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Tag Archive: Motorbike riding tips

Rain, Rain, Rain!

Motorbike rain


Why do so many people dislike riding their motorbikes in the rain?  Is it because they feel that the tyres won’t grip?  Is it because to them riding on wet roads is like riding on a bed of glass? Is it simply the thought of getting wet that puts people off?  Regardless of the reasons, wet weather riding is something that we riders in the UK have to contend with from time to time, even if it is no more than being caught out in a shower in the middle of summer!

Tips for riding your motorcycle in wet weather

Believe it or not, wet weather riding is not an issue if you are mentally prepared for it, and by applying a little bit of thought to the subject it shouldn’t be an issue for any one of us.

Firstly, the most potentially dangerous period is after a long hot dry spell, the rubbish that gets left on the road such as rubber and oil deposits can cause a problem in the first few hours after it starts to rain.  These deposits tend to roll up into little balls and the marble affect will be a factor not dissimilar to those experienced by racing riders when they go off the racing line in the dry, so obviously care is required in that initial period.

However, the main problem in many cases is not the road but the rider, as a mental block often kicks in and they believe that an accident is just around the next corner.

Why?  Well in most cases it is a combination of two things, one is the belief that the tyres will not grip as well in the wet as they do in the dry.  Well that is true to a point, but  (unlike when I first started riding when tyres were 95% nylon and 5% rubber) modern tyres are actually very good at providing wet weather grip, and the level of grip will actually far exceed the ability of the average rider.

The second factor is that often at the first sign of rain, many riders tense up, and this tenseness is transmitted to the bike and so the whole operation of the motorcycle becomes what I term “mechanical”.  What this means is that rather than just relaxing and let the bike handle normally, they feel that they have to be in the permanent braced position where even the slightest of movements on the handlebars is over exaggerated as they try to negotiate the bend as upright as possible.

A modern motorcycle will handle just about anything that is thrown at it in terms of weather conditions these days, the key to good wet weather riding is smoothness and  the ability to relax.

Harsh or jerky throttle movements will cause the bike to shake its tail particularly when exiting a bend, excess speed in conjunction with poor throttle operation will cause serious problems, but smooth delivery of the power in combination with a relaxed riding style will eliminate the majority of the problems that might otherwise be encountered.  As an example, next time you see a wet race on the television, look at how much smoother the riders are in comparison to when it is dry.  Look at the angles of lean.  OK they won’t lean as far as they would in the dry and their speed through the corners will not be as high, but the bikes will still turn in very respectable figures simply because the riders are relaxed and smooth. This is a principle we can transfer from the track to the road.

Braking distances as well as speed need to be adjusted to cope not only with changes in the road surface, but also to counter the fact that visibility will be reduced which will affect reaction time, but, much to many peoples surprise bikes will actually stop very well in the wet providing it is upright and travelling in a straight line.

The key to safe riding

The whole key to good and in some cases enjoyable wet weather riding is smoothness!  Smooth power delivery, smooth braking (done in plenty of time as well) along with a relaxed riding style will often have a very positive affect on the way the bike performs and your overall enjoyment of riding in wet weather.

 

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12/04/2018 No Comments

Are you sitting comfortably?

Motor bike diagram


An important topic is missing from learning to ride a motorcycle and that is how to sit on it, or more specifically, how to position ourselves on it.

The only official advice I recall is in the Highway Code, but that is directed at pillions where Rule 85 states:

“Passengers MUST sit astride the machine on a proper seat. They should face forward with both feet on the footrests.”

Great advice, but what about the rider?

Q1: Is riding causing you back, wrist, shoulder or neck pain?

It’s likely this is caused by your posture, rather than the design of the bike.

The head and helmet can weigh more than 6kg. Having the head in front of the shoulders means the neck muscles have to hold this weight up, causing pain and discomfort. With our neck already bent backwards, any buffeting can damage both the vertebrae, discs and nerves in our neck as we lose the normal flexibility.

Pain and discomfort can quickly cause fatigue and can become a distraction from riding.

Q2: Does your bike feel nervous? Is it hard work to get it to steer or change direction?

This can be caused by the way you hold yourself on the bike or hold the controls. The following guide will not only improve your comfort but will make a positive change to the way your bike feels and handles.

Like our bikes, we come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, so this guide is intended to help you to find the best riding position. Try the following to find a good position on your bike. It’s best to try this while the bike is stationary, so stick it on the centre stand or get a couple of people to hold your bike upright. It’s also good to do this with your bike kit on as this can restrict movement.

Finding the correct seating position

  • Sit upright astride your bike and try to position your backside directly above your feet  providing your bike’s design allows this.
  • Your weight is now correctly supported through the seat and foot pegs. You may now be sitting closer to the petrol tank than usual, which is a good thing.

Diagram how to sit straight on a bike

Holding onto your bike

  • Still sat upright, squeeze your thighs enough to have a grip on the tank but without causing discomfort.
  • You should be able to lean the top of your body to the left and right without holding the bars and without feeling like you’re going to slip off.
  • This is how we hold ourselves on the bike, NOT through the handlebars.

Control

  • We control the bike through the handlebars, so of course we need to be able to reach them.
  • From your upright position, lean forward, pivoting at your hips without stretching your back or shoulders.
  • Keep going until you can rest the palms of your hands on top of the grips with thumbs underneath and fingers resting on top of the levers.
  • Keep pivoting forward until the bottoms of your forearms are roughly parallel with the tops of your thighs.
    Motor bike diagram
  • Drop your shoulders and relax your arms.
  • Drop your fingers under the levers so you have a light hold on the grips and your wrists are slightly higher than your hands.
  • Adjust your body position considering all of the above.

Are you now sitting comfortably?

You should now have an idea of your basic riding position but at this stage, it’s still work in progress. You will need to ride your bike to make further adjustments, while remembering the following:

  • Backside above pegs (if the bike design allows it)
  • Grip bike with thighs
  • Pivot at hips
  • Hold your body up with core muscles
  • Relax your arms and upper body
  • Drop your shoulders
  • Avoid leaning on the bars

This isn’t just about comfort. Positioning yourself correctly on a bike will change the way it handles and make controlling it easier, especially when turning and even more so when turning from one side to the other.

Riding with straight arms, elbows locked and leaning on the bars means you’re acting against the bike’s natural desire to turn. When you lean at higher speeds this, in turn, makes the bike feel nervous. It will also transfer all the bumps in the road through the forks up into your wrists, elbows and shoulders. It can also push your shoulders up, restricting head movement.

Your new, more relaxed riding position will allow you to drop your shoulder in the direction you are leaning, making it easier to turn your head to look towards the exit of the bend. All this will have a positive effect on the way your bike feels and handles.

Your elbows bent with arms and shoulders relaxed gives you a much wider range of movement when steering the bike at slower speeds; it also helps with balance at low speed.

Practice

It may take some getting used to, and from time to time you may forget and slip back into old habits. Simply remind yourself to relax, breathe out and drop your shoulder and elbows.

Guest Blog by Chris Harrison

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24/07/2017 No Comments

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