Watch this CBR600RR defy physics

Dailies -



In 2011, we tend to think of “gymkhana” as something Ken Block does with a rally car, energy drink sponsorship and a limitless tire budget. But before he was doing donuts around Segways, motorcycles were ripping up impossibly tight parking lot courses in Japan. This video of a CBR600RR performing impossible lean angles at low speed is simply stunning. What blows our minds is that he’s at full lean and full throttle at speeds too low even for counter-steering.


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Thanks for the tips, everyone.

  • Zach

    Can’t get enough of this.

  • Michael


  • raymond

    Truly graceful

  • Miles Prower

    One of the first YouTube videos I recall seeing, back in 2005, was of motorcycle gymkhana. Soon thereafter, I walked over to a mostly-unused, recently-paved parking lot a few blocks from my house (where I also run my RC cars — but that’s another story) with a push broom, and cleared a small section of it as much as I could. Then I returned with my motorcycle and did my best (not very good at all) impression of what these JAGE competitors are doing.

    I still go back to that lot at the beginning of each season to practice slow-speed maneuvering and emergency stops. Because I ride a bicycle all year round, when I first get on a motorcycle in March, it takes me at least a few rides to get comfortable on a bigger, heavier, motorized, lever-swapped “bike.”

    • Paul

      Just a tip, on all my mountain bikes I run the levers as they are on a motorcycle. For example the front brake is on the right and the rear brake on the left (where the clutch would normally reside). Makes it easy to transition between them and my motorcycles with no re-training.

      • Toby

        Ha… I do the same thing. Wondered if others did too.

        • adrenalnjunky

          Euros tend to run their mtb levers reversed as a rule. I think it’s due to so many of them coming up riding motorcycles. I’ve been running the standard setup for so lonng, I couldn’t swap now. Hasn’t bothered me at all running my motorcycles, I think my brain just says I’m driving a manual in a car, but my hands are doing what the corresponding foot would do.

      • Miles Prower

        I tried swapping levers on one of my mountain bikes when I first started riding motorcycles, but I just couldn’t get my brain to make the switch. I’ve been bicycling for a bajillion years — it’s my main form of transport AND exercise. Modulating the brakes comes naturally, whether I’m sliding through a softly bermed corner or I’m trying to lift my back wheel onto a big step-up. Riding with my brake levers swapped was super sketchy/scary!!!!

  • Myles


    When you guys post quick videos like this in addition to fleshed out HFL-written articles we as readers get the best of both worlds. We get a magazine and a “blog” about shit we like. Plus everyone appreciates low-speed control. Whether you ride a dyna-electric-wide-ultra-boss-glyde, a KLR, or a boosted-busa you’ve still gotta pull over and get gas.

    • Wes Siler

      That’s the idea :)

      • Marlon

        It’s a bloody good one.

  • scottydigital

    WOW, seems to be the exact opposite of everything you do while going fast….. Turning into the turn, no hanging off, using the extreme edge of the tire, etc..

  • KP

    Holy balls.

    • Denzel

      Holy shriner parade Batman…

  • JMS

    What blows our minds is that he’s at full lean and full throttle at speeds **to** low even for counter-steering.

    Should be a “too”

    crazy as hell though.

    • Wes Siler

      Thanks. Let’s just say I had an enjoyable night last night. Also this morning. Basically, someone else should really be writing today…

  • bpjester

    Notice how the rider has to jerk the bike upright to transition to the next series of turns. The fact that he is using a bike designed for high speed stability instead of a motard is all the more impressive!

  • slowestGSXRever

    This was (and is) one of my favorite things to do when I find an empty parking lot. I just do it a whole heck of a lot slower.

  • gregorbean

    fuck yes

  • gkanai

    If you want to be even more impressed, Japanese motorcycle police basically all have significant gymkhana training (see youtube).

  • stempere

    I realize the run is pre-arranged so he woud know what comes next but i’m also pretty impressed with the clean following camera work.

    As for the riding part of the video… damn.

  • Glenngineer

    Really fucking cool. He’s ditched the clip ons…I wonder if that is a critical part of his setup?

    I also really like the subtle crash protection.

    • Miticale

      I’d imagine the change in grip / steering setup is probably the biggest factor in the whole video (thus giving steering direction change and manuvering added ease, just like a motard) and from what I noticed in the video he’s also running a decent sized rear sprocket (considering he probably never shifts out of first).

  • brian

    No biggie. If I lost , like, 100 lbs. I could do that no problemo.

  • ike6116

    I liked the part where he rode the motorcycle

  • Gary Inman

    Any idea what tyres these guys use?

