To get into the proper riding position on a sportbike, you need to know how to properly balance and steer — and stay relaxed but focused on the track and corners ahead. Over the years in which motorcycle racing has been a professional sport, riding techniques have been developed and mastered by Ducati and MV Agusta riding pros. For racers and recreational motorcyclists alike, these techniques have made riding safer and more enjoyable.
As you take to the tracks, or out onto the streets, your motorcycle body position is important. It's also crucial to master cornering and counter steering. By following these riding position tips, you can become a safer, better rider.
How to Get the Best Motorcycle Riding Position
To get into the proper motorcycle riding position, the ball of your foot needs to be placed against the footpeg. Be consistent with your position on the seat as you begin cornering, because even the slightest variation in posture can impact the overall distribution of your body weight on the motorcycle. One of the easiest ways to maintain the proper position is to slide up against the tank back, as this will help prevent you from placing too much hand weight on the bars.
Ideal Foot and Footpeg Contact
By maintaining contact between the ball of your foot and the footpeg, you will have an easier time shifting your body weight when necessary. The same would not be true if you place your heels on the footpegs as the following problems are liable to occur:
Your toes will point outward — this is common among many riders who use the heel-to-footpeg position.
Your quadriceps will elevate your rear from the seat as you transfer your body weight.
With the ball of your foot to the footpeg, you will be able to utilize the muscles in your calves while keeping your toes safely above the concrete.
Seat Placement On a Motorcycle
The next important step is to stay situated at the front of the seat, close to the fuel tank. This will allow the bottom half of your body to stay firmly planted on the bike, because your weight will be directed at the front tire. In order to make this fully effective, keep your arms and back relaxed and naturally bent. That way, your body will be prepared to bear the effect of road bumps, and the overall impact of bumps will in turn be easier on the chassis. The whole point is to make your body work as part of the suspension, as opposed to as a part the frame.
Get comfortable sitting on your bike properly before hitting the road.
When it comes to corners and turns, position your body in advance of the corner entrance, just as you start to move to the brakes. A common mistake that riders make is to wait until they steer into the corner before adjusting positions.
Proper Bar Grip While Riding
With your footpeg and seat placement pinned down, the grip that you place on the bars should be firm yet delicate, almost as if you were holding an egg without breaking it. Too tight of a grip will cause your muscles to tighten up, your hands to take the full brunt of the bar vibrations and often lead to uncomfortable blisters. Too light of a grip can cause a lack of responsive control. Finding your comfort zone between grip pressures will go a long way in keeping yourself upright. If you feel like you’re constantly over gripping, try squeezing a bit with your knees and relax your hands.
Throughout these steps, it is important to take things easy, because too much stress on your part can impact the balance of the bike. When you clamp the bars like vice grips, the bike is less likely to stay straight.
Importance of Staying Relaxed While Riding
Riders often worry about making mistakes while riding. Trouble is, this can be highly distracting, and can lead to even worse mistakes. A more relaxed approach is necessary, because this will free your mind to think about the track - or road - ahead as needed.
As you master your riding focus, it is also important to stay relaxed on a bike. To stay relaxed while riding, you can ultimately gain better control over the position of your bike. However, because most riders are naturally inclined to tense up while riding, relaxation on a bike can take a certain amount of effort to master. One step that can help is to adjust the positions of the brake and clutch levers, as well as the shifter and rear brake pedals. The point here is to adjust these parts of the bike so they best suit your comfort as a rider.
Be Alert While You Ride
As you learn to be relaxed on a bike, you must also make sure that this does not render you lethargic. There is a thin line between relaxation and laziness while riding a bike. While you do want to minimize tension, you do not want to become complacent. After all, the whole point of relaxing on a bike is to keep your mind free and attentive to what occurs on the road ahead.
How to Focus
When you consider how fast a bike travels — 100 feet per second when traveling at 68 mph — there is simply no time to let your mind wander. With just a split second of distraction, you could find yourself much closer to hitting the ground.
When it comes to riding a motorcycle, most of the exertion put forth is not placed upon the bars or levers. Instead, a lot of energy is exerted through body tension. Often times, a rider won’t even notice this until they get off the bike and feel stiffness in the lower body and back.
Breathing While You Ride a Motorcycle
It is important to maintain your breathing at all times while on the bike. People are often less inclined to breathe at regular intervals when under stress. However, mental and physical processes become compromised after 10 seconds without oxygen. That means to be relaxed on a bike you need to stay in the habit of breathing at least once every 10 seconds.
Remember, achieving the best motorcycle riding position is as much about relaxation and concentration as it is about riding skills and ability.
When and Why to Hang Off Your Bike
There is a special move that can help you on the track, but it is not usually necessary for street riding. The move involves hanging off the bike's inside, which helps maintain an upright bike position during the corner radius, regardless of speed. As you prepare yourself for the corner, adjust your position by shifting your lower half. Your lower body should pivot around the back of your bike’s tank, sliding about half way off the seat.
