Hanging off a Honda CBR 1000 at the track

Here’s why you hang off a motorcycle: You can run less lean angle. If you can run less lean angle at a given radius, you will be safer. Decreasing "lean angle points" allows a rider to add more "braking points" or "acceleration points", so you will be faster, too, if that matters. But mainly, you will be safer when you run less lean angle. 

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Here’s a primer for your next track day to fine-tune your body position. I have included quotation marks here and there so you will remember the verbiage when it really counts.

IN A CORNER

2006 Yamaha YZF-R6 on the track

BikeMinds UX guru @Dor_42 hanging off

 @Dor_42

  • The majority of your weight will be on the inside peg, somewhere around 60 percent. Ideally you have your boot over the edge of the footpeg about an inch, up on the ball of the foot, almost to the toes. 
  • You will have a butt cheek off the inside of the seat: "The crack of your butt on the edge of the seat," as we say at YCRS. You’re off too far if you find yourself hanging from the handlebars. One cheek or slightly more works best.
  • Your core muscles will be tight, crotch muscles tight, holding about 20 percent of your weight with the outside knee that is against the tank. Another 15 percent is still on the seat. You are not hovering over the seat doing a squat. Your butt is riding on the seat, but because your head is moving to the inside of the bike, the weight will transfer onto your inside foot.
  • Your inside knee will be flexed out, toe pointed, ankle flexed forward like a baseball catcher behind home plate. Have your heel against the chassis/heel guard, with your foot pointed into the apex at an approximate 45-degree angle. You have a "triangle of light" showing when viewed from behind.
  • hanging off a Honda CBR600rr

    The "Triangle of Light" as demonstrated by BikeMinds User @RedSpade

     @RedSpade

    You are well back off the gas tank… six to eight inches. Yep. Why do modern sportbikes have such long seat pans? Because the designers are way back on the seat so they can better affect the motorcycle with their body weight. Who designed them? Champions.
  • The remaining five percent of your weight will be carried by your hands, usually just enough to hold you in place, but often more, especially when trailing the brakes hard into a right-hand corner. Yes, you’re trying your best to keep your hand-load light in the corners to sense front grip, but real-world, non-classroom-theory shows us that the hands carry weight occasionally, especially at corner entry. Don’t sweat it, but do your best to tighten your core and avoid overloading an already-loaded front tire during maniac entries. Mid-corner, you should be able to take your inside hand off the handlebar because the weight is on the inside peg, seat and outside knee against the tank. 

IN THE BRAKE ZONE

  • Your butt should be prepared as described above before you go for the brakes. If you’re braking first and then moving, you are doing the opposite of what the best in the world and nation do. "Early prep with the butt."
  • You are tucked on the straights and sitting up on the brakes so that you block some wind, get your eyes higher to see the corner and most importantly: Let everyone around you know you’re braking. 
  • Plan to load your hands very, very heavily in the brake zone. Some of the brake force can be taken by your inner thigh against the back of the fuel tank (remember, your butt is already over for the upcoming corner). Don’t lock your elbows, use them as a suspension to help the front tire grip under hard braking.

TRANSITIONS

  • Weight will come off your hands and onto the inside footpeg as you trail-brake into the corner, simply by moving your head into the corner to help the bike steer.
  • In combined corners, go all the way across the seat, "footpeg to footpeg" between corners, not stopping in the middle of the seat. (YCRS Graduates: When do we sit in the middle of the seat?)
  • As you transition from brakes to neutral throttle, and neutral throttle to accelerating throttle, drop your head smoothly to help "offset the acceleration." We call it "The Move," and Dani Pedrosa is one of the best to watch perform it. Your head should be "lowest on the exit," with your "outside arm across the top of the fuel tank." You will be bending at the waist, bending your inside elbow to move your head forward and inside. 

If you’re going to the track, commit to the body position the best in the world use, because you’ll be faster and safer. But most importantly, safer at whatever pace you choose.

hanging off a 2009 Honda CBR1000RR

"The crack of your butt on the edge of the seat" BikeMinds user @vzhulin

 @vzhulin

Header Photo of BikeMinds user @vzhulin by Ryders Alley United

Nick Ienatsch (@NickIenatsch) is chief instructor at Yamaha Champions Riding School, For more than 18 years, he has provided motorcycle instruction rooted in his own successful professional racing career, which includes two AMA SuperTeams national championships, four top-three annual finishes in AMA 250 GP competition, two #1 plates from Willow Springs, three WERA Grand National Championships, and top-three finishes in AMA 600 SuperSport. Author of “Sport Riding Techniques,” Ienatsch has been a motojournalist since 1984 and currently writes for Cycle World magazine.

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