Whether you're a seasoned long-distance touring rider or a city commuter, there are many habits that you can pull from a track day and apply to everyday street riding.
Track Talk is a new series presented by our latest contributor, Robby Cichielo, a track veteran who is currently a control rider and instructor for N2 Track Days. You can contact Robby at firstname.lastname@example.org
Weight is transferred from your body and onto the bike through the rider’s feet. This weight is transferred and used as a steering input. Adding weight to the pegs pulls the bike into the angle used to get you through the corner.
What is proper foot placement?
Plant the balls of your feet on the outside edge of the pegs. This will allow you to move around the bike freely. This placement of your feet also allows more weight to shift to the pegs. Properly distributing your weight means you’ll be able to corner harder. Now add the proper body position, and you’ll be riding like a full-on GP racer.
Having the proper body position reduces the amount of lean angle the bike needs to get through a corner. The less the bike is angled over, the more grip you have available. For example, you can take a turn at 45mph with a 45-degree bike angle with no body position. Add the correct body position, and you can now take that same corner with at the same speed but with only a 20-degree lean of the motorcycle. The more verticle your motorcycle is, the larger the contact patch is, thus more grip.
BAS (Brake Assisted Steering) or Trail braking
The most common myth that I hear when speaking about riding techniques is that using the brakes while leaning a motorcycle will cause you to crash. Trail braking is a riding technique where the brakes are used beyond the entrance of the corner. As the bike starts to lean over, brake pressure is lowered gradually until the apex of the corner. At the apex of the corner, brake pressure will be zero and throttle will start to be applied in the same form. Gradually until the exit of the corner. Trail braking is the technique the fastest riders in the world use to control their bikes. Even at a street riding pace, this can be used to handle your motorcycle more efficiently.
Ever hear the saying “fast riders have slow hands”? This refers to the use of the controls. At a track, a key component to riding fast is being smooth and predictable. Riding smooth allows the tire to be “loaded.” If you look at a motorcycle tire, you’ll notice that the top of any aggressive tire is in the shape of an oval. Applying pressure slowly to the tire allows it to flatten out. This widens your contact patch, thus increasing grip. Any abrupt use of the controls (either throttle or brakes) will unload the tire or load the tire too quickly which, will cause you to crash.
At the track, you’ll learn that if you ride a motorcycle long enough you are going to crash. You’ll see some of the faster track guys out there completely wad up their bikes traveling at speeds of 150mph. Only to get up and jump on another bike in the same hour. I’m not saying you need to wear a full suit every time you go out and ride, but at least wear something. A Leather Jacket, Full face helmet and a thick pair of pants will go a long way when you do take that tumble.