaxed wherever possible. So I'm sure that has contributed alot to track riding coming easier.

 

But I've been feeling like too much of a slacker so I am going to start lifting weights again. But I don't want it to limit my cornering ability. I plan to keep to a strict stretching routine as I'm sure that was one area that really let me down previously. I know there are some club racers who are fairly big, talking with one guy he didn't seem to think it caused him too many problems - in fact he thought it was an advantage as he could pull up beside another racer and use his size to intimidate them. tongue.gif I have also seen a regular at local track days who is a fairly solidly built lad, probably around 6ft as well. But he rides in the fastest group and well and truly holds his own, so it would seem that size isn't everything...

 

So the question is this - does rider weight have a massive effect on total possible cornering ability/speed? Or does good cornering technique allow heavy riders to achieve a surprisingly similar pace to significantly lighter riders?

 

In my mind I have always had the idea that one light rider and a heavy rider (of similar skill levels, both riding at 10/10ths) will have noticeably different corner speeds, the heavier rider being slower. But I just wanted to get other peoples thoughts? It seems like some larger riders manage to use their weight to an advantage, like a larger counterbalance that can be adjusted for greater affect? Is it only at the elite/race level that a rider weight becomes more of a factor? Is there anyone who has lost weight because it was limiting your cornering ability?

 

Very interested to hear your thoughts.

 

Cheers

 

Edit to add> I also wanted to mention that I still have alot to learn, so I do expect that I'll keep getting faster, just hoping that it's possible an increase in bodyweight won't offset the improvement in cornering speed.

Edited by mugget

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I suppose it has to make a difference if the guys are at equal ability. The manufacturers are always striving to loose weight on the bike, then a lardy arse like me (92kg)comes along and ruins all their hard work laugh.gif. But ability sure plays a much bigger part. On the track I have seen a VERY VERY large guy who dwarfed his Gixxer 1000, made it look like a toy bike, and he was way faster than me. Don't know how the guy did it. Loosing weight will help my cornering ability, but only for the fact that my leathers are too tight and they restrict me. ph34r.gif

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The weight takes energy to move. Bike must make more power for the same acceleration and you must make more power, mostly leg and core, to support and move yourself around. So it should be easier to post good lap times if you're lighter, at least to a point.

 

You can build endurance strength without size, with or without weights. The best training is probably to use your bodyweight as resistance; climbing, cat-slides, lunges etc. Plenty of reps to tone your body and build endurance and power without size. So unless you don't need the mass to feel good, you will be healthier and far more energetic using more sensible training methods. And lap faster ;)

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Mugget,

 

Eirik is correct: more weight requires more energy to accelerate (up and down), and will require more lean in order to make the same turn radius (sometimes a lean you don't have). That being said, here are my observations and opinions:

 

I'm 197cm and weighing 87-89kg (6'6", 190-195lbs for the metrically challenged). I've never done weightlifting nor visited fitness centres for keeping fit. Over the last couple of years, I've at running 5km once a week ... but only once in a while. In short, I've not terribly cardiovascular fit, although my body is fairly lean (I attribute that to making sure that I got good genes from my parents :P). I'm more likely that posterboy for the guy that make his bike look like a pocketbike (hey, you can find pics of me riding Polini pocket bikes on the forum!).

 

I rarely if ever have problems in staying on track for 20 or even 30 minutes, when riding. Only on the very small/twisted/technical tracks I'm getting exhausted - but so is everyone else, since your body never gets a decent rest due the even the straight being bent.

 

Frankly, I don't think you should be concerned at all about how much you weigh - just be relaxed and comfortable with the weight you have. Some of the fastest racers in Denmark have been rather stodgy (100kg+), and that didn't stop then from winning the championship(s).

 

Come to think of it, 10-12 years ago when I started doing trackdays, I did have problems with stamina/exhaustion and arm pump to some degree. Since then, I've reduced my exercise regime, and I haven't had stamina problems for the last 6-8 years or so, and I think that can be attributed to me being much more relaxed about this whole "trackday" thing.

