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Hi there. Long time fan of the Twist books and more recently avid watcher of the DVD and now first time poster. I have been riding for about 20 years but only recently bought my first sports bike and although I understand the theory cannot for the life of me find a position that makes me feel in control of the bike once I get to the twisties. I can keep the weight off my wrists by gripping the tank with my knees but end up feeling rigid and inflexible. I can lean forward to lower my elbows for better steering input but still feel disjointed. Consequently I seem to spend more time trying to find a position that feels right than concentrating on the ride which then brings on a whole raft of other problems mostly linked to SR's. I have only done about 500 miles on the new bike but I am not convinced that more time in the saddle is the answer. I guess what I am looking for is the approach or order of logic to finding a position that works for me and the bike. At the moment I feel like the bike and I are working against each other! The bike by the way is not particularly radical, it's a Honda Firestorm (Superhawk in the US) and I would say the riding position is semi-sporty. Any advice is great fully received.

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IMHO i test ride and rent every bike I'm interested in ...

The bike's rider position means alot to me and MOST Honda's (cept cb /nc series) dont really fit well on me because of my longer legs (I favor Kawasaki's) ...

 

You either modify it or sell it imho...

Thanks for the response. I actually did a lengthy test ride on this bike and under most conditions it's fine, I am average build, just under 6 feet so ergos aren't an issue either. It's my first bike with clip ons though and what I need is tips on how to get a good compromise between comfort and control.

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Are you comfortable on the bike when not in the twisties?

If not then what would you change?

 

Thanks for taking the time to respond. The change is when I up the pace and need to make more committed/quicker changes in direction/speed. My steering inputs feel dead and ponderous and I put this down to ineffective steering inputs which I put down to bad body position. I think it stems from trying so hard to keep the weight of my wrists by 'locking' on to the bike that I am rigid which is both tiring and not working with the bike. Of course I may be over thinking the whole thing but that is kind of what the twist books make you do :)

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I don't lock onto the bike with both knees, just the outside one. I found on switching to a sportish bike from a sport tourer that I need to concentrate on getting my weight to the inside before the corner. The old push my chin through the corner stuff. Also do a bit of gymn to strengthen my abs and lower back. (and legs)

 

just add, I noticed that the sport tourer had a narrower rear tyre and tip in was easier. sporty bikes have a wider rear and you need to go a bit harder to tip them in. in compensation you're on the gas more safely on exit

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I rode a VTR1000F on a trip some years ago and its riding position is actually quite sporty compared to most current race reps in that the handlebars are much further away that current practice, forcing extra forward lean to reach them. Also, the seat slopes quite dramatically towards the tank and it's also very slippery. Finally, the stock suspension is rather naff, making it difficult to ride hard especially on poor roads. I believe you would find something like the Kawasaki 636 to be miles easier to ride and enjoy, albeit without that satisfying twin rumble.

 

So how can you improve on your VTR? First, I would suggest to raise the grip position by about 3 inches with new handlebars. If you, like me, find the seat sloping too much, consider having it repadded for a more level profile. Also, you can help the front end feel by fitting a little stiffer springs. The rear shock, if stock, should simply be replaced by a quality item. With these changes, the bike would - for me, at least - be transformed into a very satisfying ride.

 

 

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Are you comfortable on the bike when not in the twisties?

If not then what would you change?

 

Thanks for taking the time to respond. The change is when I up the pace and need to make more committed/quicker changes in direction/speed. My steering inputs feel dead and ponderous and I put this down to ineffective steering inputs which I put down to bad body position. I think it stems from trying so hard to keep the weight of my wrists by 'locking' on to the bike that I am rigid which is both tiring and not working with the bike. Of course I may be over thinking the whole thing but that is kind of what the twist books make you do :)

 

When you up the pace, are you sliding forward on the seat during braking?

Do you have any StompGrip or other grippy material to help your legs lock on?

How long into your ride is it before you get into twisties or up the pace?

 

I don't know your specific bike but most people that I know (including myself) that ride a sportbike in an aggressive riding position only ride about 20-30 minutes at a time before needing to take take a break and sit up or stop and walk around. The seating position is hard on your back, arms, neck, and wrists, and without frequent stops it becomes very hard to keep pressure off your arms. So, if you are riding half an hour to your twisty roads and then trying to ride hard, you might simply be wearing yourself out.

 

Have you had your suspension set up for your weight? If your steering suddenly feels dead and ponderous when you up to the pace, it COULD be your steering inputs, but it could also be that your front suspension is too stiff so that at a higher pace it just becomes physically harder to turn the bike. Try putting a zip tie on one of your front fork legs, so you can see at the end of a spirited ride how much your front suspension has compressed during the ride - if it turns out it barely moves it all, that would tell you that it is too stiff in front, which can makes the steering feel ponderous and make you feel disconnected from the front tire (no "feel").

