Leaning the motorcycle

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  • This topic has 2 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 2 years ago by Juan Crossley.
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    Juan Crossley


      I get a question quite often when I try to explain the concepts about leaning, risk and all of the good stuff you explained in the core curriculum.. the question is, is it different from one type of motorcycle to another?, for example will you use more counter weight than leaning with the motorcycle or getting inside when using a trail motorcycle instead of a sport or custom bike? My take is that you should always always reduce the risk and that means reducing lean angle whenever possible, but some friends keep saying that this does not applies to a trail style motorcycles like BMW GS or KTM Adv, etc. Some people argue that these motorcycles require you to use counterweight to force the motorcycle to start the turn as they dont turn easy because of the higher center of gravity, how accurate is that?


      Keith Culver

        Hi Juan,

        It is more about the circumstance than about the bike. It’s about the speed or degree of application we often say.

        In my stable is an R6, FZ-10 as well as a WR450 dirtbike and a Tenere 700 Adventure bike which is much like the ktm and bmw you reference.

        When I ride them on the road over say 15 miles per hour (maybe less), I ride them mostly the same. On the street where I never ride over 7/10ths and don’t want to get pulled over for hanging off the bike, I use a lot of counter steering to initiate a lean which is the start of every turn but I put my body to the inside of the centerline on all of them to reduce risk (lean angle).

        At really slow speeds I’ll use direct steering and sometimes keep my body upright while allowing the bike to lean more because in a parking lot going slow (or riding slowly off road) the risk is a lot less and the lean angle allows me a tighter turning radius.

        When riding serious or-for road or going faster off road, depending on the application, we often use weighting off the outside leg in a turn to counteract the slip angle but that’s only off road where we can slide the bike as part of the turning process on purpose.

        The shortest answer is that “it depends” and what that means is that for any turn or curve that requires you to be slower that the straight away leading up to it, I will use my brakes until I am happy with my speed and direction (after the bike has turned in), initiate my turn with either bar pressure(counter steering) or weighting the inside peg by moving my head to the inside of the turn and keeping my body to the inside of the centerline using my equilibrium to reduce lean angle.

        It’s less about the bike that what you are doing with it and where.

        Juan Crossley

          Thanks for the quick and detailed answer, as I dont have a trail bike I wondered if there’s anything special about them and if they require a different technique to initiate the turn, as you said it’s all about speed, road condition and sometimes preference, when the speed increases and you want to reduce risk then it’s all about reducing the leaning angle to keep the motorcycle happy.


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