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Keith Code

Body Position

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Body Position

 

The most obvious thing about any rider is their form on the bike. How do they sit and move on it? What’s their posture? Do they look comfortable or awkward, stiff or loose, Moto GP, or nervous-novice?

 

Good body positioning isn’t just about being stylish——you can play dress-up in your older brother's or sister's cool boots but walking will be clumsy——it has a desirable result and we can define 'good body positioning'.

 

Harmony with the bike, freedom of movement on it, precision control over it―with the minimum necessary effort.

 

Survival Reactions Play a Role

 

The bike itself can force poor riding posture. A shift lever positioned a ¼ inch too high or too low manipulates the rider into awkward and uncomfortable poses, limiting his control over it.

 

Even with perfect control positioning, good form on the bike has its difficulties. Achieving it may look and even feel like it’s reserved for the young and flexible. This may be true to a degree but many of its problems are actually brought on by our own Survival Reactions, our SRs. For example, a rider who instinctively levels the horizon by tilting his head in corners, creates unnecessary tension in his body.

 

Basics Apply

 

Good form is difficult for riders who struggle with basics: uncertainty with basics has a physical manifestation. Just as joy or anger are obvious in someone, these uncertainties manifest themselves in awkward and unsuitable body positions.

 

For example: poor throttle control prompts riders to rely on slash and burn hard drives out of the turns. Their 'ready-for-action', rigid body language telegraphs their intention. That tense anticipation of the drive off the turns loses them the handling benefits of being relaxed mid-corner.

 

The Stages of Body Positioning

 

There are three stages to body positioning:

  1. Poor form + poor riding = ripple-effect, snowballing errors.

  2. Good riding + poor form = good but limited range of control.

  3. Good form + good technical riding skills = riding that is both fluid and efficient.

Number 3 is the goal of any rider training.

 

The Ingredients

 

Body Positioning has five distinct ingredients.

 

  1. The bike and how it is configured——its controls, seat, pegs and bar positioning.

  2. The rider's understanding of body positioning——how to properly position himself on the bike and why.

  3. Our Survival Reactions——how they create unwanted and often unconscious tension and positioning problems.

  4. Lack of riding basics——has or hasn't mastered the core technical skills needed to ride well.

  5. The rider's own physical limitations——height, weight, flexibility, conditioning.

 

With those five points under control, specific techniques can be employed to achieve positive benefits in bike control.

 

Form, Function and Technique

 

GP body position does not address or improve 90% of the most basic and vital components of riding: Our sense of traction, speed, lean angle, braking, and line, to name a few, are not directly dependent upon or necessarily improved by stylish form.

 

Clearly, body positioning isn't the universal panacea some think it is, but it has its place. For example, holding the body upright, counter to the bike’s lean while cornering has several negative effects.

 

Among these, is the fact that it positions the rider so he can’t fully relax. This can be quickly corrected and solves the functional problem of tension from cramped and restrictive joint alignment: a key element in allowing any rider to relax.

 

A bike related example would be too high or too low brake or clutch lever. It puts the rider's wrist into misalignment and restricts fluid movement.

 

The Rules of Technique

 

Here are my guidelines for technique. Any riding technique is only as good as:

 

  1. The validity of the principles it rests on. Example: The benefits of hanging off follow physics and engineering principles.

  2. The access it provides to the technology with which the bike is designed and constructed. Are the potentials of chassis, suspension and power able to be utilized as intended? Does the technique embrace them?

  3. The consistency with which it can be applied. Does it work in all similar situations?

  4. The degree of control it provides for the rider. Can the rider either solve problems or make improvements, or both, by using it?

  5. The ease with which it can be understood and coached. Does it take extraordinary experience or skill to apply it, or, can it be broken down into bite sized pieces for any rider to master?

 

Which brings us to my first law of body positioning.

 

Stability Comes in Pairs. Bike and rider stability are always paired―rider instability transfers directly to the bike.

 

Body Positioning has but one overriding guideline: Rider stability. How a rider connects to the bike can bring about harmony and control and fluid movement or turn into an uncoordinated wrestling match.

 

Ideal Stability

 

Having stability AND fluidity of movement sounds conflicting; when something is stable it’s expected to stay put, unmoving, like the foundation of your house or the roots of a tree. But the opposite is true for riding.

 

Comfort And Stability

 

What works well on a paddock-stand doesn't always transfer to real riding.

 

Aftermarket rearsets, which can be adjusted (or which are manufactured) too far up, back, forward or down is an example. In the paddock they feel racy; on the road or track they can fatigue the rider. The fatigue comes from the rider's core not being correctly supported. This causes him to be off balance.

 

Off-balance generates extra effort from muscle tension and poor joint alignment which in turn hampers accurate control manipulations. Awkward looking body position is what you see.

