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Lean Angle


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I'm an ameteur racer who has "hit a wall" in improvement. I have crashed a few times by losing the front on turn entry, and have now become ultra sensitive to front end traction. I usually feel my way into corners, off the brakes or with the throttle just cracked on, slowly increasing lean angle while trying to read the front. I know that this is a poor style of riding, but I was hoping that by finding a lean angle that is close to max, I could turn quickly to that angle in the future and thus corner more quickly and cleanly- but finding that "max lean" angle has not been easy. I have noticed that once I get to a certain lean angle, a slight vibration becomes noticeable from the front end (I am very light on the bars at this point, so I can feel alot through them). My knee is not even down at this point, so I am beginning to wonder how to find max lean angle and what sensations the front will give when it's about to fold. I am planning to attend a 2 day camp asap, but I'm still saving up at this point. Until then....any advice would really help.

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I find the front goes light and can feel like the bars start to sway slightly before it will let go

I can understand your dilema, but I'll ask you this...

If you practice turning in slowly until you reach max lean angle and eventually find an angle that your comfortable with, how will that practice translate into a fast turn in?


It is my thinking that a fast turn in / quick flick, feels completely different to a slow turn in. The bikes suspension reacts differently (you'll be loading up the front alot more when turning in slowly), your line is different, your turn in point is different, where your start to accelerate is different etc.....


finding maximum lean angle is all well and good but how does it help lap times?


I guess what I am saying is, maybe your attention would be better spent on other things

Go back to the basics

do the 2 step drill

practice your quick flick


but most importantly, work on improving your lap times rather than focusing on increasing your lean angle

there are other ways to go faster other than leaning it more ;)

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I would tell you first off to invest some money in suspension. Suspension is very easy to skimp on when you start racing, but that is the wrong move. Get together with a GOOD suspension tuner who can work on your bike and provide you good setup information.


From the sound of your problems here, you shouldn't be experiencing what you are, when you are. If you're on the gas, your bike should be fairly settled, and you shouldn't feel front end chatter.


Obviously riding style is extremely important, but I think that suspension will be just as good an investment for you as the 2 day camp...

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One thing I got from class (level 1 @ VIR) was that Max lean isn't always the fastest, smoothest or best way through a corner. It sounds like there maybe other issues that you have. Maybe entry speeds or Braking. To much of your attention is being used in a single corner. You'll get a better answer when you get to class.

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As a lowly crew member, I get the chance to watch my guys crash; which fortunately they don't do very often. But at the last race of last year 3 crashed and one did it twice in the same turn. They lost the front by thinking they were going in to fast and either not giving it enough gas or giving it too much. If you are at max lean angle after the apex you are pushing the front. You may be able to get away with this in the first 5 to 10 laps, but after that your tires are getting worn. It's all about timing and racing the track not the guy in front of you. You max lean as quickly as you can going into a corner and start lifting the bike at the apex while gassing your way out. Even if you think you are going too fast, these guys proved that the right amount of throttle would have gotten them through the turn, the wrong amount and you are in for a ride. My attitude is ride for the rear and the front will sort itself out. In other words when you feel the front start to give gas out of it, otherwise the front is going to slide and you may not want that. My personal experience on the track going in way too hot is that I reach a point where I have no choice but to let off the front brake. If I don't, I will crash. At that point, I have to anticipate how much the rear might slide and how much gas I need to get out of the mess I created without highsiding. It has worked for me and, although, I have come close to bringing the rear around, I have yet to crash during one of these incidents. Pushing the front needs a plan to get out of it, and if you are shaking at that point, I would seriously look at suspension and alignment - including your rotors. If you have shake at that point, there has to be a problem, which may be as simple as worn head bearings. Good Luck.

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each of you has some valid points, and I thank you all for your advice. Some things I would like to clarify, though. What I am feeling through the front is not chatter, but just a slight increase in vibration- probably caused by the tire "biting" into the road- I'm just curious if this is indicative of an impending loss of traction.


second, I will agree that max lean angle is not necessarily the best way around a given corner, and that a quick turn in to the apex, and good drive are far more important- however, consider this: When you "flick it in", the angle you flick to will be dependent on two things- your entry point (i.e. how deep you go in) and your speed at turn in. So, assuming that you are using the correct turn in point and "flicking" it as quickly as you can, the fastest possible speed through that corner will be determined by the maximum angle you can lean the bike to. During practice, when I'm turning in more slowly with an increasing lean angle, I'm trying to determine where the max is- once I know that, it will be much easier to "flick it in" quickly to that angle, consistently. Understand, I'm not using this as a race strategy, but a learning process. Do you still think this is a crummy way to teach yourself? I guess I'll see when I get to the school.


Also, I might add that I do not generally trail brake and the bike is new with top grade suspension. I have always been of the opinion that if it's not misbehaving, don't start changing stuff until you have a specific problem you are trying to correct. I think the best thing for me is to leave the bike alone for now so that I have a consistent platform to learn on.


Again, thanks for everyone's input and advice, I look forward to hearing your replies.



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No one here can tell you what you are feeling. You have to determine that for yourself. You say you are feeling something, good.


Is that something a problem in your riding or in the bike? Next to impossible to answer here. Turning in slowly is a definite riding problem whether you're doing it on the gas or off the gas. When you're leaning a bike in, you're counter-steering. That means you have to have pressure on the bars. You simply can't be light on them while you're steering. If you're on the gas at this time, that's the wrong action - it's not helping. So, that data points to a riding problem.


On the other side, you say you're experiencing these problems on a new bike with a top grade suspension prior to you even getting your knee on the ground. That doesn't rule out the possibility that there's something wrong with suspension - too soft a front with too stiff a rear, too stiff front with too soft rear, bad dampening settings, etc...


Also, tires enter into this too. You might have a out of round tire, a balancing weight might have come off, the tire might have spun on the rim, etc...


So, that turns out to a big maybe. As you're finding out, maybe's aren't good. I can say this, a properly setup racebike should at least flick from knee to knee with no problems. So, with that idea in mind the resolution comes into view.


The first thing I'd do is rule out the suspension and tire problems. Get to a suspension guru and make sure the sag and dampening is set to a good base setting. They won't get it perfect but will get it close enough to work with. Then get the tires checked for balance and roundness. All that is pretty cheap at a race track.


Then comes ruling you out. Approach a turn at a speed you are totally comfortable with, turn the bike quickly to a lean angle you are totally comfortable with and then roll on the gas as soon as possible after the bike is turned. Upping the speed only a little each time which will force either quicker turning or greater lean angle. In this manner, establish your certainty of what you can do.


There's so many other things that could be a problem here but turning the bike slowly is not the solution.

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...just a slight increase in vibration- probably caused by the tire "biting" into the road- I'm just curious if this is indicative of an impending loss of traction.



i'd say back off the compression. too much compression is generally felt in the bars as the suspension tries to deal with the surface irregularities and fails.

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