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A general discussion of the physics of motorcycle steering (so it applies to all Britbikes). I got especially interested in this subject when I recently started practicing (and I'm still practicing i.e novice) Motogymkhana on my Norton Commando. I now use a 500 GPz two cylinder Kwak as I'm not too concerned about dropping it on the very tight turns involved. As soon as I've fitted some suitable crash protection to the Norton I'll be using that again.

Please check out the following video for a demonstration of some tight radius cornering techniques/theory and further discussion.


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Interesting. As an off road rider I am used to sliding, turning quickly with body english to dart between trees, boulders,etc. I use the handlebars, footpegs, and my knees to turn the bike. Many arguments with street riders about counter steering and why it works. I admit I did not watch the whole video.

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Originally Posted by Pete Suchawreck
Interesting. As an off road rider I am used to sliding, turning quickly with body english to dart between trees, boulders,etc. I use the handlebars, footpegs, and my knees to turn the bike. Many arguments with street riders about counter steering and why it works. I admit I did not watch the whole video.

Well worth watching the whole video. I've watched it several times to get my head around the theory. They argue and prove that leaning the bike especially at slower speeds is equally useful for getting round tight corners and there is less likely hood, than counter steering, of slipping especially in the wet. Lean the bike and the forks turn into the corner on their own.


Last edited by Chris the camper.; 11/28/21 3:16 pm.
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I'm an untrained rider that learned by buying a Brit 650 without any ever riding a motorcycle other than a brief ride on some sort of 60's 50cc step through....
What I do know, if you are making a slow sharp U turn and the steering hits the fork stop, it is all to easy fall over...This is more likely on newer sport bikes with more limited steering lock..
Arguments often revolve around if at low speeds the rider is steering into the turn with or without counter steering...


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Originally Posted by Hillbilly bike
I'm an untrained rider that learned by buying a Brit 650 without any ever riding a motorcycle other than a brief ride on some sort of 60's 50cc step through....
What I do know, if you are making a slow sharp U turn and the steering hits the fork stop, it is all to easy fall over...This is more likely on newer sport bikes with more limited steering lock..
Arguments often revolve around if at low speeds the rider is steering into the turn with or without counter steering...


I take it you didn't watch all of the first video because they explain about the bikes natural stability. Crashes are down to rider input not the bike. Did you watch the 2nd video? because there they demonstrate doing tight u-turns at high angle of lean, in the wet, bars on full lock on a new 1000cc sports bike with out falling. With the proper training or technique anyone can do this on any bike without crashing (practice sessions don't count).

Last edited by Chris the camper.; 11/28/21 8:31 pm.
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Yes I watched the videos.. That rider is more skilled than me and more importantly, I fear dropping the bike during practice..and or getting hurt....I dropped my Honda 650NT just a month ago making a tight U turn on a narrow rural road when unexpectedly hit the fork stop..I was was not paying attention during a routine maneuver done many times on a variety of bikes.. It's a lot easier doing slow tight turns on my T140 Triumph with skinny tires compared to the Honda that weighs a bit less, has similar steering geometry but much wider rims and tires...


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Originally Posted by Hillbilly bike
Yes I watched the videos.. That rider is more skilled than me and more importantly, I fear dropping the bike during practice..and or getting hurt....I dropped my Honda 650NT just a month ago making a tight U turn on a narrow rural road when unexpectedly hit the fork stop..I was was not paying attention during a routine maneuver done many times on a variety of bikes.. It's a lot easier doing slow tight turns on my T140 Triumph with skinny tires compared to the Honda that weighs a bit less, has similar steering geometry but much wider rims and tires...

I agree, the rider in the video is more skilled than you and me because he has a lot more experience. To get to the same level as the rider takes regular practice. Quick u-turns don't bother me any more because I practice them. With practice you can do it on any bike. P.S You need to have momentum through the tight turns to generate centrifugal force to balance out gravity when leaned over.


Last edited by Chris the camper.; 11/28/21 10:39 pm.
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Well for starters you won't do those sorts of leans on many BSA's without the footpegs grounding and lifting the rear wheel off the ground.
Modern fat sticky rubbers make a bit of difference as well

I live on a popular motorcycling road.
Right in front of the house is a long steep hill with a tight left followed by a tighter right.
Without checking I think both are off camber.
The saturday morning heros all go flying up the hill in too low a gear hang almost completely off the bike then drag their knuckles on the ground.
Don't really know what skill that is supposed to demonstrate but it seems to be a very popular manouver.
Unfortunety just at the exit is a sink dip in the surface
Just past that the armco safety fence seems to have a lot of dents & scrapes of paint.
Wonder if the two are related .


