Motorcycle roadracers want to use the least-possible lean angle while running at the front. This can be seen in the lines they choose and in what they do with their bodies. They can accelerate and brake harder when the bike is more upright, and they use their bodies to help accomplish this. Tires are more useful when edge grip isn’t exhausted in the first 10 laps of a 25-lap race. So, when riders talk about “saving a tire,” much of what they’re doing to preserve edge grip for as long as possible revolves around how they use their bodies.
But roadracing isn’t mathematics. If it were, we’d all dial in the perfect combination, set the lap record and tie for first place. Despite the recent onslaught of technology, human beings are still in charge, and that brings myriad choices to the table when it comes to motorcycle operation and riding position. The following photos show top World Superbike riders mid-corner, and I have added a few comments to each image.
But first, a disclaimer: Because we can’t hear what the bike is doing, we don’t know if the rider has rushed the corner and is busy gathering up a wild entrance or if he entered slowly and has already picked up the throttle. That’s important, because knowing that information would allow me to be more pointed in my critique.
So, having said that, in my opinion, all of the riders look like they have just come off the brakes and snuck open the throttle to maintain their arc in a long-radius corner. The riders are not yet at the exit, which is where I would prefer to analyze their body positions, because that is where they are searching hardest for grip and where the gifted truly shine. Mid-corner, you can get away with a lot of sloppiness because braking has ended and acceleration hasn’t truly begun.
And, yes, it matters. As we teach at the Yamaha Champions Riding School, the rider’s ability to make constant, precise and minute body-position adjustments all around the racetrack is very often the difference between a good lap and a lap record. Or the difference between winning on a shagged tire and sliding to the back of the order. Or, on the street, making it through the gravel scattered in your lane. Body position is huge, so here are my opinions of the mid-corner body position of some terrific motorcycle racers.
I’ve been analyzing the technique of the world’s best riders for decades, and, obviously, these guys rank right up there. I’ve also worked directly with national- and world-level racers who have improved their riding performance as we examined and adjusted their body position in the ways I’ve described below. Hey, Lance Armstrong’s coach didn’t win the Tour de France seven times, but he certainly played an important role in Armstrong’s success.
If you’re already working on these areas, please read all of my comments because I am trying to paint a complete explanation.