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Locking My Body When Leaning

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Question for the CSS coaches who are around...(or for anybody else of course !).


When riding on the track, I follow what I learned at CSS: pressure on the peg with the toes from my outside leg, knee in the tank, nicely locking my position. This works well for me.

But, looking at better riders than myself, and watching pro races, I noticed different things on the position.


So here it goes: If you strictly lock your position with the "tip" of the knee, naturally, it's more difficult to hang off the bike more, as the upper leg will be more parallel to the line of the bike. Locking with the inside of the upper leg makes it easier, I guess. And when I watch very advanced/pro riders, when leaned, most of them have their knee actually a little up, not fully touching the tank, their upper leg in contact with the tank, and their foot is rather open, pointing a bit towards the outside, rather than putting pressure from the toes on the peg. This sort of makes sense to me, as it would be the same muscles used, should you use the knee or the upper leg...but to apply the same force on the tank, using the knee, that would require a stronger input from the upper leg than if it was the one in contact with the tank...not sure I am very clear !


Could simply be that I misunderstood the CSS advice on this particular point and that I am trying to keep the knee in the tank, while this is not strictly what I was taught. Or that better riders apply different techniques that are appropriate if you are of a much higher level rider/racer...or that their tanks are built differently for that...I don't know. But I was just wondering. Furthermore, for me, tall guy with long legs, most bikes make it difficult to nicely lock the knee itself in the tank, as there is not that much space ! I tried the new R1 recently, and it felt like the whole thing was not intended for locking the knee but rather the upper leg. Anyway, it was just an impression.


Thanks for your feedback !

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For sure the lock on will be a little different for every rider and each different type of bike, due to differences in physical build and how the contact points align. A Ducati tank , for example, has a much different shape that a Yamaha, or BMW, and a knee-lock position that works on one might not work at all on the other.


It is not necessary to use just the tip or very front of your knee, what you are looking for is getting enough contact in a strong enough place that you are well anchored on the bike, and without crowding the tank to the point that you end up pivoting around it and losing your lock, forcing your knee and the whole area around it out into space, and then having to hold yourself up with your inside arm. You may very well find that you get a better lock with an area higher up on your leg, the part above your knee (on the inside of your leg). I think what you might be seeing on some of the pro riders' feet is them rotating the toe out a bit to force the heel tightly into the heel guard on the rearsets to assist with lock-on.


Another thing that can vary is placement of grip-assist pads, either on the bike in various places or on the leathers, the location of those can change where the rider chooses to lock on (or better yet they locate the grip pads to suit their particular lock-on points).


There is really no such thing as an ideal riding position that works for every rider, what you are going for is: no unwanted input in the bars and a stable lower body lock so you are secure on the bike.


So, I get that you are seeing differences with other riders, but is there something about YOUR body position that is causing you a problem in your riding? Are you having to support yourself on the bars, or feeling like you are sliding off?

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Hi !

Thanks for the answer ! Very helpful.


So maybe I should have explained better where this is coming from...


I am on the market for a new track-only bike. So far, I have been using an s1000rr, which I really like. But I decided to go and test the new Yamaha R1 on a track, as it has received a lot of very good reviews...and that's where my problems start :P


I found the frame of the new R1 just incredible. It is so much faster steering, lighter, quick flicking than my s1000rr (a 2014 HP4 with DDC). I have never had so much lean than on the R1, and better, more precise trajectories...and that resulted in faster lap times, on a track that I know well but with a bike that I was trying for the first time. That bike really inspires confidence. That said, the engine is not that of the s1000rr...it is, at least stock, clearly less powerful and explosive. The R1 must be really ridden high in rpm (below 8000-9000 rpm, it feels...boring. Above that, it starts being lively, but still, not that push of the s1000rr). Nevertheless, better cornering speed resulted in better lap times. So I am torn between the 2 bikes...a great frame on the R1, or a great engine on the s1000rr.


Yamaha guys tell me that a race exhaust and proper ECU mapping will make the R1 engine really close to the s1000rr (they are honest enough to tell me that without in-depth, super expensive work on the engine, it cannot be quite as powerful as the s1000rr...though quite close). BMW people (Alpha Racing Germany...so they know what they are talking about when it comes to racing the BMW !) tell me that the 2015 s1000rr frame is really a huge improvement on the one for the 2012-2014 bikes. They actually told me that the 2009-2011 frame was a great racing frame, but that BMW screwed up with the 2012-2014 frame...but that the new one is really really good...and that a bit of work on the suspensions and swingarm pivot would make it as agile as the R1...so...I am stuck there not knowing what to do !