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"They argue and prove that leaning the bike especially at slower speeds is equally useful for getting round tight corners and there is less likely hood, than counter steering, of slipping especially in the wet. Lean the bike and the forks turn into the corner on their own."
Riding slowly on a dirt bike really trains you to lean and do what the video describes. One of the benefits of racing off road is watching better riders tackle a difficult section. Want a real eye opener? Watch professional trials riders. They perform techniques that seem impossible.

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Originally Posted by BSA_WM20
Well for starters you won't do those sorts of leans on many BSA's without the footpegs grounding and lifting the rear wheel off the ground.
Modern fat sticky rubbers make a bit of difference as well

I live on a popular motorcycling road.
Right in front of the house is a long steep hill with a tight left followed by a tighter right.
Without checking I think both are off camber.
The saturday morning heros all go flying up the hill in too low a gear hang almost completely off the bike then drag their knuckles on the ground.
Don't really know what skill that is supposed to demonstrate but it seems to be a very popular manouver.
Unfortunety just at the exit is a sink dip in the surface
Just past that the armco safety fence seems to have a lot of dents & scrapes of paint.
Wonder if the two are related .

Modern sticky tyres are available for your classic. Fat tyres don't give anymore grip than skinny tyres..that's a popular myth. I think you are missing the point of the thread, it's all about motorcycle control. Max lean angle is different from bike to bike, but if you can ride any bike to it's max lean with the bars on full lock and remain in control then it's going to benefit your road riding. Check out the following video, any rider should be able to do u-turns on any bike.


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Originally Posted by Pete Suchawreck
"They argue and prove that leaning the bike especially at slower speeds is equally useful for getting round tight corners and there is less likely hood, than counter steering, of slipping especially in the wet. Lean the bike and the forks turn into the corner on their own."
Riding slowly on a dirt bike really trains you to lean and do what the video describes. One of the benefits of racing off road is watching better riders tackle a difficult section. Want a real eye opener? Watch professional trials riders. They perform techniques that seem impossible.

I'm not saying one motorcycle discipline is better than the other (I've got a full day trials riding a week next Saturday). It's all about improving control of the motorcycle whatever you are doing.

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Originally Posted by Pete Suchawreck
"They argue and prove that leaning the bike especially at slower speeds is equally useful for getting round tight corners and there is less likely hood, than counter steering, of slipping especially in the wet. Lean the bike and the forks turn into the corner on their own."
Riding slowly on a dirt bike really trains you to lean and do what the video describes. One of the benefits of racing off road is watching better riders tackle a difficult section. Want a real eye opener? Watch professional trials riders. They perform techniques that seem impossible.

Having just watched Gavin Eisler's post in the Competition section off road cornering (slow or fast) appears to rely more on counter-balance where as the motogymkhana riders use body-lean into the corner. Riding slow dictates you are going to use counter balance on tarmac or dirt. Body lean requires momentum to counter gravity. If you don't have sufficient momentum the bike and rider drops to the ground as Hillbilly found out.

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good videos there . Alot of money is thrown at R&D for modern bikes , make the oldies look very ancient

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Originally Posted by friday1
good videos there . Alot of money is thrown at R&D for modern bikes , make the oldies look very ancient

Yeah, research and development is expensive which is one reason why engineers copy things that are proven to work.
The point of the thread though is there is no difference how a modern motorcycle steers to a classic motorcycle. They all have two wheels and front steering so the same laws of physics apply. What riders in the video can do on a modern bike they can do on a classic, ground clearance being the only limiting factor. It is only practice which limits riders ability and it is the lack of ability which is the reason why riders crash on bends be it u-turns, fast sweepers, hair-pins, round-a-bouts etc. Biggest problem is riders turning in too soon and/or the wrong position for the bend.


