Triangulate Yourself on a Motorcycle

Tip #75 from the pages of The Total Motorcycling Manual

What’s the first thing riders do when they walk into a dealership or a bike show? Swing a leg over the saddle, sit down, and reach for the handlebar. Then they usually issue an insightful pronouncement along the lines of “I’m in love,” “this sucks,” or something in between. In other words, they've done a complete road test in ten seconds!

What our erstwhile experts have just experienced is the rider triangle—next to seat height and flashy paint job, it's probably the most influential criteria of any motorcycle purchase.

The triangle is nothing more than the three points where your carcass makes contact with the machine: your hands (on the bar), your feet (on the footpegs) and your posterior (on the seat).

There’s no industry standard for giving the triangle a value, but the next time you sit on a bike, pay particular attention to these three relationships and not just an overall feel. And most important, remember this: Motorcycles are dynamic vehicles, designed to work in motion. What feels comfortable sitting on a dealer’s floor doesn’t necessarily work when a bike’s going down the highway at 60 mph (96 kph)—if it did, we’d all be riding two-wheeled Naugahyde recliners with built-in drink holders.