 

Riders often accept or try and work around this, without realizing its negative impact on their riding.

 

Simply Complicated

 

Through research and coaching of tens of thousands of riders of all skill levels, 58 separate elements which influence our body positioning have surfaced. Seemingly simple things such as too tight a pair of gloves or leathers can affect all the other elements.

 

Once the 58 are corrected and integrated, the rider has many more options; opening doors to a wide range of fun, efficient and, you might say, elegant techniques.

 

All of our coaches have been thoroughly drilled on what each of the 58 are and how to correct them.

 

 

 

© 2014 Keith Code, all rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced in any form without the author's consent.

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Great article. I find the following the most interesting.

 

The Stages of Body Positioning

 

There are three stages to body positioning:

  1. Poor form + poor riding = ripple-effect, snowballing errors.

  2. Good riding + poor form = good but limited range of control.

  3. Good form + good technical riding skills = riding that is both fluid and efficient.

I fell into #2 for quite some time. Improving my form on the bike has given me new found confidence. I am finding that I am having to "re-learn" steering in some cases because of how well the bike turns now.

 

I have found that physical fitness plays a huge role in good form for me. Being physically stronger in my lower body gives me a more stable base and less fatigue when repositioning on the bike frequently. I learned this the hard way this past Level 4 when I had a great on track session where I made some major breakthroughs. When I got back to the pits and got off the bike I found it difficult to walk because my lower body was angry with me for demanding so much out of it.

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I am especially attracted to the following :

 

2.The rider's understanding of body positioning——how to properly position himself on the bike and why.

5.The rider's own physical limitations——height, weight, flexibility, conditioning.


these 2 are too overemphasized and treated to godlike status in my area ; I gave a valid point on 1,3 and 4 and was immediately gunned down ...

I guess ego and stupidity (in others) leads to over confidence ,over aggression and ultimately disaster .

Time to hone the skills + parts that are still rusty :)

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It's my understanding that CSS Level 3 focuses on BP work - I'm really looking forward to a couple of days at Barber working on this.

 

Being an old coot, I'm wondering if anyone has a flexibility and conditioning program that will help me get the most out of this coaching?

 

Wes

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It's my understanding that CSS Level 3 focuses on BP work - I'm really looking forward to a couple of days at Barber working on this.

 

Being an old coot, I'm wondering if anyone has a flexibility and conditioning program that will help me get the most out of this coaching?

 

Wes

 

What's working for me might not work for you but here's what I have been doing.

 

Cardio bike at the gym. Progressively turning up the resistance.

Thigh abductors in both directions. 40+ reps

Slow and fast Squats on the balls of you feet.

Lots of stretching.

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Last winter, I did daily workouts on a Bosu ball. The balance training is good for the core and a zillion squats moving side to side on this thing left me feeling pretty good after my first couple of days in CSS camp but even still my quads were barking at me.

 

Thanks for the tips!

 

squats.png

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Yeah. The Thigh abductor machine really helps me a lot. :)

I did that at the gym a few hours ago :)

 

IMHO u can space 40+ reps into 15 reps each with 90 seconds of rest in between for max muscle endurance ; go easy on the weights , if you dont , you end up with too much mucle mass and not much endurance, or worse ,injury.

 

a protein shake after the entire workout helps loads with the recovery ( 20G of whey protein and 40g of swiss miss+ 5g of creatine works wonders for me as im allergic to artificial sweeteners , im 165 pounds atm)

 

 

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It's my understanding that CSS Level 3 focuses on BP work - I'm really looking forward to a couple of days at Barber working on this.

 

Being an old coot, I'm wondering if anyone has a flexibility and conditioning program that will help me get the most out of this coaching?

 

Wes

Wes,

 

See if you can find a real Pilates coach who has experience and all the Pilates equipment. I've found it very helpful not only for us old farts but for young, up and coming riders as well.

 

Keith

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Wes,

 

 

 

See if you can find a real Pilates coach who has experience and all the Pilates equipment. I've found it very helpful not only for us old farts but for young, up and coming riders as well.

 

Keith

 

 

 

I've just started something called PiYo with my wife where it's a combination of Pilates and Yoga but I may need a coach when it gets tough. I'm just getting back at this since racing my 20's and I'm 56 now. I'm going to be working pretty hard this winter to set the stage for 2015 and I'm using that as my motivator.

 

Thanks Keith!

 

Wes

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When I was coaching frequently a couple years ago, I used a lot of this. Following a rider, using his BP to gauge, first, what was normal for him, then using some of the more technical corners to judge what he/she looked like when they were uncomfortable, then weeding out the corners they were consistently having trouble with and even the ones they were just inconsistent in. From there I could focus on their weak points and give them overall improved technique.

