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LEANING IN THE CORNERS

by SPEEDSLUG

Ok, for some reason when you put a hunk of metal between two wheels and let it roll down the road, it wants to go in a straight line. (more or less). In order to turn the bike, we've learned that the bike must be leaned over to follow that curve in the road. Take one bike with a high center of gravity and one with a low center of gravity. Which one is easier to turn on twisty roads?

While you're pondering that thought. As a 'sophomore level rider' you are beginning to realize that it takes a whole lot more than sitting perched on your bike and pushing right to go right. You've started the habit of putting the ball of your foot on the inside peg. As you push on the bar and step down on the inside peg, your outside knee is up on against the tank. Consciously yet, you tell your outside knee to press against the tank to help lean the bike over. A little roll of the throttle and drat. Well actually #$%&, is the word you use as you miss your line by about 3 feet.<G> Well, its still way better than last year and you're 'comin' out of turns pretty smoothly now.

So what can we do to improve that turn-in and hit the marks more consistently? I'll post a few things that affect turns and you work on the general idea to improve. First, the type of bars on your bike may feel comfortable, but the grip angle forces your arms outward.

Imagine the cartoon with the rider gripping the bar with his elbows out like wings. Bring those elbows in! Line up your arm with your torso. That in turn relaxes your inside shoulder and permits it to drop 'into' the turn. You'll find you fight your body weight a lot less this way and let your legs do the work of carrying your body through the turn. We want to keep a light touch on the bars, right? Another benefit is that YOUR center of gravity aligns with the bikes center of gravity. Imagine a line smack down the center between your eyes and belly button and bike. Keeping this imaginary line together in a turn makes your bar inputs more effective. You aren't fighting the turn by being off center or counter balancing your bikes weight through the turn. As you progress, yes, you will begin to move that center line of your body towards the inside of the turn. Basically, 'hanging' off in the turn, but for now work on smoothing out bar inputs and relaxing your elbows and shoulders.

Back to our original question. The lower center of gravity is harder to turn in, or lean, than the higher center of gravity bike. With the COG centered higher the bike literally falls into a lean a lot easier.
Imagine a bowling ball bolted on the bike between your feet. Now put the ball on a 6 foot stick and in the air straight up over your head.

To turn the lower center of gravity bike more input on your part is necessary to initiate and hold a lean angle through a turn. Wherever the center is on your bike, learn to stay with it and flow rather than fight your way through the next turn.

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SPEEDSLUG is a frequent contributor to the Women Riders International (WRI) Forum and has generously allowed us to post his tips at here at RideMyOwn.com

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