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Are you comfortable on the bike when not in the twisties?

If not then what would you change?

 

Thanks for taking the time to respond. The change is when I up the pace and need to make more committed/quicker changes in direction/speed. My steering inputs feel dead and ponderous and I put this down to ineffective steering inputs which I put down to bad body position. I think it stems from trying so hard to keep the weight of my wrists by 'locking' on to the bike that I am rigid which is both tiring and not working with the bike. Of course I may be over thinking the whole thing but that is kind of what the twist books make you do :)

 

When you up the pace, are you sliding forward on the seat during braking?

Do you have any StompGrip or other grippy material to help your legs lock on?

How long into your ride is it before you get into twisties or up the pace?

 

I don't know your specific bike but most people that I know (including myself) that ride a sportbike in an aggressive riding position only ride about 20-30 minutes at a time before needing to take take a break and sit up or stop and walk around. The seating position is hard on your back, arms, neck, and wrists, and without frequent stops it becomes very hard to keep pressure off your arms. So, if you are riding half an hour to your twisty roads and then trying to ride hard, you might simply be wearing yourself out.

 

Have you had your suspension set up for your weight? If your steering suddenly feels dead and ponderous when you up to the pace, it COULD be your steering inputs, but it could also be that your front suspension is too stiff so that at a higher pace it just becomes physically harder to turn the bike. Try putting a zip tie on one of your front fork legs, so you can see at the end of a spirited ride how much your front suspension has compressed during the ride - if it turns out it barely moves it all, that would tell you that it is too stiff in front, which can makes the steering feel ponderous and make you feel disconnected from the front tire (no "feel").

 

Hardware first:

Are your tires (tyres) in good condition and not the original ones that came on the bike?

When was the last time you checked the tire pressure? Is it correct? I have rode a few bikes that had real sluggish steering to find out afterwards that the owner ( not my bikes) had not checked the pressures in months if not years :blink:

I can tell when my tire pressures are down by a couple of pounds, my bikes just don't act right.

When you have tires installed do you either check the pressure yourself or ask the installer what pressures he set them to?

 

Software (YOU):

Are you riding the twisties by yourself or with a group?

If it is a group do you feel pressured to maintain the pace of others?

If so what should you do?

Try to keep up or slow down?

Do you think that you are rushing when you up the pace?

 

How about riding those twisties at a slower pace and not try so hard for a bit. Relax and enjoy the ride :)

Get whatever needs to be sorted on the bike taken care then slowly pick up the pace.

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As said start with making sure the tires, tire pressures and suspension (mechanicals of the bike as a whole) are all set up properly and working as they should. Steering head bearings not too tight, too loose, too dry etc...

 

Since everyones definition of "upping the pace" in the twisties will vary. Are we talking double the posted, double plus 10, double plus 20, triple the posted and how are you entering them? Fast in the straights and hard on the brakes to get down to entry speed or do you "pace" ride and keep the speeds more stationary on the straights and use the brakes more lightly/not at all to set entry speed?

 

Finally which tires do you have on? St tires have a bit flatter profile than sport tires and as such don't turn in as quickly or as easily. But the profile varies from brand to brand and tire model to tire model. Although I don't think any of the tires that one would put on that bike would give the side effects you describe if properly installed and inflated.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi there!

 

I'm riding a Firestorm as well and I encountered similar Problems, especially in the Twisties and on the Track. I could Not find a comfortable riding Position that was stable and felt Good for me. It felt, like the Bike was to small for me ... ( i'm 1,83 m of height).

 

I also had Problems with steering Inputs in lean angle (i think, because i pushed the Bike away under me, so i had a Bad Lever).

 

What did the Trick for me was

 

1. Put the Front of your Feet on the pegs. Providing a stable Body and Good grip on the Tank. On the Track i only slightly Hang Off (Almost Not).

 

... Most Important:

 

2. Move the Upper half of your Body in the Corners, like your Head was trying to reach for the mirrors... My outter Ellbows resting in the Tank. I got. This Tipp on my Last Training - and it solved all my Problems! :-) the Trainer Said, i Should Imagin, there was a Snickers in my mirror that i Should try to eat :-)

 

... Search for "Chin to towards the mirrors" for further Explantations...

 

 

Sry for Bad writing errors... Using phone with Auto-correction in another Language...

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Thank you everyone for taking the time to reply, what a great bunch you are :)

 

My increased pace is still not particularly fast just making quicker progress. The bike is in top condition, tire pressures correct although it is 13 years old so obviously not as fresh as it once was.

 

Aufzynder - thanks for the info, good to see I am not alone! I will give what you say a go next ride. I do this to a degree but maybe I need to exaggerate it a bit more.