    • Wes Siler

      I was thinking that too. I suspect they may be made from superglue.

      • Huang

        It’s written in the youtube comments that they’re using Bridgestone Bt-003 tires.

  • apriliajoe

    Insane jealously I have :(

    • Kevin

      Hell for Leather: Come for the articles, stay for the comments. +1

  • Barry

    I’m sorry sir, but you failed to achieve BOTH knees on the ground at the SAME TIME. You’ve failed your 600 class license test.

  • Jeremy

    I think my CBR is broken. Doesnt do that

    • Ceolwulf

      Mine either.

      • holdingfast

        hahah well said

  • Njall

    Notice how the rider is always using the clutch together with the rear brake and the accelator? With a bike with a little steering angle this tecnique is the only way in this situation and this rider does it with perfection. Amazing!

  • Eric

    That crash cage is super cool!

    Physics nitpick, all* turns are done with countersteering, however brief the countersteering input may be. Put a video camera on your gas tank, strap a chopstick on the triple clamp/triple tree/top yoke so you can see the angle changes easier and go for a ride. Go as slow as you want, countersteering always happens. (It will be very small unless you are making a deliberate effort to turn in quickly, watch carefully.)

    *That is unless there is an outside disturbance like wind.

    I know someone will say that they can turn without touching the bars, this is because your body shift, while keeping the rider+bike cg in the same lateral position causes the bike to lean away from the riders lean, this combines with the trail to create a moment that turns the front wheel away from the direction of lean, which then moves the bike out from under the rider opposite the desired turn, causing both to begin to topple toward the turn, after the bike has passed through vertical the trail of the front wheel now acts to steer the bike into the turn, if the geometry and speed is within some bounds this results in a stable turn. Again, video it if you want to see for yourself.

    • Wes Siler

      Thanks Keith Code. I’m looking at the front tire and seeing it point into the corner. You don’t see that too?

    • Myles

      At very very very low speeds you turn the bars into a turn instead of away from it. This is one of the first things they teach in any MSF class. Videotape yourself pushing your bike around the garage and tell us all about countersteering into your parking space. I don’t care if you’re on a 50cc scooter, a Goldwing, or a damn bicycle – you don’t countersteer.

      At speed a bike turns by centrifugal force and lean angles and other rocket scientist engineer math shit. In extremely tight (almost always low-speed) situations the bike is actually “steered” the way a three-wheeler steers.

      The gyakayamamamama shit is a weird fucking hybrid of craziness, I have no idea how those guys do it or the scientific reason or any of that – but I know for damn sure that you don’t “always countersteer”.

    • Samuel

      Countersteer is always used to change the angle of the bike, however, once the bike is at the appropriate lean angle the steering angle is always into the corner (even if only slightly) unless there is some slippage at the rear wheel.

      So everyone is right. Yes, countersteering is used at low speed and yes he’s steering into the corner. It’s just that he’s not doing both at the same time.

      • Samuel

        I need to not use words like “always” because I’ll probably be proven wrong and then lose all credibility. Ah well. This video is cool.

        • Eric

          Not with me. =)

    • Eric

      Sorry guys, re-reading this my tone was off. I didn’t intend to come off as a pompous blowhard (though I succeeded wonderfully, and will likely continue to.) I was hoping more for physics nerd who can’t keep his mouth shut when “someone is wrong on the internet!”

      I’m in California so it’s too dark for me to strap a camera on my tank and demo, and anyway youtube seems to be littered with videos of the same type as I would make. Such as: (don’t waste your time, you already know what it’ll be.)

      Maybe it would be better to talk about why it doesn’t feel like you’re countersteering at slow speeds:
      Both high and low speed turns are initiated with a quick countersteer, then turning the front wheel toward the inside.
      In a low speed corner the front wheel is turned a large angle to match the tight turning radius, and as the bike is mostly upright little force is felt at the bars. We see our hands held with the bars turned towards the inside and assume it was like that the entire corner.

      In a high speed corner, when the bike is leaned over, the bars will still be turned into the corner but only by a very small amount as the cornering radius is much larger. With a large amount of lean the normal force on the front tire causes a moment about the steering axis because of the bike’s trail that would point the front wheel into the corner and cause the bike to stand up. You oppose it with your hands, and feel yourself pushing on the inside bar during the entire corner, and the amount you have to push increases as you lean further. The sensation of pushing the inside bar sticks in my mind, I think of it that way even though I know I’m at most making the front wheel straight after I’m leaned in a few degrees.

      Or maybe better yet would be for me to get outside more.

      @Myles Pushing your bike around the garage, once your feet hit the ground you add external forces that don’t come from the tire contact patches, and like wind, you can cause lean without turning, and turning without lean.