 

Just putting in laps monitoring my own shoulder relaxation, I can tell what corners I'm uncomfortable in and work on that. For me it's a great way to tell.

 

Even when I had my own (failed miserably) site, I had a huge article on adjusting your bike to help with comfort. It went unheeded. When we buy a new car, we adjust the seat, backrest, steering wheel etc to suit us, but on a bike we change the way we ride.

 

This article puts a bunch of things together pretty well. Thanks for putting it into words.

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thanks for the article. I'm about to have plenty of time to start getting more serious. I just can't get that head down yet. Not sure why, will definitely start from scratch and work it through. Thanks. You Rock as usual.

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Very well informed piece.

 

Thank You

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Thank you. This is an area we are still researching and figuring out. We've developed quite a few body position drills for both on and off track (skid pad) exercises. It still mazes me that something that looks so simple--getting into good body position habits--can have so many points of resistance. I'd love to have a body position bike where every dimension of it could be adjusted: where the seat, tank, pegs, bars could be configured any way you would want them. For example, if the tank could be lengthened, shortened, widened or narrowed, raised and lowered, along with the other components, eventually you would come up with a bike that fit you perfectly and allowed real freedom of movement and optimum control with the least possible effort. I can dream, can't I 🙂

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Keith,

To your point: There was a rumor that Honda changed the RC-212V to suit Dani Pedrosa and because he and Nicky Hayden were so anthropomorphically different, it was a source of contention on the team and an added obstacle for him during the 2007 season to defend his World Title. Contact points and ergonomics matter.

I have my own experiences with that and tried my best to avoid changing bikes. I interpreted some of your writing to mean that riders spend $$ covering a deficiency that should best be addressed with training and coaching. I still believe that but I felt that my Honda mini-moto racebike was murder on my body and I reluctantly had a Yamaha built. It's a bigger platform and I'm much more comfortable on it with my 6'1" bodytype. The Honda is still in my stable as a backup/ loaner/ test bike.

Are there any easy tell-tale signs that would tell a rider who doesn't have the benefit of a trained coach to watch that a certain bike is a poor fit for that rider?

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This is a fantastic article, which I have only just read.  It really hits the nail on the head with a lot of issues I have in my own riding.

I love your idea of an adjustable bike to use as a test-bed to find the sweet spot in positioning.

I know from cycling and mountain biking the first things that get changed on a bicycle are the pedals, seat and bars/stem - the three points of contact you have with the bike to set it up more personally, rather than the manufacturer's 'one size' approach.  Taking it one step further, I even had my road bike professionally fitted to me.  Is there such a thing in motorcycling? (or are you aiming for a patent on the adjustable bike?😉)

 

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No patent, patents are a PITA. All they really give you is the right to hire a lawyer to defend your patent. Kind of cynical 🙂

It's just an idea I've had for many years. A good coach can help adjust a rider to their bike which mostly means doing the best with what you have and what you can adjust. I spent two days with Joe Roberts last Fall playing around with foot peg positions, one day in the garage and one day at the track. In the end, pretty much everyone has to deal with some degree of compromise. There are some basic drills we've developed to find optimum seating position and peg placement. It's very interesting how some very subtle changes can make a huge difference in rider comfort and stability.

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Thanks for the reply Keith - only kidding on the patents!

I agree that there is always an element of compromise - even at MotoGP level.  Regarding subtle changes, one of the things I took from the road bicycle fitting was what I was doing with my elbows.  If you imagine the hands resting on the lever hoods, my elbows naturally sat as though they were hugging a beach ball, or flapping out a bit like wings.  By rotating them inwards, the forearms sit parallel with the road and this puts you in a more supportive position.  This is one that I transferred to the motorbike, in keeping with forearm alignment on the bars, and found it made a huge difference to comfort, and control.  

When you mention the drills you've developed for seat position/peg placement; do you have one of the school bikes set up with adjustable rearsets, so a good set-up can be refined then those dimensions used as a reference on an own bike?  (I only ask as taking my own to the track isn't an option)

 

Victor

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No Vic;

The drills are along the lines of getting the best positioning on the bike with what you have to work with, in our case, the S1000RRs. We do also have foot pegs that we designed which are far more comfortable and stable than standard ones on any sport bike.

KC

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I have found the 1000RR a sweeter ride than my own, and I do like those footpegs too - I did try to get some for my own bike but there is currently no fitting kit available.

Sounds like it's time to get myself along to another school😀

Many thanks, 

 

Victor.

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Very interesting article, and one thing I like to do in this regard is to practice in a parking lot at slow speeds, (20 to 30 mph) to work on head, feet, leg, hand, and arm positions. I can also work on throttle control at the same time.

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