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Hang Off For Heavy Folks


rchase
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So I have a rather strange question and figured I would post it here. When we covered body position in Level 3 we were given great instruction on how to position ourselves on the bike. I'm wondering however if "one size fits all" for position. With different sized riders of different weights are there optimizations in body position that can be leveraged to take advantage of more or less weight when hanging off?

 

At 6'0 and a "few extra pounds" I'm at a disadvantage when it comes to straight line acceleration in comparison to very small people. Is there any way to turn that disadvantage into an advantage in the corners or am I banished to a life of salads? :)

 

 

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Rossi is 6'0 as well, but I guess he is somewhat slimmer built than both you and me. I'm 6'6" and 195lbs.

 

Height and weight can be utilised to move the center of gravity further inside the bike, but I am not sure of the overall effect.

 

It's salad all the way if you want to improve the acceleration. Or find a diet that helps your body slim effectively. I found that changing what I was eating made a big impact. Out with high GI foods, and the pounds dropped off quickly.

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look at the motogp/WSBK and you will find the answer.

 

imho nope if at same skill level.

 

I think that's an entirely different planet of what I had in mind but none the less a good point. In those environments every gram of weight matters that's why all of those guys are so small in stature.

 

I do notice however those riders use a much more aggressive hang off position than many of us mere mortals do. :)

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Height and weight can be utilised to move the center of gravity further inside the bike, but I am not sure of the overall effect.

 

 

Yeah that's exactly what I am wondering as well. The bike of course is a constant and the rider in most cases weighs less than the bike. I'm just wondering how rider weight and that weight shift affects the physics and traction.

 

For example my Range Rover has amazing traction because it weighs 6000lbs and you have that weight pressing the tires into the pavement/mud/sand/snow increasing traction but that's pretty easy to see how that works as you have that 6000lbs pressing directly down onto the tires. At an angle with centripetal force working against bike and rider it changes the physics considerably.

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I think the proportions of your body and, perhaps even more, your flexibility strongly affect what body position you can achieve. There are few young, fit guys that I ride track with who have body positioning that I would love to emulate, but I know for a fact that that is not going to happen unless I lose, like, 50 lbs and also take up yoga in a big way. :)

 

On the other hand, watching race results (at least at the club level) proves that there is more than one way to skin a cat, and lots of different body positions can achieve excellent results.

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I think the proportions of your body and, perhaps even more, your flexibility strongly affect what body position you can achieve. There are few young, fit guys that I ride track with who have body positioning that I would love to emulate, but I know for a fact that that is not going to happen unless I lose, like, 50 lbs and also take up yoga in a big way. :)

 

On the other hand, watching race results (at least at the club level) proves that there is more than one way to skin a cat, and lots of different body positions can achieve excellent results.

 

Yeah that's exactly my thought process. Different body shapes might lend themselves to different ways of approaching the problem. Hopefully someone might have some insight.

 

While some of us could always benefit from some weight loss and flexibility some of the taller and therefore heavier people can only go so far with that. Unlike taking a hacksaw to your motorcycle frame human frames tend to not react well to that. :)

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So I have a rather strange question and figured I would post it here. When we covered body position in Level 3 we were given great instruction on how to position ourselves on the bike. I'm wondering however if "one size fits all" for position. With different sized riders of different weights are there optimizations in body position that can be leveraged to take advantage of more or less weight when hanging off?

 

At 6'0 and a "few extra pounds" I'm at a disadvantage when it comes to straight line acceleration in comparison to very small people. Is there any way to turn that disadvantage into an advantage in the corners or am I banished to a life of salads? :)

 

 

 

This is hard to answer generically because everyone is different - strength, weight distribution, flexibility, and height all factor in when finding a comfortable, secure, and effective body position, plus of course there are lots of different shapes of motorcycles out there. Even the way your gear fits you can have influence on your body position - like a back protector that jabs your neck or leathers that are too tight in the legs or arms. So, each person has to experiment to find the position that works best for them.

 

When we work with students at the school, the first thing we look for is getting a solid lock-on with the lower body; being able to effectively control the motorcycle is the MOST important thing, and if you are having to hang onto the bars to support yourself, your control of the bike will suffer. So, we start with having the rider move around in the seat (with the bike on secure stands) and find a position that allows him/her to get a really solid lock-on with the knee/outer leg so he/she can lean the upper body into a turn without losing that lock and sliding aroung the tank or having to brace on the bars. THEN we start experimenting with moving more upper body mass over and down.