 

Being fit will definitely help you being able to stay out there on the track longer before getting exhausted, but I don't think it matters very much for your lap times. In early August, I improved my personal best by 2.5 seconds (over last year) on the local track, and I haven't been running (or doing other types of exercise) since May.

 

Full disclosure: Rookies lap at 1:03-1:06 on the track where I set a new personal best of 1:08.86 (and the track record is at 0:59.x)

 

Kai

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Your description, Kai, is testament that you are very, very rational with the way you use your energy. Typically, women are better at this than men - watch them climb all over a sidecar under racing conditions without issues, wereas lots of men have a hard time just hanging on, let alone do the antics.

 

In order to achieve the level you have, you need acute body control. I do not have that luxury. Instead, I constantly fight myself, be that running, lifting or riding. For me, just managing to sit with relaxed arms, shoulders and elbows 80% of the time instead of 0.8% of the time is a HUGE accomplishment just recently reached. And I'm not even going to think about anything else until I can stay relaxed all the time without giving it a second thought.

 

And I'm far from alone. Still, if you work hard at it, everybody can become more efficient in how they spend their energy. Question is whether it's quicker to enhance one's stamina instead or not.

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Your description, Kai, is testament that you are very, very rational with the way you use your energy. Typically, women are better at this than men - watch them climb all over a sidecar under racing conditions without issues, wereas lots of men have a hard time just hanging on, let alone do the antics.

 

In order to achieve the level you have, you need acute body control. I do not have that luxury. Instead, I constantly fight myself, be that running, lifting or riding. For me, just managing to sit with relaxed arms, shoulders and elbows 80% of the time instead of 0.8% of the time is a HUGE accomplishment just recently reached. And I'm not even going to think about anything else until I can stay relaxed all the time without giving it a second thought.

 

And I'm far from alone. Still, if you work hard at it, everybody can become more efficient in how they spend their energy. Question is whether it's quicker to enhance one's stamina instead or not.

Eirik,

 

I think you're doling out far too much praise on me here than is my due. I do not believe that my improvement came from being particularly (mentally) rational, or achieving some extra high level of body control.

 

On the contrary: I simply started being more relaxed about all this hanging-on and body positioning stuff: In the beginning, I was over-focusing on being locked onto the bike all the time and bent on making the body absorbing as much as the bumps in the tarmac. The only consequence was that I was being too tense, working myself out before time.

At some point, I simply decided not to bother too much about my riding position and whether I was using my muscles or the bikes suspension to handle the bumps in the turns. So I let the bike do it's thing and went along for the ride with a "lets see what happens" attitude.

 

And guess what's one of the first lessons of CSS' Level 1? - "don't mess up the bike" (my words, not Andy's). And I mostly did that all by chance.

 

Oh, and BTW I think it's really really cool for you that you've discovered some of these steps out there on the Riksveier. Hat's off to you, and now you can truly say that yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks B)

 

Kai

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Still, being able to move around the bike and yet stay relaxed is an art few master, so I think you deserve the credit ;) But yes, I have been very reluctant when it comes to trying new stuff while riding. Hell, who wants to accept they know nothing? :lol: I'm going to experiment much more from now on, although not until relaxing has become second nature.

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I'm not sure that at the trackday rider level whether size, especially musculature, is going to make a difference. When you start moving up, yes, every little bit counts. At my pace, about 10-15 seconds off the lead riders on a 2.7-3 mile track, I've been cardiovascularly fit (running 8 mph for an hour), way overweight (25 lbs more than normal), and just plain out of shape (hernia repair and 2 herniated discs keeping me sofa ridden unless I was working or riding), and my laptimes never varied.

 

2 people of equal skill, given they were advanced riders, would see a difference. Definitely. Weight, for power being effected purposes, and the small difference in 2 riders shifting that weight would affect the better riders.

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So the question is this - does rider weight have a massive effect on total possible cornering ability/speed? Or does good cornering technique allow heavy riders to achieve a surprisingly similar pace to significantly lighter riders?