Last edited by Chris the camper.; 12/01/21 7:41 am. Reason: add video
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There is a lot more to it than just the practice skills and while the laws of physics don't change things like tyre compounds, tread, contact patch shape & orientation and wheel alignment all come into play. It is about knowing both your bike & your skill levels.
Wearing the Pirelli phantoms I could quite hapily lean the A65L till the pegs grounded so hard they lifted the rear tyre off the road at any speed .
And some times I even managed to regain control rather than landing on my backside.
Never happened with the K81's, just not enough grip & / or deformation in the sidewalls once they were going sideways there was no stopping it .
I found it a lot easier to do tight slow turns on the much more modern bikes and in particular my business partners HD's with their fat tyres than it was on any of the narrow tyred work bikes which ranged from a Z250B through to the shafie R65 & XJ750's
On a wide tyre you contact patches are not in a strait line and the rear is significantly inside the track of the usually much thinner front.
The front has a contact patch in line with the bikes axes while the fat rear is more oriented left right so will resist sliding sideways at a much greater lean than a skinny tyre fitted to most old British Iron will .
Add to that significantly better clutches and much more smooth power delivery and buckets more power.
Now I suppose I coud clutch slip the A65 with the engine running above 2000 rpm so there is some torque instantly availible but I would not like to do it for long and of course the hydraulic clutches are much easier on the fingers than our cable ones

I used to be able to do a U turn on the city footpaths dodging pedesterians as I go so I can ( or could ) do very tight turns at very slow speeds although by now I would be very much out of practice.

I do agree with you 100% that practice is needed and very few riders seem to get that much for fear of hitting the deck & damaging their pride & joy . And corners need to be planned a long way in advance and using the same riding techniques as seen at GP racing hanging off the bike forcing it into corners is going to end in pain on a public street.

Then there is riding positions & peg positions
and without actually measuring them I would be certain that most modern touriers would have much higher set pegs all of which will fold up , let alone a sports bike with rear sets .
And if your ride really old bikes, girders behave the opposite way to telescopic forks as applying the front brake extends the wheelbase which resists cornering where as teles reduce the wheelbase which facilitates tight turning .

For decades I was involved with a group who were advocating for substantially better and more progressive rider / driver training, starting from 15 year olds on pushbikes and requiring a skill based test each & every year before you could ride bikes with a higher power to weight ratio and requiring at least 4 years on 2 wheels before you could get into a car by which time most would have learned to read the road and aquired some modecum of road sense before being allowed to smash a car and mutilate 3 or 4 of your best friends , but it was all too hard apparently to do from an administrative point of view, however neary all of what we were advocating for has sort of been 1/2 introduced by different means


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back a hundred years ago when i was trying to get past my learners plate on a 62 triumph 500 in kuala lumpur, the test included the requirement to do three figure 8s in the space of four adjacent parking spots without dabbing a foot.

the technique then was to put the forks into full lock and let the motorcycle fall into the turn, then bump it back upright with the throttle as you went round. took some practice but it meant that you could make the turn as tight as the forks would go.

if i tried it now id probably kill myself


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Originally Posted by BSA_WM20
There is a lot more to it than just the practice skills and while the laws of physics don't change things like tyre compounds, tread, contact patch shape & orientation and wheel alignment all come into play.....

On a wide tyre you contact patches are not in a strait line and the rear is significantly inside the track of the usually much thinner front.
The front has a contact patch in line with the bikes axes while the fat rear is more oriented left right so will resist sliding sideways at a much greater lean than a skinny tyre fitted to most old British Iron will .
Add to that significantly better clutches and much more smooth power delivery and buckets more power.
Now I suppose I coud clutch slip the A65 with the engine running above 2000 rpm so there is some torque instantly availible but I would not like to do it for long and of course the hydraulic clutches are much easier on the fingers than our cable ones

I used to be able to do a U turn on the city footpaths dodging pedesterians as I go so I can ( or could ) do very tight turns at very slow speeds although by now I would be very much out of practice.

I do agree with you 100% that practice is needed and very few riders seem to get that much for fear of hitting the deck & damaging their pride & joy . And corners need to be planned a long way in advance and using the same riding techniques as seen at GP racing hanging off the bike forcing it into corners is going to end in pain on a public street.

Then there is riding positions & peg positions
and without actually measuring them I would be certain that most modern touriers would have much higher set pegs all of which will fold up , let alone a sports bike with rear sets .
And if your ride really old bikes, girders behave the opposite way to telescopic forks as applying the front brake extends the wheelbase which resists cornering where as teles reduce the wheelbase which facilitates tight turning .

