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My Knee Gauge Doesn't Worky


pleman
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I've done all 4 of the school levels and been out on track with a couple of well known racers as well. My body position is as taught - one cheek off the seat, hips square to the bike, one leg locked into the tank, the other knee out. I've had no complaints from school instructors and even had compliments from the racers so I assumed my body position was OK and I must be riding around like a pussy cat and not leaning over enough, since my knee was never on the ground. So for the past couple of years I've been leaning over more and more having no clue as to the angle but believing that one day my knee would touch down and then I'd better not lean any more.

Tuesday proved to be interesting at Silverstone on a 1299 S where I have a lean angle gauge and lap data storage so I switched this on to see how I was doing. Max lean angle 53 degrees and regularly 45 degrees. My tyres are also scrubbed to the edge. At this rate I'll be off the rims before my knee gauge tells me where I am.

So what's wrong?

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I've done all 4 of the school levels and been out on track with a couple of well known racers as well. My body position is as taught - one cheek off the seat, hips square to the bike, one leg locked into the tank, the other knee out. I've had no complaints from school instructors and even had compliments from the racers so I assumed my body position was OK and I must be riding around like a pussy cat and not leaning over enough, since my knee was never on the ground. So for the past couple of years I've been leaning over more and more having no clue as to the angle but believing that one day my knee would touch down and then I'd better not lean any more.

Tuesday proved to be interesting at Silverstone on a 1299 S where I have a lean angle gauge and lap data storage so I switched this on to see how I was doing. Max lean angle 53 degrees and regularly 45 degrees. My tyres are also scrubbed to the edge. At this rate I'll be off the rims before my knee gauge tells me where I am.

So what's wrong?

 

How tall are you? What is the length of your inseam?

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I'm just under 6'1" tall but most of that is legs. Inside leg is 34" but my femur measures 2' (hip to knee). This does have its issues riding motorcycles and bicycles and I've got a taller seat coming for the 1299 to stop my leathers cutting off the blood supply behind my knees.

The thing is with a long thigh and shorter knee to ankle my knees tend to point more downwards on most bikes. This does sometimes have issues in gripping the tank but I would have thought my knee would touch the ground earlier rather than later (in terms of lean).

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...and how flexible are you in the hips? Some people (e.g., my brother) just can't stick their leg out sufficiently perpendicular to the bike.

 

But then of course the stoopid fast guys (MotoGP etc) end up having to bring their leg back in some to give themselves enough cornering room.

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Flexibility wise I'm not too bad. If I place the soles of my feet together I can drop my knees apart to about 120 degrees and I can certainly sit with one leg straight out in front with the other foot pulled into the groin and lean my knee out flat to the floor (on the bent leg).

I've actually tried deliberately pushing my knee further out but I'd rather try to stay relaxed on the bike.

I also see guys slung way off the side of the bike most artificially with their knee down and the bike at maybe 25 degrees and I really don't see the point of going down that road to just end up with less control and feel for the bike.

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I've tried to attach 3 photos to help in identification of my issue.

 

The first rather arty black and white was taken last Tuesday I believe at the loop at Silverstone. Bike is quite a long way over and knee is a mile off the ground.

 

The second was shot on an old 749R just before hitting the apex of the Melbourne Loop at Donington Park and I reckon about 45 degrees but knee nowhere near the floor.

 

Don't remember where the third shot was taken but it's the only one I have looking straight on, and we can see about 45 degrees, body centreline shifted to the side (not a huge amount) and knee again absolutely nowhere near.

 

So am I just not hanging off far enough? Seems to me if I hang off more then at the same speed my lean angle will reduce and the knee still won't get any nearer. So am I going too slow or what?

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I also see guys slung way off the side of the bike most artificially with their knee down and the bike at maybe 25 degrees and I really don't see the point of going down that road to just end up with less control and feel for the bike.

 

Interesting comment. I only say that because this is what I do. Well, I have no idea what my lean angle is (I just go until my knee touches) but I'd rather get off the bike and have lean available than be at full lean with no more options. That being said, it does take a bit more energy so it's good to be in shape.

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I also see guys slung way off the side of the bike most artificially with their knee down and the bike at maybe 25 degrees and I really don't see the point of going down that road to just end up with less control and feel for the bike.

 

I actually used to be of this school of thought myself. Aggressive body position works. The key of course is what's aggressive is very subjective. Finding something that works for you is the most critical thing.

 

I have found with more aggressive body position I use less bike lean angle. When I got faster and suddenly had unused portions of my tire again it left me scratching my head for a bit. I found a position that worked well for me even though I know I can improve it.

 

I would not worry about your knee not touching. I would work on trying to refine your body position as even professional riders tend to be a "work in progress" over time. One other thing you could do in the short term is use longer pucks. Woodcraft rain pucks are some of the longer ones you can buy that might give you that extra length you might need to "make contact".

 

Knees touching the pavement is also a style thing. It's not really a requirement. My knee pucks seldom touch the pavement while other riders chew up pucks as fast as they wear out tires. Even more important than using a knee puck to judge lean angle is developing your internal speedometer to know how fast you are going. The information that your knee is touching is of limited use when you enter way too fast and are about to crash.

