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Jasonzilla

Is Body-Steering Ever Effective?

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I'm writing a paper on counter-steering, so I'm reading a ton and watching video (mostly for the misconceptions of counter-steering) on it. It's mentioned repetitively that once in a corner you can make adjustments with your body. I thought this was incorrect. I know weighing the pegs can help make the tire oversteer for riders to manage the bike through the corners faster (Rabat can be seen to have his outside foot off the pegs quite often in order to get the rear tire loose).

 

An ex-professional racer with a book in publication says you can make "fine course corrections" mid-corner with body position. I thought an effective statement would be "what happens with the bike straight up and down is true while leaned over." This would mean you could cause the bike to "veer," but not steer.

 

Shifting body weight doesn't seem like it would help steer the bike though. I know being off the throttle, or not on the throttle enough, makes the bike tighten it's cornering, and this could cause the misconception.

 

It's not explained definitively anywhere (except possibly in TOTW where it states something along the lines that the only way to make an effective change of direction is through counter-steering).

 

 

Any help would be appreciated.

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I know weighing the pegs can help make the tire oversteer for riders to manage the bike through the corners faster (Rabat can be seen to have his outside foot off the pegs quite often in order to get the rear tire loose).

 

Some thinking....

 

That sounds more like weight management vs. body steering. ie, put more weight forward, remove some weight off the rear, more weight on the bars/tank, making the front more rigid & heavy, with a little bit of added throttle will spin up the rear and initiate a slide. Dirt guys do it like that all the time. :)

 

I can quickly think of two research topics for you that are related to assisting turning while still being related to countersteering. Hip Flick and Hook Turn

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So my thoughts on this. I personally don't see body steering as being very effective for initiating a turn. My steering inputs with the bars are always what I use to initiate my turns.

 

I do however see weight shift to the inside as being extremely effective and helps the bike turn (key word helps). I have been working on a more aggressive body position where most of my weight is shifted to the inside and as low as possible. Some of the first times trying a more aggressive body position the shift in weight towards the inside of the corner was so substantial I found myself having to make corrections to keep from running over the apex. This is "hang off" rather than body steering.

 

I define body steering as trying to use a shift in body weight to initiate the turn rather than to enhance the motorcycle's weight balance characteristics mid corner. A shift in weight can enhance turning but it's not as effective as bar inputs for initiating the turn.

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Good clarification, Smith. I was stuck on the term body steering because it was in a couple of books I was reading and getting stuck on why it's wrong and how "body steering" is misleading and why it shouldn't be used. Weight management, or something similar, is more appropriate.

 

You're right as well, Chase. My thing on that is another book I've been reading mentions that moving your body over before a turn helps initiate the turn. It says that you need to do a counter-steer in the opposite direction to maintain the bike upright if you don't intend to turn at that point. My problem with that is that it's going to initiate a turn before one intends to turn unless they shift right at the point of the turn which, as we know, compromises the suspension, or cause utter confusion.

 

The wording in all these books is erroneous or confusing in relation to the other books. Even MSF has a book that says two different things. I know what it means, but that's because I understand counter-steering. A beginner may get confused.

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You're right as well, Chase. My thing on that is another book I've been reading mentions that moving your body over before a turn helps initiate the turn. It says that you need to do a counter-steer in the opposite direction to maintain the bike upright if you don't intend to turn at that point. My problem with that is that it's going to initiate a turn before one intends to turn unless they shift right at the point of the turn which, as we know, compromises the suspension, or cause utter confusion.

 

The wording in all these books is erroneous or confusing in relation to the other books. Even MSF has a book that says two different things. I know what it means, but that's because I understand counter-steering. A beginner may get confused.

 

That book would not be "Total Control" would it? I read that part in the book and was scratching my head myself. I pre position myself before the turn and have never had to actively make any steering corrections to hold the bike straight. Pre positioning of course is not the same as a fully committed hang off. But even with a fully committed hang off you would only have a slight change in direction not enough to have to make an effort to fight against.

 

One of the things that's always impressed me about Keith's writing and the videos is they take the time to go into the science. Bikes like the No BS bike and the countless hours they put into the Twist Videos and the real science involved there is quite impressive. That's something to keep in mind when evaluating your references. While it may be something the author truly believes to be true did they go out and test their theory? They regularly test theories at the school and their approach is based in science rather than opinion.

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Good clarification, Smith. I was stuck on the term body steering because it was in a couple of books I was reading and getting stuck on why it's wrong and how "body steering" is misleading and why it shouldn't be used. Weight management, or something similar, is more appropriate.