For decades I was involved with a group who were advocating for substantially better and more progressive rider / driver training, starting from 15 year olds on pushbikes and requiring a skill based test each & every year before you could ride bikes with a higher power to weight ratio and requiring at least 4 years on 2 wheels before you could get into a car by which time most would have learned to read the road and aquired some modecum of road sense before being allowed to smash a car and mutilate 3 or 4 of your best friends , but it was all too hard apparently to do from an administrative point of view, however neary all of what we were advocating for has sort of been 1/2 introduced by different means

You have some very strange ideas regarding motorcycle steering and what affects it. You can fit modern tyres to old bikes. Clutch cables can work very smoothly and as easily as hydraulic. For those riders who fear dropping their bike fit crash bars. You don't need somebody to make further training compulsory to take further training. If you want to improve your bike control then take as many motorcycle courses as you can and/or join a motogymkhana group. Classic bikes are as capable of performing full lock u-turns as modern bikes. You just need to practice.

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Originally Posted by kevin
back a hundred years ago when i was trying to get past my learners plate on a 62 triumph 500 in kuala lumpur, the test included the requirement to do three figure 8s in the space of four adjacent parking spots without dabbing a foot.

the technique then was to put the forks into full lock and let the motorcycle fall into the turn, then bump it back upright with the throttle as you went round. took some practice but it meant that you could make the turn as tight as the forks would go.

if i tried it now id probably kill myself

That's not going to work. Accelerating with the bike leaned over will pick the bike up but your not going to be able to turn quickly enough to complete the figure of 8 within the four parking spaces. You need to use counter balance, clutch and maybe some rear brake to do that manouvre.


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Just ride on until you get a wider bit of road.
Nuts to all that rider ability crap, i'm too old and never was good enough for it.

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Originally Posted by Chris the camper.
Originally Posted by kevin
back a hundred years ago when i was trying to get past my learners plate on a 62 triumph 500 in kuala lumpur, the test included the requirement to do three figure 8s in the space of four adjacent parking spots without dabbing a foot.

the technique then was to put the forks into full lock and let the motorcycle fall into the turn, then bump it back upright with the throttle as you went round. took some practice but it meant that you could make the turn as tight as the forks would go.

if i tried it now id probably kill myself

That's not going to work. Accelerating with the bike leaned over will pick the bike up but your not going to be able to turn quickly enough to complete the figure of 8 within the four parking spaces. You need to use counter balance, clutch and maybe some rear brake to do that manouvre.

nah.

it works just fine.


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[quote=Chris the camper.

You have some very strange ideas regarding motorcycle steering and what affects it. You can fit modern tyres to old bikes. Clutch cables can work very smoothly and as easily as hydraulic. For those riders who fear dropping their bike fit crash bars. You don't need somebody to make further training compulsory to take further training. If you want to improve your bike control then take as many motorcycle courses as you can and/or join a motogymkhana group. Classic bikes are as capable of performing full lock u-turns as modern bikes. You just need to practice.[/quote]

Well find me a 9" wide tyre that will fit on a WM 20 , B40, A 65 or anything else that came out of the BSA factory.
In fact simply finding a standard tyre now days is some what of a marathon event unless you want to fit a H rated tyre that will be worn illegal the first time you ride on a 30+ degree day.
Go back through the archives on this forums alone and seek out all of the threads complaining about wrist breaking clutches & how to make them lighter or even get them to lift cleanly.
Then follow up with all of the posts about how to stop them slipping under high torque situations & the riding techniques in most of the videao would put the clutches under quite a heavy load.
Hydraulic clutches are significantly lighter than mechanical ones, that is why they were invented, to allow clutches with very high clamping force to be used on a motorcycle with a relatively short lever using very little effort , with no power assistance. Otherwise they would still be fitted with cables that are a lot lot cheaper than a hydraulic clutch.
Add to that most modern clutches will respond to much less lift and do not suffer from brinelling on the drum slots because they are continually splined.

And for the heck ot it I just have come back from a ride on the M20
Managed 5 out of 8 full lock U turns without having to put the foot down ( bit of a surprise actually )
Three on bitumen and the rest on rough grass or gravel
Also noted very little lean required to do it .
I normally would not have paid attention to how much lean was needed , but this thread had the little grey wheels turning.
I did win a rider training session quite a while ago at a charity event .
Took the rigid girder M20 along and was told to go home because their advance rider course was not applicable to that type of motorcycle.
Back before Public Liability was a problem & motorcyclist could manage to have a meal without a beer we used to have regular gymkhanas or do a few gymkhana type of events at picnic & presidents days but now you can not find anywhere to host them .
Of course back then we were young fit & pristine while the bikes were old worn out and cheap so if we dropped them we would not he seriously hurt & the bikes were cheap & easy to repair.
Now days we are old worn out & cheap while the bikes are pristne expensive & almost irreplaceable

Now while I am in broad agreement with the ideolgy of you post please do not sit there and try to say that everything you can do a modern motorcyle we can do on 50+ year old motorcycles
That is tandamount to saying that there has been little no advances in motorcycle designs since 1972 ( remember this is the BSA forum ) .