 

A heavier rider - especially on that is heavier in the upper body - can potentially move more mass off to the side, which can be an advantage, and a taller rider can often hang more mass off the the side, but in every case it only works well if the rider is solidly locked on - and that probably depends more on strngth, flexibility, and how well you fit on the bike you ride.

 

As you can see from watching other riders on the track, good technique is more critical than how you hang off - you can find lots of examples of riders that hang off extravagantly but can't ride very fast, and other examples of heavy riders or rider that barely hang off at all that can FLY around the track.

 

Now, if you have a lightweight/low horsepower bike (like Robert!), being a lightweight rider really emphasizes the strengths of the bike, and losing weight (off the bike or yourself) or hanging off more can make a really noticeable difference.

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The stages you describe, Lock on, Lower body and Upper body are great building blocks for "building" your own body position each with their own priority. It's also interesting to realize how bike specifics and gear can also affect body position. I'm going to do some small changes here and there and see what I can adapt to work for my "body position plan". :)

 

Your comment also made me suddenly realize some amusing things I have experienced. When I attend CSS you guys coach me about body position on a BMW S1000RR and then I head out on the track on a BMWS1000RR. It's the same bike and I'm always completely blown away at the progress I make with the simplest things. I got some coaching on body position at a local trackday and spent some time sitting on a coaches GSXR1000 and thought I was making some decent progress. What was natural and comfortable on the coaches GSXR on the stand was awkward and just did not work on my little bike. The next session I spent quite some time trying to make the coaching work only to eventually give up and revert back to what I knew "sorta worked" for me.

 

Thanks again for the enlightenment. :)

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FWIW, I find it very easy to lock onto the S1000rr and VERY VERY difficult to get a stable lock on the Moriwaki. It is just hard to find places to get ahold of it, it is narrow and built to be lightweight... not comfortable! Same goes for the SuperSingle and Ninja 250s.

 

So don't feel bad if it is tougher on the FZR - part of the price you pay for such a cool lightweight racer. :)

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Robert,

 

Have you put on StompGrip or other grippy stuff to help you hang onto the FZR? On my Moriwaki I added Stompgrip, I went to a grippier race-seat type foam, and also added some foam padding at the rear of the gas tank to stop me from sliding so far forward, and then added some foam wrapping around the back of the tank to make it wider so I can hang onto it more easily (it is very narrow and rectangular). I just used a thick race-seat foam and carved and sanded it to shape. My thought was to experiment with the foam to find a tank shape I like, then have a custom fiberglass tank cover made. But in practice the foam works really well and I have it mounted with Velcro so it easy to move or remove, so I think I'll just leave it like that and not worry about trying to get a special tank cover made. It is a LOT more comfortable to ride with the foam pads in place and I get a much better lock-on.

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Robert,

 

Have you put on StompGrip or other grippy stuff to help you hang onto the FZR? On my Moriwaki I added Stompgrip, I went to a grippier race-seat type foam, and also added some foam padding at the rear of the gas tank to stop me from sliding so far forward, and then added some foam wrapping around the back of the tank to make it wider so I can hang onto it more easily (it is very narrow and rectangular). I just used a thick race-seat foam and carved and sanded it to shape. My thought was to experiment with the foam to find a tank shape I like, then have a custom fiberglass tank cover made. But in practice the foam works really well and I have it mounted with Velcro so it easy to move or remove, so I think I'll just leave it like that and not worry about trying to get a special tank cover made. It is a LOT more comfortable to ride with the foam pads in place and I get a much better lock-on.

 

Yeah. That was one of the first things I did. The big problem that I have with the ergos of the FZR400 is that the gas tank is actually really a fiberglass cover. I put some round stomp grips on the tank that I bought from CSS but the flex of the fiberglass gave me some exciting times when I suddenly shifted off more than I expected. I eventually put thick foam between the tank cover and inner tank to stiffen it and also fabricated a custom foam race seat. It feels better but it does not really look better looking at some of my track photos. Now under heavy braking I slide forward in the seat and end up riding with both legs spread out with my knees right against the frame rather than the tank. Part of the problem is the TZ250 tail with the aggressive hump. In a perfect "lock on" position part of my posterior is right up against the tail. I tried putting grippy foam on it but it did not work out well.