 

To answer the question directly, no! Skill factors in far more than weight does and I've seen many, many riders who just couldn't pass up that next cheeseburger and ride circles around me.

 

As already mentioned in a competitive situation with equally skill riders, certainly weight would factor in considerably on middle weight bikes especially.

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That's some good stuff. I thought there must have been more to it than simply rider weight. I shouldn't have been surprised to hear about those racers in Denmark... no wonder they recently imposed a 'fat tax'. tongue.gif I guess they do love their butter.

 

 

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Also thinking about a heavier rider - wouldn't that also have some advantages? I am just thinking about that race where Simoncelli was battling with Pedrosa...

 

Anyway I suppose that either a lightweight, normal or heavy rider would find it difficult to be able to ride at the maximum capabilities of the bike. As a track day rider it seems like weight is not something that's worth losing sleep over. That settles it then - I am going to get back into weightlifting, full steam ahead! biggrin.gif

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More weight, especially with a tall torso combined with much weight up with the shoulders, will make hanging off more efficient in reducing bike lean for any given cornering speed. Also, you have more leverage to throw the bike from side to side through esses. OTOH, Simoncelli was hampered by the limited fuel supply far more than midgets Pedrosa and Stoner, which is one reason why he so often was fastest in practice but not in races; he had to cut more power than the tiny guys in order to last the race, making the bike both harder to ride and slower as well. With unlimited fuel supply, Simoncelli would perhaps have been able to use his size to his advantage enough to overcome the extra drag and weight. Also, with the power in these things, extra weight can perhaps be beneficial for acceleration in the lower gears since you can better resist wheelies and wheelspin. Then again, Pedrosa always seems to be the fastes man out of the blocks.

 

There's no doubt that it takes more energy to move that extra mass around, but again it's likely that the bigger body also have more strength to do it with. Overall, though, I think a lanky and relatively tall and wiry person (like Rossi or Schwantz) may have a tiny advantage. But I'm just speculating :D

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the pound/KG per horsepower comes into my mind

 

heavier riders are usually disavataged if a track have quite a few long lines where you can max out the bike ...

 

on the more technical tracks thou, skill takes a much higher percentage on the lap times.

 

changing how the front and rear composite handling characteristics might help alot (eg tire pressure, spring preload, spring rate , oil viscosity, oil height)

 

 

 

 

I'Il personally start with tire pressure and spring preload if its externally tunable.

 

 

 

 

 

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That's some good stuff. I thought there must have been more to it than simply rider weight. I shouldn't have been surprised to hear about those racers in Denmark... no wonder they recently imposed a 'fat tax'. tongue.gif I guess they do love their butter.

Au contraire, my friend.

 

<politically incorrect>

The politicians have, in their infinite wisdom, decided that we, the people, don't know what is best for us ... and that fatty products are dangerous to your health and the unwitting masses should be 'encouraged' to stay away from fat/butter/oils by putting even more tax on them.

</politically incorrect>

 

Sorry, that doesn't belong here at the forum, but you baited me beyond my capacity to ignore our politicians #######.

 

Good luck with your weightlifting,

 

/Kai

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If its any help a friend of mine is a committed body builder having won a number of amateur competitions and he is a quick rider.

Whilst it is true that the heavier you are the more weight you and the bike have and therefore all other things being equal the bike won't accelerate or stop as well as with a lighter rider on board this shouldn't get in the way of enjoying track days.

If you are getting tired on the bike then it will be down to 'race fitness' i.e. using your muscles in a different or more prolonged way and being too tense or a lack of technique or, of course, a combination of them all.

 

For what its worth I potter around in the top half of the fast group and my bike only makes 115bhp and I weigh in at a juvenile killer whale like 280lbs. ( 127kg) Although I do get out of breath the limiting factor for me is the amount of track time I am allowed rather than anything else.

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I think the whole weight issue gets way more emphasis than it really deserves.

 

I watched some skinny little guys get tracked down by a fat guy on an older bike.