 

You're right as well, Chase. My thing on that is another book I've been reading mentions that moving your body over before a turn helps initiate the turn. It says that you need to do a counter-steer in the opposite direction to maintain the bike upright if you don't intend to turn at that point. My problem with that is that it's going to initiate a turn before one intends to turn unless they shift right at the point of the turn which, as we know, compromises the suspension, or cause utter confusion.

 

The wording in all these books is erroneous or confusing in relation to the other books. Even MSF has a book that says two different things. I know what it means, but that's because I understand counter-steering. A beginner may get confused.

While shifting the body is not an effective way to steer the bike, it does seem possible to me that if you hang off a lot to one side while going fast in a straight line, the bike could begin to veer a bit to that side. You would be creating wind drag and that is a significant force at speed. It wouldn't get a bike around a sharp corner but it may create enough drift to require a bit of bar pressure to keep the bike lined up straight to your desired turn point.

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That book would not be "Total Control" would it?

 

 

 

I've been scolded on this site for mentioning a certain motorcycle school and didn't want to post the actual name of the book. Hahaha. You rabble rouser.

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When you mentioned that exact idea it just jumped out at me. The writer is a former student of the school actually.

 

I'm of the opinion that you have to look at everything to fully understand a concept. I have read a number of books out there that have "different" ideas of how things work. In reading these books it has only brought me back to realize how strong and based in science the Superbike School's approach is. There's nothing quite like it anywhere.

 

As for the school mentions I can absolutely see the reasoning behind that. Some schools in their marketing attempt to criticize other techniques of teaching. I think the reasoning for the scolding is just to keep us focused rather than being pulled off into a tangent with many of those pointless debates. The forum is about this school and the techniques taught within it. This forum is probably one of the most positive motorcycle related forums I have ever been on and everyone here from fellow students to coaches only have the agenda to help other riders improve.

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When you mentioned that exact idea it just jumped out at me. The writer is a former student of the school actually.

 

I'm of the opinion that you have to look at everything to fully understand a concept. I have read a number of books out there that have "different" ideas of how things work. In reading these books it has only brought me back to realize how strong and based in science the Superbike School's approach is. There's nothing quite like it anywhere.

 

As for the school mentions I can absolutely see the reasoning behind that. Some schools in their marketing attempt to criticize other techniques of teaching. I think the reasoning for the scolding is just to keep us focused rather than being pulled off into a tangent with many of those pointless debates. The forum is about this school and the techniques taught within it. This forum is probably one of the most positive motorcycle related forums I have ever been on and everyone here from fellow students to coaches only have the agenda to help other riders improve.

 

X2

 

thou I had some real quality time with the local (friendly) MX gang on one of their trips, my thoughts after playing around with their bikes and style

after a few rounds in their own private dirt track

 

my not so professional observations

 

-body positioning helps stabilize the bike at very low speeds (combined inertia energy is much lower so you have more oomph to wrestle it around)

-body positioning is more effective if the weight of the bike is light (90-120KG) relative to the rider (60-85kg)

-body positioning is more effective if the wheelbase is shorter

-body positioning is more effective if the COG of said bike is higher

-body positioning is more effective if surface/tires are skiddishly for a lack of a better term

 

body positioning is not gonna be VERY effective on a long wheelbase medium to hi COG ,heavy ,high horsepower bike (S1000RR) on a fast tarmac track (hi friction hi grip) obviously.

 

I've been incorporating certain MX styles to my everyday commute after playing around and the "dangle your leg out at speeds less than 10km\h for 180 degree turn" works great for me...

(bike is 120KG unfueled , < 1300 MM wheelbase and LOW COG)

 

just my 2c

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body positioning is not gonna be VERY effective on a long wheelbase medium to hi COG ,heavy ,high horsepower bike (S1000RR) on a fast tarmac track (hi friction hi grip) obviously.

 

 

That jumped out at me. Perhaps you mean body steering?

 

I ride an S1000RR. Body position makes a huge difference.

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body positioning is not gonna be VERY effective on a long wheelbase medium to hi COG ,heavy ,high horsepower bike (S1000RR) on a fast tarmac track (hi friction hi grip) obviously.

 

That jumped out at me. Perhaps you mean body steering?

 

I ride an S1000RR. Body position makes a huge difference.

Can you elaborate on that? In what ways do you notice body position makes a big difference for you on the S1000?

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body positioning is not gonna be VERY effective on a long wheelbase medium to hi COG ,heavy ,high horsepower bike (S1000RR) on a fast tarmac track (hi friction hi grip) obviously.

 

That jumped out at me. Perhaps you mean body steering?

 

I ride an S1000RR. Body position makes a huge difference.