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First here's an interesting thing you can do to analyze body position. Take a piece of paper and place it on the center line of the bike covering the inside of the turn. If you are using "good" body position there should be very little of the rider present. This is a good visual indicator of where your weight is. In your photos most of your weight is right on top of the bike. Do the same thing for a photo of a professional rider and you see maybe and arm and maybe a shoulder.

 

Why do we contort ourselves around on the bike? Weight shift accomplishes a few things. It allows us to use less lean angle. That less lean angle allows us to have more of our tire available that we can use for additional turning or additional speed if we choose. Techniques like the hook turn allow us to make last minute corrections in bike geometry and enhance steering ability.

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Interesting idea with the paper.

 

I guess what I conclude from this so far is to hang off more aggressively. Although the school would suggest half a bum cheek is all you need. There's also the issue of using the gear lever. In corners like Woodcote at Silverstone you go in in second gear and the top boys come out in 6th at a mental pace (they aren't human of course). It's destabilising enough shifting leant over but once I hang off more not only does it become more difficult gripping the tank as the leg over the seat ends up more across the back of the tank, but the outside foot points more outwards and thus reaching the gear lever becomes more of a challenge.

 

I guess my overall aim in all of this is I want to remain as stable as possible for that confidence feeling, but at the same time I want as much information coming to me from the front wheel, back wheel and knee gauge as I can get so I'm consistent. Without the knee gauge I don't have a physical reference point each time I enter the same turn to help get that consistency Silverstone is quite a difficult circuit (mostly designed for Formula 1 cars) as it is very wide and about 3.7 miles long. Speed perception is difficult because everything is so far away there's little sensation of movement so I find entry speed to corners hence lean angle etc. quite variable resulting in lap times varying by as much as 10 seconds. If my knee hit the ground this time around but not the next time around I'd realise my entry had slowed down. The idea is to achieve this before I come off the rims of course!

 

Thanks for the replies anyway. I guess I'm going to have to work on more aggressively moving about.

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If you do decide to use more aggressive body position I would suggest working your way into it slowly. It really can change the way the bike steers and feels and it's important you know what to expect. The more aggressive you get with it the more it seems to change (at least for me). I actually spent a bit of time having to "re learn" the steering input I was putting in on the bars.

 

This might also be something you want to try working on when you do Level 4 again (we are all repeat offenders here of course). I had a body position I was super comfortable with the last time I did Level 4. I did a session with one of the coaches and they made the suggestion of using the pivot steer action to lock my leg further into the tank and move my backside further off of the seat. It worked wonders and was one of those 5 minute fixes that involved a few minutes on the coaches bike on the side stand. The coaching you would need would likely be different but it's always amazingly helpful and insightful. The coaches always know those right questions to ask that make you go AH HA! :)

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If I am not mistaken, isn't half a cheek off just a good baseline recommendation? Also, I believe it requires moving your upper body over to stay inline with the bike which I don't see in the images posted. Of course, it is about what feels comfortable to you. There are many fast riders that may not have the "ideal" body position. Trying to mirror Marc Marquez on our bikes and at our speeds doesn't make sense either.

 

Do you have tank pads? They really help with grip when leaned over. I have only ridden two bikes on the track but I know bikes fit people differently. I could never get entirely comfortable leaning off the Ninja 650 but on the ZX6R my leg locks on the tank as soon as I slide over. As I do that, I extend my outside arm which then engages the tank so that is another contact point I use so I know my upper body is over and down. The differences between the 650 and ZX6R are tank design, peg height, seat height and seat shape. They seem to make a world of difference.

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Half a cheek is plenty, the real weight in the equation is in your upper body,

 

based on the photo's you posted, your not really sticking you knee out at all, it might feel like you are, but the inside and outside knee's look almost identically positioned to me,

 

compare to these, I've tried to find similar shots where the lean angle is pretty close to what you're using. You can see my knee is stuck out considerably more. Also the first to pictures it looks kinda like your crowding up on the tank, is that the case ?

 

Based on the location of your knee in the 3rd picture I'm pretty sure you'll drag hard parts before your knee makes contact.

 

 

Is your bike GP shift ?

 

 

 

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Heh heh. Notice where the zipper of T-mckeen's leathers are? On the side of the tank. Here's a shot for fun. Taken at the school. Over exagerated body position in a slow turn gives you hardly any bike lean angle at all. Try the sheet of paper trick on these photos to see where the weight is.

 

IMG_3617cropped.jpg

 

P.S. This is by no means a good body position. I notice several things I could improve such as dropping my inside elbow for starters.

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Thanks for the replies: I'll try to go through each one.

 

XPyron:

 

Agree I should have more upper body forwards and to the inside - more like me in first picture (please excuse girly high viz). Id does seem to me though that if more weight is to the inside then for the same speed and corner lean angle will be less and my knee will be further away from the ground. As in rchase photo.

