We’ve already talked about this contact point in the previous lesson, but there’s a bit more to say about it here as well.
Beyond the platform/structure concept, we also have to think about how our foot sits atop our footpegs. At the outset, we’re going to take the “swivel” approach. That comes to us in a few steps that we will – over time and practice – merge into one fluid motion.
- Footpeg position is forward with weight up on the balls of your feet.
- Inside foot hangs over the edge or tip of the footpeg. Up to half way off the side is fine, but often only an inch or so of your foot hung off the side is necessary to get good swivel action on the tip of the peg.
- Knee rotates out while simultaneously pivoting the heel upwards, creating our swivel action, getting us onto the ball of our foot
- Free movement of the foot in a swiveling motion. Rotating around the tip of the footpeg, this allows us to put weight into the peg no matter what the foot position is.
NOTE: The foot position timing, and overall timing of all our body position elements, will be discussed further in a later lesson.
Not one of our contact points but directly relating to the foot position. The knee should move outward as you approach the tip in point, creating the structure that you’ll be putting your weight into. When viewed from the rear, there should be a visible “triangle of light” seen between the rider and the motorcycle.
Without this triangle of light, most often the rider cannot put the maximum weight possible onto the inside footpeg. When this happens, some of that extra weight is usually going onto the inside hand and preventing the bike from turning as well as it could.
Our butt position on the seat will definitely be our most variable contact point from person to person. Different people are going to be able to get away with hanging off the side of their motorcycles more than others. A lot of this is due to strength and stamina in their core muscles. Having a strong back and stomach is what drives our ability to hang off the bike without falling into the dreaded twist. Before we get into hanging off to the sides though, let’s discuss the seating position from a front to back perspective.
Scoot it forward
As a general rule when approaching a turn – or when you’re actually in the middle of a turn – you want to be as far forward on your seat as possible.
When you’re forward on the seat, you’re going to have more control and be more confident for a few reasons.
- Being closer to the steering stem will put you in less of a “passenger” role in the event of the rear tire breaking traction. Think about it in extremes – if you’re all the way back in the seat and the rear tire brakes traction, you’re along for the ride. Every inch the tire steps out will translate almost 1:1 to how much your body is being moved. Therefore giving you the feeling having less control over what’s happening with your traction. Being closer to the steering stem puts the rear tire further away, and you at the front of the lever if you should lose traction.
- Being closer to the steering stem also gives you more feel and authority for the front end as well. If you’re sitting back in the seat you’ll constantly feel like you’re chasing the front end.
Hang it off the inside
Hanging off the side of the bike is critical to begin to transfer our weight into the inside footpeg, thus helping our bike to turn. The amount of which you need to do so depends very much on you the rider. The most important thing to remember about this is, you hang off until you start to twist. A good place to start would be to place the edge of your seat right in your interglutal cleft (butt crack). Be warned that this is typically too far for a beginner rider to hang off unless they’re naturally at an extremely high fitness level. We’ll talk about how to tell if this is too far for you in the next lesson.
We’re going to have a completely separate lesson on the twist and how to avoid it but I’ll cover it briefly here. The dreaded twist is when your shoulders and hips start to close off from the inside of the turn. While this may not sound like that big of a deal, it has incredible consequences on our ability to support our weight on the inside foot. This then directs that weight onto our inside hand – exactly where we don’t want it to be.
Head and upper body
While not one of our contact points, this is the next step in creating the Ride University Body Position. In the Using Body Position to Turn Better lesson we talked about transferring our weigh to the inside foot. We’re going to accomplish that with our head and upper body.
Our head and upper torso account for over 40% of our overall body weight, so moving them just a little is going to have a huge impact to where our weight is positioned on the motorcycle. In this case, we want to move the upper body a LOT.
One thing we have to remember with this is to keep our shoulders OPEN to the inside of the turn. The overall positioning of the upper body can be seen in this image below.
Your head should be turned towards the corner, looking through it. We’ll talk more about our vision in a latter lesson as well. When your positioned correctly, you should also have the angle of your spine (when viewed from the rear) in an orientation close to parallel to the ground (at mid corner).
One thing to remember with the upper body positioning is that it’s heavily dependent on if your butt is off the seat too much. If you find yourself starting to twist, assess how far you’re hanging off first before you try to fix the issue with upper body.
This positioning for the upper body and head focuses solely on mid corner positioning. There is a great amount of additional information on this topic in our Body Positioning 2 course. We recommend that you finish this course in it’s entirety before you begin viewing that group of lessons.
Again not in our list of contact points, but a very important part of the body position equation. The inside arm should have a deep bend in it at mid corner. This should happen naturally, but it’s important to note that this is one of the biggest reference points to know that you’ve successfully removed the weight from the inside arm.
In almost all cases, you know that when there is the deep bend as displayed above, that the weight has been removed. If you see anything less than a 90 degree bend in the arm, you’ve got to assess why this is happening. The typical root cause of this is that you’re not able to transfer your weight down into your inside foot. This usually traces back to how much your butt is off the bike.
The outside arm is more of a reference point than anything, but as it helps to tie together the upper body and inside arm positioning, I like to mention it here.
What you’re looking for here is to have the outside arm draped over the tank. I want to make it clear that this isn’t a contact point you’re going to be putting weight into really, you just want to feel it being there.
If you can’t feel the tank touching your outside arm in some way, that usually means that your upper body isn’t low enough.
The outside knee is an interesting topic and I tend to use it sparingly. When you need it though it really comes in handy. I use this as an additional anchor point to drive some weight into to help augment the weight placed on the inside footpeg.
Now, your primary focus for your weight distribution should always be the inside peg, but the outside knee can be used to help remove that last bit of weight from the inside hand, which is the LAST place we want weight being distributed to.
The last piece to our body position jigsaw puzzle is the outside foot. Like the outside knee it’s not really something I focus on ever, but it’s still good to be aware of it’s usefulness. It can be use work in conjunction with the outside knee to help push the knee into the outside of the gas tank.
This additional leverage will be pushing BACK against the peg, by engaging the hamstring and calf muscles in the back of the leg.