Last edited by BSA_WM20; 12/02/21 4:42 am.

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Originally Posted by BSA_WM20
Originally Posted by Chris the camper
.

You have some very strange ideas regarding motorcycle steering and what affects it. You can fit modern tyres to old bikes. Clutch cables can work very smoothly and as easily as hydraulic. For those riders who fear dropping their bike fit crash bars. You don't need somebody to make further training compulsory to take further training. If you want to improve your bike control then take as many motorcycle courses as you can and/or join a motogymkhana group. Classic bikes are as capable of performing full lock u-turns as modern bikes. You just need to practice.

Well find me a 9" wide tyre that will fit on a WM 20 , B40, A 65 or anything else that came out of the BSA factory.
In fact simply finding a standard tyre now days is some what of a marathon event unless you want to fit a H rated tyre that will be worn illegal the first time you ride on a 30+ degree day.
Go back through the archives on this forums alone and seek out all of the threads complaining about wrist breaking clutches ..

And for the heck ot it I just have come back from a ride on the M20
Managed 5 out of 8 full lock U turns without having to put the foot down ( bit of a surprise actually )
Three on bitumen and the rest on rough grass or gravel
Also noted very little lean required to do it .
I normally would not have paid attention to how much lean was needed , but this thread had the little grey wheels turning.



Now while I am in broad agreement with the ideolgy of you post please do not sit there and try to say that everything you can do a modern motorcyle we can do on 50+ year old motorcycles
That is tandamount to saying that there has been little no advances in motorcycle designs since 1972 ( remember this is the BSA forum ).

You have to get it out of your head that wide tyres have more grip than a narrow tyre - they don't! You only have to look at racers from the 1960's to show that narrow tyres do not reduce lean angle. What wider tyres have is a larger contact patch so they spread the load and the wear rate is reduced compared to a narrow tyre. What does increase grip is load i.e a passenger, luggage, full fuel tank etc. Avon do 19" roadriders in modern compound which grip wet or dry and on my Commando the rear lasts between 4000 and 4500 miles depending on load and usage so they would be fine on an M20. Cable clutches are fine if properly set up.

I didn't say "...everything you can do (on) a modern motorcyle we can do on 50+ year old motorcycles". What I said was, "Classic bikes are as capable of performing full lock u-turns as modern bikes." If you can do U-turn then with practice you can do a figure of 8. With more practice you'll be able to do a figure of 8 within a block of 4 car park spaces.

I'm really glad you've been doing some practicing. Your never too old to learn and you will enjoy motorcycling more because you have better control of the motorcycle. Keep practicing!


Last edited by Chris the camper.; 12/02/21 7:44 am.
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Originally Posted by kevin
Originally Posted by Chris the camper.
Originally Posted by kevin
back a hundred years ago when i was trying to get past my learners plate on a 62 triumph 500 in kuala lumpur, the test included the requirement to do three figure 8s in the space of four adjacent parking spots without dabbing a foot.

the technique then was to put the forks into full lock and let the motorcycle fall into the turn, then bump it back upright with the throttle as you went round. took some practice but it meant that you could make the turn as tight as the forks would go.

if i tried it now id probably kill myself

That's not going to work. Accelerating with the bike leaned over will pick the bike up but your not going to be able to turn quickly enough to complete the figure of 8 within the four parking spaces. You need to use counter balance, clutch and maybe some rear brake to do that manouvre.

nah.

it works just fine.

Well it was a long time ago... Try doing it now, you'll find the laws of physics haven't changed.

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lol

chris ol buddy, i was there and did it. you were not and did not.

thank heavens youtube wasnt around back then or i never would have learned to ride a motorcycle.


i'm old enough to remember when patriotism meant not trying to overthrow the government.
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 5,492
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Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 5,492
Likes: 87
Wanna learn motorcycle steering? Of any era?

Do 2 things.....

Take a course in riding trials. Trials teaches you more about body/throttle control of a motorcycle than other discipline

Race a studded motorcycle on ice. You will learn more about bringing an out of control motorcycle back into control than you can anywhere else

Both have made me a better rider in anything else I have ever tried.....


Never underestimate the human ability to elevate stupid to a whole new level!.
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