How-to guide: Turning at low speeds...
Turning at low speeds is probably one of the main topics that come up in training as something people struggle with when it comes to adventure riding. (Or maybe motorcycle riding in general) When you go around a corner on your motorcycle, there are a number of forces at play. Firstly, we need to understand how a motorcycle turns. When you look at a car or a truck’s wheels, you’ll note that the tyre shape is more ‘square’ as opposed to the rounded shape on that of a motorcycle’s tyres. To turn a car or a truck, you just need to turn its steering wheel and its wheels will turn in the direction you want the vehicle to go. With a motorcycle it works a bit differently. A motorcycle only has two wheels and you need to lean the bike in order for it to turn (especially if you want to execute a sharp turn). If you took a motorcycle tyre and you kept it upright and rolled it towards a friend, what would happen? It would go in a straight line. Now if you lean the tyre either left or right and rolled it again, what happens? It rolls in the direction you lean it towards. The more you lean it, the tighter the turn. Now, let’s say we are riding down a gravel road and there is a turn coming up to the left... What do we need to do to effectively execute that turn? First off - LOOK! Look where you want to go and look ‘through’ the corner. You go where you look, so look where you want to go! Then, you need to remember that on a gravel road we do not have constant traction as opposed to a tar/asphalt/blacktop road. So as you are going into a corner, momentum will want to keep carrying you into the direction you were heading in before initiating a turn, and as we do not have constant traction on a gravel road, we need to counter this effect by applying weight on the opposite side of which we are leaning the bike, by way of weighting the outside foot peg as well as moving our hips to the outside of the corner. Your hip-area make out the heaviest part of your body, so you want to use this to your advantage when displacing weight on the bike. This can get pretty technical, but plainly put: You need to apply weight on the opposite side in which you are turning. If you are turning to the left, you need to move your body to - and weight the right (outside) foot peg. If you are heading into a right-hand turn, you need to apply weight on the left (outside) peg. ALWAYS put your weight on the outside foot peg in a turn!
Your body position on the bike should be pushing down with the inside arm, almost with a straight arm - and bending the elbow on your outside arm up and out, imagining that you want to try and touch the mirror with your forearm. A nice tip to remember is that your shoulders should always remain parallel to the handlebar. This way you ensure that your body is always in the correct position. How fast should you be going? Well this depends on your experience level and what you are comfortable with. A good rule to remember is: “Slow in, fast out”. So you want to slow down coming into the corner and roll on the gas again as you start coming out of the corner. And
remember....Momentum is your friend!!!
To recap: 1. Look where you want to go and look through the corner.
2. Initiate the turn by leaning the bike in the direction you want to go. 3. Weight the outside peg to ensure traction is maintained and move your hips to the opposite side of the direction in which you are turning.
4. Push with the inside arm, elbow up and out trying to touch the mirror with your outside arm - keeping your shoulders parallel to the handlebar.
5. Slow in, fast out. Here's a little slo-mo video of me doing an 'elephant turn' just to show you what is meant by putting your weight on the outside in a turn and looking where you want to go. An elephant turn is a combination of a break slide, carried over into a power slide. Basically a sharp u-turn in a confined space. This is of course a bit more advanced but it will give you a good example of body positioning and, again, looking where you want to go. LINK: https://www.facebook.com/jorustadventures/videos/1926353067600972/
Until next time. Keep on adventuring. Jo Rust www.jorust.com
PS: Feel free to leave questions in the comments section. ;)