Can you elaborate on that? In what ways do you notice body position makes a big difference for you on the S1000?

 

 

Sure. The biggest improvement I have noticed in using better body position is that the bike is more willing to turn mid corner. While I don't use body position to initiate a turn it seems to keep the line tighter and prevents the bike from going wide. As I mentioned before some of the first times I tried using "better" body position I almost ran over the apex because of the willingness of the bike to turn.

 

I'm also a heavy rider. I tip the scales at over 200# so my body weight is pretty substantial even on a heavy bike.

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I'm thinking as far as when a source, especially in a largely published book by a respected educator, states you can make "fine" adjustments in a corner on the bike. It mentions mid-corner, so it's not turn entry. I'd like to know how much weight I'd have to shift to make an adjustment IN a corner. I'm leaning off, hanging on, looking at my points... I don't know how much they think they can shift to make these adjustments while in a corner.

 

I sometimes still shift around in long corners while working on my BP and have no changes in my steering unless I'm performing the aforementioned hook-turn or putting pressure on the bars. I'm 240 lb, so my body is a huge part of my 600's weight. And it's a lot of upper body, not belly, so I'd think it'd be more noticeable were I shifting around. Wouldn't you think someone writing a book about this would be more specific, maybe MENTION something like hook-turn? I don't think I'm taking what is written out of context.

 

Without bar input, I don't really think there can be significant changes in BP other than the equivalent of "veering," as mentioned in Keith's TOTW2 video, which would have the same effect. Not much. Would that be an incorrect statement?

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body positioning is not gonna be VERY effective on a long wheelbase medium to hi COG ,heavy ,high horsepower bike (S1000RR) on a fast tarmac track (hi friction hi grip) obviously.

 

That jumped out at me. Perhaps you mean body steering?

 

I ride an S1000RR. Body position makes a huge difference.

Can you elaborate on that? In what ways do you notice body position makes a big difference for you on the S1000?

 

 

Sure. The biggest improvement I have noticed in using better body position is that the bike is more willing to turn mid corner. While I don't use body position to initiate a turn it seems to keep the line tighter and prevents the bike from going wide. As I mentioned before some of the first times I tried using "better" body position I almost ran over the apex because of the willingness of the bike to turn.

 

I'm also a heavy rider. I tip the scales at over 200# so my body weight is pretty substantial even on a heavy bike.

 

 

my 2c:

 

1) your body weight to bike weight is much higher than a 150 pound rider on a S1000rr (me)

2) you notice the extra steering mid turn , not during the initial turn ( slower speeds = much less inertia )

3) bigger rider = much higher COG when locked on to the bike = instantly lower (and bigger) COG shift when hanging off / body does a repositioning

for reference :

a smaller/lighter rider = lower COG = much less COG shifting when hanging off / body does a repositioning ...

 

Im not 100% sure but the hook turn technique might be relying on COMBINED COG to get the GEOMETRY of the bike to change to a faster turning one

(aka in car terms from a RR layout to a MR or even a FR layout on the fly )

 

I also noticed that while a bike with a lower front end (either from body positioning or setup) loves to corner , it is also more skiddish at lower speeds hence the concurrent use of body positioning to STABILIZE it.

 

its like... an active kinetic damper + bike geometry changer

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Your head is a VERY heavy portion of your body mass. The lower you can move it and the farther inside you can move it the better off you are. The school teaches a technique in Level 3 called the "hook turn". This is essentially moving your head lower and closer to the inside of the corner. It's great if you suddenly find yourself going wide.

 

One other strange benefit of getting body position right for me at least. With my head down lower I have a different perspective of the track surface. This seems to help with the sense of speed through the corner. At least for me. With good body position the corner just "clicks" and works really well for me.

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Your head is a VERY heavy portion of your body mass. The lower you can move it and the farther inside you can move it the better off you are. The school teaches a technique in Level 3 called the "hook turn". This is essentially moving your head lower and closer to the inside of the corner. It's great if you suddenly find yourself going wide.

 

One other strange benefit of getting body position right for me at least. With my head down lower I have a different perspective of the track surface. This seems to help with the sense of speed through the corner. At least for me. With good body position the corner just "clicks" and works really well for me.

reminds me of this XD

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmaEEiF7N28

 

maybe all the small kinks and wobbles the bike has is dampened by the neck perhaps?

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I dunno about the kinks and wobbles but that's an awesome video. I can only imagine the laughter in the background while they were dancing with the chickens.

 

Speaking of videos. This is a video with a good example of a rider using their head to lower the COG during turns. I swear a few times it's almost like he's going to drag his helmet on the apex.