 

I love the little booger but the harsh reality is I'm too big for it. A photo of me braking ready to head into the Barber hairpin with my knees not even touching the bike. Not exactly a good solid base. :)

 

I'll still use it on the track when it rains (its amazing in the rain) and as a backup. It's also pretty sublime as a canyon carver where you never really get super aggressive hanging off on regular roads. I may also revisit the rear sets and a different tail to give me room for my long legs.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

You also have to factor in having to move that body weight around if you get farther off the bike. I find a nice, generalized body position (BP) and stick with it. Outside shoulder on the gas cap. That lines me up perfectly and decreases the amount of the 6'2, 230 lbs of @$$ I have to shift side to side. Keep it simple. Thinking it's going to make that much of a difference by shifting your weight farther off the bike, ala Dani P, is going to make for a tired pair of calves and thighs. I'd say focusing on just getting that weight low and into the tank should be priority.

 

The only thing I can say about keeping up with the smaller riders is my philosophy on most things: be better. Sounds rough, but I'm in it right now racing go-karts. They're slow, electric, and no horsepower. I'm fighting to get 27.7's while these little punks (I say that out of envy) are putting down 27.1 laps. If I just put it down to weight, I'm done. I need to keep doing what I can to keep up with them and not focus on the 100 lb difference between us. It is what it is.

 

I would bet money that racing with locals minimizes the advantages being lighter has. It's probably more when you get to the front runners in the expert class when weight'll have an effect. Going against most of them, you can get good enough to keep pace with the riders at that level. A few years ago, when CCS Southwest was racing, there was a 320 lb guy who could place top 5 in the expert class with some good riders on the track.

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You also have to factor in having to move that body weight around if you get farther off the bike. I find a nice, generalized body position (BP) and stick with it. Outside shoulder on the gas cap. That lines me up perfectly and decreases the amount of the 6'2, 230 lbs of @$$ I have to shift side to side. Keep it simple. Thinking it's going to make that much of a difference by shifting your weight farther off the bike, ala Dani P, is going to make for a tired pair of calves and thighs. I'd say focusing on just getting that weight low and into the tank should be priority.

 

The only thing I can say about keeping up with the smaller riders is my philosophy on most things: be better. Sounds rough, but I'm in it right now racing go-karts. They're slow, electric, and no horsepower. I'm fighting to get 27.7's while these little punks (I say that out of envy) are putting down 27.1 laps. If I just put it down to weight, I'm done. I need to keep doing what I can to keep up with them and not focus on the 100 lb difference between us. It is what it is.

 

I would bet money that racing with locals minimizes the advantages being lighter has. It's probably more when you get to the front runners in the expert class when weight'll have an effect. Going against most of them, you can get good enough to keep pace with the riders at that level. A few years ago, when CCS Southwest was racing, there was a 320 lb guy who could place top 5 in the expert class with some good riders on the track.

 

Jason,

 

Thanks for those tips. I as well have seen the 300#+ guys riding in the advanced group terrorizing the stick figure people so I figured there are some tricks to managing where that weight sits on the motorcycle. :)

 

I have come to the conclusion that part of my big problem is I keep switching around from bike to bike. I have been on 3 very differently shaped bikes so far and plan to add a 4th to the mix. From the School's BMW S1000RR to my teeny FZR400 to my MV Agusta F4. My plan this season is to ride my R6 and stick to that bike until I get a position that works really well for me. Luckilly the R6 that I have is quite similar in shape to the S1000RR so it's going to be somewhat familiar right away. Ironically out of all the bikes the F4 is the most comfortable for me on the track because of it's super aggressive riding position. You either get with the program position wise or you suffer with extreme back pain. Since the F4 is so aggressive and requires good position on the street to preserve your spine on the track it's much more familiar.

 

Once that good position "clicks" for me. Watch out. "Fat Man" coming through. :)

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  • 2 years later...
  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I guess there's no excuse. Heavy or slim, this proves anybody can get their knee down. Looking forward to learning CCS techniques on proper BP; who knows just might scuff a puck.

 

 

Damn now I have no excuse.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I can only imagine if "Big Dude" would get a proper suspension setup for his ride. My F4i had a weight limit of 375#. I don't know the deciding factors for the limit, I was just conscious to not exceed it.

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