 

One interesting thing I noticed is that my front tyre is worn nearly to the edge yet the rear is nowhere near? This would make sense as its the front that feels unstable to me when I turn. I am wondering if I am not using enough throttle and therefore loading the front making it feel un-safe? I don't really pay much attention to 'chicken strips' and I only noticed this tonight. The tyres are the correct sizes and of the sports touring variety. Anyone else come across this?

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One interesting thing I noticed is that my front tyre is worn nearly to the edge yet the rear is nowhere near? This would make sense as its the front that feels unstable to me when I turn. I am wondering if I am not using enough throttle and therefore loading the front making it feel un-safe? I don't really pay much attention to 'chicken strips' and I only noticed this tonight. The tyres are the correct sizes and of the sports touring variety. Anyone else come across this?

 

You say the bike is in top condition, then you say the front tyre is nearly worn to the edge! How old are the tyres? From your description the front has already survived at least one rear if not two.

Are the tyres a matched set? Same brand, same type.

Maybe a new set of tyres may be a good start. Good high quality and not cheap stuff preferred.

 

On the street "Chicken Stripes" = Ego Stripes :rolleyes: Nothing to worry about.

 

As you mentioned in your first post, you have been riding for 20 years. Can you comfortably ride the twisties at the same pace on one of your bikes from days gone by? If so then we have a start. It's either your bike, your body position or your brain. Which is it?

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:) Worn to the edge is the wrong choice of words. The tyres are same brand, same type, good quality (Dunlop Sportmax) and have only been on the bike for 6 months/1500 miles. What I was trying to say was that I have about a 1cm of unused tyre on the front and about 4cm's on the rear. For safety I would expect it o be the other wy round. I was wondering if this was linked to something I am doing rather than a grit of Hesse tyres.
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Aufzynder - thanks for the info, good to see I am not alone! I will give what you say a go next ride. I do this to a degree but maybe I need to exaggerate it a bit more.

 

For years I thought too, that I was already doing this. In fact in didn't. As you can see on my picture, my upper body was leaned to the inside of the corner, but... I was not going for the mirrors. That was, what the coach recently tought me.

 

 

One interesting thing I noticed is that my front tyre is worn nearly to the edge yet the rear is nowhere near? This would make sense as its the front that feels unstable to me when I turn. I am wondering if I am not using enough throttle and therefore loading the front making it feel un-safe? I don't really pay much attention to 'chicken strips' and I only noticed this tonight. The tyres are the correct sizes and of the sports touring variety. Anyone else come across this?

 

Funny...

 

The same for me, when the Firestorm was new for me. Before the Firestorm I only had touring-bikes with an upright body-position. I think that happened, because I was not used in riding sport-bikes. I think this will change when you get used to your bike. Maybe you should also spend some attention to your throttle control... ?

 

 

BTW, a really improvement for the suspension are linear fork springs (I have Oehlins) and maybe a better rear shock... But a stable body position with good throttle control is surely the most important thing.

 

 

... Hope it helps! :-)

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:) Worn to the edge is the wrong choice of words. The tyres are same brand, same type, good quality (Dunlop Sportmax) and have only been on the bike for 6 months/1500 miles. What I was trying to say was that I have about a 1cm of unused tyre on the front and about 4cm's on the rear. For safety I would expect it o be the other wy round. I was wondering if this was linked to something I am doing rather than a grit of Hesse tyres.

 

That is VERY unusual. On the VTR, it's something I would only expect if you fitted a 110/70 front together with a 200/50 rear tyre. Regardless of the cause, it does sound like the tyre profiles are poorly matched and this may well be the cause of your ill sensations. Perhaps you should ask the Dunlop guy in the tyre section what he thinks?

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:) Worn to the edge is the wrong choice of words. The tyres are same brand, same type, good quality (Dunlop Sportmax) and have only been on the bike for 6 months/1500 miles. What I was trying to say was that I have about a 1cm of unused tyre on the front and about 4cm's on the rear. For safety I would expect it o be the other wy round. I was wondering if this was linked to something I am doing rather than a grit of Hesse tyres.

 

Ok, this big difference is very unusual...

 

I would not have worried about slight differences (I had 1cm front and about 1,5-2cm rear), but 4 cm? Maybe you really should check the bike/tyres...

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Update...try as I might I was just not digging the Firestorm although it was a lovely bike. Considered my options with improving the bike and working on my form but instead decided to float it on eBay, it sold in 2 days, I made a few hundred and bought myself an '07 Aprillia Pegaso Strada :) Basically a tame super moto single cylinder with an upright seating position. The bike is slow and supremely comfortable. I now have time and enough of my concentration left to focus on road position, throttle control, turn in points, what's going on around me and I am enjoying myself 100% more. About 300 miles under my belt now and each ride I learn a bit more about the bike and a bit more about myself. Thanks again for all the advice and I am sure I will be back for more as I get to know my new steed a bit better :)

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