This comes to the size thing. The Yamaha is smaller. It's actually interesting. When tucked, sitting all the way back, there is actually more room and you have to reach further to get to the handlebars. But for a 6'1" rider like me with bloody long legs, there is less space for the legs. So while trying the bike, both on the track and during the breaks, I was trying to evaluate how it would fit with my locking position. On my s1000rr, the tip of my knee goes right into the tank. I tried that on the Yamaha, and it's too tight...and it feels wrong. The tank is also of a completely different shape. So I was trying to understand whether this was not a bike for me. And on the bike, I felt much more confident locking my body using the upper part of my outside leg. I got a decent lock position (not as great as on the BMW, also, I think, due to my habits with the BMW...but also because I use stompgrip on my HP4...and there was nothing on that R1- and i have no grip pads on my riding suit-). Riding it, I managed to have my arms pretty relaxed (this is something I always think about, as this is one of the thing I got from CSS which helped my riding the most). So my lock position had to be good enough. But it's hard to say in just a few sessions, as I just also had to get used to the bike... And to be really perfectly set up, I would have to adjust a bit the rearsets etc...something I have done on my s1000rr, but of course not on that test bike. So that's why I was asking about locking yourself with something else than the tip of the knee.


So maybe the Yamaha requires you, at least if you are tall, to lock yourself a bit differently than the s1000rr indeed. Thing is that with my arms relaxed, on the R1, I ended up having my knee dragging and then going back inside because my lean angle was getting higher. That's something I have not experienced with my BMW that much (I am not good enough (-;). That could come from the bike, which inspires confidence, that could come from the fact that I may not have been hanging as much as on the BMW (I don't know this...just in theory), forcing me to have more lean to compensate...I don't know. But the bike was incredibly fun and fast to ride...if only it had the engine of the s1000rr (-:


Anyone tall having tried the R1 more extensively ?



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I have not ridden the R1 but I can attest that the 2016 S1000rr (which I have been coaching on) feels a lot different to me than my personal 2014. The bike has a much more cooperative, and lively feel, if that makes any sense. The 2014 is great, it really is, but the 2016 goes exactly where I want without me putting ANY noticeable effort or thought into it. It just does it. And yet, I feel like I am getting more feedback from it, too - it isn't distracting feedback, it is good, confidence inspiring feedback. That's all very non-specific and touch-feely sounding but the point is, I think what the BMW folks are telling you about the chassis differences is real, and does make a noticeable difference. Oh, and my husband has a 2010 and it does have a great frame for racing. But, he just got a 2015 a few months ago and is already faster on it than his 2010 even though he hasn't made any mods to rearsets or exhaust or anything yet.


Tough decision, but a high class problem. :D

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Hmmm. The R1 "as powerful as" the BMW with some updates?


How many R1's took podiums this year in the IOM TT? How many BMW's did?


Bonus question. Which very successful rider intended to ride an R1 in 2015 and then abandoned that idea right before the race to ride a recycled previous generation and season's bike to be competitive? What brand was the bike? :)


In regards to the knee lock. Ironically this was something that I had some issues with this year. Cobie spent some time showing me how I was shooting myself in the foot with my form. I was sitting too far back in the seat. Not only did this reduce the surface area of my body locked onto the bike but my weight shifted that far back in the seat made my bike more interested in doing wheelies than getting a solid drama free drive down the straight.


I'll plant one last idea. The RR Superleggera


2016 Model BMW with Premium Package $20K

BST Wheels $3500

Carbon Bodywork Painted any color you wish $2800

HP Power kit w/ Akra TI Exhaust $3500

Lithium Battery

For just under 30K that's a quite sexy track day weapon that's an absolute pleasure to ride.

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As has been mentioned above, one person's lower body position could be completely off for the next person.


It took me a while to get used to my S1000RR because I had the opposite problem as rchase. Unless I sat all the way back in the seat, my knee would dangle as described above and I was at the risk of pivoting around the tank. This then leads to other problems like unintended steering input.


In my opinion, I think improper body positioning becomes most evident when trying to do a hook turn. I once almost fell off my seat because I wasn't properly locked on. If you can "hook turn" and "pick up" comfortably/correctly, that's a good sign.


What I do is I spend the first 1 or 2 sessions of a track day emphasizing a skill I'm trying to learn, then trying to carry that habit through for the rest of the day to make it feel second nature.


And on a last note, the coaches can spot this problem very easily on track when following you. I had coach Brian giving me constant feedback about my wallowing outside leg.

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What I do is I spend the first 1 or 2 sessions of a track day emphasizing a skill I'm trying to learn, then trying to carry that habit through for the rest of the day to make it feel second nature.





Good point; this is my philosophy on improving skill level.

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