What is body steering? No you can’t actually steer with your body, you need to steer with the bars (if you don’t believe me take a look at this video, Keith Code’s No BS Bike). But how you position your body has an impact on how you steer… How can you make tight fast turns without slowing down to a walking pace? It takes practice…but this practice mainly involves your body position before and during a turn.
When you’re driving in a car going straight, your torso is facing forward. When you turn in a car, your torso remains pointed to the front of the car…and it should. But on a bike, the “proper” position during a turn is for your head and torso (and hips) to be faced in the direction of the turn, and not straight ahead. Duh! That sounds obvious, but it doesn’t seem to come naturally to anybody…
Here’s a crappy freehand (or shall I say freemouse?) drawing to try to illustrate.
Notice I drew a scooter? This isn’t just a sportbike concept, it’s for any type of ride (except maybe dirt riding). When you watch MotoGP races, the riders will often come down a straight and then set up for a turn by getting in position. What most people notice is that they stick one knee out (on the inside of the turn); but what’s a little harder to notice is that in doing so, they’re usually pointing the torso into the turn… (The first part of the turn the torso is pointed into the turn, the latter part of the turn it’s usually pointed the other way) I tried to find a good still shot, but couldn’t find one on Google Images, but youcan take a look at the video: at around 1:18 you can see Nicky Hayden set up for the turn…
The natural inclination for most people is to want to stay straight with the bike and just turn your head…But you need to turn your torso, hips and head and line all these up with the direction of the turn (shoulders usually need to stay lined up with the bike in order to steer). Imagine if you had a laser pointer coming out of your stomach, this pointer should point in the direction of the turn. Now when you look at photos of professional riders turning, it doesn’t look like they’re turning their body very much, but if you were to mimic their movement, it *feels* like you’re turning a great deal.
So there you have it. The benefit of good body position is that you’ll be able to lean the bike over farther, faster, and make tighter turns. But don’t take my word for it, give it a try and tell me what you think.
- Finding the Right Position
- Body Positions: Hanging Off
- Things to Remember: Keeping it Light
- Riding Skills: Keep your Head Up