Downshifting and repositioning your body before you reach the corner gives you more time to relax, set your entrance speed, and precisely choose your turn-in point for the corner. All of these things combined will make for a smoother and safer corner if you are going to use this method.
How to Master Throttle Input
One of the less-mastered skills on racetracks, even among some advanced racers, is the smoothly executed throttle control, which is meant to keep cornering arc under control while leaning over the bike during turns. It is crucial to understand here that the bike's trajectory is determined by the speed at which you travel and the angle at which you lean.
As you increase your lean angle, your cornering line becomes tightened. When you ride at higher speeds, the reverse is true. Therefore, with your lean angle set, your line will become tighter when you lower your speed. Alternately, you can increase your speed to make the corner arc more pronounced. For optimal throttle response, make sure your engine rpm stays within the range of 60 to 80 percent of redline.
Sometimes, you might find yourself in the middle of a corner with a sudden need to alter your line. Once you have steered into the corner, the time comes to open to a neutral throttle and simply stay at the same speed. Otherwise, you won't crack the throttle open, and this could cause the bike to slow as it turns around the corner.
Sportbike Steering Tips for Pros and Recreational Motorcyclists
Counter-steering is achieved by a small, quick turn of the front wheel, typically with the opposing handlebars. The purpose of counter-steering is to keep the bike in an upright or side-to-side lean angle. Out on the open roads, counter-steering makes it easier to change lanes, whereas without counter-steering, you are liable to exert much more of your muscles during a turn and place unnecessary stress on your body.
Left Push/Rightward Arc
When you push the left handlebar, a barely noticeable rightward arc will occur. Nonetheless, the bike will tip leftward due to centrifugal force, and this will precipitate a left-hand turn. Mastering this skill can help you gain better control over your turns as you enter a corner. As you exit corners, counter-steering can also help you return to a straight-up position.
In actuality, the typical rider will travel great distances without putting conscious thought into the functions of a turn. The act of turning is mostly a subconscious process that a rider will have long internalized. The movements required to initiate a counter-steer can often be so minimal that you won't even notice yourself doing it during any given turn.
You can reap great benefits by applying counter-steering consciously, whether you are riding on the tracks or the streets. By doing so, you will be better prepared for emergency situations that might arise. For instance, if you need to make an abrupt swerve to avoid a roadblock or collision, your ability to enact a counter-steer could make it easier to avoid danger.
Otherwise, you might find yourself reacting at the last second when you're already too close to the danger zone. In scenarios like these, the wheels will often be spinning too fast for a smooth, easy turn.
How to Practice Counter Steering
To master counter-steering, practice the move on a secluded, open space of road. For the most effective practice, get your bike running at 20 mph or more. While proceeding along the road at the intended speed, push down softly on one of the handlebars. As you make this move, notice the direction of the bike.
As you practice this move more and more, try different amounts of force upon the handlebar, and note the reaction of the bike. Through practice, you should gain a perfect handle on how to effectively use the counter-steering method. If after numerous tries you find that it makes you uncomfortable to push on the handlebar, try pulling on the bar instead. Pull one bar and notice the effect. It is basically the same as pushing the opposite bar.
In cases where you do need to make instant swerves, push on one handlebar and then the other. You can practice this by placing cones along an open back road and enacting the swerve between each cone.
Increased Force Needed for Counter Steering at the Track
Since you will be riding at higher speeds on the racetrack, you will need to apply greater amounts of force on the handlebar to enact counter-steering. Among professional racers, the practice of applying force during counter-steers has actually gotten somewhat out of hand, to the point where certain riders have broken clip-ons in the process.
As one of the foremost sportbike steering tips, it must be understood that counter-steering is not just for entering a corner. The move can also be employed in the middle and at the exit of a corner on a racetrack.
How to Maintain Proper Body Position on Ducati and MV Agusta Motorbikes
When it comes to speed racing on Ducati and MV Agusta motorbikes, it is crucial to maintain the proper riding position on your sportbike at all times. You also need to ensure there is as little tension possible on the muscles throughout your body. If you master the best motorcycle riding position possible, the whole process of gaining skills such as counter-steering should fall into place much more easily.
Your motorcycle body position is about more than just your balance and ability to stay straight on the track. Factors such as your motorcycle riding foot position and your ability to hang just right and relax throughout each ride are also crucial if your goal is to master sportbike riding techniques. Additionally, you need to master cornering to enter and exit each corner turn with utmost ease.
Of course, any sportbike position tips you ultimately master will be magnified on a high-performance bike, such as a Ducati or MV Agusta sportbike. By following the right sportbike steering tips, you too could come out victorious on the race track.
Looking to improve the performance or look of your bike? At Design Corse, we sell aftermarket parts for an array of Ducati and MV Agusta brand bikes. To learn more about our inventory, visit our products pages.
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