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The Long Way Around?


faffi
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If you ride a fairly long bike with relatively limited cornering clearance, like a cruiser or a standard from the 1970s, how do you best cope with fairly tight corners, like hairpins? Should you try to make the widest radius possible to keep the cornering speed fairly high, or would you be better off to brake deep, throw the bike as quickly as a slow steering bike will lean over on its side, and power out again as soon as possible?

 

The first method would make for a long corner, but fairly high and fairly consistent cornering speed with little attitude changes, the latter would probably compress the suspension more and hence further reduce cornering clearance, but the amount of time leaned over could be kept very short so that the bike would either decelerate or accelerate most of the time.

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If you ride a fairly long bike with relatively limited cornering clearance, like a cruiser or a standard from the 1970s, how do you best cope with fairly tight corners, like hairpins? Should you try to make the widest radius possible to keep the cornering speed fairly high, or would you be better off to brake deep, throw the bike as quickly as a slow steering bike will lean over on its side, and power out again as soon as possible?

 

The first method would make for a long corner, but fairly high and fairly consistent cornering speed with little attitude changes, the latter would probably compress the suspension more and hence further reduce cornering clearance, but the amount of time leaned over could be kept very short so that the bike would either decelerate or accelerate most of the time.

 

Considering the following, that

1. applying the throttle will give you more ground clearance, and

2. the quicker your turn-in, the less lean is required to make the same turn.

 

Why would you NOT do this on ANY given bike?

 

The following picture is taken at the CSS school held last year at Gälleråsen (it's one of SMC's instructors riding his CBX1000).

This year the rider had a revelation when JET and Spidey argued him into trying to quick-turn the bike instead of making those big sweeping turns (method one). It was like he had discovered counter-steering over once more!

 

Det%20sitter%20i%20huvudet.jpg

 

(The text says: "It's all in your mind!")

 

Kai

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Thanks for chiming in - I feared the topic had totally bombed ;)

 

Even stock, the CBX had more cornering clearance than just about any motorcycle you could buy in the late 1970s, so perhaps not the best example of what I was thinking about. Let me take two examples; Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 to represent cruisers and a Honda CB750 to represent '70s technology.

 

Now, in my experience, trying to force these into quick-steering will cause them to twist and wobble in protest. Probably why Spencer and Rainey used to bleed from their hands after manhandling street based racers back in the days - and their bikes featured modified chassis! And if you get on the gas while they are still protesting you better be in posession of skills far beyond mine.

 

I'm also slightly confused with your statement 1 and 2, kph. In my simple mind, slowing early and then corner on the throttle should help increase cornering clearance. Braking hard, throw it on its side and then get on the throttle hard once you begin to lift the bike - at which point the bike will more or less be done with cornering already - should reduce the amount of lean required (or the duration needed for a given amount of lean). But since it would be almost stop-start, I would imagine you will not gain much valuable cornering clearance once you jump on the throttle.

 

The way I imagine it, taking a long arch would give the highest cornering speed due to more clearance and a wider cornering line. But you must brake earlier and accelerate later and gentler. However, it would not upset the flexi-flyer much. On a nimbler bike, even with limited cornering clearance like an RD350 from the 70s or a Yamaha YBR, using a quick flick would in my mind work very well. But how do you make it work with 6 inches of trail and 36 degrees of rake and a frame with dubious integrity?

 

Or am I missing something, obvious or obscured regarding this?

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I've never ridden a really long bike like a proper cruiser, but I'd be inclined to work around it's weakness (lack of cornering ability). Therefore the less time it's in a corner, the better. Which would mean a big focus on getting it turned quickly. And we know that using 'quick steer' the bike will be turning and at max lean for a much reduced amount of time. I'm thinking that the long way around will be just that - the long and slow way.

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I'm not sure what is meant by a lack of ground clearance and 1970s bikes.

I have a 1974 Z1000 (modified admittedly) and I get my knee down regularly on it on the track.

As for cruisers - the only ones I've ridden are Harleys and they have no ground clearance at all so slow or fast that's not going to happen and the Ducati Diavel which has more ground clearance than most 'normal' bikes.

Incidentally the Diavel is truly a phenomenal bike. James Hayden (ex gp racer) was using one to instruct of track days.

 

Having said all of that surely one of the fun aspects of bikes with limited ground clearance is the fact that you can wizz round corners, roundabouts etc leaving a huge trail of sparks. Isn't that what they're for?

My vote: long sweeping turns to maximize the scraping!

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Interesting question, Eirik.

 

Here is a

that may address your question. It shows a motor officer on a cruiser based Victory police bike, on a parking lot course with another motor officer on a BMW twin. It looks like the Victory rider is stomping the other guy pretty bad. Why? The Victory rider could just be a better rider, but I think part of what makes the big cruisers and touring bikes easier to handle in this tight stuff is that the rider KNOWS where his lean limits are.

 

Ground clearance issues make a bike easier to ride?

 

Maybe.

 

The BMW is lighter and doesn't need to lean over as far as the heavy cruiser. It also has much better cornering clearance. So, why is he slower through this course? I think it is about confidence, the confidence that comes from KNOWING you are at the limit. I believe it is like putting a knee down: you could probably lean over a bit more, but even on a sport bike, when your knee is down, you are pretty close to the limit.

 

So, would it be helpful to know where your limits are? If you turn the audio up, you'll hear the Victory rider scraping his floor boards. I've seen these guys do this in person and they just zip those things right down there and roll on the throttle. Sound familiar? The BMW rider looks a bit timid. Maybe he's wondering how close he is to scraping. Maybe that makes him hesitant. Or maybe he was just being nice. Anyway, I just wonder if KNOWING you are at the limit is better than wondering where the limit is.

 

What do you think?

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I would think that knowing the limits is highly useful for just about anybody, although some may be able to understand the limits without touching down with anything. Personally, I prefer to use my toes. How hard they touch and how quickly they get forced upwards tells me if I need to back off or if I have more to go on. Still, I can say that riding a bike like my Ascot 500 twin without ever being close to its cornering limits and far removed from touching down my toes makes for far more rapid progress than riding my Vulcan 800 or Intruder 1400, throwing lots of sparks. In fact, I could probably ride side-saddle on the Ascot and easily beat myself on the cruisers. In other words, I believe the Victory rider is superior to the bloke on the BMW when it comes to the skills needed to ride that circuit.

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If I was on the BMW I would not want to sit right on his tail either, not much room for error. And not a good look for one motorcycling professional to crash into another. Not to mention that those obstacles enter at exit at the same point which is only big enough for one bike at a time! blink.gif The guy on the BMW is probably spending more effort thinking about timing to make sure he doesn't have a head-on.

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