 

Also I've had knee pads on previous bikes and they can make you life easier. I'm a bit reluctant to spoil my Ducatis with them.

 

As a topic for another occasion - I always used to wear contact lenses on track (S1000RR pic attached) but more recently have gone back to spectacles so I can't really drop my head and use an oblique view - I have to hold my head up to see through the specs. So if I lean forwards and hold my head up too often I end up with a stiff neck, then get tense on the bars and it all turns to rats. I'm working on this one.

 

T-McKeen:

 

Looks good. Keeping back off the tank might just be the key. Quite easy on the S1000RR but in Particular the Panigale its not so easy. I'm hauled right over the screen to keep her stable when accelerating down the straights then on the brakes getting a grip on the narrower tank and trying to keep my weight off the bars while moving back isn't the easiest. But you might well have something here.

 

As for sticking my knee out more I'll persevere but I like to stay relaxed if I can.

 

And yes I've been using GP shift on all bikes for about the last 10 years and don't really understand why all bikes don't come this way as standard.

 

rchase:

 

Ah yes the paper trick. OK then, try it on my S1000RR picture and then on the other attached photo of a certain skinflint who can't afford to paint his bike properly and it would appear I'm hanging off more than him ! :Dpost-25918-0-73612100-1438684939_thumb.jpgpost-25918-0-84510400-1438684950_thumb.jpg

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Rossi looks better locked into the bike than me (he is just a tad better than me of course). This suggests to me that he's probably further back in the seat than I am. Moving further back looks like the key to improvement.

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As for sticking my knee out more I'll persevere but I like to stay relaxed if I can.

 

You're already using over 50° of lean angle in some corners, the reason you're not knee down is quite simply that your not sticking you knee out far enough. In RChase's photos ( which are much better than he gives himself credit for B) ) and mine you can clearly see both of our inside leg's is stuck out way more than your's. IMHO you need to bite the bullet and get some kind of tank grips, then find a better seat position that lets you rotate your hips into the turn and lock on with your outside leg. This will let you pivot your inside leg out to almost perpendicular to the bike and you'll be dragging you knee with ease.

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You're already using over 50° of lean angle in some corners, the reason you're not knee down is quite simply that your not sticking you knee out far enough.

I also think that despite lean angle and body position, some people need to be going really really fast to get their knee down. This picture shows about 45 degrees of lean with the upper body and head lower to the inside and yet the knee puck is still inches about the deck. From memory, the only time my knee pucks touch is when I am riding very quickly.

 

Some riders rarely touch down. DAMHIK

 

Rainman

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I agree with Kevin on the lean angle and body position thing. I'm one of those riders that rarely touches down. Sometimes it's a speed thing. Sometimes it's a style thing. Sometimes it's even the way we are built physically. I have yet to figure it out myself. :)

 

Some people make it look entirely too easy.

 

Nate_LargeImages-9thumbs%252520up-croppe

 

Random comment here. I really appreciate the way we can intelligently discuss somewhat controversial topics here and be so cordial and helpful to one another. You don't see this anywhere else where there's sport bikes involved. You guys all rock!

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I'm certainly not advocating for grinding your knee into the pavement at every chance and burning through knee pucks faster than tires. I personally use more of a touch and go style with my knee puck, ( except when I know the Photographer is lurking :ph34r: )

 

But I stick by my comment. Look at the pictures of Rossi, RChase, Myself, and "The Dude" on the R9T. Now compare the location of the inside elbow and inside leg. The elbow is about mid thigh or higher ( R9T Guy is almost elbowing himself in the groin ). In all the other pictures however the inside elbow is considerably close to the knee. The difference isn't the lean angle or massively hanging off the bike, its just sticking your leg out like 10° more and feeling where the pavement is. #255 could easily be grinding away his knee puck there, but he's choosing not to. My guess is that he uses his knee puck like a warning light, if he feels it make contact then he know's he has just about used up all the lean angle he has.

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While you don't have to be as aggressive as I am in the below pic, you do need to use what you learned at the school to get more of your upper body mass on the inside of the bike while cornering. It all starts with a good spot on the seat and getting a good lock on the bike. Next would be to address what is holding you back?

 

Perhaps your knee down problem isn't so much a physical or lean problem, perhaps it's a vision issue. Do you have any reservations about getting your head closer to the tarmac? How far ahead are you looking? Are you really comfortable with the 2 step, quick turn combo?

 

 

 

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A comment about vision. I agree with csmith12 on this. The first time I lowered my head it completely transformed the view I had of the track. I don't know why but it was a lot easier to go faster with that view. :)

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I agree with you on the vision stuff but I have some unusual vision issues far to complex for this thread. Save to say that I wear spectacles while riding and thus if I drop my head too much I end up looking over the top of them which is useless.

 

I basically think that I'm going too slow on any given corner so with less hanging off I have more lean angle and knee off the ground and with more hanging off I have less lean angle so knee still off the ground.

 

Lots of different views on all this. I definitely think I need to move back more in the seat and lock in better then go faster and build up the lean again.

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