 

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It's been a while since I took Level 3, but as I remember the classroom training on the hook turn, it was about moving your CoG forward by lowering your entire upper body, not (just) the head.

The point is that we want to shift the mass of the upper body forward to get the front fork to compress slightly, so the steering geometry changes to make the bike make a tighter radius turn.

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That's a good point. I tend to forget about the rest of the body as it tends to follow the head. Unless you just drop you head in shame in the middle of the corner. :)

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So, couple points on the topic at hand :D

 

Any time you move your body around on the bike, you move the CoG for the bike. Any time the CoG of the bike changes the handling of the bike changes. Hang off to the left while the bike is upright, the bike will veer left, hang off to the left while the bike is leaned over, it will turn more left, hang off to the left with the bike leaned over just slightly to the right and you will go straight. We have many times in the past compared the physics of motorcycles to those of plane because they are quite similar, and hanging off to one side or the other while the bike is upright is much like burning up all the fuel in one wing of a plane and not the other. I believe the proper term is "wing heavy". The end result is the bike / plane veers slightly and requires some slight banking to correct and maintain a straight trajectory.

 

Can you steer a motorcycle without using the handle bars ?

 

Yes, you can. HOWEVER its not EFFECTIVE. as my current street bike has cruise control I have a fair bit of experience riding it hands free and you can absolutely change lanes on the freeway or navigate moderate sweeping corners at freeway speed simply by hanging off the bike and muscling it around with your core and feet, But you cant turn quickly and accurately enough to navigate a freeway interchange or a off ramp. Consider riding a bicycle with no hands, with practice you can negotiate turns fairly easily, a motorcycle is no different, it just has considerably more mass, gyroscopic force and inertia that has to be overcome to get it to change direction.

 

In summary

 

Body Positioning is always effective,

 

Body Steering is not.

 

 

Tyler

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Tyler,

 

Very well stated!

 

Body steering is a myth. When riders are body steering they typically are making control inputs on the bars at the same time and don't realize it. The No BS bike exists for one purpose only and that's to bust this myth. On the second set of disconnected bars without the control inputs in the bars makes super aggressive body steering movements only slightly affect the bike's trajectory.

 

Body position does however affect a way a bike handles. The optimal technique is to use the bars for the steering input and use body position to enhance the way the bike handles mid corner.

 

Something fun that I do from time to time when I'm practicing hang off on the road is to use aggressive body position for a somewhat normal bend in the road. The bike is often almost straight up and down and turning. Even doing this I still use the bars to initiate the turn. The turning forces still exist when the bike is nearly straight up and down. I'm sure it looks funny but it's a pretty good demonstration of how hang off technique reduces lean angle to get through a corner.

 

Hanging off the bike allows the rider to use less lean angle to complete a turn. Why would you want less lean angle? It keeps you on the more stable portion of the tire. It also means you can go faster in a corner without running out of lean angle. In theory a rider using good body position could pass a rider mid corner using bad body position who's dragging a knee. The rider using good body position could do this without even making knee contact with the track surface. The key here is the weight shift and how it affects the handling of the bike. Without that weight shift you have to use more lean angle. While it looks great it ultimately slows you down.

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I suppose what's really needed is a clear definition of body steering in the first place. Then an exact list constructed of each body movement and the response that the bike is supposed to make to each.

 

For example: "Pressure on inside peg during mid-turn yields 'X' response from the bike."

 

I have a feeling that no one is going to construct such a matrix because riders will go out, try it, and shoot holes in it. Therefore you will get statements like: "doing 'X' with the inside footpeg HELPS the bike do such and such"

 

I myself have tried all sorts of pressures and weighting and swinging to see what it does to a motorcycle, and I still try them. Often one's conclusions are colored by a cognitive phenomonon called "confirmation bias" whereby when evaluating our own beliefs, we tend to seek out information that confirms our beliefs and ignore contrary information, even when we encounter it repeatedly.

 

Newton's 3 laws of motion can be applied to many of these notions and often help clarify what's actually happening.

 

I just saw On Any Sunday The Nex Chapter on pay per view. In it a waist-down paralized former motorcoss racer named Doug Henry rides a motocross bike with a cage built around him. Motocross "common knowledge" is that you steer MX bikes with the pegs. This is myth busted on the spot as Doug has no use of his lower body, though there he is turning and jumping his bike as good as a rider with full use of their limbs.

 

All that being said it is very much agreed that body position affects the motorcycle in many ways, some obvious, others subtle

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This is a highly interesting point regarding the peg weighting Dylan.I remember i had raised the Rabat peg weighting issue earlier with the similar results.

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