 

You might think, "Sure Cobie, there are lots of old/fat, fast guys at track days", and that might be true. But this was at a national level tryout on 125 GP bikes. The difference in between the RS-125, in 1994 and 1996 was huge. The old fat guy was on a '94.

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LOL Dave, juvenile killer whale! laugh.gif

Well I guess I really have nothing to worry about as far as weight goes!

 

Cheers Cobie, from what I have seen myself I figured that weight was not really that important. Either that or I was missing a big chuck of important knowledge! But good to know that I'm not missing anything.

 

I always say that if something is worth doing, it's worth doing properly - so I'm back into the weightlifting again. Glad to know that I'll be able to go all-out with that and not limit my on-track enjoyment! Somehow I'm back to 80Kg already - I'm using a different program called X-Reps, it's supposed to be more effective and easier on joints. And from the couple of weeks I've been back into it I'll say that seems to be spot on! Aside from the very first week when it always takes a bit for your muscles to adjust, my last legs workout on Monday went well, but what really surprised me was that I woke up on Tuesday and had absolutely no soreness in my legs! I thought it was too good to be true! Flexibility still seems to be pretty good, looks like this could be just the right program for a sports riding weightlifter!

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I think the whole weight issue gets way more emphasis than it really deserves.

 

 

You're totally right. By the way, there is a Ninja 250 race coming up in January. Wanna come race? :)

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You're totally right. By the way, there is a Ninja 250 race coming up in January. Wanna come race? :)

 

I'm considering going that route once I've moved back west. AFM has some old dude/dudette classes for LW and it seems like it would be fun.

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Hotfoot

 

I wish I could fly out from DC and join you. I have "The Little Yellow Bird" and she's a lot o fun.

 

Kicking when I get up the hind end of a chucklehead running a Ducati 848 on Turn #8 at Summit Point Raceway -- on the way to the dogpark, of course.

 

Justin

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I'd love to hear how the X-rep continue to work for you, mate!

 

Well today was my first track day since getting back to training again. I think it's been 5 weeks back on the weights - X-reps seems to be just the thing for me. The most noticeable thing is that it seems to be better for a more dense-muscle result, rather than a 'beach muscle' pumped up on creatine, bloated type look. I've still been doing a bit of cycling and playing soccer once a week. I have a feeling that it will take me a while to get back to my previous size, arms are half an inch smaller and legs 2" smaller than when I was last training. But I have no doubts that if I get back to that size I'll be alot stronger than I was previously. I have a new idea that I'm aiming for and that is 'maximum functional weight'. Seems like X-reps is just the ticket. Mind you, I think the proper way to do it is only 20-30 seconds rest between sets, I'm still struggling on that because my previous training method was kinda more like powerlifting I guess - I would take a minute or two between sets if I felt like i needed it. huh.gif

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My biggest fear with doing lot of X-rep is the increased risk of injury, at least for someone like me who've had tons. But as a suppliment I think it's great!

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That's the other thing I meant to add - I didn't feel sore or tired like I did back when I was training low reps and high weight. It seems to give a real good pump and I'd say that the extra blood flow really helps with recovery. The other thing I didn't expect (and seems almost too good to be true) is that after the first week I've not woken up one day and had muscle soreness.

 

For anyone else wondering, X-reps is basically 8-12 reps for each set, for two sets (depending on which split you use), but then on the last set you don't put the weight down - you do as many reps as you can with partial movement where the muscle is at the tensed position. For example squats you would do sets as normal, but on the last set you got to failure, but don't rack the weight - then you do short partial movements above the middle range of motion.

 

You've gotta warm up properly for each muscle group, but honestly I would say the risk of injury is really low. The whole idea is to give additional stimulation to the muscle after the nervous system has had enough. Since you're doing the "X" reps in the range where the muscle is tensed it's not awkward on the joints, it just really targets the muscle. I'm trying to get my Dad to switch to X-reps! I guess it depends on what type of injuries you've had, but it seems to be really effective. Alot of other people comment that it's not as hard on joints (and so less risk of injury).

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