      And since you brought up rocket scientist engineer math shit, I’m more on the aerodynamics side of aerospace engineering, but I’m pretty close with Hohmann, he gets me around in the circles I travel in. More important to me though is to make sure I never violate the Kutta condition in viscous flows (unless it’s a creepy flow.) My favorite carrots are Kuchemann carrots. (I’d go on but I’m only amusing myself.)

      The main reason I’m name dropping these guys is to lead to Clohessy & Wiltshire, who if you believe the math will tell you that if you’re a space ship following another spaceship around a planet and you shoot something towards them, your shot will go forward, fly up, go over you and come down behind you, than rise and repeat the pattern while flying away from you backwards. (In a local sense, once the separation gets large the the linearization isn’t valid blah, blah, a few hours/days later your missle hits you in your butt after going around the planet, but it’s still pointed the direction you fired it and spent all its time traveling in the direction it was pointing as the planet sees it. (or it’s flipping into you like a shruiken since your missile is probably a prolate body and would have had its spin decayed by gravitational torque and internal dissipation from flexibility, and thus would change its rotation to conserve angular momentum while lowering its kinetic energy. (Like Explorer 1))) (For an example of the weirdness see page 33 of this paper (Couldn’t find a better picture on the internet.)

      Of course all the math in the world about riding a bike isn’t a hill of beans compared to taking a spin around the block.

      I’m going to go jerk off to my dynamics books now, and go for a ride tomorrow morning.

    • Ian

      Since this obviously needs to get dragged out even further-

      No actual turning in the intended direction occurs while countersteering. While the bike is being steered in the opposite direction of the intended path of travel, the front wheel tracks in that direction. Countersteering serves only lean the bike. There is no overlap in the time the bike is traveling LEFT, for example, and the time the bike is turning RIGHT.

      Further, this applies at all speeds, no matter how low. Even walking the bike around the garage. Don’t believe me? Get your tires wet and watch the trails they make. Try to turn the bike Left without making a trail that initially leads Right.

    • fasterfaster

      Eric is mostly right. All turns are initiated by countersteering. Whether the countersteering continues after the moment of initiation depends on lots of other factors though.

  • rohorn

    Anyone remember the BattleTrax events? If you did, you probably subscibed to Battle2win magazine as well…

  • DoctorNine

    I need a crash cage like that for my bike. Much better than sliders.

  • T Diver

    Wow. That was bad ass. Now I will go crash while attempting to replicate what i just saw. (Or not) Are they racing or is it a class?

  • gt1

    Too bad this sport isn’t popular here. It must be much safer than racing, and should be relatively inexpensive- no need to pay for a track and tires probably last longer because they don’t get that many miles.

    • adrenalnjunky

      it’s basically autocrossing on a motorcycle – pimp.

  • smoke4ndmears

    im seeing, but not believing. brain not accepting that this is possible.

  • Phillip

    Holy %%$$#@$%

  • Coreyvwc

    I’m curious to know what kind of tires that guy is running? That just seems plain not possible on street tires…

    • Kampfer

      They’re using Bridgestone BT-003 tires, not sure if it’s the race or sport compound.

      • Coreyvwc

        BT-003 is track only
        BT-003RS is sport


  • adrenalnjunky

    notice the straight bars, clutch being used a lot.

    Notice his front brake set up super close to the bar – looks like he can’t get a lot of pull, maybe not even full power to keep from sliding the front end out.

  • mugget

    Hell yeah!! Forget Ken Blocks Gymkhana, motorcycle gymkhana rules!

    If there was a clean parking lot where I could setup some cones and not be bothered by security or cops I would be there!

    I’m gonna lookup some more of this. Now where is the Hayabusa gymkhana??

  • Steve

    Man, that was almost EXACTLY like my motorcycle endorsement test…

  • Skank NYCF

    Thats something. Wow!

  • R.Sallee

    I dig these videos, massive respect for folks that can handle a bike like that. Ever watch police motorcycle competitions? The low speed control of 700 lbs hogs is truly impressive.

  • Kit

    I wonder what gearing he is using .. looking at big rear sprocket and the chain angle it seems like he’s made some modifications there also.

    Very impressive stuff, I hope it catches on outside of Japan.

  • Archer

    Not too far off from the 400+ cc test in Japan… not too far.

  • Chris Vleugels

    Does anyone knows where a lay-out of the parcour can be found. Regarding … distances, circle diameters, setup of the different figures, etc.
    Or maybe there might be a shot available top down from the parcour so that I could distillate my own parcour out of this?????